Jesse Jarnow

Archive for March, 2006

“walking with the beggar boys” – elf power

“Walking With the Beggar Boys” – Elf Power (download here)
from Walking With the Beggar Boys (2004)
released by Orange Twin (buy)

(file expires on April 6th.)

“Walking With the Beggar Boys” uses the simple tools of rock — a circular guitar lick, a chorus that compares love to a dream, call and response — to create something ecstatic. There is nothing remotely progressive going on, but Andrew Rieger and the Elves go for it anyway. The refrain is perfect pop logic — “love was just a dream, you know I never got no sleep” — that comes at an oblique angle to the verses, which are about pretty much about what the title suggests. A brief Eno-circa-Warm Jets guitar solo gives way to the song’s moment of being: a breathless call and response between Rieger and Vic Chesnutt that recalls “I am the Walrus”: “I was you ” (“You were me.”) “He was she.” (“She was he.”) “They were us.” (“We were they.”) Crank it.

The Elves will be putting out a fine new album in April, Back to the Web, on RykoDisc. (If Warner buys Ryko, as promised, does that make this their major label debut?) They’ll also be touring a lot with The Instruments.


I’m taking the night off. Go play with some of Dad’s trippy software.

links of dubious usefulness, no. 4

o Optical Atlas is the blogosphere’s first full-service Elephant 6 Recording Company resource. The last week has been full of news (an E6 documentary!) and goodies (a stunningly crisp, segue-loaded uncirculated Neutral Milk Hotel soundboard from ’97).

o Robert Hillburn interviews Jack White on the occasion of the debut of The Raconteurs, his extracurricular modern pop quartet with Brendan Benson.

o Alexandre Matias’s “The Dark Side of Tropicália, part 1,” published by Perfect Sound Forever in 2003, argues (essentially) that the tropicalistas have assumed an omnipresent cultural dominance in Brazil not unlike their baby boomer equivalents in the United States. Matias’s argument is as uncommon as it is well reasoned. Definitely an interesting read. (But where’s part 2?)

o Back in December, Nature published an article that claimed Wikipedia was only marginally more error-ridden than the mighty Encyclopedia Britannica. Britannica has fired back. Like many, I’m rather enamored with Wikipedia, and this is heartily disheartening on all counts. Nature refuses to retract the piece. (Thanks, Russ.)

frow show, episode 7

Shiek Andy just posted the newest installment of the Frow Show. Word to your mother, Andy!

Listen here.

1. “In and Out of Grace” – Mudhoney (from Superfuzz Bigmuff plus Early Singles)
2. “Frow Show Theme” – MVB
3. “5:30” – DNA (from New York Noise: Dance Music From The New York Underground, 1978-1982)
4. “Corrinna” – Ralph White (from Trash Fish)
5. “When the Stars Shine” – The Instruments (from Billions of Phonographs)
6. “You Can’t See The Stars In This Town” – Sam Champion (from Slow Rewind)
7. “Rocket #9” – Sun Ra (from The Singles)
8. “Second Movement” – Glenn Branca (from Symphony No. 6 (Devil Choirs at the Gates of Heaven))
9. “Sunken Treasure” – Wilco (from June 28, 2005, Metropolis, Montreal, Quebec)
10. “I Shall Not Be Moved” – Mississippi John Hurt (from Live)
11. “Accidentally Like A Martyr” – Jerry Garcia (from All Good Things box set)
12. “I’m Not Here 1956” – Bob Dylan (from Complete Basement Tapes bootleg)

“just another day” – brian eno

“Just Another Day” – Brian Eno (download here)
from Another Day on Earth (2005)
released by RykoDisc/Hannibal (buy)

(file expires on April 3rd)

Last year’s Another Day on Earth, Brian Eno’s first solo collection of songs since 1977, is far from perfect. There’s almost no way to get around the fact that it’s synth-heavy New Age pop. Still, that core melodic gift that made his ’70s music special is present somewhere in nearly all of the tracks. After getting the album, I listened to it a bunch and tucked it away. Whenever one has come on lately, I’ve realized that I remember it and most of the words. He had to have been doing something right.

What “Just Another Day” has going for it is the fact that — on headphones, with one’s eyes closed — its first minute sounds and feels remarkably literally like the first rush of a psychedelic experience. The texture Eno chooses to express this breathtaking stereo-trickery recalls, for better or worse, a sonic approximation of a planetarium laser light show. After that, the song settles down into semi-trite (but, as I said, perfectly memorable) Eno-pop. Still, take a minute, put on your headphones, close your eyes, and zone. When was the last time you were at a laser light show, anyway? Do it ironically, if you need to, but do it.

(Nothing posted yet, but EnoWeb news reports that Robert Fripp’s Discipline Global Mobile site will be selling unreleased Fripp/Eno recordings soon.)

“tropicália” – caetano veloso

“Tropicália” – Caetano Veloso (download here)
from Caetano Veloso (1968)
released by Elektra (1990) (buy)

Yesterday, Os Mutantes announced that, following their May performance in London, they will come to the United States for two gigs, in New York and Los Angeles, respectively. Though it wasn’t on the collective concept album/manifesto that announced the tropicália movement that included the Mutantes, Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, and others, Veloso’s “Tropicália” might as well have been. It’s as fine a template for Brazilian psychedelic music as one could ask for: textural, sophisticated, and beautiful. It’s the chorus that got me. It’s, y’know, toe tappin’.

Not that I understand a lick of them, but the verse lyrics (in translation, via Charles A. Perrone’s Masters of Contemporary Brazilian Song) are pretty boss, too, with phrases like “Its heart swings to a samba’s tambourine / It emits dissonant chords / Over five thousand loudspeakers.” The choruses, especially, are filled with references to Brazilian culture, such as Carmen Miranda and bossa nova, and the verses recall various songs, as well as (according to Perrone) “‘The Letter of Pero Vaz Caminha,’ the first literary document in colonial Brazil.” Heady shit.

recent articles

Album reviews:
Taught To Be Proud – Tea Leaf Green
solo Live Tonic 2002 – Billy Martin
Live at Houston Hall – Billy Martin and Grant Calvin Weston

Columns and misc.:

Only in print:
o Paste #21 (Flaming Lips cover): album reviews of Live, Loose Fur, Gospel Music compilation; DVD review of Joel Gilbert’s Bob Dylan: Rolling Thunder and the Gospel Years; book review of David Mitchell’s Black Swan Green.
o April/May Relix (Frank Zappa cover): Fourteen Instances of Possible Conceptual Continuity (recurring sidebar), Zappaesque or the Story of the Dots (feature on Zappa’s composition, co-written with Matt Van Brink); album reviews of Tom Verlaine and Jack Johnson; film review of The Devil and Daniel Johnston; DVD review of the Velvet Underground.
o Spring Signal To Noise (Elliot Carter cover): album reviews of the Grateful Dead and Dimension Mix compilation.
o March Hear/Say (James Blunt cover): album reviews of Field Notes and Nicolai Dunger.

my favorite lists

It’s hard to get more democratic than an interesting ranking of real data.

o Google Zeitgeist – A wholly important list summarizing the most recent week of searches. They are the top ideas currently circulating, which is sort of a heady concept. John Battelle calls it “the Database of Intentions.”

o Billboard’s Hot Ringtones – This week, Koji Kondo’s “Super Mario Brothers Theme” remains in the top five after 74 weeks on the charts. Harry Mancini’s “Pink Panther Theme” isn’t too far behind. Go meme-pop, go!

o Most emailed stories from the New York Times and USA Today – The most emailed stories aren’t the most important. That is, they’re not usually proper news, about politics or the weather or anything. Rather, they’re stories that grow legs because (like the Google Zeitgeist) they speak to some idea circulating subliminally. It seems as if there is no crossover between the Times and USA Today.

o OCLC’s Top 1000 library books – The Online Computer Library Center compiled this list from the catalogues of over 53,000 libraries around the world. For all the talk I heard about the “demise of the canon” during four years of college English classes, it’s funny to see the canon itself spelled out in relatively hard numbers. It’s also funny to note that #15 — nestled between The Night Before Christmas and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer — is Garfield at Large. Bill Watterson’s eponymous Calvin and Hobbes collection hits at #77 (with a bullet!) (BOMP!). Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan sits at #381. The writings of John Calvin do not chart. (Thanks, Kottke)

Looks like democratic lists are on John Battelle’s mind, too. Here he fantasticates about TVRank.

matamoros puebla, 3/06

My old roommate Kristie and I discovered the secret bonus Mexican joint at the back of the bodega by accident one long ago afternoon. It’s in Williamsburg, right on the main hipster drag of Bedford Avenue. The whole place is crammed with bric-a-brac: piñatas hanging from the ceiling, rows and rows of Latin CDs hanging on the wall, a box of sliced cactus in the dairy case, a numbered cubbyhole nook filled with candy, miniature nativity scenes tucked between the plexiglass and the cash register, refrigerators filled with neon Jarritos sodas, and (if you’ll excuse me) damn fine tacos.

There’s a generic red “FOR SALE” sign taped inside the front window. In the space where one is supposed to write a phone number or an asking price, somebody has simply written “store.” I expect to go there for dinner one night and discover that it’s been shut down, boarded up, and soon to be gutted for a boutique or fancy-ass eyeglasses shop. Each taco could be my last.

pendostanets! (ordovician archives no. 3)

It’s been almost a year since we’ve presented anything from our vast (and daily expanding) Ordovician Archives. Dr. Tuttledge remains in Taiwan, researching. (His collection continues to lie in storage in Manhattan.) We continue, as we can, without him.

One recent development, at least in the blogosphere, is the proliferation of teams of conversational salesmen posting advertisements in the comments sections of blogs. They are the Ordovician equivalent of traveling hucksters who might sidle up to potential customers at a bar and sell them goods and services. Except these salesmen are retarded. Though their offered products span all nine categories of Dr. Tuttledge’s classification system, they are incapable of hawking more than one item. Most frequently, they will begin conversations about poker, no matter what a blog posting is about.

A recent specimen, not having to do with poker, is most fascinating. It was submitted on March 15th as a comment on a previous posting about the New York Word Exchange.


IP Address:
Name: Pendostanets
Email Address: [email protected]


Following the URL, one is rewarded with a “server not found” notification. Yet, the post is quite emphatic about this pendostanets thing. It is, after all, the name of the poster, his email address, his URL, and the entirety of his comment. Pendostanet’s primative means of expression recalls Arrested Development‘s Steve Holt (“Steve Holt!”).

A Google search of the word merely turns up other instances of Mr. Pendostanets posting about himself (“Pendostanets!”) on other blogs. One can only conclude that Pendostanets is no product at all, but some sort of code word for the initiated. Which we are not.

If anyone has any information as to the existence or whereabouts of this Mr. Pendostanets, please contact the Center for Anthropological Computing via the comments section of this blog.

“fille ou garcon (sloop john b)” – stone & the sea of sound

“Fille ou Garcon (Sloop John B)” – Stone (download)
from Femmes de Paris, v. 1 (2002) (buy)
released by Wagram

(file expires March 24th.)

I don’t know much about this French version of “Sloop John B” except a.) it’s awesome and b.) it was introduced to me by wunderkammern27 correspondent Michael Slabach. Michael has just launched a blog as a homebase for his photography and his weekly podcast, The Sea of Sound. “Fille ou Garcon” is exactly the kind of eclectic and otherwise ginchy shit he’s great at turning up. A new edition — brimming with a bunch of tantilizing looking tracks, plus some old faves of mine — just went up today. I can’t wait to check it.

As for the song’s awesomeness, I guess I’m just a straight sucker for ’60s sounds. I love the sugar-coated bounce. It reminds me a little bit of Os Mutantes. But the real treat is the horn part, which is another sample waiting to happen. In the grand scheme of French pop, this is probably cookie-cutter stuff, cranked out in a quick session by some bored arrangers and on-staff musicians. Sophisticated it’s not, but man is it sunshiny.

spring suceeds, 3/06

The weekend’s proto-spring brought Polaroid blue skies, the kind that seem to rush down in greeting as you come out of the darkness of a subway station.

The moment after I took the picture, an MTA worker yelled at me. Taking pictures in the subway, after all, is illegal. You know, to prevent terrorism. It’s a stupid law. I hope the illegality of the evidence doesn’t hold back this shmuck from getting prosecuted.

“harvest moon” – cassandra wilson

“Harvest Moon” – Cassandra Wilson
from New Moon Daughter (1995)
released by Blue Note (buy)

(File expires on April 6th.)

A friend sent this to me very late at night over the weekend (thanks!), and it’s made me happy continuously since then. It’s not seasonal, forgive me, but Cassandra Wilson’s version of Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon” is the most luminescent bauble of a recording I’ve heard in recent memory. It’s long been one of my favorite Young songs, mostly because of its perfect melody, though I’ve always had to get by the semi-hokey Harvest Moon-era production.

Craig Street’s setting for Wilson transmogrifies the song from a campfire strum to a transcendent tone poem of chirping crickets (or a fine simulation), spare ambient percussion, a bowed bass, and — I think — a metallic dobro. There is a perfectly dulcet acoustic guitar lurking there, too, and mixed quite presently, at that. Given the Daniel Lanois-like weirdness of the rest of the voices, though, I didn’t notice it until giving the song a close listen. That’s a good thing, I’m pretty sure. All of these effects subliminally trace the changes, liberating the melody to drift dreamily.

What’s funny and unexpected is that, despite Young’s traditional Nashville-style backing, it’s Wilson’s avant-garde rearrangement that makes the song feel timeless and mysterious to me, like it was lifted from a 78 by a lost chanteuse who recorded four sides in an Oklahoma hotel room sometime between the World Wars. And that’s not to diss Neil Young’s version, ’cause it’s real purdy. But, this…

I vaguely remember my friend Paul playing me an Elliot Smith rendition of this tune back in college. Something to look for another day…

talking heads: 75

Last week, Owen brought over a bootleg DVD of the Talking Heads performing in their original three-piece lineup at CBGBs in December 1975. Needless to say, I was bloody well psyched. What I wasn’t expecting, and what I kind of enjoyed about it, was how bad it was. That’s not meant as an insult.

If anything, it came as a relief. It’s good to know that the Heads didn’t spring from the ground fully formed. During this performance (filmed in black and white), in what appears to be a not-very-packed CBs, the band runs down their early repertoire. David Byrne looks incredibly nervous, far from the charismatic frontman he’d become. Tina Weymouth, though not staring at her feet, doesn’t look much more assured.

The only member of the band who looks (or sounds) remotely comfortable is Chris Frantz, who holds the half-formed songs together with remarkable panache. Even “Psycho Killer,” which pre-dated the Heads’ existence, isn’t quite done. The killer bassline is there, but Byrne doesn’t have the phrasing of the “fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa”s finished yet.

With hindsight, one can see where the music would go, how those weird guitar patterns Byrne plays are his attempt to emulate African rhythms. But for anybody wandering in off the street that night, it must’ve just sounded like noise, maybe even to other punks. Of course, there were probably Heads fans who thought everything after Jerry Harrison joined the band was too polished.

It’s taken for granted that the Heads were art students, but they really look it here, maybe unsure how they ended up playing on the Bowery. It’s all very inspiring, of course, to be able to get that much closer to the germination of the idea, to know that — after the camera stopped rolling — they unplugged their gear and transported it the few blocks back to their loft on nearby Chyristie Street. “The name of this band is Talking Heads,” Byrne says (of course) before they begin. Who?

(If anybody knows where to find this video on the cybernets — it doesn’t appear to be on YouTube yet — please comment or drop me a line.)

“i live in the springtime” – the lemon drops

“I Live in the Springtime” – The Lemon Drops
anthologized on Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From the First Psychedelic Era box set (1998)
released by Rhino (buy)

(file expires on March 21st)

Proto-spring came to Brooklyn in a very real way over the weekend: those first days going out in only a tee-shirt because I can, sleeping with the bedside window open. Of course, it’s supposed get cold again in a few days, but this song — notable, I just realized after a good year or so of listens, for its complete lack of drums — will remain.

winter olympics closing ceremonies, 2/06

useful things, no. 3

The third in an ongoing collection of functional webpages and dork tools (excluding any/all Google programs).

o BitPim — Get into your phone’s file structure and remove or add any data you need. (Having trouble? Poke around the and you might find an answer.)

o TextPayMe — In one of our periodic life-as-sci-fi freakouts, my friends and I got to fantasticatin’ about the day one will be able to transfer money via text message. Unbeknownst to us (but apparently knownst to Rachel) the day is already here. Can’t wait to try this out.

o Encyclopedia — A mini-Wikipedia for the iPod! Hot diggity, this is like a real-life Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. (Thanks, BB.)

o AbeBooks — Sure, Amazon can find you anything you’d want, but AbeBooks’ network of independent used booksellers probably can, too, and with way more character, taboot.

“brazil” – the deady nightshade family singers & cornelius

“Brazil” – Deadly Nightshade Family Singers
from Plain Brown Suit (2000)
self-released (no current website) (buy)

“Brazil” – Cornelius
from Point (2002)
released by Matador (buy)

(files expire on March 15th)

Ary Barroso’s “Brazil” is really one of the loveliest melodies ever written, I think. Though Barroso was Brazilian, his song hardly conjures up images of that sophisticated, chaotic Latin American country for me (probably because it was composed before the advent of bossa nova). Rather, it brings me to some cosmopolitan ’20s getaway that can only be reached by flying in a small plane represented as an advancing dotted line in a travel montage made of maps and stock footage. You know, like in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Excluding Django Reinhardt for no particular reason, the Deadly Nightshade Family Singers and Cornelius have recorded my two favorite versions that I’ve yet heard (please post suggestions if you’ve got others). They’re wildly different. The Nightshades — a macabre chamber string outfit who put out the great Plain Brown Suit in 2000 and then fell off the face of the interwebs — turn in what I (perhaps erroneously) think of as the platonic version. It is thoughtful and romantic. Cornelius completely twists the song on his mindbending Point in 2002, doing away with the signature chromatic riff and filling the song out with electro-acoustic samples, chirping birds, howling dogs, pastoral bleeps, and sputteringly chopped vocals. Somehow, though, it retains everything that I find romantic about the Nightshades’ rendition. This is the definition of a durable song.

yo la tengo WFMU 2006 setlist

Yo La Tengo played their annual all-covers pledge drive for WFMU tonight.

Please comment with corrections. Thanks to Google for the help.

7 March 2006
WFMU Studios
Jersey City, NJ

Batman theme
Bertha (Grateful Dead)
City Hobgoblins (The Fall)
The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man (The Rolling Stones)

Instant Karma (John Lennon)
Zig-Zag Wanderer (Captain Beefheart)
Something In The Air (Thunderclap Newman)
Laugh at Me (Sonny and Cher)

Egyptian Reggae (Jonathan Richman)
Rock and Roll Love Letter (Bay City Rollers)
Starry Eyes (The Records)
You Don’t Miss Your Water (Craig David)
Girl of the North Country (Bob Dylan)

Dead Flowers (The Rolling Stones)
Blister in the Sun (Violent Femmes)
Lay Lady Lay (Bob Dylan)
Suspect Device (Stiff Little Fingers)
I Can’t Make It On Time (The Ramones)

Gut Feeling (Devo)
Holiday (The Bee Gees)
Suzanne (Leonard Cohen)
Don’t Cry No Tears (Neil Young)
I Fought the Law (Bobby Fuller Four)
(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace Love and Understanding? (Nick Lowe)

Happy Birthday to Bruce Bennett
Pay to Cum (Bad Brains)
Do It Again (Steely Dan)
You Make Me Feel So Good (The Zombies)
Heart of Darkness (Pere Ubu)

Alex Chilton (The Replacements)
Jack and Diane (John Mellencamp)
California Girls (The Beach Boys)
Hello Lucille, Are You A Lesbian? (T. Valentine)
Re-Make/Re-Model (Roxy Music)

Should I Stay or Should I Go? (The Clash)
Slack Motherfucker (Superchunk)
Werewolves of London (Warren Zevon), as medley, with bits of Take Me To The River (Al Green), Life on Mars? (David Bowie), Like A Virgin (Madonna), Dr. Robert (The Beatles), Uptown Girl (Billy Joel) and others.

jordan’s, 2/06

After visiting the Watts Towers, we hit an awesome local restaurant, Jordan’s, which has been in business since 1942. The red beans and rice and spicy-ass sausage was mindblowing. Upstairs, where we ate, there was a great (unplugged) jukebox that hadn’t been restocked since sometime in the ’80s. I wasn’t expecting to see a Beatles record.

links of dubious usefulness, no. 3

o Aquarium Drunkard posts what I’m guessing is the August 1967 rehearsal preceding the Beach Boys’ gigs in Hawaii — their last shows (I’m pretty sure) as the original quartet of Brian, Carl, and Dennis Wilson, Mike Love, and Al Jardine. Smile had already combusted, but Brian was still pretty far from a vegetable (though Mike Love’s brutal dickheadedness comes to fore atop what sounds like a great sounding rehearsal of “Heroes and Villains”). Still, the harmonies are brotherly and beautiful. (Thanks, Justin.)

o Yo La Tengo’s Ira Kaplan posts the following:

We want to let you know that once again Yo La Tengo will take to the airwaves of the mighty WFMU and do our best to help them make some well-deserved money. Listen live over (details available on the Schedule page at on Tuesday March 7 from 8 pm – 11 pm, eastern time. Anyone who pledges to the station during that time gets to make a request, and Georgia, James and I — helped out as always by Mr. Bruce Bennett– will do our best to play it. Don’t miss it.

o The New York Times Magazine’s real estate issue proclaims Bourgwick to be the Next Neighborhood (bypass registration) in an article subtitled “How An Undesirable Neighborhood Becomes the Next Hot Spot.” The Times has covered Bourgwick before, but not at this level, with at least a half-dozen color newsprint photos (with circles and arrows!) of places within a two-block spitting range. Unlike the last story, which was about the social development of the place, Robert Sullivan’s piece gets into the mechanics of the neighborhood’s economics. Our neighborhood is very much a satellite of Manhattan, and sometimes seemed pleasantly untouched by the bustle of the big island to the west. (Today, for example, dozens of bike messengers gathered on the basketball court out back and veritably jousted.) Of course it’s ignorant to play naive about the real estate development happening underfoot, but it’s also not something that’s easy to find out about. I need to give the article a better read.

o Two blogs I’ve been quite enjoying of late are the Proceedings of the Athansius Kircher Society and Tinselman — both esoteric cabinets o’ digital wonder, featuring bizarre architecture, optical illusions, and other delights.

links of dubious usefulness, no. 2

o What’s-a-pederast-Walter? dept: the real life Jesus “The Jesus” Quintana. Creepy. (Thanks, Rach.)

o When I was young, the closest thing we had to a town drunk lived down the block from us, and he’d occasionally wander by, talking to himself, having just staggered up the steep hill from Gunther’s Tap Room in the village. Dad would sometimes give him lifts home, and the guy would speak of a fellow drunk he’d known some years ago, named Jack. Jack’s last name happened to be “Kerouac,” then living out some of his final, indescribably depressive years (during which he became an embittered, conservative alcoholic) in Northport. The Daily News has a story about his time there, taking care of his mother. (Shortly, they moved to Florida, where Kerouac died in 1969.)

o In Los Angeles, my friend scored us passes to go see a test screening of Richard Linklater’s Waking Life-style adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly. I was more than psyched. After Daniel ran our cell phones back to the car (no pictures!), and after we lied on the little questionnaires and said we were 26 (only 18-26 year olds, please), junior-level studio dudes from Central Casting marched up and down the line cherry-picking 20 year olds to meet their demographic needs. We ended up past the cut-off point, got a pre-recorded spiel from Central Casting Junior-Level Studio Exec. #2 (who offered us freebies to see a forthcoming John Cusack/Morgan Freeman picture whose major recommendation is that Freeman plays the bad guy), and were sent off into the night. Anyway, here’s a preview for the movie, which — despite my threats to Exec #2 that I’d post bad things about the movie on my blog — looks pretty f’in nifty. (Thanks, Michael.)

o A righteously hilarious short film for music dorks and Other Music patrons (picking up where Jack White’s recent rant ended).

o Speaking of which, Jack White is blogging? I’ll have to check that out in the morning.

recent articles

Album reviews:
Colin Meloy Sings Trad. Arr. Shirley Collins EP – Colin Meloy
Rubber Traits EP – Why?
Dead Drunk EP – Terrestrial Tones

The Hidden Land – Bela Fleck and the Flecktones

Live reviews:
Colin Meloy at Town Hall, 26 January 2006
Phil Lesh and Friends at the Beacon Theater, 15 February 2006

Columns and misc.:
BRAIN TUBA: Theme From the Bottom

Only in print:
o March Spin (My Chemical Romance cover): Noise item on Mothers Against Noise.
o Paste #20 (Philip Seymour Hoffman cover): reviews of John Fahey tribute, Bush Chemists, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, Clogs, Sonic Youth, Robinella, and Taylor Hollingsworth. (These will likely appear eventually on Paste’s website.)
o February 10 Times Herald-Record: preview for (later cancelled) Lou Reed show (n.b.: the TH-R is the newspaper Hunter S. Thompson was fired from for kicking a soda machine).

watts towers, 2/06

Building in his Los Angeles backyard while belting opera, a 4’10” Italian tile layer named Simon Rodia constructed one of the foremost wonders of the modern world between 1921 and 1955: the Watts Towers. Using only a window washer’s harness to convey himself upwards, the towers — the tallest is 90 feet — have survived race riots, earthquakes, and bureaucracy to become a life-affirming marvel of the power of beautiful weirdness. Their complexity — all broken bottles and scrap tiles and shells and rigidly overlaying grids creating a surreal three-masted ship — is overwhelming, and literally awe-inspiring.

(Conceptual continuity fun fact #17: As a neighborhood kid growing up in Watts, a young Charles Mingus occasionally helped Rodia with his work.)