Jesse Jarnow

Archive for May, 2007

notes from the upper deck

o The Wave dissipates around the seats, following a zagging single-file line before dying completely, more like a secret whispered from one fan to another than any kind of groupmind declaration.
o The ball is a pinprick in a massive field of controlled visual noise. It is like the key to a magic eye. Locating it against the crowd can sometimes be like looking at an Escher, the foreground and the background toppling over one another as one tries to pick up if it is fair or foul, high or low, or even which side of the diamond it’s heading towards. For a dizzying fraction of a second (at least far away) it is all of these places simultaneously. Then it is in the first baseman’s glove, and Damion Easley is heading back to the dugout.
o In extra innings, the PA runs into the deep cuts: The Doors’ “Break on Through,” with Ray Manzarek’s long organ solo to keep fans entertained in lieu of DiamondVision gimcracks. Also because, like, the Mets need to break on through & such. Later, the DJ (what would his title be?) whips out “We Will Rock You” — not just the introductory beat to get the crowd stomping, but the actual song, Freddie Mercury verse and all. As a dramatic cue, it really works.
o The booing of Barry Bonds is an amazing, overwhelming sound. Especially on Tuesday, when he doesn’t come in until a late inning pitch hit appearance, and the crowd finally releases their hatred (is that what it is?), it sounds like a jet going over Shea. Wednesday, a plane passed overhead while Bonds was up, and the sounds were indistinguishable.
o The debate over “performance enhancing drugs” rings a bit false, though, if only because science — especially as it relates to baseball — is almost always destined to prove itself mere folk knowledge. From (the recently late) David Halberstam’s Summer of ’49:

The strain of the heat on the pitchers was even more obvious. They kept a jug of orange juice mixed with honey to drink as a pick-me-up and also a bucket filled with ice and ammonia. Gus Mauch would dip a towel in the bucket and drape it over the pitcher’s neck between innings. “Florida water,” they called it. It was believed that water, any amount of it, would bloat you up, make you heavy, and slow you down. So none of the pitchers took even the smallest drink of water during the game. Allie Reynolds, as a special reward to himself if he made it to the seventh inning in the hot weather, would go over to the cooler, take a mouthful, wash it around in his mouth for a moment or two, then spit it out.

Sometimes, the players ate candybars (no water to wash it down) midgame. Other times, they just stuffed ice into their jocks to fight off fatigue.

the fader’s garcia issue & “mountains of the moon” – grateful dead

“Mountains of the Moon” – the Grateful Dead (download) (buy)
recorded 1 March 1969, Fillmore West, San Francisco

(file expires June 6th)

As I’ve been saying all along, the Dead are hip and getting hipper. With the publication of The Fader‘s Jerry Garcia issue (download it fer free!), the circle is complete. It’s official: Jerry’s cool again. And it’s about fucking time.

It is interesting to see Garcia liberated from the thin, crammed pages of Relix and splashed gorgeously across the thick glossy sheets and high modern layouts of The Fader. The editors present a very specific version of Garcia that is far from the genial, bearded fat dude he was for his last 15 years, and who is often still celebrated by the jamband scene. Titled “Jerry Garcia: American Beauty,” only two of the nine photos of Garcia (including full-sized front & back cover shots) feature the iconic beard. Instead, we get the doe-eyed beatific boy from San Francisco.

Arranged as an oral history/appreciation, the spread features quotes from the usual suspects (Bob Weir, Mountain Girl, David Grisman), but also pontificatin’ from various hipster musicians, including Devendra Banhart, Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse, Craig Finn of the Hold Steady, duder from Animal Collective, and others. Though they missed a few good quotables (no Lee Ranaldo?), they all present alternative readings on how to listen to the Dead. Alternative to the Deadhead mainstream, that is.

What happens now that the Dead are seemingly back in the dialogue, I have no idea.

“blue bayou” – roy orbison

“Blue Bayou” – Roy Orbison (download) (buy)
from Mean Woman Blues 7-inch (1963)
released by Monument Records

(files expires June 5th)

Along with Depression-era standard “Big Rock Candy Mountain,” Roy Orbison’s “Blue Bayou” is a semi-secular utopia fantasia. It is a most pleasant subgenre, which also includes Bob Dylan’s “Beyond the Horizon” and countless others. Just as the opening shot of “Big Rock” is lit by “the jungle fires… burning” in a hobo shantytown, “Blue Bayou” begins under the spotlight of any ol’ C&W bar. “I’m so lonesome all the time,” Orbison croons over a plain kickdrum heartbeat before the cooing back-up singers, lazy harmonica, and an airy clavichord (?) transport the listener to a more pastoral scene, a place “where you sleep all day and the catfish play.” Who doesn’t like a good utopia now & again? It really works. Hope everyone got good and lost in their own blue bayous over the long weekend.

the coen brothers’ tuileries

“Tuileries,” the Coen brothers’ contribution to Paris, Je T’aime, might as well be a silent short titled “Donnie Goes to Paris.” To my ugly American ears, the French dialogue is just part of the soundtrack — and, either way, is totally unnecessary to understand the story, which is conveyed via pantomime. Not a significant work by any stretch, it’s still an entertaining exercise in how to retain one’s own voice while working inside a genre. For the Coens, that means abusing the shit out of Steve Buscemi in some new way. (Thanks, MVB.)

some recent articles

More A Semiotician Than A Guitarist: Marc Ribot Goes to Jail” (
Trey Anastasio’s Empty House” (

Album reviews:
Mago – Billy Martin and John Medeski (Relix)
Gilberto Gil – Gilberto Gil (

Book review:
Third Coast: OutKast, Timbaland, and How Hip-Hop Became A Southern Thing – Roni Sarig (Paste)

Track review:
2…” – Lorkakar (

BRAIN TUBA: Devil’s Advocacy (

Only in print:
June Relix (Jeff Tweedy cover): feature on Europe ’72, album reviews of Wilco, Billy Martin and John Medeski, Soul Sides, and Michael Barry; book review of John Peel.
Paste #32 (Parker Posey cover): feature interview with Haruki Murakami; film review of Crazy Love.

frow show, episode 20

Episode 20: Theme Time Bobcast no. 66
…a smattering of bobscurities…

Listen here.

1. “Bob Dylan’s 49th Beard” – Jeff Tweedy (from 3/5/2005 Vic Theater
2. “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” – Bob Dylan (from 10/16/1992 Madison Square Garden)
3. “Frow Show Theme” – MVB
4. “On A Rainy Afternoon” – Bob Dylan & the Band (from Complete Basement Tapes)
5. “See You Later, Allen Ginsberg” – Bob Dylan & the Band (from Complete Basement Tapes)
6. “I’m Not Here 1956” – Bob Dylan & the Band (from Complete Basement Tapes
7. “Santa Fe” – Bob Dylan & the Band (from Complete Basement Tapes)
8. “Winterlude” – Bob Dylan (from New Morning)
9. “You’re A Big Girl Now” – Bob Dylan (from Blood on the Tracks acetate)
10. “Up To Me” – Bob Dylan (from Blood on the Tracks acetate)
11. “Every Grain of Sand” – Bob Dylan (from Shot of Love)
12. “A Couple More Years” – Bob Dylan (from Hearts of Fire film)
13. “John Hardy” – Bob Dylan & the Grateful Dead (from Dylan & the Dead rehearsals)
14. “One Too Many Mornings” – Bob Dylan (from 11/1993 Supper Club)
15. “Tomorrow Night” – Bob Dylan (from Good As I Been To You)
16. “Moonlight” – Bob Dylan (from “Love & Theft”)

the lamps of ben-bow, 5/07

what’s the frequency, omar?

Wow, the Man came crashing down swiftly on occasional Mets prospect Lastings Milledge for his participation in Soul-Ja Boi Records & Manny D’s “Bend Ya Knees” single, huh? There’s a nice multi-faceted discussion over at MetsBlog. Mostly, I’m just curious to hear the damn song — it seems to have been deleted from the Soul-Ja Boi website, their MySpace page has apparently been disappeared, and when I emailed their info@ addy, I got a big, fat “delivery to the following recipient failed permanently” bounceback. WTF? Anybody got an mp3?

“wave backwards to massachusetts” – hallelujah the hills

“Wave Backwards to Massachusetts” – Hallelujah the Hills (download) (buy)
from Collective Psychosis Begone (2007)
released by Misra

(file expires May 24th)

It was the song titles — “It’s All Been Downhill Since the Talkies Started To Sing,” “To All My Scientist Colleagues I Bid You Farewell” — that got me to listen to Hallelujah the Hills. Historical accuracies aside (the first talkie, Al Jolson in The Jazz Singer, sure sung) I’m glad I did, because the music is every bit as original. I love the first 30 seconds of “Wave Backwards to Massachusetts,” and like the rest a great deal. In some ways, it sounds like smart, vintage ’90s power pop as arranged by Neutral Milk Hotel, or some other ragged-but-right indie outfit. That is, pretty much every instrumental part here could be played by some combination of clean & dirty electric guitars, carefully layered. Instead, we get acoustic, trumpet, cello, and distorted vocal. It’s all oversaturated emotion, that particular trait of turn-of-the-century indie rock, and it’s really enjoyable. Besides having a trumpet player and a cellist (and who doesn’t these days?), Hallelujah the Hills don’t seem to have a particular gimmick. And that’s awesome. They’re just a really good band. I’m not sure if that really flies anymore, but maybe the existence of their Collective Psychosis Begone debut, out next month on Misra, is gimmick enough.

notes from the upper deck

o It feels kind of, er, un-American to sing “God Bless America” during the 7th Inning Stretch. It feels hypocritical that it is only done on Sundays. I’ll stand for “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” though.

o Mama’s of Corona is easily the best food I’ve found at Shea. It is buried on the field level, accessible to Upper Deck groundlings, via a back hallway at gate B3 (though this article says there’s one in the mezzanine, too.) (Thx, Gary.)

o Much more on Michael Lewis’s Moneyball as it sinks in. An odd side effect of the Bill James/Billy Beane school of general managership: though it rewards deep, impersonal stats, on the playing field itself, it often emphasizes classically idiosyncratic baseball characters, such as Chad Bradford, the sidewinding Alabama Baptist, or Scott Hatteberg, the pitch-count-racking catcher-turned-first-basemen. (I’m only four years late to the party on this one.)

o During the last homestand, Shea’s grass was cut in criss-crossed diamond patterns. This time out, it radiates outwards from homeplate like sunbeams, growing wider and bolder as they reach the outfield, each a miniature replication of a baseball field’s implied infiniteness.

trey anastasio’s empty house (greatest misses #7)

“Empty House” – Trey Anastasio (download) (buy)

What with Trey Anastasio beginning his court-ordered dry-out, it seems a fine time to post a profile I wrote for last summer that got killed when RS instead ran an Austin Scaggs Q&A where Trey admitted to freebasing and, er, listening to Neutral Milk Hotel.

Also, “Empty House,” while not a terribly original sentiment, is one of the few cuts from last year’s Bar 17 that (I think) is unequivocally rather good, a solid Paul Simon-like ballad in a sea of acoustic tripe.

Empty House
by Jesse Jarnow

Trey Anastasio could be having a nervous breakdown. Either that, or everything is just really funny. Anastasio laughs a lot.

The 42-year old ex-Phish guitarist laughs about the label he has just started, Rubber Jungle, which released his own Bar 17 in early October, and how he found the term on a website for hot air balloon enthusiasts. He laughs about touring with yet another version of his solo band, as he will for most of this autumn. He laughs about how the album’s two year creation was one of great catharsis, so much so that he’s not even sure if the songs are good or not.

And he laughs when asked about the decidedly dark tenor of the recording, which features titles like “Let Me Lie,” “What’s Done,” and — during one particularly uplifting stretch — “Empty House,” “Gloomy Sky,” and “Shadow.”

“Did you ever see Mighty Wind?” Anastasio asks. “When Mitch and Mickey break up, [Eugene Levy’s Mitch] puts out those three albums?” While Bar 17 isn’t exactly Songs From A Dark Place or Cry For Help, the comparison isn’t unwarranted.

Begun during the disintegration of Phish in 2004, and temporarily shelved for the buoyant summer-pop of 2005’s Shine, Bar 17 is part expansive modern rock and part mid-life crisis. Elaborate big band breakdowns (“Cincinnati”), playful orchestral epics (“Goodbye Head”), and earnest horn-driven head-bobbers (“Mud City”) are liberally distributed, but so are a half-dozen acoustic numbers with exquisitely representative titles.

As the veteran Vermont jamband closed up shop, Anastasio fled Burlington, first for Atlanta, where he recorded Shine (working title nixed by then-label Columbia: A Circular Dive), and then Brooklyn, where he decamped at collaborator Bryce Goggin’s Trout Studios.

“Everything is good now,” says Anastasio, who is again spending time in Vermont, and recently toured with ex-Phishmate Mike Gordon. “But for a year there, it was hard to see clearly, not to mention the fact that I was such a wreck, to top it all off. Probably virtually everybody else I knew was waking up from six years of raging, or ten, all at the same time.”

“It was some shit to go through. It becomes cathartic to write this stuff, and there’s no value judgment about whether you’re writing good music or bad music. You’re writing just to clear your head.”

Following the souring of Anastasio’s relationship with Columbia — which included both Sony’s digital rights management debacle and Shine‘s poor reception by Phishheads — Anastasio spent his time on Bar 17. Anastasio clearly enjoys company with his catharsis. Either that, or he just hates being alone. “I really like collaborating,” he says. “It doesn’t make any difference if they’re a musician or not.”

In fact, one common trait of the scattered sessions that produced Bar 17 was their spontaneity. Even when jamming with world-class instrumentalists, the work was sudden, such as when Anastasio and Goggin roused Phish bassist Mike Gordon and indie-jam upstarts the Benevento Russo Duo late one Brooklyn night. For the man who piloted the country’s foremost jamband for two decades, this should come as no surprise.

Non-musicians included Anastasio’s 10-year old daughter Eliza (lyricist on “Goodbye Head”), and a sailboat captain named Kevin Hoffman (who was unaware Anastasio was demoing “A Case of Ice and Snow” into his cell phone at two in the morning in a St. Martin hotel room).

Anastasio says he is fond of the “fly-by-night” approach. And though Phish were known for their improvisation, Anastasio often describes how hard it was to maneuver them as their popularity grew. It is likely not coincidental that he describes the quick writing and recording of 2005’s Shine as “reactionary.”

“In 1996, we were already talking about how huge the scene had become, and the sense of entitlement around Phish. It’s virtually impossible not to get sucked up into it yourself. I’m completely guilty of that. It never stopped. It just kept going and going and going. Same old story.

Anastasio grows philosophical. “You’re surrounded by people who have an interest, everybody has an interest, and you lose yourself. Any kind of art is an attempt to point at something bigger than human beings. That’s what art is. It’s always a failure, it’s destined to fail, all art. But sometimes people can point a little bit, and sometimes people can get a glimpse of something beyond humans. But if you start celebrating the human who’s doing it, you have a problem, ’cause it’s not supposed to be about the person.”

He sighs again. “It just got so big, so many people, so much money, so many expectations, that we just lost our bearings.”

Part of Anastasio’s attempt to regain his footing has been a return to one of his first loves: composition. Though Phish started partially as an outlet for Anastasio’s fugues and mini-musicals, they rapidly evolved into their own beast. After releasing Seis de Mayo in 2004, a collection of string quartets, Dixieland fantasias, and bursting prog-rock, Anastasio met Don Hart while preparing for a Bonnaroo performance with the Nashville Chamber Orchestra.

“Before I started [Bar 17],” Anastasio remembers, “we started having lunch in New York City, and talking about ways we could integrate the string thing, into the rock music I do, improvised music. He did the arrangements on this album, and he did a great job.

“Sometimes, it sounds like the strings are riffing off the guitar solo, and sometimes it sounds like the guitar solo is riffing off the strings,” Anastasio says, describing the construction of “Shadow.” “We spent a lot of time talking about how to accomplish that. I like the sound and I like the emotion it can bring, but it can get real cheesy, if you’re not careful. Whoa, here comes the orchestra!” Anastasio laughs again.

“dangerous match #1” – scientist

“Dangerous Match #1” – Scientist (download here)
from Scientist Wins the World Cup (1982)
released by Greensleeves (buy)

(file expires May 21st)

It never ceases to amaze me how many genres were invented almost entirely by accident:

Given the heavy demand for dub mixes from sound systems preparing for weekend dances, it is important to realize that these mixes were improvised on the spot, with a mimimum of pre-planning. Most dub mixing was done on Friday evenings, when producers deposited their master tapes with engineers, and sound system operators gathered at the studio so that each could be given a unique mix of a currently popular tune. (via Michael Veal’s Dub: Soundscapes & Shattered Songs in Jamaican Culture)

That and the dub tracks that we hippies mellow-out to were intended to be blasted at massive volume, with DJs toasting on top of them — still tripped-out and all, but in a very different way. Accidents will happen.

(I recommend this Scientist cut — and the whole album, for that matter — with a tall glass of chocolate milk. Speaking of which…)

“one true vine” – wilco

“One True Vine” – Wilco (download here)
Sky Blue Sky b-side (2007)
(Not sure what this is the b-side to, exactly. Just a free-floater, mayhaps.)

(file expires May 18th)

What lite! If “One True Vine” sounds Jesus-y, it’s because it is. “I am the true vine,” sez John 15:1. This stands to reason, of course, because the Walrus was Paul and Jeff Tweedy, ergo, must write more mid-tempo ballads. Goo goo gajoob. What’s funny — though maybe not ha-ha funny — is that the lyrics are fairly consistent with a born again confession. “You set me free from this mighty, mighty fire,” Tweedy sings. That doesn’t mean it’s not a love song, too, though it lacks the songwriter’s usual self-deprecating sadness. If it’s a sturdy image — and a good chunk of those Biblical ones are, nice poets them prophets — I’m not as sure about the song itself. It seems like straight testifyin’, but there’s nothing majestic about its delivery. No gospel organ solo/whatever. Perhaps it was slotted before “What Light” on the Sky Blue Sky and scratched because it was redemption overload.

frow show, episode 19

Episode 19: Transmission from the Brookland
…and the creatures I found there…

Listen here.

In response to James’ awesome Portland mix from a few episodes back: all local NYC/Brooklyn acts.

1. “Love Is” – The Wowz (from Go Figure EP)
2. “Frow Show Theme” – MVB
3. “A Great Divide” – Parts & Labor (from Stay Afraid)
4. “Ed Is A Portal” – Akron/Family (from WNYC Studio Demos, 10/06)
5. “Busted Old Church” – O’Death (from Head Home)
6. “Don’t Worry” – Skeletons & the Kings of All Cities (from Lucas)
7. “Happy Hour Blues” – Steven Bernstein & the Millennial Territory Orchestra (from Millennial Territory Orchestra, v. 1)
8. “Lazy Susan” – Oakley Hall (from Gypsum Strings)
9. “We Found A Map” – The Claps
10. “Slow Rewind” – Sam Champion (from Slow Rewind)
11. “Aynotchesh Yererfu” – The Budos Band (from The Budos Band)
12. “Memphis” – The Duo (from Play Pause Stop)

the team. the time. the one last nostalgic use of the marketing campaign. (greatest misses #6)

(A foray into longer-form baseball writing in the form of a review of Shout! Factory’s 2006 Mets highlights reel, The Team. The Time. The 2006 Mets..)

“You’re gonna have to learn your clichés,” Kevin Costner’s Crash Davis advises Tim Robbins’ Nuke LaRouche in 1988’s Bull Durham. “You’re gonna have to study them, you’re gonna have to know them. They’re your friends. Write this down: ‘we gotta play it one day at a time.'”

“It’s pretty boring,” LaRouche says.

“‘Course it’s boring,” Davis responds. “That’s the point.”

Nineteen seasons later — LaRouche, perhaps, having just wrapped up a respectable alternate-universe career as a dependable mid-rotation starter — Robbins has certainly learned his. Narrating The Team. The Time. The 2006 Mets, the now-veteran actor spits them out fast and furious, along with nearly every commentator, Met, vet, and front office rep to offer commentary.

And, like Davis says, that’s the point. Despite baseball’s infinite facets, cliché remains the dominant public language of the game, and there’s no reason to suspect that will change anytime soon.

“This town is about winning,” General Manager Omar Minaya notes at one point, completely clearing that up. “It starts with our passion for playing the game,” observes manager Willie Randolph in a totally winning white turtleneck. “The 2006 Mets personified heart and courage,” Robbins intones as Carlos Beltran slams into (I think) the Astrodome wall. Things, in short, that might be said about any (the) team at any (the) time.

In a way, all of that seems perfectly obvious. Of course David Wright is going to regurgitate platitudes like “I think winning’s contagious.” Clichés let the game speak for itself, mindless chatter between highlights clips. And what highlights clips: Carlos Delgado rocketing a shot into the rightfield bullpen in the 16th inning against Philadelphia on May 23rd, Jose Reyes completing his June 21st cycle with a single, Jose Valentin acknowledging the transcendent power of his moustache.

Stache’s ‘stache, as it turns out, is a reminder that highlights reels don’t have to be clichés. Really, a DVD about the 2006 Mets could just as easily plug the gaps between walk-off wins by talking about mechanics, like what knowledge leather-faced Rickey Henderson imparted on bright-eyed/bushy-tailed Reyes in the art of stealing bases, or the practically spiritual strength Tom Glavine draws from his routines. Or a feature reflecting the culturally rich clubhouse. Or even just the lovely and human story of the seemingly over-the-hill Valentin earning the hell out of a starting spot at second base.

Instead, we get acoustic guitar shorthanding for the sadness of Pedro Martinez’s mid-campaign meltdown, though no actual footage of the events. Even by highlights films standards, some of it’s pretty bad. By contrast, the plum delightful 1986 reel, A Year To Remember, created its narrative authority by including (for example) footage of an errant throw by Gary Carter smashing into Mookie Wilson’s face and shattering his sunglasses. Plus, they had montages. Crazy, bad-ass ’80s montages set to Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Glenn Frey. You know, from the Eagles. (The Eagles of Los Angeles, that is, not Philadelphia.)

Few of the clichés are inaccurate, either. After all, the Mets did finish 2006 tied for the best record in baseball, and a host of other accomplishments. But, with chapter names like “Chemistry,” “Resiliency,” and “Optimism,” it’s also kind of patronizing. Cute marketing brand, the whole definite-article/parallel construction the-team-the-time thing, but maybe not very accurate as far as titles go, given that the Mets didn’t even make it to the World Series. In the end, the true tenor of a baseball season — for player and fan alike — is multitudes more complex than “Chemistry” and “Optimism.”

Instead of the World Series, though, what we got — and what we get here, augmented by dramatic orchestral hits — is Endy Chavez creating a real, honest-to-Keith capital-M baseball Moment. And, while that’s maybe not as good as brute force world champ bragging rites, it’s also much richer: that concentrated flash of pure joy deeply colored by the fated ending just an inning later. It’s not victory, but it’s something to hold onto — and, in the form of The Team. The Time. The DVD, it takes physical form.

We bought the ticket, we took the ride, and the Mets lost. The latter fact feels (and is) entirely secondary on The Team. The Time. The 2006 Mets.. And, really, it is, owing primarily to another life-affirming cliché: we’ll get ’em next year. And we will. Both the bragging rights and the bitchin’ montages.

“huck’s theme” – bob dylan

“Huck’s Theme” – Bob Dylan (download here)
from Lucky You OST (2007)
released by Columbia Records (buy)

(file expires May 10th)

Here’s the newest Dylan tune, “Huck’s Theme,” from the soundtrack to Lucky You, a movie I don’t know anything about and — given Dylan’s previous soundtrack contributions — probably don’t need to. I’m not sure how I feel about the song. I like how it begins, with an arrangement that at least aims for the transcendent in the drone of steel guitar and organ even if the synthiness of the organ prevents it from getting there.

But then the drums kick in, and — my God — do I hate what they do here: the big, plodding beat doesn’t add anything, just sort of serves as a default tempo. But I do like the melody, and the lyrics seem like a perfectly serviceable catch-all of Dylan couplets, even if they don’t cohere into any one mood. Still, there’s some good stuff: “When I kiss your lips, the honey drips, I’m gonna have to put you down for a while,” is a pleasant, tender thought. And “all the merry little elves can go hang themselves, my faith is as cold as can be” plays like a scroogey Christmas version of Dylan’s late-period Southern gentleman on the skids.

I do wonder if Dylan’s gonna ever try reinventing himself again. Of course, that’s what makes the reinventions compelling: they all seem like the “real” Dylan at the time. Unfortunately, “Huck’s Theme” doesn’t seem quite weird enough to be worth considering all too seriously.

winter & the smelless girl, no. 2

“Her Grandmother’s Gift” – Yo La Tengo (download) (buy)

(Sporadic fiction.)

Winter & the Smelless Girl: no. 1, no. 2

There are many urban economies, preying on tourists being only one. The afternoon I was first approached, I participated in several. I had just gotten back to the city, and had errands to run. I bought from the gray market, purchasing new headphones at a dubious electronics chop shop on 14th Street, and spent local, eating pizza from a dingy slice stand. I was returning from my black market acquisition — some Ritalin from a friend of a former co-worker — when it happened.

The afternoon was bright, and the snow made even the dingiest car hoods blindingly luminescent. I squinted into the avenue ahead, searching for the subway entrance, and brushed past the man without looking. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw his sunglasses drop. “Sorry,” I called, spotting the stairs. He followed me. “These are scratched,” he said. “I’m sorry,” I said again. In a minute, the encounter was over.

In bed that night, I fretted: what if I had scratched the man’s pair of $70 sunglasses. I buried my head in the pillow the smelless girl had slept on 24 hours previous. It was worse than a void, but like lucid daylight cast onto my thoughts when I craved the free-associative release of sleep. The next morning, I woke repeatedly before my alarm.

some recent articles

Book review:
Tearing Down the Wall of Sound – Mick Brown
He’s A Rebel – Mark Ribowsky
Inside the Music of Brian Wilson – Philip Lambert (London Times)

Track reviews:
Open Your Heart” – Lavender Diamond (
The Pushers” – Wooden Wand (
Omstart” – Cornelius (
The Crystal Cat” – Dan Deacon (

Album reviews:
The Search – Son Volt (Paste)
Headphones Jam – Phish (Relix)
Page McConnell – Page McConnell (

Film review:

BRAIN TUBA: Department of Ombudsmanship
BRAIN TUBA: The Gentrification Tax (A Reasonable Proposal)

(accompanying my lovely buildingmate in her 365Songbird Project, my contribution in parentheses)
My Personal Genius” (guitar)
The Tambourine Takes Soul” (bass)
Kevin Federline is a Douchebag” (bass/vocals)
Jesse’s Eye” (bass/inspirado)

Only in print:
o April/May Relix (album art cover): mini-essay on the future of album art; album reviews of Phish, Tin Hat, and Kieran Hebden and Steve Reid; book reviews of Billy Martin’s Riddim and Mitch Myers’ Boy Who Cried Freebird. All typos added by Relix staffers, for your convenience.
o Paste #30 (Modest Mouse cover): film review of First Snow, DVD review of the Decemberists.
o Paste #31 (Hold Steady cover): album review of Patti Smith, book review of Roni Sarig’s Third Coast, film review of Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie For Theaters.