Jesse Jarnow

Archive for September, 2007

in which the spirit of doc gooden cries out for peace, love, and three more m’fucking victories through the medium of a beach towel, 9/07

bob dylan with the band, 20 january 1968, carnegie hall

“I Ain’t Got No Home” (download) (buy)
“Dear Mrs. Roosevelt” (download) (buy)
“The Grand Coulee Dam” (download) (buy)

As Dylan obscurities go, his one-off 1968 Woody Guthrie tribute gig with the Band (billed as the Crackers) at Carnegie Hall is pretty fantastic. There’s no reason for its rarity, given the fact that it is on an official release from a major label. Though it’s the Band behind him, not the amazing Nashville session cats who populated the then-new John Wesley Harding, the sound still recalls a stately and tantalizing outgrowth of that just-released album, coupled with all the grace found during the long, lazy sessions in the Big Pink basement, concluded a few months earlier. “Dear Mrs. Roosevelt,” especially, sounds drawn from the same landscape as the Biblical parables of JWH. The amphetamine urgency of the thin, wild mercury period is mellowed, not yet shot through with the anti-hope reflected through his mirrored sunglasses that marked his next tour, still six years away. (Thanks to Dr. Mooney for posting.)

frow show, episode 28

Episode 28: Bring Me the Head of José Lima
Listen here.

1. “Lazy Days” – Flying Burrito Brothers (from Burrito Deluxe)
2. “Frow Show Theme” – MVB
3. “End of an Era” – Yo La Tengo (from Old Joy OST)
4. “Hallgallo” – Neu (from Neu!)
5. “Komentenmelodie 2” – Kraftwek (from Autobahn)
6. “Arpeggi” – Jonny Greenwood and Thom Yorke (from 2005/03/27 Ether Festival)
7. “Smear” – Jonny Greenwood (form London Sinfonietta Label: Jerwood Series, v. 2)
8. “Popcorn Superhet Receiver” – Jonny Greenwood (from BBC recording)
9. “So Long, Old Bean” – Devendra Banhart (from Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon)

baseball as dumb show

It has been said often enough that baseball is a game of inches: of a ball that shoulda/coulda/mighta gone foul, of subtle pitch placement, of the exact angle of the bat as it makes contact. But, from the stands, baseball is a dumb show, able only to communicate in the broadest of strokes.

We do anything we can to infer personality from the players. Standing in repose as they do for most of the game — at bat waiting for a pitch (literally in a stance), on the mound waiting for a batter — this is pretty easy. It’s how they approach the plate, or head back to the dugout after grounding out weakly to second. But these are all actions that occur within a formal language, and the result is archetypes: speedy tricksters, crafty veterans, tragic journeymen, graceful future Hall of Famers who move like ghosts through the dugout.

Like the improvised characters in Italian commedia dell’arte, they are recognized instantly and understood for their behaviors. In some ways, at least as far as on-field personalities go, there is rarely anything new under the sun. Sometimes, there is, especially as the racial texture of the game changes, the make-up of pro ball having very much changed from the children of immigrants to immigrants themselves. But these changes are slow.

But, it’s baseball, and they don’t need to be fast. With between 10 and 13 characters on stage at a time with dozens more waiting in the wings (hundreds, if you count the players in the minors), multiplied by 162 games per team/per year (around 2,400 in all of Major League Baseball), the possibilities for sustained drama are functionally infinite.

But we hone in on specific personalities inside the noise, which is why we can so readily read pictures like this in ways that have nothing to do with stolen bases or batting averages or any other kind of detached statistic.

some recent articles.

Book review:
Spook Country – William Gibson (Paste)

Album reviews:
I’ll Follow You – Oakley Hall (Paste)
Indie Weirdo Round-Up, featuring: Caribou, Nels Cline Singers, Dr. Delay, Marissa Nadler, Odd Nosdam (
Indie Weirdo Round-Up, featuring: Bishop Allen, Sir Richard Bishop, Diplo, Kamikaze Ground Crew, Patton Oswalt, Brazil 70 comp. (

Track reviews:
Boy With A Coin” – Iron and Wine (
Phenomena” – Akron/Family (
No Dreams” – Oakley Hall (
I Used To Try” – Nancy Elizabeth (

Live reviews:
Bob Dylan at Jones Beach, 29 June 2007
Os Mutantes at Rose Hall, 17 July 2007

Columns & misc.:
Georgie in the Sky, microfiction
BRAIN TUBA: i is in ur ipod listening to ur spams (
BRAIN TUBA: The Infinite Improbability of the Boognish (

Only in print:
Paste #36 (Iron and Wine cover): album review of Oakley Hall; film review of Romance & Cigarettes; DVD review of Yo La Tengo/Jean Painlevé
September/October Relix (Ben Harper cover): album reviews of Thurston Moore, Sir Richard Bishop, The Sadies.

have read/will read dept.

o Jonathan Lethem in typical ,2159869,00.html”>nerd/pomo freefall.

o Gödel, Escher, Bach mastermind Douglas Hofstadter reviews the latest by Language Instinct brainiac Steven Pinker.

o A five-year old interview with the founders of my favorite permanent semi-floating party in Brooklyn.

o A long essay by Marcus Boon about Sublime Frequencies and ethnopsychedelic field recording.

o An even longer history of vernacular web design.

a baseball field on the last day of summer, 9/07

“The postseason is all about extending the summer, ” my friend Russ said last night, waxing philosophical sometime not long after I demanded the head of José Lima. For being the best, the World Series teams are allowed the pleasure of going to the ballpark day after day, reveling in the mechanics of routines they perfected in earlier, golden light, even as the leaves die and the sun changes.

“summer turns to high” – r.e.m.

“Summer Turns To High” – R.E.M. (download) (buy)
from Reveal (2001)
released by Warner Brothers

“Summer Turns To High” has lingered on a few summer playlists, and I’ve been meaning to post about it for a while. The season being what it is, though, I figure I better hop to it.

In his most excellent contribution regarding Stereolab’s Transient Random Noise Bursts With Announcements to the recent Marooned anthology, Douglas Wolk made a sadly unattributed reference to an academic study that somehow proved that one hears the most meaningful music of his life at the age of 22-and-a-half. While that makes perfect sense for a discovery of Neutral Milk Hotel (as occurred roughly that month for me), it probably also goes a long way in explaining my undying attraction to R.E.M.’s generally reviled Reveal (which I’ve posted about before).

So many of the song’s sins are circumstantial, like the sterile folktronica washes, which seems a totally understandable type of cutting edge to adopt for guys of R.E.M.’s age and could just as easily be reimagined with a Glenn Kotche-like narrative drumbeat (hinted at, for example, beneath the line “hopes and dragonflies”). Beyond that, it’s R.E.M.: Michael Stipe’s obtuse transformations, and — especially — that twangy Peter Buck guitar fill at the end of the chorus. What makes it compelling is that there is a song in there, like a shape in the shifting heat. What makes it divisive is how arbitrary the production is. It could be set in front any of those backdrops. It’s beautiful, but — for that — feels spineless, musically speaking, only able to be appreciated properly by a 22-and-a-half year old wanting an R.E.M. album of his own.

“Summer Turns To High” hung around in morningtime with me for a good chunk of late summer, and was quite useful, nestled between the Beach Boys and John Fahey. I love the way the drums come in, the baroque arrangement under the verses, the subliminal high percussion part that comes in. And, in the fall, it will linger, too, as if it’d absorbed extra warmth to last as the fall arrives.

a brief dip into meta-criticism

“Seahorse” – Devendra Banhart (download)

Reviewing is a guessing game, no matter how informed one is: a guess about what the contents will do with time. Will the melodies lodge and reemerge later as lyric fragments? Will the textures — of the music, of the medium — bond with the changes in the season and permanently lash to an ultimately arbitrary time and place? Listening is ephemeral, of course, but what’s really there? Is there something there? What’s left when the newness of context falls away? In that sense, it’s terribly unfair to review an album after even after a few months of listening.

To use an indie-safe example: when I wrote about the Shins’ Chutes Too Narrow upon its release, I listened a bunch, took it for absolutely decent standard-grade rawk, tucked it away, and forgot about it. That is, until months later, when I heard it played under the din of bar chatter between bands at Webster Hall, at which point I realized I knew nearly every melodic turn. Go figure. Once I got past the relative blandness of the more guitar pop, it was mondo groovy.

I reviewed two albums today by two other indieish standard bearers: Devendra Banhart and Iron and Wine. One grabbed me. The other didn’t. One seemed like a real step forward for an artist I didn’t quite get previously. The other seemed like a goofy step straight into the middle of the road for a musician I’d grokked instantly on his previous discs. Is that how they’re going to hold up, though? I really don’t know, but one can look for familiar signs: a certain way the guitars are recorded, a certain vagueness in the lyrics that suggests their abstraction will be useful, a preponderance of a certain mood. That’s all they are, really: guesses about how people might want to spend their time in the future.

I sometimes think about Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape artist who designed Central Park, who intended for his work come into full bloom only with a century of time. Not that most musicians are as good or functional or meaningful at their work as Olmsted was with his, or that their work will make any sense whatsoever a century from now, but — by their very nature of captured time reproduced — albums are somehow like that. All they’ve got is the promise of future meaning.

“end of an era” – yo la tengo

“End of an Era” – Yo La Tengo (download)
from Old Joy OST (2006)

(file expires September 23rd)

I’m not sure what the proper name of this tune is, but it’s one of a few extended Yo La Tengo instrumentals in Kelly Reichardt’s Old Joy. The voice at the top is Bonnie Prince Palace himself, Will Oldham, playing the role of Kurt with perfectly burnt detachment. With little overt drama, just submerged tensions rippling the surface, the picture plays like a short story — no surprise, given that it was based on one by Jonathan Raymond. Like this YLT’s contributions to the score, Old Joy is an extended mood piece, the whole reflected patiently in each of its parts. Absolutely worth seeing.

useful things, no. 8

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

o Virgil Griffith’s WikiScanner lets you see which organizations’ employees are editing Wikipedia entries.
o TV Links: full movies, TV shows, etc.., organized fairly immaculately. Like YouTube, if the Man never noticed it.
o provides international calling card codes at cut rates waaay better than the bodega.
o TubeTV allows the user save videos from YouTube and other embedded sources.
o Like Robert DeNiro’s renegade plumber in Brazil NYC iPod Doctor does out-of-service/unauthorized iPod repairs on street corners — and now, apparently, via the mails. We’re all in this together.


“Atlas” – Battles (download) (buy)

The soundtrack to “Architecture” — composed by Tom Vuozzo (aka Tom Perry) — is wiggy, electronic, and great… but I also couldn’t resist posting some math-rock to accompany it. Start at any point in “Atlas” & it should do just fine. Thanks to YouTube user sawing14s for putting it up.

For more Al Jarnow animation, click here.

frow show, episode 27

Episode 27: 27272727272727.

Listen here.

1. “Williamsburg Will Oldham Horror” – Jeffrey and Jack Lewis (from City and Eastern Songs)
2. “Windfall” – Son Volt (from Trace)
3. “Frow Show Theme” – MVB
4. “Christopher Columbus” – Kamikaze Ground Crew (from Postcards From the Highwire)
5. “Black River Song” – Angels Of Light (from We Are Him)
6. “It Seems Like Nothing’s Gonna Come My Way Today” – The Outsiders (from CQ)
7. “Happy Together” – The Turtles (from Solid Zinc)
8. “Peacebone” – Animal Collective (from Strawberry Jam)
9. “Mexican Radio” – Wall of Voodoo
10. “Are You Hung Up?” – Frank Zappa
11. “Who Need the Peace Corps?” – Frank Zappa
12. “Concentration Moon” – Frank Zappa
13. “Mom and Dad” – Frank Zappa
14. “Telephone Conversation” – Frank Zappa
15. “Bow Tie Daddy” – Frank Zappa
16. “Harry, You’re A Beast” – Frank Zappa
17. “What’s the Ugliest Part of Your Body?” – Frank Zappa (from We’re Only In It For the Money)
18. “Porpoise Song” – The Monkees (from Head OST)
19. “Cirque de Soleil” – Patton Oswalt (from Werewolves and Lollipops)

jarnow, austria

The only reference I have ever seen to the village of Jarnow, Austria comes via an account in the New York Times‘ “condensed cablegrams” section published on 7 February 1892 wherein it was reported that an unnamed doctor was killed by two unnamed comrades of an argumentative (and unnamed) Captain.

Since then, events in Jarnow, Austria ceased to be documented by the New York Times — if it could ever be said that they were documented at all. Indeed, for the remainder of its years, the village of Jarnow managed to elude nearly every piece of written documentation since digitized, as well as the memories of at least three generations taking its name for their own.

georgie in the sky, no. 16

“Rain” – Bishop Allen (download) (buy)

Georgie in the Sky: no. 1, no. 2, no. 3 , no. 4, no. 5, no. 6, no. 7, no. 8, no. 9, no. 10, no. 11, no. 12, no. 13, no. 14, no. 15, no. 16

“I don’t know what it is,” Darla told me, after we had sex in the living room during the afternoon. “It’s like he stole my blind spot,” she said. The mauve cross-stitching pressed into my back as I cradled her. “You know how your brain makes up that little bit between your eyes? Just there can be something there? But I can’t explain it to him, not like that.” I couldn’t explain it to Morgan, either. We’d almost stopped talking ourselves. And when I saw her car come around the corner in slow motion like that, my own blind spot filled with unaccountable rage, the space of not knowing, of the space of knowing something that you have no need to tell anyone else, and ran for the spaceship. [END]

georgie in the sky, no. 15

“I’ll Fly Away” – Johnny Cash (download) (buy)

Georgie in the Sky: no. 1, no. 2, no. 3 , no. 4, no. 5, no. 6, no. 7, no. 8, no. 9, no. 10, no. 11, no. 12, no. 13, no. 14, no. 15, no. 16

I slipped from the bottom hatch and kicked off as the pod filled with water and sank. Swimming towards the light, I wondered if Darla had heard yet. I rose, as if lifted by color and taste and sound. Were there really boats above me? My wallet was still in my pocket, so I could go to a hotel, if I could get ashore. The surface got closer and closer and I burst through, finally, laughing: probably the first man in the history of the planet to launch himself into outer space for not wanting to have sex. I had phrased our departure as a hypothetical to Morgan. I knew she wouldn’t tell her husband. We were in the corner of the shed then, the warm skin above her breasts pressing into my arm as she kissed my neck. “Then I’d just have to give you a special goodbye,” she said, drawling.

georgie in the sky, no. 14

“I’m Not There (1956)” – Bob Dylan (download)

Georgie in the Sky: no. 1, no. 2, no. 3 , no. 4, no. 5, no. 6, no. 7, no. 8, no. 9, no. 10, no. 11, no. 12, no. 13, no. 14, no. 15, no. 16

It was never part of the plan for me to get in the spaceship. It was only to gather a bag and go. Darla didn’t want a postmark that would hint at our destination or direction, so I would mail it before I left. Thinking I had at least a day, the letter made it across town that afternoon. Probably 20 minutes or so ago, I thought, as my ears popped and I sank through the Gulf. The color in the windows turned a peaceful blue. I saw no fish. Darla had hopefully made it to El Paso, listening to her Jerry Lee Lewis tape over and over. The sealing held, thankfully, and I thought of Darla, with her window open, smoking Winstons. I could tell the pod was reaching the nadir of its descent and, if I didn’t disengage the plug, would shoot upwards at any moment, back into the naked daylight, Coast Guard boats circling.

georgie in the sky, no. 13

“Ride Into the Sun (demo)” – The Velvet Underground (download) (buy)


Georgie in the Sky: no. 1, no. 2, no. 3 , no. 4, no. 5, no. 6, no. 7, no. 8, no. 9, no. 10, no. 11, no. 12, no. 13, no. 14, no. 15, no. 16

There was the morning Darla couldn’t talk, just woke up with a look on her face like she was receding into the distance. She kissed me and got out of bed. We ate cereal across the table like most mornings, and I talked to her, joked about the weather, traffic at the Astrodome. She smiled, unaware anything was amiss. I went back to my corn flakes. When I looked up, there was a look of horror on her face, one I understood entirely when it was time to abandon the pod under the water. That night, after the silent day, by the moonlight, I showed her the ship. She exhaled and cried quietly into me, her body coming against mine as we stood in the shed. For a second, there, every part of her was right again. “I don’t want to go to sleep,” she whispered. “Tomorrow’s going to be like today.”

georgie in the sky, no. 12

“She’s A Rejecter” – of Montreal (download) (buy)

Georgie in the Sky: no. 1, no. 2, no. 3 , no. 4, no. 5, no. 6, no. 7, no. 8, no. 9, no. 10, no. 11, no. 12, no. 13, no. 14, no. 15, no. 16

The spaceship neared completion in the golden late summer, its dirty silver podform taking shape in the midst of backyards aglow with barbecues. We had Morgan and Strommler — Erik, his name was — over for one, in fact. He drank a pop and leaned on the oak, the oak I would see incinerated below me as I launched a few weeks later. “Hell’s bells!” he said, describing an approaching ice cream truck and I laughed. He did, too. His hair always seemed to shoot in different directions, as if it was growing towards the sun. He wasn’t a bad guy, not at all, though his laugh reminded me of my aunt in Shreveport. We had little to talk about, but got along well, even then, when I knew he was destroying Darla, and I was fooling around with his wife. But by Labor Day, I felt dizzy with grace, because Darla and I had it all worked out, what we were going to do.