Jesse Jarnow

Archive for March, 2008

bend sinister

Many wonderful passages in Nabokov’s Bend Sinister, but this one — about the nature of literary translation, in the midst of a complex Rosetta Stone explaining the language of the novel’s dystopia — stuck out this evening.

It was as if someone, having seen a certain oak tree (further called Individual T) growing in a certain land casting its own unique shadow on the green and brown ground, had proceeded to erect in his garden a prodigiously intricate piece of machinery which in itself was as unlike that or any other tree as the translator’s inspiration and language were unlike those of the original author, but which, by means of ingenious combinations of parts, light effects, breeze-engendering engines, would, when completed, cast a show exactly similar to that of Individual T — the same outline, changing in the same manner, with the same double and single spots of sun rippling in the same position, at the same hour of the day.

some recent articles

Fun, Money, Dolphins, profile of Jake Szufnarowksi (Village Voice)
Glossed in Translation, interview with Michel Gondry (Paste)
Metaphors, memories, and miscellany from South by Southwest (Indy Week)
The Heady /Poetry/ *Of* Paul Siegell (Paste)
Getting A Head On At Umass, on a conference of Deadhead scholars (Relix)

Akron/Family at Maxwell’s, 5 March 2008 (Village Voice blog)
The Mountain Goats at Webster Hall, 18 March 2008 (Village Voice blog)
Rutlemania at the Gramercy, 27 March 2008 (Village Voice blog)

Consolers of the Lonely – The Raconteurs (Paste)
Heretic Pride – The Mountain Goats (Paste)
Exercises in Futility – Marc Ribot (
Invisible Baby – Marco Benevento (
Indie Weirdo Round-Up, featuring: Animal Collective, Blitzen Trapper, Yamataka Eye, Sun City Girls, Disco Not Disco (
Indie Weirdo Round-Up, featuring: Eugene Chadbourne/Jimmy Carl Black/Pat Thomas, Cornelius, Jeffrey Lewis, Megafaun, Pete Seeger (

Anagram” – Ecstatic Sunshine (
Drops in the River” – Fleet Foxes (
Deception Island Optimists Club” – Laura Barrett (
Hold in the Light” – The Weird Weeds (

Great World of Sound (Paste)

Columns & misc.:
Georgie in the Sky, fiction (False)
BRAIN TUBA: These Guys Are From England and Who Gives A Shit? (
BRAIN TUBA: Three Thoughts on Love and Hate (
BRAIN TUBA: War on War, parts 14-15 (

o Paste #40 (Michael Jackson’s Glove cover): charticle on Why?/Lyrics Born; album reviews of the Mountain Goats and Jim White, DVD reviews of Pete Seeger, the Holy Modal Rounders, Great World of Sound; book review of Jumbo
o Paste #41 (Gnarls Barkley cover): features on Jon Hurwitz & Hayden Schlossberg, Paul Siegell; album reviews of Tapes ‘n’ Tapes, the Black Keys, Lee “Scratch” Perry; Cuts and Paste singles column; movie review of Shine A Light
o April/May Relix (Eric Clapton & Steve Winwood cover): album reviews of Howlin Rain, Man Man, DeVotchKa, Colin Meloy; DVD reviews of The Trips Festival, Super High Me; book reviews of Downbeat’s Miles Davis Reader, Howard Mandel’s Miles, Ornette, and Cecil, and John Darnielle’s Master of Reality.
o January/February Hear/Say (Amy Winehouse cover): album reviews of Vampire Weekend and the Steve Reid Ensemble.
o March Hear/Say (Avril Lavigne cover): album reviews of Why? and Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks
o Signal To Noise #49 (Diamanda Galás cover): album reviews of Phish and Beck

these guys are from england & who gives a shit?

“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” – The Black Crowes (download) (buy)
“Mixed Emotions” – The Black Crowes (download) (buy)

Yeah, as usual, it’s gauche to repost, but I’m doing it anyway.

These Guys Are From England and Who Gives a Shit?

Recently, Maxim editors caused a kerfuffle when they ran a review — credited to David Peisner — of Warpaint, the 17th and newest album by reunited British rock band the Black Crowes, without actually listening to it. Peisner said he wrote an album preview that was given a star rating, presumably rewritten, and made into a review by editors, which is understandable, given how big magazines sometimes operate. But the problem, of course, wasn’t that Maxim didn’t actually have a copy of the album to review, but that they didn’t do more with the opportunity. After all, it’s a well-known fact that reviewers don’t actually listen to the music they write about. Who can really listen to an album until he’s heard it at least 232 times, anyway?

“Now that they’re legitimately grizzled, they sound pretty much like they always have: boozy, competent, and in slavish debt to the Stones, the Allmans, and the Faces,” Peisner wrote, not saying remotely new or, in fact, justifying its existence on a thin, dyed slab of environmentally disasterous treemeat. That Crowes lead singer Jumpin’ Jack Robinson called for Pesiner’s head on a gilded spittoon should maybe not be surprising, given the zombie-related rumors about the Robinson brothers’ falling out after brother Jimmy ate a groupie’s brain.

But it’s still disappointing that the Crowes bothered to call for an apology at all, especially given their repeated and obvious yearnings for ’70s rock culture, when their beloved Creem magazine was stocked with writers like Richard Meltzer who (in his own words) would “throw chicken bones at some annoying singer at the Bitter End, review (harshly) albums I’d obviously never listen to (or concerts I’d never attended), reverse the word sequence of a text to make it read backwards (or delete, for no particular reason, every fourth word).”

It’s a testament to the age not that Maxim would be shamed into apologizing for their behavior, but that they were so dreadfully goddamn boring in their fabrication. I am sure with fairly unflagging certainty that Peisner or whatever editor signed Peisner’s name to it was completely correct in his assessment of the Crowes’ music. In a way, the band is equally correct in their refusal to send out advance records to review, and not merely because they are trying to foil piracy. The Black Crowes are at the point in their career — some 28 albums, 32 labels, 13 ex-drummers/bassists, etc., in — that they’re not going to change, and will continue to make exactly the same kind of music they always have, regardless of whether or not some rock writer makes up some crap about a band he clearly doesn’t care about.

In other words, anybody likely to have a position on the Black Crowes already has a position on the Black Crowes — save, of course, some 14 year old kid somewhere who is hearing about them for the first time, simply because there comes a time in every dude’s life when he discovers that bands can somehow make hefty livings by mimicking classic rock and that this music may or may not be to his taste. For that reason alone, Maxim should take their job a little more seriously. Clearly, trying to publish for a broad audience hasn’t made their writing any more interesting, so why not occasionally hone in on one as finite as possible? In these Wikified, shark-jumping times, rumors circulate as fast and furious through the cultural ecosystems as they ever did — and, certainly, people should do everything their power to fight misinformation — but we’re talking only about the Black Crowes here.

Really, Maxim screwed up a golden opportunity. Clearly, they felt their reading audience — as potential consumers of the Warpaint product — required information about the album. Instead of using the fact that they couldn’t hear it as a springboard to highlight the absurdity of perpetual hype machines, advertising dollars, demographics, ’70s nostalgia, and semi-pompous rock stars who dress like an Australian’s worst nightmare, they just propagated the absurdity of a system that allows brain eaters like the Robinson brothers to have maintained a nearly five decade long career.

grapefruit league links, cont.

o Fantastic New Yorker profile of former Met/Philly Len Dykstra, who recently founded the Players Club, an investment group for professional athletes.

o Joe Smith is God, sez this MySpace page.

o Shawn Green retired three homers short of Hammerin’ Hank Greenberg’s all-time Jewish home run record of 331. Jewish guilt for juicing?

o On how Latin players pick up English.

o The Apollo 11 moonwalks, as mapped onto a baseball diamond. (Thx, Kottke.)

links of dubious usefulness, no. 17

o Haven’t had a chance to listen yet, but: a tropicalia parody, c. 1974. The New Caetanos, anyone? (Thx, Boomy.)
o There will be papusa!
o Chuck Klosterman on “the difference between a road movie and a movie that just happens to have roads in it.” (Word, SoS.)
o Rem Koolhaas gets loose in Dubai.
o At least Bobby’s enjoying the ride. (Yes he is, Sancho.)

“side a” – thurston moore, lee ranaldo, steve shelley, & jim o’rourke

“Side A” – Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo, Steve Shelley, and Jim O’Rourke (download)
from Melbourne Direct (2004)

(file expires March 31st)

Not quite part of the SYR series, and not quite even Sonic Youth (Kim Gordon is missing), the Melbourne Direct double-LP credited to Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo, Steve Shelley, and Jim O’Rourke contains some of the most straight-up Dark Starry jams in the Sonics’ catalogue. Four to be exact, each exactly one album side — not coincidental given that the Sonic dudes cut direct to vinyl. Shelley lays out for most of Side A (or is drumming the supreme sublime), and everybody else is deep beneath the Diamond Sea from the first note.

excerpt from “osorezan” – geinoh yamashirogumi

“Osorezan” (excerpt) – Geinoh Yamashirogumi (download)
from Osorezan/Do No Kenbai (1976)

(file expires March 29th)

Searching for Jim O’Rourke’s Osorezan (soon to be “re”-released by Drag City, even though it was only issued in 2006 and only in Japan), I came across Osorezan by Geinoh Yamashirogumi. Labeled “1970s Japanese psych” or something, and translated as “ghost mountain,” I naturally stole it. The band, according to Wikipedia, “[consisted] of hundreds of people from all walks of life: journalists, doctors, engineers, students, businessmen,” which is tantalizing, but completely confusing. Likewise, the page’s description of the band’s “faithful re-creations of folk music from around the world” bears little or no resemblance to the music itself. At least as I hear it.

I downloaded it as two complete album sides, so I’m not sure where the song breaks are supposed to go, but these seven-and-a-half minutes slice out easily: a bassline, a building guitar solo, and chanting. The choir in the first minute portends something, and it’s not the fairly run-of-the-mill soloing that follows. Clearly, there is something lurking. As such, I like the way all the other elements slide back in, including — eventually — that choir. It’s these last two minute of chaos (give or take the cutsey/jambandy bassline) that are the payoff: a musical place unworldly just as much on its own terms as it is for the fact that it’s ’70s Japanese psych.

postcard from austin #2: thurston moore interviews steve reich

Thurston Moore interviews Steve Reich (download)
recorded at Austin Convention Center, South by Southwest, 13 March 2008

Amid the extraneous meat market noize of the Austin Convention Center, there was at least occasional discussion of actual music. On Thursday, that included Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore interviewing minimalist composer Steve Reich.

If that sounds remotely up your alley, the whole conversation is worth hearing.

Of note to our headier ranks were Reich’s comments on his pre-minimalism free improv group in San Francisco (listen), and his relationship with future Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh, a fellow student at Mills College under the tutelage of Luciano Berio (listen).

frow show, episode 40: eight day weekend!

Episode 40: Yo La Tengo, Maxwell’s, December 2007

Listen here. (Now with working link.)

1. Roger Angell on “yo la tengo!” (via Ken Burns’ Baseball)
2. Sex (The Urinals) (11/12/88 Cubby Bear, Chicago)
3. Frow Show Theme – MVB
4. Dreidel Party (Black Flag) (12/10)
5. Eight Days A Week (The Beatles) (12/9)
6. Pass The Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind > (12/9)
7. The Last Days of Disco (12/9)
8. Everyday (12/10)
9. The Room Got Heavy (12/5)
10. Season of the Shark (12/8)
11. Autumn Sweater (12/11)
12. Upside Down (12/5)
13. This Diamond Ring (Gary Lewis) (12/5)
14. Paul Is Dead (12/11)
15. I Wanna Be Your Lover (Bob Dylan) (12/6 with the dBs)
16. Mr. Tough (12/6)
17. Watch Out For Me, Ronnie (12/6)
18. Big Day Coming > (12/5)
19. Little Honda (The Beach Boys) (12/5)
20. The Story of Yo La Tango (12/8)
21. Take Care (Alex Chilton) (12/7)
22. I’ve Had It (The Bell-Notes) (12/8 with Alex Chilton)
23. Femme Fatale (The Velvet Underground) (12/7 with Alex Chilton)
24. Sometime in the Morning (Carole King & Gerry Goffin) (12/8 with Stephen Hunking)
25. Seemingly Stranded (David Kilgour) (12/5 with David Kilgour)
26. My Little Corner of the World (Bob Hilliard & Lee Pockriss) (12/9 with Ira’s Mom)

postcard from austin #1: the grackles

“Austin grackles, 3/13/08” (download)

(file expires March 25th)

The most surprising music I heard during South by Southwest took place within 30 seconds of my first arrival on 6th Street: a tree full of grackles. The field recording I made the next day at dusk, across the street from Whole Foods, doesn’t quite capture the manic density of that first encounter. Composed more of the siren-like yelps (heard at approximately the 12 second mark on this track) that was more of a pitched conversation — as if the birds were in heated council — than the idle chatter heard here. Indeed, as 6th Street filled with meat marketeers and temporary stages, I never once found the grackles occupying that same tree, surrendering downtown to the tourists like the righteously pissed off locals they are.

ylt sxsw, other music party, 3/14

14 March 2008
French Legation Museum
Austin, TX
Other Music party

Et Moi, Et Moi, Et Moi (Jacques Dutronc)
I Feel Like Going Home
Autumn Sweater
The Weakest Part
Right Track Now (Roky Erickson)
The Story of Yo La Tango

See: Other Music’s video of “Story of Yo La Tango”

ylt sxsw, austin music hall, 3/13

13 March 2008
Austin Music Hall
Austin, TX
opening for My Morning Jacket

Cherry Chapstick
Little Eyes
Autumn Sweater
Mr. Tough
The Weakest Part
Beanbag Chair
Tom Courtenay
Watch Out For Me, Ronnie
The Story of Yo La Tango

south by southyourmom blogging

I’m blogging a bit this week for Raleigh’s Independent Weekly. (My posts found here.)

ylt sxsw, IFC crossroads party, 3/11

11 March 2008
The Parish
Austin, TX
opening for My Morning Jacket

IFC Crossroads Party
Mr. Tough
Beanbag Chair
Drug Test
Big Day Coming (fast) >
Watch Out For Me, Ronnie
I Heard You Looking (with Joe Puleo on organ)
You Can Have It All (George McCrea) (all on drums/percussion)

albuquerque sunrise, 2/08

One last photo set of my last trip, before I head to Austin in the morning. Posting coming sporadically. possibly some blogging elsewhere. Maybe a few YLT setlists here. Who knows?

chop shop

Every Mets fan should see Chop Shop, which is at the Film Forum until Tuesday, and hopefully other art houses in other cities at other times. Though leads Alejandro Polanco and Isamar Gonzales are a bit melodramatic in places as adolescent brother and 16-year old sister Ale and Isamar, it’s still a valuable evocation of life in Willets Point, the scrapyard neighborhood bordering Shea Stadium. New Yorkers are long used to seeing movies set in the boroughs, but Willets Point — whose streets aren’t paved — might as well be another planet, even compared to projects and tenements and other slums.

Chop Shop has most often been compared to City of God, and that’s probably fair, both plots grown wholly from geographic/economic circumstances — in this case, Ale’s dream to open a food cart. There is little interaction between the neighborhood and the ballpark, but the economic chasm is constantly on display, the stadium lights sometimes seeming like alien backdrops. There is also, of course, quiet transcendence and something like authentic human life. With the construction of CitiField comes a looming threat of gentrification and Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts to have the area leveled/redeveloped. Chop Shop is a world that might soon be destroyed.

easy riders, black panthers

Via Peter Biskind’s Easy Riders, Raging Bulls:

It was the Golden Age of postwar European and Japanese cinema, the era of the French New Wave, of Ingmar Bergman, of Akira Kurosawa, of Michelangelo Antonioni and Federico Fellini. Although these films were “foreign,” they seemed more immediate, more “American” than anything Hollywood was turning out. They hit home with a shock of recognition. Sean Daniel, who grew up to become an executive at Universal and shepherded National Lampoon’s Animal House to the screen, was an antiwar activist in high school in Manhattan in the ’60s. He recalls, “You saw The Battle of Algiers ten times so you could memorize how to build the proper cell structure. I’ll never forget seeing a platoon of Black Panthers, in matching black leather jackets and berets, sitting in front of me, taking notes during the show.”

Reminds of the recent BB post about the 1886 book Danger! A True History of a Great City’s Wiles and Temptations. The Veil Lifted, and Light Thrown on Crime and its causes and Criminals and Their Haunts. Facts and Disclosures that became a handbook for petty criminals.

frow show, episode 39

Episode 39: A Beard Beyond

Listen here.

1. “White Winter Hymnal” – The Fleet Foxes (from Some of Mount Fairweather)
2. “Frow Show Theme” – MVB
3. “Strange Light” – Deerhunter (from Cryptograms)
4. “Owl Cut (White Flowers In the Sky)” – Elf Power (from In A Cave)
5. “Screenwriter’s Blues” – Soul Coughing (recorded 2 or 4 February 1997 Tokyo)
6. “Spiders (Kidsmoke)” – Wilco (recorded 19 February 2008 Chicago)
7. “All the Way Around and Back” – Charles Ives (from Leonard Bernstein: Ives Symphony No. 2)
8. “Telescope” – Tristan Perich (via
9. “Threnody To the Victims of Louisiana” – Col. Bruce Hampton (from Give Thanks to Chank)
10. “Get Happy” – Ella Fitzgerald (from Sings Harold Arlen, v. 2)
11. “Mississippi Moon (alternate take)” – Jerry Garcia (from All Good Things box set)

yo la tengo WFMU 2008 setlist

Please comment with all corrections/additions. (Thx, Neil.)

2 March 2008
WFMU Studios
Jersey City, NJ
no Georgia (home sick), Peter Walsh (ex-Hypnolovewheel) on drums, Bruce Bennett on guitar

Starry Eyes (Roky Erickson)
Badlands (Bruce Springsteen)
She’s My Best Friend (Velvet Underground)
Run Run Run (Velvet Underground)

Can’t Explain (The Who)
Baby’s On Fire (Brian Eno)
Slow Down (The Feelies)
I’m In Love With A Girl (Big Star)
Critical List (The Fleshtones)
Sweet Leaf (Black Sabbath)

Tales of Brave Ulysses (Cream)
Green-Eyed Lady (Sugarloaf)
Shot Down (The Sonics)
These Boots Are Made For Walking (Lee Hazlewood)

Cowboy Song (Thin Lizzy)
Aba Dabba Do Dance (The Tradewinds)
Our World (Individuals)
What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding (Nick Lowe)

Bridget Because (Hypnolovewheel)
Mannequin (Wire)
Viva Las Vegas (Doc Pomus/Mort Shuman)
Teenage Kicks (The Undertones)

It’s Only Life (The Feelies)
The Passenger (Iggy Pop)
With A Girl Like You (The Troggs)
Mystery Called Love (Ron Davis/Rodd Keith)
See My Friends (The Kinks)

Jesse’s Girl (Rick Springfield)
If I Were A Carpenter (Tim Hardin)
California Sun (The Rivieras)
Love Will Tear Us Apart (Joy Division)
Different Drum (Mike Nesmith)

Search and Destroy (Iggy and the Stooges)
Paint It Black (The Rolling Stones)
White Rabbit (Jefferson Airplane)
Chantilly Lace (Big Bopper) medley, also featuring: Waterloo Sunset (The Kinks), Yo Yo Bye Bye (Why?), Afternoon Delight (Starland Vocal Band), At Last I Am Free (Chic), Now You Know You’re Black (The Frogs), Girl Don’t Tell Me (The Beach Boys), I’ll Never Fall In Love Again (The Carpenters), I’ll Keep It With Mine (Bob Dylan), Ode to Billie Joe (Bobby Gentry), MacArthur Park (Jimmy Webb), The Tra La La Song (Cal Tjader), Boogie Wonderland (Earth, Wind and Fire), Star Spangled Banner (Francis Scott Key)

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elephant parts parts

Five segments from Michael Nesmith’s Elephant Parts that particularly hold up. (Sadly, neither “Name That Drug” nor “Tragically Hip” seem to be on YouTube.)

(It’s funny ’cause they never actually do “R.”)