Jesse Jarnow

Archive for March, 2009

some recent articles.

Viva Talibam! (Village Voice)
The Jazz Loft: A Duke historian unearths a motherlode of rare finds (Indy Week)

Lowside of the Road: A Life of Tom Waits by Barney Hoskyns (London Times)

Local Customs: Downriver Revival – various (Paste)
Indie-Weirdo Round-Up featuring: Lambchop, La Otracina, Ethan Rose, Teeth Mountain, Cazumbi compilation (
Pleasant Obsolescence, featuring: Black Moth Super Rainbow, Secret Machines, Sun Circle, Talibam!/Wasteland Jazz Unit, Towering Heroic Dudes (

Goodbye Solo (Paste)
Tokyo/Tokyo Sonata (Paste)
Gomorrah (Paste)

BRAIN TUBA: A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit Kzzzknkh (
BRAIN TUBA: Hampton By Blazcooster Light (

In print:
o Paste #51 (Greta Gerwig and Joe Swanberg cover): Behind the Sky, essay on technology and indie cinema; feature on Sundance Film Composers lab; album review of Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, Downriver Revivial compilation; movie reviews of Tokyo, Tokyo Sonata, Sleep Dealer, and Goodbye Solo.
o April/May Relix (Allman Brothers cover): Spotlight feature on Will Oldham; album reviews of Marissa Nadler, Paleface, Dark Was the Night compilation, Frank Zappa; book review of Clinton Heylin

haruki murakami: simple meals, talking cats

My 2007 profile of Haruki Murakami, published in Paste #32, never made it online. Here it is.

Simple Meals, Talking Cats
by Jesse Jarnow

The literary world rarely honors third basemen, but an exception should likely be made for Dave Hilton of Uvalde, Texas, who hit .213 over four undistinguished seasons for the San Diego Padres between 1972 and 1975. It was three years later, during an afternoon game playing for the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, that Hilton hit a towering double into left, and–lounging in the bleachers, drinking a beer–a 30-year old jazz club owner named Haruki Murakami suddenly knew he could write a novel. He began that night.

Murakami’s reaction–the exterior world triggering an oblique intuition deep in the interior–contained exactly the type of determination that has motored his characters ever since. In turn, they have brought Murakami to a singular international superstardom. In After Dark, published in 2004 but appearing on American shores this May, Murakami once again haunts the magical fissures between these worlds, giving them physical body as an omniscient narrator directs the reader to imagine himself “a midair camera,” and characters pass between strange rooms on opposite sides of a television screen. Like all Murakami, it is surreal and addictive.

Consenting only to a three-question email interview, Murakami himself seems determined to live within his words. “When I’m not writing they are gone, totally,” he once told the Wall Street Journal of his darker impulses, “I don’t even dream.” To his credit, especially to American audiences, Murakami is his words, which come filtered through Philip Gabriel and Jay Rubin’s translations and packaged in equally iconic jacket designs by Chip Kidd and John Gall. The latter’s paperbacks, signaling like beacons of the bizarre from subway readers and coffeeshop dwellers, have surely lured just as many readers into Murakami’s world as the New York Times calling his first American-published novel, A Wild Sheep Chase, “a bold new advance in international fiction.”

“This sounds like something he wouldn’t particularly want to see elaborated on,” Rubin emails, when asked what their friendship was like during Murakami’s late ’90s years in the United States. If Murakami is a cipher, he is a disciplined cipher, who rises without alarm at 4 am, writes five hours, runs several miles, browses for records, goes for a swim, eats dinner, settles in for a relaxing session translating a few pages of American literature into Japanese, and is in bed by 9.

If there has been a predominant criticism of his work, in fact, it is the routine of it: protagonists quietly obsessed with American culture (especially jazz and ’60s pop) whose lovers vanish for inexplicable reasons often related to supernatural chasms, frequently revealed via abandoned wells, talking cats, or the warm crackle of an LP. A parody was once titled “The Mysterious Disappearance of the Strangely Beautiful Woman.”

“The world we live in has a visible exterior and a hidden side,” Murakami says, his words finally materializing via Jay Rubin’s email account, “and in the darkness the two sides undergo moments of interchange. In order for people to grow — in order for them to achieve a certain spiritual depth — they have to descend into the dark abyss. They have to witness that interchange for themselves and understand what it means.”

It is not that Murakami’s characters are shallow, but allow him a shorthand method of accessing those cracks. “I had been wanting to write a nothing-special boy-meets-girl story like that for a very long time,” he notes of his “trim” After Dark, which — as his characters move through pre-dawn Tokyo — is anything but nothing-special. Though the boy, in this case, is in the not-so-fantastical position of giving up a jazz fixation for law school, it is precisely the author’s reassuring grasp of the absolute normal that allows him such strength.

Though Murakami writes of a contemporary world, its basic self remains unchanged beneath office blocks and all-night convenience stores. “Like the light of the full moon pouring down on an uninhabited grassland, the TV’s bright screen illuminates the room,” he writes in After Dark, effortlessly linking modernity to teeming natural forces. At least once in each of his novels a character sits down to “a simple meal.”

“It’s one of my favorite Murakami novels because it is new in so many ways, and is so firmly anchored in the real world,” Rubin says of After Dark. “Plenty of weird things happen in it, but I think one of the greatest scenes depicts a tired businessman eating yogurt directly out of the plastic container in the middle of the night… In some ways, this is the old, cool Murakami re-emerging, and readers who liked fish raining from the sky might not be so crazy about yogurt.” No matter what he does, though, Murakami will always sound like Murakami.

“When I started writing fiction,” the author says, “there were all kinds of things I couldn’t write about even if I wanted to because I lacked the necessary technique. For example, death scenes or sex scenes or scenes involving rage or anguish… I didn’t even know how to give my characters names! So all I could do was get rid of all the stuff I couldn’t write and cobble together a novel with the few things I could.” From his shortcomings, Murakami forged a new style, characters more likely to disappear into the void than pass away. Hear The Wind Sing–the novel inspired by Hilton’s double–immediately won the Gunzo Award for New Writers and was published.
Like Hilton, who later received death threats when he started in place of an up-and-coming Japanese rookie, Murakami and his American obsessions were criticized behind the veil of nationalism (parodied viciously by Murakami in the 1981 short story “The Rise and Fall of Sharpie Cakes”). With 1987’s Norwegian Wood, which sold several million copies upon its two-part publication, Murakami became a reluctant celebrity, such that his translations of American writers such as Raymond Carver, Truman Capote, and others earned them wide Japanese audiences.

Beginning in 1989, Murakami’s works began to appear in the United States. “From the start, he had a readership that was very strong,” says his American editor, Gary Fisketjon, which began building “gradually, then suddenly,” especially following the 2005 appearance of the epic Kafka on the Shore.

Reflected through Rubin and Gabriel’s trans-Pacific translations, Murakami’s baby boomer reference points take on a just-removed authority. “The rhythms have to come from English,” Rubin observes. “A ‘literal translation’ from Japanese could make a gorgeous creature sliding down a corridor into a stumbling idiot.”

Murakami himself dismisses the power of the exotic. “The best thing is that I can have a great time reading [the] translations,” he observes. “This may be one bit of evidence that ‘Nothing is lost,’ don’t you think?” What might seem like the exotic is Murakami himself, unique no matter what language he is read in. He shows no signs of slowing, either.

“Given Haruki’s dedication and productivity, it’s not as if I have to worry that he’s suffering from writer’s block,” Fisketjon says. “Instead, he’s at the top of his game and always expanding it.” He is at work on what he described to Fisketjon as “a big novel.” Perhaps more revealing, though, will be the Stateside publication of one of Murakami’s many Japan-only non-fiction books, a volume about running. Perhaps there, as the marathon participant strips his fabulism to the simplest left-foot/right-foot repetition possible, we will finally begin to grasp the magic of Dave Hilton’s achievement.

frow show, FMU-26

Detailed playlist (with listening links).

1. The Beach Boys – “Disney Girls (1957)” – Surf’s Up (Caribou/Epic)
2. JFA – “The Day Walt Disney Died” – JFA (Placebo)

3. Wand – “Arriving” – Hard Knox or, “Are You Sure Hank Jr. Done it This Way?” (Ecstatic Peace)
4. Lesser Gonzalez Alvarez – “The Owl and the Pussycat” – Why Is Bear Billowing? (Carpark)
5. Thurston Moore – “Sensitive” – Sensitive/Lethal (No Fun)
6. “Hahirwa Nyiramibambwe” – At the Court of the Mwami, Rwanda (Sharpwood)
7. Tugboat – “Remix Medley #1”
8. Sun OK Papi K.O. feat. MC Illreme – “Radio Pirate Promo Mix”
9. Alain Savouret – “Scherzo, La Conférence illustrée et égarée du professeur Coustique” – Sonate Baroque (Le Chant Du Monde)
10. Levitts – “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most” – We Are The Levitts (ESP-Disk)

Set: to walt, with love.
(thx for the bux.)

11. Orchestre De La Suisse Romande – “The Rite of Spring” – The Rite of Spring (Richmond High Fidelty) [feat. “iCon Steve Jobs” by Jeffrey S. Young and Wlliam L. Simon & “Carousel of Progress early script reading”] 12. Sleeping Beauty/Cinderella – “Oh Sing Sweet Nightingale/I Wonder” – Classic Disney, v. 4: 60 Years of Musical Magic (Disney)
13. Cornelius – “The Micro Disneycal World Tour” – Fantasma (Matador)
14. Extreme Animals – “Disney Rave” – MIDI Slaves (CD-R)
15. Wendy Carlos – “Tronaction” – Tron OST (Walt Disney Records)
16. Daniel Johnston – “Disney Movie” – His Hyperjinx Tricycle (Important)
17. – “Entering Disneyworld, 5/03”
18. Walt Disney – “The Magic Skyway” – Walt Disney and the 1964 World’s Fair (Disney) [feat. original Walt Disney sessions] 19. “Entrance to Small World, 5/03” [feat. “Isolated vocal tracks” & “chorus” (from “Walt Disney and the 1964 World’s Fair”) and “Walt Disney presents it’s a small world” LP] 20. Sun Ra and His Intergalaxtic Arkestra – “The Forest of No Return” – Second Star to the Right (Leo Records UK)
21. John Coltrane Quartet – “Chim Chim Cheree” – The John Coltrane Quartet Plays (Impulse!)
22. Miles Davis – “Some Day My Prince Will Come” – Some Day My Prince Will Come (Columbia)
23. Quarteto Em Cy – “La La Lu” – Bossa Disney Nova (Avex Trax)
24. Bill Evans Trio – “Alice in Wonderland” – Sunday at the Village Vanguard (Riverside)

25. Silver Jews – “Sometimes A Pony Gets Depressed” – Tanglewood Numbers (Drag City)
26. Iggy Pop – “The Passenger” – Lust For Life (RCA)
27. Camper Van Beethoven – “We Saw Jerry’s Daughter” – Camper Van Beethoven III (Pitch-A-Tent)
28. Allan Bryant – “Pitch Out” – Source Records 1-6, 1968-1971 (Pogus) [feat. “Small World” tracks + “It’s A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (EPCOT version)” from “Walt Disney and the 1964 World’s Fair”] 29. Art Garfunkel – “Disney Girls (1957)” – Breakaway (Columbia)

Generated by KenzoDB ( ), (C) 2000-2009 Ken Garson

frow show, FMU-25

Listen here
Detailed playlist.

1. Invaders – “No Money, No Honey” – Cazumbi: African Sixties Garage, Vol. 1 (Nosmokerecords)
2. Ennio Morricone – “Guerra E Pace, Pollo e Brace” – Drive In, Turn On, Freak Out (Finders Keepers)

3. Vivian Girls – “Where Do You Run To?” – Vivian Girls (Mauled By Tigers/In the Red)
4. Joyce – “See You In Rio” – Steve Shelley’s 2008 Hanukah mix
5. Clara Rockmore – “Song of Grusia” – The Art of the Theramin (Delos)
6. Sandy Bull – “Triple Ballade” – Inventions (Timeless Recordings)
7. Hotel Alexis – “Oh, the Loneliness” – Goliath, I’m On Your Side (Broken Sparrow) [feat. “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle,” chapter 9, by Haruki Murakami] 8. Fabio Orsi/Valerio Cosi – “The Frozen Seasons of Lysergia (Part Two)” – Thoughts Melt in the Air (Preservation)
9. Greg Davis and Jeph Jarman – “First Strata” – Ku (Room40)
10. Douglas Quin – “At the Sea Ice Edge” – Antarctica (Miramax)
11. Jana Winderen – “Jana Winderen” – Heated – Live in Japan (Touch)
12. Emeralds – “Living Room” – What Happened (No Fun)
13. Teeth Mountain – “Side A” – Teeth Mountain cassette (Night People)
14. Dan Deacon – “Of the Mountains” – Bromst (Carpark)

15. Karl Schiller – “High” – The In-Kraut, v. 3: Hip Shaking Grooves Made In Germany (Marina)
16. David Murray Octet – “Dark Star” – Dark Star [The Music Of The Grateful Dead] (Astor Place)
17. Wolf Eyes and Anthony Braxton – “The Mangler” – Black Vomit (Victo)
18. Dick Raaijmakers – “Ping Pong” – The Complete Tape Music of Dick Raaijmakers (Donemus)
19. Milford Graves – “Nothing 19” – Percussion Ensemble (ESP-Disk) [feat. “American Boy” (a capella) by Estelle feat. Kanye West] 20. Sun Araw – “Hey Mandela” – Sun Araw/Predator Vision split LP (Not Not Fun)
21. Sentieri Selvaggi – “Sub Rosa (Gavin Bryars)” – Sentieri Selvaggi plays Bryars and Glass (Cantaloupe)
22. Avey Tare and Kria Brekkan – “Sasong (un-backwards)” – Pullhair Rubeye (Paw Tracks)
23. Bob Dylan – “Mama You Been On My Mind” – 17 June 1998 Forrest National, Brussels, Belgium
24. Gram Parsons – “Love Hurts (alternate)” – Complete Reprise Sessions (Rhino)

25. The Bangles – “Manic Monday” – Different Light (Columbia)

Generated by KenzoDB ( ), (C) 2000-2009 Ken Garson

crust never sleeps: 2009 WFMU DJ premium

Crust Never Sleeps & Other Delights
Bummer-free Grateful Dead ephemera, rare hippie jams, bootleg noise, new covers, tape experiments and Jerry, man.

Pledge $75 or above the Frow Show and receive my DJ premium for 2009! Now through Sunday, March 15th.

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1. “Cold Rain and Snow” – Oneida
from Heads Ain’t Ready 7-inch (These Are Records, 2008)

2. “Dark Star” – Grateful Dead
7-inch (Warner Brothers, 1968)

3. “Okie From Muskogee” – Grateful Dead feat. the Beach Boys
27 April 1971, Fillmore East, New York City, NY

4. “Brokedown Palace” – Bonnie Prince Billy
from Pebbles and Ripples tour EP (split with Brgithblack, 2004)

5. “Mountains of the Moon” (angel choir mix) – Grateful Dead
from first Aoxomoxoa pressings, 1969-1971 (Warner Brothers, 1969)

6. “Turn On Your Lovelight” – Akron/Family
5 December 2007 Taylor John’s House, UK
from Relix magazine, August 2008

7. “Late For Supper” – Jerry Garcia
from Garcia (Warner Brothers, 1972)

8. “Seastones” (excerpt) – Ned Lagin feat. Phil Lesh, Jerry Garcia, and David Crosby
original February 1975 take (Rykodisc, 1991)

9. “Love Scene #4” – Jerry Garcia
recorded 1970
from Zabriskie Point OST (Rhino reissue, 1997)

10. Jam – Grateful Dead
19 December 1973, Curtis Hixon Convention Hall, Tampa, FL
from Dick’s Picks, v. 1 (Arista, 1993)

11. “Stella Blue” – Dump
from Bill’s 30th Birthday CD-R (2008)
(thx, d00dz!)

12. “Box of Rain” – Robert Hunter
from Jack O’ Roses (Dark Star, 1980)

13. “Down Home” (rehearsal version) – Jerry Garcia
from Cats Under the Stars reissue (Rhino, 2004)
Thx to Chris for the cover art!

frow show, fmu-24

How This Works…
Support Freeform Radio!

Your Name
Your Email
Your Pledge $
Add this banner to your site!

Listen here.
Detailed playlist.

1. “I Saw A Hippie Girl On 8th Avenue” – Jeffrey Lewis (from It’s The Ones Who’ve Cracked That the Light Shines Through)
2. “New Wave Hippies” – Psychedelic Horseshit (from Magic Flowers Droned
3. “Everyone Is Guilty” – Akron/Family (from Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free)
4. “Mountains of the Moon (angel choir mix)” – Grateful Dead (from Crust Never Sleeps: Jesse’s 2009 DJ Premium)
5. “Who Needs the Peace Corps?” – JJ & the Mothers of Invention (from Lumpy Money)
6. “Okie From Muskogee” – Grateful Dead feat. the Beach Boys (from Crust Never Sleeps: Jesse’s 2009 DJ Premium)
7. “It’s All Over” – Thee 50s High Teens (from Punch De Beat)
8. “Let’s Kiss and Make Up” – Robert Ward (from Hot Stuff)
9. “Quinn the Eskimo” – Bob Dylan and the Band (31 August 1969 Isle of Wight)
10. “Gimme Some Money” – The Thamesmen (from This is Spinal Tap OST)
11. “Ouch!” – The Rutles (from The Rutles OST)
12. “Dog Meat” – The Condo Fucks (from Fuckbook)
13. “We Ain’t Gonna Party No More” – The Turtles (from Wooden Head)
14. “Kill Jerry Garcia” – Colorfinger (from Deep in the Heart of the Beast of the Sun)
15. “We Are MTO” – Steven Bernstein and the Millennial Territory Orchestra (from We Are MTO)
16. “Free (End of Session version)” – The Boredoms (from Sharin’ In The Groove compilation)
17. “Money” – Apollo Sunshine (from Shall Noise Upon)
18. “Late For Supper” – Jerry Garcia (from Crust Never Sleeps: Jesse’s 2009 DJ Premium)
19. “Jam” – Grateful Dead (from Crust Never Sleeps: Jesse’s 2009 DJ Premium)
20. “Stella Blue” – Dump (from Crust Never Sleeps: Jesse’s 2009 DJ Premium)
21. “Maria Bethania” – Caetano Veloso (from Caetano Veloso (1971))
22. “Fiorassio” – Effisio Melis (from Secret Museum of Mankind, v. 1 compilation)
23. “Choubi Choubi” (from Choubi Choubi! Folk and Pop Sounds from Iraq compilation)
24. “Panis et Circenses (reprise)” – Os Mutantes (from Tecnicolor)
25. “Nega (Photograph Blues)” – Gilberto Gil (from Gilberto Gil (1971))
26. “Love (It’s Been So Long)” – Frankie and Robert (from Eccentric Soul: The Trager and Note Labels compilation)
27. “Happy Today” – The Wowz (from Long Grain Rights)
28. “All You Need Is Love” – Echo and the Bunneymen (from Crystal Days, 1979-1999)

frow show, fmu-23

Listen here
Detailed playlist.

1. “Cold Rain and Snow” – Oneida (from Heads Ain’t Ready 7-inch)
2. “Flyin’ Saucer Twist” – Tom Carter and the Ramrods (from Northway Sound Story, v. 1 7-inch)
3. “Stardust” – Hoagy Carmichael (from Stardust and Much More)
4. “I Only Have Eyes For You” – The Flamingos
5. “Frozen Warnings” – John Cale (from Nico/Icon DVD)
6. “Wordless” – “The Velvet Underground” (from Squeeze)
7. “Museum” – Herman’s Hermits (from Blaze)
8. “Is This What I get For Loving You” – Marianne Faithfull (from Greatest Hits)
9. “Help Me Make It Through the Night” – Joyce Bond (from Trojan Singles box set)
10. “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” – Oldham Brothers (from Do It Again: A Tribute to Pet Sounds compilation)
11. “Call and Respond” – Times New Viking (from Stay Awake EP)
12. “Worldfood VII (To See Him With My Eyes)” – Ramon Sender (from Worldfood)
13. “Yert Yah Matreearchy” – Stag Hare (from Black Medicine Music)
14. “In No Strange Land” – Donald Erb (from Music For Instruments and Electronic Sounds)
15. “#1” – Keiji Haino (from The 21st century Hard-Guide-Y Man)
16. “13 I 73 5 : 35 – 6 : 14 : 03 PM NYC” – LaMonte Young and Marian Zazeela (from The Theatre of Eternal Music)
17. “Most Definitely Not Koln” – Loren Connors and Jim O’Rourke (form Two Nice Catholic Boys)
18. “Zzyzx” – Billy Faier (from Banjo)
19. “When the Snow Melts and Floats Downstream” – Cian Nugent (from Imaginational Anthem, v. 3 compilation)
20. “It’s Time” – Homegas (from Homegas)2
21. “Good Heart, Money, and Rain” – Moore Brothers feat. Joanna Newsom (from Aptos)
22. “Hazy SF” – Six Organs of Admittance (from Golden Apples of the Sun compilation)
23. “Loner” – Marissa Nadler (from Little Hells)
24. “#4” – Giuseppe Ielasi (from Aix)
25. “Mighty Mighty” – Ethan Rose (from Oaks)
26. “Morning Dew” – Nazareth (from Nazareth)
27. “Fallen Snow” – Au Revoir Simone (from Bird of Music)
28. “Spider In the Snow” – Dismemberment Plan (from Emergency and I)
29. “City of Steel” – Talking Heads (from Sounds From True Stories)
30. “Beyond the Blue Horizon” – Michael Nesmith (from Magnetic South)
31. “So I Hear Yoi’re Moving” – Lambchop (from I Hope You’re Sitting Down)
32. “Time Is On My Side” – Keith Richards (from Complete Honeymoon Tapes)

frow show, FMU-22

Listen here
Detailed playlist

1. “Exactly Where I’m At” – Ween (from White Pepper)
2. “Gravelly Mountains of the Moon” – Akron/Family (from Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free)
3. “Tomorrow’s Gonna Be Another Day” – The Monkees (from The Monkees)
4. “Rock-n-Roll Victim” – Death (from …For the World to See)
5. “5:30” – DNA (from New York Noise: Dance Music From The New Yorker Underground, 1978-1982 compilation)
6. “Chtonian” – Zu (from Carboniferous)
7. “Maya” – Invisible Circle (from Invisible Circle)
8. “Peace Age” – Dana (from Adult Weekend)
9. “Live From Earthdom” – Astro (from KFJC Presents Live from the Japanese Music Underground compilation)
10. “Malhini Mele” – HAT (from DSP-Holiday)
11. “Anything Could Happen” – The Clean (from I>Boodle Boodle Boodle EP)
12. “Ja Fun Mi (instrumental)” – King Sunny Ade and His African Beats (from Nigeria ’70 compilation)
13. “Blues Mecanique” – Pierre Bastien (from Les Premieres Machines 1968 – 1988 anthology)
14. “City Pulse” – Peter Walker (from Long Lost Tapes 1970)
15. “Paysages D’Ames” – Om (from Om)
16. “Yesterdays” – Sun Ra (from Solo Piano, v. 1)
17. “Cloud Chamber” – Boris with Michio Kurihara (from Cloud Chamber EP)
18. “Side A” – Strategy (from Noise Tape Reggae 7-inch)
19. “Sweet Sunny South” – Jerry Garcia and David Grisman (from Shady Grove)
20. “You’re A Big Girl Now” – Lambchop (22 October 2008 Graz, Austria)
21. “All-Night-Looking Lonesome Blues” – The Underground Failure (from The Underground Failure)
22. “Untitled” – Talibam (from Talibam!)
23. “The Dazzled” – Crystal Stilts (form Alright of Night)
24. “Coyotes/Space” – Sad Horse (from North Portland Music Series, v. 1 7-inch)
25. “Brainstorm” – Acid Mothers Temple & the Cosmic Infermo (from Sonic Attack split 7-inch)
26. “U Nungisa” – Spiritual Singers (from Ntsamina)
27. “Fat Mama Kick” – The Walker Brothers (from Nite Flights)
28. “Welcome To Heartbreak” – Kanye West (from 808s and Heartbreak)
29. “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” – Willie Nelson (from Rainbow Connection)
30. “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” – Them