March 29, 2011


Charlie Bertsch (you remember him from Punk Planet days!) on a new Kompakt-remixing-Kenyans album"Does the finished product break new ground in European art’s engagement with so-called “primitive” cultures? Or is it just the latest example of the simultaneously passionate and patriarchal exoticism that played such a crucial role in Modernism? And, less abstractly, is this one of those cases in which a record is more interested in doing good than sounding good?"

and from last week, Rich Juzwiak on Chris Brown and racism and celebrity reproach and per his steez, so much more : "Brown echoed the sentiment today, when after his window-smashing tantrum at Good Morning America, he tweeted: "I'm so over people bringing this past shit up!!! Yet we praise Charlie sheen and other celebs for there bullshit." If you read this as a plea for fairness, Brown's words sound like those of a child who can't wrap his head around the fact that not everyone wants to celebrate his feces like his mommy does."

Nitsuh Abebe on Odd Future and inclusion "When I saw the group in Austin, the energy surrounding them was fierce and sort of beautiful. A crowd of kids stood around chanting “FUCK STEVE HARVEY” in an effort to lure the group onto the stage. These were not kids whose lives I imagine being much impinged upon by the existence of Steve Harvey. Was there some point I missed where white Texan parents started boring their kids with his radio show on long drives? On one message board I read, there was a poster who thought “Steve Harvey” might be made up, just an imaginary object of Odd Future’s scorn. This has to say something about the lure of this group, that people want to join them in telling Steve Harvey to fuck off—just because the energy is right, not because they actually care so much who Steve Harvey is."

It's funny to me that people got mad or expected something other than Odd Future's fuck you ad campaign (why are people even getting up about that, not respecting their marketing opps properly? C'mon...!) and cutting short a set and disrespecting people. I think the bulk of their audience, that's what they want from them. They don't want complicity, they want insults and barely bridled energy and screaming fuck yous and exclusions, so they can feel like they are cool or have #swag by proxy. It's kind of a Sex Pistols sitch, but maybe it's more like bad boyfriend who fucks you right?

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March 28, 2011


I spent the last few days listening to the new Britney Spears album in order to write about it. I worried all the while if this was potentially harming or effecting William. He's used to techno, but he just learned to crawl this past week and is now spending hours a day in this funny position Matt calls "downward puppy"--butt high in the air, legs straight, palms on the floor. He really just wants to walk, three days in and he's totally "fuck crawling". So I wonder, are there any long lasting effects to high-Britney exposure amidst a major developmental milestone?

Writing about Britney was hard. What is there to be said? She's the most famous person on the planet, yet I have hardly given her a serious thought in the last 15 years. Last night I kept waking up with stuff I needed to write down about her but the only paper by the bed was Keith Haring Journals and so now scrawled illegibly by the light of the babies nightlight, the wrong way over Shepherd Fairey's tepid introduction are my notes on "post-millennial fame" and Michael Jackson and covert vs. overt examples of pop sensuality--none of which made it into my review. My review which was nigh impossible to write as it is for a publication where I am unsure of the readership and so how to address them, their tastes and imagination? The review is for The Daily, which is the newspaper for the iPad. I can imagine who uses iPads, sure, but the only person I have actually seen use one was a two-year-old and she was reading an interactive Old MacDonald. I wonder if she will read and understand my thoughts on Brit-Brit's break-up sex anthem?

Who did not feel sad and protective of Britney when she married a white dude with cornrows who, along with his groomsmen, donned velveteen track suits with "PIMP" emblazoned on the back for the ceremony? Is there anything more embarrassing then having a classic bad boyfriend that everyone but you can see is trouble, or that you see he's trouble but all you want is trouble because you have been contractually obligated to pretend to be a virgin on behalf of Disney or some other multi-national corp since you were 14. And how everyone thought she was the new Madonna, but then for like, 18 months she was like a next level Courtney Love freakout on a billion dollar budget. And now she is returned to us in her well-tempered form, humping arena stages in a headset, a clean flowy weave and PVC hotpants like we expect. Fans and star both ignoring the discord between the unhinged woman we have seen rent asunder, suicidal, gnashing at life, flashing vag, and the STAR as we've known her, the coiffed and polished Britney, life and voice once again totally modulated and gleaming, her white t(h)rash days behind her, hitting #1 on the Hot 100 with straight shots of coital coo just to show that even if it's Gaga's world now, she will not abide by or acknowledge ironies, ruptures or haute concepts, only the real rules of popular entertainment and giving people what they want.

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"Maybe his bad luck is a result of ignoring his progressive base" makes me imagine Ricardo Montalban and Tatu on the end of the dock at the end of Fantasy Island, synopsizing how Obama fucked up. The hyperbole of the first three sentences is srsly LOL, Huff Po at it's over the top worst-best. Also, saying Obama is the unluckiest person ON EARTH the week after a tsunami hit Japan is kind overstating it, no?

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March 25, 2011


My interview with Emily Lacy, one of my very favorite artists in this week's Reader. She plays FOR FREE, six pm this coming Tuesday at the MCA. Should be totally 'mazing.

This new Kimya Dawson song is not what you or I or maybe anyone was expecting from her new album. Autobiographical epic about getting sober, growing up and getting right, seeing your friends die too young, seeing a trans friend actualize who they always wanted to be... and then Aesop Rock raps. I think people expect topical work from her, but lighter, sweeter. This is very much the realness of getting grown.

Sean Fennessy on Frank Ocean and R&B sensuality in recent downloadable raps, "etc.".

John Darnielle from Mountain Goats talks about growing up in a radical lefty home and learning values.

Gossip Wolf reports on Ben Weasel punching girls and Pitchfork rumors

Last night, I dreamt that myself, MNDR, Erika M. Anderson and Matt Sweeney and 1984-era Steve Wynn from Dream Syndicate had this amazing mid-80's rock/new wave band. The dramatic parts were kind of like Til Tuesday, the rock parts were assertive and straight kind of like Dream Syndicate but the guitars were so great. Erika and Amanda singing... But then we also kind of sounded like this. Wavey party songs.

I would be wholly unworthy of joining an Erika Anderson/Amanda Warner band. Jesus Christ, that would be good.Is that the best idea I have ever had? PERCHANCE. I find it reassuring that the world is finally noticing both of these womens beyond-the-beyond brilliance and assertive musical vision. I like to think of Erika as Thurston and Kim in one person, but she's linear and more original than that feeble comparison. I guess by that, she's the cool bitch boy, the shredder, the hot-pulse girl, the sensual-and-free feminist superpower ying and yang in one. Amanda Warner, well, MNDR, she's just the first Madonna record come to life, but every reign is in her hand. She's just a Top 40 diamond slumming it underground.

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March 21, 2011


America is a stupid place for not having this TV show or it's approximate available.
How many kittens will climb in the bowls? SO MANY.

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Our fine friend and home farmer, Lisa Bralts-Kelly, of old-times and Champaign-Urbana farmers market-hood, writes up and wraps up a score of books on home-farming, food and rock on her blog.

Eric Ziegenhagen, friend of new times, recommends this new Minneapolitan arts zine/journal, Paper Darts. As do I, now.

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March 19, 2011


Pleatfronts and silk men's blouse. Mixed race disco crowd. Blinds casting a shadow on a face. Ballet dancing AND break dancing. The 4 essential elements of any 80's video, all in one.

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Linda Ronstadt as you have never seen her before. With a fucking raging band. Where is that band now? Why did Linda have to detour into Nelson Riddle orchestra tuneage come the eighties? Also, I like Jose Feliciano's introduction about Ray Charles-type country, how he loves country like Linda Ronstadt, but she's got a band with two drummers. (via Habla Blah Blah)

Bethlehem Shoals in Poetry Magazine about Odd Future:
"Is OFWGKTA offensive? Yes, but they’re also undeniably funny, sad, and, somehow, devoid of moral gravity in a way that’s both silly and nearly surreal. One friend of mine has referred to OFWGKTA’s lyrics as coming from an unformed “girls are gross” perspective, and certainly, in the YouTube videos where 16-year-old Earl Sweatshirt isn’t rapping about cannibalism and screwing corpses, he comports himself like a shy, polite kid just out to goof off with his friends. At the same time, OFWGKTA makes such doggedly creative and self-aware music that it sometimes feels as if they’ve chosen depravity not because they want to, but because they can. If there’s such a thing as meta-vile, then these kids are your pioneers.

What if television shows were still like this? Just some singing revue type thing in a fake hamlet backdrop with adults inmock turtlenecks singing softly and a guy playing a pedal steel through a talk-box?

I have taken a break from my reading pact--I got ahead early on for this reason, am still meeting my quota--but am working through Gabrielle Hamilton's Blood, Bones and Butter which is the only chef memoir I know of that's really worth reading. I mean, I love reading food porn as much as the rest, but this is more about her life and is good and at turns great, and doesn't labor over all the now-typical tricks-i.e. there are no labored descrips of like, cornichons or fois. Just her adventure-girl life with food as a sidekick. Currently, am staving off radioactive fallout fears (lingering since age 7 ever since I saw "The Day After" starring Jason Robards in second grade, which pre-occupied my every night and some days waking fears until about age 12, now re-activated) with power-watching Mad Men. Season 4! Getting there. Marveling at how Jon Hamm can make his face skin look so perfectly slack when he is wasted Don Draper. That's how I always feel you can tell when someone who is often drunk is truly shitfaced, their face looks like it's just hanging on them, loose.

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March 17, 2011

March 14, 2011


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March 10, 2011


I was thinking the other day about how I was jealous of several of my friends that quit Facebook, reject it as evil wholly, or are instead reverting to listserv to make announcements and discuss amongst friends. I was thinking about while I find Facebook useful, in a profesh capacity, it is strange to be in such touch with people. I got to thinking about who are some of the people I am "friends" with, but do not actually know:

-my mom's real estate agent in the eighties.
-A former boyfriend's hairdresser, who sang in a band he pressured me into doing publicity for.
-the very boring brother of someone who played in a band I worked with years ago, who I met once, about five years ago, he was the only man I've ever met who began explaining how much money he makes with the assumption I was interested in such a topic. I thought that guy was an invention of movies.
-A woman who drove me to the airport when I spoke at her college.
-Someone I blv to be a member of Hold Steady's roadcrew in some capacity, but he might just be their friend who is always at their Chicago shows?
-The current boss of a former editor.
-Ben Sizemore, who sang in Econochrist.
-A co-worker from the cashier job I had winter of 11th grade who got fired right after I started working there.
-The nine-year-old former bandmate of a friend's daughter

How would I keep up with these people if not for Facebook? NO IDEA. I might have to spend the rest of my life forgetting about them, forgetting about not actually knowing them, their name decaying beyond the place of memory, survived only the brief circumstances when we met. Or didn't. The internet is good at a lot of things, but the terribleness of keeping in touch with strangers lives, is one of it's most acute bounties.


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March 08, 2011


The Margaret Dygas record is quite nice if you like minimal techno micro and almost glitchy, which I do. In spots, reminds me of an ambling, formal Ellen Allien back when her stuff felt like it was going someplace. Dygas' real first name is Malgorzata. I can see why she might use Margaret instead, so people don't think she is a South American thrash band. Malgorzata totally encores with a Kreator cover.

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Full deets and line-up for Chicago Zine Fest. Cometbus and ex-patriated Al Burian headline.

New Fever Ray track. Housewife-made house. Get lost in it.

This Laetitia Sadier track from her overlooked (or, perhaps "ignored") solo album from late 2010 has been on repeat her all week. Gentle, sultry, bubbling post-disco. Not for dancing dance music, more like how I remember German girls dancing. They just spin and angle their shoulders up and down. Sadier's whole record is good listening, regardless of where you stand on Stereolab (they were a band for 20 years!). It's understated and a slow but gratifying reveal, perfect for spring, non?

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March 06, 2011


Nothing is brewing due to the annual mid-winter TV k-hole. We are down it. Mad Men? Perhaps you have heard this show? I like to stay behind certain cultural zietgeist by, like, 5 years--so we just started it last week. As a result nothing has gotten done but some laundry. I read three pages of a book and the restaurant review in the New Yorker and a seed catalog.

Despite never having seen the show, I read writing on it by writers I admire and respect (Molly Lambert, chiefly) while it was happening, but all I really remember is all the to-do about Pete being a rapist this last season. I am only a season 2, were he is just a pie-faced cretin. Matt hates everyone on the show except Bobby Draper, who is all of 4. It is such a weird and wonderful thing, satisfying TV. I was a latchkey kid and I had a TV in my bedroom starting in 4th grade (it was black and white, with a rotary dial, even!) I watched a lot of TV. Like the Today show before I went to school (why isn't there a band called Gene Schalit's Mustache?). I watched so much TV--hours a day--that I burnt out on it and it held no interest starting in high school until I think maybe 28 or 29, when I saw The Wire, save for a season of The Sopranos. The Wire was a revelation. TV could be great, not this utterly shameful indulgence.

That said: WHY ISN'T CHINA BEACH ON DVD? Dana Delaney has some new show in which she appears mildly botoxed, can't her cougar-joke filled comeback buoy her old career up some?

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March 01, 2011


Last night Matt got out of bed and told me the most marvelous joke, that broke my bad nightmood, it was about a wild-living yeast and the punchline was "I'll sleep when I'm bread."

It was the funniest joke I have heard in some time.

Stupid fucking Keith Richards book. It put me off reading. I finished it and was so chagrined by having finished that I lost my will to read. I got through the introduction and the first chapter of the forthcoming collection of Ellen Willis' rock writing, (the misleadingly titled) Out of The Vinyl Deeps and as it always is with her work, I stall out in thrall of her intellect, like a reindeer in her headlights. I can't do more than a few thousand words at a go because there is a ton to unpack, even if it is on Dylan, who I have hardly a passing interest in, but she was light years ahead and it's kind of bonkers (bonkers! is not the right word) that in her mid-20s in the late sixties, she wrote cultural criticism of the iconography of Dylan that would STILL--many Dylan tomes later--be smart. In the intro her daughter, Nona, writes that during Willis' time she was at the New Yorker, she was the most widely read rock critic in the country. And she was young and a woman and one of the first rock critics. And that was 1968 and she is just getting her first book of just her music writing published now. By an academic press, even! I know academic presses are legit n' all, but all the other New Yorker writers, living and dead, well, they are canon and canon gets big publishers and it's a real headscratcher that Ellen Willis is not held up in the light like that. But, alas, at least it has happened, it has come to fruition, you can buy it on Amazon and get it delivered to your house and have your mind blown in the privacy of your home. And be humbled, page after page and sentence after sentence, especially if you think yourself a writer or an intellectual.

SO, I am setting the Willis aside for a moment, and have been eeking into the Keith Haring Journals (the introduction is stalling me out with it's academic context, as useful as it is. Ivory Tower artspeak leaving me wishing someone would Rapunzel down their hair for me to climb up. To mix metaphors.) and the Chi Pub Lib robot caller sez my requested Arthur Russell book is in at my local branc. I am fixin' to read them back to back, or in tandem, since their timelines bump ends, and their similar arcs of queer genius cut short, before we had any idea of how longtailed their legacies would be. When I listen to Arthur Russell, I often feel like I would have liked to be friends with him.

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