Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Today I am 29 years old. Not doing much beyond writing and editing (and more writing and editing, plus learning to convert the files at work to our new computer system, gah), but I will be having birthday festivities on Sunday, hurrah. Here, for no particular good reason, are 29 things I'm happy with right now that I don't think I've shouted out (too much) on this blog:

1-5. Laura Cassidy, Andrew Bonazelli, Katie Millbauer, Neal Schindler, and Steve Wiecking. When I came back to the Weekly, I had no real idea what to expect from the staff writers--I'd worked with Laura before, knew Andrew's freelance work some, but both those had been years before. In the last seven (eight?) months, both of them--the primary music writers on the paper's staff--have been doing consistently good-to-great work, not just as writers but in behind-the-scenes roles (Andrew compiles the music calendar, Laura does the weekly club pick plus other technical jobs I'm not even sure I fathom) that allow me to worry about comma placement and other minutiae. They think both on their feet and sitting down, they work like demons, they're easy as pie to edit, and they're wonderful people on top of it--everything I want in coworkers, writers, colleagues, friends. Neal is our editorial assistant, the biggest non-film-editor movie buff at the paper, one of my best friends on the staff, and dauntingly energetic; he also does good work on singer-songwriters, a category-if-you-call-it-that that it's all too easy to fall into solipsism or received wisdom when discussing. He doesn't. Katie used to be the ed. ass't, has moved up in '04 to ass't editor (largely overseeing the food section), writes smartly about damn near everything (as, I hasten to add, do all of these folks), and had one of the most ambitious (and best) pieces I've yet run in her Cuban hip-hop overview. Steve edits the stage section; I knew (and liked) him around the tail end of my last Weekly stint, and when I came back he knocked on my door and said, "Can I write about some of the kitschy stuff?" Holy mother of fuck can he ever.

I don't usually talk about work stuff on this blog for the simple reason that I spend a lot of time at the office, and thinking about what I do for a living (not just rock criticism itself, though obviously that's on my mind a lot, too, but specific reviews, pieces, etc.), and want to think about something else sometimes. But man these folks--along with dozens of others, but them especially--deserve the dap. Bow, humans.

6. Augustus Pablo, King Tubby's Meets Rockers Uptown (Deluxe Edition) (Shanachie). Greatest dub album ever, of course; one of the records that changed my life when I encountered it in '97 (thanks again, Jon), and look--bonus tracks that stand right up next to the rest of the not-even-close-to-crumbling edifice.

7. 2003 a la Nate Patrin. Been playing it all day, and not once have I been tempted to put on anything else. With a stack of goodies that includes still-shrinkwrapped copies of Arthur Russell's Calling Out of Context, the four new titles from
Sublime Frequencies, and Glenn Branca's Lesson no. 1 staring down at me, that's saying something.

8. Sharpies, all shapes, sizes, thicknesses, etc. Bought at Staples last weekend; at long last, the ability to write whatever wherever in whichever color I want.

9. Tim Lawrence, Love Saves the Day: A History of American Dance Music Culture, 1970-1979 (Duke). Three different music writers I know--none of whom know each other, as far as I'm aware--have emailed me asking what I think of this book. Apparently word got around (by osmosis?) that I'd devoured this over Christmas and early January. Lawrence is a bit stiff as a writer, but nobody is more dogged a researcher, and if the clubs he describes in such loving detail seem mythological as much by memory's exaggeration as by historical importance, the stories he extracts from their habitues, plus his own awestruck love of the stuff, does the job just fine. More than any normal person has ever wanted to know about David Mancuso's choice of phonograph needles, but even that fits into the overall theme of personal-freedom-as-cautious-excess. (What ruined disco, after all, was reckless excess, especially on the record companies' part; Mancuso is The Good in Lawrence's eyes because he's out to create a utopia, however exclusive, and one that lasts.)

10. Brian MacDonald set it up, we'll be writing some introductory and overview-type stuff for it, and it will store our maniacal labors of love--and others' as well, we hope.

11. Peter Biskind, Down and Dirty Pictures (Simon & Schuster). Dirt, dirt, dirt--especially on Harvey, mostly on Harvey, almost exclusively on Harvey. Great reading, though I gotta put it down after every chapter to get my head back on straight after all the Harvey abuses.

12. Louis Jordan, Jivin' with Jordan (Proper, UK). As outlined on Boogie Fever recently--in his prime, maybe the greatest record-maker of all time. Thing is, I haven't even gotten to his prime yet. Whoooo boy!

13-17. New Continuum books from the 33 1/3 series by Elisabeth Vincentelli, Chris Ott, John Perry, Joe Harvard, and, uh, me. There is nothing quite as satisfying as holding a book you wrote yourself in your hands. Even in advance form. Finished Elisabeth's Abba Gold treatise two hours ago, and it's as good as I'd hoped. Can't WAIT to read the rest of 'em.

18. The Roots ft. Cody ChesnuTT, "The Seed (2.0)." My favorite song of the past three weeks; the most ungodly-right guitar and drum sounds ever achieved, plus the lyric is some kind of miracle boast. Absolutely perfect from beginning to end.

19. Charlie Rich, "Who Will the Next Fool Be?" Close behind: a fugue for brushed drums, piano, and blues-country vocal.

20. The Streets, A Grand Don't Come for Free (Vice). Reviewing this for the Voice. Not sure what I think quite yet--apparently, it's a long narrative through-line, so I'll have to play it a bit more before I decide. Still, having it is its own reward.

21. Belltown Pizza on 1st Ave. between Wall & Battery. Try the medium pepperoni. It's the crust, but it's the pizza, too.

22. The Hold Steady Almost Killed Me (Frenchkiss). "We spent the night last night in Newport News" is so unbelievably perfect a Craig Finn line--sounds redundant but isn't, plus funny as hell just cadence-wise--I wonder sometimes if it isn't his best. Then 85 more occur and I forget to wonder.

23. My new apartment. Two bedrooms (one still needs filled, though that's probably happening next week-ish), a great heater, a bit out of the way but near loads of buslines--all it needs is furniture.

24. Procrastinating on book reviews. Though doing this has limbered me up so that when I finally get back into what I'm supposed to have been doing for the last four hours, I'll be ready! All right! Look the other way, boss!

25. This unbelievable explication of Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire." Courtesy of Keith Harris--who else?

26. Shoehorning Dave Queen's review of The A.M. into the section this week. Plenty more coming from him, huzzah. Yes sir . . .

27-8. ILM and ILE. Still. After--gasp!--three fucking years. What's the matter with me/all of us? Can't get enough of that heated, real-time, all-the-way-live discourse (haha "discourse"), I guess. Not to mention accompanying netspeak (haha "netspeak").

29. You are happy hardcore!
You are happy hardcore!

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