Saturday, May 30, 2009

Today's editing workshop/roundtable at 826 Seattle went nicely--about 7 kids, plus the instructors. We went over a list I'd made of useful ideas/rules/suggestions for writing and editing generally--some of it very specific to music, most not. It was a bit odd at first but soon I had the sense to just let them pipe up with questions about items they wanted explained. After that, I gave them a piece that had been brought to my attention a while back by Rod Smith--who'd thrown in his own [[BRACKETED, ALL-CAPS]] editing remarks. (A few of them found it a visual assault, understandably, but it's how I learned to do it and it's still effective.) The untouched piece was given to them double-spaced, and we took 10 minutes to go over it quietly and with pencil. Then I read each line and they aired their edits/comments. A couple were very quiet--I try not to push that too hard, it can feel invasive when you don't want to talk and someone attempts to make you--but most of them were plenty talkative and it seemed like they enjoyed the "editing test." I then handed them Rod's comments. They got about 60 percent of what he did, and found a couple things that had escaped both his and my attention. It was quite enjoyable and I'm kind of anxious to do it again. (Since I'll be in NYC much of July and August, maybe there.)

These transparencies are a lot of what I like about Good magazine.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

This album cannot possibly arrive fast enough. Even if the rest of it is this over and over and not as good, chances are it would land in my Top 10, easy. This single is, so far, No. 1.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Good Barney Hoskyns talk with the Cocteau Twins. I'm not much of a Cocteaus fan--what I like about them I like more strongly in others--but I'll read Hoskyns on anything, and looking at this I was struck by a fundamental difference in the way American and English music writers handle first person. Hoskyns is absolutely comfortable in it. That's experience, obviously. But U.S. writing tends employ first-person much more in confessional mode than in storyteller mode, as if because we have the facts you necessarily care about us personally. (Maybe it's a dork thing: omg they're paying attention to meeeeee, i.e. the thing I did with the Prince book.) Obviously the marketplaces are completely different: Brit writers had to churn out tons of shit at an enormous pace, and the carefully cultivated non-first-person isn't worth bothering with under that workload, if you've been hired to have an opinion.

I'm about to do a workshop with some high school kids on criticism and editing, which I'm excited about, and one of the tenets I want to talk about is this: You have to earn first person. It's the first lesson I was taught by an editor: Jon Dolan, at City Pages. His words, paraphrased: "You can't say 'I' yet because nobody knows who you are." That's a good lesson to learn for a beginning writer in public print--and I think on the Web, too. It's too easy to fall back on yourself, or your self, when you're stuck for ideas or just want to propel the damn thing along so it's all down at once, to hell with revising (i.e. the Web); your job should be to deliver the goods. What is this about? Who would want to know about it, if not me? Blah blah blah. You, "I," need not enter into it unless you absolutely cannot make a point without it. That's the part of the lesson I learned later on, from Peter Scholtes, who took over from Jon. But again, that's a different pace, schedule, and set of resonances from the hothouse NME Hoskyns came up in. There was less space to fill, more of an overall ecosystem to cohabit within; it was more laid-back. If I were English I might feel very differently about a rule like this.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A nice night at Havana, with a small but mixed crowd. The playlist:

1. Johnny Osbourne w/Bunny Brown, “Love Makes the World Go Round”
2. Joe Gibbs/African Dub, “Chapter Two”
3. Mikey Dread, “Break Down the Walls”
4. Joe Gibbs/African Dub, “Treasure Dub”
5. Doctor Alimantado, “Born For a Purpose/Reason for Living”
6. Raymon & the Crystalites, “Golden Chicken”
7. Neu!, “Hallogallo”
8. Deerhoof, “Spiral Golden Town”
9. Lil Wayne, “A Milli (Flying Lotus’s Robo Tussin Remix)”
10. Madvillain, “Fire in the Hole (Remix)”
11. The-Dream, “Kelly’s 12 Play”
12. Slum Village, “Fall in Love”
13. Johnson & Jonson, “WOW”
14. GZA, “Labels”
15. Moody, “Freeki Mutha F*cker”
16. Lee Jones, “Lab”
17. Hot Chip, “One Pure Thought (Supermayer Remix)”
18. Hoosier Hot Shots, “I Like Bananas (Because They Have No Bones)”
19. Boulevard of Broken Dreams, “I Cover the Waterfront”
20. Billie Holiday, “My Old Flame”
21. Camera Obscura, “French Navy”
22. Fairport Convention, “I Don’t Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)”
23. Marshall Crenshaw, “You’re My Favorite Waste of Time”
24. Todd Rundgren, “Couldn’t I Just Tell You”
25. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, “Young Adult Friction”
26. R.E.M., “Sitting Still”
27. Missing Persons, “Mental Hopscotch”
28. Van Shipley, “Jan Pehechan Ho”
29. Curtis Mayfield, “Junkie Chase”
30. Extra Golden, “Gimakiny Akia”
31. Baby Huey, “Listen to Me”

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I just now voted in this Popular '82 evaluation and realized to my horror that apart from Kraftwerk, every single thing I liked--"Come On Eileen," "A Town Called Malice," "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?," "Pass The Dutchie," "Goody Two Shoes," and goddamn me to hell "Eye of the Tiger"--are entirely--entirely--because I heard them at age seven.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

What a programming hole NBC was on Sundays and Mondays in 1984-5. I'd almost forgotten until looking at this what it was like to look at TV Guide schedules and just see "Movie." And of course Knight Rider and the absolute white-space filler to end all white-space filler, TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes, featuring the infamous question, "Wanna see that again?" (Why, you got an hour to kill or something?) (Or I am perhaps thinking of the following night's ABC offering, Foul-Ups and Bleeps, formerly Foul-Ups, Bleeps, and Blunders.)

NBC's weekly schedule was actually a very canny one, though. What they did back then, under Brandon Tartikoff's tutelage, was to aim straight at kids. Look at the nightly schedules: barely an adult show in the offing. Even Miami Vice was a kid's show, really--the bright pastels, the cartoony side characters, the serious-dude plots and relationship between Crockett and Tubbs, all of it had deep appeal to me at age 9. I wasn't alone by any means. Miami Vice was a kids' show for kids who could, for whatever reason, stay up past 9 p.m. (Central; 10 Eastern) to watch and learn.

During the early '80s I didn't think any other network except NBC even existed. They had everything I liked: broad comedies involving people around my age and longer dramas featuring comic book-like characters. What was Knight Rider but a quicker-paced late-period Charleton comic? What was Different Strokes but watered-down '70s liberalism set to a laugh track? I'd always loved TV as a little kid; my mother and I watched '70s sitcom reruns all the time, which is one reason I never got to bed until midnight even when I was 7. Arnold was a smart-ass, and I loved smart-asses from Bugs Bunny to everyone in my mother's family and on.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Thanks, 2009 (finally).

Thanks, Rodney.

Thanks, Geeta.

Friday, May 08, 2009

This was inevitable, but even so, I kind of love how scanning the middles of sandwiches make them look vaguely menacing, like something found on the deep-sea episode of Planet Earth.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Last night's set at Havana. Two people showed up. Thanks, horrible weather (which got nice for a while, but not too nice, ugh):

1. The Vaselines, “Son of a Gun”
2. Bob Dylan & the Band, “Million Dollar Bash”
3. Liz Phair, “Polyester Bride”
4. Boulevard of Broken Dreams, “In Other Words, We’re Through”
5. Bruce Springsteen, “Rosalita”
6. The Kinks, “Lola”
7. Telekinesis, “Tokyo”
8. Camera Obscura, “French Navy”
9. Margo, “The Spark That Lights the Flame”
10. Marshall Crenshaw, “Someday, Someway”
11. R.E.M., “Me in Honey”
12. Lifter Puller, “Secret Santa Cruz”
13. Art Brut, “Demons Out!”
14. James Brown, “Blues & Pants”
15. Harmonettes, “Shame Shame Shame”
16. Black Leotard Front, “Casual Friday”
17. The Juan MacLean, “One Day”
18. Hot Chip, “One Pure Thought (Supermayer Remix)”
19. GZA, “Shadowboxin’”
20. Jeru the Damaja, “Come Clean”
21. Dyme Def, “Not That Dude”
22. Clinton Sparks ft. Clipse, “Still Got It 4 Cheap”
23. DMS & the Boneman X, “Sweet Vibrations”
24. Omni Trio, “Renegade Snares (Foul Play VIP Mix)”
25. Rufige Kru, “Dark Metal”
26. Slipmatt, “Breaking Free”
27. A.M. Architect, “Albatross”
28. Radiohead, “Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box”
29. Black Moth Super Rainbow, “Twin of Myself”
30. Dungen, “Malara’s Finest”
31. Saint Etienne, “Like a Motorway”
32. Playgroup, “Pressure”
33. Can, “Sunday Jam”

Sunday, May 03, 2009

My comment here was pithy, and Rodney Greene's was OTM, but do read Martin Kavka's.

"The Blob is a rare opportunity to see one of the coolest movie stars in film history play a dork." Matthew Dessem, at last, returns to The Criterion Contraption.

Friday, May 01, 2009

I've always looked askance at the posthumous cult that's formed around Jay Dee/J Dilla. I liked his music fine, but greatest hip-hop producer of all time, as has become the claim of a few? That seemed a few lengths too far. It still does, but Dillanthology 1 (Rapster) has definitively made me a fan, as I was hoping it would. It helps that the comp concentrates on rappers (and singers--hi Erykah, hi Mr. Fiddler), instead of half-minute beat exercises (much as I can love those: digging the new Prefuse 73 and Diego Bernal, always loved Madlib). What helps more is that this is simply a great comp, whatever argument it's making--a well-chosen, smartly sequenced mixtape that all fits perfectly together, sort of like an un-segued version of what The Real Hip-Hop: Best of D&D Studios, Vol. 1 did for DJ Premier, which was to showcase his range as well as show off a sound that was uniquely his. And Dilla's sound is far sleepier, more muffled, lower-key--boring--than Premier's, meaning that immersion is both a better way to understand it and even easier to do. (An hour is the perfect length, too.) Songs I liked already--Pharcyde, Erykah, Common--and stuff I didn't know--Slum Village and Steve Spacek expecially--all sound pretty damn beautiful here. Whoever made this happen, bravo.

"Dubiously, but appropriately, it sounds not much like contemporary hip-hop, but a lot like the shit the cargo shorts crowd is jamming on campus. So, score one for Asher Roth on the authenticity stakes, I guess." Jonathan Bradley (via Jeff Weiss's blog) on Asher Roth: fire.