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Tonight, a Car Backfired; Later, Another Car Fired Back (I'm Serious)


Not so nice.

Above, you'll see two covers for the new Amado & Mariam album, for which I am currently only able to express unabashed appreciation, save a couple moments that Manu Chao kinda clashes with and subsequently mucks up a bit. The dignified, reserved cover is for the UK and "world" release, which I was able to pick up today for about 13 dollars at Virgin Megastore, of all places. Of course, I guess you could buy the import on Amazon for $28. The other cover is for the Nonesuch release on August 2. Nonesuch: "hey, you guys are blind and African and make beautiful music, can't you put on some more... 'traditional' clothes and smile real big?" Super gives me the jitters. Doesn't make a huge diff., the music is absolutely awesome.

In other news, Todd B. shamed me by pointing out that the Faith No More I was playing for him with total fearlessness and love actually did sound foully like Limp Bizkit, and a good chunk of the Keyshia Cole album is finally making me take note of contemporary R&B.


Instructions for How to Think Like a Child Again

I just beat the drizzle by a minute and now am looking lolly-eyed at the buildings getting their wet-warm summer wash.

Nike apologized for using the Minor Threat art, which seems only appropriate. Still, it feels like a conflicted victory, as does John Darnielle's cover of "Pet Politics" on The Believer comp. The original is about as good as anything gets in this fragile boy's opinion, incl. ice cream, psychedelics, and kickball, but probably excepting swift and dazzling revolution. Still, a place of comfort. My friend Josh always had this plan to drive to Nashville, find Dave Berman's house, knock on the door, tell him "everything is going to be okay," and hold him without mercy or restraint. For the first time, I'd rather John Darnielle didn't; there's something in his Americana that's a heartbreak all its own, but a bright-orange agitated one, where Berman, especially Natural Bridge-era Berman, is rainstorm melancholia that just drags on in gorgeous sepias. Oh well, I can't say I wasn't thrilled to hear it anyhow.


Behold, Life (and Books)

Ian Mathers has said hello in the way that blogs talk, and asked me to fill out this book-related thing, which, even though this blog is mostly about music in some way or another, I'm more than happy to do.

Total number of books I've owned: Now, probably as few as 50, not counting books in storage (which seem a little ridiculous to count since they're kinda out of commission for the time being). Over time, it's really hard to say. I love 'em and leave 'em, more or less.

The last book I bought: Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle. I finished Flow My Tears and ran like thirsty dog to dish to get another. Purchased with Beckett's Malloy, Malone Dies and The Unnamable, which are still reverberating pretty hard in my soul after finishing them over year ago.

The last book I read: Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said, by Philip K. Dick. I've always been really suspicious of Dick and the whole "science fiction" tag, but I realized that it's too good to resist, and not all that science fiction-y in the end. I was a dork and slept on it for a long time because I was afraid. Same thing happened with short pants, and look how happy and aerated I am now!

Five books that mean a lot to me (in no particular order):

Borges, Labyrinths. This writing is absolutely inexhaustable to me. If I'm ever in the mood for an old fashioned abstract mental workout, I read about 12 pages and then stare into the heavens for an hour or so.

Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49. If I'm ever feeling uneasy, I just focus on this book, which made me realize the fragile and hilarious folly of the world at work. True existential comedy. It seems both lame and required that I mention the fact that the W.A.S.T.E. trumpet is tattooed onto my chest.

Joyce, Ulysses. I always find comfort in the fact that Joyce drank too much and his wife Nora told him to write books people could understand. Joyce was an observer, not a participant. In a way, the observations are incredibly private and indecipherable, but on the other hand, the scope of this book is absolutely astonishing and heartbreaking. Don't know what to say, other than that it will probably stay important to me for a long time.

Serafini, Codex Seraphinianus. Well, maybe this doesn't belong here in my rational processing of the question, but I did think of it before almost anything else. An art (I guess?) book from the 70's. It's an entire fictional world in pictures. Conceptually, thrilling, and really funny/playful. It's somewhat indescribable, so I won't waste a whole lot of time. Sadly, it's almost impossible to find. I don't even have a copy, but periodically retrieve it from a select library when I feel the urgin'.

Beckett, Malloy, Malone Dies and The Unnamable. These haven't been around in my mind as long as Lot 49, the Borges, or the Codex, but I'd be wrong not to mention it. I think about death too much, so reading these probably did more harm than good. Meditative, bleak, but somehow hysterically funny. It's like soul food to me.


Questions I Whisper to the Wind

It makes the guitar quite difficult to play, actually

Do people in the UK like Be Bop Deluxe?

(Pun regarding Belief, Believing in, etc.)

Kelefa Sanneh in the Times about The Believer music issue, which was predictable. Rockism in action though, a fantastic specimen. It's a little bit unfair though, becuase the McSweeny's/Believer audience has always seemed like the kind of group that aspires in theory to big-eyed anything-goes wide-world fascination, when in reality they're probably an incredibly insular bunch. Some historical esoterica, dress it up in outdated legalese: a formula. Whatever, they're a smart group for sure, but I wouldn't've expected anything more than what they gave. The bit about Joanna Newsom expressing a "deep, universal pain" is actually extremely hilarious though. I must be a philistine; I find her music pretty uplifting, the sadness all contained, prettied, and comfortable, like "this is my time to reflect on the cool melancholy of the world." Well-packaged! Speaking of tapping into deep, universal joy, a new Kevin Blechdom album and this Steve "Silk" Hurley mix; I can't claim to have ever known about this guy as I am incredibly deficient in these matters (but getting better), though I can claim to really enjoy this, right?


No Really, Swaddled in Technicolor

The last few days have been good, though I wake up with drool on my pillow from dreams of knives in my back. Bloody, really.

Really, though, "Diamonds" is kind of much better and much worse than I thought; the whole 60's spy vibe reminds me more of the Propellerheads than anything else, and the vocal nip just eventually reminds me of the feline pupil dilation in the video for "Ms. Jackson." It makes me cry a little bit too, the Live 8 roster is appalling, but we struggle in the ways we know how. I think it's interesting that he flipped the controversy on himself a little bit (in contrast to the documentarian Dropout). Plus, it's a pretty good anthem for the global economy- twisted, conflicted, blending guilt and celebration; it's cooler in the shade, but it's also darker. For a picture on acid through Yves Saint-Laurent glasses, the black and white video also got my interest, though I guess it could be some crap-exotic Herb Ritts thing too.


Somewhat Eventful

Today I received a very short note from Corwood Industries in the mail thanking me for sending them a Jandek review. I held it in my hands and then had a glass of water.


Here We Have a Season Called Summer

Holla from the Black Lodge

Spend Sunday mostly shirtless alternately in the grass and on Karl's couch, discussing the enormous and multitudinous virtues of Julee Cruise with Jeff. Wonder why you like Julee Cruise so much. Wonder why people don't talk about Julee Cruise more often. Wonder if anyone else fits the mold of plastic faux-50's new age surrealistic doowop noir. Discuss opening a public events space wherein large, plush rooms are utilized for darkened Julee Cruise listening parties. Realize the amount of sex and drug use you would be provoking and retract some of your initial enthusiasm. Feel your enthusiasm quickly return but do not share it.


Once We Were as Sweet and Warm as the Golden Morning Sun

Saturday morning is a good morning. Hot pavements, psychedelic rock, large coffee to go. Gram Parsons, I have strayed from your memory, and for that, I can do nothing but wade ankle-deep in your horribly uneven but mostly justified body of work.


Slowly and Cautiously, the Strains of Surrender

I have not always been particularly kind to the Fiery Furnaces. I think it was the kind of praise they got, a totally bug-eyed slack-jawed mess, adjectives of praise falling like confetti around our feet, tired from walking through graveyards of unadventurous indie-pop. What I must concede to, with absolutely no recourse, is "Smelling Cigarettes," one of the songs collected on this year's EP. I feel like Ulysses got tossed around a couple times with Blueberry Boat, and a little carelessly at that. "Smelling Cigarettes" is the first thing I've heard that's Joyce-worthy; the karmic/fate-fueled reappearance of the billboard truck to run over the foot of Cristopher Hyde (after the same truck has lain our narrator boozed-up and couch-ridden) gives me the retribution shivers, for real. And gob, Joyce talked about how much he loved the end of the Odyssey, when poor pup Argus dies after finally recognizing his returned master. Some beautiful coincidence that the narrator's cat, amidst the confusion, forgets who he belongs to. An animal forgets who he belongs to; if that's not beautiful, I don't know what is.