Tuesday, January 30, 2007


this post is dedicated to two entities: Built to Spill, and Mr. Adam Graham-Silverman for introducing me to them. AGS, as he likes to call himself, is really up on his music shit, and pretty much all his shit for that matter. whereas i'm not, so i'm lucky to know him.

ESPECIALLY now that i have the wonderful, amazing, glorious Built to Spill to listen to. i've admitted that i'm not in the know, but, seriously, what the hell was i doing while Built to Spill were doing their early thing? oh yeah...listening to fiona apple and SoCal hip hop in the soulless abyss that was USC. maybe that's why i never found them; i was surrounded by drones.

but let's let bygones be bygones. the point is, having just scratched the surface of Built to Spill's oeuvre, it's clear that there is much wonderfulness ahead, and that is exciting. a lot of songs are medlies -- like my favorite Beatles song, Happiness is a Warm Gun. different sections that build upon each other in intensity and mood and then wind up forming this strange, perfect string of pearls. maybe they took some of that from Happiness and the other famous Beatles medley on Abbey Road, but...that can't have been such a big influence, because it wasn't even that big for The Beatles. it all sounds and feels very original -- obviously many sounds we've grown accustomed to were originated by Built to Spill and have since been mimicked by several other bands. sadly that's the one downside: Martsch's voice, to me at least, sounds a bit familiar and cliche. but i can certainly let that slide. the cohesiveness of the albums and songs, and their intensity and beauty more than make up for any flaws.

the weird thing is that i've noticed a lot of friends who i consider to be musically down also are not familiar with Built to Spill. well, get familiar, fools. you'll be glad you did.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

damn the ipod shuffle straight to hell

it all began back on dec. 5, 2003 when in an insane turn of events i lost over 300 CDs -- my entire collection. the pain was so great that i could not rebuild. i cursed the world of physical CDs, turned my back on it, and made the transition so many of us have -- the transition to digital.

my third generation ipod has served me quite well to this very day, and i humbly pray that it will continue on to do so. so why, you may ask, did i purchase the shuffle? firstly, because my ipod acts as my stereo, and i want to do everything in my power to keep it from crapping out on me so i don't have to get one of the big fancy new ipods, and that entails not subjecting it to the rigors of travel. secondly, because someone was selling a new one for cheaper than the store price. and thirdly, and most importantly, though i do love my ipod, i feel it has changed the way i listen to music for the worse.

how? why?

well, quite simple. having 3,000+ songs at your fingertips at all times makes you listen to albums all the way through a lot less. you feel there must be a better song for your mood or the moment, and you're constantly scrolling through trying to find it. the genius of the shuffle, or so i thought, was that it took the control out of your hands, forcing you to listen rather than choose. but though this seems like a brilliant solution to the problem digital music poses, there are MANY REASONS NOT TO GET THE SHUFFLE. and i will now outline them for you.

you cannot charge the shuffle without a computer UNLESS YOU PURCHASE A SPECIAL APPLE WALL CHARGER. even if you have a charger from previous ipods, those chargers only take firewire, and of course the wily little fuckers at apple built the shuffle with a USB plug. couldn't they have built it with a firewire AND a USB? of course they could have! but then they would've missed out on this little money making add-on.

to use the ipod shuffle, and any new apple products for that matter, YOU MUST DOWNLOAD ITUNES 7, which may cause you to go insane. i downloaded iTunes 7, stupidly, a few weeks ago, and then spent several hours searching online to find a way to uninstall it and revert back to iTunes 6 because it completely fucked up my access to the music store (although many, many other problems have been reported). i eventually found the solution here, only to then be forced to install iTunes 7 again once i purchased this godforsaken shuffle.

(and this comes straight from apple:)
"iPod shuffle is intended for use with a single computer. You cannot load music from multiple computers or iTunes libraries onto iPod shuffle like you can with other iPods."
the problems with trying to load the music from different computers onto your shuffle can be varied, but mine entails having to erase the entire thing every time and resync it with the current computer.

this is the most personal reason, and perhaps you'll disagree, but the whole solving the digitally-unsatisifed-with-music-conundrum doesn't really work with the shuffle if you're someone who cares about what you're listening to throughout the day. there needs to be a certain level of musical agency. for example if you go to work, and then you go to the gym, you can't be expected to switch the music up on your shuffle between those two activities, or for example, remove music and replace it with a podcast, which is what you'd have to do if you had a shuffle (or scroll through the whole thing, which is horribly annoying). this is why i think the nano is the best solution, certainly a better one than the shuffle, as it forces you to downsize, but does provide some control. (and by the way the differences between the ipod, the nano, and the shuffle seem to prove that apple's marketing spin -- "which ipod are you?" -- is kind of profound.)

however, the nano is NOT the best solution as it is an apple product, and we should really break up apple's monopoly on the digital music thing. holland is the most recent country to join the european chorus of anger with apple at their proprietary handling of music bought on the iTunes store. and they're totally right. the fact that this has barely been mentioned in the states is embarrassing. apple has so handily dominated the market, and everyone here has simply gone along with it while apple has done, and continues to do, uncool things. sheep!


but, regardless of that, i think i'll probably still get the nano, because i am a sheep, and i just don't like the names zen or zune. anyone in the market for a gently used, reduce priced iPod shuffle with some Built to Spill on it?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Enrique Metinides

ambulance chasing-type photography has a long and rich history, but none that i've seen quite compares with the pictures made by enrique metinides, a mexican photographer born in 1934 who published his first picture at age 12. which may go some way toward explaining how perfect his composition and timing are -- but only some.

here's a good way of illustrating the unique talent of metinides's vision: compare him with weegee. weegee is the american car wreck police scene photographer par excellence, and metinides is sometimes referred to in "western-centric" analysis as the mexican weegee. it's true that weegee predated metinides by at least 30 years, but when you look at the body of weegee's work, it's sensationalistic in a way that metinides's is not. here are a couple of examples:

these are pictures made to gawk at, cheaply.

on the other hand, here is metinides's picture of a suicide:


a big part of what's so impressive is the restraint. metinides is a newspaper photographer, yet he's able to sacrifice gore and melodrama in favor of quiet, extremely direct emotion. this is sensational -- no question about it -- but there's no way of getting around the inherently sensationalistic premise of photographing death. if it's to be done, i prefer metinides's way.

the fact that images like these ran in the mainstream mexican press as news photos says something about the difference between what sells papers in mexico, and what sells papers in the states, and maybe it tells us a little something about the differences in our national characters. but i don't want to infer too much.

and a last note. i'm not trying to elevate metinides by praising him above a canonical american photographer -- he doesn't need the help. he's gotten a lot of attention in new york lately, which is how i know about him, and is renowned all over the world. comparisons are just instructive sometimes. yeah. the end.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

le cinema francais and les fugitive lovers

an interesting trend in ze french cinema, and one that culminates in the now the rather cliche ending of the fugitive lover being dramatically shot. from the top we have A Tout De Suite from 2004, Belle De Jour from 1967, and, the film i watched today, A Bout De Souffle from 1960. in all three, we're dealing with a good girl-ish female who experiences the kind of breathtaking, hot-sexy-real-love that is only possible when that love is forbidden. interdit. verboten! of course the message in all of this is that the world sucks, that that kind of love can never last, etc etc etc.

i like all three of these for different reasons, though the fact that they're all made by men suggests they reveal more about male fantasy than they do about hidden female desire. all three, i think, are rather two dimensional portrayals of women, but on the other hand maybe all of the characters in all three are a bit two-dimensional. i think the one i like best in terms of all that is A Bout De Souffle, as it acknowledges the two-dimensionality of patricia in the best scene of the film: patricia trying to be a "journalist" at a press conference where her questions to the subject are cloyingly naive, and the man she's questioning responds with condescending but witty come-ons...which she smiles at and appears to find quite flattering.

the other thing about A Bout De Souffle worthy of note: patricia's accent is the worst -- the WORST -- american french accent ever heard. there must've been more patience with stupid americans back in the day...or at least with pretty, charming ones in cute striped dresses.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Bird & The Bee

A quick note to recommend a very unique, purely enjoyable, all around great new album: the first, self-titled release by The Bird & The Bee, Inara George's new band.

I saw The Bird & The Bee open for Sia in NY late last year, and I must say they blew dear old Sia out of the water. Take a listen -- the harmonies are retro-innovative, the voices liltingly lovely, and the songs fun and plain old good listening. Seeing them live is like stepping onto a movie set time warp. Not sure if it's to the future or the past, but it rocks.

Monday, January 15, 2007

can i get a little moral hypocrisy?

happy martin luther king day!

in honor of this holiday, here's a delicious little tidbit of news:
Jan. 5, 2007 -- Kevin Alfred Strom, a major American neo-Nazi leader for almost 20 years, was arrested by federal agents in Virginia Thursday night and charged with possession of child pornography.
(Read more at the Southern Poverty Law Center.)

can i get a WUH Wuh wuh wuh...? love it! turns out his ex-wife and his wife at the time of the arrest were both consistently puzzled at his lack of attraction to them...but just look at this guy. abnormal seems an apt description.

in addition to this great news, let's take a moment and enjoy the other two best pieces of moral hypocrsiy of the year: the ted haggard resignation and dick cheney's lesbian daughter's pregnancy. too delicious for words!

back to the theme of civil rights, though, the american neo-nazi/white pride movement remains quite strong. case in point: Prussian Blue, a group formed a couple of years ago by twin teenage girls, in which they sing about...yup, white pride. bringing white pride into the teenage mainstream is brilliantly scary, sort of like Prussian Blue's lyrics. here's a snippet from "I Will Bleed For You":

"For every man who doesn't dream
I am the dreamer
For every man who doesn't believe
I'm the believer
For every man who doesn't receive
I'm the receiver
For every man who refuses to bleed
I will bleed for you."

Prussian Blue here appear to be referencing in poetic terms the waning of the white race while men everywhere refuse to recognize the destruction. Prussian Blue, however, dare to dream. And dare to bleed.
* shiver *

the heartening news about Prussian Blue is that they suck. Listen to I Will Bleed For You here, and other songs here. also, it appears that Prussian Blue have moved from the wonderful town of their childhood, Bakersfield, CA, to Kalispell, Montana because Bakersfield wasn't white enough. obviously ideologies like these are passed down from generation to generation, but there's nothing like living in Bakersfield to make you cling to any shred of national ethnic identity in your bloodline, even nazism. if you've never been, you could easily take the scenic bakersfield detour next time you're driving from LA to SF and check it out. bellissimo!

though kalispell perhaps beats out bakersfield in city character, it loses in population -- 14,000 to 460,000 -- and while this is a bad thing for the career of Prussian Blue, it is a good thing for us. so rejoice!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

more techmology

i had another brilliant idea recently, and i'll give it to you in two words:


that's right. upload smells onto the internet and download 'em on machines around the world. of course the obstacle with this one is changing the way computers are built so that they all contain the IntelSmell Chip ((c) 2007 Alexandra Schmidt), but i say, why make a mountain out of a molehill? we invented television, we can do this.

not only have i birthed this wonderful idea, but i've envisioned future applications of the concept that may increase profits associated with online smells. first, we will extend the concept to online touch -- slightly more complicated than online smells because of the necessary interface that exists outside the computer (whereas the IntelSmell (c) chip is inside computers), and finally online taste, the most complex of all because it requires FDA approval. do you see the possibilities in the porn realm alone? it boggles the mind!

starting with smells, i envision an iTunes-like system where smells are downloaded to a cherished smell library for a nominal fee. working titles for this system include SmelLib, EncycloSmell and Whiffipedia, but i will gladly consider suggestions for others. of course the smell library, like any online file buying system, is vulnerable to piracy, but i have a crackerjack legal team all lined up to address this problem once it crops up.

as amazed as you may be reading this, i should tell you that though my idea was original for me (swear!), it appears someone else has developed the gem in a slightly different format. Smell-O-Vision was a system of releasing odors in movies so that viewers could smell what was happening in films as they watched. it didn't go so well, partially because maybe every movie director didn't want scents associated with his films and, hey, maybe everyone in the theater didn't want to be smelling smells while they watched, and maybe some people hated certain smells that others loved. the crucial difference with online smells is that each individual makes a personal decision about which smells to smell and when. online smells are true smell agency, and no one can stop the online smell train of freedom.

there is the acute danger, of course, in extending so many senses online that people will never leave their homes -- but why fight the technology tsunami any longer? i say if we're rolling with it, let's take this internet thing all the way. who's with me?!