Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Who Knew Mayor Bloomborg Was a Punk Rock Fan?
Update on Gestapo-ish Rave Bust

Here's a link to a pretty spooky video from the legal rave that I wrote about a week or so ago (w/ permits, security guards and $2 million in liability insurance) in Utah that got shat down upon by cops in combat gear w/ assault rifles, helicopters etc.
The President's Response to Insurgent Katrina

(Note: I realize that it's politically incorrect to make light of Hurricane Katrina, but I couldn't resist reprinting this parody I found at

Fox News and others are reporting that the President just got "his own bird's eye view" of Katrina's damage as Air Force One flew over the devestated region. Shortly after, Bush gave prepared remarks to the press pool:

We are making progress in New Orleans. The flood is in its last throes. Clearly, the hurricane has a hateful ideology and does not like our freedom or our dryness. We cannot surrender to it. In New Orleans, they are working on a draft evacuation; it is an evacuation process, and we must expect that if we are to bring American-style democracy to the Mississippi Delta.
The president added that "to pull out now would only give aid to the elements."
A Great Find!

Hours before their performance at the Sioux Falls Coliseum, the Replacements are interviewed by KDLT.

From my friend, Scott E.:

Urban Blues Development
Saturday September 3rd
Mad Rock Pub
10 PM -Close
5th & Phillips
Downtown Sioux Falls
w/special guests WUMPUS

Saturday September 10th
Touch of Europe9 PM -Close
12th & Phillips
Downtown Sioux Falls

Come see Sioux Falls newest blues/jazz band, featuring two of the hottest guitar players inSioux Falls, with a smoking rythm section. Watch them burn it up at the Mad Rock after the Captain Beefheart influenced WUMPUS leaves the stage. Then a week later they'll tone it down a bit for the Touch of Europe with an acoustic set, but still expect the same command of America'sgreatest invention: Jazz & Blues

Jesse - Guitar/Vocals
Steve - Guitar/Vocals
Fred - Drums/Cigarettes
Mark - Bass/Style

'Finally, real musicians, playing real music, to real people.'

What a Pair!!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

What a great day for music and DVD's! For the first time in weeks, I exceeded my budget (that's pretty good for me). But I couldn't resist season four of both Married With Children and Curb Your Enthusiasm, along with the Austin City Limits Festival on DVD, and new albums by Kanye West, Death Cab For Cutie, Bob Dylan's new outtakes collection, and the Best of Todd Snider (along with a couple of others I can't recall). Oh yeah, I also broke down and bought the new Johnny Cash box set.
Here’s a bit of a disclaimer before today’s diatribe. The words that you are about to read are by no means intended to disrespect those affected by the devastation created by Hurricane Katrina. What has happened is certainly heartbreaking, and I pray for those who have lost not only family and friends but their jobs, homes, cars, and other possessions.
My main beef, as is typical of any big story, is with the media. If you tuned into any of the news channels this past weekend, you were treated to story after story of an upcoming Armageddon, with water rising to the top of high-risers and the remains of hundreds of years of Louisiana citizens floating down the streets.
This hysteria was created simply because everybody used the same so-called expert, who utilized the Shawn Cable method of worst-case scenario in his predictions. In his view, this storm was going to make the Asian tsunami look like a picnic.
Granted, this person may be proven correct in some respects, as we are now starting to see the environmental aftermath of the storm. But this cable television mentality of constantly trying to scare us to death has got to stop.
This wasn’t the only example of the news channels attempting to frighten their viewers. As the storm finally hit Monday, every new development was exaggerated. For example, when the Superdome experienced some damage, CNN and Fox almost wet themselves – the building was set to collapse. Only MSNBC gave us the real story – there was some damage to the roof but the building itself (and the people inside) were safe.

But what really drives me crazy about any storm, from tornados in this part of the country to snow storms in Colorado to the hurricanes in the southeast, is this insane policy of inserting reporters and anchors into the story.
There is nothing sillier than seeing these personality-lacking teleprompter readers standing in the middle of a storm describing what’s going on. There’s just no need for it. They can do that job from their anchor chair – the shots from stationary cameras sufficiently tell us what’s going on.
Just once I would like to see the wind take one of these ass clowns and deposit them twenty or thirty feet away. I don’t want them to get hurt…much. You know, it would be terrible to see them impaled on a tree. I guess I’d be happy just to see them scared by the sight of a cow or horse flying by. Let’s just have some sort of minor incident that causes the networks to rethink this policy.
I’d like to end today’s rant on a positive note, so I do have a hero of the hurricane. Sunday afternoon, Fox’s awful Shepard Smith was wandering around New Orleans interviewing residents on live TV. He approached one gentleman and asked him why he hadn’t left town. His answer – “none of your fucking business.” Now that’s a Hallmark moment.
Today's Online Find - Memoirs of a Music Man

He got to see all the biggest pop stars from the best seats in the
house. But what he was really looking for was the spirit that made
rock-and-roll so unpredictable in the first place

By David Segal
Sunday, August 28, 2005; W12

A few months before I left my job as pop music critic at The Washington Post, a reader called to accuse me of a journalistic crime. The message, forwarded to me via voice mail, came from a 20-ish-sounding woman who seemed really worked up. I'm paraphrasing here, but she said something like this:

I don't think that your critic was at the Aerosmith show on Saturday at Nissan Pavilion. In his review, he wrote that in the middle of the show lead singer Steven Tyler grabbed a trapeze and swung out over the audience. I was at the show in Connecticut, and he did that there. But he didn't do it at Nissan. My guess is that Segal went to the Connecticut show but didn't go to Nissan. Bye!

Now, at first, my feelings were hurt. A review has to be pretty lacking in local color for someone to accuse you of skipping the concert. (I called this young lady to discuss this matter, but she never got back to me.) And, of course, the trapeze swing really hapened. Tyler had grabbed it, dangling near the lip of the stage, as Joe Perry took a guitar solo during "Walk This Way." The crowd hooted -- Tyler was briefly sailing above the heads of fans in the first eight rows or so -- and it was over in about 10 seconds.

Maybe the caller had lousy seats and didn't see it. Maybe she went to get a beer as the song began. Either way, as soon as I got past my indignation, I felt a wave of nostalgia. This woman believed, as I once believed, that rock concerts are spontaneous affairs where anything can happen. A lead singer might suddenly spot a trapeze and, on a whim, take a ride.

Ah, sweet and innocent youth.

It's fair to assume that Tyler rode the same trapeze in the same spot during the same song at every concert that summer, Nissan included. The whole trapeze thing was almost surely dreamed up before the band strummed the first note on the tour. There was probably a trapeze roadie, with instructions that read "9:15, hand Perry an Aquafina. 9:18, go get the trapeze."

That's the way pop concerts are these days, especially large ones. Everything is choreographed, even the parts that seem unchoreographed, and there is no room for unplanned derring-do. I knew this before I signed on as rock critic in January 2000. But there's something about going to dozens and dozens of concerts that makes the artifice of these productions even more glaring, and when I go to shows now, it's hard for me to see anything else. What we've got here, all too often, is musical
theater masquerading as improv.

I have nothing against musical theater, but when you're expecting a concert, it seems silly and very much against the impulsive, unruly spirit of the genre. Broadway's "Mamma Mia!" never pretends to be free-forming it every night. U2 does, though a U2 concert is essentially the same thing, night after night, right down to the encore. Yes, the bonus part that's supposed to be extra because you clapped hard, that's planned, too.

"Whoa! Next you'll tell us that Britney lip-syncs?" I know, I know. These impressions won't exactly shock you jaded longtimers out there, but it seems to me that concerts are getting more ossified and more mannered every year. And the more schematic the production is, the less likely you are to come across the great Live Concert Moment.

You know about the great Live Concert Moment, right? I'm not talking about the kind of show where you leave thinking, "Those guys rule!" and then buy a T-shirt. I'm talking about total-body bliss, a rush so strong it turns brain cells into Jell-O and, for a moment or two, you sort of leave your skin. Art lovers would probably argue that they get the same feeling by looking at a great painting, but they're fools, and you should ignore them. A good part of what I'm talking about here is sheer volume. A painting can be many things, but it will never make your ears ring.

The Pixies, my friend, can make your ears ring.

The great Live Concert Moment is born of something heartfelt and in some
important way spontaneous. Not necessarily made up on the spot -- although that's never a bad idea -- but improvised to some degree. You might catch something similar in Boston next week, but it won't be exactly what happened in D.C. This is what sets a great concert apart from a great album. It's about music, but it's also about an experience that's ephemeral and communal, that you share for a couple hours with a
bunch of strangers who, at some level, you feel like you know because they have the same idiotic glint in their eye when the lights come up. It's the sense that this whole evening means as much to the band as it does to you. It's great songs multiplied by killer performance multiplied by giddy fan reaction.

I've been chasing these Moments since I was 12 years old, and, during my
four years as rock critic at The Post, I hunted them the way Ahab chased
the white whale. I looked everywhere -- in stadiums, arenas, clubs, basements, studios, garages, even parking lots. It didn't happen often, but on a few unforgettable occasions, I stumbled into a Moment. Finding one just made me crave another.

For me, the pop critic job was a cheap way to feed an old habit. I'd been buying records and "wooooo"-ing at concerts ever since I laid eyes on Elvis Costello in 1977, when he sang on "Saturday Night Live." Pigeon-toed and decked out in a cheap suit and twerpy glasses, he started a song called "Less Than Zero," then, after a moment or two, very dramatically halted the band, shouted some weird apology to the
crowd and then launched into "Radio, Radio."

I was a goner. I loved the sound, the song, the drama, the sense that this excitable nerd had taken control of the show and seemed ready to run it into a ditch. He looked like the future of music, a guy who could crash a very dull party and turn it into something that would scare your parents. I wanted to meet him, even though I had the sense that he wouldn't like me, that he wouldn't like anyone, himself included. When I bought his debut album, "My Aim Is True," it wouldn't leave me alone. For a while, my friend J.P. and I were so reverently attached to Costello that we instituted a rule: No leaving the room when Elvis Costello is playing. That would be disrespectful.

After Elvis, there were Graham Parker and Joe Jackson, then Devo, then the Ramones, then Lou Reed and Bruce Springsteen and then a ton of New Wave bands (the Rings, the A's, the Sinceros) that no one ever heard from again. I went to a local chain in Providence, near where I grew up, called Strawberries and bought albums because the covers looked cool or because the name sounded good (how about 999 or Pearl Harbor and the Explosions?).

Oddly, my first concert was jazz crossover Chuck Mangione when I was 13, and, God help me, I loved it. That man could make a fluegelhorn sing! After that, Blood Sweat & Tears, then a blur of arena rock bands from the '70s, all of them peddling irony-free bombast through a pungent cloud of pot smoke, like Blue Oyster Cult, Aerosmith and the J. Geils Band. After I turned 18 and could get into clubs, I bluffed my way
backstage whenever possible. I still have an index card signed by every member of the punk band X. I caught a guitar pick tossed into the crowd by Lenny Kaye, Patti Smith's guitarist, and had it framed. Once I interrupted Joe Jackson when I spotted him conversing in a bar. "I think you're being rude," he told me. He had a point.

To me these people weren't people. If you grow up, as I did, with the hunch that we live in a godless universe and you believed, as I did, that Bruce Springsteen was the nation's only home-grown prophet, then a live concert was about the only place you were going to have a religious experience. It's a whole lot like a prayer service, actually, since everyone knows the words and you leave feeling uplifted. I had far more epiphanies in the Providence Civic Center than I ever did at Temple

I'm sure a lot of people at those shows felt the same way, but very few of them became music journalists. So why did I? Sometime in my mid-twenties I realized that writing was the only thing I wanted to do, and after I was nearly fired from a political consulting firm when I moved to Washington in the late '80s, journalism seemed my only viable option. I freelanced for anyone who'd publish me. A few years, and many stories later, The Post hired me, in 1993, as a reporter in the
Business section. I covered serious matters, like HMOs and law firms. But all
the while I wrote the occasional pop music story, and, when the rock job opened up, I had enough clips to apply with a straight face.

Elvis Costello once said that writing about music is like dancing about architecture, and I quickly saw his point. Explaining what makes music great is kind of futile, since the tools at hand never seem equal to the material. I'm not sure if music criticism is something I ever excelled at, but I'm certain of this: When I started, I stank. My first review, about a Snoop Dogg album, somehow opened with a riff about Elvis Presley, which my editor wisely cut. When I first put on headphones in the newsroom, at my desk, I felt like I was getting away with something, or loafing, like I was about to get busted. All around me, colleagues were reporting real stories -- corruption or calamities or political scandal -- and I was listening to "Brake Fluid (Biiittch Pump Yo' Brakes)."

That feeling soon passed. Even in hindsight, I loved just about every minute of the gig. Just about. Some stories went horribly awry, if you want to know the truth. Like the time I tried to coax some memories out of Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, a legendary guitarist and fiddle player in the world of Southern roots music who's been making albums and touring for decades. This was backstage at the Birchmere, and I'd brought along 10 songs by other artists that Brown said had influenced him, the titles of which he'd given me a week before our meeting. Gatemouth puffed on his pipe while I played the songs on my portable boombox. The music was supposed to provoke some anecdotes and kick-start him into an explanation of the origins of his style. It didn't work. A lifelong abstainer, he could focus on just one thing -- that most of his musical heroes were drunks.

Piano player Cecil Grant? "He drank a lot," Brown said.

Texas swing man Bob Wills? "Liquor carried him out."

Hank Williams? "Whiskey and drugs got him."

On he went. I envisioned the poor jerk that I would become in the next few days as I struggled to turn this gruel into a feature story, and I actually began to sweat.

Those few fiascos aside, the job has a lot to recommend it. The free albums never stop. I'd get 25 in a slow week. The tickets are comped (when you're doing a review). Ditto the backstage deli platters on those occasions you end up backstage.

Initially, I worried that turning pop into a profession would make me hate it. I'd read an essay a long time ago by George Orwell about how he'd taken a job at a bookstore, mostly because he was broke but also because he loved being around books. You love books, you need a job, you get a job at a bookstore. But it backfired. Lugging around crates of hardbacks and doing all that inventory work turned books into a commodity, which he grew to despise.

When I thought about jumping from business reporting to pop criticism, I worried the same thing would happen to me. But it turns out that consuming a huge amount of music actually expands your appetite. You come across bands you've never heard of; you get into genres you never bothered with; you attend shows you would have skipped. Best of all, you get to hunt for those Live Concert Moments for a living.

Before I go any further, maybe an example of an LCM is in order. Here's one of my favorites. About 10 years ago, I fell hard for a band called Guided By Voices. Since disbanded, they were a quintet from Dayton, Ohio, led by a tipsy genius named Robert Pollard, a guy who'd spent most of his professional life as a (perfectly sober) school teacher and then broke out when Rolling Stone hailed the band's eighth album, "Bee Thousand," as an instant lo-fi classic. Some friends and I became loony fans of this group, to the point where we actually flew to Dayton, where we practically stalked the band. On tour in 1995, GBV opened a show in Washington for the mostly forgotten Urge Overkill.

Now, one of the great things about Pollard is that he often spilled beer, by accident, on the set list -- that's the list of songs the band is going to play -- and at some point in just about every show, he would mutter something like, "The set list is completely unreadable," and then he'd ask for requests. It was like the band suddenly became a jukebox, and with a few dozen songs to its name, there was no telling what the group would actually play. These shows were as close to random as it gets; they all were great, but none were great in the same way.

In the middle of this particular concert, my friend Eli shouted for a song called "Matter Eater Lad." As rock songs go this one is a trifle -- sample lyric: "He constructed a factory . . . Just to see how it tasted" -- but its inanity is kind of magnificent. Pollard immediately went to his drummer, who happened to be subbing in for their full-time guy. The drummer didn't know the song, so Pollard taught it to him, right then and there. You could see the lesson. And then the band played it, and it was a beautiful shambles.

We grinned about that for a couple months. Actually, I'm grinning about it right now. If that's pathetic, so be it. That's the sort of moment I live for.

Maybe you hear a tale like that and think: "Um, you lived for that? Hey,
isn't it time to grow up?" It is, and you have a point. But the truth is that every pop critic, to one degree or another, is a case of arrested development. You have to be. What plays on MTV isn't made for adults; it's made for kids or teenagers, or people in their twenties. I'm now 41. You know how many 41-year-olds are on the Billboard pop music charts right now? Very few. Which is what sets pop music criticism apart from other beats at a newspaper. Restaurants, dance, plenty of movies, theater -- these are all generally produced by grown-ups for grown-ups. Blink-182's "Enema of the State" wasn't made for adults, and neither was Busta Rhymes's "Ass on Your Shoulders." To enjoy this line of work, you really need
juvenile tastes.

You can, of course, fake your affection for bands like Blink-182, but it's hard to do that for long, and the people that stay in this line of work aren't faking. I remember reading a rave review in the New York Times of an album by Korn, a crew of goth metal heads who make grim and furious rock for disaffected 14-year-old boys. The review was written by Jon Pareles, the head pop critic for the paper -- and a man in his fifties. He went to Yale, where he majored in classical music. I
thought to myself, "This guy must be kidding." How many middle-aged Ivy
Leaguers in this country would even listen to, let alone rave about, the new
Korn album?

So, initially, I assumed that Pareles was slumming it for credibility's sake, or because he felt the pressure to praise the band because it was so huge. But a few months later I was at the Grammys, in the media room, tapping away at a story about the winners. Korn's lead singer, Jonathan Davis, came out to take a bow and answer questions after collecting the best metal performance trophy for "Here to Stay." Pareles was sitting in the first row, and he asked Davis a question in the slightly breathless tone of a sophomore in the grip of a crush. When Davis was done,
Pareles burbled, "It's a really good album." This wasn't a put-on, I realized. Jon Pareles loves Korn. He really loves Korn. The man was born for his job.

Beyond the tastes of a teenager, most rock critics have a hard-core addiction to the Live Concert Moment. Like Jane Scott, who retired a few years ago as the pop critic at the Cleveland Plain Dealer at age 82. Yes, 82. She was already in her forties when the Beatles came to town, and when she figured out that nobody at the paper had signed up to cover the event, she volunteered.

For parts of the next five decades, she went to hundreds of shows, always with her ticket pinned to her chest, so she wouldn't lose it, usually armed with a peanut butter sandwich in case she got hungry. She's met everyone -- Brian Wilson, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, to name just a few. When I asked her what kept her going, she brought up the Doobie Brothers, of all bands. At some point in the '70s, they came to town and toward the end of their set played that FM staple "Black Water." There's an a cappella moment in that song, and when it came, she explained, everyone in the building was locked arm in arm, swaying and singing.

"Until you've experienced that," she told me once, shaking her head, "you don't know anything."

For Scott, understanding the power of amplified pop was nothing short of the beginning of enlightenment. I hate any talk about the good old days of rock criticism, but Scott surely lived through some kind of golden age of the genre. It's not merely that concerts are more programmed, the stars are programmed, too. You know what I'm talking about if you've ever seen "Almost Famous," the film about a young rock critic working in the mid-'70s. I hated that movie. Or maybe I just resented it because the world of music journalism in that film seems like more fun than the one I know. The writer in "Almost Famous," a character based on the film's writer and director, Cameron Crowe, himself a former critic, has amazing access to the bands he covers. He flies with them, hangs out with them. When the lead singer of one band takes off on a bender, the writer goes right along with him.

I'm sure the intimacy is exaggerated, but I don't doubt that it was easier to have a real conversation with a pop star when the industry was far younger. It was less of a business plan back then, less uptight. There were label flacks hovering then, too, and men in satin baseball jackets owned everyone, then as now. But those people were tolerated by the band, whereas now the bands often allow them to call the shots. The act is in on the act. I interviewed a few dozen musicians in my 50-plus months of pop writing, and I think I had three, maybe four, true conversations. I'm talking about times when a performer wasn't on message, sounding like a senator with a stump speech.

One exception was an interview with Nick Lowe, a huge hero of mine. He's best known for "Cruel to Be Kind," a semi-hit in the '80s, and for producing the early classics of Elvis Costello. His solo albums never caught on huge in the United States, but they are amazing -- smart and catchy pop with a sly naughty streak. He had come to town in 2001 to support a superb album called "The Convincer," and, while we talked
over lunch in Chinatown, he said that if he hadn't become a musician he would have liked to become a journalist.

"Have you ever seen a newsroom?" I asked him.

He had not. So after the fortune cookies we walked to The Post. The only problem was that to get into the building you have to show some sort of identification to a guard in the lobby. Lowe had nothing on him, not even a wallet. For a moment I thought I would miss my once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to impress my colleagues by walking around saying, "I'd like you to meet Nick Lowe." Then I remembered that I had a copy of his CD in my bag -- and I remembered that the cover of "The Convincer" is a close-up of Lowe's face. I showed it to the guard.

"Wow," he said, looking at Lowe, then the CD, then Lowe. "Go on up."

Part of the fun of music journalism is that even when you're not having your own Moment, odds are good that someone near you is. If the average age in the crowd is under 15, it's a sure thing. When I started, in early 2000, the teen pop craze of Britney and 'N Sync was just getting started, too, and I had a sense the whole phenomenon would provide a rich vein. Those acts are easy to ridicule, but even better, they brought out a ferocious, almost tribal reaction in their fans that you
just don't see at, say, a Moby concert. The first time I laid eyes on 'N Sync, at a stadium show at RFK, I was jolted by the unearthly shrieks of 30,000 tweeners. In my review, I professed amazement at the scene but was pretty dismissive of the music.

This angered a few fans, among them a 13-year-old named Roxanne Shorrock, who denounced me in rather tart terms in a series of letters. The first, a masterstroke of invective, accused me of forgetting the meaning of the word "fun" and alleged that 'N Sync, in her memorable phrasing, "had just nailed [my] ass." I wasn't sure what this meant, exactly, but it sounded painful and the sort of thing I might have said to a rock critic who talked smack about Elvis Costello, had I been literate enough to read the newspaper at 13.

I immediately wrote Ms. Shorrock, and we became pen pals, though there was never anything friendly in her letters. I told her we'd have to disagree about 'N Sync but that I loved how viciously she defended the group. This failed to appease her. Every time I published something sniffy about 'N Sync -- the lads were the biggest thing in music for a while -- Roxanne lobbed another letter at me. So I had an idea. The
next time 'N Sync came to town, I would bring her along, and she could point out all the things that geezers like me fail to appreciate. My tastes aren't that arrested, so maybe I needed a guide.

"Do you get good seats?" she wrote back, when I proposed this in a letter.

I did. A few weeks later, I met Roxanne, and we went together to MCI. It turned out that Roxanne wasn't small and feisty, as I'd imagined. She was tall and feisty, and she'd just entered that part of adolescence when you think everything sucks. The lone exception was 'N Sync, which reduced her to a sweaty, pogoing maniac. She started screaming when the lights went down and unless you count the moments when she needed to inhale, she didn't really stop for about 10 solid minutes.

I left with unexpected insights into the genius of 'N Sync -- or the group's extensive team of handlers and stage managers. Toward the end of the show, there was this 10-minute lull where the guys just stood around onstage and pretended to banter with one another. Small talk, no music. I thought it was a momentum killer, but Roxanne knew better. She needed a break, she explained, in order to regain her strength and composure for the frenzied sprint to the encores. 'N Sync understood the
biorhythms of its fans. Without the chance to rest, Roxanne told me, she was going to throw up.

On some level, I envied her. My Live Concert Moment success ratio -- the number of shows attended divided by the number of Moments -- was lousy by comparison. There are a lot of overhyped bands out there, and just because I have the taste of an 18-year-old doesn't mean I've got no taste. As a critic, if I chanced into one Moment a month, that was a pretty good month.

What wrecked a lot of shows was pretentiousness, the bane of the indie rock world. By far the most insufferable was a band called Godspeed You! Black Emperor, a solemn bunch of Canadian posers who came to the 9:30 club a few years ago. I was chilled by their self-seriousness even before I showed up, having learned that the band had actually moved the exclamation point in its name (it used to be after "Emperor") and
having read an interview in which one of the band members likened nightclubs
to concentration camps. It seemed to be part of some anti-capitalist shtick.

The 10 or so members of the ensemble slunk onstage without so much as acknowledging the audience. Each song was an eight-minute epic, with no vocals, which started slow and then built to a soon-predictable crescendo. A video screen behind the band played gray and numbing images in slow motion -- bombs falling from a jet, a car parked by an underpass. I had nothing better to do, so I started dreaming up better
names for the band, like Chill Out You! Silly Frostbacks. Someone in the group waved when the whole thing was over, but that was just about the only sign that they realized a crowd had come to watch this lugubrious affair.

Godspeed owes me two hours of my life back.

The trick for every band is to keep fresh something that is forever threatening to go stale. This was the secret to the longevity of the Grateful Dead. People followed them around full time because the show changed every time they played, and if you missed a concert you missed something singular. A Bruce Springsteen concert is unforgettable because you always get the sense that you just witnessed something so heartfelt and draining that it couldn't possibly be reproduced. To a degree, that's an illusion, since many of the Boss's shows are pretty similar, set-wise, on a given tour. But the guy is such a gifted showman that it doesn't matter if he does a note-for-note replica in the next city. People leave those concerts feeling like they've been given something they'll never lose. And Springsteen always seems like he's having more fun than anyone else in the building.

There's a kind of uneasy peace that rock has to make with show business. The former is obsessed with authenticity, the latter with fakery and spectacle. There are bands, like Kiss, that just meld the two, and do so with a shamelessness that's sort of winning. All the stage blood, the pyrotechnics, the hydraulic lifts, the smoke -- that's what the Kiss army demands. But I marvel at the lengths to which other bands are now going to provide fans with the illusion of a one-off experience. The best, for my money, was the Metallica tour of 1997. Fans at USAir Arena were startled when the pyrotechnics show went seriously haywire. Amps crackled as though short-circuited, flames were spotted in a lighting rig, and suddenly a roadie ran onstage, on fire. Once he was fully doused, medics showed up, and the carnage continued as the set collapsed and the burn victim was carted off on a stretcher.

Psych! The same "accidents" happened in every city, in the exact sequence. The whole thing was staged.

As ridiculous as it all might sound, I would bet that few people who understood it was all a stunt felt cheated. That's the state of the art in the concert business -- it's getting closer and closer to professional wrestling all the time. You know it's plotted and rehearsed right down to the toasted roadie, but you cheer like it's not, or you buy into the illusion for as long as you can. Unless you can't, unless planning is exactly what you can't stand in a concert. Which is why the search for the Live Concert Moment is getting trickier.

I gave up pop music journalism last year, a decision that had very little to do with live concerts, carefully engineered and otherwise. I've long wanted to live in New York, and The Post had an opening in the Manhattan bureau, which is where I work now, covering intrigue and weirdness wherever I can find it. I certainly wasn't burnt out, though I do remember getting my hands on a then-new Patti Smith album and
realizing that I'd reviewed another Patti Smith album a few years earlier. What did I have to say about Ms. Smith that I hadn't said already? Maybe nothing. Maybe a lot. Part of me didn't want to find out.

But I left the job with vivid memories, and some of the most vivid were Live Concert Moments. At a Green Day show at American University, the lead singer, Billie Joe Armstrong, interrupted a song to ask if anyone in the audience could play the guitar. He picked one of the kids who raised a hand, then hauled him onstage, and handed over his instrument, while the drums and bass churned away. Then Armstrong asked for a bass player, who was promptly hoisted onstage and handed the bass, also in mid-song. Finally, a drummer was recruited, and pretty soon Green Day was watching as three kids who'd never met thrashed away.

I've heard that the band has done that a bunch of times, but I'm also pretty sure it's never the same thing twice because the kids are never the same twice. Armstrong wouldn't let the drummer, a 12-year-old named Zack, back into the crowd until the audience chanted his name over and over and Zack then leaped head first into the arms of fans. You knew you were watching the most excellent 10 minutes of his young life.

Then there was another Moment, when a guy named Andrew W.K. came to town. W.K. is famous for his chucklehead party anthems, such as "It's Time to Party" and "Party Hard." I had him pegged as a novelty act, but this concert at the 9:30 club was astounding. It didn't just break down the wall between performer and fan -- it smashed that wall and ground the chunks into dust. W.K. apparently has a standing offer to the audience, mostly 13- to 15-year-old boys, to join him onstage, and by the end of the night a kid was on his shoulders, riding him like a show pony. Another 50 fans were just jumping around the stage, knocking into the musicians. It was close to pandemonium for a while, and W.K. loved it. He kept shouting about how fantastic it was for him to be there, and he wasn't kidding. If that guy is medicated, I'd like to know the name of his medicine, because it works.

But the greatest Moment was a solo show by Glenn Tillbrook, the former lead singer of the now-defunct British band Squeeze. Just him and an acoustic guitar. Near the end of the evening, at the tiny Iota Club in Arlington, he posed a question. How many people would like me to play the next several songs in the parking lot? It was nearly unanimous. We trundled out the door, maybe 50 people, led by Tillbrook, who took his place on a ramp in the rear of the club and played -- unamplified -- the Squeeze classics "Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)" and "Goodbye Girl" while people danced under the moonlight. It was my kind of ecstasy. Then the cops came and shut it down, after complaints by neighbors, which made it even better.

To be in that parking lot was to feel like you were in on something that was sublime but fleeting. It's hard to explain, but I can sum it up with the highest praise in the history of high praise: You just had to be there.

David Segal is a staff writer, based in New York, for The Post's Style section. He will be fielding questions and comments about this article Monday at 1 p.m. at

(c) 2005 The Washington Post Company

Friday, August 26, 2005

Jon Stewart Finally Says What I've Been Saying All Along

Last night, Stewart interviewed Christopher Hitchens, the Vanity Fair writer who has a new biography of Thomas Jefferson. A somewhat heated debate began over Bush and the Iraq war, culminating in this exchanage:

Stewart: The people who say we shouldn't fight in Iraq aren't saying it's our fault. . . That is the conflation that is the most disturbing. . .
Hitch: Don't you hear people saying. . .
Stewart: You hear people saying a lot of stupid [bleep]. . . But there are reasonable disagreements in this country about the way this war has been conducted, that has nothing to do with people believing we should cut and run from the terrorists, or we should show weakness in the face of terrorism, or that we believe that we have in some way brought this upon ourselves. . .
Hitch: [Sputter]
Stewart: They believe that this war is being conducted without transparency, without credibility, and without competence...
Hitch: I'm sorry, sunshine... I just watched you ridicule the president for saying he wouldn't give. . .
Stewart: No, you misunderstood why. . . . That's not why I ridiculed the president. He refuses to answer questions from adults as though we were adults and falls back upon platitudes and phrases and talking points that does a disservice to the goals that he himself shares with the very people needs to convince.

[Audience erupts in applause]

Hitch: You want me to believe you're really secretly on the side of the Bush administration. . .
Stewart: I secretly need to believe he's on my side. He's too important and powerful a man not to be.

The highlighted portion details my problem with everybody in this administration. I'm not a member of either political party. I've probably voted Republican as often as Democrat. There are aspects of each party that I support, along with plenty of aspects that I despise.
But I could never vote for the majority of people that call themselves Republicans these days. It's all talking points - one person says something on the first political show of the day and then it's repeated over and over for the next couple of days until it becomes a "fact". Any appearance by the President is micro-managed; last fall's stories about audience members being forced to sign loyalty pledges have been verified. His speeches are the same night after night, as Stewart showed earlier in the program.
Most importantly, nobody ever admits to any sort of mistake. If they say something incredibly stupid, they deny it until the cows come home - even if the footage of the original statement is readily available. Al Franken said it best the other day when talking about Rush Limbaugh. "It's like he takes this giant crap in public. Then when somebody discovers the crap, he tries to cover it up by kicking a bunch of dust around."
Wouldn't Rovegate be a dead story if Rove had just quietly resigned at the beginning of the controversy? Would we still be talking about Cindy Sheehan if Bush had just walked out and chatted with her on the first or second day she was there? I think both stories would have possibly disappeared, or at least became fringe stories.
Don't get me wrong - I have not become a Democrat. They have their own problems, primarily a lack of testicles. They're so worried about pissing off Middle America, and giving the Republicans ammunition for next year's set of "(insert name) hates America" ads - they shouldn't be. That's why I respect Paul Hackett - he was impressive last week on Bill Maher's HBO show. You got the impression that everything he said was truly his opinion, and not the result of polls and talking points.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Jenna the Ipod's Righteous Weekday Special Selections

1. The Cure, Like Cockatoos (Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me)
2. Tegan & Sara, Wake Up Exhausted (So Jealous)
3. The Cavedogs, La La La (Joy Rides For Shut-Ins)
4. Graham Parker & The Rumour, Mercury Poisoning (Live) (Squeezing Out Sparks & Live Sparks)
5. The Mendoza Line, On Stage Dying (Sent Down To AA)
6. X, Nausea (Live) (Live in Los Angeles)
7. Teenage Fanclub, Time Stops (Man-Made*)
8. The Wrens, Hopeless (The Meadowlands)
9. The Knitters, Skin Deep Town (The Modern Sounds Of The Knitters)
10. Jay Farrar, Cahokian (Terroir Blues)
11. Paul Westerberg, Ain't Got Me (Troubadour, Hollywood 9/17/96)
12. Ryan Adams, Beautiful Sorta (Cold Roses)
13. Jeff Tweedy, The Late Greats (Vic Theatre, Chicago 3/5/05)
14. The Stooges, Loose (Demo) (Fun House)
15. Steve Earle, The Unrepentant (I Feel Alright)
16. Frank Black & The Catholics, Jaina Blues (Show Me Your Tears)
17. Pavement, Lions (Linden) (Slanted & Enchanted: Luxe & Reduxe)
18. R.E.M., West Of The Fields (Murmur)
19. The Who, The Kids Are Alright (Thirty Years Of Maximum R&B)
20. Paul Westerberg, Dice Behind Your Shades (14 Songs)
21. Dogs Die In Hot Cars, Lounger (Please Describe Yourself)
22. Tommy Keene, Sleeping On A Rollercoaster (The Real Underground)
23. The Mendoza Line, Trading Deadline (Sent Down To AA)
24. Rain Parade, I Look Around (Left Of The Dial: Dispatches From The '80s Underground)
25. Joy Division, Leaders Of Men (Heart And Soul)
26. The Cure, Cut Here (Greatest Hits)
27. Jim Norton, Bloody Lump on the Linoleum (Trinkets I Own, Made From Gorilla Hands)
28. The Redwalls, Thank You (Redwalls)
29. Bob Dylan, Wallflower (The Bootleg Series, Vols. 1-3)
30. Replacements, Sweet Girl #2 (Let it Be Plus Outtakes)
31. R.E.M., Belong (Out Of Time)
32. Pixies, Down to the Well (Bossanova)
33. The Jam, Town Called Malice (Direction, Reaction, Creation)
34. The Replacements, God Damn Job (Stink)
35. Uncle Tupelo, No Depression (No Depression)
36. The Brian Jonestown Massacre, It Girl (Tepid Peppermint Wonderland: A Retrospective)
37. Bruce Springsteen, Stand On It (Tracks)
38. Bettie Serveert, Cut 'n Dried (Log 22)
39. The Clash, Clash City Rockers (Clash On Broadway)
40. Sly & The Family Stone, Everybody Is A Star (The Essential Sly & The Family Stone)
41. Josh Rouse, It's The Nighttime (Nashville)
42. Iggy & The Stooges, Search & Destroy (Nude & Rude: The Best Of Iggy Pop)
43. Whiskeytown, Top Dollar (Faithless Street)
44. Hüsker Dü, Helter Skelter (B-sides & Rarities)
45. Bettie Serveert, 1 Off Deal (Attagirl)
46. Drive-By Truckers, Too Much Sex (Too Little Jesus) (Pizza Deliverance)
47. Elliott Smith, Don't Go Down (From A Basement On The Hill)
48. The Replacements, Don't Ask Why (Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out the Trash)
49. Jeff Tweedy, How to Fight Loneliness (Vic Theatre, Chicago 3/4/05)
The Cartoon That Was Too controversial for the Argus Leader!!!

Get Those Damn Stoplights Out of Town!!!

This week’s edition of Get Out of Town is going a slightly different route than in previous editions. After weeks of laying the smackdown on politicians, political sheep, and used car salesmen, this week I’m giving the boot to inanimate objects.
We live in a city that loves traffic lights. If there’s an intersection that once or twice a day has more than two cars pass through, well, dammit, there has to be a light. And not just any light – it’s got to be a fancy-pants system that knows what you’re going to do before you do. Or at least it’s supposed to work that way.
For a person like myself who has absolutely no patience, this is just maddening. It’s especially maddening since none of the lights in this town are timed together. It’s almost expected that I’m going to hit four, five, sometimes six red lights in a row.
First off, we need to get rid of the majority of those staggered green lights. You know, the type that give one side a green signal a minute or so before the other side can go. Way too often, particularly at that light on 14th and Cliff, there are less cars waiting at that first green, and absolutely nobody in the turn lane. So you sit…and sit and sit before you finally get to proceed.
We also need to dispose of what I like to call the McDonald’s lights. It seems like every single McDonald’s in this town has their very own stoplight, with the best examples at 26th Street and also the one on Louise Avenue that inexplicably has a light despite the fact that there are also lights on both intersections surrounding that one. It now takes longer to drive from 57th to 60th Streets on Louise than it does from 41st to 57th. There’s something wrong with that picture.
While we’re at it, there’s no need for the “First Lutheran” light ot 12th and Minnesota. The church side of the street is now curb and sidewalk; the other side rarely has any traffic. Why is this light still operating, particularly with lights also at 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 14th?
Another crowded set of lights occurs on east 10th street, between Hy-Vee and Lowell. There are four in that half-mile section. While the most unnecessary light in on 10th and Lowell, the light that is the most maddening is on 10th and Cleveland. Despite the fact that 10th is probably 50 times busier than Cleveland, the lights are equally timed. Actually, if you’re heading west on 10th, you have less time than the person on Cleveland as it’s another of those stupid staggered lights. C’mon, with the east side’s recent surge in retail, there is now a permanent backlog of traffic waiting to make it through this mess.
This is another topic that I could go on and on and on. Cade won’t let me, though, so let me invite everybody to comment on lights that need to be rammed by giant SUV’s. One more plea before I depart these premises. With the majority of downtown Sioux Falls closed on Sundays, would it be too hard for the city to turn the twenty million stoplights in the region, particularly those in the northern downtown area, to flashing lights. Try going to the Mad Rock Pub on a Sunday evening. By the time you make it through all of the deserted stoplights, the bar’s closed.

Monday, August 22, 2005

by Apollo
Sun Aug 21st, 2005 at 22:30:30 PDT

(Hudson Note - Reports of this story can be found on many sites, but this version from Daily Kos is by far the most complete.)

Originally Posted by knick evl ntnt

Last night, I was booked to play an event about an hour outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. The hype behind this show was huge, they presold 700 tickets and they expected up to 3,000 people total. The promoters did an amazing job with the show.. they even made slipmats with the flyers on them to promote in local shops.

So, we got to the show around 11:15 or so and it was really cool. It was all outdoors, in a valley surrounded by huge mountains. They had an amazing light show flashing on to a mountain behind the site, the sound was booming, the crowd was about 1500 people thick and everything just seemed too good to be true really. Well...

At about 11:30 or so, I was standing behind the stage talking with someone when I noticed a helicopter pulling over one of the mountain tops. I jokingly said "Oh look, here comes big brother" to the person I was with. I wasn't far off.

Apollo's diary :: ::
The helicopter dipped lower and lower and started shining its lights on the crowd. I was kind of in awe and just sat and watched this thing circle us for a minute. As I looked back towards the crowd I saw a guy dressed in camoflauge walking by, toting an assault rifle. At this point, everyone was fully aware of what was going on . A few "troops" rushed the stage and cut the sound off and started yelling that everyone "get the fuck out of here or go to jail". This is where it got really sticky.

No one resisted. That's for sure. They had police dogs raiding the crowd of people and I saw a dog signal out a guy who obviously had some drugs on him. The soldiers attacked the guy (4 of them on 1), and kicked him a few times in the ribs and had their knees in his back and sides. As they were cuffing him, there was about 1000 kids trying to leave in the backdrop, peacefully. Next thing I know, A can of fucking TEAR GAS is launched into the crowd. People are running and screaming at this point. Girls are crying, guys are cussing... bad scene.

Now, this is all I saw with my own eyes, but I heard plenty of other accounts of the night. Now this isnt gossip I heard from some candy raver, these are instances cited straight out of the promoters mouth..

One of the promoters friends (a very small female) was attacked by one of the police dogs. As she struggled to get away from it, the police tackled her. 3 grown men proceeded to KICK HER IN THE STOMACH.

The police confiscated 3 video tapes in total. People were trying to document what was happening out there. The police saw one guy filming and ran after him, tackled him and his camera fell, and luckily.. his friend grabbed it and ran and got away. priceless footage. That's not all though. Out of 1,500 people, there's sure to be more footage.

The police were rounding up the staff of the party and the main promoter went up to them with the permit for the show and said "here, I have the permit." The police then said, "no you don't" and ripped the permit out of his hand. Then, they put an assault rifle to his forehead and said "get the fuck out of here right now."

Now.. let's get the facts straight here.

This event was 100% legal. They had every permit the city told them they needed. They had a 2 MILLION DOLLAR insurance policy for the event. They had liscenced security guards at the gates confiscating any alcohol or drugs found upon entry (yes, they searched every car on the way in). Oh, I suppose I should mention that they arrested all the security guards for possession.

Oh another interesting fact.. the police did not have a warrant. The owner of the land already has a lawsuit against the city for something similar. A few months ago, she rented her land for a party and the police raided that as well. And catch this, the police forced her to LEAVE HER OWN PERSONAL PROPERTY. That's right. They didnt arrest her, but made her leave her own property!!!

Don't get it twisted, this is all going down in probably THE most conservative state in the USA. And this is scary.. a gross violation of our civil liberties. The police wanted this party shut down, so they made it happen. Even though everything about this event was legal. The promoters spent over $ 20,000 on this show and did everything they had to to make it legit, only to have it taken away from them by a group of radical neo-con's with an agenda.

This was one of the scariest things I have ever witnessed in person. I can't even begin to describe how surreal it was. Helicopters, assault rifles, tear gas, camoflauge-wearing soldiers.... why? Was that really necessary?

This needs to be big news across the USofA. At least in our music scene (edm as a whole)... this could happen to any of us at any time. When we're losing the right to gather peacefully, we're also letting the police set a standard of what we can get away with. And I think that's BULLSHIT!

The system fucked up last night... They broke up a party that was 100% legal and they physically hurt a lot of people there at the same time. The promoters already have 6 lawsuits ready to file with their lawyers and the ACLU is already involved.

I'm sure some pictures (and hopefully some video) will surface soon. I'll make sure to post them up here on 404, so you can see the Police State of America at work.

p.s. - there are more stories of police brutality that i'll post up later. gotta hit the airport soon. can't wait to get the fuck out of this shit hole state.



Sunday, August 21, 2005

See what happens when I arrange interviews for a personal assistant?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

This Week's Jenna the Ipod's Choices
A nice mix of classics and obscurities

1. Bob Dylan, Moonlight (Love & Theft)
2. Son Volt, Tulsa County (A Retrospective: 1995-2000)
3. Yo La Tengo, Season Of The Shark (Prisoners Of Love: A Smattering Of Scintillating Senescent Songs)
4. The Cure, A Normal Story (Faith: Rarities 1980-81)
5. The Wallflowers, How Far You've Come (Rebel, Sweetheart)
6. The Who, Medac (The Who Sell Out)
7. The Kinks, Stop Your Sobbing (The Ultimate Collection)
8. Spoon, The Way We Get By (Kill The Moonlight)
9. The Kinks, Who'll Be The Next In Line (The Ultimate Collection)
10. The Hold Steady, Your Little Hoodrat Friend (Separation Sunday)
11. The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Oh Lord (A Retrospective: Tepid Peppermint Wonderland)
12. The Cure, Boys Don't Cry (Greatest Hits)
13. The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Prozac vs. Heroin (Tepid Peppermint Wonderland: A Retrospective)
14. R.E.M., E-Bow The Letter (In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003)
15. Whiskeytown, Mining Town (Faithless Street)
16. The Velvet Underground, What Goes On (Peel Slowly And See)
17. Elvis Costello & The Attractions, Opportunity (Get Happy!!)
18. Elvis Costello, Needle Time (The Delivery Man)
19. The Jayhawks, The Man Who Loved Life (Live From The Women's Club, Volume 2)
20. Public Enemy, Brothers Gonna Work It Out (Power To The People And The Beats)
21. Wilco, I'm Always In Love (Summer Teeth)
22. Grandpaboy, Get A Move On (Dead Man Shake)
23. Green Day, Wake Me Up When September Ends (American Idiot)
24. The Replacements, Shiftless When Idle (Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out the Trash)
25. R.E.M., Binky The Doormat (New Adventures In Hi-Fi)
26. The Smiths, You've Got Everything Now (Hatful Of Hollow)
27. Jim Norton, Nervous tics (Trinkets I Own, Made From Gorilla Hands)
28. Camper Van Beethoven, (We're A) Bad Trip (Original Version) (II & III)
29. R.E.M., High Speed Train (Around The Sun)
30. Lloyd Cole, Downtown (Lloyd Cole)
31. R.E.M., Driver 8 (Fables Of The Reconstruction)
32. Iggy & The Stooges, Search & Destroy (Nude & Rude: The Best Of Iggy Pop)
33. Jay Farrar, Dead Promises (Sebastopol)
34. Travis, Sing (Singles)
35. Sarah Lee Guthrie And Johnny Irion, Cease Fire (Exploration)
36. The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Ballad Of Jim Jones (A Retrospective: Tepid Peppermint Wonderland)
37. The Jayhawks, One Man's Problem (Rainy Day Music)
38. Camper Van Beethoven, Wasting All Your Time (Telephone Free Landslide Victory)
39. Oasis, A Bell Will Ring (Don't Believe The Truth)
40. The Wrens, Faster Gun (The Meadowlands)
41. Grandpaboy, Bad Boy Blues (Dead Man Shake)
42. The Blue Van, Revelation Of Love (The Art Of Rolling)
43. Richard & Linda Thompson, Back Street Slide (Shoot Out The Lights)
44. Jeff Tweedy, Candyfloss (Vic Theatre, Chicago 3/5/05)
45. Beck, Still Missing (Röyksopp Remix) (Guero)
46. Guided By Voices, Everywhere With Helicopter (Human Amusements at Hourly Rates)
47. Elliott Smith, Alameda (Either/Or)
48. British Sea Power, Like A Honeycomb (Open Season)
49. The Ramones, I Believe In Miracles (Hey! Ho! Let's Go: The Anthology)
50. The Clash, I'm So Bored With The U.S.A. (Clash On Broadway)
51. The Cure, Other Voices (Faith)
52. Cursive, Nostalgia (The Difference Between Houses and Homes (Lost Songs and Loose Ends 1995-2001))
53. Nick Lowe, Heart of the City (No Thanks!)
54. Penetration, Don’t Dictate (No Thanks!)
55. The Dirtbombs, My Last Christmas (If You Don't Already Have A Look)
56. The Cure, Fascination Street (Disintegration)
57. Peter Bruntnell, By The Time My Head Gets To Phoenix (Normal For Bridgwater)
58. Neil Young, Pardon My Heart (Zuma)
Gas Price Stories Get Out of Town

Over the last few weeks, one cannot turn on the news without a story (or two, three, sometimes even four) concerning gas prices. The first story is always about the actual increase, followed by the inevitable customer response, culminating with a cheesy graphic to show you just how the hike affects tourism, truck drivers, or other businesses that involve driving. Quite often, that last story will include a shot of somebody actually piling money to illustrate their point.
The national news has even jumped on the bandwagon. This past Monday, the insufferable Katie Couric actually intro’d her story by stating “I had to get a loan just to fill up my minivan”. Let’s talk about this inane quote for a second. I realize that Ms. Couric has long attempted to portray herself as just a typical soccer mom. It’s pure b.s. She makes around twelve million a year, and lives in a multi-million dollar Manhattan apartment. My bet is that this twit rarely drives herself anywhere, let alone rounds up her family in a middle class minivan with a “my son/daughter is a junior high honor student” sticker. Even on those few occasions where she may venture out without a driver, my guess is that she travels in a vehicle that costs more than what you and I make in a year or two.
Back to the local scene – I certainly am not happy whenever gas prices go up. But I’m also not happy when any prices go up. Yet I don’t see a news story whenever the price of a steak increases. Or how the rise in price of a Windsor-Coke will now cost me an additional ten bucks every time I venture out of my guarded east side bunker.
The costs of goods rise all the time. It’s one of those unfortunate facts of life that haunt us to the day we die. When I purchased “Sgt. Pepper” back when I was six years old, it cost me four bucks. Today that same album is around sixteen dollars.
The reality is that, for the majority of people, the rise in gas prices really makes little impact in our day to day lives. What is the typical daily gas usage for a Sioux Falls resident? Maybe twenty miles. That’s approximately one gallon for most vehicles. That’s forty more cents a day, three bucks a week. Not exactly a ball-busting amount.
Sure, those costs are higher for those that live in neighboring communities. But that’s part of the deal if you choose to live outside of Sioux Falls. In exchange for cheaper land, taxes, and other cost breaks, it is going to cost you a bit more to hit the big city. The same with traveling – ok, it’s going to cost you a few extra bucks to go to a Vikings game in Minneapolis but where are the news stories when the cost of hotel rooms or meals (or even parking) skyrocket?
Again, I’ll admit that it sucks whenever I see that convenience store across from my office changes their signs. But what sucks more is when it becomes the only story on the tube. Imagine if there was some way they could up the ante. What if there was a price hike at a gas station next door to a puppy mill owned by a sex offender who sells drugs…a few blocks away from a school. That would be the ultimate KELO story!
Happy Birthday Charles Bukowski!!!

Photo of the Week!!!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Hangin' With the Cousins

This afternoon we celebrated the birthdays of my mother, father, and sister (all within four days). I took the opportunity to again experiment with my cell phone camera.

Experimenting with my fancy new phone - here's Alec doing what he does best.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

An Interesting Protest Against Terrorism

Anne Hajek Responds To My Get Out of Town Rant

Scott – I read your blog, and thought possibly you would like to know a little more. I met with and had lunch with Chris Christiansen (promoter) and Bruce Hoyer (ref and trainer) and they really schooled me on the difference between cage/ultimate fighting and MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) – which is sanctioned by the boxing commission and is what they do – they do not support or want people to come in and do cage fighting. Bruce called me late Monday afternoon (prior to our Tuesday meeting) and stated that they support a ban on cage fighting – which takes unskilled people out of the audience to get beat up, versus the MMA which is between trained fighters. I have no problem with the latter, but the cage fighting is banned in most states as there are serious liability concerns, and the ultimate cost for medical is on the county. They seem to be good guys and have a legitimate business. The Argus doesn’t always get the facts straight, but the ordinance would ban the fighting with hands, feet, etc. and doesn’t impact sanctioned boxing, wrestling etc.

I can only respond to constituents and since all factions involved thought this was a good move, I was willing to bring it forward. Sometimes it doesn’t work. Thanks for keeping us on our toes.

Anne C. Hajek
This Is The New "Consultant" For the FCC?

From Eric Alterman's "Altercation" blog:

Paul McLeary Chimes in

In July, 2004, “FOX News Live” featured a segment in which a "suburban stay-at-home mom"
appeared supporting president Bush over John Kerry in the upcoming November election. The woman, who was identified simply as a former lobbyist who had "started a nonprofit organization for moms" smiled and shilled for the camera, saying that she felt that Bush he would be better able to keep her children safe than John Kerry.

This same woman appeared on FOX again the next month to support the president and bash Teresa Heinz Kerry, and was again identified merely as a "stay-at-home mom.”

Nowhere in either segment was it mentioned that Penny Nance -- this concerned citizen and everymom -- was in fact a long-time conservative operative with ties to several prominent Christian activist organizations. At that time of last summer’s FOX segments, Nance, in addition to being a mom, was also the president of Kids First Coalition, a conservative group for which she was still a registered lobbyist, and a board member of the conservative Christian women's
organization Concerned Women for America. Somehow, both FOX and Nance also forgot to mention that she was president of Nance and Associates, a public policy and media consulting firm.

And of course, this woman who in effect lied about who she was – twice – on national television has been hired by the Federal Communications Commission as a “special advisor” to help develop agency policy. And which policy would that be? Specifically, she will help develop the agency’s stance on fining alleged instances of “indecent” content on broadcast and possible cable television.

As Eric pointed out in this space yesterday, (and I wrote about at CJRDaily) the long, peaceful slumber of FCC boss Kevin Martin may be about to end. As opposed to those wild and wholly days when his former boss at the agency Michael Powell was handing out fines for alleged “indecent” broadcast content like he was being paid by the profanity, Martin has taken a pretty low-key approach since succeeding to throne in March of this year – so far neglecting to issue ANY fines up to this point. Powell, on the other hand, partially spurred on by a
Republican-controlled Congress ready to knock some Hollywood heads, dished out a whopping $8 million in fines during 2004 – up from the measly $48,000 handed down the year before he took over at the FCC in 2001.

And it looks like those bad old days may be coming back for an encore performance. Martin has long been on record as wanting to enforce stricter indecency fines than Powell had. And Nance is poised to bring her own Biblically-enhanced view to help the cause. The Concerned Women for America, for whom Nance served as a board member until recently, helpfully describes its mission as “helping…to bring Biblical principles into all levels of public policy.” Another cookie-cutter religious right group called The Center for Reclaiming America, for whom Nance also worked as a lobbyist, points out that it sees its mission as one to “defend and implement the Biblical principles on which our country was founded.”

Sounds like just what a secular democracy needs in someone who will have a say in what is able to be broadcast over the nation’s airwaves, doesn’t it?

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Get Out of Town, County Commissioner Anne Hajek

No offense to the bar or its patrons, but news coverage of last month’s cage fighting matches at Sidewinders was bound to be full of unintentional humor. It didn’t disappoint, but it wasn’t because of the lack of hygiene, teeth, or full-blown mullets (of the fans). I’m kidding.
Instead, the real humor of both the broadcast and newspaper reports was the presence of a couple of local pseudo-celebrities – city councilors De Knudson and Vernon Brown. No two people have ever looked more out of place.
Of course, they were shocked, shocked, shocked. How could people act in such an uncivilized fashion? Why would anybody want to watch such decadent behavior when we have the Washington Pavilion? They should be enjoying the two-block Phillips to the Falls! Oh yeah, I forgot – unwashed young adults aren’t allowed downtown after dark. We don’t want to scare those old ladies from shopping at the old lady stores.
Distressed by what they witnessed, Knudson and Brown went to work. They quickly proposed an ordinance regulating these sorts of activities, and although most of the rest of the council yawned, it’s scheduled to be heard once again next week.
But Knudson and Brown are now joined by another member of the morality police. Last night County Commissioner Anne Hajek attempted to introduce her own ordinance to ban cage fighting. “I know this is a voluntary thing,” she recently told the daily paper, “but when the whole purpose is for someone to get beat up until they can’t stand up, then government needs to step in.” Please excuse me for a second while I gag.
It turns out that it’s not really the actual act of cage fighting that has angered Hajek. Hell, she had never spoke of the activities until this past weekend. What has actually made the subject worth pursuing was a recent New York Times front page article that profiled the Sidewinders event. She told the Argus that this was not the image she wants for the community. “Reading that article was quite disturbing to me,” she was quoted as saying.
So this is the state of our local government – it’s officially run by the Department of Tourism. Anything that can remotely be regarded as embarrassing to our state must be immediately outlawed. Well, I’m embarrassed every time I turn on my television and see that sleazeball Pat O’Brien. I used to be extremely embarrassed every time our former Governor would make an appearance on a national news program. And shouldn’t we all hide our heads in shame with the reality that our second most well-known tourist trap is a knick-knack store that gives out free glasses of water?
I read the article in question, and I found it well-written and humorous. I doubt if anybody reading it took it as anything more than a funny human-interest story, and I definitely don’t think there’s a person in the world who would cancel a trip to our state based on a first-person report of a reenactment of the wildly popular movie Fight Club. If outsiders are swayed that easily, then we better do something about the bike rally.
For quite some time I’ve been waiting for the right moment to give Ms. Hajek a big boot out of our fine city. I guess this is the week…and luckily cooler heads on the commission agreed as they decided to do nothing for the time being. But Ms. Hajek must be made to understand that not everybody is entertained by officially sanctioned events or high society forms of entertainment. Cage fighting may not attract a huge number of people, but the long-running history of success for these events certainly indicates that there is a market for a good ol’ fight. (Yes, these shows have been going on in our city for a few years before the do-gooders decided to save us from barbarism.) As long as the promoters provide the necessary safety precautions, Ms. Hajek and her ilk need to find better things to worry about.
The Best Story of the Day!!!

Who's your favorite faux Christian ex-rock star?
"So how did your last night in Gainesville go?" you curiously ask. "Sit down and let me tell you the tale of the best night of my life," I anxiously reply.

Lead Singer of Creed Gets Punk'd

Friday, July 29. My last night in Gainesville. I've had my party and said my goodbyes to most of my friends. One group actually didn't make it to the party, but were possibly still coming, and instead of having them walk into an empty house (literally-- no furniture) devoid of people, I went over to their place.

So I'm saying goodbye to pals Jeanine and Heather. They have a few friends over to their place and are already stoned and drunk, seemingly ready for bed quite soon. I hear mumbling in the other room of some kids leaving soon because they have to go see Scott Stapp. My pop culture radar is not currently on, so I'm missing the reference. Instead, I think they're just talking about a friend who's driving in from out of town. But they're quite adamant about seeing Scott. "I'm fucking walking to Denny's to see Scott if I have to, I don't care if no one else goes!" one kid says.

So I'm curious and ask one of the guys what's going on. He tells me the background story: Apparently, one of their friends met Scott Stapp (who, because I find no problem with conflation, will for the rest of the story be referred to as "Creed") at an airport bar and the girl pretended to be interested. At the end of their conversation, he asked for her number and because she was going to Amsterdam, she gave Creed her friend's number instead. The girl then calls her friend and warns her that Creed might be calling her sometime in the future for a hook-up.

Which he does. Friday night. He flew into Orlando and gave the girl a call. The girl, thrilled at the prospect of making Creed look like an idiot, plays along. "You should drive up to Gainesville tonight to see me!" she says. Creed, because his star has fallen quite a bit recently (if you hadn't noticed) eagerly accepts the offer to drive 2 hours to get some pussy. I guess the groupies aren't lining up outside the airport like they used to.

I heard through the grapevine that night that Creed had actually kicked Scott Stapp out of their band. I don't know if this is true or not as no one on the Internet has any stories about it. But I googled him recently and found out that his solo career isn't taking off nearly like he expected, despite being the first released single off the Passion of the Christ Songs CD-- songs inspired by the movie. Mel Gibson hand picked him for a special screening, and he wrote a song after he was so personally affected by the movie. Douche.

Anyway, so the guy who was so spiritually affected by The Passion of the Christ is now hightailing it to Gainesville to tag a piece of ass he met in an airport bar. And he's having his ghettotastic hootchie skanky Jersey girl sleaze of a sister drive him. Yes, Creed is making his sister drive him to the Gainesville Denny's for a booty call.

So this group from the party makes it over to Denny's, strategically choosing places all around the Denny's so that we can watch what goes down. It's 3am on a Friday, so of course the place is packed with drunk kids getting out of the bars, who have no idea what they're about to be in for. Jeanine, Heather, and I all have prime seating-- we're directly next to the booth with the girl who has been talking to Creed, as well as her 5 friends who are all in on the joke and have been planning extra embarrassing things to do to him. The girl who is keeping track of him via cell phone convos lets me know that Creed has been in fine form so far tonight. Here is how one of the conversations went:

Creed: "Do you have an acoustic guitar with you in Gainesville?"
Her: "Um, yeah."
Creed: "Good, maybe you can help me write my new hit single!"
Me, after hearing the story: "I applaud your ability not to vomit at that."

Now we're convinced he's on his way. We hear the countdown from the table next to us: "He's in Micanopy!" "He's passing UF!" "He's pulling into the parking lot!" The excitement is killing me. And then he enters. Creed steps into the Gainesville Denny's, wearing a wife beater and slick running pants, desperately trying to find his hookup. My life is complete.

The girl who's been talking on the phone with Creed has a friend who recently broke his arm. So as soon as Creedy walks in, he screams, "Oh my god! You're Scott Stapp! You're my favorite singer ever! Sign my cast!" Creed, probably even himself realizing how sucky it is to be the (former) lead singer of Creed, denies it. "I get that a lot... I just look like him. I'm not him." HA!

Then the Denny's cop comes over: "Both of you, outta here! No screaming in Denny's! Manager's orders!" Delicious. The lead singer of Creed is getting kicked out of the Gainesville Denny's.

Cast arm boy obviously doesn't want our fun to be over so quickly, so he sweet talks the cop and gets him to rescind his ejection. Creedy keeps walking around, trying to find the girl he talked to in the airport bar, feverishly running to the back to get better cell phone reception and then moving back to the front to try to find her. Of course, the girl has stopped answering her phone now and the Denny's partrons are just watching Creed walk around looking desperately horny.

And the best part is watching the other people as they notice who this guy is. "Hey, that's the Creed guy!" they all say as he walks past them. Then, 5 seconds later and as soon as he's out of earshot: "Wait, who cares? Creed sucks!" This is seriously the reaction of every table that I hear as he walks by. So sad, for him. Oh, and the dude is like 5'6". I'm not joking. When he walked by, he was at least (AT LEAST) 3 inches shorter than me. Midget.

Now there are about 12 people who know about what's going on. And like the rats in Muppets Take Manhattan who run around under the tables at that fancy restuarant spreading the buzz that Manhattan Melodies is going to be a smash hit show, we start spreading the ruse that has been pulled on Creed. Soon, most of the tables and the wait staff is informed of what's going on. "Pathetic!" is the most common reaction.

To keep him there as long as possible, groups of girls keep going over to him and flirting and trying to find out what he's doing in Gainesville. Cast arm boy even printed out Scott Stapp's headshot and goes over to ask him to sign it. You'd think that would be an obvious sign that he was being tricked, but apparently Creed is cocky enough to think that people regularly carry around his photograph everywhere like it's an American Express card.

Jeanine, perfect brilliant girl she is, ran over to the juke box to see if it happened to have a Creed song on it. Unfortunately, it didn't. Or maybe fortunately. For if "Arms Wide Open" began playing as he was running around the Denny's, I probably would've soiled myself laughing.

At the end of the night, we convince Jeanine to go ask to take a picture with Creed by saying it was her birthday (it was, only 4 days earlier). When she goes to get the picture, all 12 of us who are in on the joke jump in the photo. Unfortunately, the person taking the picture couldn't work the flash, so it just looks like a mess of clumpy dark blobs. But I know that one girl took a bunch of pictures of Creed running around the Denny's-- mostly of the back of his head-- and I want them. If anyone knows where to get these, let me know.

So that was my last night in Gainesville. Creed eventually got back in his car and drove home to Orlando, having unsuccessfully found his pussy for the night. What a sad sad man. Super douche.

P.S. Feel free to send this story to Gawker (ah, um, or apparently Defamer, shout out!) or whatever. If they're willing to publish stories that solely consist of "I was walking down 48th St and saw Kirsten Dunst and Jake Gyllenhall sharing a burrito" then they'd surely find this interesting, right? I mean, Creed got his ass handed to him by a bunch of drunk college kids in Gainesville. Oh, what a fun city.

I had no idea this story would get so big by posting it here, but that's what I get for underestimating my pop culture slut of a friend point5. She posted the story to the Oh No They Didn't community, which got read by some powers-that-be and, well, now it's on Defamer. So if you're coming from the Defamer link and finding this story unbelievable (read: too good to be true), then I direct you to supporting evidence from others who were at Denny's that night. Before you ask, I don't know these people personally-- I was a friend of a friend who got lucky enough to be swept up in the adventure and experience everything-- but they back up my story (and some were even posted days before mine). Peripheral accounts come from this girl's LJ (with an addendum). An even better account of the story can be found here (and if you don't want to search through the notes to see photographic proof, then just click here). This entry wins because the author corrects some of the details I had wrong (hey, I never said I was perfect... in fact, I was drunk, so you're lucky my details were this good to begin with), expands on the rest of the night (I thought he got in the car and went back to Orlando, but boy was I wrong), and even adds a felonious twist to the story. Enjoy the fun as it spirals into something bigger than I ever thought it could be.

Apparently the bandwith has been exceeded on the pic link, but they've been reposted here-- and it comes with a synopsis of the whole story, if you find my prose too longwinded.

The story is on VH1's Best Week Ever Blog. Yes, I do hear my 15 minutes of fame ticking away. But if I could just get Michael Ian Black to offer commentary on this story, then my duty to humanity will be fulfilled.
How Awful is Wolf Blitzer's New Show? Check These Stats (From

"The Situation Room," by the Numbers
Didn't catch the debut of "The Situation Room"? Catch up here. Henry the Intern figured out exactly how much you missed:

How many times are you in The Situation Room?

Number of times "in the Situation Room" was uttered during Monday's show: 58 (17 times in the first hour + 24 times in the second hour + 17 times in the third hour)
Number of times Wolf Blitzer said "all right": 36

Number of times we were reminded the show was "live": 36

Number of times Wolf Blitzer said "standing by": 11

Number of times Wolf Blitzer said "developing story": 6

Number of times "exclusive access" was mentioned: 5

Number of times we were told the information was being gathered "simultaneously": 5

Say one thing for the show: It's going to make for an awesome drinking game.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

No, I'm Not Seeing the Stones This Year

This past summer, whenever I have run into old acquaintences one question has inevitably popped out of their mouth. “Are you going to the Stones?”
No, I’m not…and I don’t feel bad about it. I’ll admit that when tickets went on sale for their Minneapolis show a few months ago I did make a few inquiries into But it just didn’t seem worth the hassle. The only way to attempt to buy a good seat was to pay fifty bucks to the Rolling Stones fanclub, and there was still no guarantee that I’d end up with “good” seats. I’m all in favor of giving true fans special access to the best seats, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay for that privilege. I think I’ve paid enough over the years – from vinyl and CD copies of every single album to t-shirts, books, posters, stickers, and other stuff. Hell, I even once owned a Rolling Stones eraser. Paying for the “opportunity” to purchase a ticket seems ridiculous.
Sure, I could have just skipped the presale and purchased a ticket like normal people do. Again, I did look into this. For “only” $150 I could sit in the upper balcony about 2/3 of the way back. With a high-power pair of binoculars I may have been able to see the band. No thanks.
I’ve never been a fan of arena-sized events. Give me a club the size of First Avenue, or a theater the size of the Washington Pavillion or the Orpehum in Minneapolis. I want to be able to see the face of the artist. I want the opportunity to eavesdrop on the little huddles between songs.
More importantly, I don’t want to see a show that’s completely scripted. That’s what you get in an arena show - a performance that’s the same from night to night, from the opening track to the lead guitarist’s extended solo segment to the two-song encore of their biggest hits. The light and sound crews know when everything’s going to happen, and there’s few, if any, sidesteps.
Obviously, however, I have made a few occasional pilgrimages to bigger venues. Springsteen, Dylan, R.E.M., and Green Day are a few of these exceptions. Note these are artists who continue to mix up their shows from night to night. Part of the fun of a Dylan show is guessing not only what song is next, but sometimes trying to figure it out during the actual performance of the tune.
The act that I’ve seen most often in bigger venues is the Stones. Starting with 1981’s performance at the University of Northern Iowa, I have traveled the entire Midwest to see the band on thirteen different occasions. I was in the second and third row for their 1989 Steel Wheels shows in Minneapolis. I was two rows ahead of Tom Arnold for a show in Ames, Iowa. I was in the front row in Colombia, MO, and close enough to the second stage for a fleeting appearance in a pay-per-view telecast in St. Louis. I even traveled to Chicago to see a Keith Richards solo tour.
Every one of these performances were fantastic. I have no complaints. Sure, I became sick of “Jumping Jack Flash” and other warhorses that are present to appeal to those who have never seen the band perform. But the Stones are smart enough to throw in a few oddball selections for people like myself – album cuts from Beggars Banquet and Exile on Main Street, covers of old r&b standards and Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone”, other 60’s hits that haven’t been played in decades, etc. The presence of those tunes made each of those shows memorable.
I’m sure this facet of the group will be retained on this tour. Rumor has it that the band is working up versions of close to 75 songs, along with a handful of tracks from their upcoming A Bigger Bang album. I’m sure the show will start off with a couple of classics, followed by a new song or two, a couple of rarities, and a short segment with Richards, before a big bang finish of four or five of their biggest hits. (The big rumor amongs the Stones fansites is that they're also working up Dylan's "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35".)
I’m sure it will be a great show, but I just don’t feel that I’ll be missing anything. I just can't get excited about sitting in a big stadium watching these old giants going through the motions for a big paycheck. I’ll buy the album when it comes out, but I don’t have high hopes that it will be as good as anything in their back catalog. How could it be? They haven’t had a strong album since 1981’s Tattoo You, which most people don’t realize was actually a collection of songs left off Some Girls and other 70’s albums.
What could they possibly say that hasn’t been said before? Actually, I think Keith could still pull off a strong album, as he cares more about the music than any focus group research. Mick, on the other hand, has had a tendency in recent years to try to latch onto any current trend in music style and production technique. The last time this technique worked was “Miss You”.

Friday, August 05, 2005

3 Days With Jenna the Ipod

1. Camper Van Beethoven, I'm Not Like Everybody Else (Camper Vantiquities)
2. The Kinks, Party Line (Face To Face)
3. Frank Black, My Life Is In Storage (Honeycomb)
4. The Who, I Can't Reach You (The Who Sell Out)
5. Eels, Living Life (Discovered, Covered - The Late Great Daniel Johnston)
6. R.E.M., Moral Kiosk (Murmur)
7. The Kinks, You're Looking Fine (Face To Face)
8. The Replacements, My Little Problem (All Shook Down)
9. Paul Westerberg, AAA (Henry Fonda Theatre, LA 2/23/05)
10. R.E.M., Auctioneer (Another Engine) (Fables Of The Reconstruction)
11. Son Volt, Ten Second News (Trace)
12. Peter Bruntnell, Laredo Kent (Ends Of The Earth)
13. The Who, Tattoo (Thirty Years Of Maximum R&B)
14. Tom Petty, Don't Come Around Here No More (Playback )
15. The Pernice Brothers, Our Time Has Passed (The World Won't End)
16. Sly & The Family Stone, Thank You For Talkin' To Me Africa (The Essential Sly & The Family Stone)
17. John Doe, Ready Forever (Hasn't Happened Yet)
18. R.E.M., World Leader Pretend (Green)
19. Morrissey, You Know I Couldn't Last (You Are The Quarry)
20. Camper Van Beethoven, Five Sticks (Camper Van Beethoven)
21. Joy Division, Warsaw (No Thanks!)
22. Lucinda Williams, American Dream (World Without Tears)
23. The Flamin' Groovies, Please Please Me (Jumping In The Night)
24. The Who, Dreaming From The Waist (Thirty Years Of Maximum R&B)
25. The Cure, The Drowning Man (Faith)
26. Paul Westerberg, Now I Wonder (Folker
27. The Clash, London Calling (Clash On B)roadway)
28. Paul Westerberg, Psychopharmocology (Pantages Theatre, 11/7/04)
29. The Replacements, Talent Show (Shit, Shower, And Shave)
30. The Beatles, Think For Yourself (Rubber Soul)
31. The Pernice Brothers, Waiting For The Universe (Yours, Mine & Ours)
32. The Who, Glittering Girl (The Who Sell Out)
33. Wilco, Should've Been In Love (A.M.)
34. Eels, Old Shit/New Shit (Blinking Lights and Other Revelations)
35. The Rolling Stones, Jigsaw Puzzle (Beggars Banquet)
36. Paul Westerberg, Knockin' on Mine (Henry Fonda Theatre, LA 2/22/05)
37. Stiff Little Fingers, Breakout (Inflammable Material)
38. R.E.M., Near Wild Heaven (Out Of Time)
39. The Posies, Sweethearts Of Rodeo Drive (Every Kind Of Light)
40. The Wallflowers, Back To California (Rebel, Sweetheart)
41. Paul Westerberg, Alex Chilton (Ogden Theatre, Denver 3/3/05)
42. My Bloody Valentine, Lose My Breath (Isn't Anything)
43. Liz Phair, Glory (Exile in Guyville)
44. Whiskeytown, Top Dollar (Faithless Street)
45. The Cure, Seventeen Seconds (Seventeen Seconds)
46. Morrissey, Suedehead (The Best of Morrissey)
47. Kings of Leon, Four Kicks (Aha Shake Heartbreak)
48. Bruce Springsteen, Rockaway the Days (Tracks)
49. New York Dolls, Personality Crisis (No Thanks! the '70s Punk Rebellion)
50. Bob Dylan, If Dogs Run Free (New Morning)
51. Centro-Matic, Breathe Deep, Not Loud (Love You Just The Same)
52. Razorlight, Don't Go Back To Dalston (Up All Night)
53. Paul Westerberg, Alex Chilton (Henry Fonda Theatre, LA 2/22/05)
54. The Jayhawks, Two Angels (Blue Earth)
55. Elvis Costello & The Attractions, Goon Squad (Armed Forces)
56. Jeff Tweedy, Laiminated Cat (Vic Theatre, Chicago 3/5/05)
57. Paul Westerberg, Honky Tonk Angels (Pantages Theatre, 11/7/04)
58. Pixies, The Navajo Know (Trompe Le Monde)
59. Foo Fighters, End Over End (In Your Honor)
60. The Mountain Goats, Love Love Love (The Sunset Tree)
61. Gang Of Four, May-45 (Entertainment!)
62. Pixies, Tame (Doolittle)
63. The Wrens, The House That Guilt Built (The Meadowlands)
64. Replacements, Color Me Impressed (Simply Unacceptable)
65. Jay Farrar, Different Eyes (Sebastopol)
66. The Get Up Kids, No Love (Live At The Granada Theater)
67. Son Volt, Medication (Live) (Afterglow 61 [EP])
68. The Kinks, Dedicated Follower Of Fashion (The Ultimate Collection)
69. Paul Westerberg, Nobody (Troubadour, Hollywood 9/17/96)
70. The Smiths, You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby (Louder Than Bombs)
71. The Ramones, Too Tough To Die (Hey! Ho! Let's Go: The Anthology)
72. The Fall, The Classical (50,000 Fall Fans Can't Be Wrong)
73. The Replacements, Talent Show (Don't Tell A Soul)
74. David Bowie, Shapes Of Things (1973-Pin Ups)
75. Paul Westerberg, Born For Me (Ogden Theatre, Denver 3/3/05)
76. Adam Green, Emily (Gemstones)
77. X-Ray Specs, Oh! Bondage Up Yours! (Bonus Track) (Germ-Free Adolescents)
78. The Pernice Brothers, Wait To Stop (Nobody's Listening)
79. The Cure, In Your House (Seventeen Seconds)
80. Peter Bruntnell, How You Are (Normal For Bridgwater)
81. The Replacements, I'll Buy (Tim)
82. Jay Farrar, Damaged Son (Sebastopol)
83. Earlimart, Lazy Feet 23 (Everyone Down Here)
84. Ben Lee, We're All In This Together (Awake Is The New Sleep)
85. Cat Power, I Dont Blame You (You Are Free)
86. The Rolling Stones, Happy (Exile On Main Street)
87. Son Volt, Joe Citizen Blues (Live) (Afterglow 61 [EP])
88. Doves, Some Cities (Some Cities)
89. Elvis Costello No Dancing (My Aim Is True)
90. The Knitters, Little Margaret (The Modern Sounds Of The Knitters)
91. The Ramones, Beat On The Brat (Hey! Ho! Let's Go: The Anthology)
92. Uncle Tupelo, D. Boon (Still Feel Gone)
93. X, Country At War (The Best - Make The Music Go Bang!)
94. Robert Pollard, Hammer in Your Eyes (From a Compound Eye)
95. The Smiths, Sheila Take A Bow (Louder Than Bombs)
96. The Boys, First Time (No Thanks!)
97. Spoon, Reservations (Series of Sneaks)
98. The Who, So Sad About Us (Thirty Years Of Maximum R&B0
Rock and Roll Literature

Let it Be by Colin Meloy
Exile on Main Street by Bill Janovitz
Meat is Murder by Joe Pernice

Continuum Book’s 33 1/3 series is such a great concept one wonders why it has never been attempted before – enlist young writers and musicians to write short books covering one specific album of their choice. Instead of the tired old hack writers, Continuum hired mainly unknown fanzine writers and indie rockers and gave them free reign. The results vary from book to book, but all are full of the kind of passion one would expect from somebody talking about their favorite album.
Colin Meloy, the leader of the Decemberists, spends little time with the Replacements’ classic album. Instead, he talks about his years growing up in Montana, and how a cassette featuring said album was a watershed moment that pushed him farther and farther away from the middle-of-the-road mentality of his surroundings.
On a similar note, Pernice’s take on the Smiths involves a fish-out-of-water story featuring an adolescent and his infatuation with a girl (Alison) and a band (The Smiths). Described as a cross between Dazed and Confused and The Virgin Suicides, Meat is Murder is equal parts comedy and tragedy…yet it somehow captures the real-life intensity of the band, the album, and their fans.

Buffalo Tom leader Bill Janovitz takes a more traditional route on and album that many consider the greatest album of all time. After setting the scene of the extraordinary circumstances that led to a double album of pure Americana recorded by a British band in the basement of a villa, Janovitz goes through the album song by song. Using not only previous sources but his own ears, Janovitz points out little musical, lyrical, and production tidbits that add to the aura of this acclaimed album.
There are a total of 31 albums in this series, ranging from the Beatles and Led Zeppelin to DJ Shadow and Joy Division. Six have been devoured by this writer; a few more are on their way.

Gigantic: The Story of Frank Black and the Pixies by John Mendelssohn

What happens when an acclaimed music journalist aspires to write the “definitive biography” but can’t get an interview with anybody involved with the band? He “googles” the band and uses previously published interviews. When that’s not enough to fill a book, he pads it with multiple chapters involving a seemingly psychotic female and her obsession with leader Frank Black.
Funny thing is that Mendelssohn is clearly not even a fan of the band. He heaps praise on their first two albums, but dismisses the rest of the catalog. Solo albums by Black and other band members are treated as pure dreck (he even mocks Black for playing Sioux Falls, where “one must make his own fun”). Clocking in at just under 200 pages, one learns next to nothing about one of the most interesting bands of the last twenty years.

Complicated Shadows: The Life and Music of Elvis Costello by Graeme Thomson

Dealing with the actual music must be the toughest spot for any music biographer. If you’re too critical (like Mendelssohn’s Pixies bio) one questions if they should have even bothered. Pure fanboys may have the knowledge to write a book, but one also doesn’t want to hear nothing but platitudes.
Mojo contributor Thomson’s latest work straddles the line perfectly. He’s clearly a fan, but he’s not afraid to criticize. He acknowledges missteps in Costello’s best albums, and also points out highlights in his worst. He gives equal time to Costello’s detractors, particularly former Attractions bassist Bruce Thomas and their infamous feud.
Most importantly, Thomson sheds light on every step of Costello’s life, from his childhood to his recent marriage to Diana Krall. Included are his early days playing pubs for peanuts, the amphetamine-driven edge of his glory years with the Attractions (and the numerous controversies of that era), and his uneven moves from genre to genre in recent years.
There’s a lot of material to digest, but Thomson’s way with words brings life to every segment of Costello’s career, even the Burt Bachrach and Brodsky Quartet collaborations. In fact, it’s this sort of restless exploration that keeps the narrative compelling.

Killing Yourself to Live by Chuck Klosterman

Spin writer loves to think of himself as an antidote of sorts to Nick Hornby. While the High Fidelity author is full of hipster music and movie references, Klosterman is equally fond of his “uncool” love for cheesy metal and radio pap. In his eyes he’s so uncool that he’s cool.
He’s not that cool, though. At times he’s an imaginative writer, but after three books his references to Kiss solo albums is starting to wear a bit thin. Killing Yourself to Live is ostensibly an expanded version of a series of Spin articles that found him traveling the country to visit the sites where famous musicians have died (or their fans, as in the chapter where he visits the city where a deadly fire broke out at a Great White concert).
Yet little of the book even deals with its concept. Typical of Klosterman, it all comes back to him. In this case, it’s the loves of his life – three in particular, but there are plenty of mentions of seemingly every woman who has ever given him a quick glance. One chapter even compares these women to every person who has ever played in Kiss, his favorite band.
That’s not to say this isn’t an enjoyable book. Many chapters, including the segment involving Great White, are riveting. And his theory that Radiohead’s OK Computer album unconsciously predicted the 9/11 tragedy is thought-provoking. More of this sort of writing would be appreciated instead of his female woes.

Magical Mystery Tours: My Life With the Beatles by Tony Bramwell with Rosemary Kingsland

Does the world need another Beatles book? Probably not, but Bramwell has an interesting tale to tell. He was around the Beatles from the very beginning. Not just the beginning of the band, but even years before that when John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison were just typical neighborhood kids. Bramwell’s recollection of those years is far more complete than any previous biography, particularly as the three (along with Stu Sutcliffe and Pete Best) gradually find themselves joining forces.
Unlike the majority of their childhood friends, Bramwell’s relationship carried on as they conquered not only Britain but the world. He was hired by manager Brian Epstein to help run Nems Enterprises, the company set up to handle the band’s affairs. After Epstein’s death, he was there for the creation (and dissolution) of Apple Records.
What’s most engrossing is his recollections of the individual members during those prime years. He talks about a road trip with Paul McCartney that culminated with an impromptu jam session at a small town pub. He gives credence to the tales that Lennon initially hated Yoko Ono, and it was only after months of stalking did he succumb to her advances.
It really was a decade-long party, but not without its costs. Many friends and associates never saw the end of the decade, and despite unprecedented sales, poor business decisions by Epstein left the Beatles close to bankruptcy after his death. Bramwell explains that this was mainly due to the fact that there was no “playbook” for this kind of success – nobody (outside of maybe Elvis) had ever generated this kind of demand for not only records and concerts, but also movies, cartoons and other merchandise. A gigantic tax bill led to the formation of Apple, a move that may have saved them from bankruptcy but ultimately led to the dissolution of the band.
Bramwell’s story doesn’t end with the Beatles. After they broke up, he moved into other fields. He produced movie soundtracks, and for a time even managed Phil Spector. Fortunes were created and stolen on three different occasions. Yet even recalling those darkest days, Bramwell’s 60’s ideals never waver, resulting in a book that never fails to entertain.