Wednesday, February 28, 2007

My friend John's band the Dexateens playing a song that John wrote 12 years back when we were in a band together. My various bands since have always covered this song and my current band, Parks & Wildlife has, in fact, recorded it for an upcoming ep. John, who sings the song, does not appear in this video.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Went to see my friend Che's new band the other night. Just great stuff, riding the wave between dissonant and melodic in all the right places. The new album, Iron, is also brilliant, and the only place to get it right now is at a live show. The man's going on tour, so go see him when he comes to your town.

Feb 28 2007 8:00P Club Congress Tucson, Arizona
Mar 1 2007 8:00P Modified Phoenix, Arizona
Mar 2 2007 8:00P Scolari's Office San Diego, California
Mar 3 2007 8:00P Scene Bar Los Angeles, California
Mar 4 2007 8:00P The Smell Los Angeles, California
Mar 5 2007 8:00P Thee Parkside San Francisco, California
Mar 7 2007 8:00P Sunset Tavern Seattle, Washington
Mar 8 2007 8:00P Towne Lounge Portland, Oregon
Mar 9 2007 8:00P Neurolux Boise, Idaho
Mar 10 2007 8:00P Kilby Court Salt Lake City, Utah
Mar 11 2007 8:00P Hi-Dive Denver, Colorado
Mar 12 2007 8:00P Launchpad Albuquerque, New Mexico
Mar 14 2007 8:00P (SXSW) Habana Calle 6 Patio Austin, Texas
Mar 17 2007 12:00P Epoch Coffee (Sick Room SXSW Day Party) Austin, Texas
Mar 22 2007 8:00P WC Dons Jackson, Mississippi
Mar 23 2007 8:00P Bottletree Birmingham, Alabama
Mar 24 2007 8:00P Drunken Unicorn Atlanta, Georgia
Mar 26 2007 8:00P Pilot Light Knoxville, Tennessee
Mar 28 2007 9:00P Alley Katz Richmond, Virginia
Mar 29 2007 8:00P North Star Bar Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Mar 30 2007 8:00P Guero New York, New York
Mar 31 2007 8:00P Rudy's New Haven, Connecticut
Apr 2 2007 8:00P Gooski's Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Apr 5 2007 8:00P Empty Bottle Chicago, Illinois
Apr 6 2007 8:00P Kryptonite Rockford, Illinois

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

In a pay-it-forward interview meme-scheme, our good friend Leonard asks:

1. Who's your favorite historian, and why?

C. Vann Woodward is my favorite, by a nose. The guy wrote history like a good novelist, with an eye for detail, ear for narrative, and tasty turn of phrase always at the ready. He took the South seriously, and thought hard about what great sweeping historical movements like populism and Jim Crow meant for little guys at the bottom, and that's what it means to be a good historian. Lawrence Goodwyn, who would probably not balk much (but definitely a smidgen) to be called a follower of Woodward, is my second favorite, because he took Woodward's humanism and curiosity (along with his own experiences as a left-wing journalist involved in the Civil Rights Movement) and applied them to mass movements like the Farmer's Alliance (from whence the Populists sprang) and Solidarity. Smart, smart guy.

2. How in God's name do you support a huge state like Texas with no income tax?

It's impossible. I'm not just being flippant. The state is constantly struggling to figure out how to finance some of the sloppiest social service offerings and lousiest public schools in the country. And basically, what happens is that standards fall and Texas's huge population (check out how many of our cities are in the Top 25 most populous cities in the country, keeping in mind that the Dallas Metroplex is represented twice) struggles to get by more or less with minimal or no state support. It's a ridiculous situation.

3. What's the hardest thing about parenting? What's the most fun?

The hardest thing is not losing my temper, especially when my son is being extra-stubborn about something at 2 am. I'm not very good at this, and it shames me. The most fun thing is hearing his sounds of joy when he's playing (by himself or with one of us) or singing or some other something that he's just discovered is really, really fun.

4. What have you learned from the process of writing a book?

That I'm a slack motherfucker. I've let minor setbacks set me off my work for major swaths of time. I've gotten derailed on a chapter and not revisited for months, at which point I want to start over with a new focus instead of finishing it in current form. I've second-guessed myself into reflexivity. I've chosen to let some leads lie fallow rather than admitting that I'm a terrible interviewer. Fiction is easier.

5. When are we gonna play some damn poker? Or failing that, Catan?

To Leonard: You wanna come up this weekend or next? I'm not a poker fan, but I love me some Catan. If it's the following weekend, I might go ahead & buy the Cities & Knights expansion set. Wait, that's the weekend I'm going to see Richard Thompson. Maybe the weekend after would be better.

To everyone else: leave me a comment and I'll post 5 questions for you to answer at your own little corner of the world.

Check out High Hat contributors Tom Block and Chris Lanier talking about violence on the radio! Well, not "violence on the radio" but "talking on the radio about fighting."

Thursday, February 15, 2007

You're a with-it kind of person. I know this because you're reading my blog, and by "with-it" I mean "reader-of-my-blog." Admittedly, this stretches the the ordinary definition of the word.

Anyway, you, dear reader, my with-it kind of person, should know that there is a new High Hat, a valentine to you, with the theme of First Loves. And Love is the key. I cannot read it without getting all soft-focus vaseline-eyed. It's just that wonderful and romantic.

There's too much goodness to recommend any particular article over another, but I will single out two. First, Phil Nugent's remembrance of New Orleans and his friend Helen Hill, who was murdered there last month, is a breathtaking essay of such scope that the editors took the unprecendented move of presenting it outside of any of our little departments. Second, and I mention this not because it is a high quality essay, but because this is my blog which I write, necessitating a bit of occasional egotism to stay in the spirit of things, my first love article is on an embarrassing youthful indiscretion with the band Styx. Read it at your own peril. Or don't and still think well of me (presuming that, in fact, some of you think well of me in the first place).

Go and be loved.

Monday, February 12, 2007

News! From the blog that promises you the rare glimpse into the life of some guy.

My stack of to-be-read books currently includes:

  • The Believer Back Issue Bundle Jumble: 10 back issues for $20 (I've read some issues in bits and pieces when I've had time);
  • Thomas Pynchon's Against The Day;
  • John Banville's The Sea; and
  • Elizabeth Green-Musselman's Nervous Conditions.
I'm trying to finish my manuscript for Shoot Out The Lights by the end of the month. We've also entered into my busiest season at work. Consequently, I am tired.

My son's 2nd birthday was this past weekend and it was delightful. We gave him a play kitchen that he adores, some age-appropriate legos, and a Huffy tricycle that refused to stay upright (so back to the store it went). He also got some cowboy boots from his Aunt Jen, a Leapfrog doll from his grandparents, and some wonderful books from some of his friends. Yay!

Oh, yeah. eMusic downloads this month included:
  • Jens Lekman - Oh You're So Silent Jens
  • Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus
  • El-P - High Water
  • Deerhoof - Friend Opportunity
  • a bunch of Deerhoof contributions to compilation albums
  • cLOUDDEAD - Ten
  • cLOUDDEAD - Dead Dogs Two EP
  • The Woggles - Wailin' With The Woggles
  • The Mountain Goats - We Shall All Be Healed
  • Red House Painters - Red House Painters (II)
  • Tortoise - s/t
  • The Spinanes - Imp Years
  • Love Tractor - This Ain't No Outer Space Ship
  • Acid Mothers Temple - Starless and Bible Black Sabbath
  • Rhys Chatham - A Crimson Grail (for 400 guitars)

If you know me and decide to sign up for eMusic, please tell 'em I recommended it to you. I like free downloads!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

There's not enough gloom in the world to convey what the loss of Molly Ivins means to this state and this country. She was a gadfly in the best sense of the world, a truly witty person who could lay bare political childishness and hypocrisy with a couple of well-placed words, all delivered with so much warmth and humor that only a withered fig would could refrain from laughing. I don't know whether she loved or hated her clear predecessor H.L. Mencken, who had a similar way with words but fell on the other end of the political scales, but I hope she loved him. I know she loved Ann Richards, another witty Texas woman with a Texas-sized personality. Here's what she wrote in her obituary for Governor Richards:

She was so generous with her responses to other people. If you told Ann Richards something really funny, she wouldn't just smile or laugh, she would stop and break up completely. She taught us all so much -- she was a great campfire cook. Her wit was a constant delight. One night on the river on a canoe trip, while we all listened to the next rapid, which sounded like certain death, Ann drawled, "It sounds like every whore in El Paso just flushed her john."

From every story I've heard and from the meager two times I got to meet her, all of this could apply to Molly Ivins, too.

Salon has been kind enough to compile a few choice quotes, including:

On the recent campaign: "It's like having Ted Baxter of the old 'Mary Tyler Moore' show running for president: Gore has Ted's manner, and Bush has his brain." (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 10/25/2000)

On George Bush Sr.: "Calling George Bush shallow is like calling a dwarf short." (Mother Jones, February 1990)

"The next person who refers to David Duke as a populist ought to be Bushururued, as they now say in Japan, meaning to have someone puke in your lap." (Mother Jones, May/June 1992)

On Ronald Reagan: "You have to ignore a lot of stuff in order to laugh about Reagan - dead babies and such -- but years of practice with the Texas Lege is just what a body needs to get in shape for the concept of Edwin Meese as attorney general. Beer also helps." (Progressive, March 1986)

(Responding to the Reagan warning that "The Red Tide will lap at our very borders.") "These sneaky bastards from Nicaragua -- there's 3 million of 'em down there, there's only 16 million Texans, and they've got us cornered between the Rio Grande and the North Pole." (Progressive, May 1986)

"I have been collecting euphemisms used on television to suggest that our only president is so dumb that if you put his brains in a bee, it would fly backwards." (Progressive, August 1987)

On Texas: "I dearly love the state of Texas, but I consider that a harmless perversion on my part, and discuss it only with consenting adults." (Fort Worth Star-Telegram column, March 1, 1992)

On H. Ross Perot: "It's hard to envision a seriously short guy who sounds like a Chihuahua as a charismatic threat to democracy, but it is delicious to watch the thrills of horror running through the Establishment at the mere thought." (Time, June 1992)

Here's a lovely obituary in the NY Times, full of bon mots that you, dear reader, should steal and use often. The Nation, sadly but predictably, is a bit drier, but gives you a scope of the struggles that defined her life. And last, but certainly not least, The Texas Observer, the famous lighthouse in the fog of Texas politics that Ivins edited for 6 years back in the 70s, is chock full of information, with articles, some wonderful tributes, and pictures of Ivins at work and play. She asked that people not waste their money on flowers for her, but donate to the Observer instead. This is the woman who dubbed our President "Shrub" and said of his father that "real Texans do not use 'summer' as a verb." That's worth at least $10, right?

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