Friday, December 31, 2004

Rocks off/Rip this joint.

Hope everyone is ready for Amateur Night! Maybe I'll see you Starkvegans at Dave's as the ball drops. Me: beard, multi-colored striped shirt, tie, and other accoutrements (probably including a martini). You: who knows? "Should auld acquaintance be forgot" and all that . We will, however, "my trusty friend . . . tak' a cup o' kindness yet, for auld lang syne."

I still can't believe Cal blew that game to Texas Tech. Goddamn Mack Brown and his Longhorns who have no business being in a BCS bowl game, let alone "The Grandaddy of Them All"! Despite what all the Friday Morning Quarterbacks are saying, you know Cal's players weren't up for the effing Holiday Bowl, when they should have been playing in Pasadena for the Roses tomorrow for the first time in half a century (and that includes Steve Bartkowski, Tony Gonzalez, and Chuck Muncie, guys). Any AP voter who changed their vote that last week after Cal beat Southern Miss in Hattiesburg (never an easy task; ask FSU circa 1989) and Texas didn't play is an idiot and should be banned from voting for life. Remember in saying all this, I'm A Stanford Cardinal fan who disdains "The Dirty Golden Bear".

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Try to remember.

Alas, Jerry Orbach passed. Maybe this will put the breaks on Dick Wolf's oversized ego and the fourth L&O spin-off, but I doubt it. I first became aware of Orbach as frequent guest star on Murder, She Wrote and then as recurring character Harry McGraw, which led to his failed spin-off The Law and Harry McGraw. Most know him as Lennie Briscoe from Law and Order, an institution if not the best police procedural ever. I have to go with both Homicide and Wiseguy as superior even with much shorter runs. Recently I discovered he had a long and distinguished earlier career in the theater, on and off-Broadway. Hey, he even introduced "Try to Remember" in the long-running off-Broadway show, The Fantasticks. That ladies and gentlemen is A CAREER!

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The boys are back in town.

Just back from the mountains of Western North Carolina. Drove up there in the snow and then had the coldest Christmas Day I can remember, but then most of my Christmases have been in warm climes like Florida or California. DID some serious cocooning and read several books including Greenblatt's Will in the World, Lewis' Moneyball, and Kemp's Dixie Lullaby. Got the nifty black Sony DVD I was hoping for, so now I can watch DVDs on a real TV and listen to them through the stereo and not at my computer. I might have a viewing session to see the Galaxie 500 and Wire discs. Also picked up a case of my favorite mid-range California Zinfadel at the Asheville Wine and Cheese Market plus a bunch of good English/Irish beer there including Young's Waggledance Honey Beer, Murphy's Stout, Samuel Smith's Taddy Porter, Boddignton's Pub Ale, and and my beloved Yorkshire regular tipple Tetley's Real Ale with a widgety can.

This year has certainly ended far better than it began; with any luck next year will continue apace as I roll through 2005 like (pardon the inappropriate metaphor) the German Army through the Maginot Line, the Polish Defense Forces, etc. Depending on what writing and/or speaking projects come off, I might be blogging less frequently under deadline pressure, but that's a good thing.

Saw three movies. In order of veiwing:

Sideways at the Fine Arts, Asheville, Biultmore Avenue
Laughed my ass off throughout. hard to believe Thomas Hayden Church the stooge from Wings and more creditable as the villain in George of the Jungle can really act. The entire cast is great. Viriginia Madesn has never looked lovelier, Sexier yes, but lovelier, no! Plus any movie that talks about wine incessantly and drives through the Central Coast of California's Santa Maria moutains gets a double thumbs up from me.

Finding Neverland Carmike 10, Asheville
Despite a seemingly sentimental premise, a wonderful film with subtle portrayals all around and a fine Scottish accent from Johnny Depp. The kid who played Peter Llewelyn Davies(Freddie Highmore) was fantastic; he's playing Charlie in Tim Burton's upcoming Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The soundtrack was quite nice and the dream sequences exist somewhere between Julie Taymor and Cirque de Soleil.

CloserBeaucatcher 7, Asheville
Like many filmed plays the dramatic lines don't work as well with the close-up aid of a camera. Not that the four leads aren't quite engaging and impossibly attractive. I don't buy Natalie Portman as a stripper but maybe that's my problem. Most fun was catching site of all the locations in London in the film I'd been to like the cafe atop the National Portrait Gallery (break-up signing divorce papers scene), the South Bank promenade outside The Globe Theater complex (where Julia gets the ballon from Clive), and Postman's Park in the City--Charterhouse EC1 (where Jude and Natalie end up after hospital and where Jude went wit his father as a kid-I've had lunch there).

Well I have a car to unpack. See you at Dave's for Del and Friends around 9 pm. Out.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Holiday road.

The Nevermind Aesthetic takes a well deserved and needed vacation this week as it hits the highways and byways of MS, AL, GA, and NC on its way to the shadow of Cold Mountain. I will return before the New Year -- perhaps with tales of Asheville or smoked mountain trout. Peace to you and yours.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Why she's a girl from the chainstore.

In no particular order, here is a list of some of my favorite bookstores in the world.

Note the Strand Bookstore in Manhattan is highly overrated as is much of NYC, so I boycott the book capital of the US on purpose.

The Paperback Rack. Tallahassee, FL.
Picked up many a used Penguin novel (Orange and Black varieties) here.

The Harvard Coop. Cambridge, MA.
Textbooks and beyond; plus cool Harvard regalia. Bookstore operated by Barnes & Noble, alas.

The Stanford Bookstore. Stanford, CA.
perhaps the best collection of academic books on site anywhere in the world except for the next shop; cool Stanford stuff, plus cut-rate, cutting-edge Apple equipment, plus all kinds of Cardinal gear

Seminary Co-op Bookstore. Chicago, Il.
In the "grungy" basement of a neo-Gothic seminary on U of C's campus can be found rooms of cool books, Nobelists, and other great conservative minds. Rivals Stanford for shelf availability of the latest academic studies in most fields. Don't be looking for any U of C tennis shirts or license plates, though! I'm a proud member/shareholder.

Dillon's (the Main one on Gower St.). London.
As above but for University of London. Not realy the same once it got gobbled up by Waterstone's who then went in with

Foyle's. London
Yes the system of locating fiction by publisher is maddening. But this is one of the great browsing book institutions ever.

Hatchard's. Picadilly. London.
The oldest bookstore in London dates to 1797.

ICA Book Shop. The Mall. London.
For art and media lovin' hep cats.

Murder One. Charing Cross Road. London.
New and used mystery, true crime, thrillers etc.

National Theatre and British Film Institute Bookshops. London
2 great reasons to visit the South Bank again and again, plus there's the outside book tables under Waterloo bridge on a clear day.

Ulysses. Bloomsbury. London.
Great smallish store. Lots of first editions.

Quinto. Charing Cross Road. London
The famous "octagonal" green door beckons.

Stanford's Long Acre. London
Need Maps!

Waterstone's. Picadilly. London.
Great views from cafe in the old Simpson's Department store. Largest bookshop in Europe.

Zwemmer's. various locations. London
Look for the famous blue awning. media arts, photography and academic offerings. The famous art and photography bookshops have consolidated with a third bookseller Ian Shipley and will survive.

Skoob. Bloomsbury. London
Great used bookseller. That's books spelled backwards, kids.

Barbican Bookshop. Fossgate. York
10 (count 'em) rooms of books!

Gillygate Books. Gillygate. York.
Great used bookstore.

Ken Spelman. Micklegate. York.
Run by former University of York Students. Strong in literature, history, and the arts.

Stone Trough Books. Fossgate. York.
Nice used bookstore a bit away from Minster and on the way to Heslington. Too bad the local free house is no longer.

The Works. Church St. York.
Great discount bookseller between the Shambles and the outdoor York Market. A hidden gem. Portland, OR and cyberspace.
Simply put the greatest bookstore in the English-reading Universe. They don't call it "The City of Books" for nothing!

Newbury Comics. Boston, MA.
As the title suggests but also lots of cool indie rock stuff.

Grolier Poetry Bookshop. Cambridge, MA.
A bookstore that's only about poetry.

Harvard Bookstore. Cambridge, MA.
Good generalist bookstore. An early take on the bookstore cafe and the first one you hit coming out of the back of Widener or Lamont Libraries.

Harvard University Press Display Room. Cambridge, MA.
Your source for those Green and Red Loeb Classical Library volumes translated into a language that can only be called LOEBESE. In the Holyoke Center Arcade. Alas CLOSED forever as of 6/30/2009.

WordsWorth. Cambridge, MA.
Alas closed October 30, 2004 because it couldn't compete with the online giants. Curious George goes to WordsWorth , the children's book and toy store remains.

SchoenHof's Foreign Books. Cambridge, MA.
You want books in foreign languages? Dates to 1856!

Out of Town News Agency. Cambridge, MA.
The very heart of Harvard Square! Magazine and Newspapers from all over the world. Although the net has hampered their business of late I hear.

Bryn Mawr Book Store. Cambridge, MA.
Funky used bookstore on Huron for those who've been Quadded.

Mandrake Book Store. Story Street, Cambridge, MA.
For all the wierdos, magi, and New Agers. Across from the late lamented Oxford Alehosue and backing onto the front building of the Harvard Coop.

Starr Book Shop. Cambridge, MA.
Another cool, random used bookstore with a wild location: in the rear basement of the Harvard Lampoon castle.

Kepler's. Menlo Park, CA.
A fine mid-Peninsula indie.

Wessex Books & Records. Great Place to get cheap review copies of every book Robert Polhemus ever wrote. But seriously, a truly inspiring space for browsing and it's a block from Kepler's so you can do new and used runs all at one time.

Cody's Books (the one on Telegraph). Berkeley, CA.
Dustin sits in the window here in The Graduate. Kept selling Satanic Verses even after a 1989 firebombing. Right on!

City Lights. San Francisco.
You just gotta "Howl". Ferlinghetti's institution and the first all-paperback bookstore in the US! Plus Vesuvio's, a cool beatnik bar is just across Jack London Alley. Cafes and restaurants of North Beach are a block or so the other direction.

A Clean Well Lighted Place for Books. Opera Plaza. San Francisco, CA.
Great for pre-Symphony/pre-Opera browsing. Grab a dessert at Max's Opera cafe across the plaza! An early online player as their URL suggests!

Printer's, Inc. California Avenue. Palo Alto, CA.
But only circa 1986-90. Died in March 1999 due to the Border's in what used to be the Varsity Theater.

Lemuria, Banner Hall, Jackson, MS.
Sorry Richard, my favorite bookstore in Mississippi hands down.

Off Square Books. Oxford, MS.
The cooler used bookstore version of this Lafayette county classic.

Over the Transom Books. Fairhope, AL.
New and used books, signed first editions and home to the Stories from the Blue Cafe series. "Nuff said! The very essence of what a small indie bookstore should be. Way to go Martin and Sonny.

Page & Palette. Fairhope, AL.
The coffeeshop bookstore in Baldwin County since 1968. One neat feature is the wall of pre-prints of books that one can buy. The money is donated to local worthy charities, so nobody's really getting screwed on this deal. Also the sales cart on the sidewalk often provides real steals.

I was gonna do record store but there isn't world enough and time. Plus I still have plenty of embracin' to do.

As a lagniappe: TNA's first annual favorite blogs list ordered randomly

[long pauses]
dusted magazine
polly & the mooch!
| span |
reciprocity failure
Popular Frontiers!
last plane to jakarta
Big Gray and the Jones County Boys
Staggering Brain
For The Record
communists in the summer house

Baby, it's you; Or, On the essential beauty of the iMac G4.

I know, I know computers continually get cheaper, smaller, faster, but do they always get better? In 1976, my parents bought me a TI-11 with special square root feature for like $75.oo. By the time 9th grade rolled around the TI-35 had been birthed at less than half the cost with like triple the computational features. And so it goes. But about the new iMac G5: hasn't the I-Pod cross branding design thing gone far enough?

Personally I'll take my G4 any day. Just look at it (or a reneral representation thereof; rat's rite Rastro bulbie can't type good):

Now see that's what I call crossbranding: the computer as Pixar Studios lamp icon. Plus the disc tray as tongue ads were hilarious. I have a model with the SuperDrive and for now it's my sole way to view DVDs at home. The screen is beautiful, the sound in the tiny bubble speakers worthy of any good mid-range stereo. And it all comes in a package straight out of the best Scan Design circa 1980. I could go on and on. But I won't. Steve Jobs is and always will be a god! Even if the Lisa did cost too much and NeXT didn't really work out.

Thursday, December 16, 2004


Please don't bother me between 1:00 pm and 5:30 pm CST as I will be listening to the first two segments of BBC Radio One's John Peel Night on Real Player.

Keep it Peel.

Monday, December 13, 2004

The classical.

Yup time for the year-ending best of list


Alone, Stinking and Unafraid

John Peel's 37 years of BBC1 shows from Top Gear to Sessions at Maida Vale
If just once I can pull off a wry, dry, insouciant joke like he did daily I'll die fulfilled
I remember when we did our first Peel session he said "And here we have the mighty Echo and the Bunnymen", and we were so chuffed.
Will Sergeant

You know "You'll Never Walk Alone."

Separating from the Pack:

The Ex, Turn
Drive-By Truckers, The Dirty South
Fe-Mail, Skylubb Fra Haelvete
The Futureheads
Mission of Burma, Snapshot (iTunes only download of live session at WBCN)
GbV, bee thousand director's cut (3 lp set)
GbV, "Huffman Prarie Flying Field," "The Closets of Henry," "Everyone Thinks I'm a Raincloud (When I'm Not Looking)"
The Magnetic Fields, "I Thought You Were My Boyfriend," "It's Only Time"
Jon Langford, All the Fame of Lofty Deeds
Sally Timms, In the World of Him
Pavement, Crooked Rain Crooked Rain: L.A.'s Desert Origins
The Fall, 50,000 Fall Fans Can't Be Wrong

Still Pretty Good

Mark Applebaum, Catfish
Arcade Fire, Funeral
Floorian, What the Buzzing
The Libertines
Green Day, American Idiot
deerhoof, Bibidi Babadi Boo (free download)
Interpol, Antics
The Mountain Goats, We Shall All Be Healed
The Persians, A Thing Like Any Other

Lord of overstock.

Well I came up short on the final shortlist for Continuum's 33 1/3 series, so now it's back to A Century of Noise with all due haste and no more distractions unless The Oxford American wants me to write something for their summer 2005 Music Issue, say a piece on The Drive-By Trucker's The Dirty South.

Dear G.E. Light

I'm sorry to say that your proposal for a book on On Fire was not selected for the series. We received a lot of very strong proposals, and it's simply not possible to publish them all.

I'd be very happy to keep in touch about other book ideas you may have - Continuum publishes widely in the areas of film, music, and pop culture, so feel free to send any book proposals my way.

Very best wishes,


David Barker PhD
Acquisitions Editor, Continuum
15 E 26 Street, Suite 1703
New York, NY 10010

T: 212 953 5858 x 118
F: 212 953 5944

Excitable boy.

gclark's recent confessional mood inspired me to post this, which is either the stoopidest or bravest thing I ever wrote and sent to somebody: in this case, dogperson several years ago. A Starkvegan friend who has since relocated to Bob Pollard's hometown claims I had a big pair of brass ones to send it; I'm not so sure. What do you think?

So I have this sneaking suspicion that my Warren Zevonesque "Excitable Boy" tendencies have frighhtened you off. [welll actually she was out of town and not checking email for two whole weeks! her response began "Woah, where'd that come from? I guess my lesson is not to go a week, without checking my email. I am paying the price for that right now. Not that I am overly popular but everyone that I do know has emailed this week. Sorry if I bruised your feelings!"] For that I cannot apologize enough. I really didn't mean anything by most of those last couple e-mails--other than that you might enjoy YAJ and Dave's and I could work an angle for a free ticket for you with no strings atatched (damn! I shoulda written THAT). [backpedalling and grovelling furiously cuz I don't knwo what else to do] But patience is not now nor has it ever been one of my natural virtues [nor are proofreading and correct typing!], and, in retrospect, I see how dumb it was not to just send the one e-mail [there was a time when email was hyphenated friends] reply on the 30th and [to understood here] shut up and wait.[I never did learn to play by THE RULES.] Ever since the spring break break (6th to 26th), my e-rhythm has just been off. [it made sense to me and her then so don't ask]

I did want you to know that in what has been my best 4 months to date in Starkville (I got reelected to Faculty Senate; I got an article accepted for publication; I got named by President Portera to a SACS self-study committee as a junior, non-tenured [well we all know how that turned out] faculty member; My House is finally taking the shape I want it to inside; and I'm more at peace with myself and my life here than I've ever been and less afraid of becoming [colleague's name related to Billy the Kid deleted here] in 10 years) the undoubted highlight has been our e-correspondence ever since 2/19's letter stumped me with your witty Bud subject line comeback. I've lived a lot of places and met a number of fascinating people, but never have I enjoyed such a natural, easygoing repartee that was both really funny, clever, and interesting all at once. [category one error alert; surely "both" does not allow for three following comparisons!] If I've blown THAT, I will probably never forgive myself.

I hope to hear from you. But if not, the last two month's have been a pleasure, a privilege, and a thrill. [what is it with me and groups of three?]

No Hollywood 1930s comedy of remarriage ending here . . . yet. But there's still a palpable magic in our communications. Good, I feel better having let that out.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

The letter.

I sent this comment to not knowing he would use it in The Sun-Times:

Readers have lots to say about U2, Avril

December 10, 2004

Rock 'n' roll is at its best when it's a spirited discourse between people who care passionately about the music. It's time once again for this column to dip into the mail bag to sample the recent feedback from readers and fellow music lovers.

* * * * *

Jim: I'm glad someone else thinks the Pixies never made that one truly great record. [Nov. 7] Their legend is based on the personal mythos of Black Francis, the cliched band infighting, and their greatness as a live band -- on your alternative list I think they're only bettered by Husker Du.

George Evans Light

All lovers of things contrarian should check out his book, Kill Your Idols.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Sympathy for the devil.

The following piece will run on soon:

Seconds: Perfect Moments in Pop
"Sympathy for the Mekons" 1:09-3:02
Mekons, The Mekons Honky Tonkin'
Twin Tone 1987

The Mekons Honky Tonkin' is a major pivot point in the career of these Leeds art school punks turned shambolic collective of folk rock artistry. Itself the culmination of the great trio of "country" inflected records (1985's Fear and Whiskey and 1986's The Edge of the World are the other two), the CD looks forward to the move to Rock 'N' Roll. This pivot happens late on the disc when "Sympathy for the Mekons" spins listeners out of a straightforward feel into "danceband on the edge of the world" territory. The rest of the disc becomes a veritable encylopedic reference to various folk musics: amongst other things Northern Industrial brass bands (see Brassed Off). a traditional 19th century protest song�"Trimdon Grange Explosion," Music Hall/Tin Pan alley effects, waltz time, dirges, two steps, reels, Honeyman hard fiddlin' not really heard again until The Mekons' Rock 'N' Roll, and, apropos Jimmy Rodgers, a West Yorkshire yodel ("Please Don't Let Me Love You").

"Sympathy for the Mekons" is nothing less than a revelation from the moment Jon Langford warbles "Here's to a band that deals in the facts of life / In their ten short ugly years/ I wish the Mekons good fortune." Really the song is nothing more than a traditional Medieval vice parade of Pride, Lust Fever, Plague and riding behind on a pig the devil hisself. A la Robert Johnson, the Mekons apparently met Ol' Scratch at the crossroads where he "sold them fame and riches -- and good health." The song of course alludes in its title and lyrics to the famous Stones' Altamont death number. But unlike that tune, it's not at all clear who the narrator of his song is. Surely not the Devil! Jon Langford then, but he's a mekon and the pronouns don't work? Some kind of Chief Magistrate? Maybe that's what the last line business about "Chief Constable back on your head now" is all about? God (and not necessarily a benevolent one)? Trying to unravel the mysteries of the Mekons apocalyptic edge-of-the-world vision is a bit like untangling William Blake's mythography. Threads come apart but where exactly does each one lead? The next song "Spit" seems like some kind of doxological benedictus. This ambivalent mystery is but part of the special appeal of this Perfect Moment in Pop.

Click here to hear the audio version.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

The night they drove old dixie down.

Monday, December 6
Magnetic Fields
Variety Playhouse, L5Ps, Atlanta

Rolled up around 6:30 for doors 7 show 8. Wandered up Euclid to Caluctta where I had vegetable samosa as a starter then garlic nan, musalla kulcha, rice and a mixed curry concoction plus Lassi.

The opening act was an Aussie guitar singer songwriter type who bantered with the crowd and had a funny song about Squash (the game not the dreadful orange drink). He also claims he and John Woo are forming a one-off cover band Banjohvi, which will perform at their joint appearances in Texas. Look for it.

The Variety Playhouse reminded me of my high school gym cum theater cum assembly hall, except of course ours didn't have bars on both levels. The show was an all-seater. They filled in the standing room orchestra area with plastic blue lawn chairs. The quietest audience I've been around in a while, more like going to Avery Fisher hall for a chamber recital than a "rock" show.

The Magnetic Fields were in a word majestic. About 90 minutes of total mastery of material and instruments, marred occasionally by the abrasive personality of Stephen Merritt, who really is a little (and I mean little) shit. Bitching about people not sitting still [in awe of his magnificence] during songs, supposed feedback problems with monitors, not taking requests. Although having just seen Wire on the box 1979 (the famous German Rockpalast show), I guess there's something to be said for bands who have clear notions of setlists and what they're gonna play. But to blanketly state that any band that plays requests sucks shows the kind of provincial downtown 'tude many of use hate about Manhattan.

Highlights included a fine rendition of "All the Umbrellas in London" and "Smoke and Mirrors" from Get Lost, "It's Only Time," a surprising amount of material from Holiday, and from 69 Love Songs "Come Back from San Francisco," "Chicken with It's Head Cut Off," and a full on rap-like mic attack on "Yeah! Oh Yeah!" with both Merritt and Gonson strutting around the stage for the one time all night. Woo and Davol are total instrumental bad asses and were nice enough to salute the crowd at show's end; they also came back to schlep their own equipment away.

The one disappointment was a bland "I Thought You Were My Boyfriend." Really wanted to see them max out the equalization on the Cello to get the New Orderesque synthlike effects.

Had an awesome breakfast at The Flying Biscuit Cafe in Candler Park this morning. Nice semi-sweet organic chicken sausage and cheese grits that were like air--best I've ever had. And believe me, nothing can be worse than bad grits, like slow drying quick mix concrete in your innards. I'm at an Internet cafe on Ponce De Leon about to head Mississiippi ways. But I'll stop in Birmingham for a quick bite and to catch Sideways. When you live in a small town, you grab your pleasures when and where you can.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

It's my party.

Final final RSVP yes count was 88; I was busy enough tonight that I never bothered to get anything like a head count. I'll let the photographic and forensic evidence speak for itself. We killed the 3 cases of beer, 4 1.75 jug wines, and 4 750ml bottles of Mommessin and Michel Picard Beaujolais Nouveau not to mention who knows how much hard liquor and the very much appreciated contributions of party goers. The weather was cooperative except for lacking that certain nip that would have allowed for a fire. My fireplace doesn't draw that well in the mid 40s and we didn't need a room full of oak and hickory smoke. Unfortunately, I couldn't find my 40-year-old original blow-up Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer toy; yes I am a 1964 Rankin-Bass baby and proud of it.

Highlights of the evening include the following: the VA Smithfield ham parker house soppin rolls, the mango-banana salsa, the cajun beef and smoked NC mountain trout on cocktail rye sandwiches, the giant plastic clam shell full of steamed Appalchicola, FL shrimp, the GE special extra dry 10 martinis, and people's shocked pleasure at hearing my Mekons mix and The Futureheads after the Christmas music had been put away, well that never happened but my first guest was actually a wren that flew in the front door only to eventually be cornered, captured, and released by Jungle Jay R. Thanks.

Well I probably won't have a big party like this again until mid-May, so sorry if you were unable to attend. I will be doing a small thing post-New Year. Tomorrow is the quick one day overnight trip to see magnetic fields at the Variety Playhouse. I've been waiting for this show for a long time, since like Get Lost or certainly 69 Love Songs. I want to see if he uses a synth or really does wack out the cello/bass equalization on "I Thought You Were My Boyfriend." And if the latter, what is the point really?

Time for bed, no really.

Saturday, December 04, 2004


I live in the past a lot lately. The death of John Peel has me thinking about my radio life. Little did I know that my first radio station started its modern existence with a guest appearance by John Peel. Here's a bit of what I wrote the alumni site for URY re: some of the characters I met during my time there:

I was trained by Richard "Dickie Bird" Dodd who has had quite a successful radio career on regional BBC and other commercial ventures.

During my time there the station parodied the BBC's pay your tube tax ads with one of its own as a promo. I'm pretty sure it was Stephen Palmer who faked my "exaggerated American drawl." That is the moment when I knew I belonged at URY.

Palmer has gone onto much success with The Guardian (business side) and of course Emap, where he's director of Pop and maybe a VP, He also introduced me to the Princess Louise on High Holborn before it was completely tarted up. He lived in one of those semi-detached off the Bishopthorpe road with Steven Humphreys, Simon Aldous (not Aldons as your list has him) and Clare Kellet. Humphreys liked Marillion far too much, In spring '86, he ran unsuccessfully for Student Government position (president?) with a campaign using as tag lines Smiths' song titles. My favorite was an ad featuring a picture of the leading candidate with one line-"That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore." High Concept/Low effect, but a good time down the Wellington on Alma Terrace thinking up images to go with song titles. Simon Aldous was in the/was the band(s) Flock of Umbrellas/Umbrella Heaven, and he helped Hefner produce early albums. From Brighton I think, because he introduced me to 14 Iced Bears a long time ago. Clare starred in a student pomo production called MacHamleth (it was famous for the requisite 15 mintues).

Jo-Anne Nadler was a pain in the ass back in the day (but then I grew up suffering around Reagan Jugend so I was not favorably disposed to the Youth for Tory crowd). Did anybody really buy the faux slumming in the full leather gear? She now is chief Hague-iographer (or so I hear) and has written a fine and funny memoir replete with a Leslie Gore pun in the title.

Head of Music Tom Stevenson lost a bet but never paid up (well cuz I was long gone and out of country). I begged him to put the first or second Housemartins single in the chart show, He thought Go! discs were too indie. I bet him The Housemartins would be Top of he Pops one day. Thank god for Christmas singles (I must have seen something in that Norman Cook guitar playah fellow. . . ). Lucy Mumford was a fetching tall Scottish lass who I once accidentally ran into at the West End Waterstone's in Edinburgh if memory serves. Rachael Johnston is involved in an alternative oncology therapies company on the borders called the lavender touch, I think. I know I have something to say about Jeremy Ball and Jem Stone but it escapes me. Didn't the former head up the 20th anniversary committee and emcee the Pop Quiz starring BBC 1's Mark Page. I have a tape of the entire thing that someday I'll transfer to CD and eventually to some downloadable format.

Big Musical memories of that year: The Housemartins, London 0 Hull 4, The Pogues, Rum, Sodomy and The Lash and the Poguetry in Motion e.p., discovering the Peel Show, hearing "Once More" by the Wedding Present, seeing them live at the Winning Post on Bishopthorpe, working "security" at the Redskins show on campus, and The Queen is Dead.

Enough wallowing in nostalgia for an age yet to come. Time for a Terry's chocolate orange, some Wensleydale on Bath Olivers, and a lukewarm pint of soapy Tetley's!

UPDATE 1/14/04
Now Jim Wickham tells us that Rollo Armstrong is the brother of Dido! Anyway I'm hyperlinked to the URY website's alumni page. So old friends or whatever, please drop me a line or just leave a comment.

UPDATE 5/26/06
I just found an A4 document from this era with a bunch of names of my old comrades in radio mayhem. It's discussed here. I'm working with a friend on getting the Pop Quiz transferred into some kind of Podcast so I can link it to URY Alumni page.

Friday, December 03, 2004

So long, farewell.

GBV just played their second and last ever live tv performance on Conan. Unlike the weak May 9th, 2000 performance of "Hold on Hope" complete with a string quartet, tonight they totally ruled with "Everbody Thinks I'm a Raincloud (When I'm Not Looking)." Gillard was ablaze and Bob even struck a convincing, non-wavering half crane, electrifying conclusion pose not to mention taking the mic out of the stand in mid song for a quick but majestically high helicopter. In another month we get to see what alll the fuss was about the Austin City Limits performance. 'Til then "Long live Rockathon!"

Thursday, December 02, 2004

The future's so bright (i gotta wear shades).

I just can't get The Futureheads self-titled debut CD out of my head. They may be a one trick pony; but boy what a trick. Think Rockapella (the Brown University guys who used to do wierd live versions of the Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego theme song) but a bit younger and with very thick Northern English accents. Meld this to some sort of art school inspired futurist manifesto-like lyrics and then wed to scorching guitars a la The Gang of Four. No surprise the band is 4 Scousers from Sunderland, and their debut single was produced by Andy Gill. Yea, Mr. Glass shard guitar slinging god who brought you "Damaged Goods," "Anthrax," and "At Home She's A Tourist" amongst other Go4 faves. Another reference: think an even hipper, younger, British version of Devo and you're nearly there.

These songs especially "Robot" just make me wanna pogo a gogo until I can't go go no more. My favorite lyric: "The best thing is our lifespan I don't mind . . . I don't mind. I have no mind"." And then there's the most brilliantly bent Kate Bush cover ever, especally since it sounds like "The Huuuuunnds of Looooovee."

In other music news, a short piece on "Sympathy for the Mekons" will be forthcoming on soon.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Kick out the jams.

The Jackson 12/01/04 cd mix

Billy Bragg-Greetings to the New Brunette
Billy Bragg-Levi Stubbs' Tears
The Chills-Pink Frost
Cocteau Twins-Sugar Hiccup
The dBs-Bad Reputation
The dBs-Amplifier
The Fall-The Classical
The Fall-Victoria
Jon Langford-Trouble in Mind
Martha & The Muffins-Echo Beach
Matthew Sweet-Girlfriend
Mekons-Where Were You
Mekons-Sympathy for the Mekons
The Mountain Goats-Oceanographer's Choice
New Order-Ceremony
Nirvana-Rape Me
The Replacements-Alex Chilton
Robert Ellis Orrall & Carlene Carter-I Couldn't Say No
Screaming Trees-Flashes Sub Pop #0048 (Dre-Bulb edit)
The Soft Boys-I Wanna Destroy You

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

I know a little.

Ken Jenning's long run on Jeopardy is finally over. He lost on Final Jeopardy to Nancy Zerg. But boy what a run. 74 wins and 2.5 million in pre-tax earnings.

I know several people, myself included, who could crush him in a straight-up general trivia contest without a time element. But put him with a Jeopardy buzzer in his hand, and you're talking something else. Yes, he missed a lot of pretty easy Final Jeopardies, but that's the point. It seldom mattered as he usually had runaways of up to $30,000. No, he wasn't the smartest guy ever on Jeopardy; I vote Frank Spangenberg (the mustachioed NYC cop) but know some will pick others. What Jennings was was simply the greatest game show contestant of all time. He had three things going for him:

1) preternatural buzzer reaction speeds,
2) the ability to play the clock and grab answers late from his head, and
3) uncanny poaching ability on questions with several potential answers by letting others ring in first and eliminate options.

I'm not sorry to see him, his smirk, and his cutesy pie varying signatures go, but I do salute his majestic achievement.

Le Roi est mort. Vive La Reine!

Monday, November 29, 2004


Why Blue is Better (a partial list)

Almost Blue
"Am I Blue"
"Behind Blue Eyes"
"Blue Again"
"Blue Bayou"
"Blue Blue Blue"
"Blue Blue Eyes"
"Blue Cheer"
"Blue Christmas"
"Blue Clarinet Stomp"
"Blue Hour"
"Blue Monday"
"Blue Moon"
"Blue Moon of Kentucky"
The Blue Note
"Blue Ridge Cabin"
"Blue Skies"
"Blue Suede Shoes"
"Blue Velvet"
"Blue Yodel"
"Blueberry Hill"
"Bluer Than Blue"
The Blues (all of them)
"Bonnie Blue Flag"
"Deacon Blue"
"Devil with the Blue Dress On"
"My Blue Heaven"
"Rhapsody in Blue"

Down on the bayou.

I spent the 2004 Thanskgiving weekend in Fairhope, AL on Mobile Bay's Eastern Shore. As the name suggests, Fairhope is a late 19th century Utopian community, in this case based on the single land tax philosophy of Henry George. Founded in 1894 on bluffs overlooking Mobile Bay, Fairhope became a city in 1908, and to this day, the Single Tax Colony has a beautiful set of waterfront parks, bluffs above the waterfront, and a municipal pier, all belonging to the citizenry of Fairhope. The Henry George Park boasts an insane three-sided obelisk with quotes about Labor, Capital, and Land. This is not your mammy's 'Bama. Fairhope was also the home to the innovative educational techniques of Marietta Johnson, including the 1907 organic, non-graded, uncompetitive school based on the progressive ideas of John Dewey. In fact, Fairhope is America's longest-surviving secular "utopian" community set up to promote social and economic reform.

Today Fairhope is a European village in a Southern setting with a growing artists' colony of painters, sculptors, and authors. Central to the latter are Martin Lanaux's Over the Transom Books and Sonny Brewer's Blue Moon Cafe stories collections. The most recent volume in this series includes a tale by my good friend Brad Vice. Fairhope also has an annual artist's fair, the "Grand Festival by the Bay": here's a photolog of my friend Susan Ford's triumphant 2002 appearance.

For my West Coast readers, think the shopping districts of Menlo Park or Los Altos deposited on an East-West axis leading down a hill to high bluffs above a medium-sized bay held up by award-winning Swamp Tupelo and topped by Magnolias, scrub Pine, and majestic Live Oaks draped with Spanish Moss. The buildings run the gamut from Key West cool to traditional Mediterannean villas to classical Southern Coastal (think the big white houses with wrap-around porches in The Big Chill and Forrest Gump). I guess the reason I like Fairhope so much is because it reminds of home, in this case the older ante-bellum parts of Tallahassee that preserve a slower, more gracious lifestyle in their neoclassical piles, but a heritage that was even in the mid 1960s already "residual," in the terminology of Raymond Williams. I also think Disney has no business no longer releasing The Song of the South (but that's a whole 'nother can of worms for some other entry).

Still if you wanted to find one cool place in the Southeast to spend a romantic week away, THIS is IT, or so I surmise, experience notwithstanding!

Anyway, I spent four days and three nights here for Thanksgiving 2004. I strolled the town, I walked the bluffs, I shopped and found some cool gifts and books, I watched a lot of football. I even had a fantastic meal at the Colony Grill. I highly recommend the Lobster Tail scampi style with arborio rice. The place is also a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence Restaurant. Also seek out the Lobster Nigel extra because the tempura battered asparagus are the best vegetables I have ever tasted, including meals at Charlie Trotter's in Chicago, Fleur de Lys in San Francisco, Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Bern's Steak House in Tampa, Auberge d'Lill in Illhaeusern, Alsace, France, and Das Schabbelhaus in Lubeck, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany.

Sorry if this sounds like a Chamber of Commerce plant; it's NOT!

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Flirtin' with disaster.

W is NOT a fiscal conservative.
W is NOT a foreign policy conservative.
W is NOT a domestic policy conservative.
W is CERTAINLY NOT a "compassionate conservative"!

SO Why did all you conservatives vote for him?

I had too much to dream last night.

Here's my proposal for the 3rd annual Experience Music Project Pop Conference.

Poseur Extraordinaire: Robert Pollard and GBV recreate the adolescent male rock fantasy

A friend at writes:

So, on to the show. Instead of an opening act, GBV began their set with a retrospective film: photos of the band (and especially Bob) faded in and out over stock Deep Thoughts-type scenery while a string version of "Window of My World" that sounded exactly like Ray Conniff played in the background. Though funny, this, like another GBV song says, went on for far too long.... It was so over-the-top cheesy, there's no chance it was meant to be serious. The whole club was laughing. But it WAS a weird prelude.

My slightly different take is that as with much of GBV's mythos it was meant to be cheesy but also to be taken seriously in a large-hearted, good natured way. I mean this is a guy who basically willed himself in his 30s from basement cock rock preening to actual superstardom, in a subdued indie rock kind of way. This is a guy who ironically is given to saying that he's gonna play "all the hits" even though he knows his commercial radio airplay has been minimal despite TVT and Ric Ocasek's best efforts. As fan art demonstrates "Guided by Voices It Started As a Kind of Fantasy 1983-2004" (Jay Robertson, GBV-Inspired Art Work #4,

This talk will examine the ways in which Bob from Dayton became the Fading Captain and turned GBV from a basement recording project into semi-legendary indie rockers by examining the band's self-created mythos, its live performance style, and its recorded output. I will make a multimedia presentation including sound, images, and video/DVD captures. I begin at the moment when GBV almost imploded before it really ever began. By the 1992 self-produced Rockathon LP Propeller, GBV still really hadn't played live. But Pollard wanted to start his album with a Rock Anthem in the Live at Buddokan mode. No problem--he creates an excited crowd shouting "Gee Bee Vee! Gee Bee Vee! Gee Bee Vee!" His every song sounds like a completists' best rock riffs mixed up in a Vegomatic. He has studied every leg kick, microphone helicopter, and assorted other cock rock classic poses as performed by Jagger, Daltrey, et al. And 20 years on, Pollard has for his small but faithful fans become what most ten year old boys dream about while bouncing on beds and riffing on their air guitars: A Bona Fide Rock Star!

And speaking of rock and roll fantasies, here's mine:

If I had a band, its name would most definitely be "This happy breed of men" and it would play loud dour guitar music somewhere between The Mission of Burma and My Bloody Valentine. Several song titles already come to mind: "Pursued by a Bear," "The very naked name of love," "Seen the Spider," "Gazer Joy," "Because my name is George," and "The muzzle of restraint." For good measure our set would end with a Jonsonian encore of the punky "Turd i' your teeth" followed by three covers: This Mortal Coil's "I am the Cosmos," The Mr. T Experience's "A Song About a Girl Who Went Shopping," and a frenzied finale of The Weddoes' "Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft" in full Albini effect. That's the harmony in MY head; such is the stuff dreams are made on.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

More than a feeling.

Many of you know of my disdain for The Replacements. out of the money
behind Husker Du, Prince, and The Time in my book.

I decided to give them another chance and ordered the mid career three:

Let it Be
Pleased to Meet Me.

Let me just start by posting another such grouping:

Bee Thousand
Alien Lanes
Under The Bushes, Under The Stars.

Sorry Westerberg, Pollard rocks you off the planet.

However, the albums held up better for me than I remembered.

Let It Be
O.K. but let's face it, it's really just a youthful Americanized Faces rekkid.

Back in the day all I remember was "Kiss Me on the Bus" and the waitress thingy.
Shouldn't an ex-Ramones have made a harder edged record.
"Left of the Dial" and "Here Comes A Regular" were revelations this time around.

Pleased to Meet Me
This is the one I kinda liked back then and have on vinyl. But don't get me
started on Alex Chilton, Gorjus!

"Lonely days are gone, I'm a-goin' home,
'Cause my baby wrote me a letter."

Heckler spray.

One of my favorite things about the show was my promo/intro. Here it is.

The clips in order are Don Pardo, The Flaming Lips, Fugazi, Neil Young, My
Bloody Valentine, Kevin Shields, The Mr. T Experience, David Gedge, The
Wedding Present, GBV, The Wedding Present.

Thanks to Bryan McCann of WMSV for help with preparing the audio files.

I wanted to have a classic FM type promo except with indie rock beds. Yes,
I stole the concept from legendary KZSU DJ Joe Radio, who presented the
deepest Industrial grooves like he was Johnny Fever's bastard love child.
(Think the Sklar Bros. "Power106" bit)

Monday, November 22, 2004

My town is a salad bowl.


Florida's capital city sits in one of the few hilly regions of the state. Visit the two capitols (the historic old capitol and the newer high-rise), the Tallahassee Museum of History and Natural Science and the Alfred B. Maclay State Gardens (blooming azaleas and magnolias in season). The Park Avenue Historic District contains fine examples of old southern mansions enveloped by palmettos and large oak trees dripping with Spanish moss.

Two Hundred Miles from Anywhere Else
Gloria Jahoda, The Other Florida

Florida with a Southern Accent
Local booster bumper sticker

Born April 26, 1964 to Jeanne and Robley Light at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital one George Evans. weight 4 lbs. 9 oz.
Released January 27, 2003 by John Darnielle et al. one triple gatefold CD with booklet, Tallahassee. weight 13 oz.

Tallahassee is my birthplace and former hometown for 17 formative years. Tallahassee is John's mystical muse of inspiration. My Tallahassee is 37-9, Larry Key and the thrill of the 1979 Tangerine Bowl (or any bowl for that matter), not the Tomahawk Chop, Heisman QBs, and ho hum another BCS bowl berth. John's Tallahassee is "Tampa Bay takes it all the way to January" and other improbabilities, but will he ever love her again? My Tallahassee is "Das Kapital" in the Flambeau but not Diane of NPR, The Oxford American, and the dread Crimson Tide. My Tallahassee is backyard Belgian hares, live oaks and Spanish moss; John's is front yard peacocks, scrub palmetto and the nectar of plums. What follows is a meditation on a town, an album, and the intervening personal mythologies which created them both.


My Tallahassee is Parga Street; John's Southwood Plantation Road. Mine is West Tennessee, Mission, Tharpe, and sundry old canopies like Meridian, Micosoukee, and St. Augustine. John's "roads leading out to the sea � all of them lined up." My Tallahassee is seven hills, Mission San Luis and the first Christmas in America. John's is a point on the edge of a map, a funny name. He is, after all, the pomo Stephen Foster way down in Leon County.

Given Tallahassee's neither here nor there reality, not quite Florida and certainly on no map of the Old South, it makes sense that her poet laureate would be a native Chicagoan who came to town via Manhattan. Gloria Jahoda wrote the classic The Other Florida in 1967; its descriptions of Tallahassee, however, outdated, have never been surpassed:

Tallahassee is an unsettling paradox made up of paradoxes. There is no city in Florida, or in the South, quite like it. . . . This is why it is like no other city you or I have ever seen--an outpost willing to pay for Hungarian maestros, a haven of rural philosophers who want atomic research, and a boom town which honors its ghosts. Above all it is utterly American because it refuses to be typical of anything whatsoever.

Such paradoxes will continue to inform this essay's appreciation of the similarly named album.

It should come as no surprise then that Tallahassee's great lyrical proponent is a native of California who makes his home in Iowa and now records for a famous English record label. In fact, Tallahassee is far from John Darnielle's first recorded paean to my home town.

Top 5 non-Tallahassee Tallahasee songs from the home office in Ames,
1) alpha sun hat
2) going to georgia
3) alpha omega
4) alpha acquae
5) going to dade county

In The Tallahassee Democrat, Darnielle opines, "You hear about certain towns and something sticks. For me its places on the edges." 20 miles from Georgia and 30 from the Gulf Coast; surrounded by lakes, swamps, and a National Forest, Tallahassee is as edgy as it gets, center of its own alternate universe revolving around that crucial mix of athletics (high school, college and semi-pro), education (2 universities, major research sites including the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory and a major community college), politics (county seat and compromise state capital), and their genetic offspring--corruption writ large.


Tallahassee is an album by the Mountain Goats. Its fourteen songs document the decay and eventual collapse of a house in the city of Tallahassee, Florida, as well as the concurrent decay & collapse of the two people who lived inside of it.

My Tallahassee is John Kurzweg and the Night but never ever ever Creed. My Tallahassee is Robert Shaw conducting me as a member of the boy's choir in Britten's War Requiem, Marcus Roberts at the Opperman amphitheater, and the Psychedelic Furs at The O.K. Club (1980). John's Tallahassee is "a terrible silence," Frankie Valli on the stereo, Howlin' Wolf on a sympathetic station (WANM?), and The Mountain Goats at the Beta Bar (2002). His Tallahassee is a 4AD-released song cycle of 14 anecdotal nuggets from the alpha couple's last gasp. My Tallahassee is Stinson of the Democrat, and so is John's.

Unlike previous Darnielle creations (he is the Mountain Goats with only occasional support from various hands, most famously Rachel Ware on bass, but see cool beans #4 for the crucial input of the bright mountain choir), Tallahassee abandons the lo fi recording technologies of Panasonic sx 1700, Panasonic RX-FT500, Marantz PMD 222, and telephone machinery for a proper studio, Tarbox, and producer, Tony Coogan of Belle and Sebastian and Mogwai fame. Darnielle also highlights one main co-conspirator Peter Hughes (on bass and drums). Instead of tape hiss, Tallahassee has a finished sound that is no more complicated than the previous 10 full length tapes and CDs. This finished studio sound remains spare and elegant - borrowing from the Miles and Thelonious vein - and a willful riposte to those idiotic critics who link quality with speed and quantity and who will never understand the concept of half time.

This is not a record review nor will I plumb the meanings of Darnielle's winsome and yet still world-weary lyrics. If you've read this far, go out buy the disc and judge for yourself lazybones!


The rooms on this site, whose details were cobbled together from the terrible mess they left at the site of their love's last great flaring-up, contain areas for further investigation which can be viewed by clicking on any item that illuminates itself when you scroll over it with your mouse. In an irony worthy of our electronic age, this is perhaps the only illumination ever to take place within the walls of this house. Feel free to explore every corner of every room, but in feeling such freedom, do spare a thought for our heroes, who were only able to feel free when they'd traded in their freedom for a couple of vodka gimlets.

My Tallahassee is Edward Kilenyi's Casey Stengel anecdotes between Beethoven sonatas. My Tallahassee is Hickle the Bald Eagle and Ole Joe at the Wakulla Springs Lodge; John's is "innumerable gibbons," vultures and other improbable critters. My Tallahassee is road trips to Alligator Point, Camp Weed and points west; John's is night driving from Tampa to Cedar Key and points northwest. My Tallahassee no longer exists if it ever did outside my own imaginings, and the same can be said for John's alpha couple and their south Tally digs.

Cue the legend.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

The light pours out of me.

Perhaps the best song title ever, except for HMHB's
"All I Want for Christmas is a Dukla Prague Away Kit."
Thanks Howard, even if you did bail on The Buzzcocks.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Rock you like a hurricane.

Beer and the Bard or how Dutch hops made the English English

Shillingsburg made me do it

Funny I was good enough for Oxford University Press

Jonesin' in USA Today

Being for the benefit of Mr. Peel

Wire at the Double Door in Chicago

The Fieldstones, Memphis Blues Today!: You simply must buy this record

Perhaps My Favorite Song of All Time

Thanks, Eric!

I Believe. Buzzcocks. House of Blues. NOLA.

This didn't run when and where it was supposed to.

G. E. Light � 2003
DATELINE: New Orleans, LA 5/29/03
House OF Blues Music Hall

Opening the Big Easy mayhem was the local fave, punk metal karaoke. Check the list on the bar, see a song you like, sign up and next thing you know you're on stage backed by a full band prancing and singing to your heart's content. Tactfully tonight "Orgasm Addict" had been inked off the options menu. Several HOB employees had clearly been lip syncing for months practicing to perform Cheap Trick's "Surrender" (curiously listed as punk) and Sabbath's "Paranoid," the latter implausibly performed by a suit, even if his hair was short and spiky. Two highs were the girl who later stood by me at stage's edge doing Pat Benatar's "Heartbreaker" and a short pudgy baldheaded, yellow-shirted security guy laying into Motorhead's "Ace of Spades" as if his very job depended on it.

Rock City Morgue were appropriately named as they cull over almost every moribund mid '80's metal cliche. The lead singer seems like a chemistry experiment gone awry: take 1/3 Axl with lame bowler, 1/3 swivvely Iggy and 1/3 bleeding mascaraed Alice Cooper, mix and ignite. Still, the female bassist was fab and the set took off with a wonderfully Gothy cover of the Cars' "You're Just What I Needed." Props to the lead singer for knowing that RCM weren't the most appropriate opening for the punk legends and not caring one iota.

Then came Manchester's likely lads. It was nothing less than Rock 'N' Roll 301: a master class. Or as John Peel would have said, "None of that poser Bullshit!" They Came, They Played, They Conquered.

The hour-long main set included no less than 21 tunes interrupted by only an occasional guitar change and the random odd song title. It was seamless; the band's promo photographer told me had to get his pics in the space of 3 songs. At the second "break" he asked, "2 songs?" Alas, no they had already blistered five tracks from the opener and Spiral Scratch EP cut "Boredom" right the way through to "Autonomy."

For skeptics this was no mere reunion gig but rather "nostalgia for an age yet to come" covering songs from both the 1976-81 and the post-1990 bands and including several tracks from their current Merge disc. Yes, The Buzzcocks have a real eponymous album out just like Wire and The Undertones. Is it 1980 all over again? From the get go, Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle laid down an awesome display of punk rock guitar heroics that would have made Andy Gill and the late Joe Strummer proud. It was all on display from Shelley's cocked head, lip sneering, quizzically snarly delivery to Diggle's cock rock antics and amiably laddish mugging for the crowd. Highlights of the set included Diggle inducing the crowd to sing along to the chorus of his classic "Harmony in My Head" and the set-closer "I Believe," clearly a fave of the GEN X and GEN Y contingents. Lyrics done, Shelley strode off the stage so Diggle could turn Crescent City Madman ending a short guitar freak out with his axe wedged under the Marshall amp still emitting squalls of feedback as the new rhythm section got a few minutes to show their funky stuff

The fifteen-minute encore brought four more classics to close including inevitably "Orgasm Addict." And then they were done.

CLASS DISMISSED! After fifteen years of Green Blinkin' Sums, the Kids are now finally All Right Again.


On my radio.

As some of you know, this is blog is named after a short-lived but much loved (at least by me) radio show I presented at WMSV in the spring of 1999. I've been doing shows on two continents since 1986 at URY, KZSU, and WMSV. This one was my favorite. I took the BBC Office approach of less can be more. So these were the four best shows I could put on given my knowledge of music and my available resources (translation if I didn't own it, WMSV sure wasn't gonna have it).

I'm particularly proud of these shows for 3 reasons:

1) I'm positive there was something in every show that had not nor has been still ever played in Mississippi on the air before. For you cosmopolitan types, the reality is that this is probably true for 80% of listening areas in this country-the red ones. And boy do they need some help!

2) I successfully pushed the boundaries of "community standards" in the Bible Belt. Remember this was before Nipplegate, but Don Wildmon's America Family Association is just up Highway 45 in Tupelo. Not one call of complaint ever. Even on Show #3 when I played a bunch of N(ot) A(ir) Q(uality) songs. NAQ was WMSV code for profanity.

3) Yes I obsessed about this show. I have three evolving potential playlists for the first show. But anything worth doing is worth doing well. And I think I did o.k.

The Nevermind Aesthetic Show #1

10 PM
Negativland-Kasem/U2 (edit)
The Creamers-Cover Your Ass
Hüsker Dü-New Day Rising + In a Free Land (live)
MC5-Kick Out the Jams
Amboy Dukes-Journey to the Center of the Mind
Iggy & the Stooges-Search and Destroy
Pere Ubu-Final Solution
GBV-Over the Neptune/Mesh Gear Fox
Tesco Vee's Hate Police-Losing My Religion
Hi-Fives-Tainted Love
Ciccone Youth-Into the Groovey
Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy-California Über Alles
Lee Ranaldo-Fragile
My Bloody Valentine-Map Ref 41N 93W
Electric Hellfire Club-Callin' Dr.Luv

Simple Machine-Nothing
Molly Gish-Song #1
John Brocato-Me and My Kind
John Black Attack-That's When I Reach For My Revolver (Live at Rick's)
Men from Nantucket-Daguerrotype (Live at Dave's)
JBA (Gordon)-Pickup Lines (Demo)
Billy Bragg-A 13, Trunk Road to the Sea
Mudhoney-Touch Me, I'm Sick
Warren Zevon-Lawyers Guns and Money
Syd Barrett-Let's Split
Echo and the Bunnymen-Do It Clean (Live at the Royal Albert Hall)
Boredoms-Pop Tatari
Flying Luttenbachers-Metal Machine Muzak
Swell Maps-Let's Build a Car
Henry's Dress-Definitely Nothing
Magazine-The Light Pours out of Me

The Nevermind Aesthetic Show #2

10 PM
Archers of Loaf-White Trash Heroes
John Black Attack-Sexy Like White Trash (Live)
AC DC-You Shook Me All Night Long
Big Star-In the Street
Flamin' Groovies-Tallahassee Lassie
Led Zeppelin-Communication Breakdown
The Wedding Present-Kennedy
The Misfits-Bullet
Human League-Seconds
Human Sexual Response-Jackie Onassis
Buzzcocks-I Don't Mind (Live)
Tobin Sprout-And then the Crowd Showed Up
Imperial Teen-Year of the Tan
Pet Shop Boys w/ Dusty Springfield-What Have I Done to Deserve This
The Real Kids-Bad to Worse
The Neighborhoods-No Place Like Home
Unnatural Axe-They Saved Hitler's Brain

11 PM
Mission of Burma-Max Ernst (The DaDa song) (Live at the Bradford Hotel)
Mission of Burma-That's How I Escaped My Uncertain Fate
Galaxie 500-Hearing Voices
The Spinanes-Dangle
Liz Phair-Polyester Bride
Shop Assistants-Fixed Grin
Sundays-24 Hours
X Ray Spex-Germfree Adolescents
Minor Threat-Cashing In
Ben Lee-Ship My Body Home
Magnetic Fields-All the Umbrellas in London

The Nevermind Aesthetic Show #3: Nobody Asks Questions

10 PM
Kasey Kasem Outtakes (NAQ) Date of Airing: TBA
Sex Pistols-EMI
Consolidated-College Radio
Public Enemy-Bring the Noise
Circle Jerks-Bad Words
Swingin' Utters-Expletive Deleted
Victim's Family-Sinatra Mantra
Wire-Dot Dash
Wire-Field Day for Sundays (NAQ)
Wire-Outdoor Miner
Wire-Culture Vultures
Wire-12XU (Fragment) (live) (NAQ)
Albini produced Bizarro (Import) Giveaway "Name another band from Leeds and no the Who don't count!"
Wedding Present-I'm Not Always So Stupid (live)
Cinerama-Au Pair
Gang of Four-Damaged Goods
Mekons-Hey! Susan
The Three Johns-English White Boy Engineer/Brainbox (optional)
Soft Cell-Sex Dwarf
Scritti Politti-Perfect Way
Bob Pollard-Subspace Biographies
Guided By Voices-Non Absorbing + On the Tundra (optional)
John Brocato-Tractor Rape Train (unplugged on Home Grown)

Some gameday substitutions might include:

The Wimps & The Pussies's Pavement Cover ("Here")
Pavement-something off Westing
Local music: Lack/Kaiser Peas/Simple Machine/Molly Gish
David Bowie-Ziggy Stardust
Commodores-Slippery When Wet
Molly Hatchett
The dBs-Everytime Anytime

Avengers-The Amerikan in Me
Misfits-Bullet (NAQ)
Steinski & The Mass Media-The Motorcade Sped On
White Trash Debutantes-Bad in Bed
Great Society-Somebody to Love
The Descendents-My Age
Jesus and Mary Chain-Never Understand
Hüsker Dü-Makes No Sense At All
My Bloody Valentine-Honey Power
Neil Young-Hey Hey My My (Into the Black)
Henry's Dress-Disc 2 Track 8
John Black Attack-Solid Gold
Young Agent Jones-All American
Warsaw-Track 1
Kiss-Rock and Roll All Nite
N.W.A. (sample)/Screaming Trees-Flashes (NAQ)
Mr. T Experience-A Song about a Girl who Went Shopping
Grumpies-No One Knows Why
Bikini Kill-This is not a Test
White Trash Superman-I Couldn't Even if I Tried (NAQ)
Revision A-Message Well Sent
Emma Peale-Window Seat
Psychedelic Furs-We Love You
Lynyrd Skynyrd-Workin' for MCA
firhose-For the Singer of REM
The Minutemen-God Bows to Math
Black Flag-Six Pack
Camper Van Beethoven-Club Med Sucks
The Three Degrees-When Will I See You Again?

The actual show

Date: Fri, 26 Mar 1999 08:46:04 -0600 (CST)
From: bulb@Ra.MsState.Edu

Subject: The Nevermind Aesthetic Version 3.0

First broadcast 3/25/99 (Yup I was almost as suprised as you!)

TNA Version 3.0: Nobody Asks Questions

TNA Intro

Public Enemy, Bring the Noise
Circle Jerks, Bad Words
$wingin' Utter$, Expletive Deleted
Victim's Family, Sinatra Mantra

Wire, Dot Dash
Wire, Field Day for Sundays
Wire, Outdoor Miner
Wire, 12XU (Fragment) live
Wire, Culture Vultures

Please "Take Me!" Import Only Bizarro (RCA UK) giveaway
The Wedding Present, I'm Not Always So Stupid (live)

The Ukranians, Batyar
Cinerama, Au Pair

Gang of Four, Damaged Goods
11pm Legal ID
Mekons, Hey! Susan

Bob Pollard, Subspace Biographies
John Brocato, Tractor Rape Chain (live unplugged on Home Grown)
Guided By Voices, Non Absorbing
Misfits, Bullet
White Trash Debutantes, Bad in Bed
Great Society, Somebody to Love

The Descendents, My Age
Jesus and Mary Chain, Never Understand
Hüsker Dü, Makes No Sense at All
My Bloody Valentine, Honey Power
Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Hey, Hey, My, My (Into the Black)

Henry's Dress, Sunshine Proves All Wrongness
John Black Attack, Solid Gold
Young Agent Jones, All American
Warsaw, The Drawback

Kiss, Rock and Roll All Nite
Screaming Trees, Flashes
Mr. T Experience, A Song about a Girl who went Shopping

White Trash Superman, I Couldn't Even if I Tried
Bikini Kill, This is not a Test
The Grumpies, No One Knows Why

This show was dedicated to the memory of Julie Ann Switzer.

Dane and Gene virtual shows heading your way.

U2 can listen to TNA and other fine WMSV programming on real audio:

The Nevermind Aesthetic will Rock (Your World) for Food--if U let it!

TNA Version 4.0 The Wide World of Muzak coming soon to a frequency near U

lots of stuff in languages other than English (including Superconductor in
Canadian), a ton of psychedelic nuggets (props to Lenny Kaye and the new
box set) and some really Stiff rekkids (like "One Chord Wonders," "So it
Goes," "Brilliant Mind," and "I Love My Label").


First broadcast 4/22/99

TNA Version 4.0: The Wide World of Muzak

TNA Intro
Sleater-Kinney, The Hot Rock
Kasey Kasem outtakes via Negativland
Sex Pistols, EMI
Consolidated, College Radio

Wide World Of Muzak Feature
Shonen Knife, Explosion (Japanese)
Abba, Waterloo (Swedish original)
Abba, No Hay a Quien Culpar (Ibiza beat)
The Sugarcubes, Cat (Icelandic)
The Ex, Nem Úgy Van Most (Hungarian)

IE, Reasoning
Deep Blue Something-Breakfast at Tiffany's (request)
Unwound, Sonata for Loudspeakers
The Fugees-Killing me Softly
Fear, Let's Make a War
The Clash-Hate and War
Country Joe and the Fish-The F.I.S.H. Cheer/Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To Die Rag

11pm Legal ID
The Castaways, Liar Liar
The 13th Floor Elevators, You're Gonna Miss Me
Max Frost and the Troopers, Shape of Things to Come
The Torrez, Don't You Know

Pearl Jam, Do the Evolution (request)
The Beastie Boys, Sabotage
John Black Attack, Strange Eros
Translator, Everywhere That I'm Not

Nick Lowe, So It Goes
Richard Hell & the Voidoids, (I Belong to the) Blank Generation
The Adverts, One Chord Wonders
Devo, Jocko Homo

Frank Black and the Catholics, I Switched You
Eminem, My Name Is
Foo Fighters, For All the Cows
Neutral Milk Hotel,In The Aeroplane Over the Sea
The Mountain Goats, Cubs in Five
Heaven 17, (We Don't Need No) Fascist Groove Thang

Lynyrd Skynyrd-Workin' for MCA

That concludes series 1 of TNA

As a bonus here's my Best of 1999 lists

Best Music

2000 preview

Jumping the gun a bit; I predict Primal Scream, XTRMNTR will be my favorite album of 2000. Yes, I bought an import copy off NME.Com (which by the way is over 10 bucks cheaper than buying it as an import from CDNow). The Kevin Shields' produced "Accelerator" is an amazing wall of guitar noise, and Bernard Sumner even lays down a nice groove on "Shoot Speed/Kill Light."

A few 1999 things I liked:

Moby, Play (simply brilliant) [remember this was before the big commercial sell-out!]
Goodspeed! You Black Emperor, Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada e.p.
Built to Spill (loved Plouff since he was in The Spinanes), Keep It Like a Secret
Flaming Lips, The Soft Bulletin
Unwound (a late 98 release), Challenge for a Civilized Society
Ricky Skaggs, Ancient Tones
Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy, Vol. 1-Odyssey of Funk and Popular Music (a great trumpeter dead before his time)
Omar Sosa, Spirit of the Roots
Jim Cullum, Deep River, The Spirit of Gospel in Jazz (late 98 release), esp. the versions of "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen" and "Go Down, Moses"

and no Do the Collapse does not make the Grade. Sorry Bob.

Best Packaging

Hands down Vols. 1-3 of The Magnetic Fields, 69 Love Songs, which suffers the same fate as Sandanista, 1.5 records worth of great songs do not a triple CD make. The booklet is really interesting.

Live Shows

Ken Vandermark live at the Empty Bottle in Chicago (Punk meets Ornette Coleman--a combustible mix) [this was part of his Chicago Improviser's Macarthur Grant-funded series while I was at MLA chairing and responding to Anston's great panel, “The Dutch Republic and English National Identity.”]
Subarachnoid Space, at Cafe du Nord, SF, CA
Omar Sosa, Album Release House Party at 7th Note Showclub. SF, CA (dig the dancing midget)
Guided by Voices at the Nick in Birmingham, AL during Winter Storm 2000 [they cancelled the next night's show in Asheville which would then become the last show of their tour that year see Greer, Guided by Voices: A Brief History, Apendix IV, pp. 308–9.]

Noonday organ concert at San Pietro in Vincoli, Roma, ITALIA (Michelangelo's Horned Moses is here)

White Chocolate at Dave's Dark Horse Tavern, Starkville, MS
Young Agent Jones at Rick's, Starkville, MS

I found that essence rare.

This is the first paragraph of my current project

Honky Tonkin' in Leeds, Nashville, and Chicago: The Place of Punk in Alt.Country

Play my song on the Nashville radio,
My life will never be the same.
They threw me off the Grand Ole Opry,
Cuz I couldn't behave.
They don't play my songs on the radio,
It feels like I never was.
-"Nashville Radio", Jonboy Langford

Rivers Run Through Them
Many commentators have long noticed the connections between London punks and their West Indian reggae brethren in Brixton and Notting Hill (Coon 71, 79, Gray 229, Hebdige 25-9, Marcus 1993, 30, and Savage 330, 398, 488-9). But what of the Northern branch of punk rock with its roots in Liverpool, Manchester, and especially the Leeds art school production line of the Gang of Four, Delta 5, and the Mekons. Do they have a similar musical wellspring? Or more interestingly a distinctly different one? Both towns are sited by rivers. London exists at the first place the Romans could successfully ford the Thames and through the First World War was England's major commercial port. As Tom O'Rage notes in Mekons United:

Were it not for the river Leeds would not be there. At first only a rough Celtic settlement in the marshes - Leeds simply meaning a wet place - the conquering Germanic tribes from Saxony built a settlement where the parish church now stands and the river could be crossed. The a bridge was built across the Aire and it became a place.... A cross current at the heart of the heart of the country almost equidistant on a north-south axis from London and Edinburgh, and east-west from Liverpool and Hull, Leeds was made by the industrial revolution (15).

Two rivers, two cities, two different yet linked economies. Conversely, think of the potentially nice distinctions between cosmopolitan southerners and their linkage to urban decay, decades of immigration, and post-colonialism and provincial northerners and their roots in post-industrial blight, centuries of emigration, and the concomitant colonialism in the Americas and beyond. Contrast the vastness of London that infernal wen with the relative closeness of Leeds, which 'is like a small town with loads of industry....[[and] a big, huge university/polytechnic right in the center of the town ' (Hargus). These Northern punks then look to North America, specifically the southern United States (not the Caribbean) and country (not reggae) to express their outrage and politics musically. That's the kind of clever concoction Greil Marcus would make of Hank Williams, Bob Wills, and the Mekons. But, as Jon Langford himself might say in that South Wales accent whetted and hewn to a harder edge with some West Yorkshire lime, that story is a 'load of shite! ' Ever feel like you've been cheated?

UPDATE 1/18/05
The entire essay can now be found on my home page. Click on Writing Samples link.