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