Tuesday, March 30, 2010


hey citrus, hey liquor i love it when you touch each other

hey whiskey, hey ginger i come to you with rigid fingers

i see Judas in the hard eyes of the boys who worked in the corners

i feel Jesus in the clumsiness of young and awkward lovers

lost in fog and love and faith was fear

and i've had kisses that make Judas seem sincere

- Craig Finn

Friday, March 19, 2010

"The HBO Auteur"

David Simon, above, with cast and crew members. Photo: NY Times Magazine

I had heard friends rave about The Wire for years, but didn't start watching it until this past September, when a neighbor graciously loaned me Season 1. I finished the final season, 5, a few weeks ago.

Go rent it. Seriously. Or buy it. I don't care. Just watch it. You really won't regret it.

A recent NY Times Magazine article proclaimed The Wire creator David Simon as "The HBO Auteur."

The Wire fires on all cylinders. It exposes us to a slew of complex, affable, developed, and intriguing characters as it "[builds] a vivid portrait of urban America as seen through the prism of its institutions and professions — the police department, the drug trade, the dockworkers, the local government, the schools, the press."

The article continues:

"By the time “The Wire” reached the end of its run, commentators went from posing the coy question, “Is ‘The Wire’ the best show on television?” to making the bold statement, “ ‘The Wire’ is the best show on television”— boldness that soon seemed spineless once seemingly everyone defaulted to calling it simply, “The best show in television history.” In the two years since “The Wire” concluded, a pitched battle of ongoing praise has upped the comparative ante. If likening Simon repeatedly to Dickens and Dreiser, Balzac and Tolstoy and Shakespeare hasn’t proved adequately exalting, Bill Moyers lately freshened things up by calling Simon “our Edward Gibbon,” while the literary critic Walter Benn Michaels went so far as to suggest that the beauty and difficulty of watching “The Wire” in English — the multifarious 21st-century English of Baltimore detectives and drug dealers — compares with that of reading Dante in 14th-century Italian. It should go without saying that Duke; the University of California, Berkeley; and, next term, Harvard, are offering courses on the series, seminars focused not merely on the sophistication of its storytelling but also on its sociological and political perspicacity."

On April 11, Simon's new show Treme, makes it debut on HBO.

"The Story Lines in Treme begin three months after Katrina, and they follow a diverse group of characters as they rebuild their lives in a city torn apart, a city in which tens of thousands of houses are abandoned, in which only 50 percent of the population remains, in which neighborhoods are still without power. The main characters in “Treme” aren’t the overburdened cops, spiraling addicts, ruthless dealers, struggling dockworkers, corrupt politicians or compromised journalists of “The Wire.” In their place, for the most part, are musicians, as the show’s title sneakily suggests: “Treme” (pronounced trih-MAY) is the New Orleans neighborhood where jazz was born. And even though it adjoins the French Quarter, few tourists visit Treme, where generations of the city’s musicians have lived.

As much as crime of every kind was central to “The Wire,” music is the focus of “Treme.” New Orleans-born and Juilliard-trained Wendell Pierce (William “Bunk” Moreland in “The Wire”) plays a trombone player looking for any gig he can get; Steve Zahn plays a feckless singer-songwriter with an allergy to paying work. As in “The Wire,” many nonactors, in this case professional musicians, have been cast in “Treme” in leading roles: the violinist Lucia Micarelli plays a street musician; a charismatic local trumpeter, Kermit Ruffins, plays himself; and dozens of other musicians — from Dr. John to Elvis Costello — appear in smaller parts. The cast is different from “The Wire,” however, because a number of more famous actors are part of “Treme.” John Goodman plays an English professor-novelist enraged by federal and municipal post-Katrina intransigence; the Academy Award-nominee Melissa Leo is a civil rights attorney with a soft spot for starving artists; and Clarke Peters, the distinguished stage and screen actor memorable in “The Wire” as the miniature-furniture-making detective Lester Freamon, plays an independent contractor and a Mardi Gras Indian chief."

Not sure I can wait for this one to come out on DVD.

"Do You Wanna" Clip Trailer: Day

Thursday, March 18, 2010

"The rule is, the dude is, so up, so chuck I'm a cool kid"

I don't know about you, but this track makes me so glad that it's almost summer. Throw some burgers on the grill, invite some friends over, have a few beers... next thing you know you're having a party.

Hailing form Iladelph, PA, Chiddy Bang features two fellas, an Emcee (Chiddy) and a DJ (Xanphoon) as well as 2 other band members. Chiddy's lyrics aren't super complex, but flow really well, and Xaphoon mixes some sick beats, including a Pogo track into Never, and MGMT's Kids into The Opposite of Adults, above. Don't be confused though, they aren't just a party duo - Chidera Anamege's family is originally from Nigeria, and in Sooner or Later, he eloquently spits about the political strife and violence of his homeland. These guys are legit.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Marja, Afghanistan: Visualizing The Surge

American marines kneeled behind a smokescreen used to mark a helicopter landing zone earlier this month in Marja, Afghanistan. Though Marja has an occupation force numbering more than one coalition soldier or policeman for every eight residents, unarmed Taliban agitators have been able to wage an underground campaign of subversion.


Eerie how much this photo reminds me of the colored smoke in Apocalypse Now, but it's crucial that we, here on this side of the pond, understand what our troops abroad are experiencing, and images like this can be very powerful.

Thanks to Alto for sending this over, and for being an editor extraordinaire.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

National Broadband?

National broadband?!?! What are they gonna do next, try and reform health care? Yeah, right.

Oh, wait...

From the NY Times:

Federal regulators on Tuesday made public the details of their ambitious policy to encourage the spread of high-speed Internet access. But their 376-page proposal, the National Broadband Plan, was met with a chorus of questions, even from the staunchest advocates of its goals.

Telecommunications companies praised the intent but worried that new regulations might impede rather than encourage their progress in expanding Internet access.

And they weren't they only ones expressing doubt. To compete in the 21st century economy, there is almost universal agreement that National Broadband should be a priority of ours. Think about a patient from Wyoming being able to digitally meet with a doctor in NY, who's also able to conduct tests using their computers? Or a small business in Georgia exchanging data with their clients in LA? Or how broadband could lead to online training and education...

It's how we achieve this goal where folks are divided.

There still seems to be oomph behind the classic Government is Bad, Private Sector is Good argument, which I really don't understand. Then again, there was also conservative opposition against FDR's Rural Utilities Service, which between 1930 and 1940 increased access to electricity in rural areas from 10% of homes, to 90%. Think about that for a sec.

Arguably the four most significant innovations since WWII (besides Post-Its, McDonald's, & Facebook) were all created by Government run programs:

- The Internet
- Computers
- Jet Engines
- Nuclear Technology

(Who funded these programs, you ask? The answer is very important, and very telling: The Pentagon)

Back to communications...

In 1993, the Spectrum Auction Authority, and Telecommunications Act of 1996 also faced scrutiny. But according to Ed Markey and Reed Hundt:

Reform in communications stimulated creative destruction. For example, the old long distance industry charged ten cents a minute for a call when we passed the Telecommunications Act. Now people are not even aware that there used to be a long distance charge when they use their phones to call anywhere.

The replacement of the old networks with the new led to waves of innovation. Our reforms permitted everyone to unplug the phone line from the back of the telephone and stick it into the back of the computer. That connection was the first pathway to the World Wide Web - in large part because we did not permit the telephone company to charge extra money for all that extra and unpredicted use. The new demand for data connections drove telephone companies to buy routers and switches, to build data centers, and to upgrade lines. Cable companies were driven to respond by switching some of their capacity from one-way video programs to high speed two-way Internet access, giving rise to broadband. In response, the phone companies are now installing fiber, taking broadband to new levels of speed and lower price per bit.

Now we just need to ensure that broadband access gets to everyone, in even the most remote locations. It's one way we can stay ahead of our competitors, and guarantee advantages for the next generation of Americans.

A Study on the Trickyness involved in Rocking a Rhyme

It's tricky to rock a rhyme, to rock a rhyme that's right on time it's tricky...

Ever thought about how popular rap songs would look as mathematical charts and graphs?


Well, these guys have. Some of them are pretty clever, too.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Warhol on Life

Before I was shot, I always thought that I was more half-there than all-there – I always suspected that I was watching TV instead of living life.

People sometimes say that the way things happen in movies is unreal, but actually it's the way things happen in life that's unreal. The movies make emotions look so strong and real, whereas when things really do happen to you, it's like watching television – you don't feel anything.

Right when I was being shot and ever since, I knew that I was watching television. The channels switch, but it's all television.

- Andy Warhol (1928 - 1987)

Still rockin 40 years later

No story here. Been working on some lengthier blog posts, not relating to music, and feeling a tad guilty about having to go to work, etc, and not just sit around, read cool shit, and write about it.

Anyway, I was never a huge Rolling Stones fan as a kid. They seemed like the Beatles younger, angrier, and less talented step-brother. Let's just say that I've come to appreciate them a helluva lot more as time's gone by.

Here's a great version of "Honky Tonk Woman" live in Hyde Park in 1969, and the Stones performing "Ain't to Proud to Beg" with Amy Winehouse in 2007... still rockin almost 40 years later.

Coffee Run, & Haiku

ran into a girl

asked if she knew the answer

yes, milk and sugar

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Food For Thought

If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy.

If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem.

But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world.

This makes it hard to plan the day.

- E.B. White (1899 - 1985)

The Dirty Projectors... are straight up dirty

I've found myself going to more and more concerts recently, probably due to the ease of connecting with music when it's live, the atmosphere and vibe found in many music venues, and the city that I'm currently in - San Fran has TONS of live music.

I've also been searching out live performances of my favorite bands on the interwebs, and stumbled upon some great vids recently of the Dirty Projectors. The Brooklyn based indie rock group, lead by Dave Longstreth, collaborated with David Byrne (of the Talking Heads) in 2008 on "Knotty Pine" for Dark Was the Night, a concert I still regret not seeing. Here's a great acoustic version of "Knotty Pine" performed last March at a loft party in Williamsburg, along with this version, performed at East River State Park in July.

If you'd to like to download their two newest tracks for free, which were scheduled to release with a new LP last fall but pushed back, go here.

ChuCha Santamaria y Usted

Last night, I had the opportunity to attend the first gig for emerging musical duo ChuCha Santamaria y Usted, comprised of two old friends of mine, Oakland residents Matty Kirks and Sofia C.

I always knew Matt and Sofia had extreme artistic inclinations from our summers spent together at camp, where they got down with lots of things from photography, to bonfire guitar sessions, to arts and farts.

Even so, I wasn't really prepared for their new project, in which they've produced a unique & trippy indie-electronica sound, with Sofia providing killer vocals in both English and en EspaƱol, and Matt providing the background music. Maybe the fact that they're a couple makes them an even easier sell, but they rocked Kimo's. Big ups.

If you read my blog you know I'm a pilates freak. And by pilates I mean waffles...

On Saturday March 6, comedian Zach Galifianakis hosted Saturday Night Live, and gave one of the best opening monologues in recent memory. From the viral success of his online series "Between Two Ferns", to his outlandish performance as Allen in "The Hangover", to instant classics like his music video for Kanye West's "Can't Tell Me Nothing", we've come to expect the best from this man.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Make it Mayer

Maybe it's the way that the soulful melody vividly reminds me of a time and place I imagine about, but really don't know... except for black and white footage, old photographs in books, and my Dad's record collection in our basement. Maybe it's also just a dynamite song. Either way, this live video of "Make Her Mine", by Mayer Hawthorne, breaks standards of time, and could have been filmed 50 years ago... or just 50 days ago. Live from Syndey, on January 14.