Monday, February 18, 2008


I've been drifting through a fog, groping for shapes in the mists, feeling the borders, collecting fragments. I don't know what any of it means. The past is all around me; so is the future. I hear a trumpet. I follow...

1. Dizziehead Ed dropped this rare/weird Cat Stevens disco cut called "Was a Dog a Doughnut" on me the other day, the original LP cover of which fit his continual hunt for the Ourosboros. But this is a remixed version by some genius in Paris who goes by the crypto-mashup moniker Pilooski Edits. Rightly, he bills the results as "Psychedelic / Acousmatic / Tape music / Folk." Do listen to some samples on his/her myspace page, it's really wonderful stuff, especially the song called "Gemini." That's my daughter's sign. Also Mr. Poncho's and Frankie Lee's.

Was Dog a Doughnut - Cat Stevens (Pilooski Edit)

2. My 20-year high school reunion is next year, 2009. For me, those faraway days bring to mind the uplifting SoCal punk anthems of 7 Seconds, who yelped and proclaimed through the crap stereo system in my two-tone navy/baby-blue 1980 Ford Fairmont, which had a beautiful 6'7" Ken Bradshaw surfboard strapped to the roof and a well-worn Steve Olsen skateboard in the trunk. It also makes me think of the hallowed Krayons, the only hardcore punk band able and willing to keep South Texas honest during the Reagan years.

Walk Together, Rock Together- 7 Seconds

Wise Up Korea - The Krayons

3. After a recent visit to Marin County in golden California, while driving through the Tuscan-like landscapes of Napa and Sonoma, getting tippled on the grape and wincing into the sun-dappled hills, I came to realize what's really important in life. And it ain't poetry.

It's Money - Gordon Gano (with Martha Wainwright)

4. It's the 10-year anniversary of Neutral Milk Hotel's seminal "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea." (Ten years since 1998? REALLY?!) Listening to it again got me really choked up, feeling very emotional and mortal. While visiting my hometown years ago, the shared love of this record while driving around late at night made me and my sister grow closer. If we could rock together, we could walk together.

Holland, 1945 - NMH

5. I recently realized that I love jazz that sounds vaguely like TV theme songs from the late 70s. "Bob Newhart" and "Barney Miller" and "Hill Street Blues." I suppose that's because it was the first "jazz" or "fusion" I ever heard while living in the country-and-western hinterlands. That and maybe some jazz muzak on PBS in between afternoon children's programs when they just had a static picture of koala bear and the words "Stand by..." The recent album by bassist Ben Allison, "Little Things Run the World," feels like it gets at these acute and peculiar generational audio memories. Maybe it's the smooth Burt Bacharach horn lines, how those were later copied by Hollywood TV theme-song writers, which Ben's trumpet player seems to be quoting in some subtle way. I don't know, but it's a really splendid album and you should BUY IT.

Little Things Run the World - Ben Allison

Bob Newhart Theme Song

Barney Miller Theme Song

Hill Street Blues Theme Song

6. For these same reasons -- the Burt Bacharach crypto-cultural gestalt -- I've always loved the album "Hawaii" by the High Llamas. There are these exquisitely placid expanses of symphonic exotica that I like to call "white dub." And it's very beautiful.

The Hot Revivalist - The High Llamas

7. Speaking of TV, I wish Will Oldham and Tortoise would cover this song, because the melody is PERFECTION.

Benson Theme Song

(Note to Frankie Lee: I know you were raised by no-TV-having communists, so FYI, that's TV's "Benson" pictured above, as played by Robert Guillaume.)

8. When I moved to New York in 1995, I lived right down the block from Second Coming Records on Sullivan Street. I hung out there and got totally schooled by the indie-rock-supremacist clerk, who adopted me as his overenthusiastic jug-eared rube hard case. The first album he made me buy was by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, who were the darlings of that particular nano-moment. Later everybody started hating on them and now no one cares or remembers them, so blotted out of history are they by the White Stripes. But this song came up in the iPod the other day and it kind of rocked my world. Totally captured the gritty Superfly romanticism I was experiencing at the time, those first grainy moments imbibing the 70s-nostalgic New York kool of Kim's Underground. Let the revisionism begin ...

Bellbottoms - Jon Spencer Blues Explosion

9. If you haven't heard of Brian Dewan, you really should explore his very strange and wonderful mind. As it happens, he drew the interior artwork of "In The Aeroplane Over The Sea" by Neutral Milk Hotel. He's an eccentric artist, instrument-maker and performer who collects the oddest and most arcane found songs anywhere. He digs up homemade sheet music from estate sales and old barns. This one is a cautionary tale about smoking.

Tobacco's but an Indian Weed - Brian Dewan

10. I've noticed that the album reissue industry and Pitchfork have been following closely on our heels lately. First the johnny-come-lately praise for disco-era Bee Gees. And now the love heaped on Michael Jackson's Thriller and Nick Lowe's Jesus of Cool. You read it HERE and HERE and HERE first. Remember? Yes. We're reaching a critical cultural circularity that's about to finally give, past and future collapsing into one another, like ...


The fog lifts. End scene: VOTE FOR BARRY.

1 comment:

Frankie Lee said...

Let's see--Benson was the one where he got adopted by a white couple and they drove around in a talking car, right?