Saturday, March 15, 2008

Every Time I Try to Describe It

Everyone knows I am the most sentimental dude on the planet, so it's no big surprise that I'm feeling this song. The drums are really solid though and I like the little click-clack in place of the high hat. The video is sort of everything that everyone makes fun of about hip-hop scenes that are not in gigantic cities, and he even says "Westlake" at one point.

Whatever, I'm feeling it.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Iron Serenity

Exciting news for all 43 of you: I have upgraded to a PROFESSIONAL ACCOUNT on Flickr and uploaded a bunch of new photos. (Captions TK but have a look if you want.)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

"Out there trying to flow and groove"

I regularly—like two or three times a week for the past several years—have nightmares that I am seeing through the eyes of Philippe Petit, walking a tightrope between the tops of the World Trade Center buildings. I'm not an extreme sports guy, unlike my brother, and I'm not particularly afraid of heights. My dime-store self-analysis says it's (a) anxiety stemming from experiencing 9/11, and (b) anxiety over being emotionally pulled between the East and West coasts. In any case, I saw this video tonight on the New York Times' website and it was kind of a revelation for me, in that the guy tightropes over an extremely high height, but he's wearing a FUCKING PARACHUTE. I'm hoping I can incorporate this into my nightmare from now on. Might sleep a little better, I don't know.
This concludes our neuroses-centric programming, and we now return you to pretty records and gritty pictures, and vice-versa, etc.

Sweden: Heaven and Hell

I had been looking for this record forever and finally found it last weekend—Piero Umiliani's brilliant soundtrack to the '60s sexploitation film Sweden: Heaven and Hell. The best known track is "Mah-Na-Mah-Na," which I knew as a kid from The Muppet Show and as something we sang at the top of our lungs around the campfire. Who knew it originally appeared in a film billing itself as an exposé of The most revolutionary, most permissive life-state in the world:
The Love Cruise! A training trip for turned on teens!
The Bachelorette Party! A bride-to-be's last fling!
Moonlighting Nudes! Meter-maids by day—models at night!
The Swap Shop! A trade-in deal for married couples only!
Piero Umiliani Beer, Vermouth & Gin MP3
Piero Umiliani You Tried to Warn Me (High Church Treatment) MP3

Sweden: Heaven and Hell trailer .mov (31MB)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Final Countdown

Awhile back I found issues 2 and 3 of Countdown, a magazine published in the sixties in paperback-book form, at a used book store in Brooklyn Heights. Last week when I was walking through Chelsea I was lucky enough to find issue 1 in a pile of books on the street. It's not nearly as refined as Avant Garde or The Evergreen Review, but I love the bold, almost photocopied look of the design, and the form itself (Wooooo is the only magazine I know of that is currently publishing in the classic paperback book size). With contributors like R.Crumb, Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Marc Chagall, Eldridge Cleaver, and Jerry Rubin, Countdown had a lot going for it, but I'm not sure if it lasted more than three issues, and I haven't been able to find any other information.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Go Back Home Again, Boy

With all the (well-deserved) attention on Band of Horses, Cave Singers, Grand Archives and others in recent years/months, and with new albums on the way from Fleet Foxes and Sera Cahoone, I figured it was a good time to bring out some records by another folk/rock/country player from Seattle, Danny O'Keefe. Signed to Cotillion (Atlantic) in the early '70s, O'Keefe worked with greats such as soul mega-producer Arif Mardin, Ahmet Ertegun, Jimmy Haskell, and Eddie Hinton, among many others. Mardin's influence is clearly present in the string arrangements, and there's a subtle funkiness to the drums and bass lines that makes O'Keefe's country/folk style unique. His songs have been recorded by artists as far-ranging as Donny Hathaway, Dwight Yoakam, Ute Lemper, Jackson Browne, Willie Nelson, Alison Krauss, and Waylon Jennings.

I grew up listening to his second album O'Keefe (excuse the pops and scratches), and fairly recently stumbled across his self-titled debut, which includes the first version of what would become his biggest hit, "Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues." The song I can't get enough of, though, is The Drover:
I left him there in Pioneer Square
in an empty bottle of Muskatel
He said here's my song and where I've gone
I tell ya boy I've gone to hell
I hope you understand
Sometimes you never can
go back home again boy
O'Keefe has never been one to shy away from fairly glum material, but it's always beautifully expressed both musically and lyrically, and often with a sense of humor, as in my other favorite, I'm Sober Now (inspired by a Clarence "Pinetop" Smith song).

Danny O'Keefe's self-titled record and O'Keefe are both available at Amazon, along with many of his other releases.

He still lives on Vashon Island, and he's still writing, recording, and performing around the Northwest. Check out his
website and myspace page for more info.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Weekend in Pictures

We decided to be tourists in our own city this weekend. Our sentry, Mr. Littlejeans (aka Fang; Mr. Science), was none too pleased when everyone up and left the house Saturday morning.

First stop was our favorite brunch spot in the city, the Great Jones Café.

After brunch we went to Other Music so I could use up a credit. I love it that most records now come with a code so you can download the MP3s for free—it makes CDs a totally outdated technology. Here's what I got (clockwise from top left: Grand Archives, Gutter Twins, Throw Me the Statue, Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks).

Next up we went to the Michel Gondry "Be Kind Rewind" exhibition at Deitch Projects.

There are a bunch of different sets and people can make their own little movies in the gallery.

We also went to the Visionaire Gallery for the Sound exhibition that I've been talking about.

Then I got some more records. I kind of went nuts this weekend because I haven't bought records for awhile. I'll post some MP3s later.

By then it was late afternoon and we decided to go to D.B.A. for a beer, and then to the Cherry Tavern for some more. Tracey took good care of us and they have Straight Outta Compton on the juke so we were quite content.

Next we grabbed a slice at the old East Village standby, Two Boots. It's by no means the city's best pizza (John's wins that battle), but it's unique and delicious nonetheless.

We ended up at Arrow (formerly known as The Rook), where my brother Sky bartends once or twice a week. That's his friend and fellow firefighter Ed on the right.

On Sunday we took a long walk to Newtown Creek, the border between Brooklyn and Queens. It's about five miles from our house in Fort Greene but there's tons of cool things to see on the way.

Kent Avenue, which runs along the East River, is like one big gallery—there's an ever-changing display of a paste-ups, graffiti, and little installations all over the place. This venus fly-trap is painted wood that has been epoxied to the side of a building. More pics from the neighborhood on my Flickr page.

When we got up to Greenpoint we stopped for lunch at this Polish restaurant. Lomzynianka means "girl from Lomza." It doesn't look like much from the outside, but the food is excellent and it's like eating a meal in someone's home.

The Polish are super-amped for Easter. There are great displays in the gift stores and bakeries on Manhattan Avenue.

Our final destination was the Newtown Creek sewage treatment facility—kind of smelly, yes, but architecturally really impressive and worth the trip.

The plant has been there since mid-century, but was remodeled by the Polshek Partnership, which also designed the Rose Center at the AMNH.

After that, we took the G train home, watched The Assasination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (beautiful score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, amazing cinematography, a very solid movie all around—though sometimes it seemed like Brad Pitt was channeling Eric Bana in Chopper, and Bana himself would have been better). Then we watched the final episode of The Wire, and it was great.

The End.