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Homework with Heather

The bar last night played Midnite Vultures -- an album which I hadn't listened to in some months, and which, I confess, was probably the first Beck album I really loved. I appreciated and admired Odelay -- I could listen to it and say, wow, this guy is doing some really crazy things with music -- but none of hit me right here.

Midnite Vultures is strange because while it boasts the same jokey ironic detachment that had been a part of Beck's earlier recordings, the music itself is so jubillient and fun and funky -- it's clear that even if the lyrics are hilarious, Beck loved making a funk record. And "Debra" -- his Prince parody/tribute that manages to eek out a shout-out not just to Glendale, CA, but Glendale's finest export, Zankou Chicken -- is genius.

That said, based on my first few listens of it, Sea Change might be even better, because he stands aside from the irony, and sings honestly -- brutally honestly -- about the dissolution of a relationship. There aren't as many jokes on it (not many jokes at all...) but it's a record that doesn't soon leave you.

Also heard last night: "Satellite of Love," by Lou Reed. I've never known what to make of this song.

posted by Anon. 9:20 AM


I don't want to go to Chelsea

Alixa has the flu; so Zoya came in for the pitch and met up with me for a casual dinner at Half King. Much good cheer was had, I had a disappointing hot toddy but a good potato and leek soup, and the music was quite, quite good: Stevie Wonder's Talking Book interspersed with Coldplay's Parachutes. Sounds like a strange combo, but like brie and grape quesadillas, it all worked out. Despite the two blocks from the 23rd A C E station to 10th Avenue being particularly long blocks, it remains one of my favorite establishments.

Am now back down on the Lower East Side and am killing time before meeting up with Jordan, Ken, et al for drinks at Lolita.

posted by Anon. 6:50 PM
Never really been there, but I like the way it sounds

Took the Accela (sp?) up from DC to NYC today, and I'm right now logging in from the Lower East Side cavernous domicle of one of Manhattan's favorite bloggers. Sadly, he is not due to arrive here until tomorrow. No matter. I have already drank some of Lock's orange juice, used Lock's shower, and played CDs on Lock's CD player. (Well, one CD -- Peter Gabriel's Passion, his music for the Last Temptation of Christ -- I've never actually owned it, but have seemed to consistently lived with roommates or dated women who owned it, and played it, and I enjoyed it.)

Next, I think I'm going to get Lock's haircut, and start answering the phone "as Lock," and then go to the bank and try to get Lock's money.

Waiting now for Alixa to call me back so that we can get dinner and drinks at Half King, and have also been making valient efforts at dinner and lunch reservations for the rest of my stay. (Tomorrow night, a 10 p.m. reservation at Craft. (My dinner partner doesn't get off work though until 8:30, so 10 isn't as awful as it sounds.))

I have a reservation for Blue Hill, maybe my favorite NYC restaurant, off of Washington Square; had a reservation at Babbo for my last day's stay, on the 1st, but may have to give it up, as my dinner partner for that evening made a promise to his girlfriend that his maiden voyage to Babbo will be with her.

There hasn't been too much music to update on the last few days. But a few details from my time in our nation's capital:

The Strummer death. Mickey Kaus has been challenging Jon Pareles' view that the Clash was a left wing rock band. Mickey, they named an album Sandinista!, how much more left-wing can you get? And White Man in Hammersmith Palais is a virulently anti-fascist song. And Spanish Bombs? More on this later. Maybe.

I had lunch with my stepfather one day at the Austin Grill over on Wisconsin Avenue. The food has been better, there; I may have chosen poorly, but at least I did choose the Joe Ely Combination Platter. I couldn't resist eating a Mexican plate named after one of the Flatlanders, what can I say. While the food disappointed this go-round, the music didn't -- Steve Earle and John Prine were both played while I was sitting across from my stepdad eating chips, and that made me happy.

More to come. I think.

posted by Anon. 2:42 PM


In the district...

After sleeping a few hours upon getting to my mother's, and then having an hour-long work-related conference call, I took my mother over to Cafe Deluxe, our favorite lunch spot on Wisconsin. We then made a stop at Giant supermarket, and a 7-11 so she could buy 10 Powerball tickets. (I abstained. It's not that I hate gambling for moral reasons; I just think of 10 Powerball tickets as the equivalent of, say, 60% of a compact disc.)

At the Giant, they were piping in music at the store. Freedy Johnston, "Evie's Tears." I don't know who Freedy Johnston knows in the "music piped in stores" business, but he must know someone, because there is no other artist I know of who gets more airplay in chain retail stores -- from supermarkets to Starbucks to the Gap -- for less relative chart success than Freedy.

I dare you to go a month -- okay, two months -- without hearing a single song from This Perfect World in your travels in the outside world. It just can't be done.

posted by Anon. 2:23 PM
Correspondence department

Written last night, 8 pm Pacific Coast Time...

Catching up on Palmermix-related correspondence as I sit in the Long Beach International Airport, waiting for the airplane taking me to Washington’s Dulles International Airport.

Old Palmermix friend Kevin Shay chimes in with a few additional selections for our ever-growing list of rain songs.

Don't forget "The Rain," which was a top 20 hit for Oran "Juice"
Jones in the mid-'80s.

"Rain on the Scarecrow," John Mellencamp.

"After the Rain Has Fallen," Sting.

"I Wish It Would Rain Down," Phil Collins.

Also, if you want to foray out of the rock world into the
standards/crooners arena, there's "September in the Rain" and "Come
Rain or Come Shine" (Sinatra), "Yesterday I Heard the Rain" (Tony
Bennett), and of course "Singing in the Rain."

And does "The Sky Is Crying" count?

I’m ashamed that I forgot Rain on the Scarecrow, though it makes sense that I forgot it, ‘cause I always skip that song to get to the non-Springsteen-lite numbers on the Scarecrow album. John Mellencamp, not exactly a wielder of a subtle pen when it comes to political commentary. Still, the guy had the balls to organize Farm Aid with Willie Nelson and Neil Young and, more importantly, to keep it going long after the issue had gone out of the limelight, while the need persisted.

I have to confess, also, that though I hate Phil Collins, who makes Billy Joel look substantial, "I Wish It Would Rain Down" was one of the few songs of his I liked.

(I also kinda liked his cover of "You Can't Hurry Love," but if you tell anyone, I'll deny it to the hilt.)

"Sky is Crying," a Stevie Ray Vaughn special, certainly counts. Nice work, Kevin.

Then we go to a lengthy email from fellow blogger Tom Brennan, from Philadelphia, PA:

Mariah's comments are loony but decipherable. She's obliquely referring to the fun Howard stern used to regularly have with the audio diary messsages she posted (still posts?) to her fans (who she refers to as her "lambs") on her web site). She flipped out around the time Stern was replaying these ludicrous messages almost daily on his show. She's obviously still buggy on the subject.

"Calavary Cross" is a strange Richard and Linda Thompson choice because it's so much a Richard song. But I'd bet it is THE favorite song of most RT fans. the live version is the greatest thing Thompson ever did.

Shame if you never saw the Johansen band live. His solo band shows from the 80's were the most enjoyable shows I've ever seen. If I had a chance to see one band from the past it would be the Dolls at one of their Mercer Arts shows based mostly on how terrific David was in his solo shows. Gave me a glimpse of why those dolls shows are legend. No wonder he's reinvented himself so many times. the guy loves to entertain. I think that's why his shows were so good. The crowds fed on the good time HE was having. I used to drag people to those shows who'd never given a second thought to johansen but there they'd be with idiot grins on their faces straining to touch their new hero when he'd dive into the audience halfway into the set.

You really don't get the Jeff Buckley thing? You owe yourself a second chance there. grace is a thrilling record. And the rough edged Sketches for my gf the drunk is only a slight drop off. Sure, the voice is undeniable but you can't hear those songs?

Thanks, Tom, for writing. I still disagree with you about "Cavalry Cross." Though Richard Thompson is a breathtaking guitar player, he’s also a wonderful songwriter and lyricist, and "Cavalry Cross" to me only shows off the former, not the latter. And I know that live version, too, and for me, like most 9 plus minute songs (there are exceptions), I get bored.

I like your thoughts on Johansen and the Dolls.

It’s funny, I had dinner the other night with a woman who knew Jeff Buckley from his first club days in New York, and she agrees with Tom. I do think that Grace is an interesting record, but thrilling? I haven’t found the exhilaration factor there. But maybe I ain’t looking hard enough. There are albums that you buy but only "discover" years later. (First example of that which comes to mind is Van Morrison's St. Dominic's Preview, which only hit me years after I bought it.)

posted by Anon. 2:18 PM
Sad news

Joe Strummer has died at the age of 50. Yes, just a few months before the Clash's induction ceremony into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

posted by Anon. 4:27 AM