Odds and Ends 012
Been Through Less Than They Think, These Guys
Diamond Rugs: Diamond Rugs (Partisan)
Whose songs do you think stick out when the Deer Tick guy convenes yet another roots-rock supergroup with the Black Lips guy and the Dead Confederate guy? ("Christmas in a Chinese Restaurant," "Gimme a Beer") ***
The Obits: "Moody, Standard and Poor" (Sub Pop)
Perpetually PO-ed alt lifers get a grip on it ("I Want Results," "No Fly List") ***
Wavves: Life Sux (Ghost Ramp)
"A joke a stroke of genius/Probably somewhere in between" is tuneful enough, finally, but make that second line "Or only a waste of time?" and we might believe he's got some brain left ("Bug," "Poor Lenore") ***
The Rapture: In the Grace of Your Love (DFA)
Posers have real lives too‑-really‑-only it's really hard to care ("In the Grace of Your Love," "How Deep Is Your Love") ***
Herzog: Cartoon Violence (Exit Stencil)
Pop boys are always facing manhood, but that doesn't always spruce up their songs ("Your Son Is Not a Soldier," "Fuck This Year") **
Surfer Blood: Tarot Classics (Kanine)
EP embraces a maturity they define in part as saving your winners for Warners ("Drinking Problem," "I'm Not Ready") **
Art Brut: Brilliant! Tragic! (The End/Cooking Vinyl)
Guitarist often shines, lyrics often don't ("Clever Clever Jazz," "Bad Comedian") **
The Front Bottoms: The Front Bottoms (Bar/None)
Two-"man" Bergen County Nerd Liberation Front cell finish each other's bellyaches, hire or simulate trumpet commentary ("The Beers," "Maps") *
Regarding Bellow I only tried to get into "Augie March" once. But i guess I've had false expectations and since I read much slower in English I got bored pretty soon with it's meandering descriptionalism and put it away, maybe too early.
I had some time to spare so was going to try to recreate my Thursday night show posting but in doing so got lost in Wussy's website and found two things even better.
1) I discovered that their bass player, Mark Messerly, has a blog where he apparently captures the details of their tour life. Which is why it's called "Tour Life" I guess. Anyway, I can't find a link directly to it from their site (probably there, just can't find it) but I did find this very dim photo of the Wenatchee crowd with our own John Smallwood prominently front row center.
Nice work, John!!!
The blog entries from Mark are very well written and highly recommended.
2) a very high quality 25 minute live show video from March of this year. The six minutes of "Pizza King" are not to be missed and "Little Miami" that follows might be even better. Everything I tried to say is captured on this video. Plus you get real music.
For Bellow I’d say shorter is always better – the aforementioned Bellarosa Connection, The Actual, any of the short stories (some of which are quite long) in Collected Stories. The longer novels starting with Herzog tend to include nastiness toward a female character modeled on his latest ex-wife (or soon to be ex-wife).
Yesterday started reading the story of Yo La Tengo, Big Day Coming. I'm just happy a YLT bio found a publisher.
In this corner: Yoknapatawpha County. In this corner: Chicago, Illinois.
In 1956 William Faulkner, a somebody, wrote Saul Bellow, a nobody, a letter requesting Bellow sign a petition to release Ezra Pound from St. Elizabeths Hospital. The request was pro forma; the reply was not.
"Pound is not in prison but in an insane asylum. If sane he should be tried again as a traitor; if insane he ought not to be released merely because he is a poet...In France, Pound would have been shot. Free him because he is a poet? Why, better poets than he were exterminated, perhaps. Shall we say nothing on their behalf?
"America has dealt mercifully with Pound in recognizing his insanity and sparing his life. To release him is a foolish and feeble idea. It would identify this program in the eyes of the world with Hitler and Himmler and Mussollini and genocide...What staggers me is that you and Mr. Steinbeck who have dealt for so many years in words should fail to understand the import of Ezra Pound's plain and brutal statements...The whole world conspires to ignore what has happened, the giant wars, the colossal hatreds, the unimaginable murders, the destruction of the very image of man."
(LETTERS, Saul Bellow. Edited by Benjamin Taylor, The Penguin Group, 2010.)
Imagine Faulkner's jaw dropping as he reaches for his jug of sour mash.
Copyright, 2012 / Puppymaster, Inc.
“Look into the eyes of a chicken and you will see real stupidity. It is a kind of bottomless stupidity, a fiendish stupidity. They are the most horrifying, cannibalistic and nightmarish creatures in the world.”
My 27 year old daughter and I were joking about 60's music this past Sunday. At least, when she said, "Who's Ed Sullivan?" I think she was joking. She got me tickets to "Jersey Boys" for Father's Day.
From the last thread: Ryan, thanks. While I hardly need to be convinced of Neon Bible's greatness - it's my fave, too - you've illuminated it considerably further for me.
Allen B., that's a lot of solo Paul! All I have is Wingspan, which maddeningly removed the "Beware" from "Beware My Love", leaving some mushy ballad.
For reactionary writers I'll stick with Evelyn Waugh and Anthony Powell - there's a strain of conservatism in comedy going back to Aristophanes, anyway. Mind you, I don't know that either would have fallen for Joan Peters.
Popular music references to Bellow? Closest connection I can think of is Lou Reed-Delmore-Humboldt. There's something called "Dangling Man" by someone called Crime & The City Solution. [Wrote this before seeing Milo's and Jason's comments.]
Mr. Sammler's Planet was the final insult for me. I remember being outraged by it and not finishing. My disgust with the old-hipster smugness and sexism were inchoate, but it was the first time I encountered being a reactionary presented as a wild-and-crazy, "nonconformist" mode of behavior. (And I remember the underlying current of "yeah, I can really sell this notion -- it's a winner!" Vile. But I have to say, he was obviously right and ahead of his time.)
Couple decades later I had my only close encounter with Bellow. He was sitting nearby with a fellow faculty member at a small Boston University cafe. And bitchin' like crazy how tough it was to get books into the newsstands at airports, which is where the real vigorous sales were these days.
A persistent fascination is how Bellow was haunted by Delmore Schwartz (who haunted me not least because he evoked the 1930s version of the Cambridge neighborhood I lived in), though I certainly preferred the James Atlas biography to the exploitative Humbolt's Gift. And I certainly respond to the Schwartz connections evoked by Lou Reed and, especially, Robert Lowell and John Berryman, both touted by my teacher Richard Hugo as powerful poets because their suffering was so vast and unstoppable.
And I'm sure on the same page with David Lowery but worry that the cash cow is not only out of the barn forever but by now a dried skeleton picked clean in the desert.
Picked up an interesting item today that I wouldn't be surprised to see referenced hereabouts some time: Big Day Coming: Yo La Tengo and the Rise of Indie Rock by Jesse Jarnow. Has too many people I know at least a little bit to pass up, and besides, probably the only inside story of New York Rocker we're gonna get ...
But Bellarosa Connection is remarkably good--"Bellarosa" is the Italian pronunciation of "Billy Rose"--as in the US theater impresario and spouse of Fanny Brice.
And how many other popular music references to Bellow are there? Counting Crows' "Rain King"--but any else?
With all the Wussy posts noting the infinitesimal turnout at their shows, this quote particularly stood out for me --
"I generally know what artists are grossing I also have a pretty good idea of what they are netting. If a 4 piece band shows up at the 40 watt club with 2 crew members, beat up old van and they sell 200 tickets? They are probably making about 150 bucks a day each."
Change the math to a five piece band with one sound guy and one merch gal, reduce the ticket sales to 50, and I wonder if the person who pays for gas gets to eat that day or do they trade off?
about the blogger
Starting in 1967, Robert Christgau has covered popular music for The Village Voice, Esquire, Blender, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and many other publications. He teaches in New York University's Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, maintains a comprehensive website at robertchristgau.com, and has published five books based on his journalism. He has written for MSN Music since 2006.