some birds are funny when they talk








Stuck in my Head
"Kiss Me Harder" by Bertine Zetlitz
"Hot" by Avril
"Brain Problem Situation" by They Might Be Giants

Now Reading
Number 9 Dream by David Mitchell
Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro

Recently Finished
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by David Eggers
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
Mad Tony and Me by Carl Hoffman
Sweet Soul Music by Peter Guaralnick
This Must Be The Place: Adventures of Talking Heads in the 20th Century by David Bowman
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Movies Lately
4 Months 3 Weeks 2 Days
Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts
Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour
2 Days in Paris
United 93
The Savages
The Bourne Ultimatum
Sweeney Todd
The Departed
What Would Jesus Buy?
Ghost World
I'm Not There
She's The Man
Lars and the Real Girl
Romance and Cigarettes
No Country for Old Men
Into the Wild
I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With
Across the Universe

Shows Lately
Damo Suzuki/Stinking Lizaveta @ Mill Creek
Death and the Maiden @ Curio
Devon Sproule/Carsie Blanton/Devin Greenwood/John Francis @ Tin Angel
Assassins @ The Arden
Oakley Hall and the Teeth @ Johnny Brendas
Isabella and Flamingo/Winnebago and Map Me and Gatz and Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven and Sonic Dances and Strawberry Farm and The Emperor Jones and No Dice and Hearts of Man and Principles of Uncertainty and Isabella and BATCH and Addicted to Bad Ideas: Peter Lorre's 20th Century and Car and Sports Trilogy and Explanatorium and Wandering Alice and Must Don't Whip Um and Festival of Lies and A Room of Ones Own and Recitatif @ the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival/Philly Fringe
Martha Graham Cracker and Eliot Levin and Kilo etc. @ the Fringe Cabaret
Lullatone and Teletextile @ Boulder Coffee [Rochester]
TV Sound @ the M Room
Aretha Franklin @ East Dell, Fairmount Pk.
Romeo + Juliet in Clark Park
Daft Punk @ Red Rocks
Spoon @ Rockefeller Park
Ponytail at Pony Pants' House
Mirah/Benjy Ferree @ the 1UC
Tortoise @ World Cafe Live
Hall & Oates...ish
"Nuclear Dreams" - Mascher Dance Group, x2
The Four of Us @ 1812
Machines Machines Machines Machines Machines Machines Machines by Rainpan whatever
Mascher Dance Group/Nathaniel Bartlett
Cornelius @ TLA
Sloan @ World Cafe
In Fluxxxx
Slavic Soul Party!/Red Heart the Ticker @ I-House
the Fantasticks @ Mum
Peter Bjork + Jorn/Fujiya + Miyagi @ fkaTLA
John Vanderslice @ Johnny Brendas
The Books & Todd Reynolds @ 1UC
Into the Woods @ LPAC
The Fishbowl @ the Frear
Caroline, or, Change @ the Arden
Low & Loney, Dear. @ 1UC

Wednesday, April 9

sometimes even music cannot substitute for tears -- but other times it can. it's suitable both for wallowing and for escapism. (i've needed both today.)

home past pirates in the courtyard psyching up for a gig that should have (or could have, or anyway would have) been mine - a reminder of another not-quite-so-recent heartbreak, which i still don't know how to deal with. not that there's much left to be dealt with. when i posted last i was resigned to venturing in by myself, apprehensive about but also comforted by the prospect of the more defined solitude of the city. but thanks to a last-minute phone call (i've almost forgotten how to use the phone), i had a companion. and companionship can't but be comforting.

south street was chilly and felt empty even for a weeknight, but the blossoming cherries towering above (several of them lit, bringing to mind one of my most beautiful nights ever [pre-blog, so no link]) were truly a heavenly sight - and almost easy to miss too. after a quick errand for a friend, and the still novel pleasure of winking my way into an overpriced and sold out show, we wormed about two-thirds of the way through a crowd of forty- and fifty-somethings (i'd believe that we were the only people there under 35, even.) and eventually another one (plus three) took the stage, positively foppish in a mid-thigh-length sport jacket and his preposterous scruffs of white hair.

as the chatty fellow in front of me predicted, joe jackson opened the set with "one more time," the first tune on his first album. later on he closed it with the last song in that album. it don't mean to suggest that he's not still "vital," whatever that means - and this is very explicitly a reunion tour (though couched too as a continuation, and we're supposed to play along with the bit about the "first three albums") - but he does seem like he's been relying a lot on his past: before this tour/album, there was a "sequel" album to his first ('86) comeback, a (fantastic) live album full of chestnuts, and a memoir, which is hardly a sign of life (but i want to read it anyway.)

of course lots of people are doing this now, but it's hard for me not to compare this to the recent elvis "resurgence." their careers have always been roughly parallel, albeit with joe operating at an undeniably lower artistic and commercial level. they've occasionally reattained, but never reduplicated, the brilliance of their debuts (my bias starts already - e's is easily one of my three favorite albums, joe's lucky to make the top fifty). it only took them two albums to abandon "punk" and not much longer to go "experimental" (joe: reggae, jump-blues/proto-neo-swing, world music, "jazz," a "symphony"; el: country, r&b, "americana," a brilliant song cycle.) and now they want to rock again. apart from flukey (and somewhat inexplicable) mid-eighties singles, neither has really regained the breadth of audience of the late seventies.

so why, next to the flame-throwing rock concert i saw in cleveland this summer, did this feel like such a nostalgia act? well. for one thing, though both are songwriters foremost, joe i think has maybe never got the part of being a musician too so well as the little hands of concrete. anyway, the band was a bit stiff at first, and i started to get worried, but after five or six songs they started to loosen up and rock out more. it was fun to see them (esp. graham maby, who i once saw with tmbg, is an awesome bassist), but i think my rock-out standards are higher than usual after seeing hot hot heat and spoon. one thing that those bands did (also supergrass) which is always exciting and impressive when done convincingly, but which joe didn't even attempt: not only do they play the tunes faster than on the record, but they speed up rather recklessly while playing.

the highlight of the show for me was a solo piano set in the middle, even though it started with the cringe-inducing sappy ballad from the new record (joe has written plenty of great songs, but, unlike elvis, he's also written some pretty dumb ones, including a number of his hits - like "i'm the man," which turned up as the encore - and there are plenty of those on the new album, though i do rather like a couple) which was made worse when joe said how much he liked it and the audience enthusiastically concurred. then: a cover of "any major dude," (a totally weird choice but shows off his chops and was fun), the truly lovely "real men" (dedicated to rumsfeld, and with a nod to tori amos, who unlike anthrax and chubby checker knows how to cover his tunes with out "fucking them up"), a neat arrangement of "stepping out," and "it's different for girls" as a segue back to the band. in all, a very enjoyable show and better than it could have been (e.g. if i'd paid for it), if about what i expected. that's good though.

really it was just good to get out. the whole thing went a long way to making me feel better. and so did mos' sermonizing on the way back home:

me, you, everybody: we are hip-hop.
so hip-hop is going where we going
so the next time you ask yourself where hip-hop is going
ask yourself: "where am I going? how am I doing?"

ps. this wsrn shirt business is ridiculous. (for once, my sympathies are with spiegel, although mostly i feel like there must be more to the story on all sides.)