21 December 2005

Fairytale of New York

And so starts a series of holiday posts...

I finally downloaded an RSS reader today and started tooling around with some of the random feeds included. Lo and behold, I ran across the news that promoters were "stunned" when the Pogues sold out all but two U.S. shows almost as soon as the tickets went on sale. What rock have they been living under?

Apparently the one next to mine. I hadn't heard that the Pogues are doing nine nights on the East coast with Shane McGowan. Where is all of my last minute Christmas budget going tomorrow? For Pogues tickets; another night in NYC goes on sale tomorrow at noon. At least I can put the plane ticket off until February.

Jane, Jane, Jane...I was living a blissful RSS-free life until today...

Fairytale of New York

45 RPM

One of the first things I did when I moved to Phoenix was leave. I was friendless here and so booked a ticket out to see my partner-in-musical-crime, the always-sartorially-splendid Robert. Having come of age near Manchester in the 70s and 80s, Robert has at least one story of getting the crap kicked out of himself at the Hacienda (if I recall, it had something to do with his pants), making me green with envy. When he learned that Glen Matlock would tour with Mike Peters (The Alarm), Slim Jim Phantom (Stray Cats), Kirk Brandon (Spear of Destiny), and Billy Duffy (The Cult) as Dead Men Walking, he knew who would want to see a Sex Pistol badly enough to get on a plane to LA. Coupled with rumoured UK guest appearances by Mick Jones (The Clash) and Bruce Watson (Big Country), I had been singing God Save the Queen under my breath for a week when I learned that Matlock would be replaced by Captain Sensible (The Damned). I was crushed.

Crushed, until it took Captain (who loves the Bee-Gees) 15 seconds to charm me and the rest of the thin crowd. The show was at an ill-fitting venue (the House of Blues) in a surreal location ("Downtown Disney") where the bouncers do everything but a retinal scan before granting you access. (Captain would rag on the venue during the course of the night, and DMW played CBGBs to a packed house two nights later.) A bit of a buzz developed when Brian Setzer materialized in the audience, but disappointingly, I never saw Steve Jones (Pistols) who was also there and due to take the stage for the encore, until he apparently got lost in the building.

DMW is very much a Mike Peters project. 45 RPM, about a kid discovering punk and probably the edgiest song the Alarm ever recorded, was for me a highlight of the show (it has also become the anthem for a musical ruse soon to be the subject of a major motion picture; in the film, the song and ensuing events are inspired by the death of Joe Strummer). Still, the night was about four guys sharing the stage and the vocals on some of the great punk/punk-influenced songs they produced...Neat Neat Neat, Never Take Me Alive, Do You Believe in the Westworld, Rumble in Brighton, Smash It Up, Pretty Vacant... It had been a long time since I had seen a band having such a blast on stage. Regardless of how one feels about any of their individual material (I only ever owned one Alarm record), I would get out to see them at any opportunity. There are some great Jonesville Station interviews about the DMW project archived on wfmu.com (a NJ station named the best in the country by Rolling Stone and the Village Voice).

I read the sad news today that Mike Peters' cancer has resurfaced, in a different form.

16 December 2005

Get Started, Start a Fire

The Mona Lisa's sister doesn't smile... But the Mona Lisa did, 83% of the time. Danish scientists using "emotion recognition" software suggest that Sra. Francesco del Giocando was 83 percent happy, 9 percent disgusted, 6 percent fearful, 2 percent angry, 1 percent neutral, and not at all surprised. Hmm, kinda the way I feel most of the time. The software apparently can't detect subtle emotions like sexual suggestion or disdain. Hmm, kinda the way I feel most of the time.

One of the few of times I saw Graham Parker live was at the Stone Pony on the The Mona Lisa's Sister tour. Maybe not his best work, but what fabulous imagery in Get Started, Start a Fire; I'm going to have to dig this out tonight...

14 December 2005

Last Train to Clarksv...Cessnock

The Glasgow subway stations may yet be connected (from the front page of Wikipedia today, the 109th anniversary of metro operations there). Thanks a lot to Jane (old friend) for my new wiki addiction, and Jimmy (new friend) for my new blogger.com obsession (and who pointed out that the Glasgow subway system is disconnected). I am supposed to be getting out of the house...

Stuck in the Middle With You

I spent a long time last night talking someone down out of a tree; someone who sees their self as powerless and who generally doesn't listen to me anyway. After the long, sometimes frustrating call, I returned to unpacking my CDs and organizing them (by genre and, yes, alphabetically within genre) in my finally assembled CD cabinets. I came across a compilation I made for a trip a few years ago and popped it in hoping it would give me the energy to keep going for a few more hours. Track 17 is the fabulous Stealer's Wheel song, Stuck in the Middle With You. I hit the repeat button a half dozen times...this is one of those songs. It was written by Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan about the frustrations of and the pretense in the recording industry, and was produced by the legendary Leiber and Stoller. A good measure of the song is that Dylan and the Dead went on to cover it, and Tarantino chose it for the soundtrack of Reservoir Dogs (it was also covered by Juice Newton, but that's not relevant to and doesn't negate this sentence). I think the song went to number one stateside (Stealer's Wheel was out of Paisley) because it's easily about the madness that surrounds us more generally and that if we stay center with somebody that matters, we're gonna be okay. Of course, Rafferty and Egan weren't speaking in the end, the song is always attributed to Dylan anyway, and this was the last record Leiber and Stoller would make, so you might not want to listen to me either.

13 December 2005

I'm Wrong About Everything

As I did some more unpacking tonight, I dropped John Wesley Harding's The Confessions of Saint Ace into the CD player. I hadn't listened to this in a while and I'm not sure what made me choose this now, but I do know that "the best Elvis Costello album that Elvis Costello never made" made me feel good about a bunch of stuff that's been making me feel kind of bad. Not really bad, but...unsteady. Anyway, people either love this album or hate it; I am firmly with the former. I think that JWH is even more fantastic live than recorded, and listening to Saint Ace made me homesick for the Tin Angel, where I'd seen him a couple of times, variously with Ellen and Joyce and Charles (old friends). Our Lady of the Highways (recorded with Steve Earle, whose voice couldn't be any more different than JWH's) will always remind me of driving long stretches of I-95 between my Philly home and my family home in bad holiday weather. I don't particularly miss doing this, but, after three short months in the desert, I've lost all sense of season...aural cues have had to replace other bodily cues that the holidays are about to make me exhausted again. Add to this, my confidence in my ability to read situations and people, while perhaps not lost, has certainly been shaken. Melissa (old friend) has endured and helped me laugh through phone calls about schizophrenic situations being left behind (I'm Wrong About Everything, a fabulous song used in Nick Hornby's High Fidelity, segues into Same Piece of Air segues into Old Girlfriends) and the reticence surrounding those being created (what a brilliant job JWH does of capturing reticence in the seemingly silly Goth Girl and in Too Much Into Nothing, probably my favorite track). Only Melissa and Brit Pop out of Brooklyn could make such heavy stuff feel so much lighter.

12 December 2005

Memory and Reality

While memory and reality have occupied much of my research (the production of memory through the body, architecture, and things to make sense of present realities), they seem to fit as ideas from which to launch random writing exercises, something I've long wanted to do (waste mine and other's time). The time seems right, as major life changes have left me with a lot of time on my hands, although I know this won't last long. If I can make this routine, it might be a good outlet to both connect old friends with my present realities and new friends with memories that are me...most of which border on the absurd...