You're either with it or you're not.

Posted by Jeff at January 8, 2010 8:12 PM

Rediscovering Vinyl

Grado Gold 1+
When Barack Obama moved into the White House on January 20th, he gained access to five chefs, a private bowling alley — and a killer collection of classic LPs. Stored in the basement of the executive mansion is the official White House Record Library: several hundred LPs that include landmark albums in rock (Led Zeppelin IV, the Rolling Stones' Let It Bleed), punk (the Ramones' Rocket to Russia, the Sex Pistols' Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols), cult classics (Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica, the Flying Burrito Brothers' The Gilded Palace of Sin) and disco. Not to mention records by Santana, Neil Young, Talking Heads, Isaac Hayes, Elton John, the Cars and Barry Manilow. . . .

On January 13th, 1981, the LPs — each in a sleeve with a presidential seal — were presented to Jimmy Carter at a White House ceremony. But the collection — placed in a hallway near the third-floor listening room, complete with a sound system — didn't remain upstairs long. When Ronald Reagan took office that year, the LPs were moved to the basement. Depending on the source, the reason was Nancy Reagan's distaste for shelves of vinyl, or the edgy choices themselves. A spokesman for Obama said it was too early to comment on whether the president would revive the library. But Obama may be pleased to learn that at least a few of his favorite albums — Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks, Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run — are there if he wants them on pristine slabs of vinyl.
Rolling Stone

Posted by Jeff at February 19, 2009 1:48 PM

Nostalgia and Utopianism

I think the Lincvolt is an interesting confluence of things. Young's comments about his latest CSNY movie seem to have a reasonable handle on the effectiveness of nostalgia:

The film will be given worldwide cinema release, but Young has no illusions about its box-office appeal. “I don’t expect it to last long,” he admits. “I mean, let’s be realistic: it’s a film about war and a bunch of old hippies, so that’s the way the public will view it. We spent a lot of time on it, and it means a lot to us, but in the overall scope of things . . . it has a moment, and this moment is coming up, and after that it’ll be a DVD, then it’ll be gone. It’ll be a piece of history.”

And yet nostalgia persists in the choice to modify a classic car to meet future needs. We need both a future and a past, I think. But we also need to be able to tell them apart.

Posted by Jeff at July 30, 2008 1:23 PM

It's not a big truck

Taste of Minnesota 2008
Quest may not have a big enough truck

While I find Chuck’s tirade amusing, it highlights only one potential perspective on sharing experiences on the internet. When it comes to sharing creative experiences, the creators of said experiences can and should have some input in just how their presence is conveyed. I remember a heated discussion on a King Crimson mailing list years ago about photographing/recording concerts. Robert Fripp tried to establish his possession that such things were evanescent by design, and that it cheapens them by capturing them in substandard recordings.

I don’t know exactly what I think about this, but I do know that simplistic appeal to mob behaviors doesn’t constitute a compelling argument that everything should be/is recorded and broadcast 24/7. I think that trivializes both communication and experience—the internet is not a big truck that we load our experiences onto so that we can share them.

Posted by Jeff at July 21, 2008 5:33 PM

The Wank Zone

I'd prefer not to Wang Chung tonight.

There was a movie that I just couldn’t get out of my head. Not because it was good, but because it had come so highly recommended at the time and was such a big letdown. The time was the mid-eighties; sometimes disappointment really hangs in there. At first I thought it was Blow Out (a ridiculously lame riff on Blow Up and The Conversation) but it wasn’t that turkey. It turned out that the scene that I couldn’t forget was from the sonic extravaganza To Live and Die in LA.

The spotting brush (usually these things are about four or five hairs round) hit the Kodalith with a scratching sound and I was gone in a rage. When a spotting brush makes that kind of racket, I know I have entered into some sort of alternate universe where a pin dropping can shatter an eardrum. The rest of the clip is pretty indicative; it’s foley gone mad with a relentless Wang Chung score.

I was reminded of this stuff this morning when I read The Death of High Fidelity. I don’t think it was MP3s that were responsible for the death of natural sound—I think it happened long before that, in the mid-eighties. No, I’m not just talking about the advent of digital sound in general, either. I think the movies helped kill high fidelity sound.


Posted by Jeff at January 8, 2008 12:55 PM

Sentence of the year

antichrist.jpg David Redfern/Retna LTD.
Dion is the Antichrist of the indie sensibility, an overemoting schmaltz-bot who has somehow managed to convert the ethos of Wal-Mart into sine waves and broadcast them, at kidney-rupturingly high volume, directly into our internal soulPods.

Sam Anderson

This is one of the finest sentences I've read this year. But embracing the bile, there are some fine theoretical points to be made:


Posted by Jeff at December 23, 2007 11:12 AM

Corrosion Research Center

I thought it was great that the University of Minnesota had such a thing. Rust never sleeps, you know.

Another review of the show I don't agree with. Ended tepidly? I'll agree with the searching for universal truths thing, but when you're performing harmonic experiments (somewhat like Coltrane) "resolution" isn't what you're really looking for. It seems interesting to me that the writer calls Pegi Young's set "amiable" when the most memorable tune to me was something about blood, a reflection on Neil's near death a couple of years ago from a brain aneurysm. Amiable is not an adjective I would use to describe that song.

Posted by Jeff at November 18, 2007 12:15 PM

Opting Out

images assembled from Janet Charlton's Hollywood

"You can get things taken down, the legal tools are there to do it," said Caroline Kean, a partner at the law firm Wiggin. "The reason people don't is partly practical, because there are so many images, but also due to the bad publicity you get from going after your biggest fans. Most people soon realised it was counter-productive."

A spokeswoman for the fans' campaign said the sites had always tried to work with Prince's management. But it appeared that Prince wanted to edit his past and there was "no sign" of his lawyers backing down, she said. "He's trying to control the internet 100% and you can't do that without infringing people's freedom of speech," she added.


According to the pragmatist interpretation, the "copying" of reality is replaced by a problem-solving "coping" with the challenges of an overcomplex world. In other words, we acquire our knowledge of facts in the course of a constructive approach to a surprising environment. Nature only provides indirect answers as all its answers refer to the grammar of our questions. What we call the "world" therefore does not consist of the totality of facts. For us, it is the sum total of the cognitively relevant constraints imposed on our attempts to learn from and achieve control over contingent natural processes through reliable predictions.


Posted by Jeff at November 12, 2007 1:04 PM

The play's the thing

When you take away everything plays think they're about, what's left is what all plays—all stories—are really about, and what they're really about is time. Events, things happening—Ophelia drowns! Camille coughs! Somebody has bought the cherry orchard!—are different manifestations of what governs the narratives we make up, just as it governs the narrative we live in: the unceasing ticktock of the universe. There is no stasis, not even in death, which turns into memory.

Barrett died, 60 years old, a month after my play opened, 5 years after that photograph of him cycling home with his shopping from the supermarket. When I first saw the photo—in Willis's book—I found myself staring at it for minutes, at the thickset body supporting the heavy, shaven potato head, comparing it with images of Barrett in his "dark angel" days, like the shot on this story's opening page. "He was beautiful," Esme says. "He was like the guarantee of beauty," and, high-flown though it might be to apply Virgil's untranslatable chord "there are tears of things," sunt lacrimae rerum, to a snatched photo of a burly bloke with Colgate and Super Soft toilet paper in his bicycle basket, that's what came into my mind in the long moment when I understood that it was this play, the one about Communism, consciousness, Sappho, and, God help us, Czechoslovakia, into which Syd Barrett fitted. The tears of things are in mutability and the governance of time.

Tom Stoppard

Posted by Jeff at November 11, 2007 8:58 PM

Tommorow and the Day Before Yesterday

I can’t stop thinking about the tongue-in-cheek comment Neil Young made about “there was always more.” I took it as a backhanded slap at nostalgia, a bit uncharacteristic of a “greenie.” Going through some old links, I stopped to have a look at this Tom Snyder montage. I really can’t remember whether I liked him or not—I don’t think I did. His sideburns always seemed like they were on the attack, and he never seemed to have much of a grasp of the issues. But the clip near the end of John Lennon saying that the reason people become performers is to “get a little extra” made me smile. I don’t think Snyder got the joke any better than the Star Tribune reporter did. Today, I noticed that most fans are reporting a different experience.

But the bit at the end of the clip where Howard Cosell accuses Snyder of being a shill for the network bosses is the best part. It brings out another cliché stated well by Bob Dylan: “You gotta serve somebody.” I suspect it is scariest when the biases (and masters) are hidden. A few commentators have suggested that the centerpiece of the current Neil Young tour is the song “No Hidden Path.” Everyone talks about the groove, but no one talks about the substance. For some, it’s an instant classic—for others, a recycled dirge.


Posted by Jeff at November 10, 2007 12:05 PM

January 2010 (1) February 2009 (1) July 2008 (2) January 2008 (1) December 2007 (1) November 2007 (5) October 2007 (1)