Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Arty-choke head with doggie.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

TAG—the Collage Show

If you’re in Nashville and aren’t doing anything this weekend, come on out to TAG art gallery on 5th Ave. I’m in a great group collage show, opening saturday, curated by James Kaufmann. Art on the postcard is by Baltimore’s own David Plunkert.

The show runs through the end of March.

Opening is 6-9pm. Several of the artists will be in from their various hometowns around this great country of ours.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Meet the Beetles. Pt. 2

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Things we like—Duke Ellington.

Some of these “things we like” posts are more flippant than others.

But what can be said in short about Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington. One of the greatest Americans ever. Period. Had the kind of deep, broad, lasting impact on music—particularly American-music-as-art-form—that few have ever had. Yes, a great big-band leader, probably the greatest, but so much more.

Black, Brown and Beige, Afro Eurasian Eclipse, The Carnegie Hall Concerts, The Sacred Music. Duke was our classical music.

Lately my favorite thing of Duke’s has been a rare little trio album from 1961 called Piano in the Foreground, with Aaron Bell and Sam Woodyard, longtime members of the Ellington band. Four pure improvisations on the record Piano Improvisation #1-4, along with Billy Strayhorn’s Lotus Blossom and some jewels from the Ellington songbook.

Also not to missed—along similar lines—is the classic Money Jungle, one of my top ten all-time jazz records. Another Ellington trio with giants for “side-men”—Mingus on the bass and Max Roach on drums. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Some other faves: “...and his mother called him Bill” (the Strayhorn tribute, recorded with Swee’ Pea’s death still pretty fresh for most of the band); Live at Newport; Such Sweet Thunder; Duke’s Men: The Small Groups Vol. 1...I could go on and on.

“We love you madly...” was one of Duke’s favorite lines for his audiences. Back atcha, Duke.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ohhhh, tobacco.

Juicy, my a**.

Are you allowed to say “ass” on this interweb thingy? Not the beast of burden, but you know, the backside of one’s self? One would think that’s one naughty-ish word that would’ve lost it’s oomph by now...

So, I saw a young co-ed jogging (or should i say “joggling”) today with Vanderbilt emblazoned across her bottom. Who would do this (without being paid)? Talk about your exploitative free advertising...and she paid good money for the shorts to boot, I’m sure.

I’m down with the kids...this is not a new thing, I know...but it seems to keep on going like that annoying pink bunny, with nobody ever questioning the sanity or tastefulness of the participants.

I mean if I were a young thing—male or female—with delicious posterior attributes, i might consider flacking for the right advertiser (but tastefully, of course) if they were to pony up sufficient dough. I would think my fine behind worth at least as much as some bus bench that’s just as likely to have a homeless guy asleep on it. (No homeless guy’s crawled drunk onto my buttocks and fallen asleep yet...and I plan to keep it that way).

And if you’re waiting for the word “Juicy” to ever appear across my derriere. Don’t be holdin’ yr breath.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Things we like—

I think Paul Sahre had this guy on his site as a link ages ago, but my friend Sarah emailed me this valentines film from zefrank, and reminded me how funny this guy is. Check out his february 12 link to cute overload—this site is really worth spending some time with. You WILL laugh. Start with “dance properly” and just keep going and going. I don’t know, he might get on some nerves, but by golly I like him.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

From olive us to olive you...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Things we like—Adam Snyder.

[[OK, Adam’s been my bud for a long time, so I’m biased, but his new record This Town Will Get Its Due is quite fine. Go get you one on CD Baby. If you like it, track down his other record Across the Pond.]]

It was the summer of 2003 and the power had gone out for the third time that season. Adam Snyder had been in Europe the last couple of years, promoting his first solo album. Now he was back in Kingston and his hometown was, literally, dark. Walking the eerily quiet streets at night, Adam could almost imagine it was 100 years earlier. Up from the waterfront through the twisted alleyways, the old moonlit buildings and busted up sidewalks seemed to echo with the voices of those who had come and gone long before. These ghostly sensations would follow Adam back up the hill to his own, darkened, 19th century house, where he’d light a candle and pick up his guitar. Eventually the problem was sorted out and the neighborhood blackouts became less frequent, but the spirit of those dark, nocturnal rambles remained, and This Town Will Get Its Due was born.

Mr. Cahill vs. St. Valentine.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Chicks with dixie.

[[OK, I’m not much of a Dixie Chicks fan. Not my cup of tea. But ever since the redneck witchhunt that came out of “the comment”—I've sort of stuck with them, even though I wasn’t really with them to begin with. This from Alternet’s Evan Derkacz today. Mr. Bush shouldn’t have his feelings hurt because people don’t wanna buy his presidency...]]

Ever since the Dixie Chicks' Natalie Maines dissed Bush at a UK performance in 2003 (“we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas”), they've been shunned by country radio, the chief vehicle for popularity and sales in the music industry.

Bush himself said that “they shouldn't have their feelings hurt because people don't wanna buy their record.”

No matter.

At last night’s Grammy Awards, the Chicks won Best Album for “Taking the Long Way,” which includes “Not Ready to Make Nice” a song about the fallout from the Bush criticism.

It won best song and record of the year.

When the album won best “Country” album of the year as well Maines reportedly said: “A lot of people just turned their TVs off right now.”

Monday, February 12, 2007

This, Bud, is for you.

Bud Thomas, R.I.P. My friend Molly’s sweet old dog. She found out in December that he had cancer. He was almost fifteen years old. I saw them out walking in her neighborhood last week, and Molly said “This might be the last time you'll see Bud.” It was.

Panties make nice hats, pt. 2.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Watchin’ the newly dead dance across the hills.

Went and saw Bergman’s The Seventh Seal today at the Belcourt as part of the Janus Films extravaganza. A perky little Scandinavian number in which—“A man seeks answers about life, death, and the existence of God as he plays chess against the Grim Reaper during the Black Plague.” The usual stuff. Made in 1957 for $150,000 (can you even make a fairly decent TV commercial for that today?). Hadn’t seen it in years, and was surprised to find it contained quite a bit of quiet, lovely humor, despite its Europe-during-the-Plague setting. Hard to fully get its actual dramatic impact after growing up with the cheekiness of Monty Python’s Holy Grail.

A little trivia: “The last-but-one scene in which Death is dancing away with his followers was shot when some of the actors had gone home for the day, using some technicians and a few tourists as stand-ins.”

That scene with Death and the newly dead...the images of Death, in his pale, hooded grimreaperness...the beautiful Bibi Andersson...the tall handsome young Max von Sydow, before he got old and started playing bad guys...the Joseph and Mary characters doing their musical number as the procession of flagellants many stunning, memorable visual scenes. He always had that, that Bergman.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Artist’s books.

My friend Susan had told me about this really nice international show of artist books down at the University of the South in Sewannee. Went to see it today.

It was a beautiful day for a drive. Had never been to the campus. Founded around the time of the Civil War 1858, i think. Very pretty and isolated. Talked to some students in a coffeeshop on campus...they talked about the Sewannee “bubble”—I can imagine.

Unfortunately, the show’s leaving in a couple of days. The website is good, but gives you no real idea of how beautiful and inventive many of the books are. The small paperback show catalog was amazingly expensive for its size, but worth having if artist books are of particular interest.

Funny little arcane community, the book artists. Obsessive about the provenance of papers, the smartness of colophons, tricksome bindings, and other things most people never give a thought to.

Friday, February 9, 2007

One-legged woman at an ass-kicking contest.

Things we like—Gorillaz.

The greatest fictional animated band in the history of the world. Period. The Archies...The guys from Scooby Doo...bah.

I've never been all that clear on their whole story. I know it involves Damon Albarn from Blur, and Jamie Hewlett, who originally did the comic Tank Girl. Have been enjoying their Feel Good Inc EP for quite a while now. The G-sides album is also quite fine.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Seems to me she lived her life like a candle...oh...nevermind.

[[Poor Anna Nicole Smith. Dead today at 39. what a crazy life lived so publicly. Bits from an article in today’s Wash. Post]]

Her life had been one of extremes ever since Vickie Lynn Hogan escaped the high school dropout life of teen bride. First married to a fry cook named Billy Smith in Mexia, Tex., she later worked at Wal-Mart and waitressed at Red Lobster before heading to Houston to pursue her fortune as a topless dancer. It was as a stripper that she met Marshall, 63 years her senior.

She was one of the original celebrity-train-wreck girls, undeniably beautiful but ultimately more famous for the calamities of her life than her accomplishments. Her knack for upstaging could be both a gift and a curse. In 2005, she popped up backstage at a Live 8 concert in Philadelphia, dressed in tight jeans and a nearly absent pink top, her Mystic Tan gleaming. She shook her implants and shimmied for the cameras as actor Will Smith began a somber speech about children starving to death in Africa.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Fatal Friendly Fire.

Just heard this term on an NPR report—I think was about an American pilot who was accidentally shot down by American fire—wasn't listening too carefully after that. If you’re dead, are you really inclined (or able) to get all semantic about exactly WHO killed you?

“Accidental,” “stupid,” whatever—but not “friendly.” Not friendly at all.

Wotta tomayduh.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Things we like—Saki.

[[Not the Japanese rice wine (though I like that a lot too)—but the English writer. Influenced many of my favorite writers in English—P.G. Wodehouse, G.K. Chesterton, Graham Greene, and many others. Snippets follow culled from a bio on — I just finished a very fine book of lots of his stories called The Unrest Cure and Other Beastly Tales. Great, ultra-short stories, almost like smart little one-act plays. For a long time I only knew of Saki because of my crossword habit—He being the four-letter answer for the clue, Pen name of H.H. Munro.]]

The name 'Saki' is Farsi for 'cup-bearer', and is thought to be taken from either the ancient Persian poem The Rubayat of Omar Khayyam or possibly from the New World Saki monkey Pitheciidae, both being referred to in his acerbically witty and sometimes macabre stories.

World War I started and while he was officially too old, at age 44 Munro volunteered as a soldier, enlisting in the 22nd Battalion, Royal Fusiliers. He was offered a commission but refused, saying he could not expect soldiers to obey him if he did not have any experience. He wrote a number of short stories from the trenches and promoted to Lance Sergeant (full Corporal) in September of 1916.

Just a month later, on 16 November 1916, while serving near the French town of Beaumount-Hamel, Hector Hugh Munro was fatally shot by a German sniper's bullet. According to several sources his last words were: "Put that damned cigarette out!" It is alleged that Munro's sister Ethel had destroyed his personal papers.

Monday, February 5, 2007


When the debate was raised about whether the “dome” team or the “non-dome” team would prevail in the inclement Super Bowl weather, I could only think to myself, “The real question here is what is Prince going to do with his hair in this weather?!?!”

I kept looking at the colts and thinking about the eternal crewcut of John Unitas, and the team that slunk away from Baltimore in the middle of the night all those years ago.

I spent much of the 4th quarter playing scrabble with a small friend who had her priorities straight.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Li’l Devil.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Molly Ivins, In Memoriam.

[[Wow...just came down to shut the machine off, and noticed this in my inbox. I didn’t even realise Molly had been struggling with cancer. I’ll miss her. Photo shows Molly and Ann Richards, two truly fine, strong, fearless Texican-Americans...never be their like again]]

(from Matthew Rothschild at The Progressive)

“Hey Rothschild, you owe me a Heineken!” That’s what Molly yelled at me over the din at the CafĂ© Montmartre in Madison a few years back.

We were having a little fundraiser for The Progressive, and Molly had come free of charge, of course. Swarmed by fans after she spoke, she needed to wet her whistle.

She had just finished telling one of her favorite stories (which we published in August 1993) about the Texas state legislator who introduced a bill banning sodomy, both homosexual and heterosexual, in the Great State, as she always called Texas. When this legislator succeeded in passing the bill with the help of an ally, the two men shook hands in celebration. “Whereupon, the Speaker had to send the sergeant-at-arms over to reprimand them both,” Molly said, “because under the new law, ‘it’s illegal for a prick to touch an asshole in the state.’ ”

She loved to be naughty. For a while there, I thought the main reason she wrote for The Progressive was because we let her swear. But there were others: She knew we needed humor to lighten up our pages, and that our readers needed humor to lighten up their lives.

She believed in the power of laughter. She knew it could keep you from getting depressed or burning out. And she knew it could deflate the abusers of power.

Of the Reagan Administration, she said, “Half of it was under average—the other half was under indictment.”

Of Pat Buchanan’s culture war speech at the 1992 Republican convention, she said, “It read better in the original German.”

For twenty years, Molly wrote for The Progressive, and over the last fifteen, her monthly column provided the frosting on the last page.

She was, far and away, the reader’s favorite. Even my sister told me she read Molly first.

She was the favorite not only because of her humor and her style.

She was the favorite because she never lost hope in the promise of America.

She often described herself as “ever optimistic to the point of lunacy.” She had faith in the people. She understood how messed up our democracy was, how in hock to the wealthy and the corporate, and so she championed campaign finance reform. She promoted egalitarianism. As Robert La Follette used to say, “The solution to the problems of democracy is more democracy.” Molly believed that.

And she was a fighter, to the end.

Somehow, even as the cancer was taking its terminal toll, she managed just a few weeks ago to summon the energy to crank out a couple of syndicated columns on the Iraq War. She was doing more than her part to stop Bush’s craziness, and she was urging all of us to do ours.

To Jim Hightower, to Lou Dubose, to her colleagues at her beloved Texas Observer, and especially to Betsy Moon, her valiant right-hand woman, I send my deepest condolences.

I also want to thank all the Progressive subscribers who sent notes to Molly over the last several weeks. She appreciated that. “I’m overwhelmed by the kindness of you progressives, who have comforted me with your cards,” she said. “While I’m not able to get back to each and every one of you, please know that you’ve brought me cheer. On we fight!”

Molly, you brought us all cheer, month in and month out. And we will fight on.

I owe you a Heineken—and a whole lot more.

Miss Saigon.

So, I’m driving out to my favorite Vietnamese place—Miss Saigon—on Charlotte Pike. Back before the WNA (War of Northern Aggression), Charlotte was one of the main highways out of town. Now a long strip of it has become Nashville’s Little Vietnam.

On the way out I notice a church sign that says “Jesus didn’t speak english”—Amen to that.

Miss Saigon has a huge TV that’s mostly for weekend karaoke, but it always seems to be on—just usually with no sound. I look up in mid-meal to see Whoopi Goldberg and Bill O’Reilly clearly yelling and gesticulating at each other on his stupid Fox show. And here’s the kicker...they keep flashing to Ms. Jane Fonda protesting the whatever in Iraq. And I’m in a Vietnamese restaurant!

I was one of the few present who was “in country” (this one) when Ms. Fonda was protesting another quagmire of a war. So I just chuckled quietly to myself, and didn’t bother explaining to my waiter. It would have been too complicated. He knows I’m sorry for what happened to his country. The ones who aren’t don’t bother eating Vietnamese.

Driving thru little Vietnam. Passing the Taco trucks and the socially concious protestant church sign. Eating a really beautiful bowl of vermicelli with pork and little egg rolls—named something I can’t pronounce. Watching a loudmouthed Irish guy yelling back and forth with a black woman named Goldberg (and let’s be clear here—I’m not generalising about Irish people, I LOVE Irish people, but hell, IRELAND is probably ashamed of Bill O’Reilly). But at the end of the day...ain’t this a great country?

I got a fortune cookie that says “You will have a fine capacity for the enjoyment of life.” While I’m waiting on that, I’ll do what I can...