Sunday, November 30, 2008


I’m piddling through one of my usual daily crosswords online ( and 54 Down is “rock band formed in new hope, PA.” I nearly dropped my virtual pencil! Any of you who do crosswords know there are rarely any musical/pop culture references more contemporary than Yoko Ono. Three-letter word “wife of Lennon,” oh, no!?

So this is just a shout out to Aaron Freeman and Mickey Melchiondo a.k.a Gene and Dean Ween. Congrats on this semi-achievement. Of course I heard they recently made a record for Rounder, so not sure what happened to their young weirdo street cred. Those boys must be in their late 30s now (photo is from the very early days, maybe junior high when they first met)

From a (uncredited) review: “Ween is the ultimate cosmic goof of the alternative rock era, a prodigiously talented and deliriously odd duo whose work travels far beyond the constraints of parody and novelty into the heart of surrealist ecstasy. Despite a mastery for seemingly every mutation of the musical spectrum, the group refuses to play it straight; in essence, Ween are bratty deconstructionists, kicking dirt on the pop world around them with demented glee.”

From Wikipedia: “The name Ween was a cross between the words ‘wuss’ and ‘peen.’”

Rock on Gene and Dean Ween...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

And the candy floss you had, and your mother and your dad.

Anybody who’s a Neil Young fan, has to check out this live stream of the 22-year-old Neil’s finally-to-be-released Live from the Canterbury House, recorded in Ann Arbor in 1968, here. The show where the single “Sugar Mountain” was recorded. Damn, I loved that record when it came out...still do...seems like it was actually a B-side, can’t even remember the single. The full recording has been sitting somewhere since it was originally recorded, coming out first of December.

This is very early solo Neil, just after the breakup of Buffalo Springfield and before the release of his first solo record. Not the best ever, but great for the hippy 1968-style patter about guitar tuning, pills and minds being blown, and early versions of “Birds” and “Sugar Mountain” if nothing else. Sugar Mountain sounds so tossed-out, but so freakin’ perfect...simply one of the best songs ever recorded about the sadness of the loss of youth. He calls it an “oldie” in the show, must have written it when he was about 18. Not a lot of 18-year-old’s songs holdin’ up nearly 45 years later. “Old Laughing Lady” and “Broken Arrow” are also nice moments.

Thanks to Bob Boilen and his great All Songs Considered program on NPR, for this and so much more.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Music NOT for Airports.

Nice entry on NPR’s “This I Believe” this week from one of my old favorites, Brian Eno. Listen to it here.
Ever the cheeky monkey, Eno says this about an acapella group which meets weekly at his house: “I believe that singing is the key to long life, a good figure, a stable temperament, increased intelligence, new friends, super self-confidence, heightened sexual attractiveness and a better sense of humor. A recent long-term study conducted in Scandinavia sought to discover which activities related to a healthy and happy later life. Three stood out: camping, dancing and singing.”

Monday, November 17, 2008

Gooooooooal, Botero!

I wasn’t even sure that Fernando Botero was still alive...but by golly, he’s not only still kickin’, but is kickin’ ass and takin’ names, as they say (just who are they?). My buddy Roger sent me a link to this blog called “WITHIN EMPIRE” with some of the finest, most powerful pictures Botero’s ever made, IMHO. Based on the American tortu-rama at Abu Ghraib. See them here. Not for the kiddies!

[This is not an endorsement of the blog WITHIN EMPIRE, by any stretch. Haven’t had enough chance to check it’s pretty radical thought. They describe themselves thusly: “Critical analysis and deconstruction of both hegemonic and radical ideology, as well as its social, historical, and aesthetic manifestations and implications, all from within the contemporary American-capitalist empire.”]

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

President (Elect) Obama.

I feel that, due to the ridiculous shenanigans of the last two elections, I’m still holding my breath here just a little. Feeling hopeful despite all of the other craziness in the world. Ch-ch-ch-changes...

Dixville Notch in a landslide!

In the first voting of the day, Mr Obama won by 15 votes to six in the town of Dixville Notch, New Hampshire.

The town, which has a 60-year tradition of being first in the nation to vote, opened its polls at midnight, with turnout of 100%.

It was the first time the town had voted for a Democrat since 1968.

Monday, November 3, 2008

People we’ll miss. Studs Terkel. 1912-2008.

Dead in Chicago yesterday at 96.

From his friend, NPR’s Scott Simon, a nice Studs quote...“You just have to give ’em the chance. Everybody’s got their story, just let ’em sing, Pally, let ’em sing!” ’Nuff said.

“My epitaph? My epitaph will be ‘Curiosity did not kill this cat.’”

Lots of archived remembrance of Studs here.
Chcago Tribune here.

Photo by Steve Kagan.