Thursday, May 30, 2002

Hello Beatle People.

Welcome to my new feature:

*******�HERO OF THE WEEK�*********

This week I have two: Jack White of the White Stripes and John Frusciante, guitarist and aesthetic visionary behind the new Red Hot Chili Peppers.

A little background: I have been slaving over a big Peppers piece for a couple weeks and it�s finally almost done. I discovered midway thru the process that I was being granted loads more creative freedom than usual on this one, and I found the sudden change confusing as hell! It got me thinking about creative freedom, and how it can be an obstacle to clarity.

Jack White says that he thrives within strict and narrow limitations: �If I had a brand new Les Paul that stayed perfectly in tune and some solid state amp and all this digital equipment--that�s just too much opportunity. I wanna go in with one beat-up amplifier, one drum set, a guitar that doesn�t stay in tune and just work with that. I love putting myself in a box, putting restrictions down, and taking it from there.�

If you know his music, you know the power of limitations.

John Frusciante said something similar in an interview a month ago. We were talking about �fate� and the nature of linear time and it evolved into songwriting. He said that in the realm of linear time, it appears to us that anything can happen, but that in fact that�s not the case--that there are crucial if invisible *limitations* on the course of events, which are only visible to one observing the whole span of linear time from beginning to end. Seen from that objective perspective, he believes, it is clear that the order of events, or fate, is perfect.

KS: But what about free will? Anything can happen.

JF: But only one thing *does* happen.

KS: Right. It�s this total paradox.

JF: You�ll find that it�s not a total paradox if you sit there in front of a piece of paper and say, OK, I can do anything. And then you try to do something--you don�t do anything good.

To do something good, you have to limit yourself. You have to say, I�m going to draw a bird.

I don�t sit there with the guitar and say, I can play anything. I sit there and I say, hmm, OK, I�ll play an A minor chord and do something with this kind of chord progression and put this kind of rhythm to it.

That�s not *anything*. It�s *infinite*, because there�s an unlimited amount of things that can be played, and there will never be the end of music, there will always be more ideas and possibilities and new songs. But at the same time, every single one of those things will be in certain confines. Every song has a million other things in it that aren�t being done that would make the song cease to be that song.

If you apply *anything* to these things that are supposed to be expressions of freedom, you�ll ruin them. What it�s more about is that there�s these energies below everything, making everything happen, and it�s a matter of putting them in as concise a form as possible. For me that�s where I start to find real freedom.




PS: Tomorrow the big White Stripes Weekend begins! I�ll give you full reports of the El Rey Theatre Friday/Sunday/Monday shows. I�m trying to get in on a funny deal they�re doing: Saturday they�re performing at the MTV movie awards, and they�re going to have a load of fans onstage dancing, wearing red and white.

Who�da ever thunk they�d be on MTV? Much less the movie awards? Although, if John�s right, I guess it was pre-ordained by cosmic limitation that Jack�s highly self-restricted music should explode.

The Rev. Tony Pierce gave me quite a tongue-lashing Monday about writing in my blog every day. So if this gets boring, just blame him.

Tonight I went to my first recording studio. It's called The Village and it's in West L.A. on Santa Monica Blvd. It has a very '70s L.A. feel to it--you could totally imagine Fleetwood Mac in there at four in the morning on coke, obsessing over mixing of backup harmonies and getting punchy and having a complete laughing jag that lasts for ten minutes, and then every time somebody looks at the other for the next hour they start laughing again.

I don't know; I've never recorded an album but I imagine that's what would happen.

This studio had 72 tracks, it seemed to me. It was basically like my four-track--after falling in a vat of nuclear waste. At first the board looked frightfully complicated but then I just realized that it was the same set of buttons repeated 72 times. I felt right at home there. It's a place for people who don't mind being inside for days on end bringing into fruition something in their head. And that's me, Jack.

The mixer/engineer's name was Jim Scott. He was tall and tan with gray hair and he seemed like someone who had lived a lot. He had completely decorated the studios he was using with Indian fabrics and flea-market tapestries, some really funny (gratuitous unicorns); Christmas lights; candles, and champa incense.

I ate some Starburst and Corn Nuts and listened to a new record end-to-end, tripping out on the harmonies. There were notes taped all over a door about the record--I can't imagine the detail-work that must go into recording an album with 72 tracks, holy fuck.

They had a shower and everything you need there. There were even little glowing stars in the ceiling. It must be ridiculously expensive. I wonder what it's like to have that much money, where you can camp out at a swanky studio for three months just to mix your record. I mean, when you're that rich, where do you draw the line? Do you go for the gold-plated pepperoni on your pizza, just because you can?

Anyway, budget and technology bear little relation to the quality of an album, far as I can tell.

Beth Orton last night was very good, but her band bummed me out and the venue (House of Blues) was all wrong. She is real, and the House of Blues is Disneyland. Her band was too polished and there were no electric guitars. I wanted to hear her with a T. Rex "Electric Warrior"-style arrangement: Electric guitar, acoustic, bongos, a raw voice--she could keep the cello and violin, which were good. I just felt the arrangements were not doing justice to the humanity of her voice and her songs.

After the show, my new friend Debbie and I walked down the Strip to a certain hotel to stalk Badly Drawn Boy, who's staying there. He didn't turn up but we sat on the pool patio and looked at the moon, hanging amber over the city with a big, full face of mercy.

The moon is my boyfriend.

Now I must go to my transport capsule because I have a date with the moon in about ten minutes.



Tuesday, May 28, 2002

Hi Bloggy-wogs:

I'm back from the mines.

Finally finishing up the piece I've been obsessing over on the L.A. rock band. (Hint: they wear lots of socks) I have a warm feeling in my heart because working on this piece brought me home, to my childhood and adolescence in Koreatown and Hollywood. And to get the good news out about the secret and beautiful L.A. no one knows about.

Well, some people do.

I am so fortunate to have work like this. I have an essay in City Pages this week about the White Stripes et al. Nobody seems to like it much, but fuck them. What do they know.

Today Axel, my friend and guitar teacher, took my picture for the contributor's page in a home-made "X" wife-beater, with Hollywood palm trees behind me. Hooray for X.

Yesterday Morgan Freeman (white film director, not black actor) had a BBQ and Tsar played live, on the deck. Dan Kern has a nifty Gibson (non-hollow-body) that sounded warm and wonderful, and which he played beautifully. He is so centered onstage; it's magnetic.

Tonight I'm going to see Beth Orton. Got to go get ready.



Saturday, May 25, 2002

Babies: I am so sorry for skipping. I hope I will never skip again. Except on ice cream days. Those are days when the Very Large Ice Cream rolls into town on the giant flatbed, but I know that on those days you will be out in the streets with me, spoons poised, to greet the Cone, and you will not want to be on your computer anyway.

The reason for my absence was that I was writing a long piece and it dominated the writing center of my brain. A the moment, the writing center is dominated by sleeping drugs, as you can see. I will crash headlong into the computer screen shortly.

Now I would like to mention that a great song on "OK Computer" blatantly rips off a melodic turn form Derek and the Dominoes' "Layla"--it's taken from the latter section of the song during that beautiful piano part that keeps repeating. Something about the bit they stole speaks to me of endings, of resolution, of hard-won closure that, somehow, isn't ever over. Maybe that's because this bit ends on the two notes that begin it, you could sing it over and over in a round. I wish I could remember the Radiohead song but if you can think of it I will give you a huge and fabulous prize.

Once Liam Gallagher said, why does everyone accuse us of ripping off the Beatles?--What about that piano bit in "Karma Police" that sounds dead like "Sexy Sadie"?

Maybe it's because Radiohead never claimed to BE the Beatles. Just a guess.

So the other night I heard "Private World" by the New York Dolls at a bar, and it really turned me on. Don't you like songs about trying to invent, by sheer force of imagination, a new world? Maybe a secret world? There aren't enough of these sorts of songs today. For some reason, most rock today believes it has to be of this world, it has to be worldly. It has to be "with it" and viable for the machine. I think most rock musicians are of middling-to-good talent and they do not have the courage of their talents to completely ignore the machine and say," I am weird. I sound weird. Maybe nobody will get me. Here goes."

In any case, I blame most cases of "selling out" not on greed but on fear, and/or a lack of self-awareness. I would put a lot of the rap-metal bands in that category. It doesn't make them any less horrible to hear, of course.

I am a Pollyanna and I like to see the good in people, though. Except in the record company's share holders and the radio chain owners, who have one thing in mind and thus suck huge martian butt.

Tonight I would also like to send a large kiss out across the universe to the late Ben Orr of the Cars. I am learning "Just What I Needed" on guitar and his singing is so fine. Plus, what a wonderful songwriter.

PS: In the Silverlake Guitar Shop today I heard that Paul Williams is alive and was spotted recently in Silverlake, and seems to be happy and clean.

PPS: "Maladroit" is really good and much more emotional than Rivers may even have known. Sometimes people think they're being terribly elusive and oblique and they're wearing their hearts on their sleeve just the same.



Tuesday, May 21, 2002

OOps, I skipped a day! It had to be done and, in fact, this entry won't be no great shakes neither, because I am smack in the middle of edits on a long article about an L.A. rock band..

No telling how the final piece will feel, but the process of writing it was surprisingly pleasurable. I worked for 20 hours straight, but it didn't feel like it at all. It just felt like your average all-nighter. Part of the pleasure involved the fact that, for the first time in a big magazine, I'm addressing a subject that is deeply personal to me: the enigmatic and bittersweet beauty of Los Angeles. And the unspoken understanding of those who grew up here during the '70s and '80s in non-rich, weirdo families, in non-rich, weirdo neighborhoods. It's a peculiar experience that has rarely been captured in art.

You get a good feel of it in the novel "White Oleander." I liked it for that reason, and then I found out the author grew up on 5th Avenue and 8th St. in Koreatown, which is the street next to where I grew up (Third Ave. and 8th St.)

When you were bored and your mom said, why don't you take a walk around the block, you would either walk down 5th Avenue or Westchester Pl., which was lined with magnificent carob trees (I think) that made the street extremely shady and moody. The trees also shed funny brown pods that rattled when you shook them. If you cracked a pod open, it smelled like dog poop, but it tasted sweet like candy. The trees had powerful roots that pushed up the sidewalk so that it was extremely hilly, perfect for stunt bicycle-riding. I loved Third Avenue best, but Westchester had a mysterious, magnetic quality that made it a great place to visit.

My brother, Ben, told me recently in grave tones that they had cut down all the trees on Westchester, and that now it looked like any other street. I drove by and it was true. The street was bright and the houses were sunny and the sidewalks were flat. The magic was gone.

Sunday, May 19, 2002

Heard the new Eminem single Friday. It sounded immediately great (which might mean it's going to be completely annoying by Monday). It's full of hilarious little jabs at Moby and Limp Bizkit and self-aggrandizing (and accurate)

proclamations that he gives good Pop Icon and steals black music better than Elvis.

But the best part is the very beginning. First, it borrows Malcom McLaren's "Buffalo Gals." "Two trailer park girl going round the outside..."

(I found "Buffalo Gals" on vinyl recently at a record shop with my very hip 15-year-old cousin Joe. I played it for him, ready to blow his mind, and damned if it didn't sound totally hokey and remarkably slow. Joe will never be able to understand the excitement of that song when it came out. Nuts.)

But the best best part is the next little bit, where Dre/Eminem do a Backstreet Boys thing--only they're not really spoofing them, they're kind of copping them. No shit. I always thought the production and melody of "We've Got It Goin' On" was smart and cool, myself.

What the hell is Max Martin doing these days, and when is he going to put together a Runaways-style rock band?

Saturday, May 18, 2002

And now, it is time to talk about �Let It Be.� The Beatles, not the Replacements.

This album, a half-aborted effort recorded between the White Album and Abbey Road, is wrongly dismissed. It�s a goofy, flawed and wonderful album. In fact, even though �Abbey Road� is my favorite record of all time, I have to admit there�s some lame shit on it, and it could have benefitted from some of the �Let It Be� material. How could they include �Maxwell�s Silver Hammer� yet leave off �Get Back� (the secret twin to �Come Together�)? Or �Across the Universe�? (And what�s with the prepositions? They were very movement-oriented at that point, weren�t they?)

And �Two of Us�! One of the best songs about friendship they ever wrote. Right up there with �We Can Work It Out.� It�s about John and Paul, it�s about Linda and Paul, it�s about time and aging, and everything they were feeling at the end of the road as the Beatles, and the beginning of the road as new men. I suppose it�s fitting, in a depressing way, that it was tacked onto this unloved pseudo-album, with Paul and John singing duo-lead vocals. They still love each other so. You can hear it.

Clearly, �Let It Be� is a perfect song. Never loved the arrangement but, gotta say, the secret hero of �Let It Be� is Ringo. (I believe Ringo, not Paul, drums here. Pinch me if I'm wrong.)

Ringo deserves a big soul-hug from the world.

Ringo wins!

I also wanna say for the record that Nirvana would not have been Nirvana without Dave Grohl. And all their radio hits would have been different animals without him. I�m not saying they wouldn�t have been hits. I don�t know. They wouldn�t have been what they were. Listen to �Come As You Are.� Dave Grohl is the secret hero of *that* song.

Dave Grohl is the secret hero of Nirvana, period.

Friday, May 17, 2002

Sorry if it seems star-fucky to put stuff from interviews like that. It seems maybe star-fucky to me. But the thing with the blog is, I don't want to just delete stuff that annoys me later. The whole point of the blog is to be an imperfect reflection of a moment. So I guess Thursday was a star-fucky day for me, prolly because I am so tired from working so much, I am crying all the time and just feel so insecure. Last night I was reading an article from 1996 during the nadir of John Frusciante's heroin addiction (Chili Peppers' guitarist). It was written so graphically and gruesomely, I turned into a big crybaby. I just felt so sad. Maybe I should get some sleep. OK, bye.



ps: My roommate Jacob played me Paul Williams' (and Kermit's) "The Rainbow Connection" tonight on guitar, and we sang it in bad harmony. It is such a great song. To me it's about the mystery of following the muse, and the loneliness of it. Willie Nelson recently recorded it really beautifully, and titled his album after it. I sure hope that made Paul Williams happy. I love his songwriting. It's full of key changes and beautiful chord progressions, and inspiring bridges. I wonder what he's doing now, and if he's happy.

"have you been half-asleep?

and have you heard voices?

i've jeard them calling my name.

is this the sweet sound

that calls the young sailors?

the voice could be one and the same.

i've heard it too many times to ignore it.

it's something that i'm supposed to be.

someday we'll find it,

the rainbow connection,

the lovers, the dreamers, and me."

"Los Angeles has such a soulful face."

It does. There�s this smell in L.A. at night around February, you know, that sweet smell? To me, that smell is L.A.

"To me, L.A. is that bird that goes (cooing softly) Ooooh-ah-oooo, ooo-ooo. You know that one?"

God do I know it--there's one that lives outside my bedroom window, sits on a TV antenna on the apartment building next door. And do you notice also how around about February the birds start singing at night?

"You know, I just moved to Malibu three weeks ago. I�ve got chickens and I get up and feed the chickens. It�s cool, it� s farm-style."

Did you have to learn about how to raise chickens?

"No, it�s easy. Give 'em some feed, some scratch, get the eggs, that�s it.

I think you have to clean out the coop sometimes, i haven�t figured that out yet."

Did you build it?

"No it was there, there were chickens when I moved in. They were like, you want the chickens? I was like, I�ll try. So far we have a good relationship. A friend said, Oh, I can hypnotize chickens. I said, I thought that was an Iggy Pop lyric, I didn�t know you actually did it! You hold the chicken and you draw a line in front of its face, evidently it hypnotizes it."

What do you do about their poop?

"I think it just kind of mushes in."

I'm sitting here scarily at 2 am transcribing interview tapes and for some reason his use of the word "mushes" seemed good. Oh yeah, it's Flea.

Thursday, May 16, 2002

Because I�m all swampified right now with work (or as Miss Celie in �The Color Purple� says, �I am swamp�) I thought I�d take the easy way out, again, with someone else�s words.

In celebration of the release Tuesday of �Maladroid,� Weezer�s fourth album, here�s a bit of an interview I did with Rivers Cuomo a year ago, just before the release of The Green Album. Some of the songs off �Maladroit� had already been written at that point, including, if I�m not mistaken, the first single, �Dope Nose.�

Here he talks about the curious (and to me frustrating) new direction his songwriting has taken since the �scarring� experience of �Pinkerton.� It�s born of his early love of heavy metal and his fascination with the math of songwriting. (This is the guy who sat in a room with the windows painted black for a year or two, hand-writing charts of Kurt Cobain songs.) It also comes from his need to protect what a childhood friend of mine used to call his �inside feelings.�

I find a lot of his newer stuff a little *too* algebraic, but I love the fact that Rivers is trying his hardest to figure stuff out--and making really excellent pop in the process. Humorous, spirited, clever pop that totally kicks the sorry asses of all those mopey millionaire motherfuckers on KROQ like Staind and Creed and whoever the fuck.

I only hope that one day soonish he will understand that he has such a great opportunity now: To take all the technical mastery, pop-hook genius and and guitar-god madness at his fingertips, and to give it immortality with a little bit of his own blood.

*What was your earliest rock epiphany?*

When I was a child my first rock epiphany was hearing Kiss, �Rock and Roll Over� for the first time. I was in my living room in my house and somehow this girl came over, she was the daughter of a friend of my parents or something. She had a Kiss record with her, and she put it on--we were all about six or seven years old. And when we heard �Makin� Love� or �I Want You� off that record, we just lost our minds. The guitar was *so exciting.* [His voice gets kind of breathy.] I remember we�d all just run around the room in circles, playing air guitar and jumping off the furniture. That pretty much decided the course of my life right there.

*You were in metal mode when you moved to L.A.? How old were you?

Yeah.... I was 17 or 18, it was �89 or �90.

We were *totally psyched.* [laughs] We [he and best friends Justin Fisher and Kevin Ridel] grew up in the backwoods of Connecticut where there was nothing going on at all. And then we landed in the middle of Hollywood, with no money, just our guitars on our backs, and it just seemed like the craziest, wildest place.

*Did you have big hair?*

I had long hair.

*But not big.*

Not at that point.

*You had big hair before?*

Yeah. In high school.

*Were you going for a Poison look?*

No, actually, I was into much heavier metal. It started in seventh or eighth grade with Priest and Maiden and Quiet Riot, and just got heavier and heavier from there, to the likes of Metallica and Slayer. Even then in the �80s we despised all of the glam bands or the pop bands--

*Like Motley Crue?*

Well, I loved �Shout at the Devil,� but after that they lost me. And I never liked Poison, but I went to see em with my girlfriend in seventh or eighth grade because she loved them. But I didn�t like it.

*Did you like Def Leppard?*


*Van Halen?*

No. Now, I like all those bands. But in high school you�re much more prejudiced against anything outside your particular style. And my style was speed metal, thrash.

*It�s so different from your personal style.*

Well, believe me, I tried to make it in speed metal, but it just wasn�t congenial to my nature. So that�s how new styles are born.

*But there�s some core of that music being expressed through you.*

I think so.

*What is it?*

I think even though Weezer plays pop songs, they have the heavy guitars, that crunchy sound, and that aggression. But I just can�t sing like Rob Halford.

I guess it�s only through our limitations that new styles are born. Because for example, if the Beatles could have sounded exactly like Elvis, they probably would have, and then we never would have had the Beatles. If I could sing exactly like James Hetfield, I probably would have, and then Weezer would just be another lame Metallica ripoff band. But I can�t sing like that and so Weezer was born.

*By the way, I don�t really know what emo means.*

I don�t either, but apparently I had something to do with emo. People expect me to be extremely sensitive and emotional, insecure, conflicted.

*Well, aren�t you?*

No, I feel--well, whatever I feel, I don�t feel like showing it. I don�t want to wear my heart on my sleeve. I think that�s what people expect of me now...

The closest example I can think of of the sort of songs I�m attracted to right now are the early Beatle songs. They�re love songs, and they�re songs about girls or whatever, but they�re so generic that you never get the sense that they�re about their actual lives.

*Did it make you feel bad on a personal level when your fans didn�t like �Pinkerton�?*

Yeah, with �Pinkerton� it definitely felt like a personal attack when everybody said they didn�t like that record, because it was such a personal record. I put it out and I was basically saying, OK, this is me, take it or leave it--and everybody left it.

*But don�t you think they eventually came around and got it?*

Well, four or five years later. But it�s too late now, I�m already scarred. [big laugh.]

*Well, I like �Pinkerton.�*

I *don�t* like it.

*Why not?*

It�s too emotional.

*I can�t figure out if the romantic moments are romantic moments, or if they�re cynical moments I�m just reading as romance because I want to.*

I think they�re real.

*Is the rejection of �Pinkerton� partially why you went into hibernation mode?*

Partially. Probably.

*Do you think you will ever go back there?*

I don�t know if I have to go into hibernation mode anymore, because I feel like I�m hibernating even though I�m back in the world now. Even though I�m dealing with people every day, I feel like on the inside I�m still very hidden.

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

It's 3 a.m.

The birds are singing in the courtyard of my building. Someone in the building is playing piano. Erik Satie, Trois Gymnopedies.

Talking about music is fantastic. But sometimes you remember that the music is infinite. And then all the words in your head sound tangled and oblique.

But I guess that's what keeps writers going. Trying to untangle them and lay them out clearly, in lines, maybe make a map of the stars or something.

Tuesday, May 14, 2002

Rock God Jim Walsh enters the fray!

That is, the "Does Gloom Rock?" fray.

Or, fine, the "Does Gloomy Music Get Its Propers?" fray:

"The Doors' unkillable appeal is all about gloom and 'poetry,' says Jimmy W. "And they

sucked more than the Cure, Smiths, etc."

The Doors appeal is all about gloom and poetry, Jim?

I thought it was the trousers.

In any case, I'm totally freaking freaking out because I have a 3,000 word piece due, um, seven hours ago, which I haven't started writing. I had to catch a film screening tonight too, bad timing--of "About A Boy," the new Hugh Grant movie which is, gotta say, everything good about Hugh Grant movies with a relatively light dusting of Nutrasweet--well, for most of the film. There was bound to be some. I mean, let's face it, Nick Hornby is a man's man, and he wants all the dudes in the audience on dates to get laid afterwards. He knows who's paying his shrink bills.

There was a radio giveaway before the film wherein this middle-aged lady won a week's stay in London. She looked very non-monied and was walking with a cane, and she said London was one of the only places she wanted to go. Everyone in the audience went, "Awwww...." (Sometimes even Clear Channel makes people happy, impossible as it sounds.) Everyone was so happy for her. Swear to God. In fact, everyone in the audience went "awww" throughout the movie at all the parts where assholes usually laugh at the poor sods being traumatized onscreen. Tonight, as happens so often, my respect and affection for People was supported. Swear to God.

Back to the program: As my friend Keith Harris observed, Badly Drawn Boy (who wrote the songs for the film) is a much better Elliott Smith than Elliott Smith. Hooray for Badly Drawn Boy! Kind of like how Nick Cave does a much better Leonard Cohen than Leonard Cohen on "The Boatman's Call." Hooray for Nick Cave!

Now, as another friend once remarked, who thinks Billy Idol does a much better Jim Morrison than Jim Morrison? Crazy? I don't think so. Listen, next time you hear "Rebel Yell," just think about Jim Morrison for a sec and you'll see the light.

Monday, May 13, 2002

PPS: As I told Mark last night, I don't think that the gloomy side of rock is underplayed whatsoever--isn't that what grunge was all about? (And why I'm over it?) Goth? Fucking rap-metal?

He said, I'm talking about the introspective, solitary side of the gloomy spectrum.

Sorry dude, I still don't think it's underappreciated. The Cure, the Smiths... I mean I could list about 104 1/2 bands for whom lonely teenage angst paid off nicely.

Oh yeah, P.S.:

My primary disagreement with Wonderboy regards Low. To me, Low are only rock 'n' roll in the sense that they make me wanna break shit---over their heads.

Happy Monday. Stayed up till 4 a.m. with the whiskey, trying to write about how it feels to finally have a little decent rock on the radio after the Aggro-Metal Emergency of 1998-2001. The White Stripes have been in the �Furious Five At Five� thing on KROQ for weeks now. (And by the way, is that supposed to be a Grandmaster Flash reference or something? Like they ever played Grandmaster Flash. Haw.)

I have to confess, though, that I dug a little of that rap-metal shit. Having dated a sociopath I always related to Limp Bizkit�s �Think About It.� I liked �Butterfly.� I�m down with �The Sickness.� (It�s just too goofy to hate, plus it has an anthemic catchphrase, which is always a plus.)

And I still sing along like a complete asshole whenever POD�s �Alive� comes on the radio. Sure, it�s about God, but you can totally pretend it�s about having sex on tons of drugs.

Sunday, May 12, 2002

I'm all busy and crap writing an article on rock music so here's a new thought on yesterday's question, this time from Mark Baumgarten, wonderboy of Minneapolis, infinity, and beyond!

I like his use of the word "fuckin'. " i didn't ask his permission to post this. oops!

"what lester said about rock 'n' roll was right on, but i always thought that he could take it further in what he said. rock 'n' roll IS something (anything) that makes you feel alive, but alive covers a larger area than a lot of people want to believe. alive is always associated with the excitement of being an independant breathing being with a total control over your own life. i think though (and lester gets at this by mentioning Mingus and Hank) that sometimes the most alive you can feel is during the down times, when you feel low, embattled and alone. because, when you feel like the grime of the earth, two things are going on -- you're looking at the entire rest of the world and at yourself at the same time, and the thing you notice is that you are not like them. and if the mood is right and the music is right, this can be the most empowering feeling a living breathing being can feel.

i know it's a little dark, but i think that lots of people gloss over that part of rock 'n' roll. low is rock 'n' roll; nick cave is rock 'n' roll; (sad) R.E.M. is rock 'n' roll; tom waits is rock 'n' roll; pedro the lion is rock 'n' roll; george orwell is rock 'n' roll; fuckin', sylvia plath is rock 'n' roll. not that these are contentious nominees, but they are often treated as lesser rock 'n' rollers because they make listeners feel like the shit of the earth sometimes.

that's just my two cents."

Saturday, May 11, 2002

You are so welcome to my new rockblog.

Some blogs are unplanned conceptions. Sometimes those are the best kind. I was at Tony Pierce�s candylaced supacrib to pick up a fresh copy of the new Weezer (out Tuesday). We sat down at the computer and within the space of a single Pixies song (Isla de Encanta, if you must know), he had hooked me up. Suddenly I�m a fucking blogger. I wouldn�t have wanted it any other way, with any other guy, Tony.

So here�s to my autopublishing angel (, and here�s a thought to inaugurate the blog, and to echo Tony�s musings today on his own site.

Q: What is good rock �n� roll?

A: �Good rock �n� roll is something that makes you feel alive.

Good rock �n� roll also encompasses other things, like Hank Williams and Charlie Mingus and a lot of things that aren�t strictly defined as rock �n� roll. Rock �n� roll is an attitude. It�s a way of doing things, of approaching things.

Writing can be rock �n� roll.

Or a movie can be rock �n� roll.

It�s a way of living your life.�

--Lester Bangs, 1982

He�s right. And it�s a whole bunch more things I have yet to discover. I expect that�s what this blog will be all about.