Big Star "#1 Record/Radio City"

Listening to this record for the first time in about a year, I'm left to wonder: Is this one of the greatest records ever made? I'm also left to wonder how a band THIS GOOD weren't huge! Alex Chilton and Chris Bell were a lesser Lennon/McCartney. Ok, maybe they weren't as influencial (thought there's an argument here) and their career as a band was clearly much shorter, but what an amazing collection of songs. Whenever I hear "My Life Is Right", I can't help but feel good about things, regardless of the state of things around me (or inside me).

Similar to Gram Parsons and Nick Drake, Chris Bell's early passing was one of the biggest losses in singer/songwriter history. If you're familiar with Big Star or Bell, you're well aware of Bell's battles with depression. I can't remember where I read it, but one of the most heartwarming stories I've ever read was Bell's brother (David?) writing about the last days of Chris' life. Evidently David took him on a trip overseas, which rendered the photo on Bell's amazing "I Am the Cosmos", in hopes of lifting his brother's spirits. I believe David said that this was the happiest he'd ever seen Chris. I guess that happiness was short-lived as Chris Bell died not long thereafter. His mark lives on.

Five Leaves Left


Village Records, Mill Valley, CA

I made my first trip to Village Records today and man, what a place. I picked up (all on vinyl) David Bowie's "Low", George Harrison's "All Things Must Pass" and Aretha Franklin's "I Never Loved a Man The Way I Loved You". This little shop has seen in-stores the likes of Elvis Costello, Carl Perkins, Doug Sahm and Nick Lowe.

I walked around for about an hour and a half flipping through vinyl, admiring the vintage posters and just soaking in the place. Well, of little surprise, Village Records will be closing its doors for good in September. As we all know, record stores like this are a dying breed. If you're in the Bay Area between now and September, I strongly urge you to check out this treasure.

The Band & Neil Young


Movies and Music

What an outstanding weekend of movies and music. And I still have tomorrow to fill it out.

24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE: One of the best rock n' roll films I've ever seen. I know little to nothing about the Manchester scene and the bands it spawned (Joy Division, Happy Mondays, New Order), but this movie was incredibly inspiring. I will own JD releases by noon tomorrow.

RATCATCHER: Beautiful movie. I didn't find out until after that it was directed by the same woman who directed "Morvern Callar", another excellent flick.

GRAM PARSONS-GP: The best country record ever? It just might be.

Oh, I don't know, about 25 other records.

Good weekend....



Olberman's Comment

Here it is:

Brakes Tour the US

One of the most energetic, politically-driven shows you'll ever see. They're from the UK and manage to merge punk, country, rock and all sorts of other shit.

Don't miss these guys:

May 30 2007 8:00A
Spaceland, LA Los Angeles, CA
May 31 2007 8:00A
Popscene, San Fransisco San Francisco, CA
Jun 2 2007 8:00A
Dantes, Portland Portland, OR
Jun 3 2007 8:00A
Media Club, Vancouver Vancouver, BC
Jun 4 2007 8:00A
Chop Suey, Seattle Seattle, WA
Jun 6 2007 8:00A
Kilby Court, Salt Lake City Salt Lake City, UT
Jun 7 2007 8:00A
Hi Dive, Denver Denver, CO
Jun 8 2007 8:00A
Waiting Room, Omaha Omaha, NE
Jun 9 2007 8:00A
400 Bar Minneapolis, MN
Jun 10 2007 8:00A
Empty Bottle, Chicago Chicago, IL
Jun 12 2007 8:00A
Lee's Palace, Toronto Toronto, ON
Jun 13 2007 8:00A
Club Lambi, Montreal Montreal, QB
Jun 14 2007 8:00A
TT The Bears, Cambridge MA Cambridge, MA
Jun 15 2007 8:00A
Maxwells, Hoboken NJ Hoboken, NJ
Jun 16 2007 8:00A
Mercury Lounge, NY New York, NY
Jun 17 2007 8:00A
Mercury Lounge, NY New York, NY

John Boehner on the House Floor

Did anyone see his teary-eyed take on the need to pass the funding bill? It was PURE comedy gold. Once it shows up on Youtube, I shall post.

Keith Olbermann's "Comment"

His piece tonight almost inspired me to pack up the VW and go March on Washington.

The Democrats Cave

Did it come as any surprise that in the end, the Democrats caved and handed Bush a check with absolutely no benchmarks? For the past few months, we've heard Pelosi and Reid act tough. They pretended that they would fight to put an end to this blasphemous war. They gave us hope. But we all knew that they didn't have it in them. The Democrats control both houses of Congress yet they've done NOTHING to take on the worst president in the history of the United States. The Democrats continue to scream and swing like your average toddler, yet they do nothing. Absolutely nothing.

I've been a member of the democratic party since the day I could vote. And today I'm finally considering leaving the party. I'm tired of standing alongside a party that is doing NOTHING, absolutely NOTHING, to retake the Constitution, to put faith back in the American people and to stand up for what should be the party of the common man.

The Iraq War. Torture. Valerie Plame. Katrina. Corporate Scandals. Alberto Gonzales. Oil. Karl Rove. Wiretapping. Guantanamo Bay. This is George Bush's resume. And what have the Democrats done to fight back? Sure they've kicked and screamed (who isn't tired of Harry Reid's childish rants?), but in the end, zilch. Nothing. They sit back and watch it all happen.

There is one answer in 2008: Albert Gore Jr. If he doesn't jump into the race, ultimately win, and take this country back to where it needs to be, I truly fear for the future of this country and the world as a whole. Hyperbole? Just look at where we are right now. Just imagine for one moment if John McCain wins the presidency. He will not only continue on W's path, but get ready for war in Iran. Where that could lead should scare not only me, but all of mankind.

Jimmy Carter on W

LITTLE ROCK — Former President Jimmy Carter says President George W. Bush's administration is "the worst in history" in international relations, taking aim at the White House's policy of pre-emptive war and its Middle East diplomacy.

The criticism from Carter, which a biographer says is unprecedented for the 39th president, also took aim at Bush's environmental policies and the administration's "quite disturbing" faith-based initiative funding.

"I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history," Carter told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in a story that appeared in the newspaper's Saturday editions. "The overt reversal of America's basic values as expressed by previous administrations, including those of George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon and others, has been the most disturbing to me."

Carter spokeswoman Deanna Congileo confirmed his comments to The Associated Press on Saturday and declined to elaborate. He spoke while promoting his new audiobook series, "Sunday Mornings in Plains," a collection of weekly Bible lessons from his hometown of Plains, Ga.

"Apparently, Sunday mornings in Plains for former President Carter includes hurling reckless accusations at your fellow man," said Amber Wilkerson, Republican National Committee spokeswoman. She said it was hard to take Carter seriously because he also "challenged Ronald Reagan's strategy for the Cold War."

Carter came down hard on the Iraq war.

"We now have endorsed the concept of pre-emptive war where we go to war with another nation militarily, even though our own security is not directly threatened, if we want to change the regime there or if we fear that some time in the future our security might be endangered," he said. "But that's been a radical departure from all previous administration policies."

Carter, who won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, criticized Bush for having "zero peace talks" in Israel. Carter also said the administration "abandoned or directly refuted" every negotiated nuclear arms agreement, as well as environmental efforts by other presidents.

Carter also offered a harsh assessment for the White House's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, which helped religious charities receive $2.15 billion in federal grants in fiscal year 2005 alone.

"The policy from the White House has been to allocate funds to religious institutions, even those that channel those funds exclusively to their own particular group of believers in a particular religion," Carter said. "As a traditional Baptist, I've always believed in separation of church and state and honored that premise when I was president, and so have all other presidents, I might say, except this one."

Douglas Brinkley, a Tulane University presidential historian and Carter biographer, described Carter’s comments as unprecedented.

"This is the most forceful denunciation President Carter has ever made about an American president," Brinkley said. "When you call somebody the worst president, that's volatile. Those are fighting words."

Carter also lashed out Saturday at British prime minister Tony Blair. Asked how he would judge Blair's support of Bush, the former president said: "Abominable. Loyal. Blind. Apparently subservient."

"And I think the almost undeviating support by Great Britain for the ill-advised policies of President Bush in Iraq have been a major tragedy for the world," Carter told British Broadcasting Corp. radio.

Al Gore

If you've read my blog at all, you're well aware that I'm a HUGE fan of Al Gore. Ever since politics began to grip me in 1999 or so, Al Gore has grown to be my political hero. It wasn't necessarily the environment. Sure, like most intelligent Americans, I consider global warming to be a critical cause. However, it was something about his intellectual curiosity that grabbed me. This man MUST run for president. It's his time. The country and the world needs him. He is a man of vision, depth and humility. He needs to be in the White House. No one else currently in the race comes even close.,8599,1622009,00.html

Top Five Shows

SLOBBERBONE, CLUB DE VILLE, AUSTIN, TX (SXSW), 1999: this still remains the greatest rock n' roll show i've ever seen. i've posted about this set a million times, but i will never, ever forget when jimmy smith of the gourds joined for "powderfinger". it was absolutely pouring rain, i was standing a mere foot from the stage and it was probably the greatest five minutes of rock n' roll abandon i've ever seen.

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, BRENDAN BYRNE ARENA, EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ 1992: we all thought the e street band was done. right when bruce busted into "tenth avenue freeze out" there was an absolute roar from the crowd. how could he play this song without clarence? well, he couldn't. right when "the big man" line began, clarence slowly walked onstage and busted out the sax. truly amazing.

WILCO, JOHNNY D'S, SOMERVILLE, MA, 1994: my introduction to the band that would become my favorite band for over a decade. when tweedy played "gun" solo i nearly had a heart attack.

WILCO/THE JAYHAWKS, CINCINNATI ZOO, CINCINNATI, OH, 1995: one of the most memorable days of my life. the show was absolutely incredible, the folks we met were a blast, and the hours after the show downing beers in the hills of cincinnati were equally as memorable.

MARAH, THE PONTIAC, PHILADELPHIA, PA, 1998: at the time, i thought that marah were the best live band on earth. and they were. for about a six month period i was driving to philly for EVERY marah show. this was the original incarnation of marah with metz and donnie (i think those were their names) and they were the roughest, drunkest, rowdiest band i'd ever seen.

What's Missing From Today's Rock n' Roll?


What Kinda Heaven Are These Killers Dyin' To Win


I won't claim for a mere second that I can conjure up any answers to the debacle that is our presence in our Iraq. However, there are a few things that I do know. On the morning of September 11, 2001, I left my apartment in Brooklyn and headed to work. After about 15 mins. on the train, a fellow passenger tugged on my shirt and motioned towards the World Trade Center. This was right after the first plane hit. I made it through Manhattan, stepped onto the city streets at Columbus Circle, and thus began perhaps the worst day in American history. I saw tears everywhere. I saw confusion. I saw absolutely empty streets. I saw firetrucks racing downtown. I saw thousands of people helplessly trying to reach loved ones on their cell phones. I saw the second tower collapse alongside about 500 people at the CBS building on 57th Street.

When I finally walked into my apartment in Brooklyn at about 230am I found it impossible to sleep in my bedroom. I watched the news for about two hours, turned off the television and curled up on my couch. All morning fighter planes swarmed around the city. The noise from the jets could be felt in my chest.

I am not in favor of war. However, after witnessing what I saw in New York City that day, I stood completely behind our decision to go into Afghanistan. Maybe I don't necessarily believe in an-eye-for-an-eye, but here I wanted revenge. A friend who worked in World Trade Center 7 told me about the people diving out of the Trade Center windows. It was horrifying. I wanted someone to pay.

When we swiftly moved through Afghanistan and turned our eye on Iraq I was confused. I felt that the job was far from done in Afghanistan. And that's where Al Qaeda were. I didn't get it. What role did Iraq play in this? None. But when you witnessed what New Yorkers and others across the country witnessed on September 11th, it was easy to be duped. Our president took advantage of those vulnerabilities and convinced a terrired nation that Iraq not only had something to do with September 11th, but that they were coming next.

It's now six years after September 11th. Those behind the attacks are reforming in Afghanistan and we've created perhaps the biggest foreign policy calamity in U.S. history by invading Iraq. I hear the Republicans and Democrats bicker about the best way to now handle Iraq. And there is none. If we stay, more Americans and Iraqis die. If we leave, the region could truly explode into chaos. There are no answers.

What is George W. Bush really fighting for? Is it our safety? I highly, highly doubt it. Had that been his goal, we would still be in Afghanistan. We would still be rounding up Al Qaeda. And we would still be a nation that garnered respect from the rest of the world.

I'm at a loss. About 20 minutes ago I was lying in bed listening to music when the line, "What kinda heaven are these killers dyin' to win" came through the headphones and inspired me to write. Can you answer that question? I certainly can't.

Bill Maher on France

Conservatives have to stop rolling their eyes every time they hear the word France. Like just calling something French is the ultimate argument winner. "Aw, you want a healthcare system that covers everybody and costs half as much? You mean like
they have in France? What's there to say about a country that was too
stupid to get on board with our wonderfully conceived and brilliantly
executed war in Iraq?"

Earlier this year, the Boston Globe got hold of an internal campaign
document from GOP contender Mitt Romney, and a recurring strategy was
to tie Democrats to the hated French. It said, in the Machiavellian
code of the election huckster, "Hillary equals France," and it
envisioned bumper stickers that read, "First, not France."

Except for one thing: We're not first. America isn't ranked anywhere
near first in anything except military might and snotty billionaires.
The country that is ranked No. 1 in healthcare, for example, is
France. The World Health Organization ranks America at 37 in the world
-- not two, or five -- 37, in between Costa Rica and Slovenia, which
are both years away from discovering dentistry.

Yet an American politician could not survive if he or she uttered the
simple, true statement, "France has a better healthcare system than
us, and we should steal it." Because here, simply dismissing an idea
as French passes for an argument. John Kerry? Can't vote for him -- he
looks French. Yeah, as opposed to the other guy, who just looked

I know, if God had wanted us to learn from the Enlightenment, he
wouldn't have given us Sean Hannity.

And I'm not saying France is better than America. Because I assume
you've already figured that out by now. I don't want to be French, I
just want to take what's best from the French. Stealing, for your own
self-interest -- Republicans should love this idea. Taking what's best
from the French: You know who else did that? The Founding Fathers.
Hate to sink your toy boat, Fox News, but the Founding Fathers, the
ones you say you revere, were children of the French Enlightenment,
and fans of it, and they turned it into a musical called the
Constitution of the United States. And they did a helluva job, so good
it has been said that it was written by geniuses so it could be run by
idiots. But the current administration is putting that to the test.
The Founding Fathers were erudite, well-read, European-thinking
aristocrats -- they would have had nothing in common with, and no use
for, an ill-read xenophobic bumpkin like George W. Bush.

The American ideas of individuality, religious tolerance and freedom
of speech came directly out of the French Enlightenment -- but, shhh,
don't tell Alabama. Voltaire wrote "men are born equal" before
Jefferson was wise enough to steal it.

Countries are like people -- they tend to get smarter as they get
older. Noted military genius Donald Rumsfeld famously dismissed France
as part of Old Europe, but the French are ... what's the word I'm
looking for? Oh yeah, "mature." We think they're rude and snobby, but
maybe that's because they're talking to us.

For example, France just had an election, and people over there
approach an election differently. They vote. Eighty-five percent
turned out. The only thing 85 percent of Americans ever voted on was

Maybe the high turnout has something to do with the fact that the
French candidates are never asked where they stand on evolution,
prayer in school, abortion, stem cell research or gay marriage. And if
the candidate knows about a character in a book other than Jesus, it's
not a drawback. There is no Pierre Six-pack who can be fooled by
childish wedge issues. And the electorate doesn't vote for the guy
they want to have a croissant with. Nor do they care about the
candidate's private lives: In the current race, Sigolhne Royal has
four kids but never bothered to get married. And she's a socialist. In
America, if a Democrat even thinks you're calling him a liberal he
immediately grabs an orange vest and a rifle and heads into the woods
to kill something.

The conservative candidate is married, but he and his wife live apart
and lead separate lives. They aren't asked about it in the media, and
the people are OK with it, for the same reason the people are OK with
nude beaches: because they're not a nation of 6-year-olds who scream
and giggle if they see pee-pee parts. They have weird ideas about
privacy. They think it should be private. In France, everyone has a
mistress. Even mistresses have mistresses. To not have a lady on the
side says to the voters, "I'm no good at multitasking."

France has its faults -- the country has high unemployment, a nasty
immigrant problem and all that ridiculous accordion music. But its
healthcare is the best, it's not dependent on Mideast oil, it has the
lowest poverty rate and the lowest income-inequality rate among
industrialized nations, and it's the greenest, with the lowest carbon
dumping and the lowest electricity bill.

France has 20,000 miles of railroads that work. We have the trolley at
the mall that takes you from Pottery Barn to the Gap. It has bullet
trains. We have bullets. France has public intellectuals. We have Dr.
Phil. And France invented sex during the day, the minage ` trois,
lingerie and the tongue.

And the French are not fat. Can't we just admit we could learn
something from them?

The Motel Life by Willy Vlautin

I've been on a long hiatus reading-wise. Ever since SXSW, I've been so wrapped up in listening to music constantly that I've found little time to dive back into reading.

At the recommendation of a friend, I recently picked up "The Motel Life" by Willy Vlautin. I guess this somewhat ties into music as Vlautin is the lead singer/songwriter for the Portland band Richmond Fontaine. I own a number of RF records, including the fantastic "Miles From". It's clear from Vlautin's records that he has a keen sense of storytelling. However, I must say that my expectations weren't too high. I guess that's primarily based on prior novels penned by musicians ("Cash" being the exception).

Boy was I wrong. Vlautin writes with pure simplicity and develops the two main characters beautifully. "The Motel Life" is the story of two brothers struggling to find understanding, a place in the world, and guilt brought on by their mistakes. It's a simple book and it's a simple story. But it's coated with humanity, humility and a bond that only siblings can share. Vlautin's been making records and touring for over a decade, yet this is his best work to date.

"11 Songs" by Liz Pappademas


It's a strange feeling when a friend creates a work of art that moves you. I don't know, for some reason it sinks deeper. I met Liz about two years ago at a party during South By Southwest. We were both new to San Francisco and began hanging out a bit. We've got completely different schedules so we rarely see each other now. Once in a while we'll grab a drink, watch a movie or walk along Haight.

A few weeks ago I made it out to her CD Release Party at Hotel Utah. Before a crowd mostly comprised of friends and family, Liz played piano and sang about ten beautiful new songs. I picked up her new record. I can't stop listening. The song "Loma Prieta" is one of the prettiest songs I've heard in a long time. It's not only a song but the lyrics seem to fall together like a perfect novel.

Good work, Liz.