Pure Greed

Americans are forking over $3.50 - $4.00 per gallon yet Shell is about to announce the highest annual profit in the history of British business. How do these pricks sleep at night?


Two Books - January 08

After quitting drinking, smoking butts and eating meat in 07, I figured I could go easy on the 08 resolution. I decided to try and read two books per month.

With a few days to spare, I have made it through January. At the end of each month, I'll let you know what I've read, and give each book a simple 1-10 rating. I'm not much for "reviewing" books so I'll leave it at that.

Ovenman by Jeff Parker, 2007, Fiction: 6.1

Voices From the Street by Philip K. Dick, 2007 (reprint), Fiction: 6.5

So yeah, not a great start.

HBO's Best


Since HBO is really the only TV worth watching these days, here's my take on the top ten of all-time:

1 Six Feet Under
2 The Sopranos
3 Curb Your Enthusiasm
4 Entourage
5 Flight of the Conchords
6 Sex and the City
7 The Wire
8 Extras
9 Tell Me You Love Me
10 Dream On

Worst ever? By far: Arli$$

"Rushmore" to "Juno"

Wes Anderson started the teen-outcast, indie-hipster loving sub-genre with 1998's "Rushmore". Thankfully, there was a lot of depth to this film and I still think it's Anderson's best movie to date (including "No Country For Old Men"). Since its release, writers and directors have repeatedly stolen its framework, watered it down for a wider audience and reinvented it. But the problem is that these half-assed sequels have little in common with "Rushmore" aside from its basic ingredients: super-intelligent teen outcast who's years ahead of himself in knowledge of the arts, a solid indie soundtrack borrowing equally from under-appreciated acts of the 60s and 70s to today's more obscure acts, out-of-touch parents/role models who are awash in idiosyncracies.

What made me think of this? Well, first it was after the release of "Garden State". The indie community drooled at this overly-precious piece-of-crap of a film. (Remember Natalie Portman tossing the headphones on Zach Braff's head and bellowing, "this will change your life"? Ugh.) It was a direct rip-off of "Rushmore", yet contained very little humor and almost no substance. The protagonist was just another hip, anti-depressant popping teen in a hoodie. Yawn.

Then came Part 3 in "Little Miss Sunshine". Once again the family was a wreck, the teen was a brilliant outcast and the soundtrack was great.

And this year, the sub-genre has finally hit the masses with "Juno". Despite being nominated for Best Picture (yikes), this is likely the weakest of the four. Once again: teen outcast, loves the arts (oh wow, she knows The Stooges *and* Mott the Hoople), dysfunctional, idiosyncratic family (an obsession with dogs was a bit light, but still) and the happy ending. Yawn.

Now that you've finally hit the masses, can the studios finally put this movie to bed? I mean, they didn't even change the name, yet I'd still rather go see "Rambo".

Album of Week 4


Freedy Johnston: This Perfect World
Elektra, 1994

"Spirit in the Sky" 7"

One of my earliest memories of listening to music was driving around in my mother's Pinto, and later Buick, listening CBS 101 in New Jersey. CBS 101 was an oldies station and it was the *only* station my mom would play in the car. I'd hear Elvis, Herman's Hermits, The Everly Brothers (mom's favorite) and tons of other doo-wop tunes from the fifties.

Most of this music usually went right over my head. It didn't capture me. Then one day CBS 101 played Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit in the Sky" and I felt a connection. I recall begging my mother to play that song again. Unfortunately, she didn't have it.

A few days later, mom knocked on my bedroom door and handed me a 7" of "Spirit in the Sky". I'm not positive, but I'm fairly certain that this was the first record that I could call my own. Some time later we picked up a Fisher all-in-one stereo - one of those with tapedeck, turntable and stereo all in one jobs. I remember flipping the knob to 45 and spinning "Spirit in the Sky" and having that feeling in my gut, that feeling that would happen thousands of times over for the years to come. Music touched me.

This evening I was flipping through my 7" records and, much to my surprise, I found "Spirit in the Sky". There's no jacket, the record's coated in dust and every groove is laced with scratches.

Similar to 1979 or so, I turned the knob to 45 and placed "Spirit in the Sky" on the table. And it played. And it sounded sweet. Just as sweet as it did in my tiny bedroom in Northern New Jersey almost thirty years ago. It nearly brought tears to my eyes.

Thanks mom.

"Don't Be Sad, You Know It Will"

REM's cover of Richard & Linda Thompson's "Wall of Death" will likely always be my top cover in the history of music. But I just heard Beck's cover of "True Love Will Find You In the End" from The Late Great Daniel Johnston: Discovered Covers and this has to be one of the best covers I've heard in ages. This entire compilation is pretty damn amazing: Sparklehorse, Beck, Teenage Fanclub....

Pick it up on eMusic.

Planning is Under Way


SF to NY to SF with a lot in between...


Had I not quit on December 2nd, that is the number of cigarettes I would've smoked since that date. Yikes.

Album of Week 3


Tom Waits : The Early Years, Vol. 2
Manifesto, 1993

Yosemite Mix

Hickory Wind : The Byrds
Daylight Fading : Counting Crows
It's All Over Now : The Rolling Stones
Northbound : Damien Jurado
To Destruction : Dolorean
Valentine : Bobby Bare Jr.
Powderfinger : Neil Young
The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down : The Band
God Knows (You Gotta Give To Get) : El Perro del Mar
Oklahoma, USA : Yo La Tengo
Gone Like the Water : Freedy Johnston
Big Brown Eyes : Old 97s
The Ghost of Tom Joad : Bruce Springsteen
A.M. Slow Golden Return : Hotel Lights
Will You Return? : The Avett Brothers
Gather : Jay Farrar
One by One : Billy Bragg & Wilco
One Chance : Modest Mouse

48 Days


After 18 years, I have now gone 48 days without. RJ Reynolds can smoke it.

All Day Listening


Favorite Listens This Week

Leonard Cohen
The Flaming Lips
El Perro del Mar
Damnations, TX
The Avett Brothers
The Clean

These Things Matter


Revolutionary Road : Richard Yates
The Fall : Albert Camus
The Risk Pool : Richard Russo
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle : Haruki Murakami
Their Eyes Were Watching God : Zora Neale Hurston
The Brooklyn Follies : Paul Auster
No Country For Old Men : Cormac McCarthy
Edson : Bill Morrissey
Black Boy : Richard Wright
Rule of the Bone : Russell Banks


The Ice Storm
Terms of Endearment
You Can Count On Me
Ordinary People
No Direction Home
Being There
Grapes of Wrath
The Celebration
Annie Hall


Highway 61 Revisted : Bob Dylan
Devotion & Doubt : Richard Buckner
Still Feel Gone : Uncle Tupelo
Bryter Layter : Nick Drake
Darkness On the Edge of Town : Bruce Springsteen
The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter : Josh Ritter
Being There : Wilco
London Calling : The Clash
The White Album : The Beatles
Stadium Blitzer : The Gourds

For a Friend

17 Songs:

Right Moves : Josh Ritter
Baby I : Amy Millan
Dear Old Song & Dance : Tim Easton
Hoquiam : Damien Jurado
A Damn Good Disguise : The Mendoza Line
Let That Show : The Pernice Brothers
Little White Cottage : Edward Burch & Jay Bennett
Wouldn't Mama Be Proud : Elliott Smith
Waitin' on a Superman : The Flaming Lips
Bring It On Home To Me : Sam Cooke
My One Desire : Freakwater
The Way : Bonnie "Prince" Billy
The Opposite of Hallelujah : Jens Lekman
Jackie : The New Pornographers
The Captain : Kasey Chambers
Leave the City : Magnolia Electric Co.
Fly : Nick Drake

Sometimes a Band Strikes You

And tonight one has...



Alejandro Escovedo & Townes Van Zandt

From harp.com:

Heading for the store’s cash register, Escovedo catches a glimpse of a photo of Townes Van Zandt hanging on the wall that stops him in his tracks and elicits a memory of his last time seeing the famed Texas songwriter.

“We were touring through Italy. It was Rick Danko, Joe Ely, Townes, Jimmie Dale [Gilmore], Eric Anderson and me,” Escovedo remembers with a smile. “The last night of the tour, we had this big dinner in this little town called Sesto Calende. It was like the Last Supper. Townes, Rick and Joe Ely were sitting at the head of the table. We drank a bunch of wine and then the guitars came out. Each of these guys sings a song by himself sitting around the table at this restaurant. It’s coming around to me and I’m just wondering how I can get out of there. I ended up doing a song called ‘Broken Bottle’ and as I’m playing, I’m closing my eyes trying to get lost in the song so I don’t have to look. Then I hear Rick Danko whisper to somebody, “Hey, that guy’s pretty good, man.” He came up to me after the dinner and told me how much he liked my song. We ended up going back to my room, drinking wine and gambling with Joe Ely.

“The next morning, everyone was leaving to go home and I went by Townes’ room to say goodbye. The door to his room was open, and he was sitting on his bed wearing a fringed buckskin jacket with beautiful beadwork on it facing the wall, almost like he was staring at it. He was holding a toothbrush in one hand and what appeared to be a nearly empty bottle of vodka in the other hand. I walked in and asked him what he was doing. ‘Just trying to keep it together,’ he said.

"That was the last time I ever saw him.”

Album of Week 2


Bruce Springsteen : Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.
Columbia, 1973

Thank You, McCabe


USFL (1983-1985)

The United States Football League was my real introduction into following sports passionately. I suppose it must have been my age. I was just entering my pre-teens and this league was getting started right at the time time that sports took on meaning for me. I was literally obsessed with the USFL.

I picked my favorite team the same way in which I picked my favorite NFL team: the best uniform. And this was the Washington Federals (later the Orlando Renegades). Unfortunately, the Federals turned out to be the worst team in the league's three-year existence, compiling a record of 12-42. It didn't matter to me. They were my team. I remember going to Giants Stadium and watching the New Jersey Generals and Herschel Walker *crush* my beloved Federals.

Although short lived, this was a fantastic league. Some may not remember, but many future NFL stars started in USFL, namely Steve Young and Jim Kelly.

Twenty-two years after the league's demise, I was able to find this t-shirt. It's on the way.

2007 Mix


Album of Week 1


Bonnie "Prince" Billy : The Letting Go
Drag City, 2006

Drew Glackin


I heard this morning that Drew Glackin has passed away. If you were around live music in New York in the past 15 or so years, there's no doubt that you were alongside Drew at some point. In the mid-to-late 90s I used to see Drew everywhere: The Mercury Lounge, The Lakeside Lounge, Bowery Ballroom....all over New York City. Oftentimes, he was onstage with the likes of The Silos or Tandy playing pedal steel guitar. He always had a huge smile on his face and was an absolute pleasure to be around. For some reason, whenever I saw Drew out, it'd feel like home. I know that sounds corny, but it was true. Drew seemed to love a lot of the same music as I did, and whether he was playing or just watching, he always had this spirit about him. If he was on-hand, I knew that the band I was about to see was worth the trip.

This is very, very sad news. Drew Glackin was 44.

Album of the Week

Now that I've gotten over the Jonathan Richman and Magnetic Fields similarities, I've grown to love this record for what it is: a pure-pop beauty.

(And beginning this Sunday, I will post an Album of the Week every week. It'll basically be the album that I've cranked most the previous week.)

Obama Wins Iowa

Even if Edwards comes in second, you've got to figure that his campaign is essentially finished. He doesn't have much cash and the entire party is now going to focus on Obama vs. Clinton. This is a real bummer. Edwards has the fight that I was looking for.

With Edwards most likely out, I will support Obama. That said, my interest in this election just took a huge blow and I can't see myself following all that much in the coming weeks. I need to get over this loss. Damn. Ugh, I feel sick to my stomach.

69% Reporting

Obama 35%
Edwards 31%
Clinton 31%

Oh, and the church guy won on the republican side. You know, the one who used to be really fat.

17% Reporting

Edwards 34%
Clinton 32%
Obama 32%
Richardson 2%

The First Vote

It's really difficult to say why we land on a certain candidate. For me, it's rarely about one or two specific issues, but rather about the person in general. I look for the candidate who exhibits intelligence, passion, honestly and some sort of intangible.

In 2000 I fell for Al Gore. But I wasn't as into politics as I have been the past six years or so.

In 2004 I was with John Kerry well before the first primary. I was so passionate about that race that I left my day job and voluteered full-time for the Kerry Campaign in New York. I remember going to watch the Iowa Caucus returns with fellow staffers at a bar in New York. The rush when hearing the returns was absolutely thrilling. We subsequently went out together for all of the primary returns. The crowds got bigger, the enthusiasm louder and we watched as Kerry stormed towards the nomination.

This summer I did some volunteer work for a grass-roots organization looking to enlist Al Gore to run for president. When it because apparent that Gore was going to sit this one out, I started to pay close attention. I watched every debate. I read hundreds of articles. I knew fairly quickly that John Edwards was my candidate. I love his fire. I love his willingness to stand out from the rest. I love that he openly calls himself the "progressive" candidate.

This may sound odd, but I may have a tough time sleeping tonight. I realize that Edwards' candidacy likely rides on the outcome tomorrow. If he finishes third or below, he is most likely out of the race. If he finishes second, he still has a chance. If he finishes first, he's then on equal or better footing with Clinton and Obama, and he likely moves from about 14% in NH to about 25%. It all comes down to tomorrow.

A John Edwards presidency will make me proud to be an American again. Let's see if Iowa agrees.

Movies of 2007

I didn't see all that many releases in 2007, but I figured I'd rate 'em for ya (10.0 scale). I will be seeing "There Will Be Blood" and "Before The Devil Knows You're Dead" this week.

What I saw:

Knocked Up 5.2
I'm Not There 8.8
Once 7.5
No Country For Old Men 8.2
This Is England 7.3
Away From Her 8.7
Into The Wild 7.8
Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten 7.6
Shooter 3.2
Manufactured Landscapes 7.3
Sicko 7.2
Eastern Promises 5.3
Outsourced 7.1