Flight of the Conchords Announce N. American Tour

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Of the folks I know who caught them on their brief tour last year, the reviews were quite mixed. Evidently they just didn't seem all that comfortable in a live setting. After a season-plus under their belts, perhaps this longer tour will find them more relaxed.

4/6/09 Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center* Tampa, FL
4/7/09 University of Miami BankUnited Center* Coral Gables, FL
4/8/09 UCF Arena* Orlando, FL
4/10/09 Ryman Auditorium* Nashville, TN
4/11/09 Fox Theatre* Atlanta, GA
4/13/09 Constitution Hall* Washington, D.C.
4/14/09 Radio City Music Hall* New York, NY
4/17/09 Agganis Arena* Boston, MA
4/18/09 Tower Theatre (2 shows)* Philadelphia, PA
4/19/09 Kent State University* Kent, OH
4/21/09 Massey Hall** Toronto, ON
4/22/09 Massey Hall** Toronto, ON
4/24/09 Fox Theatre** Detroit, MI
4/25/09 IU Auditorium** Bloomington, IN
4/26/09 Overture Center for the Arts** Madison, WI
4/28/09 Aerie Crown** Chicago, IL
4/30/09 Fox Theatre** St. Louis, MO
5/2/09 Riverside Theatre (2 shows)** Milwaukee, WI
5/3/09 Northrop Auditorium** Minneapolis, MN
5/5/09 Nokia Theatre** Dallas, TX
5/6/09 Jones Hall** Houston, TX
5/7/09 Bass Concert Hall** Austin, TX
5/10/09 Center in Vancouver for the Performing Arts*** Vancouver, BC
5/11/09 Paramount Theatre*** Seattle, WA
5/12/09 Paramount Theatre*** Seattle, WA
5/14/09 Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall*** Portland, OR
5/16/09 Red Rocks Amphitheatre**** Denver, CO
5/17/09 Abravanel Hall*** Salt Lake City, UT
5/19/09 Dodge Theatre*** Phoenix, AZ
5/20/09 RIMAC Arena*** San Diego, CA
5/22/09 County Bowl*** Santa Barbara, CA
5/23/09 The Joint*** Las Vegas, NV
5/24/09 Greek Theatre*** Los Angeles, CA
5/25/09 Berkeley Community Theatre (2 shows)*** Berkeley, CA

Supporting:
* = Kristen Schaal
** = Eugene Mirman
*** = Arj Barker
**** = 1st Support: Iron & Wine, 2nd Support: Arj Barker

45 Friday

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Before heading to the park for the afternoon, I figured I'd spend an hour or so listening to some 45's. It was a good decision.

You're Gonna Make Me Cry - The Staple Singers
Hotel Happiness - Brook Benton
You Ain't Going Nowhere - The Byrds
Looking for a Way Out / Take My Word - Uncle Tupelo
My Kind of Soldier - Guided By Voices
Mary Jane - Blue Mountain
California - Courtesy Move
Ain't No Doubt About It - Wilson Pickett

And now I'm blastin' "Placemat Blues" by Slobberbone.

You serve them Bizkits and Korn with a spoon
But I think you just serve you
Where's the place at the table for folks like us
When there's no one that we can trust
Where's the place for us

Because of You

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From The New Yorker

The President’s Hero
by David Remnick February 2, 2009

A couple of decades ago, when Barack Obama was on a break from Harvard Law School and visiting friends in Chicago, he carried around a copy of “Parting the Waters,” the first volume of Taylor Branch’s magnificent trilogy about Martin Luther King, Jr., and the rise of the civil-rights movement. Obama was staying with Jerry Kellman, his mentor during his three years as a community organizer on the South Side. Kellman said that he greatly admired Branch’s book. Obama brightened and said, “Yes, it’s my story.”

Mind reading is a decidedly low form of journalism. Yet it is not hard to imagine that as Obama emerged into the noonday light last Tuesday to receive the oath of office, as he left the Capitol’s warm interior and saw before him the carpet of humanity stretching down Capitol Hill to the monuments miles distant, that he made a mental leap to Marian Anderson’s defiant concert at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939, to the March on Washington that King led twenty-four years later, to the entire story of a struggle that he was too young to join but came to claim as his own.

After absorbing the thudding roar from the Mall, Obama glanced to his right. He spotted there on the steps, a few feet away, John Lewis––squat, bald, hatless––the eleven-term representative of Georgia’s fifth congressional district and the only one of the speakers at the March on Washington still among the living. Obama bent to embrace him.

“Congratulations, Mr. President,” Lewis whispered in his ear.

Obama smiled at the sound of that and said, “Thank you, John. I’ll need your prayers.”

“You’ll have them, Mr. President. That, and all my support.”

At the March on Washington, King’s speech was the most eloquent, Lewis’s the most radical. Lewis was just twenty-three at the time, the leader of the Student Nonviolent Co√∂rdinating Committee. In the original draft of his speech, the demand for racial justice and “serious revolution” was so fearless that, in the last minutes before the program began, Dr. King, Bayard Rustin, Roy Wilkins, and other movement organizers negotiated with him to remove any phrases that might offend the Kennedy Administration. Lewis planned to say, “We will march through the South, through the heart of Dixie, the way Sherman did. We shall pursue our own ‘scorched earth’ policy and burn Jim Crow to the ground––nonviolently. We shall fragment the South into a thousand pieces and put them back together in the image of democracy.” He had to lose the bit about Sherman’s army, but the rest of the text, capped by its final warning—“We will not be patient!”––left no doubt about Lewis or about the audacious generation he represented.

Two years later, in Selma, Lewis led a march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge straight into a blockade set up by Alabama state troopers. The first nightstick came down on Lewis’s skull. The troopers used whips, horses, a hose wrapped in barbed wire. Along with Lewis, ninety demonstrators were injured. At the White House, Lyndon Johnson watched it all on television and deepened his resolve to push the Voting Rights Act. The day before Obama’s Inauguration, which marked what would have been King’s eightieth birthday, Lewis told a visitor at his office in the Cannon House Office Building, “Barack Obama is what comes at the end of that bridge in Selma.”

Inaugural weekend was “bewildering” to John Lewis. “It is almost too much, too emotional,” he said. Preaching at the Shiloh Baptist Church on Ninth Street N.W., Lewis had told parishioners that he would have thought that only a “crazy” person would predict the election of an African-American President in his lifetime, but now he was sure that the masses on the Mall would be joined by the “saints and angels”: by Harriet Tubman and Carter G. Woodson, Marcus Garvey and W. E. B. Du Bois, Nat Turner and Frederick Douglass, John Brown and Sojourner Truth.

For hours, Lewis greeted constituents at his office and handed out inaugural tickets. Then he set off to visit the Mall, moving, it seemed, in a daze of unreality. He could not quite believe the size of the crowds gathering so early—especially the great numbers of African-Americans, young and old, many of them from distant places.

Lewis grew up in Pike County, Alabama—the Jim Crow South. His parents picked cotton, peanuts, and corn; the children left school at harvest time to join them. Their small house had no electricity or running water. Their lives, according to the dictates of Alabama law after the collapse of Reconstruction, were stripped of democratic rights and human possibility.

Lewis read his Bible and on Sundays tuned in to WRMA, the gospel station out of Montgomery, to hear the Soul Stirrers and the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi. Lewis was a soulful, intelligent, and eccentric child. When religious feeling washed over him, he began visiting the henhouse out back to preach to the Dominiques and the Rhode Island Reds. The chickens composed his ministry: Lewis baptized new chicks; he raised and fed them; he buried the dead under a mound of wildflowers. As Lewis wrote many years later in his autobiography, “Walking with the Wind,” he was a lonely searcher learning compassion for God’s creatures.

One Sunday morning in 1955, when he was fifteen, Lewis listened to a sermon on WRMA called “Paul’s Letter to the American Christians.” The story was of Paul’s call to brotherhood. The preacher was a young Baptist in Atlanta named Martin Luther King. Two years later, Lewis made contact with King and his organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and, in no time, King became his mentor and his friend. As a teen-age seminarian in Nashville, Lewis attended nonviolence workshops, organized lunch-counter sit-ins, and took part in the first Freedom Rides, constantly risking arrests, harassment, and beatings.

As Lewis walked around the Mall last week, shaking hands, posing for hundreds of photographs, a young African-American introduced himself as the police chief of Rock Hill, South Carolina. “Imagine that,” Lewis said. “I was beaten near to death at the Rock Hill Greyhound bus terminal during the Freedom Rides in 1961. Now the police chief is black.”

At the beginning of the 2008 campaign, Lewis, a Clinton-family loyalist, sided with Hillary––as did the majority of African-Americans. By February, however, when it became clear to him and to so many others that Obama was not running a symbolic race, that he represented “a movement” and could win, Lewis had switched.

“Barack has lifted people,” Lewis said, as he posed for pictures with some women from D.C. “Old people, young people, children, black and white. Look out on the Mall here. You can see it in their walk, can’t you?”

One teen-age boy sweetly asked, “Mr. Lewis, my mama says you marched with Dr. King. Is that true?” Like an old fighter who is not displeased to recount ancient combat, Lewis nodded and said, well, yes he had, and perhaps for the five thousandth time he sketched the journey from Selma to Montgomery.

“Barack was born long before he could experience or understand the movement,” Lewis said, heading back to the Capitol. “He had to move toward it in his own time, but it is so clear that he digested it, the spirit and the language of the movement. The way he made it his own reminds me of a trip I made to South Africa in March, 1994, before the post-apartheid elections. We met with a few leaders of the African National Congress—young people—and despite their age they knew everything about the late fifties and sixties in the American South, the birth of the civil-rights movement. They were using the same rhetoric, they had the same emotional force. One young South African actor got up and recited a poem by a black slave woman from Georgia! And that is the way it is with Barack. He has absorbed the lessons and spirit of the civil-rights movement. But, at the same time, he doesn’t have the scars of the movement, because of how he grew up. He has not been knocked around as much by the past.”

Obama’s promise to shut down Guant√°namo, to outlaw torture and begin reversing immediately some of the most egregious policies of the Bush era, gave Lewis hope that “the movement” had finally come to the White House.

“People have been afraid to hope again, to believe again,” he said. “We have lost great leaders: John F. Kennedy, Martin, Robert Kennedy. And so people might have questioned whether or not to place their full faith in a symbol and a leader. The danger of disappointment is immense, the problems are so big. None of them can be solved in a day or a year. And that’s the way it was with the civil-rights movement. This is the struggle of a lifetime. We play our part and fulfill our role.”

At the luncheon following the swearing-in ceremony, Lewis approached Obama with a commemorative photograph and asked him to sign it. The President wrote, “Because of you, John. Barack Obama.” ♦

Springsteen's DJ Set on Sirius

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Bruce made his premiere appearance on Sirius on Jan 19. Here's hit set. Who knew he was such a fan of Jay Farrar of Uncle Tupelo/Son Volt.

Jay Farrar

Jarvis Cocker - Running the World
Small Change Romeos - 1.20.09
Jay Farrar - Feed kill chain
Rank and File - The Conductor Wore Black
Ry Cooder - Sundown Town
Sleater-Kinney - The Promised Land (Live)
Jimmy Cliff - Sufferin' In The Land
The Dubliners - The Rising Of The Moon
2Pac - Dear Mama
Bob Dylan - Political World
Little Steven - I Am A Patriot
Sex Pistols - God Save The Queen
King Crimson- The Court Of The Crimson King
Public Enemy - Fight The Power
Son Volt - Underground Dream
Warren Zevon - Ourselves To Know
Jelly Roll Morton - Stars And Stripes Forever
James Brown - Funky President
A Whisper In The Noise - The Times They Are A-Changin'

Fleet Foxes on Major Labels

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I am not exactly riding the FF hype machine. I think the record's fine and all, but the praise that they've received has been a bit silly. They're a good band who put on an average live show.

Although bashing of major labels has gotten somewhat old, I did find their take on rumors of the band signing to Virgin to be kinda comedy. However, I hope they do realize that they're signed to Sub Pop Records, which is distributed by Alternative Distribution Alliance, which is owned by Warner Music Group. Ya know, just sayin'.

After reports circulated that the Fleet Foxes had signed with Virgin, Pecknold put up a MySpace blog post to stomp them down in the most unambiguous possible manner:

"So, I went to the (truly insane and heart-swelling) Dept of Eagles show at Neumo's tonight (sang along and bought a Tee) and a couple people said something about hearing we signed to Virgin Records and they are reissuing a 'special edition' of the CD LP. This is false. I think a Seattle Weekly blog post started this fire, which I will now extinguish, with this statement - 'Fleet Foxes will never, ever, under no circumstances, from now until the world chokes on gas fumes, sign to a major label. This includes all subsidiaries or permutations thereunder. Till we die.'

"I just don't see the point. Most major labels seem anti-music. We've pursued no such deal with Virgin (or been pursued to my knowledge, I think it was just a bit of news they reported) and would be idiots to be unhappy with our fam of label folks. It is true though that all copies of the CD LP will now include a free copy of the EP (like it is currently with the vinyl), but that's not a 'special limited edition,' it'll be that way in perpetuity, no extra cost or packaging change.

"That's all! Also I cut all my hair off."

Two Books

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Smashed by Koren Zailckas, Memoir, 2005 : 8.8



The Forever War by Dexter Filkins, History, 2008 : 8.4

Stimulus vs. Bailout

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I need to keep this quick. But before jumping, I have to get this out before I forget. This has been weighing on me all day. It seems as if the republicans are hedging their party's near future on their hopes that the stimulus package fails. They unanimously opposed the bill in the House, and it's certainly clear that they hope that, if passed, it fails dearly (yes, at the cost of all Americans). Rep. Boehner, one of the remaining figureheads of a party that destroyed the country from the inside out, along with the new spokesman for the GOP, Rush Limbaugh, have turned this much-needed bill into a political circus. They have no interest in working with Obama (I can't believe Limbaugh's having an impact on their positions...read up on that Georgia representative who called the loud-mouth hypocrite to apologize this morning) and clearly no interest in helping millions upon millions of struggling Americans. They are taking a gamble that this stimulus will fail, and if it does, there sits their campaigns in 2010 and 2012.

Where were these people when Bush's good ol' bailout flew through Congress? Where were these people when Bush gave out *tax cuts* to the rich in a time of war. Wait, not one war, but TWO wars! The republicans are the reason for this utter mess and they've put politics and their endless cronyism ahead of peoples livelihoods. I'm not saying that the stimulus package is perfect; it's not. I'm also not suggesting that it will be a success, because it's honestly a 50/50 bet. The point here is that the republican party continues to do everything imaginable against the good of 98% of the American people. Their interests lie solely in power, greed and victory. Bush's absurd $700 billion "bailout" has been an absolute joke, yet there's literally no blame being tossed around. And now the republicans are treating the stimulus package, which is designed for the PEOPLE and not failed and crooked corporations, like a red-headed stepchild.

Since I began following politics, I've never quite understood how republicans ever win. Hopefully the American public, as it did just over two months ago, continues to feel the same way.

Richard Buckner To Play the Mercury Lounge in NYC (3/20)

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It was about 18 months or so ago that one of the best songwriters ever, Richard Buckner, quietly decided to stop making music. He went out with very little fanfare, giving a brief interview to a small newspaper and that appeared to be it. Buckner said he wanted to move on, and had decided to settle down in Upstate New York and see where things took him.

I would argue the Buckner's first four records, Bloomed, Devotion & Doubt, Since and The Hill, released between 1994-2000, stand with the greatest initial outputs in the history of music. After 2000, Buckner's work wasn't nearly as impressive, but there were certainly moments, highlighted by his final release, 2006's Meadow. Buckner was the 90's version of Townes Van Zandt, and as far as complete records go, Buckner was even better.

Last night, after putting down my book for the night, instead of turning over and searching for sleep, I reached for the iPod and put on The Hill. When the record moved into "Julia Miller", I looked outside my bedroom window at the fading lights and literally felt transformed to a different time. When Buckner sang, "Across the blackness that came over my eyes / I see the flickering light of these words even now", it felt like an earlier time, a simpler time, a time that moved slowly. Buckner is one of the few artists able to completely remove me from the here and now. And if his upcoming show at the Mercury Lounge is a sign of his return, well, what a blessing.

Solomon Burke "Down in the Valley" (Video)

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In the words of LCD, I was there.

Vinyl Find of the Day

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, originally uploaded by ccsbandwagon.

Springsteen & E Street Tour Dates

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Not only does Working on a Dream land in stores today (Amoeba...I will see you in a few hours), but Springsteen and the band have just announced the first leg of what should be a massive tour in support of the record. The whole thing starts just an hour south of where I sit right now.

Apr 1 - San Jose, CA - HP Pavilion at San Jose (Feb 2)
Apr 3 - Glendale, CA - Jobing.com Center (Feb 2)
Apr 5 - Austin, TX - Frank Erwin Center (Feb 7)
Apr 7 - Tulsa, OK - BOK Center (Feb 7)
Apr 8 - Houston, TX - Toyota Center (Feb 7)
Apr 10 - Denver, CO - Pepsi Arena (Feb 2)
Apr 15 - Los Angeles, CA - LA Memorial Sports Arena (Feb 2)
Apr 21 - Boston, MA - TD Banknorth Garden (Feb 2)
Apr 22 - Boston, MA - TD Banknorth Garden (Feb 2)
Apr 24 - Hartford, CT - XL Center (Feb 2)
Apr 26 - Atlanta, GA - Philips Arena (Feb 2)
Apr 28 - Philadelphia, PA - Wachovia Spectrum (Feb 2)
Apr 29 - Philadelphia, PA - Wachovia Spectrum (Feb 2)
May 2 - Greensboro, NC - Greensboro Coliseum (Feb 6)
May 4 - Hempstead, NY - Nassau Veterans Mem. Col. (Feb 2)
May 5 - Charlottesville, VA - John Paul Jones Arena (Feb 2)
May 7 - Toronto, ONT - Air Canada Centre (Feb 6)
May 8 - University Park, PA - Bryce Jordan Center (Feb 2)
May 11 - St. Paul, MN - Xcel Energy Center (Feb 2)
May 12 - Chicago, IL - United Center (Feb 2)
May 14 - Albany, NY - Times Union Center (Feb 2)
May 15 - Hershey, PA - Hersheypark Stadium (Feb 2)
May 18 - Washington, DC - Verizon Center (Feb 2)
May 19 - Pittsburgh, PA - Mellon Arena (Feb 2)
May 21 - E. Rutherford, NJ - Izod Center (Feb 2)
May 23 - E. Rutherford, NJ - Izod Center (Feb 2)

May 30 - Landgraaf, Holland - Pink Pop Festival (March 7)
June 2 - Tampere, Finland - Ratinan Stadion (ON SALE)
June 4 - Stockholm, Sweden - Stockholm Stadium (SOLD OUT)
June 5 - Stockholm, Sweden - Stockholm Stadium (SOLD OUT)
June 7 - Stockholm, Sweden - Stockholm Stadium (SOLD OUT)
June 9 - Bergen, Norway - Koengen (SOLD OUT)
June 10 - Bergen, Norway - Koengen (SOLD OUT)
July 2 - Munich, Germany - Olympiastadion (ON SALE NOW)
July 3 - Frankfurt, Germany - Commerzbank Arena (ON SALE NOW)
July 5 - Vienna, Austria - Ernst Happel Stadion (ON SALE NOW)
July 8 - Herning, Denmark - Herning MCH (ON SALE NOW)
July 11 - Dublin, Ireland - RDS (Jan 30)
July 16 - Carhaix, France - Festival des Vielles Charrues (Jan 30)
July 19 - Rome, Italy - Stadio Olimpico (ON SALE SOON)
July 21 - Turino, Italy - Olimpico di Torino (ON SALE SOON)
July 23 - Udine, Italy - Stadio Friuli (ON SALE SOON)
July 26 - Bilbao, Spain - San Mames Stadium (ON SALE SOON)
July 28 - Benidorm, Spain - Estadio Municipal de Foietes (ON SALE SOON)
July 30 - Sevilla, Spain - La Cartuja Olympic Stadium (ON SALE SOON)
Aug 1 - Valladolid, Spain - Estadio Jose Zorrilla (ON SALE SOON)
Aug 2 - Santiago, Spain - Monte Del Gozo (ON SALE SOON)

Mott the Hoople Reform

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According to Magnet

New Jeff Tweedy Solo Dates - Northeast

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Mar 26 Higher Ground - Burlington, VT
Mar 27 Calvin Theatre - Northampton, MA
Mar 28 Beacon High Auditorium - Beacon, NY (is this really in a high school auditorium in the middle of nowhere?. man, i hope so.)

Bush v Obama at the Animal Shelter

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I spent most of my Saturday afternoon training at San Francisco Animal Care & Control. Lending some time to work with animals has been something I've always wanted to do, and now is clearly the perfect time to do so. As anyone who knows me is aware, if there's a dog within 200 feet of me, everything else goes blank: I must go hang with said dog. I've had a few run-ins over the years. I walked out of a restaurant in Brooklyn once, went right up to a resting Pit Bull and nearly lost a hand. I've had a few owners give me fierce looks after finding me hanging with their tree-tied pup.

I grew up with four consecutive German Shepherds: Greta, Guard, Axel and Apollo. At times, these dogs were my closest friends. I'm sure that many kids of broken families can understand the importance of an animal. When things are confusing and, at times, lonely, there was always one of the dogs. This comfort of sorts has ingrained in me a love not just for dogs, but for all animals.


Apollo at Christmas, 2004


I will defend a dog to no end. My love for them has had consequences that some may find extreme. I have a family member who's incredibly irresponsible with pets. She has had countless dogs, and every single time, after a few months, she grows bored and away goes the dog. There will be one excuse after another, but in the end, she just doesn't care enough. People like this should not have animals, under any circumstances. We had a verbal run-in about 18 months ago when she adopted her 23rd dog. I was slightly irate as I knew the dog would end up a goner in just a few short months. She attacked me for judging. The dog is now gone. Our phones remain silent.

To the subject matter. While touring the shelter yesterday, I inquired about the effect of the economy on the number of pets arriving. Our extremely kind teacher told me that the drop-offs have increased substantially over the past year or so. They attribute it to the economy and people's inability to pay doctor's bills. Since many of those surrendered are older animals, it's clear that the majority are let go due to bills that can't be paid.

Our instructor then turned to the positive. She said that since Obama's inauguration, the number of people signing up to volunteer has reached an almost uncontrollable level. The majority of new folks she speaks with say that they're inspired by Obama's call to service. She said that without this inspiration and the resulting volunteer influx, there wouldn't be the people or time to care for all of the animals.

It hasn't even been a week and we're already worlds away from where we were. I don't expect miracles from our new president, but from the top down he's charting the right course. Even dogs, birds, cats, and hamsters are benefiting.

Album of Week 4

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Pavement : Brighten the Corners
Matador, 1997

Battle Lost : Fillmore Grind to Close

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Saturday morning, I made my daily stop into Fillmore Grind for a bagel and a coffee. During these uncertain times, the $4 I spend at Mike's coffee shop is one thing I just can't surrender. It's not just the jolt of caffeine or the toasty bagel that forces me out of the apartment every morning. It's actually not that at all.

On Sunday, as happens about once a month, Mike took the day off. I walked down Fillmore a few blocks, found a local shop and sat down with the Sunday Times. And although the coffee was better and the bagel tastier, it just wasn't Mike's. After one article in the paper, I gulped down my food and drink and headed home.

Back to Saturday. When I walked into Mike's, ready for our morning discussions about the Middle East, Obama, his business and other topics that bring on debates and laughs, I saw Mike's landlord sitting at a table with two other gentleman going over mounds of paper. I didn't need to ask. That quick sight revealed the end.

Mike has been at this location for 12 years. Prior to this, he spent 15 or so years running a coffee shop in Brooklyn. I don't know, maybe the Brooklyn to SF move created the initial bond. Mike could actually pinpoint the block where I lived in Brooklyn. In the two years that I've lived on Fillmore, Mike has become one of my closest friends. When he doesn't show up on a certain day, I worry. When he's in one of his hilarious and uplifting moods, it makes my day. When I sense that business is struggling, I try and figure out ways to bring in more money.

Many local folks have chipped in to try and revitalize the place. We've painted, provided music, cleaned, re-arranged, built a website and so on. His friend and former neighbor Amy has led the charge. Her and I exchanged e-mails this weekend. They were short, somewhat resigned and seemingly deep in sorrow. There's no more fight.

Prior to the economic collapse, the Bush years taught people to consume, consume, consume. Unlike Obama, Bush never mentioned the need to work within our communities. Starbucks, Wal-Mart and Exxon were our friends. Some of us never bought in. But not enough people looked for alternatives. With Obama's national call to service and community development, suddenly everyone appears to want in. As much as this is good for our nation, I really wonder where these people were the past eight years.

The closing of the Fillmore Grind has brought on those five steps. I've felt anger, heartbreak and now perhaps, acceptance. Ok, I haven't made it to that final step yet. I just returned from my morning visit. As happens almost every day, Mike asked me to watch over the store while he went to the bathroom. As I watched over, not one person walked through the doors. In about two weeks, those doors will be closed. And in a short while, just like Mike, I will bid farewell to the neighborhood.

Springsteen's Writing Room

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Regardless of my mixed feelings on Bruce's moves of late, this photo in Rolling Stone is classic. I want this room.

Rolling Stone Magazine

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RS has become the MTV of music magazines. Of little surprise, they have given Springsteen's new record Working on a Dream five stars. Yes, they gave it a better review than Nebraska, which landed a 4.5 rating. Brian Hiatt, who reviewed the record, compared the ending of "Outlaw Pete" to, oh my goodness, "Jungleland". Seriously, how do these people land these jobs? He then compares "Life Itself" to The Byrds' "Eight Miles High". These comparisons are akin to saying that "Marley and Me" is reminiscent of "The Godfather".

And then there's the feature by Mr. Has-Been David Fricke, who calls Working on a Dream, Springsteen's "most ornate album since 1975's Born To Run". It may be "ornate" Mr. Fricke, but putting these records in the same article, let alone sentence, is absurd.

Again, there are a few good tunes on this album. I've really grown to like the title track, "The Wrestler" is one of his finest songs in years and "My Lucky Day" is a nice rocker, and honestly, there are other songs that are growing on me, but FIVE STARS?!?! Then again, they gave Magic the same rating and that record pretty much sucked. These people need to be industry casualties. I can't remember the last time anyone said, "I bought that album because of Rolling Stone's review." They still do occasional nice pieces from time-to-time, especially on current affairs, but Jann Wenner should have canned his entire editorial team years ago. Ya know, right when that memo went out that read: "Anything by Neil Young, REM, Pearl Jam, U2 and Springsteen gets 5 stars. You don't even need to listen to the record, just give it five."

Books They All Know, They're Not Worth Reading (Video)

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Jeff Tweedy's best song could very well be "Laminated Cat" ("Not for the Season"), a song that didn't make either an Uncle Tupelo or Wilco record. It found its way onto a Loose Fur record, and although it's nice on the official release, it's the live versions that leave me kinda spellbound.

The best version I ever witnessed was at one of the very few Loose Fur shows at St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn. After the show, I ran into Glenn Kotche at a local bar and attempted to hug him.

Slumdog Millionaire

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I think I'm losing the battle on this one and will likely be paying a matinee fee. There are certain "indie darling" films that hit the masses, and almost every single time I'm disappointed. I thought "Juno" was dreadful, "Once" was a sappy and vapid take on the meaning of music and that movie with Zach Braff and the Shins song was beyond painful (I honestly can't recall the name). "Little Miss Sunshine" was better after second viewing, but it was initially a disappointment.

Hollywood and the press have a tendency to take the most sterile of independent films and hype them to no end. And while this is happening, the truly great films remain, well, obscure. There are obviously some exceptions. "Sideways" was lauded to no end and it was deserving. Watch this movie again and tell me it's not a great take on friendship, addiction, heartbreak and the meaning of, dare I say, authenticity.

The same thing happens in music. For the last year or so we've heard endless praise for Bon Iver. I mean, come the hell on?? Have you heard Joe Henry, Kenny Roby or Matthew Ryan? This Bon Iver fella (I know, I know, that's his "band" name), doesn't hold a candle to any of them. Not even close. I listened to his record twice, and although it's ok, the flood of praise is quite laughable.

I've held out on Slumdog Millionaire for weeks now. By the end of the weekend, my guess is that I'll have surrendered. Please have this be "Sideways" and not "Crash".

Bell & Hummell's footage from Big Star's "#1 Record" Recordings (Video)

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Chris Bell & Andy Hummell captured the following footage from the 1971 recording of Big Star's "#1 Record". This is a truly amazing video. Thank you to Aquarium Drunkard for the find.

The Waiting Is (Almost) Over - Springsteen To Re-Issue Darkness

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Forget about the upcoming release of the sub-par Working on a Dream, the whole Wal-Mart thing, and his fast-approaching appearance at the Super Bowl. If Springsteen fans are looking for the treat of the decade, here it is: Billboard reports that a re-issue of the 1978 classic, Darkness on the Edge of Town, is in the works. The record will be remastered and will include a "making of" DVD.

If you look back on my Top 50 Records of All-Time, you'll see that Darkness checked in at #2. On any given day, this record jumps a slot to the top of the list. Friends and I have been discussing the need for this re-issue for decades. Looks like it's finally happening.

January's eMusic Grabs

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Justin Townes Earle The Good Life
Antony & The Johnsons The Crying Light
Woven Hand Blush Music and Ten Stories
The Poison Arrows Casual Wave
The Gourds Haymaker!
Scott Walker The Drift
16 Horsepower Live 2001

Silver Jews Call It Quits

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SJ's frontman David Berman sent the following post to the Silver Jews board on the Drag City site.

Hello, my friend.

Cassie and I went to the cave and it looks great. 58 degrees but the humidity makes it feel like 72.

I'm just going to play fifteen songs. My fifteen favorite ones.

A dollar per song. Plus Arnett Hollow. I don't

want to keep you underground for too long. Fall Creek Falls State Park State Lodge is great by the way.

Yes I cancelled the South American shows. I'll have to see the ABC Countries another way.

I guess I am moving over to another category. Screenwriting or Muckraking.

I've got to move on. Can't be like all the careerists doncha know.

I'm forty two and I know what to do.

I'm a writer, see?

Cassie is taking it the hardest. She's a fan and a player but she sees how happy i am with the decision.

I always said we would stop before we got bad. If I continue to record I might accidentally write the answer song to Shiny Happy People.

What, you thought I was going to hang on to the bitter end like Marybeth Hamilton?

love david

50 Feet From Heaven

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, originally uploaded by ccsbandwagon.

Pavement "Range Life" (Video)

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If I had to pick one song to define my college years, this would probably be it. I can't count the number of times my buddy Flush played this song in the Aunt Jemima apartment on Comm Ave.

I Suppose I Can Cancel Cable...

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after dropping $51.50 for two Josh Ritter tickets. This is a purchase that absolutely had to be made, especially since he's going to be backed by a string section. If you've heard his versions of "Girl in the War" and "Empty Hearts" from his performance with the Boston Pops, you'll know what I mean. Add to that the fact that Ritter is the one artist who N and I 100% agree on. The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter was basically the soundtrack for our first year together. We listened while sitting at a duck pond in Oregon, while on the way to Mendocino, and on just about every trip together.

All this will take is a little shuffling around of needs. I mean, now that Obama's won the election, I really don't need cable. I listen to NPR on the radio every morning, and have my internet to scour the rest of the day's news. I watch TV for "The Office" (available for streaming the day after airing), "Flight of the Conchords" (can wait on Netflix), and CSPAN (online). There's really no need to for me to maintain this bill. On the Monday after the Super Bowl, it's a goner.

Welcome back, Josh.

We passed the time with crosswords that she thought to bring inside.

Obama on Air Force One (Video)

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This site should just be renamed bonnieprinceobama.com.

Obama Signs Order Closing Guantanamo

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Just the beginning of Obama's complete reversal of essentially every foreign-policy disaster delivered by W.

Coming to San Francisco

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Thursday, Feb 26
Josh Ritter w/Strings
Great American Music Hall
$20



Monday, Mar 30
Bonnie Prince Billy
The Fillmore
$22.50 (I think)

Matthew Ryan - 12 Songs

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I've posted quite a bit about Matthew Ryan over the years. In addition to my love of his music, I was also fortunate enough to have Matthew answer a few questions on this blog a few weeks back.

I spent a good part of today listening to his records, and although I won't threaten to stand on Dylan or Earle's coffee tables, repeat listens reinforce my firm belief that Matthew Ryan is one of the best songwriters around today. However, just like film and books, most of the best music out there rarely spreads beyond those who dig to find it. All three of these artforms, on a large level, are businesses. Morons in suits with godawful taste put their money behind the most watered-down, thoughtless crap; "art" that some mid-level marketing exec. in Jordache's and a tight dragon-design blouse "discovered". Film studious churn out garbage like, I don't know, "I Am Legend" or "Indiana Jones and the Crystal of Something". The big book publishers stuff us with "The Da Vinci Code" and "The Kite Runner". And the music business, possibly the most hilarious of the three, tells us that Coldplay and Taylor Swift are the best out there.

If you can take a step away from American Idol, the new season of Lost or U2's upcoming clunker, it'd serve everyone well to listen to one of the best songwriters of the past 15 years: Matthew Ryan. He's never sold many records, and I doubt he ever will, but he writes songs that matter. Here's a sampling.


Matthew Ryan

The Presidency = New Shoes

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Then:

Now:

Obama's Call

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I've now watched his address three times, and what stands out most is his almost direct repudiation of the Bush administration on nearly every level. From the environment to the economy and our relationship with the Muslim world to our ideals with respect to justice, Obama's speech was a call not just to build America, but to completely break from the direction we've received for the past eight years. His overall message of rebuilding was more a call to completely split from Bush and move towards a more just, understanding, curious and responsible country. Whereas Bush measured strength in military might and the narrowest vision imaginable, Obama sees it as a reflection of who we are and how we can lead by example.

I suspect that many were looking for Obama's uplifting language of the past two years. Understandably so, but that is not what we need right now. Obama looked the country and the world right in the eye and demanded responsibility, accountability and hard work. No more breaks for the greedy, no more free passes for the crooked and no more pain and suffering in the name of some silly slogan or hazy reasoning. This is Barack Obama's call, and it was exactly what we needed to hear.

Inauguration Day Treat

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After rising from bed at 4am and watching close to eight straight hours of inauguration coverage, N and I headed out for pizza and a quick stop-off to Amoeba. Amazingly, I left the store without a purchase (she grabbed me when I started to shuffle through the vinyl). As we arrived home, I opened the building door and there sat a little package. I knew what it was. I'm clearly on a very tight budget, a budget that I need to pay even greater attention to in the coming weeks and months, especially given my tentative but increasingly potentially firmed up plans, but some things can't be passed up. A 7" of Charles Bissell (Wrens) covering Okkervil River and Will Sheff (Okkervil) covering The Wrens. It couldn't have arrived on a better day.

Obama's Inaugural Address (Video)

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Amoeba Records, San Francisco

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, originally uploaded by ccsbandwagon.

President Obama

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, originally uploaded by ccsbandwagon.

The Beginning

Album of Week 3

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The Replacements : Let It Be
Twin/Tone, 1984

April 3, 1968 (Video)

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This speech was delivered the day before his life ended in Memphis.

To David Karp, Brian Braman, Henry Blackwell and Others

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In the Spring of 1993, after a lackluster half-year at Fairfield University in Connecticut, I decided to apply to one school as a potential transfer: Boston College. My reasons for the possible move were two: 1) My closest friend at Fairfield was determined to transfer down the coast to Georgetown and 2) I found the education at Fairfield to be average at best.

After a long wait on the anxiety-inducing "wait list", I was accepted. Following a 2.7 grade point average at Fairfield, I opened my tenure at Boston College with a rousing 2.5. But in that first semester, a Sociology professor by the name of David Karp, struck some sort of chord. I couldn't quite claim what it was, but I found myself, for the first time in my life, interested in education. We talked about societal dynamics around class, race, religion, geography and so forth. Almost baffling to myself, I was interested.

As the following year opened, I enrolled in classes such as "Inequality In America", "Society: Crime & Punishment" and the class that challenged me more than any in my life: "Narrative and Interpretation". The final class was taught by a middle-aged African-American man named Henry Blackwell. His intellectual stamina and overall solemnity left me racked with nerves as I stepped into his class twice a week. Over the course of an entire semester, we read and analyzed only three books: Kate Chopin's "The Awakening", William Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying" and Zora Neal Hurston's "Their Eyes Were Watching God". These novels and the way that we studied and dissected them, changed my overall perspective on literature, the arts and the power of story.

Then came continued work with David Karp, a man whose humility and life challenges left me in awe. He would tell stories not just about the world, but about himself and his struggles with depression. To this day, I will never forget his metaphor of pulling over into the "breakdown lane" on a family trip. I had never seen a teacher share such inner struggles and the circuitous roads it took to handle and deal with such inner demons. Perhaps it was a non-traditional form of education, but I was learning things that were clearly beyond the walls of some syllabus. And as a result, my grades began to soar.

And finally came Brian Braman's "Person and Social Responsibility", a full year course that included a requirement to do work outside of class. Within the room, we read Plato and Camus, and the latter's novel, "The Fall", still stands as perhaps the most important book I've ever read. In the community, I worked in a housing development, mentoring a young Puerto Rican boy named Melvin. This experience alone is worthy of a novel. I was growing beyond my imagination.

There were countless other professors, books and experiences that opened my mind to the world. On this day, Martin Luther King Day, and just hours from the inauguration of Barack Obama as our 44th president, I share the meaning, pride and understanding with these three men, a trio of professors at Boston College who changed everything about me.

Springsteen & Choir Perform "The Rising" at the Lincoln Memorial (Video)

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Obama has yet to take office yet it already seems like a completely different country.

Sunday Mix For the Short Ride to San Mateo

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Bicycle - Mark Olson & Gary Louris
Watching the Wheels - John Lennon
Country Love - The Gourds
The Wrestler - Bruce Springsteen
Last Dance - Mekons
Never Had Nobody Like You - M. Ward
Just For You - Sam Cooke
3 Speed - Eels
Sick of Goodbyes - Cracker
Casino Lights - Richmond Fontaine
Cape Canaveral - Conor Oberst
Breeze - Apollo Sunshine
I Will Dare - The Replacements
Salvese Quien Pueda - Juana Molina
In Dreams - Roy Orbison
Guess I Know I'm Right - The V-Roys
Versatile Heart - Linda Thompson

Cheney on Justice

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From Today's New York Times:

Mr. Cheney said that any criminal investigation of torture, abuse of citizens' privacy rights and the like "would be devastating" because fear of legal liability would discourage intelligence agents from ever taking risks on the nation's behalf. "Any suggestion that there should be prosecution of these folks is extraordinarily unwise and unfair," he said.

The Gourds' "Haymaker!" - We're Only On Day 17

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And I may be ready to name my top album of 2009. Fine, that'd be a little absurd given the almost endless list of great acts releasing new collections this year, but man if The Gourds' Haymaker! isn't a fantastic listen. This marks their tenth full-length in twelve years, and with the exception of maybe two, all of their records are at the very least, strong. And then there are the absolute classics, led by Stadium Blitzer (1998), Dems Good Beeble (1997), Cow, Fish, Fowl or Pig (2002) and Ghosts of Hallelujah (1999).

Haymaker! is still new to these ears, but after a handful of listens, this one appears primed to join the upper-ranks. And as it continues to grow, I wonder if this could be their first record to land atop my year end list. Given their work to date, this highly sought-after prize would be long overdue. Well, I've still got 348 days to decide. Or is this leap year?

Springsteen's "Outlaw Pete"

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As I mentioned in my review of Springsteen's new record, the lead track, "Outlaw Pete", may be the lowest point in an otherwise phenomenal career. Well, now you have the opportunity to listen to this disaster. The worst part of the song is not the atrocious music, but rather Bruce's singing inflection, which is bordering on absolutely hysterical. While listening, I feel like I'm sitting in a Chuck E Cheese arcade in the late 80s. Oh, and now there's a debate that he's completely ripped off KISS' "I Was Made For Lovin' You". I couldn't care less about this last point, since the song is so ridiculous that added bashing seems unnecessary.

Folks, it's Outlaw Pete. Can ya hear me!!!!

Olson & Louris "Ready for the Flood" (incl. Video)

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On Jan 27, Mark Olson and Gary Louris will release their first record together in 13 years. As co-founders of the Minneapolis-based The Jayhawks, a band widely considered one of the forefathers of the 80s-90s Americana movement, they shared the helm from 1985-1996. Olson left the band in '96 to focus on his work with then-wife Victoria Williams, while Louris carried along with The Jayhawks until 2003. Louris followed almost two decades with The Jayhawks by releasing his first solo record last year, while Olson continued putting out solid material as a solo act and with the Original Harmony Ridge Creek Dippers.

I saw the original Jayhawks lineup only once, on July 16, 1995, on a beautiful yet scorching hot day at the Cincinnati Zoo. Wilco opened, but it was The Jayhawks who put on a truly memorable show. Not knowing that the beautiful songwriting and harmonies of Louris and Olson would part in less than a year, I stood in awe at one of the greatest writing and singing tandems of the past twenty years. I went on to see The Jayhawks sans Olson many times thereafter (see picture below from SXSW 2000), and as good as they were, and they were very good, they were never the same without Olson.



A few years ago, there was word that they may start writing together again. The rumors were followed by a few shows together. And then came word of Ready for the Flood. Although the remaining stapes of The Jayhawks (Marc Perlman & Tim O'Reagan) are not on hand, it's a thrill to see the two together again. There are certain artists that seem to thrive alongside another, and although they've produced solid work apart, Mark Olson and Gary Louris have always seemed best served together. On Jan 27 we'll see if the magic's still there after 13 years apart.


Olson And Louris - Ready For The Flood - EPK from New West Records on Vimeo.

Matthew Ryan "Beautiful Fool", Germany, 1998 (Video)

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He's as good today as he was a decade ago, but let's take a look back:

Letters To Obama

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I usually drop my favorite links over to the right under Sunday Papers, but this one's worthy of a copy-and-paste job.

From Today's New York Times

Dear Sir Obama: Presidential Advice
By JORY JOHN
Published: January 15, 2009

Every day after school about 65 children come to our center to get help with their homework. The place is always vibrant, but on Nov. 5, 2008, the 20 tutors in the room essentially played zone defense to keep things in order. For the students, the election of Barack Obama had overturned their world.

The children had been interested in the election all year but few of them, truth be told, really thought Mr. Obama would be elected. When he won, their talk quickly and excitedly turned to what would happen next.

We decided to channel this energy into a writing assignment. We asked our students — not just those in San Francisco, but ones in Ann Arbor, Mich.; Boston; Chicago; Los Angeles; New York; and Seattle — to offer their thoughts, hopes and advice to Mr. Obama in handwritten letters (many of which came with drawings). Here is the result of their work; some letters have been edited for space.



Dear Sir Obama,

These are the first 10 things you should do as president:

1. Make everyone read books.
2. Don’t let teachers give kids hard homework.
3. Make a law where kids only get one page of homework per week.
4. Kids can go visit you whenever they want.
5. Make volunteer tutors get paid.
6. Let the tutors do all the thinking.
7. Make universities free.
8. Make students get extra credit for everything.
9. Give teachers raises.
10. If No. 4 is approved, let kids visit the Oval Office, but don’t make it boring.

— Mireya Perez, age 8, San Francisco



Dear Obama,

If I were president I would have fun, because I could run fast.

— Kenja Zelaya, age 6, Los Angeles



Dear President/Mr. Obama,

The best thing about living in the White House would be running around like a maniac. The thing I would like least is the work.

— Holly Wong, age 9, San Francisco



Dear President Obama,

I am small, quiet, smart. I love to swim and play basketball. My mom and dad are from the Dominican Republic. I am going to the Dominican Republic next year. I think you should try to change the world by building shelters for the people who live in the streets. It’s the beginning of January, and it’s cold. Good luck being the president.

— Pamela Mejia, age 11, Boston



Dear President Obama,

Here is a list of the first 10 things you should do as president:

1. Fly to the White House in a helicopter.
2. Walk in.
3. Wipe feet.
4. Walk to the Oval Office.
5. Sit down in a chair.
6. Put hand-sanitizer on hands.
7. Enjoy moment.
8. Get up.
9. Get in car.
10. Go to the dog pound.

— Chandler Browne, age 12, Chicago



Dear President Obama,

If I were president, I would tell people to not talk too much. It wastes time. I’d also say to war: no more, no more, no more!

— Catherine Galvan, age 6, Chicago



Dear Obama,

I have grown up with a very liberal mom and a very conservative dad. Thank you for bringing my parents somewhat closer together. :) You are my idol Mr. Barack — I am partly African-American and I am very happy to see an African-American leading this country.

— Olivia Roper-Caldbeck, age 12, Seattle



Dear Pres. Obama,

Good job on winning. I heard about Area 51. I wanted to ask you if there are any U.F.O.’s there. I think that you should tell people in public the truth about Area 51. You would just maybe say, “That we will take care of it.” And do it.

— Edwin Jara, age 9, New York

Dear President Obama,

Could you help my family to get housecleaning jobs? I hope you will be a great president. If I were president, I would help all nations, even Hawaii. President Obama, I think you could help the world.

— Chad Timsing, age 9, Los Angeles

Jory John, program director at 826 Valencia, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center, is the editor of the forthcoming “Thanks and Have Fun Running the Country: A Collection of Kids’ Letters to President Obama,” from which some of these letters are drawn.

The Archives : The V-Roys' "Just Add Ice" (1996)

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The V-Roys were one of those bands that should have, pardon the following two words, been huge. Seriously, they should have. Signed by Steve Earle's E-Squared in 1996, first came the referenced release Just Add Ice. This young in-your-face foursome from Tennessee played simple, straightforward rock and roll. The lyrics were strong, the guitars were loud and they played as a charging unit. And when need be, they could turn it down and deliver perfect ballads. They were a countrified version of The Replacements (I think lead singer Scott Miller is still maintaining the drinking badge) in 50s style suits.

Their first record revealed a band energized and ready to make a heavy impact on the rock n' roll world. But 1996 was a time when good music was still very deep in the shadows. Although that's mostly the case today as well, had The Arcade Fire or My Morning Jacket been around then, they would have likely been as obscure as The V-Roys. When you add Scott Miller's dislike for any part of the country outside of the Southeast, you had the makings for a tough climb.



They followed up their brilliant debut with the (almost) equally strong All About Town. Although the latter showed writing maturation, it was Just Add Ice that displayed a band in the truest sense of the word. Mic Harrison accompanied Miller on vocals for a near perfect pairing. Following their second record, the band released a live record and disbanded. Some rumors attribute the parting of ways to their involvement with Earle, but who really knows. Miller has gone on to a quiet yet impressive solo career, and Harrison has done the same. But like so many fantastic Southeast bands from the 90s, The V-Roys' career was far too short.

"When you put on your story, I will sigh with relief
Whatever you say dear, it's a lie I believe"

from "Lie I Believe"

The End of the Bush Presidency

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As hard as I try, I still can't believe that it's over in four days.

There are moments when our passion for something is truly born. I've often cited those few minutes on South Street in Boston as the time that music took over. I heard the notes to Uncle Tupelo's "New Madrid" while lounging around on a lazy weekend afternoon and things have honestly never been the same.

When it comes to my now near-obsessive interest in politics and policy, I think it was a combination of events. First off, near the end of the 1990s there were a series of health issues within my family that brought on an interest in public policy. And then there was a profile of Al Gore in the New York Times. Within this piece, the writer highlighted not only Gore's lifelong interest in the environment, but his vast curiosity about about space, the stars and the unknown. The author went on to write about a fundraiser on Long Island. As the bigwigs awaited Gore's presence and words, Tipper Gore, unable to track down her husband, finally found him about a mile from the gathering, lying on a hill looking up at the stars. The importance of the event inside and the race seemed lost in his almost childlike interest in the mysteries and possibilities of the undiscovered. This brought me back to my childhood. I spent many a night with the blinds to my bedroom window slightly open at the top. For some reason, I couldn't keep my eyes away from the sky and stars. This article, combined with Al and Tipper's interest in health care, made me believe.

The rest is history relative to the outcome. I remember sitting in the MTV offices on the day that the Supreme Court delivered its 5-4 decision. A good friend and I were saddened, disgusted, angered. We felt cheated. Something just didn't feel just. We disliked Bush from the outset. We found him to be a pompous, arrogant frat boy who'd failed in almost every endeavor, yet his name and his family's power brought him to the most important role in the World.

The unraveling that followed has been far beyond our wildest fears. Over the past eight years, my belief in this country has been tested time and again. But every single time I witnessed Bush's unforgiveable mistakes, I tried to think of the possibilities of what could come. But his acts just kept adding up. There was Richard Clarke's warning about an Al Qaeda attack, a fact that his been grossly ignored by the mass media. There were the tax cuts for the most financially comfortable. There was lack of oversight with respect to our entire economy. There was Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. There was the illegal wiretapping. And the waterboarding. The job losses. The egregious and blatant efforts to help pollute the environment. Six million more without health care. Iraq. WMDs. Church and State.



All that said, I think the images from his eight years that define him in my eyes are the pictures and videos from the streets of New Orleans in 2005. I remember watching the news round-the-clock, and on the second day, sitting alone in my apartment, standing up and wailing, "Where is our president!?!?!!" I mean, I didn't vote for the guy, but I had to at least expect some sort of response to the horror that was drowning an entire American city. As the days played out and the bodies floated and the city's citizens howled for help, my anger towards this man deepened. Over time, I somehow managed to shift a lot of this anger to clock-watching.

When George W. Bush was the governor of Texas, he presided over more executions than any governor in modern history. He was so at ease with the chair, that he picked up the nickname the "Texecutioner". 152 put to death in his six years. Since "winning" the presidency, it would be impossible to count the number of human beings to either die, lose limbs and/or suffer irreparable mental and physical torture under his watch. I am just 35 years old, and if I live to be 100, I can't imagine us ever having to endure a president as cold, unfair and deceitful as George W. Bush.

In just four days, it's finally over. This has been a presidency for the ages, one that will ultimately be judged by the passing of time, but as he steps aside, it's impossible to reflect and not feel overwhelmed by his disgraceful "leadership" both here and abroad. As I sit here with my eyes on the clock, I realize that we're just a few days away.

1,001 Posts

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And this one will serve as 1,002. I had no idea that I'd hit the four-figure mark until I landed on some random layout page or something.

I started this blog on November 21, 2005 with a post about the 30th Anniversary re-release of Springsteen's Born To Run. I can't express how satisfying it's been.

Here's post #1:

11.21.05
Born To Run 30th Anniversary
Posted by Campbell in Music

I think it's safe to say that this record changed my life. Sure, people throw such statements out too easily, but for me, I truly believe it's the case. I vividly recall hearing "Backstreets", "Night", "Jungleland" and the five remaining tracks oozing through the walls of my Ramsey, New Jersey bedroom as a child. Although my father's late-parties often left me red-eyed and blue, the wail of "Born To Run" always gave me comfort. Whether it be as guests arrived or as the booze and drugs had fueled the hangers-on at 5am, "Born To Run" often accompanied the madness downstairs.

Now at the age of 32 I find myself working in the music business and fueled not by the booze and drugs but by the music. Springsteen led me to Neil Young which brought me to Uncle Tupelo which guided me to Damien Jurado and Elliott Smith. For over twenty years music has been the cornerstone of my life. And how I got here can be attributed to those late, sweltering nights in Northern New Jersey. In the deep heart of the night, it was "Born To Run" that gave me hope. And nothing's changed.

Bands I Should Like

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We've all got 'em. Those bands that given our pompous renderings on music, should fall in line with what we like. For example, I know quite a few people with good taste who detest Springsteen. My contact with these people ends abruptly, but you get the point. Since music, like all art, is subjective, we've all got our hits and misses. On a personal note, whenever I put Joe Henry on the stereo, my girlfriend appears ill within seconds. It's amazing that this hasn't led to our demise. And when she tosses on the Blue Nile, I dive for the klonopin.

The following list of acts are not necessarily bands without merit. Actually, it's quite the opposite as I do respect most. The point is: I either just don't like them or I find them to be very overrated. So here it goes:


The Police
In eighth grade, a friend offered a free ticket to go see The Police up in Syracuse, NY. I still don't regret passing. Anything with Sting involved is utter crap.


Led Zeppelin
I won't claim to hate Zeppelin, but if they come on while I'm in a bar or at a party, I'm headed to the exits before Page's first riff is complete.


Talking Heads
I can't count the number of times I've put a Talking Heads record on the turntable and had it back in its sleeve within five. I also watched a grueling interview with David Byrne once and almost didn't survive. It's time I stop trying with anything Byrne related.


Radiohead
Simply overrated. I don't dislike them, but I've never understood the fuss. "Fake Plastic Trees" is a good song, and Ok Computer was a top record for its year of release, but a good portion of the rest is droning crap. Legends? Seriously? Yeah, and so are the Red Hot Chili Peppers.


Sonic Youth
My guess is that a little north of 50% of folks who claim to love Sonic Youth rarely if ever listen to them. I think a few records are ok, but man, most of it is yawn city.


Prince
For a guy who had a nice four-year run, his Minneapolis-sized ego seems a bit ridiculous. If there's a more overrated artist in the history of music, I'd like to listen. And don't say Bob Seger, because he's not overrated, and "Night Moves" is classic.

Others receiving votes: Elvis Costello (though I do love This Years Model), Jimi Hendrix, Beastie Boys, Joy Division, Kanye West.

Note: I was going to include Eric Clapton and every single thing he's ever played a part in, but if you read this blog and already don't know that, well....