Wilco Cover "Broken Arrow" at Neil Young Tribute in LA

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Evidently it was unreal. Someone please post this like, maybe now.

Some photos:





Obama Fields Questions from House Republicans

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And the man we voted for is finally stepping up to the plate. In the past week, he's delivered a passionate and forceful State of the Union, and yesterday, in an unprecedented move, took questions from the republican house. They tossed the usual "cut taxes" b.s. to get their base all hot and bothered, but the president quickly put them in their places through his unbelievable intellect and mastery of the issues at hand. Obama was forceful and called reps. out on their flat-out-lies. If this is the president we see for the remaining three or seven years, similar to John Kennedy, a weak first year will be outshined by firm leadership and the rallying of a country. I know these are still just words, but man does he appear to be turning a corner.

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, originally uploaded by ccsbandwagon.

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Nick Flynn Reading in San Francisco

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One of my closest friends is a monster fan of Nick Flynn's writing, especially his first memoir Another Bullshit Night in Suck City. I read it last year and enjoyed it quite a bit, but having read almost nothing but memoirs for the past year, it was kind of lost in the mix of a number of good ones.

Tonight we headed off to hear Flynn read from his new memoir The Ticking is the Bomb, which somehow juxtaposes Flynn's interest (obsession?) with U.S. torture at Abu Ghraib and the impending birth of his daughter. I told myself prior to the reading that I would NOT buy the hardcover, due to a commitment to curtail even my meager spending of late. I brought along my copy of Suck City which I'd have him sign.

Following a wonderful reading, Flynn sat down with Stephen Elliott. Flynn was charming, engaging, thoughtful and witty. As the night came to a close, I went up to have my books signed (yes, plural) and had a few-minute chat with Flynn that was one of the more touching conversations I've had in some time, and I've had many of late. What a sweet and honest guy.

Thanks Missy, MM and Nick Flynn for a wonderful night.
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, originally uploaded by ccsbandwagon.

Obama's First State of the Union Address

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Tonight, after a very tumultuous year, I once again saw the Barack Obama that I voted for in November of 2008. He was inspiring, cogent and determined. I know many on the left, myself included, are tired of just "words," but I'm going to keep the faith. I will waver, no question about it, but I want this man to transform and rebuild this nation, and despite a disappointing first year, I will keep pulling for him. I was obviously going to do that regardless of what I heard tonight, but his words and delivery only heightened that feeling.

The only area that still baffles me is his continuing effort to work with republicans. I think it's fine that he repeated such efforts in this speech, but I hope that after he walked out of the chambers, he was aware that it is absolutely fruitless. I mean, the republicans didn't stand when he spoke of gays in the military and the fact that we're all equal. They're a party that right there admitted to homophobia. That is not a party you can work with. He needs to read up on FDR, keep that passion burning and start making things happen. Tonight was a good fresh start.

Austin City Limits Streaming Full Episodes

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Now this is a treat. My week is now gone.

The Arcade Fire performance lends further evidence that they may indeed be the best live band in the world right now.

ACL

Inside a New York Factory Farm

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Viewer discretion advised.

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Friday, June 25 @ Berkeley Theatre

Athena & Marley

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After a year of hanging around SF Animal Care & Control, I finally feel ready to adopt a dog. I've wanted my own pup for as long as I can remember and now feels like the right time. I have actually found two dogs that I'd love to take home, Athena and Marley. I've hung out with both on about four occasions and absolutely love them. As I furiously search for an apartment that will permit a pup, I've been simultaneously debating which one I'd adopt if I can land an apartment in time.

Athena


I settled on Athena. She's a six-year-old who was dropped off by her owner. She knows how to sit, shake, lay down, and is incredibly loving. The moment I saw her I wanted to take her home. And every time I've returned, she just gives me that look. One of the hilarious aspects of her personality is her complete lack of interest in playing ball. I take her outside and chuck the ball and it just bounces off her head. She couldn't care less. Then she runs up to me and dives into my lap. Well, today I gumped it on over to the shelter to see both dogs (and the others) and as I approached Athena's cage, I saw the notice: "Adoption Pending." I obviously had a mixed reaction to this and it now looks unlikely that I'll take her home. However, knowing that someone's about to ultimately made my day. I went into her cage for about a half hour (she did a long jump onto my head in under five seconds) and we said our goodbyes.

Marley


It's now down to Marley. He's a six-month-old who has the same reaction when I enter his cage, but given his age, is a bit more rambunctious. But man do I love this dog. I spent a half hour with him as well and he actually would not leave my lap. I called my landlord and asked if I could just keep the dog until I find an apartment. He wouldn't even consider it. Understandable, but certainly a bummer. Given how adorable and fun this dog is, I can't imagine he'll last in the shelter too long. Just like Athena, that's a good thing, but I wouldn't mind his home being my future apartment.

Barack Obama (R-IL)

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This "spending freeze" that Obama's set to announce at tomorrow's State of the Union is beyond baffling. Does this president have any idea what's happening in this country or is he only concerned with placating republicans, Wall Street and Rahm Emanuel? As I've said previously, I am no economic wiz. I've never had a moment of interest in "investing" in the market or whatever the hell people do to make nickels, but even the biggest economic dolt simply can't make sense of this. Some are claiming that Obama's starting to lose his base. Based on what I'm hearing/reading/making up, I think the base may be lost. There are the more moderate democrats who still stand with him, but the liberal part of the party (Yes, Barack and Reid, these people do exist and they, well, put you into office) are leaving in droves.

Paul Krugman in New York Times today:

Obama Liquidates Himself

A spending freeze? That’s the brilliant response of the Obama team to their first serious political setback?

It’s appalling on every level.

It’s bad economics, depressing demand when the economy is still suffering from mass unemployment. Jonathan Zasloff writes that Obama seems to have decided to fire Tim Geithner and replace him with “the rotting corpse of Andrew Mellon” (Mellon was Herbert Hoover’s Treasury Secretary, who according to Hoover told him to “liquidate the workers, liquidate the farmers, purge the rottenness”.)

It’s bad long-run fiscal policy, shifting attention away from the essential need to reform health care and focusing on small change instead.

And it’s a betrayal of everything Obama’s supporters thought they were working for. Just like that, Obama has embraced and validated the Republican world-view — and more specifically, he has embraced the policy ideas of the man he defeated in 2008. A correspondent writes, “I feel like an idiot for supporting this guy.”

Now, I still cling to a fantasy: maybe, just possibly, Obama is going to tie his spending freeze to something that would actually help the economy, like an employment tax credit. (No, trivial tax breaks don’t count). There has, however, been no hint of anything like that in the reports so far. Right now, this looks like pure disaster.
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Two Books

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I enjoyed the first third of this book, but as the pages turned, I reached a point where honestly, I just wanted Ms. Karr to stop talking. I know that part of addiction and recovery can be quite self-centered, but Karr takes it to a new height. There are certainly pieces of this critically-lauded memoir that strike a chord, but as a whole, I found Karr's unending narcissism to overshadow even the good parts. I don't know what the comparison to "wait until video" is for books, but whatever it is, do that. Maybe it's "wait for the paperback," but honestly, there are so many better memoirs focused on addiction and family.

Lit by Mary Karr, Memoir, 2009: 7.1

The New Orleans Saints

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My waning interest in sports has been covered ad nauseum on this blog. However, there are times when the game can mean more than money, arrogance, corporate-sponsorships, greed, drugs and the rest of the things that have played a part in turning professional sports into something akin to a Wall Street corporation with muscles. Like the Yankees following the 9/11 attacks, the New Orleans Saints are one of those stories.

Following Hurricane Katrina, you may recall that there were actual calls to just let the city go. A city so deep in history and Americana was almost left to die. A lackluster, and almost non-existent government reaction, certainly didn't help. As far as I know, the city still has a long way to go. But today was their day. I have friends who call New Orleans home, and a few months ago we met up in San Francisco. I asked one of them how important this Saints run was to the city of New Orleans. His reaction really said it all. He didn't really put it into words, but it was clear that it means absolutely everything. It's given a little swagger back to a city that's suffered for over five years. It's brought hope back. And perhaps most importantly, it's been a fun and thrilling distraction.

I haven't watched a minute of a playoff game this year. Without a television, I had to rely on my computer and texts from friends to find out the results. This game was the first time this year that the game of football grabbed at my heartstrings. For my friends in New Orleans, and for the city as a whole, I wanted the Saints to make it to their first ever Super Bowl. And boy did they.

Congratulations to the beautiful city of New Orleans.

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, originally uploaded by ccsbandwagon.

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, originally uploaded by ccsbandwagon.

President Barack Obama at One Year

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I won't claim to have a handle or comprehensive understanding on every issue, but I do have somewhat of a grasp on a good portion of the issues. As far as a barometer, since this is the first time I've done this, if I were to have graded George W. Bush each year, he would have received an F eight consecutive years. And I don't mean that sarcastically. He may have received better marks on specific issues (AIDS in Africa), but his overall marks would have totalled eight consecutive Fs.

Now to Barack:

Health Care: He still may get something through, but this has been very close to a failure. It's been his #1 priority for well over six months, he's exhausted the country with the back-and-forth, and he's yet to really show even a sliver of leadership. I mean, we don't know where he stands on the public option? And he went to big pharma and big insurance first? That's the antithesis of change. Grade: C-

Economy: He stabled the Dow, but as Son Volt's lead-singer Jay Farrar sings, "Who the hell is Dow Jones anyway? Society's bones on a cafeteria tray." That's pretty much how I see it. I'm not so much disgusted with the bailouts, but with the lack of stipulations tied to those bailouts. Were there any? Or were these just blind handouts. Sickening. I thought Wall Street disgusted me during the days of Bush? It's even worse during the Obama administration. And he's only helped to inflate that angst. I never thought that we'd see job growth until well into 2010, so no, I didn't expect immediate results, but the path thus far has been sub-par. The stimulus package has had some successes, but as Krugman predicted, it should have been bigger. Barack needs to visit Detroit. Grade: C-

Energy and the Environment: I liked his choice for Energy Secretary, but I've seen nary a mention from Barack on the need for the U.S. to lead on alternative energy. I hoped Obama would make the environment a national priority. He has not. Grade: C

Education: Did Arne Duncan join a pick-up hoops league that's traveling throughout Europe? I don't think I've heard more than a quip out of Barack for the need to massively reform education in this country. Grade: D

Foreign Policy: He helped restore our image around the world, but I think that goodwill is starting to level. He's not damaging us on this front, but the high hopes from the rest of the world are fading. They seem to be thinking, "It's not Bush, but well, it's America." Grade: B

The Wars: No end in sight in Iraq and Obama rarely even mentions this war. As far as Afghanistan goes, as he always seems to do, he took the middle ground. His General wanted 50,000 troops or so, so Barack tosses him 30,000. But what's the mission? Aren't there now more Al Qaeda in Mobile, Alabama than there are in Afghanistan? I agree that the Taliban needs to be destroyed, but is this possible? Grade: C

National Security: I'm not completely up-to-speed on everything here, but I've been fairly pleased with Janet N. Grade: B

Leadership: Not nearly the backbone he showed on the campaign trail, in debates and leading up to his election. He needs to fire Emanuel. Grade: D+

His Team: I'm happy with Biden and fairly happy with Clinton. I think Holder's soft. I like Gates. Surprisingly, I don't detest Geithner, but I think he should be replaced. Sebelius has not been very good at all, nor has Duncan. Emanuel needs to go: his false arrogance doesn't work or sway anyone. Grade: B-

Promises: Remember all those promises? Guantanamo closed within a year? Transparency? Changing Washington? Ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell?" Ending torture (have we?)? Grade: D

"Change": Obama has arguably been more in bed with Wall Street and big lobbyists than his predecessor. Okay, that can't be possible, but he's certainly spent far too much time appeasing them. If he doesn't change course on this front fast, as in this very second, the democrats are doomed in 2010 and Lou Dobbs will be president in 2012. Grade: D

Overall: It's been a rough first year for President Obama. It still can't be understated the absolute disaster he was handed: two dysfunctional wars, an economy in free fall, a world against us, and eight years of disastrous policies on just about every front. I am one who firmly believes that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney should be behind bars for the remainder of their lives. All that being said, I didn't expect huge changes in the first 12 months. I knew it would take years and years to get us back on course. However, Obama has proven so frail and indecisive on so many issues that he deserves a lot of the backlash. I didn't care if he passed health care reform in the first year; I just cared that he took some firm positions. On the economy, I wanted him to hold big business and the banks accountable. I wanted him to instruct Holder to go after those who broke major, major laws in the previous administration and again, tortured folks. Such abhorrent activity is contrary to everything this country stands for. I wanted him to at least mention alternative energy. Maybe a few words about our crumbling schools. Hopefully last night's election in Massachusetts will open up his eyes, but something tells me it won't. I think Barack's become so entrenched in the ways of Washington that he may have a tough time climbing out, seeing the realities of what he saw from 2006-2008 and being that man again. But I guess there's still "hope."

Overall Grade: C-

The Election of Scott Brown in MA

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The democrats still have a 59-41 advantage, something that the previous president was never close to, yet he passed legislation that nearly destroyed civilization so easily you often wondered if there was even a democrat in the entire city of Washington. But this current government, run almost single-handedly by the democratic party, can get almost nothing done, whether it's 60 or 59. As has been the case with the democrats ever since George W. Bush won the presidency in 2000, we simply do not have a democratic party strong enough to drive through its principles, or for that matter, really anything. So instead, the electorate turns to the party that will push through policy change, despite the fact that those policies benefit 0.01% of the population and will lead to the complete destruction of the world before the next season of Mad Men begins.

Now one year into the Obama presidency, can anyone tell me his position on health care? The environment? Alternative energy? The wars? Education (Is Arne Duncan even still around)? Guantanamo? Foreign policy? The economy? McGwire's admission? The latest Springsteen tour? I honestly don't know where this president stands on just about anything. I hear snippets and high-and-mighty promises, but in the end, it all falls flat. And when he does take a solid position, nothing seems to happen. I obviously like his curious mind, but if this year hasn't taught him that reaching consensus is just not possible in Washington, then we're in for an awful three more years. If somehow the law forbidding murder expired and the dems went to renew that, the vote would be 59-41. The republicans are not going to side with him on anything. I mean, they're a party run by Mitch McConnell, that super-tan guy, and Jim (this guy really got elected? Oh right, South Carolina) DeMint!

Yes, Martha Coakley was an awful candidate, someone who I may not have voted for, but Edward Kennedy, perhaps the greatest senator to ever live, was just replaced, in short order, by some dude who apparently drives a truck and once displayed his schlong in a centerfold. I know that's usually standard fare for electing a republican, but this was Massachusetts.

Health insurance stocks are sure to surge tomorrow, now that hopes of health care reform are in question. I mean, what in the world has happened to this country? Not only did the democrats hand us a watered-down joke of a reform bill, but now we vote in individuals who promise to, well, side with big insurance. Wait, then again, we voted in Obama, and he's sided with, ummm, big insurance. You begin to wonder what's left? If the democrats, while controlling everything outside of the selection of the Yanks fifth starter this year, can't get a thing done, seriously, I mean seriously, what's the point in this two party system?

I think the entire democratic party needs to sit down and revisit this video:

Big Star

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There are times when I listen to this band and seriously think that they are the greatest thing ever to happen in music. This box set Keep an Eye on the Sky is so phenomenal that words just can't do it justice. I know it's a bit pricey, but oh boy, just go out and buy it. Many of the demos of the songs that made it on their records are so raw and full of emotion that it's hard not feel as though you're sitting in on the recording sessions. And although they went on to re-record these tracks, had I been in the room, there would have been a loud, "Perfect! Done! Fucking shit!" coming from my mouth. I mean, how on EARTH were these guys not enormous. Ok, forget enormous, why the hell aren't they talked about in the same breath as say The Kinks, The Who, The Velvet Underground and say, The Clash. I won't lump them in with The Beatles or Stones, simply because they didn't have the output, but Big Star are one of the greatest bands ever.

It's okay to look outside, the day it will abide, and watch the sunrise

Arianna on Obama

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I will offer up my own take on the president's one-year anniversary in the coming days, but Arianna Huffington's take in today's Huffington Post nails it just about perfectly.

"Hope" Has Been a Bust, It's Time For Hope 2.0

MLK

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Joe Strummer : The Future Is Unwritten

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People can change anything they want to. And that means everything in the world. People are running about following their little tracks. I am one of them. But we've all gotta stop, just following our own little mouse trail. People can do anything. This is something that I'm beginning to learn. People are out there doing bad things to each other. It's because they're being dehumanized. It's time to take the humanity back into the center of the ring and follow that for a time. Greed, it ain't going anywhere. They should have that in a big billboard across Times Square. Without people, you're nothing. That's my spiel." - Joe Strummer

It's a wonder it took me this long to get around to watching this documentary. I won't claim that Strummer's music has impacted me as much as others, but as I age, something about Strummer's music and art, both with The Clash and The Mescaleros, seems to grow within. The more I replay the records, and the more I dig in, the more meaning and inspiration I find.

The Future Is Unwritten is a pretty fantastic retrospective on Joe's life. Instead of painting him as a saint, the film actually shows the many sides of Strummer: his almost unbreakable principles, his weaknesses and insecurities and perhaps most importantly, his endless curiosity that often posed internal challenges. He had a punk's spirit and the fists to take on any fight, yet he couldn't help but feel drawn to hippie culture, techno and just about every art imaginable. He tied himself down yet broke free time and again. And that back-and-forth often led to internal turmoil.

This documentary is so good that even an appearance by Bono didn't turn me away. And actually, aside from his last short interview, he actually had some interesting things to say. Captain shades aside, Joe Strummer injects life into the listener and viewer. The man lived fucking life and he almost demands that you do the same. If you've ever questioned going after what burns inside of you, this documentary may push you forward. Because in Joe's eyes, the future is indeed unwritten, and it's our responsibility to write it.

I decided to only follow music forever. That would be the way to live - Joe Strummer

We Are Totally Under Construction

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Given that my last template no longer works, I'm trying out some new stuff.

Jay Farrar / Ben Gibbard in Portland, Jan 23 Ticket (Kinda) Giveaway

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It turns out that I will be unable to make the trip to Portland next weekend for the Jay Farrar & Ben Gibbard show.

If you are in the Portland area, or if you're not, and would just love to attend this show, here's my little offer: The total charge for the ticket was $35.70. The ticket is yours, as long as you're willing to make a donation of at least $30 to Oxfam for its relief efforts in Haiti. The cynic may say, "But how is that really a deal? I'm only saving about $5?" Well, I would say: In addition to enjoying two mid-tempo rockers, you will feel good about donating to a relief effort that needs all the help it can get.

Lastly, we will go simply on trust. I won't ask for proof that you sent cash to Oxfam. I will just ask that, well, you send the damn money.

If you're interested, please e-mail me at ccsbandwagon at gmail dot com. First person to respond gets the ticket.

Wyclef Jean's Yele Haiti Foundation

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Before tossing your donations to the Yele foundation, you may want to read this from The Smoking Gun.

The Desperation in Haiti

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As the days pass, I'm sure more and more people think, "I'm sure the UN and the US now have things under control."

Well, we're now long into day four and this is the latest from the United Nations:

The United Nations said it had fed 8,000 people, while two million to three million people remained in dire need.

Waiting To Go Home

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, originally uploaded by ccsbandwagon.

Blog Display Issues

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You've probably noticed that certain things aren't populating on the blog. For example, the date that once sat to the left of each blog title is gone. In addition, the search box appears to be history. I've asked around in forums and such and it appears to be something with Wordpress and hosting of background images. I really have no idea what that means, but some kind forum folks are offering up advice on how to get it fixed. I guess this has impacted many bloggers. I may need to change to a new display altogether.

Pretty fonts and stuff aside, the content, at least for the most part, should continue to appear, as I work feverishly with my staff of me, on getting this fixed.

In the meantime, donate some cash to Haiti.

Tim Easton's "Porcupine" Limited Edition

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Now this is how it should be done. Actually, this is going leaps and bounds ahead of how it should be done. I'd been eying Tim Easton's Porcupine vinyl special-edition for months now. It's priced at $40 plus $5 in shipping so I'd hesitated for months. After growing to really like the record, I finally made the plunge. I've been a fan of Easton's dating back to the Haynes Boys and all of his records, most notably, the classic Special 20, get regular spins, and likely will for years to come.

Yesterday, while continuing to battle some sort of flu, I left the apartment for a bit to take some photos. As luck would have it, I stopped into a bakery for a muffin, and not one hour later seemed to have been hit by a major case of food poisoning. Perhaps that sounds hard to believe, but yep, that's what happened. When I finally made it home, feeling as though I could barely stand (literally), there sat the package from Easton. Although I was in too much of a fog to really absorb the beauty of it all, I did muster up an ounce of energy to open the package.

After almost 24 straight hours in bed, I finally gave a good look this morning. In addition to a hand-painted cover/back, Easton even adds a simple touch by drawing a guitar in marker on the package. I wish I could say that this a great lesson for the major labels, but well, that ship has sailed. Perhaps this a great lesson for artists and independent labels. This direct-to-fan touch, though time consuming, is unbelievably rewarding for the listener. Fantastic work, Tim.




President Obama on Relief Efforts in Haiti

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There are those moments when I'm very proud of my country, this is one of those times.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

President Obama on Haiti

Images from Haiti

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Courtesy of Talking Points Memo:







Again, you can donate $10 to the Red Cross by texting HAITI to 90999.

Text a $10 Donation to the Red Cross

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Simply text HAITI to 90999.

Haiti

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The Huffington Post provides a long list of relief organizations in need of donations.

eMusic Update

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They obviously caught wind of their mistake. And like most companies where service comes last, they've decided to just halt people's downloads. I was midway through downloading the Stax/Volt set when I was tossed errors on all remaining tracks on all box sets. However, of little surprise, they've still charged me 48 credits. How can a service that's been around this long make such a ridiculous service mistake? I have sent a note to customer service which I'm guessing will be responded to sometime in 2037. I've asked for all of my downloads. Once it's cleared up, I'm canceling my account with eMusic. It was a fun five years, but their service has really gone south of late. No wonder they're seeking out a buyer.

eMusic Box Set Bonanza

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If you're on eMusic, you may want to stop in today. They've just added a ton of Warner content. I just picked up four box sets: Neil Young Archives, Coltrane/Atlantic recordings, Stax/Volt singles and Only in America for 48 credits. I believe that's over 400 tracks.

Out Today on Vinyl

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For the first time, Uncle Tupelo's swan song.

On Church

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I spent about five hours today walking around the city taking pictures, stopping into a few spots for coffee, sitting in parks, high-fiving folks and various other activities. Today is the first day in months that I broke out the SLR. For a while now, every photo (or 99% of them) I've posted on flickr (link above) has been taken with my iPhone. Now I'm going to spend some more time with the fancy one. Though I'm still not sure which takes better pictures, or rather pictures more to my liking.



, originally uploaded by ccsbandwagon.

Most Anticipated Releases of 2010

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Man, there are a lot. But off the top of my 'fro, these are the two artists who have me on edge:



Eels : End Times

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On January 19th, the Eels will release their eighth studio album and second in about seven months. As the years have passed and Mark Oliver Everett has moved into his mid 40s, his understanding of human emotions and handling of societal conventions only becomes more and more honed. End Times is another excellent record.

I was fairly late to the Eels fan club. It was about 2000, four years past their first release, that I was introduced to the band. 2000's Daisies of the Galaxy was a favorite of that year but it wasn't until 2005's Blinking Lights and Other Revelations that the Eels jettisoned up my favorites list. I went back and poured over Everett's 1998 heartbreaking Electro-Shock Blues, an album that recounts aspects of his sister's suicide with almost jarring honesty.

Last year's Hombre Lobo was a fine album, and although it's still early (as I've exclaimed many-a-time, it often takes me months, if not years, to fully understand/appreciate a record), End Times may be be his most honest and moving work in a decade. That's not to say it's better than others; it's just immensely raw and real. "Little Bird" lays bare the loneliness of missing a lost or desired lover and feeling, well, friendless.



"Mansions of Los Feliz," my favorite song early on, looks deeply at dealing with a world that just doesn't seem to have a place for us all. "Well it's a pretty bad place outside this door, I could go out there but I don't see what for, and I'm happy living in the dark, on the edge of my mind, and it's nobody else's business," Everett confesses without a hint of hesitation or reservation. "End Times," may be referring to the apocalypse or perhaps just the emotions tied to loss. Whatever the case, once again, Everett leaves nothing behind. On "Apple Trees," Everett just speaks a story: "We were on this car trip and I was looking at these rows and rows of trees all along the highway, I don't know what kind of trees, apple or something, there were just like thousands and thousand of rows of a thousand trees each, and I picked one tree that I could see about eight trees back in this one row in the middle, just one in a billion, and that's how I felt." Corny at first perhaps, the image somehow lasts. "Nowadays" recalls Harvest Moon-era Neil Young.

Mark Oliver Everett is one of the most underappreciated artists in modern times. Not only is he an accomplished songwriter and musician, but his memoir Things the Grandchildren Should Know is a near masterpiece and his PBS documentary, Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives,, which recounts the life of his father, is a treasure.

End Times continues a long run of exceptional work. Having released two solid records in less than a year, we can only hope that the creative run continues.

Citibank Hikes APR to 29.99%

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Have I really been this out of the loop? I've recently cut back my news intake to close to nil, but how did I miss this one??

A few days ago, I received my monthly credit card statement (the only card that I still have open) and much to my shock, my APR jumped from 9.99% to 24.99%. I have held this card since 1996 and have been late on but a few payments. Tonight, I finally got around to calling customer service. I took a few deep breaths before getting my new pal on the phone. As I explained my situation, he quickly responded with, "Sir, your new rate is actually 29.99%." "Oh really? Wonderful!" I responded. It turns out, at least according to this young chap, Citibank mailed me a letter in October which outlined two options: 1) cancel my account or 2) accept a 29.99% rate. I don't recall ever seeing this letter. I'm sure they popped it into one of those letters that appears to be junk mail so their customers would just toss it.

When my new buddy said there was little he could do, he offered to transfer me over to his manager. This new lad, who had the most lifeless and monotone Flanders voice known to mankind, proceeded to tell me that they raised their rates across the board because of "economic conditions." "Is that right?" I said. "Sir, we have not seen economic times like this since the 1930s." Oh yes, I was mere seconds from witnessing my iPhone stuck inside the Sony TV that I haven't turned on in months. "Well, sir," I began, "do you think that perhaps a certain company called Citigroup had a little something to do with what led to the near collapse of our economy?" He paused. "That may be so, but that doesn't influence where the economy stands now." "Excuse me?" I shot back. "Sir, I've done the best I can do. I will get your rate down to 22.99%." "I've done business with you guys for 14 years, had a 9.99% rate and have been a consistent customer, yet the best you can do is to RAISE my rate 13% points?" "Sir, it's the economy."

If I hadn't recently found out that I've accrued quite a few frequent flier miles via this card, I would have canceled it that moment. I did, however, pay it off in full. My balance is now $0 and once I take that trip to Fiji or South Korea or Bangor, Maine, well, that card will cease to exist.

I urge you all to check your rates this very second. And where is Ralph Nader when we need him?

Guy Picciotto of Fugazi on Vic Chesnutt

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"I talked to him every day. There were some very hard conversations and then we'd be laughing our asses off. That was Vic. He had a very different balance between light and dark and life and death than many people do. Throughout his life, even when he was a kid, he had experiences up to the edge of death his whole life. And he had experiences his whole life, and I'm not talking pathologically, of really intense highs and really intense lows. And he lived in those moments very, very deeply. And he processed them very artistically, in a way, to have been privileged to have been next to him, to see some of that, is one of the great pleasures of my life."

What an absolutely beautiful thing to say about someone.

Michael Stipe, Guy Picciotto and Jem Cohen Remember Vic Chesnutt

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Thanks for the heads up, L.

Now That's a Book Title

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, originally uploaded by ccsbandwagon.

"The Road"

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The movie was better than the critical consensus, but as was the case with No Country For Old Men, there are certain authors who just shouldn't be transferred to film. Cormac McCarthy is one. His books are far too open to interpretation and imagination. Not every piece of art has to have a finite meaning. Actually, good art shouldn't have it at all, aside from perhaps how we see/view/experience it. No Country For Old Men and The Road are both phenomenal books. They should've been left that way. I'm set to read Blood Meridian in the coming weeks. If I love it as much as those mentioned, and it goes to screen, I'll have learned my lesson.

Despite how grating Oprah is in everything she says, this interview is worth watching. It's in seven parts so keep watching after the first segment.

What Are the Odds?

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That you meet two neighbors for the first time outside the local coffee shop and within five minutes talk turns to the band Freakwater and Leroy Bach? I'd guess pretty slim, but it can happen.

Hoarding

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, originally uploaded by ccsbandwagon.

My City of Ruins

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, originally uploaded by ccsbandwagon.



When Bruce Springsteen included the below song on his post-9/11 album The Rising, most figured it was obviously a reference to New York City. Bruce kept fairly quiet on the matter, but unlike most tracks on the record, this song was actually written before that fateful day. It could obviously apply to many a city or neighborhood, but the song was written for the small shore town of Asbury Park, New Jersey; the town that put Bruce on the map. Asbury Park was dying and Bruce, through his words (and his wallet) helped to restore the city that gave him so much.



I've never really known where to call home. Despite spending the first 18 years of my life in New Jersey (with the exception of an early-life jaunt to LA for a few years), aside from visiting friends and family, I've never really been drawn back to Northern New Jersey since leaving. Having witnessed divorce and a lot of the confusion that comes along with such a separation, it just never felt like "home." A few years in Boston in college certainly didn't do the trick. I went on to live in Brooklyn from 1999-2005 and this is the first place that actually felt like home. When I moved from Prospect Park West to 11th Avenue, after a few months living there, my mother came to the realization that I was residing just two blocks from where she grew up. And then I got to know the business owners, neighbors, the local dogs and suddenly, I started to feel at home. My girlfriend at the time and I would spend every Sunday reading the New York Times in Prospect Park. We'd watch kids play baseball, joggers gump around the park and folks of all different backgrounds enjoy the beautiful park. I knew the bars (and what was on every jukebox) and restaurants. It was becoming my town. But as 2004 came to a close, I started to feel the pull.

January 1st marked my five-year anniversary in the Bay Area. I spent a year down in Sunnyvale (blast!) before moving up to the city at the turn of 05-06. Man it's taken a long time for this city to hit me. For the first year or two I spent far too much time in the Mission, an area that simply drove me insane. I couldn't stop thinking (and saying to people) "this isn't Brooklyn! Where's the diversity? These fools all look the same. I am NOT getting tight jeans!" Then I'd go out for drinks after work and be surrounded by fellas wearing designer jeans and neatly pressed blouses. I couldn't find a comfort zone. Anywhere. I was living in Alamo Square (where I still live), and I had my spots, but I just couldn't find the right fit. But then I stopped thinking about it. And I stopped going to places that, well, I didn't like. Tonight I was in the Marina for the first time in what must be two years. I only go to the Mission to buy records and eat chicken, and I usually only do so during the week when the sucks are at their tedious soon-to-fail start-ups. And suddenly things started to happen. I go to my local coffee shop daily. I made the owner five CDs and its ALL they play. As I walked in today, the song playing was "Come Back From San Francisco" by The Magnetic Fields. "I'm starting to feel like I'm walking into my apartment when I walk in here," I said to Greta, the new girl behind the counter. "This is actually my CD," she said. Whoa. Next came "Ole Tarantula" by Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus 3. "Are you serious?" I said to Greta. "My dad loves this record and it grew on me," she said. Our age difference was showing. But man, the spirit of "home" was running through me, just as it does at Rooky's Records on Haight, Duboce Park and as it did at Hanabi (R.I.P.).

Back to the title of this damn post. Right as I've started to really feel at home here in San Francisco, I've started to notice a city falling apart. I seriously can't walk two blocks without seeing a boarded up business, and they're always the local mom and pops. Every area of the city seems impacted. And not on a small scale. The only places that seem mildly immune are the upscale stores and restaurants that draw the city's monetary elites. Ya know, the stale places with the predictable food, staff, ridiculous clothes. Gone are the owners who know you by name. Gone are the stores where they know what kind of shirt you'll want or your favorite sandwich.

This post has been all over the damn map, but this has all been resting, or maybe wrestling, with me all day. I love this city. But it seems to be losing its edge. Like Park Slope did a few years ago and Manhattan did when Giuliani turned parts of it into Disney World. Anyone who lives here knows full well that our mayor sucks arse, so I'm asking that we take it upon ourselves. Hit the local coffee shop instead of damn Starbucks. Visit an independent movie theatre instead of those monstrosities. Go to a used clothing store instead of whatever places sell those ridiculous jeans. Inspired by this Huffington Post piece, I have decided to move my money to a community bank instead of the behemoths that helped destroy our economy. As a matter of fact, tomorrow I plan on moving all of my money ($9.22) out of Bank of America, and provided my visit goes well, into this bank. Man, there are so many things we can do to help salvage the places that provide real service and carry the spirit that this city's starting to lose. Parts of this city are starting to look like nothing but Starbucks after Peete's after Starbucks after Whole Foods. We need more. Try and do a little bit. Maybe I'll make you a mix disc.

Sunday

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, originally uploaded by ccsbandwagon.

The Wrens

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I've written so much over the past seven years about the impact of The Wrens' phenomenal record The Meadowlands that there's no need to recycle another hyperbolic love story. Wait, I have written about it a lot, haven't I or do I just toss it atop every list? Whatever the case, The Wrens (Charles, I'm guessing?) have expressed gratitude for me putting them at #1 on my Huffington Post list of records of the decade.

I met the entire band after their show at Slim's on December 3, 2005. They signed a copy of their first record, took a photo with me and we talked about New Jersey at length. Although I've taken a photo here and there with artists I dig, since entering my thirties about 28 years ago, I often avoid interacting with my favorite artists. There's something in the fear of being let down. I'd rather the music just serve its purpose. But The Wrens, like, well, almost every musician I've met, were absolute class acts. For them to include me on their site is a bigger honor than they can imagine.


As I listen to The Meadowlands on the turntable, I remain amazed at the depth, writing, subtlety and sounds of this masterpiece.

A History of the Sky

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I will be here

Josh Ritter Returns Home

1 Book

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Last year's goal was 26 books and I came up one short. If I hadn't been sick, I would've finished my first of this year in time to meet the goal.

My goal for this year is thirty.


Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon, Fiction, 2009 : 8.7

Kennedy Center Honors Highlights

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Jon Stewart:



Eddie Vedder covering "My City of Ruins":

Top Ten Things I've Done in 2010

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I am having major top ten withdrawal.

1. Looked out a window
2. Had a cup of coffee. Two actually.
3. Listened to Son Volt.
4. Listened to bands other than Son Volt.
5. Walked.
6. Turned on a light.
7. Blinked.
8. Sat down.
9. Answered a phone call.
10. Thought about stuff.

Frequent Flier Miles = February Trip

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It turns out that I have more frequent flier miles via American than I thought. I called yesterday and I can travel anywhere within the U.S. and almost anywhere outside of the U.S. gratis.

Although I was considering Hawaii, since I'm not really a thong-wearing beach guy, I'm not sure it's the right destination. I'm leaning towards somewhere in Europe or Asia.

Oh, and I've already traveled to the following: London, Amsterdam, Italy, France, Belgium, Festus, Missouri.

Here's what I'm looking for:
-Historical significance
-Not a party scene
-Relaxing
-Not touristy
-Off the beaten path

If you have any tips or recommendations, please feel free to comment or e-mail me at campbellcj at gmail dot com.