Thursday, August 31, 2006

My horoscope in the New York Post today: "You have made plenty of sacrifices for other people-- now do something for yourself for a change. Devote your complete attention to whatever it is you are passionate about and don't let anyone distract you for any reason. You are not being selfish: you have a right to satisfy your needs and desires too."

You know what, the nutty Post is right. For once.

This reminds me of the old adage that even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while. Or that if you put an infinite number of monkeys in front of an infinite number of typerwriters, eventually they will produce the works of Shakespeare. And a number of other metaphors...

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Another Vice to Bear

I have a terrible confession to make: I am utterly addicted to CBS' "Rock Star: Supernova".

How sad is that? After vowing that I would not watch the show, an "American Idol" for the rock crowd, I was pulled in a number of weeks ago and have not missed an episode since. Really, I don't need another vice right now, I have too many as it is. And here's a more shocking revelation: Thanks to the show's website, I sometimes listen to the performances from the previous show while I work, playing in the background.

My pick was Ryan Star, who was surprisingly eliminated tonight. His haunting take of Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight" two weeks back gave me chills, as did his take on the more rock-oriented songs. Check out his MySpace page to see what I'm talking about, he is truly an artist to watch -- a title Billboard has already bestowed upon him -- and has a hypnotic showmanship and charisma.

My God, the previous two paragraphs read like it came from a teenager's blog, ack.

Not that it matters for the remaining contestants. According to one source, Supernova has already chosen a lead singer for their band: Lukas Ross (like the first season's winner, he's also a Canadian). Sigh, and he's the only one of the remaining five that I cannot stand.

I'm now sickened with this post and going to read some Dante. Can we forget I ever posted this, please?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Playing Against Type

In the current issue of The Week, editor-in-chief William Falk reflects upon the past five years, what has happened since the magazine's inception in mid-2001. Curiously, he ends with this: "May the next five years be less interesting."

Huh. When is the last time you've heard of an editor for a newsweekly wish for less interesting news?

Monday, August 21, 2006

True, Mean Friends

The lede from an Associated Press story last week: "Single male (red hair, long arms, interests include hanging in trees and grooming) seeks female for long-distance relationship and possibility of meeting up in future to help save species."

Uh, I'd like to thank the half-dozen people who sent this my way, saying they liked my Craigslist ad. Bastards. They should know I do not have long arms.

(And don't even get me started on "red-on-red crime", a term some others use of the idea of redheads dating each other.)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

An Aging Music-Lover's Lament

"You're going to be a writer at Rolling Stone some day, I know it."

That was what a high school friend declared to me more than a dozen years ago. Alas, it was not to be, despite spending an ungodly amount of time in my formative high school years at an indie music store.

It was there -- at a now-defunct store called Secret Sounds in Bridgeport, CT -- that I found bands like Stereolab and Radiohead, as well as was introduced to the entire catalogues of David Bowie, The Clash, the Talking Heads, Operation Ivy and The Police. It was there that I found this wonderful magazine called CMJ New Music Monthly that came with a disc of the newest music, something I would parse and treasure. In college, I spent far too much time at the college radio station, poring over the newest discs that arrived, in consideration for airplay.

I used to have an ear for what would be big on the rock scene, I used to know what would one day cross into the mainstream to become cool.

But sometime since I exited the college radio station -- for graduation, the light of day and life as a working stiff, collectively and/or perhaps not in that order -- I've lost my touch and my bearings. Now I 'discover' bands like the Shins and Snow Patrol only because of Zach Braff's tastemaking skills, toasting them long after they have become cool with the hipsters. Even in this age of Stereogum and Pitchfork, I am hopelessly behind the curve.

I guess I'm still a little bit ahead of the curve, somewhat. I still remember telling a friend a short while ago that I had tickets to go see Snow Patrol when they hit New York next month, and he related seeing them play the Peach Pit on "Beverly Hills, 90210" once. I didn't even take a stab at what band he was mis-remembering them for. I'm not an aging hipster yet, I guess.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Chris Anderson, In His Own Words

Here's Chris Anderson, author of "The Long Tail," on page 116 of the book: "The Long Tail is indeed full of crap."

Such an easy line to be taken out of context, really. But here is he talking about -- with so much detrius out there -- how one would struggle with finding subjective quality without filters or aggregators. Why didn't Lee Gomes use this line in one of his two takedowns of the business book?

[Myself, liked Anderson's effort.]

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Me, With Funny Goatee

Gah, my eyes look puffy. Hell, my entire face looks puffy. In any case, this is the new look with the goatee, far better than the 'artist's rendering' provided below.

That's Ali Gannon, writer extrodinare of Rum and Popcorn fame, on the left and many thanks to Spinachdip for the picture.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Drawbacks of Not Sucking Up

"The Clash."

This is what my then-new boss uttered about a year ago, to the question of what his favorite band was. Surveying him was a group out during a two-day team-building session.

Ack. That's my favorite band as well. Good taste. (C'mon, "London Calling"? Best disc ever.) But do I say the same, looking like a putz and a suck-up to both him and the rest of my team?

The group expectantly looked at me, awaiting my reply, after one said Springsteen and another the Beatles. I rack my brain.

"Ummmm….David Bowie. Definitely Bowie." Can I sound a little more like Dustin Hoffman in "Rain Man", please?

Strange stares all around, I might as well have said I was (a spider) from Mars. Sigh.

And that was how I came to be singing "Ziggy Stardust" -- badly -- two months later in a karaoke bar, at another team outing. And why, in a moment of desperation, I chose the moniker "ZiggyStardust" over at Gawker.

Funny how the dominoes fall sometimes after one moment of hesitation...

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Politician Puts Family Before Good Press-- Hold the Phone

The one-time driver of the "Straight Talk Express", Arizona senator John McCain, lost me as a sometimes-admirer when he started aggressively pandering to the right-wing Republican base earlier this year.

Still, there's a fascinating article in this week's Time Magazine, focusing on the revelation that McCain's son has joined the Marines. It's a laudatory story and an eye-opener into the McCain family history (I had no clue McCain's own father commanded U.S. forces in the Pacific during the Vietnam War).

But this sentence caught my eye: "In mid-June, [McCain] asked TIME not to run this story, and relented only when it appeared that other organizations might break the news."

Hit me with a frying pan-- could a politician be putting family before his own self-interests?

McCain certainly could have capitalized on this for his own gain with a well-placed phone call to a friendly media contact. That he was able to get Time to hold off one doing this story is an interesting turn. You see, my guess here is that McCain knew -- to the cynical politics observer -- that he could have easily looked like a political opportunist, had he gone right out of the gate with this. But, in taking this tack, he ultimately gained here and is able to stem any cries of opportunism.

Here's what I envisioned happened: McCain gets a call from an enterprising Time journalist, who has found out this information independently, asking for comment. McCain asked the magazine to hold it, saying he was not ready to comment at that time-- and promised that he would call the journalist if he got a call from another media outlet. When others started contacting McCain for comment here, he went back to the outlet that was first on the scene. What could easily have originally been a front-of-book feature turned into a glowing two-page spread. A great media play by McCain, if what I think happened is true and the smartest thing he has done in a long while.

Michael Steele could learn a thing or two from this fellow.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

James Ellroy's Dark Place

"I was starting to lose it. Here's a trip, there's a stumble, beware of a fall."

I am a giant big fan of the "Demon Dog", author James Ellroy. The author behind "L.A. Confidential" and others, he is a unique voice in literature today-- he gives voice to the recent past, particularly the lore of Los Angeles. Drawing a fictional world of characters from the cloth of reality -- such as the JFK assasination in "American Tabloid" -- he's a magnificent writer. There's no doubt that Ellroy is a tortured and disturbed soul, but his taut, syncopatic prose and his evocative images easily transport you to the time he's writing of.

To help commemorate the forthcoming film version of "The Black Dahlia" in September, he wrote a an article in Los Angeles Times' West Magazine on his love/hate affair with Los Angeles. Be sure to check it out.

Here's my favorite passage from the piece, wherein he describes L.A.: "W.H. Auden called L.A. "The Great Wrong Place." I'll ascribe intent. Auden saw L.A. as a lodestone for opportunists and psychically maimed misfits. I sense this because I fall into both categories. Auden couched L.A. in a film-noir construction. Losers migrated here to start over and become someone else. L.A. was a magnet for lives in desperate duress. The sheer indifference of the place consumed the migrants and drove them mad. They succumbed to madness in a sexy locale. The place itself provided solace and recompense. They had the comfort of other arriviste losers. They entered the L.A. spiritus mundi. They handed out their head shots. They joined that unique L.A. casting call."