Wednesday, February 27, 2013

dinner time Q & A

what it is: dinner time Q & A
where i found it: my household

Here are some excerpts from dinner time conversation with my kid last night:

Q: How did you and mommy make me?

A: Uh, we put together some special ingredients.

Q: How did I get into mommy's belly if she didn't eat me?

A: Uh, i'll tell you later.

Q: What does God look like?

A: You can't see him.

Q: Is God clear?

A: [silence]

Q: Can you tell me the story of Jesus?

A: Well, the Bible says he was half God and half human.

Q: Did he look like Two Face [the Batman villain]?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

big wave surfing

what it is: big wave surfing
where i found it: portugal

Some guy in Portugal broke the world record for surfing the world's giant-est wave a few weeks ago. I was browsing videos of it, in which it is hard to comprehend the scale of said wave, but I also found this big wave surfing video, in which the scale is well translated and the soundtrack music is bad. Holy crap.

Monday, February 25, 2013

weekend highlights

what it is: weekend highlights
where i found it: the road

I got a chance to see a lot of music this weekend and the two bands I had never heard of before were the ones who made me happiest.

Vektor are really young thrash enthusiasts who seem 110% dedicated to the genre and have the haircuts and sleeveless shirts to prove it. Their logo looks exactly like Voivod and they have some unclear/crummy concept about being from outer space or something, but they are total virtuosos and really go for it without making their lightning fast licks annoying. Here's a link to their album Black Future.

 The other is Achillea, who describe themselves as "blackened Buffalo eco crust", which sounds like a dish that would be served with locally grown grass fed kale chips at an expensive restaurant but that actually consists of about seven young dreadlocked female gutter punks (including violin, cello and two vocalists) rocking out real hard. They don't have any records out yet, but I did find this poor quality video of them performing, which has its moments.

eco crust

Thursday, February 21, 2013

les blank goes south

what it is: les blank goes south
where i found it: some video store in texas

Hard to find and not to be missed are Les Blank's excellent documentaries on Southern music and culture. Here's a couple that touch on our current region of focus, Louisiana:

bye bye ayers


Fortunately this video gives you a little intro about who Ayers was (so I don't have to) before becoming inconceivably ridiculous.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

swamp water ingredients

I want to know what the ingredients of Lousiana swamp water are so I can drink some and play like these guys:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

crunk zydeco

what it is: crunk zydeco
where i found it: oxford american

I've been looking through the latest issue of the excellent literary journal the Oxford American over the past few days, the theme of which is music from Louisiana. I learned about a few scenes I've never heard of before such as black trail riding, where a bunch of country folk get together to play (usually) zydeco music and ride horses. Within this scene there are apparently a million sub zydeco genres such as Crunk Zydeco, but I don't seem to be able to find any examples of this online or otherwise, which may actually be a good thing. I did find some footage of a few black trail ride processions, complete with DJs in horse-drawn wagons. In some cases there are also live bands on the wagons, but,I couldn't find many examples of this. In one of these scenes the wagon is blasting out Hank Williams Jr., kind of a weird surprise.




The issue also reminded me of these great individuals: Clifton Chenier, Professor Longhair and James Booker, but I think I'll save that for tomorrow's post.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

yesterday pink elephant, today pink pony


Another downtown staple bites the dust, this time the Pink Pony. The Pink Pony was a little coffee shop/restaurant on the Lower East Side where you could sit all day, sort of an informal artist hub of the neighborhood since the early 90s. There was a little stage in the back room that was open to any manner of chaos and was super easy to book and non-discriminating. You could basically do whatever you wanted back there, which resulted in weird theater, free jazz, performance art, poetry "readings", nudity, etc. The place had gotten a little more swanky over the past ten years, but this was one of the mainstays and its death adds to the checklist of things that make Manhattan pretty much suck these days. If you want to get all nostalgic and see some PP scenery you could always watch Jim Jarmusch's Coffee and Cigarettes, but fortunately there were never quite that many celebrities there in real life. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

drunk dumbo

what it is: drunk dumbo
where i found it: fatherhood

I was watching Dumbo with my kid the other night and came across a scene I had no recollection of: Dumbo and his little mouse friend fall into a bucket of champagne and start halluciating, followed by a long psychedelic sequence after which they wake up in a tree, only to be ridiculed by minstrel crows.


Also, the Sun Ra Arkestra did a version of this song and someone was nice enough to edit together their version and the same video sequence:


Only a truly gifted cult leader could get his followers to sing songs from Dumbo with such conviction.

Other notes of interest: Dumbo was made as a simplistic counterpoint to the previous financial and logistical mess of Fantasia, which is sprawling, fanstastic, unbeleivably pschedelic and even scary at times. Despite Dumbo winning an Oscar for its really good theme and variations style score, I cannot find a straight answer as to who wrote it. Frank Churchill is crediting as writing a number of the songs, including Pink Elephants (see above), but he commited suicide on a ranch outside of LA the year after Dumbo was released, so we're not getting any answers out of him.

Monday, February 11, 2013

jabba, yoda, ape


Freeborn was the makeup artist responsible for creating Yoda, Jabba the Hut (a giant puppet with three operators inside), the creatures in the Star Wars cantina, Chewbacca, and the apes in both 2001 (who apparently had mechanized mouths and tongues) and Planet of the Apes. What a resume.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

sound american

what it is: sound american
where i found it: word of mouth

I'm not big on reading long internet texts, but this magazine Sound American is kind of worth it. Lengthy interviews, essays and articles by very-knowledgeable, though pseudo-hipsterish folk about often-ethnic and frequently-folk musics. The current issue asks the big question "What Is American Music?" and interviews record collectors and re-issue record labels such as Mississippi and Tompkins Square. Past issues covered John Cage and improvisation collectives, which are also worth checking out. I might not post for a couple of days because I'll be busy reading this.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

great interview


(not going to provide any context, it's better if you just let the story develop organically as you watch)

Monday, February 4, 2013

i'm an alligator

(if you think those girls are tripping out at the beginning just wait until the guitar solo)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

bye bye butch


I'm sad to hear about the passing of Butch Morris, one of the biggies of improvisation conducting (there aren't that many of them). I had the chance to see him conduct a few times and, along with Walter Thompson, he seemed not only able to devise his own conducting language, but to teach it to improviser orchestras in a fairly short time.  Watching him work could be distracting, but the music that resulted was usually amazing. Here are a few clips of Morris an one of Thompson (for contrast). At one point I got inspired to try to devise a similar conducting system and let me tell you that it is much harder than it looks.

Walter Thompson (this one even has dancers)

Friday, February 1, 2013

many things in multiple tomes

what it is: many things
where i found it: in multiple tomes

Do you like boiled leather, beheadings, rivers of burning fire, dwarves, the undead, flayed men, giant killer wolves, incest, gluttony, warlike nomads, people being burned alive and shadows that assassinate? If so, you should probably read (not watch the night-time soap opera version of) Game of Thrones. There are way more characters than you can keep track of or care about, but somehow I ended up reading more than three thousand pages of this stuff without even realizing it, which I guess means it's good.Volume two is a little gory and slow, but volume three is the best one yet.

In related news, you may have heard about how the TV show chose a prop looking suspiciously like George Bush's head to end up on the end of a spike:

 Just read the books.