Archive for April 2008
Jimmy Guterman’s “Jewels and Binoculars” is moving to http://blog.guterman.com.
I’ve had it with the Blogger blogging software. It feels like Google has abandoned it: no development and certainly no support. It has become too unreliable to use anymore. Also, after many years of the same structure, it’s time to try something new.
The new blog will be at http://blog.guterman.com and it will open some time in June. When that happens, I will note its both via Facebook status and whatever the kids are calling a Twitter transmission nowadays. Before I depart, I want to share with you a clip of a cat playing a theremin.
See you in June…
Jimmy Guterman’s “Jewels and Binoculars” is moving. To here.
I’ve had it with the Blogger blogging software. It feels like Google has abandoned it and it has become too unreliable to use anymore. Also, after many years of the same structure, it’s time to try something new.
The new blog will be here. It will open some time in June. When that happens, I will note it both via Facebook status and whatever the kids are calling a Twitter transmission nowadays. Before I depart, I want to share with you a clip of a cat playing a theremin.
See you in June…
“Death is a bore. But life isn’t very interesting either. I must say I expected death to glimmer with meaning, but it doesn’t. It’s just there. I don’t feel particularly alone or condemned or unfairly treated, but I do think about suicide a lot because it is so boring to be ill, rather like being trapped in an Updike novel. I must say I despise living if it can’t be done on my terms.”
That’s a paragraph from page 152 in Harold Brodkey’s This Wild Darkness: The Story of My Death. My first reaction is: Wow, what a powerful paragraph. My second reaction is: He’s lying.
There’s a lot of lying in that thin book, in spite of its frequent emphasis on the truth, lying about his place in the world, lying about how angry he is, perhaps even lying about when he got the AIDS that killed him (Brodkey fell ill in 1993 and claimed not to have been exposed since 1977, a statistically unlikely scenario). But stop a moment and reread the paragraph up top. It’s pretty much everything you’d want from a writer: smart, funny, unexpected, full of — yes — life. But it wouldn’t be as powerful without it being a lie. Without lies, sometimes literature can’t get to the truth, I guess.
There’s been none over the past few weeks. None.
The novel, of course, is a hobby, a side project, a creative endeavor, far from my reason for existence. It’s not my pay-the-mortgage work and it never will be. I really enjoy my paid work, but there’s a lot of it to do and I have to do a lot of it to be any good at it. Something has to give. Recently, it’s the novel that has given. I hope to have renewed progress to report next week. But I don’t guarantee it. Especially when there’s eelgrass everywhere.
I recognize that no one visits this humble blog for political advice, but I urge readers of Jewels and Binoculars who are residents of Brookline to join me and Vote Yes for Brookline on May 6. This Proposition 2-1/2 override will help maintain some crucial services, particularly those in the schools, that are in danger of being cut due to decrease in state aid. Go here to learn more about the campaign — and go here if you haven’t yet registered to vote.
Greatest song of all time of the week: Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, "Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel"
As digital sampling becomes more and more pervasive as a recording technique in pop, the belief that anything is possible in a studio nowadays is also on the rise. But “Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel” took the cut-and-paste-sound approach used covertly on many records today and the scavenging of other songs as its very subject. The number asks: How smart can you steal? How slick can you mix? This technical apex of one of rap’s leading disc-spinners is tremendously influential—many of today’s dance-music and rock productions are unimaginable without it.
Grandmaster Flash started as a South Bronx dance-hall disc jockey whose trademark was taking his favorite rock and rap songs and repeating their hottest elements for heightened effect. “Wheels of Steel,” despite being credited to the full Furious Five, was a solo shot by Flash designed to show off the wizardry that knocked ‘em out live. After a stuttering intro, Flash lets Blondie’s “Rapture,” Chic’s “Good Times,” the Incredible Bongo Band’s “Apache,” and Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust,” as well as snippets from earlier Flash/Five singles glide in and slam out of the unwavering beat. These songs of different tempos all fit without being forced. Spoken sections, boasts, and song apexes are finely woven into an amazingly seamless whole. Before the serrated-edged righteousness of “The Message” and “White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It)” turned attention to rapper and writer Melle Mel, the group was a showcase for Flash. This is why.
Visually pointless, but the only way I can point you to this song:
Al Gore’s talk the last day of TED is worth seeing. Unlike his Inconvenient Truth talk, which was quite slick and professional by the time it became a film, his new presentation is still quite raw. But it also moves forward the story he told in the film in a hard-headed, open-hearted way. To think we could be at the end of a second Gore administration right about now…
Cucumber maki + ketchup + the remains of your youngest daughter’s chicken nuggets = no.
For much of the ’90s, I tried (and, ultimately, failed) to live as a vegetarian. In recent years, I went through a pescatarian transition period, and now — even though I choose fish or no meat whenever I can — I’ll eat pretty much whatever anyone puts in front of me. The rationale for that is that my ethical obligation to the people closest to me — i.e., anyone who would cook for me — is greater than my ethical obligation to lower species.
But now I wonder. The ecological arguments against meat may be more powerful than the ethical arguments against meat. They’re also arguments wrapped in self-preservation: eat less meat, save your body, save the planet.
I knew I had food issues, but these are issues.
Is it me, or should Lance Armstrong NOT be doing advertisements for drugs?
Just saw this ad on CNN.com:
Over the past two months I think I’ve listened to more Asian rock’n'roll than in the previous 45 years combined. I highly, highly, highly recommend the following:
Look Directly into the Sun is a collection of Beijing punk bands, recorded last year by Martin Atkins, who fellow oldtimers will remember as the drummer in the original PiL lineup. This magnificent compilation of punk, pop, and rock’n'roll bands is the sound of a revolution about to happen. It feels like a London 1977 roundup. No matter the culture, the political system, or the economic framework, young people everywhere wanna scream and some of ‘em do it brilliantly. Like the ones here.
Friend, colleague, and esteemed Sandinista Project contributor Jim Duffy alerted me a while back to Dengue Fever, a California band that started out specializing in covers of Cambodian rock’n'roll of the early ’70s and has subsequently delivered a number of tough garage rockers that extend the tradition. I wanted to hear what inspired this inspired band so I’ve picked up a number of CD compilations of the original performers, stirring and alive, before the Khmer Rouge got their hands on them. Some of the selections on these sets may not be quite legit — I doubt that synthesizers and syndrums were available in pre-Pol Pot Phnom Penh — but some of the performers here, like Sinn Sisamouth, are secret giants most American rock’n'roll fans have never heard of, let alone heard. Jewels & Binoculars readers, can you direct me to your favorite Cambodian rockers? If you’re new to the band Dengue Fever, any of their three full-length sets — Dengue Fever, Escape from Dragon House, and Venus on Earth — offer exhilarating ways in.