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They're too shamelessly retro to ever make it mega, but New Jersey's Grip Weeds distinguish themselves from the planet's glut of Little Steven-sanctioned 60s revivalists by sheer professionalism. Giant On The Beach, like their previous album The Sound In You, is profoundly well produced, its psychedelic melodies, Merseybeat riffs and surf harmonies resonating with a clarity that, while stubbornly refusing to bring anything new to this genre, remind us of all that's good about the old. You can't see it on record, but drummer Kurt Reil doubles up as lead vocalist, though Les Paul-clutching Kristin Pinell sings her share too. And bassist Michael Kelly has clearly studied at John Entwistle's school of rock. If you never had the joy of watching Let's Active cover The Who's 'I Can't Reach You,' a Grip Weeds album may be as close as you'll ever get. B-
Band Web Site: www.gripweeds.com/
Freebie: You can hear lead song 'Astral Man' at Giant magazine's online Jukebox.

The High Dials, who hail from Montreal, wear their Sixties influences as proudly as any of their Rainbow Quartz label-mates, but they're less reluctant to embrace the present. The song 'Fields In Glass' owes much of its melody to The Beatles' 'Rain,' but it comes with two extended remixes, with the Stained Glass Mix moving heavily into shoegazing territory. Thanks in part to singer Trevor Anderson's naturally soft voice, 'City Rivers' follows suit, proving particularly reminiscent of the ever-influential Ride. And the instrumental 'Things Are Getting Better' blends funky sitar, a 'Taxman' beat and a brass-ridden riff to exuberant effect. At such moments, you could almost mistake them for contemporaries like VHS or Beta or The Go! Team. Almost. B.
Band Web Site: www.thehighdials.com/
Freebie: You can download the original mix of 'Fields In Glass' from the Rainbow Quartz website.


I was talking yesterday to a good friend who unfortunately had to cancel out on this year's Marathon (his first) after injuring himself in training. I've come close to doing the same thing each of the last three years, and while I am now certain that overrunning too close to the Run was part of the reason I couldn't keep going at my intended pace last Sunday (along with the obvious enemy, the heat), I also realise that the months of intensive training paid off enormously after the race. I've had no lingering pains that weren't completely anticipated, and though my gait was pretty hilarious when I went out for a necessary neighborhood walk on Tuesday, my muscles appear to be healing rapidly. I was even able to do some of my stretches Sunday night. Having been through a couple of years where the recovery process has been truly ugly, this year's relatively painless experience makes the training worth while.

Anyway, as you may well have noticed by the lack of wine reviews these past couple of months, a part of that fitness drive was that I stopped drinking in the weeks leading up to the race. During my most intensive period of training, I just didn't want to be dehydrating myself like that, and in the last couple of weeks as I tapered down, I figured I might as well stretch out my abstention all the way through to Race Day. After Sunday's run, I then decided, What the hell, I'm sure a continued lack of alcohol will help my muscles rehydrate - and it definitely did. Wednesday night, as much to celebrate compiling an APOCALYPSE album as to belatedly honor my race time, I finally opened a bottle (a Ternhaven Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 from here on Long Island); and last night I hosted some friends for dinner at which I thoroughly got back into the swing of it. I won't say I'd forgotten how wonderful good wine can be; I will say it was a joy to experience the sensation again. And I won't say I'd forgotten what it can feel like the following morning; but I will say it's a bit of a nightmare to go through that again! There's surely only one solution: run it off. And so the cycle begins all over... Have a good weekend...



I didn't get to post yesterday, as I spent almost the whole day inside a bunker studio, bringing 20+ years old Apocalypse recordings up to scratch for their imminent CD release entitled, appropriately, Release. It's obvious that I'm biased about this but honestly, hand on heart, there's some bloody good music here. Really.

It's been an understandably emotional experience these last few weeks as we've gotten stuck into the project, especially for Jeff Carrigan and myself. The two of us started playing together at age 14 in school, shared songwriting and leadership duties for Apocalypse over the next few years and then grew into very different young adults at the exact point the band looked poised to achieve something. As with any good rock'n'roll story, we parted company in bitter acrimony, and then went our separate ways for twenty years. At the moment, as we each assume different roles in compiling Release, we're e-mailing back and forth several times a day, gradually building back the bridges that for so long divided us, and pausing for occasional astonishment at what we achieved. Were we really playing The Rainbow at the age of 16? Did we honestly self-produce our very best demos several months shy of our 18th birthday party? And can it possibly be true that all the 15 recordings on this upcoming album were made in a 15-month period flurry of activity during 1982 and '83? The answer to every one of those questions is yes, and in celebrating the positives of our past, I think we're getting over the fact that we also managed to fuck it up.


Anyway, while in the studio, I worked my way through a number of newspapers and magazines. I was interested to see, in particular, what the Village Voice and New York Press would have to say about the election. The Voice, predictably, dedicated most of its inside coverage to its collective disappointment, but I struggled to get beyond the cover shot, which shows the island of Manhattan surrounded by an ocean of blue, above the heading: Cast Away.

The image plays into almost every critic's clichéd image of the Voice as a paper that not only considers New York separate from the nation at large, but Manhattan as separate from (and superior to?) the rest of New York City. That elitist image of an isolated Manhattan could not have been better timed to accompany New York Press columnist Russ Smith's unmagnanimous victory assault on the New York Times for a specific post-Election piece in the paper's November 4 issue. The daily paper had quoted, as follows, the well-connected Beverly Camhe, a film producer who spent Election Day canvassing for Kerry votes in Pennsylvania, and Election night at a party thrown by Harvey Weinstein at The Palm in Manhattan.

"You know how I described New York to my European friends? New York is an island off the coast of Europe."

In that case, Camhe has probably already pinned the Voice cover on her office wall – conveniently forgetting, like the Voice's art department, that there are actually five boroughs in New York City. Incidentally, the previous week's Village Voice, which hit the streets on Election Day itself, ran a cover story on this being the most expensive election in History. We know that the Republicans raised more money from more corporations than the Democrats, but guess which Zip Code in the entire nation gave up the most money in individual contributions to political parties, candidates and PACs? 10021, on the Upper East Side. Runner-Up? 10022, Upper East Side. Third place? 10028, Upper East Side. Fourth place, 10024? Upper East Side.

Anyone who's ever walked the Upper East Side's Park Avenue into East Harlem (a journey Holy often makes in Hedonism, fwiw) might suggest that the millionaires follow the old adage, Charity Begins at Home, and offer more donations to their surrounding communities, helping counter New York's deserved reputation as a city of both immense wealth and desperate poverty. Oh, and the two largest individual donations recorded to date from 10021 were, incidentally, for the Republican Party.

Back on earth, where most of us can't afford to donate a working man's annual salary to the RNC or DNC, the best of this week's Voice pieces is a report from East Cleveland, Ohio, by Tom Robbins, which reports on the difficulties of getting to the polls in a City where the street lights don't work because the Utility Bills haven't been paid – and where even the mayor skipped out on paying his property taxes. This line, casually dropped into the piece, made me blink:

April Youngblood, 39, skips out of the polling place, announcing that this is the first time she has ever voted. "I never wanted to before," she explains. "I was four years old in Alabama and I saw my grandfather lynched because he tried to vote. I always was afraid that voting would hurt someone."

If that's true, and I was Tom Robbin's editor, I'd ask him to write a follow-up piece around that experience. It's frightening.


More frightening still was the current issue of the politically incorrect magazine Vice, a Hate special that has nothing, officially, to do with the Election. Vice is an equal opportunities offender, which means that nobody featured in the current issue comes out of it looking like anything less than a prick. Black guys with Swastika tattoos on their chests? Vice has 'em. (Hate to tell you, but the two featured hard nuts are both from London.) Heterophobic queers? Bruce LaBruce not only writes a piece called 'I Hate Straights' but includes a still from one of his hardcore porn movies to illustrate the point. Islamist Rappers who hate the West (though presumably not for its morally corrupting rap music)? Check the piece on Soul Salla Crew. (I hate to tell you, they are also from London.) Skinheads against White People? Jim Goad pens an article about Portland's notoriously hardcore Sharp contingent (Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice) which, though it makes the author look like a prick in several places too, does include the salient point that, "You can't fight hatred with more hatred. And you can't fight Nazis by acting like a Nazi. It just turns the whole world into a Nazi."

Still, nothing prepared me for the piece near the back of the mag on Prussia Blue, identical 12-year old female twins (see pic at right) who play violin and guitar and, according to author Jesse Pearson, "sing like angels, harmonize like only siblings can, and are more adept at their chosen instruments than most one-hit wonder crap."

Nothing hateful about any of that, huh? But wait until you read what they actually perform: "Folksy cover versions of classic racist songs by bands like Skrewdriver and Rahowa." Now you mention it, the name Prussia Blue does have slightly weird connotations. What does it mean, girls?

"Part of our heritage is Prussian German. Also our eyes are blue, and Prussia Blue is just a really pretty color. There is also the discussion of the lack of "Prussian Blue" coloring (Zyklon B residue) in the so-called gas chambers in the concentration camps. We think it might make people question some of the inaccuracies of the "Holocaust" myth."

Out of the mouths of babes… Well, at least they didn't qualify the concentration camps as "so-called" too. I wondered for a moment if this was just a Vice set-up, but the two-page spread, accompanied by ample photo evidence of the girls in performance, concludes 'see resistance.com for more info. No, we did not make this up.'

Their new album is called Fragment Of The Future, after a quote by Colin Jordan. Like Skrewdriver, the racist spokesman Jordan is from… England.

Vice fulfils a necessary duty by penning this piece with a straight face. Give hatemongers enough rope and hopefully, before they lynch other people that don't meet their approval, they'll hang themselves instead.


It's enough to make you think the world is entirely screwed, regardless of last week's Election Results. Still, that hasn't stopped most of the professional media poring over the Poll results to understand why the Republicans won or why the Democrats lost. The majority opinion seems to be that it all came down to Gay Marriage. This serves a dual purpose. It allows the Democrat leadership to blame its parties defeat on far left trouble-makers rather than John Kerry and John Edwards' lackluster (until it was too late) campaigning. It also plays up to all good liberal fears (especially among Europeans) that America is dominated by a religious right-wing which fears homosexuality even more than it fears Osama Bin Laden.

A well argued, passionate defense of the gay movement's ongoing demand for marriage and/or civil unions is penned by Laura Conaway in the current Voice, essentially admitting that the issue may have cost votes, but that moral right is moral right and that the Democrats shouldn't try and hold back the winds of change any more than should the Republicans. But over in the New York Press, the weekly columnist Michael Signorile, who covers almost exclusively gay issues, heads his column, Don't Blame The Gays. He notes that the widely-quoted Exit Polls which revealed "moral values" as the most decisive issue in the election were a classic case of skewered statistsics. Himself quoting Dick Meyer at CBSNEws.com, Signorile writes

"If, for example, one of the issues on the list was a combined 'terrorism and Iraq' [instead of each listed separately], it would have been the top concern of 34 percent of the electorate and nobody would be talking about moral values," Meyer observers. "If 'taxes, jobs and the economy' was on the list as one item instead of two, it would have been the topper at 25 percent. If, say, abortion rights, gay marriage and moral values were both on the list separately, the numbers would be very different."

And then adds, in his own judgement,

That could be why, throughout the entire year, same-sex marriage was listed at the bottom of the list of issues important to the election, in just about every poll among all kinds of voters

Andrew Sullivan, another openly gay columnists, points to this interesting figures to have emerged from the Election wreckage. Again, it's a statistic, and maybe someone else has the time to verify it, but here it is:

"There was a very strong correlation between President Bush's share of the vote in 2000 and his share of the vote in 2004 across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The president consistently ran a few percentage points ahead of his showing in 2000, but he did not improve on his 2000 performance any more in states with gay marriage referenda than in other states. In 11 states with gay marriage referenda on the ballot, the president increased his share of the vote from an average of 55.4 percent in 2000 to an average of 58.0 percent in 2004--an improvement of 2.6 percentage points. However, in the rest of the country the president increased his share of the vote from an average of 48.1 percent in 2000 to an average of 51.0 percent in 2004--an improvement of 2.9 percentage points."

Small comfort. As The Specials once sang, It Doesn't Make It Alright. But it might suggest that there was a little less hate at work in the polls on Election Day than in the current, essential (for all the wrong reasons) issue of Vice.



Typical. The mercury was at freezing when I got up this morning at 8am. It's not going above 45 degrees all day. Sunday it was 50 when I got up at 5am and hit 65 on the Race. The average this time of year is 53-55, and one of these years, I want to run the New York Marathon when it actually delivers. Statistics, eh? You just can't trust them.

We got to watch some of Sunday's Marathon yesterday evening. What a thrilling finale to the Womens' Race… Paula Radcliffe and Susan Chepkemei running neck and neck right up to the 26-mile mark before Radcliffe unleashed a remarkable burst of energy to win by a mere 4 seconds. You don't have to be a runner to appreciate the moment: these are the things sports fans of all kinds live for, the moments that give us faith in the human race. (Pun not strictly intended.)

Though the men's race was more typically clear-cut, it was not without its own humor: South African Hendrik Ramaala, known until now as a great runner but a disappointing Marathoner, ran wide of the finishing tape held aloft by Mayor Bloomberg and Race Director Allen Steinfeld. (See pic at right.) They joked afterwards that Ramaala was confused because he didn't know what it was like to cross the finish first; it's also possible he was offended by Mayor Bloomberg's remarks at the start. I heard our Mayor give the usual boost for NYC as "the greatest city on earth" and then, inexplicably, for an event that hosts tens of thousands of visiting runners, "Today we are all Americans."

I've yet to see pictures of the Elvis impersonator or the diving team, but surfing some photoblogs yesterday, I did find this beauty of Scooby Doo and Batman running side by side.

That picture comes from Amit's Photolog, which you can access here.

The NYC Marathon is, when you think about it, the perfect occasion for all us ameteur photographers to share our work with the wider world. A few of the other nice photologs I came across were:

Faces of The Marathon, portraits from Central park West, by Rion Nakaya, on the morning news.org

WhatISee.org, which has pictures of runners on the Upper West Side wearing the post-race heat sheet. I love the two men drinking cans of Fosters as they walk dow n the street. Aussie rugby players? Or just psychos?

The pictures Alexis Robie took, starting in Park Slope and then heading up to East Harlem, much like my own family did. The sponges you see on the road all came in the shape and form of spongebobsquarepants, an obvious promotional tie-in if ever there was one.

Youngna Park also took pictures on 4th Avenue in lower Park Slope. If you don't know Brooklyn, and watch the race on TV or look at these pictures, you might think, 4th Ave looks like a shithole, how can anyone talk up Park Slope? Explanation: 4th Ave is basically a six-lane highway, pock-marked by auto repair shops, big box stores and a large amount of unattractive housing. I don't get any buzz walking it myself. Park Slope starts as you head up from 4th Ave towards Prospect Park. (Further south, the 4th Ave stretch also includes Bay Ridge and Sunset Park, and those neighborhoods can also claim that the Avenue is the boundary of their neighborhood, not the core of it.)

Brooklyn band Radio 4 had to cancel their British and French tour this week due to singer Anthony Roman coming down with a mystery ailment. In wishing Anthony a speedy recovery, I'll also pass along his statement (as posted on the Radio 4 web site and by personal e-mail) than American fans check out the new video for 'State Of Alert' and, in the absence of a tour, vote for it on the NME/M2 chart in Europe. Writes Anthony, "The song "State of Alert" is an indictment of the Bush regime and their
willingness to use the fear of America to further their agenda and win elections. The video… is by far the most overtly political thing that Radio 4. Since this
voting is for MTV overseas it would be nice for Europeans to see that most of us
are far from supporting this awful, awful man who is still our president."
The video is also a visual tour of New York City, a little like a speed run through the 5 Boroughs. Entirely appropriate for Marathon week.

Another shameless voting request came from Pasc, who asks you to view the selected short animations in this year's Nokia Shorts competition and vote for the Berger and Wyse entry – presuming, I trust, that you like it more than the others. I've seen my share of e-mails and web pages insisting that voter fraud occurred wherever touch screen voting was introduced this year in the Presidential Election, and so it occurs to me… It's just as well we don't vote for the President simply by urging our friends to visit a web site and click on a button at their urging, isn't it? It also strikes me, as it has many other people since the concept was suggested and introduced over these complaints, that an electronic voting system which offers no paper trace is, inherently, flawed. I'm not making a bigger issue of it than that, but still… if you vote by touch-screen, why shouldn't it be registered as firmly as a transaction at an ATM?

When is news not news? When Trent Reznor announces a delay in the new Nine Inch Nails album. I'd forgotten he was even making one; we last heard from him on record in 1999. Pitchfork media, in its usual sarcastic manner, wonders aloud whether this makes Trent "either a ridiculous procrastinator or obsessive perfectionist." It's possible he could be both. What did happen to that Guns'n'Roses album anyway?



3 hours, 49 minutes, 7 seconds. Six minutes off last year's time, for which I should be thrilled. It still wasn't close to the time I thought I had in me, but given the excruciating heat - for the second year in a row!- I'll gladly take it. Looks like I finished in the top 15%, if not quite in the top 5000. Best of all, I finished with a smile.

Shortly after finishing: yes, we all get medals.

On the home stretch, coming up Central Park East. Only another 3 miles to go!

We gave these two runners a ride over the Verrazano Bridge at 7.30 in the morning. The one on the right didn't realised you can't walk on over. The guy on the left just hitches a ride every year. He must know what he's doing: he's 53 and finished in under 3 hours!!!

The Support team outside Central Park. Thanks Pasc, thanks Campbell (especially for the Palace eagle). I can't imagine doing this run without the support of friends, family and all the millions of beautiful strangers.

NOV 1-7: The Futureheads live, The Election, Bono Vox, Step On, The Marathon,
OCT 25-31: John Peel tribute, Park Slope update, Expat Commentators for Kerry, The Libertines/Golden Republic/Sondre Lerche/VHS Or Beta/Concretes live
OCT 18-24: R.E.M., Kevin Tihista, Brian Wilson, Atomique. Anglo-American Angle, Jon Stewart,
OCT 11-17: Fiery Furnaces, Green Day, Bowling For Soup, Paul Weller, The Go! Team, Fatboy Slim, New York Wines and Dines, Dick Is A Killer,
OCT 4-10: Best of Best Of New York, Keep iJamming! Thriving, WebFriends, October Hitlist
SEP 26-OCT 3: This Sporting Life Parts 1 & 2 (football and Olympics), Full Court Music Press, Rudi, The Clash, Apocalypse
SEP 19-25: The Zutons/Thrills live, Brian Clough RIP, Iraq, Hunting, Virgin Trains, Punk Voters, Step On Steps Down
SEP 17: The V Festival Review: Pixies, Charlatans, Scissor Sisters, Fountains Of Wayne. Basement Jaxx, Audio Bullys, Freestyler, The Killers, Pink - and camp cameraderie.
SEP 12-16: Johnny Ramone, Village Voice vs. New York Press, Love Parades
SEP 11: Absolute Affirmation: A New York Hitlist.
SEP 3-10: The Futureheads live, The Good News, Step Off, No Sleep Till Brooklyn
AUG 23-SEP 2: No postings: On summer holiday.
AUG 16-22: 33 Notes on 45 Bands: Little Steven's International Underground Garage Festival
AUG 9-15: Step On, The Summer Hitlist
AUG 2-8: Crystal Palace are shirt, Crazy Legs are back, The British are Rapping, Losers Lounge, Step On
JULY 26-AUG 1: Farewell to Orbital, the Nike RunHitWonder, Pere Ubu in the Park, Devo, Dave Wakeling, Berger & Wyse
JULY 19-25: Live reviews: Mission Of Burma/Electric Six/The Fever/Van Hunt/Brazilian Girls/Apollo Heights/L Maestro; Crime Watch, Book Watch, TV Watch, Booze Watch
JULY 12-18: Jeff Mills' Exhibitionist DVD review, Midweek W(h)ines, Los Pleneros de la 21/Kékélé live, The Homosexuals,
JULY 5-11: Nick Hornby's Songbook
JUNE 28-JULY 4: The Streets/Dizzee Rascal/I Am X/Funkstorung live, Wine, Football and festivals,
JUNE 21-27: Lollapalooza, Morrissey, Deadwood, London Calling, Stone Roses, Euro 2004,
JUNE 14-20: Fast Food and Cheap Oil, Party Prospects, More Clash, Radio Indie Pop
JUNE 7-13: MP3s vs AIFF, Step on, June Hitlist, The Clash,
MAY 31-JUNE 6: Benzos/The Hong Kong/Home Video live, Tribute Bands, Lester Bangs, Glad All Over
MAY 24-30: The Clash, Fear Of A Black Planet, Marvin Gaye, Sandy Bull, Richard Pryor, Stoop Sale LPs, Michael Moore, Nat Hentoff
MAY 17-23: 5th Ave Street Fair, James, Surefire/The Go Station live, Crystal Palace
MAY 10-16: Radio 4 live, John Entwistle, Jeff Mills, Wine notes, Joy Division covers
APR 26-MAY 9: Twenty Twos, Morningwood, French Kicks, Ambulance Ltd all live, More Than Nets, Mod, Turning 40
APR 19-25: 5 Boroughs Rock, The Number 3 Bus, Orbital split, MC5 reform
APR 6-19: British Press Cuttings, More Than Nets, Art Rockers and Brit Packers
MAR 29-APRIL 5: The Rapture/BRMC/Stellastarr* live, The Chinese Beatles, Freddie Adu
MAR 22-28: Singapore Sling live, Kerry on a Snowboard, Pricks on Clits, Eddie Izzard, Who's Two
MAR 15-21: TV On The Radio live, Tracking Terror, Bloomberg's Education Bloc, The Homosexuals,
MAR 8-14: The Undertones live, Winemakers Week, Madrid Bombings, Just In Jest
MAR 1-7: Rhone-gazing, Pop Culture Quiz answers, Who's Hindsight, March Hitlist
FEB 16-29: Lad Lit, American Primaries, New York novels, Candi Staton, the Pop Culture Quiz, World Musics In Context
FEB 9-15: Grammy gripes, Spacemen 3, Replacements, Touching The Void, Moon myths, Voice Jazz & Pop Poll
FEB 2-FEB 8: Suicide Girls in the flesh, Johnny Rotten's a Celebrity...So's Jodie Marsh
JAN 26-FEB 1: Starsailor/Stellastarr*/Ambulance live, Tiswas, Wine Watch, Politics Watch
JAN 19-25: Brooklyn Nets? LCD Soundsystem, Iowa Primary, The Melody, TV On The Radio
JAN 12-18: The Unicorns live, New York w(h)ines, Sex In The City, Curb Your Enthusiasm, S.U.V. Safety, Bands Reunited
JAN 5-11: Tony's Top 10s of 2003, Howard Dean and his credits, Mick Middles and Mark E. Smith, Mick Jones and Don Letts,


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