Last week I mentioned the group Three Colors, whose music will finally be made available on CD early next year. Co-songwriter and singer Chris Harford has continued writing, recording and touring in subsequent years. And his web site offers plenty free MP3s as evidence. IJamming! readers may be especially intrigued by the song title 'Joe Strummer's Midnight Dream.'
Several iJamming! Readers now have their own blogs and have been too modest to advertise them in The Pub, but nice enough to link to me from their sites. Christopher Benton has named his page Brooklyn Calling, most likely in response to a current Clash re-issue. He also seems to be embarking on a series of photographic recreations of legendary album covers. When can we expect you to sacrifice a guitar for the London Calling shot, Chris?
Another Brooklynite posting his review of the London Calling re-issue is Tommy of The Sticking Point. Like me, Tommy seems obsessed with the song 'Rudi Can't Fail' and that distinct opening line, "Sing, Michael, sing
" Also like yours truly, Tommy uses his site to mix up observations on music, literature and politics with intensely personal family news. Check this photo and discover the definition of unintentional irony.
I watched the Palace-Fulham game Monday with fellow expat Eagle Geoffrey Armes, who reminded me that he has also taken advantage of the internet to post a diary alongside his MP3s and gig dates. I've just popped over and seen that he's posted his own observations from the game and linked to here; yes, this is all getting a little nepotistic isn't it? Anyway, Geoffrey wrote a wonderful memoir called Music Matters that didn't get published; though he's yet to take the great leap and post it online, some of his musings offer a similarly engaging, wistful sensibility.
Online magazine 3am publishes a lengthy interview with Adam & The Ants guitarist/songwriter Marco Pirroni that links to my 1978 interview with Adam with the words "breaking a lot of Adam's promises." It's hard to imagine many of us care any more. I got a bigger kick from this picture of Marco looking like Herman Munster.
When I want to know what's going on with the 20-something music fanatics here in New York City, I date one of them. No, hang on, I'm a married dad, I do nothing of the sort... I pop on over to Melody Nelson.com. Hostess Audrey gets to more gigs than anyone this side of a 15-year old Tony Flecther; she also hosts, DJs, promotes or books bands for about 6000 different clubs a week. And she's talked me into playing one of them in a couple of weeks: an early Monday evening at Eleven. (That's the venue, not the time. Actually, it's the time also. The night, however, is called Atomique. I'll be playing non-dance stuff, so Manhattanites should stick October 18 in the diary if they want to hear my newly acquired dub-reggae cover of Primal Scream's 'Loaded' which arrived from the UK one day too late for last Friday's Step On.)
When I want to know what's going on in the wider world of the music industry, I pop over to an anonymous Park Sloper's site, Coolfer.com. His focus on industry trends can be a little intense for those not fascinated at watching the music business forced to reinvent itself, but he eases this weight with such late-breaking stories as the arrest of Ms. Dynamite for assault, Barbie-branded compilations, and Sammy Hagar's business deals. Coolfer can be damning with his criticism: a piece on the Kemado label's deal with Universal punches hard at pretty-boy band Elefant. And he's proving relentless in his attacks on the new R.E.M. album, Around The Sun, which just came on my CD changer as I started typing the band name. (Big Brother is watching me.) I've been playing the album continuously since belatedly getting a copy last week, mainly in the hope that I'll fall in love with more than the first two songs, and so I'll reserve proper discourse till a musical October Hitlist, but I have to share the following observation in the meantime:
Saturday afternoon at my stoop sale, I blared music out my window using the 6-CD changer. Among the CDs was Around The Sun. I thought the distinct sound of Michael Stipe's voice might provoke some interest, especially as a) the album was not yet released and b) those stopping by were very much the product of (or even members of) the 1980s American alternative rock generation. Not one single person made a comment.
Finally, stretching the concept of Web Friends a little, Christie's auction house last week sold a Keith Moon drumkit not for its £10-£15,000 estimate, but for ten times that. We're still trying to find out who had a spare £120,000 for a five-piece kit, of which only the bass drum has The Who logo emblazoned. (Google seems slow on the uptake here: I found several links for the advance sale, no news stories about the surprise sum the kit attracted. Anyway...) More money than sense? Would you buy a used drum kit for $200,0000 if you had that kind of cash sitting round? (Married people whose wives read the site may reply anonymously!)
Going, Going, Gone for more money than most of us earn every few years.... Keith Moon's 1968-70 kit fetches £120,000 at Christies.
Like many who've been disappointed by the Democrat candidate's campaign so far, Posie and I feared John Kerry going mano à mano with President Bush. But soon into Thursday night's debate, we breathed an enormous sigh of collective relief. In what was surely his most important public presentation to date, Kerry showed himself to be, finally, Presidential. The debate, moderated calmly by Jim Lehrer, was completely devoted to foreign policy and, with a 32-page rulebook ensuring that the candidates couldnt personally harangue each other, very heavy on the issues. By the second hour of commercial-free talk, we were having trouble keeping up with it all. But then so was the President, who looked increasingly flustered and frustrated the longer he was required to think on his feet. This, you could see, was the price he's paid for not holding impromptu Press Conferences.
No kissing babies, cheering crowds or negative ads: The candidates face off on the issues.
Kerry was not perfect: he's still dangerously patronizing, and as with any politician, suspiciously vague on solutions to America's many crises. (Especially on Iraq, where he kept talking about "my plan" for a safe and peaceful solution, but could do little more than offer viewers his website address for details.) And he dropped at least one clanger: the New York Subway system was NOT closed down during the Republican National Convention. Fortunately for him, Bush didn't appear to know otherwise. Besides, Kerry made up for this by running down the precise numbers of foreign troops in Iraq, ridiculing Bush's notion that this has been some kind of grand coalition. Having learned from his last few months' mistakes, Kerry also limited his usual references to Vietnam, and instead hammered home a much more important war theme: Osama Bin Laden. (As in, what happened to catching him 'Dead Or Alive'?) In citing 'nuclear proliferation' as his chief foreign policy concern, Kerry promised to lead by example; should he become President, he says, he will halt an ongoing American programme to build nuclear cluster bombs. That's hardly a sop to the centre, and I commend him for it.
All the immediate media opinion polls showed Kerry the clear victor. What really matters though, is how Kerry came across to the small percentage of voters still undecided. For the first time, many of them may have seen what they've been hoping for: a Democrat Candidate who looks like he could take the office of Presidency and keep their country safe.
Getting Down at Step On at precisely 2:52am on a Saturday morning.
Now I know why rock bands announce 'farewell tours.' Attendance at Step On Friday night was superb and I have no doubt it was because people know they've only got three nights left to enjoy our monthly party. Though I was almost pissing in my jeans by the end of my uninterrupted three-hour stint on the decks, I enjoyed not having guest DJs and being able to hog the night to ourselves. Won't bore you with a full list of what was played, except to say that, in the dance set, the biggest cheers seemed to be saved for !!!'s 'Pardon My Freedom,' Underworld's 'Rez' and 'Cowgirl' (somehow mixed into each other) and Soulwax's brilliant 'NY Excuse'; among the baggy tracks, 'Kinky Afro,' 'I Am The Resurrection' and 'Bang' all proved particularly popular. And The Wonder Stuff's 'Give Give Give Me More More More' provoked some Melody-like nostalgia, especially from our New Jersey friends who experienced the Melody first-hand. (Thanks for driving up, Gary.)
There are only two more months of Step On. Mark them in your diaries. November 5 is a good night if you can't cope with the late hours, as I'll be cutting our around Midnight to get beauty sleep before the Marathon. December 3 will be our all-out finale. You won't want to miss it.
Also, if you're trying to have a baby, have it known that Step On gets your horn on. There is a reason why our Junior is due on the first Friday in January: it's exactly nine months since the first Friday in April.
There are many different ways to offload one's excessive music collection. Some hawk the best of it on E-Bay, Half.com or Gemm.com. Many bring their overstock to a second hand store. And some just give it to the Salvation Army or their school. But hosting a Stoop Sale is by far the best way to sell music if you want to make friends as well as some pocket change. Saturday afternoon, a steady stream of Brooklynites including many who'd been out Friday night with us at The Royale - came by to fish through my many boxes of CDs and 7" and 12" singles and search out some bargains. At a buck a disc, there were no complaints about prices - though I've noticed that with the proliferation of MP3s, people are becoming much less concerned about actually owning a compact disc album. And I don't blame them. (See David Byrne's comment below about music being "devalued.")
Some people preach the idea of converting CDs to MP3s, not understanding the time factor involved in loading up every CD into the computer; then again, the new neighbor whose friend's machine can apparently handle 50 CDs in a sitting may well be onto something. And who knew that Park Slopers could merrily debate each other about the merits of The Bad Plus, or Steely Dan's comeback, on a Saturday lunchtime? Everyone's an expert round here.
They're also inherently honest. I've had a weird old four-7" box set from North Carolina sitting around through the last three stoop sales; no one even blinked at it until now. But this Saturday morning, a North Carolina expat seized on it as a prized rarity; he then gave me the chance to withdraw it from sale. (I let him have it for $2 on condition it was for personal use.) Then there was the DJ friend who looked through a decade's worth of dance 12"s and, despite the fact I was offloading one of his own mixes (an honest mistake!), handed me some back with the assurance that they were too valuable to let go at a stoop sale. By the end of the day, I didn't even mind that I'd inadvertently allowed a Paris Angels 7" into the box. It too went to a good home. And as friends stopped by with their kids and I blared music onto the street, the event almost took on the feel of a block party. I met several people who work in the music business, many others who used to be in bands, one person who had engineered a particular CD on I had on sale (but went uncredited), and a new-to-the-hood Village Voice writer. Oh, and Posie and I had great fun seeing what some of our Step On regulars actually look like in the bright light of day and how late they get up and get out of bed of a weekend.
I've kept it quiet about my own Marathon efforts this year. Friends know I've been training like crazy and feeling, at the third attempt, like I'm finally doing it right. That's because I've been following a firm set of rules to avoid injury: conduct all long runs either on dirt tracks or on a gym treadmill. Avoid concrete, don't run downhill, don't go out too early in the morning or late at night. Don't run tired, or dehydrated from alcohol or caffeine. And above all, don't overdo it. Friday lunchtime, I broke almost every one of those rules and at the end of a 6-mile run, coming to a halt at the bottom of Park Slope, felt my hamstrings clench shut and the first twinges of runner's knee kick in.
I was signed up for a half-marathon in Central Park Sunday morning, for which I'd intended to add another eight miles as a necessarily lengthy pre-training marathon run. But after being on my feet all night Friday at Step On with those hamstrings getting tighter by the minute and getting by with just a few hours sleep, I heard my body loud and clear at the stoop sale: it demanded time off and some deep tissue work before it could take in another 20-mile training run. So I bailed.
And I felt great about it. Especially after Posie returned from a shorter run in Central Park telling me she met someone whose friend ran this exact same half-Marathon last year in the exact same tired state as myself and subsequently had to withdraw from the NYC Marathon in November. I did a couple of miles at the gym and some bike work just to keep in, and I'll make up the missing miles this week fully rested.
Posie, incidentally, completed the last of her nine qualifiers yesterday. She can run in next year's Marathon. Now all she has to do is drop a baby in January and start training. Good luck. And congratulations!
The timing could not have been better. I'd already decided not to run the Sunday morning race by the time a last-minute invite made its way down the wire for a Saturday night 'offline' an impromptu dinner with a bunch of wine geeks. By the time I figured I could join them, they'd reserved a table for eight and confirmed for seven. I was able to take the last place and enjoy a last few glasses of wine before putting a halt to almost all alcohol consumption until after the Marathon.
It was probably the most chaotic one of these events I've attended: the wines were all over the map (qualitatively as well as geographically), the table would barely have sat 4 people, let alone eight of us and our 18 bottles of wine, and my friends' 'special' steaks came bizarrely 'steamed' and inedible. But these events are as much about the company and camaraderie as they are about expensive wines or fancy food. They're a great way to occasionally eat out without paying restaurant wine prices - while enjoying a wider number of generally much better wines. And after 25 years in the music world, I thrive on having a different set of friends with a totally different obsession. I did notice two things, though: 1) none of the others who made it out at the last moment on a Saturday night have kids to intrude on their hobby. 2) The only non wine-geek among the 8 of us was the one person to bring up Presidential Politics. Fortunately, she was preaching to the converted, but it's still never a wise idea when large amounts of alcohol are on the table.
Our 5th Avenue has become a hipsters' paradise. It's gone beyond tipping point and into something close to cliché; I'm bored by it all. But Gorilla Coffee is an exception. Gorilla sells only fair-trade beans from all around the world; you can buy them by the pound and brew 'em at home, or spend $2 for a pint of rocket fuel, bring in your laptop and enjoy their free wireless internet access all day. I tend to the former, and brew up either Nicaraguan coffee on my drip machine or Sumatra coffee in the French Press, according to my needs each day. Sunday morning, out of all supplies, I joined Gorilla's 15-minute queue and came home not just with my ground beans, but two free cups of coffee for buying by the pound. (That's good customer relations for you.) I wouldn't say the caffeine made me perfect on Sunday, coming at the end of a week of Marathon training, DJing, stoop sale record box carrying and a wine dinner, but the fuel certainly helped. And while Gorilla is partly responsible for making 5th Avenue so painfully hip, I was pleased to see that among all the dykes and funky white couples hanging loose Sunday morning in their store, there were at least a couple of grannies perusing the New York Times. The nabe's not dead yet!
When not deluged with Hurricane rains, we've enjoyed a lovely New York Indian Summer here in New York. Sunday afternoon there was not a cloud in the sky, visibility went on for miles, and one of my Crazy Legs team-mates and fellow DJ, Mojolators producer Justin Nichols celebrated his engagement to the lovely Ludwine with a rooftop party in midtown. Justin's late to this marriage game: several of his guests came by with pregnant wives and kids in tow. But even though almost none of us - dads or unmarrieds - have a full head of hair any more, we still know how to kick back, down a couple of beers, chow on some rice and beans, converse about English football, New York schools and the temptation to move upstate, and generally accept that things could be a damn sight worse in the world.
Our weekends upstate we often pass on the Times. Just not enough time to wade through the several pounds of newsprint. But there are always enough good stories to justify the paper's excessive weight and increasingly exorbitant cost. The following helped set me up for the week ahead:
a) In the New York Times Book Review front cover feature on Philip Roth's new novel The Plot Against America - wherein the 1940 election of Democrat FDR (and hence the outcome of World War II) is altered when the Republicans nominate well-known Nazi sympathizer Charles Lindbergh as their candidate, and America joins Germany as a fascist anti-Semitic state - reviewer Paul Berman made the following salient observation about why the book is not entirely a work of fiction:
"During the last two or three years, large publics in Western Europe and even in the United States have taken up the view that, if extremist political movements have swept across large swaths of the Muslim world, and if Baathists and radical Islamists have slaughtered literally millions of people during these last years, and then have ended up at war with the United States, Israel and its crimes must ultimately be to blame."
b) The Week In Review saw the long-overdue return of Thomas Friedman, who jumped right into the Iraq crisis. After a long list of Administration errors, he admitted the painful truth for the likes of us who are usually of the left.
"What I resent so much is that some of us actually put our personal politics aside in thinking about this war and about why it is so important to produce a different Iraq. This administration never did."
(At the foot of the page, the paper states, 'Maureen Dowd is off today.' Is that to infer that she's 'on' when she's published?)
c) The New York Times Magazine, meanwhile, found room to publish a lengthy story on Nonesuch Records (home to Wilco, Brian Wilson and The Kronos Quartet among others) as "The [New] Industry Standard." On a weekend when I could not even give away any number of dated major label CDs by acts long forgotten if ever known to begin with, this comment by David Byrne, newly signed to Nonesuch himself, seemed entirely relevant:
"The reason the record business is in trouble is the things they're selling -- the hit singles and the physical records -- have become devalued. If people can get those things for free, what do the record companies have left? Whereas what's incredibly valued and needed is the relationship and trust.''
And they're feeling... Relieved all over. Aki Riihilahti celebrates his first goal for two years and Palace's first win of the season.
There's a reason this post did not go up on Monday. I was playing truant, watching Palace-Fulham live in a Manhattan bar. Our first clean sheet of the season, the first time we've scored two goals, and most important of all, our first victory. Best of all, we played like we meant it. The season starts here.
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,
2003 MUSINGS ARE LISTED HERE
2002 MUSINGS ARE LISTED HERE: