Posie and I played both sides of the Ratner coin Wednesday night. First, we attended a slide show and talk in our community garden about the impact of the proposed new Atlantic Yards basketball arena and its accompanying 17 buildings. I was interested to learn that developer Bruce Ratner lives but three doors from Mayor Bloomberg and went to college with Governor Pataki. That explains some things. And I appreciated being reminded that the complex is going to be subsidized by us, the public, to the tune of several hundred million dollars. Ratner also gets tax breaks for a number of years after completion that allows him, not us, to reap the profits if the project goes well; and if it doesn't, well, we subsidized his venture.
But I also was happy to be reminded that, while the Yards complex is being presented as a done deal, Ratner has to jump through all manner of hoops to satisfy the various legal requirements. Pressure from the general public may yet ensure that whatever project gets the green light (and protestors are organizing under the positive slogan, Develop Don't Destroy we know something should go up over the Rail Yards) is closer to that which the community needs and deserves
Which among other concerns, means something that does NOT boot people out of their homes and businesses. The slide show in our Garden matched portraits of local residents and businesses owners with their thoughts on the development. Some people, who have lived on these streets all their lives, don't know where they would go if their homes are torn down under this misuse of Eminent Domain. (And unless they own their buildings, in which case Ratner will happily buy them out, these long-term residents will find themselves priced out of neighborhood rentals.) One of the participants and producers of the slide show project, who himself lives on the surrounding streets, earned a round of applause for saying that Brooklyn does "not need to be revitalized: it already is vital." He also pointed out, as I've done here before, that the rejuvenation has come one street at a time, as local residents have sunk their savings into renovating their houses and starting new businesses. It's been a gradual, organic process, and that sense of community empowerment and pride will be negated by the sudden gangling presence of a $2 billion building project. Many local shop owners feel that, even if they are allowed to stay put, their businesses will be "out of context" with the surrounding miniature city.
This was the response I received when I stopped into Freddy's Bar earlier in the day. Freddy's owner was quoted in the slide show, pointing out that he's only half way through a seven-year lease and that it took him at least two of those years just to break even. The bar's block, Dean Street, between 6th Avenue and Atlantic Avenue, is due to be razed for the project, which means all Freddy's efforts (to promote good music, among other things) will have come to nothing. Yet, even if the block gets a repeal, then as the bartender pointed out, "we didn't open the place to become a sports bar." Damned either way.
Dopo Yume play on the Target shop floor...
...The Superstore targets the Bright Lights of the big City.
What was I doing in a bar in mid-afternoon? I wanted to see if they had any button badges I could wear to the preview opening of the city's first ever Target store that evening. (They didn't.) See, the same Bruce Ratner who built the ugly Atlantic Mall and the single story monstrosity that currently house PC Richards and Sporting Authority the other side of Flatbush Ave, the same Bruce Ratner who wants to tear down neighboring city blocks full of residents and businesses to add a couple more million square feet of retail space and an arena and a 650 ft skyscraper we surely don't need... is also the same Bruce Ratner who has just finished building The Atlantic Terminal over dead land adjacent to these Malls. And The Terminal opens this weekend with a different class of stores than his previous efforts: Daffy's, The Children's Place, Bath and Body Works, and the one on everyone's lips, Target.
Kids: Don't try this at home. Coney Island Sideshow performer twists his melon, man.
Target's hipster appeal was evidenced by the line-up of entertainers for the preview opening party: Sandra Bernhard, the Coney Island Circus Sideshow, the Double Dutch girls, DJ Paul Sevigny, and a band called Dopo Yume. (They were good in a number of ways; I liked the absence of a bass. But, memo to all bands: choose a name with instant recognition, like Brazilian Girls. Don't use Italian words that people won't remember in twenty minutes. Oh, and if you're going to call a song 'Sexy Girl,' for God's sake, make it ironic like Air with their 'Sexy Boy.') And the free drinks came in handy to encourage shopping: it was fun watching people dressed up for a night on the town, beer or margarita in hand, pushing a shopping cart around and gushing at the the prices for Izzy Mizrahi and Mossino.
Yet I was a little non-plussed by all the advance fuss: a handful of name designers aside, far as I can tell, Target is nothing more than an upscale, hip Wal-Mart. That means great deals on cat food, plastic containers, kids' backpacks and Hanes underwear the kind of things you don't feel the need to patronize your local independent shopkeeper for but its 194,000 square feet of bargains hardly made for an enlightening experience. The limited book section, sandwiched between the far larger music and film aisles, goes a long way to explain why Americans are reading so much less these days. And with a Pizza Hut Express and Starbucks for food choices, I don't think our community's booming local café culture need feel threatened.
So, why is Target trendy? Because it's NOT Wal-Mart, at least not politically. I see that Target, which prides itself on diversity, on recycling, and on being a good place to work, is hosting two lunches at the Democratic Convention in Boston next week; Wal-Mart, on the other hand, invites fury from Michael Moore for selling gun ammunition, lawsuits for its employment practices at home and boycotts for short-changing workers abroad, and criticism for practicing musical censorship in the name of "family values." If you like the Shopping Mall experience then, ethically, Target is the right place to go. But if, like me, you're wary of the whole Fast Food/Big Box/Oil Guzzling/Global Capitalism experience especially when you have so much other choice close at hand you'll stop in for cat food, cheap plastic containers and maybe the occasional pillow, and otherwise you'll shop truly local.
Once again, a protest against the plans for Atlantic Yards takes place over a weekend when I'll be away. The official opening of Atlantic Terminal is this Sunday morning, 8-11am, and Bruce Ratner himself will be attending. This is a good chance to protest, positively and peacefully, and make it clear that we want development in the area that doesn't destroy what we already have.
READ MORE ABOUT ATLANTIC YARDS AT THESE IJAMMING! MUSINGS:
A BROOKLYN BRIDGE TOO FAR? (Jan 23)
SLAM DUNK OR FOUL BALL? (Jan 28)
MARTY MARKOWITZ SELLS BROOKLYNITES SHORT (April 12)
WHOSE GARDEN OF EDEN? (June 16)
FEAR OF A BLACK PLANET (May 29)
Looks like the book business is going the same way as the music business releasing so much product that people are switching off under the weight of it all. Two decades ago there were a steady 60,000 books published ever year in the States. According to a recent piece in Newsweek, the total last year was 164,609 titles; according to this week's New York Times Book Review, it was yet higher, some 175,000 new titles for 2003. That's a solid 19% increase over the previous year, and something the Times breaks down to this easily digestible word-bite: A new novel is published every hour. (By my maths, that leaves twenty non-fiction books published every hour!)
This would be good news assuming we were reading more books. But for all the spread of the Barnes & Noble-style superstore, book buying is decreasing even as publishers put ever more printed work out there. A new National Endowment of the Arts report, using data from a Census Bureau study, conducted in 2002 at the NEA's request, of 17,000 adults. According to the NEA, "the survey asked more than 17,000 adults if - during the previous 12 months - they had read any novels, short stories, poetry or plays in their leisure time, that were not required for work or school." Only 46.7% replied in the affirmative. The most worrying statistic: young adults between 18 and 34, once the most active group of readers, are now the lowest, dropping by 28% since 1982. As it is, over a third of American adult men don't read books. Given these figures, it's actually encouraging to hear, as the Times piece puts it, that "the demand for trade books is flat
" I'm surprising it's not falling off the end of the earth.
But if demand is flat and publishers are putting out twice as many books as they used to then, obviously, the average book is selling only half the number it used to. As with the music business, which looks quite sensible in comparison with its 30,000 albums a year, this over-saturation of the market is bound to impact the entire industry's bottom line and sooner, rather than later.
I mentioned all this to a part-time British book publisher the other day and he told me that, even in the UK, there were 110,000 books published last year. "And that's a country with a fifth the population of the USA," he remarked. Ah, but I've also heard down the line that the British read five times more books per capita than Americans. It certainly certainly looks that way, when I compare my British and American royalty statements.
Still, it's not all bad news, not as I see it. Barnes & Noble, which has been widely vilified as the Evil Empire of bookstores, out to bankrupt the indies, actually undertook a seriously egalitarian mission as it spread across the country, opening big bookstores in major strip malls as well as in hip urban areas, placing armchairs all round its stores, offering cafes and toilets and only restricting non-purchased items from the latter, all of which encourages people to stop by and READ. As a result, it sometimes seems like Barnes & Noble is making more money off its coffee shops than its best-sellers. But as long as it's encouraging people to open a book, it's still on the right track.
The increase in book publication is not unrelated to the long, long overdue rise of independent publishers, and to self-publishing through the Web. (Something the likes of amazon and Barnes&Noble have done much to promote.) So, when Laura Miller writes in the Times, "If everyone is writing and publishing books, who will find time to read them?" I see it as a warning cry from a frightened and threatened elite who see their treasured position of power, influence and income threatened by the mass of the great unwashed.
I visited the NEA web site to read its summary of the Census Bureau Study. (The entire report is available as a PDF at the same page, though it's sixty pages long.) Many of the conclusions are blindingly obvious: the people who read the least books watch the most TV, those with grade school educations read less books than University Graduates, and so on. All of which needs to be addressed if we want to have a healthy and literate society. But here's something that was not mentioned in either the Newsweek or Times reports about the new figures:
"The number of people doing creative writing increased by 30 percent, from 11 million in 1982 to more than 14 million in 2002" even as "the number of people who reported having taken a creative writing class or lesson decreased by 2.2 million during the same time period."
So, more people are picking up pens - well, computers and word processors - and given that most are not taking classes to do so, that might suggest the increase in creative writing is not among those with disposable incomes. Maybe the future of publishing will be much like the current music world then, where, since the advent of digital recording equipment and the instant distribution of the web, more and more people have had the satisfaction of seeing their work made available even as less people have seen that work translated into a money-making career. And who's to say that's a bad thing? Aren't we better off encouraging people to produce art than merely to consume it?
Those New Yorkers not entirely convinced that crime is dropping as precipitously as the City would have us believe received part explanation a few months back, when it was revealed that Police Precincts were under instructions from above to keep their crime reports to a minimum. (I.e., you may go to the local Precinct and say you were robbed, but unless you ask for a File number for reference, the police may decide not to report the crime.)
In Britain, it seems, there's even less agreement. The police are reporting a serious increase in crime, while the Government is insisting on the exact opposite.
Evidence A, from today's Guardian, is the Police Figures. They make worrying reading.
"The recorded figures showed a total of 1,109,017 violent offences in 2003-04, up from 991,603 in the previous year.
It included 955,752 offences of violence against the person, a rise of 14%.
Threats to kill were up 23% to 22,232, serious wounding up 8% to 19,358, racially aggravated wounding up 11% to 4,840 and harassment up 26% to 152,269.
Sex offences rose 7% to 52,070 - including an 8% rise in rape of women to 12,354 incidents - and criminal damage leaped 9% to 1,205,576.
Overall, the total number of recorded crimes rose 1% to 5,934,580."
Evidence B, from today's Independent, is from the British Crime Survey:
In the past nine years, the number of crimes experienced by people in England and Wales has fallen by 39 per cent.
The decline in some categories is quite staggering: car thefts, burglaries, domestic violence and assaults on people who are known to each other have all dropped by about half, according to the British Crime Survey (BCS). In every category of crime - including violent crime - there has been a decrease, the BCS found.
The risk of becoming a victim of crime has fallen from 40 per cent in 1995 to 26 percent - the lowest level since the survey began in 1981.
So, let's see. Evidence A says that Violence against the person has risen 14%. Evidence B says violent crime has decreased. How can they both be right?
The Independent attempts to explain, not entirely convincingly. Seems that the police figures are reported crime figures. The BCS figures are based on a survey. (You mean, like a poll, the type that typically chooses the wrong President/Prime Minister?) According to The Guardian, "The British Crime Survey is measured by 10,000 random interviews on the public's perception and experience of crime." According to The Independent, "40,000 people aged 16 or over are questioned" for the British Crime Survey. Um, can we agree on anything here?
I downloaded the BCS report from the Guardian's web site. It's a one-page PDF titled "Your chance of becoming a victim, source: Home Office/BCS," and its rates are listed "per 10,000 adults/households." (Maybe the Guardian misinterpreted that as being the number of people actually surveyed?) The report does indeed show crime dropping across the board, until you look down the bottom and a graph that shows "Violent Crime," with the 'Police Reported' figure shooting upwards and an almost inverse downward slant that shows the same figures "adjusted to take account of counting changes since 1999." Isn't this the opposite-but-same as in the Thatcher years, when the number of people who weren't working was going up, but the Government showed unemployment decreasing, by adjusting the criteria by which one could claim to be 'unemployed'? And in case that sounds awfully cynical of me, the papers are no less suspicious. As the Guardian writes,
The BCS figures also show a 5% drop in crime on the previous year - one-third of the way to meeting the home secretary's target, announced on Monday, of a 15% drop within three years.
Convenient, that, isn't it? I haven't lived in the UK for so long that it would be wrong for me to offer a firm opinion whether crime is going up or down. During my teens, I witnessed serious violence at football matches, gigs, at marches and rallies, inside school, at school, on the bus home and especially, between rival schools. I saw Brixton burn (twice), witnessed the pitched battles of the Miners Strike at close hand, and was mugged a few times up and down the country for good measure. Probably the one positive aspect, and that only in hindsight, was the absence of guns in all this violence, something that has definitely changed in recent years. Other than that, I don't know which figures to believe.
One thing I'm certain of, though, is that the young British are drinking more than ever. I was guilty of serious binge drinking when I was younger, so again, I don't want to get all hypocritical on this. But it really frightens me, sometimes, when I'm back in the UK, to see the extent to which alcoholism is not only rife, but also actively endorsed and encouraged. I see it with all the happy hour drinks specials now that trendy bars vie for custom alongside old-fashioned pubs. I see it among the people wandering the streets with their alco-pops and bottled beers. I feel it on the London Underground after 11pm. Hell, anywhere in Britain after 11pm.
A simple case in point might be last year's Manchester Move Festival as against last weekend's Siren Festival at Coney Island. Both were hot summer days with plenty booze on sale. But people were passing out in Manchester, and they seemed to be doing no worse than developing a red, burned glow at Coney Island. And while Move was the better music festival, hands down, there was no Begby style violence at Siren. (Read what I mean by this in my Manchester Move review of last summer. The review from Siren is here on this page.) And let's not even get into the difference between a British inner city when the clubs close, and an American city at the same time. But that's because closing hours are generally later in the States. One of the reasons I fell for New York was that the bars stay open 'till 4am seven nights a week: inadvertently, I found that the easy and constant access to alcohol reduced my consumption. After all, who needs to drink four pints in the half an hour leading up to 11pm when you have all night to get your fill?
Brummies On The Piss: Young British women are drinking 66% more than in 1992.
The Observer ran a piece about British binge drinking on Sunday, pointing, as the papers often do these days, to the rise in female 'loutettes' the number of women drinking over 'safe limits' of 21 units a week had risen from 14 to 33 per cent. - as being the most disturbing statistic. Whether by accident or design, The New York Times has chosen today to run its own feature on British binge drinking, with a color photo of girls on the piss in Birmingham. The Times piece offers arguments for and against the loosening of British licensing laws to allow pubs to choose their own hours. My feeling about this, from New York experience? In the long run, it can only be for the better. In the short term, given that ingrained habits can take a generation or more to change, it may make things worse.
But hey, I don't live there; I only report what I see on my visits back home. So let's liven up the conversation in our own Pub - where there's no peer pressure to be drinking anything at all. What do my fellow Brits feel about all this? Do you sense that crime is on the increase? Or, assuming you're old enough to have a reference point, is Britain safer now than it used to be? Does binge drinking among the young bother you, especially if you have kids who are getting up to their teen years already? And do you think the national psyche is such that it can handle loosened licensed laws responsibly?
And what about American readers? Can crime keep dropping without us starting to suspect that they're fudging the figures? Does the Minimum Drinking Age of 21 lead to more problems than it solves? And is drinking intrinsically linked to violence in the States the way it seems to be in the UK? These paragraphs from today's Times story I found particularly pertinent on that point.
Kate Fox, a social anthropologist who is co-director of the Social Issues Research Center at Oxford, said the British used alcohol to justify unacceptable behavior: they act like idiots and then blame the alcohol.
"One thing that is common to ambivalent drinking cultures is the belief that alcohol is a disinhibitor and makes us violent," said Ms. Kate Fox, the author of "Watching the English," a book exploring the nation's habits and quirks. The reality, she said, is more complicated: "It certainly interferes with your motor functions and your ability to speak rationally, but it doesn't cause you to go up to people, say 'Oy, what are looking at?' and start punching them."
The iJamming! Pub is a Members-Only place, but we have no restrictions on that membership. We merely ask you to provide and then confirm a legitimate e-mail address. This is to prevent the online equivalent of drug dealers and flower-hawkers coming up to your table to sell you what you don't need and didn't ask for. (I.e., the membership is there to deter Spam.) So come on, let's be 'aving you. Peacefully, of course.
Music festivals always sound better on paper. Especially the free ones. Yes, I'm talking about the Siren Festival at Coney Island last Saturday. What initially looked like a mid-summer Christmas present from our friends at the Village Voice took on the makings of a combined Endurance Test and Obstacle Course once I sat down with my friend Tom and looked at the schedule. It was set to be a hot and humid New York Saturday. Could we really endure more than four hours of loud music and sweaty bodies in the sticky climes of the narrow concrete streets? No. We skipped promising acts like The Thermals, The Ponys, Vue and The Constantines, reluctantly passed on The Fiery Furnaces too, whose 2pm slot seemed far below their status, and made plans to hit the locale round 4pm, in time for TV On The Radio. The MTA's weekend apathy put paid to that hope and we found ourselves disembarking through the shiny new subway terminal into the throng of beach and gig-goers for only the second half of The Fever's set.
FEVER PITCHES SHORT
I want to love THE FEVER. Last year's Pink On Pink EP was fiercely promising, and this year's debut album The Red Bedroom starts out with equal fury, the song 'Cold Blooded' harking back to Devo's twisted rhythms as fronted by hardened garage rockers. But the frenetic assault starts wearing after four or five songs. Same thing with the Brooklyn band's live show: no lack of fire, plenty of volume, and ample dynamics, but an absence of star quality and original ideas, marred further by a scarcity of memorable songs. The new new wave of New York bands by which I mean, The Fever and others just starting to release their first albums need to learn from their predecessors, both in the 1970s and over the last few years, that while anger is an energy, so is melody an asset. It may say something about The Fever's repertoire that the second song from last year's EP, 'Ladyfingers,' one of the few to offer a hook as well as a rhythm, was revived for the album and now closes out the live show.
The Fever in fervent form.
THE CONEY ISLAND BORED WALK
Following The Fever, Tom and I embarked on a frustrating wild goose chase. Walking alongside the Stillwell Avenue stage on to the boardwalk, we assumed we would then be able to carry out a reverse move to access the Main Stage, a few hundred yards further down the boardwalk. Wrong. The ramps alongside the Main Stage were blocked off at the bottom, which we only discovered after spending fifteen minutes in a single file of several hundred people trying to pull off the same common sense move. Mild compensation came with the sight of the guest list line: a couple of boardwalk blocks full of hipster New Yorkers all willing to wait out the music for the little pass that would allow them to lig in what qualified as a backstage area. You have to wonder at their priorities, especially as Coney Island is maybe the last public space left in New York that doesn't just let you drink alcohol in the grand outdoors, but actively encourages it. Come on people, get over yourselves. It's a block party, not a VIP hang-out.
When we finally made it, the long way round, we discovered that The Main Stage appeared to be in the more narrow of the two streets put aside for Siren, and even for HAR MAR SUPERSTAR, whose popularity does not live up to his name, the crowd was so deep that the sound barely projected to the back. What we could hear was not up to par with the song 'Brothers And Sisters' that I downloaded through Siren sponsors The Village Voice's web site last week, and I wasn't in the mood for camp Californians, so we trudged back round to Stillwell Avenue
ELECTRIC SEX FREAKS
Where ELECTRIC SIX were my surprise hit of the day. The Detroit six piece are the embodiment of the Siren ethos: a little bit disco, a tiny bit camp, a salt shaker's worth of humour and a loud dose of solid rock'n'roll. I was familiar only with the singles 'Danger! High Voltage' and 'Dance Commander,' which are, tellingly, also two of the only 'rock' tracks I've recently been able to buy with good old-fashioned rave techno 12" mixes. As such, 'Gay Bar' was an endearing surprise, partly for getting a mosh pit going and mostly for its queer-friendly singalong status. (Sidenote: Franz Ferdinand are releasing their own homo-erotic song 'Michael' next month as an American single; Rob Sheffield wrote a piece about it in last week's Voice. For some reason, he neglected to mention Electric Six and 'Gay Bar,' which certainly caused a stir in the UK. Both bands are straight boys singing about gay fantasies. One more and we have a movement.) Having recognized a good friend of mine mixing their sound, we had the luxury of viewing this mosh pit and Electric Six themselves from the vantage point of the raised sound board. And while we were taken with the band's polish, their balls, and their Revolting Cocks bikers-at-the-nightclub look, we were most impressed with front man Dick Valentine, who had the star quality lacking in, for example, The Fever, and over-played by Har Mar supposed Superstar.
Late in the set, Valentine took to singing on the floor while working out - a calling card of his, judging by the Siren program, which quotes him as follows: "One of the reasons why the Vikings were so superior back in their day, was due to stretching. [How did he ever learn that detail? But still
] Even if you're mid-song, if you have ten seconds to spare, throw in a little stretch and it'll do you a world of good."
The Electric Six do the Coney Island Catwalk: sex, disco & rock'n'roll.
Valentine also pulled off a delightfully simple piece of original onstage showmanship: during an instrumental break, wearing a big, dumb, Jim Carrey style grin, he waved furiously to the crowd with one hand. Several thousand people instinctively waved back. Next instrumental break, a switch of hands, another big grin and another lengthy wave to the crowd. Another immediate lengthy wave back. Valentine's star status was confirmed by this cheeky farewell: "I want to thank you, the kids, for coming."
Given our secure status up on the sound scaffolding, we reluctantly passed on seeing BLONDE REDHEAD over at the so-called Main Stage. We knew we would only have found ourselves at the back of the crowd again, struggling to hear. We had no such problems with MISSION OF BURMA, however; presumably they could hear this set back in Boston. It was volume that caused Mission of Burma to break up twenty-two years ago, when guitarist Roger Miller came down with tinnitus. He only plays now by wearing headphones, placing a plexi-glass wall between himself and the drumkit, and by positioning his forward-facing Marshall amp in front of him, rather than behind. Neither bassist and vocalist Clint Conley, nor drummer Peter Prescott, appear to have suffered similar shellshock, and they ensured an aggression that most younger bands on the bill would have been hard put to match.
Still, for the first ten minutes or so, I had a similar feeling as when I saw the reformed Wire several years ago, the haunting notion that what sounded so vital back then no longer carries the same impact. Fortunately, Burma were only warming up, and with 'Nicotine Bomb' from the new album On/Off they hit a powerful stride from which there was no turning back. With the three members rotating lead vocals, and with enough anti-Bush comments to ensure even more passionate support than was theirs by musical right, they launched a wild mosh pit with their 1980 classic 'Academy Fight Song.' The original Mission of Burma always had that air of hardcore (punk), but at the same time they were art rockers, paving the way for American collegiates like R.E.M. in the process. It's not being nostalgic to state that American rock lacks bands with such polar appeal these days.
The set continued to draw heavily from On/Off, with 'Max Ernst's Dream' and 'The Set-Up' particularly memorable. Still, the strongest reaction was, predictably, for 'That's When I Reach For My Revolver,' after which they closed out with a song from the same early eighties era: The Wipers' 'Youth Of America.' It was a reminder that back when the American alternative rock scene was, truly, alternative, bands supported each other to the extent of covering each other's songs. (Mission of Burma have themselves been honored by R.E.M. latter-career recording and live performances of 'Academy Fight Song.') It was difficult to ascertain just how many people here were, like me, watching Mission for the first time - the group have played a few other New York shows since reforming a couple of years ago but it's a safe bet that few saw them in their original heyday. We should count ourselves fortunate they still sound so potent.
Stillwell Avenue in the Sun: Looking back from the soundboard...
...And looking forward to the stage. Thanks to soundman Marc Yevlove for letting us up
THE SOUND OF
To Siren's credit, performances ran exactly to schedule, with performances briefly overlapping the two stages. In an ideal world, that would mean getting to see and hear both stages without missing much of anyone's music, but to Siren's discredit, the sound from the Main Stage simply did not carry through the large crowd that formed for headliners DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE. What we could catch was no better than a fourth-generated home-recorded cassette bootleg, and there was no question that we'd have had a better appreciation of the band, sitting at home with a CD. (Of course, it's the popularity of those Death Cab CDs that created such a large crowd. Last year's Transatlanticism has sold a reputed quarter of a million in the States, a phenomenal amount for an indie release, and that's not counting vocalist Ben Gibbard's side-project, The Postal Service, whose Get Up was one of my personal faves from 2003 and which even cracked the American charts.)
I noticed the lack of 'Hung' Pas at both stages, which would have helped the sound travel through the air above the crowd. I don't know if the absence of such a system was down to cost or, more likely, whether Siren had been set noise limits. If the former, it's unfortunate. If the latter, it's ludicrous, given that Coney Island provides a continual barrage of sounds, from the carnival barkers at their side-shows, to the screams of those on the rides, and the house-techno beats emanating from the Go Kart track and batting cages. Even the very little we could hear of Death Cab For Cutie was interrupted every minute by the rattle of the neighboring Cyclone. That was fine, up to a point: hosting a rock festival at Coney Island is meant to encourage normally uptight hipsters to participate in fun and games (and some frightening rides), but in turn, it would be nice for that audience to then hear the music from somewhere other than the front ten rows. About the only thing I can tell you of the Death Cab show is that Gibbard follows the old Stiff Little Fingers "I'm not the front man" trick, performing from the outside of the three guitarists, rather than from stage center. But if you've seen the band already, you'll know as much.
On our way back to the subway, we stopped by the Stillwell Avenue stage again for a little bit of
And You Will Know us By The Trail Of The Dead. The crowd had thinned out and had we been in the mood, we'd have been able to enjoy the Austin band's two drummer and trash guitar assault without too much of a crush. But I had a DJ slot coming up at Tiswas, and needed a couple of hours off my feet before spending the night in the company of loud music, at that. It turned out to be a quiet Tiswas, for all its attempts to draw a post-Siren crowd: those who spent the day at Coney Island were either too sun-burned and/or drunk to stay up and keep partying. I can't blame them.
Coney Island Sideshows: The ghost train Dante's Inferno (we got stuck in there once!)...
...The view from Stillwell Ave. looking west: The abandoned Parachute Jump in the background, and the brand new Cyclones Minor League baseball stadium on the right.
...The view from Stillwell Ave. looking east: Go-Kart tracks, batting range and the Cyclone rising high in the background.
Conclusions? I don't want to go remotely negative on what's quickly become one of the strongest events of the New York summer season. And I'm sure if I was younger and still had the energy, I'd have pushed my way near enough the front of the crowd to hear any band at any point I wanted to. For those of us who just want to hang and enjoy ourselves, Siren may never be perfect: the streets in which it takes place are narrow, and that's that. But I felt that the Main Stage was in the more narrow street, which was always going to make for a deeper crowd and greater problems of sound travel. And I had problems believing that, Death Cab For Cutie aside, the Main Stage could lay claim to its name. Are Blonde Redhead truly more popular than Mission Of Burma? Is Har Mar Supestar a greater attraction than Electric Six? Seems to me that it might be a better idea, and maybe cause less continuous shuffling between the locations, if the national acts all played one stage the wider, Stillwell Avenue one and the newer, rising and local groups played at the narrow W.10th Street locale.
Next year, assuming the line-up is of similarly solid stock, I might take a different approach, and head down earlier in the day to enjoy all the up-and-coming bands free of the crowds that plague the event as the day wears on. By late afternoon, I should be enjoying the Cyclone, the mini-golf, the bars, the beach and the Boardwalk
In short, the ongoing freak show that is Coney Island. Because, as Siren has been right to note and take suitable advantage of, there's nowhere on earth quite like it.
My view on Six Feet Under (see below) may not be the prevailing one. I was just out making the most of my week back in town, hanging at the Tea Lounge on Union Street, doing some editing, and reading the papers strewn around. I soon found that today's NY Post's TV section has a half-pager entitled What's Ailing 'Six Feet Under'?
"This week's over-the-top episode which was little more than an exercise in random, over-the-top violence has alienated even the show's most hardcore viewers," writes Maureen Callahan, without a Sub-Editor to restrain her from going over-the-top.
She quotes comments posted on the TelevisionWithoutPity.com boards, and I don't have time to visit the site myself to see whether those doubters form the majority opinion. They may well do. But don't forget: the Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post trumpeted the news that John Kerry had selected his running mate ahead of every one else last week. Only problem was, they got the wrong man, naming Richard Gephardt rather than the actual choice of John Edwards. On the front page. In bold type. British Sun readers will not be surprised.
Elsewhere in the paper, in the Business Section, there's the important 'Exclusive' news that 'Clear Channel Mulls Launch of a record label.' The Post suggests that the "radio and concert giant" has its eyes on "U.K. music giant" EMI, but admits that such a (giant) deal is unlikely given that EMI is apparently not for sale. A graph does a good job of showing why Clear Channel should be so eager to acquire or start a label, as it would provide the final piece of a pie in which every aspect of the 'corporate giant' aids another part. (As it stands: 'Management division, handles talent/Concert Venues, booked for performances/Radio Stations, promote artists/Billboards, advertise performers and concerts
' Add 'Recording Artists, cut albums' between the last and the first, and you have a company in complete control of the entire P&D process.)
"I think it raises significant antitrust issues when you're controlling the whole vertical stack, from distribution to content," said one music industry executive [as quoted in the Post story]. "Also, how would they establish credibility with their own radio stations and their own artists?"
Um, who said credibility has ever been Clear Channel's concern?
Let's hope Clear Channel's record label aspirations go the same way as Colonel Gaddafy's reputed interest in buying Crystal Palace. Looks like it was, if not April Fool's Day, then a quiet news day at The Guardian.
I haven't really spent time at the Tea Lounge before. Can't think why not, except to say its modest entrance disguises its vast interior. A bigger offshoot of an original café on Park Slope's 7th Avenue, the Union Street branch, right opposite the Food Co-Op, offers several dozen teas caffeinated, green and decaf all brewed in personal pots, using boiling water and tea leaves, not those crappy luke-warm tea bags you get in American diners. If your taste doesn't extend to tea of any day, take your pick from smoothies, coffees, juices, or walk up to the bar and choose from several draft beers and a wide-ranging choice of wines. (Whites include a Gruner Veltliner, something you don't see every day; among the reds hanging out to dry were the everyday Ravenswood Zinfandel, an Echelon Syrah, a Chianti and a Corbieres.) You can peanut-butter your own bagels a nice touch or pick up croissants, brownies and the usual sandwiches. But the best aspect is the free-form seating, a haphazard collection of sofas, weaved chairs, upright tables, desks, benches, bean bags and a few old-fashioned table-top arcade games, including Pacman. It's such a broad selection in such a vast space that, during the hour I was there, it played host to a dozen laptop-fixated freelancers at one end of the room and an even bigger group of breast-feeding mums at the other end. Dance music and the Red Hot Chili Peppers alternated from the speakers and, I have to say, I was reluctant to leave. Who needs Starbucks anyway?
If it all sounds just a little too multi-culti smug and I know that it does - rest assured the Tea Lounge has a sense of mischief. The bathroom features a vast image diapered baby carrying the Stars and Stripes. Talk about an easy wind-up. "This is the wrong flag for a progressive neighborhood," one local has predictably graffiti'd in between one of the Stripes. The respondent resisted the temptation to ask which flag she might prefer (the Hammer and Sickle, perhaps?), and wrote, instead, "Wrong. We are the better Americans." You need a sense of humor to live in Park Slope. Fortunately, the Tea Lounge has one.
Six Feet Under has been struggling a little in its fourth season. Feels like it's been treading water, trying to figure out where it wants its characters to go, trying to avoid The Sopranos' mistake at a similar 3rd and 4th series point of setting up plot twists that can't possibly be followed through. But hey, maybe Alan Ball and his crew knew exactly what they were doing, because Sunday's Episode, 'That's My Dog,' suddenly, and broke with convention and completely fucked with our heads by eschewing its usual short scenes to spend the entire second half of the show following David Fisher after he picks up a hitchhiker on a Los Angeles freeway. (The gay-looking young man claims his car has run out of petrol/gas.)
I don't want to spoil it for those who may yet get to watch it regular HBO repeat tonight at 11pm, some of you will have HBO on Demand and can watch it any time, and my British friends will probably be waiting several months for the new Series so let me just say the following. It succeeded in scaring the hell out of us, reminded me why I always preferred New York to Los Angeles, and raised an important point for us television viewers: Who says all the lead characters have to survive through the series? Oh, and it got me completely re-hooked.
Six Feet Under: Claire Fisher (left) should have her lesbian encounter with Mena Suvari's character Edie (right) next week. (After three full series of watching David and Keith making out, we're entitled!)
Meanwhile, on da Ali G Show, Sacha Baron Cohen's camp Austrian youth TV presenter Bruno heads to the deep south, where homophobia is still rife, especially in the Church.
Half an hour later, Ali G kicked off his new American series. We talked about the first series a year or more ago; it must have been a big hit because not only did HBO bring him back, but the advance publicity was tremendous, including the cover of Time Out NY. Myself, I fell out of bed several times in the space of 25 minutes in absolutely hysterics. When you think about it, rather than losing something in the translation, Ali G works better in the States, because Sacha Baron Cohen's characters are so totally unAmerican to begin with that it's much easier for them to fool interviewees into believing they're real.
I mentioned last year that the show was doing itself a disservice by not starting off from its main point of strength: Ali G's interview technique. Fortunately, the producers recognized as much along the way. The new series opened with Sacha as Ali interviewing ABC News guru Sam Donaldson and purposefully confusing the movie Waterworld with Watergate; he also interviewed the non-plussed former head of the LAPD, Daryll Gates, and had a lengthy encounter with members of the ATF. ("That's Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives," says the armed officer; "Right, and what else does you sell?" responds Ali G.)
But as happened a lot in the first series, it was Sacha's other characters who stole the show. His Borat Sagdiyev attended a wine tasting in Jackson, Mississippi of all places, embarrassing the hell out of the old white southern gentlemen with his hugs and kisses and pornographic pictures of his "sister." (And when we saw they had a black man pouring the wine, we started counting the seconds until Borat predictably asked, "So is that your slave?") And Sacha's campy Austrian youth TV presenter Bruno went one better, up against an anti-homosexual Pastor from Clinton's home town of Little Rock, Arkansas, talking in detail of his gay sexual encounters and getting the increasingly uptight Pastor to denounce even the word "fabulous" for being "effeminate." Humor really is the most effective weapon against these pricks. Did they show the first American series of Ali G in the UK? I hope so. Even though no, hang on, precisely because - it plays up the most basic and clichéd American stereotypes, the Brits would love it.
Prospect Park was a beautiful place to be Friday night. The sky was clear, the temperature was warm but comfortable, and the Celebrate Brooklyn series of open-air concerts was embarking on a three-day weekend of music and dance.
Celebrate Brooklyn's strength is that it caters to the borough's multi-cultural residents. Every year there's an African Festival, there's always a reggae concert or two, nights of Latin rhythms, orchestral performances, hip-hop (the Unity Sessions earlier this month featured Israeli and Palestinian rappers on stage together), spoken word, children's' entertainment and plenty good rock music. (Still to come this summer: free concerts by Pere Ubu, They Might Be Giants and Jay Farrar.)
But the best nights are usually those which include a little bit of everything, such as Friday's gig, for which long-standing New York promoters Giant Step put together a bill that embraced new New York hip-hop (Dujeous, whom I missed), southern soul (Van Hunt, who we'll get to) and New York's largely indefinable but unquestionably brilliant Brazilian Girls.
Fortunately, I attended the show with friends who could give me background info on the band. (Note: NEVER do a web search for Brazilian Girls; you'll end up all too quickly in Pete Townshend territory, if you know what I mean.) First up: there are no Brazilians in the group. The nearest thing is keyboard player and bandleader Didi, who previously played with Bebel Gilberto. But Didi is Argentinean, and knowing the rivalry between those two South American countries, the name may just be intended as a tongue-in-cheek crowd-puller. (To which end, it works.) Vocalist Sabrina is, in fact, German and at the peak of the set, she recalled '99 Luftballoons' singer Nena at her most plaintive and charming. The male musicians are all exceptional, and the trombone provided a welcome detour, but no doubt about it, this was Sabrina's show. Wearing a skimpy outfit perfectly suited for the summer weather, she performed the first few songs with a tight mask over her face - giving her dancing the twisted appeal of the dominatrix then exchanged it for ultralarge shades, and finally, for the last song or too, untied her pony tail and let her hair down.
Brazilian Girls - and New York boys - in the flesh.
Metaphorically, she had her hair down from the start, bringing the audience straight to its feet as she sang in English and French (and maybe a couple of other languages too), while the band played an eclectic but never insipid - mix of funk, bossa nova, house, reggae and, quite overtly, new wave. More than once, I could hear in Brazilian Girls a nod to the glory days of Blondie, a group that were similarly unafraid to mix it up while staying true to pop.
My friend had only just remarked how he likes their lack of irony and pastiche, that forcibly witty self-consciousness that marred the Electroclash movement, when Brazilian Girls closed out with a song called 'Pussy Pussy Pussy Marijuana.' Still, there was something so charmingly unpretentious about what I assume is their tribute to the finer things in life, that they had the crowd the kind of positive, joyous, multi-cultural audience such as gives Brooklyn a good name - singing along in no time.
That reception was all the more impressive given that the audience was out not for Brazilian Girls but Van Hunt. Myself, I've struggled to enjoy the Atlanta native's self-titled debut album. I've seen all the good reviews, I've noted the impressive sales, I'm aware from people who dig this stuff that the Atlanta native is considered the real deal, but on record, I find his music just too lightweight for my tastes.
Onstage it was a different matter, though, Prince meeting Curtis Mayfield round the campfire. By that, I mean, Van Hunt's funk and falsetto, his smoldering sex appeal, and his snazzily dressed backing band have all seen him regularly compared to the Lord Nelson, but he's more soulful in his presentation, more laid back in his delivery. Not that he doesn't know how to play the audience. He thanked everyone for coming out when "you could have seen Prince at Continental Arena." (Never mind that the Prince show was one State over; the comparison had been made.) And he teased with the question "Who loves me out there?" before slyly backtracking to focus on the one crowd member who'd actually declared her adoration.
So, he's slick. So what? Van Hunt backed it up where it mattered, with the slow saucy funk of 'Anything (To Get Your Attention),' the Mayfield-esque weary worldview of 'Dust,' a brief detour into "Sly Stone ditties," and a song that drew heavily on the riff for 'You Really Got Me.' (Not for nothing does the bassist play a Hohner.) That's an impressive range for any artist; add in Van Hunt's keen sense of image and self-worth, and the impeccable musicianship, and we're talking about a star in the making. They would have been talking about this show in the Fort Greene watering holes all night long.
Brazilian Girls' German girl Sabina
Atlanta boy Van Hunt celebrating Brooklyn
Cycling home, I paused to see what was on at Southpaw, and ran right into a friend having a smoke outside the club. Turned out he was managing the next band up, Apollo Heights, and I came in when it turned out I knew them. At least I knew two of them in their old guise as The Veldt, and that was a long time ago. By default, then, Apollo Heights are no spring chickens, but North Carolina twins Danny and Daniel Chavis (yes, you read that right) are indefatigable music fans and I can't begrudge them any renewed attempts to make it. They opened with a taped drum'n'bass beat accompanied by blaring sax, indiscernible vocals and wild guitar. The set proper leaned more towards atmospheric rock as Daniel projected his falsetto vocal with considerable force, brother Danny immersed himself in his Will Sergeant/Robin Guthrie guitar licks, bassist Hayato Nakao kept time with the pre-recorded beats, and occasional sax threw the sound into a fourth dimension.
The obvious reference point is TV On The Radio, who have a similar infatuation with experimental psychedelia (and falsetto vocals), and I was pleased to hear the two groups have recently toured together. Yet, I was most taken with the Apollo Heights songs that drew from hip-hop and funk. 'Testify,' the stand-out, was apparently written by Daniel back when he was working with rappers Black Sheep, while 'Disco Lights' turns out to be a cover, I believe of a 1977 song by Dexter Wansell, who himself jumped readily between rock and jazz. Many of the other songs were too sonically dense to pick out easily on first listen, though the clarity of their demo CDs suggest that this was more a matter of onstage volume than lack of sophistication. 'Sad Cabaret,' which you can access online (along with 'Testify'), has just as much in common with Van Hunt for Daniel's falsetto soul, as it has with the Cocteau Twins for Danny's reverb-drenched guitar.
Apollo Heights under the red lights
L Maestro with the same glow
"This is bullshit," said Danny, as we watched headliners L Maestro kick off with what some conventionally hip jazz. He had a point: L Maestro are led by Bobby McFerrin's talented son, and there was a disturbingly 'Don't Worry, Be Happy' vibe to the opening ten minutes. But then Taylor McFerrin shifted to piano, a couple of MCs took center stage and the music dissembled into frenetic upbeat hiphop jazz with its share of socially conscious lyrics. The crowd suddenly emerged from the corners and the room got busy. I soaked it up for several more minutes, enjoying it despite Danny's disgust, and thought about how the night's four acts all stubbornly refused to be pigeon-holed and how, even though they all wore their influences a little too visibly, that can only be healthy.
As I unlocked my bike from a parking meter and whipped it back around to head home, I almost knocked over a young couple on the sidewalk. I apologized, admitted that I should have looked first. "No problem," said the man, pulling his woman closer to him, and as he headed down 5th Avenue, he added, as if he was the one in the wrong, "Have a good night." I already had.
Talking of people sending me e-mails about Palace, my thanks to fellow baldy Vince Skinner for this reminder that having a full head of hair is not necessarily something to boast about. Iain Phillip: one of the many Scots who played for the Palace back when I first started going to see them. Now, where's the Don Rogers card?
JULY 12-18: Jeff Mills' Exhibitionist DVD review, Midweek W(h)ines, Los Pleneros de la 21/Kékélé live,
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,
DEC 22-JAN 4: Blind Boys of Alabama live, Joe Strummer, Year-End Lists, Finding Nemo, The Return of The King
DEC 15-21: Placebo live, Park Slope, Angels In America, Saddam's capture
DEC 8-14: The Rapture live, Guardian readers change lightbulbs, Keep iJamming! Thriving
DEC 1-7: Cabaret Laws, Ready Brek, Kinky Friedman, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Jonathan Lethem, Julie Burchill, Blizzard running
NOV 17-30: Lost In Music, Lost In Translation, Neil Boland, Political Polls, Press Clips, Australian Whines
NOV 10-16: Ben E. King live, Hedonism readings, A***nal, Charts on Fire
NOV 3-9: Brother Bear, Oneida, P. Diddy, Steve Kember, Guy Fawkes, Iraq, the Marathon
OCT 27-NOV 2: CMJ Music Marathon report, NYC Running Marathon preview, Prey For Rock'n'Roll, Yellow Dog, Gen Wesley Clark, Halloween
OCT 20-26: Television Personalities, defending New York rockers, Bill Drummond Is Read
OCT 6-19: LCD Soundsystem live, Renewable Brooklyn review, Blind Acceptance is a sign...
SEP29-OCT 5: New York w(h)ines parts 1 and 2, Bruce Springsteen at Shea Stadium.
SEP 22-28: Atlantic Antic, Pacifists for War: General Wesley Clark and the Democratic Debate, Danny Tenaglia, Running Wild, Steppenwolf
SEP 15-21: Radio 4/DJ Vadim live, Manhattan Mondaze, Circle of Light, Renewable Brooklyn
SEP 8-14: Central Park Film Festival, Roger (Daltrey) and me, September 11 Revisited, The Raveonettes/Stellastarr* live, Recording Idiots of America,
SEP1-7: Film Festivities, Party Monster, Keith Moon RIP
AUG 25-31: Punk Planet, Carlsonics, Copyright Protection, Cline Zinfandel, BRMC
AUG 18-24: Black Out Blame Game, John Shuttleworth, British Music mags, Greg Palast, The Thrills live.
AUG 11-17: The New York blackout, Restaurant reviews, The Media as Watchdog, What I Bought On My Holidays
AUG 4-10: Step On again, Shaun W. Ryder, Jack magazine, the BBC, the Weather, Detroit Cobras, football and Rock'n'Roll
JULY 28-AUG 3: De La Guarda, The Rapture, Radio 4, Stellastarr*, Jodie Marsh, A Tale of Two Lions, Hedonism launch photos,
JULY 14-27: Manchester Move Memories, Hedonism is Here, Holiday postcard
JULY 7-13: Chuck Jackson live, Step On, Beverley Beat, British Way of Life
JUNE30-JULY6: David Beckham, Geoffrey Armes, Happy Mondays, Step On at Royale
JUNE 23-29: Ceasars/The Realistics live, weddings and anniversaries, Cabaret laws.
JUNE 9-23: Hell W10, The Clash, Big Audio Dynamite, Nada Surf live, Field Day debacle
JUNE 2-8: Six Feet Under - Over, Field Day, Siren Fest, Crouching Tigher Hidden Cigarette
MAY 19-JUNE 1: Ian McCulloch live, New York's financial woes, Six Feet Under, Hedonism, Tommy Guerrero.
MAY 5-18: Live reviews of The Rapture, De La Soul, Carlsonics, Laptop, The Libertines, Echoboy, The Greenhornes; observations on Chris Coco/The Blue Room, The Apple Music Store, Alan Freed, Phil Spector, The Matrix Reloaded, Rare Earth, Tinnitus and Royale!
APRIL 28-MAY 4: Flaming Lips, Madonna, Bill Maher, The Dixie Chicks, the war
APRIL 21-27: Rotary Connection, War(n) Out, Cocaine Talk
APRIL 14-20: Belated London Musings on Death Disco and CPFC.
APRIL 7-13: London Musings: Madness, Inspiral Carpets, the Affair, the Palace, the Jam
MARCH 31-APRIL 6: Music be the spice of life, London Calling: Ten Observations from the Old Country
MARCH 24-30: Six Feet Under, Peaches/Elefant live, MP Frees and Busted Boy Bands
MARCH 17-23: Röyksopp live, Transmission, Worn-Out War Talk
MARCH 10-16: Live reviews: Stratford 4, Flaming Sideburns, Joe Jackson Band, Linkin Park. Why I Oppose The War (For Now).
MARCH 3-9: The Pursuit of Happiness, Weekend Players, U.S. Bombs, Al Farooq, A New Pessimism, Brooklyn Half Marathon
FEBRUARY 24-MARCH2: Orange Park, Ali G-Saddam Hussein-Dan Rather-Bill Maher-Jon Stewart TV reviews, Stellastarr*, James Murphy, The Station nightclub fire, the Grammys
FEBRUARY 17-23: Village Voice Poll, Singles Club, Smoke and Fire
FEBRUARY 3-16: Snug, The Face, Pink, Supergrass live, Keith Moon, Phil Spector, Gore Vidal
JANUARY 27-FEBRUARY 2: Communist Chic, Spiritland, Daddy You're A Hero, Keith Moon, State of the Union, CPFC and more on Iraq
JANUARY 20-26: Divisions of Laura Lee, Burning Brides, Words On War, Child Abuse of a Different Kind, Losing My Edge
JANUARY 13-19: Pete Townshend, Pee Wee Herman, South Park and more Pete Townshend
JANUARY 6-12: Interpol in concert, Tony Fletcher's Top 10 Albums and Singles of 2002, More on Joe Strummer and The Clash, Fever Pitch and Bend It Like Beckham.
DECEMBER 31 2002 -JAN 5 2003: A tribute to Joe Strummer, Radio 4 live on New Year's Eve
2002 MUSINGS ARE LISTED HERE: