Friday, May 9, 2008

Politics, As Usual

Pleased though I am that Obama seems to have clinched the nomination, I was angered to find that story trumping Myanmar on the cover of this week's Economist. I wonder if foreign editions had different covers? I hope so.

Update: Complained about this to some friends last night and was shot down in a hurry. They argue that the media is so restricted in Myanmar that there are simply not enough facts or pictures available to justify a cover story. If things loosen up and there are more eyes on the ground, they say, Myanmar will get its dubious distinction - perhaps next week. I bet they're right. Stay tuned.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Move Over Messiaen

Enjoyed this post at Dark Forces on a free performance of Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time. I'd been hoping to get to this, but was spooked last minute at thoughts of lines and midtown and so missed an apparently incredible show. Serves me right.

As Tashi was ripping it up at Town Hall, I was likely online watching Radiohead's In Rainbows: From the Basement. Nothing mind-blowing here (actually, much as I love these guys, I'm getting a little sick of these samey "live" broadcasts), but I was intrigued that at the end of the scorching "Myxomatosis," someone from the band (off-camera) says to Jonny Greenwood: "A bit of Wagner going at the end there?" I knew Radiohead were into Messiaen, and Messiaen into Wagner, but I never realized the tails met.

Update: Actually, now that I think of it, this isn't the first time. Paul Lansky's "Mild Und Leise," sampled in Radiohead's "Idioteque," is based on Wagner's famous "Tristan chord" and its inversions. Small world, hey guys?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

You Are Alive

Twisted commercialism from Takahashi Murakami, now displaying at the Brooklyn Museum. These videos, at once treacly and gruesome, are a good distillation of the rest of the show.

Prose Punk

Monday, April 14, 2008

Brooklyn at Heart

Pregnant? Facing a move from city to country? Issues?

My sister, too!

She's started a blog. Take a look.


After the recent losses at Academy, I wasn’t particularly surprised to see Mondo Kim’s already puny classical section displaced by rock & roll. But browsing reggae towards the back I discover: they only want it further from the customers! There it is on the endmost wall, slightly expanded (though annoyingly nothing dates before Bartok.) Oh well; we'll take what we can get.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Love and Happiness (Spring Edition)

(A la maniƩre de Taylor)

Trader Joe’s Shammies

Cheap, eco-friendly, they absorb loads more than your average sponge, dry fast, stand-up to washing, and you get to say “shammy." Four bucks for a two-pack at Trader Joe’s or these bad-asses online.

PSB Alpha-B1 Speakers

I don’t care what the audiophiles say - $280 ain’t cheap for speakers – but they’re a sight less than Bose and apparently a lot better quality. I love mine. The sound is rich and clean and allows me to hear all sorts of detail that was getting lost on my little JBLs.

This Heat – S/T

A recording much enhanced by good speakers, This Heat’s 1978 debut was rehearsed and recorded in a converted refrigerator locker. You can hear it, not only in the echoes of the recording, but in the chilly angularity of the compositions themselves. The music is varied and tough to sum up in a paragraph, so I'll just say (cheaply) This Heat couldn’t exist without Krautrock and post-rock couldn’t exist without This Heat.

Mavis Gallant, Varieties of Exile

The young, lonely women who populate these stories would probably implode if faced with This Heat, but their creator, Mavis Gallant, is in her own way just as steely. My favorite stories in the collection deal with every day tensions between English and French Montrealers in the period in and around the Second World War. Gallant is a master of realistic characterization and describes subtle strains with economy and precision. Michael Ondaatje puts it well in a blurb: "Before we know it she will have circled a person, captured a voice, revealed a whole manner of a life in the way a character avoids an issue or discusses a dress."

Genesse Cream Ale

Cheaper than Bud, tastier than Pabst, a historic beer from fearsome upstate New York. Take it ice cold, straight from the can, with something salty. You won't miss your Stella.