Friday, November 04, 2005

Ashbery's Music

When my favorite poet, John Ashbery, was 22 or 23, he was in the depths of a terrible writer's block. "Then he happened to go to a John Cage concert and heard Music of Changes - nearly an hour of banging on a piano alternating with periods of silence, as dictated by a score that Cage had put together using the I Ching so that it would be determined by chance rather than by his choice."

Chance, indeed. That quote is from a lengthy article, unfortunately not linkable, by Larissa MacFarquhar in the Nov 7 edition of The New Yorker that was in my mailbox when I got home yesterday evening. Chance - yesterday at work I was listening to Live 365 play pieces from Meredith Monk's *Key,* while eating lunch and reading "Autumn on the Thruway" from *Hotel Lautreamont.* Each made the other more deeply, more inexpressibly understandable.

What the two had in common, among many things, is an exploration of space, of seeking to expand the canvas and score of what is possible as key intention. For Ashbery (who I am far more confident of speaking on), the meaning is secondary to creating the new space where new meanings can be understood, perhaps only subliminally, only intuitively, that wasn't there before.

In any case, if you're interested in Ashbery's poetry, I recommend the article. But some questions:

Besides the Cage piece, the article mentions a Satie piece, "Musique d'Ameublement." Can anyone tell me anything about either?

This article talks about a colloboration of sorts between Ashbery and Charles Wuorinen. I've never heard of Wuorinen. Anyone have any opinion? What should I check out? Why does the article refer to him as a "musical tough guy?"

Here is Ashbery's Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, his most famous, if not my favorite, poem.

Here is Just Walking Around.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Qs 1

I've been listening to Live 365's Postclassical Radio, and it seems that every fifth piece played is by Peter Garland.

Who is Peter Garland? Right now I'm listening to a piece called "Walk in Beauty," and it is quite lovely, but why does Garland get so much airplay on this station? Is he that big a figure? Is this a matter of Kyle Gann's taste?

Also, please aim me at other internet sources for streaming music you recommend.

Also also, I was given last week a copy of Frank Bridge's string quartets, and I'm much impressed. What next Bridge should I explore?

Watch the Republican reaction to Harry Reid's brilliant (and entirely within the rules of the Senate and not, despite what lies you've heard otherwise, not unprecedented) move today, especially Frist's. It is illustrative of modern conservatism. Ooh, they're mad. Ooh, I'm scared. He's gonna smack you.

See, the Democrats aren't in power, so they should rollover, bite the pillow, and take it in the ass any goddamn time we feel like a good cornholing. Like women used to before the female orgasm was invented. Like blacks used to before Liberals started telling them they was equal. Like in the good old days when they knew their place and kept their goddamn mouths shut.

Goddamn it, women get screwed when WE say they get screwed, not when they want to. Negroes take what jobs we give them, live where we tell them, take what pay we give them, and keep their uppity mouths shut. And those bitch Democrats, they should STFU and go sit in their corner and eat our shit. Hell, women and negroes are better than Democrats.

Think it's an accident they don their wifebeater t-shirts and dance with glee over the nomination of a judge with a record of anti-feminist and anti-desegregation credentials? This is all about dumb white men wanting their wifebeating and lynching rights back. It's about the power of the backhanded slap across the face, delivered without fear of retribution.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Black Licorice

I hate Lynryd Skynyrd. I could not go to a party, to a friend’s house, anywhere, for years, without hearing goddamn “That Smell,” or goddammitydamn “Freebird.” The whole guitar-noodling thing, the deedada deedada deedada of guitar wankery. Stupid the sound, stupid the attitude, stupid the posturing, stupid the stupid.

I hate Lynryd Skynyrd. But not as much as I hate The Doors. I really hate The Doors. Lynryd Skynyrd had one song I could tolerate, “You Got That Right,” though I suspect that toleration had more to do with one Charlotte Gramercy and a weekend in West Virginia than with the song itself, but there is not one single Doors song that doesn’t compel me to change the station or leave the room. “Mama, I want to mmmwah,” screams Jim Morrison, thinking he’s revealing depths of the human condition. I really hate Jim Morrison. Jim Morrison gave bad poetry a bad name. The music is worse. God I hate The Doors.

One of my three or four favorite albums of the recent past is Z from My Morning Jacket. There are many influences heard on Z, but two, the most prominent, are Lynryd Skynyrd and The Doors. What do I make of this? *

90% of the music I hear (and the books I read and the people I meet) I like or dislike with varying intensities of indifference. Of the remaining 10% that I either love or hate, I find what I hate to be more fascinating than that that I love. I suspect that although both the love and the hate are self-evident to me, I find the need to explore that which I hate more urgent than exploring what I love.

Part of that is trying to reconcile the arbitrariness of my tastes with a compulsion for consistence. If I hate The Doors, if I hate Lynyrd Skynyrd, if I love My Morning Jacket’s Z, am I open-minded or logically wobbly? I don’t feel obliged to dislike a band influenced by bands I hate, but I do feel a disconnect. Compound that with my natural and opposite instincts towards coherence and frustrating that coherence, and there’s the paradox.

One thing I have learned over time: if I hate a band (or a book or a person) like I hate black licorice, I need to examine what it is I hate because something interesting is going on. There is a difference between hate and contempt. Contempt takes no energy, no time, no effort. Nobody sounds like The Doors but The Doors, but there are a kazillion bands that sound like Franz Ferdinand, who I don't hate, don't consider worth hating. Which means something.

Have I mentioned I hate Mozart?

* Do go to MMJ website where you can hear two of the songs from Z, but unfortunately not my favorite, the glorious “Gideon,” which I read as the most magnificent anti-war song I’ve heard from this current generation. I may be wrong on the anti-war, but I’m positive about the magnificence.

MMJ’s Z has been heavily reviewed, heavily praised. Here, here, and here, and elsewhere.

The singer’s voice, goodness, the singer’s voice. Really, a remarkable album from a remarkable band. No one sounds like them. I suspect somewhere someone really hates them.
Oh Well

Steve Goff's Washpost obituary on the 2005 season is here.

The devastating 0-4 loss to Chicago at home has one valuable asset: it allows for a more thorough, hopefully more dispassionate evaluation of DCU than if they had lost 2-3 on a disputed PK.

Last year, in MLS Cup finals DCU started an in form Alecko Eskandarian (as opposed to Jamil Walker, who started v Chicago), Earnie Stewart (as opposed to Santino Quaranta) and Ryan Nelsen (as opposed to Facundo Erpen). Really, any and all speculations on the failure of DCU's season need start and end there.

What do they do in the offseason? Can they afford, against the salary cap, to keep both Ben Olsen and Dema Kovalenko? Can they replace one or the other of the flank defenders, especially the struggles-to-be-mediocre Brandon Prideaux? How do they resolve the Adu crisis - in the position best suited for Adu they have the team's best player, Christian Gomez. Is Moreno cooked? Who knows? I will be in my seat on April 1 for season opener, chanting for answers.

Monday, October 31, 2005

This Week's Picks

Just a word or two about the picks listed on the left border of BDRIB. They are not necessarily recommendations to buy. They ARE suggestions on what I'd recommend trying to find a listen to.

There is no ranking meant to be implied in what order they are listed.

Ideally I want to post at least one entry on one of each week's picks - I hope to post something very soon about My Morning Jacket's Z - but that's not a commitment, just a hope. Depends.

And maybe, or maybe not, I'll write snippets, much like the following, about some of the other CDs:

The Go! Team - Thunder, Lightning, Strike: silly, dance-your-brain-out-able. Thoroughly fluff, thoroughly fun.

Abadou and Mariam - Dimanche a Bamako: wonderful music from Mali, produced by Manu Chao (whose Proxima Estacion: Esperanza has a permanent spot in my personal rotation). World music, indeed.

Portastatic - Bright Ideas: Portastatic is considered a side project of Superchunk's Mac McCaughan; I prefer P to S.

We'll see how this develops. Feedback very welcome.

The W is for Wet Dream

With the nomination of Alito, our glorious march back to the days where our women are frigid, our hussies are punished, our fairies are closeted, our coloreds quiet, can begin again.

Glorious Leader is back, all praise be to Glorious Leader.