Tuesday, September 9, 2008


I have added a few new links. Paper Cuts is a blog by a colleague who's assignment for a class is to keep track of all the cuts in the newspaper industry. This may not affect these readers since most of the stuff I do is on a book or piece of music....But I'm interested.

As for that I've been following Paper Cuts the NYT's lit blog and Penguin's blog which has all sorts of information. The Orwell thing is a creative idea, but may not enthuse most as Orwell was writing about the scene of things from his hospital bed. Plans, intricate measurements of everyday items. But still nice to think of him as one of us blogging.

We have another ",Reflections," which is a diary of an American in Japan. Making that push that's hard for us to make if our roots are deep here, but easy with younger folks getting international sooner these days.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Blowing in the Wind

My attitude toward alternative energies has always been Yay, let's do it. Just a progressive kneejerk reaction, that is to say.

What the picture of this story alone makes clear is that it'll be in part a fight/negotiation with property owners to get wind energy turbines built. We see them now mostly in remote areas (a la Weatherford). But think of this picture and these kids who are trying to swim in a pool. Are these space age looking things blowing all the water out ? Having these near a home must be a big distratction.

Differing state electrical rates and policies are also hindrances in a national schemed grid.

This story gets into the challenges that face the wind energy alternative plans that T. Boone Pickens has been advocating lately.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Steps Toward a New Kind of Music Writing

Still hashing through my Irish memories. Listening to Mr. Lonnie Donegan, a true English gentleman.

I have been conversing with people on how music writing often sucks to read. You get the feeling the writer is having a good time writing it, maybe he's even analyzing it...But I've come to the conclusion that I'm in desperate search for a new kind I guess. Here's one try from Corked:

Betwixt, between the Twisted Stars, the faulty map that brought Lou Reed to Ireland

This will be short because I’ve already written a concert review that was so removed from reality that I don’t have it in me to include it here. One moment seems to cast a brighter light on the music I once consumed myself.

One day after seeing a TV news brief that Lou Reed, Antony, Nick Cave and Beth Orton would be singing the songs of Leonard Cohen I told Meike I’d skip the Anglo-Irish Fiction class and take a trip to Dublin. It was my first real time in Dublin. When the bus let me off I spent 10 minutes on one of the bridges leading to the fancy concert hall The Point. I stood watching boats drift away and photography societies next to me snap shots of the creamy Dublin sunset which looked like none other. I had my Kodak and tried to match their efforts.

The concert was fine. Leonard Cohen wasn’t there, and neither was Rufus Wainwright who appeared in the film version of the concert I was seeing. Lou Reed looked a bit like death, but he also looked like the street poet I had always imagined when I listened to his grungy songs about Heroin. A man who also, sweetly, knew a damn good pair of Pale Blue Eyes when he saw them. He had lived life and now here he was dragging this husk of his former self onto the stage to lend his presence to others who were hungry to live for him now that he couldn‘t, dammit.

But God if I wasn’t sitting next to the drabbest, most dull black suited men and smooth red silk, scarlet lipped ladies in all of Ireland. And they were all around me. I was at the top balcony, sitting. The rows and rows below me, sitting. And here was the black angel of death before us all, the man who in his underrated solo career wrote these words:

"Ill take Manhattan in a garbage bag/With Latin written on it that
says It’s hard to give a shit these days/ Manhattans sinking like a rock/ Into the
filthy Hudson what a shock/ They wrote a book about it. / They said it was like
ancient Rome"

And we were all dressed up. Who in this dapper mot was really listening when during his song Whitmanesque song about naked bodies, which featured his dirty Sister Ray style guitar skronk, the real flesh we came to see instead of his own (the beauty of music).

Did we really hear Antony (and this is on You Tube now) in his agony, writhing and face making with a cover of Cohen’s If it Be Your Will, with the consoling black ladies behind him:

From this broken hill/ your praises shall ring/ if it be your will to let me
sing/ If it be your will/ If there is a choice/ Let the rivers fill/ Let the
hills rejoice/ Let your mercy spill/ on all these burning hearts in hell/ if it
be your will to make us well.

God if we weren’t all listening, I know these guys next to me weren’t. Another cosmo black tie night. I needed a Guinness.

During intermission I stood in the beer line upstairs. The line shortened and the cluttered mass thinned. I asked for a 6 Euro Guiness and the 40 something woman poured it to me in a plastic cup. She handed me the drink, sized me up and looked around a bit lost.

“Who’s playing down there?”
“Oh, Lou Reed, Nick Cave and some others.”
“Oh, I’ve never heard them”
“Yeah. It’s pretty good.”
“If you don’t mind me asking, how much did you pay to get in?
“60 Euros.”
“Oh! No thank you … is it that good?”
“Yeah it is! I‘ve always wanted to see these guys.”
“Well, that’s good for you then.”

I seem to remember this exchange clearer than half of the concert, this glimpse of the Corkians who work these service jobs and serve beers to dry elites who like their Lou Reed, their street poetry with an aperitif. The woman had such a straight forward manner. She kind of made me feel like a teenager. She no doubt liked music like the rest of us blood pumpers, but she didn’t feel the need to spend a weeks, or half, pay on seeing it in the flesh.

The older I get the more I can enjoy music privately, forfeit the show. The stuff I saw that night was very good, the Antony was the best. But what better times I had had with the burned CD Lou Reed that a White Water lifeguard had burned for me so affectionately years ago. I Came So Far for Beauty was the name of the concert, and Meike appropriately noticed this was the theme of my trip with all my music chasing. But a lot of that stuff came from the past as I remembered it, or the streets (in the form of The Conservatory in Oklahoma City … or Oklahomans like Samantha Crain trying out brand new songs at the small Galileos for a 5$ cover).

It wasn’t there in Dublin where I had hopped the bus and tramped through the spacious Dublin streets past the cold Green statues. It wasn’t in such places where Lou Reed found the subjects to his songs, the pious and sexual Hispanic Romeos and Juliettes with diamond crucifixes in their ears. Man, if confronted with a 6 Euro/$8 stout the old Lou would probably take it and pour it on his crotch just to make the people around him feel uncomfortable and restore his own weird comfort level. People out there had mouths to feed and couldn‘t go anywhere for beauty or spend so much money looking, as this lady made clear to me. For the rest of the concert somehow I felt silly for putting her to work pouring my drought.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Future of Suburbia

This is real long. A quorum! I can't read it all now.

I will read it soon because I wonder what will happen to the nice burb neighborhoods like the one I'm sitting in right now. I can see the backyard from here. It's not the Amazon, but it suits me darnnit!

I'm speakin in defense of the happy suburbanites.

The Link: http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/08/12/what-is-the-future-of-suburbia-a-freakonomics-quorum/?hp

Saturday, August 9, 2008

From the Dusties: Don McClean

I coulda been most anything I put my mind to be,
But a cowboy's life was the only life for me.
It's a strong man's occupation ridin' herd and livin' free,
But strong men often fail
Where shrewd men can prevail,

I'm an old man now with nothin' left to say,
But oh god how I worked my youth away.

Well you may not recognise my face,
I used to be a star,
A cowboy hero known both near and far.
I perched upon a silver mount and sang with my guitar,
But the studio of course,owned my saddle and my horse,

But that six-gun on the wall belongs to me,
Oh god I can't live a memory.
You know I'd like to put my finger on that trigger once again,
And point that gun at all the prideful men.
All the voyeurs and the lawyers who can pull a fountain pen,
And put you where they choose,
With the language that they use,
And enslave you till you work your youth away,
Oh god how I worked my youth away.

Whoopee ty yioh
Whoopee ty yi ay,
One man's work is another man's play
Oh god how I worked my youth away.

You see I always liked the notion of a cowboy fighting crime,
This photograph was taken in my prime,
I could beat those desperados but there's no sense fightin' time,
But the singin' was a ball
Cause I'm not musical at all,
I moved my lips to someone else's voice.

I coulda been most anything I put my mind to be,
But a cowboy's life was the only life for me.
It's a strong man's occupation ridin' herd and livin' free,
But strong men often fail
Where shrewd men can prevail,

I'm an old man now
with nothing left to say
But Oh god how I worked my youth away.

What a sad, sad, sad song. Bronco Bill's Lament by Don McClean. It was brought to my attention the first time I saw Okemah native John Fullbright cover it in bar/basement in his hometown of Okemah. It sounded like his own.

He played again by my request a few weeks ago and I finally found the McClean LP it comes from at Trusty Size Records
Any songwriter who can dig up a lost gem like this song and sing it like the boy does, is going places. And I'll be sure to report on the upward mobility of this young country singer from our state of Oklahoma.

You can hear some of his originals here: http://www.myspace.com/johnrussellfullbright

Friday, August 8, 2008

Our Great Escape

After years of reading, Oklahoma City is now in the travel section of the times. An Escape, they call it.
Crazy enough, half of the things this guy did I have not.


Thursday, August 7, 2008

At the Movies: The Fountain

I very belatedly gave Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain a spin last night. Starring Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz, the film navigates 3 narratives that more or less have the same story arc. And one of which may be a part of the the 2nd. I'm still confused a bit.

Scientist's woman is dying in the real world, man's country (Spain) is dying in the 2nd plot which is opened up to us because it is the book Weisz is writing to deal with her death, her husband cast as the hero conquistadore. The third plot concerns a man's tree (tree of life) forbidden to Adam and Eve and an obsession to Jackman's character in this world.

It's a movie with a hell of an imagination. The fantasy sequences were made by a French group of guys, the lighting in the hospital and science lab scenes is a kind of midnight yellow that render the characters always in a state of darkness and very pale light. It gets most of its dramatic juices from the relationship from Weisz and Hugh Jackman. It's the best role, in my opinion, that I've seen him play, particular when has to relive all a time he was too busy for a walk. Movies give us a vivid sense of our own subconscious workings that our brains simply can't imagine all by themselves, but that they think and feel.

There are plenty of rich themes to deal with. There are some buddhist influences and some Whitman notions of the cemetary being a celebrated place of life, death being regenerative.
As the dying woman accepts death, writing a book inspired by history and by the book of Genesis, it is the scientist who refuses and plunges on with his efforts of eradicating brain tumors in monkeys so that it will lead to a breakthrough in humans. In short, he wants to eliminate all death, and his colleagues watch the obsession consume him with concern. It's a Doctor Faustus struggle rooted in the natural yearning for eternal life.

But somehow, though the movie is pretty tense, the way Aronofsky constructs it gives it a calm buoyancy: there's subdued, tender flashbacks (a bathtub moment my favorite), the music of Clint Mansell (and one by Mogwai), and every word uttered by the serene Ellen Burstyn (thanks Darren for making her one of your regulars, is every one else sleeping!?).

I think this is one of those movies that will win more praise with time. It looks at the stars (or dying nebulas that the Mayans prized most of all--yes it's a think one) ... and refuses to look anywhere else. And it seems to me that it was made from a sincere place.