Burned By The Sun........

Music. Life. Los Angeles.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

My Most Recent Attempt at Literacy
I didn't post on Friday, like I was supposed to, because I started reading a section of Chronicles, Dylan's autobiography, and before I knew it it was Saturday. It's a great read so far, I know a bunch of reviewers are pissed off that he doesn't talk about the motorcycle accident, but think about it, if you were Dylan, would you discuss the motorcycle accident? Not if you were smart, because it's good to keep at least a few secrets. Think about what a bummer it would be if after these autobiographies were finished (I think there are supposed to be three volumes) we understood and knew everything about Bob Dylan.

So with that said, I love the book so far. One of the things I've always liked about Dylan's lyrics is that he can seem to find those tiny details that tell the whole story. And he does that a lot here. He even remembers songs he liked at the time ( tell you what, you can just hear Hank Williams' "Lost Highway" and Leadbelly's "Ella Speed" (though Dylan mentioned a jazz version of the song) for yourself) and with the few details he gives about the people he knew at the time you can picture them in your head. Yes, he skips around a lot and sometimes goes off on tangents, but I think that's a good thing, because who, when they're talking to someone and can't revise what they're saying, doesn't go off on tangents? This give the book the effect of a series of fascinating photographs, rather than an episode of A&E Biography.

Plus, there's some interesting trivia. For example, he describes how during one visit with Woody Guthrie, Guthrie mentioned a box full of lyrics in the basement of his Coney Island home, and said Dylan was welcome to them. So Dylan sets out on a freezing cold day, decides to take a shortcut he sees and realizes he's walking through a swamp, he's in water up to his knees, but keeps going. He finally gets to the house and Guthrie's wife isn't home to locate the lyrics. Dylan stays only long enough for his legs to thaw and then leaves. Most Billy Bragg and Wilco fans will know where this is going, as those lyrics, 40 years later, became the Mermaid Avenue albums. Dylan points out that "these performers probably weren't even born when I had made that trip to Brooklyn." It's interesting to think what might have happened if Dylan had gotten to those lyrics first.

Insert Clever Joke About Fish Here
A couple weeks ago, I caught the Fiery Furnaces at the Echo. I had heard a couple of their songs, and I really wasn't that impressed with them, but after my friend assured me that they're great live and offered to drive me home afterwards (In 2 and a half years of living here, I have never successfully caught a bus back from Echo Park late at night. Bad things always happen), I figured, "Why not?"

I'm so glad I went! Even though for most of the show I was getting smacked in the face with a stupid fish.

Allow me to explain. This girl had brought what I think was supposed to be a trout pillow. It was drawn to look like a trout, but I imagine its use as a pillow decoration that rednecks would use to decorate a camper. This girl would hold it up in the air to pretend it was swimming (thus obscuring my view), and hold it by the tail and swing it around, which invariably resulted in my friend and I getting hit in the face with a (fake) fish. A lot.

Oh, that's not all. It gets worse.

In remembering to take the fish, the girl must have forgotten to apply deodorant. She reeked of B.O. And she kept bouncing around and bumping into me. Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those assholes at shows who gets all mad if people dance and, god forbid!, occaisonally bump into them, but usually those dancing folk don't make me nauseous.

So now, whenever I think of the Fiery Furnaces, I'm going to think of some smelly girl waving a stupid fish around.

Well, that's not all I'll remember. I'll also remember their singer's unique, sometimes rapid-fire vocal phrasings, the crazy keyboard sounds, and the fact that I've never heard anything quite like this band. At times, I thought "this song would be good video game or cartoon music" and then I remembered that character Yoshi (you know, that little dinosaur guy who hatched from the polka-dotted egg?) from those Super Nintendo games I had as a kid. Some songs reminded me of weird, colorful stuff from my childhood (but then again, I only remember small phrases or words of lyrics like, "I lost my dog, but now he's found", something about beanie babies, and something about a "tropical icy land"). If I wasn't about to pass out (see above) and if I actually knew how, I would have danced.

Even the opening act, the Rogers Sisters, was really good. I think the LA Weekly described them as a 'No-Wave' band, and compared their singers' call and response bit to the B-52s. That's a pretty good description. They also have a saxophone player. It was just an energetic, fun set.

- I saw the director's cut of Donnie Darko, which is a really good movie and I don't understand why I hadn't heard more about it (but then again, I'm no film buff). I can't compare it to the original though, because I never saw the original. From what I've read on the internet, the director's cut has excerpts from the time travel book onscreen, to illuminate what's going on in the film and a few extra scenes, one of which I really liked. But, unless you're one of those people like my mom who HATES movies that don't have a clear and easy-to-understand ending, I'd highly recommend seeing Donnie Darko, in whatever version. Don't let the imdb plot descriptions (yeah, believe me, I thought "What the hell?" too) scare you off.

- Hell, since I'm recommending stuff, I also recommend checking out the TV show Black Books. It seems that I am the only person in North America who has heard of this (British) show, which Comedy Central used to air Sundays at midnight a few years ago. It's a show about an alcoholic, chain-smoking misanthrope named Bernard Black who runs a bookstore, yet hates people, and his friends Manny (who is Bernard's assistant) and Fran (who, in the first season, runs a cheery trinket shop next door). The show is mostly bizarre, surreal humor, with quotes like, "I ate your bees!" and (on the subject of Manny's beard) "Yes, you should wash it, and shave it, attach it to a frisbee and throw it over a rainbow!" and "Up with this I will not put!" The best American television show is Mystery Science Theater 3000 (a show about a man and two robots, all of whom are pop culture junkies, heckling the worst movies ever made), the genius of which I do not have the time to go into right now. Because it's so brilliant. And hilarious.

News Type Stuff

-Some very sad news. If you haven't already heard, John Peel died. He worked as a broadcaster for like 40 years, and it seems like most people who've been in the business that long complain that music isn't what it used to be. But instead of falling prey to nostalgia, decade after decade he was the first to champion the best new bands, all the way up until his death. Which is pretty admirable. Also, the Guardian has an old article where he talks about his record collection. The music world would probably be a better place if every DJ spent six to eight hours a day listening to music and owned 25,776 LPs.

-The Guardian talks to Iggy Pop. And, interestingly, he wants to record, release, and tour a new Stooges album before he turns 60. So he has, like, three years.

-Okay, so first it was the band's fault, then a track of pre-recorded percussion was accidentally replaced with a vocal, and now it was a guide vocal because of acid reflux or something. Why not just come clean in the first place? Anyway, this will likely have no effect whatsoever on Ashlee Simpson's career, because the little kids who buy her records simply do not care (if you're looking for the video, check one other website. Any website. Every website in the world has a link. Except for mine).

-Further proof buying albums on import (when you know they'll eventually come out in the US) is a bad idea: Epic is re-releasing Franz Ferdinand's debut with a bunch of B-sides and other songs you can easily find on the internet.

-It'll sure beat freezing your ass off in Times Square: Wilco, the Flaming Lips, and Sleater-Kinney are doing a New Year's Eve show at Madison Square Garden. There's an internet presale on Nov. 1 and the general onsale date is Nov. 5.

Friday, October 15, 2004

News and Stuff

- Like I said, every album in the world will eventually be expanded, remastered and re-released. This time it's Nine Inch Nails' The Downward Spiral. More info on that and a few more details about the Nirvana box set here.

- The NME had a bunch of news today: A screenplay written by Nick Cave is being turned into a movie featuring some actors even I've heard of (I don't see very many movies). The White Stripes are being sued by Jim Diamond, the guy who co-produced their first album. Finally, Pete Libertine announced that he's going to do a Christmas single with Carl, even if he has to kidnap him. We'll see.

-I love the Guardian! Just look at all this stuff: Bobby Gillespie on Primal Scream's decision to do a benefit for Palestine, a ton of music and movie trivia (apparently Elton John picks up three copies of all the major record releases the day they come out, lucky bastard), an examination of band t-shirts, and a history of the guy who invented the theramin (the weird noise you hear in "Good Vibrations").

- The LA Weekly has an interesting article about Elliott Smith.

Recollections of a Zoo and Tips on How to Protest (that I think make sense)
or: how many people can I piss off with this post?

So, Michael Moore came to my school to give a speech yesterday, thus turning the quad area into a zoo. It was pretty entertaining. Some highlights:

- There was a musical guest: Tom Morello. For those who are new to the site, Rage Against the Machine was pretty much my favorite band in the entire world until they broke up in 2000. And no, I do not like Audioslave. So, I was a little nervous at first to see him perform. It's already a little weird to see your guitar hero (known for making his electric guitar sound like anything but a guitar) playing acoustic. But more importantly, "What if he sucks?" I wondered. I kind of thought, "Uh oh." during the first song, but the next two were okay. He has pretty cool voice, and the lyrics of the songs aren't bad. The songs are pretty much acoustic folk/protest songs (with some harmonica). If he was playing at a coffeehouse (which is pretty much the only place that has acoustic folk/protest singers) you would think, "Hey, this guy is pretty good." Which brings me to my next point. They should just kick Chris Cornell out of Audioslave (c'mon, he is SO overrated) and Tom can sing and write the lyrics. It would probably be better.

- Some of you might be wondering what Michael Moore said. Well, just imagine what you think he'd say, and you won't be far off. I'll just share my favorite bit of the speech. He was talking about how his next documentary is going to be about the health care industry, HMOs, and pharmaceutical companies. Apparently Pfitzer (I think it was Pfitzer) got wind of this, and they sent out a memo to their employees about what to do if Michael Moore shows up. A couple of disgruntled employees sent him the memo, which he read to the audience (apparently they don't know if his documentary is going to be pro or con). But best of all, they set up a hotline for the employees to call if he shows up. He gave us the number (212-573-1226) and told us to call the next day and say, "Nooo! He's HERE! HELP! I shut off all the lights and I'm hiding under my desk but he just won't go away!..." He continued in that vein (basically panicking the same way you'd panic if a velociraptor was trying to break in to your office). Everyone was cracking up.

- I wouldn't really call this a highlight, but it needs to be said: Man, those conservatives need to learn how to protest. There was a small but very noisy group of conservative protesters at the speech, and they were the most pathetic group of protesters I've ever seen in my entire life. Someone needs to tell them that the same techniques that might work when harassing women at an abortion clinic (bellowing, swearing at people, and trying to intimidate them) don't really work very well at a political rally where the vast majority are liberals, who will not be scared of a relatively miniscule group of conservatives. So, here are some pointers for prospective protesters (of any political persuasion):

- Come up with a catchy slogan to chant. "Four more years" isn't very catchy. Neither is "bullshit" or "you suck!" It's helpful if you can come up with chants that rhyme, such as the "Hell no! We won't go!" or "Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?" of the Vietnam war era. It's even better if you can come up with something that gives us some kind of information. Simply yelling "bullshit" doesn't really tell us anything. Is the particular thing the speaker just said bullshit, or does the 'bullshit' apply to something else? And besides, nobody is going to think, "Hey, that crazy bastard over there says this is bullshit! If he's saying it is, he must be pretty sure about it. Therefore he must be right. Liberals are a bunch of liars so I'm going to vote for Bush."

- There are certain times when it is simply inappropriate to boo. Like when a choked up relative of a fallen soldier is relating their painful ordeal to the audience. I dunno, it just seems like common decency to shut the fuck up at a time like that. You'll have plenty of time to boo and shout when the person is finished.

- This is the important one: I'd like to go back to the concept of "information". Those protesters last night just seemed like a bunch of drunk and disgruntled frat boys. Yes, I am biased, being a lefty and all, but still. They booed and bellowed and cussed the whole time, and the only things I saw on their signs was "No MOORE lies!" and "Tuition $ 4 Lies!" Okay, you're calling Michael Moore a liar. You're entitled to do that. But why don't you explain WHY he's a liar? Why not have signs that point out specific lies he's told, or perhaps hand out fliers to the crowd that list the facts (with sources)? I'd read it. I'm not stupid enough to think that Michael Moore is incapable of lying, but why should I think he's a liar when nobody can point out specific incidents to me? Why the hell should I believe the conservatives? And to be fair and pick on the other side of the spectrum, another protesting "don't" is those morons who throw red paint on people wearing fur or leather jackets (though I'm not sure people do this anymore). You are not winning anyone over. They're just going to have to go and buy another coat to replace the one you ruined. The point is: If you're going to tell people not to believe someone or something, you need to back that up and give them a reason to believe you. If you can prove to people that you've actually THOUGHT INTELLIGENTLY about what you're protesting, and you act like a sane and rational person and try to be just a little diplomatic, you have a much better chance of someone taking you seriously.

That may not be a comprehensive list, but I think those are helpful pointers.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

-Man, it must be fun to be rich, famous, and out of your fucking mind. Well, that's the first thing I thought of when I saw the headline, "Michael Jackson Asks Stations to Stop Airing Eminem Video." Seriously, how insane is that? I want to be in a position where I can call TV stations and ask them to remove a video by the most popular artist in the world because he makes fun of me, and be delusional enough to think they'll listen. Amazingly, BET pulled the video, saying "...we feel it is inappropriate to use our network to air a video disparaging Michael's character, or that of any other celebrity." Huh? If TV networks pulled everything that 'disparages' celebrities, there would be no television programming left.

-I hope this pans out: some members of Franz Ferdinand may end up playing band members of the Ugly Sisters (that's what the article says, although I could have sworn the band was called the Weird Sisters in the book) in the next Harry Potter film. If I'm not mistaken, in that particular Harry Potter book there's a school dance, and the popular (in the wizarding world) band The Weird Sisters play at it. Franz Ferdinand have also been asked to write music for the movie. So this is probably going to be pretty cool.

-Hmm, I should get to posting a new mp3 for this week. Since I've been reading a lot of ghost stories and folktales, I think I'll post the song "Down on the Banks of the Ohio". In my opinion, this creepy little ballad about a guy who kills his girlfriend is the standout track on the fourth installment of those Harry Smith anthologies. It seems I am not the only one to think so, as the song has been covered by Beck (at a Harry Smith tribute show), Johnny Cash, and...Olivia Newton John. Actually, this song has been covered a bunch of times, but I think the Blue Sky Boys' rendition is still the best because it seems more haunting and timeless. Also, upon hearing this song for the first time, I couldn't help but think of the fuss that is being made about violence in music today. This song is proof that violence has always been a topic in music (I think this version was made in the 30s, I don't have the liner notes here, but the song was probably around before then).

Friday, October 08, 2004

News In Review

- Nirvana Box Set update: It's going to be called With The Lights Out, it'll have three discs and a dvd, it'll be released on November 23, and it'll set you back $59.98 (according to Amazon).

- 2004 really is the year of the reunion: The Raspberries are going to do a reunion show at the House of Blues in Cleveland, with plans to make a DVD out of it.

- Eventually, every album in the world will be rereleased and expanded into a double disc set. Next up: The Cure's Three Imaginary Boys

- The Guardian has an article about the legendary Stones bootleg documentary Cocksucker Blues

- VH1 has an article about what the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are currently up to.

- The movie DiG! is really good. I'd recommend it even if you aren't a fan of the Dandy Warhols or the Brian Jonestown Massacre.

- For Angelenos, Muse is playing at the Wiltern on December 9, and the LA Weekly has their best of LA issue up.

Waking Up on the Wrong Side of Middle School, and other weird crap
-- It's been a scary week at my school. On Wednesday, in the middle of the day, in the middle of the freakin' campus, some girl's purse got stolen. When she ran after the thief, the woman pulled a fucking kitchen knife on her. People get held up at gun or knifepoint fairly often around here, but not in the middle of campus at 3 in the afternoon!

And then on Thursday, Hanson dropped by to play a surprise set. And to champion independent music. Taylor delivered a speech about how we need to call radio program managers and MTV so our tastes are represented.

"This is pretty funny coming from the people who wrote the worst song of all time," one girl remarked. It's even funnier when you remember that it was MTV and radio that foisted the damn song on us anyway.

Other audience reactions were similar ("This is the funniest thing ever!" and "Whoa, I just woke up on the wrong side of middle school..." being just a sample); it's clear that Hanson will not be forgiven for "Mmmbop" anytime soon.

And lastly, why would I want bands I like to be played on MTV? Most of the time, you'll notice that a popular MTV band has a much ruder and more obnoxious audience than a non-MTV band. And tickets are more expensive and sell out faster! Why the hell would I want to deal with that?

Plus, just because something is more popular now doesn't mean it's going to be remembered. For example, look at this chart of the top 100 songs from 1972. Okay, now, who knows the song "Me and Bobby McGee" by Janis Joplin? I do, and I'm sure most of you do. Now, who knows "Go Away Little Girl" by Donny Osmond? I know I don't... Yet the Osmond tune is number 7 on the chart, while Joplin is 13. If you look further down the list, you'll find "Imagine" at 62, and Ike and Tina Turner's "Proud Mary" at 64, while some song I've never heard of, "Groove Me" is at 19. I think most true music fans don't concern themselves with the terrible state of radio, because, hey, they're not dependent on it to find music. And why be worried our generation is going to be remembered for bad music taste? I think that, over time, the cream will rise to the top. It's more about the music that endures...and the bands that those who are passionate about music immortalize by writing books and articles about them.

-- Now for something completely different. I've become re-obsessed with ghost stories, and so I found my way over to this ghost photos page. And it cracked me up. Did you know that stuff like this and this constitute "potentialy paranormal" [sic] pictures?

I thought, "Well, shit! I've got tons of those." If those little blurs (or 'orbs', as they are called) represent ghosts or spirit energies, then I have proof that some LA venues are haunted, and that the ghosts like to rock out onstage. The Troubadour is a little haunted (I just have one picture of a single orb trying to duet with Carl from the Libertines). The Henry Fonda is a little more haunted (with four orbs onstage with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs). And the El Rey is insane (with, like, 20 orbs in a picture I have of the Raveonettes). Sadly, I don't have any of these particular pictures online, because I always thought the presence of strange blurs was simply bad photography.

-- Speaking of the Libertines, Saturday's show was enjoyable, it seemed to me to sound better and was more laid back that the Troubdour show, but maybe I just thought that because I wasn't getting my ass kicked. Also, I noticed something that I found somewhat amusing.

Back in August, I picked up a shirt. It says "The Libertines" across the top, then it has a picture of all four band members, and beneath that, the words "Fuck 'em". On Saturday, they had a different shirt onsale. But it didn't have the band name. Or all four band members on it. It just said "Fuck 'em" and to the left of that there was a HUGE picture of Carl. Just Carl. Interpret as you will.

Friday, October 01, 2004

News In Review:

-"After a while you learn that privacy is something you can sell, but you can't buy it back."

Newsweek has an interview with Bob Dylan, as well as an excerpt from his new book. Based on what's here, the books should be a pretty good read.

-"I've never fallen under a category. I fell underneath a car once, and I haven't been the same since."

The Guardian talks to Tom Waits.

- The Pixies probably won't be making a new album anytime soon (unless, according to Frank Black, they can get Diane Warren to write them some songs), but they recorded a cover of Warren Zevon's "Ain't That Pretty At All" for a tribute album.

- DFA has signed a deal with EMI.

- The new Weezer album should be finished when Rivers gets out of school.

- The Dandy Warhols/Brian Jonestown Massacre documentary DiG is playing at the Nuart this week. People I know who've seen it say it's brilliant, so I'm definitely going to try to check it out.

- And the shows just keep coming (is it just me, or is this an unusually busy fall?): The Hives are going to be at the Wiltern on December 10 (I highly, highly recommend this one). And Courtney Love is going to be at the Wiltern on Devil's Night (aka the night before Halloween). And for all you big spenders, Morrissey is going to be at the Universal Amphitheatre on Nov 11 and 12.

On more personal matters...

Who knew that school was actually supposed to entail work? Certainly not me, based on my first two years here. I just don't have the time to obsess over this site like I did last year. But I'd still like to try to maintain some level of consistency, so I'm going to say that there will be a post every Friday at least. If I feel like it, or I see something really important that has to be mentioned, I'll post on some other days. And now,

Stupid Story of the Week (or: Attack of the Killer Limos):

This actually begins back when I was living in Michigan a few years ago. My friend Sarah and I were walking around Ann Arbor when all of a sudden, this white limo started following us. When it turned the corner behind us, we thought we had seen the last of it. But we were wrong. A few minutes later, it arrived at an intersection at the same time we did. And then, instead of following us, it kept meeting us everywhere we went. We were afraid.

Then, after that, everywhere I went, I was followed by white limos. Now, mind you, I lived in a hick town halfway between Detroit and Flint (and 30 miles from Hell, but that's another story...). There was NO REASON for limos to be anywhere in the area! But still, the amount of white limos got to be pretty ridiculous, to the point that I started making jokes about a conspiracy (I think it involved the Shutter Shop. The Shutter Shop is very...renowned among Milford residents).

Then I moved to LA. You would think the number of limos I encountered would increase exponentially. And you would be wrong. I hardly saw any limos at all. In Los Angeles. A city full of rich people. I thought perhaps the limo stalking days were over.

I should have known better.

A few weeks ago, I was walking around Hollywood (Amoeba, Borders, Rite Aid to get some pictures developed, my typical Saturday night) and then, limos. Only about five or so, but enough that I started to think, "Oh no! They've found me!"

And now, the coup de grace: today I was walking to a bus stop, listening to my headphones when a black limo slows down and the driver yells at me, "Your limo is here!"

What the fuck?

I pretended I didn't hear and kept right on walking. The limo pulled over to the curb in front of me. "Your limo is here!" the driver yelled again. So this time I intelligently responded.

"Uhh...I didn't order a limo."

He asked where I was headed, and I told him downtown. He said he was going straight down the street, and asked if I wanted a lift. I told him I was practically at my bus stop, but thanks. And he just said,

"Fine! Be that way!" (a retort I haven't heard since the mid-90s)

And he started to drive off, but then paused to tell me, "Hey, I'm just joking around. It's Friday." I just smiled and laughed nervously and he drove off. Then I wondered why the guy didn't offer the old man who was limping along 20 feet in front of me a ride.

So I'm pretty sure now that limos are out to get me. "But Karen," you say, "it was a black limo, not a white limo."

This is true. However, I think "they" (whoever the hell "they" are) know that I would have ran away screaming had a white limo pulled up alongside me. This just goes to show I must now beware of all limos.

So if there's no post next Friday, you know who's responsible. Or at least what they were driving.

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