Israel.  Clearly.  How can a person alive to-day not be distracted by the nonsense?  My question though, is, when was the last time we heard talk about solutions?  These days the talk is about whether one can criticize Israel and not be anti-semitic.  The answer is yes, but that question then turns everything into an episode of Seinfeld.  Only a Jew can criticize Israel, and even then they tend to become self-loathing.  The Right has again taken away the discussion and turned it into something unproductive.

To-day was cold, everywhere I went was cold.  The Swede’s place was too cold for morning fun.  The gym was too cold to worry about being surrounded by yoga girls (maybe I’m just sensitive because I have a small mat).  The Tin Fish was too cold to ignore the insipid kid and his whiny dad.  My place was too cold to think about the yoga girls.  Now I am at a chain sports bar for some cold sports, Stanley Cup finals, and am finally comfortable.  In a national chain.  *sigh*

The waitress just asked if I wanted some food.  “Maybe after I sober up.”  She looked at my just-delivered beer and laughed.  Little cutie with a red-dyed mop on her head always laughs at my jokes.

I read a Lester Bangs review of Bob Dylan’s Desire.  Holy shit!  It was tight and, oh, so, devastating.  I only wish I had the ability to be so mean.  So, here goes:

I notice there has been no response from The Wooden Pickle about the cover wars.  He said it was on.  What a cock-tease.  An articulation of the above Bangs’ piece and my calling him out:

“[Buttercup] doesn’t give a damn about [music], and if he spent any more than ten minutes actually working on the composition of [It’s ON: Cover Song Battle] then Bryan Ferry is a member of the Eagles.”

“At length I concluded that any [post] whose principal utility lay in such an emotional twilight zone was at worst an instrument of self-abuse, at best innocuous as a crying towel, and certainly was not going to make me a better person or teach me anything about women, myself, or anything else but how painfully confused [Buttercup] seemed to be.”

Stay Warm,


Bangs, Lester.  (1976, March 8).  Bob Dylan’s dalliance with mafia chic: He ain’t no delinquent, he’s misunderstood.  The Village Voice.

The Kid, or maybe Santa (who knows which alternate personality is ever actually posting), over at (let’s just say this post was authored by…Buttercup) has decided that my posting of covers was a challenge.  It wasn’t but I am down for it.  Recap: I had posted covers here of a Talking Heads tune and also a Lady Gaga tune.   Buttercup errs a couple of times.

Buttercup dismisses the power of Lissie’s cover because it is of a Lady Gaga tune.  This is not a good argument and I will defend Lady Gaga.  But the real power is in Lissie and not Lady Gaga.

Buttercup then challenges me with a cover of a Britney Spears tune.  This is inconsistent with the previous dismissal.  Plus, I will hold Lady Gaga above Britney anytime, if the contest is about music or affective ability.  Gaga went to Juliard and is an accomplished music writer.  Britney did a decent job, I guess, as a Mouseketeer.

Buttercup throws down the gauntlet not realizing what the weapon of choice is: additive value to the original.

My response, my cover of Buttercup’s post.  Yael’s version of “Toxic” is great.  I prefer to listen to the Lissie track, but not by much.  What do the tracks add to the originals?  That contest is probably a wash, you can track the tie even by the moves of the songs independent of their originals.  Buttercup then posts a remix of Yael’s cover.  This track is better than the original, but also unrecognizable as derivative of “Toxic”.  It’s so far removed I wonder if it even counts as a cover anymore.

Here’s my trump card.  I will not even discuss Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” as that would quickly close off the debate and I am looking forward to Buttercup’s response.  Here are my two entries in the covers contest.  Both are great songs on their own AND they both add significantly to the originals.

“Faith” by Limp Bizkit.  The sound is not as good as it is on the album, but you’ll get the idea.

“Blue Monday” by Orgy.

Suck on that Buttercup.

Check out Kyp Malone’s cover of The Talking Heads’ “This Must Be the Place”.  While at it, check out his band’s, TV on the Radio, ouvre.  They’re sweet.

While on the topic of sweet covers, check out this one.  It’s really striking and a nice addition to the original.  Where Malone’s cover above is a nice rendering, it doesn’t seem to add much.  Lissie, however.  The last time I heard a cover and felt something like this was when I heard Limp Bizkit – sigh – do their version of “Faith”.  I am looking for a link to post.

Beghtol, LD.  (2006).  69 Love Songs. NY: Continuum.

Bowden, Mark, ed.  (2007).  The best American crime writing, 2006.  NY: Houghton Mifflin.

Bunyan, John.  (1678).  The Pilgrim’s Progress. NY: Penguin Classics.

Eagleton, Terry.  (1983).  Literary theory.  Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Kois, Dan.  (2010).  Facing Future.  NY: continuum.

Sisario, Ben.  (2006).  Doolittle.  NY: continuum.

Stegner, Wallace.  (1950).  Joe Hill: A biographical novel. NY: Penguin Books.

Terry, Randall A.  (2008).  A humble plea: To bishops, clergy and laymen: Ending the abortion holocaust. Washginton, D.C.: Insurrecta Nex.

The Rumpus book club.

Vida, Vendela, ed.  (2007).  The Believer book of writers talking to writers. San Fransisco: Believer Books.

I am a sucker for the 33 1/3 series.  Each book is about a famous album and as far as I have been exposed each book is great.  Sisario writes about the famous album full of body counts by The Pixies, one of my favorite bands ever.  Kois writes about that song, a staple to weddings and Rom-Coms: Israel Kamakawiwo’s medley of “Over the Rainbow” and “What a Wonderful World”.  I bought them new becuase the books are so hard to find.  Even more difficult to find at a used book store.  In fact, it is this very series that has me contemplating the switch to an ereader.  I can have nearly any book, nearly instantaneously and for less than the cost of an actual book.  I also resent the amount of stuff I own, and an ereader can help cut it.  But, of anything to have as clutter, I do think books are acceptable.  Note the large libraries of smart people whom I respect.  Admittedly they are from a different time.  The library is an anachronism I cannot shake.  Reminds me of the scene in Good Will Hunting (Gus Van Sant: Finding Forrester) , when Will (Matt Damon: Ocean’s Eleven)is scrutinizing the library of Sean Maguire (Robin Williams: Jumanji).

At the end of April I was in a wedding in Charlotte, and it was easily the best wedding I have ever been to.  I was in one the next weekend and that wedding was ruined by the Charlotte one.  Of course, the Indian (dot, not feather) colors and traditins helped to spoil it, but the dancing and the music is what put it over the top.  Notably, the Kamakawiwo song was not played.  The occasional Indian pop music helped, but it was the absence of the traditional that was really telling.

Am I spendng enough to justify a B&N membership?  I don’t think so.  But, I am unsure enough that I should begin tracking.  Of course, then I will become aware of the horror that is the amount I spend at B&N.  Ugh, to save or to live in blissful ignorance?

One of the few magazines I read dutifully, even though I subscribe dutifully to many more, is The Believer.  I think Tin House might better suit my interests, but The Believer carries a monthly column by Greil Marcus.  In any case, the reason Tin House might be a better match than The Believer is because of its focus on writing.  This book by Believer Books seems to cater specifically to me.  Even though I read these interviews in their initial publications.  But they are great to revisit, not only because I forget things but because they are the epitome of how a rereading is a different reading altogether.  And… The Believer is where I first discovered the Nick Hornby series I have modelled this post after.

Wallace Stegner is a stud.  Good writer too.  Joe Hill was an important labor organizer.  Stud too.  All of this despite my IWW affiliations.

The Beghtol books is another in the 33 1/3 series.  This time the album is 69 Love Songs by The Magnetic Fields.  Ursa raved about this album.  The critics at Slate’s Cultural Gabfest rave about it.  I hear people on the street talk about in intimate terms unfamiliar to an album.  It’s a great album.  Here’s hoping this book serves it well.

John Bunyan.  I thought I was going to read about Minnesota and how its lakes were made.  Was Mille Lacs made by Babe’s hoof or by Paul Bunyan scooping it out with a spoon.  But… John Bunyan is not Paul Bunyan.  Sadly.  It’s an old, important, and oft-cited book.  I’ve never read it.  It was only $2.  It’ll look good on my shelf.  Which is the reason, I am ashamed to admit, that I have not yet bought an ereader.

My addictions are not just for Verso books and 33 1/3 books.  I also love The Best American [Crime, Science, Mystery, etc…] Writing series.  Bowden’s Black Hawk Down was so magnificent that this entry into the series has to be good.

Terry.  I found it on an airplane.  Sometimes I need a good laugh.  Sometimes I need to inflict some pain.  Most of all, I am curious about theology.  I am also curious about hearing the other side’s argument.

Terry Eagleton’s book has constantly been on my list of books I need.  I need to read it because of its importance.  I also need it to hunt down footnotes.  This was one of the books that was leading the charge for an ereader, so I could constantly have it on my person.  I folded.   The anniversary edition is just too damned pretty.  And I have so much time on my hands right now that I am delusional, thinking I can actually make it through this.  Through all of these books actually, this has probably been my most active month of book acquisition.  And I am moving.  I don’t have the space for all the books.  Sigh.

I am convinced the best Story is the love from afar.  Here is a recent entry (a good entry even in a nearly-impossible-to-fail genre):

Molly Auerbach’s “The Shiksa

Of course, the nose is not actually happening.  It is the fantast-ic frame which is really what the genre is about: exposing our insecurities or our confidences.  Usually this genre occupies a song form: Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amore”, natch, and Coldplay’s “Shiver” are the genre par examplance.

Blogging is also the genre put into another form.  Which is why I love it so.  This insight (yes, a confidence) helps complete Jodi Dean’s recent incompleteness.

More to follow to-morrow are as I discuss Mel Gibson’s latest, Edge of Darkness, and the Fear of Death.


For something a little more light-hearted:

“Making a Beatles record…requires more than the presence of individual Beatles voices; it requires the potential for at least three-part harmony; it requires Paul’s bass and piano style; it requires George’s lead-guitar style, it requires unusual guitar harmony between George, John and Paul and the peculiar drumming style of Ringo; it requires John tempered by Paul, and Paul darkened by John; all of them spiritualized by George; all of them lightened up by Ringo; all of the excited by Paul; all of them made wary by John.”  Michael Boyce, letter to the editor.  The Believer Magazine, October 09.

But not too light-hearted.  Here we have a new (new?  new to me) method to study music.  In any case, it is well written and beyond my abilities to either confirm or deny.

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Homeless issued the response to Asher Roth’s hit “I Love College.”  Until the last minute of the video I was fairly down with it.  of course Asher Roth’s anthem is about being reckless, treating college as just a party and wasting what is a great oporttunity with a hefty financial cost.  However, the melodrama of Homeless’ words made me want to hit the stop button.

I wondered how much of Homeless’ rant was because Asher Roth is suburban and white, especially since he raps about the same stuff that much hip-hop does.  Asher just locates the drink and women in college instead of on the street.

And then homeless turns Asher Roth into an example fo hip-hop’s failings.  There is still the tinge of melodrama and the reduction of art into too-much-significance but I do like what he does at the end of the song.  There is a place for play and recklessness, but Homeless is troubled that hip-hop has become mostly a place for recklessness and play and lost sight of larger struggles that need to be fought.

As a tune I did enjoy it although I don’t know it’s something to which I can bee-bop down the street.  Yes, I said bee-bop.

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