Small World

Good read over at Pere Lebrun.

The world he describes reminds me of something small yet somehow pertinent that I deal with every day. At work, I read email constantly. It is the preferred method of communication even amongst people who sit next to each other physically. With this much email, a "house style" has developed, and the most infuriating aspect of it is that, in an otherwise fully-typed email, the only words ever abbreviated are "please", aka "plz" and "thanks", aka "thx". Those are usually the only "nice" words in an email, so the fact that they are the ones abbreviated seems suggestive of the lack of real interest in or concern for other human beings.

So... please read the essay I linked to.

Thank You.


The Other Kind of B & B

I guess I have some readers and I am guessing some of you are here in New York so I am just going to throw this out there.

In general, I'm not looking to whine. I just want the world to be a better place.

And what would make my world a better place (dis-including the death of capitalism, the end of complacent bourgeois culture and having an apartment large enough for a cat to be happy in) is simple: a place I could go after work to get a good burger and two beers and not be fucking annoyed before, during or afterwards.

Given the expanse of Brooklyn, and the constant proliferation of "authentic" neighborhood bars, you would think that this would be an easy thing to find. But no, of course not.

What are the criteria?

1. The place should be on the 2/3/4/5 or A, C lines in Brooklyn not East of the Nostrand A/C stop.

2. The place should be usually not too full but not empty either. There should be two seats at the bar.

3. The clientele should not be too tilted towards any type of social group, including mine, whatever the fuck that is (seriously, I don't know).

4. The bar should offer a good, correctly-cooked burger that doesn't take itself too seriously.

5. The bar should have a few above average beers. At least Yuengling or Brooklyn Lager. Better and/or more esoteric beers are welcome but optional (I don't need an Orval or an Ayinger or anything like that with my burger).

6. Two beers and a burger with a generous tip should be less than $25. Less than $20 would be even better.

7. I should not have to order my fries separately.

Applebee's meets all of the above criteria. I don't want to go to Applebee's. But I am starting to think about it. Because I can name at least twenty well-reviewed places that can't even meet these basic standards, standards that are met all over the country every day. But, seemingly, not in Brooklyn.

Your ideas?

Don't say Dutch Boy, Franklin Park, Soda, Cornelius, Woodwork, Plan B, or any place in DUMBO. I have yet to explore the region between the Atlantic Ave subway complex and Grand Army Plaza (basically, Flatbush Avenue). Maybe there is something behind Atlantic towards Ft. Greene but not too far from the subway?


PS Anyone have any klew as to why there is so much space between paragraphs? I can't seem to fix. Thanks again.


Tolstoy on 21st century music...

... and its "critics"....

...from Anna Karenin:
He had a talent for understanding art and probably, with his gift for copying, he imagined he possessed the creative powers essential for an artist. After hesitating for some time which style of painting to take up - religious, historical, genre, or realistic - he set to work. He appreciated all the different styles and could find inspiration in any of them, but he could not conceive that it was possible to be ignorant of the different schools of painting and to be inspired directly by what is within the soul, regardless of whether what is painted will belong to any recognized school. Since he did not know this, and drew his inspiration not directly from life but indirectly form other painters' interpretations of life, he found inspiration very readily and easily; and equally readily and easily produced painting very similar to the particular style he was trying to imitate.

The graceful and effective French school appealed to him more than any other, and in that manner he began painting a portrait of Anna in Italian costume, and he and everyone who saw it considered the portrait a great success.


Mor(e)on Malaise

Since 1999? Uh-oH!

Hydrogen Hitz

What's most curious to me is the way these problems continue to feed on themselves. All the people reacting to the "fakery" of Beatport-b(r)(l)and-techno who have just bought themselves a few old synths towards doing something more "authentic" have already created their own overpopulated genre of Theo/Moodymann/Ron Trent-inspired deep house that is just as boring in its own way as yet another Mike Dehnert release. Where do all of these people come from, and what lies behind their compulsion to make music? The music itself sure doesn't explain anything.

Given the fairly accurate progression of events that Goldmann lays out, one would imagine that there would actually be less music out there as opportunists would be turned off by the low rate of return. But no. The less money there is, the more people are into it! I can't imagine that they are all pure in their motivation.

I think the most important part of what Goldmann wrote about is how it's not only artists who are suffering from the lack of income and the lack of having the possibility to really develop their talents (that has to be a major reason music sucks now - it takes, what, 10,000 hours to become expert at something - that's almost 5 years with 40 hours a week of work), but also distributors, record store owners, critics, etc. Some may describe these people as parasites. I disagree. But even if I did agree with that sentiment, I would still find them valuable for one reason: they are people who want to be part of the music scene who are, bless them, usually not making tracks.

That't the whole catch of the DIY thing, isn't it? If you are trying to actually build some alternative form of society, than that society needs to be a complete one. Which is to say, there needs to be people to perform all the different functions that makes that society run. If there is no way to participate in this alternate society except as an artist, than everyone who wants to participate becomes an artist; one who completely lacks any meaningful infrastructure of support. I hate to use the word, but this is unsustainable.

And, at least for me, it negatively affects the music. I can't be objective. I am a nobody in my little scene. I buy records once a week and try to check new stuff out sporadically, and yet, still, I feel like everyone is up in my face, you know? So much self-promotion. Bands make no money but they make music videos. And there is no rest from it. I dislike the music because of it. My respite is listening to old records. Which only means that new artists have to try harder to reach me. And so the cycle continues...


I always feel like

Depeche Mode are really one of the most underrated bands of the 80s aren't they (and the 90s to a certain extent)? At least, I always feel that way when I go through an intense phase of listening to them nonstop, which happens more than a few times a year, and is happening now.

It's not like they weren't popular. It's not like they still aren't. But, perhaps like a heavy metal act (and, from what I understand, THE heavy metal act, Black Sabbath, at least for a while), any critical respect for them is fairly begrudging. Once a band has millions of fans, and a critic has been enlisted to write about them for a national paper, their article usually must contain some acknowledgement, usually a backhanded compliment, that, yes, people like them.

But even with their millions of fans and millions of albums sold, they still somehow feel like perennial underdogs to me. They don't fit the narrative of rock music, of course, nor hip hop, and their influence on electronic music was to inspire numerous people to pick up synths and make music that didn't sound like Depeche Mode. They've only been "repaid" by spawning countless bootleg remixes of their tracks.

They only get a page in Rip It Up and Start Again. Christgau hates them (of course). But Daniel Miller signed them. They worked with Gareth Jones, Flood and Francois Kevorkian* in the first decade of their career, and hired Anton Corbijn to do what I think is some of the best work of his music video career. The worst you could say about them is that many of the lyrics are too straightforward. On the other hand, the composition is excellent, the arranging, especially during Alan Wilder's years with the band, is excellent, the sound design is outstanding, and Music for the Masses and especially Violator are some of the best-engineered albums I know (admittedly it's easier when the instruments plug directly into the mixer). They brought (admittedly post-experimental-phase) OMD and Wire to play the Rose Bowl with them. Most laudable of all, perhaps, is how well they balanced integrity and success. Their records got darker and less tied to conventions of pop songwriting and they got more popular because of it. When does that happen?

Anyways, today's pick:

*really, this group along with Alan Moulder were a big part of a sort of "texture-focused" branch of the music narrative of the 80s and 90s that I think will eventually be looked upon as just as fertile as the line one could draw around and through the Velvet Underground, Roxy Music, Eno solo and as producer, David Bowie and Iggy Pop in the 1970s. I mean, check the discographies!


Now that I am empty of thought...

... I have created an email address for this damn blauwg.

I think it a damn fine one, too.

Check it out over yonder ->

Screen of Silence

Well yeah I don't know what to say. Said better!

I keep thinking I need a vacation and then I realize it wouldn't work because I would have to bring me along.



There is no last straw, is there? It's just a bit disingenuous to bitch, isn't it? At this point, I'm just entertained. What's next? Please elect a Republican, America. I prefer their hallucinations to Obama's inspid paternalistic hypocrisy.


Now THAT'S what I call a re-election campaign!

It's good to be incumbent, isn't it?

As for me, you can already guess at my reaction.

I long ago gave up any expectation that the judicial system would be involved in this process in any way, shape, or form, so that whole "it's not justice unless he is tried in criminal court" attitude belongs somewhere in a past that ended when Bush II won his second term.

I guess I could look down my nose and call the celebrations of some citizens "unseemly", not only because "yay death" is a bit gross, but also because, you know, we killed a lot of other people on the road to this latest killing. But meh.

I'm just curious as to exactly what excuses will be concocted to continue our policies in the Middle East, which I doubt will change at all. I can't wait for the inevitable "we must remain in Afghanistan/Pakistan/Yemen in order to aggressively defend ourselves against those who would want revenge for Bin Laden's death". You know it's coming.

Nice try. "When we lose the sadness part - when all we do is happily scream 'USA! USA! USA!' at news of yet more killing in a now unending back-and-forth war - it's a sign we may be inadvertently letting the monsters win." May? Inadvertently? Letting? Monsters? Oh, sir. Please. The bloodlust of the simple-minded is not a fucking Al Qaeda invention!

Also. Is it me, or is closure one of the worst words ever to enter the general lexicon? Why doesn't the death of Osama Bin Laden feel like that day when I paid off the last of my student loans?

The naivete of the mainstream liberal/Left world is really in stark evidence with those two posts. What halcyon place was America before 9/11? Clinton bombed people. Bush I bombed people. Reagan? Him, too! The gap between rich and poor has been growing for decades. Social services have been under attack for decades. It was only after 9/11 that it came to be seen as embarrassing to some to have voted for Nader in 2000. The same Nader who decried political corruption and the similar commitment to neo-liberal economic policy that was and is shared by both political parties. So what, exactly, are we trying to get back to? As far as I can tell, the desire is return to a time when illegal war didn't have the taint of ambiguity and doubt. Victory?


Track List

I played some records last night. That was the first time I have DJed publicly in five years, and the first time I have played out in New York City. I had, well, a decent time. I've played music, either as a DJ or as a drummer, off and on for probably about fifteen years now, and little has changed in terms of how I feel afterwards: empty. From the first time I played drums in a band in front of others all the way until tonight, I became and continue to be sympathetic to all the problems that many musicians have. What I mean to say is that I can't help but think that other musicians feel the same emptiness after a performance that I do. And so they do heroin or screw a girl or a few girls they don't care about. I don't do either, so my sympathy is pretty theoretical. Yet it exists.

DJing is not easy in that there is always the challenge of expectations. If you are in a band and play original music, there is a strong likelihood that whoever is coming to see you knows what type of music you will be playing. While this is true to a certain extent for DJs too, of course, the fact that, as a DJ, any piece of music that has ever been recorded is fair game for requests changes things a bit. For instance, I was guesting at a night that is pretty specifically devoted to house music and, for lack of a better term, black classics. So that is what I brought with me. Few of the people in the bar this past evening were there specifically to hear the kind of music that was played. So even though, from many standpoints, I DJed well, and played some pretty obvious records (instead of trying to hip people to Dutch acid techno), most of the people I played for were, at the very least, indifferent. So am I good DJ because I played my records well or a bad DJ because I didn't play the records most people wanted to hear? I don't know. There is no way to please everybody and, as I surveyed the crowd, it was hard for me to imagine most of them dancing for any reason other than having closed a particularly lucrative financial transaction.

Regardless, for your benefit, here is what I played:

A fun way to open the night.

Dig those fucking pianos. Genius. Seriously.

It was obvious at this point that anything I played would get no reaction.

Well, I was feeling it.

5. Projekt:PM "Take You Higher (Take No. 12)" (Can't find a sample of this one)
Well, I was getting higher. Note to young DJs: be wary of free alcohol.

The best Marc Kinchen impression in years.

7. Repair "Forgive and Forget (Richard Davis Remix)" (Can't find a sample of this one)
I allowed myself one "micro" record.

Bang it out... I probably played this at around +5!

It was advised that I should start playing something people know. So I did. I thought I was already playing popular records. But nobody was there for house music. Oh well.

I don't think this really makes sense thematically to play after the Madonna record. But It surely expressed how I felt at the time. Why do I like DJing again?

Another pop record. Another matter of indifference. Brilliant remix.

I was running out of pop music. When I played this I got compliments from both of the people who weren't DJing that night who actually liked house music. I guess the difference between DJing a bar is New York and in Washington, DC is that you can get gigs from the person who isn't ignoring you.

Nice transition track - starts off harder and then the piano comes in. It was definitely time to take it down. There's a difference between a lot of indifferent people in a room and a few.

14. Raze "Break 4 Love (Instrumental)" (NB video is not the right mix - it has vocals, obviously)
The mix into this was pretty spectacular, if I may say so myself.

Not four-on-the-floor so a good way to chill things out even more. That few people even got into this one really signified to me that there was absolutely no pleasing anyone.

Only goes with the above insofar as it is another Prince production. Otherwise, this was a pretty inconsistent mix lyrically. Yes I care about those things, though savvy listeners will notice that I stopped caring a few records ago.

I knew it was going to be my last one so I just played something I wanted to hear. I just dropped the record in right at the point where she begins repeating "put some Grace in your face" consistently.

That's that. Listen to the links. Enjoy.