Thursday, December 30, 2004

The glory boys

Good-bye Brian and Luke, you’ll be missed.

“Memory is untouchable - It keeps such bitter distance
And silence is a photograph - A still and stone reminder
And in time we fade
Left in only recollection
Holding on is the hardest thing to do,
When everything is so out of touch
And nothing really means that much
When words don’t last beyond our lips
And promises are barriers
This same reflection, a portrait of contempt
A faded story book it’s pages over read,
Oh well, I’ll have plenty of memories to hold me when I’m gone
And if the pen permits I think I’ll write a few more songs
Cause nothing brings me back the way those old ones do...
It’s tried and true
So on and so forth, it’s so hard to see
We all fall down eventually
To bones - To graves - To history
And change won’t change a thing
A subtle keepsake
Our triumphs and our tears
Find innocence betrayed by fact and ignorance instilled...
And so
This one’s for the boys back home I hope you’re all alright
A childhood remembered in a song against the night
Embers on the wind, we were a spark of hope and pride
In the journey to find somewhere to ignite
For times we shared I give to you
The only words I know to say
You’re every part a part of me,
Amazing what a name can mean.
It’s a friend who knows you in this terminal unknown...
I’m coming home.”

- Bueno, “Glory Boys”

Saturday, December 18, 2004


What a divide for my hoops teams:
The Suns have the league's best record and lead everybody in scoring.
The Wildcats manage to win at Marquette but score just 48 points, the lowest in a win since Lute came to town.
The Suns have all five pistons working together, the 'Cats are lucky most games it seems to have one functioning piston.
For the Suns, the most I can ask is an injury-free season, 'cause little else looks to derail a run deep into the playoffs.
For the Wildcats, at least the focus on defense and rebounding will overcome some weaknesses of the past.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Late or never, you make the call

I’m pretty damn far behind here, but a couple of albums from this year I got recently are just outstanding.

Green Day’s American Idiot has got to be one of the absolute most dead-on recordings in terms of capturing the cultural and political climate in the United States this year (Steve Earle’s The Revolution Starts Now also does quite well).
For one thing, the album is remarkably ambitious in its scope. The “rock opera” and “concept album” tags are so misused in general and I hate to throw trite cliches at an album I’ve really been enjoying. Let’s just say it’s a centrally themed statement on modern life a la (dare I say it?) Darkness on the Edge of Town or OK Computer.
They don’t have the bombast or the urgency of the Clash, don’t level the sharp attacks of Rage Against the Machine, nor can the neo punkers muster the righteous anger of Bad Religion, but Green Day is nobody’s little brother. American Idiot is intelligent, poignant and musically remarkable considering the band has never rated too highly outside the high school set. For godsakes, they burst onto the scene with an album called Dookie and paved a rather regretable road that brought Blink 182, among much, much worse.
When it’s all said and done, I’d say American Idiot will be remembered as one of the top several albums of this year at worst, and an undeniable classic at best.

The Killers’ Hot Fuss is simply fun. It’s catchy, festive, loud and arrogant. It’s a drunken swagger, just like the Las Vegas it comes from. (Hell, for all I know they’re really from the Henderson suburbs, but equating them with the Strip just seems to make more sense.)
It’s 80s rock all over again, there’s no doubt to that, but what a brilliant swirl they make of it. Like Ryan Adams Rock N Roll (an underrated ball of fun in its own right), the album is practically a track-by-track game of name-the-influence, which in the wrong hands is piss-poor. But they’re songsmiths who know how to both dress like their heroes and be themselves at the same time.
The lyrics can get ridiculous, and it’s hard to tell at times whether they’re tongue-in-cheek or just kinda stupid, but the focus is really just the catchy tunes.
The Killers may be a flash in the pan act. With such a winning debut I actually care, but I really hope not.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

And the winner is...

Mr. Chair takes the prize with the all-too-predictable U2.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The Since and the In Between

Since the November Debacle, when the 10 p.m. news rocked my stomach with the same sinking feeling as the final buzzer of 2001’s NCAA basketball championship, I’ve more or less resolved to force politics into one of the furthest back closets of my mind.
I half hoped that in doing so I’d stumble across something in one of those closets to bring out and immediately throw into the lineup. Like benching politics in favor of say, science fiction, in the batting order of my mind and time.
Didn’t happen. While I did more or less cut politics almost cold turkey, nothing slid in right away to fill that void. No old interests bubbled up anew. No past curiosities reasserting themselves, nothing. Or more specifically no one thing. I’ve wrapped myself up in photography more, I’ve opened my ears to more music, but they’re just fragments of interests in the place of the monolith of the November election.
And it’s been really strange. I’ve been scattered these past six weeks. It’s a better sensation than constantly furious, but there’s little in the way of solace and even less in the way of any worthwhile pursuit. And that scattered-ness has certainly had an impact on my writing. I haven’t yet really felt comfortable switching away from the opinion, the argument, and back into the storytelling. But it’s coming.
I’ve enjoyed long stretches of highways with trees and highways with cholla. I’ve been surrounded and embraced by some of the best rock ‘n’ roll music there is. I’ve seen some remarkable films, particularly one chronicling Warren Zevon’s final months. I’ve concocted a supreme mix cd. I’ve drank beer late into the night, laughing on porches with old friends visiting from out of town.
They’re stories and they’re feelings, and they’re not the slightest bit political.
There’s a horizon now that holds with it more travel, more old friends. It holds family and hope, good food and new toys. The weather is chill and projects are taking hold.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004


So I emailed a bunch of people reminding them to watch Bob Dylan's 60 Minutes interview Sunday and some people now think I'm compelled to comment on the interview. So here goes.
Dylan seems to be offering very little in terms of separating Bob Dylan the man from Bob Dylan the character, which is hardly surprising. He never looked like he enjoyed the interview, which begs the question why he agreed to it in the first place. It's not like his publicist prodded him into it. When your author is Bob Dylan and the subject is himself, traditional promotion hardly seems like it would matter.
Aside from Dylan's guarded, if not strange, demeanor and the feeling that he never really opened himself up at all, the interview was actually quite good. What was more revealing than his answers for the most part was Ed Bradley's unrestrained glee at the interview. He mentioned in the lead-in how he's always wanted to interview Dylan and it was evident. More importantly, as the interview progressed, he seemed to become thrilled at the conservation itself. I wonder how much the editing played a role in shaping the interview. There were a lot of cuts to historical voice-over shite and it would have been nice to see what was trimmed from the actual interview.
The most compelling part of the whole thing was Dylan's description of how some of his best songs seemed to be written almost by magic. At some level, genius or greatness simply is. You can disect an artist in so many ways, but the very fact that some simply have a greatness beyond others is unexplainable.
I wasn't really surprised or impressed by anything in the 15-minute segment. He certainly won't win any new fans just because of the interview. But the character of Bob Dylan, if not the man himself, is so wrapped up in mystery that some mumbles and a dour expression are expected from a television interview.

Talkin' Ponderosa Highway Blues

I just finished up the new biannual mix:
Talkin' Ponderosa Highway Blues

Steve Earle - The Seeker
Gin Blossoms - Keli Richards
Social Distortion - Don't Take Me For Granted
Fountains of Wayne - No Better Place
Dan Bern - Black Tornado
Wilco - Company in My Back
Big Star - September Gurls
Elvis Costello - (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding
Talking Heads - This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)
Modest Mouse - One Chance
Shins - Fighting in a Sack
Drive-by Truckers - (Something's Got to) Give Pretty Soon
Warren Zevon - Lawyers, Guns and Money
Goshon - No More Wasted Nights
M Doughty - Madeleine and Nine
Townes Van Zandt - If I Needed You
Bob Dylan - Boots of Spanish Leather
The Band and the Staples - The Weight
Solomon Burke - Diamond in Your Mind
Ray Charles - Baby Don't You Cry
Roberta Flack - Hey, That's No Way to Say Good-Bye

This one follows Momentary Fires.