Saturday, August 26, 2006


From the New York Times:

Mailer’s Next Novel

Norman Mailer has written his first novel in a decade, and Random House will publish it next January. “The Castle in the Forest,” Mr. Mailer’s first work of fiction since “The Gospel According to the Son” in 1997, is an account of Hitler and his family. Mr. Mailer has won two Pulitzer Prizes, one in 1969 for “The Armies of the Night” and one in 1980 for “The Executioner’s Song.” Since his last novel, he has also published two works of nonfiction, both in 2003: “The Spooky Art: Some Thoughts on Writing” and “Why Are We at War?” A spokeswoman for Random House said the new novel would run just under 500 pages. She confirmed a summary, posted on Media Bistro’s Galleycat Web site (, that said Mr. Mailer’s tale would be told through a mysterious narrator and explore three generations of Hitler’s family, including incestuous relationships and family estrangements, while meditating on Hitler’s evil. Mr. Mailer’s book will come out just a month after Penguin Press publishes Thomas Pynchon’s first novel in nine years, “Against the Day,” set at the turn of the 20th century.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The revenge of the Blue Dogs

This NYT story on the changing politics and social attitudes of Nashville, and country music, is one I've been wanting to hear about for a long time. While most liberals and leftists of all shades have usually been in folk (see: as far back as Pete Seeger or Woody Guthrie) as opposed to country, there's quite a bit of overlap since the Civil Rights and Vietnam Era. Now that we're in another time of American social strife, country music is fracturing.

And that gives me hope. Hope that a) haughty Christian conservatives can be taken down a peg and b) that nothing is ever as concrete or 100 percent anything as much as it seems. God bless America.

Need proof that the U.S. and U.K. want to be like each other?

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Yes, I meant to post this on a Thursday. Shut up.

The first time I heard Thursday, some emo/hardcore/Morrissey fan played some song off of "Full Collapse" for me... I think. I thought it was kind of heavy in a way I had never heard before, but it also had that anthemic punk/hardcore quality that makes so many kids go fucking ga-ga for them. What fascinated me most, though, was this intangible little resevoir of artsyness in the background of Thursday that I could barely hear. It was buried deep like hearing a cell phone or microwave radio transmission through a hissy amplifier you leave on accidentally-- as if signals were crossing a random, beautiful way. They were obviously art-faggy but I could tell it went deeper for the band than just an image, like with Tool. Some of my first thoughts about Thursday was that they were the Tool of emo. Now I know that's the Mars Volta.

Still, I've always had this strange listening relationship with Thursday.

The band's new record, "A City By the Light Divided," I should add, is good-- maybe deserving of the label "very good." A B+, perhaps. Many people are saying, not me necessarily, that its "the best record they've made so far." What all this means to me is this: Its the first Thursday record I can honestly say I'll be listening to more than once or twice within my day-to-day listening habits. I should also mention this band is destined (doomed?) to grow on me at a glacial pace. I cannot help it.

Most of the American public (read: middle-class, MySpace-trolling 15-24 year olds) became aware of Thursday in 2003 when they released "War All of the Time" (the band has a knack for making poignant, almost-overwrought, almost-confrontational record and song titles that straddle the political and personal). They got a video on MTV. They even got radio play in some major markets. The rising cabal of Friendsters and MySpacers were going nuts for their MP3s and tour stops. Thursday launched their most successful tour to-date with Coheed and Cambria (a stop, at which, I attended with some reluctance).

On this tour were two huge high school/college favorites. Coheed attracted the geeky side of the MySpace generation, Thursday the more confessional side. More was at work here than just this, however. Thursday, in a way that Coheed and other "emo" bands can't, bring many disparate kinds of people together. I-- a free-jazz and progressive rock nerd that also indulges in southern rock wearing a Joy Division t-shirt at that show, if that makes any sense to you-- was even drawn to Thursday's live show. Their lead singer, the tender, charismatic Geoff Rickley, was deathly ill that night, he told me. Before he told me, I noticed his energy was notably sapped. This is a man who has (unintentionally) bloodletted and fractured and/or broken his own bones on stage. The most he did that night in 2003 was throw up his microphone really high and catch it in the air as he was jumping. It's not too big a "whoopie" in comparison.

But Thursday's significance remains. Everyone in that venue (a usually super-corporate rock club) was riveted. Everyone young (gothy Hot Topic kids to emo high schoolers) and old (nerdy art-rock lovers and the more "mature" indie crowd) were there. Thursday, and this is perhaps true of Coheed and the Mars Volta, can bring together bands of Taking Back Sunday and Tool and no one's the worse for it.

Thursday, unlike Coheed or the Mars Volta, aims much higher. They want to be more mainstream, have a bigger audience and are probably the only emo band in the world with the potential to be a household name and have a career longer than ten years.

Thursday could be more than just an artsy alternative for the emo/hardcore set, they could be another brand of anthemic rock music, like a U2 for the emo set. I don't think that's at all an exaggeration.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

LOLz Bono's a douche!

Friday, August 11, 2006

If you've ever been to Athens, GA...

This is actually pretty damn clever.

Everybody's scared shitless, of shadows

This minor little story is less interesting than the comments below it. The Austin Statesman has certainly proven itself to be a fine paper since I signed up for its online edition. It has a great online news operation with at least one or two breaking news e-mails of major stories every day.

God, I'd love to move to Austin.

But this story is bizarre. Talk about
"keep[ing] Austin weird.":

It was some random note (yes, a post-it note or something) found written in Arabic on a JetBlue plane (hey, terrorists need to save cash, too!) that had officials, FBI, DHS and so on, concerned. Justifiably, I guess. Sometimes, especially from a presumably non-stop, Boston-to-Austin flight (at least one of the hijacked planes on 9/11-- Flight 11, I believe-- was out of Logan) you can't be too careful.

Anyway, someone-- a crewmember I think-- found the note. Mentioned it, a chain of casual to worried remarks were no doubt exchanged and bomb sniffing dogs were sent in. Supposedly, the passengers remained very casual and calm. People in Austin are smart, and cool, enough to realize that if a terrorist was going to blow up a plane, they wouldn't leave a fucking note about it.

So people were supposedly chatting and laughing as the search was going on. It took a couple of hours but they got off their flight unscathed and probably massively inconvenienced. Que sera.

To put this all in a time frame, this story was first posted around Thursday late morning. This a day after DHS got all flipped-out about liquids, gels or anything else with form, but not shape (solids have both shape and form, gases have neither-- thanks, Mrs. Hadley) because some terrorists were going to blow up what was presumably a glycerin IED. By Friday, things were more fleshed out and facts were clearer and more numerous.

But still, what's truly interesting about this story is the comments. Some people are cynical, some calm and some just pragmatic. So fragile is the balance between the desire for privacy, the necessity of security and the wont of convenience in all of these comments. Of course, the cynics, the damn-the-Man liberals, which are everywhere in Austin, are probably the most notable. Most of these commentors, though, seem to be regular people, which is so refreshing in online comments sections.

It also goes to show that journalists and the entire structure of mass media have absolutely no clue what regular people like (or are like) or what they need (or want).

What this story has made me realize is that the sooner a reporter realizes that, the better off he/she will be.

The greatest live show of all time

How can this show happen without me? This can't be...

Monday, August 07, 2006

Death from above, R.I.P. 2006

Boo! Like Q and Not U, you have crushed my dreams of the previously unexplored masculinity in the otherwise-fruity genre of dance punk.

For shame, DFA1979! You have disappointed me.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

More evidence that Greg Dulli is, in fact, a bad ass.

From Billboard:

In the wake of escalating violence between Israel and Lebanon, the Twilight Singers plan to honor an Aug. 30 booking in Tel Aviv. The show will be the Greg Dulli-led band's first in Israel and comes as part of a 22-city international tour.

"While I am saddened by the loss of life and property on both sides, my belief in freedom, democracy and the peaceful existence of the state of Israel remains steadfast," Dulli wrote on the band's Web site. "To this end, the Twilight Singers show in Tel Aviv on Aug. 30 will go on as scheduled. We look forward to performing our songs for an audience who has yet to see us in their own country and hope to be visiting in a time of peace."
"A war of epic proportions with missles lobbed at me? Bitch please, I survived KATRINA, son! NOTHING KEEPS ME FROM MY ROCK AND ROLL!!!"

Is Greg Dulli, like, trying to become my messiah? Like, consciously?

Hilarious Tenacious

There are too many quotables in's new interview with Tenacious D's Kyle Gass for me to list here, so I'm just going to link to it. Oh my God. I cannot wait for this movie!

Speaking of long-delayed rock movies, when is "Christmas on Mars" coming, already? I mean I'm not holding my breath, I'd just like to know...

The best idea in history of pop music, or the worst?

A recent excerpt from Erin McKeown's always-cheery newsletter:

"my friend kris delmhorst has a fantastic new album out, STRANGE
CONVERSATION. the idea is this: kris took some of her favorite old
by the likes of walt whitman, ee cummings, rumi, and virgil, and she
beautiful new songs around them. i seriously encourage you to check it

McKeown hasn't let me down before, but this one is iffy.