Thursday, August 28, 2003

Johnny Cash Week
Cash's "Hurt" only took home one moonman Thursday night at the VMAs, for Best Cinematography. Absurd, but what can you do? [At least this year, an amazing vid, Missy's "Work It," won the big one.] He wasn't at the show, as he's back in the hospital with a "stomach ailment," but received onstage tributes from J-Tim (who beat Cash for Male Video, for "Cry Me a River") and Coldplay. Kurt Loder put together an excellent piece/history lesson on Cash, which also includes other artists' praises.

More Cash next week.

I haven't seen the VMAs yet - only have basic cable, will watch this weekend thanks to Chrisafer and his magical VCR - but I got all the high- and lowlights from Matthew's play-by-play-cum-color commentary. Superb stuff, even if he's wrong wrong wrong about Cash.

Since I'm not posting for shit, and that likely won't improve until sometime next week, might I suggest content-seeking readers spend some time with BJ's high school reminiscences (remarkably poignant), a marvelous entry about not/telling people you're an escort from Devon (the entry for August 27th), and Erik on his summer of pop. Then enjoy some masturbation material courtesy of Stebbins (you're too kind, really!). Finally, since it's a holiday/beach weekend, celebrate the Speedo's 75th birthday and read this appreciation from the Los Angeles Times (via the Beaverhausens). And if you want to find me between tomorrow evening and Monday evening, try looking here; tomorrow afternoon, try here. I "heart" long holiday weekends.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Good news for Pacers fans - and no surprise, if you ask Dr. Jack. Now let's just hope we can ink Rick Carlisle, fast, and show those Pistons what's what.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

I am, apparently, a shmomosexual. [Thanks, BJ.]

Johnny Cash Week
From VMA Lens Recap on "Hurt" and more of Cash on making the video, the latter excerpted from an interview Kurt Loder did with Cash, which will air as part of the "Opening Act" show Thursday night.

Oh! My! Gosh! The nominees have been announced for the 37th annual CMA Awards (November 5, CBS, mark your calendars). Toby "needs-a-boot-in-his-ass, preferably Natalie Maines'" Keith leads with seven, but that's not the big story. Yet again, just as two years ago (the year of the historic wins by O Brother, Where Art Thou? and "I Am A Man of Constant Sorrow"), there's a left-field fly in the ointment of mainstream Nashville - and you can't ignore him, 'cause this year, it's the Man in Black. Just two days before he heads into the MTV Video Music Awards with 6 nominations, including Video of the Year, Johnny Cash was nominated for 4 CMA Awards, including video and single of the year (for "Hurt") and album of the year (from American IV: The Man Comes Around). Woo hoo!

In case you're wondering, it's Johnny Cash Week here at Oh, Manchester.

It's been a while since I read some good non-fiction (confession: I only read 10 pages of Senator Clinton's memoirs; they seemed interesting, but were so very dry. I'll read Living History eventually), but finally, my local library got the new book by Dan Savage, Skipping Towards Gomorrah (Dutton, 2002). It's subtitled "The Seven Deadly Sins and the Pursuit of Happiness in America." It's also marvelous. Riotously funny while still doing an uncanny job of making his points, Savage writes like you'd hope he would (i.e. like he does in his syndicated sex-advice column, "Savage Love," and its all gay, all the time counterpart, "Savage Love 2.0"), and is as common-sense as we all should be (kinda like if Camille Paglia was a liberal, really). He goes to a swingers' convention to take on lust, hits the casinos (both Vegas and riverboat varieties) for greed, and goes to the L.A. Pride Parade to examine, duh, pride - and that's just three of the big seven. To cap it all off, he visits the U.S.'s #1 Gomorrah, New York City, less than a month after 9/11, and hires a pair of hookers - to help boost NYC's economy and do his patriotic duty. God bless America! Savage works the long form just as masterfully as he does the short (i.e. his advice columns) (if you haven't read his previous book, The Kid, about gay adoption, do so, even if like myself you're a child-hating ogre-under-the-bridge), maybe better. Splendid stuff.

Amazing. Conservatives such as Bill Bennett and Pat Robertson think that gays shouldn't have kids, period, ever, becaus we're bad influences, apparently. But just because they're heterosexual, parents who cage their children 20 hours a day or let them be suffocated during "healing" services are okay, because they're heterosexual. That makes sense, doesn't it?

This just makes me feel all the more strongly that you should have to have a license to have children. There are far too many stupid, stupid people out there breeding - and trust me, I see it every day. A direct quote from one of our clients: "You just hit me in the head, and, hee hee, I get pregnant! [Laughs.]" Ladies and gentlemen, the future of America.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Oddly, since I got online at work, I've been posting a lot less, and what I have been posting is what I was trying to avoid for this blog: lots of linky things. [To be fair, there's actually been - shock! awe! - a lot of work at work.] But for some reason, I haven't had much to say lately. I'm just sort of generally frustrated. Fortunately, this weekend I'll be in D.C. (for the first time in nearly 2 months - it's been too long) to blow off some steam. I need that more than any of y'all know, trust.

Since I'm having trouble finding inspiration, maybe you can help. Stealing a meme from Scott (who stole it from someone else, you know how memes work), I want you to send me up to 5 questions (please put "Questions" in the subject line), and I'll answer them here. Caveat: please don't ask things you already know, and just want me to answer publicly so as to embarass myself. Anything you've always wanted to know about the man they (well, only Gaz, really) call submeat? Now's your chance.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

The VMAs are Thursday night, and Johnny Cash is hoping to be there in person. In advance, here's a sterling Associated Press story about "Hurt" - which had better fucking win Video of the Year.

Wow, the new Dave Gahan single is ultra-chill, sounding quite a bit like Pet Shop Boys in their most somnambulist moments - and nothing remotely like Depeche Mode. It's titled "I Need You," and is rather lovely.

Not only do Queens of the Stone Age rock like relentless motherfuckers ("Go With the Flow" is one of '03's best singles and videos), Josh and Nick are really. Fucking. Hot.

San Jose State kicked off the 2003 college football season last night in the inaugural Literacy Classic (what?!) by kicking Grambling State all over the field, 29-0. #5 Kansas State then took on California in this year's Black Coaches Association Classic (remember, that's the game that made everyone ask last year, "is Willingham for real?" when Notre Dame defeated Maryland), and played solidly if not spectacularly, earning a 42-28 win in the process.

In other college pigskin news, much talk of course is centered around damn-he-can-play-but-boy-he's-an-idiot Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett, who's likely out six games. Considering how solid OSU is all-around, however, and that their schedule is not exactly brutal, they should be fine. Kirk Herbstreit agrees - but cautions that if the suspension lasts longer, there could be trouble in Columbus (hello, NC State! Hello, Wisconsin!).

Meanwhile, volunteer high school assistant coach Rick Neuheisel (how far, and hard, and fast, they fall) has sued Washington and the NCAA. Uh, Rick? You lied on tape to NCAA investigators. Shut up. It could be worse. You could be the man in college coaching most likely (and deserving) to be shot on sight, Dave Bliss.

Speaking of, Baylor made a very smart move Friday, hiring Valpo coach Scott Drew to rebuild their basketball program. The NCAA made a very smart (and classy) move last week as well, approving a transfer-and-play (immediately) waiver for all of Baylor's players. Scott Drew was an assistant under his Dad, the inimitable Homer Drew, for 9 years at Valparaiso. Being a northern Indiana native, I can testify that he's a class act (as all the Drews are), and his hiring is an immense amount of good news for Baylor, which sorely and surely needs it. And look who's back holding the reigns at Valpo after a one-year absence: it's Homer! Worth reading are Andy Katz's thoughts on the rebuilding just starting to take shape in Waco.

On the topic of class in sports, there's everyone else, and then there's Martina Navratilova She's not playing mixed doubles at the U.S. Open starting tomorrow, because her partner Leander Paes (with whom she's one two of this year's three Grand Slam titles) had to pull out due to a brain lesion. Martina assuredly could have found someone else to take his place, but refuses, "because he is a true partner, and the special connection we share cannot be replaced." Good God, I love her. She'll still be playing women's doubles, by the way. Maybe she should play singles this year? The field's certainly wide open. Personally, I like French Open champ Justin Henin-Hardenne - with all the attention focused on the lack of Williams sisters in Flushing Meadows, and the fact that queen-without-a-crown Kim Clijsters is the top seed, I can see the gritty Henin-Hardenne just taking care of business and making her way to the final at very least. She's got the confidence - does Clijsters? Can Davenport get past her injury? Can Capriati shock everyone (Pam Shriver says she's "the Sampras going into the U.S. Open this year")? Or will it be Rubin, or Schnyder, or one of the seven Russian women seeded? It's anyone's title this year.

Oh, and let's be honest: the biggest story on the men's side is Pete's retirement.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Finally! Today marks the start of the 2003 NCAA D-I college football season, with Cal taking on #5 K-State.

Here's a rundown of some games to keep an eye on. And who's looking like the sleeper-to-watch in the Big Ten? Why, it's my mighty Boilermakers of Purdue. The schedule's brutal, with no bye week, but they look like a good crew this year - and Joe Tiller's an offensive genius, plainly put.

In case you're wondering, we're less than two months away from Midnight Madness, bay-bee! Woo hoo!

Aram's back with a pretty, new redesign.

In other DC metro news, the mixing bowl's a clusterfuck again this weekend. I can't wait to see what happens if VDOT doesn't get this particular work done this weekend. They wouldn't push it into Labor Day weekend, would they? Well, yeah, probably; stay tuned. [Link via why.i.hate.dc.] I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise, considering VDOT identified a problem with a 2.5-mile reconstructed stretch of I-64 in December, and it didn't get reported until July. Who the fuck is running t'ings at VDOT, Mr. Magoo?!

Friday, August 22, 2003

Very long off-site day of work; fortunately, got some R&R in this evening. Hoping to finish my Alexander O'Neal appreciation this weekend. Reading Entertainment Weekly's Fall Movie Preview, eating Rally's, listening to post-'82 Rush. I never claimed to be cool.

Oh, and you rock the party that rocks my body.

Added GGWoo to the blogroll. Oink!

Thursday, August 21, 2003

REICHEN AND CHIP WON The Amazing Race 4!!! I guess we know who'll be on the cover of the next issue of The Advocate. The finalé was everything I could've wanted (though, admittedly, I was sorry to see the goats fuck up so badly in Cairns): a down-to-the-wire finish between Reichip and Jon & Kelly. Absolutely thrilling, non-exploitative reality television at its finest. What an adrenaline rush - and I was just on the sofa, watching! Yay, queen! [BTW, The Advocate has the Fab 5 on the cover of the current issue, and have a smashingly hilarious interview exclusively on their website.]

Addendum: While we'll have to wait two weeks to see them (I assume) on the cover of The Advocate, there's already an exclusive online interview with Chip and Reichen posted. Addressing the are-they-or-aren't-they (together) rumors, it sounds like they're trying to keep it together. I wouldn't call either of 'em single just yet. [And I hope they work it out, 'cause I love happy endings.]

Well, I don't need a "Straight Eye," per sé, 'cause I already do all of the things mentioned in this article in today's Post. But as far as the "Queer Eye for the Queer Guy" suggestion goes, I'm not fat or slobby. I'm a cluttered bear. There's a difference, people. [Links via the Beaverhausens and BJ.]

Alexander O'Neal has a voice of greatness.

He was in the area last week, performing at a small club in Newport News for only $5. Unfortunately, it was the day before payday, and I didn't go. I've got a feeling I'll regret that for a long time.

O'Neal has never gotten his due (at least not in the U.S. - he's still popular in Europe and the U.K.), even having one of the best voices in R&B, and having recorded one of the finest R&B albums of the '80s, the Jam-and-Lewis production Hearsay (Tabu/A&M, 1987). He made his name first as the original lead singer of the Time, which also included Jimmy "Jam" Harris & Terry Lewis, but was fired by Prince before they recorded their first album (and replaced, of course, by Morris Day).

[Work in progress.]

Oh, Mandy, you come and you give without taking. But we won't send you away. Even though I don't watch it, the mere thought of a John Hiatt song making TRL makes me drool.

I should've gone to see How to Deal. I feel badly about its box office performance (or lack thereof).

Matos has posted! It's his "100 things," -ish.

Scott Heim has a blog.

'fer, why is it that I haven't linked The Biologic Show before now? Oh, that's right, because I'm an idiot. He's a Smiths-lovin' hottie, and if that ain't enough for you, I can't help you.

This is going to be a tricky, slippery post, because I've something I want to post about without actually saying what it is I'm talking about. I've received an opportunity, within the next couple of weeks, to do something I've always wanted to do, but am a little scared to actually do. I was discussing it with him last night, and he encouraged me, essentially saying that I should be careful, but I should go ahead and try it. That's the direction in which I'm leaning, but I still have trepidations. If you've ever been in this position - and it doesn't matter what it was that you wanted to do yet were slightly unnerved to do - please feel free to comment below. [And no, I likely won't tell you what I'm talking about, so you needn't ask.]

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

I am grateful, really I am: Waremouse is back!

It might have been inevtable, but there's still something slightly disconcerting about it: the ubiquity of blogs has reached a point where, now, the MTV News correspondants have a group blog. Of course, there's a photo of Loder on the page, the one from whom I really want to ready entries - and he hasn't posted anything as of yet. Figures.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Method Man and Ol' Dirty Bastard sound so much younger on the Allstar Remix of SWV's "Anything" - so unscathed, before the infighting, the crack, the jail time, the Hollywood quasi-success. They were so much younger then; they're older than that now.

As some of you may have gathered already, I at long last am online at my own desk at work. About fucking time; it's only been 9 months I've been in this position. But hey, I'll take it. Some bloggers are worried (perhaps "fearful" is a better term for it) that I'll be blogging even more copiously, now, but I doubt that will be the case. It's just that those days when I post numerous pieces circa 5pm? They'll be spread out throughout the day now.

Of course, I also now have the opportunity to catch up on my blogreading. Since I didn't do my usual weekly tour on Sunday, allow me to draw your attention to the following:
+The absolute best fiction I've read (not re-read) in quite some time isn't in an ink-and-paper novel; it's from The Tin Man's 2001 submission for National Novel Writing Month. Immaculate, clear, truthful writing like I haven't seen in far too long. He's one of the true, true talents of the blogworld, and we should feel fortunate that he's sharing his talent with us. The post is here.
+Simon Reynolds on the current "crap rap" hits.
+The Beaverhausens are back.
+Unspoken-of horrors in the aftermath of Blackout '03 (TM), brought to you by BJ.
+Which bloggers do you most want to have sex with? It's Donald's new lunchtime poll, and he's still taking votes.

+New blog alert: Dan_DC.

There are lots of other great posts and blogs, out there, of course, so feel free to augment your reading, if I may be so bold, with additional selections from the blogroll. Additionally, it seems to be going 'round the blogiverse, and I'm not immune: possibly some big changes coming this way soon.

Inspirational lyric of the day:

"Man, pull that ho over, that bitch got to get a ticket."
-Trina, "Pull Over" (Da Baddest Bitch, Slip-N-Slide, 2000)

Monday, August 18, 2003

So today I got a call from my friend Randy. Hef, as we call him, and I have been friends since junior high. He's like, 5'2" or something (okay, he's really 5'10", but he's always seemed shrimpy) and has blazing red hair (naturally). We cut class once in high school just to go to his house, eat pizza, and listen to his Mom's record of Cher's Half-Breed album. He's also one of the funniest guys I know.

I was telling him about a previous trip to D.C., and was saying, "so, I was standing in Chrisafer's - "
"Bathrobe?" Randy interjected, excitedly.
"No," I icily replied. "Apartment."

This is the way his mind works. Hef, you see, likes to rewrite histories for his fun and amusement. Like I said, he's a funny guy - and one of the few guys I know who got married and had kids, and didn't become boring. I haven't seen Hef in about 5 years now, and I miss him. Even if he is a big Dave Matthews fan.

I finished reading Felice Picano's The Lure this morning, and honestly was left a bit wanting. Possibly, that's because Picano's fiction was still in its formative stages at the time of this novel's publication (1979). I think it's also due to his trying to marry - not entirely successfully, I'm afraid - a sort of coming-out narrative with a murder mystery. And then there's my general aversion to murder mysteries, of course. But having said all that, The Lure shows signs of the Picano that was to come in his characterization, especially, and to a lesser extent his plotting. It's no Like People In History or even Onyx, but definitely would make a good beach read.

Great Googling, no comments:
+sheryl crow slut
+cure for hairy backs

Sunday, August 17, 2003

This is the best argument I've seen yet on behalf of those of us who could use a Queer Eye for, well, the queer guy, myself most definitely included. Of course, I still watch faithfully - it's the best thing on television right now. And have y'all seen the previews for this week's episode, with the shaved-headed cop? Woof!

I've largely quit recommending other blog entries, but I strongly think that every blogger should read Matt's entry on what he terms the new "blogipelago" - and think about it. Food for blogger thought, fine stuff, well elucidated.

Remember Jason Nevins, househeads? He's the one who turned Run-D.M.C.'s "It's Like That" into a global #1 (everwhere except the dumb U.S., really) back in '98 by refitting its chassis with a pumping house track, while somehow never losing the original track's flair. He's back, and finally making original tracks of his own on par with his remixing abilities at their finest. For help in explaining his new single "I'm In Heaven" (credited to the rather unwieldly moniker Jason Nevins presents UKNY featuring Holly James), I turn to the ever-brill James Masterton, from his last week's chart commentary on dotmusic:

Some ideas are so good that they can bear repeating and one such idea is the sampling of the melodic riff from Michael Jackson's "Human Nature" (a track from the Thriller album). The idea was first used by SWV who incorporated it into their single "Right Here" and who were rewarded with a Number 3 hit in the summer of 1993. Now it is the turn of Jason Nevins to take on exactly the same concept, mixing the melody with an original song to produce an uplifting and startlingly fresh sounding hit single.

Amen, amen! "I'm In Love" might well be one of the house singles of the year. It's pure pleasure, pure uplift, and altogether as buoyant as a load of 50 life preservers thrown in a calm pool. Nevins uses Jacko's melody without making it sound cheesy in the least, mixing it superbly into the fabric of "I'm In Heaven" so it startles deliciously rather than jars unsettlingly. A gorgeous blast of sunshine, it is.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

In late June, Joe raved about seeing Michael Bublé in concert. I filed it away under "sounds interesting, hope he's not another Josh Makes-Me-Vomit Groban." Oh no, he's not.

Poking around online today, I visited his site, where you can stream his entire self-titled debut album (his sophomore effort, Totally Bublé, hits stores September 9th). It's simultaneously a throwback to the days of Dean and Frank and a signpost towards the future of supper-club jazz, encompassing selections from Sinatra, yes, but also George Michael (his knockout take on "Kissing a Fool," also featured in that delectable Ewan and Renée flick Down with Love), the Bee Gees, and Queen (turning "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" into swinging jazz the way Dwight Yoakam turned it into the rockabilly it originally craved to be - but really a testament to the glory and power of Queen, that said song is so malleable). He croons as sweet on "Summer Wind" as he belts out on "Fever," showing his range without showboating. And, thank goodness, he's not another Harry Connick, Jr. Whereas Connick has always sounded slightly smarmy to me, like he's mean when the lights go out, Bublé sounds like that perfect, unattainable boyfriend every gayboy and girl wants. He'll bring you roses and pour the champagne - and isn't that really what we want from our crooners? It's all about romance in this genre, and Bublé understands that, and nails it. He's proof that not everything uberproducer David Foster brings us is bad (cf. Celine), and definitely (and defiantly) a talent on the rise to watch.

Dannii Minogue's "Don't Wanna Lose This Feeling" isn't clever, or smart. But she does her best early-period Madonna on the vocals, and the "Feeling"'s music is basically a rejiggering of "Into the Groove" (the original, not an interpolation). Since Dannii doesn't have a lot of her own personality, but is more a cipher onto which you can project what you want, this makes perfect sense; it's as if she's channelling Ms. Ciccone. And it's proof that sometimes, it's the simplest ideas which work.

Out of nowhere (well, Denmark) comes one of the most purely joy-filled albums I've heard in eons, perfect for the waning days of the North American summer, the B-52's-by-way-of-Right Said Fred Junior Senior's D-D-Don't Stop the Beat. This is a record whose biggest concern is to "keep on dancing now, just keep on getting down" (from "Shake Your Coconuts"). A delicious mélange of surf guitar, lazy pop-dance beats, and wonderful inane lyrics, like if the '90s really were the '60s, Junior Senior are a perfect antidote for what ails you.

The single "Move Your Feet" you should already know (and if you don't, well, do something about it!). Their raison d'etre is found in its chorus:

Move your feet
And feel united
Oh, oh, oh"

- Junior Senior, "Move Your Feet" (D-D-Don't Stop the Beat, Crunchy Frog/Atlantic, 2003)

It's that simple, as are most of the songs on their debut. This is pure, classic pop, throwing a myriad of popcraft stylings into the Cuisinart and pressing "purée." The history of the last 40 years of pop in 32 minutes, that's Junior Senior. Plus, they have a song titled "Chicks and Dicks." You can't go wrong with this, no matter where your musical tastes lie. And if you can somehow listen to the entire album without smiling, you are truly, as Mr. Christgau put it, a pigfucker.

Friday, August 15, 2003

Winamp randomizing - let's do the first 30, 'cause I like the look of it, and it sounds as good as it looks:

1. Anita Baker - Same Ole Love
2. Missy Elliott f/Aaliyah - Best Friend
3. Nelly - it's gettin' hot in herre (dsico remix)
4. My Bloody Valentine - You Made Me Realise
5. Silkk Da Shocker f/Trina - That's Cool
6. Alan Jackson - Designated Drinker
7. Prince - U Got The Look
8. Johnny Cash - The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
9. Ride - Leave Them All Behind
10. Ronnie Laws - Friends and Strangers
11. Elvis Costello f/Daryl Hall - Only Flame in Town
12. Dan Seals - Bop
13. Dixie Chicks - Some Days You Gotta Dance
14. R.E.M. - Gardening at Night
15. Blaze - Better Days
16. Me'Shell Ndegéocello - Fool Of Me
17. James Taylor & J.D. Souther - Her Town Too
18. Robert Palmer - I Didn't Mean To Turn You On
19. Mary J. Blige f/L.L. Cool J - Mary Jane (All Night Long) (Remix)
20. Placebo - Every You Every Me
21. The Judds - Grandpa (Tell Me 'Bout The Good Old Days)
22. Nick Cave & Kylie Minogue - Where the Wild Roses Grow
23. Debarge - All This Love
24. Blondie - Sunday Girl
25. little minx - March 08, 2003 audioblogger post
26. Herb Albert f/Janet Jackson - Diamonds
27. Pulp - Common People (Motiv 8 Club Mix)
28. Catherine Zeta-Jones & Queen Latifah - Class
29. 50 Cent & Lil' Mo f/Nate Dogg - 21 Questions & Answers (Gee Money Remix)
30. Wookie - Battle

First listen makes it very clear that Reynolds is right: Dizzee Rascal's Boy On Da Corner is the most important British MC album since Tricky's still-astounding Maxinquaye. And it might - might - be even better. Is Timbaland listening?

And new single "Fix Up Look Sharp" hijacks Billy Squier's "The Big Beat" and makes it work, shoving a round peg into a square hole! Billy fucking Squier!!! You have got to hear this. So do the rest of y'all.

There are a myriad of reasons to love Junior Senior. One of the best is that "Go Junior, Go Senior" (which sounds like a uniquely European B-52's track) includes the lyrics "he is a fan of J.J. Fad."

Thank you, Matthew, for the download of Dirt McGirt's "Pop Shit." Now, this is more like it. Taken from the sure-to-spin-off-umpteen-smashes The Neptunes Present Clones comp, this is Pharrell and Hugo giving The Artist Formerly Known as Ol' Dirty Bastard a marvelous, bouncing track to flip his crazy shit all over. And he is most definitely flipping some crazy shit, complete with his own muttering in the background to add to the mentally imbalanced feel of the single. In a right and just world, this'd be #1 for about three months. And as if that weren't enough, there's Busta Rhymes's "Light Your Ass On Fire," easily the best thing Busta's cut in years. The track sounds like hot jungle drums and Atari 64 rhythms, which is what Busta needs. Pharrell featuring Jay-Z's "Frontin'," of course, you already know to be the perfect falsetto summer R&B jam that it is. Clones is increasingly sounding like it might be rather, oh, definitive: the sound of '03?

In completely unrelated news, get ready for a 5-disc box of recordings Cash and Rubin have done which we haven't yet heard. Who knew, back in the early days of Def Jam, that Rick Rubin would be doing some of his finest work some 20 years later with a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame? I'm still rooting heartily for an upset of huge proportions at months' end: for Cash to take home Video of the Year at the 2003 VMAs. I mean, c'mon - "Hurt" clearly is the best video of the past year (and likely the entire decade thus far). Would it kill MTV to give proper props?

Blackout! Let the finger-pointing commence, as if the U.S. and Canada need another to be at loggerheads. As usual, the best first-person reportage isn't found in the trad news media; it's in blogs. South of the border, Choire and The Tin Man have posted their accounts (still waiting for variations on "Blackout 2003" from Adam and BJ). North of the border, it of course all comes down to Jer (doesn't it always?).

There were a couple of scattered power outages 'round here last night, but I was unaffected. Unfortunately, today I have come down with 24-hour monkeypox, and was unable to go to work. Guess I'll blog, clean, et cetera. And TGIPayday - need to do laundry, get a haircut, and go grocery-shopping this weekend.

Update: New York city boy Adam and Michigander Todd weigh in on Blackout '03.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

The Transplants' "Diamonds and Guns" is the song in that Garnier Fructisse commercial, but don't hold that against it, or them. 1/3 Rancid (Tim Armstrong) and 1/3 blink-182 (Travis Barker), yet better than the sum of its parts, this'll remind you of Blur's "Song 2," put with a punky (not punk) edge to it, and a superb blues piano loop (eat that, Moby). I know I'm late to this bandwagon, but this is one of the year's best rock singles. [What I've heard from their self-titled album's pretty good, too.]

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

When it rains, it pours, apparently, especially for Beyoncé fans this year. Not only is she ruling the world with "Crazy In Love" (still the single to beat in '03) and Dangerously In Love (better than you think, not as good as she thinks), now comes news that the soundtrack to her film The Fighting Temptations is Beyoncé-packed. Lead single/quasi-title track "Fighting Temptation" is good-not-great. It reminds me quite a bit of Lil' Kim's "Not Tonight" femme-fest from a few years back, collecting a crew of female rappers (or, as I prefer to call them, rapstresses) to spit all over an R&B-based hiphop track. In this case, the rappers are Missy Elliott, MC Lyte, and Free (of BET's 106th and Park, album apparently forthcoming). Unfortunately, a) Beyoncé's reduced to a hook singer on what's ostensibly her single, b) Free is fine, but only fine, c) Missy might've done this track in her sleep. Fortunately, anytime MC Lyte rears her head is great, and this is no exception. Maybe "Crazy In Love" has simply spoiled me. It's certainly set the bar ridiculously high, much like the all-time greatest femme-rap track did - that's unquestionably the Puff Daddy Remix of Total's "No One Else," featuring Foxy Brown, Lil' Kim, and Da Brat. Boo-yah!

Finally fixed my Winamp problems last night, by uninstalling 3.0 and installing 2.91 - the classics are classics for a reason, duh. So now, at last, I can really and truly randomize! Here's the first ten.

1. Brandy, "What About Us?"
2. Feargal Sharkey, "A Good Heart"
3. Mary J. Blige, "Never Been"
4. Philip Glass/David Bowie, "Heroes Symphony (Aphex Twin Mix)"
5. Moby, "Flower"
6. Marley Marl f/Masta Ace, Craig G, Kool G. Rap and Big Daddy Kane, "The Symphony"
7. The New Pornographers, "The Laws Have Changed"
8. Audio Bullies, "Real Life"
9. The Smiths, "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before"
10. Aaron Hall, "Don't Be Afraid"

Perhaps it's because we're nearing the start of a new school year, perhaps not. Either way, it appears to be time for bloggers to move into new digs. Hot on the heels of Paul's relocation comes Chrisafer's. Please make the necessary adjustments. [Said adjustments have already been made to the blogroll for your convenience.]

Oh, and while he didn't move, he was on vacation for a week. But Matthew's back now, and has reclaimed his asylum from the lunatics which had threatened to overrun it for the past 7 days (and yes, I include myself in that number).

It's time for a new blog of the week, as well, and time to bestow the designation (I feel like Gary Collins at the Miss America pageant) for only the second time on a - gasp! - hetero blogger. [It's also the second time a Maine blogger has been named as such.] He used to have two blogs, but combined them, which was a good idea. His entries are full of even better ideas, about politics, music, and other topics important to the development of any growing boy or girl. He also has a rockin' sepia-toned photo from his wedding on his bio page, and yesterday introduced us all to the highly disturbing nipple scarf. He's no 50 Cent fan, but he loves him some Yo La Tengo, so it all balances out, I s'pose. And I'd be remiss not to mention that he named his blog after a classic Sonic Youth song from Daydream Nation. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Erik's Trip.

But wait, there's more. In why-the-fuck-haven't-I-blogrolled-him-before? news, he's a scholar and a gentleman, and (most importantly) a fellow 'mo Prefab Sprout fan. He's akafrankgreen.

No, I'm not done yet. In today's multicultural blog corner, if you read Portuguese and love the Smiths and Belle and Sebastian, you might like Xobineski Patruska. If you read Spanish and love many of the music blogs mentioned here, you might like No Es Solo Rock n Roll.

Now I'm done. For now.

I’ve been listening to the Jacksons’ “Can You Feel It” quite a bit lately – possibly their best song as a group, true burn-this-disco-out fervor unleashed on the cusp of Off the Wall and Michael’s ensuing world domination - which led me to pull out the Tamperer featuring Maya’s “Feel It,” a massive Euro hit from ’98. The Tamperer’s record is built upon the Jacksons’ foundation, most notably the horns which make up the backing of the chorus. Atop this are tossed some really insipid lyrics (I think they’re about cheating, but what the fuck is with the “what’s she gonna look like with a chimney on her?”) and a fairly standard four-on-the-floor beat. All “Feel It” really makes me wanna do is listen to the Jacksons again – but that’s not a bad thing, is it?

If there’s ever a time when I’m in a club and I hear “Gabriel” by Roy Davis Junior come out of the speakers, I’ll know I’m in the right place, the perfect place. This is nearly discreet house, subtle house, very low-key, built upon a rock of a horn riff (Gabriel’s trumpet, you know – it’s about Gabriel, the angel) and an exceedingly inobtrusive rhythm track, completed with some pink-plonk plush keybs, and the truly heavenly vox of Peven Everett, shouting to the top. What’s the converse of deep house: light house? “Gabriel” is airy yet full in all the right places.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Mordden on friendship:

Frank … drove to Larken’s. Because that is where Frank could go to be listened to, and that is what builds friendship: more than looks, charm, and laughter. These matter, but what matters most is: Listen to me. Comprehend me. Share my discoveries and delight and sorrow.
- Ethan Mordden, How Long Has This Been Going On?, p. 103 (St. Martin’s Press, 1995)

By the way, I cannot seem to find any current information on Mordden, and that's even having gone through all of the pertinent search results from Google. Does anyone know anything about his life now, his current work, if he's even still alive? Please share, if you do.

Mordden on the notion of “home”:

”It’s about going home,” said Walt. “You aren’t given a home, you find one. You make one.”
“Home is where your friends are,” said Elaine.
“Where your kind is,” said the Kid.
“What you fight to protect,” Elaine insisted.

[The Kid cried,] “Home? Going home?
This is home. This is my church. This is community and truth. This is our style, our very gay life. It’s made of us, you see.”
- Ethan Mordden, How Long Has This Been Going On?, p. 542 (St. Martin’s Press, 1995)

I cried today.

This is significant because, if allowed to count an entire week in 2000 as one time (when I moved to Norfolk leaving, for the first time, Indiana, and with it all of my friends and family, to move to a place where I knew but one person, now an ex), I’ve cried only four or five times in as many years. Along with my move, there’s the end of Hoosiers, and I usually mist up at some point while reading the late Randy Shilts’ And the Band Played On, as well. I wish I cried more easily; there are times when I want to cry, when I think I might feel better if I did, but nothing comes out. For whatever reason – it’s nothing intentional on my part – I’m just not a crier.

Today, however, I did cry, sitting in the reading room of the Kirn Memorial branch of the Norfolk Public Library on my lunch hour, as I finished reading Ethan Mordden’s masterwork, How Long Has This Been Going On? (St. Martin’s Press, 1995). I’ve cried while reading this before, but usually at a different part, when one of the novel’s major characters dies and we look in, so briefly, on The One He Left Behind. [I’m avoiding detailing any major plot points, lest I spoil this rich Persian rug of a novel for any of you who have yet to delve into it.] This time, it was nearer to the end, when a number of our cast are Remembering those who’ve gone before us, mown down by our own great plague; AIDS, of course.

I need to amend something I said last week, as well, when I referred to How Long as “one of the great gay novels." No, stop. Get rid of the “one of”; this is the champ, the great gay novel, period. I’ve read How Long four or five times, now, and it’s that rare work of fiction which grows in power with each successive reading, becomes richer and reveals yet more of itself and about us. I’ve taken to highlighting sentences and passages which move me most, and there are now three different colors of highlighter marking my book, indicating different readings.

The novel is what reviewers would typically call a “sweeping” or “panoramic” look at gay history, from 1949 Los Angeles to 1991 New York City, and is awesome in its scope, and true with its heart, its denizens, us. Much of How Long’s initial 150 pages concern Larken and Frank, two men in cusp-of-the-half-century California, trying to figure out just how two men love each other. I love many of the people in these pages, but none moreso than this pair. Mordden gives them some of the greatest break-the-bank this-I-know-is-true dialogue. [If you want the total package of the novel to be surprising, and it will be, by part and parcel, stop reading now.] In this passage, Larken, who has trouble holding jobs and has just gotten fired from his latest stint as a waiter, is talking with his cop boyfriend, Frank:

”… But look. We’re on the verge of something, us two. Aren’t we? … Because you and I are going to make history.”
“For what?”
“As the first gay couple that becomes famous and lives forever.”
Frank … caught Larken’s quiet mood, and was silent. He sensed Larken saying, I love you – conveying the words, really, as Larken wouldn’t have verbalized the thought out of respect for Frank’s reticence – and Frank did his best to transmit a comparable report back to Larken.
“They’ll put us in the indexes,” said Larken, “in History, Homosexual, See under Gay Life in Postwar America. Maybe they’ll print a photo of us. We should take some, in any case.”
“Who’ll hold the camera? No one knows about us. We’re history’s secret.”
“… Frank.”
“I’m so lucky. Even if I am a slob and I can’t hold down a job, at least a guy as fine as you likes me.”
“No, Larken,” says Frank, looking straight at him. “I love you.” Frank is terrified of those words, but he believes he means them, and the history meter just clicked on.
(p. 90-91)

And I just started crying, quietly, again, while retyping those words. Frank and Larken’s is, I think, the Great Love of this tale when all accounts are tallied. God damn, I want a love like that, a Love. What is there, without it, what is life? I’d rather die – really, I’d rather die – than not risk the pain and tears for a chance at The Love. Meanwhile, Frank and Larken, San Francisco, 35 years later (and damn it, my throat’s already tightening up again, just rereading the passage):

Larken, spooning up his share [of soup], just looked at Frank, as he invariably did now, in awe. This man, his eyes read. There’s no one else like him. And I don’t even care that I’ve been in bed with him. Scored him. I just care that I’ve known him. If he puts his arm around my shoulder and knocks his head against my head, I can beat off on that for a week. This man is so true, he could simply ask for the time and then walk into your dreams as long as you live.
“Frank,” Larken began.
“What are these things floating in the…”
“Show me.”
Frank did.
“They taste healthy. I feel better already.”
I love you, Larken continued, thinking it.
(p. 423)

…and that would, now, be three times today. I should’ve known I couldn’t make it through that, again, without. This, friends, is pure, perfect, truthful writing. This is life: art, and Love, and the decisions we make. That’s it, really. The rest will come, but this is the importance.

Mordden should be listed with the greats, with the Forsters and Hemingways (have always felt ol’ Ernest is overrated) and Hollerans and Picanos and stick-up-his-ass-but-love-him-anyway Ed Whites. He’s brilliant, an utter genius, and writes like No One Else. And he reminds us – or me, at the very least – of what we are/I am working towards, yearning for, and need-or-what’s-the-damn-point? Yeah, love’s messy and complicated and never without its own unique problems, but it’s ours to be embraced and celebrated and cried over and, yes, lived. Fuck the rest.

I’ve been in real, true love two, maybe three times in my hopefully-not-even-half-lived, yet life. Obviously, the relationships ended, or I wouldn’t be single today. In one case, at least, I did things which I dearly regret. In another, I got hurt, you-ripped-my-still-beating-heart-from-my-chest-and-stabbed-it-to-near-death-before-crushing-what-was-left-underfoot hurt. But they’re called learning experiences, kids, and I honestly believe that, and wouldn’t trade all the pain away for anything, ‘cause when it’s good, there’s nothing better. I’m not currently taking applications, ‘cause I’ve got a potential candidate who’s - I’ll say since I’m not very cool - awfully swell. Groovy, even. Totally rocking. Is it enough to just say, I like him a lot? That I’d like him as my boy friend? [Once/if that happens, it’s out of my hands.] As they say, we shall see what transpires. But that doesn’t mean I can’t, or won’t, cross my fingers.

The best song about crying, by the way, is not ? and the Mysterians' "96 Tears," nor Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam with Full Force's "All Cried Out," and Mary J. Blige's "Not Gon' Cry" isn't about crying (check the title, folks). No, the best crying song is Godley and Creme's "Cry."

Inspirational lyric of the day:

”If you take, then put back good.
And if you steal, be Robin Hood.

- Prefab Sprout, “Appetite” (The Collection, Legacy/Epic, 1999)

The Rub is dead, but Paul's back like Lazarus. Hallelujah, praise Jesus! No, really: his new blog is God's Audio/Visual Aid, and early indications are that it's gonna be even better than before (longer pieces, same snarky popcult criticism!). Get thee there posthaste for discussion of the new Rancid full-length and gay TV, amongst other topics.

Monday, August 11, 2003

You want to know why Carly Simon's "Why" - which you might not even know of, let alone remember, unless you're the brill Marcello, largely 'cause it didn't even hit the U.S. top 40 (though it slipped its way up to #10 in the U.K.) - is so fucking astonishing, her best single ever (not that that takes so much doing, mind), and for that matter one of '82's high-water marks? Because it was produced and written by the Chic Organization, that's why. [When Nile and Bernard produced together, they used that moniker - also on Miss Ross's diana album, I believe - akin to a N*E*R*D/Neptunes kinda thing.]

Here's what Mr. Carlin said about said single yesterday in his amazing review of every single to enter the U.K. top 40 in 1982:

Brilliant autumn-period Chic masterpiece. The punctum here is how the synth wavers (Boards of Canada!) seemingly offpitch behind Simon's vocals, thus admitting the existence of vulnerability).

To which I'd add:

Not only does Carly's vocal sound vulnerable, she sounds pained, pierced, under attack, like she's nearly fixin' to die. And then the geniuses that are Nile and Bernard offset it with an almost-island-feeling melody (with the synths sounding too close for my comfort to steel drums at points, threatening to send the song into carnival-organ territory, which would make it honestly alarming in its cruelty [the contrast, I mean, the contrast]) - and yes, of course that's Norma Jean and Alfa on the backing vocals. Center for just a moment around the 5:25 mark on the 12" version (a sterling example of the "if you take something great to begin with and extended it, it'll be even better" dictum), and hear the sudden introduction of a piano countering Carly's "la-dee-da-dee-da"s, and hear what Chic might've been like with Carly as their singer. Why is this bit only not even 10 seconds, I ask? [It's a rhetorical question regarding a genuine frustration.] This is sincerely, secretly avant-garde. This is a new wave. Nothing's shocking, you say? I reply, "listen to this."

"Why," sadly, never appeared on a proper Carly album (though it's now available on Rhino's 2002 Anthology double); it was recorded for the film Soup for One. I've never been a fan of Ms. Simon's, even with her stunningly supple voice (it's the material, people, and really, how many fucking times can she record standards anyway?). But this song makes the entire rest of her career worth it. Get it at any cost, and send thank-you notes to the usual address after. [And thank you, Marcello, for reminding me.]

Friday, August 08, 2003

He's a musician with great taste (Ride! MBV!), he's a cocksucker, and I discovered his blog because BJ, for some reason, googled "wicker cock ring." Say hello to John, a/k/a Circular Logic.

I dunno why I haven't blogrolled Fighting Against Making the Pie Higher before now, since it's packed full of kick-ass political and musical comment. [And thanks for the plug, btw.]

Speaking of Google, if you don't know by now where the lyric "it's the freakin' weekend" comes from - well, it's not Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, let me tell you that.

Meanwhile, in the blogworld (I'm tiring of "blogsphere"), Matt fascinates me (this post is a fine example, as is his posting in German and Portuguese, which I wish I read). There's something about him, as revealed through his writing, thinking, and art, which I find irresistible, even as I often disagree with what he says. That's the kind of blog I like, a lot. I emailed Jimbo yesterday and told him that for some reason I can't figure out, he intimidates me a bit (granted, I've only met him in the real world for about an hour or so). Jimbo replied that I just need to see him in drag more often. I think he's right. And I'm still waiting to see pics of Danny's kitty. [That is not a euphemism.]

I haven't had a lot of motivation to blog this week, mainly 'cause I just haven't had much to say. I haven't been listening to much new music, and things just seem to kind of be in stasis at the moment. [And I've been reading a lot, plundering my way through Ethan Mordden's "Buddies" series, which I'll be finishing in about 10 minutes. Will likely reread How Long Has This Been Going On?, one of the great gay novels, all-time division, this weekend.] Maybe tonight? Maybe tomorrow? Maybe next week? Hell if I know.

Well, to hell with Yankee Candle, who turned me down today for someone "with more retail experience." For fuck's sake, I mean - it's selling candles, not vascular surgery. Oh well. The job search continues.

I see the reuniting of Kenny and Dolly as good news. Yeah, it's easy to make fun of Kenny these days, but he's still got a supple voice, and Dolly? She's simply a goddess of music regardless of genre. [Her bluegrass albums of recent years have been a revelation - and have you heard her 2002 cover of "Stairway To Heaven"? Stunning.] I'm definitely eager to hear their newest collabo, especially since Dolly herself wrote the song.

New-to-me discovery, thanks to my launchcast: Tosca. Shit, these guys from Vienna (see also Kruder & Dorfmeister) are white-hot.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

The interview went well (I'll know something by Monday - if I get the job, I should be working 10-15 hours a week at my second job). Dinner went well (Michael's pork roast was a hit, as was my pudding cake). Anything else?

Sure, Inspectah Deck's gonna criticize ODB's move to the Roc - Deck's not exactly burning down anyone's house, unless he turns to arson, whereas Dirty's likely gonna blow up while not goin' pop all over again, come the forthcoming release of Dirt McGirt. ODB's hit the ground 100 miles and runnin' since he got sprung from Riker's, signing a new deal, putting a new album together with beatmasters like the Neptunes, RZA, and Swizz Beats (who's ripe for a comeback, and ODB could be the man to help him get it), Dirt McGirt, as he's now known (the bruh got more names than Prince, and makes eponymous take on a whole new meaning), might well be the Charles Mingus of hiphop, a tortured, disturbed, brilliant man who can do things no one else can but does them in such a way to alienate a lot of folks. That's those folks' loss; I'll take Dirt's bizarro stream-of-consciousness rapping over an army of blingers any day. Crazy mad sick: with the artist formerly known as ODB, those are all compliments.

Sean Paul, have you met Shabba Ranks? And do you have a good financial advisor?

This morning, in yet another pointless divisional meeting at work, our Acting VP for our division talked about wanting to know ways in which we (the rank-and-file, the little people, Bebe's Kids) want professional development/training, to "advance [our] careers ... help reach our goals." I've found that. It's called moving, and leaving what's increasingly become a ridiculously sad and pathetic place to work. For example, I just really learned that the contract we have with Chesapeake Social Services (for whom we subcontract the particular program I work with) - which was just renewed in June - includes raises for all the employees. However, because of the Planning Council's regulations, we don't actually see that raise (if we see it at all) until our yearly review; mine's in November. No, I couldn't use that extra money in my check now, that's okay. Fuckwads. And then our management has the fucking gall to push us, hard, to "donate" (if it's nearly forced, it's hardly "voluntary") to the United Way at our monthly staff meeting. Our president is very interested in having 100% participation, so she can crow and share that fact with her society friends/board of directors. Number one, no fucking way am I giving money to an organization which still financially helps support the Boy Scouts and their open discrimination against gays. Number two, I don't make enough fucking money as is to be donating it. Number three, I find the way in which management leans on their employees to give rather offensive. Give me the information and let me decide. Don't show me a film every year about all the purported good the United Way does. Don't ask me to give a shit if we have 100% participation. Don't waste my fucking time. Fuck off with your shit, and as long as they continue to support discrimination against homos, FUCK THE UNITED WAY, too.

Today should be interesting.

Work doesn't look too bad, as our boss is out on vacation today and tomorrow - good for me, since I don't have a lot to do at the office this week.

Fingers crossed, the moving-to-D.C. fund could get a rather big boost today, as I have an interview for a second, part-time job at Yankee Candle Company after work. I went through our big downtown mall at lunchtime recently, trying to pick our stores where I could see myself working. [Meaning I did not go into Abercrombie & Fitch; I don't think they even make clothes in my size, do they? They need a sign in front of their stores saying "You must be this twink to shop here."] I figure I like candles, I'm a friendly guy, I've worked retail before (albeit at a 24-hour gas station/convenience store) - I could do this. So please, think some good thoughts. I could really use a second job.

Tonight, the roomie and I are hosting dinner, for which I'll likely show up just as it's being served, depending on how long my interview takes. I made dessert last night, and am very pleased with it.

And on top of it all, we're supposed to get some decent-sized thunderstorms today, which makes any day more interesting, or at least potentially more challenging. At least it's Thursday, one step closer to Friday.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

I guess Ah-nuld figures if one faded B-movie actor can do it, why can't he? Ladies and gentlemen, California: politics as three-ring circus.

I'm just finishing up reading the 3-in-1 edition of the first trio of books in Ethan Mordden's "Buddies" series (I've a Feeling We're Not in Kansas Anymore, Buddies, and Everybody Loves You - subsequently followed in the mid-'90s by Some Men Are Lookers, which I've just undertaken as well), and something significant smacked me upside the head today regarding said books - and, more to the point, regarding the narrator/author's relationship with his best friend, Dennis Savage. And that point is this: apart from the obvious fact of his not being gay, Stumpy is my Dennis Savage - and I think I'm his Bud/Ethan Mordden (only perhaps not as fine a writer, but I digress).

Theirs is a friendship of the best kind; it includes massive amounts of insults and bickering, but at its root, they understand each other like no one else does. And beneath all of the insulting is a Mississippi River's worth of love. I've been blessed by all of the friends life has brought my way (yes, I cribbed that from you, Michael), but none has ever truly known me the way my beloved Jeffy does. [For the record, I believe I started calling Jeff, Jeffy because I knew a number of other Jeffs at the time. I needed a way to differentiate him when talking with others. Of course, at this point, all of those other Jeffs have fallen by the wayside, and I'm left with my Jeffy.] We understand each other without even needing to speak - though we do, frequently and often. We can be completely stoopid, Beavis and Butt-Head-variety stoopid (and to this day still lapse into those voices at least once during every conversation we have), and then turn around and debate Ralph Nader's role in the 2000 presidential election. We met during that time when you generally make your most lasting friendships, at least at first: college. We were both Purdue dropouts who found ourselves close to home at Manchester College. We had mutual friends, we both loved college basketball with a burning passion, and were both music geeks (that's only gotten worse, FYI). We met 9 years ago this summer, and since have been largely inseparable. It's a cliché, yes, but he really is the brother I've never had. I'd give him a kidney without thinking twice. He's - well, not the yin to my yang, exactly, more like the Beavis to my Butt-Head, really. Our differing sexualities are utterly irrelevant, and in fact, accent our relationship at times (such as Jeffy's taking me to my then-favorite gay bar for my 25th birthday - I certainly don't know of many straight men who'd willfully make that a senior year of college Friday night). We give each other relationship advice. We've seen each other cry. With Jeffy, more than any other person I know, I have no defenses, and don't feel the need for them. He gets me. And you'd better fucking believe he'll be the best man at my wedding - once I am with someone I want to marry, and the Supreme Court legalizes it, that is.

Here's to you, StainMaster. You are, as a not-so-wise man once said, totally rocking.

Today at Fluxblog, I take on Morris Day's "Fishnet" and Whitney's "So Emotional" (with a more thorough extrapolation in the comments beneath the latter post), in case you're curious.

Yay, Episcopalians!

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Since I've said this in two individual AIM conversations in the last 15 minutes, I clearly need to state for the record, for the two or three of you still unaware: even in my best moments, I'm often dense like bundt cake. That is all.

If you've an interest in my thoughts on Stevie Wonder's "Skeletons" and Sheena Easton's "Sugar Walls," they're up over at Fluxblog (with title headings for your ease in locating said posts!). I'm not linking to the posts themselves directly, because you really just need to read everything; whereas I had guest bloggers for one day last week, Matthew's got a crew (a Fab 12, or some such) repainting for an entire week.

Bootlegs ain’t dead, they’re just being co-opted. Richard X has a record deal, with a scorching single (“Finest Things,” vs. Kelis) out now in the U.K. and an album shortly to follow. Freelance Hellraiser, he of the stand-up-and-take-notice “A Stroke of Genius” bootie (you remember, the Christina vs. Strokes one), has come completely full circle and has a remix on Xtina’s last European single, “Fighter” (available for download over at base58). Go Home Productions announced this week that he’s posted his last goodies online, and will henceforth be releasing his work through traditional channels (and promises some collaborations, et cetera). But before all of them, before the crazy-mad-funky bulletin boards, before the plethora of DIY mashups, before the Eminem boots, there were Stuntmasterz.

Stuntmasterz were, to the best of my knowledge, a pair of British blokes who’d press up whitelabels of their own creation, causing a stir amongst the better DJs in the know. The first track of theirs I became acquainted with came in the midst of the Stardust explosion. Now, Stardust may have only been a one-off, but what a one-off. “Music Sounds Better With You” is my favorite song, ever, and sounds as fresh today as it did a half-decade ago upon its release (it was, in fact, exactly five years ago that it was hotting up to a fever pitch in the U.K., just weeks away from crashing into the singles chart at #2). “Music” is a ridiculously, brilliantly, malleable track, suitable for mashing up with – well, seemingly everything. Stuntmasterz did the do with Madonna’s “Holiday,” creating “Music Sounds Better On Holiday,” and to my ears at least, birthed an entire cottage industry in the process.

The first time I heard “Music Sounds Better On Holiday,” I didn’t know it was a bootleg. I was in a club, dancing (or flailing, depending on who you ask) away madly, the DJ pumping some primo house blend, when the track started snaking its way into the mix. I thought he was just mixing the Madonna and Stardust songs, live on the decks. I was elated. Now, this was what I go dancing for, to hear magic pouring out of the speakers. The track started, all looped Madonna gulping “come on,” and then that guitar riff (sampled from Chaka Khan’s “Fate,” in case you were wondering) made its appearance, and I nearly wet myself with joy. This is music, I thought. This is pure pleasure incarnate.

Probably some 4-6 months later, I was reading my then-bible, the freshly defunct Muzik - at the time on the cutting edge of club culture and dance and electronic musics, not just in the U.K. but worldwide – and saw “Music Sounds Better On Holiday” mentioned. Was this that marvel I heard (and had heard two or three times since) in da club? I felt fairly certain it was, and contacted my favorite record store, inquiring as to its whereabouts. Nothing in stock, they told me, but a whitelabel could likely be rustled up, but it might be $20 for a one-sided, one-tracked 12”, maybe more. I passed. Meanwhile, Stuntmasterz continued to haunt my dreams.

Fast-forward to autumn, 2001. I’d just started seeing someone new, and he happened to have a cable modem. He introduced me to the joys of file-sharing, and it was all downhill (for me, that is; the relationship ended quite amicably) from there. One of the first songs I searched for, and found (back in the days of Morpheus), was of course “Music Sounds Better On Holiday.” It took me back, and takes me there everytime. But there was more – more Stardust boots, mixing “Music” with Aramand van Helden’s “U Don’t Know Me” and Modjo’s “Lady.” And there was more from Stuntmasterz, at least one more, generally titled “The Ladyboy Is Mine.” This golden nugget pairs Brandy and Monica’s globe-conquering catfight-on-wax, “The Boy Is Mine,” with (yup) Modjo’s French disco bonbon “Lady” to superb effect. And then… nothing.

Are Stuntmasterz still out there, somewhere on the edges of the underground, spinning out webs of delicious, state-of-their-art bootlegs? Or did the hysteria around the scene push them into retirement? Anyone know? If nothing else, we’ll always have “Music Sounds Better On Holiday” - and that's enough.

Corey's back with us in the blogsphere (thank goodness!), and you (yes, you) can win a blind date with him this weekend. Get on it, if you live in or will be visiting D.C. this weekend; he's clever, funny, very intelligent, cute, and looks good in yellow football jerseys.

My launchcast started the day seguing from Madonna's "Borderline" to Nickel Creek's "Spit on a Stranger" and then into Alexander O'Neal's "You Were Meant to be My Lady (Not My Girl)," which fills me with glee. Oh, Lord - and then I get N.W.A.'s "Fuck tha Police." Today will, obviously, be stellar.

If I actually remember to do so, I'll be one of the guest bloggers over at Fluxblog this week while Matthew's on vacation. If I don't, there are lots of other good folks posting in his sted, anyway, so you should read it.

My cousin Steve is guest-hosting NPR's Morning Edition for all of August. You'd do well to tune in, and I'm not just saying this because he's family. He's really quite brilliant. I'm also, as it happens, insanely jealous of him, because he interviewed Steely Dan for a 2-part piece airing today and tomorrow. At least we can listen.

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Last ten from my launchcast, then to bed. I really like this ten for both the songs played and the diversity therein - though I'm still not getting nearly enough hiphop nor R&B (what do I have to do to hear some MJB?!).

1. Wham!, "Battlestations"
2. Dwight Yoakam, "Smoke Along the Track"
3. The Isley Brothers, "That Lady (Part 1 & 2)"
4. The Prodigy, "Firestarter (Instrumental)"
5. Jane's Addiction, "Pigs in Zen"
6. Frank Zappa, "Peaches En Regalia"
7. The Smiths, "Handsome Devil"
8. B-52's, "The Girl from Ipanema Goes to Greenland"
9. Sylk 130, "The Reason (Playa Duplaix Mix)"
10. Stone Temple Pilots, "Plush"

Added to the blog/linkroll today:
+DCRTV, an invaluable resource for media news (unfiltered!) for the DC metro.
+Vividblurry is Toby, who's "a disaffected gay 20-year-old living in Washington, D.C." He's rather clever.
+And lest you all think I'm simply riding the District's jock, there's why.i.hate.dc - exceedingly well-written, if not necessarily uplifting. Then again, it's not meant to be.

Of course, after yesterday's copious posting, today there's been next to nothing - actually, nothing at all until now. But I've been (shock!) productive, picking up groceries, doing dishes, and there's laundry yet to be done (waiting until it cools down even a little bit; laundromats in the summer heat & humidity are not fun places). So there.

Saturday, August 02, 2003

Told y'all I'd make up for lost time.

And even with that, I neglected to mention last night. Chas and I kinda did a usual Saturday thing on Friday, hitting the Naro to see Swimming Pool, the truly astounding new film by Francois Ozon, who just might be France's best living filmmaker at the moment. Charlotte Rampling and Ludivine Sagnier give fearless, sterling performances. Go go go! Then it was on to the Garage for a nightcap (or 3), with a stop at Taco Bell afterwards for a yummy grilled stuft burrito (beef, thank you, not that chicken caesar crap).

Tonight should be a lot of fun; three of our gang have birthdays within 8 days of each other, Jenn, Bob, and Joe (see, I am so friends with non-bloggers!). To celebrate, we're all going out to Veneziano's, a great mom-and-pop Italian restaurant, and then to Jenn & Steve's for games (cards, Taboo!, and liquor. Yay, queen! [And if you see any posts pop up, say, between midnight and 8am tomorrow, I can not be held responsible for their likely rum-induced content.]

It's official, straight from the Q-Tip's mouth: A Tribe Called Quest is coming back. Woo hoo!

Let's go surfing, shall we? [I quit doing the whole "must-read" thing upon much advice from Johnny a while back, but am not opposed to, perhaps, doing some sort of weekly roundup to point you towards particularly good posts/writing/blogs/et cetera. So there you go.]
+The only time you will ever see Color Me Badd, Saddam Hussein, and a certain distinguished American newscaster mentioned in the same post (at Erik's Trip).
+That slut (you know the one) takes on marriage and monogamy.
+Marcello, whose writing gives me a delicious ice-cream headache, has put together a kind of real-life consumer guide (yes, I'm intentionally referencing both Marcus and Christgau; yes, it's about records; the U.K.-U.S. exchange rate is close to one-to-one these days, so U.S. readers, just convert to dollars, approximately, and you'll be fine).
+New OutKast! New OutKast to listen to! Good news, especially as Speakerboxx/The Love Below has been pushed back again, to September. [Courtesy of the fine Phantroll's Waking Ear, which I've re-added to the blogroll under "music." Why I ever de-listed it in the first place is beyond me, frankly.]
+Did I already mention that Paul's coming back to Rub us the right way again? Yay, yay, yay!
+And Chrisafer quit smoking.

If this launchcast's rockin', don't come a-knockin':

1. The Pixies, "Bone Machine"
2. Depeche Mode, "Stripped"
3. George Michael, "Calling You (live)"
4. Dwight Yoakam, "Readin' Writin' Rt. 23"
5. Prince, "Do Me, Baby"
6. Bjork, "Hunter"
7. Brandy, "Almost Doesn't Count"
8. Pet Shop Boys, "Closer to Heaven"
9. Busta Rhymes, "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See"
10. The Cure, "Caterpillar"
11. Aphex Twin, "Acrid Avid Jam Shred"
12. My Bloody Valentine, "I Can See It (But I Can't Feel It)"
13. The Prodigy, "Ruff in the Jungle Bizness"
14. Electronic, "Forbidden City"
15. Roc Raida, "What Car and Limo Service - Skit"
16. Lush, "Baby Talk"
17. Tortoise, "Along the Banks of the Rivers"
18. Eric Dolphy, "In the Blues (Takes 1, 2, 3)"
19. Moby, "Everytime You Touch Me"
20. Alexander O'Neal, "Fake"

Yeah, I’m not sure what I was thinking when I named Shania’s Up! and Home by the Dixie Chicks the top two albums of last year. Yes, they’re both excellent albums, without question. But upon further evaluation, clearly the finest full-length of ’02 is the one which features the whispered line “can’t nobody eat my pussy the way that you do.” That’s Me’Shell Ndegéocello’s Cookie: the Anthropological Mixtape, a simmering stew of funk and, in fact, the entire diaspora of the black musical experience (tell me that last phrase is just a little pretentious and I’ll tell you I could give a ----), paired with ridiculously important sociopolitical and socioemotional commentary from Ndegéocello, one of the most important poets of our generation (tell me musicians aren’t poets and I’ll tell you you’re full of shit) – and I mean important poet in the sense of Nikki Giovanni or the Last Poets (both massive inspirations on our high priestess of funk), and I also mean some of the sexiest motherfucking lyrics and music anywhere, period.

She’s always, I think, been a full-formed artist, from her debut album Plantation Lullabies (a remarkable first effort) forward, through the shock and awe of her sophomore record, Peace Beyond Passion, up to her subdued, very personal third album Bitter, and on to her most recent, where it comes together in a way she hadn’t quite done before, mixing politics and erotica more smoothly even than Prince (who could do the God/sex thing like no one else except maybe Marvin Gaye, but always sounded a little clumsy taking on social issues, outside of perhaps “Sign ‘O’ the Times”). Now, don’t misunderstand me: Ndegéocello’s got the God/religion/whatever you wanna call it thing down, too; check out “Jabril,” in which she sings

”Forgive me, Lord
As I die in vain
You have no angels to comfort me
I forgive you, Lord
As I die
For having no angels to comfort me.”

- Me’Shell Ndegéocello, “Jabril” (Cookie: the Anthropological Mixtape, Maverick, 2002)

And then, of course, there’s the trio from Peace Beyond Passion - “Leviticus: Faggot,” “Ecclesiastes: Free My Heart,” and “Deuteronomy: Niggerman” – which look Biblical on the surface, but trust, it goes even deeper.

Cookie is simply stunning from front to back, starting with “Dead Nigga Blvd. (Pt. 1),” which takes on attitudes plaguing inner-city blacks (“you sell your soul like you sell a piece of ass”), but doesn’t let anyone off the hook (“just ‘cause civil rights is law doesn’t mean we all abide”). She gets an assist from suparapper Talib Kweli on “Hot Night” before heading into a slew of songs about love and relationships – both loving others and loving yourself (the pensive “Priorities 1-6,” fun ‘n feisty “Pocketbook,” and oh-so-erotic “Barry Farms” and “Trust”). Throughout, Ndegéocello utilizes spoken words from the likes of June Jones, Angela Davis, Etheridge Knight, Gil Scott-Heron, and others to back up and prove her points, never letting them overpower her, however – more like Rick Fox tossing an assist Kobe’s way. Missy Elliott’s such a fan that she and Rockwilder remixed “Pocketbook,” calling in Redman and Tweet for added tang (the remix closes the album). Marcus Miller, Lalah Hathway, Caron Wheeler all lend a hand on the album, and as she does on each album, Me’Shell covers a song by a titan of black music; this time, it’s “Better by the Pound,” written by a guy you might’ve heard of by the name of George Clinton.

Over the course of Cookie, it’s clear that Ms. Ndegéocello is the one runnin’ t’ings. This is her vision, her music, her words, her life, with the tapes rolling. With each of her four albums, she’s shown herself to be an astounding talent (Rolling Stone even called Cookie “the album Prince keeps trying to make”), so astounding that she might just end up as important as Prince when all is said and done. The only question is what she’ll come up with next – but there’s no doubt that she’ll continue to bring in da noise, bring in da funk.

[Lyrics from Free My Heart, a stellar Me’Shell fansite (more complete than her official site, actually).]

So our gang, the ten of us who have dinner each week and do lots of other things together like going to Busch Gardens or bowling in tournaments in Raleigh and D.C. or having Christmas parties, consists of eight gay men and a married (heterosexual, since we ain’t in B.C. or Ontario or Scandanavia) couple. I’d like to draw your attention to the man in said couple, and not for the (stereo)typical reasons.

Steven is an absolute gem, the proverbial diamond-in-rough, a marvel of a straight boy. [In his late 20s, he’s a full five years younger than the youngest of the rest of us.] He’s married to Jenn, which you would think would tend towards making him more tolerant than your average straight Navyboy off the bat – and you’d be right. But there’s so much more to it than that. What I find most fascinating is the role/place he holds in our gang. It’s not as if we only embrace him because we embrace his wife, oh no. He’s our mascot.

Yes, I said mascot, and here’s what I mean by that: in some ways, he’s the one we all love the most fiercely, because we’re all rather protective of him. Steven knows that none of us would ever dream of laying a finger on him in an untoward manner (and if we did, we’d have the rest of the gang to deal with), and on those rare occasions when we’re out en masse and another ‘mo tries to do so, it’s made very clear, very quickly, that that is not how we do things. We respect Steven’s sexuality the way he respects ours – and he’s even, amazingly (well, I find it amazing from a Navyboy in his 20s) taken to kissing us goodbye and hello on the lips, as the rest of us do with each other. Now, that’s a straight man awfully confident and secure in his sexuality.

I don’t know if Steven knew many, if any, openly gay men before he came our way; I’d guess not (not that it matters an iota). Now here he is, thrust into a situation where gay men (eight of us, no less) are pretty much his entire social circle. I wonder if he ever contemplates how that came to be. Interesting, too, is the fact that in his daily life (i.e. work), he seems to be fairly an Alpha dog, with a decently dominant personality. Amongst the gang, however, he’s most certainly not; if anything, I think he tends to acquiesce to us from time to time.

We love him dearly, and he’s ours. [No offense, Jenn; I assume you know what I mean.] I think every group of gay pals should have one token straight boy – they often tend to make things more interesting, and are good with grilling. [Grin.] Not to mention that straight men who hang with gay men know where it’s at. Well, except if they’re hanging with those of us in dire need of Queer Eye for the Gay Guy. And even then, we’re generally at least a little bit clued in – even me (right, Stumpy?).

John is right - Canada just seems to have more and more good ideas. Why are U.S. lawmakers so myopic that they can't (or refuse to) see it?

And one more from today's Post (for my money, the best major-market daily paper in the U.S.): is Howard Dean a liberal? Personally, I don't see him as such; he's a classic Democrat, as opposed to those who've come along recently (particularly in the past decade), who are much more "centrist" (read: because our party is wimpy, we feel we have to take on some conservative traits to win election. Fuck that!). The DLC is utterly full of steaming caca, and seems to forget that we need to rally around our party. The Dems' goal should be simple: beat Bush. Period. Dean can do it. [For those of you, like myself, who either identify as or sympathize with liberals, your best daily source for news, opinion, and comment is still Daily Kos.]

There's a fascinating article in today's Washington Post about NASCAR Dads, who could be to the 2004 election as Soccer Moms were to Clinton's victories in '92 and '96. I have issues, however, with this characterization by Wayne LaPierre, the CEO of the NRA:

"NASCAR Nation is NRA Nation," LaPierre says. "The people at NASCAR races are your hard-working, average tax-paying Americans that are raising their families and putting their kids through school. They are patriotic. They own guns. They hunt, and they go shooting and they love the Second Amendment, which is what we're about, also. It's where America is, to tell you the truth. If you want to find mainstream America, go to NASCAR."

My problem with it is it that if marketers - which include politicos, certainly - are crowing so loudly about the diversification of the NASCAR audience -

Once confined to the rural Southeast, NASCAR has exploded in popularity over the past decade, drawing race-day crowds of more than 100,000 in such markets as Miami, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles.

- then why are people like LaPierre and Graham treating it as if this generation of NASCAR fans is the same as any other, i.e. tobacco-chewin', beer-drinkin', gun-shootin' rednecks from the south? I love NASCAR myself; it's strategy, skill, and excitement, without so many of the overpaid crybabies featured in the NBA, say, or the NFL, even. Part of its appeal to me is that most of the NASCAR drivers seem like regular guys. Sure, they race cars really fast for a living, and some of them have mega-endorsement deals (most notably, of course, Jeff Gordon and Dale, Jr.), but they're not hanging out in overpriced bars' VIP sections with AI and Allen Houston. They're, well, folks like us (me?). They seem real to me, like they could be guys I grew up with. If NASCAR hopes to continue its phenomenal growth, it's got to somehow, somewhat shake off that deep south redneck portion of its image, and continue to expand (and in those terms, the new sponsorship deal with Nextel effective next season should help immensely). I'm part of the NASCAR Nation, too. [And have y'all seen, the site for NASCAR-loving 'mos? It's a little campy, and a lot of good stuff.]

And in the "isn't it ironic" department, not more than half an hour after that last post (below), the roomie spoke to our cable provider, they fixed the problem, and we're back up online. So get ready for some heavy-duty posting, y'all.

Grrrr. Our cable modem at home is down, which is why y'all haven't heard from me in a hot minute. I've got a couple of pieces in progress, but am feeling uninspired by my inability to post. Discovered a new blogger via his pal Jimbo - it's Zareh by Aram (that sounds like a cologne, doesn't it?), who seems to be awfully intelligent and is the webmaster for the Washington Blade. His blog is good stuff. I'm posting this from a computer with a sticky shift key and complimentary internet at Fair Grounds Coffeehouse (website coming soon), my friendly neighborhood not-Starbucks java hut. I come for the homemade blueberry muffins and raspeberry iced tea Snapple.

Since I'm in a bit of a crabby mood anyway and there's an obnoxious touchy-feely-I'm-so-hip asshole wearing a "Go Vegan" t-shirt next to me, let's give a hearty FUCK YOU to PETA today (and no, I certainly will not fucking link to their website). Their national headquarters are here in Norfolk, and they embarass most residents here. They're nothing more than media whores who only care about getting publicity; yes, I do rather strongly feel that their bad outweighs any good they might do. And as a guy who grew up on a dairy farm, let me say this: you tell me that milk is universally bad, that cows are universally mistreated, and I'll simply say FUCK YOU, because you clearly don't know what you're talking about. Do I dislike all PETA supporters? No, that would be stupid and small-minded of me. But I fucking loathe PETA and their spokesmouths themselves.

Excuse me, I feel the need to go eat a couple steaks now. Raw.

p.s. Paul's coming back, yay!

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?