March 30, 2003

"The benefits rock! They pay for my gas and don't hassle me if I deliver pizzas to the wrong house when I'm high. It's also a great way for me to meet my fans!"

March 29, 2003

the point of no return.

March 26, 2003

Weather report: drizzling slightly here, and the sky is clear and vivid, like the difference between watching a 20-year-old piece of high-quality video and a generation-old degraded reel of flimsy film stock. Emotional weather report: contemplative, mellow, on the happy side of sad, on the "could be better" side of "generally okay." Brain in good shape, body still on rebound from month-long illness. Soundtrack: Yes, Petra Haden, Paul Stanley solo, Pere Ubu, Tori Amos, Todd Rundgren, Penderecki.

March 24, 2003

Laura Branigan - Branigan (1982)

Obv. enough to me and everyone else that Laura Branigan was a sweet starry-eyed kid from the Hudson Valley, but the early '80s being what they were (i.e. that popcult upheaval sparking wild and unruly transitions-syncretisms between hard rock and momndad ballad schmaltz and the burgeoning Supermotivated Eighties Asshole sound and whatever savvy Italian producers could salvage of disco), her handlers still dressed her up for the photo shoot in rokkchikk tartwear: black leather pants, firetruck-red buttoned-down blouse, tousled unwashed hair. Same thing happened to Sheena Easton somewhere between "Morning Train" and "Sugar Walls." Same thing happened to a rash of girl singers in mid-late 2002, in the wake of the trash-rock revival, the critical mass of mash-ups' popularity (hip-hop and dance choons legitimized by RAWK -- rock is the imperialist USA to nonrock's "needy" third world), the impact of VH1 Classic's retrofitted "Rock Fest" on the lives of digital-cable subscribers.

Which proves that this stuff happens in 20-year cycles.

But thank goodness for industry pressures; otherwise the pop world would remain as myopic and boring as the uninformed constantly accuse it of being. Branigan sounds like it looks, and it looks like its release date, so even if Branigan herself wasn't actually the kind of pseudo-Italo-country-Meatloaf-Benatar she was modeled to be (and why would she be, come to think of it?) (oh and in addition to the above reference points, on the glam-boogie "Down Like a Rock" her voice has an odd '70s-Yoko echo treatment), at least the pitchmen weren't bullshitting us about what we could expect. If the front cover didn't tell you enough (white-on-red raised italic lettering, Ms. B posing rockstarishly with legs semi-splayed, against a smoky grey background), flip it 'round to the back liner notes for reassurance:

"Braniganwas produced in Los Angeles by Jack White with the help of Greg Mathieson. They employed top musicians, including Toto guitarist Steve Lukather, bassists Lee Sklar and Bob Glaub and synthesist Michael Boddicker. The leadoff single, "Gloria," is an Italian pop song with new English lyrics by the albums musical contractor, Trevor Veitch. The successful follow-up single, "All Night With Me," established a ballad style which has served Laura Branigan well."

March 18, 2003

Blogger is plunging into previously uncharted depths of suck. Bear with me.

Update: SSCB will be back soon -- not just meaning "new issue" but the actual site will be back up soon. I have a month-to-month plan with my webhost and their accounting department keeps fucking up my billing information for stupid reasons) (my credit's good now! no really!). I finally realized why I wasn't getting any e-mail this morning -- THEY CLOSED MY ACCOUNT. Then their "ops" tool wouldn't work for me (says my account's closed, so haha I can't make any payments to a nonexistent account!); and when I went into my mostly disused Hotmail account to write to the billing department, Hotmail actually (is this new?) barred me from sending the message because my mailbox was too full (with the spam that THEY'RE supposed to help combat, those fuckwads). What a day, what a day.

This is the post where I apologize. For not being around much, for not really posting even though I'm in grade-a hermit mode right now, for almost not giving a shit that the weather's taken a turn for the pleasant, for making sport out of and maintaining semi-detached interest in the art of "not taking proper care of myself" and then watching with great curiosity as I deteriorate into a big-banged world fallen out with nasty coughs and throbbing migraines and fever dreams, for not seeing a doctor out of general distrust for doctors, for vampire nights and zombie mornings, for an ongoing flux-state where fear-of-sleep (or inability, for that matter) changes up with x-treme fatigue and bad craziness. Sorry.

March 17, 2003

24 hours after, I have a hangover. These delayed hangovers are weird; I spent the day 100 percent brighteyed/bushytailed despite getting home at 6:30 am and not even bothering to take so much as a 2-hour nap until seven hours later. Now I'm up and feeling migrainey and I can't sleep so there's music on (there's always music on).

Aztec Camera - "We Could Send Letters" (produced-to-holy-hell High Land, Hard Rain version and more dissonant, "pastoral" single version on the NME C81 comp... latter beats pants off former, but both are durn purty)

Bob Dylan - "She's Your Lover Now" ("...yes you, you just sit around and ask for ashtrays, can't you reach?")

"Hocus Pocus" (orig. Focus version, and hilarious Vandals and Helloween covers of aforementioned audacious euroyodelprog exercise)

D.I. - "Richard Hung Himself" (the national anthem for aging punXor suicidalists)

Rolling Stones - "Wild Horses" (the less said about me just barely rescued from passing out on the Siberia couch by the dulcet strains of etc etc on the jukebox the better)

James Brown - "Lost Someone" ("I'm so weak... I'm so weak... I'm so weak") (and he even exclaims "gee whiz!" -- but DON'T mistake the Godfather's pain for family-counseling tweemo fruitiness)

J. Geils Band - "Love Stinks" (ok and the Joan Jett version too, although hers is sorta anemic in comparison and I don't have a low-budget music video to associate it with)

March 12, 2003

What's on my mind: childhood. I've been thinking hard on the subject of my formative years as a music fan -- how the way I received and appreciated music back then differs from what I do with it now. I feel like I'm regressing, and this may be a good thing -- even though to some extent I'm always fanatical about whatever music I have on my plate at the time, when I'm depressed I'm more prone to take things in passively, to leave MTV or VH1 Classic on for hours and let the steady stream of songs slowly ooze over me. Normally I discover things by browsing SoulSeek; poring through the racks at Other Music; reading blogs, magazines, books, press releases; getting tips from friends. It requires a lot of work on my part.

When I was a kid, when I still relied on my parents or my scant/sporadic allowance to pay for my records, I listened to the radio damn near all the time to compensate for what little I owned. I was a fucking geek about it, too, but it was NYC in the '80s, and a few flips around the dial could give a youngster an amazing education. Z-100 and WPLJ for pop; KISS-FM and WBLS for hip-hop, soul, funk, quiet storm; Hot 97 for dance music, nuyorican salsapop; K-Rock for classic rock and WNEW for classic and modern rock (it's where I first heard R.E.M., back in 1987); CBS-FM for oldies. There were some great left-of-the-dial stations too (WFMU, WSOU, WBAI back when it was still interesting), but I listened to the center-dial stations with the most regularity, and there was a period of about three years in the mid-to-late '80s when my hyperactive nervous energy channeled itself into an unhealthy obsession-compulsion with the American Top 40 -- come hell or highwater pants, I tuned in to the countdown every weekend and made everyone in the family car SHUT UP while Casey Kasem was talking. I didn't know from math or social studies, but I knew chart positions. I was precocious and probably very difficult, but this music stuff was more relevant to me than anything else in my life.

And I was discriminating. I was a savvy little kid with considerably terrific taste for someone who knew absolutely nothing -- back in the very early '80s, I knew I preferred Devo and Blondie to Phil Collins and Christopher Cross, and a little later on I loved Roxanne Shante and thought Huey Lewis was full of shit, and I remember getting very excited when I went with my dad to something called the New York Music Awards (this would be '85 or '86) and Lou Reed and Run-DMC (and I'm pretty sure Joey Ramone too) were up there on the stage.

My fascination with this stuff came long before I'd ever understood words like "genre" and "canon," and I was better for it -- I was aware there were different types of music (obviously), but it wasn't until junior high school that I realized there were folks out there who only liked one type of music, that that one genre was helpful in defining your identity. (I tried to be a metalhead in seventh grade, and I really did love Guns 'n' Roses, Metallica, and some other bands, but I wasn't a very convincing hesher -- I was starting to get hip to punk and Dylan and the Velvets and also one day in ninth grade my "satanic weirdo" bubble was totally burst when I was caught red-handed humming "Vision of Love" in the music room. Nota bene: Mariah and I have long since parted ways, but I still like that song.)

But anyway once I got to high school (fall '91 -- I transferred in as a sophomore), and once I got wind of Nevermind, I started etching out a serious self-conscious canon-abiding "geek" aesthetic, one that would never quite begin to hang together in any coherent (cohesive) way until about ten years later, by which time I was good 'n' ready to reject it all.

So now I'm right back at square one, reconnecting with my past, and I was fucking right -- my taste was that good, and everything I've learned since then hasn't been (intentionally or not) PENANCE for my naivete, it's just a logical progression, me casting my net beyond the signal from the top of the Empire State Building out to the larger world. Nuttin' wrong with that. But MY GOD, that music from my childhood just sparkles when I listen to my handful of old records again now, or when I see the videos on TV, some for the first time in twentyodd years. It's a wonderful thing to experience.

March 10, 2003

" always, Hollywood's there to teach us where we might end up if we don't act responsibly."

March 09, 2003

Technicolor is back. U R all gay.

Top Ten:

1) my friends (they rule)

2) Kelly Osbourne's "Dig Me Out"

3) Super Rap

4) Yes' Tormato

5) the bonus disc of the Style Wars DVD

6) Pantene Classic Care Complete Therapy Conditioner

7) coming to terms with my complete indifference to Guided By Voices

8) Our Bodies, Ourselves: A Book By and For Women (1976 "revised and expanded" ed. with funny fotos of '70s lesbians) (bought off some book dude on Court St. for two US dollars)

9) the view from the Brooklyn Bridge crossing into Manhattan by cab late last Thursday night on our way to APT


Bottom Ten:

1) the fuckin' fare hike

2) trying to buy a $6 12" on Insound and realizing I only had $2 credit left on my Visa

3) being too sick to do much of anything, yet somehow doing EVERYTHING anyway

4) it's not summer yet

5) my ever-growing suspicion that college is the worst thing that can happen to a kid

6) my emotional tug-of-war between cabin fever and civic pride

7) insomnia

8) Tenenbaumesque levels of despair over my failed singing "career"

9) the perennially untapped potential of the New York Transit Museum

10) not having a working camera

March 06, 2003

"But the truth is the Audio Bullys are a dance act, and menace seldom co-exists with such a groove. The very fact that We Don't Care has vocals makes it less menacing by default than a decent percentage of dance music...." Ronan Fitzgerald goes out late at noit and feels tha voib.

"There are so many unemployed people in New York that there's no stigma attached." So sez the New York Post. But I don't buy it. (The theory. I don't buy the Post either, though.)

March 04, 2003

I was gonna mention it the other day, but I was sick and delirious and couldn't work up the energy to get online for more than a few minutes. Now that I'm a little better (not "well" yet, but coming along nicely), I'll plug Nate Patrin's internet radio station, Radio Detritus, which is really terrific. OK, as you were.