January 30, 2011

NYT and Julian Assange

The executive editor of The New York Times, Bill Keller, wrote a piece in today's Sunday Magazine detailing his newspaper's work with WikiLeaks. It's nine pages long, but I thought it was a great read.

Here's a passage from the story that I really liked:

"The Guardian, whose readership is more sympathetic to the guerrilla sensibilities of WikiLeaks, was attacked for being too fastidious about redacting the documents: How dare you censor this material? What are you hiding? Post everything now! The mail sent to The Times, at least in the first day or two, came from the opposite field. Many readers were indignant and alarmed: Who needs this? How dare you? What gives you the right?

Much of the concern reflected a genuine conviction that in perilous times the president needs extraordinary powers, unfettered by Congressional oversight, court meddling or the strictures of international law and certainly safe from nosy reporters. That is compounded by a popular sense that the elite media have become too big for their britches and by the fact that our national conversation has become more polarized and strident.

Although it is our aim to be impartial in our presentation of the news, our attitude toward these issues is far from indifferent. The journalists at The Times have a large and personal stake in the country’s security. We live and work in a city that has been tragically marked as a favorite terrorist target, and in the wake of 9/11 our journalists plunged into the ruins to tell the story of what happened here. Moreover, The Times has nine staff correspondents assigned to the two wars still being waged in the wake of that attack, plus a rotating cast of photographers, visiting writers and scores of local stringers and support staff. They work in this high-risk environment because, while there are many places you can go for opinions about the war, there are few places — and fewer by the day — where you can go to find honest, on-the-scene reporting about what is happening. We take extraordinary precautions to keep them safe, but we have had two of our Iraqi journalists murdered for doing their jobs. We have had four journalists held hostage by the Taliban — two of them for seven months. We had one Afghan journalist killed in a rescue attempt. Last October, while I was in Kabul, we got word that a photographer embedded for us with troops near Kandahar stepped on an improvised mine and lost both his legs.

We are invested in the struggle against murderous extremism in another sense. The virulent hatred espoused by terrorists, judging by their literature, is directed not just against our people and our buildings but also at our values and at our faith in the self-government of an informed electorate. If the freedom of the press makes some Americans uneasy, it is anathema to the ideologists of terror.

So we have no doubts about where our sympathies lie in this clash of values. And yet we cannot let those sympathies transform us into propagandists, even for a system we respect."

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January 27, 2011

Makin' it big

Hey we beat Blanski, despite his ______________ (fill in the blank).

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January 26, 2011


A weekly sampler of what we're listening to (new and old), and what we think you might like, too.



I want to have some massive nights with Craig Finn.


Cliche album cover aside, I like the latest, "Outside," from Tapes 'n Tapes. It seems they still know how to bash and how to build songs that shift gears in captivating ways, but their more mellow stuff may be improving, like "People You Know."

Artist: CAKE

This pick was a no brainer for me until I ran across a couple of new Peter Bjorn and John songs. Either way, it doesn't matter. I'm really digging the new CAKE album Showroom of Compassion. The band has managed to keep their groove over the years, holding true to the geeky lyrics and sounds my ears crave.


A project of John Darnielle.


It's been a while since I contributed. But I'm not dead, wanted to let everyone know. I've been grad schooling, changing apartments, and digressing into 80's music. Okay, I'm not really digressing, I just never knew I liked 80's tunes. I do. Especially The Pretenders. I chose this song, honestly, because its a hit and I don't know much else of their work. What I do know is that Chrissie Hynde's vocals are mesmerizing, and her presentation offers an interesting take on femininity, as does a lot of the music from the time period. How can Chrissie be both hard and soft at the same time? Tough and passionate? Punk and indy, in the parlance of our times? Like a western and a Wes Anderson movie balled into one. And I'm finding more and more that I appreciate the restraint evident in the music (though not perhaps in the clothes).
Guilty pleasure confession: "I'll Stand By You" does something to me.



I just recently started listening to Dead Meadow again, and it reminded me of how deeply and intensely I love this band for their obscenely loud, dense, whirling, and dreamy sound. Regardless of the fact that referring to their lead guitarist's singing as fucking abysmal could be considered complimentary and their songwriting at times veers outside the realm of what is often thought "tasteful", when they simply sit back and play, focusing on primitive, pentatonic improvised rock that is equal parts hammering and heavenly - it's really something special. At their best, they manage to give stoner rock grace, classic rock ambience, and psych-rock balls.


This song, which I think is as pretty as any released last year, pulled me through papers.

GUEST CONTRIBUTOR: Laura, of Tucson, Ariz.

Laura, a former senior publicist at Penguin Books, runs Storyteller PR and spins great music for Tucson's independent local radio station, KXCI. Mark met her at the Dead Western Plains 7" release show. Laura likes excellent cheese, wants to learn viticulture in Spain, and does not think highly of Dave Eggers.


James Blake is hands down my favorite 'discovery' from 2010. The way he warps and extracts sounds from 90's hip-hop samples makes me all tingly inside. His live performances involve him both mixing in front of his computer, AND busting out on a guitar or bass. I love what he's done with this Feist tune. He stays true to mood of the original, but the pulsing background and restrained voice distortion adds a creepy, floating-around-lost-in-space, vibe. Loves it.
Blake has released a lot of singles and EPs in the last 2 years, but his debut full length drops in February.

(for more Blake, check out this and this)

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January 23, 2011

Songs We Remember

I recently ran across a friend's blog where they had compiled the top songs that reminded them of their parents / childhood. The results were pretty interesting, so I thought it'd be fun to do the same thing here.

“Graceland” by Paul Simon
“Sunshine Superman” by Donovan
“Sister Rose” by 10,000 Maniacs
“Love Potion No. 9″ by The Searchers
“Apache” by The Shadows

Going into this, I had no idea what I'd list. It's a pretty even mix of my mom's taste (Paul Simon and 10,000 Maniacs) and my dad's.

All of these songs were heard in one of two places: in my dad's car as he sped down a Louisville interstate, erratically flying around cars...or in my front lawn during the summer months, when my mom would set up the speakers to play music out the upstairs living room windows.

"Machine Gun" by Jimi Hendrix
"For the Longest Time" by Billy Joel
"Raspberry Beret" by Prince
"Territorial Pissings" by Nirvana

"The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" by The Band
"Sloop John B" by Beach Boys
"Tangled Up In Blue" by Bob Dylan
"You Can Call Me Al" by Paul Simon
"Moondance" by Van Morrison

My dad weaned me on country and blues rock while my mom was way into Van Morrison and the Paul Simon. In reality, this list could be 25 items long but nobody wants to read that.

"Yellow Submarine" by The Beatles
My earliest extant memory of pop music is "Yellow Submarine." I heard it on the radio above the washing machine in my parents' house when I was "just five years old". I remember asking my dad what song this was, and he went on to say he liked the Beatles, but that some of their songs are about drugs.

"Let Me Be" by The Turtles
Until I was asked to put this list together, I'd all but forgotten about the Turtles, a deplorably under-appreciated American rock outfit that cites the Byrds and Kinks as influences. (Side note: Today I learned that they released a Village Green-inspired album called Turtle Soup, to which Ray Davies loaned his production skills.) As a family, we listened to "20 Greatest Hits" countless times. The Turtles are also known for "Happy Together" and for their covers of "It Ain't Me Babe" and "Eve of Destruction".

"Surrender" by Cheap Trick
I probably didn't hear "Surrender" until I was in junior high or high school. My brother and I got really into it, and subsequently my dad, who is unceasingly amused with youngsters who take a liking to the music of his time, told of how he once phoned in a request for "Surrender" to a Big Rapids, Michigan, radio station. He was told by the on-air host that the song had been pulled from rotation at the request of "the city fathers," who were concerned about the lyrics' supposed drug references. Ironically, the lyrics are from the perspective of baby boomer kids who are bewildered that their parents are more sexually and psychedelically unhinged than they are. Anyway, by the time some 25 years had passed, WBRN had loosened up enough to give this song frequent airplay. Just about every time we were working at the warehouse, we would hear this song and crank it up.

"Band on the Run" by Paul McCartney and the Wings
Again, my dad can be credited for my acquaintance with "Band on the Run" and "Mr. Blue Sky," but I don't have any standout memories surrounding them, so I will let them speak for themselves.

"Mr. Blue Sky" by Electric Light Orchestra

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January 22, 2011

Snowballs and Stairway

Econ sent me a few videos he founds on his computer as he was trying to clean up his hard drive. I took the liberty of uploading this one. Note the end of the video and the BUZZ 102.5 signoff. Forgot how much I loved that station.

I also have what I believe to be archival footage of the Dawn of The Hellbatroatess (aka, the very first instance of the drunk Jon laugh).

Now, the REAL question is: Has the Genitive Bullshit video survived? I would probabaly pay money to see that video again.

Okay, maybe not, but I would like to see it and others like it. Anyone got it?

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January 9, 2011

Fun Day at Sea

"The storm is over" -- written on a truck in Nassau, Bahamas




boat beer

In November, Katie and I went cruising for the first time, thanks to my cousin's choice of a destination wedding in Key West. We sailed on the Carnival Fantasy. Just more than a month later, I'm still looking to share 3 things connected to the trip -- the photos above (more on Facebook), some "cruise journal" excerpts, and the actual cruise journal itself, which was a custom made little book that I decided to use for the cruise and ended up having a lot of fun filling with little scraps and maps. More on that below. First, though, we go to the "fun ship" journal:

3:20 a.m. 11/12/10

Woke before the alarm, donned pants to receive the room service. Morning stretch. Prep for land.

Nassau is a schizophrenic little island. Pure touristy ham and cheese on many streets, but funky bustling little city just a block or two away. We dodged the hawkers of cab rides and braids to embark on a New York Times-inspired historical walking tour. We saw a church, government buildings (pink), the jail-turned-library, a fort, and a water tower. The trashy cars and lack of sidewalks defined our travels on foot.

I took many neat photos and enjoyed the "little things." Like the lettering of old signs and hand-painted signs and the red school children uniforms. I liked the wonky cars and the friendly waves between merchants that seemed to show that Bahamians really do love everyone.

12:08 a.m. 11/13/10

Our health is deteriorating after a night of little sleep and only sporadic naps to compensate. Our alcohol supply is diminished. My scruff is scruffier. We were off the boat by 10 a.m.

Freeport presents a tourist's nightmare of industrial overtones and a cruise ship pier far flung from island attractions. We probably enjoyed the container ships and oil refineries more than most.

2:20 a.m. 11/14/10

Key West
Our best day off the boat and an even better one for newlyweds Chris and Joy. Fort Zachary Taylor State Park was an excellent beach wedding venue with a scenic vista and easy access to some clear, warm ocean water. I was happy to hike up my dress pants. We also shot two cool Polaroids with the rich blue backdrop. The wedding went off without a hitch. The reception lunch kept up the fantastic day on "Bone Island," as everything from the chips to the fritters and red snapper to key lime pie were superb.

10:56 p.m. 11/15/10

We're home now but still wobbling around as "cruise lag" continues to stump our brains. Our last fun day at sea was a lurching affair.

At dinner we ordered escargot, which Juan enjoyed and Dad tolerated. But it required a second round (chocolate-covered, we joked) to get Mom to try the little snail dudes. She said she'd be OK if they were like buttery sausage (Jaun's description) but balked quite a bit. Then she chewed and chewed on 'em.

My "Geek Book"
One of our favorite bookmakers is erinzam, from whom we've bought a handful of creative little repurposed books and such, including one in which she used a 1955 Bowman baseball card for covers.

I decided last-minute to take along a geek book for the cruise, and it proved perfect for my pocket and easy to wrap up. Once back at home, I went wild one night trimming down our maps and receipts and business cards and doodles and notes so they'd also fit, and now the little book is bulging. This little project has me thinking of other things to be keeping in notebooks.

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