Monthly Archives: June 2006

An Inconvenient Truth (2006)

Saw the Al Gore powerpoint show the other day, and I thought he did a pretty good job of presenting the material without going over the top in alarmism. I know some critics have said he presents some data as more certain than it really is, and perhaps that’s the case, I don’t know.

What surprises me about the folks who “don’t go for” this whole global warming thing are several points; (1) they seem to think that doing anything at all will ‘destroy the economy’, (2) and that government can’t really do anything right anyway, and (3) that the market will sort it all out. Not quite a coherent position.

While I believe that some skepticism about climate models and human causation are in order, I do believe that there are government policies that could do some good at attempting to lessen the potential impacts of warming. For instance, not subsidizing housing built in low-lying, hurricane prone areas. Studying warming impacts on agriculture and disease. And increasing fuel standards and/or imposing a carbon tax.

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Driving to heaven!

Here’s a great line from Kunstler:

Sometimes I think: if this nation could somehow harness the energy in all the smoke it blows up its own ass, we’d all be able to drive to heaven in Cadillac Escalades.

I too get pretty fed up with commentators who take this line with regard to the future:  they say, “let’s face reality, you’ll never get Americans out of their cars.”  As if cars are all just as much fun as we see in the advertisements, as if there’s never any traffic, as if commuting for two hours a day is some kind of fun.  Cars are, like, so twentieth century!

Tom Verlaine & band @ Slim's SF – 17-Jun-2006

While down in San Francisco last week I saw Tom Verlaine and his band (Fred Smith, Louie Appel, Jimmy Ripp) at Slim’s. Tom looked good if (as always) a bit gaunt, and his band was top-notch. I really enjoyed the show, which combined his cool approach with some real rock and roll heat at times – some nice interplay of guitars with Ripp, and a solid rhythm section. Only recognized one old song, not that it mattered much; it was about the playing.

Here’s a recent article with a good interview with Verlaine.

Rip it up and start again – Simon Reynolds (2005)

Rip it up

Just finished this book by Simon Reynolds on the post-punk era, 1978-1984. While I was familiar with most of the bands, there were some good back stories that flesh things out nicely (like Malcolm McLaren’s machinations with BowWowWow, and the Trevor Horn/Paul Morley ZTT story). More detail on the English side of the story, less on the American underground of the time, particularly missing the whole SST story for the most part. Very good website with plenty more materials that didn’t get in the book – discographies, footnotes, etc.

Also some interesting commentary in this Slate book club piece, with regards to American and English music scenes.

Difficult Albums

I was thinking about some of the listening hurdles that I remember from the late seventies and early eighties: albums that on first listen seemed just too difficult, too hard to understand…

No New York

No New York, 1978.  Found it pretty scary at first, when I borrowed it from someone and put it on the turntable.  Eventually found a way in with the Contortions’ cover of “I Can’t Stand Myself” (James Brown).

Remain in Light

Remain in Light, Talking Heads, 1980.  Couldn’t penetrate this at first.  Too dense, too forbidding.  The rather ugly cover with pixellated masks reflects that feeling.  Came to love it, but it took time.

Sandinista, The Clash, 1980.  This one just freaked me out, cause I bought the import the first day I saw it, knowing nothing about it.  The first song, “The Magnificent Seven” followed by “Hitsville U.K.” had me wondering whether I had actually purchased a Clash album…

Prayers on Fire

The Birthday Party, around 1982.  I remember first hearing them at a record store in Hoboken, NJ called Pier Platters.  Again, just too dense and insane!

And one more, that was already fully accepted by the time I first heard it, but think about how it must have sounded when it came out, and you put the needle down for the first track, “Baba O’Riley”:

Who's Next

Who’s Next, The Who, 1971.  To hear more than a minute of synthesizer intro back in 1971 must have been a disorienting experience, when you think about what people were probably expecting.  Sort of like my experience with Sandinista.

One other thought:  I remember when I first saw The Fall’s “Live at the Witch Trials” album back in about 1979 or so, I looked it over in fascination but was too scared of it to buy it.

Pere Ubu's 'Cloudland' (1989)

Pere Ubu - Cloudland (1989)

I had this album back in the day, and then probably sold it at some point, but was able to find a copy at Amoeba in SF, and I’m glad I did. Weird pop!

Might as well get comfy in Iraq…

NYT reports today:

Mr. Bush on Friday made clear that the American commitment to the country will be long-term. Officials say the administration has begun to look at the costs of maintaining a force of roughly 50,000 troops there for years to come, roughly the size of the American presence maintained in the Philippines and Korea for decades after those conflicts.

Somehow I doubt that they’ve only just begun thinking about that.

The Future

Good short column from Michael Chabon on our ideas (or lack thereof) about the future (and the Clock of the Long Now):

If you ask my eight-year-old about the Future, he pretty much thinks the world is going to end, and that’s it. Most likely global warming, he says—floods, storms, desertification—but the possibility of viral pandemic, meteor impact, or some kind of nuclear exchange is not alien to his view of the days to come. Maybe not tomorrow, or a year from now. The kid is more than capable of generating a full head of optimistic steam about next week, next vacation, his tenth birthday. It’s only the world a hundred years on that leaves his hopes a blank.

What's Not Weird?

Today at Powell’s, flipping through a new book of collected interviews with Bob Dylan, found this little gem on page 406, from 1999.

In response to a question about whether some event was weird, Dylan says: “Well, listen, everything’s weird. You tell me something that’s not weird.”

Exactly.

Sonic Youth – "Rather Ripped"

New tunes streaming now. The sound is a bit smoother, a bit more compressed than the recent stuff, but sounds all right to me.