Monthly Archives: December 2006

Thoughts for the new year…

Have no fear!

This comes from a post at WorldChanging.com:

We can build a bright green society, one which will give our kids a future. We can build a much safer society, one which will increase our kids chances of growing up healthy to live in that future. By and large, the steps involved in building both are the same, and none of them involve color-coded terror alerts. The time has come to stop living in fear, and start building a better world.

Full post here.

Memorable reads of 2006

By rough count only about 25% of the books I read this year were new in 2006. So this list is simply those books that I found most memorable, regardless of when they were written. Memorable is generally equal to a recommendation!

Fiction:

Trance

Trance (2005) – Christopher Sorrentino. One of the best in recent years, a telling of the Patty Hearst/SLA saga.

Aberration of Starlight (1980) – Gilbert Sorrentino. A four-sided tale of a summer in New Jersey in the 1930s.

Passing On (2004) – Tom LeClair. Musing on death or how to leave this world.

The Emperor’s Children (2006) – Claire Messud. Set in NYC leading up to 9/11, characters trying to find their mission.

Journey to the End of the Night (1934) – Celine. WWI and beyond, trying to find some hope in a grim world where people frequently disappoint.

Against the Day (2006) – Thomas Pynchon. The world circa 1893-1914, perhaps mapping through various transformations to today?

Torpor (2006) – Chris Kraus.  The story of a trip to Romania in around 1990, deals with abortion, the Holocaust, a fading marriage.  Engaging.

Non-fiction:

Against Method (1975) – Paul Feyerabend. An argument for creative thinking in science, and a caution to rationalists.

Bing Crosby: The Early Years 1903-1940 (2001) – Gary Giddins. The story of the first true multi-media sensation, who seemed to be only capable of falling upward.

Palimpsest (1995) – Gore Vidal. His first volume of memoirs, to age 40.

Rip it Up and Start Again (2005) – Simon Reynolds. A thorough review of the post-punk bands.

The Origin of Wealth (2006) – Eric Beinhocker. Economics with an evolutionary twist.

I Remember (1975) – Joe Brainard. A book of memories of growing up in Tulsa, OK.

2006 Music Rundown

This post is on my favorite music of the year, both the new stuff and some older things I got into. There’s plenty that I don’t hear, so this is just what I happened upon.Best of 2006 (no particular order):

Dave Holland Quintet – Critical Mass
Pat Metheny / Ornette Coleman – Song X, 20th Anniversary Edition
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Show Your Bones
Yo La Tengo – I am not afraid of you and I will beat your ass
Bob Dylan – Modern Times
Cat Power – The Greatest
Juana Molina – Son
The Decemberists – The Crane Wife
Donald Fagen – Morph the Cat
Sonic Youth – Rather Ripped

Other good 2006 releases:
Ornette Coleman – Sound Grammar
Bob Dylan – No Direction Home
Keith Jarrett – Live at Carnegie Hall
Scritti Politti – White Bread Black Beer
Frisell, Carter, Motion – s/t
Paul Motian Band – Garden of Eden

Older stuff I liked a lot in 2006:
Bing Crosby – box set of hits 1930-1957
Dave Holland – quintets, big band, lots of good CDs
Paul Motian – On Broadway standards, Monk in Motian, again, lots of good stuff
Monk/Trane Live in 1957
Sam Cooke – Night Beat
Kenny Garrett – the Coltrane tribute, Pursuance, is excellent

Update: Best Live Shows! I’m afraid I only got out to about 20 shows this year, and the ones I enjoyed most:
Bob Dylan & His Band – Oct 14, Memorial Coliseum
Yo La Tengo & Why? – Oct 16, Crystal Ballroom
Mission of Burma – Sept 16, Doug Fir
Os Mutantes – July 21, Webster Hall, NYC
William Parker Quartet – May 21, The Fez
Jonathan Richman – Dec 9, Dante’s

James Brown, R.I.P.

James Brown

James Brown died early this morning.  I saw him perform just once, in Boston in January 1987, and it was one hell of a show!  He was a giant.

The Unconquerable World – Jonathan Schell (2003)

Twisted Gun

Schell’s book makes the argument that nuclear weapons have essentially broken the old war system, and reviews the history of nonviolent change. I found a couple quotes to be the most interesting material, on the idea that the major battleground is in people’s minds.

From John Adams, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson:

What do we mean by the revolution? The war? That was no part of the revolution; it was only an effect and consequence of it. The revolution was in the minds of the people, and this was effected from 1760 to 1775, in the course of fifteen years, before a drop of blood was shed at Lexington.

In a similar line of thought, Gandhi writes on India (before independence):

The causes that gave them [the English] India enable them to retain it. Some Englishmen state that they took and they hold India by the sword. Both these statements are wrong. The sword is entirely useless for holding India. We alone keep them.

In these days where we clearly see the limits of conventional warfare, it’s time to talk about alternative strategies, which may just every once and awhile change minds.

On James Kim

James Kim with his daughters

For the last 10 days the story of the Kim family, stranded in the Oregon coastal area trying to head home to San Francisco after Thanksgiving, has been followed closely by many. I found myself frequently wondering about them, and hoping James would be found alive, but becoming increasingly doubtful. On Wednesday rescuers found James dead from hypothermia.

This case, this situation, fascinates us because it gets to the heart of a question for which we both want to know the answer, but at the same time are scared to discover. The question is what are we truly made of when confronted with a life and death crisis? how would each of us respond? and how much would we do in the effort to save loved ones?

Without going through the experience, it’s impossible to say how you would handle it. And it’s heartbreaking to be reminded that sometimes the most extreme effort is not enough. James Kim, R.I.P.

Utrecht Models

I thought it was about time to get some more images up. Here are three from store windows in Utrecht, the Netherlands, from October.

Menomena / 31 Knots @ Disjecta, 30-Nov-2006

Walked across the river last night to the Disjecta art space for the Menomena show. Saw a couple tunes from openers Leti Angel (pretty good!) and then an intense set from 31 Knots (kind of reminded me of Agitpop). 31 Knots had a few sound difficulties before they got started, but all got sorted out and really rocked. Above is their recent ep which has good tunes and a great design.

Headliners Menomena had a bunch of sound difficulties too, and it seemed to me that they never quite got in sync. I’ve seen them play much tighter, and have really enjoyed their shows, but last night really didn’t do much for me. I hope they have better luck on the rest of their tour, and I still look forward to the next album due out in January.