Monthly Archives: June 2009

Thoughts from Dr. Doom

Some interesting comments from Nouriel Roubini (known as Dr Doom for some of his predictions on the economy) in this article “Dr Doom Has Some Good News” by James Fallows in the Atlantic.

I asked Roubini whether, similarly, American authorities and the U.S. public appreciated the contradictions in their own position. He answered by returning to the damage caused by boom-and-bust cycles and the need to find a different path.

“We’ve been growing through a period of time of repeated big bubbles,” he said. “We’ve had a model of ‘growth’ based on overconsumption and lack of savings. And now that model has broken down, because we borrowed too much. We’ve had a model of growth in which over the last 15 or 20 years, too much human capital went into finance rather than more-productive activities. It was a growth model where we overinvested in the most unproductive form of capital, meaning housing. And we have also been in a growth model that has been based on bubbles. The only time we are growing fast enough is when there’s a big bubble.

“The question is, can the U.S. grow in a non-bubble way?” He asked the question rhetorically, so I turned it back on him. Can it?

“I think we have to …” He paused. “You know, the potential for our future growth is going to be lower, because of the excesses we’ve had. Sustainable growth may mean investing slowly in infrastructures for the future, and rebuilding our human capital. Renewable resources. Maybe nanotechnology? We don’t know what it’s going to be. There are parts of the economy we can expect to lead to a more sustainable and less bubble-like growth. But it’s going to be a challenge to find a new growth model. It’s not going to be simple.” I took this not as pessimism but as realism.

I do agree that our notion of ‘economic growth’ has been badly skewed by years of easy credit (and before that we benefitted from years of low-competition after WWII).  Where we go next is anybody’s guess.

David Byrne in Portland, 23-June-2009

David Byrne and band (& a marching band!) came to Portland tonight…  and put on a real Show!  Basically a career highlights retrospective, he mixed recent Byrne/Eno material with well-known songs from the Talking Heads days and afterwards.  He had with him three singers, three dancers, bass, drums, percussion, keyboards.  A big, wide open stage, with everyone in back except for David in front and center.  On most songs dancers would be out with David and the other singers – most fun when one guy hopped right over David mid-song.  Each song had its own feel with the lighting and stage arrangements.  As best I can remember, songs included:

  • ‘Strange Overtones’ & about three others from the latest Byrne/Eno album
  • ‘I Zimbra’
  • ‘Air’
  • ‘My Big Hands’
  • ‘Houses in Motion’ – this one got a huge ovation
  • ‘Heaven’
  • ‘Crosseyed and Painless’
  • ‘Help Me Somebody’
  • ‘Heaven’
  • ‘Born Under Punches’
  • ‘Life During Wartime’

encore:

  • ‘Take Me To The River’
  • ‘Once in a Lifetime’ – another huge response

then out came a sexy San Francisco marching band through the audience and onstage to join for:

  • ‘Road to Nowhere’
  • ‘Burning Down the House’

That’s Entertainment!

PJ Harvey & John Parish @ Roseland, 17-June-2009

Saw PJ Harvey, John Parish and the band (including Eric Drew Feldman) last night at Roseland.  The set list was restricted to songs from their two collaboration albums, this year’s “A Man A Woman Walked By” and “Dance Hall at Louse Point” from 1996.  Thus the opening tune “Black Hearted Love” was the most conventionally rocking, after that things ranged widely, with John playing a little banjo and ukelele now and then (PJ sang only, no guitar).  PJ looked great, seemed very at ease and enjoying herself, so one of the best shows of hers I’ve seen over the years!

Marshall Crenshaw @ Mississippi Studios, 11-June-2009

Went to see an old favorite, Marshall Crenshaw, the other night after the Pedalpalooza Parade, over at the renovated Mississippi Studios.  The new room lacks some of the character of the old space, but the sound was good and the crowd was really enjoying Crenshaw’s solo performance.  Above is his new CD ‘Jaggedland’, first one in a few years, and he played quite a few songs from it along with great oldies, going all the way back to his first single, “Something’s Gonna Happen”.  I picked up the new one, and I’d say it’s right up there with his best stuff.

Here’s a bit from his site on what he’s up to these days:

Over the last few years, Crenshaw has played 40 – 50 shows a year on what he dubs “the NPR singer-songwriter circuit.” Says Crenshaw, “This album took a lot of wear and tear on my emotions, but in the end I think it’s one of my best ever and I am so excited to have worked with so many of my favorite players on it. When people ask me why I keep making music after all these years, I have a simple answer: because I have to. For lack of a more colorful term, there is truly something magical to it and I never take it for granted.”

Funny side note: during the show, particularly for some of the early songs, he asked folks to pull out the key chains and ratttle them to the rhythm  – recreating a bit of that jingle-jangle production!

Pedalpalooza 2009!

Here’s the lovely poster for this year’s Pedalpalooza, which starts today!  Bicycling events daily all around Portland for the next two weeks!

You can find all the info here at:  http://www.shift2bikes.org/

LED bike lights from MonkeyLectric

Just found out about these from a twitter post – pretty amazing!  The company that makes this is MonkeyLectric based in Berkeley, CA.  Here’s a cool gallery of wheel images from a Portland rider.   Here’s a cool video that shows off some of the more sophisticated stuff they can do – check it out!

More on 'Pedaling Revolution'

image by James Victore in NYT

(image by James Victore in NYT)

As a follow-up to my earlier post on the new book ‘Pedaling Revolution’ by Jeff Mapes, I note a couple items:

– a nice overview on the success of the book and Mapes’s reaction to it over here at BikePortland.org which notes that the book has gone into a third printing

David Byrne reviewed the book in the NYT Sunday Book Review last weekend.  He had this to say:

As Mapes points out, when more women begin riding, that will signal a big change in attitude, which will prompt further changes in the direction of safety and elegance. I can ride till my legs are sore and it won’t make riding any cooler, but when attractive women are seen sitting upright going about their city business on bikes day and night, the crowds will surely follow. A recent article in a British newspaper showed the pop singer Duffy on a pink bike. The model Agyness Deyn claims never to be without hers, and Courteney Cox reportedly presented Jennifer Aniston with a Chanel bike last year. Tabloid fodder does not a revolution make, but it’s a start.

I’ll just say that I see plenty of women on bicycles here in town (but have yet to witness a celebrity on two wheels)!