November 30, 2005



But I'd love to know.

UPDATE! J of Heart On a Stick sent in this link, which answers the question, sort of.

If you cannot wait any longer for the new Girls Aloud, and are worried about the turdy exchange rate, then treat yourself to Meja's Seven Sisters for as little as $0.01. I would recommend adding a copy of the "Hippies In The 60's" single, unless you are feeling flush and want to go for The Nu Essential, which contains the latter.

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November 28, 2005



Even though I think I already have. Or you could just let Bun do the talking.

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Haven't seen the exhibit yet, but the JPEGs are working for me.

Going through The Brick again, and I continue not to get over albums two and three. (How much would you like to hear Bun rhyme over the opening of "Memories Can't Wait"?) But. What. The. Fuck. Is. "Stay Up Late"? What crackhead wants to make a baby stay up all night? Maybe someone who had not yet become responsible for such a baby? Just guessing—art is not biography, nor should it be. But damn. That shit is scary. Don't say it out loud if you haven't been there.

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I learned on Friday night that The Meters are no longer the property of funk nerds, Josie fiends or Ice Cube and The Boogie Men. They were kidnapped by rasty drunken folks in the early 1990s when the band returned to the stage as The Funky Meters. Having enlisted in The Plastic Bead Army (and, God hopes, gotten a truck full of scrip for their service), the band has forsaken its glued-tight Josie machines for slack improv (P-Funk they are not) and air guitar played on actual guitar. Why Leo Nocentelli, the unearthly human who came up with "Tippi-Toes," the greatest rhythm guitar part of all time, would stoop to this had better have a lot to do with money.

Sample banter:

Zig: "Who knows about the GREEN BUD?" Much whooping. Much off-time drunken stumbling.

The good news is they can still play their asses off. While watching the band, you do not have the uneasy "What's wrong with that one?" thoughts invoked by some beloved bands after they've gone grey and returned to the road. The Meters started with a long version of Sly's "Sing A Simple Song"—nothing like their recorded version—and though the funk wasn't completely tensile, the feel and time were dead on.

When they hit "Cissy Strut," I was in heaven. I love George Porter, Jr.—his Big Uncle smile, his hairy and overblown bass sound. If they had played "Doodle-Oop," I would have burst a blood vessel. But the show went straight to the loosey-goosey flapping for broheems and brohettes puking all over the world. And "Be My Lady"? Because, they announced, it was a "hit" in New York 28 years ago? It was? (Their highest charting single was "Cissy Strut" in 1969. 1977's "Be My Lady" didn't chart on Billboard, according to Whitburn.)

I sure was happy when they played "Cardova," after what seemed like two hours (more likely 45 minutes) of half-hearted vamps and pauses. I salute Leo's introduction of Zig as "the most sampled drummer of all time," but I am not sure I can get with that. Clyde Stubblefield and that guy from the Skull Snaps (or equivalent guy from the Soul Searchers) have put in many virtual appearances.

Who goes to see such shows in New York? Not rappers. During a song—maybe "Funkify Your Life"? I forget—Zig asked for a rapper to come up and freestyle. Nobody moved, so a member of his road crew got up and rapped about the Fifth Ward. Yay. But Zig wanted a local. Nobody stepped up. "What the hell's going on? We can't get a rapper in New York?" I don't think there was even a rapper's lawyer in the house.

Long may they taken drunken people's money, but let them give us loving nerds a one-time gift: the entire Josie catalog performed in order, no improv. I'd auction my left one for that. They could actually pull it off, which makes it even more frustrating that they don't. Imagine—the entire Flavor Unit would probably come out.

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I am not mad at this.

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November 25, 2005



[In English accent.]

"What is the national language of Massachusetts? Is it, A) American, or
B) Canadian?"


"Incorrect. The lanaguge of Massachusetts is Asian!"


"Next question. What is the most fragile thing made in the country that speaks Canadian? Is is A) a glass bird, B) glass plates and cups, or C) a glass chair?"

"I don't know."

"A—glass birds."

"Nobody knows that."

"Next. What country is shaped like a Cadillac Escalade? Is it A) Poland, or
B) Germany?"



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Tego was the only performer at Megaton with hip-hop beats (primarily), no dancers and a Fat Albert hat. (Not all good things, necessarily.) Ivy Queen ripped it, Pharrell joined Daddy Yankee for "Drop It" and many male duos appeared, Angel y Khriz perhaps best among them. Puerto Ricans love Don Omar and anyone who can say the words "Puerto Rico" really loud. If you, the performer, could say these words but did not have a Puerto Rican flag, one was supplied for you.

(Steal this idea, non-reggaeton acts: a three-song set.)

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November 23, 2005



Aaron Ritzenberg writes, in reference to the Houston column: "I want to remind you of Special Ed's video for "I Got it Made" (1989), which featured the rapper riding around on a hovercraft (on sea and on land, I believe). For Special Ed, the automobile was no big thing; as he put it, 'My name is Special Ed and I'm a super-duper star / every other week I get a brand new car.' The hovercraft, though—now that's something special."

My apologies to Special Ed and his vision.

Less hilariously, Karl Sevareid, bassist for The Robert Cray Band, points out the error in this Notebook: "Zigaboo Modeliste deserves every speck of credit for his long list of great recorded performances. But not, I think, for Labelle's 'Lady Marmalade'. That massive drum track was courtesy of Herman Villere Ernest III."

My sincere apologies to Herman.

Next week, I will tell you about Andy Gill's version of "I'm A Believer," featuring a Syndrum solo by Zig.

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November 21, 2005



New column and notebook up. An actual post coming soon.

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November 17, 2005



How excellent is Lady Sovereign's new sign?

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November 16, 2005



I still don't like this picture. It's a bit sea-faring. And I am not one of the three people pictured here. If I had to pick "pictured" or "not available," I'd pick the latter. (My bad, as I supplied the photo that 92Y picked up, so I gotta get that game in motion.)

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November 15, 2005



I will be on Soundcheck today between 2:30 and 3:00, talking about Houston hip-hop. Jon would do a better job. I can, at least, promise not to identify "Barre Baby" as a Monkees song.

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"This garbage is very interesting. I am not going to go to college."


"People who don't go to college have to get uninteresting jobs like being a garbage man. But I think it is an interesting job . I am not going to go to college so I can study this garbage."

For those planning to throw turkey scraps into the garbage, make sure you do follow these rules first.

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November 14, 2005



And I can't understand you!


You wasted my time while I was time-wasting! Why don't you just have a bat mitzvah with Ja Rule and Ashanti, you dumb old man! Question mark! Critics are supposed to be, you know, perky boosters who make SENSE. Uh! You OWE ME.

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November 13, 2005



It has bad words in it.

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November 11, 2005



Joe Carducci: "Re: Altman. He is overrated, of course, but whereas Cimino had to wear the coat for forcing the studios to take back artistic freedom from the irresponsible seventies directors, all of the others also misspent that freedom: freedom that come out of left field with the unlikely low budget successes of Fonda's Easy Rider and the Leone Eastwood westerns. Altman, Friedkin, Coppola, Scorcese and more all pushed for insane budgets in complete confidence they were geniuses audiences would follow. I went to see a Don Siegel retrospective at the Directors Guild in LA, and saw Eastwood introduce Dirty Harry and The Beguiled with Mike Watt. Mike clicked with the low budget b-mindset of Eastwood and Siegel. We blam econo."

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November 10, 2005

November 09, 2005



Michael Robbins, from the University of Chicago, writes: "Nashville is surely the most overrated piece of shit in the annals of American film. At least Greil Marcus has seen through it, but only as his lone dissent from the unquestioned Wisdom of Pauline Kael.

It's Kael's fault, of course, that Altman is up there on the heights—ditto for Scorsese, de Palma, Coppola, all very good at their best, all laughably determined by Wisdom Kael to be among the Greatest Filmmakers of All Time (and how's Bertolucci looking these days, for chrisssake?). Cf. Jonathan Rosenbaum's criticism for a corrective to all this.

As for Nashville, it's a train of cliches that keep a-coming, right up to the final bullet. But I'll never tire of McCabe, Long Goodbye, and M*A*S*H & Gosford Park wasn't bad."

As someone who can't even identify a fucking BEATLES SONG, I think my opinion needs to be radically discounted. Hence the guest stars.

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First, an utterly embarrassing correction, which no one, remarkably, has demanded of me yet. In this week's Pop Note, I allege, incorrectly, that "Kerosene" quotes The Monkees' "I'm A Believer." Any dumbass—though apparently not this dumbass—will recognize the harmonica quote as a reference to the harmonica part from The Beatles' "I Should Have Known Better." This fits, thematically. And is incredibly fucking famous. There is no bigger and better word than "duh."

All kinds of feelings about this Robert Altman:

Jordan: "Popeye."

Joe Gross: "I'm a fan of even shitty Altman, and God knows there's plenty. Altman was a rite of passage in my amateur film buff household, along with 8 1/2, Godfather 1 and 2, and a whole mess more.

My mom is a HUGE Altman fan, and is fairly well convinced that Nashville and Three Women are among the most compelling films of all time.

My grandfather, God rest his soul, went to his grave thinking Popeye was one of the most slept-on surrealist films of the '80s. I even hold Short Cuts, Gosford Park, and Secret Honor close to my heart. Never could get through HEALTH, tho Clover's spot-on about McCabe. Amazing movie, one of the top five westerns ever made. Still can't stand Pręt-ŕ-Porter and The Player, though.

What I go to Altman for is performance, frankly. Something about the guy can yank out the cold blue steel best in all sorts of personalities: Tim Robbins' nasty cop in Short Cuts is a masterpiece of everyday cruelty. Maggie Smith, the great Michael Gambon, Clive Owen and Helen Mirren in Gosford Park. Shelly Duval and Sissy Spacek in the deeply bizarre Three Women. Elliot Gould in Long Goodbye. Almost everyone in Nashville and MASH. Most of my friends find Philip Baker Hall's ranting Nixon in Secret Honor unwatchable and over the top, but if you look at it as a portrait of Nixon's id, rather than literally Nixon, it works better. Dr. T and the Women nailed aspects of Dallas right on the nose, and he squeezed a real-live decent performance out of Richard Gere, which was just amazing to witness (Shelly Long is always good, though.) Jesus, I even liked The Company.

Some pals and critic-pals find Altman's treatment of women problematic, to which I again defer to my mom, who always felt that a theme that Altman comes back to again and again is the cruelty that men can inflict on women. Now, does that come from a place of misogyny in Altman? I don't have a clue, but he makes it work, and we take from it what we do."

Alex: "Three words for Mr. Clover, on the handliing multiple plots: John Fucking Sayles."

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Joshua comes back with this: "You so crazy. Nashville one of hundred greatest flix and Brewster McCloud and McCabe and Mrs Miller and The Long Goodbye and M*A*S*H all potentially better and no one, even Coppola, has ever handled intertwined multiple plots better (though sometimes he's bad at this, too) and boy, did he understand the Seventies, not the rollerdisco seventies kitsch but the psycho-political climate and landscape and you should rilly give him many more chances as he is a great artist."

I forgot McCabe and Mrs Miller and M*A*S*H, which I will give it up for. Concede on 1970s politics; not sure about success of multiple plot lines. Find him flat, visually, and pretty glancing, multi-narratives and all.

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Told the insurance company I park the car in New York sometimes.

Tipped off the health care company that they had overpaid a claim.

Dropped my keys down the elevator shaft.
Cost to retrieve: $140.
Feeling like Matthew Perry in an unwatchable plane flick, setting up his character's loser profile: priceless.

Also: Robert Altman. What's the big deal? Struggled through Nashville this week.

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November 08, 2005



Just finished Margrave of The Marshes, John Peel's autobiography. He wrote about one hundred and fifty pages of it before dying suddenly in October of 2004. His wife, Sheila, and their four kids, completed the book.

The Peel tone that worked well on BBC 1 and in the Radio Times columns doesn't work so well over the long haul. The self-deprecation—a trait to which he refers repeatedly—becomes narcissism when extended beyond the link or blurb. Peel also rocks an insecure, faux literary style (the phrase "reason insisted" pops up three times) that works fine over a beer—or the airwaves—but not in a book. Sheila's section is better, though she has some of the same cutesy tics. I'm a Peel fanatic, and read it in one gulp, as will any fellow traveller, but it's not going to convert anyone who wasn't already hoarding old Peel cassettes and tapes of Home Truths.

If it's England you're after, I would point you instead to Kevin Sampson, little known here. He's a bonafide scouser (unlike Liverpool supporter but Suffolk resident Peel) and secret master of the sex-and-vernacular game that Irvine Welsh has made a few houses on. Start with Awaydays.

(Peel's name was Ravenscroft. Peel was made up by someone, perhaps a secretary, at the BBC.)

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November 07, 2005



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Bun B piece up today. I hope to have the full interview on the site by the end of the week. You want it.

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November 05, 2005



I am in Manchester, unable to work out the outgoing mail server, so I'll respond to this in public. I love love love the Cardinal record. The progress/decline implicit in my terse blurb is the same old ind*e lament, dialed back a bit. I mean, if it's Cardinal you're hawking, I'll do the merch table, seen? 1994 was right on the edge for me, a bit of possibly naďve utopia—all the teams looked strong, and the borders were porous. Anyone remember Sun Electric? Swell?

(Galaxy is number one for R&B in Manchester, they say. Rihanna's new single is apparently big with texters. Why don't I like Rhiianianaia? She's no Robbie. Oh, "Gold Digger." That's good. There's a second or two in the middle that haven't yet been burned into my cortex.)

Saw a London preview of Blue Man last night, first time since seeing it ten years ago when Clem joined the house band. Some bits are so brilliant—the pre-verbal baby/alien character of the Blue Man, the use of silence, black light and silhouette. Other bits wear thin—the goddamn tribal tube drumming, knocking pop choreography, using arena rock while "making fun" of it, the toilet paper barrage. If Simon McBurney got hold of the show, it could be really great pop theater.

My favorite museum, maybe anywhere, is the National Portrait Gallery. The first floor is small enough to feel comprehensible and doable, but curated with an intensity that packs a considerable critical take into the footprint. This "Self Portrait" exhibit is no exception. Loads of women artists I'd not heard of, including Suzanne Valadon, whose "Blue Room" is included. A model for Degas, she had the gall to go and be an artist herself. Also, self portrait by Sabine Lepsius, Berlin, 1885, rocking a boy's haircut and giving Sargent a run for his milky-eyed money.

The Tate Modern is housing an installation by Rachel Whiteread called The Unilever Series, which most museumgoers were translating as "all those white boxes."


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November 04, 2005



A fair amount of Arctic Monkeys material appears to be available online. Franz Strokes, in pretty much the right ways, with a jigger of Futureheads. Words better and voice less mannered than Kapranos, though it's all in the same ballpark. Band plays well. I'll take the new Girls Aloud over either, though not by much. (These Monkeys are growing on me, uh uh etc .) "Biology" is bernanas—seven different hooks, four different genres, maybe five. Higgins!

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Hit It Or Quit It Number 18 is now available at Quimby's and will probably be on sale in New York somewhere. (This is what the magazine looks like if you drop it in the woods while running from the police. This is what happens if you run from the police in "suburban" Paris. Wild guess time: Will this riot generate a nostalgic cottage industry the way May '68 did?)

I have a few pieces in HIOQI, all published under phony names. Anyone who guesses all of them correctly will win a useless piece of crap.

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The Robyn website is a little Flashtastic for its own good. Click on her face, then click "go back," scroll down to her left arm (your right, on screen), and you'll find the elusive "videos" link. The main video for "Be Mine" draws out the desperation in the lyric; the "all stripper" version is just Robyn being adorable (though we'd edit the title, pedantically, to be "all burlesque.")

Why did we get stuck with Britney? Don't answer.

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here's one reason. At first, the "Murking" track made me think Choong Family were sorta Dipset knockoffs, but they're not even that good.

Hey, calendar! I was in London on Guy Fawkes Day last year.

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I've had a tune on my top singles list for months: "Breakin' Out," by Leki. What I had in mind was the track, as produced by Grant McSleazy, and originally posted in January on Leki's own website. The single came out on Mostiko in March—vinyl, only, it appears—and then on CD in September, via Hardwax, but neither features the McSleazy version. The official release is an unremarkable demi-reggaeton track. Snoozertons.

I said "Fie" and emailed Grant. His response: "I said a lot more than 'fie.' Mostiko loved the tune, sent me a contract, which I duly signed and returned along with the masters. That was the last I heard. No payment, no replies to email, nothing. I think it warrants a New York Times front page expose!"

Since Grant did not invent a story about Leki's role as uranium supplier, we can't score a Times story above the fold, but we will be happy to repost the original, which is intrinsically banging and serves Leki's vocal well.

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November 03, 2005



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November 01, 2005



Did I lend you my The Office DVD? If so, can I have it back? Thanks.

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