Friday, May 28, 2010

Jazz Writing School Final Exam Essay Question

Compare and contrast:

Mingus 1964 (w/ Jaki Byard, Eric Dolphy, and Clifford Jordan)


Mingus 1974 (w/ Don Pullen, George Adams, and Hamiet Bluiett).

Pay special attention to the piano.

Perhaps, a better comparison would be to this lesser-known 1972 edition of the group, since they're playing the same tune, "Peggy's Blue Skylight", but I just really love the Adams-Pullen era of Mingus (especially Changes Two) and wanted an excuse to link to that badass Umbria video.

Though it would be a good exercise, I don't think I will be completing this "assignment".  We're on the cusp of a three-day holiday weekend, after all, and I'm pretty sure I'm not up to the challenge.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Five Geezers Who Were Mates

Check out The Adios Lounge preaching The Truth about The Faces.

Scharpling Calls Out Herzog

Here I go again, "retweeting" without Twitter.  @Scharpling on the Gulf oil spill:

Isn't it time to stop demonizing oil & start demonizing nature? For its willful fragility? Hey, @WernerHerzog, your voice is needed here!

Then, a few tweets later, this link.  Remarkable as the image is in and of itself, it's really only the portal to a world of (celebrity photo-op-related) amazements.  Two of my favorites: this and this (why are they posing outside a men's room, and where is that mist coming from?)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Q: Who's Counting?, A: Roger Ebert

If you stopped reading Ebert's one-star review of Sex & The City 2 before the end (or never started reading it), you missed this:

Note: From my understanding of the guidelines of the MPAA Code and Ratings Administration, Samantha and Mr. Spirt have one scene that far, far surpasses the traditional MPAA limits for pumping and thrusting.

The review also has a great first line:

Some of these people make my skin crawl.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Jersey Slim

As an amateur pizza maker, the major problem I have is not getting my dough stretched thin enough.  I always end up with a crust that's too thick.  So, the photos in this article absolutely blow my mind. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Breakmeoffapieceathat Rit-ter Sport

A favorite new discovery in the realm of internet-enabled niche obsession documentation:

This guy's extensive coverage of the Ritter Sport bar (among many other chocolates). 

The Ritter Sport is one of my favorite chocolate/candy products, but I've only tried a few flavors (including multiple encounters with the dangerously seductive marzipan-filled variety), and only seen maybe a dozen.  Turns out there are many, many, many more, some presumably sold only in Europe.  Reading these reviews (each one complete with a pentagonal graphic illustrating the bar's performance on a five-point rating system) has got me wanting to try some of the exotic rarities, like the Olympia and the amaro-flavored Ramazzotti.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Before I heard that Ronnie James Dio had died, I'd already started on this post, inspired by the Awl's as-it-turns-out eerily-timed "listicle" of lesser-known Black Sabbath members (they included Dio, even though I would consider him one of the better-known Sabbath members).  As much as I enjoyed reading the names and resumes of the various Sabbath fill-ins and replacements (it was like a peek inside the heads of Scharpling and Wurster), the post was really just going to be an excuse to post a link to one of my all-time favorite album covers, and certainly my favorite cover of an album I haven't even heard, the Hipgnosis-designed Never Say Die!

While the Heaven and Hell cover was a familiar presence in my youth and adolescence—I remember it as something that was just around, on people's lighters, t-shirts, and in record store windows—I don't remember seeing Never Say Die! anywhere.  Were H&H's smoking angels easier to relate to (and thus, co-opt and recontextualize) than NSD!'s mysterious/menacing pilots, or was it just that H&H was a more popular, well-loved album?  Probably both.

As for Dio, my only real memory of him is from my college days.  I remember sitting in the window of a bar on the main college town drag wondering at the line of black t-shirt-clad townies stretching out the door, down the block, and around the corner from the local indie (or to be historically accurate, alternative) rock club across the street, a longer line than I'd ever seen there.  I found out from one of the black t-shirt wearers who came into the bar that Dio was in town.  Being summer (I was still around taking a class), the campus was mostly deserted, and this was my first glimpse of the town's summer music scene, an alternate (but not "alternative") reality in which "college rock" was temporarily-but-forcefully shoved to the side, metal was king, and Dio was a BIG F***ING DEAL.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Ride A White Swan

Iain Sinclair has been one of my favorite writers since I discovered his Lights Out for the Territory before a trip to London several years ago.  His style can be a bit daunting (or straight up off-putting for some), but I always feel that I've come out ahead after finishing a Sinclair book, like I've been paid back in full and then some for whatever effort I've put in.  And his books do require effort - his fiction and non-fiction (it's usually a fine line) are nearly as densely packed and idea- and image-rich as his poetry (he was a poet first), except that they go on for hundreds of pages.

Although Sinclair seems to be a fairly well-known figure in the UK (and especially in London), he's nearly invisible in the US.  I had to order his latest book (Hackney, That Rose-Red Empire) online from an English bookseller (it's already in paperback there) via Abebooks, and I don't know when he last read in New York City (though he did appear in April with Michael Moorcock at UT-Austin, which, somewhat improbably, houses Sinclair's archives).  Until recently, there wasn't much information available about him online, at least relative to what I felt was his rightful stature in the literary world.  He doesn't seem to be much of a self-promoter.  So, I was excited to discover that he now has an increasingly active, "official unofficial" website, which seems to consist mostly of updates that Sinclair emails to the person that runs the website.  I'm posting about this now because of the update I saw this morning:

I’ve been out, doing a series of walks with Andrew Kötting, as preparation for a proposed voyage, on swan pedalo, from Hastings to the Olympic site, by sea, river, canal. A book of some kind, and an exhibition, are being assembled.

For someone that knows his writing, this almost reads like some kind of Sinclair parody.  I had to Google "swan pedalo" to make sure it was that I thought it was, and, indeed, it is.  As hilarious as the image is, I suspect that Sinclair might be serious (I'm sure he's serious about the walks and the voyage, but the swan boat?!? A bit of dry humor?), and if he is, I'm sure he'll turn the experience into a book that I'll want to read.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Selected Ballads' Brief Foray Into UK Election Coverage, Part Two

Neck-and-neck with Ed Balls in my Top Three Favorite Names of British Politicians are:
Alistair Darling (outgoing Chancellor of the Exchequer)
Eric Pickles (newly minted Communities and Local Government Secretary)

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Selected Ballads' Brief Foray Into UK Election Coverage

The BBC is reporting that the bookmakers William Hill have someone named Ed Balls at 12/1 to be the next Labour leader (at 12:42 EST, he's now at 16/1).  That is all.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Two @ MOMA

Fun times to be had these days at MOMA (well, apparently not for these people).  On a recent visit, my museum-going companion and I only took in two of the current shows (no William Kentridge or Tim Burton), but it was still a fully satisfying art meal.  The Cartier-Bresson retrospective is one of those shows you could spend hours, days in.  There are hundreds and hundreds of great photographs, arranged variously by theme, period, and location.  Though the sequence is somewhat hard to follow and seems more-or-less arbitrary, seeing the range of work C-B undertook in his long career, photographing everything from Ganhdi's funeral pyre to photos of the day-to-day operations of a bank for a corporate annual report, is a revelation in any order.  His compositions are often surprising; they can seem casual or even challengingly avant-garde, but somehow always right.  And there's a sense, present in all the work - even the bank photos - of lost worlds: people, things, and ways of life that will never be seen again.

While the Cartier-Bresson retro can lull the viewer into a state of blissful contemplation, Marina Abramovic's work is more likely to jar, provoke, stimulate.  While it's in the nature of retrospectives to crowd together works that were originally shown singly or in small groups, there's something particularly strange (and surely challenging for the curators) about doing this with mostly performance-based work.  The preponderance of videos of past performances and live recreations/restagings means that the show is a kind of thrill-a-minute, performance art funhouse, with surprises (sometimes of the naked flesh variety) around every turn (I'm sure my friend J.P. would love the skeleton-themed room, featuring an ongoing performance of Nude with Skeleton).

Coming across the by-now well-documented title piece of the exhibition, The Artist Is Present, feels like walking into an ongoing "media event", the set of a particularly spare one-on-one talk show, or at least a photo shoot.  The space with Abramovic's table is flooded with light from four sides, creating a sort of overlit performance art arena, as well as facilitating the ongoing photo and video documentation.  I found that watching my fellow "spectators", standing or seated around the "squared circle" as at a boxing or wrestling (or chess?) match, was as interesting as what was or was not going on with the artist and her current stare-down challenger/collaborator.  It also reminded me of Cartier-Bresson's technique, of which there were many examples on display at MOMA, of documenting an event, whether a baseball game or a coronation, by photographing the faces of the spectators.