Monday, October 31, 2005

welfare mothers make better lovers

In another brilliant move (done before with the White Stripes) Conan and his team are having Neil Young as their week-long musical guest this week. Hooray! Too bad I don't have t.v. right now... hmmm.

Also on the boob tube: George Carlin will be back again with a new HBO special this weekend!

And, uh, in America today: we are all gonna be fucked (especially women)!!! "Mr. Scalito," (Alito) as they like to call him (aww! a "little Scalia" little devil!) will probably end up on the Supreme Court. If he does, which it looks like he most certainly will...there will be FIVE CATHOLICS on the Court. Holy Mary Mother of Gawd.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

I don't even know who liz phair is

Great, great rock show on Thursday night, people. First Avenue (not even sold out--'s sad) Liz Phair was in fine, fiiiiine form. She is a fine lady. Dressed in a sexy almost bodice-like top and a ragged denim mini skirt with cool black boots, she had her “I’m fun,“ AND “I’m hot” look going (this comes from that NYT review of her show in NYC a few weeks ago that was filled with requests from the audience!) Her voice sounded perfect--womanly, low, accessible and capable of more than she’s given credit for, even if there was a echo-effect going on with her mic..?

The main thing I have to emphasize is that everyone around me, including myself, had large, satisfied smiles on their faces of most of the show. I say most, because unfortunately, Phair did pull some clunkers out from "Somebody's Miracle." Most horrible was, "Lazy Dreamer"--possibly the worst song she's ever written, as Rowie said (I agree). Just boring, uh--LAZY music and insipid lyrics. During this train-wreck, for example, a huge chunk of the audience when to the bar or the can. This followed Ro's favorite song, and one of my top ones, too: The Keef riff-ladden "Mesmerizing." Just a weird move--See what heights I achieved? See what lows I can create? Strange.She rocked quite a surprising number or songs off of "Exile" as well as "Whitchocolatespaceegg."

The highlights: "Soap Star Joe," "Divorce Song," "Baby Got Going," "6'1"," "Help Me Mary," and the perfectly comical, satiric just-Liz-at-the-piano, "Chopsticks." At times I kept having the thought, "does she ever wonder--'wow, *I* wrote these words. how cool am I?' Or as Cate would say, "She must be so proud of herself."She looked proud, too. When I talk about all the smiles, I think it started with Liz and her infectious, thin-lipped growl-smile, which she bares throughout almost all of her performances. Although it seems geniune, it also seems like she's alwasy hiding something--always a step ahead of you. Who is she actualy singing about when she says "I" and when she takes on certain roles, are any of them her? Who the hell is Liz Phair and what does she want her music career to ultimately be remembered for? She's a fucking Scientologist? Wha--? She keeps it all hid, as they say...

*To top off "weird coincidences tied into my blogging shit" she actually did an almost-cover of "There She Goes." Someone yelled it out as a request and she said, "Hey, that's not mine, but that's a great song," and proceeded to sing a few lines. Very sppppoooookkkyy.*

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


The death toll of American soldiers reached 2,000 today. I hope American citizens take notice.

Here is an interesting, totally depressing "look at the numbers":

Iraq by the numbers

Jeff Donn, Associated Press
Last update: October 25, 2005 at 3:50 PM

Who are the dead of Operation Iraqi Freedom? How did they die? Like the rest of America, they are a diverse group. A numerical portrait of U.S. military members who have died so far in the war in Iraq:
Number who died since major combat ended April 30, 2003: 1,846.
Percent who died since major combat ended: 93.
Number lost in November 2004, the month with the most deaths: 137.
Percent of the dead who were in the Army: 68.
Percent in the Air Force: 1.
Percent in the National Guard or Reserves: 25.
Percent who died in three Iraqi provinces with mostly Sunni Muslims, the branch of Islam to which Saddam Hussein belongs: 53.
Percent who died outside military action: 23.
Percent who died in accidents on land: 12.
Number who died of illness: 9.
Number of friendly fire deaths confirmed by the Department of Defense: 4.
Number killed in rifle and grenade attack by fellow soldier at Camp Pennsylvania in Kuwait: 2.
Number of commanders killed in so-called fragging attack — by a soldier on a superior — at a camp outside Baghdad: 2.
Percent who were officers: 10.
Number older than 45 years: 30.
Number who were age 18: 20.
Number of women: 44.
Percent of the dead who were women: 2.
Percent who were Hispanic: 11.
Percent who belonged to a minority group: 25.
Number from California, the most of any state: 215.
Number from Alaska, least of any state: 4.
Number from Texas: 174.
Number from New York state: 92.
Number from Puerto Rico: 16.
Percent from the South: 38.
Percent from the Northeast: 16.
Number of foreign citizens: 76.
Number from Mexico, the country with the most foreign citizens: 27
Number identified by the Defense Department who were awarded posthumous citizenship: 24.
Number who died after five years or more in military service: 568.
Number who died within first three months of their tour of duty: 925.
Percent of total dead who were married: 40.
Percent with children: 30.
NOTE ON NUMBERS: The numbers are based on counts by the Department of Defense and Associated Press. Most items are based on 1,985 deaths tallied by the DOD as of Oct. 25. The AP's count, which includes deaths reported by news staff in Iraq, has been consistently somewhat ahead of the DOD's. The percentages for minorities were last updated Oct. 15, and the number of foreign citizens was updated Sept. 3. The numbers for marital and parental status, as well as when killed during tour of duty and military service, include 245 deaths in Afghan operations that cannot be separated out.
EDITOR'S NOTE — Monika Mathur of the AP's News and Information Research Center contributed to this story.

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Dude

Yes, I am going to be The Dude for Halloween. And, yes, I am totally excited about it.

These are so much fun to read; had to share.

Trivia for The Big Lebowski (from IMDB, of course)

*It proved impossible to get Walter's satchel of dirty undies to arc the right way when it was thrown out of the window of the Dude's car so the shot was filmed in reverse with an off-screen crew member throwing the briefcase towards the car while the stunt driver drove backwards.
*A lot of the Dude's clothes in the movie were 'Jeff Bridges' 's own clothes.
*The Dude never actually bowls.
*Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman makes a background cameo appearance during the interpretive dance scene as another member of the theater audience. Kaufman's own script, Being John Malkovich (1999), also contains an interpretive dance sequence.
*Almost all the music on the soundtrack is revealed to be playing on a radio at some point. Examples: "The Man in Me" in the first dream sequence fades out after The Dude wakes up, but we still hear it, tinny and distant on his Walkman. "Hotel California" plays through out the entire scene with Jesus at the bowling alley, and even during the brief flashback, apparently as a song playing on the alley's PA system. The big band music that plays as The Dude leaves his house fades and is heard playing on Da Fino's car radio as they talk. Additionally, at the beginning of the film, the opening song, "Tumblin' Tumbleweeds", fades into a muzak version of itself as the Dude shops for his creamer in the grocery store; when it cuts to the Dude outside the store, the song has faded back into its original version.
*The blue Volkswagen driven by the private eye is a reference to the Coen brothers' first film, Blood Simple. (1984), in which a private investigator drives the same car.
The fictional German techno-pop band in the movie, "Autobahn", is a parody of/homage to the '70s band, Kraftwerk. The "Autobahn" album cover is almost a carbon copy of a Kraftwerk album cover and the group name "Autoban" is the name of a Kraftwerk song.
The Dude's shirt with Oriental characters and an Asian holding a baseball bat, worn during the scene in which the Big Lebowski describes Bunny's kidnapping, is the same shirt worn by 'Bridges, Jeff' in part of The Fisher King (1991).
*Asia Carrera, the girl appearing opposite Bunny Lebowski and the nihilist in the porno movie that Maude shows The Dude is an actual porn star.
The private detective that's following Lebowski says that Bunny's family is from a farm "outside Moorhead, Minnesota". Moorhead is the home town of 'Bridges, Jeff' ' wife and is located directly across the state line from Fargo (the title of the Coen brothers' previous film).
*Steve Buscemi dies in nearly every Coen Brothers film in which he appears (with the notable exceptions of The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)and Barton Fink (1991),). Additionally, with each successive role his remains are smaller; in this film, his ashes blow all over The Dude when Walter scatters them at the ocean. (See also Miller's Crossing (1990), Barton Fink (1991), The Hudsucker Proxy (1994) and Fargo (1996).)
*The reason Steve Buscemi's character, Donny, is constantly being told to "Shut the fuck up!" by Walter ('John Goodman' ), is because Buscemi's character in Fargo (1996) would not shut up.
*The word "fuck" and its variations were spoken 281 times in this movie.
*The only time Donny doesn't get a strike is before they fight the Nihilists at the end of the movie.
*The Dude drinks nine White Russians during the course of the movie. (He drops one of them at Jackie Treehorn's mansion.)
*The Dude says "man" 144 times in the movie, nearly 1.5 times a minute.
*Nearly all of the visible symbols in The Dude's second dream sequence are taken from earlier scenes:
the black and white tile is seen earlier in the Big Lebowski's entry way when The Dude walks with Brandt and again at the end
the tool belt and workman outfit The Dude is seen wearing is identical to the one worn by Karl Hungus in Logjammin'
Saddam is mentioned briefly by Walter in the car outside the bowling alley; in the opening credits, we see a man looking a bit similar to Saddam spraying the bowling shoes at the alley
Maude's gold bowling ball bra cups are taken from bowling balls seen on the rack behind Walter in an earlier scene at the bowling alley
the scissors wielded by the red-clad Nihilists are seen in a painting with a red background on Maude's wall
the red-on-black bowling ball is the same as the one in the earlier dream sequence and is also visible on the rack behind Walter and The Dude at the bowling alley.

*A high percentage of the Dude's vocabulary and dialogue is taken from other characters in other scenes.
*In the opening credits, a big black guy throws a seven-ten split (his ball changing color from the throw to the strike, as noted in "goofs"). The first frame showing the ball striking the leftmost pin reveals that the pin isn't on the dot marking its official position. It's a little ahead of and to the left of the dot, hanging over the gutter, and the ball strikes it from the gutter: the shot is rigged.
*The animal referred to in the film as a marmot (and by Walter Sobchak as an 'amphibious rodent') is actually a ferret. It is illegal to keep ferrets as pets in California.
*Possibly uniquely for an American movie, a bad guy wields a cricket bat rather than a baseball bat.
*CAMEO[Aimee Mann]: The musician is the nine-toed Nihilist woman who we see briefly at the diner where they all order pancakes.
*The nihilists are seen in a diner ordering pancakes. Peter Stormare, who plays the lead nihilist also appears in another Coen brothers movie (_Fargo_ ) where his character of Gaear Grimsrud loves pancakes (noted by the line to Steve Buscemi's character, "Where is the pancakes house?" during the drive from Fargo to Brainerd).
*The part of Walter Sobchak was specifically written for John Goodman.
*The Coens were inspired by Robert Altman's movie, The Long Goodbye (1973), which also features a down-on-his-luck protagonist. Both films are radical tweakings of Raymond Chandler. *Both films parody and pay homage to Los Angeles culture. Altman's film even features a gangster who is a devout Jew much like John Goodman's character in The Big Lebowski. Interesting to note also is a bowling pin on the shelf of Philip Marlowe ('Elliot Gould' )'s apartment.
*The character of Walter was based on that of John Milius the writer/director of Conan the Barbarian (1982).
*The Dude's car is a 4-door 1973 Ford Torino. Two vehicles were used in filming: one was destroyed during the filming, the other was destroyed in Season 8 of "The X-Files" in an episode called "Salvage".
*The title is a reference to the novel "The Big Sleep" by Raymond Chandler. The wheelchair-bound Big Lebowski is largely based on the character General Sternwood in "The Big Sleep".
Of all the different personalized bowling shirts Donny wears throughout the film, none of them bears his name..
*The Dude was based on independent film promoter Jeff "The Dude" Dowd, who helped the Coen brothers secure distribution for their first feature, Blood Simple. (1984). Like his fictional counterpart, Dowd was a member of the Seattle Seven and takes a casual approach to grooming and dress.
*The Dude is in every scene of the movie, with the exception of the scene where the Nihilists are ordering pancakes. This is in keeping with the traditional film-noir, in which the protagonist is the narrator and acts as the audience's guide throughout the film.
*The Port Huron Statement that The Dude refers himself as to being one of the original authors of, is a real document/statement written by The Students for a Democratic Society at a national convention meeting in, Michigan, June 11-15, 1962.
The man shown bowling in the picture on The Dude's wall is President Richard Nixon. Nixon was an avid bowler.
*When the Jesus, John Turturro, has to go door to door, sharing that he is a convicted sex offender, he has a large bulge in his tight pants. The bulge was formed by a bag of birdseed.
*The Coen brothers was inspired by several sources and stories. At one time they had a friend named Pete, who was very happy about a rug, because "It really tied the room together". Pete also told them about a story where a friends car was stolen, and the thief dropped his homework in the car. Instead of telling the police they put the homework in a bag and drove out to the kids home to confront him.
*In the "Gutterballs" dream sequence where Jeff Bridges floats between a row of girls' legs and looks up their skirts, the actresses played a trick. Unbeknown to any of the cast or crew, each girl had placed a wig under their leotard with large tufts of hair poking out the sides, hidden by their skirts but fully visible from underneath. Jeff Bridges has said "It was really funny, but I couldn't laugh. But that's why I have that weird smile on my face in the picture."
*Before filming a scene, Jeff Bridges would frequently ask the Coen Brothers "Did the dude burn one on the way over?" If they said he had, he would rub his knuckles in his eyes before doing a take.

she calls my name

My worlds of obsession (just two of the many) collided last night. On Little Steven's show, he played one of the all-time great songs about heroin, by the too-good-to-last band from Liverpool, the La's.

There She Goes
"There she goes/ There she goes again/Racing through my brain/ And I just can't contain, this feeling that remains /There she blows/There she blows again/Pulsing through my vein/And I just can't contain, this feeling that remains/There she goes/There she goes again/She calls my name, pulls my train/And no-one else can heal my pain/But I just can't can't contain, this feeling that remains /There she goes/ There she goes again/Chasing down my lane/ And I just can't contain, this feeling that remains/There she goes/There she goes/There she goes"

I gotta add, I met John Power (former bass player of the La's, lead vox and guitar for Cast) when I was 15. He was, by FAR, the most polite, precious musician of any level of fame I have ever met. Granted, it probably has something to with the fact that he lead Cast in a vaguely Christian rock way... He was my height, maybe even shorter (damn, those Brits are wee) and he had this huge mop of curly hair, that fantastic Northern accent and he was just fucking sweet.

I just remember thinking how funny and surreal it was when that terrible Christian group Six Pence...whoever covered the La's ode to heroin. I think it was used in a goddamn shampoo commercial, too. Hahaha. They also used it in "So I Married an Axe Murderer," but that was just awesome. Especially because Mike Meyer's parents are from Liverpool, and may or may not have been heroin addicts. Sorry.
Also, I actually found a site, "songs about heroin"! ha!

Friday, October 21, 2005

I always flirt with death

"they've ALL got the drugs out..."
I am looking through the latest NME. Who is on the cover? Babyshambles, of course! Everybody’s (Kate Moss, Vanity Fair, etc. etc) Favorite Heroin Addict, Pete Doherty has been consistently in the music (and more) news for at least the past year. Somehow the media has “made cute” the fact that he’s a dopey dope fiend and Doherty either doesn’t give a shit, or he eats it up (probably the later). In a weird way, he’s the 00’s version of Mr. Vicious [Also nestled in the lower left corner of NME: "Sex Pistols Shocker!" Inside, an anniversary story of sorts about the October 12, 1978 murder of Nancy Spungen.] Of course, he’s no fashion icon, and in no way will leave the “legacy” that Sid did. (for as fucked up and questionable as the Sid Vicious Legacy of junkiedom, murder and less-than-competent bass-playing even is…whatever.) The main reason they are not equal mascots lies in the fact that The Libertines (and especially Babyshambes) are no fucking Pistols, and that is quite obvious.

Why am I even mentioning Doherty and Vicious in the same breath? Because of the way the media has run with this Junkie Rockstar thing once again, people who don’t know who the fuck the Libertines even are (my grandmother, for one, folks) they know who Doherty is. A huge part of this, of course is due to the fact that he dated Moss.

I just think it’s fascinating how *fascinating* we ALL think junkies are.

The thing that got me really analyzing it all is Ike Reilly’s (probably my favorite new album, “Junkie Faithful." (I must add what Walsh wrote: “takes its title from the heroin addicts and born-again Christians Reilly has known and loved.”) When I saw that there was a track called “Heroin” on the record, I immediately assumed it was the Velvet Underground song. When I first met Ike for an interview about five (holy shit) years ago, he told me how he literally locked his high school girlfriend—soon to be his wife, his love of his life and the mother of his many, wild Irish children—in a car and “made her listen to ‘Heroin.’”
But, it isn’t Lou Reed, it’s pure Ike. The chorus goes like this:

“Jesus craves it/ the devil plays it/The road to death’s not paved with pavement, but littered with souls of strung-out men who all claimed Christ as heroin.”

The way he lets the words all tumble out, is very Dylan, very Liz Phair, but again—only he can do it the way he does it. I’ve never talked to him about junkies or addiction, but we have talked about Shane McGowan. The sad, sad Irish addict and great song writer that has been barely hanging on to life for some time now. Take one look at his bloated face, his ravaged teeth and you see what drinking and dope does to the body and the mind/spirit/soul/whatever you believe in.

The way Ike sings about the hard stuff, the dope, it’s not pretty. He does sing about drinking heartily ALL THE TIME and is totally one of his signature themes in his songs. But the dope, it seems, is a symbol of the devil, which is yet another frequent character in the life of Reilly’s world.

When you listen to songs by The Only Ones, with lyrics by junkie extraordinaire—Peter Parrett he makes junk sound like loads of fun! In the most well-known (maybe the best) song of the short-lived, brilliant band, “Another Girl, Another Planet,” is essentially a love letter to the drug.
“You get under my skin/ I don't find it irritating/ You always play to win/ I don't need rehabilitating…Space travels in my blood/ I look ill, but I don’t care about it.” The other girl he’s leaving the real one for? Heroin!

There’s that quote, from “High Fidelity,” in the movie it’s in Rob’s first lines: “People worry about kids playing with guns and watching violent videos, we're scared that some sort of culture of violence is taking them over...But nobody worries about kids listening to thousands – literally thousands -- of songs about broken hearts and rejection and pain and misery and loss.”

My question then and my question to you, now: what about the bloody drugs, man?! I think pop songs are part of the reason that kids, or at least kids that I know and think are at least smart, decent human beings, do some drugs and how do you blame them? Or, at least (why I brought the H.F. quote in, here) it must affect listeners—of all ages—somehow. How could it not?

Since I was very young I knew that the most culturally, musically influential popular rock band of all time—The Beatles—smoked pot for the first time with one of their idols—Bob Dylan. After that they started making albums like “Revolver,” “Rubber Soul,” oh, and the one about the lonely heart’s club something or other (there were other drugs all over that one). The Beatles are the most beloved band since rock and roll began. And these Liverpudlian boys did there fair share of substances and it sure seemed to affect them in, I gotta say it, positive ways artistically.

Johnny Cash, Elvis and Dylan all took amphetamines at some point in their young lives. Presley got hooked in the Army, fer chissakes! The drug seemed to “help” Johnny for a while, at least… And, it made Dylan skinny and look a little more “serious.” The Who had Rodger Daltrey “do an impression” of a speed addict on their most iconic song, “My Generation.” It’s all over Pete Townshend’s rock opera, “Quadrophenia,” (“out of my brain on the 5:15”) and plenty of other tracks as well.

Overall, musicians just seem to become “cooler” and more legitimate somehow once they’ve done some substance. I must add, as obvious as it hopefully sounds, this is ONLY true when the musician is actually *talented* in the first place. Duh. Nothing that wrong with taking some drugs, if you ask me. Sure, destruction of the body and mind, overdosing [I am choosing not to write about Joplin, Hendrix, Cobain, et al for a reason—it’s all been said]. All of these points are unavoidable. This is when you’re a freaking addict. But who’s to say that people that get to that point are totally self-destructive?
I think there’s some truth in the point that the people that want do certain drugs to “feel more” actually do want more out of life, they want to be open to different ways of looking at the world. It’s totally unavoidable to not point out that loads of people do drugs (and get lost in it) due to depression and simply out-of-control addiction.

Sid Vicious is the epitome, the cartoon character of crashing and burning and having nothing left of him once he finally did o.d. Ray Charles comes out on the other end. He was a functional heroin junkie and musical genius simultaneously for 20 plus years. He died an old man with a legacy of music that will live on for many years to come.

There is no definitive answer here, or even a clear theory, I know. I truly believe that some musicians have somehow, achieved more depth and (possibly) more creativity because of their habits. I have a feeling that the world would be a little less musically rich if it didn’t exist.

Course, that doesn't mean you've gotta do the white lines every day, now, Noel.......

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Yo, Silvio!

I have something I must highly recommend to y'all: the Sunday night radio program (on 92 KQ in MPLS) “Little Steven’s Underground Garage.” I finally started listening to it and I couldn’t be happier on a Sunday night; it kinda changed my disposition on life—heading into Monday morning. Yes, Little Steven happens to be the long-time (actual, yes, really) best friend of Bruce Springsteen since they were 14 years old. Others of you might simply know him as the comical, wonderful guitarist in one the world’s greatest bands: The E Street Band. Still others might (sadly) only know him as Silvio from “The Sopranos.” Truth is, he’s all of those things and also a huge, shameless, Matt Pinfield-like musichead. Total nerd for facts and stats when it comes to all rock ‘n’ roll—but especially garage rock, the Nuggets variety. And that, my dears, is what the show is all about.

The first time I heard it he played some Runaways’ song—something I’d never heard, certainly not “Cherry Bomb”, know what I’m sayin’? One of the best things about listening to him—he’s all alone, and that’s extra cool--- is his hilarious, thick, Joisey accent and his slight speech impediment. It’s really only slightly less severe than Silvio. That night I tuned the first thing I hear after the Runaway’s rocker is: “ ‘Jett’ was actually not totally made up, it was her mother’s maiden name—how cool is that….The Runaways—actually the fourth all female rock group [????!?!??!?] of all time (after the Quatros…)[he goes on, I don’t even friggin’ know!] They we’re really starting to take off, but they were still seen only as a gimmick in the U.S….why? [he pauses]..uh, because we’re idiots, I guess.”


Last night, the first thing I hear is the orginal, the best song about prison (not including “Chain Gang” by Sam Cooke, of course) “Jailhouse Rock.” After it, Lil’ Steven’s voice comes on in, “Not *all* of Elvis’ movies sucked.” He then launches into this incredibly detailed, funny story about Colonel Parker never reading scripts and how it bit him in the ass with this one. As well as a fantastic bit about “inexperienced, young punks they didn’t have to pay much to write the music” who turn out to be one of “the most successful music writing team in rock and roll history”: Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.

But the best thing about last night was this precious, nostolgic, but not sappy story about transister radios (“a vast improvement over the iPod [all fakey hoightly toighty], the transisiter radio had only one ear piece, so you could only hear it in mono—[he empahtically repeats] a vast improvement.”) He also includes this highly articulate description of how “rebellious” of an act it was to listen to it under your covers when you should be asleep. One night the 13-year-old Steven shared,with his 6-year-old brother, an experience he would remember for the rest of his life. “We heard something so compelling, so different, so strange, so wonderful [he goes on, really great, I don’t remember it all] all my little brother and I could do was..just laugh.”

In kicks in “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” by that lil’ British underground garage group, The Beatles.

and the jokes they tell are meant to wish me well...

Wow. A wonderfully written review of the new Phair record (from Slate) that Paul just sent me. I have a couple problems with it (I know, how bitchy of me!) but over all, it really pays tons of attention to the lyrics, which I am such a sucker for. I feel like Phair has always delivered in the lyrics department, no matter how crude (Girly Sounds) or slick (the new record and the one before it) the music and production has sounded.

As I’ve said before, I am hurting from the new one. It’s pretty…awful. I plan on giving it some more tries, but it’s weak, to say the very least. Also quite depressing, since I finally kind of feel the same way all those Judas-yelling indie rock crits and fans felt with the last record. And I never wanted to sympathize with that lot.

ANYWAY, read below, because I don’t have the heart to write anymore about Phair and the new stuff.

*NOTE* The hearty reference to the old track that didn’t make the album. It’s a goddamn shame, too. That would have lifted this puppy up to a higher, more listenable ground.

Liz Phair: Is her new album a return to form?
By Douglas Wolk
Posted Friday, Oct. 14, 2005, at 4:10 AM PT

It sometimes seems that Liz Phair has spent half her career running
away from her strengths as an artist. Her first album, 1993's Exile in
Guyville, was a near-perfect debut, showcasing a songwriter with a
thoroughly original style and scathing insights into relationships.
It's also cast a shadow over everything she's done since. For the last
decade, Phair has been alternately trying to approximate what made
Guyville so special and rebelling against it. Her 2003 effort, Liz
Phair, was one of those attempts at rebellion. The result was a slick,
airbrushed record that pandered to contemporary hit radio, played up
Phair's sexy bad-girl image, and dismissed virtually all of the
psychological and musical complexity that made her songs and
performances so entrancing in the first place.

Her new album, Somebody's Miracle (Capitol), is something of a
retrenchment, one part taut songwriting and two parts
radio-formula-retreading mush. The production that frames Phair's
inalienable gifts as a melodist is the kind of lavish, high-budget,
post-Eagles rock that she's gravitated toward for the last decade, and
this time it mostly works. (Too bad she's still trying to sing like
Sheryl Crow. With her unavoidably thin, girlish voice, Phair doesn't
have the chops for it.) The album's musical high point, "Count On My
Love," has an arrangement that Journey or Pat Benatar would've coveted
in the '80s, complete with a hyperdramatic bridge and breakdown.

The problem with this song, as with so many others here, is its
dreadfully dopey lyrics. "You can count on my love/ With me you'll
feel protected/ And you'll never be rejected/ Count on my love," Phair
emotes. If this doesn't strike you as Phair talking down to her
audience, compare it with, say, the run-on blurt that opened Guyville:
"I bet you fall in bed too easily with the beautiful girls who are
shyly brave and you sell yourself as a man to save but all the money
in the world is not enough." That's a great line, and it gets better
and stranger the longer you look at it: "Shyly brave"? What's that? "A
man to save" following "sell yourself"—are we talking about an
emotional rescue or dirty money? And who's this "I," and what exactly
does she want from "you"?

Continue Article

What practically everybody missed about Phair's early records was how
much of the emotional depth of her lyrics derived from her penchant
for assuming characters—she liked playing the "Is it me or isn't it?"
game, and she also liked playing the "This is so not me" game.
(Guyville's devastating "Divorce Song," for example, was recorded
before Phair was married; if she'd released it after her divorce,
everyone would have heard the song as autobiographical
self-expression.) In her way, she was as much of a chameleon as the
early David Bowie—a theatrical songwriter who paid attention to the
details that made her personae believable.

On Somebody's Miracle, Phair is still trying on roles. A couple of the
songs have characters who go so far as to mention that they're men: "I
wanna live that life when I could say people had faith in me/ I still
see that guy in my memory," notes the alcoholic narrator of "Table for
One." Another male persona has disappeared from the new album—twice
over. Advance review copies of Somebody's Miracle included a pumped-up
I-hate-my-job rocker called "Can't Get Out of What I'm Into" a song
that dates back to Phair's pre-Guyville demo tapes. The Miracle
version's last verse begins, "The things I have to do would make a
slut blush blue/ But I can't get out of what I'm into/ I figure two
more years and I'll go back to school/ But I can't get out of what I'm
into." On the ancient demo tape, the song had the title "Gigolo," and
the line ran, "I figure two more years and I'll go back to
queers"—which changes the whole meaning of the song. It's
understandable that Phair would back off from the original slur, but
the change has also made the song less theatrical (and funny) and
easier to interpret as an autobiographical plaint about being sick of
the music business. (When she wrote it, she wasn't even in the music

In any case, "Can't Get Out ... " is gone from the album now, banished
to iTunes bonus-track status. In its place is a dire ballad called
"Closer To You," on which Phair intones moon-June-spoon rhymes like,
"What you've got in your heart is enough for me to start/ Givin' up
holes in my soul, I don't need to rock and roll." It's not just banal,
it's nonspecific—an attempt to be universal that ends up being merely
vague. Even worse is the lighters-in-the-air single, "Everything to
Me," a plea to an inattentive lover: "Do you really know me at all?/
Would you take the time to catch me if I fall?" In case he doesn't
notice that he and Phair are "left with nothing but a shadow of a
doubt," she hauls in an enormous string section and does her best
impression of Shania Twain hurling the Ten Commandments from the
mountaintop. Phair's complaints were a lot more effective back when
she was muttering that she wanted "all that stupid old shit like
letters and sodas."

Still, there are a couple of smart, cutting songs here. "Leap of
Innocence," despite its non sequiturial hook ("I wanna make a leap of
innocence to you"), has Phair noting how a love affair's social
context curdled—"I had so many friends in rehab/ A couple who
practically died"—and then offhandedly half-swallowing the crucial
detail that "my mistake was being already married."

"Why I Lie" is even better, a nonapology apology that's yanked along
by an inside-out variation on the "Brown Sugar" riff. "If you ask me
why I hurt you, I don't understand it/ It's a special combination,
predatory instinct and simple ill will," Phair snaps, and follows it
with a bit that nobody else could get away with as a chorus: "I would
give some thought to it if I thought that it might do me"—here a
breath, and then at the very bottom of her range—"some good." (When
she gets back to the chorus later on, she precedes it with a
venom-dripping "whoa, mama.") As a song and a performance, it's worthy
of Guyville. That's not what she's aspiring to any more, but it's the
best thing anyone could say about her work anyway.

Monday, October 17, 2005

I fell for you like a child...

Fantastic article on the making of the upcoming movie about Johnny and June. REALLY makes me wanna see it even more (hard to actually want to see it more than I already did.)

The Secrets That Lie Beyond the Ring of Fire
Published: October 16, 2005

for Phil

What Phil wrote:

A couple nights ago for coffee hour we played the "if you could sleep with one celeb" game. One of my roomates, the blonde airhead one, said Vince Vaughn. not you too...or is it madonna? bruce?

My response: above. (duh!)

all I can muster...thinking about guitars...

Friday, October 14, 2005

Little, arty version of me

Courtesy from the lovely, super-talented Jessica. Me at the Kitty Cat MONTHS ago...drinky.

sounds like a snack, or a nick name

I'm on the bus and I look down at the back of my left hand, where I frequently write things to remind me to do something, write something, call someone. This morning (it's about 6:26 am, pitch black and I'm listening to the Clash) I see the word "tits" scribbled there.

I started laughing silently; shaking.

I ate dinner with my ma last night and she had just gotten back from a business trip in D.C. and she says, "So, yeah, Washington D.C. is tits, man."


Really, this isn't all *that* weird, considering my mother is the person who introduced me to the phrases, "fuckface," "fuckin' a," etc, etc. But, nonetheless, I freaked out, laughing, exclaiming, "what!???!" I have not heard this expression before and my 51-year-old mother is using it. Am I really that out of it? She used it like peeps used to use it when they cheesily said, "That's money," in that Swingers-universe we used to live in...mmmm Vince Vaughn....*sigh*

ANYWAY. I've decided that I like it! Dunno if I can really transition that into my daily vernacular, but hell, it's pretty funny cuz it makes me think of the Carlin bit again ("and now, new CheeseTits!")

Thursday, October 13, 2005

and she's redheaded!

Paul just sent this to me...wowza!!! I can't hardly wait for it.

Coming soon... dRuGs

Inspired by: Keef, Bob Dylan (see: Dylan "lose baby fat to speed" and then introduce pot to the Beatles), Ike Reilly's new songs about junkies, A "High Fidelity" quote, Brian Jones (poor sod), Paul Westerberg through the eyes of Lucinda Williams, Shane McGowan, The Clash ("Safe European Home," et al.), Marilyn Monroe, Junkie Redneck (Elvis, in the words of Liz Phair), Liz Phair--herself whilst creating "Exile," BongLoad records, oh, and Sid.

Look for my thoughts and theories-- coming soon.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

You Gotta Keep ‘em Separated

In response to Phil’s comment, er, uh, the Mos Def quote, about Woody Allen: I am so sick of people our age giving up on Woody’s films just because of his sick personal life. MJ is not in jail, even though he probably did molest many kids. But how could I EVER stop loving “Thriller” or any of his golden years of entertainment? His personal life and criminal behavior will never erase the love I have for his art! Same goes for Woody Allen.

Separate the art from the artist, blah, blah (I think there is truth in that, though) See: Jimmy Page, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, et al. (they liked the underage chickies—in a really unhealthy way). Just sayin'...It's not right. But, it happens. Jerry Lee Lewis had his career cut short because he married his 13-year-old cuz. Oh, and he was white.
I’m still gonna like "Great Balls of Fire" and “Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On.”

But maybe what Phil is saying (I should really let him do the ‘splainin’ here—I’m just speculating) is that you kind of take a “moral stand.” Like, how could you get into their art if the artist is a major sex offender? Isn’t it just wrong to support someone like that?

I dunno; I don’t buy that, I guess. I still think Phil Spector is the fucking best… Can’t ever change the way Ronnie Spector’s voice and that production technique makes me feel. Or in other words: I can’t get out of what I’m into. Oooooohhh!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

van goCK! Did you hear that? She said van GoCK! Like an Arab, she spoke!

I'm sure this is a very known thing--but I just discovered it! It's IMDB for film scripts.(
Any Woody Allen-lovers' wet dream. Esh. Wait, scratch that. You know what I mean. If you dig Woody the way me and my comrades do, it's such a great, nerdy reference guide. like, how else can one perfectly capture a line like,

"Don't you see? The rest of the country looks upon New York like we're-we're left-wing Communist, Jewish, homosexual, pornographers. I think of us that way, sometimes, and I-I live here."

So great.

This is also really neat (to use a "Chippewa Falls expression"), and it is yet another item that makes me wanna be in New York City. Right now.

Van Gogh: Expressive With a Brush, or a Pen
Published: October 11, 2005

Friday, October 07, 2005

good rockin' tonight

It's the goddamn weekend; so, there better be some good rockin' tonight.

Twin Peaks, "Flowers in the Dustbin" Elvis, Elizabeth, Chuck Berry, X (& rock-a-billy punk music and punks with "a nice set of tats") and Marliyn Monroe are some reasons that I am getting more into the 1950s right now. (I know, I know: "You were obsessed with 40s--make up your mind," Let's face it, I'm just obsessed with the *past* and I have been my whole life).
But it's this song and the way it jumps and beats at you with an overt sexuality that really does it for me. I can't get enough of it. I got it off my dad--his "Loud, Fast and Out Of Control" 50s Rock box set.
Gawd I love it. It is so fucking punk rock. And it's 1958. Hell yes.

(E. Cochran - J. Capehart)
Well c'mon everybody and let's get together tonight
I got some money in my jeans
And I'm really gonna spend it right
Well, I been doin' my homework all week long
Now the house is empty and my folks are gone
Ooh, c'mon everybody (Let's get together)
Well my baby's number one
But I'm gonna dance with three or four
And the house will be a-shakin'From the bare feet a-slappin' on the floor
Hell when you hear the music you just can't sit still
If your brother won't rock, then your sister will
Ooh, c'mon everybody (Let's get together)
Hell we'll really have a party
But we gotta put a guard outside
If the folks come home, I'm afraid they gonna have my hide
There'll be no more movies for a week or two
No more running 'round with the usual crew
Who cares?
C'mon everybody ... c'mon everybody

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Angelfuck, Laura Palmer, 'Mats

Greetings earthlings,

I am back. I barely left, though. I was supposed to be in Chicago, right? Well, my friend's car broke down, so we didn't go. SO I moved. I cleaned. And then we ended up going to a friend's cabin in Nisswa. Wha? It was relaxing, and filled with Trivial Pursuit Championships and Fuck Your Neighbor, which is a pretty damn great card game, people. Good times were had. I made everyone listen to the Misfits, who I am just getting into now, because of Elizabeth, Danzig Bless Her. (Danzing, man. That voice! It's almost a croon! A punk croon. That I adore.)


1. I can't believe I'm at work and not dazed in the wilderness like Laura Palmer. (PS I have recently become *obsessed* with Twin Peaks.) Hey, watch out.

2.This is super rad (it’s the ‘Mats on SNL when Tim came out!):

3. I bought a shit ton of CDs last night: Neil Young’s latest, the new Liz Phair, new Franz Ferdinand, Iggy Pop compilation, “Million in Prizes.” I am scared that the Phair is gonna be sub par. I don’t like it so far….iiiieeee. The best new music I have right now is the new Ike. IKE REILLY: Irish lyricist, rocker extraordinaire. The words, the rock. Sublime.
4. Guitar lessons. I just had my second one. More on that later. I promise.

Back to #1... for a while. Black coffee, sex, murder and pie. Special Agent Dale Cooper. Coop. (“This is—excuse me—damn good coffee!”) The sexuality and richness of the characters is astounding! David Lynch is a crazed genius. Thanks to Cynthia and Elizabeth for bring this show back into my life again.
The way Lynch makes the familiar unfamiliar is one of his best talents. Defamiliarization? Is that really a word? A very CSCL word at least, right? K, this is from the 1971 Robert Scholes’ New York Times book review of The Bell Jar. (Yep, it wasn’t officially released in the U.S. until 1971. Crimey!)

In "The Bell Jar," Sylvia Plath has used superbly the most important technical device of realism--what the Russian critic Shklovsky called "defamiliarization." True realism defamiliarizes our world so that it emerges from the dust of habitual acceptance and becomes visible once again. This is quite the opposite of that comforting false realism that presents the world in terms of clich├Ęsthat we are all too ready to accept.

Admittedly, David Lynch comes off a little more intensely than this. It’s surrealism and it’s creepy. But his whole, “I’m from Middle America, Montana where the coffee and pie are pure heaven,” injection into Cooper's POV/experiencing Twin Peaks is the part that comes across so “defamiliar.”

The rain these days makes staying in and watching this show so cozy and inviting. The whole show, Twin Peaks—the town, even—feels just like October. A crazy, surreal dream-like October, that is. Filled with Fire and Sex and Coffee and Strange Songs.

I just watched the beginning of first episode of the second season, which may also be my favorite episode, so far. These are some of the memorables:

*Coop to Audrey when he finds her naked in his bed: “Audrey, you’re a high school girl. I am an agent of the F.B.I.” Me: so?? Do it, Coop! (course this is from an earlier episode, I just had to relive it.

*Andy Brennen ( I love him more and more) stepping on the board on Leo Johnson’s porch, knocking his nose bloody and causing him to perfom one of the most hilarious, prolonged comedic reactions I have ever seen on TV. He’s dazed and smiling and stalking around with his knees bent and far apart for, I swear, 2 whole minutes (read Lynch quote on absurdity making you laugh above). I haven’t laughed much harder at much else in my whole life. The best bit: by doing the see-saw effect on the board the flat foots discover boots and a “whole lot of cocaine.”

*The following scene shows an unknown local man in the R & R Diner shouting in orgasmic ecstasy: “HOT DAMN that pie is gooood.” Right then.

*In this episode you have James actually revealing (kinda for the first time) how WEIRD Laura was. Just spooky and twisted and weird—in a Lynch way, *of course.* He tells Sheriff Truman: “Laura said a lot of nutty stuff. Half the time it went right by you,” (Well, maybe you, James. Laura is on tape saying, “James is so sweet, but so dumb!”)
He tells Harry about the fire thing, “Would you like to play with fire, little boy? Would you like to play with Bob? Would you like to play with Bob?” EEEEEEEEE. Fuckin’ creepy.

*Lynch and Frost wanted to end the first season with “as many cliffhangers as humanly possible.” So, the opener to the second season has about 50% (maybe more, actually…) of the characters in the hospital. What the fuck? This is kind of hilarious.
Best hospital visit: Bobby to Shelly. HOT HOT HOT. They make out a lil’ with Shelly in the hospital bed. And yes, she has an oxygen tube up her nose.

*Finally, Cooper gives his theory about what went down the night Laura Palmer bit the dust. And he uses doughnuts as visual aids. WTF. “Drugs and alcohol were consumed.” Of course he inserts “Sparkwood and Twenty-One,” too.

Wotta show. Hard to believe this bizarre, wonderful thing was on *network TV*!! In 1990.
Lynch, I love you.