Monday, August 22, 2011

New Dog

It's been awhile since I've posted - but Jade

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Beatles' White Album - It's Everything You Want It To Be

As a friend of mine said "The White Album is officially middle aged."

To honor The White Album's birthday, I had a few drinks of Basil Hayden and listened to the album from front to back. Unfortunately, I couldn't get a jingle out of my head: "Visa - it's everywhere you want to be." And sort of like a DJ Dangermouse mash-up, I started to think how The White Album can fit in almost every popular music genre as a metaphor.

First off, I have to look with a great degree of skepticism for people who list The White Album as their favorite album of all time and fawn over every single track. That worship sort of reeks of hippie desperation. Every track, really? "Honey Pie," "Revolution #9," "Ob-La-Di, Ob La Da"? I can definitely see why the album is perceived as a masterpiece in the way that some epic albums are greater than the sum of their parts.

One group of people who would be lost without The White Album has to be music critics. The album has been used to describe albums that fit so many facets. For good, The White Album encouraged artists to go wild and throw all of their energy and ideas into a grand statement. And for ill, that same album showed that even the best bands can succumb to self-indulgent excess and showcased the need for an editor at the control panel. That is why the album fits so well in describing albums from almost every popular genre.

For example, The White Album is brought up to describe the following albums that are common in almost every genre, such as...

The Album Where An Artist Or Band Every Musical Element They Can Into An Album -
Along with standard rockers, Extreme pack everything from sappy 60s ballad arrangements, funk and a gargantuan three-part opus into their latest album. In essence, III Sides to Every Story is Extreme's The White Album.

The Album That Is Made Despite The Fact The Band Refuses To Be In The Same Studio Together -
With Andre 3000 free to explore his affinity for the jazz, show tunes and the abstract in general, and Big Boi free to do what he does best, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below can be regarded as Outkast's version of The White Album.

A Double Album That Could Have Used Some Pruning -
See Smashing Pumpkins' Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness and Wu-Tang-Clan's Wu-Tang Forever or that god-awful Red Hot Chili Peppers double-album. What's worse, each of the White Album's sides (on CD) is around 45 minutes whereas most groups of today who want to make double albums unwisely push each side to the 60-minute mark.

It seems like The Beatles' music reflects the music of today in terms of what many critics regard as the greatest Beatles album. In the '80s, where production was at the forefront, Sgt. Peppers was regarded as the greatest Beatles album by many critics. But in the late'90s and this decade, when the arrival of scaled-down bands like The Strokes and The White Stripes came along, it seems like Revolver became the album of choice for critics. Who knows what music environment would have to be fostered to have The White Album regarded as the best Beatles album in the future. But don't rule out the possibility...


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Just listen to it already

This past week, I bought Chuck Berry's Chess selection, the two-disc treatment of Pavement's Crooked Rain Crooked Rain and Coldplay's new album. All are going in my iPod. And I hate to say it, but I'm afraid that I'm not going to listen to either of these front-to-back for awhile. The Chuck Berry and Pavement purchases were steals (both got super cheap used). Coldplay was deeply discounted.

Next week comes the dual-disc release of Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville masterpiece along with the new Sigur Ros album. There's so much music that is now readily available and so many great review sites that you can't help but think about picking up an album that gets a '10' from Popmatters, a 9.4 from Pitchfork or an 'A' from The Daily Vault.

What's worse, is the allure of the iPod 30GB. I have it filled to the gills and I'm having trouble finding which five of the 200-so albums on the iPod should get the ax. One of the four discs from the James Brown or Velvet Underground box sets? Hell no - those are disc sets for a reason. a hip-hop CD? No, because I'd need to replace the deleted hip-hop CD with another hip-hop CD.

I remember when a 20-disc jacket was like a gift from the gods when it came to having music to listen to driving around. Now - if my 30 GB iPod is close to being packed, I'm becoming twitchy. At work, one of my greatest pleasures is exchaning a daily shuffle list with one of my friends. Nothing like hearing John Coltrane, followed by the GZA, followed by Elliott Smith, followed by some sampling from the Cowboy Bebop soundtrack, followed get the idea.

What I would like/need to do is go back to how I lived when I was 15: total immersion of a new purchase. Thus, I will try to do the following for every new album I buy:
  • listen to it fully at least twice
  • write a review of it

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Ed Bradley - RIP

I can't put into words how much I admired him - his work ethic, his approach to a story, his interviewing and most of all - his trailblazing individuality.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Happy 25th MTV

There have been several, but not a ton of retrospectives about MTV turning 25. Just driving around, I did a quick personal inventory of MTV's impact on me: watching MTV for three solid hours in hopes of catching Michael Jackson's video "Thriller" when it first came out, watching "Headbanger's Ball" with Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden hosting, Bill Clinton's "boxers or briefs" statement and watching "Smells Like Teen Spirit" for the first time at around midnight on "120 Minutes."

Ever since it came out, MTV has been bashed by its critics for various reasons. Today, they're bashed for promotion rampant materialism with such shows as "Cribs" and "The Hills" and not showing videos. When it was showing videos, MTV was criticized by showing the wrong videos and for forcing artists to make videos to get an audience - hence the praise that was leveled on Pearl Jam when they stopped making videos.

Two major items I give credit to MTV: it arguably gave the election to Bill Clinton in 1992 and it changed the way information is presented in everything from commercials to classrooms.

First, the election of 1992. MTV decided to become involved on a civic level and started to campaign to "Rock the Vote." Though they tried to maintain balance, it was clear to see they were pushing for Clinton. The rare occasion that Bush was interviewed, the questions were far more confrontational than the ones tossed at Clinton. Bush didn't do himself any favors. In a memorable segment during U2's Zoo TV tour, a clip was played with Bush sr. poking fun that Clinton was taking foreign policy hints from Bono. He quipped that he would consult the experts and Clinton can consult Boy George. With Bono meeting with scores of world leaders (and even Bush jr.), it was goof on George Bush's part. MTV also subtlely incorporated "change" in their voting drive, alluding to the fact that not only get out and vote, but vote for change (e.g. get Bush out of the White House). Still, Bush was doomed with MTV. If he courted the MTV vote, he would seem dated and out of touch, pandering to the MTV audience. As a result of MTV's push, more youth were mobilized to vote and helped Clinton get into the White House (Ross Perot helped out a bit as well).

Now the second impact... the way information is presented. MTV's hyper-editing and use of several, brief cuts - a chop suey effect - has been co-opted everywhere. It used to be youth-oriented products, but now even Right Guard incorporates this type of "extreme editing." Classroom videos have had to adopt such an approach to "compete with the MTV generation." It's led to charges that we're raising a nation of kids who have ADD.

Like it or not, MTV's impact has been enormous. From giving us Madonna to shaping foreign policy, it has arguably changed our cultural landscape more so than any television network in the history of the medium.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Sleater-Kinney goes on infinite hiatus

Here's the post from Sleater-Kinney's Website:

If you need any reason to trek to Lollapalooza, it would be to catch this band while you can.
It comes as a shock, especially since they recently moved to Sub-Pop records. And last year's album, The Woods, was one of those albums that could provide a band with a whole new palette of opportunities to pursue (like U2's Achtung Baby).

They will be sadly missed. Still, I think The Woods can easily go up on my Top 5 "best albums to end a career on" list.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Rather uneventful exit

First off, I apologize for the title pun

Dan Rather's unceremonious exit from CBS is hardly unique. Edward R. Murrow had the same fate as his broadcasts were shoved to the Sunday afternoon graveyard for broadcasting. I can partly blame Rather as the network gave him a fairly respective sendoff from the nightly news. It would have been a dignified way to leave the network altogether and go out - maybe not at the top of his game, but dignified nonetheless. If you're looking for an undignified exit, look no further than Connie Chung's latest exit.

But I understand that when something is so ingrained in your DNA like journalism, leaving the position is akin to being sent to a nursing home. A minor story on 60 Minutes is still a story on national television and after being on the air for the nightly news for more than two decades, any story is better than no story.

I sort of equate Rather to Dan Marino. Marino was a capable quarterback, but his last game he was humiliated by a 62-7 thrashing by the Jaguars. He had ample opportunities to retire before this last game, but he just couldn't do it.

Much has been made about the "changing of the guard" for the nightly news. To some, Katie Couric's assumption of the nightly news throne symbolizes the hyper-competitive nature of journalism. Media has never had a good track record of sending out their old stars on a high note since there's a deep talent pool of energetic, young, hungry reporters and broadcasters who are willing to work punishing hours for little to no pay. But the cynics only need to look at the success of Bob Schiffer to realize that youth doesn't always equal ratings.

A separate note -

Living a dog-free existence hasn't been easy. It's given me time to think about how I would be able to afford a house where I could indeed house a dog, pay for student loans and pay for an eventual car payment whenever my Corolla decides it's had enough. Scores of journalists have been able to do this. But like teachers, most are lucky enough to pay rent for their apartments and student loans.

That said, if I can't have a dog as of now, I can certainly volunteer. I came across this story from the Heartland Weimaraner club and gave a donation. Yes, I know there are homeless shelters that need donations, anti-poverty organizations that need donations. But that still doesn't erase the fact that two dogs were found abandoned under a bridge, both sustained injuries from an apparent hit and run and both will need surgery. Any donations would be greatly appreciated. Here's the link to Charlie and Parker's story -