Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Bus Took A Right!!!

Today the bus took a turn. Big deal, you say. So what?

In my three years of public transportation use in LA, the bus has ventured off of Wilshire Boulevard exactly twice. Once when President Obama was in town and today.

So, yes, big deal. We were at the intersection of Wilshire and La Cienega. We'd sat through three lights already. When the bus driver swung that wheel and brought us off of Wilshire and onto La Cienega it was such a shock that is was like being on a roller coaster.

The day Obama diverted our bus I sat next to a very large black woman who spoke on her cell phone as if she were at a Metallica concert. She began to complain that the bus was being routed along Pico because of the President. She said, "Now I understand why people are changin' they minds about him."

Now months later after he just got rejected by his own party when he tried to extend Bush tax cuts I understand as well.

1. Fields Of Gold - Eva Cassidy

For many years I thought that Eva Cassidy was alive and black. Imagine my surprise to find that she was white and dead. And that she could somehow, from beyond the grave, with white skin, save this Sting song from itself.

2. Old Brown Shoe - The Beatles

I don't remember hearing this song today. We hadn't turned off Wilshire yet and I was engrossed in David Sedaris' hilarious "Dress Your Family In Corduroy And Denim".

3. How Many More Times - Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin could sing the phone book and it would rock. Hard.

4. Molly And Tenbrooks - Sam Bush And Friends

Bluegrass players make me sick. The worst one is better than your favorite guitar player.

5. Season Of The Shark - Yo La Tengo

I am mildly perplexed whenever I see the name Yo La Tengo. I listen, I like. And then they exit my brain COMPLETELY until the next time. They have no staying power in my soul.

6. Sunny Afternoon - The Kinks

I am a late arrival to The Kinks bandwagon and I jumped on because of Terry Reid. For a while Terry Reid sang with Big Mondays out here in LA at The Joint in a band led by Waddy Wachtel. Some of the greatest musical moments I've witnessed happened with that particular group. One of which was Terry Reid singing "Waterloo Sunset". I'd never heard it and it left me almost in tears in the bar. I think I Googled it and was shocked to find out it was The Kinks. I decided then and there that I was a full on convert. In fact I felt guilty that I'd waited so long.

7. My Phone's On Vibrate For You - Rufus Wainwright

If Rufus Wainwright doesn't age gracefully I'm going to be very upset with him. Because I don't think anyone has ever come straight out of the gate with as many perfections as he as. Most artists either warm up over several albums or cool off or take a bad step but this little fucker keeps topping himself. Love love love love love.

8. Enchanting Transylvania - Lenny Bruce

If you have never heard Lenny Bruce you ought to be ashamed of yourself. The greatest ever.

9. Canstlleation Funk - El-P

The "Fantastic Damage" album is one of those sonic clusterfucks that gets gnarlier every time you hear it. It is instantly recognizable when it comes on and while it is impressive music it is disheartening. Why? Claustrophobia, misanthropy, despair, violence, regret, disdain, and psychosis make strange bedfellows with sick beats and dope rhymes.

10. I Get A Kick Out Of You - Dolly Parton

If you think Dolly is all boobs you're an idiot.

11. Mansion On The Hill - Bruce Springsteen

When Bruce nails it he really nails it. This song shoots a painful arrow right into my gut every single time.

12. I Love Paris - Screamin' Jay Hawkins

This guy is truly nuts.

13. My New Town - Jack Logan

More painful arrows in guts.

14. I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself - The White Stripes

15. I Can't Wait - The White Stripes

I wonder if Jack White is living up to his potential.

16. Jilla Done Smell Nice - Pimp Fu


17. Moon River - Oranj Symphonette


18. Where Did You Sleep Last Night - Leadbelly


19. Basin Street Blues - Miles Davis


See, a detour by the bus was just enough to make me incapable of analysis all the way to the end of the trip. Besides, Sedaris just got funnier and funnier. Now I need a new book.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tuesday Night, Wednesday Morning

I am combining two bus rides. I listened to my iPod last night on the ride from Santa Monica to Koreatown, paused the iPod and started it up again this morning as I got on to ride from Koreatown to Santa Monica.

32 songs. Annoyed quite often with the selection I am judging myself.

Except for # 1.

1. The Fat Shit - Poppa Foxtrot

My cousin Timothy was Pimp Fu. Then he decided that Pimp Fu had to go. The military nomenclature dictated that he now be called Poppa Foxtrot. In this song he muses, "I gotta know if ya like the fat shit". I speak for all of us when I say, yes, yes, Poppa, we like the fat shit.

2. It's - King Missile

For some reason the iPod has been sniffing these guys out and while I can still connect to the reasons I loved it in the first place, I am NOT connecting to the music in the present. The chorus of this song goes "It's trite, contrived, and appallingly boring" and indeed it is.

3. Shunned & Falsified - Mike Doughty

I've been disappointed with Doughty outside of this album, "Skittish" which strips away all the bells and whistles and leaves merely his voice and the propulsion of his rhythm guitar. Less is definitely more.

4. Desperate People - Living Colour

I thought Living Colour were going to be the new Rolling Stones or something. Turns out it was The Roots instead.

5. Kissing A Mechanic - Brendan O'Malley

Take the poem I wrote the night I met Melody, add a night of drinking and smoking cigarettes on top of a bronchial infection, throw in a dash of two-chord fuzz, and top it all off with an improvised run on "-anic" and what do you get? 7 minutes of me.

6. Gotta Be Insanity - Ice Cube

Cube rules.

7. Greed - Ice Cube

Cube rules II, a rare back to back from the shuffle.

8. Sathington Waltz - Primus

In the beginning they seemed like the wise prankster who was in on things you didn't know about. By the time album six rolled around they were more like the undisciplined kid next door who thinks you should listen to him sing "Old MacDonald" in a pirate costume. And his parents encourage him.

9. Pembroke - Soul Side

Bland emo-core. Again, good thing David Sedaris' book is so hilarious.

10. Down About It - The Lemonheads

I dig this tune but Juliana Hatfield pipes up on harmony in the middle and ruins it. Her voice is like nails on a chalkboard to me.

11. Blues Before Sunrise - Eric Clapton

No one had the balls to say, "Um, Eric, you know when you growl and try to sound like a big fat black dude? It's kind of embarrassing. And in some obscure way, it's racist and makes us all uncomfortable. Sick guitar playing, but still..."

12. R.A.K.I.M. - Rakim


13. Alison - Pixies

Tight punk. And I ain't talkin' 'bout Alison.

14. KC Accidental - Broken Social Scene

Sonic Youth if fronted by one of the Jonas Brothers. I fell asleep four times in this even though it has eighteen false crescendos.

15. She Loves You - The Beatles

Thank you gentlemen for cleaning my aural palate so thoroughly.

16. What More Can I Say - Jay-Z

Epic, awesome, moving, funny, sleek.

17. Eyes Have Miles - G. Love & Special Sauce

You put something precious in a time capsule. You open it up and no matter how precious it was, it'll still be surrounded by stale air. Hello G. Love. P-U!

18. Dancing Queen - ABBA

See G. Love.

19. Atlantic City - Bruce Springsteen

This is the only track on "Nebraska" that I do not like and it is because you can hear the non-existent echo of the E-Street Band trying to drag Bruce into Mr. Showmanship mode which I've always hated. I only like creepy Bruce or big angry Vietnam Bruce, I despise Mr. We-Want-To-Rock-Your-Backyard-With-Our-Good-Time-Vibe Bruce. Just never believed it for a second. And this track seems to come from that place, where his archetypes curdle into cliche.

20. What Doesn't Belong To Me - Sinead O'Connor

Shut up.

21. Drown Soda - Hole

Shut up, jr.

22. Sinful Love - Blue Oyster Cult

Shut up, III.

23. What's The Difference - Dr. Dre

Ah, like a day at the phat spa. When you strip the vocals from this album it shines even brighter, somehow, like a diamond that is taken and put on a black velvet background.

24. Swimming In The Ocean - David & David

This album holds a very soft spot in my heart for some reason. David & David were the biggest thing in the world for a very short period and it hit me just right. This song is kind of bland but I still like it. It's like the G. Love analogy except someone somehow managed to keep the fart smell from growing inside this time capsule.

25. Lurgee - Radiohead

Hypnotic, the only track I can stand off of "Pablo Honey" which is only interesting to me now because it makes everything that follows such a surprise. Mediocre prog rock.

26. Subterranean Homesick Alien - Radiohead

And, voila. Radiohead arrives.

27. Ziggy Stardust - David Bowie

Today I have no patience for The Thin White Duke or whoever he is. Sometimes I get sucked in and others I am left cold. Today I am freezing.

28. Breath - Pearl Jam

I still associate this album with France as it was given to me before I left and I wore it out over there. In that way it is a pleasant reminder but I have come to cringe at Eddie Vedder's singing. He reminds me of Rob Estes on "Silk Stalkings". So over the top it is enjoyable but you know HE thinks he deserves an Oscar. Occasionally when Eddie really gets into it I picture him dry heaving into his studiously artistic toilet.

29. Primal Ground - Jonathan Goldman

Somehow this album of "Chakra Chants" made its way onto my iPod and I wonder what I can chant to make it disappear.

30. Groove Holmes - The Beastie Boys

Fun fluff.

31. Flower - Liz Phair

This album became a big deal because of her tits but every single song is heartbreaking, funny, sexy, angry, stupid, goofy, meaningful, deep and delirious, all at the same time. If you want to know what it was like to date girls in the early '90's, just pop this one on.

32. What Do You Do - The Proclaimers


See ya tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sedaris And Exhaust

I cheated today. I hit shuffle and the first thing that came up was Igor Stravinsky's 'Rite Of Spring'. Don't get me wrong, I love this particular piece of music but 22 minutes is too long to listen to classical music on a rattling bus. So I fantastic results.

1. Save Me - Queen

I relate, Freddy.

2. Debbie Denise - Blue Oyster Cult

This song sounds like a high school physics teacher trying to be risque and hip while talking about the periodic table. When I finally get around to updating my gigantic iTunes collection and reconfigure the iPod, Blue Oyster Cult will be banished forever. Fear the reaper, gentlemen.

3. Chain Of Fools - Aretha Franklin

As I listened to Aretha nail this song to the wall and make it fresh even though I've heard it 87 billion times, I wondered what would become of Aretha today. She'd have some followers on the web, she'd play out live a lot, but Queen of Soul? They'd hire some scrawny little hip-hop dancer to lip synch in a stupid video and that'd be that.

4. A Mistake - Fiona Apple

"I'm gonna make a mistake/I'm gonna do it on purpose"

Love that line. I have run the gamut with Fiona Apple and have finally come to the conclusion that I am in. All the way. She is self-indulgent, obscure, a half-tone flat on occasion, and I still feel vaguely manipulated by her first video which made me pay more attention to her underwear than her song. This album isn't great but it led to "Extraordinary Machine" which is a masterpiece. Can't wait to see what she'll get up to next. I also sort of wish I didn't know that she'd been raped when she was 12. They trotted that tidbit out when she first hit the scene as if it gave some weight to the painful vibe of her music. But her music doesn't need that to stand on its own.

5. War & Peace - Ice Cube


6. When You Wake Up Feeling Old - Wilco

When you follow Ice Cube with a song about being tired and old you have a lot of explaining to do. I love Wilco but every time I hear Jeff Tweedy sing as if the microphone is a boulder and he is Sisyphus down in the dell I want to give him a smack. Hey Jeff, why not talk trash like Ice Cube? Lob a verbal grenade at Stephen Malkmus or Fall Out Boy. Or Ice Cube, for that matter. Start a feud with Ice Cube instead of whining about how creaky you are before you have your rock star coffee.

7. Oh! You Pretty Things - David Bowie

David Bowie was unsuccessful for almost ten years before "Space Oddity". He was well known, making a good deal of money, famous enough to be on the BBC "Live at the BBC" series.

But, as this song shows, his songs stunk. And he had lots of 'em. Loads and loads of stinkers.

Point being, you cannot be afraid to fail, to do things that in retrospect won't be any good. You have to get through a whole host of stinkers to get to the gold mine.

8. Hand Of Kindness - Richard Thompson

If the Devil came to me and said I could play guitar like Richard Thompson in exchange for a few favors, my place in Heaven would be in jeopardy. Somehow he weaves solos and furious rhythm guitar playing together until it is some hybrid of the two. Not the note-crazy jerking off that most guitarists immediately go for, but intricate, brutal, direct and tender meanderings. If you say his name as I pick up my guitar I will be forced to put it back inside the case.

9. Lazy Head And Sleepybones - They Might Be Giants

Anything that reminds me of Cashel as a young boy is killing me these days. Killing me.

10. Sabrosa - The Beastie Boys

I picture The Beastie Boys stoned out of their minds in a warehouse of their own design, puffing joints on skateboards shooting down ramps as one of them starts jamming out on some vintage instrument that is lying around. Slowly they all leave whatever individual novelty they are messing around with (Galaga video game, Rubik's cube, Jenga...) and drift to the performance space behind the hot tub. This is what they come up with. Words? We don' need no stinkin' words...

11. Charlie, The Methadone Man - Fastball

I like their sound. I like the cut of their jib. I am laughing at one of the chapters in the David Sedaris book I'm reading which is about his youth in North Carolina. Anything to do with North Carolina makes me think of Melody and feels as if it is part of some secret world I've been invited into.

12. Our Mutual Friend - The Divine Comedy

Baz Luhrman needs to call this guy up and make a musical with him. Seriously. Something about a ship sailing over the end of the earth into some gigantic sea monster's mouth. But one lone pirate hangs onto a rock over the abyss, channeling the love for the maiden he left behind into will he make it back across the ocean without a boat? I dunno, ask Baz...

13. Tunic (Song For Karen) - Sonic Youth

This song is as creepy as they come. Karen Carpenter is dead and in Heaven. She talks to her brother and her mother respectively about how happy she is now and how they shouldn't worry about her. She's with all of her friends and they are starting a band. She's back playing the drums. Kim Gordon sings all of this in her dead monotone and you can almost hear her disappearing as she stares at herself in the mirror.

14. The Holiday Song - Pixies

Rockin' goodness from Pixies. I recently learned that it is not THE Pixies, just Pixies. So there's that.

15. P.S. You Rock My World - Eels

Here is another doom and gloom singer that I really loved at one point and merely annoys me now. See above response to Wilco. I get it. Life sucks. So why do you want me to pay any attention to you, then? YOU suck.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my morning commute.