Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I just read about a newish band who recently released their first album on Joan Jett's Blackheart label. The band is called Girl in a Coma, and they are really worth a listen.

I am always skeptical of bands that are touted as having Smiths-esque lyrics -- this one with a singer who is promoted as a "female version of Morrissey" t'boot. And I was especially skeptical when I read they were Mexican-Americans from Texas! (As any red-blooded Mexican will tell you, the Smiths and Morrissey are god, and what better marketing ploy but to namedrop the divine.)

But I am a sucker for girlpunk bands, and one listen to Girl in a Coma proved that they are not only catchy and punky and fun, but demonstrated that their 19-year old singer has one incredible voice. And while their arrangements definitely nod to 90s punk, the lyrics don't strike me as particularly Smiths-like. It's just good, honest, fun punk rock. I think I'm going to try to check them out at Fat City's Cockblock dance party on June 15. For 6 dollars, you can't go wrong.

Okay, and if you're like me, this video for Girl in a Coma's song 'Clumsy Sky' from their debut album Both Before I'm Gone will make you remember what it was like when you were 16 and didn't work in an office.


Have you heard the new Patti Smith cover album, Twelve?

Yeah, yeah, been out for a while, but I just got a listen. I felt it was kind of flat. At first I thought it was just because it's, you know, Patti Smith, and I was expecting something that was going to make me swoon. But then I realized it just really wasn't that good. One reason for that is that the covers are pretty true to the originals, the exception being her version of Nirvana's brilliant and iconic 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' which is reinvented as a banjo-infused porch-tapper and not only showcases her unmistakable voice but utilizes some of Patti's own words.

But otherwise, kinda ehhh. Even her cover of one of my favorite songs, The Decemberists' 'Here I Dreamt I Was An Architect' was bland bland. Even so, I am reminded of what the main man over at B(oo)tlog wrote about the whirlwind around Rock Plaza Central's cover of Justin Timberlake's 'SexyBack:'

No matter how seriously you take yourself and your music, figure out at least one song by someone else, make it your own - really put your own stamp on it - and play it in your set. Audiences (really, I am speaking for myself, but I think others feel the same way) love that.

Audiences DO love it. And that love is what makes the prospect of a full album of cover songs by an iconic singer exciting. But it is best done live, 'tis true. It is really really hard to transfer that energy and fire of a live cover into a studio album.

But, Patti's done it well in the past; take a listen to 'When Doves Cry.' Heh, but I think this started out as a cover she would do at shows.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

I forgot to mention some of my best spoils procured whilst in Nihon.

At an antiques fair in Saitama, I found this gorgeous little piece of black resin goodness:

I've loved vintage jewelry since I was in high school and began prowling the antique shops and thrift stores for rhinestones, bakelite, and ivory, but lately I've been really getting into black resin jewelry, and it is in no small way the fault of Favor in Oakland. They make their own beads from vintage molds, and the results are marvelous. The hubby sealed my fate with a black resin bead necklace from Favor last year, so, you understand, I had to have this pretty little thing for my collection as well.

In my last post I numbered some of my most fun experiences while in Nihon, and of course it goes without saying that I went record shopping and that is always at the top of my list. While I didn’t pick up much Japanese vinyl this time around, I did come away with some very cool stuff.

My fave vinyl, all nothing super special to anyone but me (spread out alongside my stack o’ other records bought this time around):

That ‘Holiday in Cambodia’ 12-inch is my prize. It is a French copy, released through Cherry Red in the UK. I’ve never even seen one over here. The Smiths ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now’ single is Rough Trade Japan, and the Meat is Murder vinyl is Rough Trade UK, Rough81. I also picked up my favorite New Order album, Power, Corruption, and Lies, on Factory, Fact75. Sadly, the New Order single ‘Thieves Like Us’ isn’t Factory, but Columbia Records Japan. Still cool though.

The stack to the right includes the Beastie Boys EP on top (for 100 yen!) and a bunch of other stuff -- mostly UK but also Japanese –- ranging from Juana Molina and Sean Lennon to KMFDM, My Bloody Valentine, Gary Numan, and Wu-Tang. Only found one Bauhaus 12-inch I was in need of this time around, but I did pick up 2 NIN vinyl (at the urging of the NIN fans about) because they are supposedly very hard to find.

And of course, all of the records are as mint as the day they were brought into this world. I LOVE buying vinyl in Japan!

Speaking of Bauhaus – a very frank little birdie flying within the Peter Murphy galaxy shared a bit of information with me about the new Bauhaus album that has been rumored since last summer, but of which there has been not one public peep despite the introduction of two new songs last year.

My source told me the album is finished and has been for some time, but that Peter isn’t getting along with “the other three” and “the other three” aren’t getting along with Peter (actually, “hate” was the word that was used, but I doubt it is that strong and was just a figure of speech) so the album is not likely to be released until things get patched up. Source also said the album is held up because, “Daniel Ash is an asshole.”

Now, that part may be mere opinion, but it is an opinion that nonetheless made me chuckle when I heard it, if just from the memory of a few friends' first-hand impressions (though certainly many opinions and observations of Peter are not much better).

So, Bauhaus fans got a tour supporting NIN in 2006, where they rolled out two new songs -- as well as heavily chronicled fights between superdivas Peter and Daniel onstage in the UK -- and then nothing. Then David J starts doing his own projects like a madman, all of the “other three” start DJing up a storm, and Peter starts getting his groove on with Sarah Fimm and there's talk of him working on new material. Still no word about Bauhaus. Then I got a little tidbit in a convo with another source close to Bauhaus at the San Francisco Cabaret Oscuro show in February, where I was told the album is done, it is in one band member’s opinion “the best work they’ve ever done,” and that they are just waiting on releasing it because they are to put it out themselves. Then, nothing. Again. Now, finally, some concrete reasons for the awkward silence. And you know, it all does make sense. I think most suspected it too, so the confirmation that it is truly squabble-squabble at the root is not surprising, but still really disappointing.

I guess all the fans can do now is wait -- until Bauhaus can stand each other enough to be all up in each other’s faces again, and/or the take from 2005 and 2006 dries up. Sigh. But, perpetual cynic-optimist that I am, I also hold out hope that the impetus may instead truly be the music, the performance, the audience, and the realization that when they check the egos at the door, together they can be brilliant.

We'll see.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

I'm baaaaa-aaack! Flew out at 4 pm on Thursday from Narita Airport, and arrived in San Francisco at 9 am the same day. Trevor and I powered through 35 hours of wakeyness and then slept for 15 hours. It was worth it, because I feel great today.

So Japan was awesome, as per usual, and as per usual the most awesome things are best described visually rather than by me rambling on, so without further ado -- the best of my trip:

1. Getting out of the spectacular but sometimes overwhelming lights and noise and people that is Tokyo and hiking Mt. Takao (our second time!)

2. The food! Eating out is a religion in Japan, and I've never had anything there that wasn't superb (well, except Lotteria). Here we feasted on mackerel and seaweed salad with bonito flakes (and copious amounts of sake and beer) at an izakaya in Shimokitazawa, where our friends Hiroko and Satoru surprised Trevor with a ginormous birthday sundae

3. And, speaking of friends, it was fun to meet up with folks who had never been to Japan before and go see NIN. Also met some really wonderful people who I know I will see next time I'm there! Still not a huge NIN fan, but the show was crazy fun, and since my ticket was purchased by a fan club member, I met Trent Reznor at the meet and greet before the show. Being an English speaker, I got a chance to speak with him at length. Top notch guy.

(I was just out of arms reach of Trent during the show, and am just out of the frame to the right. There were times I literally couldn't move, it was so packed in the pit. I realized halfway through the concert I would enjoy it more if I got out if the pit, so I slithered, literally -- sweaty skin to sweaty skin -- to about the 15th row.)

4. Visited a couple new areas near the little inn we usually stay at in Noda. One was the Omiya area of Saitama City, where we found one of the things that makes Japan's urban areas so charming -- a little shrine in an alley between two buildings.

5. Took in an antique faire (kimonos for 1000 yen!) in the impressive Saitama Super Arena housed the "future city" area of Saitama, Saitama Shintoshin -- so named because of the open architecture and, as our friend Hiroko put it, the way it makes you feel "more free" than the stifling and oppressive crush of Tokyo. It really is a beautiful city that looks well-planned, with gorgeous architecture and artistic urban greenery. Here, the Saitama Super Arena:

6. Met Dean Rostohar, the founder of Bujinkan Dojo Croatia who was staying in the same inn as us and training with Trevor. What an amazing man. As a Croatian police officer, he fought in the Bosnian War, and lost a leg in the process. The personal stories he told us of the brutalities of the war were horrifying, yet were also infused with testaments to the power of humanity. He completely embodied that "warrior spirit" that Bujinkan promotes. It was an honor to simply sit on the patio at our inn and talk with him.


There is so much more to relate, but the pics would crash your browser! More pics can be found on "my"space. But suffice to say -- Japan, despite your sometimes freaky weirdness, institutionalized sexism and xenophobia, and consumer madness, you once again have stolen my heart.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Will be on holiday in Nihon for the next 10 days or so. May post an update or two, but internet connections are spotty at best where we're staying. Take care of the internets for me!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Some things I’m obsessing about...

Tim Noble and Sue Webster's most recent exhibition at the Freud Museum. I am absolutely in love with Black Narcissus.


Apparently it has been out for a while, but I just heard that Johnny Depp has bought rights to and at this point will be producing one of my favorite books of late, The People's Act of Love. I also hear he may take a role, along with Russell Crowe. Not what I imagined in my mind, but I have faith Johnny!

Speaking of film, am I the only one in the world who really liked Spiderman 3? I loved it! Seriously worth the ticket price for emo Peter Parker, for real.

Also worth the ticket price -- finding out from the previews that there are actually films I want to see in the coming months, and getting to eat a bucket of popcorn. Yay for Bourne Ultimatum, Harry Potter, and the new Julie Taymor, and yay for movie theater butter.


Did you know there is a blog dedicated to cupcakes?


This is for my girl T. Look at these sweet things I bought.

Also see here and here for more "it's been hotter than hell why are you buying boots" madness.


I've been thinking a lot about green waste – specifically when I get ice cream at Ici and it's in a compostable corn-based bowl with a compostable corn-based spoon, and on my walk home when I'm throwing the bowl and the spoon into someone's green waste container when I'm finished, instead of into the trash.

Corn-based compostable and biodegradable dishes and utensils. Wow. Sure, there are problems, as with anything. But humans are not going to stop using plastic until it is too late, and that is an insurmountable problem. We need solutions, and waiting around for something perfect is going to destroy us. Corn bioplastic is a great great thing for urban areas with green waste/composting facilities, and it may encourage more cities to introduce green waste management to their garbage portfolio. The answer to getting this going is time -- like when Oakland outlawed styrofoam (BTW, yay Oil Independent Oakland 2020!) -- and government subsidies for communities to get green waste processing facilities and for the plastic manufacturers so they can convert their factories, in order to avoid our delicate capitalist economy crashing down around us.

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Tanjobi omedeto, sugarlump. Aishiteru!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Mr. Stich has another stellar offering up at Threadless for your voting pleasure. Piteous Foolious. Mr. T-Rex for all you unscientific types.

You've got seven days to vote yay or nay here. I'm hoping for lots of "yays" -- I so want to get this for me AND my 5-year old nephew. Giddyup!

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

It has been just lovely in the Bay -- hot sun, sleeping with the windows open, all-fruit icees at Bakesale Betty, explosions of bloom everywhere...and a shipwreck from the 1800s surfaced at Ocean Beach yesterday!

Have I ever told you how much I heart shipwrecks, and old, mysterious, buried things in general? I must have watched every Robert Ballard special chronicling shipwrecks or settlements that are now underwater, I wanted to be Jacques Cousteau as a kid (or Marlin Perkins), I love old graveyards (goth cliche, I know), and I gobble up articles like today's news of possibly finding King Herod's tomb.

But old wooden ships, and their wrecks, ah...they are just so romantic. The Bay is a great area for this type of thing, not only as home to the greatest port cities in Cali, but also because of the history surrounding the Gold Rush.

It is a well-documented fact that scores of ships would sail through the "Golden Gate" into San Francisco harbor, only to be quickly deserted as the entire crew, sometimes captain included, jumped ship to try their luck in the mines. There were so many deserted ships that very often they would just be buried under new development, sunk or incorporated into the bowels of the structure rather than razed; I mean, check this map of ships buried under the blacktop and buildings in and around the financial district in downtown San Francisco. This is also a very good site for reading about the hidden treasures walled up under tenemant buildings or sleeping under the cars and apartments and noise and 5-star restaurants. Oooh, how it makes me squee with delight!

This ship that has yawned its way through the water and sand to expose its stern and bow at Ocean Beach wasn't abandoned. There is speculation it is the clipper ship King Philip...

On Jan. 25, 1878, [the King Philip] was towed by a tug through the Golden Gate, then laid anchor to allow the tug to assist a nearby vessel in distress, according to historian Stephen Haller. The anchor didn't hold, however, and the King Philip drifted onto the sand at Ocean Beach, where it foundered.

...but I would like to think it is the schooner Reporter, which has a much more romantic story attached to its demise.

Clipper or schooner, drifter or wreck, it is wonderful.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

I haven't blogged about Mista J for a while now. Not a lot going on that I have been privy too. But hot damn, I just read he did a dj set at Coachella that was super cool, and thus simply must have a mention.

You know, a lot of people nowadays "dj" with iTunes and/or CDs, and use programs to match their beats for them. Apparently, this does not apply to David J.

That's a Victrola yo! Spinning 78s. Sweet.

Check this setlist too, courtesy of David's website. Yay for Teddy Bear's Picnic. Creepy good!

The Teddy Bear’s Picnic - Henry Hall & His Orchestra
OkayToots - Harry Roy & His Orchestra
Yes, Yes, My Baby Said, Yes, Yes - Ambrose & His Orchestra
Pop Goes Your Heart - Lew Stone & His Band
Zing! Went The Strings Of my Heart - Lew Stone & His Band
Slap That Bass - Fred Astaire
Indian Love Call - Maurice Winnick & His Orchestra
The Stately Homes Of England - Noel Coward
Conversational Man - Sophie Tucker
The Last Of The Red Hot Mammas - Herman Kenin & His Ambassador Hotel Orchestra
Gimme A Pig Foot And a Bottle Of Beer - Bessie Smith
‘Leven-Thirty, Saturday Night - Fess Williams & His Royal Flush Orchestra
Nasty Man - Ray Noble & His Orchestra
You Rascal You - The Blue Lyres At the Dorchesta Hotel
Love Is Good For Anything That Ails You - Orlando & His Orchestra
I Found The Right Girl - Jack Jackson & His Orchestra
We’ll Make Hay While The Sun Shines - Billy Merrin & His Orchestra
Anything Goes - Lew Stone & His Band
Makin’ Wickey Wakie Down In Waikiki - Al Bowlly
Ich Wollt Ich War Ein Huhn - Lilian Harvey & Willie Fritasch
Barnacle Bill The Sailor - Bobbie Comber
Let’s All Be Fairies - Durium Dance Band
Tip-Toe Thru The Tulips With Me - Radio Rhythm Boys
Pennies From Heaven - Louis Levy & His Gaumont British Symphony
Stop Crying - King Oliver & His Orchestra
Be My Baby - Blue Steele & His Orchestra
Dry Bones - Fred Waring & His Pennyslvanians
That’s What I Call Sweet Music - Paul Specht & His Orchestra
They Can’t Take That Away From Me - Fred Astaire

And of course...

Who Killed Mr. Moonlight? - David J & His Desert Hot Springs Orchestra

I would have loved to chill out to this set. So fun. I'm glad he's doing fun things like this and not getting mired in the same old same old. Respect.

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Sunday, May 06, 2007


18,000 Mexicans Strip for Artist's Photo

Thousands of naked people fill Mexico City's main Zocalo plaza during the massive naked photo session with U.S. photographer Spencer Tunick in the early hours of Sunday May 6, 2007.


Thursday, May 03, 2007

You know those horrendous fires going on in Waycross, Georgia? Okay, well, I'm not here to talk about the fires, but something from a picture of the fire coverage that has come back to haunt me.

Take a look at this:

This is some scary shit, yo.

You know, people from other states and countries go off to me all the time about how dangerous they think it is to live in California. "The earthquakes," they cry. Oh boo-hoo. That's about all we've got here that can kill you, and that's pretty much just San Francisco and Los Angeles. For real. Alright, maybe a rattlesnake, bear, or mountain lion, or the errant spray from an AK-47, or an overpass collapsing from a fiery explosion can fatally maim here or there, but whatever -- the South's all over that shit too. It's a fact, California is magnificent, yet wussy. But that Dixie, hoo boy, now she don't mess around.

Oh yes.

They've got muthafucking ALLIGATORS and (poisonous water) SNAKES in their muthafucking PONDS and LAKES!

I don't swim in the ocean because of sharks. But I love swimming in Cali's freshwater rivers, ponds, and lakes. Just think what that thing could do to you. Gah.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The newest issue of XANTIPPE is in full effect. And as such, so is Trevor's excellent review of Elizabeth Willis' fourth volume of poetry, Meteoric Flowers.

Beginning with the end...

Meteoric Flowers begins with an inscription from Wallace Stevens: “A poem is a meteor.” Willis demonstrates her intimate understanding of this metaphor by creating a text that, as its title suggests, enacts a meteoric cascade: the book’s fecundity of metaphors, ideas, as well as its disarming syntax and local fragmentary meanings do indeed, like meteors, burn brightly, explode on impact, and, as science has told us, seed new life.


You can find out how to order XANTIPPE 4/5 for yourself -- to not only fully experience the rest of Trevor's review, but the extreme poetic stylings of many a name gently murmered by the lyrically inclined -- here.

But what of Ms. Willis? I feel you. Check some previously published meteoric goodness in No: A Journal of the Arts.

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Happy International Worker's Day!

Let's drink a toast to all those farmers, workers, artists, and intellectuals of the last one hundred years who, without thought of fame or profit -- not motivated by a thirst for power -- whose motivations were compassionate and humanitarian -- worked tirelessly in their dream of a world-wide socialist revolution. Who believed and hoped that a new world was dawning, and that their work would contribute to a society in which one class does not exploit another, where one ethnic group or one nation does not try to expand itself over another, and where men and women lived freely as equals. The people who nourished these hopes and dreams were sometimes foolishly blind to the opportunism of their own leadership, and many were led into ideological absurdities, but the great majority of them selflessly worked for socialism with the best of hearts.

Their dreams proved futile, and "actually existing socialism" became a blight on the century almost equal to that of Nazism. What we have now is nervous third world fundamentalism and developed-world global greed. The failure of socialism is the tragedy of the 20th century, and on this day, May Day, at least, we should honor the memory of those who struggled for the dream of what socialism might have been. And begin a new way again.

Gary Snyder, "May Day Toast, for the Workers of the World, for the year 2000"

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