Saturday, December 31, 2005

James Brown Live

This week NPR's All Songs Considered features a live James Brown performance from Dec 28 at the 9:30 club in Washington DC. This could be my best Christmas present. Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Pitchfork Hipness Quotient

Record dorks collectively released held breath when Pitchfork's Top 50 List was recently unveiled at the hollowed address that is the home to all things indie. It's always fun to see what made the list, and which ones I have, because I'm a record dork. Except, this year, I seem to have made a transition from the physical to the digital realm. I don't know for sure, but I'd guess I've spent less money on CD's and vinyl this year than any in the past 15. I've become very comfortable browsing iTunes and emusic and saving my real money for the absolute must-haves (I usually avoid the peer-to-peer, because it cheapens [no pun intended] the whole experience for me. It's like free used porn.). Of course, this is bad news for record store owners, with whom I'm sympathetic, but I digress.

I perused, sometimes with approval, but more often with shock, disappointment, and ignorance what made Pitchfork's list. The problem really, is that I can't tell if I'm still hip. I mean, did I lose it? This is an issue of mammoth proportions and central to my self-image. Have I lost my edge? Have I become uncool, out of touch, or (gulp) LAME?

This list confuses more than clarifies the issue. I mean, yeah, I got the new My Morning Jacket, and I love it, but who the heck are Antony & the Johnsons?

In an effort to find concrete answers to these questions, I have devised the Pitchfork Hipness Quotient (PHQ).

Simply put, the PHQ is a quantification of an individual's musical "hipness," the standard, or course, being Pitchfork's Top 50 list. It's a simple system of points awarded for albums bought, and albums (or portions thereof) and singles legitimately downloaded. Here is the key:

For every CD bought - 5 points
For every full album downloaded* - 3 points
Partial album (3 songs or more) downloaded* - 2 points
Single song downloaded* - 1 points

Bonus: If an album was bought on vinyl - 7 points.

*Free peer-to-peer downloads earn no points. If you didn't sacrifice a penny, you earn no hipness.

Based on this system, the highest score would of course be 250, without bonus vinyl points. I highly doubt that even the editor in chief at Pitchfork could achieve such hipness, but then again, he/she probably received lots of these as promos, and is therefore exempt and granted honorary hipness.

Now, onto the tabulation:

This year I bought on CD:
#42: My Morning Jacket, Z
#26: The Decemberists, Picaresque
#10: Wolf Parade, Apologies to Queen Mary (which I really don't even like that much)
#8: LCD Soundsystem, LCD Soundsystem

only four! But 20 points.

I downloaded #33, Bloc Party's Silent Alarm (3 points) and partially downloaded #23, Ladytron's Witching Hour (2 more points). I downloaded the single from the #4 album, M.I.A.'s Arular for 1 more point. (I also saw her in concert with LCD, but no points there.)

Alas, I bought none of the top 50 records on vinyl, so no bonus points for me.

My PHQ (drumroll please) is. . . .26!

What's yours?

New rule: If your PHQ is less than your age, you are undeniably unhip by modern Pitchfork standards. You should be ashamed that you spent your time on such a ridiculous exercise, accept your unhipness, and move on. I am.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Coincidence #2

I was thinking about going to the bookstore and happened to be browsing iTunes' audiobooks page. I saw that there is one for Jared Diamond's Collapse, and I recalled that I want to read it. I went back to folding my laundry.

As I folded, I recalled that I bought a copy of Collapse for a former co-worked who had left the office earlier this year. Before he left, he made a short and touching goodbyee video for us, backed by "Here's Where the Story Ends" by the Sundays. As I folded a shirt and listened to my iTunes "My Top Rated" list on random through my stereo, the very next song was "Here's Where the Story Ends."

Actually, that's a coincidence on more than one level, isn't it? (collapse, Here's where the story ends, Get It?)
My Christmas List for Mom

I just had a ball writing this email to my Mom. She asked me for Christmas ideas. Feel free to take anything here and run with it.

Hi Mom,

Yeah, I'm fine. Patrick's right about the phone. That's one thing I need, a new battery.

I know what you mean about time.

I cashed Grandma's check a week or two ago. I got a Christmas card from her in the mail today. I send out a card for her yesterday.

For Christmas. . .how about a little drum machine that I could plug into the computer? I just thought of that. I really don't know. I asked for some photography stuff from Cormac and Patrick. Toy Camera kinda stuff. Lomo is a good name. So is Holga. I could also use I new photo album. I want something fun this year.

I could use some new Ipod headphones, because the dog chewed up mine. The apple store has some "in ear" headphones. Is there an apple store in Charlotte? I have some radio shack jobbies that don't really stay in too good.

Backpacking stuff, like a new pack, or a wood (as in "stick")-burning stove if you can find one. If I was shopping for me, my stops would include Guitar Center (or other music store) photography shop, camping/outdoor shop. I'm up to my neck in books, but there's a new Gabriel Garcia Marques book out, and also a book called "Misquoting Jesus" that I'm interested in. Or maybe Zadie Smith "On Beauty." I'd like to read that.

Patrick asked me for a cookbook. That's a good idea. A good vegetarian cookbook. I don't cook enough.

This is fun. I haven't really thought that much about what I'd like to have. I try to avoid it. There is a website called "" that has all kinds of books/dvd's/toys/cameras that I'd like to have. Too late to order I'm sure, but maybe somewhere to go for an idea.

Oh! here's one thing that you could find at an outdoors store. An LED headlamp. The kind of thing that you wear on your head when your hands are full and you're trying to walk around in the dark. Three little blue LED's. Those are great. And also you can find little inflatable chairs (no legs) that are very comfortable for camping trips.

I want to be able to take great photos/read great books/comfortably listen to great music all in the middle of nowhere.

Maybe a camping cookbook!

I want gifts that inspire action! creativity!

A subscription to the Sunday New York Times.

Those little LED headlamps are good for nighttime reading while camping too.

A good bike jersey!

A how-to repair/tune up your bike book.

Snowboard things.

Some good gloves, the kind that have the mitten part that folds back to reveal gloved finger - good for shooting video. (Not too thick!)

A new set of hospital scrub bottoms (mine a a little raggedy and I wear them every day in the winter - much more comfortable than long underwear).

A homebrewing kit! (probably too big for the plane trip home).

I'm 6'1" slim build, 34ish waist, large (trim fit is available) shirt size. Size 12 shoe.

Okay, that's all I got. Your turn.



Saturday, December 10, 2005

More New Music

Swung through Lansing today, and as always, I stopped to visit the lovely folks at my favorite record store in the world, FBC. This time I picked up a Coltrane: The Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings, a 4 disc box set with lovely artwork and a nice booklet that I have only yet thumbed through. The music is fantastic.

There is so much vinyl at FBC and usually whenever I enter, any notion of an record wish list evaporates from my mind. So I browse for as long as my patience permits. Today my friend Steve (DJ Horsepower) called my attention to a 12" that I actually have been longing for, the New Order Acid House Remixes by 808 State (1988).

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Pinter's Nobel Acceptance speech

The playwrite's speech is viewable here. I haven't watched it yet, but I hear it's controverific!

I thought Black Eyed Peas used to be cool, I mean, I think I rememeber seeing the hip-hop kids wearing BEP hoodies on the days their J5 and Dilated Peoples hoodies were in the wash. Now they are (and have been for some time now) the biggest bunch of sellouts in the music biz.

SNL did a great parody of BEPs in the form of a commercial in which they hawked their services to prospective Bar Mitzvah planners. (that video is hosted here.)

In Slate this week, Hua Hsu (bless you) writes about the "not awesomely bad, but horrifically bad" BEP song My Humps. Hilarity ensues. Read it here.

"What you gon' do with all that ass/ All that ass inside them jeans? … What you gon' do wit all that breast?/ All that breast inside that shirt?" rapper Will.I.Am teases in response, rendering literal what had heretofore been pretty much literal. It's a song that tries to evoke a coquettish nudge and wink, but head-butts and bloodies the target instead.