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5/31/2005

An open letter to purveyors of fine mp3 blogs:

Dear purveyors of fine mp3 blogs,

I really respect what you do. You take your free time, surely unpaid, to write and post about music you want the masses to hear. You're the equivalent of that friend who used to invite people over to play records, tapes and CDs whether they liked it or not, just to show them what they were missing out on and needed to buy. But now that the Internet is our shared living room, we all get to hear new music (at our leisure, no less), which is fantastic.

For the most part, you all are pretty respectful of the artists you're recommending. You usually only post one or two mp3's from an album, for a limited period of time, along with tons of bio info and even links to purchase the record. But sometimes when multiple mp3 bloggers all get excited about the same artist, a dangerous thing starts happening. In your efforts to have fresh content for your readers, you all tacitly refuse to post the same mp3 that's already been posted elsewhere. If a record gets really popular, then you can have five, six or more mp3s posted from one album across the blogosphere for people to collect.

This is happening now with the forthcoming Sufjan Stevens record, Illinois. Granted, the record does have 22 tracks on it, but there is no fair and sane reason that I should have already collected SIX of those tracks, nearly a third of the record, without even looking for them and well over a month prior to the release date. (This also happened with Arcade Fire last year, and has probably happened with other records I didn't notice.)

Clearly the mp3-bloggerati is still a small population of bloggers, and each of you are obviously aware of what other tracks from an album have been leaked, since you take pains to post different songs and new content on your own site. My suggestion to you is to have a gentlemen's agreement to collectively keep the leaked tracks to a maximum of three amongst yourselves, and whomever posts those three first "wins" (if you're keeping score, and I reckon you do). Then, in a nod to that mp3-blogger's superiority, if you wish to write about the record you will have to simply link to their already posted tracks instead of uploading new ones (and screwing over the artist - a very indie artist in Sufjan's case).

How does that sound?

To alleviate some of your guilt, rest assured I will still buy the Illinois record from the comely and talented Sufjan Stevens when it comes out on July 5th because I can already hear that it's going to be great.

Your friend,
artisthenewreligion

5/27/2005

OK, I admit it. I can't handle Tom Cruise's truth. Or Britney & Kevin's for that matter. Anyone want my television? It's back to good old-fashioned book-readin' for me.

Here's to the good kind of crazy:
ODE TO THINGS (oda a las cosa)
by Pablo Neruda

I HAVE A CRAZY
Crazy love of things.
I like pliars,
and scissors.
I love
cups
rings
and bowls -
not to speak, of course,
of hats.
I love
all things,
not just
the grandest,
also
the infinite
ly
small-
thimbles,
spurs,
plates,
and flower vases.

Oh yes.
And a few words from e.e. cummings:
Humanity i love you
because you would rather black the boots of
success than enquire whose soul dangles from his
watch-chain which would be embarrassing for both

parties and because you
unflinchingly applaud all
songs containing the words country home and
mother when sung at the old howard

Humanity i love you because
when you're hard up you pawn your
intelligence to buy a drink and when
you're flush pride keeps

you from the pawn shop and
because you are continually committing
nuisances but more
especially in your own house

Humanity i love you because you
are perpetually putting the secret of
life in your pants and forgetting
it's there and sitting down

on it
and because you are
forever making poems in the lap
of death Humanity

I hate you

5/26/2005


The return of my beloved Ms. Imogen Heap. Download the marvelously creepy "Hide and Seek" here. Let it transport you, courtesy of the fine folks at Central Village. Lyrics here.


mm what you say
oh that you only meant well, well of course you did
mm what you say
mm that it's all for the best, of course it is
mm what you say
that IT'S JUST what we need, you decided this
mm what you say
what did she say?


5/24/2005

Aggressively annoying:

Mushroom-sized and shaped Mary-Kate Olsen is dating Encino Man.





Tom Cruise, what is Scientology's position on feeding the general public rampant, blazing lies? We are not fooled! And we are not going to go see either your or your "girlfriend" Katie Holmes' blockbuster movies this summer!




TOO SKINNY.
NOT glamorous.
No longer funny.
If bleaching your naturally gorgeous red hair into a stringy pale yellow mess isn't a sign of self-hatred, then perhaps starving yourself is.

5/19/2005

Odds and sods: Stream the new Audioslave record on MySpace.com. I also found the new much-talked-about Mountain Goats record The Sunset Tree on Real Rhapsody. Hooray for streaming! Speaking of free music, I'm giving away a copy of Citizen Cope's latest record on SFist here.


Now when someone asks me what my favorite restaurant in San Francisco is, I will know how to respond.


In trying to make a point about how much I love Shiner's out of print and back in print record Lula Divinia, I told my friend that it's in my all time top 5. Which of course prompted him to ask me what the other four were. D'oh! I knew that was coming. Working on a response...

From the ashes of the late great Shiner comes The Life and Times, who are releasing Suburban Hymns on August 8th on Desoto Records. Allen Epley is one of those artists who I will trust no matter what they do.


If I had a dog, you can bet I would be at the Walkadogathon tomorrow morning. Maybe I can steal Jet for the day...

5/17/2005

The gift fairy brought me a ticket to see Audioslave last night (thanks Penn!), which brought back my youthful concertgoing enthusiasm for one night. Normally I am a cranky jerk who doesn't want to go to a show unless I can stand or sit somewhere away from the crowd, but last night I didn't care. I braved the dude-heavy, sweaty rock crowd just to watch Chris Cornell up close, and it was worth it! Sure, his voice was shot, so when he talked he sounded like a screamy frog, but I was just happy that he actually spoke between songs. I'm used to Cornell being grumpy and silent, but he seemed happy last night. The highlight was when Chris came out alone with an acoustic guitar to sing three songs, including a Temple of the Dog track. So, so good. [I borrowed this Cornell photo from www.amyweiser.com. I hope she doesn't mind.]


A little fun-time Bay To Breakers nonsense for your viewing pleasure. That's Alexa in the fuzzy hat and Audree in the tall black wig. The weather wasn't as nice as last year, but that didn't prevent the costumed or, in many cases, naked revellers from dancing and drinking through the streets of San Francisco. Oh and there were runners there too, from what I hear.

5/16/2005

Blu Sanders, my friend of many years and an amazing singer-songwriter I worked with for a long time, just sent me a CDR in the mail. A plain recordable CD with "Blu" written on it with a Sharpie. Just some recordings he worked on, live takes, recorded over a weekend. Half the tracks are spoken word and the rest are acoustic versions of his songs. Simple, but with the spoken word, a little adventurous.

I remember an afternoon in New York City a few years ago when I visited Blu at his apartment. He was showing me his recording setup on his computer, various microphones and whatnot. He mentioned some writing he'd been doing. It wasn't songs, he's played me many songs or parts of songs over the years we've known each other. These writings were little vignettes, he said, a few paragraphs each, about how he'd been feeling or what he thought about. Sounded like he was describing journal writing, most of which is only interesting to the writer. But he wanted to share them with me, so he brought some up on his computer screen and I read.

His writing was alive, succinct, honest. It cut through. A few times in my life, people have shared a little slice of their secret art with me, without having any idea how great it is, or could be. Without knowing its worth. Witnessing this ego-less vulnerability, it's spiritual.

I encouraged him, honestly told him how good the writing was, laughed at the funny parts. Some of Blu's writing is crass and hilarious, most of it is touching. When we relaunched his website a few years ago, we decided he should publish the writings as a journal. I've never heard him speak them aloud before.

The spoken word tracks on this CD focus mostly on love, lost love. Blu knows heartbreak. He's lived it, writes about it, and sings it in one of the most heartbreaking voices I've ever heard. Listening to Blu reminds me, if we can't make love work, we can still make art.

Listen to:
things changed
"By His Side" acoustic
I don't know if Blu will release any of these recordings to the public, but if he asks my opinion, I'll encourage him.

5/13/2005

On Wednesday night I met up with Daria of DKiss Designs at Project Sunshine West's kickoff party at Bambuddha Lounge. (Project Sunshine is a non-profit organization that provides free services to children who are hospitalized for AIDS, cancer, and other life threatening illnesses.) Daria and I were among several local designers who donated to the silent auction, and they invited us to attend the event.

We didn't know what to expect, but it turned out to be a really fun evening with great food and entertainment and interesting people, for a wonderful cause. Highlights were a performance by dholrhythms students (sign me up!), the vegetarian noodles from Asia SF, and meeting Alex Blagg in person after knowing him through SFist. Visit the BlaggBlogg for some truly twisted comedy. SF Weekly's readers voted him Best Comedian and Best Blogger. Nice work Blagg!

After the benefit, I was abducted by a crazy Scot (is that redundant?) and ended up dancing with strangers at the Starlight Room. Can't say that it was my kind of crowd, but I did feel like I was checking out a local landmark. Nice view there.


SF Weekly's "Best of San Francisco" issue is out, and SFist was named best local blog. Feels kinda nice, actually. Read this week's "When The Lights Go Down In The City" here.


Check out the tracklisting Dave Eggers compiled for the June issue of the Believer [via Stereogum]. It's indie rock bands covering other indie rock bands, and yes, I love it. The appearance by The Constantines as well as a cover of their most excellent song "Nighttime/Anytime (It's Alright)" is going to make me a Believer.
01 The Decemberists - "Bridges & Balloons" by Joanna Newsom
02 Spoon - "Decora" by Yo La Tengo
03 Constantines - "Why I Didn't Like August '93" by Elevator
04 CocoRosie - "Ohio" by Damien Jurado
05 The Mountain Goats - "Pet Politics" by Silver Jews
06 San Serac - "Late Blues" by Ida
07 The Shins - "We Will Become Silhouettes" by the Postal Service
08 Josephine Foster - "The Golden Window" by the Cherry Blossoms
09 Cynthia G. Mason - "Surprise, AZ" by Richard Buckner
10 Jim Guthrie - "Nighttime/Anytime (It's Alright)" by the Constantines
11 Espers - "Firefly Refrain" by Fursaxa
12 Two Gallants - "Anna's Sweater" by Blear
13 Vetiver - "Be Kind to Me" by Michael Hurley
14 Ida - "My Fair, My Dark" by David Schickele
15 Mount Eerie - "Waterfalls" by Thanksgiving
16 Devendra Banhart - "Fistful of Love" by Antony & the Johnsons
17 Wolf Parade - "Claxxon's Lament" by Frog Eyes
Buy the June Music Issue of The Believer here.

5/12/2005

Congratulations to the writer of the Gary Benchley chronicles, who is quitting The Morning News to focus on the book deal he got from Penguin's Plume Books (via Gawker). Read his hilarious rock n' roll writings here while they're still free. Read more about the writer here and visit his blog here.

Although I do admire the strength and realistic voice of the character Gary Benchley, anyone who thought the chronicles were written by an actual 23 year old rock star wannabe is seriously overestimating the focus and literary skills of most 23 year old rock star wannabes. Trust me on this one, I know a lot of musicians.

5/11/2005

You could be like me and listen to Gimme Fiction on Real Rhapsody, since I don't have the record yet (update: the gift fairy just brought me a copy! Thanks buddy!). Track 3, "I Turn My Camera On," was the one Mike, Britt and Jim were mixing when I visited them that day in Brooklyn. I think my favorite song so far is "I Summon You." For those of you not keeping track, Spoon = genius. Too genius to be fully appreciated in the now, I reckon. Britt deserves at least as much adulation as Sir Jack White, if not more.


Jen, my fellow -ist, posted a very interesting mp3 on her Daily Refill blog today. It's Angela McCluskey covering "Love Is Stronger Than Death." This is one of my favorite songs (I put it on a special mix last year) from one of my all time favorite albums, The The's Dusk. Here is the original, for your listening pleasure:

mp3: The The "Love Is Stronger Than Death" from the album Dusk [BUY IT]


On Sunday I volunteered with an organization called One Brick. It's a really painless way to volunteer without any paperwork or commitment; just go to their calendar and sign up online for what you'd like to do. I joined a large group of volunteers to "beautify" Justin Herman Park in the rain on Sunday morning. Beautify means pulling weeds and spreading wood chips. The rain actually wasn't that bad, I got to do something nice for the city, and I made a few friends as well. If you live in SF, New York or Chicago, check it out.


Grapefruit salsa, y'all.

Basically you take your favorite salsa recipe and replace the tomatoes with grapefruit. Chop up the grapefruit and add white onion, cilantro, jalapeƱo, the juice of a lime, garlic and a tiny bit of sugar. Yummm. (This janky photo is from my camera phone, which lacks the quality control of, say, a real camera.)


Just call me Nostradamus. First, read this item I wrote for the Bitch List in the issue of Bitch Magazine that came out this spring:

Hmm...who was on Oprah on Monday? Oh yes, CESAR MILLAN! Our very own beloved Dog Whisperer himself was tackling the issues of Oprah's dog Sophie. Unfortunately the Oprah segment wasn't as informative or entertaining as Cesar's own show; Oprah's producers focused more on her stressing out than on Cesar's rehabilitation. Also, I think Cesar was a little nervous. He did get a big laugh when Oprah freaked out about his gentle pit bull, Daddy, and he reassured her by saying, "He's just energy, in a different outfit." Now millions more people can love him as much as we do. Go Cesar!

5/04/2005

Opening acts for Tori Amos' "Summer of Sin" tour will be our girls in the Ditty Bops and Imogen Heap! Tori usually takes a male singer-songwriter out as her opening act, but she's done really well with breaking that habit this time around.

Imogen Heap has been one of my favorite artists since she released her first solo record I Megaphone back in '98. (I was working at a record store and fished it out of a promo pile.) That record made a little bit of noise with the single "Come Here Boy," but Imogen didn't resurface in the US again until Frou Frou released their album in the summer of 2002. Details is a fantastic record, and thanks to "Garden State" a lot more people heard it. Now I hear that Imogen's got another solo record in the works, set for release this summer. This is good news!


I'm at RAG today, chillin' with my main man Chupa. Here's photo evidence of the love that Chupa and I share. I've had my camera phone for a year and I just discovered all these new options, like the sepia tone here.


5/03/2005

Here's a real good friend of mine playing with my idol Nancy Wilson. I should have been in Seattle this weekend.


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