Friday, March 27, 2009

Short Timer

It's a slow blog week. We're getting ready for vacation--2.5 weeks between Croatia and Amsterdam--and haven't had much time for anything but work. But it'll all soon be worth it. We'll visit friends, we'll eat and drink more than our fair share, and we'll relax relax relax.

I'll be blogging it over at as the interwebs are available, so check in over there if you want to see the gratuitous vacation snaps.

Happy Spring, y'all.

(That's the Croatian coast pictured up there.)

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Decline of Newspapers: A Wrinkle

A notable exception to the rule on the death of print journalism: The Austin Chronicle. From an article in the NY Times:

At a time when daily newspapers seem to be going away at the rate of one a week and weeklies are madly cutting to stay afloat, The Chronicle, which has revenue of approximately $8.5 million a year, has not laid off anyone, has no plans to do so, and its business is off just 7 percent in the last three years.

Major dailies are dying off at an alarming rate. But the Chronicle thrives. A big part of this can be credited to SXSW, which is run by the Chron. But, also, it's the paper itself. I've never seen a paper tied so closely to a community the way Austin is to its Chronicle. It's all local stuff. Everyone reads it every week. And people talk about it.

Writing for that paper was an honor, and if I still lived there, I'd still write for them. Here's hoping they continue to thrive.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Other Side of Rick Steves

You know Rick Steves. He's the PBS travel show guy, glasses and a backpack, friendly well-meaning slightly nerdy dude who gets to go to all the cool places.

Well, there's a lot more to him that we thought. This piece in Salon goes deeper into issues more controversial than he addresses in his shows, like politics, Iran, terrorism, and legalization of marijuana.

The funny thing, to me, is that his views seem so radical when indeed they are just common sense gleaned from having seen more of the world than his own backyard. Maybe coming from him, more people will pay attention.

Panda Bear Live

For some footage of Panda Bear performing live, from a film being made by Mike Tyson. (No, I doubt it's that Mike Tyson), jump on over to Pitchfork. Click to the last bit, with Panda Bear performing.

UPDATE: I was re-hosting this video, but I couldn't figure out how to make it not start automatically on loading the page, so I took it off.

Reinvigorate Your Outrage

It's tough to keep the bile up for so long, isn't it? But here's a little recharge for you, in case you missed it.

Some firms are taking bailout money and donating it to political campaigns.

Outrage can be tiring.

Friday, March 20, 2009

First Day of Spring

Rain's expected this weekend, and a friend said the trails above the Military Reserve were dry. So I aired up the IF and hit it at lunch. Glad I did. Awesome ride, and the trails today are nice and dry and grippy.

Time to get back out there, y'all. Happy Spring.

Obama to Iran

The man is making the effort. He's using media in new (for the White House) ways and getting his message out to everyone he thinks needs to hear it. And this is an interesting way to show he's got the balls to talk directly to Iran, to the government and the people.

Barack on Leno

He's so good. He gives a good interview here, breaking things down in understandable terms and making government seem very reasonable. A thoughtful, intelligent, funny, classy president.

And Jay isn't even a total idiot in asking questions.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Themselves Mixtape

Over at the Anticon records website, they're giving away a mixtape put together by Themselves and mixed by Odd Nosdam. Can't tell you much about it as I'm downloading it right now, but I can't imagine it's anything but the shizznit.

Grab it.

The Presidential Garden

Sure, it's a fluff piece. But it says a lot. The Obamas installing and tending a garden, raising and eating organic food, sends a strong message and could start a great trend.

And it sounds like they've got some good stuff picked out.


Palin is robo-polling in Iowa.


Let's enjoy the next 6 months before the '12 campaigning begine.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tonight on the Range

Free tickets to Ratatat!

That's right, I'll have 2 spots on the guest list, +1 each, for the Ratatat show at the Knitting Factory on March 28. That's next Saturday. It's gonna be a killer show, so tune in, wait for the announcement, and give me a call. (Good during Wednesday's show only.)

And as for new music, pff: NASA, Obits, Lady Sovereign, The Submarines, The Very Most, Condo Fucks, Dan Deacon, Upsidedown Astronauts, St. Vincent, Blind Pilot, Electric President--the list goes on and on. More Neko, more AC, more M.Ward, more of all the good stuff.

Tune in Wednesday, 5 to 7mst, at

Step Up, Broker Scum

Friedman hits it on the head in his column this morning.

Everyone's pissed off about the AIG brokers getting bonuses, as he says, "after their company — 80 percent of which is owned by U.S. taxpayers — racked up the biggest quarterly loss in the history of the Milky Way Galaxy." No kidding. But, as he also rightly points out, horrible as it is to swallow, our government can't just break the law to prevent them from getting their bonuses.

What it boils down to is that these brokers need to show the decency that so many Americans are showing right now. They need to step up and sacrifice. They need to give the bonuses back. A powerful point:

I live in Montgomery Country, Md. The schoolteachers here, who make on average $67,000 a year, recently voted to voluntarily give up their 5 percent pay raise that was contractually agreed to for next year, saving our school system $89 million — so programs and teachers would not have to be terminated. If public schoolteachers can take one for schoolchildren and fellow teachers, A.I.G. brokers can take one for the country.

Now, I agree with you: Hoping for common decency from these people, who as we have seen by their actions are certainly driven by nothing but money and greed, is a long shot to say the least. But if they did, it'd send a signal, and it'd help Obama deal with the backlash from this.

We as a people have lots of anger management issues right now. It's a tough time to be calm. But we need to find solutions, not just scream and cry. This, unlikely as it seems, is a small piece of a good solution.

Read the column, it's good stuff.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

They Are the Resurrected?

The Pitchfork rumor mill's got a good one today.

Will the Stone Roses, leaders of the Madchester scene, get back together for a run at the summer festival circuit this year? Is it time to break out the day-glo and strobe lights and trip out to Fool's Gold?

I loved this band. I can think of worse things that could happen.

Bad Economy = Better Kids?

In the discussion about the effects of our economic travails on our society, there's an interesting opinion: Buckling down on consumerism is good for kids. And it's a tough idea to argue with.

Entitlement (in the non-governmental sense) breeds spoilt kids. That only makes sense. When 6-year-olds have cell phones and every single kid who can push a button has an X-Box or Playstation, when toys worth hundreds of dollars are just expected, when after-school activities and summer camps and sports camps and kid clubs keep kids from doing chores or having real responsibilities, we've got a problem.

Interesting opinion on this in the Detroit Free Press. From that:

By and large, today's kids have no chores. Their parents are too busy running them to completely superfluous after-school activities that may build certain skills, but fail to build what endures: good citizenship -- which, by the way, parents once maintained began in the home. Not on the ball field.

I don't have kids yet, but again, I have a hard time arguing with this. Chores are good. Responsibility to family is good. Expecting to have things handed to you is bad. So, maybe the downturn is good in this way, too. Silver linings, right?

Thx Jessflynn.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Neko Is the Horn Section

Cool article in the New Yorker online edition about Neko Case and her new record, Middle Cyclone.

It's a great record--to my mind and ears it's the best thing she's done, building on the style she solidified with Fox Confessor Brings the Flood. She's moving away from country and into something far more her own. And the new place suits her very well.

SF-J pegs it good here, although he doesn't seem to grab onto the theme that haunts me when I listen to this record: Namely, that Neko in this record is, literally, a force of nature. But that's my interpretation. And yours is...?

Earmarks My Eye

I've grown so sick of hearing people (mostly Republicans) whine and cry and stamp their feet about earmarks that I can hardly stand the word anymore. Earmarks are the new Lobbyists, a catch-all word that's become code for all the other side's political evildoing.

But, like lobbyists, all earmarks are not bad. Every person who complains about them has them inserted into bill after bill by the rep or senator for whom they voted. No matter who you are. And, most likely, you're in favor of the things the earmarks brought or would bring to your state.

As Obama's critics continue use earmarks as their most common artillery, it's worth looking at who's doing the earmarking. Slate provides such a service today. Here are the top 10:

1. Thad Cochran, R-Miss.: $474 million
2. Roger Wicker, R-Miss.: $391 million
3. Mary Landrieu, D-La.: $332 million
4. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa: $292 million
5. David Vitter, R-La.: $249 million
6. Christopher Bond, R-Mo.: $248 million
7. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.: $235 million
8. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii: $225 million
9. Richard Shelby, R-Ala.: $219 million
10. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa: $199 million

Notice anything? Maybe that 6 of the top 10 are Republicans? And that the top 2, who dwarf everyone else, are Republicans?

And that's not even the best stuff. How about the hypocrisy of righties like Mitch McConnell: After inserting $76 million of his own earmarks, he voted against the bill because it spent too many taxpayer dollars. WTF? And Vitter and Grassley, both on the list above, followed suit, voting against the bill they helped inflate.

So, enough with the talking points. Enough ignorant railing against the evil earmark. Pay attention to what your reps are doing, look a little deeper (like, beyond the word "earmark") and see what the money's for, and maybe, just maybe, try understanding that this is no normal budget or spending bill for no normal time. We're taking drastic measures because the Republican administration of the past 8 years screwed us so badly that we have to.

Every administration needs opposition, even very vocal opposition. But educate yourself first. Otherwise, you're just Rush Limbaugh.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Intriguing post about "climate intervention technology." And maybe a tiny bit chilling:
More and more prominent climate and energy scientists have expressed support for studies into various geoengineering approaches, such as sequestering carbon in the ocean by growing large swaths of algae.
From TPM

Legends of Punk

Fascinating article about the unearthing of Detroit proto-punk band Death, in today's NY Times. I, like most, I suspect, had never heard of these guys. Which only makes the legend all the cooler. And now I look forward to getting my hands on their re-released record.

Wallace Unfinished

There's an interview on the NPR site with D.T. Max, who has just published a piece called "The Unfinished" in the March 9 issue of The New Yorker, the same issue in which a piece of Wallace's unfinished novel, here titled "Wiggle Room," appears.

The Max interview is interesting in its look at Wallace's work and the expectations put upon him by himself and by the literary community. It also dips into Wallace's suicide and the depression that plagued him.

The story, or excerpt, is as dense and wonderful and frustrating and impressive as is the rest of Wallace's work. Apparently the entirety of the unfinished novel will be published, though of course it is impossible, given Wallace's drive for precision or pursuit of perfection in voice and assembly of his larger works, to know if what we end up with is what he would have released on the world.


Friday, March 13, 2009

Happy Friday

Watch Jon Stewart rip Jim Cramer a new one. The video is like 3 or 4 sections, but it's really worth watching. Vicarious outrage and comeuppance.

Animal Collective

Great long interview with Animal Collective in Pitchfork today. It takes a while but if you're into them it's a good read.

One of these days I might have something to say about their new record, Merriweather Post Pavillion. I have plenty to say, I just haven't written anything down yet. So in lieu of that, check out this.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tsunami My Ass: They knew exactly what they were doing

Great editorial in the NY Times today about the meltdown on Wall Street.

The prevailing line seems to be that this all came about because of some perfect financial storm, that the big fellas (Bear Stearns, Lehmann, etc) didn't see any of this coming, and that the crash of all these mortgage-based securities was completely beyond their control.

At least someone's calling BS on this. They knew, they took unconscionable risks, and it was all due to one simple thing: Greed. That, and people who couldn't figure out how to make these companies sufficiently profitable without taking this low-road of least effort and resistance. So, Greed, and people who suck at their jobs.

Let's hope they can't slither out of this so easily.

The ongoing death of journalism

The Rocky Mountain News does not pass quietly.

Reporters from the now-defunct Colorado daily are blogging on a site that looks remarkably like the former paper's online version. Good for them.

I've been talking to a co-worker about this, following the Seattle P-I in their downward spiral. She used to be an editor for that paper so has insights to its demise. It's a disturbing trend, mostly because we still need what these people do, it's just that no one's yet figured out a good business model for it in the online world.

We get our news aggregated for us, but that's only worked as long as it has because there are still reporters working local beats. Once they're all out of work, what will there be to be aggregated? AP stories are great, but you can't get all your news there.

Here's a piece on the RMN and the blog that followed it in Finding Dulcinea, a really cool blog and info portal/aggregator that serves a new purpose but, like others, won't fill the gap left by the death of local reporting.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

New on the Range

I've got so much new music this week there's no way I'm gonna be able to play it all. Crazy.

Neko Case, M. Ward, and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah all have new music out, just to name some of the heavy hitters. I've also got fresh tracks from Bosque Brown, St. Vincent, Art Brut, Iran, Wavves, Say Hi, Beirut, Superchunk, Asobi Seksu, Obits, and newish stuff from a few bands headed our way: Starfucker, Portugal. The Man, No Kids, and Paranthetical Girls.

Plus, between the Dark Was the Night and Selected + Collected compilations, there's just too much for a single show. So tune in and see how much I can cram in. Wednesday 5 to 7 pm MST, and Friday 1 to 3 pm MST, on

On Snark

Not too long ago, film critic Roger Ebert published an essay on snark. The piece was hung on the event of the Academy Awards, but it's useful to apply his logic in many other areas, not the least of which is music criticism.

Snark is easy, and therefore it has wiggled its way into all avenues of discourse, none so completely as the Internet and its abundance of forums on celebrity. It's most often a vapid and cowardly exercise, dashing off snotty comments with no accountability or logical justification, and pretty much everyone who strings words together is guilty of it at some point.

But there's snark, and there's snark. There are miles between Pitchfork and Perez Hilton, and the relative value of the snark in these venues should not be mistaken. (Perez Hilton is a nauseating parasite, while Pitchfork, for all its snark, engages more often than not in thoughtful discussion and criticism of some of the best pop music going.)

Check out Ebert's post--it's a long read, but worth it. And perhaps more of us who write for an audience can take his pledge, namely, to be better behaved:

I must resolve not to take cheap shots, except in those cases of truly bad movies [music, etc]; in such reviews, I believe readers understand the rules can be bent. In true snarking, there is no such thing as a cheap shot; the gold standard is the Good Shot. It's important sometimes to be reminded that it's okay to admire. To praise. To enjoy yourself. To admit to having a good time. To not care about what other, snarkier, people might say. I need to keep in mind the words of Robert Warshow I like to quote: A man goes to the movies [listens to music]. The critic must be honest enough to admit he is that man.

Hat tip: Sullivan

Monday, March 09, 2009

The Separation of Science and Politics

Nice to have Reason back in play.

Obama accompanied his announcement yesterday lifting limits on funding for stem-cell research with a statement that should do much to reassure those of us who felt that W's knotting of science and politics was a terrible thing.

"Promoting science isn't just about providing resources — it is also about protecting free and open inquiry," Obama said. That's an important change in philosophy, and one that will hopefully facilitate the research and trials that we need to tackle some pretty frightening problems.

Perhaps the most pleasing part of this announcement is the crystal clear denunciation of Bush-era politicization of science. Their "good science" catchphrase was a load of BS and everyone knew it. Now, Obama's said it in public, loud and clear, and has changed policy on it. We've still got a ways to go in addressing climate change, but at least things are moving in the right direction.

It just keeps getting better.


Great piece on Stephen Malkmus in Pitchfork today. He talks Pavement, The Jicks, songwriting, sequencing, b-sides, reissuing, Europe v. America, and a whole lot more.
Pavement is one of the most important bands in my musical upbringing. I've often defended calling them the best band ever, usually unsuccessfully but always passionately. They did as much or more to invent and refine and further what's now called indie rock than anyone else on the planet.
And the cool thing is, even though Pavement's been gone for about 10 years now, Malkmus, with The Jicks, has moved on to continue making amazing music, still furthering the cause of indie rock.

Check it out:

Thursday, March 05, 2009


This is a tough day. Today is the day Cathy and I had planned to be bringing Eleanor Rae into the world. Instead, we're in a very different place in our lives. It's still hard to get over the simple complaint that this is not the way things were supposed to go.

In the days and months since November, I feel I've learned quite a lot about life and living and the things that are important. But in the face of this day and what it means, what it was supposed to mean, I feel as ignorant and unprepared as I could possibly be. I feel blindsided and angry and incredibly, intensely sad.

Back in November and December, it was my job to be upright and strong, to not waver in decisions or in the weighing and discussion of what had happened to us. I felt I best served Cathy by being that person that she could look to for strength and certainty. And, to be honest and immodest, I think I did a pretty great job at it. It served me well, too, to have focus and purpose. It helped me deal, or not deal, with the reality.

Now, though. Now is a different story. Somehow my certainty and purpose have left me. Cathy's doing better these days--so what's my job? What cage keeps my thoughts contained? Where do I direct my energy? Without a purpose I flounder, my thoughts and emotions get away from me, and I feel I have no control over their expression. My mind seems foreign and beyond my control. That's very unsettling. It's a terrible thing to be helpless, and something I knew little to nothing about until last year. I never want to feel this again.

One song became very important to me during the last months of last year. And today it says how I'm feeling better than I ever could myself.

The things we never had
The things we wish would come back
Because we need this oh so bad,
We need this oh so bad
And we tremble in the night
For the things we wish were right
Because we need this oh so bad
Because I need you oh so bad

~ Don't Haunt This Place, The Rural Alberta Advantage

This is a very sad day. I have no other option than to recognize that and deal with it. That's a lot harder than it seems. Right now, it seems impossible to get through. But I will, we will. We have no choice.

The world is a lesser place today than it should be. Something is missing. Someone is missing, and I feel her absence more acutely than I could ever have imagined I would.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

New on the Range

Refreshed from a morning in the powder, loaded to the gills with new music, inspired by meaningful real-life events, today's show is bound to be a good one.

Tune in for new stuff from Yo La Tengo, Art Brut, Girls, Beirut, Diego Bernal, DJ Signify, Andrew Bird, Telefon Tel Aviv, and a whole lot more. We'll also dive deeper into Animal Collective, Women, Grizzly Bear, and whatever else bubbles to the surface. Tune in 5 to 7 MST tonight, and again 1 to 3 MST Friday, at

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Rude Awakening

And I thought Henry ran hard in his sleep.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

She's Ready to Ride

And boy did she turn out purdy. Best build I've ever done, too.

Yard Work

Today was the day to cut back and bag all the plants and trees and bushes in the yards. You can't throw a handful of clippings on the ground without Henry thinking you're building him a nest.

Hey, at least he enjoys yard work.

Rahm Emmanuel on Face the Nation

I can't help but like this guy. He spins, but he's sharp, and he's not afraid to call people out on BS.

He's polite, well-spoken, and a bit menacing. I guess those are the traits you want in a Chief of Staff.

And so begins the new talking point: Rush Limbaugh is the face and the intellectual force of the Republican party.


Jindal not only annoying and sad, he's dishonest too

We know by now that he made up the story of the sheriff and the boats during Katrina.

As if that weren't bad enough, turns out his family history is a bit embellished, too. From Rich:

Listening to Jindal talk Tuesday night about his immigrant father’s inability to pay for an obstetrician, you’d never guess that at the time his father was an engineer and his mother an L.S.U. doctoral candidate in nuclear physics. Sanford’s first political ad in 2002 told of how growing up on his “family’s farm” taught him “about hard work and responsibility.” That “farm,” the Charlotte Observer reported, was a historic plantation appraised at $1.5 million in the early 1980s. From that hardscrabble background, he struggled on to an internship at Goldman Sachs.