Sunday, June 28, 2009

Riding the Watchman

I finally got up there. Me and Will today crawled up the spine of 3 Bears to get to the Watchman Trail, the newest addition to the Boise Foothills trail complex.

I've heard it's a good one, and I heard right. Kudos to SWIMBA and Ridge to Rivers for the planning and work they put into this trail. It's a great traverse, a nice chunk of a gathering mid-mountain loop, with awesome views into the valleys below and of the main ridge of the Boise Front.

Today we rode it from 3 Bears over to 5 Mile Gulch. Next time, I'll try it the other way. Good times.

Friday, June 26, 2009


Callahan Quiets the Lux

Last night had to be one of the couple best-behaved crowds I've ever seen at the Neurolux. Bill Callahan played, and while he brought a band with him and often had some full volume going, much of it was quiet and spare, and for once the guy onstage wasn't competing with the noise of the kids in the back.

Callahan put on a great show. He's an odd duck, stock still mostly, sometimes jogging in place, sometimes doing a weirdly choked endzone-dance-knee-wiggle thing, but his voice is something beautiful and unique, and his songs are amazing almost without exception.

He dug deep into A River Ain't Too Much To Love, his last record as smog., and he also brought out a few classics "from my cassette collection," as Richard said, and a lot of songs from his two most recent records, both recorded under his own name.

Apparently the neighborhood conflict has begun at the Lux, as complaints from the new residential tower across the alley are forcing them to end shows at 11, but Callahan played until about 11:30, coming back for an encore, thumbing his nose at the "fat cat lawyer" who's always the villain.

Set closer "Let Me See The Colts" was the highpoint of the evening, I'd say, working the loud-quiet-loud progression with builds from cello and violin over the evocative lyrics of that song's chorus. A great show.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Bill Callahan Tonight

The very talented, very droll Bill Callahan plays the Neurolux tonight, Thursday. He also goes by Smog., but he's put two albums in a row out under his own name, the amazing Woke on a Whaleheart from 07, and the brand new Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle.

Callahan's music is hard to describe in a way that sounds appealing, but the music itself, and his dry delivery, are very compelling. He's a strange bird, and we're lucky to have him play here at the Lux.

Don't miss this show. And for god's sake, if you do go, don't sit there and yell at your friends at the top of your voice. Boise crowds are notoriously bad for shows like this (see: the travesty that was Califone at the Lux, poor poor Alexi Murdoch, etc etc), and if you're just there to make the scene and be an a-hole, at least do it in the pool room. Kthanks.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Spiral Stairs Solo!

Big news in indie rock geekdom today. Spiral Stairs, that other songwriter and singer from Pavement, is releasing his first solo record, called The Real Feel. It's coming out on Matador, and the cover art is... Well, look. Awesome, eh?

You can download a track at the Pitchfork.

US Beats Spain to Advance to Confederation Cup Finals!

After a 3-0 win over Egypt on Sunday and an unlikely advance to the semifinals after defeats to Italy and Brazil, the United States’ previous caution became assertiveness. Against a team so secure in possession of the ball, the United States dictated the action at times, while Spain seemed back on its heels, out of sorts, its players grumbling and frustrated, raising their arms and leaning their heads back in exasperation.

Check out the full NY Times coverage. An amazing victory for the US side. We advance to Sunday's finals against the winner of Brazil v. South Africa on Sunday. It'd be nice to try for revenge against Brazil, who beat us 3-0 earlier in this Confederations Cup tournament, but better I think to square off against the host nation in what I hope could be a shifting of power for next year's World Cup.

Where Henry Spends His Mornings

Monday, June 22, 2009

Reporters Escape from Taliban

An amazing story in today's NY Times about an American journalist with the NYT and an Afghan journalist who succeeded in a nighttime escape from a Taliban compound in Waziristan.

It's a pretty thrilling narrative of an unlikely escape in a completely hostile area. The stuff of movies.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Saturday Locals

These are great. See what's going on in your town. Click the poster to read the fine print.

Friday Night Soulstice

Come downtown to our party. It's gonna be fun.

Happy Friday

I heart Annie Clark.

St. Vincent "The Strangers" from Lake Fever Sessions on Vimeo.

New Bloc Party

Give a rat's ass? Listen to it here on Pitchfork (via Lala).

Might not be as crappy as the last record. We'll see.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

New Tortoise Coming

Other Music's digital store is giving away an advance track off the new Tortoise record, due out next week on Thrill Jockey. If it's any indication of the new release's entirety (and why wouldn't it be?), this one, called Beacons of Ancestorship, is gonna be a rocker.

See you at the Record Exchange on Tuesday.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Iran in Chaos

The fallout from the election in Iran continues. Roger Cohen of the NY Times is on the ground in Tehran, and today's op-ed conjures some frightening images, and some even more frightening possibilities.

She was in tears like many women on the streets of Iran’s battered capital. “Throw away your pen and paper and come to our aid,” she said, pointing to my notebook. “There is no freedom here.”
The Ayatollah has called for an investigation, which is pretty huge considering he called the suspect results "divine intervention." Still, it's hard to imagine this would be anything but going through some motions to tamp down the protests, sparked from landslide results being released to the public within a couple hours of the polls closing.

He won as the Interior Ministry was sealed, opposition Web sites were shut down, text messages were cut off, cell phones were interrupted, Internet access was impeded, dozens of opposition figures were arrested, universities were closed and a massive show of force was orchestrated to ram home the result to an incredulous public.

With foreign journalists mostly slated to leave in the coming days, I fear we have not seen the worst of this. Iran, teetering on the edge of change for the better, turns out to have indeed been too good to be possible.

Cohen's article is powerful. Don't miss it.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Source of Anger

Frank Rich tries to grapple with Obama-hatred in today's NY Times. It's a scary thing we're talking about.

There was no shortage of Bush-hating going on for the last 8 years. But, and perhaps I'm biased a bit, it just seemed a bit less menacing. A bit less rooted in possible guerrilla action. A bit more political than visceral.

Regardless, it's interesting to try and understand the motivation and cause of the anger. As he says,

What is this fury about? In his scant 145 days in office, the new president has not remotely matched the Bush record in deficit creation. Nor has he repealed the right to bear arms or exacerbated the wars he inherited. He has tried more than his predecessor ever did to reach across the aisle. But none of that seems to matter. A sizable minority of Americans is irrationally fearful of the fast-moving generational, cultural and racial turnover Obama embodies — indeed, of the 21st century itself. That minority is now getting angrier in inverse relationship to his popularity with the vast majority of the country. Change can be frightening and traumatic, especially if it’s not change you can believe in.

We fear change. Some of us fear it so much that we'd do pretty drastic and reprehensible things to prevent it (see: Iranian elections).

The good news? The world will change with or without those who would wish to prevent or stall it. It's inevitable. It'll just take government in some places, and citizens in others, longer to catch on.

Friday, June 12, 2009

One More Cyclist Killed

As my friend Kurt put it when posting this piece of news to his Facebook page this morning, "GOD DAMN IT."

From the KTVB site:

A 37-year-old Meridian man has died after being struck by a sport utility vehicle while bicycling in North Boise.

Boise Police were called to the intersection of Hill Road and Smith Avenue at 7:44 p.m. Thursday. Witnesses told officers that several cyclists were riding together eastbound on Hill Road when a 16-year-old driving a small SUV made a left turn directly in the path of one of the cyclists. The SUV struck the cyclist, who was wearing a helmet. He was immediately taken to the hospital. The driver has not been charged.

Something's got to change here. That's 3 cyclists killed by motorists within a month. Sadness and outrage at this are pretty overwhelming. How can you just turn into a group of cyclists in broad daylight? This better be prosecuted, hard. Something's got to change.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Kristof on Health Care Reform

We've all heard the horror stories about state-run health care. Long waits, substandard care, etc. But how much of it is true and how much of it is scare tactics to maintain a status quo that is incredibly profitable for some folks?

Nicholas Kristof engages this issue in today's NY Times. When both sides are heard, and all the facts separated from all the hysteria, it's pretty damned difficult to get past a few glaring statistics. As he puts it:

But the bottom line is that America’s health care system spends nearly twice as much per person as Canada’s (building the wealth of hospital tycoons like Mr. Scott). Yet our infant mortality rate is 40 percent higher than Canada’s, and American mothers are 57 percent more likely to die in childbirth than Canadian ones.
Health care reform is coming, because it has to. What comes out the other side of this process is incredibly important. It's boring, but it's one of the most important things happening in government right now. I just hope we build on the foundations of fact and the public good, not on PR campaigns, fear, and profit.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Descend This

Great morning ride today.

If you're here in Boise, I heartily recommend hitting 3 Bears within the next few days and descending through Shane's to the Buck Trail down the old Reserve fenceline and out on the Eagle Ridge spur.

It's tough to tell from these pics, taken under an overcast sky, but the bright blue bachelor button flowers are making an electric ocean out of the hillsides and blazing through meadow after meadow of them is one of the joys of spring in this town. Don't miss it.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

My Country Tis Obese

America the Booty-full? Or should I start by singing, "O beautiful for spacious thighs..."

We've all seen and been dismayed and embarrassed by the grim obesity statistics in this country. But I had no idea how fast this all happened. Check out this graphic on the CDC website. It puts annual statistics into a simple slideshow that shows just how quickly we've slid so far.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Bike Stuff for Sale

Hey y'all

I'm selling a bike and some bike parts. All good stuff, all priced to move fast. Links below to the Craigslist pages. Mention that you saw this on Range Life and get a free copy of the Range Life Best of 2008 CD. Hurry, supplies are unlimited.

Hit me up on the Googles if you're interested:


Obama's speeding up the wheels of recovery, according to this article from Reuters. He's focusing on public works projects and on getting people to work quickly.

The accelerated projects announced on Monday included 200 new waste and water systems in rural areas and the creation of 125,000 summer youth jobs. Work will also begin on maintenance and construction projects at 98 airports and over 1,500 highway locations and in the 107 U.S. national parks.

Cynical Republican pr*ck Mitch McConnell had this totally predictable nugget:

"I'm very skeptical that the spending binge that we're on is going to produce much good and, even if it does, anytime soon," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters on Friday. "I think the economy is just as likely to begin to recover on its own, wholly aside from this, before much of this has an impact," McConnell said.

So, we see where the administration is going, namely pushing hard to keep us from hitting 10% unemployment, and getting people to work doing jobs that will benefit the country. And we see where the Republicans will go, namely discounting any good that comes out of the stimulus program on the basis that oh, it would have happened anyway. Pathetic, pathetic, pathetic. How about an idea, guys? Just one? No? Then STFU.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Obama In the Middle East

One thing is undeniable: Barack Obama is taking the world's perception of the US on a sharp 180 degree turn. It is amazing to see the effect he has on people of other countries. Amazing and heartening. I find myself feeling proud.

Here's the video of his address in Cairo.

The Opinionator in today's NY Times links out to a whole slew of Middle East newspapers, and the reactions in them to Obama's visit. Some are guarded, some are gushing, many are positive in some sense. "It's a good start" seems to be a common theme, and that, after the past 8 years, is about as good as we could ask.

Al Jazeera: "If Bush had to demonise many Muslims in order to launch the wars he did in the Islamic world, then Obama humanises the Islamic world in order to engage," Bishara said.

Asharq Alawsat: "I grew up as a Muslim, and some religious leaders told us to hate other people. So he was speaking directly at me, telling us to stop hating Israelis and Jews. He is the most powerful man in the world and millions of people around the Middle East will see hope in what he said." — Hani Ameer, an Iraqi immigrant in London.


"It still was a speech about what America wants. Maybe that's only natural, because he wants to protect American interests in the region. ... But I really do believe he envisions a world that is pluralistic, where different religions can live peacefully together, with respect, as he himself experienced in Indonesia." — Edi Kusyanto, a teacher at the school in Indonesia where Obama went as a child.

but also

"Bush and Clinton said the same about a Palestinian state, but they've done nothing, so why should we believe this guy?" — Ali Tottah, 82, a Palestinian refugee at the Baqaa refugee camp in Jordan.


"Obama's speech is an attempt to mislead people and create more illusions to improve America's aggressive image in the Arab and Islamic world." — A joint statement by eight Damascus, Syria-based radical Palestinian factions, including Hamas.

A good start, nonetheless. For me, it's almost enough to know that we're trying, and to know that we're looking to get right with the world and with ourselves, rather than twisting language and logic and law to justify the things we know deep down are not justifiable, but merely profitable.

When I hear the bloviating and the raging and the largely crazy ranting of the Obama-is-a-socialist crowd, rather than argue or get upset, I feel comforted. After all, these are the people who thought what Bush and Cheney were doing was right--with the economy, with the war in Iraq, with our treatment of detainees, with social and scientific policy and regulation and legislation, with the constant challenge to the patriotism of those who did not agree with them, with the intentional factionalizing and polarizing of the people of this country. So, if they're upset, foaming at the mouth, Obama must be doing something right.

Look past your wallet, past the car in your driveway, out of your town and country, even, out into the world, and see what kind of opportunity we have here. This is only the start, the setting of the stage for what could come.

Call if fluff, but I call it preparation. The details will come, some from Obama and some from we the people. Let the Cheneys do their thing, sell their fear and their wars, and let it all fall on deaf ears.

The Opinionator piece goes on in depth into the Israeli reaction and the US reaction and the problems littering the road ahead. It's a good read, check it out.

I'm impressed by the reception Obama is getting around the world as much as (or more than) I am by the things he's saying (plenty) or proposing (little). But it's all part of the whole. Hearts and minds. He's getting them.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Swollen River

Not sure how well you can make it out here, but the Boise's running high and fast right now. They're releasing at the dam, but it's surprising to see this so high when we've had so little rain.

Just finished a quick-n-dirty dam ride. Happy Friday indeed.

Happy Friday

You've seen the original. Now see Chad Vader's version.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Eating Us

Tobacco, the leader of the somewhat mysterious and fairly brilliant band Black Moth Super Rainbow, really came into his own with his eponymous solo debut last year. He's a hit in remix circles, double-billed at summer festivals, and teaming up with some great indie MCs. But this year he's back with BMSR, and their newest release, Eating Us, is even better than last year's Tobacco.

For one thing, it's a bit mellower. There's still plenty of power in these tracks, no shortage of gut-shaking beats and fuzzed out keyboards, but there's more space in the songs, longer notes and less grate. And the chill suits them well.

Tobacco hides behind a vocoder full time, but on this record it feels less intrusive, more organic, than on previous BMSR records. And on some tracks, like "Twin of Myself," it's even downright pleasant to listen to.

I've been trying to unravel this band a bit in my mind since my friend Dave turned me onto them years ago, and sometimes I feel like I'm right there, but more often it's slipped my grasp and left the heavy rotation. With Eating Us, though, I think I've made that connection.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

New on the Range

It's been a good week for new music. On Range Life this week we'll dig deeper into the new Grizzly Bear, and maybe into some older Grizzly Bear. Plus some great new stuff from Black Moth Super Rainbow, Camera Obscura, Wooden Birds, The Thermals, and Deerhunter.

I've also got some really cool stuff from Shuta Hasunuma, Guillermo Scott Herren, Savath y Savalas, American Analog Set, Passion Pit, and, if things get a little out of hand, Starving Weirdos.

Tune in Wednesday 5 to 7 and Friday 1 to 3, mountain time, on

Oh, That BAM

If only they were talking about the Boise Art Museum.

Brothers Dessner from The National are teaming up with visual artist Matthew Ritchie to present a new myth on the beginning of time at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The program is called The Long Count. Kim and Kelly Deal will sing along with The National's Matt Berninger and that chick from My Brightest Diamond. Sounds pretty dang cool.

Dam Ride

My lunchtime ride had the Lucky Peak dam as its turnaround point. It's always so impressive when they release water from the dam. That's some force there.

Good Riddance

Bryan Fischer is leaving Idaho. This is cause for great celebration among rational citizens of this state. He's going to Mississippi to do a radio show there which, fortunately, is not available here. That's a picture of him to the right. Just look at that douchebag. I bet his sweater has reindeer or some shit on it. Anyway.

Jill Kuraitis in New West has a good editorial up about his departure today. Check it out.

From it:
Fischer has inflicted profound pain on people during his years in Idaho, something he also refuses to acknowledge. Worse, he writes and acts under the name of his God, and Jesus, when the lessons of both preach love, understanding and compassion. But he could even twist that around to claim he is being compassionate by trying to lead people in what he believes to be the only moral direction – his direction.
This is a good day, and we can only hope that in his absence a more reasonable and tolerant voice will step in to fill the role of go-to-conservative and leader of those family value alliance type organizations.

I wonder if he needs a press secretary in Mississippi. I bet Brandi Swindell could do a fine job. And we would rejoice even more.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Yellow House

Have you listened to this thing? Yeah, I know, Veckatimest and all that. But hear me out.

The release of the new one by Grizzly Bear and all the hoo-hah that surrounded it made me realize that I'd never REALLY listened to these guys. I've got Yellow House, and a few tracks and remixes and stuff, and I like it, but I never gave it the close listens that it needs to sink in.

So, since Veckatimest (I'm never sure I'm spelling that right) came out, and I've given it a few listens and been pretty damned impressed, I've gone back to Yellow House, and man, this thing is brilliant. I mean, it's a bit overwrought in places, and a mite too perfect and precious for what I usually listen to, but those criticisms fade in getting caught up by these songs.

I knew "Knife" well, but the rest of this record is just as good and better. The abrupt noise and clatter of "Little Brother", the stomp of "On a Neck, On a Spit", it's like Red Red Meat meets Sufjan Stevens or some shit. It's great is what it is.

So, soon I'll move onto Horn of Plenty, then I'll get back to Veckatimest, and I'll be all caught up. Sometimes I love coming to a band a little late. There's this whole new musical world to explore.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Blame Reagan

Krugman makes a good argument this morning that Reagan-era de-regulation is to blame for the current financial meltdown.

His point makes sense to me, though I by no means claim to know anything about this stuff. But I think his piece is worth reading, if for no other reason than to put a historical perspective on this crisis.

Barack didn't do it. Georgie didn't even do it, though he certainly didn't help. This has been building through government action, corporate greed, and a slow changing in the way the typical American thinks of and uses money. We're all to blame, and we all need to help to fix it.