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Thursday, May 27, 2004

My day job has many pleasures. One of the greatest things it has given me is a chance to work with the amazing team at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School -- go here -- to check out the very important work they are doing.

Just when I thought the world was safe from Pat Boone's neutered music and saddle shoes, he pops up with
Pat Boone: song stylist, geopolitical expert, neo-con toady. It's great to live in America. And it's even better that people like Pat, and me, have vehicles for our perspectives.

I wonder if Pat's been asked to perform on any USO tours lately? I bet he'd be the first guy to volunteer to head off to Faluja.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

An elegy to a friend who got away

Clyde is gone.

Every time Clyde entered a room, my first thought was never "My, there's Clyde, part terrier and whatever, and a very nice dog." No, when Clyde showed up, my thought was "This is who Dylan was describing in "Tombstone Blues" when he talked about the doctor "who walked with a swagger and shuffled inside."

A classic terrier-mix, Clyde was built low to the ground with a salt-and-pepper coat, Clyde had that classic bounce-step that is particular to short-legged dogs. Clyde and my dog bonded pretty fast. And that meant a lot to my wife and me that this happened simply because our dog was a rescue project and was pretty skittish around humans, cats, authority figures and, well, me. (My only beef with Clyde was that I believe he introduced my dog to the joys of wallowing in cow patties, a diversion they shared running around on the mesa.)

My friend's hurting right now 'cause her buddy's gone. Clyde saw my friend through a lot in the past 13 years he gamboled around SF, Menlo Park and Bolinas. I do believe Clyde deserves a nod.

To Clyde, long may you run, amigo! (picture tk)

The preternaturally chipper voice of one of our local radio reporters cut through the hazy space between sleep and wake-state coherency with a question: "What's up with ring-tones?" (Note to self: write angry listener-e-mail to KCBS. Meandering "features" at 5:45 a.m. PST are NOT good content.)

What is up with ring-tones, indeed. They've matured from gratingly awful facsimiles of songs and music to what some vendors call "truetones." These are snippets of actual songs. Oh good, now they're morphing into higher-quality annoyances.

Does the fact that most of the active ring-tones are polyphonic renditions of songs de-value the art? Probably no more than when a truly iconic rock song -- one that captures the sentiment of a large number of people pushing for major social change -- gets used to flog running shoes. And that's to say, yes, I think it does de-value the art.

At one level what I find disturbing is that I view it as this weird little trophy, for lack of a better term. "Listen, I've got "Sympathy for the Devel" or "Mountain Jam" as my ringtone!" Great, you've got your little trophy. Does it make you want to listen to the actual song or is that 10-second burst, well, enough?

Ring-tones -- the refrigerator-magnet of the music world: it's like having tiny two-inch refrigerator magnet's of Van Gough's "Starry Night." Yeah, it reminds of "Starry Night" but then so does going out on a full moon and looking at my nice little post-WWII suburb.

The beauty of a song is that it can be a transformative experience in 3-5 minutes. (longer, of course, if you're a deadhead like me. Or shorter in the case of the greatest two-minute rock song ever, the Clash's "White Riot.")

How might I ever achieve peace with ring-tones? I don't think I will. That said, I think it's perfectly appropriate for consumers to use some tools to create their own ring-tones from their personal music collections. Taking a snippet from one's hard-drive-based music collection, packaging the snippet into a five-second burst that plays on one's phone would appear to be the perfect "fair use" of my content. (And, yes, if it's on my hard drive, it's mine.) But actually paying some gi-normous phone companies or music labels any money to get a snippet of a song that may or may have any emotional resonance to me, or anybody else, seems like just the most egregious waste of money since the "pet rock." And I liked pet rocks.

In the audio ether around m2 (and, no, none of these will ever emminate from a cell phone I own):

"Where is My Mind?" Pixies, from Surfer Rosa. (Frankly, I'm beginning to think this should be the theme song for the entire United States.)

"54-46" (the version with Toots, the Maytals and Jeff Beck. It's from an album that I initially dismissed as another "duets" album ("True Love.) But if you love Toots and you love Jeff Beck, and really who doesn't love both of these geniuses, then this little album is worth it.

"Hello Walls", Willie Nelson, off "Yesterday's Wine."

"Red-headed Stranger," Willie Nelson, "Red-headed Stranger." This entire album is a collective memory/nightmare in M2's family. My sisters and I know virtually every song word for word. Honest. If there was a guitar or a piano in the room and somebody played the first bar, my sisters and I could probably do the entire song. Aside from that passing along that biographical detail, I say that this is an iconic work. Note that most of those acoustic-sounding leads on guitar are Willie himself. Nobody gives Willie the credit he deserves as a damn good guitar player. (Anybody who has seen him in the past 2 years should note that he is recovering from surgery to try and repair damage done by carpal-tunnel syndrome.) Also note that this is one of the world's truly honest, clear singing voices. Period.

(Everything) from "Greendale." Listen to "Red-headed Stranger" and "Greendale" back to back. Universal truths or just audio Americana?

"Giving up the Ghost" DJ Shadow. Hey, I used to make fun of DJs (not the kind you hire for your wedding). Then I heard this guy. It's pretty dank stuff, to say the least.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

What will you find here?

A collection of opinions, observations. At times it will be stream-of-consciousness at times. On other occasions it will be straight prose. There will be no poetry. Especially no haiku. There will be occasional mentions of the San Francisco Giants. My guess is that most of the space will be devoted to music.

What's on the playlist right now?
That always depends on what system/service is in use. There's Rhapsody playlists, Napster Playlists and eMusic-based playlists for the WindowsPC. On the Mac side of my desktop there are more than a few playlists. On both the Windows and Mac there are also heaps of off-the-conventional-'Net-based-music services playlists generated from lots of "live" tapes from various artists. Not illegal, mind you, just not available "officially."
The Mac's online at the moment:

Vibrate 6:38 OutKast Speakerboxxx/The Love Below Hip Hop/Rap
Velvet Sky 4:41 Los Lonely Boys Los Lonely Boys Latin
New Minglewood Blues 6:56 Grateful Dead Red Rocks Ampitheatre, 7-8-78 set 1 Rock 1 2/7/04 2:21 PM
Rebel Music (3 O'Clock Roadblock) 5:27 Spearhead Chocolate Supa Highway Hip Hop/Rap
Track 14 Bad luck streak in dancing school 2:59 Warren Zevon I'll Sleep when I'm dead
Positive Vibration 5:48 Bob Marley & The Wailers Babylon By Bus (Live) Reggae
Africa [first version] 14:07 John Coltrane The Complete Africa/Brass Sessions Jazz 1 5/2/04 1:33 PM
Willin' 3:50 Little Feat Waiting for Columbus Rock
Spanish Bombs 3:19 The Clash Story of the Clash, Volume 1 (Disc 2) Alternative & Punk
No Communications, No Love (Devastating), Street Corner Symphony Mix. 7:50 Charles Schilllings Pschent Sampler 2003 Electronica/Dance 1 5/20/04 2:44 PM
Excitable boy 2:41 Warren Zevon I'll Sleep when I'm dead
Windscreen Wiper 5:45 Shade & DJ :Terry Pschent Sampler 2003 Electronica/Dance
100% Dundee 3:53 The Roots Things Fall Apart Hip Hop/Rap
Fire On The Mountain 16:36 Grateful Dead Dick's Picks Volume 6 (Disc 2) Rock
Track 11 Suzie Lightning 4:04 Warren Zevon I'll sleep when I'm dead
Simple Twist Of Fate [Live] 4:17 Bob Dylan & The Rolling Thunder Review Live 1975 - The Rolling Thunder Revue (Bootleg Series Vol. 5) (Disc 1) Rock 1 5/1/04 3:58 PM
Red House 3:49 Buddy Guy Stone Free: A Tribute To Jimi Hendrix Rock 2 5/14/04 10:41 AM
Drums> 4:09 Grateful Dead Dick's Picks v29 Lakeland, FL 21 May 1977 Rock
Standing In The Doorway 7:43 Bob Dylan Time Out Of Mind Rock 1 5/2/04 11:27 AM
The Guns Of Brixton 3:10 The Clash Story of the Clash, Volume 1 (Disc 1) Alternative & Punk
Estimated Prophet 12:42 Grateful Dead Red Rocks Ampitheatre, 7-8-78 set 2 (Disc 1) Rock

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