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Archive for the ‘Salman Rushdie’ Category

  SOUNDTRACK: THE RADIO DEPT.-Clinging to a Scheme (2010).

In this final book, Karl Ove mentions buying a record on a whim by The Radio Dept.  Given the timing of the book, I assume it’s this record.  So I’m going to give it a listen too.

I really enjoyed this record which has a feeling of a delicate My Bloody Valentine fronted by The Stone Roses.  The key word in all of this is delicate.  It’s a very soft and gentle record (except for one song).  It hits all the buttons of 90s Britpop and to me is just infectious.

“Domestic Scene” opens the disc with pretty guitars intertwining with an electronic thumping.  After the first listen I was sure the whole record was synthy, but this track has no synths at all, just like five or six guitar lines overdubbing–each opener just as pretty as the others.  The voice sound a lot the guys from The Stone Roses on the more delicate tracks.

“Heaven’s on Fire” opens with bouncy synths and a sampled (from where?) exchange:

People see rock n roll as youth culture.  When youth culture becomes monopolized by big business what are the youth to do.  Do you have any idea?
I think we should destroy the bogus capitalist process that is destroying youth culture.

Then come the jangling guitars and the introduction of synths.

“This Time Around” has a cool high bass line (and what sounds like a second bass line). I love the overlapping instruments on this record.  I couldn’t decide if it was a solo album or a huge group, so I was surprised to find it’s a trio.

“Never Follow Suit” continues this style but in the middle it adds a recorded voice of someone speaking about writing.

“A Token of Gratitude” has some lovely guitars swirling around and a percussion that sounds like a ping-pong ball or a tap dancer.   The last half of the song is a soothing gentle My Bloody Valentine-sque series of washes and melody.

“The Video Dept.” is full of jangly guitars and gentle blurry vocals while “Memory Loss” has some muted guitar notes pizzicatoing along and then what sounds like a muted melodica.

David is the one song that sounds different from the rest.  It has strings and synth stabs and drums that are way too loud.  Most of the songs don’t have drums at all, but these are deliberately recorded too loud and are almost painful.

The final two songs include “Four Months in the Shade” which is an instrumental.  It is just under 2 minutes of pulsing electronics that segues into the delicate album closer “You Stopped Making Sense.”  This song continues with the melody and gentleness of the previous songs and concludes the album perfectly.

I really enjoyed this record a lot.  It’s not groundbreaking at all, but it melds some genres and styles into a remarkably enjoyable collection.

[READ: September and October 2018] My Struggle Book Six

Here is the final book in this massive series.  It was funny to think that it was anticlimactic because it’s not like anything else was climactic in the series either.  But just like the other books, I absolutely could not put this down (possibly because I knew it was due back at the library soon).

I found this book to be very much like the others in that I really loved when he was talking conversationally, but I found his philosophical musings to be a bit slower going–and sometimes quite dull.

But the inexplicable center of this book is a 400 plus page musing on Hitler.  I’ll mention that more later, but I found the whole section absolutely fascinating because he dared to actually read Mein Kampf and to talk about it at length.  I’m sure this is because he named his series the same name in Norwegian.  He tangentially compares Hitler to himself as well–but only in the way that a failed person could do unspeakable things.

But in this essay, he humanizes Hitler without making him any less of an evil man.  His whole point is that in order to fully appreciate/understand Hitler’s evil, you have to realize that he was once an ordinary person.  A teenager who had dreams about becoming an artist, a boy who was afraid of sex and germs.  If you try to make him the inherent embodiment of evil, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that he was a child, a teen, a young man who was not always evil.

Why Karl Ove does this is a bit of a mystery especially contextually, but it was still a fascinating read especially when you see how many things gibe with trump and how he acts and behaves–especially his use of propaganda.  It’s easy to see how people could be swayed by evil ideas (and this was written before trump was even a candidate). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 17, 2018] The The

I feel like I have always loved The The.  I’d never say they were my favorite band, but they’ve always been a part of my playlists and lyrics from the songs are constantly running through my head.

From the dancey early stuff off of Infected (the first album I’d heard), to the cool “band” stuff with Johnny Marr on guitar (The The was always and forever shall be the project of Matt Johnson with a rotating cast of others) and finally to the beautiful Dusk, which I couldn’t stop playing all through college.   There were other albums, but these three (and, strangely enough the Hank Williams cover album) were staples for me.

Matt Johnson has this voice, the deep resonating voice, that gets right into my head.  Especially with headphones, especially on the beginning of Dusk.  That album is so pristinely recorded it feels like the guitars are in whatever room you are currently in.

I had the fortune of seeing them in May of 2000, the last time The The played the States (and almost anywhere else).  The setlist below I found online.  They apparently played almost all of the then new album and nearly nothing else.  That seems incomplete (and short).

When he (they) announced that The The had released a new song and were doing some shows in England and Europe, I held out hope that they would come across the pond.  I wondered if they’d play Philly, but they didn’t (and that was probably wise as even the Beacon didn’t sell out).  So I got tickets as soon as I could and scored 11th row.  For yes, I was willing to brave the Lincoln Tunnel and an expensive parking garage to see this show.  And having it only in a few locations made it that much more special. (more…)

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june1SOUNDTRACKRHEOSTATICS–The Media Club, Vancouver, BC, (October 21, 2004).

media clubEvery year, the Rheostatics would perform what they called Green Sprouts Week in Toronto.  In 2004 they did a West Coast version. Five nights in a row at The Media Club (with each show being crazier than the last).  There aren’t always recording available for these shows, but on this leg there are recordings from the third, fourth and fifth nights.

This recording is about 90 minutes and I assume is edited (most of their GSMW shows are quite long and there’s no banter).  There’s also crazy static on a certain instrument, which mars the quality somewhat.

The band has added keyboards, although I’m not sure who is playing them.  Morgan from The Buttless Chaps guests on a nice rendition of “Claire.”  They play a great version of “Jesus Was Once a teenager Too” with a folky breakdown in the middle.  “Take Me in Your Hand” is slow but really good.

There’s goofing on “Song of Flight” with them ending the song quickly and booing and yelling “stinky” I wonder what happened).  “Marginalized” is blistering and “Record Body Count” is a little goofy.  Perhaps the highlight of the night is “Horses” which is an amazing rendition and ends with a few lines and acoustic guitars from “When Winter Comes”

The encore starts with “Pornography” a song later recorded by Bidiniband.  Then there’s some great harmonies on “Dope Fiends and Boozehounds.”

They do a rocking version of Talking Heads’ “Life During Wartime” which is musically spot on, even though no one really knows the words.  The last few songs are more covers.  A very fast version of Jane Siberry’s “One More Colour,” and then a perfect version of “Takin’ Care of Business” (the guitar and vocals sound right on) which segues into a sloppy/fun “My Generation.”

The Green Sprouts shows often allow the band to mess around a bit which is great for fans.

[READ: July 21, 2015] “The Duniazát”

I generally like Rushdie’s work.  This story is told in the style of a 1001 Arabian Nights tale and consequently I didn’t enjoy it that much.  Although I was interested to find out some details about those stories.  There was originally a Persian book called “One Thousand Stories” which had been translated into Arabic.  In the Arabic version there were fewer than a thousand stories but the action was spread over a thousand nights, or, because round numbers are considered ugly, a thousand nights and one night more.  Huh.

The stories featured a beautiful storyteller knows as Sheherazade, who told her tales to a murderous husband in order to keep him from executing her.

Anyone, in this story, Rushdie tells a similar type tale.

Set in the year 1195, the great philosopher Ibn Rushd (I enjoyed the play on his own name there) was a physician to the Caliph.  But when he started espousing liberal views, he was discredited (sound familiar?).  He wound up living in a village where Jews were forced to convert to Islam and could not speak of Judaism.  So he felt right at home as an outcast. (more…)

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dtmaxSOUNDTRACK: TOM WAITS & KEITH RICHARDS-“Shenandoah” (2013).

roguesgallery-f8be47f3887d51de57ea842a129f0a722e53ef74-s1This tune comes from the album Son Of Rogues Gallery.  The album is, of all things, a sequel to the album Rogues Gallery.  The full title is Son Of Rogues Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs & Chanteys.  The first album was a kind of novelty–I can’t even say novelty hit as I don;t know if it was.  But it must have had some success because here’s a second one (and there’s no Pirates of the Caribbean movie to tie it to).

The album has 36 songs (!) by a delightful collection of artists, including: Shane MacGowan, Nick Cave, Macy Gray, Broken Social Scene, Richard Thompson, Michael Gira and Mary Margaret O’Hara (among many others).  I enjoyed the first one, but I think the line up on this one is even better.

“Shenandoah” is not a song that I particulalry like.  Because it is traditional, I have a few people doing versions of it, but I don’t gravitate twoards it–it’s a little slow and meandering (like the river I guess) for me. And this version is not much different.  What it does have going for it is Waits’ crazed warbling along with even crazier backing viclas from Keith Richards (there;s no guitar on the track).

[READ: January 7, 2012] Every Love Story is a Ghost Story

I had mixed feelings about reading this biography.  I’m a huge fan of David Foster Wallace, but I often find it simply disappointing to read about people you like.  And yet, DFW was such an interesting mind, that it seemed worthwhile to find out more about him. Plus, I’ve read everything by the guy, and a lot of things about him…realistically it’s not like I wasn’t going to read this.  I think I was afraid of being seriously bummed out.  So Sarah got me this for Christmas and I really really enjoyed reading it.

Now I didn’t know a ton about DFW going into this book–I knew basics and I had read a ton of interviews, but he never talked a lot about himself, it was predominantly about his work.  So if I say that Max is correct and did his research, I say it from the point of someone full of ignorance and because it seems comprehensive.  I’m not claiming that he was right just that he was convincing.  And Max is very convincing.  And he really did his research.

It’s also convenient that DFW wrote a lot of letters–Max has a ton of letters to quote from.  And DFW wrote to all kinds of people–friends, fellow authors  girlfriends, colleagues….  Aside from old friends, his two main correspondents were Don DeLillo, whom he thought of as a kind of mentor, and Jonathan Franzen, whom he considered one of his best friends and rivals.  I guess we can also be thankful that these recipients held on to the letters. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: DO MAKE SAY THINK-Other Truths [CST062] (2009).

I’ve always enjoyed Do Make Say Think’s CDs.  They play instrumentals that are always intriguing and which never get dull.

But this CD far exceeds anything they have done so far (and  they’ve done some great work).   There are only four tracks, and they range from 8 to 12 minutes long.  Each track is named for a word in the band’s name: Do, Make, Say, Think.  And each one is a fully realized mini epic.

“Do” sounds like a gorgeous Mogwai track.  While “Make” has wonderfully diverse elements: a cool percussion midsection and a horn-fueled end section that works perfectly with the maniacal drumming.  “Say” is another Mogwai-like exploration, although it is nicely complemented by horns.  It also ends with a slow jazzy section that works in context but is somewhat unexpected. Finally, “Think” closes the disc with a delightful denouement.  It’s the slowest (and shortest) track, and it shows that even slowing down their instrumentals doesn’t make them dull.

It’s a fantastic record from start to finish.  This is hands down my favorite Constellation release in quite some time.

[READ: December 2009 – January 13, 2010] McSweeney’s #33.

The ever-evolving McSweeney’s has set out to do the unlikely: they printed Issue #33 as a Sunday Newspaper.  It is called The San Francisco Panorama and, indeed, it is just like a huge Sunday newspaper. It has real news in (it is meant to be current as of December 7, 2009).  As well as a Sports section, a magazine section and even comics!

[DIGRESSION] I stopped reading newspapers quite some time ago.  I worked for one in college and have long been aware that the news is just something to fill the space between ads.  I do like newspapers in theory, and certainly hope they don’t all go away but print issues are a dying breed.  When I think about the waste that accompanies a newspaper, I’m horrified.  Sarah and I even did a Sunday New York Times subscription for a while, but there were half a dozen sections that we would simply discard unopened.  And, realistically that’s understandable.  Given how long it took me  to read all of the Panorama, if you actually tried to read the whole Sunday paper, you’d be finished the following Sunday (or even two Sundays later).

Their lofty goal here was to show what print journalism can still do. And with that I concur heartily.  Even if I don’t read the newspaper, the newspapers as entities are worth saving.  Because it is pretty much only print journalism that finds real, honest to God, worthy news stories.  TV news is a joke.  There is virtually nothing of value on network TV.  Fox News is beyond a joke.  CNBC is sad (although Rachel Maddow is awesome!) and even CNN, the originator of all of this 24 hour news nonsense still can’t fill their airtime with non-sensationalized news.

Obviously, there are some decent internet sites, but for the most part they don’t have the budget to support real news investigation.  You either get sensationalized crap like Drudge or rebroadcasts of real news.

So, print is the last bastion of news.  And you can see that in journalistic pieces in The New Yorker, Harper’s, The Walrus, Prospect and, yes, in newspapers.

But enough.  What about THIS newspaper?  Oh and unlike other McSweeney’s reviews I’ve done, there is NO WAY that I am writing a thorough comment on everything in here.  There’s just way too much.  Plus, there are many sections that are just news blurbs.  Larger articles and familiar authors will be addressed, however.  [UPDATE: January 18]: If, however, like Alia Malek below, you bring it to my attention that I’ve left you out (or gotten something wrong!) drop me a line, and I’ll correct things.

There is in fact a Panorama Information Pamphlet which answers a lot of basic questions, like why, how and how often (just this once, they promise!). There’s also a Numbers section which details the size, scope and cost of making this (it shows that with an initial start up, anyone could make a newspaper if they talked enough about what the readers were interested in). (more…)

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ny1It took me going to Seattle to learn about The New Yorker magazine.  I was visiting my friend Rob and he was really surprised that I didn’t read the magazine all the time (my reading always seems to surprise people, see The Believer.)

Upon my first read of the magazine, I was surprised to see that the first twenty pages or so are taken up with upcoming shows: films, concerts, sports, everything.  I actually wondered how much content would be left after all that small print.

Since then I have learned that Sasha Frere-Jones writes columns in here quite ofuiten.  For reasons known only to my head, I was convinced that Sasha was a black woman.  Little did I realize that he is not.  And that he was in a band that I have a CD of called Ui.  He is an excellent resource for all things music, whether I like the artist he’s talking about or not.  Some entries are here.  This audio entry about Auto-Tune is simply fantastic.

But of course, there’s a lot of content.  And the first thing you get are letters.  I don’t think I have EVER looked at the letters section. (more…)

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518SOUNDTRACK Radio New York, WNYE, 91.5FM.

91.5Radio New York is a fascinatingly diverse radio station.  I have probably scanned right by it on many occasions because at the time I scanned onto it, the show was something that I had no interest in.  And yet, several hours before or after, I would have found a great resource for good music.

Their website features a cool interactive page that describe the amazing diversity in their daily lineup from Alternative rock to Cypriot Shows, BBC World Service and Haitian Perspective, even the Voice of Bosnia.  I admit I’m unlikely to listen to many of  these programs, but it’s nice that they’re there.

The morning music, however (from 6AM-Noon) is often exactly what I like.   Especially John in the Morning, whose description: “From the Pixies to Pela, M.I.A. to Massive Attack, JITM breaks new music, embraces old music and ties it all together” sounds exactly like what I’d do if I were  a DJ.

[READ: May 21, 2009] “In the South”

This short story finds Salman Rushdie contemplating death on a personal level and a grand scale.  The story concerns two old men: Junior and Senior (who is 17 days older than Junior).  The men are not related, but they grew up in the same town.  Both men also have the same first name (which they will reveal only as starting with the letter V), and nothing else in common.  (more…)

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