1. Here’s something I just wrote for Paste online that’s not likely to be in the running for DaCapo’s Best Music Writing of 2007.
2. I’ll be MC’ing Gonerfest 4 – Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. More info here. One of the dates is shaping up to be “character night” – see post from 9/20. No, I’m not dressing up as Steve Malkmus.
3. For 20 seconds of grocery store reading, check out my two reviews in the October issue of Spin Magazine. The Shocking Pinks album is wonderful (it’s on DFA) and could pose as a lost Flying Nun recording circa-1989. Have I mentioned how hard it is to write a 90-word review?
1. The Laughing Policeman (1973) – A weird little movie. There’s possibly two people reading right now that have seen it. Dern plays Matthau’s short-fuse, talk-the-paint-from-the-walls partner. Contains what is easily the best line of Dern’s career: (to an overweight cop) “I see that you’ve been putting in some overtime with the ‘ol knife and fork.”
2. The Driver (1978) – Nothing beats Dern as an obsessed cop, and he played a lot of them. If you’ve yet to see a good Walter Hill film, here’s a great place to start. Good example of the tail end of great American 70’s cinema. You can have your French New-Wave (granted, probably the biggest influence on American 70’s cinema), your post-1990 indie bullshit, and whatever quasi-intellectual concerns that you don’t understand but claim to. In the 70’s, with a year or two of before-and-after wiggle room, American directors, writers, and cinematographers created the greatest genre/period of film EVER. Disagree? Welcome to WRONG MOUNTAIN, start climbing! Wow, that was a stupid closing line.
3. The King of Marvin Gardens (1972) – Dern is the only redeeming quality of this misguided (and unofficial) Five Easy Pieces sequel.
4. Silent Running (1972) – My favorite Rated-G movie. Not sure it’s ever a good idea to confine a mouthy character actor alone in a space station.
5. Coming Home (1978) – Next time I get tempted to watch this Vietnam vet emotional holocaust, I’ll stick my head in the oven instead.
6. Black Sunday (1978) – The blimp-over-the-stadium scene still kills. As paranoia films go, this has a 50% hit-rate.
7. “Big Love” (an HBO original series, coz!!) – I once said that a show with Harry Dean Stanton, Bill Paxton, and Bruce Dern must be VERY bad to keep me away. That definitive comment has since met with some trademark Earles apathy. I am not passionate about it. That last sentence serves to state that there ARE television shows that pull the passion right out of my stomach, leaving the butterflies to deal with the bleeding peptic ulcer (no brown/tree liquor, no gin, no rum, no tequila…..conversely, vodka, beer, wine, and some liqueurs make the cut). Well, there’s one, and it’s called “The Wire.” Communicating any degree of distaste for “The Wire” gets one a coupon for a free exit from my life. There are those that do, and those that don’t. What all of this means is….I’ve watched and enjoyed 6 or 7 episodes of “Big Love.” It lacks, or I lack, that very special something.
8. Thumb Tripping (1972) – Bad Movie + Dern = Watch It!! (Remember this equation)
Slate ran this piece about Portland being a destination for indie rockers. The title is a slightly misleading. A city being described as an “indie rock mecca” implies that it is choked with fans and bands alike, when this little exercise focuses on established (term used relative to the genre discussed) names…..I hope you have some padding back there…..living next to normal people in a mid-sized city!!! Silly me, I thought that Stephen Malkmus lived in a home made entirely of tropical aquariums, fanned with palm leaves and fed grapes by that redhaired girl that used to be in Verbena. Guess what? You know what’s coming! I haven’t even read the piece.
I will do so now.
I’m back, and I was wrong about Malkmus’ home. It’s just huge. No aquariums.
This passage should irritate the guys in Pond.
If there’s any alluring indie mystique to Portland, it’s most likely due to the late Elliott Smith, who attended high school on the west side of town and recorded his most-loved work here. (Mercer even owns Smith’s old house.) Before Smith, Portland’s primary musical contribution to the universe was the Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie.”"
There’s also a chance that it may irritate those tired of hearing about the late Elliot Smith and his marginal-at-best songwriting talents. Yes, it was a depraved tragedy that continues on open-ended (I can envision the first Mumblecore conspiracy/crime film being based on his death).
And let’s peruse this passage:
…it’s probably just proof that musicians like him (Malkmus) moved to Portland for the same reason as the rest of us: It’s easy to live here. In the words of a friend of mine who used to be the music editor at the local alt-weekly, Portland is like a resort community for indie rockers who spend half the year working themselves ragged on tour. You can venture into public dressed like a convicted sex offender or a homeless person, and no one looks at you askew. It’s lush and green. Housing is affordable, especially compared with Seattle or San Francisco. The people are nice. The food is good. Creativity is the highest law. For young, hip Portlanders, financial success is a barista job that subsidizes your Romanian-space-folk band or your collages of cartoon unicorns.
Read the last two sentences and try not to destroy your laptop with a vomit tsunami.
I imagine that it IS easy to live in a community that’s largely devoid of racial variety (they usually make up for this by screaming RACISM!!! at the rest of the country…over such things as the proven fact that 95% of the politicians nabbed in the Tennessee Waltz sting are black). And the people that perpetually walk in from of my moving vehicle, on a daily basis? They are rarely white. These are proven facts. Yet to some, they sound like the rantings of a Grand Wizard of the KKK.
That’s the PCeeeefic Northwest for you.
Lastly, I do not bemoan the sudden Mayor Giuliani-style disappearance of the crustie punks from Memphis’ streets (back around 2001). I did hear rumors of an underground Memphis-to-Portland railroad. The boarding fee was a Disrupt patch and a half a forty.
Another music writer recently expressed a fear that he might be becoming “that guy that we used to hate.” Specifically, it’s the music writer that can only pull passion, or maybe just general interest, out of old music. We used to make fun of “that guy.” We convinced ourselves that no matter what the future year might be, it would yield amazing new sounds for us to go nutz over.
“l’ll never end up like that. What an old, jaded asshole.”
Well, guess what happened?
BUT THERE IS A HAPPY ENDING TO THIS PHONED-IN POST!!!!
These albums came out this year. They did it for me. AND….I’m leaving some out (not intentionally). AND….we’ve got 3.5 months to go.
Thurston Moore Trees Outside the Academy (Ecstatic Peace) - I can’t review this because I’ve already done so for Vice and The Onion (look for it next week). Great album.
Shocking Pinks s/t (DFA) – Review forthcoming in October issue of Spin. That and, I don’t feel like it.
Liars s/t (Mute) – It’s no “lie” that this is a fine album!!
Pelican City of Echoes (Hydrahead) – Breaks absolutely no new ground, but the damn thing is catchy!! Well, catchy for something that gives off very little emotion.
Jesu Conqueror (Hydrahead) – J.K.B lookin’ healthy for his age!! Granted, he did form Napalm Death at age 4.
Pinback I’m a Humorless Dick (Touch and Go) - First three songs? Unbelievably catchy. I’d like to attribute them to the guy from Three Mile Pilot.
Shellac (the new one) (Touch and Go) – Dunno the title. You know the Earles drill re: looking things up! SOMETIMES I DON’T FEEL IT!!! I’ve only heard a collective four minutes of this album. Clearly I’m qualified!! I felt some rocking within the rigid confines of a Shellac record, where you get what’s expected. It shines with amazing cover art and packaging that exceeds the combined cost of every rainbow bumper-stickered Ford Ranger in the parking lot of a Lisa Lampanelli show. HeyOhhhh!!!!
RELAPSE TRIPLE-SHOT COMBO #5: Brand new albums by Coliseum, Baroness, and High on Fire – Coliseum could probably kick my ass. In the street…not with their music. I like the idea of Baroness. I like that Savannah, GA is on the map. Oh, if I just felt the same about this guy’s vocals….. High on Fire? The only band with a name this bad that I’ve listened to repeatedly…..