Saturday, August 27, 2011

Dick Cheney brags about being a war criminal

Former VP Dick Cheney is a war criminal, a criminal against peace, AND a war profiteer. To me this new memoir of Dick Cheney's is akin to OJ Simpsons's If I Did It (which, technically should have been called How I Did That Thing I Got Away With) and hopefully will be used against him in a court of law (in Spain is fine, comeuppance doesn't need to be local).

As usual Glenn Greenwald is far more eloquent and thoughtful on this topic than I (how he gets through this entire segment without using the word "fuck" is beyond me). Greenwald's post on the topic is worthy of a read (here).

Song of the Day: "Lay it on Me"

Spanish title: "Estoy Aqui"
There were something like 74 different members of Destiny's Child across their 3 decades (wait, is that The Supremes?) but in a world of winners, losers, and Dancing with the Stars participants, I like to reduce the history of Destiny's Child to this: Kelly Rowland hates Beyoncé! And can you blame her? Beyoncé was born in Houston and yet somehow her name has a diacritical mark!

I point that out because I was going to say that my favorite song from the new Beyoncé album is "Lay it on Me" (which is to say I'm not really taken with the new Beyoncé album, advantage Rowland). But while I expect Beyoncé will struggle to top the musical and cultural zeitgeist she captured with I Am... Sasha Fierce (and to think she did it with only 21 producers--by the way Sasha, Chris Gaines keeps calling for you), so too do I expect Rowland to struggle to recapture the sheer musical bliss from her first collaboration with David Guetta, "When Love Takes Over."

Actually I'm not in love with either woman's new album, but Rowland's Here I Am (wait, is that literally a needy response to I Am... Sasha Fierce ... and Here I Am, look at me!) seems like it's Rowland trying, again, to define herself (she left the record label and manager she shared with Beyoncé, who is also Beyoncé's dad). This sound is alleged to be distinctly different from her earlier 2 solo albums, although I feel like it might be directionally different but not outside the margins of error (statistical humor). And also she has only 20 producers (which is far more efficient than 21, although that was a double album and this is not... hmm).

With Beyoncé's 4 I feel like Beyoncé LLC, the corporation that runs the Beyoncé robot (oh yes, Beyoncé is a robot, you didn't know?) is going for enough diversity to appeal to every possible market. Is there a contemporary Christian song on the album? Actually, no, there is not, but Afrobeat is included. I can't believe Beyoncé LLC missed that one.

That I've spent more time writing about the Beyoncé robot than about Rowland, and haven't even mentioned the dude on this song makes it clear who the winner of Destiny's Child was. But Kelly can proudly leave a large tip when LaTrelle Williamson (Destiny's Child member #32) waits on her at the Cheesecake Factory in Sugar Land, TX. "No, I don't recognize you, and we're trying to have a quiet dinner if you don't mind... can you bring more spinach and cheese dip?" Kelly Rowland, you earned the silver medal!

Song: "Lay it on Me"
Artist: Kelly Rowland/Big Sean

Friday, August 26, 2011

Song of the Day: "No Nostalgia"

AgesandAges / Alright You Restless
Portland band AgesandAges is the first band on tonight for The Decemberists' last show "for a while." AgesandAges were named among Portland's top new bands in 2011 (just behind And And And, who I haven't heard of). Alright You Restless is their debut and this is the first I'm hearing them.

But I'm arranging to be at the venue to see them go on. I've seen some good opening bands recently, so I am optimistic.

Song: "No Nostalgia"
Artist: AgesAndAges

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Song of the Day: "Anchor"

Free in-store concert at Music Millenium, today at 6 p.m.... you like "free"

Bess Rogers is the creme filling of the OREO sandwich that is the Intergalactic Tour of the Universe and Beyond... Tour (I wonder if they realize "tour" is in there twice); that makes Ian Axel and Allie Moss the chocolate crisp things. And some number of them (at least Bess) will be at Music Millennium today at 6 p.m. for a free in-store performance (yes, all in-stores are free, but if you don't know what an in-store is you might not know that).

Bess was song of the day back in November with "Favorite Day," a song I've listened to about 8 times in the last 24 hours (since I heard about the in-store). Taken together with today's song of the day, the first track from her Out of the Ocean album, the music falls in a genre that I will non-derisively call "chirpy pop" (for context, that would include Two Door Cinema Club, Natalie Imbruglia, Jane Wiedlin, and Nick Heyward--I did have to edit that list just now to include artists other than women with short black hair, but I think I've made a reasonable case). 
Bess Rogers "Anchor" by rebelagenda

If you're stalking me, look for me there for the first 15 minutes, then I have to go watch Zoe Saldana kick some ass.

Happy Birthday Alex O'Loughlin

Here's the thing: I don't actually watch the remake of Hawaii 5-0.
Alex O'Loughlin arrives at crime scene
Alex O'Loughlin prepares to enter the crime scene
For some reason I just can't embrace crime dramas. I tried The Wire, by many accounts one of the best shows of ever, EVER... everyone kept their clothes on for the most part. 5-0, on the other hand, has the kind of costume design I normally find compelling (SEE ALSO: True Blood).

Scott Caan arrives at the crime scene
Scott Caan is also on Hawaii 5-0 and I still don't watch. Wait, shouldn't it be Hawaii 5.0.1 or something?

Alex O'Loughlin... plows the crime scene?
Which is why I have no idea why O'Loughlin's character owns a tractor but no shirt. Not that I care.

Happy birthday dude! I may have not seen any of your movies or shows, but I do like your body of work. Rock on!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Song of the Day: "Rider"

Okkervil River is one of the opening acts for The Decemberists this Friday. I know the name courtesy of the radio station in Netherlands that I sometimes stream at work. It's fun to hear a bunch of Dutch words and then a distinctively slow "Och Er Ville Riv Er." That being said I didn't know this was the song (usually it's 2 or 3 songs later, and by then I've seen something shiny and wandered away from the adults).

The band is from Austin which is amusing to me for some reason, mostly because as I'm always writing about bands from Sweden, Portland or Brooklyn, I didn't realize there still are bands from Austin. And I don't mean that pejoratively: if Austin weren't hot as fuck much of the year, I'd love to live there (the constant in flux of young men every fall is a bonus). The real problem, aside from the heat, is that the minute you leave Austin, you're in Texas.

Song: "Rider"
Artist: Okkervil River

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Song of the Day: "Calamity Song"

The Decemberists play their last 2 shows "for a while" (or maybe ever?) in Portland this week. I'm going Friday, the last of the last "for a while." They have a new video for this song (here) but I can't embed it; it's based on something in Infinite Jest but you probably knew that would be the case. It will never be based on something from Archie or Welcome Back Kotter. I wonder if I should pack a thesaurus for Friday's show...
"On the road, it's well advised that you follow your own bag
In the year of the chewable Ambien tab"

Song: "Calamity Song"
Artist: The Decemberists

Monday, August 22, 2011

R.I.P. Jerry Leiber

Wow, it looks like classic songwriting duos are really taking a beating today. I heard about Nick Ashford from Nile Rodgers via Twitter (as one does), and in researching Ashford & Simpson saw that Jerry Leiber of Leiber & Stoller fame also died today.

As with A&S, there is no individual entry in Wikipedia for Jerry Leiber only for Leiber & Stoller. Leiber did words, Stoller the music, and together they created iconic songs from the 50s and 60s. Unlike A&S, L&S have been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Here's "Hound Dog" performed by Big Mama Thornton.

Rest in peace dude.

R.I.P. Nick Ashford

Several years ago I heard some morning drive DJs talking about the shortlist of candidates for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and they had no idea who Ashford & Simpson were. Seriously.

There is no Wikipedia entry for Nick Ashford, only for Ashford & Simpson. I like that for some reason. Hopefully it speaks to this harmonious relationship as songwriters, producers and performers, and not just laziness on the part of Wikipedia.

Ashford & Simpson are responsible for writing a number of Motown hits. But if you mention Ashford & Simpson to Chris Wilson, he will always say "solid as a rock" so here they are, singing their biggest hit as recording artists.

Rest in peace dude.

"Just what God needs, one more victim"

It's also Tori Amos's birthday, and with 11 albums over 20-ish years, she deserves more of a post. But I'm not the guy to do it--I like her, but I don't follow her closely enough to remember what song is from which album. And while she's considered one of the best live acts around, I've also never seen her perform. In many ways she and Bruce Springsteen occupy the same space in my musical world. If they open this year's Emmys with one of her songs (as they did last year with Springsteen) it will be really a freaky coincidence.

Here's "Crucify" and I've got to go to work:

Happy birthday dude! Rock on!

Happy Birthday ANT/Anthony Kalloniatis

OMG I forgot about how funny he is. John and I saw him in... San Diego(?) 10+ years ago (John was 12, I was 14). We didn't travel to another city to see ANT, but if it's the trip I'm thinking of, Memorial Day 2000 or 2001, San Diego was overcast and cold and that was my 1 time in San Diego where I didn't have sex, so seeing ANT would have been the highlight of the trip. I mean, aside from 72 hours with John.

ANT is also one of the first comedians I can think of to be totally out. It's one thing for Ellen and Wanda Sykes to take that step when they are established stars, but it was probably a bigger deal for him to start his career in comedy openly gay... although it's entirely possible that there was no alternative (kidding, I'm sure his stage persona is different the same way the Larry the Cable guy's is). Maybe he's always going to be marginalized as a gay comedian instead of being a comedian, but I'll happily pay to see him and Kate Clinton (and yes, there are several others like Suzanne Westenhoefer and Elvira Kurt, but this isn't about them).

Happy birthday dude! Rock on!

Song of the Day: "Wait in the Dark"

Memory Tapes/Player Piano
Not sure how I ran across this track from Memory Tapes (which is really just 1 dude). Maybe via Philly radio (his former band was based their), maybe some other sampler. Regardless, I like the song so here we are.

There's a lightness to the music that, along with the fact that the vocals seem mixed down to be another instrument, masks the lyrics themselves. I can kinda hear what he's singing, what he's saying, but you really have to pay attention.

It's a break-up song that doesn't feel like a break-up song, and all of a sudden I'm reminded of an hour spent in college discussing the poem "The Rape of the Lock" and its juxtaposition of style (an epic poem, similar to the Iliad) with content (misdemeanor assault through theft of hair)... I was going to say "and I can never get that hour back" but you know, I've been awake about a half hour and I was able to work a reference to 18th century English literature into a short post about a song without much effort, so maybe that hour is finally paying off.

The point I was going for is that this song is kinda the opposite of that, where you might find yourself happy they broke up... if that's what actually happens in the song, it really is easy to lose track and just enjoy the music.

According to the tour dates at Memory Tapes' MySpace page they will be, or were, at the Doug Fir here in Portland on the 20th. Which 20th? Well, that's not clear.

Song: "Wait in the Dark"
Artist: Memory Tapes

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Happy Birthday Charles Peyton/Jeff Stryker

It's been a full 3 months since the last porn star received a birthday shout out. And as a man who spent some non-trivial amount of money to see Stryker act in a play, I felt like it was definitely time for another.

I even upgraded to the Gold section, which apparently was simply "the front 3 rows" instead of "the back 3 rows" but Stryker's pre-intermission naked gyrations through the audience covered both sections. His penis was about 2 feet from my face. It's probably not a particularly interesting fact for most people, but I think a couple of my friends will smile at this fact, if they didn't already know.

And if you don't know the penis, well, that's a whole other thing. You might want to do a quick image search with the safe search settings off.

But this isn't about Jeff Stryker, Man with Very Large Penis (although John Waters calls him the Cary Grant of porn). This is about Jeff Stryker, stage actor. And Jeff Stryker, singer. Jeff Stryker, man of letters!

How does one end up buying a ticket in the Gold section for a theatrical event such as Jeff Stryker Does Hard Time? Who can say. Perhaps fate. The same way that fate conspired to create a role in a play where his actual porn name was IN the title of the play. What a lucky coincidence!!!

I can't embed the scene from the play, but you owe it to yourself to watch this clip. As luck would have it, an excuse is found for Stryker to remove all of his clothes and circulate amongst the audience. Hooray! During the performance I attended, Stryker spent a nice amount of time with his penis directly in front of Bruce Vilanch. Vilanch helped Stryker with a later stage show, so it's possible that I was present at a moment of collaborative inspiration!!! However since I hadn't heard of "A Sophisticated Evening with Jeff Stryker" until just now, it's possible that I'm making too much out of it.

The play was mildly amusing; I honestly don't remember much aside from the penis near my face and that's more from the "I can't wait to tell Kim Saade about this" aspect than anything else.

As an acknowledgment of the evening's mediocrity, Stryker appeared naked, fluffed, and tied off to preserve blood distribution (while I don't personally operate heavy machinery, I have worked around it enough to know that the efforts required to keep things going can be tricky), shaking the hands of every audience member as they departed. I flirted with the idea of groping his penis. "I touched Jeff Stryker's penis" is a better story than "it was near my face." But something inside of me said "no, don't--if you do that they will eject you from the theater." Which they probably would have, but remember, I was actually leaving the theater when the opportunity presented itself. Is not grabbing Jeff Stryker's penis a regret or mine? No. But you can see why I needed to document it, right? Right?

Next up: Jeff Stryker, musician. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video clip or many pictures must also be worth something.

There is also a country album, but let's not dwell.

Dildos molded in Stryker's image became the subject of some legal disputes and the characterization of the shape of his penis as his "intellectual property" is certainly fun trivia, right? The dildo was also the subject of a paper presented at an academic conference on cultural studies. How much interest did your dildo (I mean the one based on your intellectual property, not the one you have in your nightstand) garner from academia?

In addition to the dildo, there are also playing cards and an action figure. An action figure. Take that Alec Guinness (the first Star Wars figure I got was Obi-Wan)!

His autobiography was put on hold in 2009 when noise from a neighborhood nightclub broke his concentration.

Hopefully he makes a reasonable living from his modest celebrity since it's probably difficult to transition from being one of the biggest stars of adult films to a more traditional job, like X-ray Technician or manager of a Jiffy-Lube.  Maybe real estate agent in West Hollywood.

Happy birthday dude! Rock on!

Is Warren Buffet a socialist?!

The income distribution in the US is now less equitably distributed than that of Nigeria. Goodbye "middle class," you were a lovely concept. Like the metric system.

Anyway, grrrrr.

Oh, but it's particularly amusing to hear Ayn Rand's words (the productive class vs. parasites/moochers, etc.) since Rand herself was a hypocrite, collecting Social Security and Medicare. I guess technically Michele Bachmann is in similar circumstances since she rails against spending but is not volunteering any of the various entitlements she and her husband currently receive (farm subsidies and Medicare payments). Maybe Atlas shrugged because he couldn't figure out the lack of philosophical integrity of Objectivists/Libertarians.

Happy Birthday Joe Strummer

The Clash are the preeminent British punk rock band. There, I said it. Commence your arguments, Sex Pistols and Buzzcocks fans (actually I'm pretty sure everyone recognizes the Sex Pistols as relevant but limited, what with there only being 1 actual album). That being said, I was more a fan of The Jam, so I've found myself discovering stuff to love in the past 5 years.

Let's start with "Straight to Hell" which had a recent rebirth when sampled by M.I.A. in her song "Paper Planes."

Now let's just back to the first album (well, the US version of The Clash, it was only a single in the UK) with "Clash City Rockers":

"The ice age is coming, the sun's zooming in
Meltdown expected, the wheat is growing thin
Engines stop running, but I have no fear
'Cause London is drowning, and I live by the river"
Is "London Calling" eerily prescient? Maybe. He was right about the zombies. As the opening track to London Calling, it also serves as the first indication that the band's sound was maturing. The album is considered a classic, ranking high on many "all-time" album lists, so naturally there were no Grammy nominations, although it's been inducted to the Grammy Hall of Fame, which doesn't really mean much.

My favorite track from Sandinista isn't one of Strummer's (the unlikely "Hitsville UK"), so I'll go with "The Magnificent Seven" (which is pretty much the only song from the album I ever hear on radio or out at clubs [NOTE: I do not actually go out to clubs]). It's an early fusion of rock and rap, but don't tell the pretentious dude I heard on NPR proclaiming Sonic Youth's "Kool Thing" the most important single of that year (it's hard for me to let some things go, apparently).

Next up, one of Strummer's original songs written for Sid and Nancy. I have a real fondness for this song since 1) I love the movie (it's gritty and unpleasant, but director Alex Cox, the generally fantastic Gary Oldman, Chloe Webb, and even Sir Roger Deakins [one of my all-time favorite cinematographers] made something that endures; and B) we were playing the soundtrack when I started working at the radio station, so "Love Kills" is probably one of the first songs I ever played as a DJ. I would argue that the song deserved an Oscar nomination ahead of "Take My Breath Away" from Top Gun, or "Mean Green Mother From Outer Space" from Little Shop of Horrors, but that wouldn't really change anything.

I leave you with a collaboration between Strummer and Johnny Cash, a cover of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song"released a few months after Cash's death in 2003 and about a year after Strummer's untimely death in 2002. Strummer's death motivated me to travel to San Francisco to see Paul Weller in concert... "they're not going to live forever" someone said, possibly Kim.

Happy birthday dude! Rest in peace!

Song of the Day: "Everybody"

DJ/Producer Miguel Migs worked with the wonderful Evelyn "Champagne" King on this track from his new album, and for no specific reason that makes me really happy. I guess it's refreshing to see a name other than Rihanna or Nicki Minaj on a song (they are both talented, but I believe they have sufficient exposure these days), and I do really like King.

In fact I like her so much that when I got to the nightclub at which she was performing, in Boynton Beach, I think, and found out their dress code didn't allow shorts (it. is. Florida.), I drove to North Miami Beach to change and drove all the way back (basically I drove an hour there, then back, then there, saw the show, then back).... oh, and when I returned I was wearing blue jeans (seriously, dress codes, wtf?) but the bouncer let me in.

There are a few mixes of this track, and I like this one (the Soul Clap Remix) best of the ones I'm finding available to embed. I really like the album version (that's typically the case for me).

Outside the Skyline, Migs's third studio album, is released next month.