A New World

12 Oct

In most ways, I’m not a traditionalist.  But when it comes to holidays, I fall very much into that camp.  I’m all for days off, but I hate the whole making Mondays the default holiday thing.  It’s weird.  I mean, would you like it if your birthday had to be on the Monday of the week it fell on?  Of course not.  And so,

Happy Columbus Day!

Yes, today is the actual date he made landfall.  I wonder if they even teach kids that anymore.  I’m sure they don’t show gems like this Mel-O-Toons instructional cartoon.   I know I should be appalled about the un-PC content, but I’m too busy loving the plural of ‘red skins.’

This film is from 1960, which is also the year that the crazy and wonderful “I Hear a New World” was released.  “I Hear a New World” was a concept album by record producer, Joe Meek.  Joe had some major commercial successes later, but music history-wise, this album is what he’s best remembered for.  It was, in retrospect, a landmark release.

It was about life in space and was one of the first recordings to use electronic sounds like this.  Of course this sort of musical exploration meant that it was never released in the way he intended and the EPs that were released were few in number.   It’s been described as one of the “100 Records that Set the World on Fire (When No One Was Listening).” (Wire Magazine)

Here’s the original track, credited to Rod Freeman & The Blue Men, as well as two other versions I like a lot, by Television Personalities and by They Might Be Giants.  Yes, three tracks today.  I’m making up for my weeks of silence.

But, back to my point.  I’m pretty sure that when Columbus or Joe Meeks was dreaming of his respective new world, neither would have been okay with just arbitrarily moving the day when The Future would acknowledge these discoveries to a Monday just so workers could have a convenient day off.

In fact, I’m haulin’ out the ouija board right now and asking Columbus himself.  My Italian isn’t that good. I may end up asking him if October 12, 1492 was a Monday.

Collective Mode

11 Oct

Remember when this used to be a song-a-day blog?  Hmm, so do I.  And I really -really! – hope I’m back for real this time.  But other than saying that, I’m tabling all excuses and apologies – for now at least.

Today is a perfect day for some reinvigoration.

It’s a full moon, for one thing.  And not any old full moon; it’s the smallest full moon of the year.  I don’t want this teensy full moon to have any self-esteem issues, so let’s send it a little extra love when we (try to) find it in the sky tonight.

In my personal cosmos, there’s a much bigger event occurring.  Starting today, I’ll be working with one of the smartest groups of people I can think of – co:collective.  I don’t usually mix work and blogs, so you know it’s A Big Deal.

I’ve spoken of my psychic iPod before, but this morning it was especially on-target.  I hit ‘shuffle’ to get my song-o-scope for the day and up came “Collective Mode” by Asian Dub Foundation.  Now I swear on a stack of mp3s that never has this song come up in any rotation before.  In fact, I think in all the years I’ve owned any sort of iPod, maybe ADF itself only came on once.  But iPod and I are very in sync;  I am indeed in a collective mode.

I’m sure you would rather hear about how this song is from way back in 2000 and that the band members met while filming a documentary at a Community House in London where music/technology was being taught to South Asian kids and all that kind of stuff.  Oh, well.  At least the downloads are back.

Project Runway

12 Sep

In honor of fashion week,  I give you Kraftwerk’s “The Model.”  This song, from 1981’s “Computer World,” is pretty much their most melodic and accessible song ever.  Oddly enough it was originally the B-Side release of the title track single.  When DJ’s started playing “The Model,” their record company, EMI, quickly repackaged the release with that song as the A-Side.

Apparently this enraged the band.  They may have been angry, but they did make money; the single went to #1 in the UK.

Whether or not their ire was real, I have to think that deep down, they must have been a little bit happy about the collision of art and commerce. And this co-existence is really at the heart of all of fashion, no?

Sleepy in NYC

8 Sep

There could never be any song more appropriate for today than the 1966 classic “I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night” by The Electric Prunes.  The Prunes were a West Coast psychedelic rock band who went through a humungous amount of line-up changes in their time together.  One tidbit I love:   Kenny Loggins was once part of their lineup.  Not on this song, unfortunately.

But back to my having too much to dream last night.  You have no idea.

Apparently tropical downpours, a couple of glasses of wine and some tense conversations do not bode well for the old r.e.m.  One of the moments I can remember from a particularly upsetting part of my dream was that I was sitting with a (now ex-) friend (no doubt arguing) when this weird metal multi-line phone on the wall rang.  My mother was on the other end, very upset.

“Daddy called and said JFK died!  They just told him JFK died and they won’t let him hold him!”

Bad use of pronouns, I know, but I’m quoting a dream.  Grammatical errors are allowed in this instance.  Anyway, I sensed that JFK was actually a dog in this dream, not the President.  (As an aside, in awake life, I now love that name for a dog!)  But it was weird.  Strange.  Sad.  Upsetting.

Starting tonight, I’m going on a major dream diet.

Back to School

7 Sep

If I’m not mistaken, tomorrow is the first day of school for all NYC public schools.  Which meant that this dreary day was, in some circles, the last day of summer.  There’s a high school full of hoodlums around the corner form me and I’m already bracing myself for the noisy crowd on the street every morning.

Now it may be just this particular schook, but every year I’m shocked at how bad the kids dress.  I’m not saying that in a “kids today!” way.  I’m saying that in an “I can’t believe how little effort you bother making” sort of way.

I was thinking about this recently because I came across this fabulous collection from Life Magazine’s archives of high school fashions from 1969.  (Thank you, Retronaut!)  Now they look cool.  I’m not expecting today’s kids to be all weirdly retro or anything, but man, just some sort of effort would be appreciated.

I remember how much thought I gave to the first day’s outfit every year.  Despite all that brainpower used, I only can conjure up one of my first day outfuits.  It was the first day of junior high.  I actually wore a menswear type three piece suit.  I was so ridiculously fashion-forward.  It’s true, I was.  If you know me now, you’ll know I’m fashion-lazy, if not fashion-backward.  But junior high, baby, I was on it.

So check out these awesome pictures while you’re downloading The MC5’s “High School,” which, not so coicidentally, came out around the same time as these pictures.

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(All photos ©Arthur Schatz)

Bread, Yes! But Roses, Too!

5 Sep

Lawrence Women on Strike

Nearly one hundred years ago, in January 1912, there was a textile strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts.  The strikers were almost all immigrant women.  As Utah Phillips tells us in his little preamble in his version of “Bread and Roses,” like any worker who was on strike, they were demanding better wages, hours and conditions.

But they also wanted a little dignity.  Legend has it than one of the workers had a placard that read, “We want bread, but we want roses too!”  This slogan referenced a poem called “Bread & Roses” from the year before by James Oppenheim.  In this poem – and in the strike – both bread and roses were called for in order to have a full and satisfactory life.

There is debate as to whether or not one of the Lawrence strikers did actually carry this sign, but if she didn’t, she should have.  As Utah says, “it takes more than (wages, hours and conditions) to be a woman.  It takes more than those three things to lead a decent human life.”

Thankfully we not on strike on this Labor Day, but maybe we should be rising up a little against ourselves.  I’m guessing that most of us are probably our own worst oppressors on that front these days.   But that doesn’t make the need for both bread and roses any less necessary.

Something to think about this Labor Day.  In between the sales that is.



4 Sep

Sundays on holiday weekends are the best because that’s when the holiday realization kicks in for real.

I think Psychotik Tanks “Let’s Have a Party” is a great theme song for nights such as this.  So let’s have a party.  Let’s.


Death in the Modern Age

3 Sep

Back in August, on one of those days I didn’t post, I had a really horrible experience.

My mother had been trying to reach a friend of hers for awhile, to no avail. Finally she asked me to go over to his building and talk to the doorman; she had a bad feeling. It took me a week to do it. You know what happens next.

The doorman told me that our friend was found in his apartment, dead. He had apparently been there for a few days. This had occurred a month previous so my delay in checking didn’t affect anything, thankfully. That would have moved the story from terrible to a completely and utterly debilitating one for me. As my mom went through a whole guilt-trip about how she hadn’t been a good enough friend and I went through my oh-my-god-I’ve-just-seen-my-ghost-of-Christmas-future, Steve Jobs stepped down at Apple.

Like everyone else in the universe, his announcement upset me. But as the accolades and assessments turned into premature obituaries, it started to freak me out a bit. How can that possibly feel to read all your obituaries while you’re still alive? Basically everyone in the world is telling you you’ve died already.  That has to be weird. So his ‘perceived death’ and our friend’s actual death couldn’t be in more stark contrast as far as impact on the world, but they both are strange and sad and surreal to me.

I’ve spoken of my psychic iPod before, and during this time, it struck again. Just as I was musing about all of that, Babybird’s “I Didn’t Want To Wake you Up” was my Song-o-Scope of the Day. (As I walk to work every day, I hit shuffle in the morning as I ask it for a message for the day.) Oh iPod, how in tune you are with me.

I’m a huge Babybird fan. For those of you who are unfamilar with his massive output, please rectify that. Babybird is essentially Stephen Jones and he’s a master of DIY deliciousness. Well, usually. This track actually comes from his only major label release and has a band and stuff. He did have a couple of bona-fide hits, namely “You’re Gorgeous,” and they were from this album as well. But pretty much everything he does is worth getting.

And I guess the moral of this story is appreciate people while they’re around…which is to also say, don’t bury them alive either.


Putting the ‘Labor’ Back in ‘Labor Day’

2 Sep

What a day.  It seemed as though everyone was trying to cram Monday into today, just to make sure they got their money’s worth.

I find a remedy to moments like these is listening to Arvo Part.  (Incidentally, there should be an umlat over the ‘a’ in part but I’m too exhausted to try to find that key.  So in Margauxville, it’s just Arvo Part, sans umlat.)  “Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten” is exactly what I need right now.

I promise you it’s exactly what you need right now too.  I would never leave you astray.  After all, we have so much in common.

I need to step away from the computer now.  Ideally I’d write an insightful or mildly interesting blurb about the importance of Arto Part and how I love the bridge between classical and sacred music.  Or maybe I’d tell you that for some reason every September 11th I realize it’s his birthday and how that seems oddly fitting.  But I’m too tired.  Maybe I’ll do it another day.  Another day when I’m not too burnt out to look for the umlat key.

Until then, enjoy the next Arvo Part-filled 5 minutes.  Ahhh.


Happy September!

1 Sep

What’s worse:  the fact that I haven’t updated this in eons or the fact that I’m posting a really obvious, albeit fabulous, song today?  The correct answer is neither.  I was very distracted by Irene and scads of other stuff, but today is September 1st (!) and I have just sharpened a box of Number 2 pencils; I’m ready to begin anew.

This morning, as I was walking to the subway, iPod shuffle intuitively picked “September” by Earth, Wind and Fire.  How crazy!  That song never comes on my iPod!  I’m not sure why it never cycles through my library.  I love Earth, Wind and Fire.  I also love that founder Maurice White, a Sagittarian, chose the name because he has only Earth, Wind and Fire in his astrological chart – no Water.   Gotta love astrology followers, especially when they’re also amazing singers, writers and producers.

Personally, I was always partial to Philip Bailey’s voice in the group.  (He’s the high one and Maurice is the low one.)  Plus he did that super cheesy but oh-so-wonderful duet with Phil Collins, “Easy Lover.”

But he’s a Tauran.  And I can’t like a Tauran over a Sadge.  So, Maurice White, congratulations!  You are officially my favorite member of Earth, Wind and Fire.