Friday, May 30, 2008

Update: Day One of All the Next Days & Alan Turing

A Musical Odyssey

I now have 100,500 songs on an external hard-drive. I’ve gone on a journey into them. It’s kind of amazing as a musical biography of the American 20th century.

The oldest songs are from 1900, and the most recent, well, are right now.

I’m finding the 78s to be the most interesting of all.

I mean, seriously, 100, 500 songs (with, perhaps, some overlap…).

Name something. I’m sure I have it. Now, if I can find it, that’s a different question.

Is it really possible that I can have 800 or so songs by The Grateful Dead? Yikes.

Reading Material:

Hotel Amerika is back! It’s now based out of Columbia College:

Video Booth:

Derek Jacobi as Alan Turing - Breaking the Code, on beauty:

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Dean Young and the UK Lottery

A week or so back I was sent an email from a person wanting me to try a product and write about it on my blog. Money was offered. Can such a thing be possible? And then I found out I won several UK lotteries. And then a few someones with cancer or some other terminal and not funny problem scoped me out as a dependable person to hold onto their several million dollars if only I’d send them some money first, and my home address.

And then I was trying to write a bunch of poems, and was irritated to find that the opening line of one of them, and something of its propulsion was similar to a Dean Young poem that just came out in APR. Have you seen it yet? A graduation poem. A commencement address. Well, I’d type it our for you here, but I left it across town, and why should I anyway? It’s by Dean Young. Pretty soon you’ll find it on the side of a box of cereal or something.

Beyond that, there’s a value to Dean Young’s method that’s important to hear outside of the huge influence he’s asserting over a generation of poets. Save us from ourselves, we cry, but it’s difficult not to be swayed. Save us from that influence, we say, more specifically, so that every time now someone writes with short assertive sentences and a slightly wandering attention and antic mood, we have to think of Dean Young. So that not every sunrise says Dean Young. Or maybe every sunrise really is saying John Ashbery, and Dean Young is just up on a ladder with a spray paint can. Who knows? Or is it Frank O’Hara? Or was it Scarlet? And what’s Lorca doing there in the watermelons?

Here’s one of his poems from a few years ago:

Original Monkey

I’m working on my vanishing point.
I’m practicing my zenith.
I used to rely on a piece of glass
to plunge into my heart but that’s nothing
compared to my monkey. Usually
we meet on a bench by the whortleberries
to weep and watch the lambs disappear
into the chasm. Hey, it’s a rotten world
for a monkey too. Just because
you’ve got opposable thumbs
doesn’t mean you can untrip the trap.
My monkey though is very self-involved
so when the glass doesn’t work
and the invisible girders are groaning
and I can’t get back to the old country
of the great works of Western art
restored to the luminosity of Looney Tunes,
I call my friend who’s drunk again
like me like me and my moonbeam.
Wrong answer. Wrong ballistics report.
Wrong club membership. Wrong draconian
countermeasure. Wrong emergency room
where the client in the party hat
blinking blood says, It’s nothing,
it’s nothing. I’ll be the judge of that.
We can see that once the work of interpretation
is done, the dream is the fulfillment of a wish
just as the injury is the fulfillment of a wish
and vibrating at the speed of E flat
and unloading heads into the furnace
and realism which is a form of surrealism
on a time-delayed fuse so what I’d like to know
is who’s making all these helpful wishes?
My agony is no sillier than yours
even if it’s riding a tiny unicycle.
All I’m asking for is a fellow monkey
to accompany my original monkey
in his bridal sadness. Once he was one
among many in a tree. Once my piece of glass
was part of a larger piece of glass
which was part of a larger piece of glass
which was . . . okay, you get the point.
As if back there somewhere
was something immense and intact.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Leonard Cohen in Five Decades

As time drags us all along, things like this become possible. Isn't time fun?

Stranger Song


Tower of Song

Dance Me to the End of Love


Lemon & Sparkles


Alex Lemon, Hallelujah Blackout

In This Best of All Possible Worlds

I tried going a whole week without lying

I became both Boy Scout and Brownie

Campfire stories were told of my days as a cowboy

In X-rated movies. We ate so many cookies so soon

Sadness spread without a hunting permit

The sky opened into a secret evil

All mine, that hope-hat and fear-jelly

They couldn’t understand my private language

How the nearer you get the more

The bagpipes become. And then the rain of teeth

And just to be loved we had to be little

Of what we wanted, and so damn dismally new

With our black lipstick and cherry bombs


Sparklehorse, Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Robert Rauschenberg 1925-2008

From The New York Times:

Robert Rauschenberg, the irrepressibly prolific American artist who time and again reshaped art in the 20th century, died Monday night. He was 82.

His death was confirmed by his gallery, PaceWildenstein in Manhattan.

Mr. Rauschenberg’s work gave new meaning to sculpture. “Canyon,” for instance, consisted of a stuffed bald eagle attached to a canvas. “Monogram” was a stuffed Angora goat girdled by a tire atop a painted panel. “Bed” entailed a quilt, sheet and pillow, slathered with paint, as if soaked in blood, framed on the wall. They all became icons of postwar modernism.

Michael Kimmelman writes: “Robert Rauschenberg was the irrepressibly prolific American artist who time and again reshaped art in the 20th century.”

“Mr. Rauschenberg’s work gave new meaning to sculpture. A painter, photographer, printmaker, choreographer, onstage performer, set designer and, in later years, a composer, Mr. Rauschenberg defied the traditional idea that an artist stick to one medium or style. He pushed, prodded and sometimes substantially reconceived various mediums in which he worked.”

Monday, May 12, 2008

Monday Jam

Archival footage from The Last Waltz, in two parts:

And then to close with a nice version of “Helpless,” just because it's one of the best songs ever written:

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Five Hallelujahs

So I’ve been thinking about love. So? Haven’t we all? Isn’t it always that time?

And also, I've been thinking about the song "Hallelujah." Seems every time I turn around these days, I'm stumbling across it. American Idol? Yikes. And then today at my daughter's dance recital, a tweener did a solo routine all flopping around in her veils and agnst to the Wainwright version. As luck would have it, we all survived.

I've been living with this song for many years, having been a Leonard Cohen fan from High School, when I came across the song "Suzanne."

Leonard Cohen once called "Hallelujah" his best song. He might be right, as the lyric, “all I ever learned from love / was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you” is the most succinct version of love I’ve come across. So here it is, for you, of course, five times (though some versions, of course, screw around with the lyrics, etc.). Let's start with the original.

Leonard Cohen. The original, from his wonderful Various Positions album.

John Cale. His version is on a tribute album titled I'm Your Fan, which came out in the late 80s.

Jeff Buckley (there's a better one on YouTube, but I wasn't able to embed it). Is this the most famous version? Maybe. At least before Shrek.

Rufus Wainwright. The Shrek version. This is the only one I've ever heard on the radio.

Bon Jovi. Bon Jovi? Huh? Well, it's not bad at all. He has a little too much of that power ballad thing in his vocals, but kudos to him for his taste in covers.