Monday, June 29, 2009

michael jackson (1958-2009).

michael jackson died on thursday.
he was 50 years old.
i decided not to write about it until the media frenzy had died down and i could present my words from a truly unemotional and completely unbiased perspective. 

i had spent the day (june 25, that is) shopping with my mother and sister. at about 5, we had all developed ravenous appetites and decided to have dinner. walking into a fairly posh restaurant, i immediately noticed loud 'michael jackson' music sounding from the speakers. perplexed, given the otherwise polished atmosphere, i became uneasy and highly suspicious. sitting and waiting for service, four 'michael jackson' songs had now played consecutively and i was looking for answers. finally, our waitress came to the table and before i could utter a word, she stated:

"i hope you guys don't mind the michael jackson music. he just died a few hours ago. can i get you any drinks to start?"

actually, i'll skip the drink. just bring me some fucking answers!
michael jackson died?
didn't farrah fawcett die, too?

needless to say, it was a relatively shocking revelation for the three of us. i don't think any of us actually enjoyed michael jackson as a person. cynical as ever, even as a philanthropist i always thought he had ulterior motives. to most white people, michael jackson just could not bounce back from the child abuse allegations, the erratic and eccentric behavior or the physical deterioration of the once healthy looking black man. however, on the drive home, radio stations all across the dial were playing commercial-free michael jackson marathons, which made for a very nostalgic and deeply reflective hour-and-a-half ride. regardless of your opinion of the guy, every time a classic came on, we each had our own story about where we were when we had first heard it. and for him to die just days before rehearsals for his comeback tour were to begin seemed all the more sad and somewhat pathetic. 

once we had arrived home, tv stations were inundated.
cnn was awash with random celebrities, phoning in to 'larry king live' with their own stories of mj. 

*by the way, did anybody else actually listen to anderson cooper's mj story? how, at the age of 10, his mother [gloria vanderbilt] would take him to studio 54 with bianca jagger, marisa berenson and grace jones, where they would all dance to 'don't stop til' you  get enough'? 
did they also tell him that the powder they were chopping up at the table was fun dip mix?

first of all, at any age, if you are going to studio 54 with bianca jagger, marisa berneson and grace jones, you are a homosexual. secondly, there was complete and utter sincerity in his delivery. not a hint of abashed sarcasm or exaggeration. anderson cooper, age 10, at studio 54.
if true, i'd like to exhume his mother's body just to kick her ass.
*unfortunately, i did my research AFTER writing this and discovered that gloria vanderbilt is still alive.
the above statement may be false, but the sentiment remains.

but i digress. 
the jackson family are a strange group of people. 
that father absolutely fucked up every one of his kids, and i guarantee that he will outlive at least one more.
michael jackson's was such a sad story, that ended in such an appropriate manner. not that he deserved to die or anything, but could you really see mj living to a ripe old age? all the plastic surgery. all the medication. it really was only a matter of time. really sad day.

god speed, mj.
don't worry, everybody is pretty in heaven.
rest in peace.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

farrah fawcett (1947-2009).

even my christian grandmother was brought to tears whilst watching the highly publicized video journal that alana stewart had been recording of her friend farrah fawcett, dying of anal cancer after being diagnosed three years earlier. it just goes to show you that at the end of the day, despite all of the rumours and bullshit surrounding her personal life, this was a woman with a family. a life. a legacy.
farrah fawcett was an icon. 
and she is not here anymore.
sad day.

go watch "the apostle."
or "the burning bed."
shit, go watch "man of the house."

sweet lady. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


lush is one of the most underrated bands to come out of the early ninety's britpop-shoegaze movement.
they are also one of my personal favourites.

their story begins appropriately enough in london when two 14 year-olds, bff's miki berenyi and emma anderson began discussing their mutual love for music. co-founding a fanzine and attending numerous gigs together, they learned all about the local punk scene and decided to join respective bands -- "the bugs" for berenyi, "the rover girls" for anderson. after developing their own sound, and enlisting drummer chris acland and bassist steve rippon, lush was born.

they gained heavy momentum by playing local gigs throughout london--so heavy in fact, that on one particular night, as many as twelve different studio execs came to listen. only one rep from seminal indie label 4ad chose to stay.

they began by writing quintessential pop lyrics -- drawing influence from carly simon and the beatles and anything else they remember listening to as kids, and burying it under a lot of heavy guitar reverb, mainly because of berenyi and anderson's presumed lack of vocal ability. this sound would go on to become their signature and a staple of the early shoegaze genre.

and it worked:
robin guthrie of cocteau twins was so impressed, he decided to produce their debut album, spooky, in 1992 (with new bassist phil king, replacing rippon after an amicable separation).
minor success soon followed abroad when perry farrell of jane's addiction, a huge fan, decided to extend the invitation to play lollapalooza the following year. they accepted, and brought their unique sounds to america. the festival (in its second year) featured lush not only playing center stage with red hot chilli peppers, soundgraden, pearl jam and ice cube but also, in true rock-star form, berenyi plunging from a misjudged stage-dive onto her head, requiring 14 stitches.

when it was time to record a sophomore LP in 1994, the now confident band fled to wales to cut split, a more melodic effort that had both girls, lyrically, reaching deep in an attempt to outdo their first record. 
tensions rose and pressures mounted as split made less of an impact in the u.k., selling less than spooky, but did however garner them heavy rotation on mtv stateside and allowed them a proper, full u.s., canadian, british and european tour. fame overseas is not what they wanted.
if england didn't like them, they had failed.

perceived failure once again served as motivation towards the recording of album #3. released in 1996, lovelife, unlike earlier efforts, showcased berenyi and anderson's individual songwriting skills which mixed dark, pastoral imagery with jangly, high-spirited pop sounds--particularly on tracks like "papasan" and "ciao!", berneyi's duet with jarvis cocker.

either way, critical reaction was high and showcasing became essential
--perhaps too much so. exhausting and repetitive touring throughout america took its toll:
anderson wanted to leave the band.
acland was ordered by a doctor to stay on bedrest.
berenyi felt completely abandoned, yet hopeful.

the band took a much needed hiatus.
acland decided to move to his parent's house in the english countryside. 
it was here that fears and stress became all consuming and he hanged himself.
lush was no more. 
berenyi and anderson, devastated, could not and would not carry on without their friend. lovelife would be their last record and they officially disbanded in 1996.

  • in 1998, emma anderson formed a new band entitled sing-sing with lisa o'neill. they disbanded in 2008. anderson is now a booking agent. she is 42.
  • miki berenyi currently works as a sub-editor at a major music magazine in london. she has provided vocals for tracks by the rentals and seinking ships. she has no desire to return to music. she is 42.
  • phil king is currently a touring guitarist for the jesus and mary chain. he apparently works at the same company (not the same publication) as miki. he is 49.

i love listening to this when it is raining outside.

right now,
it is raining outside.

Monday, June 15, 2009

no complaints. at all.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

jackie jackie spend this winter with me.

i love laurie metcalf.
not just for her obvious gift of comedic timing, but because of her versatility as a classically trained actress.
i had a laurie-metcalf-marathon today: desperately seeking susan, jfk, and four episodes of roseanne.
she is a stage legend in chicago, a three-time emmy winner, a tony-nominee (featured actress) for last year's production of november, and a prolific television guest star (i am just waiting for a surprise appearance on law and order: svu as some homicidal maniac, like her batshitcrazy performance in scream 2).

a guy i used to work with claims to have met her in a pub in ireland. 
her and her friends got hammered with him and a bunch of his friends, as she told desperate housewives stories all night. 
she really seems like the kind of lady you could have a few laughs with at an applebees on fajita fridays or something, you know, like a totally awesome mom-type.
i hope she does some more tv.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

tony's tiger.

this weekend, angela lansbury won her fifth tony award.
she is now tied with julie harris for the most tony wins by a performer.
i thought this worth mentioning because, after 19 nominations, angela lansbury still does not have an emmy.
and ryan seacrest does.
he may even have two.
something to think about.


every time i put on a riuchi sakamoto record, i am immediately transported back to the late eighties / early nineties when filmmakers actually took the time to incorporate a noteworthy score into their works. 

before winning an oscar for scoring 'the last emperor,' sakamoto made a lot of awesome noise with david sylvian of 'japan' (one of my many musical idols - 'tin drum' is essential listening), and while listening to 'forbidden colours' recently, i began to feel as though music will officially never be like the recordings of yesterday. 

seriously, what else is there to prove? how is experimental music even relevant nowadays? what sounds can be put on tape that artists like sakamoto, richard d james, robert fripp, brian eno, laurie anderson and robert wyatt haven't already discovered.

matthew herbert is great.
fennesz is amazing.

but there are so few artist out there today that blow my fucking mind. 
i haven't listened to the radio since 1999.

"what happened to music?" - aunt jackie
"who the hell are you, tipper gore?" - roseanne

Thursday, June 4, 2009

amadou et mariam.

tonight i am going to see two of mali's greatest musical exports perform their incredible afro-pop for a throng of eager, young fans.

amadou and mariam are a success story like no other:

  • having met at mali's institute for the young blind in the early seventies, they discovered a mutual appreciation for music, particularly the tribal rhythms of the ivory coast (where they would eventually call home). 
  • marrying in 1980, they began working on their debut lp se te djon ye, touring it throughout western africa billed as "the blind couple from mali."
  • they would release an album in 1985, sou ni tile, which proved moderately successful in france, establishing a cult following in europe that they would maintain well into the twenty-first century.
  • the pair were introduced to fan manu chao, famed latin music star who would produce their breakthrough album dimanche a bamako in 2004 -- great critical success, an 8.0 rating on pitchfork, a stage slot at lollapalooza, and a brand new audience soon followed.
  • last year's welcome to mali proved an eagerly anticipated release, a unique feat for a world music record, and featured production by damon albarn -- earning it the title: "one of the best pop albums of 2008" by nme, mojo, and rolling stone.
amadou and mariam are now musical mainstays at u.s. music festivals.
they will spend much of 2009 opening for the likes of coldplay and blur.
best of all, they are finally getting some due recognition in the music world -- "music" being their life's work.

i could not be happier for these two and their newfound fame.
here's a taste.