Sweet Spot #5

Posted in Audio transmissions on October 28th, 2009 by bill

I’m not sure what it says about me that none of the nine songs in this mix were recorded after 1980, and many of them were recorded in 1970 or earlier. Wait, yes I do: It says that I’m getting to be an old coot and I like the old-timey music. Well, like the man says, old-timey is not a crimey.


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Won’t you please hire the discouraged?

Posted in Whatever Else on October 26th, 2009 by bill

Interesting article in the Chronicle today about “underemployment,” a phenomenon with which I am intimately familiar. According to Tom Abata,

The state Employment Development Department estimates that [the] underemployment rate hit 21.9 percent in September. That figure includes 1.9 million jobless Californians, 1.4 million people who had to work part time, and 865,000 adults loosely described as discouraged.

This struck me as odd incursion of emotion into the world of statistics. That’s a lot of discouraged people, and it doesn’t even account for the disillusioned, the disinterested, the disoriented, the distraught, the distracted, the dissipated, or the disquieted; although, to be fair, there’s a lot of overlap in those categories.

Capitalist Zombie Nightmare

Posted in Whatever Else on October 24th, 2009 by bill

The marquee at the Grand Lake Theater today—two complete movie titles and two partial—was like a little poem. Actually, now that I examine it, it’s a haiku with one superfluous syllable:


Zombieland Nightmare

Before Where the Wild Things Are

Things Not to Do (Sweet Spot #4)

Posted in Whatever Else on October 23rd, 2009 by bill

Hiking near Tomales Point recently, I happened to think of the Neil Young song “Don’t Let It Bring You Down.” Conveniently enough, I had my faithful Monkeypod with me and was able to dial it up in a matter of seconds. The songs that followed it, all beginning with the word “Don’t,” seemed to fall together rather fortuitously….


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On the Wrong Train

Posted in Read it in books on October 21st, 2009 by bill

A particularly striking paragraph from my current reading project, Werner Herzog’s Conquest of the Useless, representative of Herzog’s peculiar combination of detached observation and visionary mysticism:

A man was walking down the dusty road to the Rio Nanay, shuffling a deck of cards as he went. On the plane a woman began to sing litanies, and then, her eyes growing wilder and wilder, to rail at evil spirits. Not until we had landed and taxied to a stop did she calm down. Am I in the wrong place here, or in the wrong life? Did I not recognize, as I sat in a train that raced past a station and did not stop, that I was on the wrong train, and did I not learn from the conductor that the train would not stop at the next station, either, a hundred kilometers away, and did he not also admit to me, whispering with his hand shielding his mouth, that the train would not stop again at all? Drastic measures, he whispered to me, were appropriate only for someone who had not set foot on this continent yet. To fail to embrace my dreams now would be a disgrace so great that sin itself would not be able to find a name for it.

Better than a cold bath with someone you dislike

Posted in Dancing about architecture on October 18th, 2009 by bill

Highlight of the week, the month, possibly the year: a whirlwind trip to LA to catch a rare appearance by the Jazz Butcher Conspiracy. This was the third time I’ve seen the Butcher, who is mostly calling himself Pat Fish these days, but the first time I’ve seen him together with the great Max Eider, who it turns out is a quite indispensable part of the equation. An extra special bonus was the presence of Kevin Haskins of Bauhaus/ Love and Rockets fame on drums.

Everyone is aging rather gracefully. Mr. Fish himself resembles a graying movie star, somewhat faded but effortlessly charming. Max was mysterious and somewhat oddly mannered behind his shades, but still with golden fingers and a highly underrated voice. Kevin did a real job of work on the skins, pounding out the beat to classics like “Roadrunner” and “Caroline Wheeler’s Birthday Present.”

It would have been hard to ask for much more, except maybe that everyone would have shut up when the band played “Drink,” my all-time favorite. I’ll never understand why people insist on talking over music they’ve paid money to hear. It’s a good thing I didn’t have a gun in my hand, or I’d be blogging from prison right now, and I wouldn’t have gotten to hear “Southern Mark Smith,” “Zombie Love,” or “Who Loves You Now.” And that would have been too bad.

Big ups to Cecil Vortex, without whose participation this escapade wouldn’t have been possible. He is a prince among men.


Posted in Picture du jour on October 8th, 2009 by bill
One bird preens while the others gossip.

One bird preens while the others gossip.

The Most Interesting Man in the World

Posted in Whatever Else on October 2nd, 2009 by bill
Werner Herzog shares a warm moment with collaborator and nemesis Klaus Kinski.

Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski share a warm moment.

With all due respect to the “Stay thirsty, my friends” guy, in my opinion the most interesting man in the world right now is filmdirektor Werner Herzog. Perhaps best known in this country for the documentary Grizzly Man, Herzog has a long and distinguished resume including six feature films starring honest-to-God madman Klaus Kinski, about whom Herzog also made the doc My Best Fiend.

What makes Werner Herzog the most interesting man in the world? So many things—here is a quick bulleted list:

  • In 1974, Herzog was told that Lotte Eisner, a film historian whom he admired, was seriously ill. He decided that by walking from Munich to Paris, a distance of about 500 miles, through harsh winter conditions, he would somehow save her life. Herzog completed the journey, as recounted in his book Of Walking on Ice, and Eisner did in fact live nine more years.

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