Everyone's President

Everyone’s President

There is something to be said for relatability in a politician. Even Franklin Roosevelt, whose background was as firmly patrician as that of any US president, managed through the medium of fireside chats delivered over the radio to convince Americans the he understood their situation and cared about their fate. More»

Same As It Ever Is

Same As It Ever Is

The crowd at Club Congress is sparse. A few true believers and some people who are only here because they happened to be here already. My friend and I don’t fall into either category. I told him we had to see this show because it’s important, because I respect tradition, because it’s Dead Moon. They’re setting up right in front of us, out on the floor. More»

Weak and Stable

Weak and Stable

It’s hard to keep up with all the screw-ups and psychodramas of the Conservative government these days. You’re afraid you’ll miss one if you as much as blink. More»

Latest entries
Landau Calling

Landau Calling

Rooms are very useful. Especially if you’re not into being outside. Sometimes a room is like a bowl, in which flour, eggs and sugar become a tasty cake. The room I have in mind is located in Landau in der Pfalz, a small town in the southern Rhineland Palatinate, best known for its wine and climate as the Tuscany of Germany. More»

Highway to Holborn

Highway to Holborn

During the four and a half years that I lived in London, I always found that I did my best reading on the tube. Not necessarily of my own books or periodicals (though I always had one or the other on me) but the newspapers I found other passengers reading. As an immigrant youngster, at first I imagined that the headlines I encountered represented the opinions of the British. As I grew older, and began returning to the country as a journalist, I of course learned otherwise. More»

Revolutionary Times

Revolutionary Times

From the amp-straining bursts that introduce Is This Hyperreal? through the robotic reverberations that close it, Atari Teenage Riot’s comeback album forcefully reminds listeners that technology has a history. But this is no conventional exercise in nostalgia, like records that fetishize guitar pedals from the late 1960s or synth effects from the early 1980s. The sounds on Is This Hyperreal?” are theatrically dated, but thrown together like the odds and ends in a costume trunk. More»

Sneezing Into History’s Dustbin

Sneezing Into History’s Dustbin

Here are two profound moments of  ’00s retro culture.

Listen:

Carlos Santana stares directly into the camera in front of a black background. “I love making people cry, laugh, and dance at the same time – giving and receiving a crucial orgasm,” he says. “I never wanted to be anything else since I was a child.”

His choice words are then brought to life. More»

Netflix Rainbow Nation

Netflix Rainbow Nation

Netflix recently came up with a creative way to charge its customers more: by separating their mailing and streaming content into separate rental plans that “better reflect the costs of each.” One can only imagine how well the already over-compensated marketing strategist who came up with that line was rewarded for it. His shit-eating grin must be even browner around the edges than usual. “Now our members have a choice: a streaming only plan, a DVD only plan, or both.” More»

Israel is Everywhere

Israel is Everywhere

For twelve months, my wife and I lived in a large 1950s apartment building on Milan’s Piazzale Loreto. Not exactly a tourist destination, the busy square is best-known to historians for having hosted the bodies of Benito Mussolini and that of his mistress, Clara Petacci, after they were killed by partisans. Immediately adjacent to place their corpses were hung, our home always held a certain kind of political significance, that as foreigners, we weren’t expecting to encounter. More»

Time and Space

Time and Space

I used to take walks between York University‘s student center, and the northeastern side of campus. This is a recording of one of them. I made it because I wanted to capture the sounds of a routine I found meditative and calming. Several days after this was made, the Toronto Transit Commission fenced off 90% of the area, in order to build a subway extension connecting York and adjacent, poverty-stricken neighborhoods, with the rest of the city. More»

Mind the Gap

Mind the Gap

I first saw Richard Buckner perform a decade ago, at the now-defunct Nita’s Hideaway in Tempe, Ariz. Call it an intimate performance, or call it a half empty room; Buckner hadn’t really made a name for himself yet in Arizona. I was seated at a small table. I could’ve put my feet on the stage if I’d leaned back in my chair. Buckner was touring with a pedal steel guitarist. This was already three fantastic albums into his career, so I guess the acquired taste tag had already been placed on the deep-voiced, brooding singer. More»

His Own Private Fantasy

His Own Private Fantasy

Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Danny Ayalon, is a diplomat whose chief skill is creating tensions, rather than defusing them. Now he’s taken a video originally produced in Hebrew for the YESHA Council (the leading lobbying group in Israel for the West Bank settlers) and imposed his own image speaking in English. The script is an almost direct translation. More»

Breivik and the Jews

Breivik and the Jews

Alex Stein was anxious. Condemning leftist Jewish pundits for publicizing Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik’s affinity for Zionism, the Tel Aviv-based British blogger cried anti-Semitism. “Those on the left who use the arguments outlined above are seeking to demonize whole communities for the crimes of one murderous wing nut,” Stein thundered in The Forward, four days after the Oslo attacks. More»

Vegetable Alley

Vegetable Alley

About fifty meters east from the D exit of the Suzhoujie station on Beijing’s Number 10 metro line, is a small alley market. You walk along the main street, take a gated entryway for five meters, and there, parallel to the street, is a narrow alley with two stands. The first sells vegetables. The second sells peaches, apples, and lychee. A third uses crates on the sidewalk to sell brown hen and salted blue duck eggs, together with oil, pasta and a couple of common kitchen items. More»

Hungarian Mettle

Hungarian Mettle

This is a piece I recently rediscovered while transferring audio from old DAT tapes. It first developed as a guitar practice exercise in 1988. I was rehearsing non-standard time signatures, while listening to 4/4 rock beats. What evolved was a little figure in 7/8 that sounded similar to a tune by one of my favorite groups, Massacre (Fred Frith, Bill Laswell, Fred Maher.) This riff may have developed while trying to learn how to play Massacre’s Killing Time. What emerged from this exercise was a Massacre pastiche. More»