This week, in honor of it being 4/20, I guess, there's a lot of zoning out on the cool psychedelic trip. Man. Plus some depressing photos, and, um, lip gloss. Did that harsh your mellow? Well, whatever. Where were you when we were getting high:
10. Dan le Sac vs. Scoobius Pip "Thou Shalt Always Kill" (mp3 via Feed Me Good Tunes)
Okay, novelty tune, for sure. But when a novelty tune comes in the form of a hilarious, fast-paced Streets-meets-Audio Bullys screed about stuff you shalt and shalt not do, most of which seems amusingly, uh, specific to this Dan guy, I'll make an exception
9. Maximo park "Russian Literature" (From Our Earthly Pleasures out 5/9 on Warp) (mp3 via Stereogum)
Oh, those Russkies. They write good. This angular, Franz Ferdinand-y British five-piece agrees, and brings a little piano action to the foreground to make the point
8. Explosions in the Sky "The Birth and Death of the Day" (from All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone, on Temporary Residence) (mp3 via Aural Fitness)
I like post-rock, yes I do. When it comes to 8-minute instrumental rock epics, there's a fine line between exultant and self-indulgent. But this Texas combo keeps it together by going right for the emotional jugular, like Slint, Tortoise, or Godspeed you Black Emperor before them
Apparently Lil' Mama is really "lil," only 17 years old in fact, but in this video about how a magical pink lip gloss makes everything okay, she actually seems more self-assured than that setup might make you think. Plus, the supremely minimal backing track (just a stomp and a clap) is a showcase for her very real vocal skills
6. Ulrich Schnauss feat. Judith Beck - "Stars" (from Goodbye, out July 10th on Domino) (mp3 via Use Your Faults, Use Your Defects)
This German artist put out one of my favorite albums of 2003, the neo-electronica-meets-My Bloody Valentine-fuzz A Strangely Isolated Place. This preview track from his long-awaited followup shows a more mature, and dare I say accessible, style
This is so wrong. The FDA is entertaining a "citizen's petition" to allow chocolate manufacturers to substitute cheap vegetable oil for cocoa butter, and pass it off as chocolate. Citizens petition my ass. It's straight from the Chocolate Manufacturers Assn., the Grocery Manufacturers Assn., the Snack Food Assn. and the National Cattlemen's Beef Assn. Straight from K Street.
In an effort to "put web attractions in print" and reinvent notions of what a traditional newspaper provides, the new and free publication BostonNOW is grabbing up bloggers that will produce content for print.
BostonNOW is funded by an Icelandic company, Dagsbrun, that hopes to have NOW papers in eight to ten different cities in two years, with every one built from the bottom-up or from the blog-up.
"It will be fun," Editor-in-Chief John Wilpers told NPR. It will also be a chance for bloggers and maybe even self-described "sloggers" who blog about their sex lives to see their name in print and potentially reach a wider audience. Initially bloggers will comprise about 10 percent of the paper's content, but the plan is to expand that to as much as 50 percent. Whether or not the blogs will be uninformed columns, personal diatribes or quick, informed snippets remains to be seen.
Wilpers is right, it probably will be fun. It will also be cheap. Bloggers won't be paid, although a business model that could pay bloggers is allegedly being developed. So is this the latest in crowd sourcing? Probably. Could it be a great strategy for providing fresh, irreverent content? Maybe.
If you're going to use electricity tonight, you may as well do it watching Sundance Channel's new green living show, "Big Ideas for a Small Planet" (9 p.m. E/P).
In true Sundance tradition, "Big Ideas" is a series of short documentaries. But they're not the drab, depressing kind. Instead, they feature cutting-edge technologies and brilliant inventors bent on saving the earth.
Each episode has a theme, and tonight's is alternative fuels. You'll meet a couple who'll retrofit your gas-guzzling vintage ride into a clean machine, see an Indy 500 driver get better torque and pull using ethanol, and feel the rush with a monster trucker who fries chicken and then uses the grease as gas. These are people who don't just "talk the talk" about being green; they "drive the drive," as one quips. (That this first episode is about alternative fuels and a later one is about green vehicles is probably no coincidence: the show is "sponsored by Lexus," who has a new hybrid SUV on the market.)
The series doesn't end when you click off the TV. "Big Ideas" is just part of a larger line of programming, web features, and blogs called "The Green." Viewers can check out easy tips for green living, watch video clips, or learn more about environmental issues on "The Green" section of Sundance Channel's site, for which TreeHugger provided much of the content.
But lest you think Sundance the only cable channel targeting green viewers, the Discovery Channel is launching an entire network devoted to everyday green living next year.
Interestingly-designed web site truthout.org has a cool video of Willie Nelson, fresh from his appearance on the "Colbert Report" (and subsequent appearance atop the Party Ben Top 10), giving a speech at the Camp Casey Peace Awards in Austin last week. The awards are named in honor of Cindy Sheehan's son, who was killed in Iraq three years ago. The clip shows the 73-year-old country legend has only grown more outspoken with age, saying "I just love a revolution," to cheers from the crowd.
In the followup interview, Nelson talks about how he manages to express progressive viewpoints while holding onto his conservative fan base, something that, as a radical former Nebraskan, I'm pretty much in awe of. "I stay with the traditions of country music," he says, "so in that respect I think I'm pretty conservative." It's a reminder that the kinds of things Nelson is talking about -- dedication to American farmers, opposition to nation-building foreign policy, support for the freedom to, uh, smoke weed, without government interference in your personal choices -- are actually kind of conservative too. Huh.
Willie Nelson's upcoming tour dates include three more nights at the Fillmore here in San Francisco (through Thursday 4/19), then he hits the main stage at Coachella on 4/29, its country sister festival Stagecoach the next weekend, and the Crossroads Guitar Festival in Illinois on 7/28.
Snoop Dogg told MTV that Imus deserved to be fired but rappers can keep talking about "ho's." That's because the Rutgers players are upwardly-mobile athletes, Snoop said, but rappers are referring to "ho's that's in the 'hood that ain't doing sh--."
"It's a completely different scenario," said Snoop. "[Rappers] are not talking about no collegiate basketball girls who have made it to the next level in education and sports. We're talking about ho's that's in the 'hood that ain't doing sh--, that's trying to get a n---a for his money. These are two separate things. First of all, we ain't no old-ass white men that sit up on MSNBC going hard on black girls. We are rappers that have these songs coming from our minds and our souls that are relevant to what we feel. I will not let them mutha----as say we in the same league as him."
So I guess slurs are fine as long as they come straight from the heart.
But seriously, listen to Gwen Ifill on Meet the Press yesterday, via Feministing. (When Ifill was a New York Times reporter, Imus called her "the cleaning lady.") It's great to see her look straight at David Brooks and Tim Russert when she talks about complicity--among journalists who appeared regularly on the show--in a culture of "casual slurs and insults."
Towleroad points out today that writer Michelangelo Signorile has given the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation some guff on his blog, "The Gist." The organization has become known for its annual media awards ceremonies, the most recent of which took place Saturday night in Los Angeles. I've got nothing against awards shows, I guess, but lately GLAAD's have started to seem like less like celebrations of still-rare queer representation, and more like opportunities for (apparently?) heterosexual stars to access the gay demographic. Saturday's honorees included a "vanguard" award to Jennifer Aniston, as well as "outstanding individual episode" of a TV show to "Grey's Anatomy." Maybe they were trying to be funny with that last one?
Yes, yes, you're saying, "in other news: Pope Catholic." I'm sure the Mother Jones editors are like "what kind of dimwitted yokel is this so-called Party Ben, sullying our esteemed web site with blather about the latest stoner cartoon." Indeed. But in my defense, "Aqua Teen Hunger Force," the show, was at one point the funniest, oddest thing on television, belying its rep as "TV for slackers" with rapid-fire dialog that rewarded repeat viewings. Like "Monty Python," the best episodes built a bizarro world of utter nonsense, but then respected this world's inner logic, and pushed the rules to their logical, insane conclusions. The strange format of 12- or 13-minute episodes made the action dense and rollicking, like a great comic short story.
9. The Glass "Come Alive" (mp3)
The NYC electro duo comes back with a more mainstream sound reminiscent of Tiga and fellow New Yorkers The Rapture. Grab an mp3 of it (and a cool DJ set from them) at Spinner here
8. Cover art for Bright Eyes Cassadaga, new album on Saddle Creek
Yes, fine, it's Omaha's finest singer-songwriter with a more "Americana" style album. Whatever. But duuude, check out this cover art, it's all like black and white static, but you pull out the included magic view screen, and it turns into pictures of crazy stuff! How do they do that?
7. DJ Axel Breakin' the Law (self-released album)
LA's Peter Axelrad has quietly become one of the most consistent mash-up producers out there, with flawless and crowd-pleasing DJ sets; this collection of tracks is augmented by brilliant, Sgt. Peppers-inspired cover art
6. Bjork "Earth Intruders" (from the forthcoming album Volta, out May 7 on Atlantic)
This Timbaland-produced single underwhelmed me at first, but after a week of hearing it around town, it's wormed its way into my brain. With its clompy drums and space-alien perspective, it's oddly similar both sonically and lyrically to Bjork's first solo single, "Human Behavior," and almost equally charming
OK, so anyone who has been paying serious attention will know that I'm late: the Texas Observer's Molly Ivins Tribute issue was published in February. But I just got mine in the San Francisco mail yesterday -- via Pony Express from Austin, I guess -- and, just in case you missed it too, I am telling everyone I know: Do yourself a favor and get a copy while they last. Even if you don't need a pick-me-up today or tomorrow, the day will surely come that you do, and this issue has some inspiring and potent juju.
Of all the stray and stringy indy journalism dogs that Molly adopted (and Mother Jones was one), The Texas Observer was the one closest to her heart. She was co-editor there from 1970 to 1976, and more to the point of this story, she was in these last few years driven to get this feisty, important and perpetually strapped publication on its financial feet. Last fall, she even subjected herself to a Molly Ivins "barbeque" (AKA, roast) to raise some important money. The Observer had been challenged to match a $500,000 grant to ramp up their reporting and, indeed, with Molly inspiring large gifts and small, they made the match: The money will support a serious expansion of the magazine's investigative reporting for the next two years. (Anyone who reads the business pages should have already noted that the total amount raised there -- huge by the standards of indy media -- equates to 1/300th of Larry Ellison's yacht and is 1/54th what Goldman Sachs' CEO took home last year. I suppose the justice is that getting paid even measly wages for doing butt-kicking journalism is just more damn fun.) But I digress.
The Molly Tribute issue has contributions from lots of people you've heard of (Bill Moyers, Maya Angelou, Jim Hightower, Garrison Keillor, and Dan Rather among them) and lots that I hadn't, and it's all really, really good, that sweet combination of tears and laughter and Texas that truly honors Molly's life and spirit. Typical of us bleeding-heart liberal publications, the Observer has gone and underpriced it: It's available online for a mere $5. But you know what you need to do: when you go to the Observer's site to get your copy (and do it now -- I'm told they're down to fewer than 1,000 copies), also click on the button to make a contribution to the Molly Ivins Investigative Fund.
Help those heroes and heroines at the Observer keep fightin' for freedom! (I'm telling you, you'll love that Tribute issue.)