Hiding in a dark tank in the Reptile House, the Alligator Snapping Turtle provides a creepy visit for anybody who wanders by the glass unsuspectingly. It typically sits quietly submerged, mouth open, waiting for a stray snack to swim into its mouth. To the casual passerby, it is difficult to distinguish the turtle from the branches and other habitat items in the dark water. However, once the turtle is recognized, the reaction tends to be the same: a few steps are taken backwards, a few gasps are made, and occasionally a shiver of horror can be observed.
Giving it more attention than most people, I’ve on occasion been able to lure the Alligator Snapping Turtle into biting at my finger on the opposite side of the glass. Moving around like a fish or insect, it can’t resist the urge to snap at me. The execution of the powerful jaws biting is quite a sight, even if I do feel a little bad for being a jerk and tricking the turtle into thinking I’m food…at least, food he has a chance at catching.
Genesis – Watcher of the Skies: Me thinks this might be a chronologically-moving-forward day for the Random Eight.
Deerhoof – Spiral Golden Town: Deerhoof at their upbeat, yet offbeat, best.
Liars – Every Day is a Child With Teeth: From a split CD with Oneida…what a fantastic pairing.
The Kinks – Tired of Waiting: Regressing back a few years.
Junkie XL – No Remorse: From the bouncy early days, this is a fun live tune from the Saturday Teenage Kick ep.
The Red Krayola – Magnificence as Such: Mellow, jazzy tune.
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan – Magic Touch: Light, accessible song from Fateh Ali Khan.
Pink Floyd – The Show Must Go On: Someday I’m going to listen to The Wall on the iPod.
Still getting some mileage from the National Zoo visit a few weeks ago.
In case we missed you, Merry Christmas from Fertanish and 16 furry legs.
I was in a lengthy dB’s phase back when I was in college. For as much as I liked The dB’s, I was oddly a slow adopted of their music; Repercussion was my introduction to the band, but left me rather unimpressed. The band’s debut, Stands for Decibels, soon followed to my attention, but was somehow even worse to my ears. But as Peter Holsapple’s clever songwriting and Chris Stamey’s twangy guitar and great vocals earwormed in brain, The dB’s collection on the CD shelf evolved into one of my most-liked plays, as did Chris Stamey’s solo albums.
Living in rural central Pennsylvania at the time, I would scan The New Yorker magazine weekly to see what shows and culture I was missing from my dismal college apartment. When I saw a small-type announcement that Chris Stamey was playing at The Fez one summer evening, I tried desperately to convince myself that I could lead my ancient car on a four-hour journey into a city I had never visited to see his show. Alas, I was too cowardly to make the journey, although I did have the intoxicated nerve to call the club at two in the morning, ask to speak to Chris, and tell him I wish I could have been at the gig. It was probably the best use I ever had for a phone.
A few months later, on the threshold of December, The New Yorker announced Chris Stamey’s return, this time with a group of friends who would be supporting the holiday release, Christmas Time. With inexplicable greater faith in my old car, I rounded up three friends, one who had actually lived in Manhattan for a number of years, to take the journey with me. Through Friday night rush hour (and beyond) traffic, I aggressively (that is to say, terrifically recklessly) flew along side cabs and other maniacs on the roads and eventually handed my keys over to a parking garage attendant who laughed at me, obviously recognizing the fear in my eyes that I was never going to see my car again.
The Holiday Hayride had a remarkable cast of characters. With Stamey front and center, other dB’ers filled the stage, as did Syd Straw, Ted Lyons, and other folks I can’t remember now. They ripped through a variety of traditional and poppy Christmas tunes, adding that southern-indie rock sound that all the folks on stage were famous for. It was goofy and fun; while not terribly well-received by the club’s patrons, there was little to distract from my enjoyment. Syd Straw pulled out a popular tune, slightly modified to fit the holiday theme (I’m always Touched by Your Presence (or, in this case, Presents), Dear); Stamey added a slow, compelling version of his solo tune, “Oh Yeah,” and Ted Lyons led the tune, “The Only Law that Santa Claus Understood,” that I sometimes think might have been the precursor to Futurama’s robotic, killer Santa. We drank over-priced Guinesses, took souvenir Fez matchbooks, and awkwardly hid a crummy tape recorder I used to bootleg the show.
It is this awful recording, eighteen years after the fact, that popped up on a torrent forum today to rush the memories of this evening into my head. As I parked the car (returned to me from the attendant no worse than I left it) near my apartment and trudged home as the sun was beginning to rise that chilly morning after the show, I didn’t realize it would be the first of many lengthy road trips to see concerts in the following years (although it was the last time I would drive all night to get home instead of getting a room near the location of the show). But I have to admit, I was almost appalled when I saw the name and date of that show pop up on my computer screen and realized just how long it had been since I thought of that fun night. I’m still in contact with two of the good friends I had that night (and it would be wrong of me to not promote Garret’s music here). I’ve lost touch with the third, our native New Yorker who showed remarkable confidence in guiding me through the streets while kindly hiding her disapproval of my driving skills through the city. But I’m glad for the revived memory as, for a few moments this holiday season, we are four timeless goofs pulling an all-night road trip just to see some indie performer to kick off that memorable December.
As far as my fandom of Chris Stamey, while my obsession has subsided greatly over the years, I’ve maintained a general interest in his work. I was happy to see Chris and Peter Holsapple play at the local Iota (with completely non-intimidating street parking) a few years ago in support of their recent collaboration. While the music was quieter and poppier than I tend to listen to these days, many tracks, including a fantastic acoustic version of the classic, “Black and White,” made the entire evening for me. Additionally, I’m proud to say I’ve not harassed Stamey by phone after any of his gigs…although I suspect he’s learned to not take phone calls at clubs anymore.
The Residents – Catatonia: Even for The Residents, this one is pretty strange.
Archers of Loaf – Revenge: Rushing in the memories of the Archers’ great show this year.
Tool – Stinkfist: iPod getting angry.
The Kinks – Around the Dial: The iPod love of The Kinks returns with a great song.
Cursive – A Little Song and Dance: …of misery, the title could probably be appended.
Barn Burning – Out of Bounds: I’m not real big into the “alt-country” genre, but I really like Barn Burning for a reason I can’t quite put my finger on.
The Kinks – Little Miss Queen of Darkness: Older, more acoustic Kinks than earlier.
Merzbow – Extract 5: Noise noise noise…but I find it endlessly amusing that, for the Random Eight, the iPod always picks short Merzbow songs instead of the epic 20-40 minute tracks that fill the hard drive.
A very nifty thing about the Small Mammal House at the National Zoo is the rotation of animals to different habitats. The Pale Faced Sakis, one of my favorite visits, were let loose in the largest indoor area, with plenty of trees to jump on, areas to hid, and lots of room to play. They seemed even more happier than usual…albeit harder to get pictures of due to their increased mobility.
This is over six weeks late, but a bit too special to not revive from my memory.
Although greatly overshadowed by Nicole’s appearance on Jeopardy!, one of our exciting plans for October was to see Amon Tobin touring with his remarkable ISAM show. Having been a fan of Tobin’s diverse and remarkable albums for years, I had never seen one of his shows, and was excited when the tour was announced.
But alas, the closest the show as going to appear to us was, on a date we could attend, was in Toronto, a mere 500 miles away. While traveling great distances to see bands is not unheard of in our house – nearly 400 miles for both Tom Waits in Ohio and The Boredoms at ATP a few years ago – I had written off the lengthy travel to see Tobin…until I saw this video:
A few mouse clicks later, we had tickets for the show, and an impromptu vacation to Toronto scheduled.
As the date grew near, I couldn’t help myself but to start viewing samples of the show online from hundreds of smartphone videos. I also became more excited as, city by city, the show sold out, including the Toronto event we were to attend. Most reactions I read online were dumbfounded key-presses of awe, and it started to become obvious that I had not made a mistake in planning the adventure.
On a pleasantly cool Sunday evening, across the Don River from Toronto’s city center, we stood in a line that extended a quiet neighborhood, having paid a fraction of D.C. parking costs, waiting to enter the city’s Opera House. Herded in, the bouncers not even giving us the satisfaction of pretending to check our ID’s, I led us through a nearly completely dark balcony staircase to plant my feet, literally, on what felt like inches of sticky goo in preparation for the show (fair to say, the title “Opera House” was a little misleading).
I won’t deny that, despite the fact I was looking forward to the show tremendously, I was quietly frightened that we were going to be presented to a glorified Laser Floyd show. But as the gigantic stacked-cube structure was exposed and the powerful “Journeyman” song began to pound through the theater, my fears rapidly dissipated. Every detail of the music and visual show was meticulously planned and fantastically executed, leading the crowd through 90 minutes
If Amon Tobin is anything, he must be a perfectionist. Watching the remarkable display over the cube structure, while Tobin himself hid in the center of it all only occasionally made visible at points throughout the show, I could hardly imagine the amount of effort that must have been involved in designing each synchronized visual to the live, DJ’ed audio. Perhaps the reason I haven’t documented the experience for nearly two months since it occurred is that it is nearly indescribable; while I can listen to Amon Tobin’s music for hours without the aid of any other sensory influence, the combination of his cube design and the fantastic music was simply overwhelming, if not nearly impossibly to relay in words.
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of videos of the tour on YouTube, as well as some fantastic stills from this source. They may never convey the experience of being immersed in Amon Tobin’s limitless creativity, but hopefully they’ll cause some folks to purchase the remarkable ISAM album.
If you have cats, you know this “leave me alone, I’m sleeping” look. I only bothered the mongoose for a moment.
Love Spit Love – St. Mary’s Gate: I’m not sure what put this mid-90′s chestnut in my head, but the somewhat-harsher-than-the-Furs Richard Butler project than ran two albums jumped into my head recently and I ripped the tracks just last week, apparently to the iPod’s enjoyment.
Walt Mink – Tree in Orange: Quieter tune from the often manic band.
Squarepusher – Two Bass Hit: Perhaps more songs should have self-descriptive titles.
Ministry – Reload: At their screamiest.
Neil Young – Nobody’s Story: Dialog from the movie Dead Man with Young’s rough guitar in the background.
Thymme Jones – The Accident: The piano / vocal release from the mind behind Cheer Accident.
Tom Waits – The Last Rose of Summer: By the chill here this morning, I think that rose is long gone.
Rollerskate Skinny – One Thousand Couples: One of my favorite lesser-known listens.
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The Older Blog
Something OffSomething Off
There is no hole deep enough to stifle the sound of protest
There is no man ridiculous enough to quiet the world
Maria Alyokhina must be freed
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova must be freed
Viet Khang must be freed
Tran Vu Anh Binh must be freed
Vladimir Putin there is something off in your world
Truong Tan Sang there is something off in your world
I hope so
Contemplating Silent Wishes
Contemplating Silent Wishes, the second release from Fertanish, presents minimalist, experimental rhythms and sounds that patiently travel through a complicated and mesmerizing composition.
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