Dedicated to classics and hits.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Book Review: Pamela by Samuel Richardson

Samuel Richardson













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This is one of those books that people should take some time to read solely for it's historical significance, since it truly is a touchstone in the development of the novel as a distinct literary form. Released in 1740, it created a tidal wave of what we would now characterize as "media attention" and "popularity." Pamela was the right book at the right time and this confluence of time/place/text adds importance to the book itself.

The author, Samuel Richardson, was a commoner, without the aristocratic background of his rival, Henry Fielding or contemporary Tobias Smolett:

UNLIKE his great contemporary and rival, Henry
Fielding, Samuel Richardson could boast of no connection, however remote, with an aristocratichouse. He himself has informed us that he came
of a family " of middling note," in the county of Surrey, from which we may conjecture that his ancestors were small landed gentry or respectable yeomen.
(Samuel Richardson
By Clara Linklater Thomson
)

   Thomson's biography mentions that in the 1740's, people were still a tad fuzzy on the concept of a fictional story, "Richardson was at once overwhelmed with letters from eager readers who longed to know
whether the story was true." (Thomson, Samuel Richardson) It is against this back drop that you need to consider the development of the english novel as a real step forward in terms of the cultural sophistication of the readers. You can literally see the human mind moving away from the simplicity of the middle ages (and its literary forms.)

I think it's fair to say that the contribution of Pamela, in a nut shell, is the depth of psychological complexity of the characters. That is what the novel is all about: adding psychological depth to the depiction of character.

And so it is that the reader finds himself/herself relating to these characters, written three hundred plus years ago. Pamela tells the story of Pamela Edwards, a serving girl of 16. Her mistress dies and his son takes over the estate. The son has a thing for Pamela, so after she rejects a couple clumsy advances, he does what any 18th century nobleman would do: Has her kidnapped and imprisoned at his remote estate.

Now, anyone reading the above will understand that the activities depicted aren't in any way contemporary, but the depiction of character is. What we are witnessing in Pamela is the birth of literary consciousness of self and identity. It's interesting to read about but at the same time at 500 pages Pamela turns into a slog at time. You can see where it is an EARLY version of the novel as literary form- sine there is a resolution/climax half way through the book, followed by 200 pages of material that would no doubt not reach print these days.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Book Reviews: The Road by Cormac McCarthy & Roderick Random by Tobias Smollet

"The Road to Leenane"the road


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If there is one thing I've learned from reading several 18th century classics of British literature: The English novel basically owes its existence to Don Quixote by Cervantes. I'm talking about the style of narrative called the "picaresque." You can define it in terms of Don Quixote or in more general terms as, "The English-language term can simply refer to an episodic recounting of the adventures of an anti-hero on the road."

The style continues to hold its power: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson. On the Road, maybe? It's a style of novel. It's important to focus on the generic forms of novelistic style, because if you happen to be a kick-ass writer like Cormac McCarthy you can set that shit in a post apocalyptic wasteland and forget the punctuation and score a Pulitzer in... 2006. Winner! The Road is in fact being made into a movie as we speak. It could be great like No Country for Old Men, or terrible like "the Postman" a sci-fi variation on the exact same story (but different) that was a decent piece of genre fiction and a TERRIBLE movie starring Kevin Costner.

Roderick Random is an example of the style at the very beginning: It is the anti-hero/hero on the road having adventures. Roderick is a bastard nobel man, raised in Scotland. He's well educated but poor, and he spends the rest of the novel trying to get paid circa 1740 or so. It's a delirious, exhausting ride. It's also four hundred pages long and written in 18th style language.

The Road, on the other hand, is practically a short story. I read it in 2 hours? It won the Pulitzer Prize AND was a pick for Oprah's Book Club in 2007. A film adaptation of the novel is currently in production. It is directed by John Hillcoat and written by Joe Penhall. The film stars Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee as the Man and the Boy, respectively. It's a really big deal, in other words.

But it's basically a picaresque focusing on an unnamed protagonist and his son. It's set in a post-apocalyptic version of the south eastern states of the east coast. It is probably the best piece of post apocalyptic literature ever. However it's the way it ties together genre fiction premise with a hallowed literary form and impeccable craftsmanship that makes it a classic.

It's amazing to be talking about two novels with a similar narrative shape that exist three centuries apart. It's pretty cool if you stop and think about it. The form actually influences the way people think about life. Read one, then the other. Post apocalyptic.

That's not to say that Roderick Random lacks any comic chops. The funniest part in the whole book comes at around p. 225 when Doctor Wagtail shows up. (GOOGLE LIBRARY RODERICK RANDOM FULL TEXT) He is a ridiculous fop.

While he thus indulged his own talkative vein, and at the same
time, no doubt, expected a retaliation from me, a young man
entered, dressed in black velvet and an enormous tie-wig, with an
air in which natural levity and affected solemnity were so jumbled
together, that on the whole he appeared a burlesque on all decorum.
This ridiculous oddity danced up to the table at which we sat, and
after a thousand grimaces, asked my friend, by the name of Mr.
Medlar, if we were not engaged on business.


That is the description of a ridiculous fop circa 1740s-50s, whatever. That's modern fashion society nearly three centuries ago. Anyway, the form allows you to explore a wide varieties of events within a single work. It's the kind of story people want to hear. It's as basic as "travelling on a boat." You just take an interesting dude and spool him through a series of locations and interactions. Simple. Both Roderick Random and The Road are excellent examples, separated by time.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

October November 2008: Crime Blog

Operation Candystore Less Delicious Than Advertised

Vancouver skylineVancouver Skyline

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Personally, I was expecting a lot more deliciousness from a law enforcement project named "Operation Candystore." It's just your run-of-the-mill Mexican/Vietnamese/White drug trade between So Cal and Canada. And by Canada I mean "Vancouver." Whenever I hear about Canada-U.S. cross border traffic I'm thinking, "Vietnamese organized crime involved, perhaps?" The two biggest Vietnamese ex pat communities live in Orange County & Vancouver. I just made that detail up, fyi.

Nathan Lineham, of Newport Beach, was just one player in an import-export drug-trafficking ring that brought ecstasy and marijuana to the U.S. from Canada and sent cocaine back across the border, prosecutors say.

Four years ago, Lineham's company developed a way to keep personal information on BlackBerrys secure, the site claims. The phones were marketed to individuals and companies looking to secure privacy.

But Lineham also was marketing the devices to drug traffickers and using them in his own drug business, prosecutors said. Intercepted messages let investigators construct a detailed portrait of the operation, from the date and time of shipments to the type of container it was in.

The investigation, dubbed "Operation Candystore," led to the seizure of money and drugs, including 60-kilogram and 35-kilogram shipments of cocaine.
(LOS ANGELES TIMES)

The thing to focus on in this case is the following sentence:

An import-export drug-trafficking ring that brought ecstasy and marijuana to the U.S. from Canada and sent cocaine back across the border.


This is how it works- you send kilos of cocaine up to Canada for retail distribution and you get back ecstasy and high power "BC Bud" in return. It works for both groups, because drug laws are a joke in Canada, and in the U.S. weed is easier to deal with then cocaine, which is high stakes. The units of measurement are kilos for the cocaine and thousand pill bags of ecstasy. Ecstasy isn't as popular as it once was, I think they just throw that in there. It's basically coke for weed swapping. The Vietnamese handle the importation from Canada and then they swap with reps from the Cartel in Southern California.

For laughs, here is the website of Nathanael Lineham, "The Datalocking Company."

Conviction Reversed for Sex Chat with "Teen"


I love to sit on the computer!Ahm Nora13queen coom chat wiz me
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People who spend their time on-line luring adults into "relationships" with "13 year old girls" are pretty much as bad as the people they lure, in my mind.  What kind of sick fuck spends their time "protecting" children by posing as a 13 year old girls and engaging in soft core porn talk?  Try volunteering at an orphanage, asshole.

It's good to see a court of appeals overturning at least one of these oft-ridiculous convictions:


The crime requires prosecutors show that someone did more than just have a sexually explicit chat with a minor. To be found guilty, someone must show their intent to have sex by doing such things as purchasing condoms or driving to the minor’s home.

Olson challenged his conviction, saying prosecutors never proved his intent. They argued that sending video of himself shirtless — and Olson’s history of having sex with adults he met through online chatting — satisfied the requirement. A Wood County judge agreed.

The appeals court overturned that decision Thursday, ruling that Olson’s video was part of the chat and not a separate act that showed his intent. The ruling means Olson can withdraw his plea.

The court rejected the state’s argument that the video was an attempt to entice the minor and groom her for sex.

‘‘We fail to discern a difference between Olson’s use of the webcam and Olson describing his appearance during his already ongoing chat,’’ Judge Paul Lundsten wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel. ‘‘Olson’s use of his webcam to transmit video of himself was, under the circumstances of this case, nothing more than the use of his computer to communicate with nora13queen.’’
(CHICAGO SUN TIMES)

Hey- way to go.  This law enforcement trend is a absurd.  Most of these guys have no criminal history, and the fact that they are actually chatting with an adult pretending to be a child is just crazy.  "Nora13queen"?  Could they pick a more fake screen name for a 13 year old girl?  She sounds like a Hollywood screenwriter who writes teen scripts for WB shows.


Fluffy Bunny Crew Troubles Phoenix Cops

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Is there anything more annoying then privileged whites affecting the behaviors of ethnically based street gangs?  Not to defend ethnically based street gangs, but if you grow up in urban areas like South Los Angeles, East Oakland or the Bronx, it's easy to see how you could become embroiled in gang activity at a young age.  There can be no similar justification for these suburban "crews."   Take, for example, the Phoenix based "Fluffy Bunny Crew."

The Fluffy Bunny Crew, a street gang, was formed years ago on upscale high-school campuses in the northeast Valley. Members of the predominantly White gang of suburban young people first attracted police attention by mugging classmates at northeast Phoenix parties. During the past two years, they have evolved from a party crew into a street gang known for armed robberies, drug deals and violent crime, police say.

Phoenix police Lt. Larry Giebelhausen said investigators at the Desert Horizon Precinct want more parents to be aware of the gang that started as a joke before escalating into a public-safety threat.

"They're getting more and more violent," said Giebelhausen, adding that the Fluffy Bunny Crew is now a recognized Arizona street gang. Members boast about their exploits or "Web bang" on social-networking sites, where they challenge police and threaten rival gangs and members of the public.

"These guys are moving more and more into traditional gang crimes. We have drug transactions on a regular basis."

Non-Hispanic White gangs are rare, according to the National Youth Gang Center, an organization that compiles gang-related statistics from law-enforcement agencies across the U.S.

The organization estimated that 49 percent of gang members in the U.S. were Hispanic and 34 percent were Black. Nearly 10 percent were non-Hispanic White, the group said.

Bruce Ferrell, president of the Midwest Gang Investigators Association, said he noticed a rise in gangs similar to the Fluffy Bunny Crew in Omaha, Neb., where he worked as a gang-intelligence investigator.

"The biggest problem is we undercut and minimize what these kids are about."

Wrong, I think the biggest problem is that law enforcement in these suburban areas are a bunch of rubes, and the feds in these geographical areas have bigger fish to fry, i.e. real street gangs and non-gang violent organized crime. In other words, "Hey- you've got a home invasion robbery- go solve the damn crime instead of complaining to the news paper about these so-called 'gangs.'  Try putting some of these guys in prison and see how long the "gang" holds up."

In California, they call these "emerging" or "undocumented" gangs.  The use of the word "crew" is telling- it shows a lack of awareness of the group as an organized entity by both law enforcement AND the public.  You don't say "the latin kings crew."  It's just "the latin kings."  Or, to take another example, you don't say "West Coast Crips gang," just "West Coast Crips."

What about this "statistic":

The organization estimated that 49 percent of gang members in the U.S. were Hispanic and 34 percent were Black. Nearly 10 percent were non-Hispanic White, the group said.


That leaves only 7% for everything else:  Asians, Pacific Islanders, Eastern Europeans, South Americans.  Sounds fishy to me.

Operation Pay Cut Targets South Texas to Atlanta Drug Trafficking Organization

THIS STORY: OPERATION PAY CUT
Operation Pay Cut: A T L Edition(CAT DIRT SEZ)

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"Operation Pay Cut" better or worse name then "Project Reckoning?" Both targeted the South Texas to Atlanta drug trafficking corridor- or d.t.c. I propose a campaign that focuses entirely on the transportation of narcotics on interstate freeways- focus on the d.t.c.'s: los angeles to houston, san diego to los angeles, houston to atlanta, atlanta to new york city- etc. Hub and spokes. Intercepting shipments on the highway is the highest reward/lowest risk- just seizing the drugs in large enough quantities is useful, even without sending people to prison.

Dubbed "Operation Pay Cut," the two-year investigation targeted the finances of drug smuggling organizations operating between Atlanta and cities such as McAllen, Brownsville and Mission. Federal agencies outlined their case in three separate indictments unsealed Wednesday in federal court in Atlanta.

Among those indicted locally is Emmanuel Sanchez, a former Hidalgo County sheriff's deputy, who was stopped by Georgia State Police outside Atlanta in 2006 and found to be carrying almost $1 million hidden in the doors of his truck.

Sanchez, 48, of Mission, allegedly flashed his badge in an attempt to avert further investigation, authorities there said at the time.
(MCALLEN MONITOR)

Here's what I say: The drugs HAVE to move in a concealed fashion in the U.S.- they can't move it in machine gun guarded convoys.

Also, using your fake/real sheriff's badge only works if they aren't tapping your phones.

Three indictments means either three different cells, or two cells and money launderer or one cell and two money launderers.

Head of Sinaloa Cartel Operations in Nicaragua Arrested


Ometepe, NicaraguaNicaragua

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After a police action called Operation Trojan completed in different parts of Nicaragua, authorities in that country identified the Mexican Martin Lugo Lucio as the alleged "kingpin" drug dealer who ran a center for collecting drug dismantled in recent days Managua.

In a communique, the police released the results of Operation Trojan, made from 27 to Oct. 30 in different parts of the country and which led to the capture of 18 alleged drug traffickers, including Mexican Lugo Lucio, three Hondurans and a Salvadoran.

According to the police spokesman, Commissioner Vilma Reyes, Lugo is presumed that Lucio was in charge of a storage site belonging to drug cartel in Sinaloa, which he Nicaraguan police dismantled a logistics base last year.

During Operation Trojan, "the police conducted raids and arrests in Managua, in Yalagüina (north), Chinandega (northwest) and Penas Blancas (south), where they seized 42.6 kilos of cocaine, 367 thousand 660 U.S. dollars, ten vehicles Three buildings and weapons, the report said.
(EL UNIVERSAL ENGLISH TRANSLATION)

Gulf Cartel Honcho Arrested in Reynosa Mexico


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You know, the Mexican dailies do a pretty good job keeping up with the latest news on the Mexican fight against the drug cartels.  Note how they got him on a highway- transportation is the most vulnerable part of any large scale enterprise.  That's why I think that anti-drug law enforcement should focus on a "free way" strategy and basically ignore the suppression of supply or diminishing of demand.  

Facts:
1. People are going to make drugs.
2. People are going to use drugs.
3. Drugs need to be moved from the producer to the consumer, money need to be moved from the consumers to the producers.
4. It is impossible for criminals to 'secure' the international passage of drugs- they need to be 'hidden.'

You don't need to put anyone in jail if you just take the drugs and the money.  For example, Colombia produced 535 tons of cocaine- that is 535,000 kilograms.  That all has to be transported to either the United States or Europe.  If you stop the movement, everything else goes away.  What can drug traffickers do? We also need to take advantage of the fact that Mexico is a much more functional state then ANY of the cocaine growing countries- Colombia? Bolivia? Please.  Just flush our aid money down the toilet.

Antonio Coronado Galarza, 'The Yellow', alleged leader of the Gulf cartel in the city of Reynosa, Tamaulipas, was arrested yesterday.

The arrest took place in the vicinity of the National highway to Reynosa, Monterrey, where federal troops stopped the vehicle Ford Lobo, black, model 2009, without plates movement, which was led by Antonio Coronado Galarza, who also he was nicknamed 'El Tigre'.


Texas Syndicate Member Pleads to Being Zeta Hit Man




Texas Syndicate Gang Logo




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A tactic that originated in the San Diego area(?): Mexican drug cartel's using American gang members as assassins- has spread to the Rio Grande Valley.  Typically in the case of San Diego- the American gang member was used in Mexico, here it appears to be a straight up contract killing:

A man police have tied to the Texas Syndicate pleaded guilty Tuesday to murdering two people who were Zeta targets.

Juan Manuel Marquez Rodriguez pleaded guilty to the murders of Julio A. Serrano and Michael Lopez in exchange for a 20-year prison sentence.

Marquez Rodriguez, 27, and other members of the Texas Syndicate plotted in December 2006 to kidnap Serrano, a 19-year-old Sinaloa Cartel hit man, on behalf of the Zetas, the branch of the Gulf Cartel that controls most of the drug trafficking in this area, according to a criminal complaint filed by Laredo police.

Miguel "40" Treviño Morales and Ivan "El Taliban" Velasquez Caballero wanted Serrano delivered to them in Nuevo Laredo, according to the complaint.

Serrano was involved with a woman Velasquez had dated, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation.

When Marquez Rodriguez and his associates arrived at the trailer Serrano was living in on Gallagher Avenue, Serrano tried to flee and Marquez Rodriguez shot and killed him, according to the criminal complaint.

Well, it didn't have the panache of your typical Zeta "grenades from the fourth story of a downtown hotel" attack, but what can you expect.  Also- who wants to bet he's co-operating and that had something to do with the recent Texas Syndicate take-down in... Texas, of course.


Nogales Police Chief Slain


Who killed him?  Sinaloa Cartel?  
Gunmen killed a state police chief in the Mexican border city of Nogales.

Sonora police director Juan Manuel Pavon Felix was riddled with bullets as he entered a hotel Sunday night with his bodyguard and other officers, according to a statement from the state investigative police office.

The statement said Pavon had just finished directing police operations in the city.

Leader of the Zetas Captured by Mexican Feds


The Zetas- the enforcement wing of the Gulf Cartel and the most murderous paramilitary force in Mexico.

The Federal Preventive Police reported that it captured in Tamaulipas Jaime Gonzalez Duran, aka The Hummer, who is alleged founder of the group of hitmen known as Los Zetas.

In a press conference being held in the hangar of the Federal Preventive Police, the interim commissioner of this organization, Rodrigo Esparza, was on hand to present to the media at Hummer who operated in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, and is linked to Heriberto Lazcano aka The Lazca, leader of the Gulf Cartel.

In a press conference the official said that this arrest will tone for the capture of other members of that group arm of the Gulf Cartel.

The Hummer is considered one of the main contributors to Heriberto Lazcano and Miguel Trevino Morales, aka the L-40, leaders of Los Zetas.

Rodrigo Esparza announced that Jaime Gonzalez Duran caused high in the Mexican Army and Air Force on Nov. 15, 1991.The deserted on February 24, 1999 and joined Arturo Guzman Tens and Heriberto Lazcano to be part of the Gulf Cartel's arm as executor.

He was recruited by Osiel Cardenas Guillen, The Kills friends, and one of his first tasks was to escort Cardenas Guillen.

It was responsible for the executions of members of other criminal organizations to be carried out by the square of Reynosa, Tamaulipas, where it currently had its operations center.

Until his arrest, controlled operations in the states of Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Michoacan, Hidalgo, Veracruz, Tabasco, Quintana Roo, Mexico State and Federal District, reporting directly to Heriberto Lazcano.

The Hummer was wanted by the Attorney General of the Republic, by U.S. authorities on charges in the Court of the District of Columbia for the crimes of conspiracy, manufacturing and distribution of cocaine.


The Hummer's Versace Pistol


THIS STORY: CAPTURE OF JAIME "THE HUMMER" GONZALES, ZETA HEAD MAN
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Is there a better symbol of the Mexican Cartel Culture then the above photo?  That gun has "Versace" printed across the bottom of the gold handle.  Super classy.  I want one of those. (LONDON 
TELEGRAPH)

17 of Richmond's Project Trojans Street Gang Arrested

So Deep C was a state operation, Project Trojans is federal. That makes Project Trojans >

A day after alleged members of a central Richmond gang were rounded up by state drug agents, people affiliated with a rival gang in North Richmond were arrested this morning as part of a federal drug investigation, authorities said
The suspects, members or associates of the Project Trojans street gang, were being held on suspicion of a variety of crimes, including murder, assault and drug charges, Terry said.

The arrests came a day after state Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement agents led 200 officers on raids of homes connected to the Deep C or Deep Central gang, which counts Project Trojans as its rival. Police say Project Trojans is responsible for much of the violence in North Richmond.
(SFGATE)

Somali Pirates Hijack Enormous Oil Super Tanker


somali pirateI'm coming out.. I want the World to know...

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The Somali Pirate community has made a play for the big time with the hijacking of an enormous Saudi 'super tanker' filled with oil.  Hell yeah- I'm going to buy some oil in Somalia. Who wants to come? (CNN)

San Diego Cockfighting Arena  Bust!

wOW. Fallbrook cockfighting ring located in an avocado grove?  I'm "all in" on this crime. 25 people detained... how many charged?



FALLBROOK, Calif. -- Authorities have uncovered a cockfighting arena in Fallbrook.

San Diego County Sheriff's Lt. Anthony Ray says deputies responded to a report of roosters crowing at an avocado grove around 10 a.m. Sunday.

When they arrived they found the arena as well as alcohol and food vendors among the trees.

About 100 people ran away as deputies approached.

Some 25 people were detained, along with dozens of vehicles.


Cockfighting Arena Found In Avocado Grove(CHANNEL 10 SAN DIEGO)

It's Harvest Season!


As an advocate for the de-criminalization of marijuana, it pains me to see Mexican drug cartel's so intimately involved in the importation and distribution of mj in the United States, but it's a difficult fact that all proponents of decriminalization of marijuana need to address.  Right now it's "Harvest Season" in Mexico, which means a series of multi-ton seizures along the U.S./Mexico border.  Two or three a week?  Here is yesterday's edition San Diego-style:

SAN DIEGO -- Three motorists were arrested at the San Ysidro Port of Entry Tuesday after service dogs sniffed out a total of nearly 7,600 pounds of marijuana concealed in the men's vehicles, authorities reported.

Inspectors discovered the cannabis hauls around daybreak, over a roughly 30-minute period, according to U.S. Customs and Border Enforcement.

Two of the suspected drug traffickers -- both Mexican nationals -- arrived at the government checkpoint in white vans, CBP spokesman Vince Bond said.

Alerted by a drug-sniffing canine, agents found a total of 415 packages of marijuana hidden in the vehicles.

The illicit cargo weighed a combined 7,338 pounds.

Who do you think that weed belonged to?  A Mexican drug cartel, that's who.  I want to get my own drug-sniffing canine.

Terrorists Kill 16 With Guns n Bombs in Mumbai

MUMBAI, India – Officials and media reports say at least 16 people have been killed and dozens wounded in a series of attacks by terrorist gunmen at seven sites in Mumbai, including two luxury hotels.

The Press Trust of India said at least 16 people were killed in the attacks. Johnny Joseph, chief secretary for Maharashtra, said 90 people had been injured, but refused to say how many had died.

A.N. Roy, a senior police officer, said police were continuing to battle the gunmen.

"The terrorists have used automatic weapons and in some places grenades have been lobbed, the encounters are still going on and we are trying to overpower them," Roy says.
(Yahoo!)

Attacks were reported at the Taj and Oberoi hotels, the popular Café Leopold, and Cama Hospital, and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station.
(CNN)

Mumbai Terrorist Entry:  Ship Hijack. Jet Skis, Murder

The batch of terrorists who reached Mumbai on boats two days ago to execute the worst Terror attack on India had killed and thrown off-board three members of the crew of Kuber, the Indian trawler they hijacked, and beheaded the fourth, Amarsinh Solanki, whom they let live longer to help them with navigation.

Sources have told The Indian Express that reports from Coast Guard authorities said that Solanki’s “headless body” was recovered from the 45-foot trawler about five nautical miles from the Mumbai coast during an aerial recce on the waters of Arabian Sea.

It’s also confirmed that the terrorists got off Kuber and boarded an inflatable dinghy — Gemini craft — which they used to land on Mumbai’s shore. Sources said that one of the terrorists caught is said to have admitted that Kuber had only one Gemini craft on board. “Eight terrorists boarded the craft to reach the shore on Wednesday,” a source said.
(INDIAN EXPRESS)

Captured Terrorist Gives Mumbai Plot Details

In a sensational disclosure made by Ajmal, the jihadi nabbed alive by Mumbai cops, the group had planned to sail out on Thursday. Their recruiters had even charted out the return route for them and stored it on the GPS device which they had used to navigate their way to the Mumbai shoreline.

Ajmal has revealed the name of his fellow jihadis all Pakistani citizens as Abu Ali, Fahad, Omar, Shoaib, Umer, Abu Akasha, Ismail, Abdul Rahman (Bara) and Abdul Rahman (Chhota).

The account of Ajmal also strengthens the doubt of the complicity of powerful elements in the Pakistani establishment. According to him, the group set off on November 21 from an isolated creek near Karachi without the deadly cargo of arms and ammunition they were to use against the innocents in Mumbai. The group received arms and ammunition on board a large Pakistani vessel which picked them up the following day. The vessel, whose ownership is now the subject of an international probe, had four Pakistanis apart from the crew.

A day later, they came across an Indian-owned trawler, Kuber, which was promptly commandeered on the seas. Four of the fishermen who were on the trawler were killed, but its skipper, or tandel in fishermen lingo, Amarjit Singh, was forced to proceed towards India. Amarjit was killed the next day, and Ismail the terrorist who was killed at Girgaum Chowpaty took the wheel.

A trained sailor, Ismail used the GPS to reach Mumbai coast on November 26. The group, however, slowed down its advance as they had reached during the day time while the landing was planned after dusk. The group shifted to inflatable boats, before disembarking at Badhwar Park in Cuffe Parade.

From there, they mandated to kill indiscriminately, particularly white foreign tourists, and spare Muslims split up into five batches. Two of them Ismail and Ajmal took a taxi to Victoria Terminus. Three other batches of two each headed for Oberoi Hotel, Cafe Leopold and Nariman House. The remaining four went to Taj Hotel.

One source in ATS familiar with the details of the interrogation quoted him saying that in all 16 fidayeens came to Mumbai on Wednesday. A native of Faridkot in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), 21-year-old Kasab told police they had done a reccee of Mumbai few months ago. He said he had come along with eight of the operatives to Mumbai as students and lived in a rented room at Colaba market, a stone's throw away from Nariman House.
(TIMES OF INDIA)

Mexican Drug Cartel Violence Unabated

What happened in Mexico this weekend? Well how about ten decapitated corpses found in Tijuana + "A dozen hitmen on Friday opened fire at people dining together at a restaurant in Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, Texas, instantly killing seven of them and fatally wounding another, police said" (Yahoo!)

Oh- and there was an argument-inspired shoot-out among drug traffickers that ended up with 17 people dead (LA CRONICA):

A total of 17 people were killed in a border town with Mexico as a result of a clash between armed men who the police claimed were drug traffickers.

''In the place had a truck registered in Tamaulipas and died inside a rifle with a grenade launcher and an M'', said on Monday the spokesman of Police Donald Gonzalez.

The police version indicates that the incident began on the afternoon of Sunday, when suspected drug traffickers Guatemalans and Mexicans drank in the town of Santa Ana Huista, located 180 kilometers northwest of the capital. The police said that the fight started by disagreement over a bet on a horse race.


Yawn. Just another weekend on the United States/Mexican border.

Cause of Drug Violence in Tijuana Not Inter Arrellano Felix Related

Baja California has suffered a rising wave of homicides, which officials blame on a struggle between rival cells of the Arellano-Felix drug cartel.
(CBS 8 SAN DIEGO)

No: it clearly involves cartels like Sinaloa and the Gulf Cartel- Decapitation is a Zeta trademark, and Sinaloa Cartel will use it, too.

Decapitation details:

The bodies of nine decapitated men were found in a vacant lot in Tijuana Sunday, part of a wave of violence that claimed at least 23 lives over the weekend in this border city plagued by warring traffickers, authorities said.

The heads were discovered in plastic bags near the bodies in a poor neighborhood of Tijuana, across from San Diego, Baja California state police said in a statement. Three police identification cards were also found at the site.


Yikes. Were they police men, then? Decapitation strikes fear into the hearts of others.

Commenter Explains Tijuana Drug Cartel Violence

A commenter left this message after my last Tijuana violence post. I thought it was pretty sensible, so I'm reposting it:

Actually it IS and it is NOT inter-Arellano.

Everything started 4/26/08, The current's "AFO" or "CAF" leader, "El Ingeniero" (nephew to the Arellano Felix Brothers who started it all)sent a large convoy of gunmen to "finish" the growing rampage that one of the Arellano-Felix cartel's Lieutenants (leader for an individual cell) who's nickname is "TEO" "El TRES" "Tres Letras"
identified as Teodoro Garcia Simental had going for months kidnapping and killing at his own will, in other words "EL TEO" became a loose cannon and was growing bigger than the "CAF" itself, or at least was becoming a threat to "CAF".
That night was one of the worst ever in Tijuana, there were over a dozen people killed on the shootout between "Teo's" people and the CAF gunmen.
Neither "TEO" nor any of his major gunmen were killed, they were not present in the shooting.

It is unclear to me wich side had a bigger death toll but both sides were hit hard.
"EL Ingeniero" then made a big mistake:

He forgave TEO and ordered him to leave town, then forgave all of TEO's people and re-adopted them.

3 months ago, TEO came back, (from Sinaloa) only he didnt come alone...
It is said that he brought back people from the Sinaloa cartel with him, with the promise to deliver the city to them after finishing off the Arellano Felix Cartel.
Obviously, his old people went back to him, they never betrayed him.
The late massive acts of Violence in Tijuana are a result of this war for the City, apparently TEO's current plan in action is to kill anyone that has anything to do with the Arellano's from street drug dealers to people involved in their money laundering, anything and everything that smells, tastes, looks, like CAF.
The beheadings and mutilations are an attempt to create fear in those who work for the CAF and that way take over the operations in the city.

Only thing is that CAF has over a decade in the city and they are not leaving without a fight...
<,br>
Personally, I think this is going to take a long time and hundreds more lives before we know who stays and who dies....

Michael Carona Trial: Defense Snookers Prosecution


CaronaCarona.

There is nothing I like more then a good snookering of the prosecution:


Did Debra Hoffman just secure the first "get-out-of-jail-free" card in the Mike Carona corruption trial?

Too soon to tell, but she did a nice Cheshire Cat impression Tuesday afternoon after vacating the defense table for the first time since the trial began in late October. Any why not? The moment she passed by Carona and gave him a smiling "Hey, what can I say?" look, she went from defendant to courtroom spectator.

Minutes earlier, U.S. District Judge Andrew Guilford ruled that she was entitled to a separate trial from Carona at some unspecified date.

Mindful of what her sudden disappearance might mean to jurors waiting to be summoned back to the courtroom, Guilford asked both teams of attorneys, "How should we orchestrate the farewell to Ms. Hoffman?"

Hoffman's attorney, Sylvia Guillen-Torres, suggested that he tell them charges had been dropped. Carona defense attorney Jeffrey Rawitch said, "A small cocktail party?" The two government attorneys weren't nearly as jocular.
(LA TIMES)

A small cocktail party?  That is a quip!




Thursday, September 25, 2008

Book Review: the Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith


RELATED MATERIAL
Oliver Goldsmith: The Critical Heritage by G.S. Rousseau(GOOGLE BOOK SEARCH)
Tom Jones by Henry Fielding, full text.(GOOGLE BOOK SEARCH)
Joseph Andrews by Henry Fielding, Book Review(.CAT DIRT SEZ)
Tale of a Tub by Jonathan Swift, Book Review.(CAT DIRT SEZ)
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel DeFoe, Book Review.(CAT DIRT SEZ)
Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe, Book Review.(CAT DIRT SEZ)

Hey more 18th century English literature!

This book has one big advantage: It's super short- like 200 pages of regular text. It is so, so much easier to read then any of the other books I've read from this period. This is also the only book you will ever read by Oliver Goldsmith. Sorry- it's true. Goldsmith is a kind of Dickensian character- graduated last in his class at Trinity in Dublin, failed as a writer. Luckily he was buddies with Samuel Johnson- it was his intervention that got Vicar published after a two year delay. It was only 10 or so years before he died. He was just a miserable cat, but Vicar of Wakefield has endured, perhaps because of his kind of "celebrity"- an early Kurt Cobain type, but without the suicide.

The story is about a Vicar who loses all his money and has to move to the sticks, where his elder daughter is seduced by the rakish land lord. The Vicar defies the landlord's attempt to prostitute his daughter, and ends up in prison, only to be freed by the villainous landlord's noble Uncle- who had been pretending to be someone else for the whole novel! Typical 18th century plot twist- the appearance of characters in different roles. Can this not be linked to the practice of the theater, where cast members would re appear.

As I said, it reads fast- maybe three hours tops if you just sit down with it. It's a "minor classic."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Book Review: The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling by Henry Fielding

Not this Tom Jones


















PORTRAIT OF HENRY FIELDING





RELATED MATERIAL

Tom Jones by Henry Fielding, full text.(GOOGLE BOOK SEARCH)
Joseph Andrews by Henry Fielding, Book Review(.CAT DIRT SEZ)
Tale of a Tub by Jonathan Swift, Book Review.(CAT DIRT SEZ)
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel DeFoe, Book Review.(CAT DIRT SEZ)
Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe, Book Review.(CAT DIRT SEZ)



The History of Tom Jones
A Foundling by Henry Fielding
originally published 1749

It's been said that Tom Jones could be considered the first novel. I've read the same thing about Moll Flanders, so I don't take such statements very seriously- but the fact is, Tom Jones is one of the first novels. More like two novels- at 7 to 9 hundred pages long, Jones is an epic slog through English society circa 1750.

Whenever you read 18th century literature you need to ask yourself, "Is there some narrative form that this copies of which I am presently unaware?" In the case of Tom Jones, the answer is, "Yes." and that form is Picaresque. The basic idea of picaresque as applied to the novel is "Hero walks around and sees different types of people." Picaresque maintains a fascination with the grotesque and the odd ball- think of Hunter Thompson's characterizations of Vegas Tourists in "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" for a modern analogue.

People often conflate the 18th century with the later Victorian period, but I can assure you that the 18th century was a far bawdier place. Indeed, the early novels: this one, Moll Flanders- Joseph Andrews, all share ribald plot points- both Flanders and Jones have plot points involving explicit allegations of parent/child incest. In Jones, the entire plot revolves around his desire to marry Sophia. That doesn't stop him from banging multiple chicks along the way.

The length of the novel means that Fielding has ample opportunity for human observation, dialect and moral teachings. You simply can't read 18th century British literature without discussing the morality issues. Although it is presently regarded highly for it's historical value, a debate over the artisitic merit is long standing:

Few novels, indeed, have aroused such stark and abiding evaluative disagreements as 'Tom Jones'. From the first, what some readers hailed as a refreshingly broad-spirited tolerance was denounced by others, like Richardson, as moral coarseness and special pleading. Coleridge's admiration for the book's plot (shared by Smollett and Thackeray) as one of the three most perfect in literature ... was the reverse of Dr Johnson's or Frank Kermode's dismissal of it as clockwork. The chatty asides and prefatory discourses which charmed Empson were so disliked by Somerset Maugham that his own edition of 'Tom Jones' simply left the latter out.
(DOREEN ROBERTS, INTRODUCTION TO WORDSWORTH CLASSIC EDITION)

I def. like the "lack of fussiness" that Jones brings to his description. I do agree with Maugham's decision to omit the chatty "prefatory discourses"- I almost never understood what he was talking about.

I very much noticed Fielding's classical education at work. This is a time period when culture fields were establishing new archetypes, independent of Roman/Greece and Renaissance examples but Tom Jones is attached to those traditions more thoroughly then Robinson Crusoe, which exists largely outside of classical reference points and allusions.

Ultimately, the development of the novel as a literary form is all about plot development, and it is for the excellent development here that Jones secures his place in the canon. In the words of Roberts, again:

the main unity-promoting device is the use nearly of all the secondary characters to advance an ethos and illustrate a scheme of moral taxonomy. Fielding's moral vision operates for example between the moral polarities of appearance and reality, action (what one sees) and motive (what one deduces), reasoned principle and instinct, prudence and impulsiveness, and suspicion and trust.


It's the link between the morality lessons and plot points that make a modern novel.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

March through August 2008: Spain, the End of Local Music Coverage

How San Diego Got It's Name a (Horrifying) True Story

From Iberia by James Michener pages 451-453(paperback edition):

To Alcala for their education had been sent three young men, Don Carlos, the son of King Felipe II; Don Juan the bastard brother of the king and therefor half uncle to Don Carlos; and Alexander Farnese, nephew of the King... on the night of April 19th, 1562, young Carlos slipped out of his room to visit the attractive daughter of a porter, and in creeping down the darkened stairs he failed to see that the fifth step was broken and pitched headlong forward, so that his forehead struck a closed door. He was found stretched out unconscious...

After word got out, a strange troupe appeared from a nearby community, a group of peasants who bore the cadaver of one Diego (1400-1463) a Franciscan who had died a century before but whose body had not been contaminated by the grave... The peasants explained the cadaver had already worked miracles in their community and they believed it could save Don Carlos...

When hope was almost gone, the century old cadaver of Fray Diego was placed in bed with Don Carlos while the Fransicans prayed, and in the morning Don Carlos awakened, with clear mind and said that in the night he had seen a Frair in Franciscan habit lying beside him and this had cured him....

In 1588 pope Sixtus announced that Fray Diego obtained Sainthood, and in his honor, a pueblo in the colony of California was some years later named after him.

That's right! San Diego was named after a miracle-working corpse!

APr

Show Review: The Egyptian Lover @ The Habitat House

Show Review: The Egyptian Lover @ The Habitat House

The Egyptian Lover is a legendary electro, proto hip hop dj, producer and artist from Los Angeles. He was most active in the early 80s- in Los Angeles. I saw the flyer for his show at the Kava Lounge a while back and I was like, "No way- that CANNOT be the real Egyptian Lover", plus it was at the Kava Lounge so I was like, ick. But then I got a text from Habitat House saying that Egyptian Lover was playing there last night- private party- invite only. It was an exciting opportunity.

Now- when you're talking Egyptian Lover you are talking about a contemporary of Mantronix and Cybotron. I have, of course, seen Mantronix (Ministry of Sound, 2001)- Cybotron good luck with that. The bottom line is that seeing Egyptian Lover at the Habitat House was a once in a lifetime opportunity to get close to a true innovator in the world of electronic music. I mean- look- seeing Daft Punk rock a sold out audience at the LA Sports Arena in 2007 was pretty dope, but Egyptian Lover was doing that shit in 1982. Yeah he was.

We arrived at 930 PM, Egyptian Lover started at 10 PM. He had turntables, a backing vocalist, an 808 (of course!). No lap top for the Egyptian Lover. He showcased a full range of djing technique- including playing one record backwards- in time- while mixing it with the song playing on the other turn table. He did half of the dj set without adequate lighting. Pretty impressive.

The first part of the set was all dj- heavy on the kraftwerk and the old school electro. After that he segued into his own original material- basically, he was playing the 808 and rapping/singing. He's not the best rapper- but shit- man- Egyptian Lover. We danced the night away- the crowd had a great vibe. Another amazing night at the Habitat. It was the kind of night that invigorates the spirit. I'm ready for Lisbon.

Letter from Portugal...

Ah Portugal. It's pretty but kind of slow. Spent a couple days in Lisbon or Lisboa as they call it here. We found reports of its coolness to be greatly exaggerated. Some of that is undoubtedly attributable to it being "off season" for Portuguese tourism, but some of it probably has to do with the fact that a lot of Portuguese between the ages of 20 and 40 leave for other EU countries like France, Germany and the UK. It's been that way here for decades. Before that, the merchant class and frustrated bourgeois immigrated to places like Brazil and, of course, California. In San Diego, Point Loma was settled by Portuguese fishermen, and Portuguese farmers were among the first to settle in California's central valley.

Lisbon/Lisboa is a compact city- geographically reminiscent of San Francisco but with a castle in the center, pedestrian thorough fairs in the center and three different kinds of street cars.

The student quarter- Barrio Alta- was dead on the Thursday night that we went, except for the drug dealers who offerred us hash, weed, coke and heroin. Friday we did the tourist thing- which was a fun seven/eight hours, and ate at John Malkovich's restaurant- Bica do Sapato. It sucked. Boo, John Malkovich, boo.

Saturday we drove off to Evora and stayed at a phat converted convent/monastery that used to be the holiday get away for the Portuguese kings, and now is a luxury hotel run by Starwood. God bless the modern tourist economy. Evora is known for its Roman temple of Diana and a Cathedral that has a huge ossuary (chapel of bones). If you haven't seen a chapel of bones- you need to check one out the next time you are in southern europe.

Sunday we drove down the toll road to southern Portugal- to a region called the Algarve- the southern coast of Portugal. The Algarve is well known among English/German tourists. It's a favorite place for the British to buy second homes. Our trip down the toll freeway was made a tad more adventurous when I put diesel in our rental car- turns out that the Portuguese sell two different types of diesel fuel- one called "diesel" and a second called "gasoleaza." Ha! We broke down in the mountains, had to get towed to a middle of no where village and had to have my old law partner pick us up. Luckily, she lives about 30 minutes away from where we broke down. I like to think of it as an amusing misadventure. Sigh.

Today (it's six thirty m here), we went into Faro and walked around the old city and then went to a local mall with a "hyper market" where we stocked up on Portuguese condiments and toiletries for gifts.

Jeanne- my old law partner- bought a house in the foothills north of Faro. She lives here with a dog- Django.  It's a very peaceful setting- reminiscent of the foothills of southern California minus the tons of people. Supposedly, the scene during the summer is crazy- many of the homes here are empty 11 months a year. Olive, Orange, Fig trees & grape vines dot the landscape- everything is in bloom and it's quite beautiful.

We've got another day here and it's off to Sevilla for holy week- then Cordoba and Granada.

letter from sevilla

I'm typing on an iPhone so forgive me. Holy week in sevilla is fucking nutso. Seeing half the town dress up in kkk outfits and carry around floats of suffering jesus and mary till 4am is something you really need to see yourself. Plus, to cap it all off they showed Mel gibsons passion of the Christ on local broadcast tv. We've moved on to Granada now, the freeway from sevilla is named after Washington Irving. That's a theme here, the spainards didn't realize they had cool stuff till foreigners pointed it out.

Show Review: A Saturday Night in Hollywood

Have you actually watched A Night at the Roxbury with Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan. It's really bad, but it's funny because the backdrop is this fantasia of hollywood centered club night life. I think it's Will Ferrell's first movie?

Ok so here is a good description of the Avalon fromthis guy:

When Giant first took over, it was kinda-sorta ok; good sound, great lineups. Then my uncles, aunties and all the other senior Asians decided it would be fun to turn it into their opium den. Gross, and Avalon hasn't been the same since. The talent comes through every once in a while and the crowd is super dead.


And that about sums it up, ladies and gentlemen. The line up last night was promising enough: Ellen Allien, Sascha Funke, and even Claude Von Stroke. We saw Claude Von Stroke. Some facts:

1. lots of middle aged asian people!

2. lots of bouncers!

3. $30 parking! Yes!!!

I don't know what sin against god techno has committed to be condemned to the "Avaland" experience, but he's a mad dude. When you compare the environment you'd see ellen allien in new york, berlin, london, paris, hell, san francisco to the environment of avaland? It could have been any asian rim metropolis: tokyo, shanghai, seoul, singapore, hong kong. I guess there was something cool about the global mix of cultures but um... also maybe not.

CD Review: The Sess "Agendumb" (Single Screen Records)


the sess(myspace)

Technology has made it easier and harder for local bands. Easier in that you can network from your couch, in that you can sell your cd from your couch, etc. Technology has made it harder because there are now so many bands out there vying for attention from a limited audience and even the audience it reaches is guaranteed to have its attention diverted in seconds. So in the end advances in technology are a wash for non established acts, but the benchmarks towards viability remain the same: record a full length, tour outside your home market, get a booking agent, a manager, etc.

It is with great pleasure that I received my copies of the Sess's debut full length recording on Single Screen Records. Entitled "Agendumb," this record is a proud document of a scene on the brink of moving from a burst of myspace inspired energy to something more sustained. In 2007 San Diego produced three rock acts that drew attention outside the area: Grand Ole Party, Delta Spirit & The Muslims. However none of those groups produced a record with the inspiration and peculiar genius of the Sess. Part rock, part punk and part stoner experimentalism, Agendumb transcends the "local music" label and emerges as a record of true excellence, a record that deserves every sale it gets.

A Night Out in San Diego:  Crocodiles, Ivy Hotel, Skull Kontrol

JFCD came down for the memorial day weekend- and he brought "Rock Band" the video game with him. All I have to say about Rock Band is that being the drummer is super tough, and the other two instruments are easy.

On saturday night we went to the Brick by Brick to see the first third of the Crocodiles/Maps & Atlases/ Foals line up. Crocodiles is the new project of Brandon Welchez(ex-Prayers) and Chuck Rowland (ex-Prayers, ex-Some Girls). They've got the whole two piece thing going. Two pieces; so hot right now! Basically, Brandon sings and Chuck plays guitar and operates the keyboard/drum machine. It's a simple set up, and the music sounds quite like you would expect- the Prayers with a drum machine; although one of their songs had the hint of something more grandiose and majestic about it- comparisons were being bandied about to Spiritualized.

There was a good crowd on hand, enough to give the mausoleum-like Brick by Brick some life.

After that we headed down to the enormous cluster fuck that was the Muslims/Booty Bassment Ivy Hotel. Our group took one look at the line- in terms of who was IN LINE more then the length of the line itself, and decided against it. I would like to mention that the last time I went to the Gaslamp, it was for Switch and the promoter, Barry Weaver, put me on the "guest list." I went to the front door of the Stingaree, and there was a dude with a clipboard, and I was like "hey- I'm on the list" and he looked at his clipboard and crossed my name off and I went inside.

On the other hand, the list was fake and everyone was on it, so it was total bullshit. Fake lists suck! Promoters should indicate that when they make the "hit me up for the list" posts or what not "This list is FAKE and you WON'T BE ABLE TO GET IN." But man it was crazy packed down there.

Instead of douching it at the Ivy we went to No Kontrol at the Whistle Stop where, unfortunately, it was all 60s soul. I have nothing against 60s soul as an element of a larger mix, but a whole night of soul? It sounded like my Mom's Volvo circa 1987. Specifically, the Big Chill soundtrack. But it was a good size crowd and people were into and such; with the dancing and the what not. Just not my "cup of tea" as they say.

Also, the Black Kids released a
video. Oh- and the union tribune actually sent someone to the Foxboro Hot Tubs/Green Day show. Way to stay relevant, Green Day. When's the next rock opera being released?

Show Review: "Weird Al" Yankovic @ The San Diego County Fair

I'm writing this review through a steady sheet of tears- City Beat's Last Blog on Earth banished me from their "blog roll." And all over my repeated ridicule of their never ending cheer leading for their cover bands battle of the bands(see below). Alas, alas. None the less, I will do my best to forge on, dear readers, because I must.

I'm not afraid to admit that Weird Al is a personal hero. His tongue in cheek song parodies introduced me to many, many classic rock jams before I ever heard the original. My Bologna? I love Rocky Road? Eat it? Damn. True, I haven't kept up with his more recent albums. Sure, I've grooved to Amish Paradise & Ridin' Nerdy as much as the next guy, but I don't know the non-singles. Entering last night's concert, I was a little concerned that my unfamiliarity with his more recent material might leave me excluded from the festive atmosphere.

As it turned out, I needn't have worried. Weird Al is not just a consummate show man, he's an inclusive, giving performer, as much concerned with the mood of the audience as his own needs. The format of last nights two hour + performance was straight forward: song, song, interstitial video featuring either clip from Al TV/clips from other tv shows referencing weird al, costume change, song, song.

Seriously, the man changes costumes more often then Celine Dion. The humor was, of course, broad. Almost every song he performs is either about food or television. I caught myself wondering if he ever feels like branching out... The multi-generational crowd was ridiculously into him- singing and clapping along to Yoda and generally receiving every song with glee. I even spotted two guys dressed up in jedi robes.

I was also impressed with the capability of his back band, though given the ribbing that being Weird Al's back band must entail, I wasn't surprised that they remained anonymous throughout the show. Some of the songs got the full length treatment, others were strung together in the polka/medley format. I was expecting a perfunctory 45 minute "this is a county fair" performance, but this is was nothing more then a legacy claiming tour de force. If you haven't seen Weird Al- live- you owe it to yourself. Get out there and see him soon!

The Over Saturation of Local Music Coverage: Ex. A SD City Beat's "OB24"

Incredibly, it was only yesterday that I said, "If local music was a stock, I'd sell..." indicating the essential pointlessness of this blog doing what it set out to do- write about local music when every publication in town has basically got the message and started to get it's act together (for better or for worse, unfortunately.)

And, then, today- what do I see- San Diego City Beat's Epic cover story "OB24." It carries the header, "Four writers + 24 hours of music = trouble." Now THAT is some ambitious local music coverage. I can safely say that I could never ever spend 24 hours in Ocean Beach. The horror, the horror.

Show Review: Crocodiles @ the Casbah

Have you seen these crazy Beijing Olympic Mascots? You can actually see them capering around at the beginning of the Beach Volleyball games. I haven't seen them in, say, the Gymnastics stadium or at the track. I've got my eyes peeled, though.


Standing in the Casbah last night, I couldn't help but look at people and try to think of funny "lolcats" captions. "OH HAI! IM SADDD." and then there would be a guy in a cardigan with horn rim glasses. You know what I'm talking about.

I went last night for the first time in months to see Crocodiles, who were opening for Ilya. Ilya's music is "shoegazer." I'm pretty sure the 100+ people who were there last night were, in fact, Ilya fans, since they had an "alt-rock" look going. They were respectful and attentive listeners to Crocodiles, so I've got no problem with them.

Crocodiles have been working on their sound. They had a cool key board thing looping going on. At times it reminded me of Steve Reich, so much so that I went home and actually inflicted Steve Reich on our house guests. "The queen is not amused." Steve Reich is not party music or quiet sitting around music. It's not a dance kind of looping, but more experimental in outlook. Like I said, it sounded like Steve Reich.

Crocodiles development has me hopeful of an excellent first record, but they'll need more then "Neon Jesus" to turn heads. I also think the "ipod" drums is a limitation on what is otherwise a promising take on spiritualized influenced no wave(???). The stylistic touch points are feedback, looped synths and knowing, cynical song writing. It could be a compelling mix of influences with potential wide spread appeal. The album is the thing. 10 songs. I'd settle for ep. I'm def. waiting.

Also, for this style of group I think they need a more developed view point. I'm confident it's there, but a four-six song set with a (couple of?) covers isn't showing it off.

I'm not comparing Crocodiles to Dresden dolls but maybe like- Berlin era Lou Reed? That was a huge commercial success, after all. New movie coming soon on that record.

Musically, right now I'm basically like, if you're playing in a conventional rock format, drums, bass, guitar & singer I'm saying, "SEE: guitar hero." I don't want to directly say that the popularity of guitar hero essentially spells the death of indie rock music, but that's kind of where I'm headed. I'm looking for everything besides that set up. Of course, existing bands in that area are excluded- new Oasis record anyone? new Verve record? Don't worry- I'm getting there.

I was disappointed not to see any "phelps phans" t-shirts on the attendees. Where is the patriotic spirit?

Conversation drifted between Phelps record breaking swim that was going on during the show as well as a spirited debate on whether the "further security action" clause of the Russia-Georgia Ceasefire agreement allowed Russia to just take over the rest of Georgia whenever they wanted to or even whether Georgia signed a treaty with that language in it or signed a different agreement entirely.

What with China Olympics and Russian Invasions, you will forgive me if I don't get a little misty eyed for the late 70s- early 80s cold war era- Russian invasion of Afghanistan, boycott of the Moscow Olympics. I don't know, can we get a little "cold war nostalgia" as a trend? Fashion designs? Books about the Cold War? re-makes of Cold War era movies?

The time is right for this particular revival.


Monday, January 07, 2008

January February 2008: 18th Century English Literature

Peahen of Golden Hill


Peahen!!! 21st street, this morning, 8:45am!

when trying to woo a peahen it is important to shake your tailfeathers vigorously like so:



if you are a rather plain fellow, try feathering your nest in an aesthetically pleasing array of flowers and black beetle shells:
Bower Bird BBC Segment Narrated by
David Attenborough


Overheard in San Diego: Sessions Fest

http://www.sandiegoreader.com/photos/galleries/overheard-san-diego/



The web home of "Overheard in San Diego"

I love the Overheard in San Diego feature from the San Diego Reader, penned by friend-of-Cat-Dirt Jay Allen Sanford. And now they're all online- including my favorite- the Sessions Fest Overheard... Check it out...

Official 2008 Coachella Poster!!!





Official 2008 Coachella Poster!!!, originally uploaded by catdirtrecords.

Here it is via the Coachella website.


Show Review: Dead Meadow, Calico Horse, The Great Northwest

Dead Meadow performances occupy two of my top five shows ever, i.e. Arthur Fest, Los Angeles 2004 & Little Radio New Year's Eve, 2006. 2004 was a great show because Arthur Fest ended up being the inspiration for Sophie's Sessions Fest, and because we'd never heard of Dead Meadow before seeing them live- which is how you know you're really going to love a band- if you hear them for the first time live and you're like "Whoa." As for Little Radio's New Year's Eve- the photos speak for themselves.

Those memories, together with my absence from live music in the month of January, and frankly, through most of December, had me in a contemplative mood last night. I was put in mind of the melancholy landscape of Halldorr Laxness's Iceland, musing on the issue of progress, and whether anything ever changes, and really, whether anything ever should change.

Calico Horse started the show. They drew a strong crowd of local music fans. Obvious, to me, that Calico Horse is a pick for 2008 San Diego Music Awards "best new band" category. Emily (ex-Muslims) is the singer/guitar player/keyboardist that powers the band, though I note she's added Matt (ex-Influx Cafe, Blue Monday) on guitar and has a capable bassist and drummer. This was my first live encounter with Calico Horse and I found Emily an intriguing front woman.

Calico Horse has a rock baseline, but most of the songs have a light, lilting quality to them that put me in mind of Tori Amos. Emily's singing is charmingly imperfect. Sophie heard an early PJ Harvey quality in her singing. I was engaged by the performance and want to hear the recorded work. Judging from the attendance last night, Calico Horse already has an avid local following.

The intermediate band was The Great Northwest. They were an unknown quality (and to the Casbah as well, which had "The Great Northern" listed on the bill.) You can read their (PDF) bio here. Their frontman is Dead Meadow's sound guy (and was the sound guy for the Dandy Warhols) and the band sounded like it was fronted by the sound guy for Dead Meadow. Sophie and I sat out the set in the Atari Lounge, where Astra was nowhere to be seen. I guess they cancelled. I set the high score- AGAIN on the Ms. Pacman machine. By the way- open $20 wager to anyone who thinks he or she can beat me on that game- I'll be there for Night Marchers & Valentine's Day if you want to throw down- but you have to show me the money before we play.

Dead Meadow took the stage reasonably early- thank god for that. Most of their songs were from the new record, which Sophie doesn't like but I think is OK. As they progressed through their set, the crowd peeled off. It almost felt like Calico Horse outdrew Dead Meadow, which is... strange.

I always feel like Dead Meadow puts on a performance that is well in excess of the individual parts that are on stageI'm glad Dead Meadow moved to Los Angeles, and I hope they come back soon.





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