Dedicated to classics and hits.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Stream AWESOME Dirty Beaches Appearance on WFMU & Spotify Playlist of the Songs/Artists

Playlist for Scott Williams, July 23rd 2012. GOD BLESS WFMU. (WFMU)

Spotify Playlist of Songs & Artists Appearing on Scott Williams July 23rd 2012 show f/ Dirty Beaches appearance. (Opens Spotify Application)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

La Reine Margot by Alexandre Dumas

Book Review
La Reine Margot
by Alexandre Dumas
originally published in 1845

  It helps to imagine Alexandre Dumas as a mid 19th century analogue to a George Lucas or Steven Spielberg, in that they receive credit for works that represent the efforts of more then one person.  Lucas and Spielberg receive most of their credit for movies they direct, and of course, a finished film involves everyone from the Actors to the post-production Editors to obtain a final result, and then almost all of the Artistic Authorship "credit" goes to the director of the film.

  Alexandre Dumas worked in a similar fashion, using a "work-shop" of talented elves to help him produce the works that were credited to his name.  La Reine Margot- published in the first blush of Alexandre Dumas' productive career as a novelist, is a notable example of that method of Authorship, because an entire first draft was written by a historian, and then Dumas went over the draft and added dialogue and stylistic flourishes.

    To give you some idea of Alexandre Dumas' productivity during the 1840s, La Reine Margot was published in 1845, The Three Musketeers in 1844 and  The Count of Monte Cristo between 1845 and 1846.  In this progression, La Reine Margot was the book that really solidified his Artistic reputation as a master of the "Historical Romance" style invented by Sir Walter Scott.

   Unlike The Three Musketeers, La Reine Margot is involved in the actual facts of the Religious Wars of France in the 16th Century.  The events of La Reine Margot center around the real-life St. Bartholmew's massacre,  which involved Parisian Catholics massacring visiting and local Huguenot Protestants on the occasion of the marriage of the Huguenot Henry to the Catholic Margot.

  Other historical characters include the villain, Catharine D'Medici and the King of France, Charles IX of the  Valois monarchy.   Dumas was not the only French novelist to find this period interesting. In the 17th century Madame de Layfayette published an anonymous romance called The Princess of Montpensier (which was recently made into a French language film) that has a substantial overlap in time and characters. 

Show Review: Golden Hill Street Fair

Show Review
The Golden Hill Street Fair
Sponsored by the Golden Hill Community Development Corporation & Curated by SEZIO

Music by:
The Donkeys
Cuckoo Chaos
The Tree Ring
Little Deadman
Jeans Wilder
Family Wagon

Food by:
Stone Brewery
Stand & Deliver (MIHO Food Truck licensee)

Beer by:
Stone Brewery

Located @ 25th Street between B & C St.

   I am not speaking metaphorically nor exaggerating when I say that the Golden Hill Street Fair was a dream come true for me- like seeing a vision/dream realized.  The especially amazing thing about the Golden Hill Street Fair is that I literally had nothing to do with it, so it wasn't a stressful or annoying experience.  All the credit belongs to the Golden Hill Community Development Corporation, SEZIO and the bands and volunteers who made The Golden Hill Street Fair such a special event.  Congratulations to everyone- that was a job well done.

      The Golden Hill Street Fair was a major break-out event for the Golden Hill neighborhood, and joins the weekly Farmers Market- which is very decent (and much, much, much less annoying then more established area Farmers Markets) in elevating the Golden Hill neighborhood into the top tier of San Diego neighborhoods. (full disclosure, I own property in Golden Hill.)

  If you are reading this, and had anything to do with the organization of this event, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  This event, together with the success of the "Three Nights At The Con" event at the Casbah during Comic Con, has managed to restore my faith in local music, the cultural equivalent of a religious awakening obtained after a lengthy and troublesome pilgrimage to Jerusalem as well as being similar to an epiphany I had in April of 20099- spurred my involvement with local record label Zoo Music.  (1)

  If I sound over-enthusiastic it's only because I (and my wife) (2) spent thousands of our own dollars and hundreds of hours trying to achieve what the Golden Hill Street Fair achieved this past weekend.  I failed when I tried, and this year's Golden Hill Street Fair was a rousing success, so it's really, really great to see.  It makes me think that I wasn't fundamentally wrong in trying to do what I  tried to do between 2005 and 2007  in throwing our own versions of what the Golden Hill Street Fair was this past weekend, just that our timing was terribly, terribly bad.

  Since I know how much work goes into putting on one of these events, I feel compelled to thank the people who planned and organized the event- specifically the Golden Hill Community Development Corporation and SEZIO.  Way to go!  Both organizations gained my respect just by their affiliation/planning of this event.

  Reviewing a Street Fair/Festival is a little more complex then reviewing a Concert, because the Audience experience is centered solely (or even primarily) around Music, even if it is a "draw."  The music is less of a main event in a festival environment, particularly at community level proceeding, so there is no reason to think that the Audience will treat the musical performers with the same attention level is they had paid to go to a club to listen to that Artist.  If you are at a Street Fair, you can't blame the Audience for "not paying attention" because they aren't there to "pay attention."

 The Golden Hill Street Fair rated high in all categories: musical presentation, food options, beer options and general ambiance.   Personally, I wouldn't have booked the same line up but it was certainly a line up that the Audience had no trouble appreciating.  Both The Donkeys and Cuckoo Chaos play accessible indie rock that complements the festival vibe.

  The food was first rate- I enjoyed a "Varsity Dog" from the MIHO Food truck, which is worth checking out if you can find them. It was an all beef hot dog with lamb chili, pickled jalapenos, spicy mayo and maybe some cheese mixed in?  Delicious.

  The beer garden was well priced- 3 beers for 10 bucks, BEAT THAT YOU LIVE NATION FUCKS.  The crowd was very mellow, with a refreshing mix of ages, ethnicities and income groups.

  A particularly nice touch was placing tables in the middle of 25th street and then adding little flower arrangements to each table- very little flower arrangements but it had a great over-all impact disproportionate  to the expense involved.  Whoever came up with that specific idea- the benches in the middle of the street with flower vases on top- deserves to be singled out for praise.

  Unfortunately I couldn't spend the entire day there because of family engagements, but I did manage to see Family Wagon and Jeans Wilder.  Family Wagon was as traditional a rock/metal/alt band as I've heard in ages.  There last fm profile says they've been around since 2008 but this was the first I'd seen of them.

 Jeans Wilder played with a traditional rock three piece behind him.  That is def. a better look for him then the solo look he was rocking last time he was out, but I'd imagine there is an increase in expense that goes along with the band.  I thought the set time was early for his relative Audience size- unless he had to go to work or something later in the day... Cuckoo Chaos only has 20k last fm plays vs. Jeans Wilder's 190 thousand plays- that makes Jeans Wilder about five times as big as Cuckoo Chaos.  The Donkeys and Jeans Wilder basically have the same number of listeners.

   Not that this crowd is a "Jeans Wilder" kind of crowd- they would def. have been more into the Vampire Weekend-esque styling of Cuckoo Chaos.  Jeans Wilder needs to buckle down and write some 50s style ballads so that the norms will give a shit about his music, then he can do all the expressive electronic noodling that he wants.  During his set, I saw hints of that, but my sense is that Jeans is essentially afraid to really go for it, and I understand why he wouldn't on the recently released Totally- but next record- he needs to go for it and give his Audience a reason to recommend his music to their friends i.e. "Hey Jeans Wilder has this song you would really like."

(1) I'm talking about the two Golden Hill Block Parties thrown in 2005 and 2006 as well as  Sessions Fest, 2006-2007- which was planned by my wife, not me. 

(2)  If you look back at the time-line of this blog, there is literally a four month gap between January and April of 2009.  December of 2008, this blog only had four posts ALL MONTH- all about crime.  Prior to the April 2009 Show Review of Wavves at the Echo, you have to go back to a Show Review of the Crocodiles playing the Casbah- published in August of 2008- to find an earlier show review.  That's basicallya  year that I was "out of the game."

Monday, July 23, 2012

Illusions Perdues/Lost Illusions by Honoré de Balzac

Honoré de Balzac

Book Review
Illusions Perdues - Lost Illusions
by  Honoré de Balzac
published in serial form 1843

  Honoré de Balzac is the first "serious" French novelist to emerge out of the French literary scene of the mid 19th century.  The fact that Balzac's work was being published alongside the Historical Romances written by Alexandre Dumas and Victor Hugo makes his serious, socially minded fiction seem all the more impressive for its time.   Although split into three parts, the second and main part, explicitly deals with the market for Artistic products- i.e. Novels and Poetry, during the 1820s in Paris.  This world has much in common with Artistic markets today, and Balzac deserves credit as being the first Novelist to describe a market for Artistic output in deal.

  The meat of Illusions Perdues describes the rise and fall of Lucien Chardon, "one of Balzac's distinctive type of ambitious, talented young men" (1) in the literary market of Paris.   The main action is caused by Lucien's abandonment of "serious" Art- i.e. his historical novel that he wrote "in the manner of Sir Walter Scott" and his book of poetry, for the fast women and easy money of theater and literary criticism.

 Certainly, that last bit should be enough to elicit a guffaw from a modern day critic/blogger/writer- could anything be less remunerative then reviewing theater performances and novels?  I suppose the modern day version would be a writer who takes a job working in public relations for a publishing house.

  The narrative of the second part of Illusions Perdues is familiar to anyone who has read/seen the movie of more recent versions like Bright Lights, Big City or Less Then Zero.  It is a kind of self-consciousness that anticipates many of the themes of modernity, but Illusions Perdues is not a very modern Novel.  It shares many similarities with the Historical Romances a la Sir Walter Scott that it describes as part of the plot.  Lengthy descriptive passages reveal the serial/time pressed nature of the production of Illusions Perdues, and Hollier calls fragmentary production of books "typical" for Balzac during this period. 

    Illusions Perdues assumes that Critics and Artists are the same people, which, again, sounds pretty funny to someone reading it today.  Given the come-uppance that Lucien Chardon receives during the course of Illusions Perdues, it is fair to say that Honoré de Balzac was in sympathy with the characters of the Novel who criticize Lucien's behavior for being un-Romantic and thus not suitable behavior for an Authentic Artist.


(1)  Denis Hollier, A New History of French Literature(Harvard University Press), pg. 693.

Show Review: Deep Time & The Scepters & Bar Pink

Deep Time, formerly Yellow Fever

Show Review
Deep Time
& The Scepters
@ Bar Pink in San Diego, CA.

    I think the last time I was in North Park for a show was the Fresh & Only's show in 2010?  Before that I went to a Wild Weekend show in October of 2007.  I can remember when North Park wasn't literally filled with douche bags.  I'm not using the term "douche bag" in the pejorative sense, simply as a description.  Between True North and Urban Solace- sorry Urban Solace, the 30th street corridor is crawling with "Gaslamp people."  From a neighborhood economic development standpoint, great to have that.  Personally, as someone who doesn't own a bar or restaurant in North Park, I could do without, but where I come from, people are people- facts are also still facts where I come from, and the fact that North Park is filled with douche bags on any given Saturday night is a fact.

  It's hard to believe that as recently as fall, 2006, North Park was still a place where Scolari's Office existed and Bill Wesley could headline a show.  Saturday's show looked like it was a relatively last minute add- especially since the Bar Pink website doesn't have the show listed.  I went because it was an early show, a free show and because I thought it would be fun to go to Bar Pink in the Early evening- which- strangely enough- was also a main reason I went to that Wild Weekend show in 2007 at Bar Pink.

  The opening band was The Scepters, who are located on the Nuggets/"Swami rock" spectrum.  They were a conventional rock four piece with Kelly Alvarez in the band but more of a "featured player" then a main focus- which I actually think is a pretty good look for the band generally speaking, a "something else" that distinguishes them from other competent garage rock foursomes.   The musicianship was above average/excellent- I thought the drummer in particular was really good.

   The combination of song writing styles: 60s garage rock/psych rock with an interlude of 50s style ballad is something that should be explored more often by musicians, since the ballad can be such a dilemma.  One way to get around that problem is to just go "totally 50s" for the ballad, and if it's a really good song, people will just like it and not consider it cheesy.

  Personally, I'm just waiting for Kelly Alvarez to write her version of Rosie & The Originals Angel Baby.  When is that going to happen, Kelly Alvarez?  I'm interested to see how far The Scepters can take it. Certainly an LP on Swami Records makes perfect sense.  A West Coast tour?  All distinct possibilities.

   Deep Time was the headliner and focus of a "Hospitality Suite" test episode.  For details about the Hospiality Suite project, check out this San Diego Reader article from last week.

   Deep Time was formerly known as Yellow Fever.  They've existed since 2006 as  Yellow Fever.
They have an LP coming out on Hardly Art records, which has a press release penned by Ian Svenonius of Nation of Ulysses, The Make-Up & Weird War, which says, "while Deep Time’s not “garish” and “don’t wear kabuki make-up or pour PBR” on their heads, it's a “sweet ride” all the same, producing a record on which every song “is a bon-a-fide catastrophe for the forces of predictability and boredom.”

  That comment is certainly apt for the serious minded live performance that I saw on Saturday night at Bar Pink.  They are more along the lines of the serious minded indie pop of the Northwest and Midwest then anything else.  The Hardly Art album release is a really good sign for them. The attendance was really good for a show that started at 8 PM!

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