damon & naomi at the emp

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I visited the Experience Music Project today to hear Damon & Naomi. They played for a tiny crowd of about 30 people plus passersby who stopped by to listen and then move on. They were there for part of a pop music festival.

It’s enjoyably wistful music. It’s one of the few times I’ve been lured into the EMP. They played a couple songs, then their latest album, which also functions as a soundtrack to a movie by Naomi. The huge, high-definition screen of the Sky Church made a striking background for them.

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I’m sorry to say that the film is, at least to me, pretty bad. It features a person who seems to have no acting experience, trying to stare meaningfully into the distance. He strikes many poses that are meant to be dramatic and poignant. He finds tarot cards, he does tai chi-like movements, he looks out windows, curls up on the floor, looks at old photos, and some women appear and don’t do much of anything. Aaaagh. Maybe you’ll find more to like: https://vimeo.com/105007573 

I enjoyed the music, which ended with a cover of Yoko Ono’s “Listen, the Snow is Falling.” That was also covered by Galaxie 500, of which Damon & Naomi were 2/3.

damon_naomi4Outside in the Seattle Center, I found a fountain rainbow.

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leave me alone, rolling stone

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A marketing company decided I was part of the demographic for this magazine and sent me an unrequested free subscription about 6-8 months ago. In this way I was reacquainted with Rolling Stone. I’ve learned that today it’s a skinny magazine with two editorial slants.

  • One is a kind of music-oriented People magazine. Lots of adulatory fan crap. This slant is pretty ghastly, because it often features big photos of wrinkled, bloated stars from the 60s. It also has the most bizarre and untrustworthy music reviews you’ve ever seen. As Jon Stewart noted not long ago; this is a magazine that gave five stars to the most recent U2 album. Published letters to the editor only discuss what a great magazine it is.
  • The other theme of Rolling Stone is political/social reporting. I thought this material seemed pretty good and almost made it worthwhile to read. For example, I read with interest and horror the story about campus rapes at the University of Virginia. Oops.

When that U of Virginia expose’ blew up in their faces for reasons that would hopefully never happen at an actual journalism outlet, my appreciation for this side of the magazine took a nose dive.

Then they invited the Columbia Journalism School to review their investigative and fact-checking practices. This provided a glimmer of hope. The investigation revealed how badly the magazine screwed up. So how did the magazine respond? With this: there will be no staff shake-up, and everyone responsible will keep their jobs. Jann Wenner was defensive in the New York Times, saying that the alleged victim who’d told them the false story was “a really expert fabulist storyteller.”

That was it for me. Rolling Stone is now worse than a derelict publication that survived by becoming mostly fluff. It’s a liability. It’s an albatross around the neck of responsible reporting.

I went to the website and tried to cancel my free subscription. Their response was something like, “We will suspend the mailing of your issues, but you need to go to Priority One Clearing Services [the marketing company] to unsubscribe. In other words, it was my problem that someone they hired for promotion gave me a subscription I don’t want. This magazine must die.

new bicycle acquired – cannondale quick cx4

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I love my old bike. It’s served me well for 22 years, but I decided it was time to upgrade to slightly newer technology. When I looked for a new ride, I discovered many surprising advances that have popped up in the last 20 years:

  • Disk brakes. No more brake shoes dragging on the rims.
  • Easy gear change. You can change gears with a little thumb twitch now.
  • Round wheels! Someone discovered that it’s easier to pedal with circular wheels instead of the old square and triangle shapes.

So here it is –

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Hydraulic disk brakes. Smooth ride. The fork is aluminum, and the knife and spoon are solid gold. All I need to do is ride it. And for that, all I need to do is cure my never-ending wrist pain – possibly De Quervain’s tendosynovitis. (By the way, Fritz De Quervain was a Swiss surgeon. He is responsible for introducing the use of iodized salt to prevent goiter.)

This also means that a vintage Bridgestone X-03, metal-flake green, is available for as much as I can squeeze out of the right buyer. Interested?

replacements, seattle 4/9/2015

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It was fun to hear the Young Fresh Fellows do “Rock and Roll Pest Control” 30+ years after recording it. Here’s the original. It’s interesting to note that they also did the Sonics’ “Strychnine” on the same stage where I heard the re-formed Sonics perform it, Halloween night, 2008. Otherwise, it was a just okay set. Oh, and that straight legs hopping up and down looks kinda weird when done by guys this old.

The Replacements were in fine form. They played half or more of “Seen Your Video” before the curtain came up, then plowed into an aggressive “Color Me Impressed.” We heard a broad collection of Replacements music, from early punkish stuff through “Skyway.” That latter one came during a brief Westerberg solo acoustic segment that included a few broken verses of Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne.” No new material appeared over the evening, as far as I could tell.

You’ll note in the photo that there was a tent onstage. They brought it up front and Westerberg crawled into it and sang half of “Androgynous” from inside. For no particular reason.

They played a nice, long set at ear-blasting volume. Unfortunately the lead guitar was the one exception to the volume – you could often barely hear it. That was disappointing on a song like “Take Me Down to the Hospital,” which really hangs on that lead. There was some distortion on the vocals early on, but it didn’t detract much.

I got the impression that the band’s notorious “unpredictable” behavior is mostly just part of the act now. When Westerberg started a song, fumbled it, shouted “Fuck you” and walked off stage, well, you knew he was coming back. Might as well just drop that and go ahead and be regular old rock stars. After all, they’ve got rock star stage lights, and they’re dang good rock musicians.

Really glad I went. Even though it’s just two of the originals, they’ve still got the power.

cigarettes build seattle

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I walk through a construction zone that lasts for several blocks when approaching the office where I work. It’s morning. A significant number of construction workers are smoking cigs as they prepare for the day. There are many more smokers than any other place that I pass through or spend time.

So when you see all the new buildings taking shape in South Lake Union and downtown, give some credit to nicotine. This chemical flows through the bloodstreams of the men and women erecting these structures. The strong hands guiding their tools are made vibrant with a powerful drug. It burns through their neurons and helps power their lives. By the time smoking disables or kills them, most will be past their prime, no longer useful builders.

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