Friday, March 05, 2004

Favorite Velvet Underground songs

That was the most recently concluded poll in a indie rock music nerd discussion group I kinda belong to. That got me to playing some of my neglected Velvets recordings, like the bootleg Quine Tapes that I hadn't played more than once. Listening to those songs again, it reminded me of just how fucking amazing this band -- my favorite rock band ever -- really were. They're rightly celebrated as the progenitors of white noise art rock, but their spare ballads are as beatifully melodic as anything McCartney ever wrote, without ever being saccharine. They had an edge that the Beatles, White Album aside, never had.

The rocker "What Goes On" from Velvet Underground won the poll. Instead of reposting a haphazardly assembled ballot, I'll post my 20 favorite Velvets songs, as divided by categories.

Sing-a-long throwaways.

"Who Loves the Sun" from Loaded. As heard on The Royal Tenenbaums.
"I'm Sticking With You" from VU. Maureen Tucker doing a wonderful child-like ditty.
"After Hours" from Velvet Underground. Again Maureen, child-like.


"Sunday Morning" from Velvet Underground and Nico. The most beautiful opening number ever.
"Pale Blue Eyes" from Velvet Underground.
"Sweet Jane" from 1969: Live.
"I'll Be Your Mirror" from Velvet Underground and Nico.
"Femme Fatale" from Velvet Underground and Nico. The definitive version.
"All Tomorrow's Parties" from Velvet Underground and Nico. I dig Nico, what can I say.


Lou Reed in the consciousness of an emotionally unhinged woman.

"Lisa Says" from VU
"Candy Says" from Velvet Underground
"Stephanie Says" from VU


"Ocean" from 1969: Live. Majestic. Probably my favorite Velvets track.
"Heroin" from Velvet Underground and Nico
"New Age" from 1969: Live

Rock & Roll

"There She Goes Again" from Velvet Underground and Nico
"I'm Waiting for the Man" from Velvet Underground and Nico
"White Light/White Heat" from White Light/White Heat
"Beginning to See the Light" from 1969: Live
"What Goes On" from Velvet Underground

Yeah, I like "Sister Ray", too, but not *that* much.

[More commentary later.]

Thursday, March 04, 2004

BC 04/Rove -- Ivan Drago redux

Like Ivan Drago, Max Von Sydow's Exorcist, or for that matter, Saruman, this election is beginning to feel like one of those movies where the entire movie is spent talking about some dude being an invincible badass only to see them go down in flames with little more than a finger tap.

Essentially, this administration has spent their entire four years running for re-election, perfectly executing the routes drawn up by "genius" offensive guru Karl Rove. Talk up compassionate conservatism. Take Democratic strengths off the table (as the Medicare prescription drug bill and No Child Left Behind was supposed to do) but mainly spend your time promoting false patriotism and packing sacks of goodies for your rightwing base and campaign contributors by borrowing money like mad (because nobody cares about deficits, as Dick-C says). Then amass an unprecendented war chest, with the implicit promise of more giveaways.

After a national tragedy created a chance to build a long-lasting Republican majority and give the President staggering approval ratings, all of that has been squandered. Partly, that's less a problem with the campaign as it is with their refusal to actually examine facts when making decisions. But Rove hasn't helped. By January 2004, these guys were trotting out weekly desperado tactics like the Mars mission and the immigration amnesty pitch (politically calculated proposals which had Rove's fingerprints all over them). Then came the State of the Union address, another dud. And after all that, they're behind in the polls, losing ground among independents, and left to wage a campaign centering on a culture war and fear-mongering to appease a grumbling base. The Shrub/Dick re-election campaign has thus far been nothing short of pathetic, and they've shown no signs of getting better.

Ah, but what about their bottomless well of campaign loot? For one thing, check out the theme: "It's not my fault". (Good job being "strong and decisive", Mr. War President.) For another, their inept first spot has already been predictably shredded by *firefighters* and relatives of 9/11 victims, two of the last groups of people you'd want to publicly offend. So the play on these rehabilitation ads over the next couple of days will be: Is the President exploiting 9/11 for political purposes? That's not what these fools were bargaining for, I'm sure.

Perhaps the more apt analogy is the 2003 World Series, in which a much unloved but scrappy franchise outplayed and outhustled the sloppy-fielding chokers with the unlimited resources and a team of superstars.

Even though neither Reagan nor Clinton had trailed their opponent in the polls in March or thereafter and undecideds break 3 to 1 against the incumbent, it's early yet and things can turn on a dime. But given the first phase of the battle, we can at least put to rest the idea that Karl Rove is some Kongming-like omniscient svengali. Let's remember, the guy didn't even win the last election he ran.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Should I move this blog to TypePad?

If you check out TypePad blogs like James Callan's and Mark Schmitt's, isn't their useability and layout so much more appealing than Blogspot-hosted blogs like this one? It certainly is for me. So I'm thinking of packing up my bags and hopping on over there. The biggest consideration is archiving by categories, since I've never been that interested in writing the topical one-liner type of blog. Actually I've never been that interested in keeping up a site, so this blog surviving even this long is something of a shock. (I suppose when I switch to a more serious job as I planned to do shortly, updates will be even more sporadic. We'll see.)

Only drawbacks as far as I can see:

(1) comments don't seem to be importable. I'd like to save the old reader comments since many of them are more interesting than the actual entries on which they are commenting;
(2) I've got like 20 drafts concerning all kinds of shit (review of Ozu movies, travel journal, etc.) saved here that I'd never finish if I went over to movable type. But maybe that's a good thing.

Anyone care to comment on this?

The Bigger Man Usually Wins

Looks like our presumptive nominee packs a hefty salami sandwich. Once this pic makes its way around, Kerry's sure to shore up the John Holmes Memorial Society vote.

(Courtesy of Wonkette. Be sure also to check out the hilarious reader comments.)

Yesterday, I voted...

...for Edwards and "No" on all the propositions. I typically vote no on propositions because (as I've previously mentioned) the California's initiative system is an abysmal way to govern. Complex budgetary issues put up for a vote from a citizentry who, by and large, learned most of what they know about propositions only from propoganda aired on TV and radio. Whoever makes the best propoganda wins; and the bond measures to finance California's enormous $15 billion dollar debt passed on the strength of Arnold's propoganda. Yeah, the same Arnold who claimed he's against "Special Interests" and went to New York and collected millions to finance his Yes on 57 & 58 campaign from the yankee financiers who'll make a killing if the bond passes. The same Arnold who was supposed to "clean up" Sacramento and save $15 billion by cutting waste.

Oh, but I forgot, this dude was CONAN. He beat up Wilt the Stilt forgodsakes. How can we not listen to him?

Nobody who paid any serious attention to the recall election should be surprised by Arnold's cynical hypocrisy, but to be fair, Arnold's has been largely a centrist and pragmatic governor so far. Still, I'd rather not bear the debt burden of the guy's craven refusal to raise any taxes, even though that bond measure will patch up this state's budgetary problems in the short term.

I probably should've voted yes on Prop 56, which would change the procedure for approving the budget in California from 2/3 of the legislature to 55%. Procedural matters that can't be decided by the legislature (and certain bond measures) are really the only matters that should be decided by the public on the ballot. But I pulled a retarded move and voted no. It didn't matter anyway, as that measure went down to defeat.

Wasn't a big fan of having to vote for Superior Court judges either. I passed on voting for any of them, even though I'd actually appeared in front of some of the judges on the ballot as an attorney.

A shitty day. Later that night, the fuckheads at VICE didn't have it together and shut my and my pals out of an advance screening of ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND at the Arclight which they promoted. We did get into the afterparty at the new hip spot Spider Club, but neither the venue nor the party was anything to write home about. (I just wanted to make sure Kate wasn't there.) And it only confirmed that Defarge and New Edition are the new Prince and MJ for cheesy club DJs tired of spinning "Kiss" for the 83,000th time.

Monday, March 01, 2004

A big hearty congratulations... my little brother Neal, who stepped up to the plate and popped the question on Leap Year Day. Makes me proud that the kid survived all my beatings and general neglect to become such a solid guy.

Excellent job in accepting, Saskia. And so soon after starring in the box office hit Fifty First Dates no less. Maybe now I can finally tell all those stories about my petulant 3-year-old brother that I've been holding back. Also, have I ever told you that Neal looks just like the sneering bad guy in Takashi Miike's DEAD OR ALIVE?

Oscars wrap-up

Not much to say about the dull ceremony last night, except to register my surprise that even Sean Penn and Tim Robbins have been de-fanged by our politically sanitized culture. Not that I think political grandstanding has ever done any good, but at least protests might've punch up this otherwise dull procession of hobbits and hobbit-makers. As usual, Crystal's cheesy in a tolerable way, and Jack Black rules. Pretty good tribute to Kate Hepburn, the last of the old Hollywood legends. I just wish someone other than Julia Roberts presented the solid clip (centered more on the peak of her career, the early, awesome comedies with Grant and Tracy (that went largely unrecognized by the Academy, Philadelphia Story excepted) rather than the filmed plays and the self-important drama she did later in her career (which the Academy loved)).

Good job with the Wong Kar-wai shout-out, pretentious Sofia. No Spike spike?
Bad job voters being so predictable, Oscar voters.
But good job at least giving the top award to a good movie, not like last year.

Plus: that tool Billy ("Watt's up?") whatever that hosted the red carpet show must die.

Who's hot: Scarlett, Naomi, Scarlett, Julianne (as always on Oscar night), Scarlett, Charlize, Scarlett, Susan Sarandon.
Surprisingly not that hot last night: Nicole, Diane Lane.
Suprising hot: Renee, Shohreh.
Hot, in a homely kinda way: Sofia, Samantha Morton.
Librarian fetish award: Liv Tyler.
Overrated babes who dolled up beautifully: CZJ and Lara Croft.
Just overrated: Jennifer Garner, Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts, Uma.
Christina Ricci award for hottest looking alien: Vanessa Paradis.

Out of the guys: Johnny Depp looked good. Ken Watanabe showed that Asian men aren't all William Hungs. Jude Law was a bit pale. And Elijah Wood almost looked human.