shaken & stirred

welcome to my martini glass


many links, less content

It's time for the return of the numbered listarama.

1. Ron at Beatrice enrages yet another hilariously unbalanced author, Paul Maher. He reviewed Maher's Kerouac: The Definitive Biography for PW, wrote that post about it and Maher found this post and showed himself in the comments. Worse, the guy doesn't know when to stop and persisted in the comments to Ron's follow-up post. My favorite quote from the exchange (sic): "Sorry to exrpess myself, I won't bother you anymore." This would all seem to prove my theory that reading too much of the Beats rots your brain.

2. Bon voyage, Mr. Barzak! I'm sure many fun stories will be forthcoming from Japan.

3. Max finds her star in Hollywood and questions Ted Danson's claim to one.

4. Matthew Cheney at The Mumpsimus recommends you buy Richard Butner's chapbook Horses Blow Up Dog City and Other Stories and we second that emotion. It's available from Small Beer Press for a measly five bucks at that link. You will not be sorry. You will be happy. You will be a better person. You will be more attractive and have better sex. Just buy it. You'll see.

5. The Walkmen. The Rake points to Paul Winner's scratching about them over at the Maisonneuve blog (the latest issue of M-euve is really, really fine by the way and I highly recommend snagging it). Winner says many things, mostly making an argument that punk still exists and The Walkmen are punk. The new punk. That still exists.

Aside from the brute strength of the basic drum-bass-guitar unit, The Walkmen build songs from old pianos, sleigh bells, two-tone feedback, and a lead singer with an instinctive grasp of contrasts. Leithauser is phenomenal, live or on record; he swaggers like Sinatra’s stepson, screams like Fugazi. Barrick is short as a jockey and plays louder and more aggressively than anyone since Keith Moon. The band provides a wall of sound equal to the declarative spirit of a band like The Pogues, though the music is entirely different and often (despite the sudden and rather epic-sounding moments that pop up everywhere on both records) strangely, ineffably new. Nothing’s new, I know, but there is no other word that feels correct. It’s not the production values that sound so much like Steve Albini’s. It’s not comparisons to Big Bands of the Late Eighties in their Early Careers. It’s not Leithauer’s on-key screaming. It’s the mixing of elements into what feels like a re-direction away from what you were just listening to. Three seconds into The Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind,” Frank Black famously says Stop, a hand to your face. It is both the alchemy of punk and its truest, most plausible definition.

I don't know about all that, as I tend to enjoy music rather than analyze it (I leave that to Michaelangelo). I missed the Saturn commercial with The Walkmen song in it, because I block out commercials, only watching them when Christopher makes me. I first encountered the band on Channel 26 of Sirius Satellite Radio and fell in love almost immediately. The song was "The Rat," and every time I heard it, I wanted to hear it again. I haven't had such a strong reaction to a song by someone I wasn't already a fan of since forever. Then, "The Rat" turned up on The Believer music CD, and I played it over and over and over. One night after a little party we threw, I played it twenty times, dancing around embarrassingly drunk. And I STILL like it. So, whatever category or label their music falls into, I think The Walkmen are hot.

6. Speaking of hot, TEV is on a roll today, pointing to this piece by Tibor Fischer on judging the Booker (and echoing my own feelings about Fischer's later books; The Thought Gang is underrated and wonderful). Also, he comes up with a great new slogan to promote poetry: "Read a poem. Get laid."

7. The new issue of Bust arrived in the P.O. Box yesterday, featuring pieces on Eddie Izzard, PJ Harvey, and the troubled history of Sassy magazine and why it went poof! Def. pick up.

8. Sarah Weinman reviews Greek mysteries (by which I mean, mysteries set in Greece) for January Magazine. (Via TEV.)

9. Busch must be so pissed.

There is no number 10, so things will just have to hang, off kilter, for the remains of the day.

worm "The Rat," The Walkmen

namecheck Carrie "Kangaroo Rat Creature Goddess" Frye


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