Q: Where Do Babies Come From? A: Lebanon!

Woah. Look what I found on Waxy.org:

http://www.pez.ca/~mashton/movies/kidshow2.wmv

More info on what it is and where it came from on Waxy.

Melissa Roberts, Beat Kids, is my new hero. “Why are you asking me these kinds of questions?” asks the old man. Without missing a beat, Melissa responds, “Because I’m a reporter.” And a damn good one.

Pretty amazing that this comes on the heels of the Pancake Mountain post.

Rad Girls Por Vida

I’m not exactly sure how I stumbled onto Pretty Girls Make Graves. None of my main musical influences (Jay Babcock, Rob Lord, etc) liked them (and still don’t). I think somehow I picked them out of the lot on KXLU. I don’t listen to KXLU so much, but they kept getting played while I was tuned in and through some casual listening I accidentally got in my head that they might be good. I don’t even remember hearing a specific song and doing the “Woah who was that!” + anxious call to the radio station. Mostly I just heard the name, knew the Smiths song of the same name, and maybe just in the way the KXLU girl pronounced “Pretty Girls Make Graves” with such reverence, I mentally noted that they deserved an explore.

So I fired up ye ole AllMusic.com and Audiogalaxy (those were the days) and pulled down a record which at the time seemed to be called “Is It Broken Doctor?” but now I realize is their Lookout! record (produced by Phil Ek) “Good Health”. I dug the energy and listened to it a couple times while staring at the computer and doing whatever it is I get paid to do. Still, I was withholding an opinion, my experience tells me that the KXLU bands (bad term, I know) often have a turd-colored lining — some initial sonic novelty followed by some realization that the band is two-dimensional at best.

Finally I made a CD of “Good Health” to listen to in the car. I gave it an honest go, listening a few times driving around with my then 12 (now 13) year old daughter, Zoe. The first song on the album is about loving music, “Do you remember when you couldn’t put it away / Do you remember what the music meant / To you / To me”. Every song is a serious anthem with freight train momentum. The drummer absolutely rules. These were my first impressions. Still, it wasn’t something that I was willing to recommend to people. No point: my old skateboard/music critic friends aren’t looking to identify with the naivety and my singer/songwriter-listening friends aren’t going to be able to absorb the intensity (anymore). But something unexpected had happened during our listens. The toughest critic I know, Zoe, had started requesting that we play it over and over.

Zoe’s musical taste has been like a mushroom growing under a large, shady tree. The poor thing, her dad (me) is a music-eating monster who hasn’t watched TV since she was born, his music appetite so severe. She’s known all the words to “Passing Me By” and “You Gots To Chill” since she was 5 (or younger?) but her personal tastes had gone from Jewel to Sarah McLaughlin to MC Luscious to more recently the Coppola “I got a record deal for my birthday!” disaster Rooney. She heads straight for the “Soundtracks” section at Amoeba. We’ve tolerated each other’s tastes for years but they were yet to intersect in any meaningful way.

But “Good Health” had taken her over. Within a few listens she was singing along. We didn’t have the CD or the lyric sheet but she’d figured out most of the words. I hadn’t. During the song about loving music (mentioned above) she’s singing along and I finally ask, “Wait, what is she saying?” Zoe looks at me with sympathy for not being able to understand and clues me in: “Nothing else matters when I turn it up loud.” WOAH. I realized that not only is this one of the greatest songs I’ve experienced in a long long time but Zoe had been bit. I got chills. Still get ‘em now just thinking about it.

The record hasn’t left the disc changer in the nearly one year since. Zoe and I have had endless cross-town sing-alongs, cruising at 75 down the 101 or 15 down the 405, screaming the lyrics to “Sad Girls Por Vida” (without question their finest work, a roller coaster where Andrea is screaming “SAD! GIRLS! FOR! LIFE” while Derek is screaming something else entirely with a final refrain/breakdown that’s like the energy of the song just spilling over and preventing a sooner ending). Finally, PGMG came to town. I took Zoe to the show. She couldn’t get close enough to the stage. I was two people behind her, which is way closer than I’d have been without her, I’m not as interested in swaying back and forth with the drunk 19 year old lesbians trying to knock my glasses off anymore. She was sheltered from the sway by a skin-headed kid and stared at the stage feeling the whole thing. Allow me to paint the scene she was staring at – a twenty-something girl with long bangs, far from super-model thin but in control of the crowd who is absolutely in love with her (during a song where the lyrics are “you’re all that matters” I swear half the crowd was singing the lines to her), a nappy headed black man with indie rock glasses making guitar noise to her right, a tall Thurston Moore kinda looking gent (formerly in Murder City Devils unless I’ve got it wrong) playing bass to her immediate right, a baby-faced kid destroying on a Rickenbacker to his left, and a thin drummer absolutely owning a small drum kit in the back. I’ve heard multiple people run the “I heard they suck live” line before, and maybe it’s just me seeing the whole thing through Zoe’s eyes (and knowing the records inside and out probably doesn’t hurt), but it was one of the most powerful shows I’d seen in a long time. Genuinely moving.

The whole thing just reminded me of why I liked Minor Threat when I was fifteen – an incredible balance of soul, energy, power, creativity, musicality, and idealism. When Andrea is singing about “all the people with nothing in their eyes” she’s acknowledging something that any considerate kid knows instinctively: most people aren’t thinking or feeling much of anything. It stakes out the same perfectly inconclusive idealism that Ian McKaye voiced in “Another State of Mind”, (paraphrasing) “I didn’t know what it was I wanted to be, but I knew I didn’t want to be like that.” Zoe felt it. I felt it. I don’t think you’re supposed to identify so closely with your thirteen year old. Doesn’t that violate some rules of parenting somewhere?

Enough already, I know. Bottom line: Pretty Girls Make Graves are the real deal.

A Young Person’s Guide to Pretty Girls Make Graves:

PGMG have three releases: A self-titled EP on Dim Mak, an LP on Lookout! called “Good Health”, and a recent LP on Matador called “The New Romance”. Check ‘em out in this order:

“Good Health” – Absolutely amazing beginning to end. I don’t think I’ve ever heard as solid an album of immediate anthems. This is the one that we starteed with, and it still gets weekly listens.

“Pretty Girls Make Graves” EP – Four good tracks which sound best once you’ve already worn out “Good Health”. The last track where Andrea is mad as hell is a favorite.

“The New Romance” – Good to great, but has a couple of dull moments, which the other two do not. It also lacks the “we’ve got something to prove” vibe of the other two which always makes for better albums, IMHO. I think I had my hopes up too high after “Good Health”. I was expecting the album of the decade. You can buy this one in the Apple Music Store if yer so inclined.

Buy. Listen. Enjoy. Music is the best.

And You Though Fugazi Was For “The Kids”

This just in via Mary Chen:

DC is getting a punk rock kids show featuring Bob Mould, Kathy Wilcox, and Ian McKaye. Watch the opening theme, a performance from Vic Chesnutt that in no way rivals Stevie Wonder’s Sesame Street performance, and a video for “Vowel Movement” by Ian McKaye’s “We’re really doing it for the kids this time” band The Evens:

http://www.pancakemountain.com/musicandvideo.html

Wow. Here’s the press release, which I stole from Mary’s site:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New Kids’ TV Show Set to Rock Nation’s Capital

Washington DC (November 4, 2003) – Pancake Mountain, an exciting new Washington DC television show for children of all ages, will launch as a special pilot promotional webcast on November 15th. The prototype episode (see enclosed DVD) features an array of national and local talent sure to entertain the child and Washingtonian in all of us.

Pancake Mountain assembles an unlikely cast of characters, from punk legend (and new DC resident) Bob Mould to beloved WTOP radio reporter Neal Augenstein. The opening PM theme song is written by BRENDAN CANTY (Fugazi/Rites of Spring) and KATHY WILCOX (Bikini Kill). Former presidential candidate JOHN ANDERSON handles the first reading segment with the classic ‘Sunday Morning’.

But Pancake Mountain’s main asset is music, music, and more music! The first week’s musical guest is very special indeed: IAN MACKAYE (Minor Threat/Fugazi) who with his new – and as of yet never seen or heard – group THE EVENS. MacKaye not only performs but lip-syncs to an amazingly fun and catchy diddy called “Vowel Movements”. And City Paper dared to do a cover story saying this guy has ruined DC music by not
being fun enough.

Also in episode one, legendary songwriter VIC CHESNUTT (covered by Madonna, Smashing Pumpkins, REM) performs his favorite kids’ song, “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”. WOW – and Washingtonians thought interesting local TV was dead when Captain 20 packed up his gerbil races and left town. But do not fear, local filmmaker and producer SCOTT STUCKEY and Monkey Boy studio have come up with something bizarre, witty and unique to save the day. Boring corporate programming look out!

General Wesley Clark Speaks Out on Iraq/Outkast

Kudos to whomever at Rock The Vote pulled this together:

http://www.rockthevote.com/multimedia/candidates/clark.artv.affl.150k.mov

They clearly have love for eachother. They don’t really even have creative differences. Just different paths. Andre produced Ghetto Music for Big Boi. Big Boi dropped the verse on Roses. They’re sticking together for the time being.

Wesley, I feel you. I’m not a registered Dem so I won’t be voting in the primary, tho. Sorry.

John Perry Barlow describes the typical NeXT User

John Perry Barlow (self-described “Junior Varsity Grateful Dead Lyricist” and co-founder of the EFF) on This American Life:

NeXT was one of the only computers I’ve ever been around where elegance of design was really important to the product, and it attracted the strangest kind of hybrid which was kind of like ‘Unix Weenies by Armani’.”

Today at lunch I suggested to Jim Dinda that probably holds true for OS X users, too, and he said, “Yeah, except now it’s Unix Weenies by Paul Frank.”

It’s amazing how even the most knowledgeable Mac head doesn’t seem to realize how much NeXTSTEP (circa 1991) there is under the hood of their beloved machine. The most basic object in the Cocoa framework is “NSObject”. There are NSWindows, NSButtons, and NSStrings (all just to keep backward compatible with OpenSTEP, but that’s the point, they’ve remained true to OpenSTEP and are trying to get people to move away from the old MacOS code). Mail.app is a NeXTSTEP holdover, in fact the entire .app as a directory serving as an application bundle is an old NeXTSTEP thang. There isn’t anything this Powerbook I’m typing on can do that my NeXT cube couldn’t do in ’92. It had Audio/Video in/out, R/W floptical drive (superdrive, anyone?), and the same damn development environment and frameworks underneath (NSSound in Cocoa still only supports .snd and .au! (you’ve got to use Quicktime for fancier support)). I think some of my Mac friends are starting to appreciate this NeXT tattoo on my calf a little more. Is the long (11 year), embarassing phase over?! Wishful thinking, I suppose.

BTW, I subscribed to a year of This American Life from Audible.com. Well worth the $45/year (money much better spent than on a subscription to the New Yorker, for example). Zoe and I are spending nearly two hours in the car some days and TAL makes it enjoyable.