Two Ways to Spend $400

If you have $400 burning a hole in your pocket, you could:

a) Pick up a new Amazon Kindle.

[I had to delete the crazy Amazon video because it took forever to load]

I don’t hate this as much as most people I’ve seen talk about this do, but I don’t have any need for it, either. I just don’t need that many books on my person at one time. Maybe when it gets Mojo, Thrasher, and The Economist I’ll pick one up.

b) Buy two OLPC laptops, one for you and one for a kid in a developing nation.

OLPC

For those who have been living in a cave, for the past five years Nicholas Negroponte has been working with a team in an effort to construct a durable, full-featured, $100 laptop for third world use. He’s looking to flatten the world further by giving kids in third world countries the ability to shop for daily bargains on woot.com. I jest a bit, but am a believer that this could have a material affect on the culture and economy of the countries where this program is instituted.

I think I’ll hold off for now, but when Lucinda is a little older I’ll definitely take them up on this offer. Maybe I’ll save myself time with holiday gifts and just give kids laptops in the name of friends and family this year.

ian

Sly and The Family Stone “Fresh” and “Small Talk” Zine from 1994

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Although I cut my teeth on Kiss, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Frank Zappa, and Rush, by the time I was a junior in high school I wasn’t listening to any “old” music except The Velvet Underground, and wouldn’t touch anything on a major label. I went from Minor Threat and Agnostic Front to ordering Isocracy and Artless vinyl from Maximum Rock N Roll. I wasn’t interested in anything you could buy at the record store at my local mall (except maybe Metallica and Slayer, to tell the whole truth).

Then I met Chad Miller. We first connected in Journalism class over Frank Zappa, but then he started bombarding me with GOOD MUSIC. Here you had a sixteen year-old kid that had the taste of a Mojo editor (not that I knew what Mojo was at the time, but in retrospect his taste may have been BETTER in most cases). He turned me on to Johnny Cash and Howlin’ Wolf, played Fun House and James Brown’s Motherload for me for the first time, and most importantly loaned me a Japanese CD import of Sly and The Family Stone’s Fresh and subsequently a vinyl copy of Small Talk, two albums which became religion to me and are still two of the most perfect albums I’ve ever heard. [side note: this education from Chad came prior to my run-in with Paul’s Boutique…I ended up loving that record because it was as if they’d made it out of my record collection…]

The albums were both panned on their release and while Fresh has gained notoriety Small Talk remains a footnote in today’s Wikipedia page on Sly. I maintain this is what drove Sly underground — he was defining the most resonant soul and the critics were cruel, saying his career was going into reverse. He was really onto something deeper than he’d been in the past, but the world wanted him to sing a simple song.

Somewhere around 1993 a tattoo artist in Bloomington, Indiana called St. Marq tattooed Sly on my right shoulder for $150. I wanted to do the shot from the inside of Fresh but Sly’s face is half-shadowed and Marq told me he needed something higher contrast or it wouldn’t look right. I took the shot from the back cover of Back on The Right Track and Marq did a pretty amazing job. Only two people have ever guessed correctly in the fifteen years since and I’ve heard it all, Buckwheat, Angela Davis, you name it. Thankfully I’m not sleeveless outside the house that often. Speaking of which, here I am inside the house on paternity leave with Lucinda about a year ago:

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Early in 1994 I grabbed a bottle of Boone’s Farm wine from the Bloomington Village Pantry (a 7-11 sort of joint) and walked the mile through campus toward Kinko’s. By midnight I’d finished the bottle and stumbled into Kinko’s front door. I remember a feeling of regret at that moment, wishing the walk were shorter and I weren’t already a bottle of cheap wine deep, because I had a backpack full of albums and magazines and a birthday art project ahead of me: I was on a mission to make a Fresh/Small Talk zine for my then-girlfriend Kim Howitt. Regardless, I set up shop at a table in Kinko’s and got to work, creating what I thought to be a worthy companion to the Fresh/Small Talk cassette tape I’d sent her months previous. Remember these albums weren’t on CD yet (Small Talk was released domestically on CD in 2007, I believe) and if you didn’t have the vinyl you didn’t have the lyrics.

Cut to yesterday when my wife’s dad brought over a bunch of boxes which needed storing…I was moving things around in the garage and found the original copy of the Fresh/Small Talk zine pretty much fully in tact (surprising since I’ve lost most any of this kind of artifact since leaving Indiana). I scanned it and threw it at my Flickr account as part of an ongoing tribute to two of the best records of all time. Enjoy.

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Tattooing a face on your body is almost as dumb as tattooing your fingers — I don’t recommend it. But Sly has served me well there. Alan Elliott still credits the tattoo with his first love for me, I bared it for the guy that owns Blue Note records in Miami and he came up off one of two alternate mixes of Fresh he was hiding in the back room, and my driver in SF a couple weeks back nearly fell out of the car upon seeing it — I had to show it to him after he spent half the drive telling me about hanging out with Sly in SF in the 60s. The good news is I haven’t changed my mind about Sly one bit since I put him there, those records still make me emotional every time I hear them.

ian

ps – Epic put out a decent CD box set of everything up through Small Talk this year. It’s a canon worth owning. Well worth the $63. Go for it.

Beastie Boys, 1985, 1995, 1998

Beastie Boys KXLU Glen E. Friedman
[photo © glen E. friedman / www.Burningflags.com]

Glen sent an email yesterday linking to a classic 1985 Beastie Boys radio interview live on Loyola Marymount college radio station KXLU. The show belonged to Adam Bomb and came from his blog where he’s uploading sound clips (check the blog for more interviews with Circle Jerks, Wasted Youth, Venom and more). The email from Glen:

classic BEASTIE BOYS interview from KXLU 1985
(just found this online by accident)
I set this up for them when they came to L.A. for the very first time
opening for Madonna.
I was showing them around town
and brought them to my friend Adam Bomb’s radio show

part one

part two

some classic tunes too including Russell’s rap on jazzy jay’s record
produced by Rick,
and a live version of their current record at the time “Beastie
groove”, and some Minor Threat too.
this shit is really funny… I took these photos outside the KXLU
studio just after this show

Beastie Boys KXLU Glen E. Friedman

Beastie Boys on KXLU Glen E. Friedman

Sorry Mike and Adams if hearing these now is embarrassing to you — I understand but don’t sweat it. Y’all were kids and we love you for it. It’s notable for the music (this is the first I’ve heard that MCA and Burzootie track) and to remind us all about when hip hop had a sense of humor, something it seems to have lost in the years since. Future hip hoppers could take a lesson from forgetting about “hip hop” and just getting together with a group of friends, making music, and having fun.

It also reminded me to make links to the Tour Zines I did from the road in 1995 and 1998. Danny Trommer put them up as part of his decade-long effort to build an online Beastie Boys museum, which is a damn good thing since I’ve moved ten times in the past twelve years and lost pretty much everything I own in the process, including every photo I took on those tours with those prehistoric digital cameras. Thanks, Danny!

So click here for the entire
1995 Beastie Boys Tour Zine, live from the road
. Remember, the Web was a different place in 1995. You weren’t there yet, yungun, there were no background colors yet and no Javascript let alone “AJAX”. Putting text down the side of an image was relatively new. So don’t make fun of the “design”. Highlights:

I managed to sneak on tour again in 1998, older and wiser, but unfortunately without Mark Thompson. I rode with the band instead of the crew (more hotels, less work) and didn’t have to babysit my computerized contraptions every night anymore (long story). Much fun. Thanks again to these guys for having me along and giving an Indiana kid experiences he’ll never forget. I owe ya forver.

You can browse through the tour diaries from the 1998 dates here. Since Mark wasn’t along the writing wasn’t particularly funny, sorry. The best thing we did was start taping shows to MiniDisc from the board, listening to them on the bus, then posting them on the site as MP3s. MP3s were a “new” thing in 1998, and Capitol wasn’t too happy with this “free music” thing we were up to. It landed Beastie Boys on the cover of Wall Street Journal and Red Herring, and me a job at Nullsoft. Below are the tracks I still had in the “Mini Disc Cuts” directory, I assume they’re a few of same ones we posted on the site back in 1998 (there are definitely some good ones I’ve lost, like Biz Markie joining them for Bennie and the Jets — anyone still have them all who can send them to me? I’ll post.):

Mix Master Mike’s Tom Sawyer show opener and Time For Livin, from Denver. Check the crowd noise when The Biz starts singing. Crazy.
Slow and Low, live in Kansas City
Ricky’s Theme, also from Denver
Flute Loop, recorded live in Chicago

Enjoy.

ian

Fatlip As “The Salmon”

Actually, Zoe just said, “Fatlip is not The Salmon, he’s The Piranha.”

http://cosmos.bcst.yahoo.com/up/embed/embedflv/swf/fop_embed.swf?id=v46209334

Zoe hipped me to the above Chemical Brothers video in which Pharcyde’s Fatlip returns. For those who missed it, his Lonliest Punk record from last year was actually pretty good.

And if you never saw the mini documentary Spike did on Fatlip, well, what are you waiting for?

Note you can watch the whole doc at that YouTube account as well as some other goodies like this one:

ian

Ninja, Kickflipping Cats

Sorry I haven’t posted since my now-infamous pro-context diatribe. It’s been a busy few weeks. I’m trying to cut down to just one job, but it’s going to take me a little while still it appears.

It’s been a time of non-stop shows. I’ve seen Eagles, Dixie Chicks, a Hank Williams Jr. tribute with Kid Rock, Buddy Guy, Toby Keith, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and a bunch of other folks, John Doe (at McCabe’s!), Tegan and Sara, Shelby Lynne, and Danzig (on Halloween no less). Varied, funny couple of weeks, culminating with Doyle joining Danzig on stage for four Misfits songs on Halloween night. It was a bit surreal to drive to see Danzig with an MC (Paranorm), DJ (DJ Destroy), and Amy Stevens from KROQ, listening to a hip hop mix tape the whole way to/from… That night I learned that I really don’t know any Danzig songs, but I absolutely know every word to every single Misfits song.

Now I’m in NYC, Lucinda is sleeping, Julie is with her sister, Zoe is in Boston visiting Ethan, and it’s me some headphones (Z-Trip and Lateef on at the moment) in a room in the Hotel London on 55th street.

I have a few longer posts I’ve been whittling away at, but I wanted to share a couple of things I’ve been enjoying lately since I have no idea when I’ll get the time to finish those up…

Firstly, Greg Shewchuk sent me this excellent animated short featuring a skateboarding cat and brick. Yes, that’s a brick that can pull kickflips on vert. Don’t miss this, it’s the future of entertainment:

Kleeman and Mike

That cat’s got skills.

On another note, as anyone who’s been following my Facebook status knows, I spent all of last weekend with the new AC/DC 3-DVD set, “Plug Me In”. What’s funny is that I found out about it from a banner add on my Last.fm page. Was I a victim of targeted marketing? The banner clicked through to Sony’s site, but I jumped over to Amazon and clicked buy. Upon arrival I fired up Handbrake and made it watchable on my Nano.

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Anyway, it rules. Well, let me be more specific, Bon Scott rules. Even though I was the kid who sat alone on a stump every recess period in second grade with a little Panasonic tape recorder listening to High Voltage, I’d never seen much live footage of Bon. He was rock n roll at its finest, a guy who could have just been the old dude hanging around the high school picking up underage girls but instead found a rock band he could lead and lived his dreams (until he didn’t anymore). There was a lot of magic in that early band.

They were blues++, but also had the notion that they should *entertain*, and they did in their own funny way, Angus constantly shaking his head with his little school boy backpack on, until he undresses and moons the crowd. That’s actually the worst part of the set, watching skinny little Angus strip multiple times. Might have seemed like a good idea at the time, but it’s not too tantalizing in 2007.

No offense to the guy, but it’s difficult to transition right from Bon into ol’ BJ. It’s hard to believe post-Bon Scott AC/DC couldn’t have done better than Brian Johnson. Sure, Back In Black was hot, For Those About to Rock was pretty good, Flick of the Switch didn’t completely suck, but starting with Fly On The Wall Brian led them into mediocrity. The only post-Bon footage that I could really sit through was the stuff from ’83. That was the Flick of the Switch tour and the same tour I caught them on at the age of 11 at the Notre Dame ACC (thanks, mom! maybe if we’re lucky mom will post the photo of me at age 11 in an AC/DC headband in the cheap seats. it’s mad embarrassing.).

Anyway, if you have any love for early AC/DC then this set is worth the thirty bucks. And if you don’t, well, I dunno what to say to you. You must not like rock music or just have never put in the time with Powerage or side two of High Voltage, which is a fuckin’ shame and I’m sorry. There’s still time!

Quick funny story. I get an out-of-nowhere phone call in my Grand Royal office one day around 2000. I answer, and it’s my friend Josh Blum on speaker phone. “Hey Ian,” he says, “who is the greatest rhythm guitarist of all time?” Without hesitating I say, “Malcolm Young.” “Thanks,” he says, and hangs up. Guess he had to settle a bet or something. Funny part is he and I had never discussed Malcolm’s “solos get in the way of my drinking” style, but I appreciated that he knew he could count on me for the correct answer.

Oh one more note. There’s a new Ween record! Not my favorite wEEn record of all time by a long shot but if you want to buy the two tracks which are classic Weenicity pick up The Object and My Party. The former is a sweet but evil tune featuring some of their melodic cleverness and the latter is a Sanborn-inspired plush carpet wife-swapping party ditty. Enjoy!

OK, time to call the front desk and see if we can change to a room which doesn’t have a “the building is falling down” noise every ten minutes. What could that be? Radiator? Hrm…

ian

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Now playing: DJ Z-Trip & Lateef – Track 2
via FoxyTunes