A Movie, Made For TV

Pulp - This Is Hardcore

I’m sure you’re thinking I’m just some sappy dad who writes about his kids and you wish I’d get back to writing about metal, misogynistic rap, or some combination thereof, but I have to share a milestone in my nineteen month-old’s development: singing songs from Pulp’s This Is Hardcore.

That’s right, she doesn’t just like Cheech, she also asks for Aretha Franklin, Amy Winehouse, and Elizabeth Mitchell by name and tonight, when I was singing her songs from This Is Hardcore like I do EVERY SINGLE NIGHT (that I’m home) she sang along.

As I’ve confessed earlier, I sing Pulp songs at bedtime because the songwriting is genius and they never get boring to me. For whatever reason, TV Movie is a favorite. It’s sweet but not simple and isn’t a stretch as a bedtime ditty.

Lately, Lucinda hasn’t always wanted songs at bedtime. Kids change and on a few recent nights she’s decided she can do without my terrible singing. “Night night. No song.” OK, no problem, not terribly shocking considering my vocal range. But tonight, after having skipped a nap entirely, she was into it. I had her full attention. I sang a couple of kids songs from Taj Mahal’s kids record and then rocked the familiar TV Movie as the encore. “Without you, my life has become, a hangover without end,” I started. Then Lucinda picked it up, “A mooooveeee may fore teevee,” she chimed in. Guess she’s been paying attention the last year.

This one’s for you, Lucinda.

Pulp - This Is HardcorePulp – TV Movie
Buy the CD on Amazon (no seriously, if you don’t know this record, get it and sit down with the lyric sheet for a few years. hedonistic, sad, hilarious, genius.)

I finished with “Dishes” and then she cried when I left the room, saying “more song, more song”. Aw shucks.

Captain Cheech

Speaking of Cheech, we received an advance of the new Cheech kids book through an inside source. Review forthcoming. Pre-order here.


Yeasayer and Man Man Have Way More Than 1000 Fans

Yeasayer live in Brooklyn
[foto by Bryan Bruchman, found on Flickr]

Yeasayer - All Hour CymbalsYeasayer – Wait For The Summer
Buy MP3s at Amazon

I’ve been using Yeasayer as an example of the power of music blogs for a few months now. Last night my claim got a nice, unprompted validation from the band’s tour manager.

Yeasayer is a great example of how the Internet has changed the music business (IMHO) because all the points in the argument are unquestionable. They’re talented and unique. They’re somewhat accessible (your mom wouldn’t likely say “turn that noise off!” if you played it for her) yet no one would fool themselves for half a second into thinking they’d ever get radio play. Their debut from last year is a truly great album that has no hope in traditional promotional channels. Yet they were blog darlings of 2007 and they’ll play to small yet packed houses all over the world (they just started a tour with Man Man and the first four nights have all been sold out). Yet if the album had come out 20 years ago we’d just now be discovering it and wondering “how did this slip through the cracks in the system?!” We’d be trying to get the band to re-form so we could finally appreciate them live.

Thanks to music blogs I, like many others, heard about Yeasayer last year and last night finally got the opportunity to see them live here in Boston. They were great. The aforementioned tour with Man Man is definitely the must-see show of the spring. Do not miss it.

Man Man Live in Brooklyn
[foto by Bryan Bruchman, found on Flickr]

Man ManMan Man – Top Drawer
Buy MP3s at Amazon

Between sets my friend Mark Kates introduced me to preeminent music writer Joan Anderman (ten years at the Boston Globe) and I rambled on about the music blog movement and in particular how I think it’s real but still very early and therefore filled with business opportunity. This isn’t a big shocker, I’ve been saying this to anyone who will listen for months.

Then, just a few minutes later, Mark and I found ourselves at the merch table chatting with Yeasayer’s tour manager (Mark is friendly with these guys, he manages MGMT and Yeasayer and MGMT toured together recently). The three of us were staring at the wall covered in posters for upcoming shows at The Paradise, talking about how much good music there was to see, and how business is for bands like Yeasayer. “It’s the blogs,” he finally said, unbeknownst to the conversation Mark and I just had with Joan. Mark gave me the “well, there you have it” look. Full circle.

This is all interesting to me because while I did a lot of “music blogs are the future of music discovery” pushing at Yahoo!, it was always met with credible resistance because the size of the addressable market is still undeniably small. Most of my favorite music blogs don’t even show up on the Comscore radar, Hype Machine just finally broke the 1MM unique users/month mark, and the entire space is just a few million uniques per month. But when you have bands touring and making money making their art based on buzz generated by sites like Brooklyn Vegan, do the absolute numbers matter? I don’t think so. The fact that a new connection between people who make music and people who love music is made, one that’s outside the mainstream and in many ways more efficient, is the shape of things to come. This is all part of the “1000 fans” meme. The numbers may be wrong but the sentiment is dead on. Empowered consumers and unlimited choice changes everything, from who the gatekeepers are to who the tastemakers are to where the audiences spend their increasingly scarce attention. And it’s good for culture. I love it.

Of course as I type this the dude in front of me on the plane is watching old Dukes of Hazard episodes on his laptop. Maybe he didn’t get the memo about unlimited choice? 😉


The Miracle of Science

Menu at Miracle of Science

Hello from the Miracle of Science Bar and Grill, Cambridge, Massachusetts. I’m drinking a Fisherman’s Ale, waiting on a veggie burger, Black Keys are coming from the ceiling, and my feet are aching. I found shelter just in time, moments before the third downpour of the day. Zoe and I are in Cambridge/Boston for MIT’s “Campus Preview Weekend”, an action-packed three-days filled with hundreds of events for pre-frosh and their parents. For many just-accepted high school seniors it’s a trip to decide if they want to come to MIT or do something less nerdy, but MIT was Zoe’s first choice and the admission letter came months ago (early admission) so for her this trip is much more about meeting people, sampling a couple classes, and figuring out where she wants to live. Oh, and partying. That is, if you count playing Rock Band at the Skull House until the wee morning hours and watching the Pavement documentary at the radio station partying.

I have to say, I’m impressed. This weekend doesn’t feel like it was put together by the admissions office, it feels like the whole campus came together to welcome the incoming class. The events range from the ridiculous (“Prom Dress Rugby”) to the nerdy (“Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream — Liquid Nitrogen is really cold. So is ice cream. Coincidence?”) to the straightforward/expected (“an intro to campus residence halls for parents”). The majority of them are student run and everyone is welcoming. I’ve seen plenty of nerdy, but no antisocial. On the contrary, I’ve seen people who might be antisocial in other settings running the social show. It’s inspiring.

I had the pleasure of seeing Donald Sadoway do his song/dance for parents on Thursday night. The guy is a rock star and I’m sure they paraded him out in front of us for a reason but if the instructors here are half as compelling as this guy was I’d feel like I was getting my money’s worth. He was brilliant, hilarious, and irreverent, played us songs, taught us chemistry, and railed against the treatment of women in science over the ages. He showed us research his team is doing to try to make steel production produce oxygen as a byproduct instead of carbon-dioxide (“what if people wanted the steel mill to be in their neighborhood because the trees were greener?”) and most importantly conveyed convincingly that the reason he is here is for the students, because these are our future leaders and they’re worthy of our investment.

(here’s a video of Donald Sadoway I found on YouTube)

Simmons Hall, MIT

I ate in a college dorm for the first time in my life (Zoe was on this planet by the time I started college so I lived in family housing at Indiana U). Zoe was off with friends so I braved this awkward first-time college experience not just twenty years too late but alone. I thought it might be traumatic, compounded by the fact that no one dares approach me because they have no idea where I fit — I look too old to be one of the students and too young to be one of the parents — I’ve freaked so many people out this weekend I’m starting to feel guilty and wonder if I should just lie and say I’m a grad student. But after sitting alone at the architecturally incredible Simmons Hall for a few minutes with my veggie quiche I invited myself to sit with an older couple who turned out to be the house-masters. John and Ellen were kind enough to give me tons of info about living at Simmons and existing at MIT. John is a Bio-Engineering professor (Zoe is planning to study Bio-Med-Engineering at the moment) and told us all about the research trip to Thailand he’s taking seven students on this summer. “Wow” to me, pretty much par for the course around here.

I can’t speak for Zoe just yet, but this weekend has been good for me. As anyone who has had the misfortune of bumping into me since Zoe was accepted to MIT knows, I’m incredibly proud of her for being the kind of kid a school like MIT (and five others) wants. But of course it also means that after 18 years of being my little girl, she’s going to move across the country and be an adult. Well, maybe not an adult, but a voting/buying guns-age college kid at the very least. It’s hard. I’ve nearly cried a dozen times this weekend and I stopped writing this paragraph five times already because I’m in a public place and trying not to be the dude in a bar typing in Pages, drinking his second beer, and welling up (fyi, I gave up, powered through, and shed a few tears in a public place. far as I could tell no one but the waitress bringing said second beer noticed). This weekend has eased me out a little bit, made me feel a part, put faces to the names of places and buildings I’ll be hearing about for the next four years. Part of the process.

[Zoe and me at Mark Thompon’s wedding, Portland, OR, March, 2008. foto by Molly Robinson.]

So cheers to MIT. Take care of my baby.

I’m off to see Yeasayer and Man Man with Mark Kates at The Paradise.


I’ll Post Since Glen Won’t

Glen E. Friedman superpost!

Glen in NYC

A few weeks ago photographer, idealist, and all around amazing guy Glen E. Friedman sent me an audio file of him being interviewed by Ian Svenonius at the Independent & Small Press Book Fair, at the Center for Independent Publishing in New York City.

Glen E. FriedmanGlen E. Friedman and Ian Svenonius Interview

And (unrelated) Friday night Glen IM’d me these amazing, unpublished skate shots (one of Cab, two of Lance):




If you don’t already have them, buy Glen’s books. You should own them all, in this order of priority (IMHO):
Fuck You Heroes
The Idealist
Fuck You Too
Dogtown: Legend of the Z Boys
Keep Your Eyes Open: The Fugazi Photographs

Then, late Friday Glen sent the following email and video:

yeah, this was the first video for Boogie Down Productions
in case you never saw it : THE BRIDGE IS OVER;
this was shot at a club I went to a few times
on the north west corner of union square
where there is now a “PETCO” store
the place closed down before the 80’s were over,
it was notorious for hip hop and gun slinging from 86-87.
cool video gives you a taste of the rockin’ fun

A bit random, I know, but great stuff, too great not to share. I tried to tell Glen that he needs a blog, but he said that’s what he has me and (sexy geek) Sean Bonner for. So by posting this, I’m just doing my job.


Future of the Left

A couple of random notes since I’m still way short on time but I’d promised (myself) I’d post a little more frequently…

Mark Gonzales by Glen E. Friedman

Glen E. Friedman sent the above photo of Mark Gonzales tonight. He shot it with his wife’s iPhone earlier today. I love The Gonz and even bought a Gonz board two weeks back in Indiana, and gave it to my friend Greg’s kid, Hank. But more on that in another upcoming post…

After knowing Glen for nearly fifteen years I finally saved up enough scratch to by some classic Glen E. Friedman prints. I scored the classic Jay Adams frontside grind from the cover of Fuck You Heroes, The Jerr pushing 11 o’clock in the Turning Point full pipe plexi-glass capsule ramp from The Idealist, Chuck D in the cell from Fuck You Heroes (#2 in the series, Russell Simmons has #1), and HR caught 100% upside down, also from FYH. I also picked up prints of the classic Minor Threat and Beastie Boys “Salad Days” shots, plus a great poster with Neil Blender. Great stuff which I desperately need to take to the framer but haven’t had time yet due to job change/life craziness.

Minor Threat by Glen E. Friedman

If you’re a serious collector and interested in owning any of Glen’s prints let me know and I’ll connect you.

Finally, I have been meaning for many months to tell you to buy this amazing new(ish) album by Future Of The Left. From the ashes of McLusky comes this Welsh math-rock supergroup who makes sure every song is equipped with a memorable one-liner, repeated ad infinitum (“if you wanna press press us”, “why put the body where the body don’t wanna go?”, “real men hunt in packs”).

MANCHASM future of the left

[via FoxyTunes / Future of the Left]

The whole record is great. Definitely making my top ten list this year.

Future Of The Left - Curses

Future Of The Left - CursesFuture Of The Left – Manchasm
Buy MP3s on Amazon

And in case you missed ’em first time around, a classic McLusky track for you.

McLusky - The Difference Between Me And You Is That I'm Not On Fire

McLusky - The Difference Between Me And You Is That I'm Not On FireMcLusky – She Will Only Bring You Happiness
Buy MP3s on Amazon

Great stuff. Enjoy.


Cool Change

Topspin HQ, Santa Monica

Word is leaking out, so I may as well set the record straight…

After four years and three months, I’m leaving Yahoo! for another opportunity. I’ll be joining founders Peter Gotcher and Shamal Ranasinghe as the CEO at a still-mostly-stealth company called Topspin Media. Our mission is to help artists earn a living through software. There’s obviously a lot more to it, but if I dropped it all here the company wouldn’t be so stealth anymore, would it? See this prescient, THIRTEEN YEAR-OLD Wired article for some (way) back-story.

Having started my “career” fourteen years ago working with artists and artist managers, it feels as if this is the opportunity I’ve been careening toward. I couldn’t be more excited. To say you should expect to hear a lot more from us very soon would be an understatement. As I always say, anything worth doing is worth over-doing.

I had a great run at Yahoo! and have nothing but love for my peoples there. I wasn’t looking to leave. On my team in 2008 we released the very cool Yahoo! Media Player, purchased and are integrating the incredible FoxyTunes, released a great new version of Yahoo! Video, and were working on an insanely cool stealth product (I will cry when I lose VPN access because I’ll lose access to my primary music listening vehicle) which I hope still sees the light of day. Scott Moore is a righteous dude and is pulling the Yahoo! Media Division into a cohesive unit. I expect big things. Bring it, yo.

There are *way* too many of you to mention by name, but to all my Yahoo! peoples: I love ya. Like Sly said, “Miss me, see ya soon.” I wouldn’t be surprised to find our companies working together in the not-too-distant future.

Thanks to everyone for their interest in what I’m up to, advice, kind words, criticism, etc. It’s been a hectic couple months of soul-searching and I can’t tell you how much it means to me to have so many smart and caring people around me (Julie, Zoe, Jason, Jonathan, Rob, Dad, and a few others who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty…THANK YOU). Appreciated (even though I know I ignored most of the advice — have to follow my heart and instincts).


ps – Now you know why I’ve been light on the blogging front. Been a little pre-occupied lately, not to mention taking a little “vacation” to my hometown in Indiana in the middle. But I have a backlog of silly blog posts I hope to trickle out in the weeks ahead, please subscribe so you don’t miss any of ’em.