one thing I like about Obama

Herbstnebel wallen bläulich überm See;
Vom Reif bezogen stehen alle Gräser;
Man meint', ein Künstler habe Staub vom Jade
Über die feinen Blüten ausgestreut.

Der süße Duft der Blumen ist verflogen;
Ein kalter Wind beugt ihre Stängel nieder.
Bald werden die verwelkten, goldnen Blätter
Der Lotosblüten auf dem Wasser zieh'n.

Mein Herz ist müde. Meine kleine Lampe
Erlosch mit Knistern;
Es gemahnt mich an den Schlaf.
Ich komm' zu dir, traute Ruhestätte!
Ja, gib mir Ruh', ich hab Erquickung not!

Ich weine viel in meinen Einsamkeiten.
Der Herbst in meinem Herzen währt zu lange.
Sonne der Liebe, willst du nie mehr scheinen,
Um meine bittern Tränen mild aufzutrocknen?

Autumn mists drift, blue-tinged cross the lake...
Coated with frost, all the grass stands stiff;
One would think an artist had sprinkled jade dust
Over the delicate blossoms.

The sweeet scent of the flowers has vanished.
A cold wind bends their stems;
Soon the faded golden petals
Of the lotus will float past on the water.

My heart is weary. With a crackling sound my little lamp
Has gone out; it reminds me of sleep!...
I am coming to you, dear place of rest,
Yes, give me rest, I am in need of comfort.

I often weep in my lonely days...
The autumn in my heart has lasted too long.
Sun of love, will you never hine again
To gently dry away my bitter tears?

I know: jesus. but it's beautiful, right? I have a strong & distinct memory that I can't connect to any particular time or place of being somewhere & having a kind of a filthy old man rant to me pationately about Mahler. I remember especially him saying & this is Alma, right, & he just writes every curve of her body & he was sort of foaming, scaring me a little. I sort of want this to've happened almost maybe too much to be trusted on the memory. but I think it's real. one thing that make life better all the time is kooks. let's hear it for kooks.

& let's hear it for der einsame im herbst from Mahler's lied von der erde.

I have to admit that the auto bailout seems better than I thought. I am wrong about everything & just taking more baths from now on, ok?


powerful gasoline

I'm sorry it's been so long since I last posted to the blog; I have been incredibly busy doing fantastically important things.

anyhow, this'll be a short post, but I've got some good stuff to share & largely also wanted to just check in -- a meatier heap is in the works. for now, some points of hygiene:

1) well, Odetta died today. I fe
el sad about that. one voice.
2) did you hear about Deborah Lawrence? & then my question is: is the art the event or the object?
3) sorry it's been so long since I've posted
. mystifyingly, human beings continue to organize themselves into groups defined by kinship. & so I have been eating cousins' turkeys, or something. but I have a great post coming in the next day or two, a survey of a few of the really excellent things coming out on records right now. also some stinkers that sent me on fun tangents. it's going to include some out-of-print Anthony Braxton, the smiths in ukrainian (major improvement, from my perspective), the story of the time I saw 96-year-old Claire Barry sing makin' woopie vegas-style to a puddle of terror-struck midtowneres & some great stuff from new york's yiddish radio of the 40s.

in the meantime, here's a fanfuckingtastic song by the adventure, which is the nom de bleep of a guy called Benny Boeldt who's part of wham city, a baltimore-based arts collective whose most famous member is Dan Deacon. (hmmnnn.... baltimore, балтийское море... mere coincidence?). he gets a really grainy, lovely sound. (it's not made with 8-bit synthesizers, but you can hear how someone might make the mistake.) he gets a lot across in a really lean way. there are some lessons from Bach. & it's just fun. anyhow, here:

click here to download travel kid by the adventure.

the other day I saw the movie slumdog millionaire. I didn't love it, but the soundtrack is by A.R. Rahman, whom you should definitely know if you don't. one song that really got my ear was this one, which is called o... saya. I don't know what that means. it's a great song, maybe sort of, I don't know, gaudy?, but also really striking & interesting & essentially well-done. check it out.

click here to download o... saya by A.R. Rahman & M.I.A.

& now here is something very exquisite & weird & magnificent, for if you missed out on the splendor that was bratislava in 1966.


send Odetta some love

ok, there's a lot it's important to say, but first, take a look at this: this is fucking crazy. look at what Sarah Palin agreed to stand in front of when she gave this interview. wow.

now, by request (thanks, Rachael), a post about Odetta, who, very sad to say, is reported ill. days ago she was in kidney failure, and she's already proving the doctors wrong. & plastered across the wall in her hospital room is, guess what?, a great big smiling BARACK OBAMA! Odetta is keeping herself alive right now, against failure of body, just to sing at Obama's inauguration; than her mature swan of a voice none is better suited to that magnificent event. and so for now, & for 58 days, Odetta is in a hospital room in Manhattan, holding to life by an incredible exertion of will. please send some humanity Odetta's way. she would do, has done, the same for you.

one song Odetta sings just resplendently is deep river, an old spiritual. (other notable appearances include a guest spot in one of the movies of show boat.) Odetta sings it with a conviction so rich it feels innately communal. & her pacing, her tempo are perfect! that voice. the song becomes utterly hers: will you ever want to hear a different recording of it? you won't -- she takes it all the way.

click here to download deep river by Odetta.

a song that shows a more aggressive style Odetta can play is jack o' diamonds. I don't know anyone who sings this song the way Odetta does. listen to how good her left hand is (that's such a dead-on guitar line that it feels familiar, even tho I've never heard one quite like it). her voi
ce is as vast and subtle as ever, & its small shifts in color can be greatly moving. she always finds room to breathe, whatever the song she's singing. hear this & you'll understand: Odetta is the kind of woman who can decide to stay alive for Obama's inauguration. whose last act should be to sing at Obama's inauguration.

click here to download jack o'diamonds by Odetta.

I do not think Odetta is at her best with a jazz band. but what's interesting is that when she's with a band she has insights into that music as rare as all her musical insights; and it's a treat to hear her singing in any new light. so the song is a pleasure. the trumpet player here is a guy called Buck Clayton, an old member of Basie's band, and a really completely fucking fascinating side story is that Buck Clayton lived in shanghai in the 30s, where he befriended a qin player named Lí Jǐnhuī (that's 黎錦輝 if you can; I can't). they went on collaboratively to invent shídàiqǔ, a unique style of song influenced by jazz and by chinese musical traditions that flowered in china from then until the end of the war (ish). Lí was killed in the cultural revolution in 1967, his work having been labeled 黃色音樂, a complicated classification sometimes translated as yellow music & involving charges of cultural degeneracy. Buck Clayton, on the other hand, recorded this with Odetta in 1962 & later became a professor at CUNY. it's the grass the suffers. but here, give it a listen.

click here to download weeping willow blues by Odetta with Buck Clayton playing the trumpet.

and one more exciting & beautiful song Odetta sings is chilly winds. she's just positively arctic here, a fucking blast. her voice reminds me of the bridge over the neva in november. it has force. this, like deep river, is from her 1957 record at the gate of horn; for the most part a gorgeous set put down with the tasteful bass player Bill Lee (Spike's papa), who turned 80 this summer. (Odetta's a little younger -- she was born the last day of 1930.)

I imagine Bill Lee & Odetta must be burning with wonder. when I lived in russia I met a few people who'd been kids during the october revolution, & they were just overwhelming to talk to, the epochs they'd survived. in Odetta's life or Bill Lee's the event seems operatic in magn
itude. Obama is a big fucking deal!, & there's no voice that contains fiercer multitudes than Odetta's. for having kept our shit together we deserve to hear Odetta at the inauguration. she was 23 during brown v board of ed. the schoolkids I worked with in petersburg had never heard of leningrad. Odetta is the real america. don't take my word for it:

click here to download chilly winds by Odetta

& then please let's each write her a card to let her know that this immense expenditure of will she's undertaking -- which must involve great suffering, for her -- is not wasted. you can & should send Odetta some loving encouragement at:

Ms. Odetta Gordon
room # 719, 7th floor intensive care unit

lenox hill hospital
100 east 77th street
new york, ny 10021

as terrifically saddening as the news is, I'm glad it at least came when I needed some reminding of how thrilled & astonished I am that the us has elected its first black president and disrupted the most villainous course taken in its whole villainous history in the same act. my complete revulsion at mccain & his winking homunculus of a running mate could have driven me to rabid support for any democratic candidate, but it's clear that Obama really is a special step forward. his articulateness, his tangibility. he makes it look so good we forget that it sort of looked good before. (it reminds me of how dated once-innovative episodes of seinfeld look when I see them in syndication. cool-at-the-time Bill Clinton had to say that he'd smoked but not inhaled, which was asinine but exculpated him; curb-your-enthusiasm president Obama said, "I inhaled -- that was the whole point.") he seems completely sincere, & that's astonishing, even unheimlich in an uhmerican politician.

still, there are elements of his politics I detest. he has promised to use military force in pakistan unilaterally, has made statements that suggest he's beholden to the israel lobby (tho he's also sort of said no no not like that about it), and has of late been palling around with (actual) terrorists like Zbigniew Brzenzinski & Richard Holbrooke. in this interesting article the consummately reasonable Robert Parry notes that "[after] a masterful campaign, Barack Obama seems headed toward some fateful mistakes as he assembles his administration by heeding the advice of Washington’s Democratic insider community, a collective group that represents little 'change you can believe in.'" these are swift currents we're asked to swim.

so, anyway, but my point is, it's nice to be reminded that something special is happening, despite a spreading disillusionment. it's deeply moving that Odetta is refusing to die till she can sing him in. we're only just beginning to see glimpses of Obama's permanent place in our psyche, but we all know sweetly together we're living thru Something. (five years ago no one had heard of him!) his personal courage, his power as a social force & a social example, the way he won by not condescending to us & by not french-kissing, and his eloquent impossibility can be an inspiration as strong as manifest destiny, only better, because manifest destiny was evil. this is our holiday year. it makes sense to feel a somber kind of joy.


I made you something

just finally got my music software up & running again (thanks, Greg!) & immediately made this song. it's just a silly thing, but I hope you'll have fun hearing it.

click here to download principles of management by me.



I first heard the song liar, liar, by the non-existant-except-for-the-song-liar,-liar band the castaways, when I was about 8. I had bought a record (I am so old that I had bought it new on vinyl) called frat rock, volume 3. I'd never heard the word frat but it sounded brutal to me, & liar, liar struck me as immensely powerful caveman music. & the band was called the castaways, so I pictured them as a bunch of high-foreheaded loinclothed lunatics waving rocks at each other on a little green island somwhere. (in an intriguing turn, the castaways were the only band of whom there was no photograph on the album sleeve.) that angry brunhilda & her crazy husky castaway voice! the song remains an absolute favorite. (I've since learned it's best known now for being played in the movie good morning vietgivemeafuckingbreak & for being on nuggets.)

the record also had some over-caffeinated commentary from someone named Gene Sculatti:
What we have here: a bone fide land 'o lakes frat band, formed for the sole purpose of playing campus beer busts. As one shots go, the Casts' is a riffin' wonder, and oh so '65.
now, Gene, nothing persona
l (Gene, Gene, I love you Gene), but reading that when I was 8 I understood about as much as a dog would. I'd never heard the words bona fide, & they sounded vaguely consonant with my caveman idea. I did not know what beer busts were, but they sounded like scoundrels would have them. as one shots go seemed to have two verbs. & so on.

I now of course realize that the upshot of Gene's comments is that this is a great song to listen to at parties, by a band from minnesota. (goooooooo Franken, let's re that count, fellows!) but it's a dark, brutal, beautiful song. fantastically well-produced: the sounds work together perfectly, the band sounds like they're precisely somewhere. they sing like they can't say what they want. that fantastic guitar sound! something else that's true of liar, liar is that it is, to borrow an adjective from health class, real gateway music: so rich, lively, & pleasing that it drives me to want to hear all kinds of other music -- powerful organ sounds, songs that describe blunt & childlike emotions, duets, dark songs, thick songs, music that involves a lot of repetition, music where someone screams. one of my metropsalmoi (μήτρόψαλμοι, is that right?). music is a wonderful gift of childhood!

click here to download liar, liar by the castaways.

then, really very recently, a spray of finitudes clouded the glass of my wonder: I saw this clip of the movie it's a bikini world, wherein I learned that the castaways look like a breakaway from the hitler youth: tidy youths all, & bl
ond. my brunhilda is a minnesota farmboy's grimacing falsetto! if the song were capable of being ruined, this would do it for me:

I don't know much about the dutch group the opposites, but they have a pretty terrific song called ik ben dom, lomp en famous (which means I'm dumb, nasty, & famous). at least I think it's terrific. does anyone speak dutch? still it's an exciting song & they are fucking ridiculous: double delight. this song will make you want to become a greezy evropean. (& yes, that's a very cognate lomp, in the song title. here's a hint: dutch marXists talk about the lompenproletariaat. absolutely.)

click here to download ik ben dom, lomp en famous by the opposites.

& now, to close on a really depressing note, here is what the castaways are like now, still playing this same fucking song. if there's one thing we can learn from watching this, it is always do something different. for real. but I mean, really, put the kids to bed first. this is just about the most depressing thing I have ever seen, ever.

wow. I mean, the guy actually says senior moment. for something a lot more vernal, take a listen to this fun song by the zargozan rapper Rapsusklei. his accent is dense brush, & I have no idea what this song is about either, but I love the fervor of it, the sense I get from his delivery that he counts it a privilege to make music. this one won't turn you inside-out, but I bet it is the perfect thing if you are CLEANING THE BATHROOM. I like the way he says como tanta. I like the way he says mushiqa. I like to imagine him coming to new york city & getting dorky over how tall the buildings are. maybe he is really street. maybe he is rapping about his grampa's fishing boat. surely someone can understand this & enlighten, por favor? I guess I like to imagine that he is rapping about how good he is at spinning sumptuous fabrics. not that I expect to be right.

anyhow, click here to download the untitled rap by Rapsusklei from his decimoctavo tape.

the major chuvash russian poet Gennadij Ajgi (or Gennady Aigi, or Aygi, or, because of his connection to gallia, Aigui -- Геннадий Айги in all cases is the original) was born in 1934 in chuvashia & needs no introduction from me. he died two or three years ago, leaving a life's worth of verse not much more easily comparable to anyone else's than one death is comparable to another. here's an example, with my best shove at a translation:


друг мой
о мама-ребенок
младенца лицо отдаляется
силу иметь
чтоб приближаться сияюще-равным
к обликам-крyгам

& now

my friend
you motherchild
the baby's face grows distant
have strength
to draw near shining by even
to (images are to circles)
a lot
is separately
Aigi's son Aleksej (Alexey?) is an interesting musician who participates in a lot of different projects. one of these is with Pierre Bastien (do you know who that is? I don't know who that is), & their musique pour la relaxation is interesting & lovely. I love the way figures spin in & out. I love the weird fish saxophone sound. this is intriguing music. I don't know how relaxing it is.

click here to hear &/or download musique pour la relaxation by Aleksej Ajgi & Pierre Bastein.

& that really makes me want to hear Jazmine Sullivan's song lions, tigers, & bears. beside the distinction of having the dumbest lyrics of any song ever written, it's great. it reminds me of ben-hur (the Charlton Heston one). her singing is bombastic & the strings are played with no conviction. but sing she can, & there are strange & surprising moments thruout the song. the line is lumpy with an added chord that doesn't make sense, the intruments are arranged kind of oddly. but there's one chord change (the one that happens in the first line of the song right as she gets to the word bears) that gets me listening, & enjoying all the funky cereal prizes of strange chord & inane lyric ("why do we love love when love seems to hate us?"). also, the use of the word affair can't help reminding me of my old jewish relatives from the wastes of queens. it w as a lovely affair. what an odd word. (in rusland I taught anglisch from a textbook called affairs.)

click here to download lions, tigers, & bears by Jazmine Sullivan.

"you know, it pisses me off a little that this supreme court is going to outlive me
a couple of young italian fellows & a brother on the court now, too
but I defy you anywhere in the world to find two italians as tight-assed as the two italians we've got
& as for the brother... well pluto's not a planet anymore, either"

I fucking love a few words in defense of our country by Randy Newman. if a tinge of disney has worked its way into his sound, he's still acerb, transgressive, tough, sincere, funny. thru the election (aka "that foul & half-remembered dream of being poked at for 23 months") head after head acknowledged the recent End of America (EOA) only by talking about our inevitable re-ascent to dominance. & (maybe it's no coincidene he, unlike anyone qualified to be president, does not pal around with religion) Randy Newman has a far healthier attitude toward our prospects. this song is just what I've been wishing someone would sing in front of me for a long time now.

click here to download a few words in defense of our country by Randy Newman.

(ps, have you heard Q-tip's new record? it's a blast, just like they're saying. here's a song; give it a listen.)