Tuesday, May 30, 2006

marriage is when we admit our parents were right

Sunday was the big day for KB and Steve. An event that I was not surprised would happen, given the way she talked about him from the time they met five years ago. The reception was short and sweet, officiated by a college friend of Steve's.

Then off to the reception at the Franklin Institute...started with rooftop drinks, then into the main atrium, with Ben himself presiding...

Decor, food, music, and the company of old friends who I hadn't seen in a while all made the weekend worth a red-eye flight and whirlwind coast-to-coast turnaround.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

soaking from the inside out

my god, i'd forgotten what a humid philadelphia day is like. i mean, i grew up with summer days like this. and in miami had it worse and for longer stretches of time. but after a year in the temperate climes of the bay area i'm out of practice. bleh.

the day started out fine...survived the red eye, slept most of the way through despite that it was a crowded flight. landed to a bright, sunny morning.

got to my friend's place (though he and his wife aren't here...they're westward for his brother's wedding...but their cat orpheus is around..he's good company). figured i'd hit the markets down the street for some food. first stop was a fruit stand for a nice granny smith apple (i like my apples like i like my women...tart and crisp...wait, that didn't sound right).

anyway, then to dibruno for some cheese and bread. got a nice gouda and while that was being prepared the song "mickey" (you know, "hey mickey you're so fine...") came on the radio. guy behind the counter offers a free loaf of bread to the first person to name who sang the song. me being a music freak and having a head full of useless trivia knew it instantly and said "toni basil" the people in the store gave me the "check out the big brain on brett" kind of reaction. i'm thinking..."that was easy". nice to know that my head full of useless trivia comes in handy beyond the many nights of quizzo that i did during grad school.

later on was lunch in the reading terminal market, a huge and juicy and good pulled pork sammich.

festivities later tonight, wedding tomorrow. naptime now.

** quick update...yes indeed, i did randomly run into kieran's sister at 16th & chestnut.

also forgot to note...philadelphia international airport's baggage claim takes for friggin ever.

Friday, May 26, 2006

weddings, parties, anything

another month, another wedding. the long slow march of the weddings (lots of them the last two years) nears its end this weekend. but none on the horizon after sunday's fest.

so it's 11pm red-eye back east tonight, hang out with various folks tomorrow, wedding on sunday, lunch with my parents monday and then back here monday night.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

a moment on the lips, forever on the...

Is there anything chocolate can't do? Supposedly enough of it can have your brain thinking you're in love...
Perhaps chocolate's key ingredient is its phenylethylamine (PEA) "love-chemical". Yet the role of the "chocolate amphetamine" is disputed. Most if not all chocolate-derived phenylethylamine is metabolised before it reaches the CNS. Some people may be sensitive to its effects in very small quantities.

Phenylethylamine is itself a naturally occurring trace amine in the brain. Phenylethylamine releases dopamine in the mesolimbic pleasure-centres; it peaks during orgasm.
Now comes this...it makes you...smarter?
NEW YORK (Reuters) -- Chocolate lovers rejoice. A new study hints that eating milk chocolate may boost brain function.

"Chocolate contains many substances that act as stimulants, such as theobromine, phenethylamine, and caffeine," Dr. Bryan Raudenbush from Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia noted in comments to Reuters Health.

"These substances by themselves have previously been found to increase alertness and attention and what we have found is that by consuming chocolate you can get the stimulating effects, which then lead to increased mental performance."

To study the effects of various chocolate types on brain power, Raudenbush and colleagues had a group of volunteers consume, on four separate occasions, 85 grams of milk chocolate; 85 grams of dark chocolate; 85 grams of carob; and nothing (the control condition).

After a 15-minute digestive period, participants completed a variety of computer-based neuropsychological tests designed to assess cognitive performance including memory, attention span, reaction time, and problem solving.

"Composite scores for verbal and visual memory were significantly higher for milk chocolate than the other conditions," Raudenbush told Reuters. And consumption of milk and dark chocolate was associated with improved impulse control and reaction time.

Previous research has shown that some nutrients in food aid in glucose release and increased blood flow, which may augment cognitive performance. The current findings, said Raudenbush, "provide support for nutrient release via chocolate consumption to enhance cognitive performance."

has it been a year already?

so a year ago today i packed up the car with what the movers didn't take and set out north and west from south florida to california...

this was the proposed itinerary and slate of things to do. the actual route and trip log here. not too much deviation except that i didn't have time for bbq at the railhead in texas. also, albuquerque didn't quite go as planned thanks to something i ate along the way leaving me with a fever, the chills and shakes, and a rebellious digestive system. i did catch a minor league game in fresno, though, the grizzlies. but overall a fun trip. good times in flagstaff...99% of what i drove through between miami and norcal i'd never been to before. not sure i'd want to do a solo cross-country trip again, but this was worth doing.

not sure why the formatting is all messed up with the table. also, check out the obvious spam comment. i had to leave it up...too funny.

oh...some pics here

Monday, May 22, 2006

i said to my reflection let's get out of this place

prepped for a night of packing by scouring about for some music...among the things making it more bearable to box up my belongings...

the year of - stephen hawking

iron hero - pilot

some band of horses, live at kexp

the concretes - miss you (yes, the stones song, which i mentioned a while back)

a few tracks from dc area band middle distance runner

Sunday, May 21, 2006

all the streets are crammed with things eager to be held

from life's grab-bag...

the lease is signed, the movers hired...now it's time to pack. two weeks until moving day. hopefully i can get my current place sublet. in the meantime it's cross-country for a wedding over memorial day weekend, and more planning for the trip, including getting a new digital camera. my current one is 5+ years old, a technologial dinosaur. while it's served me well, i could do with a few more megapixels and more x on the zoom if i want to take some better shots.

sadly, this show which i'd hoped to be promising was just ok. i don't want to slag any local bands here...let's just say that while i may not have liked a few of the acts, i could appreciate the time they've put into things. three of the five bands just weren't my thing (as opposed to outright suckage, which for me is when a band can't play their instruments and/or have nothing in the way of songs..not the case here). citay were alright...layered instrumentation (including thin lizzy-like matching guitar riffs and solos), lots of instruments including three guitars, keyboards, flute (which often was playing unison or harmony with the guitar riff), xylophone (evidently there's more in the way of non-rock-standard instrumentation on the record...glockenspiel for instance)...abstract song structure and lyrics...my only complaint really is that with three guitars there was some sonic crowding out of the keys and the flute. you had to really pay attention (live at least, on record that can be more easily separated) to figure out what she was doing. don't know that i'd go out of my way to see them again, but they were worth seeing this time. and who knows...if i see them again because they were in a show i was heading to anyway, i might come away liking them even more.

the highlight for me were the first band, willow willow. according to the bio on the website jessica and miranda are childhood friends, and their stage presence and harmonies certainly seemed natural, like two people who've been performing together for a long time. beyond me (click on link for mp3, recorded live at the freight and salvage) was most memorable...a sweet mid-tempo melody that starts out as a song about a girl letting a guy into her world and then drops a hammer towards the end with the line "you're nothing beyond me". no surprise that their encore was a beatles song ("she loves you")...having played in a beatle-esque band or two before, i can easily spot fellow travelers.

soccer-wise this was supposed to be a three-games in two days weekend, thanks to one league having scheduled a make-up game following all the march rains. so what happens today? our game was rained out. but yesterday was two games back-to-back (thankfully i got to play goalie in the first game) in two different leagues...a win and a loss.

i can't remember where i found the mp3 (checked the usual mp3 blogs i frequent but no mention of the band), but i've been digging on "mindstalking" from lunascape. some song samples up on the band's website.

oh, so a few weeks back i went to an art opening put together by a friend and featuring painter sharla flock and photographer john nieto. i really enjoyed flock's textured paintings with whimsical titles, though of course 3 weeks later i can't remember the titles. anyway, interesting venue for an opening...at a hair salon. and it wasn't just a one-night gig, the works are up through july.

Friday, May 19, 2006

hey i am just a city boy, and really not the country kind

This NY Times story on downtown development in Miami caught my eye because, well, I lived in Miami for a few years and I love cities. Though I'm not an urban development specialist, nor do I play one on tv, I have some considered opinions on the subject because I've lived in urban areas pretty much all of my adult life (didn't have much choice about the suburban location of my youth) and when I travel I prefer to stay in cities and wander around.

A few things about the story, which focuses on the furious development of the downtown core and stretching north up Biscayne Boulevard...
Anchoring this effort is the immense Miami Performing Arts Center, due to open in October, which includes a 2,200-seat concert hall and a 2,400-seat opera house.

"Cities like Manhattan, Boston, San Francisco — these are the examples we are using to move our downtown forward," said Johnny L. Winton, a member of the City Commission, adding that some 90,000 housing units were in various stages of construction citywide.
Of course, this being Miami, development is not exactly, uh, well regulated or planned.
But many residents, environmentalists and even developers believe that the growth has been too rapid and undisciplined to support an influx of new residents. They say that buildings are going up without adequate mass transit, parking and water systems or a workable street grid.

{...} So far, the condo development has not been accompanied by a comparable spurt in support services, like restaurants, grocery stores and dry cleaners.

"Big is not better — I don't know if it's even logical, having that density," said Michael Y. Cannon, a Miami real estate analyst. "You can't just build on every square inch of land."

Nancy Liebman, president of the Urban Environment League of Greater Miami, which argues for the preservation and enhancement of public space, agreed. "If we're going to be left with a bunch of empty condominiums, I don't think it will bode well for the future of that area," Ms. Liebman said.
Wait, overdevelopment and empty condos? How can that be? Oh, right...
Many of the condominiums under construction are expected to be bought up by foreigners as investments or second homes in the sun.
The major problem with the number of units that are planned and those that have been built in the last 5 years (South Beach, especially south of 5th street has seen a number of high rises come up) is that so many do go to investors, snowbirds and people from Central & South America who realize that US real estate is a safer haven than their local banks that might get nationalized or in local currency which might be severely devalued overnight.

The end result is twofold -- local investors flip the properties right away, driving up already high base prices, making the units not really affordable to young and/or middle-income professionals. Also, absentee owners who don't rent their units don't really add much to downtown life...they aren't there.

Why the worry about young and middle-income professionals? Because they are the core of urban development...they buy or rent their first home in cities because they want an urban lifestyle. They go out to eat, to bars, to clubs, to coffeeshops. They buy food and clothes in the neighborhood. Exclude them and you also exclude variety...if all you have are a bunch of very-high-income bankers and lawyers you don't have much of a heterogeneous population...it's mainly upper 30s and 40s+, maybe with families but also demanding more upscale and expensive establishments. To wit...
Others say the development is squeezing out the residents of surrounding neighborhoods, like Overtown, Miami's historic black area, with little concern for including low-cost housing. "The development that's happening is gentrifying the current residents right out of the neighborhood,"said Denise Perry, director of the Power U Center for social change, a local nonprofit advocacy organization. "These buildings are being built for a richer, whiter class of people."
I'd take a bit of issue with the "whiter" comment, since Miami has a fairly sizeable educated and professional Latin community (though I guess they generally are paler than the mainly Black residents of Overtown).

Anyway, the point is that vibrant urban areas need a mix of people...young, old, rich, middle and lower income...this is what makes the urban experience. To cater only to a very wealthy and thus economically homogeneous group of people, well, you might as well be building an ersatz urban theme park with a $350K entrance fee.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

you don't seem to grasp your own importance

random assortment...

it's almost getting impossible to summon up any more outrage, disgust, and amazement at what's going on in iraq, what's coming from congress and what's being said in the white house press room. in fact, tony snow is on a hot streak of idiocy.

but never mind that...

to those of us who've lived in miami, this is no shock...overly aggressive drivers? cutting people off? tailgating? no signaling turns? describes miami driving perfectly. every day is like a nascar event there, even on city streets, never mind the highways. there's very little police enforcement except maybe once or twice a year, and usually then only as part of the click it or ticket campaigns. yes, miami has to be the worst city in america in which to drive. and i've driven in boston and new york.

but let's end on a (sort of, given everything) positive note

too bad, but the concretes have cancelled a bunch of dates, including their show scheduled for this coming saturday at great american. good thing i'm resourceful...other options that night include this promising show at the rickshaw stop, the writers with drinks night at the make out room, the spam all stars (speaking of miami) at the elbo room. and wow, no shit? new edition at the paramount. ok, i have no intention of going to that show, but geez, they're back? who knew? looks like the best way to start the evening is the amoeba in-store show featuring jason lytle of grandaddy.

and finally? listen to this voxtrot cover of comet gain's "you can hide your love forever". your ears will be glad you did.

hint...the voxtrot vault has tons of good stuff. bookmark the link.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


from a now expired craiglist post advertising an apartment for rent...

"No large dogs. My definition of 'large' is anything big enough to injure me."

Monday, May 15, 2006

i hate myself for loving you

speaking of guilty pleasures, let's talk about the pipettes, three charming girls from the u.k. who are essentially an unabashed homage to 60's motown/brit-pop/girl-group goodness.

obscure sound has a couple of mp3s up, and like flies on sherbert links to a few acoustic numbers via skatterbrain.

you'll tap your toes, you'll wanna clap your hands (and say yeah), and you'll sing along. and then you'll feel all guilty about it because it's so crassly pop and borderline gimmicky. but then you'll hit the repeat button, or if you're on their myspace page you'll keep playing the tracks over and over.

it may be ear candy, may not have much staying power beyond this month, but damn it's fun. and it's done with such conviction you can't help but dig it.

it's exactly what we need to take our minds of off this. or, um, this.

so yeah...the pipettes. go. listen. now. you'll still love me in the morning.

Friday, May 12, 2006

everything in its right place

** update and bumped...

from the radiohead fan site, greenplastic radiohead...
It was reported earlier that San Francisco radio station LIVE 105 (who coincidentally is often credited for breaking Radiohead in the United States by airing the "Creep" import first in 1992) announced that Radiohead would be performing two shows at Berkeley's Greek Theatre in June. LIVE 105 has responded to this by saying, "No, we did not. Nothing is official."

While it is most likely true that Radiohead will be performing two dates in Berkeley, we are still waiting confirmation.

that alone will make june a great month.


grrr....the show has been scheduled for june 23, and i'll be away. of course, i'll be in fes, morocco that evening, so it's not like i should be complaining too much. and i've seen radiohead before. still...i'm going to miss this show, calexico at the fillmore, band of horses at the independent and tapes & tapes at cafe dunord.

still, between the trip, the move, and other things, june won't be all that bad, missed shows notwithstanding.

breaking news...snow falls in hell...

...and i agee with krauthammer. normally i like to poke fun at him. in fact, the only reason i read him from time to time is if i'm bored and need to get my juices flowing by seeing which narrow-minded conservative colunist i can poke holes in.

no, really. i find myself in the odd position of reading today's krauthammer piece and thinking "yeah, exactly".

he writes about the zacarias moussaoui verdict, and how it was a good thing that it ended up as life in prison and not death. and all the reasons uncle chuckie lists -- that the death penalty should hardly ever (if ever) be used (though i'm pretty much totally anti-death penalty); that if used it should be only in special cases (eichmann, hussein); and for sins of comission, not omission (moussaoui was guilty of conspiracy in 9/11, more than anything for not informing authorities about 9/11, though it's debatable how much he really knew); and not for closure for the families of the victims (the aggreived party in any murder case is society at large...justice cannot be personal, then it's revenge) -- i agree with him. i even agree with his reasoning that the jury was a bit off in how they came to the decision, even if it was the correct decision (they found moussaoui's childhood traumas as mitigating circumstance...which if used as precedent would be problematic for the justice system).

anyway, yeah. whodathunkit?

related is the story in the post about the deliberations. it sounds not unlike the basic plot for the film 12 angry men. which if you see it, make sure it's the original version. henry fonda is fantastic.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

somebody took the papers, and somebody's got the key

maybe this is a harbinger or maybe it's just two blips on the local literary radar, but it's a shame nonetheless that cody's will close their flagship store in berkeley, and that a clean well-lighted place for books is up for sale.

while there are a bunch of independent bookstores in the area, when two of the more well-known and loved stores can't keep going on the way they'd like, citing on-line and chain bookstores as the big reasons for declining sales, well, you have to wonder. the owner of a clean well-lighted place is apparently opening up a smaller store elsewhere in the city.

there's lots to say here about chains, media consolidation and flow of information, and because a) i need to get back to work and b) i'd need to think those thoughts through a bit before posting now's not the time to get into it. but i'll note that art and the business of distributing art has a remarkable way of reacting to crises of inspiration and consolidation. activist artists initiate new movements, c.f. impressionism, punk rock...and aided by production and technological advancement they find ways to get their work out via non-establishment channels, c.f. the success of the indie music distributors during the last 10-15 years, especially now in the age of the mp3 blogs and on-line retailers that specialize in indie labels. (a quick plug for parasol...great customer service and good prices during first weeks of release). the internet is a major democratizing force in all of this, so the bubbling net neutrality issue is worth keeping an eye on (and taking action on...call your rep and senator) wrt how art and information flow.

to bring it back to the bookstore closings, i'll note that there are more used bookstores along a few blocks of mission than i noticed in all of miami (lived there for 4 years). there are more venues for readings and more events than i recall seeing in the years i lived in philadelphia (which is a fairly well-educated and literate city). so this area will hopefully always continue to be at the vanguard of what it means to maintain a vibrant lit scene. but the closing of these indie stores is still worth mentioning...though hopefully they won't be the first of a wave of closings.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

not just another mouth, in the lipstick vogue

for pure brain-dead entertainment where you get to laugh at stupid, vain, self-absorbed and venal people you can't do much better (worse?) than mtv's "reality" show 8th and ocean.

showcasing a bunch of early-career models working the south beach scene, it's the ultimate in guilty pleasure tv.

see sibling rivalry where one twin deliberately doesn't tell her sister about a casting call that the two of them should be on, and then lies to her sister about "forgetting" when the video is proof that she hung up her cell phone after hearing from the agency booker and didn't say a word. of course, she's blonde and a model so maybe she did forget between the time she closed her flip phone and turned to her sister standing a foot away.

see the agency owner whose face is full of botox and has had a lift or four.

see talesha bitch out tracie because tracie got made that talesha changed plans at the last minute. see, it's tracie's fault for not confirming plans, not talesha's for just deciding she didn't want to go and not telling her roommate.

it has extra appeal for me as i spent a few years living on south beach, and it's cool to see some of my favorite sights. it's also funny to see on video exactly the type of people that make me glad i don't live in sofla anymore.

but yeah, wow...as guilty pleasure it's tops right now.

I met myself in a dream, and I just want to tell you

hmm...so last night i dreamt that i had a separated shoulder. it wasn't terribly injured, just noticable enough. i remember being in a kind of denial that it was actually impaired, but when i'd try to move it i couldn't. it was pretty vivid.

from the dream interpretation sites i've looked at, shoulders tend to represent strengths or burdens, either that you have too many or it's a reflection of your ability to care and nurture others. injury and impairment could mean anything from an unconscious need to heal old wounds and hurts, or it could be anxiety and insecurity. that it was the right side is associated with your outgoing nature.

what to make of it all? i have no idea. it's just a new dream for me. stress and anxiety have produced the usual heavy legs/running in quicksand/chase dreams. i've never to my recollection had a dream where a body part was actually injured or impaired like this.

i'd like to remember more of what i dream. supposedly getting into the habit of keeping a dream diary helps you to remember more of what you dream and in greater detail. just great...that means another habit i'd need to form.

Monday, May 08, 2006

now, i dive black waters

sadly, grant mclennan, co-founder of the go-betweens, died over the weekend in australia. he was only 48. you can draw a direct link from the go-betweens to bands like death cab and belle and sebastian.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

i wanna live where it's always saturday

saturday was another marathon apartment hunting day featuring an 8.5 mile walk. in this city it's clear that to find a decent place you've gotta put in lots of time, both in prepping and in walking around. amazing the shoeboxes that people want to let for $1500.

after a 5+ hour day of that i was able to muster the energy for the essex green show at the rickshaw stop, and i'm glad i did. three excellent bands all trading in major melodic currency. i'm enough of a melody slut that all a band needs to to is put out a hummable melody with some decent words and i'm theirs.

east bay's seiko and salome are a good, fun pop band. mario hernandez's high tenor doesn't sound like it should be coming from him, but it works and the songs are the right mix of indie and pop. as expected, irving were fantastic. you don't mind the totally pilfered 60s/70s fuzzpop thing because they write some excellent songs and look like they're having a blast playing them. songs can be heard on their myspace page. essex green were very good as well, though couldn't match the live intensity of irving. still, the greens write some very clever and melodic songs and they play them well. plus, they use a flute now and then.

oh, some mp3s of irving's on-air set at kexp can be found here for a while...

i hadn't been to the rickshaw stop yet, and it's a great place to see bands. good sound, the red velvet on the walls gives the place some warmth, the staff are friendly. the best thing are the rickshaws, which if you get there early and can snag one, are a great place to sit for a while as the bands get ready to play.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

here comes a regular


ok, maybe that's a bit of over-excitement and maybe bob stinson's dead and maybe slim dunlap doesn't play guitar on it and maybe chris mars doesn't play drums on it (though he did sing back-up) but a new replacements song! just heard it on kexp, and well, as described in the rhino press release for the new best of compilation it does sound like it could have come off of pleased to meet me. doesn't approach things like "left of the dial" or "bastards of young", but it's not bad from first listen.

a song sample is available here. or go the kexp archives and enter may 4, 5:04pm as your search criteria. it'll be up for 14 days, though i'm sure they'll play the song once a day (for {i think} copyright reasons they can't have a song-title search feature).

we got ideas from some dangerous thinkers, we put our mouths up to some dangerous drinks.

saturday and monday are shaping up to be entertaining...some excellent music saturday from essex green and irving and some good lit for a good cause monday at the progressive reading night at the make out room.

essex green mp3 here and more songs here.

have i mentioned how much i love living here? now that rainy season's passed and it's sunny and nice...there's good music, good culture, good food, good weather...should have moved here years ago.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

what's the world got in store for you

ever wonder what your travel footprint looks like? thanks to douwe osinga you can make a map of the u.s. states and countries around the world that you've visited.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

in the city there's a thousand things i wanna say to you

porchlight was a good time. huge crowd, good stories. ted brinkley's small jazz argosy provided a musical score for two film segments, the first a 5 minute or so short of turn-of-the-century san francisco, shot from a cable car as it wends its way along market towards the ferry building. i'm sure with a little research i can locate the title and more details, but well, i should get to doing the work for which i'm paid. the second piece was a montage of clips from hollywood features filmed in sf, including dirty harry, the presidio, 48 hrs, vertigo and it came from beneath the sea.

stories included tony dingman's recounting of his being hired to be nicolas cage's drinking coach on leaving las vegas, tara jepsen's tale of trying to get an indie script produced, and adrian belic relaying his caper about trying to cross from afghanistan into tajikistan as a stowaway aboard a container ship, just as the fall 2001 us-northern alliance military operations were at full pace. jeannie epper provided the most "hollywood insider" moment of the night...the first line of her bio reads that she did the stunts for lynda carter on wonder woman, and you really can't get much cooler of a bio-line than that.

the highlight though, was cathy begien's emotional retelling of how her mother came to not just accept but to embrace the fact that her daughter was not going to pursue a traditional career, but would instead be an artist. her closing move was to offer up a toast to the room, the spirit of the toast being to follow your heart.

the soundtrack for the ride in and out of the city was the detroit cobras' latest baby, one of those "been out for a while but i'm just getting to it now" records. a fun update of old and obscure stax-volt, soul and motown songs, mucked up with dirty guitars. check out "i wanna holler (but the town's too small)".