Thursday, August 31, 2006

A Taste of New Times

the New Times foolishly fires Robert ChristgauFirst Chuck Eddy.
Now Robert Christgau.

It's not as if Christgau has written anything revelatory in years but I still appreciate his reviews for what they are: solid, chatty, and fairly dependable.

Nothing like obliterating a history of music coverage for these New Times.

------ Forwarded Message
Dear Friends and Colleagues,

If this comes completely out of the blue, I apologize.

It is now official--Village Voice Media fired me today, "for
taste," which means (among other things) slightly sweeter
severance. This despite the support of new music editor Rob
Harvilla, who I like as a person and a writer. We both believed I
had won myself some kind of niche as gray eminence. So I was
surprised Tuesday when I was among the eight Voice employees
(five editorial, three art) who were instructed to bring their
union reps to a meeting with upper management today. But I
certainly wasn't shocked--my approach to music coverage has never
been much like that of the New Times papers,

Bless the union, my severance is substantial enough to give me
time to figure out what I'm doing next. In fact, having finished
all my freelance reviews yesterday, I don't have a single
assignment pending. So, since I have no intention of giving up
rock criticism, all reasonable offers entertained; my phone
number is in the book, as they used to say when there were books.
What I don't need is a vacation--the three of us just had a great
two and a half weeks, and Nina matriculated at BMCC yesterday.

No need to respond. Forward to whoever you will.


Bob Christgau

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Discomfort Zone

jonathan franzen new york timess review michiko kakutaniMichiko Kakutani’s review of Jonathan Franzen’s The Discomfort Zone in the NY Times made me squirm the whole way through but it was still, for the most part, true. The Discomfort Zone may have actually been written by Eeyore.

But what is this:
In fact, by the end of this solipsistic book, the reader has begun to feel every bit as suffocated and claustrophobic as Mr. Franzen and his estranged wife apparently did in their doomed marriage.

Sounds like something an aging, urbane hottie from a Frazen novel would say about the damaged-goods male protagonist after he reveals himself (in an adrenaline fueled monologue) to be a complete dick with a serious fucking Peter Pan complex, obliterating her hopes for a serious relationship and filling her with so much disappointment she either vomits or decides to explore her bisexuality.

Is there a word for something this inappropriate?
Get a handle on it, Kakutani. Just because Franzen offers his scruffy neck it doesn't mean you should go for the throat.

A CRITIC WITH A FIXATION by Ben Yagoda (Slate)
I AM MICHIKO KAKUTANI by Colin McEnroe (McSweeney’s)

Sunday, August 20, 2006


This month J. D. Daniels explores A Scanner Darkly: Philip K. Dick’s novel, Richard Linklater’s film adaptation, and people who look into Scanner and see themselves.


Blinded by the Light
by J. D. Daniels

Philip K. Dick, A Scanner Darkly, 1977.
Richard Linklater, A Scanner Darkly, 2006.

I don’t know how much acid you took. I don’t know how much I took, either. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. I loved growing up in Kentucky, but after a certain point there was nothing to do but take drugs.

Two years after an obsidian statuette in my stomach had begun talking to me, in a rare moment of clarity, I wondered if I might not have gone at least partly and temporarily, if not completely and irremediably, insane. I spent some time in a hospital. The sign on the door said Level Four: Risk of AWOL and the door stayed shut. The people who worked at the hospital didn’t want to hear what I had to say about Finnegans Wake. They told me I was going to have to stop taking the mind-altering drugs I enjoyed and learn to prefer the mind-altering drugs they prescribed. All right, I said. Add whiskey and stir.

Back then my friends read William S. Burroughs and Hunter S. Thompson. They read G. I. Gurdjieff and P. D. Ouspensky and H. P. Lovecraft and H. P. Blavatsky, anybody with initials. They read the science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick, and they, too, went cuckoo. Sometimes the cuckoo went back into its clock, and sometimes the cuckoo flew far away, never to return.

It’s easy to see why. Dick’s novel Martian Time-Slip centers on the R. D. Laing-ian conceit that schizophrenia is not a crippling mental illness but a privileged insight into the true nature of reality. Try that one on after you’ve been shrooming for the better part of 1991.


READ THE FULL ARTICLE and post your feedback in the comments field below.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Get Cracking Peoples

Hi Folks

I'm at Asilomar down near Monterey at a science nerd convention called American Consortium for an Energy-Efficient Economy. See, in one of my other lives I'm the green building editor for a tiny magazine run out of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. It is something I really love and have grown increasingly passionate about over the past few years of working at this magazine.

Tonight's plenary speaker was Jim Hansen, who's the director of NASA'S Goddard Institute for Space Studies. He's also pretty famous for being muzzled by NASA over the issue of climate change. He has been tracking climate change issues since the mid '70s, and was the scientist Al Gore questioned on the topic during senate hearings on climate change (that Gore organized) in the early '80s.

So yeah, Mr. Hansen kind of scared me.

Here's the thing people. We have a very small window of time to turn this shit around. If we keep crapping out carbon dioxide into the dang atmosphere we will have an unprecedented change in the climate which could potentially destroy 50% of the earth's species. Ha ha, fun!!

See, I love all of the other things that make life happy on this planet: throwing beer coasters at DJs, reading good poems, the new eco-gossip site, puttering in the garden, looking at puppies. But the climate change issue looms large over all of these other things. No climate change reform, no puppies.

Get it?

One of the slides actually said that a requirement to mitigate climate change is for people to get angry and demand change at the ballot box.

So it's time to get political. Of course, we can try to Impeach the Motherfucker already, but barring that, here are some other things we can do to make ourselves ready for the '08 battle in the meanwhiles....

1) Go see an Inconvenient Truth. I'm serious. Do it.

2) Purchase green tags to offset your car, home, and plane travel carbon emissions. (

3) Tell all of your friends and family to do the same thing.

That is your mission for today people. Go kick some climate change ass!

And thanks for the plums, Carla.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

rabbit, rabbit

Uh, that's a day late, but you get the point. What's up, Kitchen Sink Blog? You're sitting here all alone dreaming of hands to touch you. Join the fucking crowd. Seriously, the Bay Area in summer is like Euro Disney: all of a sudden, nobody who lives here is around anymore, and the entire area is crowded with people from Germany/Denmark/Holland whatever place where they're all blonde and loud and frequently get lost on Muni and Bart. And they're all crowding around the shoe counter in Nordstrom's buying Crocs, which are so ugly that they must have been invented in Europe. Because unless you're French or Italian, chances are you're wearing some ugly-ass shoes. Especially if you're in San Francisco for the summer.

Anyway, I didn't come here to complain about Europeans, but to update you, blog, because you're kind of lonely looking after we put on all those events last month. We're not putting on any events this month, but we have a new issue which is here, like, now, though I haven't seen it yet, but people tell me it's pretty. I like it when people say things are pretty... especially when people say that about me. But that's because my mother didn't love me... I kid. She does, but she also told me once that I'm built like a brick shithouse, but that I would probably outgrow that phase.

Let's mix some favorites and some shit list, just for variety:
1) Weather. Elka can tell you more about this than I can, but I wonder why we have to have wether at all. It's either good or bad but it's never consistently anything. I say we get rid of weather and replace it with portable clouds we can all carry around or discard according to our whims. You could get them customized with the faces of people you want to have sex with or puppies or whatever.
2) Project Runway. Jesus I cannot wait until tonight to see who gets kicked off! It's fucking killing me.If anybody knows, please immediately email kaya at oakestown dot org and end my suffering. (please, let it be Keith...)
3) Cats, and their waste products. I have three (Whiny, Pissy and Fatty). If there were a hell made of urine and feces, you might find it in my house.
4) The Dog Whisperer. I'm not a dog person (see #3), because when I was five a dog bit my face and I have a long scar running down one side of it (see note above regarding self-image problem). But this teeny little guy tames savage dogs like I shop for cillantro: it's no big deal.
5) The long stretch of summer without a single email from a student. Who needs to spend money to leave town when you have that kind of bliss for free?