Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Best of the Decade

I make no claim that these are epoch-defining or the most influential of the decade. My criteria is simple: these are the albums that I’ve come back to again and again these last ten years.

#1 Funeral by Arcade Fire (2004)

#2 In Rainbows by Radiohead (2007)

#3 Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by Wilco (2002)

#4 Twin Cinema by The New Pornographers (2005)

#5 Boxer by The National (2007)

#6 Come On Feel the Illinoise! by Sufjan Stevens (2005)

#7 Middle Cyclone by Neko Case (2009)

#8 Ten New Songs by Leonard Cohen (2001)

#9 Sound of Silver by LCD Sound System (2007)

#10 The Meadowlands by The Wrens (2003)

#11 The Odd Couple by Gnarls Barkley (2008)

#12 Love & Theft by Bob Dylan (2001)

#13 Essence by Lucinda Williams (2001)

#14 3 Rounds and a Sound by Blind Pilot (2008)

#15 Failer by Kathleen Edwards (2003)

#16 Satellite Rides by Old 97s (2001)

#17 All Your Summer Songs by Saturday Looks Good to Me (2003)

#18 Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga by Spoon (2007)

#19 Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea by PJ Harvey (2000)

#20 Alligator by The National (2005)

#21 Fleet Foxes by Fleet Foxes (2008)

#22 Sea Change by Beck (2002)

#23 Dig, Lazarus, Dig by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (2008)

#24 Challengers by the New Pornographers (2007)

#25 A Boot and a Shoe by Sam Philips (2004)

#26 Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? by Of Montreal (2006)

#27 You & Me by The Walkmen (2008)

#28 When the Telephone Rings by The Silos (2004)

#29 Microcastle by Deerhunter (2008)

#30 69 Love Songs by The Magnetic Fields (2000)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Pitchfork 2009

July 17 to July 19
Tortoise takes the stage during an off and on again drizzle and announces that it is dedicating its set to a friend who died this morning. This is the worse start I've ever heard to a concert or a festival promising three days of music.

Things improve. All in all the best Pitchfork I've been to, although the weather remains weird. Instead of the usual steambath, the days are sweatshirt cool and threaten rain the entire weekend.

Most repeated line from band.

Some variation on "This is the largest crowd we've played for." Cymbals Eat Guitars, The Antlers, Beirut, and at least one other band that I can't remember now.

Best t-shirt:
Die Emo Die

Most interesting photos of people on top of other people:

I watched this kid lick his Dad's head for a good half of Cymbals eat guitars.

Highlights include:
The National, who seem to be getting better live. Songs that sound introspective on the album become fully fleshed out rockers in concert. At the end of the show, we're all screaming the lyrics to the final song: "I won't fuck us over; I'm Mr. November! Very cathartic.

The Walkmen
I was curious to see how "You & Me" would translate live. Sometimes I fell into the album and it was like a suite of songs; other times I found myself impatient--not enough variety. I was delighted to see that the album, which made up about half the set, was even more compelling live. The cords on Hamilton Leithauser's neck looked about ready to pop during songs like "in the New Year" and "The Rat."

The Yeasayers had the moment of the concert when the drizzle stopped and the sun came out for "Sunrise."

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Santa Fe

There’s a reason Georgia O’Keefe, who spent the most important years of her artistic life in the Santa Fe area, painted still lives of flowers and skulls.

You spend months looking over at the mountains in the distance, months regarding the miles of dry mesas in between, and it works on you—like those nights away from the city when all the hidden stars come out to stun you and, after the first shock of beauty is gone, put you in your place. Your small, transient, inconsequential place.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Who needs a beach...or summer

Scout can sunbathe on a blanket of snow on a sunny 30-degree day. She's happy as a clam for a good half hour. When she comes back into the house, the fur on her back is warm.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Temporal Horse Latitudes

The horse latitudes are a stretch in the ocean where currents and winds dwindled to nothing and sailing ships would be mired for days. They were called the horse latitudes because sailors in the horse trade had to travel through these waters. When they got stuck, they had to lighten the boat by throwing the horses into the sea. The screams of the drowning horses were terrible to hear.

On Friday afternoons, around 2 or 3PM, the temporal version of horse latitudes occurs. Time doesn't stir.

The screams of the cubicled are more muted but still terrible to hear.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


We are heading to the funeral of my wife's aunt, down Highway 63 in Indiana when we pass a hearse that appears to have driven out of a Flannery O'Connor story. On the back is the quote from scripture: The wages of sin are death.the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. A sign across the roof of the hearse reads Prepare to Meet Your Maker.

Why do the Bible Belters have to be so Old Testament? Instead of “Jesus is love” or “Jesus Loves You,” the message is you sinners will suffer. I never get the feeling messages like those adorning the Brimstone-mobile are really trying to get people to reform. Just putting the message out and then waiting for a sublime afterlife watching the sinners roast.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Fuck Winter

Ignore it and maybe it'll go away.

Today I hit 37 straight months of grilling out at least once a month, fixing up a tasty mixed grill of brats and Greek sausage. Scout joined me in the backyard, just soaking up the pale winter sun.

Only two months before spring training.