Thursday, July 31, 2008

A "bang on the ear" for a great band

Apart from the voice and brilliant songwriting by MIKE SCOTT, listening to the different time periods of THE WATERBOYS can seem like listening to different bands.
"The Big Music" period of the band might be more recognizable in the United States, punctuated by the should-have-been-a-massive-hit "THE WHOLE OF THE MOON."
I listened to a later period of the band while walking last night -- including songs from "Fisherman's Blues," an album produced when the band was based in Dublin and Scott had immersed himself in Irish folk music.
My favorite example of the "Irish Waterboys" is certainly "AND A BANG ON THE EAR."
Scott sings of his life's romances, ending each verse with the promise of "a bang on the ear," an Irish term of endearment akin to a peck on the cheek:
"Lindsay was my first love,
she was in my class, I would have loved to take her out
but I was too shy to ask. The fullness of my feeling was never made clear, but I send her my love and a bang on the ear."
Scott is easily one of the best songwriters Britain has produced in the modern age. Listening to him the past couple days confirms that assessment, thanks to songs such as "And a Bang on the Ear

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The morning of the Golden Duck

Golden Duck: (noun) a batsman's score of zero runs, after getting out on the first ball faced.
It was a calamity for England moments ago: One ball after Andrew Strauss hit the stumps with his back heel and was declared out, Michael Vaughan was caught out on his first ball faced -- a Golden Duck in cricket parlance.
We are listening to ENGLAND versus SOUTH AFRICA on BBC Radio's TEST MATCH SPECIAL this morning as we prepare for work.
England are at 82 for 3 at lunch -- not the best start to the third Test match at Edgbaston Cricket Ground in Birmingham.
While I am sipping coffee, the cricketers are enjoying their lunch break. The commentators are discussing the current state of the game.
I can't imagine a more relaxing start to a day. Ah... if only the puppy would quit barking at the (currently silent) vacuum cleaner...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Supreme genius of King Khan

Their songs sound like they belong on some recently discovered, "Nuggets"-style compilation of 1960s GARAGE ROCK AND SOUL.
I have been listening to several songs by KING KHAN AND THE SHRINES lately.
Khan, a Canadian of Indian descent from Montréal and a veteran of the garage-rock scene, based himself in Berlin, collected some European musicians skilled in garage rock and R&B, and the result is "The Supreme Genius of King Khan and The Shrines," surely one of the contenders for album of the year.
The music sounds like a bunch of guitar-playing kids in the basement trying to sound like James Brown, but playing way too fast. Classic stuff.
Check out the King's homepage, located here, for more information.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A good day for "Rattlesnakes"

We spent yesterday testing the limits of our courage, visiting the excellent "VENOM" exhibit at THE NATIONAL MISSISSIPPI RIVER MUSEUM & AQUARIUM in Dubuque.
Jill, the girls, our niece Morgan and I stuck our heads in specially designed glass bubbles to get an "up close" view of rattlesnakes.
The exhibit also features scorpions, spiders, a cobra and Gila monsters, among other poisonous creatures, but the rattlesnakes kept drawing us back to their enclosure.
I decided to listen to the LLOYD COLE & THE COMMOTIONS classic album, "RATTLESNAKES," today in celebration of the slithering stars of yesterday.
It seems like a good day for "Rattlesnakes."

Sunday, July 27, 2008

"You're on my mind, wherever you are"

I still remember the smell of FRIETS AND KROKETS from my family's 1980 summer in THE NETHERLANDS.
Nearly three decades later, whenever I smell something similar, my mind goes back to windmills and wooden shoes and canals.
During that summer of cultural immersion, I heard cricket on the radio while watching sailboats ply canals and struggled to read Dutch soccer magazines detailing the hooligan problems plaguing the European Championships in Italy.
One song towered over all others -- both during the actual trip to Holland and my subsequent, deep-seated memories.
I found that song yesterday on iTunes, after years of searching.
"Love of my life, I will never leave you, you're on my mind, wherever you are."
"MARIANA" was the fifth, worldwide-charting single by the GIBSON BROTHERS, a Martinique-born, French disco trio.
Although the song reached No. 10 in America and No. 11 in Britain, it must have scored much higher in Holland -- it seemed like it was on Dutch radio all the time.
"Mariana, Maria mi amor, Mariana, I miss you more and more."
A catchy melody with relatively simple lyrics, I found myself humming the tune throughout our European stay and for years after we returned home.
During subsequent years, one of the various artist compilation cassette tapes I purchased included "CUBA," the Gibson Brothers' biggest worldwide hit.
I never came close to finding "Mariana," however.
By the time I began buying records in earnest, the trio's popularity had waned and alternative rock preoccupied my trips to the music store.
"I still remember the very first time, I saw you and your eyes met mine. I wish it could happen again."
I never forgot the song, though, and like the smell of freshly made French fries, "Mariana" became a link to my Dutch memories.
Imagine my delight, then, when I was searching for songs to fill a FRENCH DISCO playlist for my iPod and there it was -- "Mariana."
I quickly purchased both it and "Cuba."
Now, I a burning it on a CD to play when I drive Jill, the girls and my niece Morgan to Dubuque's NATIONAL MISSISSIPPI RIVER MUSEUM & AQUARIUM this afternoon.
Who knows, maybe "Mariana" will become indelibly embedded in another person's musical consciousness?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Foot tapping, head shaking start to the day

The pets and I were the only ones up early this morning, so I grabbed my iPod and enjoyed one of my favorite albums.
"WHO KNOWS WHAT TOMORROW'S GONNA BRING" was the 35th album by soul-jazz organist BROTHER JACK McDUFF, and surely this 1970 classic is one of his best.
The musical talent on display is awe-inspiring, with such backing players as pianist Paul Griffin (longtime Bob Dylan collaborator and pianist on Don MacLean's "American Pie") and experimental rock bassist Tony Levin.
This morning, I paid particularly close attention to the guitar solos of JOE BECK.
A young player, Beck had already played with Gato Barbieri, James Brown, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Duke Ellington and Miles Davis.
Beck reportedly passed away Tuesday, age 62, of lung cancer complications.
On "Who Knows...," Beck shows he could have held his own with any of the rock guitar heroes of the 1970s -- including the more famous Jeff Beck (no relation).
By merging jazz with soul and rock, "Who Knows..." provided a template for countless other albums to follow.
It stands above the pack, I think, because of the mammoth talent creating the music -- talent that included the wonderful Beck.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Wednesday... Thursday... FRIDAY!!!

Where does the time go? It seems like just yesterday it was Friday and ROUTE 1 readers were answering the FRIDAY QUESTION. Perhaps the time has flown by because I am engrossed in a book. This week, fellow bookworms ponder the following query:
"What book would make a good movie?"
LAURA C. -- "Underworld," by Don DeLillo... I'm reading it right now. 400 pages down, 400-something to go...
MIKE M. -- "That Disgraceful Affair: The Black Hawk War" by Cecil Eby, 1973, set in northwestern Illinois and southwestern Wisconsin. I think this could be better than the movies "Little Big Man" or "Dances With Wolves."
BEKAH P. -- "Outlander." Hands down. A historical romance that includes men in kilts. Reading about it is great. Seeing them on the big screen would be heaven.
JILL H. -- Any Janet Evanovich book! However, I'd start with "One for the Money." Grandma Mazur will crack you up and I'm not sure who could pull off Stephanie Plum, be a sexy Italian like Joe Morelia and finally, no one would be mysterious enough to play Ranger.
INGER H. -- Cormac McCarthy's "The Road." It might be too harrowing for me to see it, but it would be amazing.
MIKE D. -- In junior high school, I read nearly the whole series of "Three Investigators" books. I think my kids would enjoy seeing the juvenile detectives on the big screen. Good, wholesome, kid-style adventure.
STEVE M. -- A detective book called "Hawksmoor" by Peter Ackroyd was excellent, and they have never made a movie out of it. A young Jeremy Irons would have been the architect, and maybe Bob Hoskins would be Hawksmoor. It is a must read, trust me. It is not pulpy detective fiction. The author spent months in the London Library learning to emulate Old Middle English for parts of the book.
ERIK H. -- Frederick Nebel's "The Crimes of Richmond City" would make a great film. A serialized novel published in Black Mask magazine in 1928-29, the story follows Richmond City Police Capt. Steve MacBride as he attempts to curb corruption that has spread throughout civic government, even influencing police decisions.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

"They achieved notoriety in 19 languages"

Tonight I watched the JULIEN TEMPLE documentary "THE FILTH AND THE FURY."
Temple traces the story of the SEX PISTOLS from their beginnings hanging out at a shop selling rubber outfits to Johnny Rotten singing "No Fun" at the final gig in San Francisco and the tragic demise of Sid Vicious.
Three decades later, it is genuinely difficult to understand the utter outrage that flared against the band in Britain, with television commentators openly wondering if the band represented the downfall of society.
What was worse, Rotten singing "Anarchy in the U.K.," or a supposedly worker-friendly Labour Government standing by while garbage strikes meant mountainous bags of trash piled upon one another on London streets?
I was an adolescent whose musical outlook was completely changed by the original advent of punk. Watching "The Filth and the Fury" made me wonder how limited my musical tastes might have been, had the Sex Pistols never happened.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Guitar heroes never really go away

The DINOSAUR JR. song "THUMB" opens with one of the most memorable Mellotron solos since the opening of "Stairway to Heaven."
Shortly after, Dino's leader J. MASCIS is back to doing what he does so well: Playing the heck out of a guitar.
ANNIKA and I listened to "EAR-BLEEDING COUNTRY," a Dino "best-of" compilation as we drove home tonight from soccer practice.
Mascis can play a guitar solo as well as any classic rocker, which came as a surprise to the ALTERNATIVE ROCK FANS of the late 1980s and early 1990s. I know, because I was among them. I always had a soft spot for the Led Zeppelin and AC/DC sound, though, so I welcomed Mascis and his guitar heroics. It might not have been very "punk," but it certainly was "rock."
Occasional ROUTE 1 reader JUSTIN F. lent me Dinosaur Jr.'s "comeback" release, "BEYOND," and listening to it, I am happy to report Mascis has lost none of his chops. I guess guitar heroes never really go away.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Man's best friend pushes man close to the edge

I had to clean all three types of bodily emissions from RORY THE PUPPY this morning.
She completed the hat-trick by vomiting while I washed my hair.
Needless to say, our house-training efforts seem to have stalled.
My frustration was peaking as I decided what CD to play as I drove to work.
"On my way nails broke and fell into the wishing well, wishing well, wishing we-eh-eh-ell," ATDI's Cedric Bixler-Zavala crooned on the wonderful single, "INVALID LITTER DEPT."
I listened closely to ATDI's songs as I drove to work, trying to forget the dog barking at the cats and having to spray carpet cleaner on a smelly stain.
Sometimes you need a little noise with your melody, I thought. Like when a puppy is not quite house-trained enough.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A great story by any name

It seems like I have been reading "THE BLACK LIZARD BIG BOOK OF PULPS" for ages.
In fact, I began reading this 1,150-page collection of crime fiction of the 1920s, 30s and 40s since April 9.
I can't seem to put the book down -- the stories provide a wealth of entertainment.
I just finished reading "ANGEL FACE," a classic tale by the noir genius CORNELL WOOLRICH.
The story details the efforts of a nightclub dancer to clear her brother of murder charges. To do so, she must descend into the murky world of a wealthy, sadistic nightclub owner.
Woolrich first submitted the story to Dime Detective, and the magazine published it as "Murder in Wax" in its March 1, 1935 issue.
Woolrich sold a similar story, titled "Face Work," to the magazine Black Mask.
Columbia used the story as the basis for a B-movie, "Convicted," starring a young Rita Hayworth in 1938. The story also formed the basis of a radio show in the 1940s.
Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine ultimately published the story under Woolrich's preferred title, "Angel Face," in December 1946.
I just read the version published as "Face Work" in the October 1937 issue of Black Mask.
Whatever the title, this Woolrich story delights and shocks the reader in equal measure. It is a true classic of crime fiction.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

"Have fun, but have fun in a disciplined way"

I spent two hours cleaning the kitchen today, listening to CRICKET on the radio as I toiled.
Cricket on the radio continues to entertain, even as the game slows to a crawl.
TEST MATCH SPECIAL commentator HENRY "BLOWERS" BLOFIELD and summariser GEOFFREY BOYCOTT (the former Yorkshire and England cricket star) are currently decrying the boisterous, apparently drunken England supporters in the western terraces of Headingley, Leeds.
"Have fun, but have fun in a disciplined way," Blowers just said, chastising the fans for such digressions as tossing beach balls to one another and occasionally booing South African players.
I am laughing as I listen, praying that Blowers never has to broadcast a baseball game in Philadelphia. How ill disciplined would he find those fans?
There are eight overs remaining in today's match. ENGLAND are currently 39-1 in their second innings. SOUTH AFRICA scored 522 in their first innings, and lead the hosts by 280 runs.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

"They have come for your uncool niece"

I really don't want to go to work today.
I have to drive to CASSVILLE, WIS., to cover a festival of twins.
I can think of at least 12 things I would rather be doing. But I am resigned to my task. I know covering the festival must occur and I am the one to do it.
That's why I am listening to the DEAD KENNEDYS right now, before I head to the office. I can enjoy some vicarious lashing out at authority.
JELLO BIAFRA and the gang never thought much of authority, as evidenced by the sinister/humorous classic "CALIFORNIA ÜBER ALLES."
The song imagines then-Gov. JERRY BROWN taking control of society, creating a dystopian future where kids are forced to meditate at school and the happy face becomes the symbol of totalitarianism.
"Zen fascists will control you," Biafra sings.
I'll sing it to myself, later today, as I arrive to interview a town full of lookalikes.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Dancing... Like no one... is... watching!

ROUTE 1 staff are swinging their hips, shaking their heads and making strange, seizure-suffering chicken movements with their hands. Why?
We're dancing like no one is watching!
Readers share the tunes that make them shamelessly strut their stuff by answering this week's FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What song makes you dance like no one is watching?"
KERSTIN H. -- "Karma Chameleon" by Culture Club.
MIKE D. -- Some KC and the Sunshine Band music always makes me want to break out my disco moves.
JILL H. -- "I Melt With You" by Modern English, but only when my brother and sisters are with me!
RICK T. -- The Georgia Satellites' "Keep Your Hands to Yourself."
MIKE M. -- I dance like a fool to the banjo, fiddles and Ozark Harp in "Little Rabbit" by Crockett's Kentucky Mountaineers, as heard on the companion CD to R. Crumb's Heroes of Blues, Jazz & Country.
ERIK H. -- "Time was on my side when I was running down the street, it was so fine-fine-fine. A suitcase and an old guitar and something new to occupy my mind-mind-mind." It doesn't matter when or where I hear the 1979 single "Born to be Alive" by French disco singer Patrick Hernandez. I *always* start dancing. "We were born, born, born -- born to be alive!"

Thursday, July 17, 2008

It is true: Girls Ain't Noting But Trouble

"Nevertheless, don't mean to bust your bubble, but girls of the world ain't nothing but trouble!
I blame the cats and dog.
I have been listening to "GIRLS AIN'T NOTHING BUT TROUBLE," the 1986 debut single by DJ JAZZY JEFF & THE FRESH PRINCE while preparing for work this morning.
Last night, I struggled to keep RORY the puppy away from LORELIE and MIKA the cats -- all females, by the way.
The puppy wanted to play, the cats wanted the puppy to quit jumping at them and a cacophony of hissing and barking ensued.
I was along in the house with the menagerie, and following a lengthy, busy day at work, the last thing I wanted to do was play animal kingdom referee.
I finally put the dog outside until Jill and the girls (also, all females) returned from shopping. My head was pounding.
This morning has been much calmer. Jill has already left for work and all the other females -- even the animal ones -- remain sleeping.
So, I can sit here and enjoy listening to -- arrrg! The dog is barking again?!?!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Suomen Summer Leaguer

You'll have to excuse us fans of the PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS.
What with Greg Oden healthy and Jerryd Bayless and Rudy Fernandez joining the team, we can't help thinking about the upcoming NBA season while the just-concluded campaign remains fresh in most other folks' memory.
That hope for the future, a return to the "Rip City" good times, means we're paying attention to things like PETTERI KOPONEN and his summer league success.
Koponen, 20, is a 6-foot-4 point guard bidding to fill Portland's 15th and final roster spot -- a spot that would make him only the second player from FINLAND to make the NBA (anybody remember Hanno Mottola?).
Koponen opened the summer league Monday, scoring 19 points with four three-pointers and three assists. The next night, the Finn
added 18 points and three assists.
Admittedly, two summer league performances do not tell the entire story of Koponen, but rest assured Blazers fans will follow his exploits closely. We really are *THAT* excited for the season to arrive.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Classic "stupid line" in classic single

I was feeling nostalgic during my four-day weekend, so I hauled out several of my old 12-inch singles, including the funky 1981 release "(WE DON'T NEED THIS) FASCIST GROOVE THANG" by Sheffield trio HEAVEN 17.
I love the story of the band writing and recording the single, as reported in a contemporary interview in Britain's NME music newspaper.
"We were going through the disco charts in Record Mirror picking out all the words from those absurd disco titles," Heaven 17's MARTYN WARE told the paper. "We were laughing at those phrases, thinking they're pretty good and then we just chucked in 'How Much Longer Must We Tolerate This Fascist Groove Thang.' We were pissing ourselves for days. (Heaven 17 vocalist) GLENN (GREGORY) has to sing it line by line in the studio. We've got loads of out takes of him cracking up whilst singing. It was (the line) 'hot you ass I feel your power' that did him... a classic stupid line."
I would love to hear those out takes some day. They would be a perfect addition to some expanded edition CD.

Monday, July 14, 2008

"They can lie to my face, but not to my heart"

It hardly seems possible that the SHAM 69 anthem "IF THE KIDS ARE UNITED" was released 30 years ago today.
The anniversary makes me feel old: I remember the catchy track as being one of the first U.K. punk tunes I heard as an adolescent.
Sham 69's fourth U.K. single, "If the Kids Are United" song is loosely based on a chant popularized by Britain's Socialist Worker Party and the Arsenal supporters based in the North Bank at the club's former ground, HIGHBURY, according to George Gimarc in his comprehensive "PUNK DIARY."
"If the kids are united, then we'll never be divided."
Unwanted racist followers marred Sham 69's career, which is a shame. They produced a number of memorable, catchy tracks during their career, including a song that debuted three decades ago today.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Shout to the top

Today's cloudless blue skies and pleasantly warm weather immediately brought to mind the early 1980s and lazy summer days in SEBASTOPOL, CALIF., and lazy summer days in Sebastopol immediately brought to mind THE STYLE COUNCIL.
As a result, the girls and I listened to a CD of The Style Council's singles en route to the mall, where KERSTIN spent some of her birthday money.
I admit: It took me years to properly warm to the breezy, jazzy sound of The Style Council. That's because I was one of those fans of THE JAM who felt betrayed when leader PAUL WELLER broke up his original band.
My stance has mellowed over the years (heck, I even like Paul Young now), and listening to such Style Council songs as "Shout to the Top," "My Ever Changing Moods" and "Long Hot Summer" today brought back memories of endless days of cloudless blue skies.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Cricket education for the birthday girl

ROUTE 1 assistant KERSTIN turned 13 today.
She emerged from the living room -- cluttered with slumbering friends following last night's sleepover -- to see what I was doing in the kitchen this morning.
I have been listening to ENGLAND v. SOUTH AFRICA on BBC Radio's TEST MATCH SPECIAL.
Kerstin and I shared an ear bud apiece and listened to the action following the lunch break.
While we listened, Kerstin asked a multitude of questions about the game, which seems so foreign until you learn it -- then, you understand how cricket and baseball really are cousins.
We heard England's Monty Panesar bowl South Africa's Neil McKenzie. South Africa are now in dire straits on day three of the five-day match -- England batted for 593 for 8 in their first innings and South Africa have been struggling, currently at 108 for 4.
On her birthday, Kerstin learned exactly what those numbers mean.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Two decades can seem like two hours or two lifetimes

Twenty years ago this week, ROUTE 1 was a scenic coastal highway in California (or a simplistic soccer tactic involving long kicks upfield). Much has changed in two decades, as we learn from readers who answered the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What were you doing 20 years ago this week?"
JIM S. -- If memory serves me right, I was mowing a huge lawn at a rental home outside Kieler, Wis., while making sure my soon-to-be 2-year-old son, Jay, stayed away from Highway 151 traffic. On my way to work in the TH sports department. I probably listened to the No. 1 hit of that week. "The Flame," by Cheap Trick.
RICK T. -- Drinking! (Glad I'm over all of that.)
BRIAN C. -- I can't guarantee that is was exactly this week, but in the summer of 1988, I was making an occasional trip to beautiful Poplar Bluff, Mo., where our company was bidding to buy the daily newspaper. We flew, hiring the American Trust & Savings Bank plane. We were the successful bidder -- but within two to three years unloaded the paper, licking our wounds financially. That same time, I was helping to plan the August 1988 resumption of a Saturday edition -- after a hiatus of more than six decades.
MIKE M -- Learning close order drill on the parade deck at MCRD San Diego.
BOB H. -- You must be kidding. I can't remember what I was doing last year!
LISA Y. -- I had just graduated high school in May, so I was probably out buying UNI Panther notebooks, pencils, clothes and bumper stickers, as well as a fan and a "hot pot" for my dorm room. Oh, the memories... of three people crammed into a dorm room and people setting off fire alarms at 4 in the morning... Go Panthers!
MIKE D. -- Our band (Anxiety) had broken up a couple weeks prior, as my lead singer brother was moving to Milwaukee and a few other members were off to college, I was gathering all of the equipment to put it up for sale. Since I was the only member of the six-piece band with a full-time job, I owned most of the stuff (mixer board, speakers, lights, etc.).

ERIK H. -- Sebastopol, Calif., was baking... I was an unemployed, recent college graduate living at home. Will Clark was smacking home runs (the Giants beat the Cardinals, 21-2, on July 9). The news from elsewhere included reports of a crippling drought in Iowa (where are those dry conditions now that we could use them?). On the night of July 10, my mom and I accompanied some family friends to a home in the Oakland hills. Following an afternoon walking around Berkeley's Telegraph Avenue, we relaxed in the hot tub at the friend's hillside home. Sitting in the hot water, we gazed at the glittering lights of the East Bay and beyond to the City.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Another band I shamefully neglected

I spent another small portion of our ECONOMIC STIMULUS PAYMENT on the AT THE DRIVE-IN anthology, "THIS STATION IS NON-OPERATIONAL."
I am rather ashamed to admit that I rarely considered ATDI during their active career. Now that they have splintered, my appreciation has grown exponentially.
It is a simplification, but basically creative differences and drug abuse broke apart the post-punk band from El Paso, Texas following the release of their best-selling album, the wonderful "Relationship of Command."
The two band members with the TOWERING AFROS -- Cedric Bixler-Zavala (lead vocals)
and Omar Rodríguez-López (guitar, backing vocals) -- split to form prog-rock group THE MARS VOLTA. The remaining, short-haired band members -- Jim Ward (guitar, keyboards, backing vocals), Paul Hinojos (bass) and Tony Hajjar (drums and percussion) -- formed the band SPARTA (although Hinojos has since joined The Mars Volta).
Confused? Then just find some ATDI songs and listen to the music. A mixture of styles, the music is difficult to pigeonhole. I suggest you check out the video for "Invalid Litter Dept.," a single off "Relationship of Command." Look for it here.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Stimulatin' the economy

We finally received our ECONOMIC STIMULUS PAYMENT in the mail the other day. (Blame some odd rule concerning TurboTax on our receiving the check in the mail and not via direct deposit months ago.)
I used a small portion to stimulate the economy over at BORDERS yesterday.
I purchased one of my favorite Westerns: BUDD BOETTICHER'S "7 MEN FROM NOW," from 1956.
Ben Stride (Randolph Scott) is hunting down the gang of seven men who killed his wife during a Wells Fargo robbery. Stride’s journey includes encounters with a couple (Walter Reed and the gorgeous Gail Russell) struggling across the desert landscape in a covered wagon and a pair of outlaws (John Larch and the excellent Lee Marvin) with designs on the stolen Wells Fargo gold.
Scott's Stride is the solitary, stoic and brave protagonist who characterizes films by Boetticher, whose filmmaking was infused by a bull-fighting obsession that eventually helped derail his promising career.
I stimulated the economy with some post-punk and music, too, but that's a tale for another day.

Monday, July 07, 2008

"Merle Haggard meets the Ramones"

JILL AND I are opening our 18th WEDDING ANNIVERSARY this morning by listening to the "FERVOR" EP by pioneers JASON & THE SCORCHERS -- led by Sheffield, Ill., native JASON RINGENBERG.
“Twenty years ago Jason Ringenberg was the pioneer of what then was
called 'new sincerity.' Now he is feted as alt-country's elder statesman," wrote John Aizlewood in Britain's Guardian newspaper.
Rank and File, Jason & The Scorchers and Uncle Tupelo all emerged in the 1980s, playing a style of country music infused with punk attitude.
Searching for a proper description, critics called the music "cowpunk." Eventually it became known as "," a musical style that spawned books, magazines and countless albums.
Listening to "Fervor" this morning, I can barely remember how startingly it sounded two decades ago. Were the punks playing country, or were the country boys playing punk?
Yes to both queries.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

What an incredicle spectacle

Echoing sports fans the world over, I can honestly say today's Gentlemen's singles final at WIMBLEDON was the greatest tennis match I have witnessed.
RAFAEL NADAL collapsed to the turf after the Spaniard held off ROGER FEDERER,
6-4 6-4 6-7 (3-7) 6-7 (8-10) 9-7, to win his first Wimbledon title and halt the Swiss star's run of five successive titles at the All England Club.
Nadal missed two championship points in the fourth set in an epic match that stretched beyond four hours, in part because of rain delays.
The players seemed so evenly matched. One would seem on the verge of winning, only for the other to claw back in contention. We were enthralled. We even forgot a pot of water boiling on the stove!
I won't forget this tennis battle any time soon.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

The Santa Cruz band and the smile on my face

I can always count on CAMPER VAN BEETHOVEN to put a smile on my face.
I smiled at the band's quirky songs when I heard them fresh in the early days of college radio, and I am smiling now, hearing "Take the Skinheads Bowling" and "Eye of Fatima" and the other great tunes -- included on a 2008 compilation, "POPULAR SONGS OF GREAT ENDURING STRENGTH AND BEAUTY."
Camper always seemed so representative of their hometown.
Like SANTA CRUZ, CALIF., Camper had no qualms about mingling completely disparate elements, as long as it felt right.
Take a hardcore punk song and play it like a Russian folk song? That would be Camper Van Beethoven.
"Popular Songs" is an example of Camper's outlook on music and life.
Former label Virgin would not release the rights to five of the tracks on the compilation -- including my favorite "Eye of Fatima" -- so Camper produced note-perfect re-recordings of the originals. I generally avoid compilations with re-recordings, but in this case the inclusion is barely noticeable, and it's for a good cause: The triumph of a highly original band over the unyielding power of corporate greed.
That cause is so apropos for a Santa Cruz band and also makes me smile.

Friday, July 04, 2008

OOH AAH (Insert own music here_________)

The ROUTE 1 staff is a little tardy getting to the FRIDAY QUESTION answers this morning.
That's because we were up late watching the annual FIREWORKS display.
The explosions of color were great, but do we really need to hear "America (a.k.a. They're Coming to America)" and Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" every year?
Let's check in with the readers as they answer the following query:
"What music would you play to accompany fireworks?"
BEKAH P. -- Beethoven's "Ode to Joy." I know, geeky, right?
KERSTIN H. -- A song from dance recital, "All Around the World."
RICK T. -- "America," sung by Waylon Jennings.
MIKE M. -- Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee" on tuba.
BRIAN C. -- When the fireworks are bursting, you just can't beat "Stars and Stripes Forever," by John Philip Sousa.
MIKE D. -- Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture," à la the "Caddyshack" finale.
ERIK H. -- It starts off slow, then it really roars -- just like a good fireworks display. "One Armed Scissor" by At The Drive-In. Of course, I would probably be moshing, so I might miss some of the chrysanthemums and willows.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

He keeps revealing the secrets of the East

Family friend RAY NAYLER has made it his life's work, it appears.
While serving a PEACE CORPS stint in the former Soviet Republic of TURKMENISTAN, Ray provided regular e-mailed missives detailing life in the central Asian backwater, still very much a totalitarian regime at the time.
Ray later moved to MOSCOW.
Now, Ray serves as a senior program officer for the American Councils for International Education in DUSHANBE, TAJIKISTAN.
Ray's reports on life in the former Soviet Union continue, no matter his location.
He recently published a guided tour of the RED LINE on the Moscow Metro, including the Komsomolskaya station (pictured).

(You can find Ray's recent travelogue here).
I had hoped that the mysterious shroud around the Soviet Union would lift upon the fall of Communism. Thanks to Ray's efforts, it is finally beginning to clear.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

So long, Sonics

I also admit I can't stand to see them go.
A settlement in a lawsuit involving the Sonics' ownership and Seattle civic officials means the team will be allowed to relocate to OKLAHOMA CITY.
I have nothing against Oklahoma City, but I hate to see franchises uprooted.
I feel sorry for the people who grew up in the Pacific Northwest and cheered for the likes of "Downtown" Freddie Brown, Jack Sikma, Dennis Johnson, Paul Silas, Xavier McDaniel and Shawn Kemp.
The Blazers lost their fiercest local rival today, but the basketball fans of Seattle lost a lot more.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The few, the proud, the FALL fans on FACEBOOK

I have been dabbling on FACEBOOK, slowly updating my profile to reflect musical and cinematic tastes.
I know some of my favorites are going to reside somewhat outside the mainstream -- I would rather listen to DEL THA FUNKEE HOMOSAPIEN than FLO RIDA, for example.
Still, I was disappointed and surprised that there was no collection of Facebook members devoted to MARK E. SMITH and THE FALL.
Bands The Fall helped spawn, such as Pavement and Sonic Youth, boast a Facebook presence, with fans pledging their allegiance by clicking "Become a Fan."
There was nothing for "the Northern white crap that talks back."
So, I started pounding a few keys on the laptop and created a page for The Fall myself.
I even joined up as the band's first "fan" on Facebook.
That was Saturday. I left it at that, without promoting the page at all (frankly, I am not really sure how to promote the page).
Imagine my delight, then, to find four other Fall fans joining the page in the subsequent few days!
There is some fellow from Chicago (relatively nearby), a bloke from Sweden (hooray!) some guy with the last name "Sæbø" (must be Danish? Norwegian?) and a guy from Seattle.
Not exactly a groundswell, but proof that at least a few people were waiting for someone like me to come along and celebrate The Fall.