National Public Viking

Friday, June 30, 2006

WUOG's in my blood like a cytotoxic T-cell

|current sounds| Man Man soundchecking at the 9:30 Club

Just when I thought I could get away from WUOG listserv wars. good ole Erin sees fit to add me to the WUOG Alumni listserv (nothing but love for you, Erin!). Right off the chain, my inbox floods with former wuoggers debating pre-recorded radio for hours the station's off the air. I remember the issue was tossed out there when I was on the exec board for two years, but none of us really wanted to do it. It reeked of soulless pap, it went against everything we stood and still stand for: 26,000 Watts of College Radio Debauchery (still love that slogan). In fact, the station's causing so much ruckus that it interferes with chemistry research on campus. I feel bad for the labcoats, but that's hilarious. I've heard lore of WUOG's airwaves transmitted through hairdryers, microwaves, even braces (!), but never an entire chemistry building. Awesome.

WUOG's one ray of cynical sunshine in its news division was the hoarse-throated Chris Tucker. For a lot of listeners, he was WUOG. His infernal hatred of the school's newspaper, the student government association, greeks, indie-rockers, Republicans... well, you get the idea... with his quick wit was the only reason to listen to the otherwise useless "Talk Block" on Wednesday evenings. He recently brought to the blogging community's attention the existence of the WUOG, Please Stop Sucking website set up on Myspace.

It's no secret that some Athens townies harbor ill feelings against its only (more or less) free-form station. Most of them are ticked that they can't DJ, which, no matter how many times it's explained to their baked minds, they just cannot: the station's officially a part of the university and it's a legal issue. Most of them are even more are mad at the music philosophy, one that excludes much mainstream radio, even legends like Neil Young and Elvis Costello who don't really have radio play anymore. The music philosophy's been debated ever since WUOG decided to support more indepedent artists and, frankly, no one will ever come to a good agreement. In short, they can just get over it because it hasn't been WUOG's prerogative to play Top 40 past or present for a long time.

I have little problem that this page was made, but it has no argument. In fact, I would encourage "WUOG, Please Stop Sucking" because every organization has room for improvement (yes, even amatuer, college student-run radio stations), but at this point, it's just a group of bored townies that need jobs (or, better yet, need a vacation or to leave). Those around while I was still working at station know I was relentlessly hard on DJs to do a better job (exploring the archives, be somewhat personable, umm... don't suck - to put it at their level). Looking through the "friends" list, I could've predicted every one. It's the same list of folks that enjoy happy hour every day at the punk/rockabilly bar, local bands that didn't make rotation (heck, even national bands that didn't make rotation), and then people who just think it's funny/will give them points. In fact, I probably know who started it, a certain band that's never been on the friendliest terms with WUOG and decided to make an enemy out of me recently.

I'm encouraged by the idea of media responsibility. Up until a few weeks ago, I had no idea there was such a thing as an ombudsman, someone who investigates complaints against an organization and attempts reconciliation. Jeffrey Dvorkin, who's unfortunately leaving NPR next month, has served as ombudsman since 1997. He spoke to the interns about the integrity of the journalist, which coming from UGA and knowing many of its J-school types, made me apprehensive at first, but he deals with integrity on a real level, not just as journalist himself. When I mentioned this to Helen recently, she said, "Sounds like a job you'd love!"

How exactly does one become an ombudsman? He has an intern.

Anyway... got off track there. Chris is a funny guy.

[EDIT: Removed the comment about the UGA school newspaper. I had incorrect information.]

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Discovery Channel's Tales of the Poor Male

|current sounds| T.I.- King (putting on my hip-hop hat sidewaaaays)

When limited by his surroundings, the young, post-graduate male seeks nourishment in the strangest places. Most likely, it's what he can find that remains, something like a scavenger picking through cabinets, tupperware, and finally opening that questionably oversized can of baked beans in an effort to feed his meager hunger.

Just yesterday, the long-haired being discovered stale bread, frozen turkey dogs, and cans of black eyed peas and string beans. From these disparate elements, he managed to create this thing of improvisational beauty:

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And now, he has gone through the tupperware to find what was left of said creation replacing the stale bread bowl with rice for some kind of poor dirty rice imitation.

We shall return next week after our subject has earned his wages.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Flooding, S-K wants to be mommies, more bass, singing bridges

|current sounds| Hot Chip- The Warning & The Pipettes "Pull Shapes" (single of the summer!)

So if you don't follow the news, D.C.'s been hit by some serious storms. Some of the Metro was under water, there were flash floods, entire streets were shut down. So I spent last night dumping water from the various pots and bowls I set up in the kitchen and the bathroom. Nasty yellow-ish water leakage.

America's best current rock band, Sleater-Kinney, will go on indefinite hiatus after the summer, which can mean one of two things: a permanent break-up or a reunion tour in two to three years. Still, it's saddening news only made more difficult by the fact that all of my S-K albums are on vinyl and sitting in my parents's basement, so I can't listen to them. The band, however, is coming to D.C. on August 1st. Robin (Producer, All Songs Considered) is currently trying to secure us for a live webcast.

News from the homefront:
Athens's own grinning math-metal trio Coulier played their last show at Athfest this past week. The promise of 9 bass players and Navid (drums) made me almost wish I was back in town for the event. Thankfully, they taped it...

Part 1:

Part 2
Part 3

Oh, and this is the coolest thing I've read all week. (Scroll to the bottom of the page and "play" the interactive Harmonic Bridge!) The exhibit closes on July 16th... maybe I can go to New York City by then? I want to make a trip or two anyway.

[EDIT: I'm dumb. The Tate Modern is in the UK.]

Monday, June 26, 2006

"Viking Food Pillagings" Debut

|current sounds| Jai Agnish- Mechanical Sunshine

Since I didn't do anything that interesting this past weekend (other than a trip to Georgetown), I will now debut a new section of National Public Viking: "Viking Food Pillagings," the restaurant review portion. Any schmo can do a food article... just look at Flagpole's "Grub Notes" or the Washington City Paper's "Young & Hungry."

The rating scale is out of five viking heads: 1 being poor, 5 being Thor-hammerly awesome.

Two locations: 205 Pennsylvania Ave. SE & Union Station

The Food
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I love burritos. This is no secret. I always seek out the closest locally-owned burrito place everywhere I visit in search of the world's greatest burrito. Agua Linda back in Athens currently holds that title (pour on the cheese, hold on the red sauce, thank you). The burritos here are good, but it's the fajitas and the tacos that deserve praise. Burrito Brothers marinates their meats and keeps the juices fully in tact when grilled with fresh green peppers and onions. The salsa's freshly homemade, too, which always earns a couple extra points in my book. However, the biggest surprise was the roast pork tacos. I don't really like pork or any pork products besides bacon, but the lady misheard me order pork a visit or two ago. It's juicy and bites off in nice, thick strings, so it doesn't get stuck in your teeth.

The Assembly/Presentation
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Probably the messiest Mexican food I've ever had. The aluminum foil anything's wrapped in is absolutely necessary. They could take a lesson from Taco Stand and wrap their food tightly in stronger tortilla wraps.

The Service
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Nice little Mexican lady has taken my order the five or so times I've already come to Burrito Brothers. Always kind and willing to do a last minute change with no guff.

The Aftertaste
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Aftertaste is an important factor in my dining experience, especially Mexican. Athens's Taco Stand tastes great and hearty going down, but you do feel a little gross ten minutes later. That said, it's all about the marinade here. Don't know what's in it, but the taste stays consistent even a half an hour afterwards.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

ZZ Toppin' pysch

|current sounds| Wooden Wand and the Vanishing Voice- Dead Lecturing 7.20.05 & Zodiac Mountain / Religious Knives- split tour EP

FRIDAY, 6/23

I somehow made it through another tiring Friday after getting home at 1:30AM (Bob and I did a live webcast of the Gomez/Bad Plus show and I actually had more fun "moderating" the live chat than the actual concert!). Delicious Vietnamese food was had for lunch at the redundantly named Cafe Deli: lemon-grass shrimp curry. Sarah's convinced I should write an epic poem about metro vs. bus riding.

Went, once again, to the Warehouse Nextdoor, this time for a night of drone. I have yet to make an "avant-garde" (for lack of a better term) concert buddy, but after one of the opening acts, Davey Wrathgabar from The Visitations, an Athens band, came up to me. I had forgotton that he was spending the summer deep sea fishing with his dad on the Chesapeake Bay. After the show, Davey even invited me to go deep sea fishing with them one weekend... why not? Sounds like fun.

I think the saddest part of the evening was the fact that the decent-sized crowd came only for one of the opening bands whose name I never caught (just because you're some hot-shot local band doesn't mean everybody knows you who you are... small bands please take note). It's probably better off that the trio never introduced themselves because I'm about to rip them a new one.

"Drone" is a genre I finally got into sometime two years ago more or less as a result of purchasing Fripp & Eno's Evening Star on vinyl (technically an "ambient" record, but the purpose is the same). Bands like Sunn O))) have certainly made drone not accessible but more understood than someone like, say, Keiji Haino's moaned masterpieces. D.C seems to lack the strong local music scene one always heard about, especially in the '80s and the mid-to-late-'90s; thus, this opening band seemed like the de facto "experimental" group. Athens is guilty of that when it comes to certain musical niches, too.

Don't get me wrong, the trio had some moments of deafening glory. Layers of loops built on each other with the occasional Robert Fripp-ian guitar lick and a distorted Earth-like climax of Black Sabbath riffery. I actually enjoyed that. My issue comes with the lack of purposeful movement. Okay, so you've got an arsenal of effects pedals and some nice, loud amps. Now convince me. The drummer spend most of his time creating "ambient" percussion with literally a box of gongs, cymbals, and clacking wood attached to string when all I wanted him to do was just freakout on the set. There actually was a moment when I thought he might as he hit the snare drum, but (and I hope I have misinterpreted this reaction) the Fripp-lovin' guitarist shot back a dead glance as if to say, "No." This happened three times.

What kind of musical relationship is that? Set up those kind of parameters before a show. Limits are fine. I give them to myself as a musician all the time. But do not bring the audience into it. That's poor showmanship, plus it makes for a less-inspired set.

The second opener, Chris Grier, played a 20-minute set all by his lonesome. The music was fine, though nothing spectacular: self-looped improvised post-rock with some Sonny Sharrock-like shards of sound. I would've stayed the whole time, but the shrill, treble-heavy tones were too much. I am no gear-head, but as an audiophile, I beg of Chris and all guitarists out there, do not play a single-coil pickup Fender guitar through a Sunn amp head. The sound is just grating, which I don't think Grier intended. Sell your Sunn amp head and buy a Fender Twin Reverb. You'll get the sound you're going for and not cause potential fans to leave the room.

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Religious Knives.

Religious Knives, which includes members of Double Leopards and Mouthus, put on a two-song set of droning psych a la Confusion Is Sex-era Sonic Youth meets the Velvet Underground (the latter particularly for the drummer's Moe Tucker-ish rhythm). I definitely got into the near black-metal dirge of Maya Miller's electric piano put through effects pedals. She moaned wordlessly as Michael Bernstein monotonally sang over an open-tuned guitar. Very rad.

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Zodiac Mountain.

Zodiac Mountain is a duo between Wooden Wand main dude James Toth and Clay Ruby (Davenport Family). Didn't really know quite what to expect, but as these two tall men picked up their guitars, the latter in a cowboy hat wrapped with a bandana, I got excited when they started out with a ZZ Top three-chord rocker. I don't even know why. About three minutes into it, Clay Ruby started pulling out some heavy psych-rock riffs and sang like a Southern rocker. Toth took this as a challenge and began solo-ing high on the fret-board for some of the most out-there pysch without drums I've ever heard. Davey and I begged for more after two ten-minute songs, but no dice. James was a really cool guy to talk to afterwards, though.

And since I have yet to put any pictures of myself on this, here's one on the metro:
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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Zombie On a Rainbow, Esq.

|current sounds| Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir- Rachmaninov: All-Night Vigil op.37 (this album is absolutely stunning)

I have finally mastered rice. This may seem like a grossly simple task to overcome, but ever since I moved off-campus at UGA to persue the illustrious life of a college (and now, post-undergrad) bachelor, I have never been able to cook rice. It's either burned or sloshed. Mix it with soy sauce for a stir-fry and the meal's a horrible disaster.

Tonight, I conquered no-name brand white rice. Tomorrow, I shall slay dragons. It's a natural progression.

NPR offers a neat (am I the only 23 year old who says, "neat"?) opportunity through Next Generation Radio called "Intern Edition." It allows NPR interns to fully develop, write, produce, promote, and sequence their own 60-minute program that's aired via podcast for the company and the online audience. I chose to produce someone's piece because I wanted to do something other than writing for this internship (plus I'm fascinated with collecting and ordering sound).

Today, Michael (Music Unit, Performance Today) and I took a train to Baltimore, Maryland to interview Tim Page, a Pulitzer Prize winning music critic with the Washington Post. Without going into much detail about Michael's piece, we spoke with him about music criticism in the 21st century in relationship to the internet and the "blog" phenomenon. Tim turned out to be a great interview subject and seemed genuinely excited by offering his expertise to two prospective journlists.

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Tim Page (left), Michael (right).

For our rock n roll brethren in Manhattan, the Bowery Ballroom will be hosting the US Air Guitar Championships finals tomorrow night. The sold-out show will feature none other than Athens, Georgia's own air guitar (and real guitar) god Jace Bartet, AKA Zombie On a Rainbow, Esq. There is no doubt in my viking mind that my hair-swinging equal shall blast through cement walls with his air-ness. Need proof? Two short videos of Jace rocking out Slayer's "Reign in Blood":

Go forth, Jace, and rule as a Zombie should on a rainbow, esquired.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Theodor Adorno had safety pins in his fedora

|current sounds| West Wing on the tee-vee & Brian J. Davis "Every Work of Art is an Uncomitted Crime" from the Minima Moralia EP (download the whole EP here. Best punk record ever put out by an art snob.)

Michael, Jamie, Nathan, and I all went to Georgetown Sunday afternoon for some lunch at Pizzeria Paradiso. It took us an hour to find such a place since three quarters of Georgetown is too expensive for lowly paid interns (makes you think about the fact that Georgetown is the only area of D.C. without an accessible metro stop, right?).

Here we are practicing our interviewing skills for our upcoming Intern Edition stories (link to last year's program).

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Michael, our fearlessly fake interview subject, sang French arias and shared a story of foreign affairs... the romantic kind.

Afterwards, three of us saw A Prairie Home Companion, the nerdiest of films for three National Public Radio interns to attend. Robert Altman really was the perfect man to direct. Both Garrison Keillor and Altman have such a unique sense of fantasy that skeeters on reality that skims off another fantasy. Most people would call that pretentious and they'd be partly right, but I think the best art is the kind that's not necessarily easily recognizable. Altman captures that beautifully. It'll probably be my favorite movie of the year.

A high-end dog food company used "I Think I Need A New Heart" by the Magnetic Fields in a commercial. I find this quite amusing. Great song, though.

New season of Project Runway on July 12. Heck, yeah.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

I like neopolitan ice cream... but mostly the vanilla

|current sounds| Robert Fripp & Brian Eno- Air Structures (live bootleg, 1975)

Stuff I wish I had brought to Washington, D.C.:
+ Bicycle: I've been surprised at how bike-friendly this city is, especially where I live and on the Mall. Not that it doesn't take long for me to walk to and from work each day, but a bike certainly gives me more of an aerobic exercise.
+ Kitchen things: wok, blender, teapot... we have none of these things. I particularly miss beating my vegetables into submission with the wok.
+ More nice clothes: NPR's version of "business casual" is t-shirts and jeans (at the least), which is awesome, but I feel so strange walking through Capitol Hill among all these suits and ties. I do have some decent attire to get by, though.

Stuff I miss in Athens, GA:
+ Sweet tea: Unlike Georgia, sweet tea is not legally required to be served in all restaurants.
+ WUOG: Of course I miss WUOG! Especially my favorite DJs. I listen online when I can.
+ Seeing Telenovela play every few weeks. (Have fun opening for Danielson!)
+ Wuxtry Records and Agora.
+ Vision Video's 5 old movies for 5 days for $5 deal.
+ Little Italy Pizza & Subs

I'm reviving my dance music phase out of nowhere (I blame it on all the great techno Forced Exposure Distribution sent us last week). Two years ago, for about a month, I was obsessed with house and drum-n-bass, usually of the ambient variety. All I've been listening to lately has been music like Out Hud, The Juan Maclean (got the 2xCD remix compilation at the office... rules), and Marc Leclair. And now I really want to DJ a dance party. Better be careful, I might start collecting 12" DJ singles. (Too late. Already have 10, I think).

The WFMU World Cup Death Watch is now up to 18. USA tied Italy by a fluke. Then again, I once scored on my own team in my soccer years.

I'll "unexpectedly quit" you!

|current sounds| Franco Battiato- Fetus

I did have a nice long entry about the Sonic Youth show I attended for All Songs Considered, my realizations about radio vs. magazines writing, the goodies I bought at Eastern Market, the Freer & Sackler Galleries, and James McNeill Whistler, but my internet browser decided to "unexpectedly quit".... twice.

In lieu of lofty prose, here are pictures of the Sonic Youth show and a punch in mouth to technology.

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Be Your Own Pet, a spastic Stooges-infected punk band a la Yeah Yeah Yeahs, opened for the Yoof. They're on Thurston Moore's Ecstatic Peace label. The band's decent on CD, but were an intense live band, especially on the last two songs thrashing harder than 18 and 17 year olds should.

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Thurston Moore's (Sonic Youth) specially tuned guitar army. You have no idea how tempted I was to touch them.

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Sonic Youth.

Set list:
Jams Run Free
Pink Steam
Drunken Butterfly
Do You Believe in Rapture?
The Neutral
Pacific Coast Highway
What a Waste
--first encore--
Turquoise Boy
--second encore--
Shaking Hell

Monday, June 12, 2006

Two nights at the Warehouse Theater/Nextdoor


My old college radio station, WUOG, spun the self-titled debut from Mammatus quite heavily when it came out a few months ago. Comets On Fire (whose new album Avatar might be one of the best of the year) has been championing the band and rightly so. It's the pounding Hawkwind-ly stoner-rock drenched in psychedelic fuzz that's been seeing a revival lately. The set comprised of two long jams totalling out to 25 minutes both thick with vibrato-ed E-strings and intense wah-wah. Mammatus didn't get into any free-improv freakouts like on the CD, but kept a steady head-swirling sludge the whole way through... not that I'm complaining.

I hated to miss Residual Echoes, whose last album I unfairly wrote off, but the Metro closes at midnight and it was 11:40PM. Tis not safe to walk so late in D.C.

As for the opening bands, Vincent Black Shadow did a decent Stooges/MC5 psych garage-rock thing, but in the end I couldn't tell you how they really sounded... so that's a negative in my book. Facemat reminded me of the crazy improv my friends and I did on Crisis! during the last two summers: wacky bordering on annoying with some inspired moments of genius.


Nathan, the Washington Desk intern, invited the crew to a reading at the Warehouse Theater as part of the F.W. Thomas Series. (Thomas was a mediocre politician or something rather. Nathan could correct me and add witty commentary connected to the night's readers!) Fact is, I have a short attention span when it comes to book/poetry/grocery list readings (I hated that attending such readings was a requirement for a creative writing class last year), especially when it comes the McSweeney's ilk. For this reason, I couldn't really tell you what some of the performers did other than sing a song about falling love with a person with a boring job, act more adorable than one really should when talking about his cute cartoons, and something about being pounded by nine year olds.

Alas, there was a reason for my attendence: Andrew Beaujon reading excerpts from his book Body Piercing Saved My Life. Beaujon's the managing editor for the Washington City Post, which seems like a decent local weekly, so far, and an agnostic who took on Christian rock and Christian rock culture for this book. Now for the past year I've been interested in how agnostic/atheist America views this strange subculture of Christian rock, youth groups, and, in general, modern evangelicalism. Documentaries like Hell House, Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music, and Danielson: A Family Movie have all been released within the last three years to the interest of non-Christians, in particular. I've only seen Hell House, a mostly fair, though still disturbing, look at the "Judgement/Hell House" phenomenon, the charismatic Protestant alternative to haunted houses on Halloween. There's also the Michael Stipe-produced movie Saved!, which could have been a excellent satire on Christian private schools and religious hypocrisy, but ended up being more mean-spirited than anything else.

Even though I have not read the book (I'm sure it's a well-priced paperback, but I can't afford much of anything at the moment), I felt immediately calmed by Beaujon's demeanor. Beaujon spoke with fairness and honesty in his first public reading. When people in the audience snickered at some of the foreign youth group-isms described at the wildly popular Cornerstone Festival that he attended for research (and I attended twice: 1997 with my cousins & 2002 for a Roadside Monument reunion show) or the admittedly over-the-top Gen-X/reaching-to-the-youth quotes from the Mars Hill pastor, he allowed a second of laughter, and then continued on leaving the rolled eyes unacknowledged. This, I believe, kept the audience interested. He wasn't there to confirm or deny the strange ways of "alternative Christianity," only to present it as a viable culture, one that's as detailed and misunderstood as any select group of people.

From what he read, I felt like I already knew it all, which was both familiar and discomforting at once. In high school, Christian rock and all of its trappings were a large part of my life. I didn't hear my first Black Sabbath record until I came to college. Instead, I learned stoner-rock from Adam Again's Perfecta, which I'd still pit against any other sludged out record as one of the most drug-induced depressive albums ever recorded (and, if it should ever happen, would likely be the focus of a book I want to write someday on how Christian rock both ruined and uplifted my life). The politics and hipsterism of the Christian punk/hardcore scene in Atlanta (and Marietta, too, or especially) were awful and repressive, and probably a large part of why I ultimately rejected it almost altogether when I moved to Athens to study English and become a music nerd.

Most of all, I found Beaujon's reverence for his subjects a breath of fresh air. Even though the Mars Hill pastor uses pop-culture to relate to his congregation, Beaujon always mentioned the true focus of the sermon, which, in the whole reading, I found astounding. It would've been too easy for him to take the low road and paint an ugly picture of the backwards preacher with the crazy ideas, but he instead presented the whole of the argument, an attribute I find disgustingly lacking in Christians, agnostics, and atheists alike.

So to Andrew Beaujon, I thank you for giving the life of my past a fair chance.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Out on Friendship Heights

After the party, I walked down Western Ave. towards the Friendship Heights Metro. Coming within feet of the escalator, I heard what sounded like two tenor saxophones going at it arrhythmically, each pulsating after the other in an indeterminable time signature. Excitedly, I awaited to reach the bottom of the escalator expecting to see some gruffy looking jazz players, but realized halfway down that these noises came from the escalators themselves. Never have I wanted so much to have my mini-cassette recorder or even my laptop to record such stunning incidental/environmental music. I could have easily sat there for an hour attempting to configure a pattern only to give up and let chance rule. John Cage eventually gave up composition because he felt that the world already produced such beautiful sounds without him interfering. I feel like I could do the same someday.

Inspired by the escalator, I put on Insen by Alva Noto + Ryuichi Sakamoto, one of my favorite albums from last year. It's truly a work of ambient beauty. Noto's electronic clicks and stuttered beats form a soft enclosure over Sakamoto's warm, yet closely chorded piano work. Insen is quiet enough so that I could hear the environment around me. It was the perfect escalator transition. As "Moon," which has the album's most harsh (or at least most defined) beat, came through as someone's spilled Coke streamed down the isle while a black woman in white sang softly to herself about Jesus. The rumble and screech of the rails collided with reversed piano loops (some I actually experimented with when I lived on Pulaski St. in Athens on Tim's out of tune piano) adding their own percussion.

I can now see why so many avant-garde musicians (in jazz, modern composition, whereever) find such inspiration in the subway. It pretty much sings for itself.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


| current music | Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs "She May Call You Up Tonight" (Left Banke cover) from Under the Covers, Vol. 1

Man, the Swedes just missed a perfect chance to score against Trinidad and Tobago. It's a dead tie right now with no goals scored, though my father's home country's keeping the ball on Trinidad's side of the field. The best part is: I'm watching the World Cup in Spanish. Sure, I could find ESPN, but I landed on Univision first.
[Edit: They tied 0-0.]

WFMU, the best free-form radio station in the country that always an ear and eye for the strange and hilarious, has a contest on their blog to guess how many people will die World Cup-related deaths this month. Predictions have ranged from 4 hooligan deaths to 254. The British police denied soccer hooligans to leave the country for Germany, which is good or bad depending on how many soccer fans those WFMU listeners think will die.

Some of the interns went to the Eastern Market this morning for brunch and a little shopping.

Sarah (National Desk) and Jamie (Music Unit).

Jamie (Music Unit) and Jen (Arts & Entertainment Desk).

Nathan (Washington Desk).

A blurry Jeremy (Digital Media) says, "I'm down with vegetables."

Nathan then took us to Capitol Hill Books, a used book store that easily beats Jackson Street Books back in Athens. Stacks line the walls, overflow shelves, and even take over the restroom (the foreign language dictionary/grammar section!). I came away with both Dante's Purgatorio and Paradiso translated by Allen Mandelbaum (I want to re-read Inferno this summer, but have never read the entire Divine Comedy) as well as A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce (one of those books I just never read).

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Everytime I see the Capitol, I hear the West Wing theme even though it's not the White House

Lest my relatives think I've turned devil worshipper based on the last entry, know that my love for metal music is purely aesthetic. I've been a metalhead ever since I popped in Mortification's EnVision EvAngeline at a Christian bookstore when I was 12 years old. Metal, to me, celebrates theatrics and musical excessiveness better than any other kind of music. It's ridiculous, but awesomely so. I mean, if any fire-and-brimstone preacher ever wanted to really put the fear of God into a group of kids, he'd play "Black Sabbath" by Black Sabbath. It's the kinda song Jonathan Edwards could get behind.

Not since the unstructured meetings of the various camp staffs I've been on have I attended an actual "business" meeting until today. It's something I'm going to learn this summer, thankfully.

Ha. I watch West Wing reruns in D.C. I wonder how many people do in this city... er, district. I think this is the episode Donna puts the move on Josh. Shows what I take away from it, eh? Yay for the Bravo channel.

This weekend: shopping at the Eastern Market, maybe going to one of the Smithsonians with other interns.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

\m/ Throwing up the devil horns to Man on the Hill

It's the National Day of Slayer, but I have the feeling I was the only one celebrating at the office today. For the uninformed, Slayer is one of the greatest metal bands... ever. Slayer's right up there with Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, and Emperor (sorry, Metallica, you ripped off Slayer almost your entire career... poorly). The date is significant, 06/06/06, when stripped of zeroes is "666," the so-called Number of the Beast (great Iron Maiden song, by the way) during the Apocalypse. The number "666" is mentioned only once Bible (Rev. 13:16-18), but all the same, metal's association with the southern lord makes it a headbanger's holiday.

I celebrated by walking to work with Slayer's Reign of Blood on the iPod and walked home to Deathspell Omega (great French band Jace recommended to me) and Black Sabbath's "Sunday Bloody Sunday." Once I finish up some writing, I'll be listening to Burzum, Iron Maiden, Napalm Death, Venom, Electric Wizard, and Bathory.

My homemade t-shirt:
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Me making my most grim metal face:
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In office news, I'm slowly starting to understand exactly what I'm doing this summer. Next week, the Open Mic podcasts I'm working on now will be downloadable (they're all artists from the previous intern, but one of them's fantastic. His name is Brice Fillici).

At the end of the day, I sat in on an All Songs Considered session where I met host Bob Boilen for the first time. Let's just say it was a heckuva lot more professional than the off-the-cuff Liner Notes program Phillip and I did for half a year (we had some pretty on shows, though).

Monday, June 05, 2006

Secret spinach

I knew everything was going to be just fine when the first object I picked out of the mailcrate in my cubicle was an Ecstatic Peace (Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth's record label) fanzine with a label sampler (what I've heard so far rules).

Did the NPR orientation bit in the morning and made a couple of aquaintences right off the bat. I met Robin Hilton, the All Songs Considered (ASC) producer, and he set me right to work on Open Mic material: eight mailcrates of CDs. Two of the crates sorted out to ASC material (some good'uns, too... like the new Six Organs of Admittance!). Since I want to re-read Dante's Inferno this summer, Open Mic CDs have are now assigned the following labels of consideration: Paradiso (yes), Purgatorio (maybe), and Inferno (no). This is almost as nerdy as my Beware the Ides of March t-shirt.

[NOTE: Open Mic is the unsigned/independent artist aspect of All Songs Considered, both of which can be subscribed to as podcasts here (ASC) and here (Open Mic). All you need is the internet, iTunes, or something like iPodder (for Mac haters). The program automatically downloads the daily, weekly, or monthly podcast when you click on iTunes. Easy peasy.]

The 7th floor has a cafe with Greek food. Today I had spanakopita for lunch. I'm happy.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Our hero finds nourishment

A recap of the weekend...

Went to see the Captain Beefheart/Albert Ayler/Polvo enthusiasts Blame Game at the Warehouse Next Door. They really get better every time I see them and it's a shame that they're basically coming to an end with Alex Lambert (drums) moving to NYC to persue music full-time. The boy deserves work because his tremendous talents have gone to waste in Atlanta's non-existent jazz/free-improv scene. Picked up their new EPAsk Someone (it's the best thing they've ever recorded). Nice to see familiar faces (as well as Matt's!) on my second day.

Echo Is Your Love, a quintet from Finland on tour with Blame Game, was fantastic. Sister-era Sonic Youth fans (maybe even Confusion Is Sex) should definitely take note. They had some intense energy (like Blame Game, they played on the floor, not the stage) and the best guitar tones the whole night.

Paid too much for a meal in Chinatown (the lunch specials are only during the weekdays... now I know) and then went to the National Building Museum (who knew we had one?) to check out the exhibit, "The Greenhouse: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture and Design". Besides gaining a large amount of brownie points from Helen - who's interning this summer in Seattle for a website that loves, among other things, environmental geekery - I actually learned a few things about sustainability. Somewhere down the line when I'm in a more permanent location, it's something I'd like to try.

SUNDAY (today)
Woke up and found a clogged bathtub full of soapy water (yesterday we didn't have running water at all), so decided my shower late yesterday would suffice. Walked down D Street to look for a church service to attend. All of them started at 11AM, so I kept walking to scope the neighborhood. Coming upon North Carolina Ave., I saw signs for the Eastern Market. After my disappointment with the tiny grocery store, I had to investigate. Quickly I was in food paradise: fresh fruit and veggies, sweet shops, various butchers, not to mention flea market crafts and thrift store clothes. Picked up some raspberry and maple syrup sausage, eggs, and a grab-bag of veggies ($3!). Maybe I don't have to worry so much about finding a friend to take me to a Wal-Mart or a Whole Foods. Also discovered an organic foodstore walking home, which I might use to buy tofu (it was cheap).

Oh, when I sizzled the sausage for lunch, it set off the smoke alarm, which I thought I turned off, but then I heard a firetruck siren. Imagine my embarrasment when three burly men in full fireman attire were standing at my door and I had to explain that I had just moved in and didn't know the code to turn off the emergency alert system.

Man, I almost linked as much as Christa.

Obligatory opening entry

After a few days in Charlotte with Helen and the Smith family, I made the seven hour drive to Washington, D.C last Thursday. I was making good time, but the Mapquest directions had me on the left side on the highway when the exit for my residence was clearly on the right. I'm not quite sure where I ended up, but found my way back to the interstate and 30 minutes later got to my destination.

My building. I'm on the second floor, far left.
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View from the living room window (that's the Cannon House Office Building where congressional types work).
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The kitchen and living room, which both need massive cleaning.
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My room. I brought posters to make it a little homey (Sunn, Pixies, Sleater-Kinney, The Books, Dungen, Unheard Music Series). I share a bathroom with Anna, who works for Senator Norm Coleman (R-Minnesota) and just got an ugly shiner while pitching at a Senate softball game. Erik (the guy who's subletting the room to me) tells me there's a cool guy named Bryan upstairs.
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As I mentioned in a previous entry, I'm a couple blocks from the Library of Congress. A hop, skip, and a jump away from the Mall, which appears to host the Smithsonian Folklife Festival right now. I test-walked my route to NPR this afternoon (internship starts Monday): only 35 minutes. That means I can save money on metro tickets. The biggest problem I have right now is food. There aren't really any grocery stores to speak of and the small one near my building is a little pricey. I need to make friends with someone that's mobile (my car is in Virginia for the summer with some of Helen's "relatives") so I can stock up on the essentials. Right now I have bread, peanut butter, jelly, mac-n-cheese, milk, and apples.