Monday, January 31, 2011

Funny, I can read the label on that tear gas canister.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

mark bettaman

Today marks the end of an era at the Times, with Mark Bittman announcing the conclusion of his weekly column, The Minimalist. Can I say I have read and cooked over 700 columns worth of his work? No. And I can't even say that Bittman taught me how to cook (I mean, I have a mother and a grandmother, y'know?). And well, he hasn't taught me anything about LaMonte Young or Steve Reich, minimalists both.

But did he offer a new perspective on consumption choices? Did he help me understand the process of cooking and eating? Did he encourage me to stop buying things like cake mix, packaged granola and salad dressing in a bottle and instead DIY? Did his columns and cookbook allow me to experiment with things at the vegetable stand that I had never risked buying before? Did I make a white bean soup with collards and brisket just last night out of his Minimalist Cookbook? And did a casual discussion at a bar with a woman about --of all the recipes in the world-- parsley cream sauce, lead me on a new life adventure? Unequivocally yes.

(Incidentally, his parsley cream sauce recipe is one of the few disasters.)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Pazz & Jop Ballot

Funny, a month on I would have failed a pop quiz if you had asked me what it was I wound up voting for in the 2010 Pazz & Jop Album's Poll. Regretted forgetting about Erykah Badu, Robyn, Motor City Drum Ensemble, and The Crystal Ark single but am grateful to have somehow made it through the year without remembering Kanye or "Fuck You."

But I'm pretty pleased with how my singles ballot came out, with only four of the ten garnering another vote (#1, 7, 9 and 10). I know the trend is that thousands of singles get only one vote for them, yet it's still satisfying to shine a light on some of the new music that got to me this year. Then again, it's also weird to realize that some of my respected peers posted zero (or like, four) singles.

1Try to Find Me, "Get to My Baby (TBD Extension)"
Golf Channel
2Bubble Club, "Violet Morning Moon (Dr. Dunks Remix)"
Bubble Club
3Mim Suleiman, "Nyuli"
Running Back
4Tiago, "Rider (COS/MES Remix)"
Ene Japan
5Mick, "Macho Brother (DJ Nozaki's Macho Break Mix)"
10 Inches of Pleasure
6Entro Senestre, "La Caccia"
7Oneohtrix Point Never, "Returnal"
Editions Mego
8Crue-L Grand Orchestra, "(You Are) More Than Paradise (Theo Parrish Long Version 1)"
9Midnight Magic, "Beam Me Up (Jacques Renault Remix)"
Permanent Vacation
10Justin Bieber, "U Smile (800% Slower by Shamantis)"

Sunday, January 16, 2011

arthur's landing feature

In the Friday edition of the Wall Street Journal, I wrote a feature about Arthur's Landing, an eclectic collective of musicians like former Modern Lover Ernie Brooks, minimalist composer Elodie Lauten, trombonist Peter Zummo, and others who continue to perform the music of their dearly departed friend and colleague Arthur Russell, nearly two decades after his death.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A year ago...

A year ago, I was walking down my street when a plywood wall from a construction site fell and struck me on the side of the head. I blacked out but didn't fall down. When I could finally see straight, I staggered home and soon wound up in the emergency room. What was worse was what followed: the realization that my head was not okay. There was the awful sensation of my brain being shaken. Music and noise were overwhelming. I could only board the subway with earplugs in, and standing in a public space became traumatizing. Concerts were completely out of the question. I could barely get out of my house without being seized by fear at the unfiltered sensorial data that would soon assault me.

What was worse was the sudden struggle to write. Words and ideas now remained cloaked behind curtains, deep underwater, submerged under shadows, far from my searching fingers. I would commence writing a sentence and by the time I typed the period, I would have no idea what the beginning had been. And when I did write, I missed deadlines by days or weeks. What once flowed like water was now more like chipping at compacted ice, the process itself flailed from hours into days. It was a fraught time, my future as fuzzy and dim as my thoughts. The fear that I would never be able to write again was a palpable one. How can the head assess its own state? What examining thought can determine that the thought process has returned to its original state?

I wasn't recovering. My paranoia deepened, I was reminded every day that the only thing I believed that I possessed, my head and my thoughts, were no longer mine. Only when I went to see specialists did I learn that a physical trauma to the head means that all of the brain's energies go towards physical repair, rather than psychic maintenance. Meaning that emotional issues from the past, long tamped down by the head, are suddenly loosed. Thoughts and feelings that I had been able to push away for decades were now undeniable. What inmates had once been locked away were now roaming free.

Slowly, my faculties returned. Or rather, I became comfortable with this compromised state and began to accept it as the new normalcy. How I was in 2009 was forever lost to me. In no uncertain terms, last year was the scariest year of my life and I'm grateful just to have the chance to keep fighting.

Friday, January 07, 2011

print bedia

Starting this week, and alternating weeks with my cohort and near-twin Andy B., I am doing concert listings for the Wall Street Journal. In this week's edition, I highlighted folks like Peter Gordon's Love of Life Orchestra, Optimo, and Lee Fields.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Nu Grooves in Brooklyn

In this week's Village Voice, I wrote a profile on the uptick in dance music labels in New York City. Shouts went out to Blackdisco, Wurst, Deconstruct Music, and others, but I focused on three growing in Brooklyn: W.T. Records, Long Island Electrical Systems, and Golf Channel. All are worth investigating, and each release varies greatly from one to the next.