Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Monday, January 25, 2010

"Joe Monk" by Josh Alan Friedman

"There were yellowed 8x10 publicity pictures affixed to the wall, photos of forgotten jazz trios and quartets from which a younger, more ambitious version of him posed in the guitar seat. The kind of guy you’d call a 'cat'..."

Josh Alan Friedman on Joe Monk. Click here to read it at Black Cracker Online.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Monday, January 11, 2010

Larry, Sam and Josh Alan Friedman

“Let me introduce myself before you play,” he said with finality, extending his hand. “Larry McMurtry.”

I’d somehow pictured McMurtry as a quiet, professorial, bookish man. Taken aback, I asked him about his own son, folksinger James McMurtry.

“Fuck that!” he screamed. “You’re the son of Bruce Jay Friedman!” He’d picked up some ratty dame at the bar who instantly swooned over Texas’ leading literary light, and tongue kissed her. Then they sat down before the stage....

Contemporary Lit at the Winedale, Dallas, TX.

"Larry McMurtry—At the Winedale?" by Josh Alan Friedman.

Click here to read it at Black Cracker Online.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Vanina Marsot In Chinatown!

Vanina Marsot reads and signs TONIGHT at Vermin on the Mount @ Mountain Bar.

Sunday, January 10 at 8pm. 475 Gin Ling Way, Los Angeles 90012, (213) 625-7500

In Chinatown between Broadway and Hill, directly across from the Wishing Well. More info

Click here to order your copy of Vanina Marsot's book, Foreign Tongue: A Novel of Life and Love in Paris.

Luca Turin, Matt Weston, Perfumes, Seasick Blackout

Luca Turin. Perfumes. That's right--Perfumes The Guide by Luca Turin. Luca Turin...greatest critic/writer since Mencken? The greatest critic/writer criticizing and writing today? Lord God King Luca Turin?


Dune (Dior) ***** fresh oriental
Forget suburban-gothic names, forget all the phony "noirs," from Angelique to Orris. True, menacing darkness is not to be found in upset-the-parents Alice Cooper poses, but in this disenchanted, ladylike gem. Loosely inspired by the excellent Venise five years earlier (Yves Rocher, 1986), Dune is a strong contender for Bleakest Beauty in all of perfumery. It is clearly headed from the very start towards that peculiarly inedible cheap-chocolate drydown that made Must, Allure (q.v. for a fuller account of the effect), and a thousand others, though Dune's is the best of the lot, dissonant but interesting. But the way it gets there is extraordinary, with a beguiling transparency, even freshness, particularly in the anisic carrot-seed top notes. It is hard to pin down what makes Dune so unsmiling from top to bottom: it's as if every perfumery accord had become a Ligeti cluster chord, drained of life, flesh-toned in the creepy way of artificial limbs, not real ones. Marvelous.

Laguna Homme (Salvador Dali) * trashoid oriental
If you drive a Moscow taxi at night, this one's for you

Remix for Her (Armani) * fruity floral
A trite, canned-fruit-salad confection of no interest except to illustrate the cynicism and idiocy of its makers.

...and so on and so on for a few hundred pages. Tania Sanches is no dummy, and no question she can write and write well, but after a while, once your totally drunk on Turin's totally electrifying virtuosity with the written word, she just gets in the way.

You have to admire how quickly Turin can drop the science. You also have to admire Turin's fearless critical directness backed by total erudition and cultural literacy, not to mention an encyclopedic knowledge of and totally cutting edge position as practitioner within the subject.

Something to which we can all aspire, no?

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Seasick Blackout (Matt Weston, 7272 music) ***** electronic future-memories
Hey, how did Matt Weston get the sounds in my head on to that CD? Seasick...blackout--been there, done that, and now I know what it sounds like: scary, ubercontrolled in an out-of-controlled way, dark and loud. A contemporary tone poem about Man cowering and pissing himself in the face of an/our/the ever increasing mechanized brutalization of society and the brutal mechanization of culture--and mechanized brutality's reaction. The experience of listening on the way to work (catering a wake) in a snow storm, driving a traction-free Ford truck that not only wants to bankrupt me but kill me too, Seasick Blackout was so totally appropriate it was as if the CD wasn't even on. Once it was over, in the silent din of my own thoughts amid winter driving conditions, I realized that should I ever find myself high on LSD, Seasick Blackout will either be the last thing I'll listen to or the only thing I'll listen to. One of those kinds of records.

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The Turin dimension: "remain(s) but fleeting illusions, to be pursued but never attained" To quote his holiness Haile Selassie I.

And yet there are a lot of CD's which deserve all the virtual attention they can get, and by gum, now that I got my scanner working, I'm going to scan the covers and write a paragraph about all of them. I can use the practice writing (and thinking and listening) and the two or three of you who regularly check in can just as easily not check in, since this is just the internet anyway and words mean less now than ever before.

copyright © 2010 Stanley Jason Zappa

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Vanina Marsot in Berlin

(click image to enlarge)

view from the Berliner Dom

copyright © 2009, 2010 Vanina Marsot

Click here to order your copy of Vanina Marsot's new book, Foreign Tongue: A Novel of Life and Love in Paris.

Vanina Marsot reads and signs at Vermin on the Mount @ Mountain Bar!
Sunday, January 10 at 8pm. 475 Gin Ling Way, Los Angeles 90012, (213) 625-7500, In Chinatown between Broadway and Hill, directly across from the Wishing Well. More info

Vanina Marsot reads and signs at Chaucer's Bookstore in Santa Barbara!
Thursday, January 14 at 7pm. Loreto Plaza, 3321 State Street, Santa Barbara 93105 (805) 682-6787 More info

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Newstastic! New Year From Plato Jesus

Piracy, shaving heads, cannibalism and grown men who dress up as their mothers; six new That's Newstastic!s from Plato Jesus to ring in the New Year.

2009 goes out with a bang, and we can only whimper:

somali sea gangs lure investors at pirate lair

sorry we ate your great-great grandpa

man dresses up as mom to withdraw cash

edina woman shaves head in protest at climate gathering

drinking leads to life-saving discovery for teen

7 tipping points that could transform the earth


Top ten list top ten list look at me look at me top ten list for 2009

1 -- Recordings I have acquired

a. John Blum: Who Begat Eye and In the Shade of the Sun

A new John Blum solo record and a John Blum trio record with William Parker and Sunny Murray. Can you possibly dig it? Everyone should know who John Blum is. You know who John Blum is, right? You must have heard Astrogeny with William Parker, Dennis Charles and Antonio Grippi by now, and you should have heard Naked Mirror by now also--what with it being an aesthetic predecessor of Who Begat Eye. You might have heard John Blum live in NYC, but then again, you might not have, as there are only so many pianos in New York City and the parent culture likes to celebrate the same people again and again and again.

While the parent culture thing is nothing new, the piano thing is pretty pathetic for two reasons. The first pathetic reason is historic:

Heinrich Englehard Steinweg from Seesen, Germany, installed his piano business, now anglicized to Steinway & Sons, on the Lower East Side by 1853, before moving to a factory on Fourth Avenue and eventually to Queens

And I don't think Steinweg and Sons was the only piano manufacturer in that immediate area at that time. In fact I know they weren't--because wikipedia told me so. The Loisidia used to riddled with pianos. Now it's riddled with high rents. Great.
The other is economic: there still is a lot of wealth in Manhattan--enough wealth that if the money people were (or wanted to be) meaningfully engaged with the art people, there would, by now, be a grand piano on every corner of that island and music, rather than the smell of aluminum and professional excellence, wafting through the air.

b. Kevin Frenette:
When Kevin gave me Connections I couldn't hear out of my right ear due to filthy germs of Cambridge, Manhattan and New Jersey. Worse, the right speaker is the onely one that works in the truck--that useless piece of shit money-black-hole of a Ford truck--and for the most part, that's where most the listening happens. Listening to the CD on a real live working stereo is worth the effort, as the music is quite excellent. There is a prevailing feeling of motility through the CD. Tatsuya Nakatani and Todd Keating together make a mighty sonic loadstone. Andy McWain drizzles in just the right amount of tonality amidst dexterous, compelling playing. Kevin Frenette is a good reason why smashing every guitar on earth might be a bit of an overreaction to a few bad apples. Lastly, it sounds to me like Kevin has put together a group, and not an all star session--not that they aren't all stars, but there's a cohesion and confidence that comes from...a very hard to see spaceship hovering over earth? Who can say anymore.

c. Eric Zinman Trio
Three cheers for Eric Zinman. If I'm not mistaken this is his third piano-bass-and-drums trio album thus far. This is the first not to use Laurence Cook, which is a pity, as any occasion to hear Laurence Cook is a unique joy. Benjamin Duboc on Bass and Didier Lasserre on drums are, however, an outstanding clutch and transmission perfectly suited for Zinman's piano gearing

d. Sabir Mateen quintet Secrets of When
Raphe Malik is on this one. For some reason I feel like it was one of if not his last recording. Sabir plays alto, tenor, clarinet and flute and plays them all equally well--however the sound of Sabir on alto and Raphe on trumpet is timeless and eternally enduring. During her late-romantic and high 'dissonant' moments, Naoko Ono reminds me of a lighter, softer John Blum--which is not judgement in a better-and-worse kind of way--just a density/dynamic assessment. Nakono Ono sounds great, and is used to great effect in the group. Same for Jane Wang and Ravish Momin. Way above average concept and realization all the way around.

2. 1/6th of a cow
(ground, stew, porterhouse, sirlion tip, eye of round roast, t-bone)
A nice holiday treat from the feed lot. It's been about 2 months now of almost constant beef eating and I'm not even close to a quarter of the way through. The cow is a mighty thing, and it would appear that much of it's might comes from cutting its head off and portioning out it's body in small packages. This is not something to be taken lightly, or for granted. It is something that can happen without a huge amount of space and not a lot of capital investment. It's also something that's going to have to start happening all over the place if "we" are to take this local food/100 mile diet thing seriously. Or maybe it too is something we talk about to make ourselves feel better about the wickedness and irrationality of our lives. What's more, all the 'waste' from the process (blood, intestines, spines) can be made into soil fertility, as opposed to, say, the waste from the oil industry, which isn't as good for soil health.

3. Burning CD's with Linux
First this then this. Linux is quite a thing...humbling, humiliating...many feelings. Any of you out there give a shit about Linux? Is there any parallel between music and Linux--particularly the gnu license/open source philosophy? Can "we" as artists learn anything from the gnu license/open source philosophy?

4. Chris D. book on New Texture
Hooray for New Texture and Hooray for Chris D.

5. The Jazz Code
Perhaps my most favorite blog post of the year on absolutely my most favorite blog of the year--but do remind me if I said that about others, or if there are some I missed.

6. Zappa Military Industrial Complex and wildly uninformed speculation And why not? It seems like a happy place; you got yer music, forum, frequent blog entries by himself--what's not to like? I really do say that with all sincerity. The music "boot camp" thing gave me moment for pause if for no other reason than there's only one Zappa who knows from boot camp--and he'd be the perfect 'pace setter' to really give it an old school MCRD sort of feel. It didn't take much to visualize an alternate reality where completion of boot camp was followed by membership in a larger Zappa franchise reality. Only bands made of boot camp graduates are 'official' or 'legitimate' or some kind of corporate devilry like that. Not that this has been suggested, not that this is the plan, not that I am accusing them of anything of the sort, not that I am acting on any kind of knowledge what so ever (I never do). But what if it was the plan? I mean, isn't larger and larger combinations, conglomerations and trusts the invariable, hard wired behavior of the corporate entity? Is that a newly emerging method of further monetizing / capitalizing on bodies of work that were already done (definitively) by the original, now-unable-to-collect-royalties artist?

7. The Antichrist translated by HL Mencken

Put the kids on the lap, next to the fire, the tree, the stockings and the golden retriever. A new Christmas tradition...

I cannot, at this place, avoid a sigh. There are days when I am visited by a feeling blacker than the blackest melancholy--contempt of man. Let me leave no doubt as to what I despise, whom I despise: it is the man of today, the man with whom I am unhappily contemporaneous. The man of today--I am suffocated by his foul breath!...Toward the past, like all who understand, I am full of tolerance, which is to say, generous self-control: with gloomy caution I pass through whole millennia of this madhouse of a world, call it "Christianity," "Christian faith" or the "Christian church," as you will--I take care not to hold mankind responsible for its lunacies. But my feeling changes and breaks out irresistibly the moment I enter modern times, our times. Our age knows better...What was formerly merely sickly now becomes indecent--it is indecent to be a Christian today. And here my disgust begins. I look about me: not a word survives of what was once called "truth"; we can no longer bear to hear a priest pronounce the word. Even a man who makes the most modest pretensions to integrity must know that a theologian, a priest, a pope of today not only errs when he speaks, but actually lies--and that he no longer escapes blame for his lie through "innocence" or "ignorance." The priest knows as everyone knows, that there is no longer any "God," or any "sinner," or any "Savior"--that "free will" and the moral order of the world" are lies--: serious reflection, the profound self-conquest of the spirit, allow no man to pretend that he does not know it...All the ideas of the church are now recognized for what they are--as the worst counterfeits in existence, invented to debase nature and all natural values; the priest himself is seen as he actually is--as the most dangerous form of parasite, as the venomous spider of creation.

Talk about rain drops on roses and whiskers on kittens! The Anti-Christ really is some great reading by the stockings (hung with care,) or while hanging around the Christmas tree next to the fire.

8. Record I have not yet acquired

a. Bill Dixon: Tapestries for Small Orchestra
b. Bill Dixon: Weight / Counterweight

Two sides of the same Dixonian coin--a large group (aka "Small Orchestra") and a trio featuring two drummers.

Not to play favorites with two things I haven't even heard, but I must admit that I am slightly more eager to hear Dixon with two drummers--not that I don't love Dixon's work with larger ensemble--it's just that the two drummer + Dixon modality brings to mind a certain Dixon concert at the St. Mark's church featuring Arthur Brooks, J.R. Mitchell and Gary Sojkowski. Said concert left a huge dent in my musical consciousness and that sparse harmonic setting gave Dixon a certain kind of "room" (dare I say "freedom") to play the horn. There is however, the turntable situation, particularly the not having of one. Perhaps Santa will put one under the tree for me--I'll let you know how that goes.

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And that's my top 8 list for 2009. Woo Hoo! Rumor has it #9 and #10 will be posted soon at But you go there regularly, and so didn't need me to tell you that.

EVERYONE HAVE A GREAT AND FUN 2010!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

copyright © 2009 Stanley Jason Zappa