26 April 2007

Set Your TiVo & Batten the Hatches

Conan O’Brien will be hosting his late-night show from San Francisco next week, and Anti- confirms that his musical guest on Friday, May 4th will be none other than Tom Waits.

Here is the press release:

Tom Waits Performing On Conan O'Brien
Wednesday April 25, 2007

Tom Waits will be performing on 'Late Night with Conan O'Brien' on Friday, May 4, taping in San Francisco.

Make sure you tune in!

Conan’s calendar suggests that Snoop Dog will also appear. Now that’s a pairing you don’t see everyday!

While I'm looking forward to Tom's appearance next week, I'm quite certain that it won't surpass this hysterical showing on now-forgotten Fernwood Tonight:

25 April 2007

Look Around You

If you’ve never seen the BBC’s “Look Around You” (2002, 2005), you’re missing out. Here is the first episode (8:46) – “Maths” -- in all its hilarity:

21 April 2007

London is the Place for Me

Life has been extraordinarily hectic recently, hence the quiet. Throughout it all, I've occasionally found myself day-dreaming of London, which in turn put me in mind of the wonderful tune, "London Is The Place For Me," by the "Grandmaster of Calyso," Lord Kitchener (1922-2000).

But when I searched YouTube for some video of Kitch, there was very little to be found. The best footage I uncovered -- in some ways, better than what I went in search for -- was this sixth-former's marvelous stop-motion animation video.

P.S. It turns out that another hero, the great Australian folk singer Paul Kelly, has posted a spin-off on this tune, riffing on the life and times of the enfant terrible of world cricket, Shane Warne. Here's what PK says:

Hi all -

I was watching this year's Sydney Ashes test on TV around the same time as listening to Lord Kitchener's (aka Aldwyn Roberts) great calypso song London Is The Place For Me. The Kitchener tune suggested to me a new set of lyrics based on the adventures of Shane Warne.

My friend, Andy Doherty, filmed the live recording of the song at my place with Sian Prior playing clarinet and Ray Pereira on congas and djembe. Adam Rhodes engineered it in the shed.

Paul Kelly
Feb 2007

Check it out:

13 April 2007

The Tristan Project

It would take quite a lot to dispose me to move to Los Angeles -- or anywhere in California, for that matter -- but more events like this would certainly help. Based on Richard Wagner's extraordinary opera, Tristan und Isolde, The Tristan Project is a collaboration between video artist Bill Viola, Los Angeles Philharmonic music director Esa-Pekka Salonen, and theatre director Peter Sellars.

Following the success of its premiere in Los Angeles and the subsequent staging of the complete Tristan and Isolde in Paris during the 2004/05 season, the Philharmonic's Tristan Project returns in April before its East Coast premiere in New York City. The cast for the Tristan Project in both Los Angeles and New York features soprano Christine Brewer as Isolde, tenor Alan Woodrow as Tristan, and bass John Relyea as Marke, and mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter debuts as Brangäne.

The creative team of Esa-Pekka Salonen, video artist Bill Viola, and director Peter Sellars collaborate again to present Tristan and Isolde: the complete opera in two full evenings, and performances over three evenings with one act per night, each paired with a different work by Debussy, who was heavily influenced by Wagner's work. Viola's video images, which offer literal, metaphorical, and spiritual complements to one of mythology's most famous and tragic love stories, are again projected on specially designed screens during the performances.

From all that I've read, seen, and heard, this project is extraordinary. More information and images can be found here.

Gender Genies

I recently had an article accepted by an academic journal. When I showed one of the referee reports to my wife, she suggested that the reviewer was clearly male. When I asked her why she thought so, she said that it was the confidence of the referee's tone that gave him away. Her thought wasn't that women aren't confident, but only that a male voice can seem more empowered by language -- more able to assert himself through words. I didn’t believe her at the time, but perhaps -- as usual -- I should have ...

The very next day, this discussion commenced over at Thoughts, Arguments, and Rants. It concerns this proposal made by Ross Cameron (Philosophy, Leeds):

As I understand it, women are under-represented in the major journals (I mean, even given their under-representation in the profession - that is, woman are even more under-represented in the journals than you’d expect them to be, given how many women there are in the profession). Why is this? Well, we’d need a study on this, but the following seems likely to me. Since women are under-represented in the profession it is very likely, for every paper sent to a journal, that it will be refereed by a man. Men and women vary in their styles of writing and arguing. So while when a man submits a paper it is likely that it will be reviewed by someone who writes and argues in a broadly similar style, with women this is very unlikely. Hence, women face a disadvantage in trying to get papers published.

Okay - it’s hardly likely to be that simple. But I bet there’s something to this. And if there’s some truth to this then there’s a good case to be made, it seems to me, for journals implementing the rule that papers by women should, other things being equal, be reviewed by women. (The ‘other things’ packs in a lot, because it seems far more important that papers be reviewed by experts in the subject.) Is there a good reason why this shouldn’t happen?

The comments in this thread have been interesting. Worth noting is that Sally Haslanger (Philosophy, MIT) will be presenting some noteworthy results on the subject later this month at the Central Division of the APA. (According to this comment, Haslanger’s investigation reveals the disturbing result that “the percentage of papers by women in the top journals falls far short of the percentage of women at the top 20 research universities.”)

Also noteworthy is the so-called “Gender Genie” -- a website that purports to be able to determine the gender of any text’s author. (The site is based on an algorithm developed by academics at Bar-Ilan University and Illinois Institute of Technology.) I’m inclined to regard with some suspicion the presuppositions of such an endeavor, and this comment on TAR suggests that its results might not always be accurate.

Still, if Haslanger is right -- and assuming that submissions really are blind-reviewed (lest more sinister prejudices be at work here) -- perhaps the Gender Genies -- both the website and my wife! -- focus our attention on an issue worthy of further consideration.

10 April 2007

Waits in Buenos Aires

Tom Waits attended the Festival Bafici in Buenos Aires this past weekend. Apparently, he performed "You Can Never Hold Back Spring" (from the recent Roberto Benigni film, La Tigre E La Neve) as well as the crowd-favorite "Tom Traubert's Blues." Lousy recordings of these performances can be found via a quick search on YouTube.

The following clip isn't all that swell either, but, if you can make it out, the story of fronting for Frank Zappa is worth a listen:

Incidentally, if you've never seen the wonderfully stylized opening to La Tigre E La Neve, in which Waits performs "You Can Never Hold Back Spring," check it out:

I love the clarinetest sitting in the wheelchair with the rainbow blanket over his legs: classic.

06 April 2007


A sad day for New York City’s avant garde music scene ... The lower east side club, Tonic, has announced that it will close its doors for good next Friday night (Friday the 13th).

A regular venue for such folks as Marc Ribot, John Zorn, John Medeski, Arto Lindsay, Yo La Tengo, and many others, this is -- was -- my favorite club in the city. For the past decade, its existence -- coupled with the Knitting Factory -- proved that lower Manhattan could support not one, but two downtown musical venues featuring music that pushed the envelope seven nights a week.

Recent highlights include John Zorn’s 50th-birthday celebration, which featured a month-long series of performances at Tonic, as well as the live recording of the Medeski, Martin, and Wood album, Tonic (2000).

And one of the best shows I've ever attended was at Tonic in 2001, where I heard the extraordinarily elusive but marvelous Belgian singer, Catherine Jauniaux, accompanied by Marc Ribot. Jauniaux's young son spent the entire evening crawling around under the piano, while his mother and Ribot made extraordinary sounds together: just the kind magical night one could only find at Tonic.

This club will be dearly missed.

From the press release:

After more than 9 years as a home for avant-garde, creative, and experimental music, Tonic will reluctantly close its doors on Friday, April 13th, 2007. We simply can no longer afford the rent and all of the other costs associated with doing business on the Lower East Side.

The neighborhood around us has been increasingly consumed by "luxury condominiums", boutique hotels and glass towers, all making the value of our salvaged space worth more then our business could ever realistically support. We have also been repeatedly harassed by the city's Quality of Life Task Force which resulted in the debilitating closing of the ))sub((tonic lounge in January. Coincidentally, this campaign began as our immediate neighbor, the Blue Condominium building - a symbol of the new Lower East Side - prepared to open its doors.

As a business, we take responsibility for mistakes made along the way. If profit had been our chief motivation we could have changed our programming to something more mainstream and financially lucrative. Instead we were more committed to a certain type of music and loyal to the community that supported us. As a result, we've always just survived but never really prospered. It is, however, unfortunate that it is so difficult for small businesses to operate in this city and that a chain store that can afford a high rent is more desirable than a place like Tonic that has a different kind of value.

04 April 2007

Keith Richards Snorts "His Father"

Keith Richards has acknowledged consuming a raft of illegal substances in his time, but this may top them all. In comments published Tuesday, the 63-year-old Rolling Stones guitarist said he had snorted his father’s ashes mixed with cocaine.

“The strangest thing I’ve tried to snort? My father. I snorted my father,” Richards was quoted as saying by British music magazine NME.

“He was cremated and I couldn’t resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow. My dad wouldn’t have cared,” he said. “... It went down pretty well, and I’m still alive.”

Richards’ father, Bert, died in 2002, at 84.

Richards, one of rock’s legendary wild men, told the magazine that his survival was the result of luck, and advised young musicians against trying to emulate him.

“I did it because that was the way I did it. Now people think it’s a way of life,” he was quoted as saying. “I’ve no pretensions about immortality,” he added. “I’m the same as everyone ... just kind of lucky.

“I was No. 1 on the `who’s likely to die’ list for 10 years. I mean, I was really disappointed when I fell off the list,” Richards said.

Now I ask you: who moved up to take Richards' place on that list?! Must've been the guy who didn't wait for his father to kick it before grinding him up and snorting him ...

Obama's Strong Showing

On the one hand, one laments the political reality that candidates for office raise these kinds of sums (25 million dollars?!), not to mention a media that proclaims as "frontrunner" the individual who scores the most donated cash.

On the other hand, it’s hard not to be impressed by Obama’s success. Could it be -- and here the 100,000 donors vs. 50,000 donors comparison is more germane than the $26M vs. $25M -- that Obama really is attracting a wider swath of the American public than Clinton?

Obama fundraising rivals Clinton
Chicago Tribune
April 4, 2007

Sen. Barack Obama raised at least $25 million dollars during the first quarter for his presidential campaign, a total surprisingly close to the $26 million collected by his chief rival for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Overall, Obama received contributions from more than 100,000 individuals, his campaign said. Clinton received donations from about 50,000 people, while Edwards took in money from about 37,000 donors.