Thursday, March 31, 2011


if any of you were like me last year, watching in slack-jawed disbelief as the sf giants made their improbable run through much better teams to win the world series, you soothed yourself w/that old maxim: "any team can beat any other team on any given day." it was impossible not to think immediately after, "yeah maybe but not the giants." i'm not here to dwell on the past or try to take anything away from the giants. unlike mike, who still has bile rise into his mouth everytime someone mentions the twins unlikely win in '87(or '91, i forget), i just shook my head & started thinking about next season, which is now this season beginning today.

since i've always believed thomas boswell's assertion that "baseball gives us more pleasure, more gentle unobtrusive sustenance, away from the park than it does inside it," i'm here to offer up my 2011 baseball predictions that i've come up w/during these days of sickness, craziness, & dark thoughts about death.

A.L. EAST: i have boston beating out the yankees. in fact, i'm not sure that the yankees will even make the playoffs as the wildcard this year. my oddball pick here is that the baltimore orioles will finish higher than last place.

A.L. CENTRAL: i have the tigers & twins battling it out, w/the winner being whoever's pitching staff holds up. i think ozzie's shtick has jumped the shark & i wouldn't be surprised to see him given his walking papers during the season.

A.L WEST: this one is a tough one. texas didn't need cliff lee to win the division outright last year(tho they needed him during the playoffs)but oakland's manager is too much like bruce bochy across the bay: he manages to try not to lose as opposed to managing to win. i also have a lot of faith in mike scosia's angelic ways. i think this will be texas again, w/the angels coming up behind them. despite it's terrific pitching staff, oakland's offense is still too weak to play w/the big boys & geren too passive to go up against a high-roller like ron washington.

N.L. EAST: c'mon, really? of course i'm picking the phillies here. atlanta will be the wild card again this year, though my oddball pick here is that the marlins play hard all season & threaten the braves for the wildcard.

N.L. CENTRAL: reds again. i like dusty too much maybe. my oddball pick here is that milwaukee will threaten the reds & finish just behind them. the cardinals can't do it w/o wainwright & the cubs are, well, the cubs. sorry. i still wear my cubbie tee-shirt proudly but it ain't happening this year.

N.L. WEST: yes, the giants have that pitching. who can deny that after seeing them rise to the occasion last year? still, they are managed by bochy & are relying on pat burrell, mark derosa, & aaron rowand for offense. that's not going to happen, though what will happen is that a lot of the breaks they caught last year won't be coming their way a second time around. they're fortunate to be in the weakest & most unstable division in baseball but i still think the rockies will come through in the end & unseat them atop the division. i'm not sure the wildcard will come out of this division, leaving the giants at home come late october.

i'll return to these picks at the all-star break & see just how wrong i am. i'm hoping to be back in the bay area by the time things start shaking out in the first half of the season.

"Born to an age where horror has become commonplace, where tragedy has, by its monotonous repetition, become a parody of sorrow, we need to fence off a few parks where humans try to be fair, where skill has some hope of reward, where absurdity has a harder time than usual getting a ticket." TOM BOSWELL

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


another unsung honky tonk hero bites the dust. this guy's influence is wide & undeniable.

"Ralph Mooney’s strings ring eternal with the most infinite beauty, his life’s work reverberates in our souls with zero diminish till kingdom come. When our society downfalls from selfishness, over-consumptive hedonism, and a wanton unappreciation of art, and the archeologists of the future sift through our ashes to find something, anything worth preserving and paying forward, they will find the sound of Ralph Mooney’s steel guitar, and make sure it is heard by the future to stir the souls of mankind forever." TRIGGERMAN from SAVINGCOUNTRYMUSIC.COM

"To me, the most unique thing about country music is the pedal steel guitar. All kinds of instruments have been used, but, the ringing tone of a pedal steel defines what country music is.

You hear it, and you know what you’re listening to. It’s rarely used in any other style of music, and if it is, it’s only on a song or two on an album that the artist wanted to show their country influence on. Fiddle is kinda the same way, but, it also runs through bluegrass. Pedal steel is country music and country music alone.

So, to have such a defining instrument run throughout the genre, to be given the title of “The Best There Ever Was” defines that person as one of the most important people in country music ever. That man was Ralph Mooney

Friday, March 18, 2011


On the twentyseventh May eleven hundred
and seventyseven, eight p.m., fire broke out
at the corner of Tomi and Higuchi streets.
In a night
palace, ministries, university, parliament
were destroyed. As the wind veered
flames spread out in the shape of an open fan.
Tongues torn by gusts stretched and leapt.
In the sky clouds of cinders lit red with the blaze.
Some choked, some burned, some barely escaped.
Sixteen great officials lost houses and
very many poor. A third of the city burned;
several thousands died; and of beasts,
limitless numbers.

Men are fools to invest in real estate.

Basil Bunting from Chomei at Toyama first published in Poetry, September 1933

Thursday, March 17, 2011


i saw foucault at berkeley's little gem of a venue, freight & salvage, over 3 years ago. i'm not sure how i stumbled onto his work, probably just dumb luck. i was immediately drawn to that voice(almost as alluring as jay farrar's), then, the songs themselves. at that time, he'd put out 3 albums & he announced that night that his new album was due out shortly. it would be an entire album of john prine songs. i remember my brain's reaction to that annoucement: "i'll just stick w/prine, thank you." foucault's original material was pretty damned strong & he put on a fine show. i'm glad mr. marcus drew my attention back to him. he's put out two strong albums since the prine covers. it's always gratifying to find yourself on the same page as greil marcus.

(1) Jeffrey Foucault, Cold Satellite (" A collaboration with the poet Lisa Olstein, who wrote the words for Foucault’s drawl—a drawl that sometimes grows a tail so long it curls around itself, with a country feel that puts the people who live in the Nashville charts to shame. Then a deep-ditch electric guitar takes a country song into the blues, and lets it go back where it came from. Nothing is pressed, to the point that sometimes the way the voice pulls away from a word or a guitar from a phrase is its own kind of preciousness—but not in “Twice I Left Her,” which shifts the music into a more resolute kind of quiet, a bigger emptiness in a single room. An acoustic guitar figure comes up against drums buried far away, like a memory. The story creeps out, and stops well short of its end, though you can glimpse it. Foucault drifts over the words so lightly that they seem to fade as they’re sung, and you might stop trying to hear them as words, let them come as sounds." GREIL MARCUS REAL LIFE ROCK TOP TEN FEB 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Write this. We have burned all their villages

Write this. We have burned all the villages and the people in them

Write this. We have adopted their customs and their manner of dress

Write this. A word may be shaped like a bed, a basket of tears or an X

In the notebook it says, It is the time of mutations, laughter at jokes, secrets beyond the boundaries of speech

Say this. I was born on an island among the dead. I learned language on this island but did not speak on this island. I am writing to you from this island. I am writing to the dancers from this island. The writers do not dance on this island

Say this. There is a sentence in my mouth, there is a chariot in my mouth. There is a ladder. There is a lamp whose light fills empty space and a space which swallows light

from SUN michael palmer

Monday, March 14, 2011


As long as you have not grasped that you have to die to grow, you are a troubled guest on the dark earth MIRCEA ELIADE also born today MARCH 14TH

Tuesday, March 8, 2011



if there's any doubt that the white boys who comprise galactic haven't absorbed the new orleans groove, i adduce this stunning piece of funk as evidence to the contrary. furthermore, if there's any doubt that irma thomas can still reach way down & give up everything to a song, just sit back & listen.

this is off galactic's ya-ka-may from last year.

Friday, March 4, 2011


i suppose the audience wag who yelled "traitor" at sam beam was just shivering at how clever AND ironic he was being in front of all those people. of course he didn't mean it. we've come a long way from having a folksinger cause any kind of commotion at all. nowadays, that sort of thing comes from the ladies & kanye.

there are enough excellent songs on iron & wine's new album, kiss each other clean, to give beam the benefit of the doubt about the other "experiments." his lyricism is still very much intact & most of the melodies support the extra instrumentation. the duds are really where he clutters things up just a bit too much or where he revisits a scene he's already explored on other albums.

dylan warmed up w/bringing it all back home & highway 61 revisited & then he dropped blonde on blonde. i'm not suggesting that beam is one of the many "new dylans" who come along every so often. i'm saying that the move from delicate quirky melodist to full-blown band leader is a tricky one & it usually involves some growing pains. this isn't new coke. it's a strong progression that depends on where he's been & what he's done but points towards new concerns & approaches.

i'll take what's good here & wait for his next move.

kiss each other clean iron & wine