Friday, December 29, 2006

Another Reason to Boycott Citgo


(Before reading this post, remember that the Venezuelan government fully owns Citgo Oil.)

The BBC reports that Hugo Chavez plans go all Putin on us and shut down the television station that has been most critical of him. The BBC also reports that the US is one of the strongest trade partners with Chavez's Venezuela, especially when it comes to oil. Despite the political antipathy expressed in media soundbytes, trade between the two countries has risen from $20 billion to $47 billion over the last four years. "At the end of the day, the US still is and has been our main commercial partner," Jorge Valero, Venezuela's deputy foreign minister for North American affairs, told the BBC. "Aside from some of our political differences, we can always count on our American partners to do business with us."

"We was raised right...But it was our generation that lost the kids."

For the past several months, The Washington Post has been running a weekly series called "Being a Black Man." Today's insightful selection, titled "The Old Kinship," features interviews with several retired black men in a bowling league. It offers a fascinating peek into the ideological gap between the Civil Rights generation and its children. Here's an excerpt:

"Our generation, we don't stand up for nothing! We know they're locking black people up in droves. Why aren't we outraged and forcing some kind of change?"

"If it don't touch us, we're not outraged," said Mitchell, palms up, fingers spread.

"That's our problem; we don't come together," said Garrison, twisting his lips.

"We need a leader. An MLK or Malcolm X," Thompson interjected.

"We've got so-called leaders, but I'm talking about action," said Hodges, agitated.

"Back then, our goals were more defined," Thompson said. "We were demonstrating for a reason. Now, everything is so cloudy and unclear."

Tar Heels' 2nd Half Surge Knocks Off Scarlet Knights

After a slow start in the first half, the Tar Heels caught fire in the second half en route to another blowout, beating Rutgers 87-48.

The win featured yet another tri-fecta freshman explosion. Brendan Wright dropped 19 points on 8 of 10 shooting. Wayne Ellington scored 17, hitting 5 of 6 3-point shots. And Ty Lawson continued his solid play at the point, dishing out 9 assists with no turnovers.

This freshman trio has a higher scoring average than the Sean May/Raymond Felton/Rashad McCants trio did when they were freshmen in 2003. Wright, Lawson, and Ellington are so good that the commentators are forgetting that Tyler Hansbrough, Marcus Ginyard, Danny Green, Alex Stepheson, and Deon Thompson are even on our team.

With Ol' Roy on the bench.....holy crap. This season is a legend in the making.

Next up: Dayton on Sunday.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Gerald Ford - 38th U.S. President: 1913 - 2006

Naturally, the Washington Post is all over the Gerald Ford Story.

The most interesting article features a lengthy 2004 interview with President Ford. Ford disagreed with the decision to invade Iraq and agreed with Colin Powell's assertion that Dick Cheney (Ford's former Chief of Staff) had developed a "fever" about terrorism and Iraq.

Next, George Will writes that Ford did a fine job, first replacing "disgraced Vice President Spiro Agnew," and then helping to healthe wounds of Watergate and Vietnam. (It makes me wonder if future generations will refer to any of the Bush Administration as "disgraced.")

David Broder discusses Ford's legacy of level-headedness, recounting Ford's visit to The Washington Post after the Watergate Scandal. Addressing the reporters and editors, the President said, "I want you to know I am someone who enjoys having adversaries who are not enemies."

Finally, Slate analyzes "the cult of Gerald Ford." While Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy have cultish devotees nationwide, Ford maintains a loyal following only in DC. His fans highly value his bipartisanship. Author Timothy Noah writes, "Comity and bipartisanship are easy to overrate, and Permanent Washington can always be counted on to overrate them. At the moment, though, it does seem we could use a bit more."

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

3 More Wins and Some Good Mojo

The Heels owned their holiday cupcake schedule, marching on to 3 easy wins. They beat UNC Asheville 93-62, Florida Atlantic 105-52, and St. Louis 69-48.

Things are looking pretty good as the Heels approach ACC Regular Season play. Scout.com reports "they are shooting better than 50 percent percent from the field, out-rebounding opponents by nearly a dozen a game, and forcing foes into nearly 17 turnovers a game."
Furthermore, the Heels are ranked #2 in both major polls, all five starters maintain double-digit scoring averages, most everyone's putting up great numbers, and Tyler Hansbrough is positioning himself to be considered for NCAA Player of the Year.
It's still early - I know. But it's hard not to be excited right now.

Bobby Frasor's probably feeling pretty anxious right now. His foot injury gave Tywon Lawson a a starting spot, and Ty has not disappointed. It's going to take a helluvan effort on Bobby's part to earn back his place in the top 5.

Next up: Rutgers, tomorrow night.

Panthers Still Alive! Fair Weathered Fans Rejoice!

In a court of law, I think I could prove that I am not a fair-weathered fan....but it would be tough.

Nevertheless, the Panthers still have a chance to make the playoffs. After a loss to Pittsburgh so bad it didn't even warrant a blog post, the Cats saved their season Sunday by defeating the Falcons in what was surely the most boring game of the year.

As we move into the final weekend of regular season play, our playoff hopes look grim. We have to beat New Orleans on the road, New York has to lose at Washington, and Green Bay has to lose at Chicago. Interestingly enough, the most far-fetched of these three scenarios is a Panthers' win. Washington and Chicago are tough places for mediocre teams to play, so a lot of people are expecting New York and Green Bay to lose.

Another interesting twist is that New York plays on Saturday. If they pull out a win, our Sunday game doesn't really matter.

I join the chorus of those predicting that New York and Green Bay will lose. I do this not because I'm a football expert, but because I believe it just has to happen this way. In keeping with the theme of this season, the Panthers must have the chance to blow it. Faced with the opportunity to redeem themselves and make the playoffs, they'll lose on some once-a-year play like a blocked extra point to end the game.

A Joyful Gathering

My mother submitted a reflection to be published in the Charlotte Observer. It was posted online on Christmas Day. Link to it here and scroll down to the 3rd piece, entitled "A Joyful Gathering."

Congrats Mom. In the article, you write that we're "all striving to make a little bit of difference." Your words are a perfect example of that.

The Best Top Ten of 2006

Freewilliamsburg.com features the best List of Top Ten Albums I've come across yet. I say this not because of the selections but because of the delivery: short and to-the-point, yet funny and insightful. Including bonus categories such as "Most Annoying Album of the Year," "Nothing But Hype," "Jazz Album Everyone Should Rush Out and Buy," and "Complete Duds from Artists We Normally Love," Freewilliamsburg's list beats Prefix, Stereogum, NPR, Slate, and (sigh) Pitchfork for List of the Year.

The Hardest Working Man in Show Business is dead. Slate features a great eulogy for him here.

James Brown was the missing link between Rhythm and Blues and Hip Hop. He also wrote the greatest rock and roll line of all time (From The Payback: "I don't know karate, but I know crazy" (pronounced kuh-ray-zee).

My favorite story about James, though, comes from the recording of Say it Loud: I'm Black and I'm Proud. For the song, he enlisted the help of a mostly-white children's group to sing the "I'm black and I'm proud" part.

R.I.P. James.

Capitalism in a Nutshell

Worker 1: Hey man, if this fence were here when we came, we wouldn't be here now.
Worker 2: Yeah, but the contract demanded a quick, cheap construction project. Who else were they going to hire?

You couldn't make up a more ironic story than this: NPR reports that a border fence company has been charged with employing illegal immigrants.

"Un-American, anti-capitalist, eco-freak poseurs"

A group of San Francisco neo-hippies is about to complete its quest to buy nothing new for an entire year. They call themselves the "Compactors," and with the exception of the "bare essentials," they have not bought anything new for the past 360 days. The Washington Post reports that, "Some [opponents] have called the Compactors un-American, anti-capitalist, eco-freak poseurs whose defiant act of not-consuming, if it caught on, would destroy the economy and our way of life."

Eco-freak poseurs - sounds kind of like Built to Spill. I admire the Compactors for the principle they're upholding, and I think it's absolutely HILARIOUS that detractors would call them "un-American."

To be American is to consume, I suppose.

Despite my admiration for their principles, I think the Compactors take it too far. What about new toys for the kids? The Post says, "Toys? The easiest. [John] Perry and his partner, Rob Picciotto, a high school language teacher, have two adopted children. 'I take Ben to Target sometimes and we'll play with the toys and then leave,' Picciotto says."

In some states, this qualifies as child cruelty. "Oh, you like that new racecar, Tommy? Well, don't you go falling in love with it. It's staying here when we leave. You can play with your glued together used popsicle sticks when we get home."

Friday, December 15, 2006

Merry Christmas, You Filthy Animal

Subjective History

The Washington Post discusses the way George W. Bush's presidency resembles Harry Truman's. Many people have speculated that Bush hopes his legacy will mirror Truman's: wildly unpopular during his 2nd term, yet vindicated by history in the long run. Winston Churchill, another figure Bush tries to emulate, left a similar legacy.

Another interesting part of this story is the fact that David McCullough, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Truman, will be one of ten people to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the government's highest civilian honor. Although I love McCullough and think he is a worthy recipient, the cynic in me smells the odor of political spin.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

Three Links A'Linkin'

  • "World's Tallest Man Saves China Dolphins." The Associated Press says, "The long arms of the world's tallest man reached in and saved two dolphins by pulling out plastic from their stomachs."
  • Slate wonders why there have not been more protests of the Iraq War. Some reasons the article suggests: there is no draft to create a sense of urgency, there is a lack of detailed media coverage (especially photographs), there is no sympathy for the enemies or their causes (unlike during Vietnam), and the American Left has refused to vilify the US Armed Forces. However, the most interesting reason the article suggests is that "opposition to Iraq doesn't fit into any powerful political vision or paradigm coming from the left. In the 1960s, a number of transformative ideologies came together in opposition to Vietnam—the civil-rights movement, feminism, Christian pacifism, democratic socialism, sexual liberation, and so on. On campuses today, there is plenty of altruistic sentiment but little in the way of revolutionary consciousness. Greens and anti-globalizers are the exception, but Iraq isn't central to their concerns, since its environmental catastrophe must get in line behind all the others, and Baghdad has no Starbucks windows to smash. Moreover, hippie styling and methods seem painfully outdated. Moveon.org is no more likely to take its cues from SDS than SDS was to look to the 1930s-era League for Industrial Democracy for inspiration."
  • The Washington Post reports on Hasidic Jews that attended the Holocaust Denial Summit in Iran last week. This is so interesting.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

New Kids On the Block: "Funky Christmas"



The New Kids on the Block rap about Christmas on the Arsenio Hall Show, and Arsenio himself joins them to spit his own funky verse. I don't know what y'all are asking for for Christmas, but I've already received my present.

Pretty Girls and Right-Wing T-Shirts: The Perfect Mix



Looking for some last minute Christmas gift ideas? Check out Thoseshirts.com for more t-shirts like these.

This Christmas, I'm Thankful for Prefix

The Album of the Day on Prefixmag.com is Alison Krauss's "I’ve Got That Old Feeling." Read about it here.

Prefix is an excellent music website. First, I think an "album of the day" is a great idea. Second, I love how balanced Prefix is with their selections. One day, they choose a hip hop album. The next day, the choose bluegrass. Y'all, I'm serious...eclectic taste rocks.

The site has also posted its Top Albums of 2006. Read the list here.

Up On the Rooftop, Links, Links, Links

  • Read this great BBC article about Barack Hussein Obama's chances of becoming the 44th United States President. There's nothing in it that you haven't heard before, but it's well-written, and the European perspective is nice.
  • Slate posts a fascinating discussion of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's and Iran's continued denial of the Holocaust. In addition to analyzing the denial, the article also discusses the general influence of "revisionist history." A good quote: "The American dictatorship, clothed in human rights spouting falsified history: It's the kind of argument you can hear quite often nowadays, in Iran as well as Russia and Venezuela, not to mention the United States."
  • In this Washington Post op-ed, Jaime Daremblum analyzes the importance of 21st Century Latin American democracy. Although leftist candidates have been elected in many countries, Daremblum argues that we're not experiencing the return of Castro-esque Cold War leaders, nor are we seeing the perpetuation Hugo Chavez's "anti-imperialist revolution." Instead, we're witnessing legitimate democracy at work, especially considering the increased representation of the Latin American poor. Daremblum also says that although we might hear a bit of Chavez-esque rhetoric, we'll see a good deal of free market reform and economic development.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Michael Jackson's Christmas Message



The King of Pop aired this timeless message in 2002.

This Christmas, I'm Thankful for McSweeney's

McSweeney's features "Bean and Nothingness," a great satire of indie coffee shops and their regular clientele.

My favorite excerpts: "Today's flavors are Milagro Sweat and Artic Seal Tears...Our coconut chai will align your chakras. And our wheatgrass cider will cure bad karma...Oh, by the way, if you get tired of our Epiphany Chairs, you can always move over to our Inspiration Bar to work on your screenplay, write your great American novel, or found your Internet-based startup."

Pitchfork's "Year in News"

Pitchfork begins its year-end retrospection with a two-part series entitled "The Year in News 2006."

The most interesting news stories from Part 1 were about the death of Desmond Dekker, the U.S. Library of Congress's selection of a Sonic Youth album to join its permanent collection, and the Daft Punk performance at Coachella.

The most interesting stories from Part 2 were the account of Jeff Tweedy punching a rowdy fan and the curious headline "Ex-Lifetime Bassist Arrested for Hoarding Body Parts."

We Wish You a Merry Link-fest

  • NPR discusses growing concerns about the rising influence of Evangelical Christianity on prominent officers in the Pentagon. According to NPR, "the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, is preparing a possible class-action lawsuit against the Pentagon for what lawyer Michael Weinstein calls "the creation of a theocracy, of a particular fundamentalist perspective within our own military branches"....The foundation says a core of evangelicals are gaining influence at the Pentagon, and violating military policies. It cites Wednesday-morning prayer sessions in the Pentagon's executive dining room, which features speakers from the Christian Embassy."
  • Tom Sorenson laments that the Carolina Panthers were over-hyped at the beginning of the season, that they were never as good as the media said they were, and that the entire season has been a struggle to deal with the disappointment of failing to match such artificially-high expectations.
  • E.J Dionne writes in the Washington Post that Hilary Clinton should welcome the Barack Obama challenge because it will force her to cut through the bullshit.
  • Dick Morris of The Hill compares Hilary Clinton to Nixon, LBJ, and George W. Bush, says she could win the 2008 Election but shouldn't, and claims that Hilary "devotedly and deeply believes in a European-style socialism in which government takes much more of our national income and offers a far wider array of services and benefits."
  • Slate discusses the recent allegations that the CIA was spying on Princess Diana while Bill Clinton was in office. Conspiracy theorist Peter Bis "reported" several months ago that Tony Blair was behind the "assassination" of Princess Di. Furthermore, Bis has alleged that the the Gambino crime family is a strong backer of the Clintons. Thus, the writing on the wall is fairly clear. The nefarious Gambino-Clinton-Blair-CIA cabal brought down Diana. Now, if we could just figure out why. [EDITOR'S NOTE: It should be noted that Peter Bis currently resides in the park between Union Station and the Dirksen Senate Office Building. Judging from his shopping cart full of stuff and the dirt beneath his fingernails, it seems that Mr. Bis calls the park "home."]

Squirrel Contraception


Scottish officials may inject contraception into squirrels to stop the out-of-control growth of grey squirrel populations. According to Scotsman.com, "Immuno-contraception has been successful in other countries, but only in larger animals like feral pigs."

Sunni? Shia? Whatever.

The incoming Chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee is off to a bad start.

In an interview, Silvester Reyes was asked whether Al Qaeda was a Sunni or Shia institution. 50-50 shot, right. Sil said Shia. Wrong. He was then asked whether Hezbollah was Sunni or Shia. Reyes chose not to answer. The BBC reports that Mr. Reyes' office spun the incident by saying that their boss is "acutely aware of al-Qaeda's desire to harm Americans."

Man, it don't matter whether they's a Sunni or a Shia....all I know is that they's all tryin' to kill us.

Us versus Them....that's all you need to know.

You can be sure that the BBC had a field day with this one. Read the snooty, we're-smarter-than-those-stupid-Americans report here.

Kofi Annan Bids Farewell, Wags Finger One Last Time


Read Kofi Annan's farewell address in the Washington Post. It's full of fantasies like global cooperation, solidarity, and other idealistic principles we should follow. I think it's hard to be a balanced reader when someone frequently uses the word "should." Nevertheless, Annan's essay is intriguing, especially the following excerpt:

"First, in today's world we are all responsible for each other's security. Against such threats as nuclear proliferation, climate change, global pandemics or terrorists operating from safe havens in failed states, no nation can make itself secure by seeking supremacy over all others...Only by working to make each other secure can we hope to achieve lasting security for ourselves...But large and powerful states, whose actions have the greatest impact on others, can be constrained only by their own people."

Long live idealism....we're sunk without it.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Ali Rap



Chuck D narrates, and Doug E. Fresh, Rakim, Fab 5 Freddy, Jermaine Dupri, Ludacris, and MC Lyte all offer their soundbytes.
Rakim, Chuck D, and Fab 5 Freddy....awesome.

The Shareef Don't Like It

"Rock the Casbah" by The Clash

Now the king told the boogie men
You have to let that raga drop
The oil down the desert way
Has been shakin to the top
The sheik he drove his cadillac
He went a cruisnin down the ville
The muezzin was a standing
On the radiator grille

Chorus

The shareef dont like it
Rockin the casbah
Rock the casbah
The shareef dont like it
Rockin the casbah
Rock the casbah

By order of the prophet
We ban that boogie sound
Degenerate the faithful
With that crazy casbah sound
But the bedouin they brought out
The electric camel drum
The local guitar picker
Got his guitar picking thumb
As soon as the shareefHad cleared the square
They began to wail

Chorus

Now over at the temple
Oh! they really pack em in
The in crowd say its cool
To dig this chanting thing
But as the wind changed direction
The temple band took five
The crowd caught a wiff
Of that crazy casbah jive

Chorus

The king called up his jet fighters
He said you better earn your pay
Drop your bombs between the minarets
Down the casbah way
As soon as the shareef was
Chauffeured outta there
The jet pilots tuned toThe cockpit radio blare
As soon as the shareef was
Outta their hair
The jet pilots wailed

Chorus

He thinks its not kosher
Fundamentally he cant take it.
You know he really hates it.

Roy Gets 500, Heels Roll


Roy Williams won his 500th game as UNC beat High Point tonight, 94-69. Roy's on the sideline, restoring order and exceeding expectations.


The Pedigree: James Naismith --> Phog Allen -->Dean Smith --> Roy Williams.

Milquetoast!!




It was a lukewarm effort in front of a tepid crowd. The whole day reminded me of Charlotte during the Seifort era. It was horrendous.
Is the season over? What other teams must lose and what kind of ridiculous things have to happen in sync for us to make the playoffs?


Friday, December 08, 2006

Johnny Cash Sings "The Twelve Days of Christmas"

Bob Dylan Video

Slate broadcasts Bob Dylan's new video for "Thunder on the Mountain." I highly recommend watching it, especially because it includes footage from throughout his career. Man, he's had a lot of looks - I've posted the photos of my favorites.

Top Ten of 2007, Anyone?

The Year 2007 will see new releases from the following bands. Yesssssssssssssssssssss!
  • Wilco
  • Arcade Fire
  • Modest Mouse
  • Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
  • Andrew Bird

Somebody wants to wish you a Merry Christmas........



I watched Life and Debt last night. It's pretty interesting, but like all documentaries of its ilk, it's fairly one-sided. I know it will never happen, but I'd love to see an activist film that is balanced. That's pretty much an oxymoron, though. The status quo defends itself and has no need to make a movie.

Life and Debt is an indictment of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, but the economics of these programs is so damned complicated that I had a hard time understanding all of the points this movie made. It was especially difficult because most of the people interviewed spoke with thick Jamaican accents.

If any of y'all can explain currency devaluation to me, I'd appreciate it.

Ugandan Hip Hop - The Bataka Revolution



This documentary trailer was a featured link on YouTube. I've never heard of these guys or this film, but it all looks really interesting - especially the guest appearance with Spearhead and the concert in Brooklyn.

The slogan: "From Uganda to California - a mission to empower the people, using hip hop."

First Black President, First Woman President, or Another Democratic Runner-Up?


The Washington Post features an insightful look at the friendly rivalry that is developing between Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton as they both position themselves for the 2008 Democratic Presidential Nomination.

Can a black man become President of the United States? Can a woman?
Even more importantly, can anyone beat John McCain?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra Sing "White Christmas"



Bing Crosby sure can sing a Christmas duet. This one might be better than his duet with David Bowie. No, wait a minute. Nothing could be better than that. Still, this one's a classic. Enjoy.

HCYB Top Ten Albums of 2006

Do I really care that 2005 was a better music year than 2006? Hell no. The state of rock and roll has not been this good in a long time.

Honorable Mentions:
The Whigs - Give 'Em All a Big Fat Lip
These Georgia Bulldogs blew the roof off the Black Cat this fall. Their album is rock solid too.

Band of Horses - Everything All the Time
I do not want to like this album, but I can't help it. Benhamin Bridwell's voice is an ear massage.

Jose Gonzalez - Veneer
An Argentinian Swede that writes songs in English and plays guitar like Nick Drake? I'll take it any day.

Golden Smog - Another Fine Day
Jeff Tweedy puts the "super" in this supergroup, but it's the Jayhawks' Gary Lourdis that brings the heat. If the Eagles didn't suck, they'd sound like this.

Widespread Panic - Earth to America
Although this album is mostly milquetoast, "From the Cradle" and "Ribs and Whiskey" are fantastic. Really, I'm just glad my favorite band of all time is still playing.

And now, The List:
10. Ray LaMontagne - Till the Sun Turns Black
Ray is a hermit from Maine with the beard of a Mastadon and a voice that drips with soul. The title of this album is an apt summary of his gloomy worldview, but songs about inner demons and social ills don't muddy this crystal music. Best Song: "Empty"

9. The Coup - Pick a Bigger Weapon
"I'm here to laugh, love, fuck, and drink liquor and help the revolution come a little quicker." At least this militant hip hop group serves humor with its hypocrisy. Best Songs: "My Favorite Mutiny" and "Sho Yo Ass"

8. Yo La Tengo - I'm Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass
These indie rock veterans drop a discordant album where jangly pop, ambient fuzz, and post-alt.indie coalesce like plaid on stripes. You say inconsistent, I say eclectic. Whatever - this album beats your ass. Best Song: "Mr. Tough"



7. Cold War Kids - Robbers and Cowards
Lead singer Nathan Whillet is a former English teacher who invents song characters as if he were a novelist. Sounds a little like Colin Meloy of The Decemberists, right? I guess, except Whillet doesn't lead a band of yanni face geek boys. Combine that non-lameness with hipster blues and LA swagger, and you get a band that's wicked deck. Best Songs: "St.John" and "Hospital Beds"



6. Neko Case - Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
This chanteuse - yeah, I said it - has one of the best voices of the past 10 years. There's not a bad song on this album. Neko joins Jim James at the top of my list of singers I want to hear in a 70,000 person arena. Best Song: "John Saw That Number"

5. Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins - Rabbit Fur Coat
As is the case with Neko, Gillian Welch, and (blush) Norah Jones, I have a crush on Jenny Lewis' voice. Jenny's personal lyrics about God and post-adolescent angst reek of Conor Oberst, but that's what makes her so damn endearing. Best Song: "The Charging Sky"

4. Ghostface Killah - Fishscale
This Shaolin Master of the Wu Tang proves that 30 year olds can still rock the party. The beats are incredible - even for a hip hop neophyte like myself - and Ghostface's lyrics are as incendiary as they are hilarious. In the same stanza of "Be Easy," he spits "Y'all be nice to tha crackheads" and "I just shot one of my bitches." Some MCs just won't grow up. Best Song: "Be Easy"


3. The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America
Lead singer Craig Finn's melodic spoken-word vocals are truly unique. The band plays straight up rawk songs and wears its Bruce Springsteen idolatry as a badge of honor. Believe the hype y'all - this band is the truth.



2. Built to Spill - You in Reverse
This album continues to blow me away. The opening track lights my fire, even after the thousandth listen. In blending righteous guitar solos, melodic vocals, and introspective lyrics, this album bridges the gap between pretentious indie rockers and undisciplined jam bands. There is more Grateful Dead influence on this album than all of Built to Spill's New Wave/Punk forebears combined. In an indie-rock world dominated by hipsters, that's impressive. Best Song and Song of the Year: "Goin' Against Your Mind."


1. Bob Dylan - Modern Times
Despite my obsession with You in Reverse, I cringe at the insinuation that Bob Dylan is anything less than Number One. When I look back at this list 50 years from now (come on, you know I will), I don't want to feel the shame of having placed a group of mountain hippie grommet fucks ahead of the single greatest songwriter in American history. Plus, Modern Times is an incredible album. With haunting vocals and the straight up blues, Dylan covers Muddy Waters, ruminates on the spiritual, laments the struggles of the proletariat, and rhymes "sons of bitches" with "orphanages." Best Songs: "Thunder on the Mountain" and "Ain't Talkin'". Thanks, Bob. Can't wait for the next one.

O'Tenenbaum O'Links



  • The BBC reports that a woman farted on an airplane and tried to hide the smell by striking a match. The flight attendents smelled burning sulfur and informed the pilot who then immediately scheduled an emergency landing near Nashville, Tennessee.

  • NPR argues that certain children's music embodies punk rock ideals.

  • The headline for this Al Jazeera article looks like something off the The Onion : "US to build base on Moon."

  • The Charlotte Observer reports that Charlotte is one of the country's most attractive cities for young professionals looking for a new home.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Top Ten Albums of 2006

by Sinister Joe

10.
A) Cold War Kids - Robbers and Cowards
B) Nouvelle Vague - Bande a Part
Been listening to these a lot lately - They may not be some of the best albums released this year, but I didn't listen to much else. Cold War Kids were great live and the songs are catchy.
Nouvelle Vague sing covers of The Cramps, New Order, and Echo and the Bunnymen but in a different, French sort of way. My favorite is a cover of Buzzcocks song "Ever Fallen in Love."

9. The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
They wooed me into becoming a follower of their geek clan when I saw them live last month.

8. Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins - Rabbit Fur Coat
I also loved her in The Wizard and Troop Beverly Hills.

7. Band of Horses - Everything All the Time

6. Bob Dylan - Modern Times
I didn't listen to this album enough this year, but it's one that will go into heavy rotation in the future.

5. Yo La Tengo - I Am Not Afraid of You and I will Beat Your Ass
This became one of my favorite albums of the year the minute I turned it on at the listening station at Olsson's.

4. The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America
This one just recently grew on me. I don't know what took me so long.

3. Junior Boys - So This is Goodbye
I generally like Canadian indie electronic pop groups that are hyped by bloggers. This is no exception. Thanks to Donald for introducing me to them.

2. TV on the Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain

I'm not crazy about every song on this album , but songs like Wolf Like Me and Dirtywhirl are unbelievably good.

1. Neko Case - The Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
I want to be her.

1960s Activism in the 21st Century

Students for a Democratic Society, a left wing 1960s student activist group, has re-formed on several campuses across the country, including UNC Chapel Hill.

Most recently, the group staged a protest against the opening of an Army Recruitment Office on Franklin Street, Chapel Hill's main strip. The Raleigh News and Observer, the UNC Online Alumni Magazine , Indy Weekly, and the UNC SDS webpage covered the event. The News and Observer also covered an SDS-led rally for Darfur in October.

If you are interested in the history of this radical group, you should watch The Weather Underground. It is an Academy-award-nominated documentary about The Weathermen, a splinter group of the SDS that bombed multiple government buildings in the early 1970s. It's one of the most interesting films I've seen in a long time.

Top 10 Albums of 2006, NOW WITH MORE MUSIC!

by Jason St. Aubin

#10 - Comets On Fire - Avatar
They Say: "There is an unhinged, maniacal desire to cross on over into the cosmos on Comets on Fire's (frankly) totally awesome new record." - Filter

I Say: there is something totally ethereal about the way this band combines jam band sensibilities with the indie rock pathos. it's way cool.

#9 - The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
They Say: "As a sustained effort, it represents the band’s sharpest and most satisfying work, and one of the most accomplished albums of its kind this year. " - The New York Times

I Say: if i heard one more decemberists song about cardamom or jasmine or some other overly theatrical bullpappy, i would have torn my ears out. but this one ended up hitting the spot, it's just right.

#8 - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not - Arctic Monkeys
They Say: "The thrill it provides will send a shiver of recognition through anyone who grew up with The Specials, The Smiths or Parklife." - Uncut

I Say: did everyone forget that this album came out this year? it reminds me how music is supposed to be: a bunch of teenagers in a three piece band taking completely familiar elements and making something totally exciting.

#7 - Destroyer's Rubies - Destroyer
They Say: "It's an easy Destroyer album to love, approachable as both a collection of strong rock songs and a literary exercise in just how far songs can stretch to make sense of the words within them. " - The Onion

I Say: although it's not the easily accessible (dan behar sounds like an evil wizard cackling away) i really appreciate the complexity of the arrangements of this album, particularly the way the rich tones compliment some of the best lyrics of the year.

#6 - TV on the Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain
They Say: "TV on the Radio have crafted a work of immense, cataclysmic, almost overwhelming power and righteous fire." - Stylus

I Say: this 5 piece from brooklyn are totally pushing the envelope of what good music should sound like and should be, without catchy hooks or pop platitudes. there is no other band like tv on the radio.

#5 - Mastodon - Blood Mountain
They Say: "Hearing Blood Mountain in its entirety is like awaking from a coma to discover you have working ears." - Alternative Press

I Say: this has been a good year for albums ending with mountain. (see cookie mountain above) this is perfect metal - aggressive, unrelenting, and loud, sometimes its the equivalent of musical sludge. yet at the same time it's angular, melodic, catchy, and hypnotizing. totally kickass.

#4 - Girl Talk - Night Ripper
They Say: "It ricochets from Top 40 hits to obscure gems and back again like a cool breeze, clocking in at less than 42 minutes. The sampling is pure precision, slotting razor-thin (but highly recognizable) guitar stabs on top of blaring synths on top of anthemic rap couplets and so on, all at breakneck speed." - Pitchfork

I Say: turn this album on, and you have an instant party. this album isn't just for indie kids, its for fans of rap, r&b, 80's music. there is nobody who could resist this album. although it doesn't stand up well to repeated listenings, the first time through it will totally blow your mind, guaranteed.

#3 - Protest the Hero - Kezia
They Say: "Protest frantically meld metal, punk, hardcore — and a touch of emo — into ten frenetic songs that often resemble a late-night metal show with Coheed & Cambria and At the Drive-In showing up as musical guests." - All Music Guide

I Say: this is my under the radar album for 2006. these guys play on emo happy label vagrant records, sandwiched in between far dissimilar bands like the hold steady, the futureheads, and saves the day. this is absurdly technical metal at its best, captured in a three act prison execution concept album that speeds from riff to riff to riff. you will be dizzy. you will be rocked.

#2 - Band of Horses - Everything All the Time
They Say: "Band of Horses is ethereal, otherworldly, and completely inimitable, and listening to Everything All the Time is, in the truest sense of the word, an experience." - Delusions of Adequacy

I Say: there is something lazily happy about band of horses, like being in a canoe on a sunny day. its totally relaxing music. every song is crafted around a gem of a hook, and each song is as catchy as the last. i don't care if it all sounds similar, you can't have too much of a good thing.

#1 - The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America
They Say: "[Finn] not only has a commanding, rousing voice but he also says something worth hearing, displaying gifts for both scope and depth that are all too rare in contemporary rock-- indie or mainstream." - Pitchfork

I Say: if you haven't listened to the hold steady yet, ask yourself why. and then hit yourself hard for me because you deserve it. imagine the replacements mixed with a bit of rod stewart (the younger one), bruce springsteen (the older one), and the best garage band you have ever heard. the lyrics are delivered in such a unique style, the riffs seem so punk but feel so classic rock. its an amalgamation of all that's timeless and all that's modern about rock n' roll with a sleazy drunken bastard as your mc.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Christmas Cheer with David Bowie and Bing Crosby



David Bowie sings "Little Drummer Boy" with Bing Crosby. Although the performance is firmly planted in the Canon of Pop Bizarre, the pre-song banter is my favorite.

Here's a question: what if Bowie and Bing really were neighbors? Would they hang out? Would they carol together?

Worst Band Ever


I was trolling through the archives of Stereogum, and I came across this article about Blender Magazine's List of Worst Bands of All Time.

Insane Clown Posse was #1.

This band makes a strong case for revoking the 1st Amendment. Ooooooh, I have an idea....let's dress up like scary clowns, call ourselves "Insane Clown Posse," and play nu metal. This type of expression should not be free.

These guys make Fred Durst look cool.

Top Ten Albums of 2006

by The Ocean Princess

Here's my list…full of Americana Roots, now that I look at it. Most of my "old" friends would not believe it.

1.
Bob Dylan
Modern Times
His first new album in five years, but for me one of his best. "It serves as a cracked, surrealistic tribute to the music Dylan loves best." Paste
"Aint Talkin, I'm not playing, I'm not pretending, I'm not nursing no superfluous fears"

2.
Gomez
How We Operate
UK band has put out six albums, but this is the first I know of them.. Understand they've had the same lineup since 1996.

3.
Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint
The River in Reverse
"It's an old thing,\It's a soul thing\But it's a real thing."
Great tribute to the residents of New Orleans, and to Costello and Toussaint's incredible talents.

4.
Darrell Scott
The Invisible Man
I'm a big fan of Darrell Scott, and try to see him whenever I can. Besides being a great songwriter and singer, he's a really nice guy.
"The album is laced with subtle humor and blatant humanity, incredible picking and exquisite arrangements." No Depression

5.
Neko Case
Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
I like to listen to her, I don't like to read about her.

6.
Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians
Stranger Things
Edie with the old band and new creative energy

7. Solomon Burke
Nashville
Great storyteller with a soul sound. Help from Al Perkins, Sam Bush and David Rawlings.

8A
Sam Bush
Laps in Seven
White Bird with Jean-Luc Ponty is incredible. They didn't play it together, Ponty added his music over Sam's from his studio in Paris; and Sam's dog does drink his water in seven count. "Bush has reinvented string band music just as surely as Picasso reinvented painting". No Depression

8B
Dave Alvin
West of the West
Dave Alvin didn't write any of these songs, but I like his interpretations.

9.
Tony Bennett
Duets
Loved him when I was 13, and I still do. Seems like so does Bono, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Dixie Chicks……..

10.
Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris
All the Roadrunning
It was made for the boomer fan base, so it's okay for me to like it.

Three single songs that get honorable mention:

Ray Wylie Hubbard (Snake Farm)
Snake Farm

Malvern Taylor (Fabuloso)
Sad and Blue

Gourds (Heavy Ornamentals)
Shake a Chandelier

Keep Your Heads Up


The worst thing Panthers' fans can do right now is to get down on the team. As hard as it is to remain positive after a devastating loss like last night, we must stay positive. The Cats are still in the thick of the Wild Card hunt, and a win against the Giants on Sunday will keep us hanging on. We'll have to claw our way into the playoffs this year, but it's still very possible.

FRUSTRATION!


The Panthers lost to the Philadelphia Eagles last night, 27-24. It would be easy to blame Jake Delhomme who threw another 4th Quarter interception in the end zone with less than 2 minutes left. I mean, seriously, all we needed was a field goal.

As much as we want to make Jake the goat, though, let's not forget about our defense - especially the secondary. We gave up 300+ passing yards to Jeff Garcia last night. They put forth a similar dismal performance last week against the Redskins. This highly touted defense is turning out to be mediocre.

"That distance between hip-hop and rock is going to be less and less"


Prefix conducts an excellent interview with David Andrew Sitek of TV on the Radio. Among other interesting topics, he discusses the convergence of hip hop and rock music. Here's an excerpt:

PREFIX: I don't know if it's because of the make-up of the band or because of the music itself, but you guys seem to have a pretty big hip-hop audience. I know guys personally who listen to zero rock music but love TV on the Radio.

SITEK: We were just talking about that the other night. I think there is that crossover potential with us. But, really, as music evolves and people have access to home studios, obviously that distance (between hip-hop and rock) is going to be less and less. When you have an iPod, now you can listen to sixty different genres through the course of a shuffle, and you'll skim over things that have absolutely nothing to do with each other. Division of genres is becoming less and less relevant. Why wouldn't they merge more? Tons of bands are experimenting with sounds that push those boundaries, and the industry just hasn't jumped behind them yet. How many kids are there on MySpace with a band made up of an MPC, drums and a guitar player? The hip-hop audience could also be polarized from rock because of the factory-stamp, cookie-cutter stuff they're being fed on the radio and TV. You know?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Jay Z in Newsweek

Newsweek features a lukewarm article about Jay Z entitled "The Coolest Mogul." Like most Newsweek articles, this one provides a good sense of Jay Z's place in the overall culture, yet it features very few piercing details. In my opinion, the most interesting aspect of the article is that Newsweek chose to write a feature on Jay Z in the first place.

He We Go Again


The BBC reports that our old friend Hugo has been re-elected in Venezuela.

Ryan Adams Posts 11 New Albums on Website, Covers Creed and Shania Twain


Prefix discusses a Spin article about Ryan Adams' most recent foray into WTF?-dom. 11 albums on his website. Creed. Shania Twain. Hmmmmm........

Congratulations to the Deacs

As a jaded Tarheels fan, I rarely have good things to say about our conference rivals. Nevertheless, the Wake Forest Demon Deacon football team deserves a round of applause for winning the ACC Championship. Way to bring the trophy back to the Grand Ole State, y'all.

Panthers Gotta Get It Together


Huge game tonight for the Panthers: a Monday Night Football road trip to Philadelphia that's loaded with playoff implications. In addition to exorcising the demons of last week's atrocious loss to the Redskins, a win in Philly would improve the Cats' shakey Wild Card status. Doing so is especially important since we follow up tonight with a home game Sunday against the New York Football Giants. Two games in 6 days will determine the Panthers' playoff fate. Eeeeeeeesh.

Top Ten Books of 2006

Okay...so this is pretty self-indulgent, but now that Show Season is over, I'm knee-deep in List Season. Only one of the following ten books was actually released in 2006, but the following is a list of my favorite reads this year.
10. Hip: A History – John Leland
Rock journalist Leland turns pop culture historian in this analysis of “hip,” a concept rooted in enlightenment, rebellion, and West African and black American culture.
9. Water for Elephants – Sarah Gruen
This story about a college dropout veterinarian who joins a Great Depression traveling circus is the only novel I read all year.

8. The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else – Hernando de Soto
De Soto takes one intriguing idea and repeats it one way or the other on every single page. The introduction and conclusion, however, provide an interesting perspective on globalization.

7. Conservatives Without Conscience – John Dean
Richard Nixon’s former chief counsel clearly has an axe to grind with the authoritarians in the executive branch. Nevertheless, Dean’s laments American conservatism’s abandonment of Goldwater pragmatism in favor of imperial consolidation of power. His bias notwithstanding, this book calls all of us to start paying more attention to the scary path down which our government is headed.

6. Emma – Howard Zinn
The rock star historian turns dramatist and writes a play about Emma Goldman, an anarchist agitator during the William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt years.


5. A People’s History of the United States – Howard Zinn
This book will change your life….or at least your perception of Uncle Sam. Drawing from exhaustive primary source research, Zinn tells the story of the USA from the perspective of blacks, natives, women, and the poor. The end result is a dark portrait of continued injustice and imperialism.

4. Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk – Peter Bernstein
Bernstein explains Game Theory, Prospect Theory, and a bunch of other fascinating ideas I still don’t understand as he analyzes the way humans have turned risk management into a science and have enjoyed increased prosperity and innovation as a result.

3. A Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870 to 1914 – David MacCullough
You wanna talk about a crazy story? French venture capitalists got the Panama Canal project started but it imploded. Lobbyists, bankers, and American politicians salvaged it and fomented a revolution in Colombia. The end result? A new country called Panama and a multi-billion dollar US venture called the Canal. Although few people died in the US-led nation-building effort, hundreds of thousands died in the construction of the path between the seas. With typical narrative suspense, MacCullough masterfully spins this yarn about the dawn of globalization.
2. War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning – Chris Hedges
Holy crap – this book is incredible. Career war-correspondent Hedges writes this philosophical tract about why wars start and why they will never end. Although he makes many inspired points, perhaps the most relevant is his view that nationalism and the claim of victimization will justify almost any atrocity.

1. Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation – Jeff Chang
I wish that I hadn’t started this book because I want to read it for the first time again. In addition to providing a detailed history of hip hop’s rise to musical and cultural dominance, Chang provides a fresh look at the children of the Civil Rights generation and their influence on contemporary black America.