May 25, 2004

You have laid here by the waterside You have let the family down

* Practice, does not make perfect.

* Long piecee on the mountain goats. [via tim thompson] excerpt:

"We don't always follow characters, however; sometimes we follow the lyric itself as it metamorphoses into animals, shimmies up trees, or heads north toward Alaska 'where there's snow to suck the sound out from the air.' We hear it describe the continent eroding, or the rising flames of burning ships 73 years before the start of the Christian era. We hear the singer's heart become an onion rising up in his throat with the first spring thaws. We are warmed by a western sun that always seems to be sending out 'signals' as it sets; we hear the old songs of Bacchus crackle through transistor radio static. Above all, we hear the strumming and that unmistakable nasal tenor, and we are made aware of every word that is sung.

"That strumming, that voice, and those lyrics form the heart of the Mountain Goats song. This does not preclude musical collaborations (in fact, some of the Goats' best songs include an overlay of bass or violin), but every sound must follow the beat of that tripartite heart for the poetry of the song to survive. This has led many reviewers, against the protests of Darnielle, to reduce the entire Mountain Goats output as the work of 'one guy alone in his living room,' but they have a point: one is responding not so much to the music as to the primitive imagination of one guy alone somewhere -- bedroom? mountaintop? -- being carried by a few strummed chords into a landscape entirely his own, and then describing what he sees.
"Poems, however, tend to have a far smaller -- though arguably more passionate -- audience than popular music, so it's not surprising that the Mountain Goats have become, as one critic observes, 'a boutiquer's taste: a little something for a highly specialized portion of the population, but hardly a crowd-pleaser in any sense of the word.' For the same reasons, it's also not surprising that the Mountain Goats have done their share of offending and baffling sensibilities. One reviewer at the online music publication Pitchfork Media writes of a re-issued rarities anthology, 'This album is rotten with lyrics and music that nobody should be able to get away with,' but then concedes, with a certain petulance, that 'John Darnielle has the singular ability to sing lines that nobody should be able to sing straight-faced and make them sound simultaneously absurd, melancholy, and absolutely beautiful.' I would agree, but I think the real point being made here -- which even lovers of poetry will probably agree with -- is that nobody should be allowed to recite their own poetry straight-faced. Inexplicably, a few people pull it off. This is why we listen.

* Bush campaign outsourced campaign contribution call center to India. excerpt:

"For 14 months between May 16, 2002 and July 22, 2003, HCL BPO Services — the 100 per cent-owned subsidiary of Shiv Nadar-promoted HCL Technologies — had some 125 agents working in seven teams soliciting financial contributions for the Republican Party. US presidential elections are slated for November 2004.

"The mandate for the teams was to mobilise support for President George W. Bush and solicit political contributions ranging between $5 and $3,000 from lakhs of registered Republican voters. The voters’ database was provided by the Republican National Committee (RNC), the party’s premier political organisation.

"The contract for running the campaigns was originally awarded by RNC to Washington-based Capital Communications Group that provides consulting services to government and private clients for cultural and political networking. For cost and efficiencies gains, the company outsourced the work to HCL Technologies that in turn sent it offshore.
"But the million-dollar question is why was the contract called off? Insiders say the growing resentment in the US audiences against outsourcing to India and strong reactions from Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry were at the root of capping the contract. The anti-outsourcing lobby within the Republicans also had a hand in ending the contract, insiders divulged. But according to HCL sources one consideration was non-viability in the last few months after having covered most voters from the RNC database."

* Will be in Austin, Texas for the remainder of the week to see friends as well as to see black nasty open for bonnie 'prince' billy.


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