August 8, 2005

it won't get more profound

cover, silver jew's tanglewood numbers, available October 18, 2005

* from an very interesting interview of David Berman:

Pitchfork: Why do you refuse to perform songs at readings?

Berman: I was not born to be the center of attention in a crowded room. I am trying to make my name as an acute observer, as a witness. I think I have always had my heart set on a certain kind of body of work I would like to leave behind. I believe that intermittent live performance has cut short the writing lives of touring musicians. If you are making an argument with history you don't waste your energy and brain cells on sales, publicity, relentless travel, and other adjoining tasks. The less my body moves, the more energy my brain has to write.
Pitchfork: Tell me about the arrangements on the new record. How big a role did Stephen Malkmus play?

Berman: Steve is always amazing. To me, he is the best guitarist in the world. If I could convince him just to play guitar for me, I'd never kick him out of the band again. Everybody writes his own parts. I showed them the songs the week before recording started. We practiced in my basement. Low-hanging pipes were cracking everybody on the head except [drummer] Brian Kotzur. The rest of us were literally collapsing on the floor with cracked skulls. On the last day of practice I bought everybody hats.

Pitchfork: When did you kick Malkmus out?

Berman: I've never really kicked him out. It was all about the publicity. I wanted to show my critics at US Weekly that I know how to run my band.

Pitchfork: I heard a tale of you and Malkmus popping in a Grateful Dead tape and noodling over it for an NYC audience years ago. When was that? How did it go over?

Berman: It was awesome. I had us practicing for American Water by jamming with John Oswald's Grayfolded CDs. Since any one moment on those CDs might have 50 different Jerry Garcias playing 50 guitar lines, we just became 51 and 52. We turned ourselves up a little louder than the stereo and practiced wandering amidst the tumult.

One night we took it to the stage, a place called Baby Jupiter. It was packed via word of mouth. The soundman put on the CD, turning it up to concert volume. Malk and I did our thing with two amps and two guitars. People had fun but it was disappointing, the noodling, for those who came expecting a secret Silver Jews set.
Pitchfork: Did you two ever figure out how to screw on your feet?

Berman: Not unless "screw" means "wallpaper," and "on your feet" is code for "your dining room."

Pitchfork: Where exactly is Oldham on this album? Does he sing?

Berman: The only singers are myself, Cassie, and Bobby Bare Jr.'s backing vocals on track five ["I'm Getting Back into Getting Back into You"]. Around the ninth second of the first track ["Punks in the Beerlight"], you can hear a subdued guitar chirring beneath and after the big blaring guitar, across the pause. That's Will. His rhythm guitars sound like him at his most benevolent.

Read the whole thing.

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"2. George W. Bush

"Can it really be true? Is it possible that we actually have a president who last week announced that 'intelligent design' should be taught in schools? Yes, I'm afraid it's all true - and it's worse than you think. See, George W. Bush didn't just advocate teaching the concept of intelligent design (i.e. creationism) in religion or philosophy classes - he said it should be taught alongside evolution as a competing theory. The National Science Teachers Association is reportedly 'stunned and disappointed.'

"Man, if I were back in school now, I'd have a field day with this...

"TEACHER: Now, does anyone know how lightning is created? Yes?

"ME: God makes it.

"TEACHER: What? No... anyone else? No? Okay - if a cloud bottom carries a negative charge and positive charges have collected on the ground, a 'stepped leader' - that's a negative electrical charge - comes part way down from the cloud. When the stepped leader gets within 150 feet of a positive charge, a streamer - that's a surge of positive electricity - rises to meet it. The leader and the streamer make a channel. An electrical current from an object on the ground surges upward through the channel. It touches off a bright display called a 'return stroke.'

"ME: And you expect me to believe that preposterous explanation?"

"You know, if you just changed the word 'intelligent' for 'stupid' and 'design' for 'nonsense,' I think we might get somewhere with this debate."

* clusterfuck nation. excerpt:

"Has the world noted that the conservative establishment in America -- including the always prim George W. Bush and his buttoned-down minions, the heavenly hosts of mass-market evangelism, the zillionaire retired CEO authors of how-to-get-rich books, and the media tub-thumpers like David Brooks of the New York Times -- I repeat, has the world noted that they all preside over the most slovenly, undisciplined, and reckless economy the world has seen since mankind started bathing regularly?"
"We're a country with no discipline, led by fake scoutmasters, moneygrubbing ministers, chiseling accountants, and oversexed schoolmarms. The new national motto: Something for Nothing. The new spiritual capital: Las Vegas.

"Now, it's my personal opinion that we really are headed for crash central this fall. The price of oil is entering uncharted territory. Natural gas has virtually tripled in price since 2003. People are beginning to fear that the heating season will be brutal for those in the employ of WalMart and worse for those in the employ of nobody. Magical as this phony-baloney over-leveraged economy has seemed, whatever remains of real life will be affected by higher gasoline prices. I know it sounds absurd to say that, because so far Americans have seemed to absorb a one year price doubling without complaint. But we're hostages to motoring, whether we like it or not, and when the price of gasoline goes north of $3 a gallon (coming very soon) yowls will be heard even in the soundproofed sanctums of Karl Rove's west wing headquarters."

* Clothing styles, though the years, of Bob Dylan. [via]


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