September 12, 2006

Where do the dreams of babies go

walker evans, main street, saratoga springs, new york, 1931

* Clusterfuck Nation. excerpt:

"It was interesting to see the price of oil on the futures market plummet down into the mid $60 range last week. I take two conclusions from that. One is that the psychological stress of peak oil has increased the emotional dimension of the trade to a dangerous degree, i.e. driven the traders crazy. The intense wish to solve the energy problem has momentarily overcome the reality of it not being solved. The second is that the US economy may be in greater trouble than the news media realizes, especially the economic 'engines' of 'home' building, real estate sales, and the associated mortgage rackets, with their spin-offs in the financial markets. There may be a hell of a lot fewer 18-wheelers shlepping chipboard and sheetrock around the nation this fall, fewer family trips to the WalMart, fewer Di-tech Mortgage customers dredged out of the sub-prime muck, and fewer bundles of interest-only ARMS passed through to the hedge funds.

"Thus we would have a profile of exactly what oil geologist Colin Campbell and other peak oil opinion leaders have predicted: roller-coaster-style economic activity pegged to up-ratcheting oil prices, with increasingly deep economic troughs and ever higher oil price peaks. In short, massive economic instability.

"Meanwhile, in the deep background of all this looms Jihad. We will have to be resolute in the face of Jihad and much more adaptable at home. So far, on the home front we have done nothing but defend and rationalize a stupid mode of existence -- suburbia -- and an insane economy based on building more of it -- the housing bubble. We have no leadership in politics, business, science, news media, or education informing the public that we have to make other arrangements for daily life -- not ten years from now, but right away.

"Five years after 9/11/2001, the 'progressives' want to wish away Jihad and the 'conservatives' want to wish away the need to change daily life in America. Real political leadership, if it emerges at all, will have to come from some place off the normal political scale."

* Ess Eff correspondent Ruylopez reviews the San Fran show:

Off To The Land of $3 Club Soda Unbridled

"Handing my Silver Jews ticket to the woman at the door of San Francisco club Mezzanine felt like walking to the cage in a casino with a pocket full of chips. Living in San Francisco, I had hoped that there would be a West Coast leg for The Silver Jews. I gambled and won.

"At that point, I knew I would enjoy the show no matter what because I had waited so long for it. But, I saw plenty of immediate obstacles to the perfection I was hoping for but not believing in. Among these obstacles were the Matrix-like security guards, roaming the crowd with ridiculous secret service earpieces, eager to break someone’s head and ruin their night.

"The club atmosphere further seemed bad luck when Berman’s vocals could hardly be heard. After Dallas and Black and Brown Blues banged away, I resigned myself to appreciating the show for its mere existence, rather than its musical qualities. Thankfully, Berman and the audience were not going to be so resigned. He cried out 'More Me!' and the audience shouted abuse at the soundboard. Unlike the dead of Louisville, it improved.

"The band itself seemed to have experienced some misfortune between Portland and San Francisco. At the beginning of the set, they announced that every piece of gear was brand new, purportedly from Guitar Center. At one point, DCB queried the audience for an appropriate synonym to replace massive technical difficulties. The end result certainly justified the lineup of two guitars in addition to Berman, as he spent a good portion of the evening squatting near a monitor, attempting to get the right tuning on what appeared to the amateur eye as a new Telecaster.

"On the third song, Smith and Jones Forever, his voice suddenly broke through the instrumentation, and took its rightful place front and center. For the first time, I gripped my fist as neurotransmitters raced, and wanted to yell out at the top of my lungs, 'California Overboard!' I restrained myself, but had a big grin that hardly left the rest of the night.

"After the vocal mix was fixed, at least where I was at, each song began building towards a reverie of Silver Jews music that 10 or more years of repeat playing had prepared many in the room for. All elements came together when the chords to Trains Across The Sea begin to ring out (as others have noted). The lights became noticeable, in a good way, as they enhanced the best moments of each song. The riffs were slightly different than the albums, but retained the mood of the songs perfectly (most noticeably in Pretty Eyes).

"The encore came with two songs from the new album. Punks in the Beerlight is already a classic anthem to the initiated, and it seemed everyone knew the lyrics and knew the song was coming. Finally, in a move certain to pique the interests of Amoeba’s record buyers, DCB dedicated There is a Place to the defunct SF band Bomb. There was no better way to close the show than with a forward looking song that seems to promise no premature end to the brilliance of The Silver Jews.

Black and Brown Blues
Smith and Jones Forever
How Can I Love You If You Won’t Lie Down
Horseleg Swastikas
Random Rules
Animal Shapes
Time Will Break the World
I’m Getting Back into Getting Back Into You
Trains Across the Sea
Sometimes a Pony Gets Depressed
Slow Education
Inside The Golden Days Of Missing You
Pretty Eyes
Sleeping is the Only Love
New Orleans
Punks in the Beerlight
There is a Place

* "Writing is a form of personal freedom. It frees us from the mass identity we see in the making all around us. In the end, writers will write not to be outlaw heroes of some underculture but mainly to save themselves, to survive as individuals." --Don Delillo


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