Friday August 15, 2003

Sometimes the random song generator that is Primco Radio goes on an amazingly inspired tear through my music. I got up to take a shit as the song Truth Serum by Smog began to play. It’s on Supper, the most recent album. I don’t really know it yet, I just put the whole thing into rotation. Truth Serum is a meditative song – perfect for sitting on the pot. And Bill let me go up on the roof with him and listen to his thoughts.

“Me and some friends of mine
We stayed up all night taking truth serum
We soon realized the mistake we’d made
And went our separate separate ways.

I went up on the roof
Where I thought I’d find some truth
There beneath the stars
But questions followed me”

Ok, standard Smog storytelling. It’s usually something good, with twists and turns so I’m intrigued. And just then a woman’s voice sings.

“Do you miss me when I go?”

Never heard that in a Smog song before. It’s nice. I find out later it’s Sarabeth Tucek singing. How many times have I been asked that question? I hate that question. Here’s Bill’s answer:

“Aw, Honey, I love you and that's all you need to know.”

Nice enough answer. But it's not enough. She asks:

“Well, then what is love?”

“Love is an object kept in an empty box.”

This one got me good. Riddles are good answers. I thought that would do it but she asks:

“How can something be in an empty box?”

“Well, well, well, well. Give me another shot...”

Characteristic Smog humor. Can a simpleminded question tear down a beautiful poetic statement? He seems to give in. Instead of saying something like “No, don’t you get it? C’mon!” He acts as if he just got caught. Does he really think his answer has been exposed as nonsense or is he humoring her? Is he annoyed by the question like I would be? Does he actually not miss her and must fight against the truth serum to not hurt her feelings? I think the answer is somewhere between. This is what is interesting about the song to me because he’s managed, with just a few lines of dialogue, to create a fairly complex dramatic moment. But hold on, it turns out that he was dangling another line. After another of his masterful pauses that split lines, divides and multiplies meaning, he finishes with a line that completely reverses the meaning of the previous one but leaves its impact lingering. Fantastically beautiful.

“..of that truth, truth, truth, truth, truth serum.”

He goes around with another verse but you’ll just have to listen to the song for that one. I want to end up quoting from preacher Bill because I think it illuminates the male narrator’s motivations were when he said the “Give me another shot” thing:

“People people there’s a lesson here plain to see
There’s no truth in you
There’s no truth in me
The truth is between.”

I've gone off on M Ward before so I want to go off on other stuff. Kimberly asked me recently what my top 5 are. Here they are:

  1. M Ward (all 3 of his albums)
  2. Cat Power -- You are Free
  3. The Shins -- Oh Inverted World!
  4. Ethiopiques -- Vol 10 is my favorite but I also like 8, 4, 1 and 3
    See Aquarius records. They've been going on about this for a couple of years and I finally got around to tasting it. I passed thinking it would be like other African music I've heard but from the first 10 seconds you know it's special. My ears love it. Forceful Synopsis: It's like nothing you've heard and it's damn good and there's a lot of it.
  5. The Thermals -- More Parts Per Million

Now let's talk about The Thermals. My voice is thrashed right now, as I type this on Thursday night because I have them in my car. You cannot listen to this band in the car and not scream at the windshield.

"They are the Thermals, they guarantee life eternal. / You only need skin and bones, and a sweet pair of headphones."

Listen to "No Culture Icons", "Everything Thermals" and "I know the Pattern". The best hard rock anthems I've heard in the last 5 years. "Back to Gray" certainly is THE GbV cover and I wish they'd play more of these. Everybody who writes about them compares them to GBV but The Thermals are closer to the Buzzcocks and the Ramones. I saw them play at Noise Pop while I was waiting for another band (probably my favorite at the time, but completely overshadowed now) and my friends were outside on the patio and I went in and skinny indie-boy Hutch (I envy his name) was pumping the heel of his Converse into the carpet and wailing so hard he needed two hands to hold the mike and the bald guitar player was BLASTING chords at the crowd. I ran back in and said, "Hey guys, this band is GOOD." But they barely looked at me so I ran back inside. They only have one album to consume which has had to last me the 7 months I have to wait to see them again. I'm running to the Bottom of the Hill on Oct 9th to see them with Mates of State.

Read how The Thermals save lives

Tuesday August 12, 2003

So as I'm walking across Valencia here at 18th this morning at 1am, there's this white guy in a black hoodie perched on top of the garbage can. I guess waiting for the 26 -- like that's ever gonna come. That creeped me out but I didn't know how much it creeped me out till I saw this stroller abandoned next to the chain link fence of the used car lot. It was a cheapo but still, an abandoned stroller is weird. What user of a stroller abandons such a device. None I tell you. Creepy. So I keep walking it occurs to me that I was thinking those creepy thoughts and that I identified that particular sight as maybe being the first time I'd ever seen it and as I get to the corner of Lapidge and 18th I see another abandoned stroller by the garbage can on the corner by the Women's Building. Not next to the garbage can in a proximity garbage kind of way but right in the middle of the sidewalk. I looked back to make sure that I'd just seen an abandoned stroller 40 feet ago and to check and see if they were the same kind. Like maybe they were giving them away at the Women's Building - like if it was stroller night - like hat night or bat night at the Giants game and the fans decided that the souvenirs were low grade crap and ditched them on their way home. They were both cheap but I think they were different. As I unkeyed my gate I knew I would write this and I knew I could go in and get my digital camera and shoot it up nice for my blog and prove to people just how creepy it was but shit, I'm lazy.

Friday August 8, 2003

I got a letter yesterday from Thomas P John:

Dear Dave, Listening to the file , I couldn't help but send you the english translation. Here it is:

<music> The Kerala State Kairali Weekly Lottery draw [which is due] every Thursday is [taking place] tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow... 10 Lakh (1 Million) Rupees first prize <music> Maruti car as second prize tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow ... almost sold out, almost sold out, almost sold out... Only few lottery tickets are left <music> tomorrow's kerala [lottery], tomorrow's kerala, tomorrow's kerala, tomorrow's kerala, tomorrow's kerala ... almost sold out, almost sold out, almost sold out... come fast, come fast... Kerala state Kairali weekly five rupee lottery draw [is] tomorrow 1 Million rupees first prize <music> Maruti car second prize <music> <name unclear> agency's tickets are now available for you, buy now and buy from here. Where there are tickets from <name unclear> agency, there is luck and prizes

<...> Comments, Background music
[...] Not present in original text. Aids comprehension in English
(...) Explanation of terms

It is not a radio broadcast. But a recorded promotion (+ jingle ;-) from a Lottery vendor's tape recorder + battery + loud speaker combination.