31 December 2007

merry new year from woolgathering...

Word of the Day for Monday, December 31, 2007

bibulous \BIB-yuh-luhs\, adjective:

1. Of, pertaining to, marked by, or given to the consumption of alcoholic drink.
2. Readily absorbing fluids or moisture.

Vineyards are everywhere, especially when Felix approaches Paris, the most populous city in Christendom -- and the most bibulous too, since lousy local wine had to be drunk before it turned sour in a few months.
-- Eugen Weber, "Renaissance Men", New York Times, April 13, 1997

Ever since the joys of the fermented grape were discovered, the bibulous have been waking up feeling the worse for wear.

-- Sally Chatterton, "The Daily Website: www.hungover.net", Independent, September 3, 2001
Bibulous comes from Latin bibulus, from bibere, "to drink."

be safe out there, dear readers. talk to you soon.


18 December 2007

i feel fine...

"offer me solutions, offer me alternatives, and i decline...": eerily prescient on the bush years, huh?


15 December 2007

i still haven't found what i'm looking for...

good morning everybody. i am having a big holiday party tonight and as such do not have much time, sadly, today to share with you. but, in the holiday spirit, i wanted to attempt to put to bed, once and for all, this whole religion thread that i've been on.

i'd like to think that i am big enough to admit when i'm wrong. not that i'm wrong here, folks, but i feel like i've been a little too vituperative and i'd like to soften, just a bit, my position*. and here it is: i have really good, lifelong friends that are religious. my parents are deeply religious. i have people in my day- to- day life that are religious. most of my best friends' parents are deeply religious.

i respect them, i respect their decisions. i disagree with them on a host of things, but i respect them as people and celebrate their freedom and celebrate their individuality. but both christianity and islam** leave a really bad taste in my mouth, one that i cannot help and one that i do not apologize for.

i blame religion for way more of the world's problems than solutions. i do not like how it makes people act, what it makes people do, what people get away with using it as a guise or justification, and how other people use it to further their agendas and increase their own power. fundamentally when i look at it, i see way more bad than good***.

i try really hard to be a good person. i don't need religion to do this. if it helps someone else to be a better person, that's great, i guess. i can't argue with that. unfortunately i just do not feel like that is the predominant case. in fact, i feel like the converse is usually true.

i will take my comments off the air. see you again soon.


*interesting to me that in a sense this whole dialogue has helped me work some things out in my own mind. and i'd like to thank myself for that.

**judaism, interestingly enough, i've never really been bothered by. i grew up in a heavily jewish section of atlanta and spent a lot of time around it. i actually think that a lot of it is pretty beautiful-- that, of course, is not to say that i don't find fault with it. but in general, it doesn't raise my ire the way that both christianity and islam do.

***additionally i do not like green eggs and ham, goddamnit.

14 December 2007

you wanted it, you got it...

it's here. are you ready? as promised, folks. it's...

woolgathering...'s inaugural best- of list.

i'm psyched. let's get this party started.

:: woolgathering...'s favorite albums of the year ::

1] arcade fire. neon bible.

notice that i did not promise that this list was going to vary wildly from the countless other best- of lists that this album finds itself atop. there's no getting around it. arcade fire put out the best album of the year.

i saw win, regina, and the rest of the group twice this year*, once at the greek and once at shoreline [!] with lcd soundsystem. quickly: the greek show was probably the best show i saw all year... the song 'intervention' chokes me up-- i mean really chokes me up-- almost every time i hear it... and my wife and i can always agree to listen to it in the car when we make our bimonthly trip to target. arcade fire never lets me down.

2] eddie vedder. into the wild.

those of you who know me well know that i am absolutely and
aggressively cuckoo for pearl jam and have been now more than half my life. but in no way should that color the fact that this is an incredible album**.

the soundtrack to the film of the same name, it was performed almost entirely by eddie alone [corin tucker notwithstanding] and features some really beautiful songs, songs that really conjure up the spirit of the movie that they were written for. 'society' and 'guaranteeed' are songs that will forever be in my mixed- tape rotation. my only complaint is that some of the songs are too short, especially 'no ceiling', which could have benefitted greatly, i think, from a couple of extra choruses.

3] wilco. sky blue sky.

i just got married. i get this album.

my brother, once one of the world's biggest wilco fans [glenn kotche in particular], to my knowledge still does not like this album. and i've kind of gotten that from a lot of people. that it's no 'yankee hotel' or 'ghost' is, to me, what's cool about it.

it's less of an album, in the 'ok computer'- vein, than it is a collection of cool songs that sound great when played live. probably the only other show i'd say was as good as the arcade fire/ greek show was wilco, also at the greek, and i can tell you firsthand and front row that songs like 'side with the seeds', 'walken', and especially 'impossible germany' are fucking great songs live [nels cline is incredible to watch, with those bony fingers and overactive use of the whammy bar]. add that to the fact that 'on and on and on' is probably the most powerful song that wilco has ever done and what's, really, not to like? except 'what light', of course.

4] feist. the reminder.

i know that my girl leslie feist is almost getting a little too ubiquitous for her own good, but i've had no problem so far enjoying her success. and while at the end of the day, 'let it die' is probably the record i prefer, 'the reminder' is an awesome album. seeing her perform at the fillmore*** [grizzly bear opened] really solidified my admiration for her and love for her music. she's crazy talented, and is worth all the hype. even that ipod commercial is kinda cool, for chrissakes.

5] bruce springsteen. magic.

i take it all back: seeing bruce springsteen was my concert highlight of the year [in a year when i saw the aforementioned acts wilco and arcade fire, and elvis costello, and tom waits, and yo la tengo, and my morning jacket, and neil young, and neil young jamming with jerry lee lewis on chuck berry tunes****, and thurston moore solo in a small place, and the original dinosaur jr, and built to spill, and the police].

not only that, but 'magic' is a first- rate album. there isn't a lukewarm song on it. 'girls in their summer clothes', 'devil's arcade', and 'magic' are particulary incredible. you should own this record.

6] band of horses. cease to begin.

i wish i'd seen these guys when they came to town-- it was the day after thanksgiving and the timing couldn't have been worse. this album is fucking gorgeous. 'no one's ever gonna love you' in particular is a song you just want to listen to over and over in a year when you married the most wonderful and special woman in the world [aww...].

7] the national. boxer.

it occurs to me that there hasn't really been any order to this 'best- of' since the eddie vedder record. because if there was, 'boxer' wouldn't be down at #7.

i remember when the strokes were blowing up back in the summer of 2001 and everybody was saying that julian casablancas sounded just like lou reed, if lou reed could sing. that's how i feel about matt berninger, except in this case it's leonard cohen who he sounds like if leonard cohen could sing. i'm sure i'm not the first person to say that, but i haven't read a lot of press about the national so i don't know that i'm recycling... i'm just guessing that i'm recycling.

'boxer' is one that should be played start- to- finish-- the songs are great and it's got a cool mood and the pacing is just perfect. and, seriously, matt berninger's got a haunting, melancholic, really really cool fucking voice.

8] iron & wine. the shepard's dog.

this is my kind of album. how does sam beam do it? i want to know. i want to be like sylar on 'heroes' and get into beam's brain and take his magical powers, except of course i wouldn't want to kill, or harm, in any way whatsoever, in fact, mr. beam to do this. i just want to know how he does what he does. brilliant.

9] various artists. 'i'm not there' original soundtrack.

there isn't a whole lot to say about this. it defines 'no- brainer'.

so let's get a bunch of incredible artists, like jim james, chan marshall, yo la tengo and stephen malkmus, to cover a bunch of disparate bob dylan tunes, all for the soundtrack to one of the coolest movies ever made, one that's an art film about bob dylan.

right. moving on.

10] modest mouse. we were dead before the ship even sank.

modest mouse is a band i have listened to forever and loved-- 'the lonesome crowded west' and especially 'the moon and antarctica' were really pivotal in terms of my falling back in love with modern music coming out of my hippie phase, in fact, right up there with 'ok computer', 'keep it like a secret', and 'oh, inverted world'. and then they put out 'good news' and i know it wasn't terrible but i didn't like it and was sad.

but they really turned it around with this album for me. i don't know how much credit should go to johnny marr-- some, certainly, but it's isaac brock who steers this 'ship' and i 've always thought that he's been underrated as a songwriter and bandleader.

i listened to this album almost every morning as i biked from my house to the media gems office in pier 38***** and it now occurs to me how funny it is that so many of modest mouse's songs are about travel and being in motion and almost all of my modest mouse memories are either of a] jogging, the summer of 2001, to 'the moon and anarctica'******, b] driving home, to athens and that house i lived in on peter street circa 2002, on the loop listening to 'teeth like god's shoeshine' on 'the lonesome crowded west' at full volume, and c], this last adventure biking in sf. so there it is, folks: modest mouse-- great for gettin' you there.

and that's kind of it, folks, at least for now. all this sharing has made me hungry and sleepy. friday nights are good for drinking wine and writing, though. we'll continue this soon... i'll be back with even more best- of's and things i forgot [like the shins' 'wincing the night away' and radiohead-- radiohead!--'s 'in rainbows'. in the meantime, have a beautiful weekend [we're having a party tomorrow night and thus won't be back until probably tuesday] and leave me some muthafuckin' comments, won'tcha?


*a quick note about their stage attire: i really dig it the most. i love that they're a little clash, a little children of the corn.

**i was so into this album when it came out that i got home drunk one night-- from the arcade fire/ lcd soundsystem show, coincidentally-- and bought a copy
online each for two of my best friends, both women, and had them mailed to their respective places: one in new york, one in atlanta. i have no idea still if they like the album or not.

***grizzly bear might have opened, and they were beautiful and weird, but the highlight of the night for me definitely was when she and kenny g-- yes, kenny g-- came out for the first encore and performed 'lover's spit' by broken social scene. mr. g played a baby grand and ms. feist danced seductively on that baby grand, michelle pfeiffer- 'fabuolous baker boys' style, and sang. seriously, it was pretty spectacular.

****the bridge festival. awesome.

*****tragically, i was in two bike accidents in four days, bringing a swift halt to my biking- to- the- office- every- morning career. the first accident was on mission, around 2nd street. i was 'doored', which is when somebody doesn't look before they open up their car door stepping out into oncoming traffic, nailing the poor son of a bitch in the bike lane. don't fucking do this. look before you get out of your car. if i had been a city bus i would've taken the guy's door off. instead i just flipped over his door and really banged myself up. what did he do? drove away.

that was on a friday afternoon. monday morning i was trying to be a brave soldier and got right back up on the horse [i'd named my bike rocinante, like don quixote and john steinbeck before me] and went right on to work, this time taking a different path. on market, right around 7th street, i was trying to avoid getting boxed in by a city bus and went over the trolley tracks at a wrong angle and totally wiped out. and it fucking hurt. knocked the wind outta me, scraped me all up. somehow i got to work and made it home later that day but i haven't really ridden since. which is such a shame, because i loved to ride. i don't know. i started driving to work and never looked back.

which i did every day for months, from jittery joe's in five points all the way down milledge to prince, down to boulevard on grady by stipe's house, down boulevard zig- zagging the cross streets but making sure i went by the wynburn house that b., r., j.h., and i all lived in together in 1997- 98, and then all the way back up milledge to jittery joe's. goddamn... i can remember it like it was yesterday. i was front- end manager of earthfare, which is like a mini- whole foods. i'd work from 7:30 to 2:30, go home, take a nap, go running, fix dinner [salmon and broccoli-- always], and then go out drinking with l.t., b., a., and whoever else was around. this was the summer before september 11th and a really great time for me. see the 'reveal' section of my first column for further brilliant musings on this period of time.

13 December 2007

l.l's.d.p. vol IV [zoso]...

good morning, dear readers. i have been thinking about you.

i have been painting my new stereo closet* this morning, and have to wait for the first coat to dry. and while i am working on a best of 2007 in my head while i'm painting, it's not there yet.

but i thought i could take this opportunity to bring you another installment of l.l's.d.p.-- painting my stereo closet edition, dedicated this morning to my father- in- law. i promise no politics or religion today.

1] for the ladies.

2] totally fucking awesome.

3] really? i mean, really? you're not kidding?

4] did i mention that my stereo closet rules?

5] okay, maybe just a little politics. you know, for xmas.

*my father- in- law built us a most excellent stereo closet to house both my new record player** and all my records***. thanks again, father- in- law.

**an anniversary gift from the wife. thanks again, honey.

***shipped straight from my parent's basement. thanks again, dad****.

****thanks to you, for putting up with all those footnotes just then.

11 December 2007

this is getting out of hand...

so here i sit-- i'm even listening to an xmas album, albeit a my morning jacket one, for christ's [ha!] sake-- feeling like little steven on the sopranos doing pacino in godfather III. they keep pulling me back in!

i should explain: for the last couple of days-- this is going to feel good to get off of my chest-- for the last couple of days i have been feeling bad about the couple of columns i wrote a little while back concerning religion, people's religions, etc... well, not feeling bad* as much as feeling misunderstood and that i didn't quite explain myself fully.

for the record, i have no problem with people's religions, up to a point. inasmuch as i don't care, for instance, what kind of music you're into. pulling up next to me at a red light in your car, blasting some dreadful, tuneless horror, adding to the cacophony of things in any given day that i don't want to hear, well that's something different altogether now, isn't it? that's how i feel, basically, about religion.

when someone quietly tells me they go to church on sundays and then leaves it alone, it's like telling me you're an ashlee simpson fan. and i'd never, in good conscience, through the course of a conversation, tell a teenage girl that ashlee simpson-- though she does-- totally sucks and has no redeeming value whatsoever**. nor could i ever look a hardworking dude in the eye and tell him that i think limp bizkit almost singlehandedly destroyed all music as we know it and in the future must be stopped at all costs. i mean, i just couldn't do it***. someone's awful taste in music is totally their own concern and none of my goddamn business.

force me to have to listen to it and you're on your fucking own, on the other hand. watch out.

bringing me back to silvio dante's bad michael corleone impression... my ire had just about calmed when i saw this. for the most part it's hilarious-- let's watch two republican nut jobs try to out- christ each other-- but it got me to thinking: this republic has stood for the better part of 250 years and this is, in a huge respect, is as far as we've gotten? a bunch of people blasting shitty music next to me at a stop light?


*insert hilarious catholic guilt joke here. c'mon, you know you wanna.

**i'd be wrong, anyway: the redeeming value is inherent in that teenage girl's appreciation of her [pp. 202. the republic, plato].

***how 'bout those for cliched examples, huh?

08 December 2007

05 December 2007

jon and stephen, we hardly knew ye...

"When W.’s history is written, he will be seen as the rebellious teenager crashing the family station wagon into his father’s three most cherished spots — diplomacy, intelligence and the Gulf."

-Maureen Dowd,
from the New York Times
5 December 2007

[i would've said "petulant, rebellious teenager", but that's just me.]

everyday it's something new, isn't it? makes me wish the studios and the wga would reach an agreement so that the daily show and the colbert report would hurry up and get back on the air. there is so much hay to be made out of bush and his administration's response to the new nie report-- somewhere between emily litella: "never mind" and walter in the big lebowski: "fuck it, dude, let's bomb 'em anyway"*-- i mean, it's a crying shame the comedy we're missing out on**.

but i want to try to get away from the politics for the next little while... my blood pressure needs a rest. thanks for hearing me out. here's wishing you have a beautiful day.


*come to think of it, that's a pretty apt analogy for the bush foreign policy as a whole: wildly inept, stubbornly misinformed, and mostly deaf.

**also it's a crying shame what's happened to our country in these last six years. sigh.

04 December 2007

paul krugman in the international herald tribune...

wanted to pass this along, which i found informative. paul krugman, although i wish he was more assertive when on television, is a guy i really like.


got to get you into my life...

good morning, beautiful people. i am writing you from within what seems like a spinal tap smoke effect-- my wife was toasting some bread on the stove and went to take a phone call, leaving the kitchen [and the stove]. fast forward fifteen minutes and it's like apocalypse now in there, martin sheen coming up through the water with the war paint on. apparently i need to change the batteries in my smoke alarm, by the way.

i don't really have any agenda this morning [to be honest i never really have an agenda-- the brilliance just uncontrollably pours outta me. i don't ask questions], except to ask you a favor: won't you let me know that you're out there? leave me comments. lavish me with praise. excoriate me with criticism. affect me in no way with your ambivalence. i want to hear from you. what are you thinking? how are you feeling? what are you wearing? anything you want to hear more from me about? less? want to know where to send your check?

i am going to leave it at that this morning-- the treadmill beckons*. have a beautiful day.


*technically the treadmill is more mocking: mocking me for buying the fuckin' thing in the first place.

02 December 2007

sunday morning, praise the dawning...

hey there everybody. it is a relatively overcast day here in sf but the wife and i are heading out in a minute for an xmas- related day anyway. before we go, however, i wanted to share with you senator jim webb, democrat from virginia, this morning on meet the press talking about what's going on in iraq. senator webb is a politician whom i really like-- smart, plainspoken, deliberate, maybe even a little bit hostile at times.

so if you're interested in what's going on in iraq, this is a great start. i implore you to watch. and of course in the interest of fairness, i've posted the white house response, taken from you tube. but please watch the meet the press first..


meet the press...

NBC Meet the Press Netcast
NBC Meet the Press Netcast

response from the white house...

ps. also, for your trouble, and because i love you so much, here's a little fun at bill o'reilly's expense.

01 December 2007

i'm not there...

i'm not there, the new movie by todd haynes about bob dylan, has just displaced the fisher king and the godfather as my favorite movie of all time. it is visually stunning, emotionally affecting, and sublimely exhilarating. stop reading this and go check your local listings.

alright. in nailing the moving target that is bob dylan, the only real complaint i have about the movie [i'll spare you the summary... this is my favorite write- up of the movie so far] is that... how do i say this? obviously, fundamentally, the movie is an exultation of the man's genius, both of the poetry/ majesty of his songs and also of his enigmatical shape- shfting [evidenced best by the bookend arthur rimbaud allusion-- "i is another"-- and by the billy the kid boxcar speech when he finds woody guthrie's guitar, "i know when i wake up i'm one person, and when i go to sleep i'm somebody else"]. what i take slight issue with is that none of the characters, save the woody guthrie character and maybe billy the kid, seem to exhibit the heart or humanity that i know dylan possesses. the early jack rollins character hints at it, but he is at the time too lost in the adulation by and his subsequent rejection of the protest movement to fully communicate anything other than confusion and wounded pride [the later rollins character i consider too peripheral and don't count].

the robbie, and especially the jude, characters for me don't do anything but reinforce the idea of the artist/ narcissist nexus-- which, of course, i'm sure exists to a certain extent in most cases but this is fuckin' bob dylan we're talking about here. while anybody with a more than cursory knowledge of the dylan mythos knows that in 1966 he often was a prickly and silver- tongued son of a bitch, staying up for days at a time fueled on speed, and heading for total oblivion* [most famously illustrated in don't look back], exactly like the jude character, i still wonder: was that all he was? what about the guy who was, at the very same time, out there singing 'mr. tambourine man'-- still one of the greatest transcendance- seeking songs of all time?

and again, anyone who's read any of the eleventy- billion dylan biographies out there, or really anyone who's ever listened to blood on the tracks, knows that in 1974 bob was in the middle of a divorce. the robbie/ claire portion of the movie parallells this very well**, but again i wonder: are we simply suppposed to intuit that the duality of his nature allows him to be both a complete asshole [i'm starting to sound like my mother here a little bit] in person, and that the songs alone redeem him?

i guess i just feel like i have to defend my man bob a little bit here. i wish there would have been a little more of his humor [and not the demeaning, acerbic humor of the jude character--that nico/ bobby neuwirth scene is pretty ugly] and a little more of his humanity [he's written some of the greatest love songs of all time-- "tomorrow is a long time", "you're gonna make me lonesome when you go", "mama, you been on my mind"!-- where's that fuckin' guy?] in the movie, that's all.

but again, let me reiterate that this is an incredible movie. and the songs are there [never before was i a huge fan of 'going to alcapulco' off the basement tapes, for instance, but the jim james/ calexico version is so haunting and beautiful that it's now a new favorite] to strike some balance, so it's not like the movie disparages dylan or portrays him in an unfair light. in fact, the depictions are quite honest as far as i'm concerned, judged by everything i know about him-- which is a fair amount [i'm no greil marcus, but i've done my homework].

if you're at all interested in the world's greatest living artist, go see it. i'd love to know what you thought.


*cate blanchett deserves every bit of glowing press she's been getting for her portrayal of this, and the academy award.

**incidentally, the montage set to the bootleg series' version of 'idiot wind' [one of my top five favorite dylan songs of all time, though i prefer the angrier blood version] in the movie is so terribly sad that it was almost hard to watch. all in all, the movie made me well up at least three times, if not four, but it was during this scene that a few tears actually fell from my eyes. amazing.