Where is the next Nirvana?

Brent, in a relatively rare break from work (the man has been busy since NetNewsWire went beta), wonders where the next Nirvana will come from. Is it maybe the Strokes, the Hives, the Vines, and the White Stripes? I don’t know. I’ve certainly heard words to that effect from various sources.

But the thing that Nirvana did that made everything change was to break down the barriers that the music industry and the audience had created with genres. By grabbing metalheads who were hungry for a change after the self indulgence of Axl Rose howling “Live and Let Die,” alternative music listeners who were disappointed with the Pixies’ Bossanova, and yes, frat boys who knew all the pretty songs and liked to sing along, Nirvana built a huge audience around a youth culture that felt as aimless and trapped and angry as Kurt sounded.

All the Strokes have succeeded in doing is opening the floodgates for a bunch of bands that sound kind of like them. That’s ok if you like that sort of thing, but…

I think the real problem is radio, contrary to John Robb’s assertion that it’s dead. (John, check out the MIT station WMBR the next time you’re close enough to pick up the signal. Or tune in KEXP on the web and pretend you’re in Seattle. :)) With all the radio stations being operated by remote control by some guy in Cleveland or LA who only can remember about five songs at one time, there’s no way that the “O Brother” phenomenon could reach the enormous teen audience that might have taken it and made it their own. I know it was a huge success as a soundtrack, but I have to think the demographics for it skewed way upwards of 25.

I wonder whether there’s enough commonality left in the music listening audience to make another Nirvana possible, or whether the musical universe will just keep expanding infinitely, genres rushing away from each other at the speed of light, until all the energy of pop music is turned into entropy and loss.

Support System

I think the correlation between music and quality of life is absurdly high for me. This morning I hopped in my car–okay, stumbled into is more accurate given the fog I was in–and turned on the radio. KEXP was playing “Dig for Fire” by the Pixies. Right on, thought I, and started driving down the hill. Then they switched to “Alec Eiffel”, then Frank Black’s “Tossed.” Alas, at that point their pledge drive pitch came back on (I’ve pledged, have you?). So I turned on the iPod and it was Daniel Lanois’ “For the Beauty of Wynona.” Then Violent Femmes: “Girl Trouble.” When I got to the office, Liz Phair’s “Support System” was playing.

How could one feel anything but sing and dance good after a set like that?

On why I should have gone to see Lou Reed

A lengthy, cynical review of Lou Reed’s performance at Bumbershoot that finds nothing to bitch about save his performance of The Raven. I love the shtick that the author and his friend work up over this one:

This offers the evening’s only opportunity to do shtick over the course of the song, and Ian and I traded barbs over Reed’s rendition:

Reed: “For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore Nameless here forevermore.”

Us: “Because she’s a dirty junkie slut who got what’s coming to her!”

Reed: “Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer…”

Us: “So I popped another bennie and fucked the drag queen like a dog!”

Reed: “Soon again I heard a tapping, something louder than before…”

Us: “And it was Andy inviting us to an opening in Soho!”

Reed: “Then the bird said, `Nevermore’…”

Us: “And he stole my TV the next morning for smack!”

You’ll have to read the review for Lou’s “pre-emptive strike” over this one, which makes the jokes look like child’s play.

Yeah, I definitely need to add a Food department

I wasn’t going to blog any more today, but I gotta brag. I was talking to someone today about Lisa being on the east coast this week, and she said, “Oh, so you’re eating a lot of pizza, huh?”

Yeah, right. With Lisa out, I can cook risotto and pork chops and all the other food I really like that she doesn’t like on a regular basis. So that’s what I did. Basic white risotto with pancetta (from Boston, natch), rosemary, and sage. Grilled pork chops with a splash of balsamic vinegar. Fresh string beans on the side.

The pork chops are a revelation, actually. I left a few in a brine of sugar, salt, juniper berries, and peppercorns for about 48 hours and then grilled them. (Well, technically they’re pancooked, but the pan has grill ridges, so that counts, right?) The resulting flavor is too intense to describe. Tony can keep his birthday lapdance from Christina Aguilera; I’ll stick with my risotto and pork chops, thanks.

Remedying: Happy b-day, Tony

Correcting a long-standing omission, I’m adding Tony Pierce’s Busblog to my blogroll. This is not only in recognition of Tony’s coolness but also in honor of his birthday.

Tony is not only funnier than I am, he’s also more likely to be seen in the company of hot, barely legal women. So he says. Here’s hoping he gets his birthday wish:

…that’s one thing i’d like for my birthday. i’d like everyone to put aside all their bullshit fears surrounding good for just one day. real good. like everyone, if they want to eat cake that day, say the hell with the damn diet that theyve been on for half their life. eat a piece of damn cake.

right on!

and if you want to say hi to that pretty girl on the third floor, march up there and say hi. get her number even. quit listening to that same old stale voice that tells us that the things that we want somehow are either wrong, impossible, or in someway threats to our stable, miserable lives.

preach, preacha!

i have a dream, holiday gourds.

that we can all live together in peace?

no. that people can kiss each other at bars and in night clubs and their hearts flutter and their blood pressure goes up and they don’t need so much booze any more. i have a dream, my friends.



barista action figure with coffee cup accessories

Shel has been trying to tell me about Archie McPhee for a while now. Today Boing Boing pointed to them in reference to the Jesus Action Figure, so I followed their link. Now that I look at their website, I see why Shel was so insistent.

I especially dig the barista action figure (comes with multiple heads, a Tall and Grande coffee cup, and a barista apron!!). Fuzz, an action figure of a real 21-year-old McPhee employee whose general demeanor should be instantly recognizable to anyone from the Northwest, is also pretty cool.

More old friends on line

Esta pointed a while back to Joe Gross’s gig writing for the Austin American Statesman, but I didn’t follow the links. (Joe and I met on the Declaration, and I persuaded him to join me on Rag & Bone because I knew he had the skills and passion to take it to the next stage. Its longevity is due at least as much to his involvement as to my efforts.)

Joe’s column on music is available online, and his writing is as excellent as it ever was:

With the recent release of Nick Broomfield’s somewhat inflammatory documentary “Biggie and Tupac” (well, it hasn’t been released here yet, but I’m sure you saw something about it on MTV when it wasn’t showing soft porn on “The Real World”)…


Esta: No red ears for our grandfather

Esta was in Lancaster County this weekend visiting our relatives and found my grandfather in great shape:

Pop Pop was more like himself than I’ve seen him since the accident. On Friday night we somehow got started talking about old farming methods, and he told stories for nearly 2 hours about planting and harvesting corn and pumpkins, and the shucking parties they’d have in the fall. If you found a red ear, you got to kiss your girlfriend! Even at 85, Pop Pop’s chagrin that he never found a red ear was quite evident…

Fifty-four year old blog

Yesterday Esta started one of the cooler genealogical blog projects I’ve seen recently: Great-Aunt Eva’s blog. She’s transcribing our maternal relative’s 1949-1951 farm journal one page at a time. It’s astonishing how much it reads like the happenings of a far distant past even though it’s only fifty-four years old. The entries aren’t floridly written; most are only a single sentence. But her voice still comes through.

Esta Minute

There’s a blog I’ve wanted to point to for a while, but because it wasn’t yet a fully public project I’ve refrained. Today I’m proud to point to the new location of Esta’s blog, now named “Estaminet” (which is not to be pronounced Esta minute, as tempting though it is). To make up for my not linking to her before, today is officially Link to Esta Day. Mark your calendars.


Sincere apologies for the temporary triple posts. It looks like I got false error messages from Manila Envelope making me think I had to repost. Ah well. Another day, another bug.

“A common misconception”

Doing a comic strip about blogging is like daring bloggers to write about you. I recognize that. But I can’t resist bait like today’s Doonesbury.

I’m with Zipper. It is a common misconception, for better or worse, that there are any barriers to entry for blogging. God knows I’ve read a few blogs that prove that (what, you think I was going to link to one of them?). But the more important misconception is that only a few people have something to say. My experience with blogging is that everyone–from school kids to right wing Texans to newly minted MBAs to lawyers–has something to say. And space on the Internet isn’t a scarce resource. As a blogger, you can afford to keep writing until you find the perfect audience.

Batching again

Lisa’s off to visit her parents. I returned from dropping her off at the airport two hours ago and am skillfully procrastinating. While I batch this week, I have the joyful duty of finishing the final wallpaper cleanup myself today.

I also found another bug in iTunes2Manila, one that inexplicably failed to surface in my last round of testing. Apparently the workaround to get plaintext from a Unicode string doesn’t always work, and sometimes it gives an error instead. I hope I can get to fixing that today. Finally, though I have no feedback from my lone tester of Manila Envelope, I need to release 1.0.3b so I can get on with incorporating some new features. I’ll be spending today figuring out the revised mechanisms for drag and drop in Jaguar so that I can hopefully support Brent’s RSS clipboard format.


I hereby curse the person who invented wallpaper and wallpaper steamers. And the idiot who put wallpaper in our parlor, which is taking all day to come off.