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A penny for your thoughts indeed. Around here that would be a raise.

What makes a good blog? I think thematic consistency, a little exhibitionism, and honest writing. I can promise you the last one.

Most of my posts seem to be about music or politics. Some of them are funny. But all of them would love to hear a comment from you.

Oh-- and please welcome God to the APW team. We're thrilled and humbled to serve as His earthly vessel.

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Location: NYC

I was born at a relatively young age. Growing up consumed the better part of my childhood. As a young man I chased a lot of girls. But they kept getting away. Then I got older and even slower, so I got married. I've lived in New York City almost since before I moved here. I summer in Manhattan, which is like New York City, but with more humidity.

Here's me, without baby, thinking big thoughts. (Actually, what I'm thinking is, "Hey, these aren't Pringles!") I think I look better with baby.

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I Love America: Election Musings
Sunday, October 31, 2004
I have 2 predictions for the election Tuesday. I am loath to call a winner at this point, but I do have two predictions.

(1) Kerry will do a little better across the board than the polls show. Not crazy better, but say one to two percentage points state-by-state. I am making this call because all political polling is telephone-based, and telephone pollers can't call cell phones. There are a growing number of people who use their cell phones as their primary or exclusive phones-- maybe 6 %? -- and who therefore aren't in these polls. The 6 % is mainly young people, say ages 18-30; my wife has 3 nephews in their 20s and we have cell numbers only for all of them. Young people skew democratic. Now, sure, they also tend not to vote. But there have been a lot of last minute registrations, and these are apparently skewing young. So I'm calling Kerry to out-perform the poll numbers in every state by a point or two.

(2) I've seen a number of people whose opinions I really respect call Kerry landslides-- upward of 300 electoral votes. That strikes me as wildly optimistic, but these are keenly analytical people who assure me they think they have it sussed. What I am seeing is an election that is far too close to be over Wednesday morning. It strikes me that if any state has a margin between candidates that is less than the number of provisional ballots cast in that state, and if without that state the EC can't be called, then you have to have a recount. You do, dontcha? And I think that scenario is more likely than not, especially with both sides making sure voters who are confronted by registration snafus at the polling place cast provisional ballots, and both parties determined already not to get out-lawyered. It actually seems like a recount somewhere is the most likely scenario.


My friend Sam writes: "One thing that does amaze me about the Republicans is their willingness to be in total thrall to George W. Bush. By any measure, this is a failed Presidency: A war based on a lie, The Nation's greatest enemy never caught, the economy in the toilet, etc., etc."

See Sam, this is why I'm not s Democrat. Kerry is a fucking idiot. Kerry is in as much thrall as anyone. His response to Bush waging an unjust war is to say, "I would hunt the terrorists down and kill them." Maybe Monday he should up the ante and offer to rip out a terrorist's heart with his own two hands and eat it. Instead of calling Bush on his quintessential Bushness, Kerry's pitch seems to be, "Hey, I'm macho too, and I won't raise your taxes either." He's losing the war of rhetoric to a moron.

Which leads me to my next point, Kerry is really nowhere near as smart as he seems to think he is. He's very proud of being the smarter of the two candidates. No offense dear readers, but any one of the six of us running against Bush would be the smarter of the two. So it aint no big accomplishment.


So to sum up, on Tuesday I will be voting for the fucking idiot instead of the very bad president. Thank you America for blessing me with the right to choose.


Posted by: --josh-- @ 11:47 PM  0 comments

A Musical Diary
Monday, October 25, 2004
My posts have been sporadic at best in October, and I apologize. I won't bore you with the details, but suffice it to say when it rains, it pours. Too many demands making this hobby of mine-- I am forced to recognize that when push comes to shove APW falls under the heading of avocation-- seem like a luxury. Hopefully things will lighten up soon and I will have the luxury of time.

On Thursday, September 23 I saw the adorable and radiant Jill Sobule (you can link to her over there on the right; I don't have the energy) at Joe's Pub in NYC. As had happened once before, I joined her onstage for her new single "Cinnamon Park," a glorious tune about taking mushrooms in the park in the 70s at the Battle of the Bands, and which is written around a loop of Chicago's "Saturday In the Park." I do a horn imitation, and on this number Jill has me start off before she sings, playing the horn chart for the Chicago song.

But enough about me. Jill was in great form, performing both solo and with Jim Boggia, a Philly-based singer-songwriter who's first album, Fidelity is the Enemy, is a gorgeous listen in the tradition of the Beatles' Let It Be. In fact Boggia closed his opening set with a solo rendition of "She's Leaving Home." Gutsy. And he pulled it off.

So then, Jill. The usual captivating show, full of heart and soul. She and Boggia play well off each other, and her nasty guitar on “When My Ship Comes In,” and her first-ever public performance of the new song “Tel Aviv,” were two among many highlights.

The next day I was on a plane to Atlanta for five shows in three days—the Allman Brothers at the Fox Theater, Friday-Sunday; plus two shows associated with the Georgia Allman Brothers Band Association (GABBA) annual GABBAfest. The Allmans at the Fox were a treat I won’t belabor here too much; my reviews can be found at the band’s site. Here I am writing about the 24th; this me on the 25th (the best of the three); and oh, here I am sounding off about the 26th. One cool thing was that they repeated only one song across the three nights—“Dreams”—and that they played each night. The catch was that each night the waltz-time mid-section featured a different soloist—former band member and guest performer Jack Pearson on Friday; the incandescent Derek Trucks on Saturday; and the heroic Warren Haynes on Sunday. “And the thing is,” Haynes told me, “They’re all different,” because each reflects the unique voice of the soloist.

Check out my reviews, or at least one, to get the flavor.

On Friday night after the show, we all dashed over to the Cotton Club to catch the Yonrico Scott band, which is the Derek Trucks band sans Derek. Of course Derek sat in for a nice chunk, filling the tiny room with the most awesome full, ringing guitar tone, using just his ax, a slide, and his amp—no effects, no house PA, just playing straight out of the amp and into the room. It was thrilling. There were other oodles of guests as well, including his lovely wife Susan Tedeschi and Donna Hopkins (read on).

Saturday afternoon Donna Hopkins, a great Atlanta blues musician, opened for Jack Pearson, again back at the Cotton Club. Hopkins operates at a nexus between Bonnie Raitt, Susan Tedeschi, and Gov’t Mule. She made me an instant fan. I think the highlight of her set was when her 9-ish year old daughter joined her onstage—with a mic stand adjusted to her height—to sing harmony of “Everything Money Can’t Buy.” Pearson, who’s band featured his wife on bass, filled the room with graceful, sweeping lines on blues, jazz, and instrumental guitar pieces. His playing makes people happy. He’s so humble and self-effacing, but seeing the Allmans crew members react to him backstage on Friday night brought home what a gentleman he is, and how well-thought of he must have been among his colleagues during his stint (’97-99) in the band.

One of the fun things about the Fox run was that so many friends who also follow the band were there. We all stayed in the hotel across the street, and so did the band; brushes with band members and their families were commonplace. I had the chance to mingle and hang out with many members of the “extended family.”

Back home the following Tuesday, September 28, and SmiLE comes out. Naturally a copy is delivered to my house that day. At first I am struck—and not in a good way—by how “modern” the songs sound. I mean, I’m missing the edits in “Heroes and Villains.” But I keep listening, and playing it for the baby, and it grows on me, I get over the jolt, and it quickly becomes clear this is a glorious triumph, a great piece of pop song craft performed lovingly and cohesively by an extremely talented aggregation of artists. Kudos especially to Jeff Foskett (“the CEO of the fal-sett-OH!”, as he was introduced at the concert), and to Darian Sahanaja of the Wondermints, both of whom were linked to in the concert review below.

October 6th and I’m back seeing Jill, this time at the Cutting Room at a private show for WFUV-FM donors. I got in on one of 10 or so pairs of the tickets made available (free) to Jill’s fans. You were supposed to bring someone who had never seen Jill live before, so I brought my sister-in-law. The show was on the radio, and is archived here. (Click “WFUV archives” on the left, then search for Jill, and play the Cutting Room show.) You probably want to play this stream, especially if you have a fast connection. But go forward to about 32:04 in, where I do my “Cinnamon Park” thing. Yes, there for posterity, I join Jill on the invisible trumpet.

Actually, I’m not even going to say anything else about the show; give it a listen. She was her usual sweet self at the show, being so kind and attentive to my sister-in-law. They are about the same age and grew up in the same area, and were swapping stories about old bars and clubs. This is part of why I adore her so much. On the one hand she is so talented—writer, singer, guitarist, humorist, live performer. On the other hand, she is so down to earth-- she knows many of her fans by name, she will wait after a show and sign everybody’s CDs. She takes requests, and if you get her before a show she might even do a dedication.


Posted by: --josh-- @ 1:45 AM  0 comments

SmiLE and the World Smiles With You...
Tuesday, October 12, 2004
So much to write about, and so little time... I just got home from seeing Brian Wilson's SmiLE tour at Carnegie Hall.

I am too tired to go into detail, and I didn't take notes, but it was like sex for your ears. (I remember my friend John's legendary comment on the way out of Pink Floyd doing the Wall at Nassau Coliseum in 1980: "My ears are happy.")

The band, including Wilson (who uses his piano basically as a prop and occasionally looks at his watch, perhaps because it is nice and shiny), numbers 19, including a horn and string section and notably featuring Jeff Foskett and the Wondermints.

The first set begins with the crew clustered, seated, in a semi-circle, unplugged-style, an acoustic guitar and minimal other instrumentation. Indeed the opening number is a capella-- "And Your Dreams Come True." Then "Surfer Girl," "Add Some Music to Your Day," "Good to My Baby," and a slew of others I didn't write down. Eventually the band is arrayed around the stage at various instruments-- the usual; glockenspiel, theramin, xylophone-- for "California Girls," Imagination," "Marcella," "Please Let Me Wonder," a couple from the "other" new solo release Brian put out this summer (don't buy it), tons more, and through it all the harmonies are angelic, remarkably evocative of the records, lush, and the Carnegie Hall acoustics are unreal.

The second set, of course, is the long-lost SmiLE album, played in its entirety. There are no words. If you don't know the story you can find it somewhere else, but essentially the album is a pop symphony in three movements. The first, about Americana, is anchored by "Heroes and Villains;" the second, about childhood (and the ages of man?), is anchored by "Surf's Up;" the final suite is about the four elements and is anchored by the closing "Good Vibrations." Along the way you get "Vega-tables," "Our Prayer," Cabinessense," "Wind Chimes," "Wonderful"-- as I say, sex for your ears. During the extended standing ovation that preceded the encore, bandleader Jeff Foskett introduced Brian's original lyricist Van Dyke Parks from the crowd.

The encores were fun, fun, fun-- "Barbara Ann," "Help Me Rhonda," "Fun Fun Fun," "I Get Around," a couple more like that. Then the band came back for one final number, the exquisite and by now inevitable "Love and Mercy" from Brian's 1988 comeback album. Which I'd have linked to, but the wife says its time for bed, which it is, and no more html tonight.

Democrat, republican, independent, here's something we can all agree on: see this tour if you can.


Posted by: --josh-- @ 11:59 PM  1 comments

Cheney: Whoops!
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
Remember that zinger where Cheney said he was at the senate every Tuesday but had never met Edwards before? Turns out, not so much.


Posted by: --josh-- @ 11:47 AM  0 comments

The Veeps
I haven't heard the pundit spin, so this is strictly my un-influenced take.

I didn't see a winner. That probably bodes well for Kerry-Edwards, because one would have expected Cheney to wipe the floor with him. Indeed at the beginning I thought he was, but Edwards kind of pulled his nose up at the end. My email from the Kerry campaign immediately after said "We're 2 for 2!" I wouldn't go that far. Of course no one really cares about the veep debate anyway.

Imus characterized it as Dr. Evil versus the Breck Girl.

And really, having seen Bush in action, and now Cheney, is there really any doubt left as to which of these two is actually in charge?


Posted by: --josh-- @ 1:09 AM  1 comments

More on the Debates
Monday, October 04, 2004
APN prediction: The Vice Presidential debate will be the most historical Vice Presidential debate since--

Oh, wait. The Veep debates don't matter worth a damn. Sorry about that. What was I smoking?

There can be no question that Kerry carried the day in round 1. No one scored any policy points, but again, this isn't really a debate, it is a TV SHOW, and Kerry "won" because he looked better on TV. (Indeed a female co-worker who listened to the first part on the car radio, then got home and tuned in on TV, said Bush came off much better on the radio. No joke-- that was what happened to Nixon.) Bush looked flustered and frustrated and basically like a little boy who was told he couldn't have any candy. You really don't want the leader of the free world losing his cool quite so easily. Believe me, the Dems are gloating (I get their relentless emails-- and to think I register Independent just to avoid the direct marketing...)

In the wake of the debates, I am amazed by 2 facts-- (1) that 60 million people watched (that's more than Who Wants to Marry My Dad?); and, (2) That the polls have shown such a response. Bush goes from dead heat to up 11 points after the convention; then he loses it all after the first debate. You know how I feel about the beauty pagaent total US number; total US polls are asinine when we have an electoral college, and if you don't believe me, ask president Gore. But one thing is becoming certain-- the polls flip flop more often than Kerry. (In fact, they flip flop even more than Bush SAYS Kerry does.)

Anyway, a couple of points:

1. To hell with the undecided voters. I saw a poll today that had Kerry at 49%, Bush at 47%. That totals 96%. I figure Nader gets a percent or 2. So doesn't that mean there really aren't any undecided voters who are likely to vote (the general screening criterion for political polls)? Otherwise, shouldn't it be, like, 41% to 39%?

2. This leads me to the next point-- obviously each candidate has the most to gain by getting out the base. I believe the single thing that will have the most impact on the election as of now will be the weather on election day. Because when push comes to shove, the weather has more impact on turnout at this point than Bush, Kerry, or Springsteen.

3. For all the Dem gloaters, the likelihood that Bush messes up this badly again is slim. His handlers are too good. Like a football team, he's been studying tape all week, and he will not make the same mistakes twice. The only question about the debates is, will he find new ones to make?

I really have so much music to talk about-- THREE life-altering Allman Brothers shows in Atlanta; the discovery there of a new bona fide blues goddess (Donna Hopkins; check her out here); sharing the stage with Jill Sobule; Brian WIlson's smiLE album. I'll get to it all, I promise.


Posted by: --josh-- @ 11:19 PM  0 comments

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