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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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When the Levee Breaks
Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Like a lot of people, I was relieved to hear that New Orleans was spared the worst of the hurricane. It is one of my favorite cities, redolent of everything that thrills and pleases the senses, and full of warm and true people who tune to the rhythm of life just a little more acutely than most. You can read about my own magical day in the city here.

But on Tuesday morning, the rising waters and general turbulence of the hurricane caused two major levees to break, unleashing watery havoc on this jewel of a city. Almost certainly, thousands are dead. No one knows, because now the rescuers are bypassing the bodies in search of those still living. The bodies are left for the sharks and gators. One Homeland Security officer called this “about 100 times worse than 9/11.”

I only today grasped that this isn’t about a hurricane; the hurricane is gone. No, it is about a flood. A flood that is almost certainly biblical in scope to the poor souls who stayed in town. (Indeed I am sure that Robertson and Falwell will take the opportunity to call this God’s wrath for the city’s decadence. These people are the lowest form of smarm-mongers.)

I have nothing to say except how horrible this is. Donate here, or here, or here, or here.

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Posted by: --josh-- @ 4:09 PM  5 comments


Advertising Works, Part Deux
Advertising Works Part One may be found on my bestest pal Bree's blog, specifically this post.

Since I am somewhat tangentially-- or more than that-- in the advertising business, I thought it was appropriate for me to have advertising on my blog. Paid search is the hottest kind of advertising online right now, which is to say the hottest kind of advertising, period. Google's market cap is through the rooofle, and while I tend to think it is overvalued, there is a school of thought that says things like blogs, podcasts, and other technologies for providing limitless bandwidth and democratizing the creation of media will ultimately create an environment where there are no mass media vehicles and a glut of smallish ones (even in TV, the top-rated program this year wouldn't rank among the top-50 in 1969.) In such an environment, we won't need remote controls-- we will need search engines. Even for TV, for radio, we won't scan through channels, we will search. If you have digital cable, you can probably already see where the technology of the remote has begun to look more like a search tool (on TiVo I can "search" for, say, movies with Humphrey Bogart, and then record them.)

So yeah, maybe the future of media content is limitless information, and the model for perusing that content (not just online) will be search, and so right here at APW, we bring you cutting edge, contextual advertising. Its that skyscraper there on the lower right. Experience the new dawn of marketing. And by all means, buy something. As Bree would assure you, it is the American Way.

Posted by: --josh-- @ 11:04 AM  0 comments


Peach at the Beach
Tuesday, August 30, 2005

You're probably dying to read my review of the Allman Brothers Band at Jones Beach. It starts like this--

"The traveling caravan of rock and soul that is the Allman Brothers Band rolled into Jones Beach last Wednesday nigh for their annual summer appearance. It was a lovely evening, warm and breezy on the water. After a fine set by Moe.—who were joined by Warren and Derek for their last, extended number—the boys get down to business."

--and it goes on lije that. Read it at the Allman Brothers site, by clicking here and then scrolling down.

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Posted by: --josh-- @ 10:14 PM  0 comments


I Saw the Light > Kiss On My List
Monday, August 29, 2005
I don't know how long it will be up, but my friend Lin has posted the mp3 of the Instant LIve recording of Todd and Hall & Oates performing "I Saw the Light" and "Kiss On My List" from the Boston-area show about a week prior to the Jones Beach show. Todd's voice seems stronger here. Or, more specifically, here.

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


The Todd Rundgren/Hall & Oates Rock'n'Soul Revue Rolls Into Jones Beach
Sunday, August 28, 2005
Todd and Hall & Oates brought their caravan of Philly soul to the beach this Friday, and I had the good fotune to be in attendance, with our friend Howie (who has the good fortune to have a house on Fire Island). First the setlist:



Todd solo:
Lysistrata

Todd w/band:
Soul Brother
Sweet
Past
Buffalo Grass
Hello It’s Me
Love is the Answer
Rock Love

Hall & Oates:
Maneater
Say It Isn’t So
It’s a Laugh
I’ll Be Around
Me and Mrs. Jones
She’s Gone
Camellia
One On One
Sara Smile
I Can’t Go For That
Ooh Child
e: You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling

Hall & Oates w/Todd:
Wait for Me
Can We Still Be Friends
Rich Girl
I Saw the Light >
Kiss On My List
e: Love Train

Todd comes out to a mostly empty theater, wearing a shiny jacket, and introduces “Lysistrata” with a comment about diving right into current events. He is straining on the high notes though, and they prove to be quite out of his reach throughout the song and especially on the climactic last line, which does not auger well. Some nights a singer has the pipes, some nights not so much. This would prove to be the latter. And Todd seems to know it too, eschewing the acoustic guitar after one song and bringing out the band.


He delivers three songs in a row from his latest album, Liars, and it is a pleasure to see him touring on the back of relatively new material. “Soul Brother” is a funky treat that features Charlie DuChant’s flute solo, although again it is marred by Todd’s limited range. He soldiers ably on, adjusting his attack by shifting octaves to hit notes, and he does as best he can given the situation.

“Sweet” is in a better register for him, and comes off quite nicely. Indeed all three of the Liars tracks wear quite well with the Hall and Oates band, which played them in a less techno, more R’n’B fashion than on either album or Liars tour. The approach wholly suits these particular songs, which are ideal vehicles for the road tested smooth funk groove of this combo. “Past” is lovely, although again the thinness of Todd’s voice provides a tease of what the song might sound like on another night.

By now the theater is beginning to fill, and “Buffalo Grass” is warmly greeted by the crowd, especially the folks down in the good seats (I suppose people just like the oldies…) Todd plays some nice guitar, his trademark tone piercing the night on the back of his trademark sloppy styling. I thought this was a highlight. Then he talks about finally embracing “Hello Its Me,” calling it something of a cash cow, and observes that the Gap would be using it in a commercial, so after the show he would be going home to wait for his check. The ensuing version is earnest enough to be a crowd pleaser, and indeed most of the songs that received the biggest ovations of the evening dated from the first half of the 70s.

“Love is the Answer” is up next; by now the house is almost full, and he has won over the crowd. Todd’s set—- clearly designed to fit in with the retro Philly soul of the Hall and Oates set—- closes with the Utopian dance track “Rock Love,” on which Todd and band score nicely, with the guitarist (I’d tell you his name if I could find it anywhere on the Internet) playing a solo so reminiscent of Todd’s style that if you didn’t know better, you could have closed your eyes and imagined that it was being played by—- well, Lyle Workman.

After a very brief set break, the band returns, this time fronted by Hall and Oates. They are, quite simply, outstanding. Hit after hit, all great songs well played, brilliantly sung.

They hit with “Maneater”—- like a lot of their 80s synthpop classics, way better live than on the dated, somewhat cheesily produced original track. Then “Say It Isn’t So.” Darryl Hall gives a plug for Instant Live, then asks the crowd to call out requests. In response someone called for “It’s a Laugh,” although I suspect this is already in their repertoire; they deliver a fine rendition. Then they plunge into the classic soul vibe of their recent half-covers release, for the Spinners’ “I’ll Be Around.” “Me and Mrs. Jones” may have been the highlight of the show, with Hall singing the hell out of it, pure blue-eyed Philly soul. It isn’t on the album, but it should have been.

“She’s Gone,” which Hall notes was out at about the same time as “Me and Mrs. Jones,” is, I think, every bit as much a soul classic, and the suspenseful crescendo at the song’s end (“ She’s Go-oo-oo-oo-oo-one oh-oh-oh-why…”) is chilling. Next they take another request, John Oates’s “Camellia” off of Silver. Hall and Oates perform this one acoustic and without the band, presumably because the band doesn’t know the chords. This one does not appear to be part of their working repertoire. It is another highlight.

Then back into the archive of hits for “One On One,” “Sara Smile,” and “I Can’t Go for That,” before a set-closing cover of the Five Stairsteps classic “Ooh Child” (also off their latest album.) Hall and Oates actually met at a Five Stairsteps concert, making this a fitting close. They encore with “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling,” which for my money they now do better than the Righteous Brothers.

Another brief set break, and the band returns, now augmented by Todd on stage right with guitar. He takes the first verse of “Wait for Me,” his voice still not 100%, but now noticeably stronger. Hall takes the next verse, and they switch off; the almost orchestral vocal arrangement on the chorus, featuring Hall, Oates, Todd, and band, is exquisite. Todd plays the outro guitar solo.

Todd moves to keyboards and Hall to guitar (they switch positions) for “Can We Still Be Friends?” The “la-la” bridge is powerfully sung by the whole cast, and it is one of the best versions of this song I have ever heard. Todd and Daryl trade verses, and Hall has a profound ability to make a song like this, which might seem sappy and poppy in some hands (like say Todd’s), seem earnest and heartfelt. He should probably cop the song from Todd. Hall does his soul vamp-out thing over the “la-las;” it would not have surprised me if he had pleaded, “Sara PLEASE!”

“Rich Girl” and Todd’s “I Saw the Light” follow the pattern of Darryl and Todd trading vocals, and the similarities of their singing styles is hard to miss. On at least one occasion I cannot tell where Todd stops singing and Darryl begins. “I Saw the Light” features a drawn-out ending which segues into “Kiss On My List.” This and “Wait for Me” are the two Hall and Oates songs on which Todd most shines. He throws himself completely into this one, joining the guitarists center stage on air guitar during the instrumental break, and doing his patented “Todding out” vocal breakdown over the “Because your kiss” backing vocals on the outro.

The band leaves and returns, and the night ends with perhaps the quintessential Philly soul tune, the Ojays’ “Love Train.” By my count, 16 of 26 numbers from the show date from the 70s (I’m counting “Hello It’s Me” as a 70s song despite its earlier appearance via the Nazz.) This boomer crowd could not have been happier. Good songs well played will, it turns out, endure.

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Posted by: --josh-- @ 6:53 PM  3 comments


A Very Big Ad
Friday, August 12, 2005

Going away... probably won't write for a week or so...

In the meantime, this is a very big ad. Quite funny; ran in theaters, I believe before Wedding Crashers.

Posted by: --josh-- @ 8:56 PM  0 comments


As Unseen on Television
If a computer programmer testified in a congrssional hearing that he had developed software to the specifications of a Florida congressman who had been Jeb Bush's running mate for governor, such software being specifically designed to be a "vote fraud software prototype," and such request was made in October 2000-- that would be all over the "liberal" media. Right? Right?

But I had to find out about it here.

Does this mean the guy is telling the truth? Well, he is, or he lied under oath. But it IS the truth that congress heard this testimony (and you can watch it at this link.) Which of course should make it newsworthy.

Right?

Thanks to Karl Janice for the tip.

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Posted by: --josh-- @ 4:01 PM  3 comments


Daddy's Little Girl
Thursday, August 11, 2005

OK, I know I am biased. But is this not one cute little bugger? 15 months old, and I couldn't love her more.

Posted by: --josh-- @ 1:28 PM  6 comments


Everything You Wanted to Know About the Lower East Side
Blog recommendation: our friend David, who is recently retired after an illustrious (but wholly thankless) career in the NYC department of education, and who is something of an expert on Manhattan's Lower East Side, has a blog about the history of that neighborhood. It's here. David was born there, played stickball there, grew up in the same buildings as the kids of the Rosenbergs. The blog is a haphazzard attempt to create an educational resource-- as he himself admits, the linear nature of the blog (as opposed to the website) makes this a challenging task. But he is remarkably prolific, and this thing grows every day. The history of the Lower East Side (or "LES," as he calls it) is his mad passion;; the blog, a mad, passionate, oddly compelling work of art.

Posted by: --josh-- @ 1:52 AM  0 comments


Shoot to Kill
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
The Washington DC police force has apparently adopted a "shoot to kill" policy with respect to would-be suicide bombers. Logic being twofold: one, extreme measures are necessary when the perp is prepared to die; and two, a torso shot could set off the ordinance in the terrorist's obligatory bomb vest.

I think this is too extreme, and favor the "shoot to ruin the day of" policy already in place.

See, this is what happens when I have CNN on while I work.

Posted by: --josh-- @ 5:18 PM  0 comments


Another Strategic Blunder By the Left
I see that some on the left are trying to demonize Judge Roberts by suggesting-- in TV spots no less-- that he has sided with abortion clinic bombers.

This is a great illustration of the perpetual ineptitude of the left.

It makes no sense to demonize the man in this fashion (note that I don't address whether or not it is true, because that remains wholly irrelevant in American politics.) What can this possibly accomplish, save for getting people opposed to the man to feel slightly more opposed? "Why worry about the 52% majority that isn't with me? I want to focus my attention on the minority I already have on my side!"

No, the thinking, strategic move would have been for the left to take out ads saying Roberts was IN FAVOR of abortions. You know people on the left oppose the guy on principle, because he was nominated by Dubya; by planting the seed that he is "soft on social issues," the left could have divided the right in two, and successfully blocked the nomination. Or at least weakened the Republican base in the process of confirming the guy (which will almost certainly happen anyway.)

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Posted by: --josh-- @ 4:34 PM  0 comments


Garcia, 10 Years On
Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Ten years ago I was on a road trip with my uncle. We took our first one in the summer of 1993, logging 6500 miles in 16 days as we left from NYC, drove south to Tenessee, then west along I-40 to Flagstaff, north to the Grand Canyon, around the canyon, and north and east through the great American west. We had such a grand time-- and forged a special bond on that first trip-- that for five years it had become our ritual summer vacation.

In '95 we flew to LA and did a big circle- north up US 1 out of California entirely, east, down through Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, west through Arizona and Nevada, and back to LA for departure. Great memories.

My friend Tracy from college is in San Francisco, so when we got to town we hooked up with her for dinner. The next day we were heading off north, and she and her (Deadhead) friends were meeting in Olompali for a picnic sort of thing. I think there is a photo in an early Dead album taken there; we all hiked to the same spot and recreated it.

I remember fondly that there were acoustic guitars there, and one guy let me play his, and I sang "Melissa," and someone accompanied my chording by playing the lead, and it was nice. I joked with Tracy that I was afraid I'd have to earn her friends' respect by beating someone up, but fortunately all I had to do was play a song. We all sat around and played and sang; the last tune was a collective jam on "Wooden Ships," apparently one of their favorites. I didn't know the chords but figured out soon enough how to solo over them, doing a minor blues thing; some other guy, much better than me, was trading licks with me, and it was a sublime musical moment. I remember coming to what I thought was the natural end of the soloing, and as I did and hung on the final note everyone else came back in together on the verse. Total non-verbal communication magic.

There was a buzz in the air about the fall tour shows going on sale soon...

It was a glorious day, hot fun in the summertime, good company, good food, great herbal supplements. The kind of day that leaves you with memories to build a life around. And music, sweet sweet music, there was music everywhere...

A week or so later my uncle and I were driving throught the brutal Nevada dessert. We were heading towards Vegas, middle of the afternoon, hottest part of the day. The sun was high, and sure it was a dry heat, but at 126 degrees my oven will cook food, and its nice and dry in there too. We spent a lot of time on these trips listening to the radio, and this day we spanned the dial and it seemed like every station was playing a Dead song. Finally I heard the news-- Jerry Garcia was dead. It didn't seem real. We flipped around the dial, heard the Rush Limbaugh audience eulogize him (and Rush, of course, was condemning him for his narcotic use; it was perhaps the greatest disconnect ever between the man and his callers.)

This was 1995, remember, and I did not have a cell phone. But I knew I had to call Tracy, because I knew she would be devastated. Finally we got to Vegas, ditched the car, and went into one of the big casinos (I forget now which one.) I left my uncle to feed the slots, and I found a bank of pay phones and called Tracy. No answer. I left a message, and then another. It would be days before I could connect with her. I don't think she was answering the phone. It was so surreal; just a few days before I was with her and her slice of the extended Deadhead family, pulled together by the music, by whatever it was that grew around, out of the music. And suddenly the lynchpin of that nexus was... just gone.

Later that summer I began playing "I Know You Rider" on my guitar, adding it to my meager repertoire. Then in the fall my dad died, and the song took on even more meaning. "I know you rider, gonna miss me when I'm gone..."

Tracy and I remain close. Her life without the Dead is profoundly different. Truth be told it might be better; she allowed herself to get obsessed, to put everything else aside when there was a tour. Now she is married, she and her husband are retired, and they live a nice happy life in San Francisco half the year, and the southern tip of the Baja the other half.

When I finally did get her on the phone, she was raving to me, something about "Jerry on the ceiling." Apparently his image suddenly apprared in the pattern of stucco. I wrote it off to grief, emotional crisis, wishful thinking. Her friends would come over and gather to pay homage to the supposed spontaneous shrine.

I went to see her early in 1996. We hugged good and long. And as I held her I scanned the room, looked up... and damn if Jerry's face wasn't right there on the ceiling, a mischievous unmistakable smile in the stucco.

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Posted by: --josh-- @ 1:00 PM  2 comments


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