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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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Only Joe Biden Was Right About Iraq
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Check out our guy Joe Biden on the Today Show this morning. He isn't in the "top-3" Democratic candidates. All he has going for him is being right on every issue, being smart, experienced, presdiential, articulate, passionate, and oh yeah, an effective senator. A shame the media has already crowned Barak and Hillary the only two viable options. Because I'm telling you, this is the guy.

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Posted by: --josh-- @ 12:43 PM  2 comments

Making Sense of Bush's Foreign Policy
Wednesday, July 25, 2007

In the wake of the Democratic debate, President Bush yesterday made a speech in the same town (Charleston, South Carolina) wherein he insisted that we must keep fighting in Iraq because we are now fighting “Al Qaeda in Iraq.” These people we are fighting, he says, not without satisfaction, are the same as the people who attacked us on September 11.

He spoke for 29 minutes. He used the term “Al Qaeda” 93 times. That’s more than 3 times a minute. More than once every 20 seconds. OK George, we get the point.

The idea is, if we (the American public) think we are fighting the bad guys in Iraq, maybe we’ll have more stomach for the President's war. Of course, when we invaded Iraq four years ago, presumably THAT was to fight the bad guys who attacked us on 9/11. Wasn’t it?

So we can forgive the president his smug sense of self-satisfaction. It took four years, but by God, Al Qaeda has finally showed up in Iraq! He wasn’t wrong in 2003. He wasn’t misinformed. He wasn’t a victim of faulty intelligence. No- he was prescient!

What makes us civilians out here pull our hair out is the fact that Al Qaeda is in Iraq BECAUSE we invaded. I may have said this before, but if, international military presence-wise, we are a bucket of manure, Al Qaeda are a bunch of flies. And you know how that works.

So President Bush justifies our continued military presence in Iraq thusly: “We must stay in Iraq until we defeat Al Qaeda in Iraq!” Whereas Al Qaeda will be in Iraq fighting us, not because they have some grand design on Iraq, not because it is a “safe haven for terrorists” (that would be our good friends Pakistan). No, it is because if you are in Al Qaeda, or if you have any aspiration or inclination to join Al Qaeda, there is nothing you’d rather do than shoot at American soldiers occupying Arab land.

Bush’s war is the root cause of the thing he is waging war to eradicate. So of course, it is easy to understand the wisdom of digging in and staying the course.


Posted by: --josh-- @ 1:00 PM  0 comments

My Cute Kid and her Cousin (Who's No Slouch in the Cutes Department Either)
Monday, July 09, 2007

Posted by: --josh-- @ 1:40 PM  2 comments

Ryan Adams: Easy Tiger; Live at Hiro Ballroom
Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Regular readers will know that a new Ryan Adams record is cause for celebration here at the home offices of APW. Easy Tiger, his ninth, dropped last Tuesday. I was familiar with just about all the songs from his live shows over the past year or so, and especially those since September, when he really went to town on new material (including a good album’s worth of stuff that still hasn’t come out officially yet.) (If you do bittorrent, you can register at the Ryan Adams Archive and then check back often for new shows to download, usually in soundboard quality.)

While Easy Tiger doesn’t have the instant feel of greatness that Cold Roses or Gold had on first spin, it is a creeper; live with it a while and it will get into your pores and you'll find yourself singing these songs to yourself in all sorts of odd places. It is an a fine record, perhaps closest in feel to Jacksonville City Nights, the second of Adams’s 3 2005 releases and the most country. And it is seamless and consistent, the songs flowing together and hitting you as a fluid whole. The songs insinuate themselves in your psyche, simple, beautiful. Adams wears his heart on his sleeve, God bless him, and while he may strike some as a whiny, bratty prima donna, he strikes me as a genius, as pure a songwriting talent as we have in contemporary American popular music.

When I saw Adams and the Cardinals at Town Hall in December, he talked about having seven months sober. He’d had a reputation as a hit-or-miss live performer, largely depending on the extent to which you caught him on a wasted night (wasted generally equaling miss.) But since assembling the Cardinals in late 2004, his live work has been incendiary and continually improving; in that time the whole band has turned over save for Adams and drummer Brad Pemberton, and miraculously, every personnel change seems to make them better and tighter (although I still miss bassist Catherine Popper, the thinking man's alt.country rock crush.) The band has a remarkably deft touch, inhabiting Adams’s often weepy waltzes and ballads with remarkable empathy; you get the sense that he knows he can jump and they’ll catch him, so he jumps, a lot.

Easy Tiger clocks in at about 38 minutes, just like the great records by Van Morrison, the Band, Neil Young used to in the age of vinyl. It kicks off with a loping waltz, “Goodnight Rose,” which would not seem out of place on Jacksonville City Nights. Then “Two,” which Adams has been playing live for 18 months, is done as a duet with Sheryl Crow, a Cardinals fan who’s voice melds in a pretty way with his (although if Popper was still around, they wouldn’t have had to bring in a ringer…) Like a lot of Adams’s best songs, this one manages with simple language to capture the pure hurt of love; “I’m fractured, from the fall… and I wanna go home… It takes two, when it used to take only one…” On “Everybody Knows,” he sings, “You and I together, but only one of us in love… and everybody knows…”

Almost all the songs here are old school, lilting, beautifully written, and kinda sad, with one exception: “Halloween Head” is done as a punkish garage rocker; reminiscent of his Rock’n’Roll record; what keeps it from being jarring is the insane catchiness of it. “Pearls On a String,” yet another beautiful song, contains lines that nicely sum up Adams’s prolific output: “Tomorrow's on it's way/ And there's always new songs to sing.”

Meanwhile the Cardinals continue to evolve and solidify as one of the best bands around. Neil Casal’s guitar is piercing and articulate; Jon Graboff’s pedal steel provides a lot of the feel and color. Adams and the Cardinals have been touring to support this record as an acoustic 6-piece, with producer Jamie Candiloro on piano and Adams putting his guitar aside (hand trouble.) The acoustic treatment brings out the richness in this material, the timelessness of the compositions. And it is a sign of the band’s confidence and evolution that they can deliver the set without plugging in, and do so with such utter command…

They brought the act to Manhattan’s tiny Hiro Ballroom last Tuesday, essentially a record release party, and your humble correspondent was fortunate enough to be there, seven rows back center aisle. Here’s what they played:

The Sun Also Sets (ET)
Please Do Not Let Me Go
Oh My God, Whatever, Etc. (ET) >
Let It Ride
Dear John
Two (ET)
Rip Off (ET)
Carolina Rain
Elizabeth You Were Born to Play the Part
I See Monsters
Blue Hotel
Halloween Head (ET)
I Taught Myself to Grow Old (ET)
Starlite Diner
How Do You Keep Love Alive?
Band intros
Winding Wheel
Blue Sky Blues
Goodnight Hollywood Boulevard
(encore) Down In a Hole

Six from the new one; plus five from 29, the third of his 2005 trilogy. And “Blue Hotel,” a song he wrote for Willie Nelson but which Adams and the Cardinals totally own; it was a highlight. The encore is an Alice in Chains cover in which they find the twang.

Adams was in outstanding voice; high, reedy, and strong, with the acoustics making him totally present and full; vocally he could do whatever he wanted. The band was physically cramped onto a tiny stage, all on acoustic instruments; Casal was stellar as usual, plucking out evocative and moving solos on melodic tunes like “Let It Ride.” Every song was better than on record; “Halloween Head” got the country treatment. “Winding Wheel,” from his first solo record Heartbreaker, was a highlight, done up in a sprightly upbeat take with Graboff’s pedal steel driving the bus. Live and acoustic, with the Cardinals breathing life into them, the songs expand and grow fuller, the way a little aeration works on a bottle of red wine. Adams was having a blast, and so was the band—who he introduced as his best friends save for his “GFF”—and certainly, the rest of us.


Posted by: --josh-- @ 12:47 PM  0 comments

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