Salinger’s Safe

January 28, 2010

J.D. SalingerThe mystery grows: What’s in Salinger’s safe?

I’m not sure what I was doing yesterday, but apparantly J.D. Salinger passed away.  It’s hard to say things like “what a loss” when the writer last published in 1965.  If anything, this accelerates the eventual release of unpublished works by the author.  The article above speculates on the contents of his home and safe, but overlooks the unpublished works that we know already about, those that exist in the Rare Books wing of the Fireside Library at Princeton University.

Having been through Princeton in 2007 thanks to Brock’s prodding, I got a chance to read some of these short stories, including the excellent “The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls.”  I was only through about half of the works in the brief time I was allowed in the reading room, but the works I read were as good as any published.  I think the journey and process of accessing the materials, as well as the situation of reading these “secret” works while the author was still alive heightened the experience.

Even so, the instructions vis a vie the Princeton works are that they be held back until 50 years hence the authors death, which puts me at 82, should I make it that far.  Perhaps this clears the way for a speedier release of these materials?

We had an interesting film concept brewing at one time that involved a pair of high school students, motivated for different reasons, intent on finding and killing Salinger to force the release of unpublished works.  I was quite fond of the idea, though I think it was never fully embraced by the rest of Matter of Chance.  It would seem less imperitive to make such a film about an author that has now passed away.

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I have been following NBC’s late night debacle.  The degree of verbal burns that have been thrown around (from Conan at NBC, from Dave at NBC, from Jimmy at Jay, etc.) have been surprising.  The barbs are flying, and it doesn’t look like anyone at the network is very much interested in surpressing it.  It’s been entertaining, to say the least.

I can’t help but be reminded of one of Brock’s first scripts, “Last Rites with Johnny Boscow.”  Undoubtedly greatly inspired by Conan, it’s about a late night talk show host that goes over the edge in defiance of the network executives.  I never got to read the script, but I always loved the concept.  Here is an excerpt.

Adam Sandler on Conan O’Brien

727 Records Redesign

January 14, 2010

727 Records Web Site

I just launched a redesign of the 727 Records web site.  The new site is pretty simple: it’s just one page, and a fairly small one at that.  All the albums are right there, with links to purchase and download.  There is a little button that will play a song.  If you mouseOver the cover art, the tracklist will pop up.  No filler, no frills.

My Lost Decade In Music

January 13, 2010

The Strokes

As the 1990’s progressed, I found myself getting deeper and deeper into the world of underground and independent music.  It all started with mainstream bands (The Smashing Pumpkins are much to blame), and through various twists and turns (SP on the Sweet Relief benefit CD leads to Vic Chesnutt, who leads to Sparklehorse, and so on and so on) I arrived at a time when I spent most nights in Phoenix-area night spots (Modified, always, and wherever the smart bookers were at the time: Boston’s, then The Green Room, then Nita’s Hideaway), listening to bands play.

In a bout of self-loathing for my past mainstream sins that coincided conveniently with the turn of the century, I became tremendously cynical of mainstream music, eventually to the point of rejecting it completely.  A turning point in all this that I remember quite clearly was the emergence, seemingly out of nowhere, of The Strokes in 2001.  In what seemed at the time (and in retrospect as well) a coordinated commercial assault, the band appeared on the cover of all the music magazines, on my radio and TV, all within a matter of days.  Who were these guys?  They were nowhere to be found on my indie rock radar screen.  To top it off, I liked the music.  A lot.  I second-guessed myself… and retreated into a musical cave for the next decade.

I was by no means isolated from music.  In fact, I was perhaps more involved in music than I ever had been before, starting my own record label and releasing albums from a variety of indie bands, shooting a number of music videos, starting a band with my brother, writing fifty or so songs, and playing a number of live shows.  Beyond that, I kept up with my core musical tastes, faithfully picking up all the Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Pedro The Lion/David Bazan, and Weezer albums that came out.   At the same time, a number of other core bands I followed essentially wrapped things up around the same time (HUM, the aforementioned Smashing Pumpkins), reducing the scope of my ongoing musical followings.  Throughout the decade, many more still of my indie faves also closed up shop, leaving with a patchy musical outlook, at best.

The retrenchment from popular music was, admittedly, an arbitrary reaction (heck, it was a response initially against music that I did enjoy), but not altogether wrong.  Every time I came up for air, I was hit by Nickelback this, Linkin Park that, or worse, lesser (yes, even lesser) imitators.  Bands like this reinforced by conviction, and I held firm on principle, not turning on the FM radio for a stretch that lasted a good five years to close out the decade.

Slowly, I’ve begun to feel the tug of (and resist) jumping back into music.  First, there was the unknown genius booking music on Saturday Night Live somewhere between late 2007 and early 2009, how managed to integrate among the typical performers the likes of The Killers, Arcade Fire, The Shins, Gnarls Barkley, Wilco, Spoon, My Morning Jacket, Kings of Leon, and Fleet Foxes, making SNL a must-see event to catch the latest musical guest (sadly, this season has again fallen off the map, with the exception of Lady Gaga, for the aesthetic value).  Second, the re-discovery, probably by chance, of 103.9 FM The Edge, who in the recent introduced a “manifesto” for independent radio stations, a set of rules to live by, like not talking over of cutting off songs, announcing all songs names and artists within a few songs, etc., and then followed up by actually playing music people like myself would like to listen to.  I can’t express my surprise when I would turn on the station and find that it wouldn’t give me a reason to turn it off for a stretch of six or seven songs, or, better, intrigue me with each new song.  Well done.

With that said, I hereby declare my return to music.  Not mainstream music, or independent music.  Just music; with an open mind.  My first order of business to catch up on some lost time.  I plan to snap up a number of albums by bands I have overlooked.  I’m starting with Kings of Leon, and starting with their first album, Youth and Young Manhood, in an attempt to chronologically recreate my lost time.  Look for an abundance of record reviews (most of which will be many years late) in the coming months.  Other bands I plan to check out in the same manner: The Killers, The Strokes (back to where it all started/ended), Fleet Foxes, and possibly Death Cab For Cutie.

Any suggestions?

Lego Golf Course

January 13, 2010

Lego Golf Course

Two of my favorite things.

Ship High In Transit - Live

It’s a long story, but Ship High In Transit is now on the 727 Records web site.  You can’t yet buy any merchandise just yet, but you can download a new track from their EP and some older demos.

The New World

Reverse Shot recently ran down it’s consensus list of the best films of the 2000’s.   Many of my personal favorites are missing (Primer, something representative from Hirokazu Koreeda), but those are understandably underdog picks, and don’t have the “top film” cache.  I hit Netflix and added the appropriate films that I hadn’t seen, or hadn’t seen in a while (looking forward to seeing Dardenne’s The Son again).  Also hit Amazon and picked up The New World: Extended Cut on Blu-Ray and In The Mood for Love on Criterion DVD (long overdue).

New Decade, New Job

January 4, 2010

I start a new job today… sort of.  My IT department has been outsourced to a different company.  So, it’s the same place, same work, different logo on the paycheck.  Yet, it is different, and I grew increasingly nervous over the weekend.  I’m feeling about as unglued as ever.  Lunch can’t come soon enough.

New Decade, New Blog

January 3, 2010

In the beginning, there was Eyes Like Static. Brock and Gabe had hit 500 (perhaps 1000?) posts before Try Avoidance was conceived. Jeremy and I were the intruders, the late-comers: somewhat late at the starting gun, always a step behind, and never quite as cool. Brock and Gabe were gracious about the whole thing.  Heck, readers were scarce.  You can’t be too choosy.  It quickly became two blogs, joined at the hip for the next five years. It was nice to share the experience, comment and be commented upon, and have it look at when times got rough.

Somewhere along the line, it began to uncouple, and for some really good reasons. No point in posting about this movie or that concert when all the major players had been present at said event, or had already heard all about it firsthand. The thing was, we got so close, the blogs lost thier value. It was social networking the old-fashioned way.

The grubby prints of Facebook can also be found somewhere deep within the forensics file. Micro-blogs, status updates, and “friends.” It was all so cheap and unsatisfying. There I was, dying to develop a paragraph, but all it wanted was a sentence. Worse yet, it wanted me to complete a sentence it had already begun to formulate. Rubbish.

Recent events (which I wish to discuss in great detail) demand more than than a Facebook update, more than a single sentence. The things I need to work out, I’ll work out at length, thank you very much.

For this, I’ll need some help.