Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Fred's Burns ... Again

Public Service Announcement: Fred's burns again. World Wide Fred says it's a minor one. Let's hope they get online again before I need a ribeye in chipotle butter. NOTE: Re-re-opening scheduled for Feb. 12.

Rhett Miller Update

A little blurb on Rhett Miller from some California paper. Evidently his label tanked and his latest record is pretty much nowhere. But he keeps moving forward. I feel bad for him. You put him and David Garza in the same room and you will have some harrowing tales of record label woe.

Definition of a Slow News Day

The Startlegram had this headline: "4 towels, ashtray taken from Motel 6." Are you freaking kidding me? I thought I had stumbled on The Onion. How about this headline: "Area Man Knows Why Newspapers Are in Trouble."

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Little Debbie

I've been off the hook busy with moving and work, but in my meager spare time, I've been vegged out watching Lost in Space with the little one. I always felt sorry for Debbie the Bloop. Poor chimp had to run around in that silly-ass furry hat.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I Think It Would Be FUN To Run A Newspaper

Michael Wolff makes a case in Vanity Fair that the patriarch model (or Billionaire option) may be the best chance newspapers may have to survive.

Here’s why he think that’s the case:

In essence, news, or publicity, that true currency of our time, is worth more to newsmakers—and every billionaire is a newsmaker who associates with other newsmakers—than to investors (and perhaps even to news consumers). So at the end of the day theirs will be the winning bid.

For journalists, who as the industry has contracted have become ever more ethically self-righteous, this is the ultimate nightmare scenario (save only for going out of business itself). To be owned and operated by somebody who has juice in the game—who might get value out of what the paper writes or whom it writes about and how—contradicts the whole point of contemporary journalism.

And yet, as my billionaire recognized during my brief visit, there is, too, a mutuality of interest—of sensibility even—between billionaire and journalist. Newspapers may be absolutely ending, but people within an industry, any industry—and these billionaires, accustomed to being written about, are as much involved with newspapers as the people writing about them—are the last to be able to see its absolute end. (Whereas for people outside the industry, especially outside the newspaper industry, especially among the growing majority who don't read a paper at all, the end seems to be almost inconsequential.) It's impossible to believe that something that defines your life, something that exists as big as life—like, say, an American car—will just cease to be. (This kind of denial is one of the things that make industrial decline such a glacial process.)

Basically, it comes down to newspapers as a fashion accessory for the rich. When Gulfstream jet or a private island isn’t enough, buy a newspaper. That’s scary enough. What’s really scary is this: is it really possible that newspapers would cease to exist?

Obviously, the Golden Age of Newspapers is over – the days of 100 percent market penetration will never come again. But can communities exist without newspapers?

Wolff compares newspaper unfavorably to utilities “personality-less, reliable, bureaucratic, and, until very recently, throwing off lots of free cash flow. In this public-utility age of newspapers, the institutional blandness which resulted—reporters themselves, once clever and disreputable, became something like public-service employees, seeing themselves with the beleaguered virtue of schoolteachers—helped turn newspapers into a medium for old people (newspapers are for people who remember newspapers).”

Sad but true. People these days want some sizzle with their steak. They want to be entertained. Thanks to the Internets, that’s easy. But can you really be involved in your community if you don’t know what’s going on in your community?

I’m just askin’.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Tom Waits Poured Me a Bourbon

Found this on the Eyeball Kid blog, a comic based on a true encounter with Waits by cartoonist Ellen Forney, from her book I love Led Zeppelin.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

So Much Time I've Wasted

I've obviously been looking at fonts the wrong way. Who knew Gill Sans could be so alluring?

Robert Solomon, 1942-2007

This just in from my friend Joel:

Hey, If you're receiving this message, you're a Longhorn, so you might have heard of, seen in a Linklater movie, or taken a course from Bob Solomon, a legend in UT's philosophy department. He died a week ago. He was famous on campus for existentialism course and the annual symposium he hosted when I was there. In my experience, he was incredibly entertaining, provocative and generous, all great qualities in a teacher. Here's the Statesman obit/story.
I've also included the link to his appearance in one of my favorite films - Richard Linklater's Waking Life. It really changed the way I look at existentialism and prompted me to do a lot more reading. I didn't take his class at UT, but I wish I had.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Club Clearview ... Gone!

Club Clearview #1
Originally uploaded by Michael Ingrassia.

Unfair Park reports Club Clearview is done, over, shut down. I guess that is a little bit of a disappointment, but hey, when was the last time I was there? Like freaking 12 years ago? Deep Ellum has the problems, and this sure won't help.

Tom Waits on World Cafe

Haven't had a chance to listen to this yet, but here is Tom Waits' most recent performance on NPR's World Cafe. The setlist:

  • "Falling Down"

  • "Nirvana"

  • "Home I'll Never Be"

  • "Long Way Home"

  • "Army Ants"

  • "Tango Till They're Sore"

  • "Tom Traubert's Blues"

  • "Murder in the Red Barn"

  • "Trampled Rose"

  • "Bottom of the World"

  • "Falling Down" is one of my favorite all-time Waits song. "Nirvana" is one of my new favorite. Can't wait to listen.

    Flickr Fun

    Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
    Originally uploaded by andrewlmurphy.

    Found this photo of the Modern Art Museum and kind of liked it.

    I Don't Know How I Missed This

    Prada Marfa
    Originally uploaded by rkeys23_3.

    Evidently Prada Marfa has been around for over a year and I haven't heard about it. At first, I wasn't aware it wasn't the real deal. But, as everyone else is asking, where does art end and advertising begin?

    But what I like about it is it just doesn't make sense. Because of that, it's fantastic.

    Wednesday, January 03, 2007

    Mancrush Alert

    Vince Young is the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. Hook'em!

    As my wife once said, if Vince Young and Neko Case have a child, that child shall rule the world. Or at least my world.

    Remembering John

    I went to a funeral on Christmas Eve for my friend John Reuler. That's him and his wife of 61 years, Sunny, back in 1946.

    I've never been to a Jewish funeral, but according to the custom, John had to be buried the next day in a plain wood coffin. As I stood in the cold rain at the Temple Emanu-El Cemetery, I thought this was kind of odd because John wouldn't want his friends and family standing out in the rain. But the elegant simplicity of the service was very John. It was a true celebration of his life. I was thankful for the chance to stand in the rain to have a chance to say goodbye to a friend.

    John looked kind of like an elderly Robert DeNiro with a crooked smile and his pants hiked up practically to his armpits. That's John below in 1984. When you met him, he always treated you like a long lost friend, like you were just the person he had been waiting all day to see. Even though he was in his eighties, he still came to work every day at his little office down the hall. In theory, he was liquidating his real estate holdings. In reality, I think he just want something to do. He had suffered several strokes and falls, but he couldn't be kept down. He always recovered and came back. He was a tough guy.

    I used to help him with little things. Computers vexed him. Most of his software and hardware was 1980s vintage, but I would help him with little problems from time to time. Once he gave me a Tootsie Roll for fixing his printer. Another time we had to fix something on his Buick.

    Once every couple of months, we'd go to lunch at Luby's with his pal, Barney. I would try to get John to talk about himself, but to know avail. He graduated from West Point in 1945 and still had the diploma hanging on his office wall. "Don't look at that!" he said when I tried to steal a glance at it one day. I tried to get him to talk about his Heisman Trophy-winning classmates, Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis -- Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside. Or about his time flying B-24s and B-17s. But he didn't want to talk about it. Maybe it didn't interest him or his memory had faded. But he loved to talk about his wife, whom he called She Who Must Be Obeyed.

    Today, I did a bit of Googling and found John's West Point autobiography (it starts on page 385 of the PDF). Among other things I learned about John:

  • He lived in Switzerland as a child in the 1920s and attended French-speaking boarding schools. When he returned to the U.S., he had to repeat second grade because he could only read French.

  • He came from a prosperous family, but they lost everything in the Great Depression.

  • He also attended Duke University and the University of Minnesota before attending West Point and later studied nuclear engineering at the University of Chicago.

  • He was one of the 16-man honor guard for the funeral of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

  • While serving in Germany after the war, he was appointed Defense Counsel for a black enlisted man accused of murdering two white enlisted men. He was able to prove the man acted in self-defense and the board found in favor of the defendant.

  • What an amazing man. He was irrepressibly upbeat and always positive. As his West Point yearbook described him, "The possessor of a naturally friendly spirit towards others, John's inborn qualities have made lasting comrades of his many friends. His ability to analyze and solve any problem caused many of us to seek his counsel and advice. His personal problems were never too great for him to give his time to the helping of his brother cadets. This exemplifies John's typical unselfishness and love for his fellow men. To those of us who knew him and lived with him, John will always be a fine officer."

    I'm honored that I got to call John my friend. I'll miss him.

    Picture for the Day

    My brother-in-law sent this to me. Nice.

    Best of 2006

    So shoot me. I was laid out with the whatever-has-been-going around hacking and coughing for the past week and I didn’t get around to posting my top albums and songs for 2006.

    My problem with putting together these lists is this: half the stuff I want to put on the list is actually from 2005. And a lot of stuff is from 1995. Or 1985. I’m just running that far behind. And then there’s the stuff I never even get around to.

    Then there was the stuff I was disappointed in: like the Yo La Tengo and Medeski, Martin and Wood. But I won’t dwell on that.

    Here are my lists. But to bottomline it for you: It’s all about Neko.

    My Top 10 Songs
    1. Neko Case – “Hold On, Hold On”
    2. Gnarls Barkley – “Crazy”
    3. Cat Power – “The Greatest”
    4. Broken Social Scene – “Superconnected”
    5. Badly Drawn Boy – “Born in the UK”
    6. Tom Waits – “Nirvana”
    7. Camera Obscura – “Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken”
    8. The Decemberists – “O Valencia!”
    9. Rhett Miller – “The Believer”
    10. Asobi Seksu – “New Years”

    My Top 5 Albums
    1. Neko CaseFox Confessor Brings The Flood
    2. Badly Drawn BoyBorn in the UK
    3. Tom WaitsOrphans
    4. Broken Social SceneBroken Social Scene
    5. Rhett MillerThe Believer

    10 Albums I Wish I Had Listened To
    Stuff I’ve heard bits of and liked but didn’t get a listen in ’06:
    1. Bobby Bare Jr. The Longest Meow
    2. MidlakeTrials of Van Occupanther
    3. Band of HorsesEverything All the Time
    4. Bob DylanModern Times
    5. Gnarls BarkleySt. Elsewhere
    6. The Black AngelsPassover
    7. BeckThe Information
    8. MewAnd the glass handed kites
    9. M. WardPost War
    10. Josh RitterThe Animal Years