Friday, August 25, 2006

Ironic Moment

Friday afternoon in a cafe inside the headquarters of the International Monetary Fund. Groups of well-groomed men and women in business attire sit at tables, discussing global financial matters. In a corner near the coffee counter a boombox plays a song at low volume. It's Bob Marley, singing "Them belly full but we hungry"

Monday, August 21, 2006

Robyn Hitchcock on Syd Barrett

"I feel really sad about Syd´s death. I´d just got used to the idea that he´ d never do anything again - just sit there forever in Cambridge, being Roger. And with Syd a dwindling spectre in the distance, his host body Roger could potter about, this strange combination of old man and small child. The idea that he actually died is an incredibly decisive thing to do, for him; it´s the highest profile thing he´s done since 1972, although it wasn´t his idea.

I suppose I hoped, like a lot of people, that there´d be some kind of rekindling. Not that he´d write songs again, but maybe he´d give an interview - that there´d be some sort of glimpse of how he saw it all, before he went. But obviously there isn´t. That´s it. He´s taken his silence to the grave.

I think there was a struggle between "Syd" and "Roger". I know he didn´t like to be known as Syd. The people in the Floyd camp say he was upset by being reminded of what he´d been. He had this struggle because he was briefly a glamorous pop star, but he was also an avant-garde artist, and this was back in 1967. And I think he found the two incompatible. But I think he probably also blamed himself for not being able to hold onto it. He was very frustrated with himself, but you can´t really see into how he must have felt, at having been so creative and losing it. He did paint. I think he probably rebuilt himself to carry on where he´d left off as an art student. And I know he´d had fantasies about being a doctor because that´s what his father was. So I think he tried to rebuild a life, skirting around the crater of having been Syd Barrett. We´re all talking about "Syd Barrett", who really hasn´t existed since 1971. But behind that, there was this human who, however distorted things became, felt the emotions that produced that intense, beautiful, solitary music, which are still my three all-time favourite records. What I love about his work is that you can feel the person in there. He probably wasn´t capable of introspection; maybe that´s why he flipped out so badly. I´m one of the few who prefers the solo work. There´s a real honesty about it, in a world where so much is doctored and calculated and done for effect - even being a rock´n ´roll casualty. What Barrett produced, he couldn´t help producing. And when it had gone, he could do no more. There are a lot of people making records now who´ve been stars in the past, and their records aren´t bad. But they just don´t matter. I don´t think that Barrett ever made a record that didn´t matter.

Favourite track: "Wolfpack". Or "Rats", the angry child taking it out on himself."

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Earlier this month I spent over a week off the grid. No email, no web browsing. Didn't use a cell phone, didn't read a newspaper. Didn't even wear a watch. I hadn't really planned to unplug, it just felt like the right thing to do. For part of this time I was in the woods of Vermont, so a lot of my technology gear wasn't available. But for part of the time I was back home, in a place where I normally plug in and join the online world.

Having that time away made me realize how much time I devote to web things, and what rewards I get from them. I found that I was happier in my own head, or talking with Stereogab, than when I'm typing at the terminal. Because with the terminal, while there's always the possibility of connecting with other people, it often feels like I'm typing and posting in a vacuum.

Over the years I've posted MP3s of my music to various places. It's not satisfying; there's no sense of an audience. Music is the most immediate of the arts and isolating it on a web server (or, for that matter, on a CD even) devalues the experience.

I'm beginning to think that maybe the web, for all its community aspect (blogs, forums, etc), actually enforces our isolation. When was the last time you surfed the web with a friend sitting next to you?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Mike Tamburo and Larkin Grimm tour

August 25 kingston, ny alternative books (early show 6pm) August 27 syracuse, ny a cena
August 28 baltimore, md
August 29 washington dc the red and the black
August 30 new york, ny the lucky cat (with jesse sparhawk)
August 31 philadelphia, pa the compound
September 2 amherst, ma tba (with larkin grimm, niagara falls, mv/ee and bummer road, christina carter, max ochs and a bunch more)
September 3 chicago, il spare room gallery (with zelienople and kathleen baird)
September 4 iowa city, ia hall mall
September 5 omaha, ne tip top
September 8 san diego, ca the habitat
September 9 los angeles, ca il coral (with refrigerator mothers)
September 12 san francisco, ca the make out room (with sean smith)
September 13 bay area (help needed) tba
September 14 bay