February 27, 2005
NYC Views

I would be remiss if I didn't add a few views from our recent trip to NYC:

Gates in the sun, Central Park.

In Chinatown we stumbled into a parade, complete with dancing dragons (not pictured), nonplussed cops (also not pictured), and flags.

And finally, in the realm of round baked goods, we were delighted to discover this toasted and buttered corn muffin at a local dining establishment. Nearly as good as a crumpet!

Posted at 11:15 AM
February 26, 2005

Has it really been 20 years for Teenbeat Records? Apparently so and all the kids are flocking to their anniversary show this weekend. This site has a report, music, and photos of the Unrest show. Hey, they did Suki*!

(*A song that made my radio partner's teeth grind every time I played it during our early '90s radio heyday.)

Posted at 06:10 PM
February 24, 2005
More Format Quandaries

A reader writes in followup to the previous post:

"Would you be willing to share where you PURCHASE indie downloads? I am thinking of publishing a few songs that I have. But I am unwilling to go the route of itunes or realplayer because of the costs."

First of all, wow! An actual discussion could start here. Second of all, my answer: At risk of bringing the RIAA down on me, the truth is I haven't purchased any. My MP3s have been acquired informally through friends or listservs or found on various labels' Web sites. MP3 blogs are a good source, too. I've nothing against Itunes but most of the things I like are often off the radar of such services.

This may not be much comfort to someone who is actually looking to sell music. But I am probably not their ideal target market anyway. I think of MP3s as a way to sample music without having to make a commitment. While my tastes are buried underground I am still very much in the traditional "try an MP3 but buy a CD" mindset. I still want to have that CD to add to the wall.

(Of course, I am lucky in that I can afford to buy a new CD if I want to. When I was a student, or unemployed, that wasn't the case. But then would I have been able to afford a computer or an IPod anyway? Hmm, chicken or egg?)

I admit this is not a very 21st century perspective (I still buy the newspaper, too). But as I've noted here before, I am a nut for format. I like THINGS. For me, an MP3 is still a little too intangible to pay for, as there's nothing to hold and a crash of the hard drive could render it inoperable.

Probably this is not the answer my correspondent was hoping for. Anyone else out there have any suggestions?

Posted at 06:47 PM
February 15, 2005
An Ipod of One's Own

Not so long ago, in this space, I wrote about my reluctance to abandon cassettes in favor of what all the kids are calling "new media." But the MP3 beckoned, thanks to listservs and MP3 blogs, and in 2004 I found myself with a burgeoning collection of digital music. I knew it was only a matter of time before I owned an Ipod and so, when one appeared at Christmas, I decided to give it a try.

I set a few ground rules for myself:
1. no white headphones; they seem too trendy and uncomfortable.
2. no comprehensive back-loading of every CD I ever owned; I'm saving my space for new things yet undiscovered.

How's it been going? So far, not bad. I have noticed the following things:

The Ipod is frighteningly fragile (I tend to drop things).
It is reasonably sensitive, but does not respond well when I am wearing mittens.
Its controls require more attention than I am used to giving while walking home, so I find myself nipping into doorways and storefronts, hunching over and clicking.
It takes time; I have to set aside an hour or so a week to "work on the Ipod."
It apparently can't go into a deep sleep or I will again encounter the dreaded "corrupt file" error (a Windows bug detailed here).

On the up side, I can now compete with E. for equal time in the car with the handy Itrip device that lets us listen in the car. I can play selected tunes again and again, obsessively (assuming I can reach the right button), without anyone catching on. The shuffle mode and the games are fun and the endless trainspotting of playlists is addictive.

That said...there is still ground rule number 3. Ground rule number 3 is that I hang on to my old media. The problem of what to do with 20 years' worth of cassettes and records isn't going away. I don't have the time or energy to transfer all that stuff to MP3s (although what a playlist that would be!). Yet sometimes the soundtrack of my life requires a song from 1994 or 1990 or earlier. And that's a call I must heed.

See, it's like this. In 1994 I visited Minneapolis for the first time. On a sunny September Saturday, knowing no one and having only a sketchy map of the city, I decided to take a walk. I ended up walking all day, and it was a day I'll never forget (and would do again in a minute, although this time I'd try not to forget to eat, an oversight that caused problems later). I had one particular mix tape with me and sometimes I just want to hear those songs again. So...shh. Don't tell my Ipod, but I took a cassette out today, and with Versus and Calvin Johnson and Hole, it was 1994 all over again.

Posted at 07:25 PM
February 13, 2005
They're Here

I haven't had much to say of late, but I would be remiss if I did not point to the new issue of Chickfactor, beloved and infrequent pop zine. It's Web-only and as usual, fun as well as educational. For instance, a quick glance at the cover photos teaches me that Joanna Newsom does not, in fact, look like the creepy medium from Poltergeist--she just sounds like her.

Posted at 04:56 PM
February 04, 2005

At last, fashion writing I can relate to. Of late I have been loving Lynn Yaeger's "Elements of Style" column in the Village Voice. Check out her "Fashion Resolutions for 2005" here.

We're going to dress even wackier in 2005, and you should too! Who needs another black skirt? Take it from us: The funnier you dress, the more fun you'll have.

I also enjoyed this column about one of my favorite NY neighborhoods, Nolita.

Posted at 06:41 AM