Currently viewing the tag: "Townes Van Zandt"
  • everestI wrote a review of Everest for The Federalist. You should read it, because that’s almost a slant rhyme.
  • And I wrote some stuff at Antiwar.com. Don’t I always?
  • I read Felicia Day’s book, You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost). It was a very easy, but enjoyable read about her trials and tribulations. The strangely relatable bits for me — not having ever been on Buffy — were the part where she was homeschooled for secular reasons, and then had anxiety and a thyroid problem! (Sorry to put your thyroid problem with enthusiastic punctuation, Ms. Day, but I was excited.) The best bit really was where she writes that if she hadn’t been homeschooled (and she seems slightly less positive about it than I am, but still mixed in a real world sort of) she would not have this fearless weirdness. She might actually be better at maintaining friendships and being a normal human, but on that first day of school her desire to love whatever she loved would have been drained out of her thanks to what she calls the girls with bows in their hair. I get this. I am inclined to agree about myself. There are trade-offs in being weird and not having the obvious reference point of school. One of the perks (which in itself has trade-offs) is that it helps you become your own person (especially if your parents aren’t rigid.) Oh, and I think I am searching for my own version of The Guild. Unfortunately, my interests are not entirely unique (yes, the internet taught me that) but they are a bit more obscure than Warcraft.
  • This is a pessimistic look at libertarianism and libertarian movements that doesn’t feel like a hit piece or a (total) misreading of the philosophy. 
  • Austin Bragg of ReasonTV kind of already made a video that includes my gun control argument. Sigh.
  • It is not offensive to say that gun control is a boon for totalitarian societies. And in particular, Nazi Germany has a few examples of Jews with guns surviving and even fighting back. The Belarusian Bielski partisans are a great example of how firearms can help you survive, without even the confrontation of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (which…didn’t go that well, but it was also more of a suicide mission), much less the strawman of going up against the entire Germany Army. But Dr. Keith Ablow(hard) has written what can only be described as a victim blaming piece about the Jews under the Nazis. Additionally, he basically is letting the world that let six million Jews die off the hook because they didn’t fight back in an inspirational enough fashion.
  • First female photojournalist in Japan is 101, still kicking ass.  Hat tip to photographer friend Emily.
  • Cool piece on forgotten female journalist who broke the whole invasion of Poland news. Unfortunately, said piece refers to Martha Gellhorn and Clare Booth Luce in reference to their husbands. Ahem.
  • Started listening to Gilmore Guys podcast a little. It feels like it’s annoying, and then it’s entrancing.
  • Good Wired piece on the state of fandom, and how its pure enthusiasm (maybe) beat irony. I’ve never really been to a good, nerdy con, which is a sad thing.
  • BBC behind the scenes look at the latest “Doctor Who” and the cool, deaf actress they found for the part. I just wish the plot had been a little less…something. As a watcher of Switched at Birth, I tried to see a difference between British Sign and American, but I clearly can’t. I can sign my name, “baby”, and “thank you” in ASL, though, so I am a champ.
  • Oh, and via Ms. Julia, attorney at law, I found the podcast Criminal. I listened to one about a guy sent to a minimum security prison that also had a leper colony. No, really. Also it was the 1990s. 
  • Kitty Genovese: still much more complicated than just a metaphor for urban indifference and the bystander effect.
  • Townes Van Zandt was great. Here are some of his words on songwriting.  And here’s a whole bunch of people covering “White Freightliner Blues” on Austin City Limits in what can be argued is a way to upbeat manner. Still good times, if only because I cannot resist saloon pianer. Yet still an argument for diminishing returns.

If you’re ready — and only if you’re ready — you can watch Townes himself making an old man cry by singing “Waitin’ Around to Die”:

600full-joe-strummer6) Townes Van Zandt, Be Here to Love Me

Before I watched this thing, I knew “Pancho and Lefty” and Justin Townes Earle’s namesake, and that was about it. But this sad, sad, documentary that is a country song in itself went so well with my last Nashville adventure. S.T. and I perched in R.B.’s disaster of a music nerd bachelor apartment and sunk into the life of Townes.

The most memorable part, besides the quiet, woeful songs? Van Zandt’s son talking about how he learned his dad was dead. Switching across the stations one night, the son heard one of his dad’s song, which was rare. Then he heard another one and thought, oh, a two-fer, great. A third song followed and he knew something awful had happened.

Before S.T. and I watched this, and before we saw Old Crow Medicine Show that night for a WSM radio show, we had paid tribute to Townes by having a beer at The Gold Rush. There is a picture of the man himself above one of the bars. When S.T. and I went to take a photo, the middle-afged bartender began telling us perfect, tragic stories about how shit-faced Townes used to stagger home from the place. Sometimes he would leave his lyrics-covered napkins behind, and the bartenders would keep them for him. By telling us these raw, real tales of sorrow, the bartender managed to simultaneously puncture the unserious fun time impression of the country-drunk and enhance it one hundred-fold. All in all, it was a very Nashville moment.

Favorite Townes Van Zandt song (besides the one I put in Friday Afternoon links below):

Oh, and here’s the whole documentary on Youtube!

5) Tommy Jarrell, Sprout Wings and Fly

A group of us has rented a little house in Nashville — by us, I mean the collection of oddballs I met from internet Old Crow Medicine Show fandom, all of whom are at least 15 years older than I am — to see the group at the Ryman for the switch from 2010 to 2011. There was moonshine, black-eyed peas, collard greens, Prince’s Hot Chicken, and S.T. and J.K. busking their hearts out on the corners and side-streets off of Broadway. And when S.T. and J.K. practice their fiddle and guitar, it gets serious — even religious. During their practice at our (for the moment) little house, the DVD of Les Blank’s Sprout Wings and Fly was brought out. “Tommy” they called Jarrell. In their reverence, he needs no other name. I didn’t display my ignorance, but watched and tried to learn the appropriate lessons and display my old time piety.

Jarrell was an old school Appalachian fiddler, absolutely from another universe, even while Blank filmed him at the end of his life in the 1980s. It’s just one of those perfect folk moments in amber that makes one wish to be named Lomax. S.T. told me later that the story goes that Jarrell’s musician father learned “Poor Ellen Smith” from Peter Degraf himself as he sat in jail for the poor woman’s murder. That story is so America, that I hope never to confirm whether it is true or not.

Favorite Tommy Jarrell song:

Here’s the trailer for the documentary:

4) The Clash, Westway to the World

I don’t remember the first time I watched Westway to the World, but my 15th and 16th years saw the DVD nearly worn to splinters. It’s just the Clash talking, with archival footage. Headon is withered and still on heroin, Jones is all teeth and a bit of smarm, Simonon is still handsome and cheeky, and Strummer seems sweet, and sad, and regretful about his key part in fucking up the completely magical foursome had had going.

Favorite Clash song:

And the documentary:

3) Joe StrummerLet’s Rock Again!

Oh,  Let’s Rock Again! I waited breathlessly to watch, sobbed my eyes out when Strummer is passing out flyers to his own gig, or sitting on the sidewalk chatting with teens, or being hugged by hysterically joyful Japanese fans, and then I could never watch it again. The Clash I missed by miles, but if congenital heart defects and my lack of prodigious coolness hadn’t gotten in the way, I could have seen the Mescaleros, dammit. I missed it. I fucked up. I was late. But the whole documentary just makes you love Strummer’s humanity and his earnest, human optimism. (Which, knowing how he turned out, makes asshole, must be a punker, 1976 Strummer even more adorable.)

Favorite Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros song:

And the clip where Joe passes out flyers to his own show — contrived or not, I want to hug him real bad. Strummer was the most huggable of all the old punk rockers.

2) Simon and Garfunkel, Songs of America and The Concert in Central Park

The latter, a 1981 concert that made 12-year-old me infuriated that I had even missed that pale imitation of a folk reunion by six years of life — making the ’60s I yearned to visit seem farther away still. The former, though officially packaged with a shiny new version of Bridge Over Troubled Water a few years back, came to my eager hands as a grainy VHS from an internet friend (I “met” her in an MSN Paul Simon fans group. She also sent me a burned CD of a bootleg of the once-rare The Paul Simon Songbook). That tape was painfully wonderful — finally a glimpse of the duo at their peak, the thing I missed. The thing itself is pretty low-key, sometimes it lags, but there are some good concert scenes, and a particularly wonderful Simon and Garfunkel warming up bit.

Favorite Simon and Garfunkel song:

And Songs of America! (You God damned kids have no idea what it was like pre-Youtube. The dial-up days were dark indeed.)

And the Central Park one as well!

(I finally saw Simon and Garfunkel in 2004, though for most of my childhood I assumed it was impossible. I heard “The Only Living Boy in New York” and “Suspect Device” that year. Seventeen was a good musical year.)

1) Talking Heads, Stop Making Sense

This, for the distinctive memory of my father rushing home from work one day, piece of mail in hand, and how he popped in his brand new VHS of the flawless Talking Heads doing their thing. He and mom were actually there for one of the nights the concert was made from. Though they were a very New York City band, my parents in LA in 1984 watching David Byrne in his great big suit, dancing with a lamp, makes them seem very California, and very familiar in a way — as if they helped raise me. And the concert is as wonderful as everyone says — its slow build from David Byrne playing “Psycho Killer” all alone to the full, wild stage and incomprehensible energy. It’s perfect, and it’s strange, and it’s my parents being cool and before my time.

Favorite Talking Heads song:

And —

— David Byrne and that lamp.

  • I also have this sweet new graphic.Taking full advantage of Eric Garris and Justin Raimondo’s genrous “write about whatever the hell you want” spirit, I wrote an anti-death penalty piece for Antiwar.com. It was originally supposed to have a bit stronger of a tie with war stuff, but that got away from me, Nevertheless, I don’t think it turned out so bad. Certainly not as bad as the commenters of Antiwar thought. Whoo boy.
  • Radley Balko wrote an excellent piece about why conservatives should be opposed to the death penalty. It’s like a way better version of my very first Reason piece back in the day.
  • Over at the Daily Caller, Chris Morgan wrote a very biting piece on how America’s death penalty is how you know it’s a great country.
  • And if you have never read it, I highly recommend checking out the New Yorker piece on the tragedy of Cameron Todd Willingham, executed for killing his three children by burning down his own house. At this point, we can safely say he didn’t do it. (No matter how chill Rick Perry gets about weed — because it’s now trendy — he’s got Willingham’s blood on his hands, if nothing else.)
  • Also, Balko has a further point:

Quite.

  • I wrote another thing, for Rare, about a handful of the creepy, anti-homeless measures passed in various states and cities across the US, as well as liberals’ commendable dislike of these measures, and their frustrating inability to take that to its proper conclusion.
  • Politico mag surveyed the White House Press Corps, and I am not impressed.
  • Hashtagnerdprom is coming up! That makes it the perfect time to read my tale of attending the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2012. My one regret is that I let the one Denver Post dude shame me into standing for a hot minute. I did not clap, at least. In fact, I have not clapped for Obama AND Bush. How bipartisan am I?!
  • Mediaite ed-in-chief/friend Andrew Kirell is sassy and mocks some of the morons of Sean Hannity’s weed panel (biggest panel ever, am I right?). I share Kirell’s delight in the fact that several panelists laugh in Todd Starnes’ face when he starts hand-writing about morality and weed overdoses, or something.
  • I recently watched this entire video, because I adore Tavi Gevinson. It’s basically turtles all the way down, because liking Tavi Gevinson is sort of mainstream, but borderline hipster danger territory. But as Ms. Gevinson has mused on often, over-thinking about whether what you like is what you like because you like it gets boring after a while. Gevinson is great, because she is all about the things you love being a kind of totem to hold tight to when the world gets a bit dodgy. And being a cool teen herself, she helped me accept that I am listening to Townes van Zandt right now, I listened to Taylor Swift yesterday, and it’s going to be okay. It will be.

  • Speaking of which:

(No, I am not emotionally prepared to share which Taylor Swift songs I enjoy. Give me time, people. Give me time.)