Friday, June 28, 2002

Mention Me! XIV
My boss just told me to go home, but here's one last tidbit. I've been drawn into a discussion over at the Atlantic Unbound -- Post & Riposte -- which amuses me because the Atlantic is located two floors above me and I've never once stopped by their discussion area. Even though I used to hang out with Wen, Unbound's former editor.

In any event, there's a bunch of David Eggers fans, young writers, and journal publishers -- including one of the folks involved in Pindeldyboz -- and they were recently discussing one of my recent Media Diet posts about Dan Zevin. Long story short, they're good people. Fine, upstanding people. And discussion wavers between the chatty and the in depth.

Some hip lit-related sites recommended by these people include Tatlin's Tower, Opium Magazine, Surgery of Modern Warfare, and Eyeshot. I have yet to dig deeply into those resources, but I have vetted, aided, and abetted Zulkey, which I recently added to my Media Morsels.

OK. Time to go home. On the agenda: show, party, weekend. See you Monday.
Off the Shelf III
That might not be the most appropriate headline, but so far, all of the Off the Shelf entries have mentioned Steve Portigal, so here's to tradition!

Steve recently emailed me commenting on Media Diet and his blog -- even comparing me to Wil Wheaton, whom, I admit, I might look like -- but more importantly, he turned me on to the Boombox Museum.

Kickin' it old school, as they say, the museum outlines the history of the humble ghetto blaster from 1976-1989, dividing the narrative into three periods: the birth, the golden age, and the decline and fall. The images in the 1976-1981 section are the most interesting, but the golden age, which covered 1981-1985, touches on the role boomboxes played in early hip-hop and breakdancing culture -- and warrants the most coverage. (The Fat Boys and LL Cool J are featured prominently.) Finally, the decline and fall pages show how product design changes followed changes in functionality -- almost every boombox manufacturer chased the ghetto blaster and portable stereo markets simultaneously with awkward hybrid products coupling Walkman-like devices with boomboxes. This is where I came in. I had the Sears LXI as a teenager.

The Boombox Museum is slightly misleading, as it's one of many only exhibitions organized by the Pocket Calculator Show -- which also curates online exhibits of digital watches and Walkmans. Good to hear from you again, Steve! Welcome back from Japan.
Party to Record Releases VI
Back to the books, folks. Top Shelf Productions offers a monthly email newsletter entitled This Month @ Top Shelf. The most recent transmission includes information about Doug TanNapel's new graphic novel Creature Tech and a brief bit on another Top Shelf book currently solicited in Previews. It's a slim edition, but it's a good list to be on -- email Chris Staros to request a subscription. Good people at Top Shelf, yup yep yup!
Rock Shows of Note XXVII
The following report was previously posted Jan. 7, 2002, in the Media Diet discussion forum, which will be deactivated shortly.

So. I walked past the Clairvoyants/Denali show Friday night, and the Middle East Upstairs line area was packed, so I didn't venture in. And, like a dope, I walked home past TT's without going in -- not knowing until later that Just Like Them features former members of the Cretins, a wonderful Boston-area pop punk band.

But I did catch some other good music this weekend. 30 minutes too late to catch Moment -- a fine new band with a CD on Espo -- I caught a set by heavy-metal wunderkinds There at the Middle East Up. This is unabashed, shameless fun metal the way it was meant to be played. \m/ 's all around, a hulking, bearded lead singer, and loads of wanky solos. But not at all ironic. Appreciative. There are the heralds of the New Wave of Boston Heavy Metal!

And last night, at the Washington Street Art Center in Somerville, I caught three musical groups: Sinkcharmer (featuring Paul and Jen from the Operators with Jef from the Anchormen and the Tardy), Red Telephone (which played rather straight-forward college indie rock), and Ad Frank -- who wowed with his Bee Gees-styled vocals, swagger-meets-simper stage presence, and solid song writing. I'm not sure, but he might be the guy I used to see dancing up by the DJ's during Mod Night in Allston. If it is, he's come a looong way.

The latter two acts -- Red Telephone and Ad Frank -- have a residency at Charlie's Kitchen every Monday night this week. In fact, they're playing there tonight. I'm tempted to go. (1) Because Red Telephone said they're usually more "bad ass," and I wasn't that impressed by their scaled down set at the Center, and (2) because Jef says Ad's usually all hyperactive, herky jerky, and new wave when he plays. He wasn't that hyper last night.

Anyhoo: Sinkcharmer play list!

  • Rubber Legs
  • Down $2
  • Poison Arrow
  • As Nevada
  • Dusk
  • Half Life
  • Hole So Deep
  • Last Dance
  • Henry Hudson (slow)
  • Wisdom Tooth

    Rumor is that Henry Hudson was Paul's attempt to write an Anchormen song. I especially liked Half Life -- or Hole So Deep -- I forget which one was the hyperactive number with the yell-along chorus.
  • Humor Me V
    The following magazinedex was previously posted Dec. 18, 2001, in the Media Diet discussion forum, which will be deactivated shortly.

    Blast #2, May 1971, G&D Publications, NYC, NY (bimonthly, 40 cents)

    Editorial Tyrant: Al Forman
    Publishing Bigshot: Howard Reed

    Cover: Mike Kaluta image of the Statue of Liberty holding a burning bra and a tablet marked "Liberty or Death." Cover lines: Youthful Satire! Adult Humor! Pubescent Sex!; Fem Lib: Freedom Fighters or Crazies; Other Gross Things in This Issue: TV Shows, School Daze, Boobarella, Swinging Encounter Group, Mod Comix, Up the Military, Sportscast Records, Fetish Magazine, Personality Analysis, and Much More...

    p.5 Fem-Lib w/Bob Smolin, d/Mike Kaluta... pointless assortment of women's liberation movement jokes

    p. 11 Blotz w/d Nick Cuti... Rorschach test-inspired gag strips addressing sexism, politics, Greenwich Village, psychiatry, and psychedelia

    p. 12 Preview of New TV Shows w/ Mel Campbell, d/ Bob Jenney... fantasy TV line-up sporting "The Yuck Lawyers," "The Partridge Fumbly," "The Most Deadly Show," and "Head Acher." Targets include Shirley Jones, Don Knotts, and Rod Serling

    p. 16 School Daze with C-Minus Seymour w/d Marvin Myers... series of six comic strips pouncing on computer dating, the French horn, scientists, and long hair

    p. 18 Boobarella w/ Mel Campbell, d/ Jim Mooney... parody of Barbarells featuring spoofs of nudity, Flash Gordon, and Mao Tse Tung

    p. 23 Analyzing Your Personality w/ Bob Smolin, d/ Bob Jenney... personality analysis test knocking on Sophia Loren, the Black Panthers, the library, and Cuba

    p. 26 Swinging Encounter Group Unltd. d/ Mike Kaluta... center spread taking on orgies, fetishes, women's lib, vocabulary, and halitosis

    p. 28 Mod Comix w/d Chuck McNaughton... comic-strip parodies aping Little Orphan Annie, Lil' Abner, Blonde, Peanuts, and Archie commenting on women's lib, drugs, homosexuality, Charles Manson, and dodging the draft

    p. 34 Up the Military-Industrial Complex w/d Rodrigues (uncredited in masthead)... five gag strips making fun of rank, uniform, and pacifism

    p. 36 Moon Child w/d Nicola Cuti... a "pixie created in the void of outer space" encounters a Snappy Answers for Stupid Questions-inspired computer that refuses to fix her watch. Best of Issue

    p. 39 World Newsfronts d/ UPI Photos... wire-photo fumetti jabbing Charlie McCarthy and John Wayne. Not as funny as Cracked's photo funnies

    p. 40 The Sportscaster w/ M.A. Conley, d/ Alan Weiss... athletic events TV broadcast parody tackling cheerleaders, half-time shows, and statistics

    p. 43 What's Real w/d John Stearns... four gag strips featuring... oh, nothing

    p. 44 Off the Record w/ Suzanne Douglass, d/ Stan Goldberg... Archie-styled two-pager taking on Top 40 radio programming

    p. 47 Fetish Magazine w/ Marv Wolfman, d/ Bob Jenney... "the magazine for the sophisticated pervert" undresses correspondence course ads, fetish gear ads, letter columns, and the Olympics

    p. 52 The Sentry w/d Stu Schwartzberg... ugly Americans get theirs

    Ads: house ad p. 4, Ace Books p. 46
    Extras: Stang credits p. 28 and 44... Stan Goldberg?

    Marginalia: Go to work if you're too nervous to steal; Draft Gloria Steinem; The Lord is an Indian giver; Books are better than ever; Viet Nam is the national Edsel; Clark Kent is a transvestite; Support free enterprise -- support prostitution; If the rich could hire people to die for them, the poor could make a wonderful living; Instant cures for varicose veins -- long dresses; Be an Arab hero -- kidnap a child
    Technofetishism VII
    Work has declined to get me a new laptop to replace the hand-me-down I've been using for the last few years, and I'm currently stuck using another hand-me-down -- one that doesn't crash as frequently, granted, but one that also smelled like suntan lotion when I first got it. Suntan lotion?

    To assuage my concerns about working on unstable hand-me-downs that are several years old -- I haven't had worked on a new computer since I started working at Fast Company, always hand-me-downs -- and preparing for that day in the far distant future when I may leave the magazine to go out on my own or do something else, I've decided to bite the bullet and get my own Titanium PowerBook G4.

    With the help of a couple of friends and Media Dieticians, I decided not to go top of the line, but instead started at the bottom and upgraded a little. I ended up ordering:

  • 667 MHz
  • 512 MB SDRAM -- 2 SO DIMMs
  • 40 GB hard drive
  • AirPort card
  • AirPort base station

    Pretty jazzed. Now I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for warchalk marks.
  • Co-Op 'n' Roll
    There's Handstand Command, the energetic yet disorganized music collective that the Anchormen are involved in, and then there's Initech, the rock 'n' roll cooperative recently profiled by the Boston Globe.

    Comprising five local record labels, a marketing firm, and a booking agency, Initech shares office space, Net access, and office supplies -- arguably the first indie-rock incubator. While I'm really only familiar with Big Wheel Recreation's roster and operations (my friend Tom used to work there), I'm impressed by Initech's collaboration, concept, and shared services. A model worth exploring!
    Party to Record Releases V
    Squealer Music launched in 1992 in Blacksburg, Virginia, but not too long ago moved to Cambridge, where it now holds down the fort. Comprising a creative and progressive rock and jazz roster including Acid Mothers Temple, Gold Sparkle Band, the Major Stars, Spatula, and Tower Recordings, the label is one of the most consistently excellent labels I know of that got its start as a tape label. And their Squealer Music News emails, transmitted via the label's announcement list, are no exception. The June 28 edition features news on the Major Stars' new record, recent reviews, and tour; recent developments with Heathen Shame and Double Leopards; information about Acid Mother Temple's hiatus; and other material. The newsletter balances label-centric promotional information with in-depth review and description, as well as rosters of who the musicians in each project are and what they've been involved in previously.

    Thursday, June 27, 2002

    Doctor, Steal Thyself III
    As in "steal yourself to go to the doctor," not "Doctor, steal something!" this time. I just got back from the Massachusetts General Hospital's downtown office, where I had my first physical in, um, about seven years. Since going to college, I've not really had a doctor to call my own, and I might have found him. We did the whole nine yards: family history, pre-existing conditions, blood pressure (120/80), temperature, ear check, eye check, hearing check -- a cool test where he put a tuning fork against my forehead and behind my ear to see how my skull conducted sound (I'm a little worried about hearing because of all the shows I go to) -- turn and cough, and a blood test for diabetes and cholesterol.

    Because it's been so long since I've gone to a doctor, I was slightly concerned that my slight nervousness would result in a racing pulse or problems while drawing blood, but no worries. In fact, the blood test was pretty cool. They have these little butterfly needles now that slide right in -- no puncture pressure, no pinching -- and it took no time at all to draw the vials of blood they needed for the tests. I walked back to the office with a bit of gauze and a Band-Aid on my vein and treated myself to a Mrs. Field's semisweet chocolate chip cookie and carton of skim milk on my way as a reward for a job well done.

    Back on the healthcare track!
    Among the Literati IX
    Went to a reading last night at Wordsworth to see Sandra Tsing Loh, author of A Year in Van Nuys, and Dan Zevin, author of The Day I Turned Uncool: Confessions of a Reluctant Grown-Up. I sat a row ahead of a bunch of Dan's friends, and having just read the book the night before, I was really looking forward to his reading.

    Loh read first. She and Levin are commentators for NPR, and it showed -- both were extremely comfortable reading. Of the two, Loh was more animated, gesturing wildly and modulating her volume and tone radically throughout the reading. At times, she was overly dramatic, but the snippet she shared from her new novel about life in Van Nuys might push me over the edge to pick up the book. It's kind of a take on Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence and tells the tale of a writer with writer's block stuck in a place she'd rather not be. Lots of funny tangents.

    Then, Zevin. Before the reading, he distributed a questionnaire about the days people in the audience had felt most cool or uncool -- and he incorporated the crowd response at the end, giving a package of coyote urine -- a gardening aid -- to the person whose entry was the best. I don't have the book with me at work, but Zevin read two pieces: the one about lawn care and the one about his semester abroad. He stuck to the text for the most part but interjected with several clever asides and contextual tangents, even clarifying some of the neighborhood landmarks he'd included in the book -- and pointing out people in the audience who were in the book as characters, or who had had some impact on the writing (like the person who introduced him to the "zen" contractor).

    Of the two, I felt like Zevin was more personable and sincere -- maybe it's an East Coast/West Coast thing. And, as always, I wish I hadn't read the book before the reading. It's always best to hear readings fresh. Otherwise, you've already read it, and you're listening for variations and deviations. Zevin's selective edits of the semester abroad piece were well chosen, and for the most part, the reading augmented my experience with the book. Kudos to both!
    North End Moment XXII
    In the elevator coming back from lunch after navigating my way past a couple of Gentle Giant movers struggling with a file cabinet:

    Woman: I just got smashed by a giant!
    Me: Not so gentle, are they?
    Woman: No.
    Mention Me! XIII
    The Adventures of Soopa Pig recently added a link to Media Diet. Michael Lally says I'm "behind Fast Company magazine." Actually, I just watch its back.
    Today Is Media Diet's Birthday
    Exactly one year ago today, Media Diet began. It's been an awesome blogging year, and I look forward to the next 365 days. I have no idea how many entries I've published since Media Diet's launch, but since February, when I added the counter, we've had almost 10,000 unique visitors. Wow. Folks from as far away as Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Poland, and Singapore come by regularly. Thank you all for your support and attention!

    So, to celebrate Media Diet's birthday, do something nice for yourselves today. Buy some flowers. Go for a walk. Eat some cashews. Write your parents a letter. Smell the sea air. Stand on a fire escape. Tell someone you love them. Take your bike in for repair. Donate some unused clothing to Goodwill. Chase a squirrel. Sit on a bench and read. Watch the clouds.

    Also, if you blog, take a moment to email all of the people whose blogs you visit regularly -- or link to on your site -- and thank them for what they do. Tell 'em that you stop by every day, that you appreciate their work, and what you enjoy about their blog. Don't tell 'em you link to 'em. Don't ask 'em for a link back. Just express your appreciation and spread some blog love. Chances are they'll appreciate it.

    Obligatory thank you list: Evan Williams for getting my blog thoughts rolling, Jon Ferguson and Cardhouse for being my host with the most, the Media Dieticians who've signed up for the mailing list, Fast Company and Suicide Girls for spiking my daily traffic like nothing else when they linked to me, Charlie Park for being my first blogfriend to give me a ride somewhere, Halley Suitt for actually coming by my office and leaving a note in my mailbox (I still owe you lunch), everyone who's sent something in for review, everyone who's taken my constructive criticism well, and, well, you.

    You are what you read. And what you see. And what you hear. I am Heath. Who are you?


    In other news, James Stegall is 27 today. 27 on the 27th. Happy birthday, James!

    Wednesday, June 26, 2002

    North End Moment XXI
    The front doors and lobby to our building are taped off because of construction. I came in the back door this morning, so I didn't see what was actually being constructed, so I had to ask our building manager.

    Me: What's the construction? I came in the back door and didn't see it.
    Building Manager: They're, uh, they're repairing the sidewalk out front.
    Me: Putting in a new sidewalk?
    Building Manager: Yeah.
    Me: Oh, I thought they might be putting in another freight elevator. (Gesturing to the beautiful, now-empty, wrought-iron elevator shaft that serves as a skylight.)
    Building Manager: (Looking up.) Oh, that'd be a big job.

    Penciled on the official notice posted in the elevator: "Hello now go away."


    While waiting for my turkey and boursin cheese sandwich to be prepared this noon at Prince Pantry, I complimented the owner on yesterday's prosciutto sandwich.

    Owner: Oh, that's Mr. Thai's doing. He's a really good cook.
    Me: He is. I just started coming here, and everything's really good.
    Mr. Thai: You know Yan Can Cook on the TV? He's my brother!
    Owner: You know Iron Chef? Mr. Thai's the Titanium Chef!
    Me: At least he's not the Aluminum Chef.
    Owner: Oh, then we'd all be in trouble.

    For regular lunch updates, visit Lunch Is Fun.
    Nervy, Pervy VII
    The fine folks over at Suicide Girls rate a mention in a Wired News article about the new wave of "stylish subculture sites ... putting a new face on porn." Including SG in a roundup of sites that also comprises Supercult, FrictionUSA, and Raveporn, Jess Barron gives most of the piece's electrons to SG, focusing on the site's online community aspects, the empowering nature of its photography, and why so many straight women subscribe -- more than 50% of SG's members are female.

    Barron also mentions an SG-related LiveJournal called goth.punk.raver.nude. It's good to see SG gleaning more ink and electrons -- and it's good to see people taking the message to the masses. Right on, Missy, O, and Spooky!

    Tuesday, June 25, 2002

    From the Reading Pile XI
    I don't know if I trust Media Diet's search tools, so who knows whether the entry numbers associated with the standing headlines and content categories I made up mean anything. Regardless, here's another batch of zine and comics reviews. Lucky seven this time!

    Discontent #12 (early 2002)
    Katherine Innis recently turned 30, echoing some of the angst that I experienced when I turned 29 and recounting how she continues to hold onto the patterns of her youth. She considers -- as I did not too long ago -- her habits and rituals, and admits that she has started checking people's ring fingers -- which I also do now. Good to know I'm not alone in the zinemaking world! She also lusts after real estate. I think I'm in love. Rob shares some favorite footnotes out of context, name drops Philip Larkin, and shares an affinity for Vladimir Nabokov and Hunter S. Thompson. There are winter drink recipes, photos from a concrete playground, reviews of the unauthorized biographies of Star Wars star Ewan McGregor (which reveal his penchant for profanity and his bloodline, which includes the actor who played Wedge Antilles in the original Star Wars), and a found-text rider contract. Discontent is slim but shines brightly. Can't ask for much more four times a year. Katherine Innis, P.O. Box 24, Brattleboro, VT 05302.

    Ben Jones handed this 56-page self-published comic to me at the Picnic and said, "My whole life has been aiming to this," or something to that effect. Reading back to front, right to left, this comic, which sports a comic featuring the Popples, is supposedly not a "stoned comic." "Could I do this?" Ben asks before drawing a wild-style icon. "Does this pen work?" It works. The book contains one- to six-page strips, as well as Sharpie-drawn sketchbook pages that feature most of Ben's popcult icons: DJ's, ponies, musicians, Gumby, Tux Dog (a welcome newcomer!), breakdancing, an angry Alfe, Bart Simpson, cloud and balloon lettering, and several new road-tripping pals I hope to see again. While I'm not sure whether this is the magnum opus Ben was going for, I'm impressed -- several of these short pieces have promise as longer parts, and I hope Ben tries the longer form again soon. Paper Radio.

    Hickee #3
    Another brilliant anthology from Graham Annable and friends. There are the usual hits and misses, but the hits hit hard, so the misses don't really matter. Graham contributes several installations of "Movie Night," one with Joe White (who depicts animals in a delightful Greg Cook style), offering more detailed and mature work when compared to his usual Sam Henderson-esque fare. Nathan Stapley's "Human Monkey" made me laugh out loud. Vamberto Maduro's angular linear designs were consistently pleasing. David Bogan shared a Tim Burton-infused morality tale. Joe White's "The Bear" made for a nice piece of homosexual apologetica. And Paul Brown's "Baby Money" made me laugh out loud again, while his "Blind Date" made me smirk. Room for improvement in this already impressive project? David Soren's "Mr. Chuckles Takes a Bath," while clever, felt overly animated in its cartoonishness and served up more near-gay apologetica. Bill Buzardi's "Tick" reminded me of Jeff Nicholson's Ultra Klutz but was overly sketchy and oblique. And Vicken Maulian, even if he is Razmig's younger brother, didn't really belong -- yet. On the whole, solid, and well worth $5 for 60 pages. Kudos again to Graham. Graham Annable.

    A 34-page field guide to computer and computer-generated icons relating to thought, storage, art, self, presence, and personality. The icons appear to be primarily Mac-based and -influenced, and the descriptive text is written in an overly academic, pomo, art-critic style, touching on the images' composition, coloring, and connotation. The icons are held up as fine art and described appropriately, and the overall effect is oddly affectionate. "The Trial" and "Family Portrait" are wonderful, and the entire Self sequence, which comprises seven images, is ecstatically existential. "Not Home" and "Conference" are among the most emotive. "Are you the signifier? Are you the signified? Does it matter?" A brilliant bit of technological transparency and truth telling. $2 to Ben Balas.

    If God Were to Whisper
    A screenprinted cover adorns this Ben Jones-gifted collection of almost poems. The writing hinges on religion, meaning, confusion, love, faith, and hip hop. The "Managerial Fun Facts, to Live by..." page is important, as is the last page, handwritten as a freestyle rhyme. But otherwise? More miss than hit. I'd rather see the handwritten brainstorming pages, as uneven as they may be. Paper Radio.

    Return to Normal
    James Sturm's dark look at the reactions to 911 draws heavily on Byron Barton's children's book Airport. These six black-and-white images (covering 12 pages) carry the calamity of the day, as well as the civil rights concerns of Arab Americans and the people targeted because of the tragedies. The piece on p. 7 is particularly moving. This slim edition shows that James has moved far beyond Cereal Killings, as good as it was. It also shows that James should produce widely available work more frequently and that a 911-related book can be tasteful and telling. This mini beats the bank compared to the other 911 books that have come out, even Alternative Press'. Not sure how to get this one, but try Drawn & Quarterly.

    Typewriter #5
    Talk about fucking shit up instead of following function! This edition of David Youngblood's anthology is freaking brilliant. With a tuck and fold binding strip, the comic accordions out to pages roughly half of 11-by-17, with some pices running up to eight of these pages. And, oh, the pieces! Graham Annable's "Madora" carries the call of lost love. Chris Wright's "Burning Corpse," "Tide," and "Asposded" installations are an excellent Lewis Trondheim-inspired look at lost love and life. Michael Bonfiglio's "Shake Bones Group" reminds me of Greg Cook by way of Dame Darcy. Jonathan T. Russell's trying to be Jessica Abel too hard. Ron Rege, Jr., does his unparalleled cute brut thing. Youngblood's "Baby Grumpus" doesn't deserve eight pages, even if he did edit the thing. And Carrie Golus and Patrick Welch (who had a great comics journalism piece in the May 16 edition of New City) offer 23 Abel-meets-Jeff Zenick views of the Uptown Theatre, which don't quite deserve six pages despite their worthy look at lost history. Despite the occasional editorial largesse, Typewriter remains an innovatively constructed and creatively compiled anthology. Someone ask Youngblood to edit the next SPX anthology! David Youngblood, Typewriter.
    Ravaging Radio V
    I know I'm late to report this -- that's not really what Media Diet does -- but CARP passed last week. Which means that Net radio is effectively dead. Passed away. A participant in the Nettime mailing list recently distributed an interview with the fine folks at Dublab about how CARP's passing affects them -- and the future of Net radio.
    Happy Birthday to Media Dieticians IV
    In exactly two days, on June 27, Media Diet will officially turn 1 year old. I've been blogging for a year now, and even though I was late to the party, I feel quite a bit of pride in that milestone. Time for me to start thinking about the first edition of the Media Diet print journal, eh?

    Do something nice for yourselves Thursday, won't you? You people keep me going.
    Comics and Conversation II
    MediaBistro features an interesting interview with The New Yorker and Fast Company regular Roz Chast this week. She talks about nervousness, Charles Addams, the cartoon submission process at The New Yorker, and the role of humor after 911.
    Ditherati Down!
    Per the list of links over to the right, Ditherati is one of my daily reads. This morning, when I stopped by to see who said what, I saw the following:



    Indeed. ?????
    From the In Box: Among the Literati VIII
    What did you mean, anyway? -- Joe Germuska

    I'm not sure if this'll make sense, but here goes. As cool as Eggers and the people surrounding him -- or supported and promoted by him -- are, being part of that group shouldn't be the goal of all cool, young literati. Then we'd only have one in crowd, one tribe of solid young writers. I'm not necessarily suggesting that folks should organize their own groups in response -- as attractive as a McSweeney's like web of connections might be -- but it's not an Eggers/not-Eggers world, and most folks seem to aspire to be on the Eggers side these days. Perhaps understandably so.

    Basically, I'd rather see more good journals like 3rd Bed, the American Journal of Print, Fence, Pindeldyboz, Sweet Fancy Moses, etc. sprouting up all over -- many inspired by McSweeney's, sure, but many not -- and there's room for more than one outlet for amazing new writing. We're already seeing quite a bit of overlap among the contributors. Let the web of connections continue to grow, I say -- Eggers is a strong node in that literary network, but not everyone needs to be closely aligned with him. Yet it seems that everyone -- again, perhaps understandably -- wants to be his best friend.

    Not that I say all of the above thinking there's some sort of McSweeney's monopoly. There isn't. But there's also a lot of room in which people can do their own thing their own way -- and still reach the kind of readers attracted to Eggers and Eggers-related projects.

    Monday, June 24, 2002

    Among the Literati VIII
    I met Dan Zevin, author of The Day I Turned Uncool at the 71 Sunbeam show this past Friday. Not only was he recently profiled in the Boston Phoenix, he's giving a reading this week Wednesday, June 26, at Wordsworth on Harvard Square in Cambridge. I'll be there, if not just to explain to him what I meant when I said he shouldn't try too hard to get in on the McSweeney's/Eggers in crowd.

    7 p.m. ET if you're in the area.
    Workaday World II
    Today hasn't been the most productive day. One, I went to the dentist. Even though I was three months overdue, I had no cavities, and the hygienist informed me that my tissues were in good shape. Score.

    Two, I moved offices. Still on the same floor of the Scotch & Sirloin building in FCHQ, but in a totally different corner -- and now with a window. Check this out:

    The task of Amontillado

    Room worth a view

    I've sat in the same chair in the same office in the same corner since July 1997, never once thinking of moving. Right now, as I sit in my still-cluttered new digs, I'm glad to have made the change.
    The Movie I Watched Last Night XXIII
    Logan's Run
    I think a lot of the angst and existential malaise I've been feeling for the last six-plus months stems from the fact that I turn 30 next year. Call it a mid-midlife crisis if you will. But, sheesh, my problems are nothing compared to the problems faced by the folks in Logan's Run. You see, in the movie's future authoritarian utopia following an apocalypse caused by overpopulation and pollution, when you turn 30, you die. Well, you're killed. In one of two ways. Either, you seek "renewal" in a bizarre aerial acrobatic ceremony, or you try to run for Sanctuary, a legendary haven for people who don't want to die at age 30. Thing is, Sanctuary isn't all it's cracked up to be, and Logan -- originally assigned to seek it out to destroy it -- returns to share the message... and the opportunities offered by the outside world (which has surprisingly well recovered by the supposed pollution and overpopulation). Some of the best parts of the movie take place outside the walled city, where Logan and his love interest discover a post-apocalyptic Washington, DC, complete with vegetation overgrown National Mall, Lincoln Memorial, and cat-infested library -- where they encounter Peter Ustinov's wonderful character Ballard, or Old Man. While I didn't totally dig the for-the-time progressive special effects and holography, I thought that Roscoe Lee's robot character Box was extremely poorly done. Regardless, take a little Soylent Green, stir in some Planet of the Apes, add a dash of The Running Man, subtract Charlton Heston, and you've basically got Logan's Run. Brilliant.
    Rock Shows of Note XXVI
    Ended a two-week rock 'n' roll and social bender Friday night at the CD release party for 71 Sunbeam. As soon as I walked in the door at TT's, Jeremy asked if I'd work the merch table during their set. So much for seeing the band! (Just kidding; I love working merch.) I hung out with Ariel and Dan (the latter of the Jack McCoys, who have a new record to be released soon) for a bit before sequestering myself behind the table. As Neil and the gang took the stage, I "met" Tammy Ealom from Dressy Bessy, which was also playing, as she dragged their merch table over next to ours. We made a happy little merch corner.

    From what I could tell, 71 Sunbeam did well. They added an interesting psych edge to their usual emo/alt.rock flair, and Neil's singing sounded clearer and more intense than normal. Wish I could've been up front (ahem). A good, powerful performance for a CD release party. Kudos -- and congrats! Next up, a solo act featuring a guy and his guitar performing under the name Sea Navy. Turns out that Sea Navy might be an Ivory Coast side project that the band uses to test new material. Regardless of whether that's true, it struck me as a harder-edged pop-rock Neil Halstead, only without the country twang. Interesting, but not totally my thing. He brought out a drummer for the last couple songs, and that added a lot to the overall sound and energy. Rock duos are almost always better than rock solo performers.

    Mmm, Dressy Bessy. I haven't suffered from a band crush for a long, long time, but that Tammy sure is something. We hardly talked at all, and I was too shy to go over and say anything when she was hanging out over at a side table by herself. But her bandmate John was really nice (thanks for the cigarettes!), and the guy who worked the merch table most of the time was cool enough, so she seems to be in good company. She's certainly in a good band. Dressy Bessy specializes in slightly riot grrl-inspired garage pop with sweet-as-sugar vocals and loads of spazzy energy. Fun, fun, fun. I need to get some records. It also turns out that the band is loosely affiliated with the Elephant 6 collective -- and shares at least one member with Apples in Stereo. Yay, Dressy Bessy. I came to see 71 Sunbeam and left needing to see Dressy Bessy again.

    Lastly, there was the Fly Seville, a pop-rock band previously based in Providence. From where I sat behind the merch table -- as the evening progressed, I refused to give up my post -- they sounded pretty straight-forward, and nothing really wowed me. But I wasn't turned off and will seek future exposure.

    Congratulations, again, to Neil and the rest of 71 Sunbeam. Y'all should be proud.

    By the way, a great place to pick up records by bands such as Dressy Bessy is Twee Kitten. They'll appreciate your patronage -- but none of your patronizing.

    Friday, June 21, 2002

    I'm editing an anthology for Capstone-Wiley in the UK tentatively entitled Off Message: Voices from the Business Underground. It'll be a collection of 30-40 essays, articles, excerpts, and comics gleaned from books, magazines, newsletters, Web sites, speech transcripts, email forwards, found text, zines, and minicomics. The idea is to compile business-, technology-, and work-related material that goes against conventional wisdom -- and occasionally against the grain.

    I'm currently wrapping up the collection of the pieces I'm suggesting we include -- and I'd welcome your input. If you have any items to recommend for inclusion in the book, email me. Think critical. Think funny. Think productive. Think progressive. Think radical. This'll be the snarky, punk-rock version of The Best Business Stories of the Year. And it'd be great to see what you come up with.
    Rock Shows of Note XXV
    Yay! Another fun Anchormen show. Lots of friends in attendance. Lots of cute girls in the crowd -- including the cutest girl. And scads of good bands. It was ostensibly Singles Night at TT the Bear's because the Fightin Dogs and Choo Choo la Rouge were celebrating the release of their split CD single -- by giving it away!

    We played first, after some confusion with the sound guy. He came up to us at five to 9 saying we had three minutes to get on stage. The lineup posted by the door said we went on at 9:10. There weren't many people in the bar yet, so we dawdled a little. Then he came back to tell us that we were cutting into our set time. We asked about the schedule by the door and he said it was wrong. So we got on stage. In about 25 minutes, we played 11 songs, including a request for "Lysander Spooner." The girls in front seemed to smile when I tried to get people to sing along, and there was guy over on the side who was dancing around while we played. That was cool. Thank you, Dancing Man! People responded well to the new songs, and folks seemed to appreciate our usual lack of organization and caustic stage banter. Even though we haven't practiced since our last show, we were pretty tight. I didn't forget any words, and my voice didn't crack until the very last song. Anchormen, aweigh!

    Next up, the Fightin Dogs. I like Dan and Dave a lot, and I like the Fightin Dogs, even though I've never heard them on record and have only caught them live a couple of times -- they're more friends of friends than a band I know well. Dave tells me that their songwriting is inspired by the Fall and REM, but I didn't really catch that. Also, I learned that the songs that Dan sings, he wrote, and the songs that Dave sings, Dave wrote. I'm not sure what this means, but I really only remember Dave singing. I'll have to pay more attention next time. Dan wore a goofy cowboy hat and dangling earrings, so maybe I was trying to ignore him. Their set was pretty solid. I need to see them again because I picture them as more of an overall sound band than a band with discrete songs that I recognize and can hum along to later. Looking forward to listening to the single so I can start recalling some of their songs!

    Choo Choo la Rouge I've seen before, and Choo Choo la Rouge I'll see again. This was basically their standard set -- they don't seem to do too much new or different show to show -- and lacking an identifiable stage presence or schtick, you're pretty much left with the songs. Which are good! But I look forward to some new material -- hopefully the single is the start of that.

    Last up, Tracy Husky. I missed their set when they played with us at O'Brien's the night of the explosion, so I was super psyched to see them last night. I guess they (He? The lead singer/guitarist?) performed as a solo act that night, because a friend commented that they were much better as a band. They were OK. Not much struck me, and I don't remember any of the songs I heard. My one remark -- without intending to be chauvinistic -- would be that the woman in the band is absolutely beautiful. And the fact that she only sung one song during the portion of the set I saw is criminal. I don't understand bands that involve women as eye candy -- even if that wasn't the band's intention, she was wearing a slinky red dress, so there you go -- but don't draw on the wonderful sound of men and women singing together. I'm a sucker for male/female harmony parts. I think I heard her launch into a song as I went back into the setup room to snag my backpack before heading home -- and it was a good thing. She should sing more.

    A good show. Thanks to everyone who came, and special thanks to Choo Choo la Rouge and the Fightin Dogs for inviting us to join the fun.


    Oh! The show was also Webcast last night on RadioBoston. Media Dietician Jacob Wolfsheimer might have even listened to it. Perhaps he'll weigh in with his own report. (Hint, hint.) If you tune in at 9 p.m. ET tonight, you'll be able to catch 71 Sunbeam's CD release party. I'll be in the crowd and will try to find the camera so I can wave.
    Magazine Me XII
    Randall Lane, former editor-in-chief of once Boston-based and now-defunct men's mag POV, is launching a new magazine this fall. Entitled Justice, the book is reportedly going to cover the intersection between celebrity and the criminal and civil justice system. Think George for the Court TV crowd. People meets True Detective. A quick Google search indicates that there are already several magazines titled Justice, including a horribly designed trade magazine for juvenile justice professionals and a quarterly journal for members of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, but Media Life reports that Lane's Justice will target its audience at supermarket checkout counters. Congrats, Randall! Nice to see a new title with you at the head.

    Thursday, June 20, 2002

    Disgruntled Media Workers II
    Following the murder-suicides at the Providence Journal -- and as part of the Providence Newspaper Guild protest that members have been working without contracts since 1999 -- staffers are staging a byline strike. The newspaper itself has given the strike little ink, but Sheila Lennon, the paper's features and interactive producer, is documenting the action in her Journal-served blog Subterranean Homepage News. In her frequent doses of "bottom-up journalism from the pros," Sheila touches on work-related issues at the Journal, Web coverage of journalism, and the blog phenom. It's good to see the Journal supporting a staffer's blog work, but it'd also be good if members of the Guild got a contract.

    Thanks to BoingBoing.
    The Movie I Watched Last Night XXII
    Inspired by Joe, proprietor of my new box hostel, who watched no fewer than six (6) movies this past weekend, I took in a double feature last night.

    American Pie
    Not quite sure what all the hype surrounding this movie was all about because I didn't find it very funny or shocking. There were some bright spots -- Eugene Levy and Eddie Kaye Thomas, whose roles I particularly enjoyed -- but otherwise I thought the plot was passe, most of the acting substandard, and the movie undeserving of all the praise it garnered, much less a sequel. That said, I was surprised by how much the scene in which Chris Klein's character left his lacrosse game early in order to compete in a jazz choir contest with Mena Suvari's character touched me. One line even made me tear up. Weird! Oh, Alyson Hannigan's portrayal of a band geek was also fun, especially with her trademark line, "One time? At band camp?" But on the whole, feh.

    Kramer vs. Kramer
    OK, so I was 6 when this was released, and it predates Dustin Hoffman's role in Tootsie by three years, but I remember the Mad magazine parody of this film quite fondly, as well. As one of the first motion pictures to seriously address divorce and the effects it can have on a couple, their friends, and their children, it's a slightly mixed message movie. Message one: If you're a hustle-bustle ad exec in New York, chances are your partner's unhappy and you're on the way to a divorce. Message two: If you abandon your son unnanounced, move to California, and seek therapy before returning a year and a half later to claim custody, you're still totally fit as a mother. Message three: You can't raise your son single-handedly without losing your job. Some of those messages might actually be valid, but I felt like this movie -- while good -- could have had more of a point. Dustin Hoffman's character doesn't really redeem himself as a reinvented parent. And Meryl Streep's character's ambiguous decision at the end not to take the custody she won in court leaves viewers hanging. That decision might have had more repercussions on everyone involved -- at least legally -- than what had happened so far. But maybe that's why the movie just stopped: the legal denouement would've been boring -- and perhaps the ambiguity was the overarching theme. Maybe it's for the best that Justin Henry's character stayed with his father in the end. Trivial bit: Henry was the youngest person ever nominated for an Oscar (supporting actor) -- he was 8 when the movie was released.
    The Science of Superheroes
    I think I'll take that headline. The BBC offers an interesting guide to the science behind comic-book characters' superpowers. Why can Spider-Man climb walls? How does Wonder Woman's lariat make people tell the truth? What's up with Magneto's levitating all the time? The BBC has the inside line.

    Thanks to Metafilter.

    Wednesday, June 19, 2002

    Party to Record Releases IV
    Psych! We're talking about books now. Pandemonium Books & Games, a cozy little science-fiction book store on Harvard Square, offers a New Releases email newsletter, too. It's a small shop that's run by Tyler, brother of my friend Tory, and the newsletter is long on content. Twice a month, Tyler emails folks information about new anthologies, gaming fiction, miniatures, games, hard covers, magazines, media tie-ins, and paperbacks. The emails are basically just lists of new products, but there's a lot of stuff here. Often, the newsletter will trigger a visit to the store -- especially because the New Releases section of the Web site is so out of date. This'll only be useful for folks in the Boston area because Pandemonium doesn't offer online ordering, but everyone might find this funny: Stuff We Don't Carry. Might. I said might.

    P.S. On the site, it's not totally clear how to sign up for the newsletter. Email Tyler if you'd like in on the list.
    Mixed Drinks and Mingling V
    The snapshots Alex took at the May 29 MediaBistro event are now available. Here's a dreamy picture of yours truly:

    Heath can't believe he caught the egg!

    The lady beside me is none other than Carmen Noble of eWeek. Rumor is that she reads Media Diet.
    The Best of the Web III
    The Webby Awards Event was held last night in San Francisco, and this year's winners were announced. In the Community category, for which I was a nominating judge, took both Webby Award and the People's Voice Award. I'm rather surprised that the folks involved in the Warren Ellis Forum didn't better rally to the cause.
    'Tis the Season to Be... AWOL VII
    I'm not going anywhere right away, but I am planning a trip home to Wisconsin in early July. When my travel agent asked me what central Wisconsin airport I wanted, I thought, "The one called Central Wisconsin Airport," but I had to check. Lo and behold, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation offers a list of every single airport in the state -- regardless of their size and service.

    Poking around a little more, I found these directories of every single airport in the United States and the world.

    In college, my friend used to go to O'Hare to study for midterms and finals. Other people enjoy planespotting, an odd little hobby. They do things like making lists of airports.
    Hardcore Logo II
    I would like a logo for Media Diet. I would like someone who frequents the blog to design or draw it. You will receive credit and a link. Submissions are welcome.
    Sites on the Side of the Road V
    I know the CoF Roadshow isn't that original an idea -- and that Fast Company isn't the first magazine to go on a road trip -- but now Fortune is in on the game. "Roadtripping in search of the technological future," a Fortune staffer visited eitght college campuses and met with 127 "kids" over the course of 33 days to report on 13 cool companies. There are some impressive organizations in the final roundup -- congrats, Blogger! -- and it's good to know we can still call university students "kids."
    These Links Were Made for Breaking? III
    In a surprising display of tight-fistedness, NPR prohibits anyone anywhere from linking to any part of NPR's Web site -- without their express written consent. This makes no sense. Like the Dallas Morning News, NPR is in the information business -- and it seems to be in their best interest that people go to their site. And it seems that links on other Web sites could, um, do drive some of their traffic.

    I can understand their concerns with permanent links on a home page that incorporates the logo or other IP -- much less framing -- but linking to any NPR page in any way whatsoever? Sheer silliness to limit this activity. This is like Time magazine prohibiting people from putting the magazine on newsstands.

    As before, my solution? Boycott. If I can't link directly to a Web site I'm interested in sharing with people, I'm not going to link at all. I encourage you to do the same. While I did include NPR's link permission request form, I did not fill it out, and I will not share NPR links in the future. They haven't earned our attention. Like Orb says, "What part of public don't they understand in the name National Public Radio?"

    Cory Doctorow's involved in an active discussion of the legal implications of this over at BoingBoing.

    Tuesday, June 18, 2002

    Doctor, Steal Thyself II
    Huh. So I just called my new doctor -- the primary care physician I switched to June 14 -- to schedule a physical. And even though Cigna could assign him as my PCP, he's not actually taking any new patients. Any new non-HIV patients, that is.

    I don't understand several things. How can I belong to an HMO and have such troubles actually finding a doctor? How can Cigna assign a PCP if the doctor's not actually taking new patients? How can a doctor limit their practice to patients with HIV? It'd be good to have a doctor. It'd be good to get a physical -- I haven't been to the doctor in years.

    I'm also not impressed by Cigna's customer service. I emailed the customer service rep back asking why they'd been able to assign me to a doctor not taking new patients -- and minutes later to inform them that their Provider Directory online wasn't working -- and I got snubbed:

    "Thank you for your follow-up to your inquiry. This case has been completed by our Internet Customer Service Team. Should you require additional attention regarding this matter, please contact Member Services at the toll-free number on the participant's CIGNA HealthCare ID card."

    What's the point in offering online customer service if they don't actually do anything -- much less answer questions -- outside of referring you to a phone number?

    And... can anyone in the Boston area recommend a doctor? Especially if you're in Cigna. Email me.
    NetWork III
    It took three separate recommendations from different directions to get me to finally cross the threshold and check out Ryze, a business networking community. Now that I'm inside, I'm finding all sorts of friends and mutual connections. A search for "punk rock," one of my interests, only yielded three people, myself included, but one of those people is friends with someone I know -- who in turn is one of the people who recommended Ryze to me. Small, small world. I don't know how productive this service is in terms of actually helping people make business connections, but it's an intriguing concept that builds on the whole six degrees of separation notion -- and that'll help me think through the future of the Company of Friends.
    Party to Record Releases III
    Newbury Comics recently changed the terms of its E-Mail Club, which used to include a 5% discount in their stores, but they plan to continue their new release emails. In fact, with yesterday's mailing, they've changed the format slightly, and they're looking for feedback. For the most part, the new release emails aren't that useful, and I'm not sure why I haven't unsubscribed now that the discount is gone. Other than special offer and in-store appearance announcements, the emails are basically straight lists of record titles and prices -- no reviews, and not much information. I learned about the new Dillinger Four record two days after picking it up in the shop. So the trigger effect in terms of bringing people into the stores is diminished. It'd be much better to learn what was going to come out rather than what had just come out. Their Upcoming Releases page is still dated March, and ICE Magazine's new release information is consistently much more useful.
    Blogging About Blogging XXV
    Starting at 6 a.m. PST, July 27, almost 45 people (so far) will blog for 24 hours without interruption to raise money for charity as part of Blogathon 2002. The rules say that participants must update their sites every 30 minutes. The rules also offer advice on how to stay awake for 24 hours:

  • Have friends over
  • Watch movies
  • Go for walks
  • Take a cool shower
  • Talk with other bloggers
  • Work on a project

    So far, Amnesty International, Book Aid, Doctors Without Borders, and Planned Parenthood are popular charities. Most of the blog producers interested in participating -- you need to have three sponsors to be involved -- don't have any sponsors yet, so if you're interested, check it out. It's like Dance Marathon, only nobody's dancing!
  • From the In Box: Music to My Ears VIII
    Looks like a pretty fair review. I agree that our current sound is still very derivative, but we're just getting started and will work on refining a unique style. -- Rich Model Kit
    North End Moment XX
    This morning, walking to work, I saw a man walking down the alley behind the Scotch & Sirloin building. Moments later, he was walking back in the other direction with several lottery cards, rubbing furiously. It looked as though he'd just gotten out of bed, thrown on some clothes, and put on a baseball cap to hide his bed head. But you know how it is -- sometimes you really need some scratch tickets at 9 a.m.
    Rock Shows of Note XXIV
    Oh. My. Goodness. I wasn't going to go to the show last night. Really, I wasn't. But after watching the first season of Mr. Show on the new DVD -- and just as the rain began to fall -- I decided it was a good idea to call a cab to JP to catch the Operators at the Milky Way. They were playing as part of CuriousBrain Imaginary Playground 2, a show blending live music and video screenings from the CuriousBrain Showcase 06. For the most part, the show was a screening of videos -- including a fun Freezepop video, a Fight Club-like hip-hop vid, and a Lovewhip music video -- but the musical acts were quite interesting.

    First, I caught a violin/guitar/bass trio improvising -- it seemed -- to a video collage of street scenes and ominous facial features. Then, the Operators. Their set got off to a rocky start because Steph took a last-minute bathroom break, but Paul filled in on drums for a spell, even continuing to hit the tom as he passed the sticks to Steph upon her arrival. They played a slightly rusty set of favorites, including "Angie," whose video was screened as part of the show (director Bill Lovejoy was in the audience). And they hit their stride about halfway through the set -- which was good to see; the Ops are a great band when they're not hesitant or overly self-conscious. After their set -- and walking down the block to the convenience store and back trying to call a cab -- I returned to the club to beg a ride -- and to catch part of a lackluster performance by an Ani Difranco wannabe. (Not to be overly harsh, but that's how it hit me.)

    Jen and Em were dears and gave me a lift home, where I unwisely called an ex before drifting off to sleep to the strains of the new Dillinger Four record. Harrumph. Shows. I should stay in sometimes.

    Monday, June 17, 2002

    From the In Box: Music to My Ears VIII
    The two friends whom I was concerned about offending in that last batch of reviews wrote back almost immediately:

    I think much of the stuff you wrote makes sense. I actually feel like I do have a higher standard when I bring a song to the Operators. That said, I'm still proud of "Stars in Winter." I know that not everyone will like it, but that's the way it goes. As a side story, a friend called me last night to tell me how much he liked it. He later confessed that he was really stoned when he first listened to it. Hmm. Stoned or not, I hope you like it the next chance you give it. I'm of the opinion that it definitely is not a first listen album (whatever that means).

    However, I wouldn't want you to know who I was from the record as most of the songs aren't about me. I'd be a rather uninteresting person if you could determine what I'm about from one set of songs. Still, even if you could figure it out, you'd probably be wrong. Much is fictional, some is twisted truth, and some is plain truth. I don't always speak directly. This is often intentional.

    As an artist, I want people to interpret what they hear and give it their own meaning. Literal translation can be powerful, but I prefer the
    subjective. The risk with this approach is that someone may not find meaning at all in your work. It's a reality I'm willing to live with.

    That said, this set of songs (not all of them, but most) say more about me than anything else I've ever done. Unfortunately, I'm probably the only one that could give you the exact interpretation and meaning. I won't though.
    -- Paul Coleman


    Yeah. If only you owned more Figgs records, you'd see how much I'm aping them as well. I don't know. I feel like Hall & Oates opening up for the Ramones in this city. Wrong place, wrong time. I'd rather play for soccer moms out in the burbs -- those types always seem to get the most out of the music, whereas around the scene, the focus is on competence and style. Most people who actually buy records (i.e. not rockers who get theirs for free) can't tell Bruce Springsteen from Tom Petty from Elvis Costello from latter-day Figgs (assuming they ever got the chance to hear them). It's about the singer and the song and the sound somewhat. I guess it's not taking you anywhere because I make music to be heard, not thought about. You can listen to the lyrics and get the song, but if you're looking for something cultural, it ain't there.

    My comment on rockers getting free records isn't a dig at you being media -- it was more a comment about how people who determine the fate and marketablity of a record within the industry (journalists, radio people, record company people, booking agents) are the ones least likely to actually pay for a new record and thus make it marketable. There's nothing wrong with getting stuff for free.

    But I guess I was surprised (not in a bad way) by the angle. My thing in the last year has sort of been to get over the musical aspects of my music and try to just focus on the lyrics and the singing and having a good time -- and to produce it like it's a new record instead of applying a set of retro standards to it. I even used Pro Tools to make "Destroyer." I guess I'm so naturally mired in the past that I just gravitated towards that anyway. It's always interesting to hear how someone else hears your music. Like, I've never owned any Buddy Holly, and Elvis Costello bores me, but everyone mentions the latter.

    Anyway, I do appreciate your honesty. Too often, "local" music is the Special Olympics of rock and roll. I actually enjoyed hearing what you said, and in a way, it's satisfying that I was able to make someone think about that stuff while listening to the music I made.

    Or maybe we're just ripping off the Figgs and it sucks. I don't know. I quit.
    -- Brett Rosenberg
    Music to My Ears VIII
    A four-pack of new record reviews! (I was feeling kind of bitter the night I wrote these, and I'm afraid I even take some friends to task. Constructive criticism, I hope.)

    The Lot Six: "Gwylo" CD
    The first song strikes me as a Fugazi knockoff, with its helter-skelter sections and emotive vocals. Almost three minutes in, the yelling turns to string picking and coughing, and the Guy Piccioto-like vocals emerge as most welcome, despite the ease of the comparison. "Styler/Stylee" is a piano-free Ben Folds-esque number with enough adequate verse-chorus divisions that I wish I were seeing them live until the dimuendo, which quickly morphs into a Cracker-like song structure with the onset of "Coincidence Reprise." Fugazi comparisons are rekindled with "This Is Entertainment," perhaps the strongest song, followed by the appropriately assertive "I'm into It." This is the best Fugazi-inspired record I've ever heard, but then comes "Last Flight of the Spruce Goose," a Herb Alpert-evoking number that then shifts into a more sensitive emo song. Where is this band coming from? They're not original enough to stand on their own, but they're not consistent enough to be a total rip off. I know which way I hope they fall. Espo Records, P.O. Box 63, Allston, MA 02134.

    Model Kit CD EP
    This is a Green Day-meets-Blink 182 wannabe knockoff that pleases me but fails to innovate beyond the mersh cliches. The second track, which is better than "All That I Need" with its chunka-chunk chorus, goes much further and is the kind of song that could be important -- especially with the melodic chorus in which "nobody cares." Then, the third song. It sounds like a Hip Tanaka concept that didn't get very far. As sweet and shallow as Model Kit's sound is, I think it's dangerous to ride on other bands' coattails -- especially when they're so short. Three songs aren't a lot to go on, but it might be nine minutes too many. Model Kit.

    The Brett Rosenberg Problem: "Destroyer" CD
    It's not until the second song, "My Girlfriend's Daughter," that I really believe Brett's earnestness, and given his age and status, it's probably a good thing. Brett's overly accurate power-pop song stylings are pretty transparent, and as good as his songs are, it's hard to move beyond his source material. It's all good stuff, but it's not enough. "Kelly Haas All Over Again" is a throw away (as inspired by real life as it might be), and "Always Hanging Around" is a studied, albeit labored potential hit. This could be a song featured in Rock 'n' Roll High School, and it's almost as though Brett knows it. While "Orange Line," which even Brett has kind of dismissed, isn't even worth mentioning, "The Wait Song" returns to the Who-meets-Buddy Holly inspirations that Brett so often draws upon. Power pop at its best and most saccharine yet satisfying. The second half of the record sets off with the quality "Shame on You," complete with Jed Parish organ a la Brett's last record -- a detail worth repeating. Rounding the record off, we have an Elvis Costello-inspired song, "She's My Baby Tonight;" a rather screwy ballad, "I Don't Really Wanna Fuck Things Up;" and the bluesy ending "Obsessed." I'm surprised and slightly disappointed that this isn't more important or interesting than Brett's previous record. The hooks are here. As is the energy. But the commitment? Why stay so strongly rooted in the past? Brett Rosenberg, P.O. Box 9231, Boston, MA 02114.

    Sinkcharmer: "Stars in Winter" CD
    "As Nevada Burns" is the first song of note on this record self-released by Paul Coleman, a fellow member of the Handstand Command collective. Even though Paul's vocals are mixed way too low, the gang pulls it off in the end. "20 Paces" serves as an interesting inclusion -- why not feature more songs written by these three? Might be better than the Operators or the Tardy. Might not be. Because I'm torn about Paul. The songs he does fronting the Ops are among their best. And their best songs are better than Paul's solo songs. There are a couple of pieces out of left field here: the Fugs-like thresher "Down to Dollars" and the lo-fi southern latitude lounger a la White Town "Ode to a Grifter." But those are iffy comparisons. The brief "Goosemayer" re-establishes Paul as a solo entity, as does the wonderful live staple "Rubber Legs." "Last Dance" reminds me of several northern California pop-punk ensembles, including the Ne'er Do Wells and the Potatomen, and Paul even embellishes and improves on many Twee Kitten-like concepts. But as much as I would like to say otherwise -- and as good as a songwriter Paul is -- this record just doesn't hit me hard. The reference points feel too wide ranging, and I don't get that strong of a sense of who Paul is. Sinkcharmer.
    Newsletter of Note III
    For the last five years, the Sacramento, California-based Tackett-Barbaria Design Group has issued a summer reading list. This year, there's a pet theme to the mailing -- consistently well-designed, friendly, and clever -- as the design firm's staff introduces seven dogs and three cats, as well as almost 50 books, some of which have to do with pets, natch. Some good titles to see in such a list: Hanif Kureishi's Buddha of Suburbia and Philip K. Dick's Confessions of a Crap Artist. Better than any holiday card or hello mailing that I've ever received from a professional service I employ -- and knowing Kim, makes me think that it's personal touches like this that make her firm worth working with. This year's summer reading list isn't online yet, but you can check out recommended selections from 1997-99.
    Event-O-Dex! IV
    There are three Handstand Command-related events this week.

  • Tonight: The Operators play at the Milky Way in JP as part of the CuriousBrain Imaginary Playground 2
  • Thursday, June 20: The Anchormen play at TT the Bear's as part of Choo Choo La Rouge and the Fightin' Dogs' Singles Night
  • Saturday, June 22: Handstand Command hosts a rock 'n' roll yard sale complete with lemonade, furniture, and assorted nerd-ware

    I'll be at least two of the three. Come if you can!
  • NetWork II
    Scott Heifermann's new startup MeetUp is a free service that helps people who share common interests to gather offline and face to face in almost 550 cities in more than 20 countries around the world. There's nothing listed for the Boston area so far, which makes me wonder how accurate the city count is, but one of the neatest aspects of MeetUp is that the service providers have "hand-picked 11,409 (and growing) good meetup spots -- local cafes, bars, bowling alleys, parks, donut shops, dog-friendly places, videogame displays, etc." Participants vote on where the meetup will convene.

    Users can call for their own meetups, characterizing them as monthly or one-time events. Even though it's rather difficult to navigate through where meetups are actually taking place, the service shows a lot of promise in terms of supporting geographically distributed real-time gatherings of like-minded people. Like the site says, "We're on a few hours old." It'll be interesting to see how MeetUp evolves.

    Thanks to Common Me.
    The Movie I Watched Last Night XXI
    Sunday: Tootsie
    It's a recipe for a laugh riot -- just like "Bosom Buddies" was. Dustin Hoffman is an underemployed character actor and in-demand acting coach (a slight contradiction, no?). He decides that if he's going to get work, he needs to dress up as a woman. So he does, gets a part on a soap opera, becomes extremely popular, and falls in love with a female co-star. Hilarity ensues. While the basic "How could you lie to me?" romantic plot line is a bit tiresome -- as is the character actor/mistaken identity plot also used in "Hero at Large" -- there are several bright spots to this 20-year-old movie -- particularly Bill Murray's understated performance as Dustin's character's roommate. It's funny; I read the Mad magazine parody of this when I was 9 and am just now getting around to seeing the movie -- it's amazing how Mad hit most of the sweet spots of the films it parodied in the '80s. You almost don't need to see the movie. That said, I'm glad I saw "Tootsie." It holds up rather well.
    Read But Dead VII
    Every day, I get an email dispatch from Slate entitled Today's Papers which tracks story trends in the country's major dailies so I don't have to read a lot of newspapers. This weekend, Scott Shuger, Today's Papers first writer, died while scuba diving. He was 50. Eric Umansky, TP's current scribe -- and others -- have big shoes to fill, but TP continues to be a necessary daily read. Shuger's groundbreaking approach to the format and service is much appreciated.

    Thanks to Jim Romenesko's Media News.
    From the Reading Pile X

    Ache #3
    At first glance, Ache seems to be your standard indie-rock fanzine: well-designed, including the obligatory record reviews in the back and sporting interviews with Beautiful Skin, International Noise Conspiracy, and Easy Action. But at its best, Ache is a delightfully insightful zine that revels in its publisher Armen Svadjian's cultural tastes while delving deeper into some of the people who help map that cultural landscape. Armen interviews several zine publishers in this issue. Tom Frank discusses fandom vis a vis critical culture and the role of hope. Rumpshaker editor Eric Weiss explains his obsessive compulsive disorder -- but doesn't address the role his OCD might play in the production of his overwhelmingly manic Paper, Scissors, Clock-like zine. And the publisher of Motorbooty outlines the history of the long-running zine. Additionally, Ryan Biggs weighs in with a self-analysis of the use of irreverence in cultural criticism; Steve (Monorail) Mandich offers a four-page appreciation of Jack Chick tracts; and AUM Fidelity label-meister Steven Joerg shares his perspective on avant garde jazz, its relationships with the indie-rock and mainstream jazz press, and the impact of free jazz musicians who step into the mainstream, a la David S. Ware's signing to Columbia. All of this makes for a zine bigger than the zine that comprises this particular issue. Throw in some excellent comics and an interview with the wily Dave Cooper, and Ache is one hell of a read. I'll be keeping my eyes on this one. $3 to Armen Svadjian, 167 Cortleigh Blvd., Toronto, ON, Canada M5N 1P6.

    Bloated Sewer #2
    This mish-mash of a zine combines the editor's love of graffiti, hardcore, hip hop, and politics. Heavily peppered with throw-up (as in graffiti) sketches, street art photography, odd little poems, and photos of live bands, the zine's layout is rather cluttered. And the bulk of the zine's content -- interviews with the now-defunct Enemy Soil, Beverly-based rhymer Esoteric, an area Food Not Bombs activist, Japanese noise musician Molten Salt Breeder Reactor, technical death metal band Prophetic Disclosure, and straight edgers Monster X -- alternates between brief, breathy, run-of-the-mill interview responses and in-depth, insightful conversations. The exchange with Esoteric about homophobia in the hip-hop scene is appreciated despite its admitted scratch-the-surface nature. And the Food Not Bombs piece is a solid introduction to the group's mission and methods. So, as much as I'm tempted to tag Bloated Sewer as scattered and shallow, it's clear that Dave supports the scene and goes to a lot of shows, represents the way some folks in Boston bridge hip hop and hardcore, and is politically active and aware. All good things even if this zine isn't that great. For those qualities, I've got to give him props. Check this out if you, too, are interested in these aspects of DIY culture. $3 to Dave Sullivan, 138 Faxon Road, Quincy, MA 02171.

    Combover's Now I Know My ABC's
    I went to the release party for Dave Bryson, Ed Curran, and Joe Keinberger's educomic, but I was tired, it was crowded, and I jetted before I could meet the three who produced this take on the ABC's. So I'll continue to appreciate their comics work from afar. The idea is simple: illustrate the alphabet. The result is a 26-panel love poem to a whole host of popcult fetishes and cliches: dorks, garden gnomes, Morrissey, Oompa-Loompas, yeti, and Dr. Zachary Smith. Joel Keinberger's contributions are ink-splattered and scribbly sketches that increasingly remind me of Ralph Steadman. Dave Bryson evokes the work of Bruce Orr, and Ed Curran's cartoony style occasionally draws on computer illustration and lettering. The blend of styles is effective, and the Combover crowd has found themselves some good comics company. A good one-off gimmick book, but also a good introduction to the folks behind Combover. Combover, 351 Harvard St. #2F, Cambridge, MA 02138.

    Go Metric! #14
    Mike Faloon amazes me. The one-man army behind GM and Dizzy Records has his fingers in so many pies and on so many pulses that I am consistently astounded. And his unabashed giddy enthusiasm for his shameless popcult fixations is a sheer joy to behold even if I don't always share them. If you're into power pop at all, you'll love GM. David Cawley reports on the 2001 Asian Fantasy Film Expo, where Damon Foster, editor of Oriental Cinema, kicked him. Fastbacks' guitarist Kurt Bloch expounds on his love for the music of Queen. Skizz Cyzyk details the making of a Young Fresh Fellows video. The Young Fresh Fellows/Minus 5 CD is dissected track by track. Madeleine Dental, mastermind behind the zine Tight Pants, is converted by the Figgs, whom I've yet been able to truly appreciate. Faloon interviews the Dorks; the proprietor of Break-Up! Records; Scott (Los Huevos) Soriano, owner of Moo-La-La Records; the Decibles; and Big Dipper. There's also a guide to things you need to have with you at all times, a report on the talk radio coverage of 911, a synchronized listening and viewing of the Squirrels' "Not-So-Bright Side of the Moon" and "Cabin Boy," a report on Mint Records' 10th anniversary festival, and a smattering of record reviews. Again, I need to admit that I don't share all of Mike's tastes. I also didn't read every single word of every single article in this issue's 60 pages. But I am in awe -- awe! -- of GM's ability to ferret out these interviews and discographies for the power pop completists, as well as GM's self-deprecating sense of humor and efforts to address adjacent media interests. Indeed: Go Go Metric! You won't be sorry. Mike Faloon, 2780 Ryewood Ave. #F, Copley, OH 44321.

    King Cat Comics and Stories #60
    Despite his ups and downs, John Porcellino keeps on plugging away on his long-running comic, and the zine world is hella better for it. In this edition, John tweaks the recent rash of wordless comic experiments with "Mental Illness/Friday Night," a poetic, eight-panel but pictureless comic. The 11-page "Ticks III" is a tender look at nature appreciation, man's impact on the environment, and one way the world can gently remind us that we're part of something larger. The all-text "Healy Road Prairie" and "Morris" continues to carry that theme as John describes the process of transplanting a patch of native grassland and unsuccessfully seeks the largest tree in Illinois. While John gives us a lot of himself in his comics and writing, features like the K Cat Top 40 offer even more insight into John's idiosyncrasies, impressions, and irritations. Whether everyday objects, books, records, or daily experiences, the Top 40 serves as a sort of journal parallel to the current issue -- as well as a solid sample of John's own media diet. It also highlights the fact that much of the world's beauty resides in the minutiae and details that we often ignore and take for granted. King Cat is flush with love -- for the everyday and for the world. Rush out and puck up a copy. (Tangent: Does anyone know what Joe "Silly Daddy" Chiapetta is up to these days?) $2 to John Porcellino, P.O. Box 881, Elgin, IL 60121.

    Nature's Milkshake (February 2002)
    Drawn between Jan. 21 and Feb. 5, this mini features roughly stylized comic strips, sketchbook excerpts, photocopier art, and found photography. The opening story, "Dos Computing," sets the stage with a throw-away narrative in which a frustrated computer user eats a giant hotdog, frees a tiger from the zoo, and realizes the folly of his actions. Silly, surreal, and somewhat sloppy, the comics cover self-injury, hurting friends, escaping from the frying pan into the fire, bad haircuts, and the minutiae of everyday existence. There's a bitter existential edge to the stories -- nothing ends well -- but Nature's Milkshake doesn't take the frustrations it depicts too seriously, opting instead for fart jokes, vomit, softcore porn, and nods to the Far Side and Garfield. Despite the art's simplicity, there's some wonderfully impressive panels here: the puking dog on p. 14, the judgmental girls on p. 29, and the flying man on p. 32. $3 to Ethan Hayes-Chute, 2 College St. #717, Providence, RI 02903.

    Snake Pit anthology and #15
    First, the slim, 16-page, monthly edition. Drawn in December 2001, these daily comic strips detail the life of Ben, a record store clerk in Austin, Texas. Ben goes to work, smokes pot, collates his zine, practices with his band, goes to shows, watches movies, sleeps, runs errands, hooks up with various cute punk-rock girls, and hugs his mom. It sounds mundane, but Ben's simple, well-drawn comics evoke Aaron Cometbus and John Porcellino -- and feature a daily soundtrack -- adding up to a fun and friendly personal comic. The anthology is more of the same, collecting 96 pages of Ben's strips between July 2000 and 2001. Reading more in a sitting, it's easy to gain insight on Ben's life -- and like Ben more, to boot -- as he crushes out constantly, gets fired, moves to Austin, and falls into his punk-rock rhythm of girls, shows, work, pot, parties, and bus trips. His drawing style visibly improves as the comics progress, but his routine -- matter of fact, unapologetic, and slightly enviable from where I sit on the Big Blue Couch -- does not. Awesome. Best perzine/comic I've read in quite awhile! $2 or a stamp to Ben, 2100 Guadalupe #138, Austin, TX 78705.

    I just can't take it! Even Bruce Orr's blocky lettering reminds me of Michigan-to-Oregon transplant Robert Lewis, whom I miss dreadfully. Sure, Bruce's art is more heavily inked, but I wish I could shrug off the comparisons. Five years in the making, the 68-page Thred was produced mostly in Berlin, and I'm sure some of the book's abstract existentialism stems from Bruce's time in Germany. In stark contrast to the photocopied and folded "Lady Dwenton's Matrimonial Planner" (previously reviewed in Media Diet), this book-length story is a robust tale about an aging toymaker whose livelihood and locale are threatened by the new Minister of Division of Mergecom (shades of the Spuckler storyline in Akiko). After a run-in with a metalsapien guard, the toymaker is taken in by the neopicts, who give him a new lease on life and the tools he can use to save Market Island. Equal parts dark science fiction, swashbuckling superhero story, and Camus-like cautionary tale, Thred is a heady but not heavy-handed exhortation to question authority. As much as I enjoyed the book, however, I do wish Bruce's artwork wasn't so heavily inked -- despite the innovate character designs and page layouts. A solid self-published book. Ask Bruce what it was like working with the Small Publishers Co-Op! $4 to Bruce Orr, 1601 S. 8th St., third floor, Philadelphia, PA 19148.

    Too Much Coffee Man #12-13
    I admit it. I was hella skeptical when Shannon Wheeler, creator of the one-trick comics pony Too Much Coffee Man, launched this new magazine. I thought it'd merely be a platform for his comics, of which I'm not overly fond. I also thought it'd be a shallow, speedy read. I was wrong on both counts. While Wheeler does contribute a healthy dose of comics -- 22 pages total, or less than 20% of both issues published in late 2001 -- and while the magazine is better suited for flipping than avid reading, there's a lot going on here. One, Shannon's coffee fetish is in full effect: TMCM features coffee reviews, coffee maker reviews, and an interview with the proprietor of Pinko's, a "commie coffee copy center" in Portland. Two, Shannon uses TMCM to highlight the work of many independent comics creators, including Bobo, Jay Stephens, Rick Geary, Graham Annable, Keith Knight, and Peter Kuper. Three, TMCM includes some Beer Frame-like reviews of and articles about enema kits, bottled water, wars, multitools, and toast. Four, there are some delightfully surprising outliers in the mix: Dennis Eichorn's article on Christian pornography, for example. Shannon's personality percolates throughout each issue's 68 pages, lending an extremely energetic perzine aspect to the endeavor. It's clear that Shannon wanted to do a magazine. So he is. Why aren't you? $4.95 to Adhesive Press, P.O. Box 14549, Portland, OR 97293.

    Words! Words! Words! #1
    Published in Wellington, New Zealand, the 60-page WWW -- shorthand, don't you know -- is a "fashion magazine for reading." Instead of falling into the celebrity circle jerk of mainstream mags such as Book, WWW opts for a more grassroots and community-oriented approach. Joanna Vaught and Maura Johnston hold up their top five all-time desert island books. Derek Powazek outlines how to write a book in three easy steps. John Hodgman reviews the inner workings of a professional literary agent's mind. And James Stegall contributes his interesting and innovative "I Don't Care If I Ever Get Paid to Write," a meandering discourse on why people write disguised as a shoplifter apprehension police report. WWW steps to the side of journals such as McSweeney's, the American Journal of Print, and the Ganzfeld to take a look at the holes between zinemaking and the professional publishing world -- and people's reasons for stepping into them. This everyman's review of books and the writing life is creative even if it isn't crucial. $8 to Words! Words! Words!

    Friday, June 14, 2002

    Doctor, Steal Thyself
    I haven't gone to see a doctor in years, and I think it's high time I do so again -- at least for a physical to see what kind of shape my ship is in. This afternoon, I called my primary care physician through my healthcare plan at work, and the phone number they had listed was incorrect. So I went to the Web to see if I could track him down otherwise, and I came across some legal documents that indicated he'd gone to court for defaulting on his student loans.

    Lots of folks default on their loans, I suppose, but all this -- bad phone number, inability to pay off his loans -- doesn't seem to bode well for the quality of his practice. So before even meeting my doctor, I'm changing doctors again -- to someone else I haven't met, either. Because it's been a long time since I've been to a doctor. And I wonder how beat up my body is.
    White Collar Crime II
    Russell Mokhiber of Corporate Predators has developed a list of the top 100 corporate criminals of the 1990s. It lists the crimes the organizations were found guilty of -- and what their fine was. There are a lot of well-known companies listed, some surprising and some not so surprising -- Exxon, Archer Daniels Midland, Pfizer, Royal Caribbean Cruises, GE, Chevron, Unisys, Borden, Odwalla, and Eastman Kodak. After the list, Mokhiber expands on the characteristics of the crimes.

    My first reaction was that lists like these could make for instand boycotts -- but even if folks don't go that far, it's important that information like this be public and widely available. And that we hold the companies and their employees accountable.

    Thanks to MollyBlog.
    Rock Shows of Note XXIII
    The Anchormen convened again last night in JP to continue work on our upcoming record, now tentatively entitled "Just Because You Sleep on My Floor Doesn't Mean That You're My Girlfriend." I did a couple of different vocal tracks for "Peel Away," which we're submitting for the CMJ 2002 Showcase, and Jef and Chris did some fun backing vocals.

    Then Jef, Chris, and I headed over to TT the Bear's Place to see Rapture, an amazing band from Brooklyn. Here's how Jef described them: "Definitely on the Gang of Four tip. 'Disco' drums, abrasive little guitar lines, and good shouted vocal harmonies. NYC, political." All of that is true. Their energy was high, the multiple shouted vocal parts were inspiring -- kind of like what we're doing in "Peel Away" -- and the only thing that irritated me was the occasional almost-falsetto higher pitched singing. Didn't really dig that. But otherwise, good, good stuff! And the first show in a long time that I've gone to late solely to see a single band.
    Among the Literati VII
    Bruce Bawer contributed a thoughtful look at the relationship between book publishers and evangelical Christian authors to yesterday. Asking whether publishing pluralism needs to extend to fundamentalist intolerance, Bawer takes on recent book series such as Timothy LaHaye's Left Behind prophecy novels and contends that the easy money brought in by such titles might not be worth it in the end -- Bawer suggests that evangelical authors, booksellers, and readers might some day pressure those publishers not to publish books they deem offensive or inappropriate.

    While I've yet to read any of LaHaye's books, I'm fascinated by the state of religious publishing. In the last couple of years, Christian publishers have moved into areas previously served by mainstream publishers -- mainly the political-technological thriller novel and young adult series. It allows them to couch religious messages in more popular-clad trappings... and with their wider spread success outside of evangelical circles, brings those very messages to people not already in the circle. A wonderful outreach strategy in both directions -- better serve people already involved and extend your reach to newcomers.
    Party to Record Releases II
    I'm signed up for several record label mailing lists that regularly update subscribers about forthcoming record releases. And I recently received a couple of emails from a label and a mail-order retailer worth mentioning -- and exploring:

    Lookout! Records has been one of my favorite labels since 1988, and while it's moved away a little from its early Bay Area pop-punk past, it's still one of the most consistent and creative independent labels in operation. Lookout!'s newsletter, like its Web site, is a clever, catchy look inside what Lookout! -- and its roster of bands -- is up to. This edition features a personal message from Christopher, new release news and notes, special sale offers, and scads of tour dates for a bunch of bands. This is always fun to read in and of itself, and it almost always pulls me into their site to learn more.

    Miles of Music is a quality mail order service that specializes in, post-rock, and related music. Their email updates feature relatively long reviews of new releases, links to MP3 files, notes on new magazines and zines such as Big Takeover, a best sellers list, and personal updates from MoM staff. Scottie adopted up a stray kitten. Stuff like that. The amount of material reviewed is extremely impressive, and the reviews are similar to those sent out by Other Music and are extremely useful. I like mail-order newsletters more than label-based newsletters because they encompass more. This is one of my favorites.

    Thursday, June 13, 2002

    There Goes the Neighborhood
    Pete Nersesian has produced an online archive of photographs capturing Central Square circa 1998. The series of photos are organized in a then and now format, powerfully showing much of the gentrification, construction, and change that's happened between May 1998 and May 2002. Pete identifies facades and shuttered shops, transcribes closing notices taped to doors, capturing some of the lost history and place-based emotions associated with a rapidly changing neighborhood.

    I've lived in Somerville and Cambridge since 1997 and moved to Central Square last spring. It has indeed changed a lot. Pete's pictures reminded me of a lot of places I'd forgotten.

    Thanks to Bradley's Almanac.
    Magazine Me XI
    What were the top 10 best new magazines of 2001? According to the Library Journal's analysis of Samir Husni's annual study, the following periodicals should be on the top of our reading piles:

  • And Baby
  • CPU: Computer Power User
  • Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture
  • JD Jungle
  • Mental Floss: Feel Smart Again
  • Organic Style
  • Rosie
  • Savoy
  • Viet Nam War Generation Journal
  • The Week

    I've only read three of the above. Time to get cracking!
  • The Perfect Pitch II
    Continuing its series of How to Pitch to how-to features, MediaBistro offers a helpful look at querying Yoga Journal. The piece considers the magazine's editorial architecture and content categories, payment, and whom to contact depending on what section of the magazine you're interested in. Quote of note: "90 percent of the magazine is written by freelancers, since it has no staff writers, and you don't have to be a yogi to submit a good query."