Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Obit watch: July 21, 2017.

Friday, July 21st, 2017

If you are outside of the United States, the TVTropes page linked on the sidebar has resources for other countries.

Obit watch: June 17, 2017.

Saturday, June 17th, 2017

Helmut Kohl, former German chancellor.

John G. Avildsen, noted film director. Among his credits were “The Karate Kid” and “Rocky”, the movie that shouldn’t have won Best Picture in 1977, but beat out the far superior “Network”.

Not that I’m bitter or anything.

Anita Pallenberg, sometime actress:

In quick succession, she was cast in “Candy” (1968), based on Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg’s erotic novel, as a sexy nurse; in “Barbarella” (1968), Roger Vadim’s futuristic space fantasy, as a cruel brunette dictator who dresses in black lace and sparkles and calls Jane Fonda’s character “pretty-pretty”; and “Dillinger Is Dead” (1969), as a woman whose husband (Michel Piccoli) is inspired by a newspaper headline to shoot her.

She may, perhaps, have been better known for her relationships with Brian Jones (“who was reported to have physically abused her”) and after him, Keith Richards. (“She lived with Mr. Richards from 1967 through 1980, and had three children with him.”)

In 1977, Mr. Richards was arrested and charged with heroin possession in Toronto, and as a couple the two entered rehab.

Finally, there’s an interesting obit for Marine Corps Capt. Arthur J. Jackson, who passed away at 92 last Sunday.

During WwII, Jackson (at the time a private first class) committed serious acts of badassery during the invasion of Peleliu:

Loaded up with grenades, he charged the pillbox, raking it with automatic fire while discharging white phosphorus grenades and other explosives. He was credited with killing all 35 occupants.
Continuing alone and again at tremendous peril, he repeated the same maneuver at 11 smaller pillboxes that contained another 15 Japanese soldiers.

He received the Medal of Honor for his actions. After the war, he became a commissioned officer in the Army and then in the Marines.

On the night of September 30, 1961, as a company commander at Guantanamo Bay, he discovered a Cuban who worked as a bus driver (“even though he expressed openly pro-Fidel Castro sympathies and was under surveillance by naval intelligence”) in a restricted area of the base. Jackson and his executive officer decided to escort the Cuban, Ruben Lopez, off the base. But the gate they were using was locked: Jackson sent his XO to get something to break the lock with. And while the XO was gone, Jackson claimed that Lopez “lunged at him” so he shot and killed Lopez with his sidearm.

Jackson and some other Marines buried Lopez in a shallow grave on base. Cutting to the chase, the truth eventually came out, and Jackson was allegedly “thrown out” of the Marines.

Capt. Jackson, who said he long felt “ashamed” of his Guantanamo killing, did not speak publicly about the incident until an Idaho Statesman reporter interviewed him in 2013.
He said his key concern was his “understanding” of a treaty between the United States and Cuba that could have resulted in his detention in a notorious Cuban prison.
“I hoped no one would find out,” he told the newspaper. “The world found out.”

I love the smell of schadenfreude in the morning.

Friday, June 2nd, 2017

For some reason, I’ve been even grumpier than usual most of this week. But there were two stories in the NYT this morning that brought a smile to my face.

1) The rise and fall of Bleecker Street.

During its incarnation as a fashion theme park, Bleecker Street hosted no fewer than six Marc Jacobs boutiques on a four-block stretch, including a women’s store, a men’s store and a Little Marc for high-end children’s clothing. Ralph Lauren operated three stores in this leafy, charming area, and Coach had stores at 370 and 372-374 Bleecker. Joining those brands, at various points, were Comptoir des Cotonniers (345 Bleecker Street), Brooks Brothers Black Fleece (351), MM6 by Maison Margiela (363), Juicy Couture (368), Mulberry (387) and Lulu Guinness (394).

“six Marc Jacobs boutiques on a four-block stretch”. I have no joke here, I just like saying: “New Starbucks Opens In Rest Room Of Existing Starbucks”.

How’s that working for them?

Today, every one of those clothing and accessories shops is closed.

Oh.

While quirky independent stores couldn’t afford the new Bleecker, it became apparent over time that neither could the corporate brands that had remade the street. An open secret among retailers had it that Bleecker Street was a fancy Potemkin village, empty of customers. Celebrities shopped there because they wouldn’t be bothered. The “Sex and the City” fans lining up at Magnolia and snapping photos of Carrie’s stoop weren’t willing or able to fork over $2,000 for designer heels.
“Jimmy Choo — I never saw anybody in the shop,” Ms. Bowman said. “I don’t get it. Who’s buying this stuff?”

2) There was a music festival scheduled for the middle of Joly – the “Pemberton Music Festival in the mountains of Canada”. Tickets were $275.

The festival was cancelled, and the promoters filed for bankruptcy, about two weeks ago.

Pemberton, held in a picturesque spot about 100 miles north of Vancouver, British Columbia, was a typical entry into the frothy festival business. It was revived in 2014 by Huka Entertainment, a well-known independent promoter, after an earlier iteration failed. According to bankruptcy filings, the festival lost money for three years, and sold 18,000 tickets in 2017, down from 38,000 last year.

But wait, there’s more! The ticket buyers are being told that they are “unsecured creditors” in the bankruptcy proceedings! Which translates into, “Good luck getting any part of your money back, suckers!”

In filings, the two entities that controlled the festival — Pemberton Music Festival Limited Partnership and 1115666 B.C. Ltd. — declared $5 million in assets and $12.5 million in liabilities, with ticket holders listed as having an unsecured claim of $6 million. The first meeting of creditors is scheduled for June 6 in Vancouver.

Even better:

Music executives are now aghast over the failure to provide refunds and the maneuvering of investors in the weeks before the festival fell apart. Marc Geiger, the head of music at William Morris Endeavor and an outspoken voice in the business, called Pemberton’s collapse “a fraud and a scam” that could have a domino effect on the industry, hurting smaller promoters the most.

Mr. Geiger reserves a special ire for Pemberton’s investors, among them several wealthy Canadians with no background in the music business. As secured creditors, they now stand a better chance of getting their money back than the fans who paid $275 a ticket. One investor, Amanda Girling, is also chief executive of a company that owns the land on which the festival was held, and which is for sale for $12.5 million.

I hate to sound like a cranky old man who doesn’t get these kids today and their music (which is why I’ve avoided expressing an opinion about the top-billed artists) but: I don’t understand the point of spending that much money to stand around outside for two or three days in order to see one or two bands that maybe I kind of like, and a whole bunch of other ones where my feelings go from “totally indifferent” to “actively hate”.

If this really is “the symbolic end for independently promoted festivals”, would that be a bad thing?

Obit watch: May 28, 2017.

Sunday, May 28th, 2017

Gregg Allman, of the Allman Brothers Band and “married to Cher” fame.

In 1977, Mr. Allman and the singer Cher, to whom he was married at the time, released the album “Two the Hard Way.” (They were billed on the cover as Allman and Woman.) The project was poorly received by critics and the record-buying public alike.

Jim Bunning, Hall of Fame baseball player, perfect game pitcher, and later a congressional rep and a senator frim Kentucky.

He was the second pitcher, after Cy Young, to win at least 100 games, record at least 1,000 strikeouts and throw no-hitters in both the American and National Leagues. When he retired after the 1971 season, his 2,855 strikeouts were second only to Walter Johnson’s 3,509.

And, of course, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor and soccer theorist.

Hookers and blow watch.

Saturday, May 13th, 2017

I swear that I wrote about the “resignation” of Don Pitts as the city of Austin’s “music manager” ($97,000 a year) back in February when it happened. But I can’t find that blog entry now, and even search engines don’t help.

Anyway, Mr. Pitts resigned after a city audit turned up the fact that one of his employees had submitted a fake invoice so she could get reimbursed for what was represented as a “zero-cost” “2014 work trip to Europe to promote Austin’s music scene”.

There’s a little more to the story than that, however. The employee claims that Mr. Pitts told her to submit the trip as “zero-cost” so the approval would go through, and told her to submit the fake invoice so she could get reimbursed. Mr. Pitts denies that he told her to submit the fake invoice, but he admitted that he didn’t tell anyone about the fake invoice when he found out about it: that’s what led to his forced resignation, apparently.

And meanwhile, the city filed an ethics complaint against the also now-ex employee.

That complaint was dismissed Wednesday evening.

A divided and half-present Ethics Review Commission cleared [the employee] of wrongdoing Wednesday night after failing to reach consensus on whether she or Pitts was primarily responsible for the scheme.

Because only six of the ethics board’s 11 members were present, they needed a unanimous vote to find that [the employee] abused her position and violated city policies. Four members were inclined to give her a pass in light of testimony that Pitts was at least aware, if not the architect, of the attempts to pay [the employee] under the table.

It seems odd that almost half of them didn’t even bother to show up.

Also worth noting: the employee in question made other complaints about Pitts.

…a Human Resources Department investigation into a dozen of [the employee]’s claims, which found three violations by Pitts of employee conduct policies. Records show he sent staff a copy of a resignation letter from a former job in an effort to motivate, but it came across as threatening, and he said he wouldn’t hire a temporary employee who complained that [the employee] was mistreated in the department.

Not sure how saying “I’m not going to hire a temp” is a violation of HR policy, but okay. Nut:

A third violation involved using the slang term “hookers and blow,” which Pitts said was common in the music industry when referring to excess, but human resources investigators deemed inappropriate. Investigators also found Pitts had called [the employee]’s mother to try to talk about her performance at work, though they didn’t consider that a violation of city policies.

So you can’t say “hookers and blow” at work. But you can call someone’s mother to talk about their work performance. Good. To. Know.

Remind me again: why does this office exist?

Obit watch: May 7, 2017.

Sunday, May 7th, 2017

Bruce Hampton, aka “Col. Bruce Hampton”, jam band guy.

The Hampton Grease Band released an album on Columbia — Mr. Hampton liked to claim that it was one of the worst-selling albums in the label’s history — and opened for the Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers Band and other nationally known acts. It was also known for its twisted sense of humor, which included playing practical jokes.

I actually remember “Col. Bruce Hampton & The Aquarium Rescue Unit”: not any of the songs off of it, but just the title. What can I say, it tickled my fancy.

Peter Flawn, former president of the University of Texas. Among his many other accomplishments, he’s the guy who fired John Mackovic.

Obit watch: May 1, 2017.

Monday, May 1st, 2017

Dick Contino, noted accordion player and sometime actor.

In the late 1940’s, Mr. Contino was pulling down “up to $4,000 a week”. Then, in 1951, he got drafted into the Army. He didn’t take well to this:

…after reporting to Fort Ord, near Monterey, Calif., bolted before his induction, overwhelmed by persistent neuroses including claustrophobia.

He ended up serving 4 1/2 months in federal prison and paying a $10,000 fine for “refusing to submit to induction”. He was later pardoned, but his career never completely recovered.

He did go on to do a couple of B-movies, including “Daddy-O” (which some of you may remember as a Joel episode of MST3K). And even later on, he was the inspiration for James Ellroy’s “Dick Contino’s Blues”.

As a connoisseur of disaster…

Friday, April 28th, 2017

…I am enjoying reading about Fyre Festival so, so much.

It’s the feral dogs that really make a good music festival.

That reminds me. (adds Rabid: A Cultural History of the World’s Most Diabolical Virus to his Amazon wish list.)

William N. Finley IV’s Twitter feed: Finley was boots on the ground at Fyre Festival and is quoted in many pf the stories I’ve seen.

Questions, so many questions: could Ja Rule and Kendall Jenner be prosecuted for fraud? Would this have been a justified use of a MOAB? And is it true that United Airlines was an official Fyre Festival sponsor?

Obit watch: April 27, 2017.

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Jonathan Demme passed away yesterday. Which is a damn shame, because I wanted to ask him why he thought it was a good idea to remake “Charade” and “The Manchurian Candidate”.

But I suppose I have to give him a pass for those. “The Silence of the Lambs” is a faithful adaptation of the book, and a great movie it its own right.

And not that he ever needed it, but he would have earned a lifetime pass from me for “Stop Making Sense”.

Come to think of it, “Swimming To Cambodia” was a swell movie, too.

And I actually saw “Swing Shift” when it was in theaters, but I was unaware of the whole editing controversy, and really don’t remember the movie well at this distance. It might be worth a re-watch, but I think I want to see “Melvin and Howard” and “Handle With Care”/”Citizens Band” first.

Obit watch: April 13, 2017.

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

J. Geils, of J. Geils Band fame. Remember “Centerfold”? I used to have that on a 45 somewhere.

(Kids, ask your parents about records.)

My brother mentioned Charlie Murphy‘s death yesterday, and I’m embarrassed to admit: it rang no bells with me until I read the obit and realized, “Oh, yeah, the ‘True Hollywood Stories’ guy from ‘Chappelle’s Show’.” (I didn’t watch the show first run, but Lawrence has some DVDs that we’ve been watching from time to time.)

And I think this is worth noting for news value:

Sheila Abdus-Salaam, an associate judge on New York State’s highest court and the first African-American woman to serve on that bench, was found dead on Wednesday in the Hudson River, the authorities said.

I don’t want to speculate, but it doesn’t seem like the authorities suspect foul play at the moment.

Administrative note.

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

My birthday is coming up soon. As always, I do not expect any of my loyal readers to get me presents.

However, if someone felt inclined: please do not buy this book for me. Thank you.

(Seriously. I have nothing against Jesse Sublett: he seems like a pretty cool guy. But I don’t care much for the food at either Threadgill’s location. And one of the worst aspects of Austin culture is the incessant nostalgia: or, as Lawrence likes to put it, “the burned-out old hippies who constantly talk about how they went to the Armadillo, dropped acid, and saw Shiva’s Headband.” Said it before, I’ll say it again: if the Austin Chronicle and other people had their way, this town would be a 1970s music theme park.)

Bagatelle (#4).

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

If you told me I could only take one Talking Heads album to the desert island with me…it would be Stop Making Sense.

If, however, you said that it had to be a studio album, Remain In Light would be a good choice.

The thing that sort of surprises me is: he was able to hit 92 on MoPac. Then again, I can’t really tell what time of day it was, and traffic does thin out a little around the Braker Lane exit…

Apropos of nothing in particular, this post from Tam, in particular the last paragraph.