Friday, May 30, 2008

Worst worst-album-cover-poll hoax of all time?

The “worst album cover” blog post is reliable clickbait, the kind of thing people forward and digg and vote on every time it pops up. And of course there is no shortage of bad-art bounty to gawk and giggle at.

So why would there be any need for fakes? The latest poll, which I was alerted to via a VSL email, is at the Florida Sun-Sentinel (though it seems to be threaded through lots of other Tribune papers). It includes this as Album No. 1, ostensibly a blast from the IROC Z28 era and, it would seem, the source for a famous Simpsons gag:


Problem is, the album is most likely a fake. And not only that, but it’s been debated endlessly on forums for four years or so, going back to this apparent confession on a Something Awful forum, dated April 2004.

The overall Sun-Sentinel poll is not dated, and it doesn’t appear to be part of a story. But a call to the Sun-Sentinel newsroom revealed that the piece went up recently, “in the past couple of weeks.”

So a four-year-old quick Photoshop hoax lives on. Yay Internet polls.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Headline hall of fame: Mmm, monkey brains...

“Monkeys Control a Robot Arm With Their Thoughts”


Future headlines in the Planet of the Apes Is Here Gazette:

Monkeys Use Robotic Arms
To Sign Names on Casts
Of Other Monkeys’ Robotic Arms


Primates Skim ‘InStyle’
Using Robotic Arms

Dozens electrocuted licking fingers to turn pages

Simians’ Robotic Arms Become Self-Aware


‘Grodd’ named leader — calls for Batman’s ‘puny man-head’


Still miffed over ‘brains’ scene in ‘Temple of Doom’

Ultimatum From Anthropoids

‘Surrender bananas and Coke cans or poop will be thrown at you at supersonic speeds’

Scientists Confirm Deadly Force of Projectile Poop

Poop-Defense Shield Proposed

But Democrats won’t fucking sign it


Ape Dissenters Build Cybernetic Kubrick


Absurdist comedy reflects darkening primate culture


Editorial: ‘You maniacs! You blew it up! God damn you all to hell!’

Friday, May 23, 2008

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Promising collaborations: David Byrne and Dirty Projectors

Wow. I’m thrilled to hear the results of a session with two really great Davids: Byrne and Longstreth.

Byrne, in a post on his blog a couple of days ago (which reached me via Stereogum), discusses recording this past Sunday and Monday with Dirty Projectors for the upcoming “Red Hot and Indie” compilation, which is being produced by members of the National and will also feature Sufjan Stevens, Grizzly Bear, Feist, Sharon Jones and the Decemberists.

After giving a weird but pretty apt description of Dirty Projectors (“Their music has familiar elements, yet often sounds like pop music by someone who has read about the form, but never heard it, and then handed the essential building blocks to make some songs”), Byrne reveals a scenario that has probably been the subject of quite a few musical wet dreams over the last 30 years:

As a starting point for the second song, I sent Dave some lyrics I had written in maybe ’75 or ’76 ... These lyrics were unlike any I knew at the time, and made some of those [Talking Heads] tunes so peculiar. These songs didn’t lack emotion, but filtered it through an extremely constricting linguistic bottleneck, making the tension more pronounced, though never explicit. That sounds pretentious — and maybe it is — but looking back I can now see how truly odd those lyrics were. And I realize I don’t, and probably can’t, write like that anymore. Given the Projectors’ output however, these lyrics seemed like something they might “get.”

More amazing, Byrne seems to apologize for being the straight man here:

I still feel that I may have straightened out these DP tunes just a tiny bit, although perhaps it’s not an entirely bad thing: I sense that my participation reveals that there is a lot of method into what — at least for some — appears to be the total madness of the DP’s tunes.

Wired shows a little ‘Bossanova’ love

Headline for an item on Wired’s excellent music blog, Listening Post, about the new M. Night Shyamalan movie, The Happening:

‘Does M. Night Shyamalan Have a Thing for Pixies?’


Cute. “When they put it on the air I put it in the hammer lane.” The movie, as the poster says, stars the unencumbered-by-a-Funky-Bunch-reunion Mark Wahlberg.

Mariah Carey MySpace comment of the day: The enigma of Jerome


What do you mean, Jerome? You OK? Have you listened to "E=MC2" yet?

(get it?)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tom Waits interviews himself

Posted to today and released to We Media Whores: 3,100 words of Tom Waits interviewing himself. It’s somewhere between one of those idiotic Internet surveys that goes on forever (“What’s scary to you?”) and an obsessive if elusive game of self-description.

PhotobucketA typical section:

Q: What remarkable things have you found in unexpected places?
1. Real beauty: oil stains left by cars in a parking lot.
2. Shoe shine stand that looked like thrones in Brazil made of scrap wood.
3. False teeth in pawnshop windows- Reno, NV
4. Great acoustics: in jail.
5. Best food: Airport in Tulsa Oklahoma.
6. Most gift shops: Fatima, Portugal.
8. Most unlikely location for a Chicano crowd: A Morrissey concert.
9. Most poverty: Washington D.C.
10 A homeless man with a beautiful operatic voice singing the word “Bacteria” in an empty dumpster in Chinatown.
11. A Chinese man with a Texan accent in Scotland.
12. Best nights sleep-in a dry riverbed in Arizona.
13. Most people who wear red pants- St. Louis.
14. Most beautiful horses, N.Y.C.
15. A judge in Baltimore MD 1890 presided over a trial where a man who was accused of murder and was guilty, and convicted by a jury of his peers… and was let go- when the judge said to him at the end of the trial “You are guilty sir… but I cannot put in jail an innocent man.” You see - the murderer was a Siamese twin.
16. Largest penis (in proportion to its body)- The Barnacle

In other news, Waits is playing the devil in a new Terry Gilliam film.

Vaselines playing NYC!

Brooklyn Vegan reports that the Vaselines reunion is coming to New York. They’re at Maxwell’s on July 9 — I saw Eugene Kelly opening up for Bettie Serveert there on Oct. 26, 2000 — and Southpaw the next day. Tix for both go on sale Wednesday!

NME review of their first reunion gig, a few nights ago in Scotland.

Rush’s Pete Best dies


Billboard reports:

John Rutsey, a founding member of the seminal Canadian rock band Rush, has died, his family announced. He was 55.

Rutsey played drums with Rush from 1968 to 1974, as well as on the band’s eponymous debut album, but departed soon afterwards, apparently due to a lifelong illness stemming from diabetes.

Press release of the day: Publicity stunt over. Thank you for your cooperation.

The best thing for any pop star to be called is controversial. Luther Campbell still prays to Mammon every morning with thanks that As Nasty as They Wanna Be caused such a profitable ruckus back in 1989. And don’t even get me started on “Elvis Pelvis.”

Since Nas’s all-about-the-showbiz “feud” with Jay-Z ended three years ago, the rapper has had to work extra hard for publicity, and he’s done it by chasing after controversy like Lionel Hutz chases ambulances. He got some tongues wagging by calling his last album Hip Hop Is Dead. Then, last September, he performed at Virginia Tech and egged on Bill O’Reilly, who complained that Nas’s violent lyrics were inappropriate at a place where 32 people had been murdered. (I don’t usually agree with O’Reilly, but he had a point.)

About a month later Nas said that his next album would be titled simply with the N-word, and gave a Richard Pryor-esque explanation, saying he’s “taking power [away] from the word.” But was Nas trying to drain the word of its headline-grabbing power when he delayed the album numerous times, letting those Jesse Jackson, NAACP and elected-official complaints echo and amplify?

Now, six weeks before street date, having reaped all the outrage and free ink he could, he has changed the title to ... Nas. Update: While EW said it’s called Nas, AllHipHop and MTV both say it’s untitled. That’s right, this lion of provocation has chickened out where John Lennon and Patti Smith did not fear to tread. The explanation? According to his statement to the press yesterday, he did it for the “fans.” Awww.

It’s important to me that this album gets to the fans. It’s been a long time coming. I want my fans to know that creatively and lyrically, they can expect the same content and the same messages. It’s that important. The streets have been waiting for this for a long time. The people will always know what the real title of this album is and what to call it.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Yes, another thing on doctored album art — but this one is slightly different!


You’ve Sleevefaced. Now take the Challenge by “extending album art” — i.e., get all recontextual by placing the cover image on a larger canvas, thus creating some jarring/funny/insightful/idiotic other meaning. For example, Simon and Garfunkel are running from a car on the cover of Sounds of Silence, and the Kool-Aid Man is bursting through The Wall. Some of these are, naturally, pretty silly acts of vandalism, but quite a few are really ingenious.

Press release of the day: Dave Grohl — like a rock

Last year, in a review of the latest Foo Fighters album, I called Dave Grohl “the Bob Seger of alternative rock.” I was referring to his dependability in churning out mediocre, unadventurous music, but I had no idea how literal the connection would become, given the following announcement. As you read it, imagine replacing “Foo Fighters” with “Bob Seger” and see if they don’t seem utterly interchangeable.

— Three Days Grace To Open for Stand-Alone Concert —

MILWAUKEE (May 16, 2008) — Today Harley-Davidson announced that the iconic rock band Foo Fighters has been added to the already stellar line-up of musical talent performing during the Motor Company’s 105th Anniversary Celebration in Milwaukee.

PhotobucketFoo Fighters, along with special guest Three Days Grace, will play Friday, August 29, 2008, at the outdoor venue dubbed Roadhouse at the Lakefront, which is located just north of the Milwaukee Art Museum...

Over the past ten years, Foo Fighters has established itself as one of the biggest rock acts in the world, and the epitome of the American rock band...

In addition to Foo Fighters and Three Days Grace, American icons like Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band and ZZ Top, as well as rising stars like Daughtry are scheduled to perform during the 105th Anniversary. The Motor Company also plans to feature other popular acts including The Black Crowes, Dierks Bentley, Los Lonely Boys, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Buddy Guy, Cameo and more.

“Foo Fighters and Three Days Grace are incredible additions to our already stellar line-up for the 105th Anniversary,” said Ken Ostermann, Harley-Davidson’s general manager of Outreach Marketing. “We’re gonna rock Milwaukee, so you definitely won’t want to miss this once-in-a-lifetime event.”

Question: Is this lamer than “My Grammy Moment,” or vice-versa?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Mariah Carey MySpace comment of the day: Just finkin’


Gavin baby,

You know I like it smooth. But as tasty as mashed potatoes with salt and butter may be,
salt’s not good for my whistle-range vocal cords. True dat!

With a big fat dollop o’ hot buttered soul,

Friday, May 16, 2008

‘In Rainbows’ goes to eMusic


You missed your chance to download it at a price of your naming, i.e. for free, when it was released last October. You didn’t order the expensive “discbox” in time. You didn’t feel like buying the CD in a store. You didn’t feel like buying it on iTunes. Somehow you, Radiohead fan, have not heard the songs enough from your other Radiohead fan friends over the last seven months, and have also somehow not downloaded it illegally. And you still want it.

So here’s your chance: “In Rainbows” is now available on eMusic, the subscription download service that specializes in independent music. Depending on the plan you have, you can get the album for as little as $1.20. Thom Yorke has got to be amazed at all the ways people want to buy this thing.

Funky Bunch reunion, minus Marky Mark


’Bout time they funked us:

Nineties rap boyband Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch are set to reunite — without their frontman Mark Wahlberg.

Under the name The Funk Bs, returning original members Scott ‘Great Scott’ Ross, Hector ‘HB’ Barros, Terry ‘DJ-T’ Yancy have recruited new rappers Jaime ‘Avalanche’ Haage, Lola ‘LB’ Frazier, Chad ‘Dragon’ Penney, Dawayne ‘DJ Rareform’ Branco and Michael ‘Yung Piff’ Wilder to launch their comeback.
(From WTAM, Cleveland, via The Daily Swarm.)

They are signed to “the Canadian-based music label, Suave Dawg Records/” — the latter outfit describes itself as a “social media distribution platform” — and their album, “Still Standing,” is coming out in August. That’s a quick turnaround, considering that they just had auditions four weeks ago.

Sad, yes. But sadder still is that they are merely one account of the NKOTB-sploitating promoter who also represents Danny Wood and the very, very sad New Kids reunion.


Is ‘Battlestar Galactica’ jumping the shark?


I don’t watch enough television to be able to say authoritatively that Battlestar Galactica is the best show running. But screw Two and a Half Men, I’m going to say it anyway: Battlestar Galactica is the best show running.

Not because of its clever, oblique political commentary, though that is impressive. Not merely because there are excellent performances from an evenly matched ensemble cast. And not because there are graphic scenes of robots having sex.

It’s the writing. BSG is a perfect television epic, with a strong characters and a smart, emotionally compelling narrative. This is the story of a world at war, a story of father and son, tangled romances, false prophets, desperate power plays. It’s Homeric. That the show is based in a distant, futuristic sci-fi-verse with FTL spaceships and a complex political backdrop — that mankind is being hunted down by the fruits of its own Promethean advancement, and that, in classic Philip K. Dick fashion, its man-machine servants have evolved to the point where their sophistication challenges the very idea of humanity — is only incidental. The genius of Ronald D. Moore and his crew is that they have used their brilliant premise in service of great human story, and, gods bless them, have resisted the classic trap of being seduced by their own creation.

At least until recently. A few developments worry me. One is that the story is becoming way too concerned with the mystical elements of the human and Cylon religions. These have gone beyond their proper place as details to flesh out character and setting, and have hijacked the plot. I don’t know if I can take another tearful explosion by Kara Thrace about her prophetic visions, or another smarmy speech by Baltar or Leoben about destiny and how we are one and God is one and the one is one and God is God is one is God is us and yadda yadda.

All of this is framed by the quest for Earth, which in itself is OK; that focuses the drama and provides a tantalizing endpoint, given the potential for a Planet of the Apes-style twist ending. But the motivation for this quest has gotten sidelined by religious gobbledygook. Let’s get something straight here: the humans of BSG are going to Earth to find a place to fucking live, not to fulfill prophecies. More important, we are going to Earth with them — and care about getting there — because it resolves the dramatic crisis. I don’t give a shit about whether there’s one true god for all the Capricans and Sagittarons and Cylons. (Nor do I care about learning Klingon or how the Enterprise refuels, for that matter.) The sad result of this is that I don’t care very much about Earth, either.

This has been bubbling through the story for a while now, but for me it was crystallized in the most recently broadcast episode, “Faith.” The offending scene: Laura Roslin’s vision of the afterlife. She is on a boat on a river with whoever that other Galactica cancer patient is, and on the banks they see their smiling, welcoming dead relatives. The other woman rushes blissfully into their arms. Roslin looks at her mother but can’t go to her: “I’m not ready.”

For the most part BSG’s scenes of high drama can be compared with those in Twin Peaks or The Sopranos or I, Claudius or any of the other immortal television series. But not this. This is at the level of a Hallmark-sponsored abused-wife movie on Lifetime. Shame on you, Ronald D. Moore.

In the same vein: the Hybrid. She/It has been eating up enormous amounts of screen time with prophecy babble; she’s a device to build up a sense of portentous mystery. But it’s a big miscalculation by the writers to think that they can hold our interest with this contrivance. It’s supposed to mean a great deal to us that the Hybrid suddenly says something that makes sense. But which is more compelling: a race of survival through uncharted territory, with the captain and crew losing faith in themselves and the dying leader starting to make misguided power grabs; or a character who talks a lot of Jabberwocky and then says something that the writer triple-underlines as MEANINGFUL?

Over-reliance on the supernatural usually indicates a poorly thought-out story. Is that happening here? I hope not. Because that would really fracking suck.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Anono-Crüefest goes on

I’m quite enjoying my dialogue with anonymous, homophobic, ungrammatical Mötley Crüe fans, and I invite you, dear reader, to contribute.

Mariah Carey MySpace comment of the day: ‘Not tryna b noisey’


Dear Queenie Nini,

Thanks for your message. Fo’ real, girl!

But how’s marriage going to run my voice?

Harmonizin’ and monetizin’,

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Press release of the day: 500,000 Romans tortured in gruesome public ceremony



When In Rome 2007 Is a Triple DVD Featuring Over 5 Hours of Material, Shot During the Band’s Hugely Successful First Tour in 15 Years Turn It On Again. The European Tour Ended With a Show at Rome’s Circo Massimo in Front of 500,000 Fans, and Is Captured Here in Its Full Glory. The Package Also Includes a Spectacular Fly-on-the-Wall Documentary.

Available June 10 Exclusively At Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club,, and

LOS ANGELES — Genesis — Tony Banks, Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford — returned after 15 years with one of 2007’s most successful tours. After a series of brilliant stadium performances across Europe, the tour ended with a spellbinding grand finale in Rome as the band performed in front of 500,000 fans who filled the historic Circo Massimo for this free, open-air concert. Legendary director David Mallet captured the entire 2 hour and 36 minute spectacle with multiple cameras for WHEN IN ROME 2007...

Even better!

Come on, Mötley Crüe fans, at least show me the respect of using “I.P. Freely.”


Monday, May 12, 2008

My very first ‘your an idiot’

My first ungrammatical, cowardly flame! Thank you, anonymous 8:30, you have made my day. Your such a sweetheart!


Press release of the day: Band ‘inspired’ to delay CD release


It’s a pretty typical situation: an older band, particularly one reunited after some rancor, wants to launch a big, moneymaking album and tour. But the hits don’t come like they used to. And maybe a major, much-rumored business deal didn’t come through. So the album gets delayed a little bit. How to spin it?

Mötley Crüe’s answer: Say that the band’s own press conference “inspired” them them to go back into the studio and come up with something for radio! I certainly feel more inspired to spend a hundred bucks to see Vince Neil and Papa Roach, don’t you?



Los Angeles, CA (May 12, 2008) — Inspired by the energy and experience of their performance with their Crüe Fest cohorts Buckcherry, Papa Roach, Sixx:A.M. and Trapt at the press conference to announce the upcoming mega-tour, Mötley Crüe extended the production for their upcoming CD, returning to the studio this week to record one more track for the highly-anticipated album Saints of Los Angeles. The first new studio album recorded with all of the original band members in over a decade, Saints of Los Angeles will now be released on June 24th. Lyrically, the new album follows the story of the band’s NY Times best-selling memoir The Dirt, a no-holds-barred tell-all that features every gritty detail of the group’s exploits as one of the world’s biggest rock bands...

Says Sixx, “Before our performance at the press conference, we were firing on all cylinders at sound check just jamming out, and that’s when the new idea came. We quickly laid it down and went to the studio to record it, and liked it so much we pushed back the release one week so that we could get it onto the album — it now has 13 tracks. It’s the ultimate song to end the record with and begin the new chapter of our career.”

A better record map

Following my earlier posts and the map that ran in the Times, here’s my first foray into customized Google Maps: a fuller plotting of Manhattan’s record stores, past and present.

Blue markers represent stores that are open; red means closed; yellow is status unknown (mostly because I haven’t gotten around to making the latest batch of phone calls); purple means it’s a non-record store that has a significant music section. Like the list I have been updating — with extra details including the date each red one closed — I want to make this as complete and accurate as possible, so additions, corrections and news are all welcome.

View Larger Map

Last updated: September 2009

Sunday, May 11, 2008

One Missed Folksy 1920s Calendar


MAY 1920

“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.” — Theodore Roosevelt

JUNE 1920

“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” — Mark Twain

JULY 1920

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” — Henry Ford


“You are going to suffer a painful demise after being disfigured in a way that perverts some symbol of innocence and normality, such as having your face twisted inward like a badly made doll.”
— Mysterious Harbinger of Gruesome Death

All Men Are Liars

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Friday, May 9, 2008

Three degrees from Mariah


So by my calculations this puts me at three degrees of separation from Mariah Carey.

Photographic evidence: Me → (with) Sam “Rudy” Retzer-Petitioner → (with) 27-year-old “little-screen actor” Nick Cannon → (with) 38-year-old Little Miss No. 1 herself.

And I’m two from Sonny Spoon, a.k.a. Mario Van Peebles, but I’m not at liberty to disclose the details of that connection.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

One Missed Parchment Letter Delivered by a Slave


[To Robert Skipwith]

Monticello, 3 Aug. 1771

I sat down with a design of executing your request to form a catalogue of books to the amount of about 50 pounds sterling. But could by no means satisfy myself with any partial choice I could make. Nor could I extort a smile from the face of gravity once a most troublesome tableau manifested to me a providential warning. What virtue, indeed what wisdom lies in this vision? The inquiry has plagued my sleep, such that I could not receive Sally but twice these last severall evenings.

I hold this truth, that everything is useful which contributes to fix in the principles and practices of virtue. When any original act of charity or of gratitude, for instance, is presented either to our sight or imagination, we are deeply impressed with its beauty and feel a strong desire in ourselves of doing charitable and grateful acts also. On the contrary when we imagine any atrocious deed, such as I saw the other night, we are disgusted by its deformity, and conceive an abhorrence of vice.

For in this vision, your face was twisted inward and foul, a sight nearly as deathly and detestable as Benj. Frankl.’s derrière. I saw it but for a moment; — but mortality’s intimation persuaded me of the urgency to communicate it. As Vitruvius noted, death follows its preconception like a good slave to the garden bell. Therefore dear Bob, take caution whereupon Redcoats or agents of the Netherworld are concerned, — and if you receive a threat by letter, do confirm by discourse and study that the message did not come from inside the house.

PhotobucketAs regards a gentleman’s proper syllabus, we must begin with memory and imagination. Considering history as a moral exercise, her lessons would be too infrequent if confined to real life. We are therefore wisely framed to be as warmly interested for a fictitious as for a real personage. Thus a lively and lasting sense of filial duty is more effectually impressed on the mind of a son or daughter by reading King Lear, than by all the dry volumes of ethics and divinity that ever were written. — Of Politics and Trade I have given you a few only of the best books, as you would probably chuse to be not unacquainted with those commercial principles which bring wealth into our country, and the constitutional security we have for the enjoiment of that wealth.

Bear my affections to Wintipock clothed in the warmest expressions of sincerity; and to yourself be every human felicity. Adieu.

[Th. J.]

Vaselines reunion

Confirmed? Pitchfork says so, but no mention yet on the official lineup of the supposed occasion, Sub Pop’s 20th-anniversary concerts. Next Friday they are also booked to play Carnegie Hall — not the one in New York, but the one in Dunfermline, Scotland.

Follows rumors.


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

New podcast segment

I’ve begun a new audio feature on Popcast, the Times’s weekly music podcast. It’s a brief interview segment called Artist of the Week, and it will run alongside the CD reviews and other reports. (The full podcast is around 20 minutes.)

The plan is to have an informal conversation with an emerging artist or some musical person otherwise in the news, and so far I’ve been pleased with the results. Last week I talked with Tim Fite, a rapper/provocateur who gave away his last album for free, and this week I interviewed Slug from Atmosphere, whose new album “When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold” opened at No. 5.

You can subscribe to the Popcast here. Or, don’t subscribe, here.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Howard the Duck video journal

More Watchmen: this time it’s a video journal with the costume designer, Michael Wilkinson. The costumes are good, I guess (once again), and other than the 1960s flower children everything seems pretty true to the book.

But why is it that when Hollywood tries to do comic book realism, it comes out looking even more fake and contrived? Is it because comic art is all about fantasy to begin with, that even serious and novelistic books like Watchmen are still unapologetically unreal, with no attempt to fool anybody?

Monday, May 5, 2008

One Missed “Ant’ny”


[Twilight. The sound of an accordion drifts through tenement streets. A voice is heard from somewhere around the corner.]

MA. Ant’ny! Aaaaant’ny!

MR. DiSIPIO. Paulie — get ya bruddah. Your muddah’s callin’ ’im.

MA. Aaaaaaaaant’ny!


MA. Paulie! Tell your bruddah Ant’ny! His face is gonna dry up and it’s gonna look like a ginger root!

PAULIE. WHAAA? Ma, whadda you talkin’ about?

MA. Paulie shaddup and listen! Your bruddah! He’s bein’ pursued by the forces of darkness, who have inexplicably singled out Mulberry Street here in 1920 to enter the realm of the livin’! They got no motivation ’cept evil! Way they do it is, first you get the message sayin’ how you’re gonna get it, and then you get it! And this is how they said Ant’ny’s gonna get it!

PAULIE. Ma, that’s crazy!

MA. Paulie shaddup and don’t interrupt your muddah! Your bruddah Ant’ny! His face is gonna dry up and look like a ginger root! And then his skull is gonna implode and he’s gonna walk around like a headless zombie!

PAULIE. Ma, that’s disgusting!

MA. Paulie shaddup! Tell your bruddah he’s gotta banish the sleep demons back to da netherworld if he wants his face to stay on like normal! And we all know that ain’t no movie star face to begin with! I swear they switched ’im on me at the hospital! Madonn’!

MR. DiSIPIO. I can’t hear myself think out here!


MA. Paulie! Tell Ant’ny I’m makin’ meatballs, just the way he likes ’em! I need green peppers and some more tomatoes! Make sure you smell the peppers before you buy ’em!


The original “Ant’ny.”

Oh Jesus freakin’ Christ


Why, Frankie?

Record Store Day postmortem

So was Record Store Day a success?

Anecdotal reports on the event, which was April 19, suggest that participating stores had good days. Newbury Comics, the Boston indie empire, said: “Our overall store sales were up 85 percent and our margin was up 49 percent. Sales were over 30,000 higher than on Black Friday of last year.” And StreetPulse, which tracks sales for independent retailers, told me:

StreetPulse numbers reveals [sic] Saturday (4/19) as the largest day of music sales for 2008 out selling the second largest day (3/22) by 29 percent. Music sales increased 39 percent on Record Store Day compared to the same time the previous week. The response to Record Store Day increased music sales over 22 percent from same day last year.

Billboard surveys some stores, with mostly good news, and relays SoundScan data saying that while chain-store sales were down 20.8 percent from the same week last year, indies were up 1.6 percent. In most businesses 1.6 percent is flat; in the sad new music biz, it’s cause for a pat on the back.

But will it have any lasting effect? Probably not, of course. New York’s showing in particular was poor. I am aware of only three of New York’s quickly disappearing record stores that had any special activities: Other Music in Manhattan, and Sound Fix and Halcyon in Brooklyn. (Update: Apparently J&R also had something; Ed Christman mentioned it in his column but I can’t link to it.) Other Music was pretty busy, and gave 10 percent off everything in the store. That was nice, but Cortney Harding at Billboard noted a telling detail:

Perhaps the image that best sums up Record Store Day is this: Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach DJ’ing an afternoon set at Manhattan’s Other Music, with two iPods set atop silent turntables.

While the shop was crowded and the register lines were long, Auerbach’s small visual statement seemed monumental. Even on Record Store Day, the record had been supplanted.

Perhaps a good measurement of the success or failure of Record Store Day would be sales for the week that followed.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Mariah’s asterisk


This has been pointed out before, but recent conversations suggest that it still needs to be said.

A few weeks ago Mariah Carey scored her 18th No. 1 on the Billboard chart with the song “Touch My Body,” and it was reported widely that she had thus surpassed Elvis Presley as the artist with the second-most career No. 1 hits. (The Beatles remain in the lead, with 20.)

Cue media/blogger freakout, as haters hated, disputers disputed and contrarians got contrary. What did it mean that cheesy and tasteless Mariah had eclipsed cheesy and tasteless saintly marvel Elvis in this important milestone? Forget soldiers dying on their seventh tours of Afghanistan. Truly this is our civilization’s darkest moment!

There’s just one problem with the debate: the chart interpretation is not entirely correct. Mariah has passed Elvis only by a technicality; an important one, but a technicality nonetheless.

Elvis also has 18 No. 1 songs — but only 17 No. 1 singles. In 1956, “Don’t Be Cruel” and “Hound Dog” were two sides of a double-A sided single, and both songs went to No. 1. (Originally it was a regular one-sided single; it says something about Elvis’s confidence as chart hegemon in those days that he was willing to throw “Hound Dog” away as a B-side.)

It’s perfectly true that 18 Elvis songs went to No. 1, but the baseball-stats aspect here demands that apples be compared to apples and singles to singles. If both sides of a single go to No. 1, then that single counts only once, because strictly speaking a single is a piece of plastic, not a song. (Or, in more contemporary marketing terms, a single is one SKU, no matter how many charting songs are on it, and the Billboard Hot 100 tracks single SKUs.)

So for Mariah to truly surpass Elvis, or at least to erase her asterisk, she has to score one more No. 1. Her current single is “Bye Bye.” (A StarGate song.)

Billboard deserves a certain amount of blame for this confusion. Its initial story did not make the song/single distinction clear, and also did not take note of “Don’t Be Cruel/“Hound Dog.” That is partly due to a chart authority conflict, as Billboard’s data guru Geoff Mayfield made note of in his weekly column:

COUNTING ELVIS: Mariah Carey now has more Billboard Hot 100 No. 1s than any solo artist in the rock era, yet earnest Elvis Presley fans and some Billboard chart books insist the King also had 18 toppers. Why the discrepancy?

Joel Whitburn, author of Record Research’s line of Billboard chart tomes, counts the double-sided single “Don’t Be Cruel”/“Hound Dog” as two No. 1s, but Billboard’s charts department and the magazine’s ranking trivia expert, Fred Bronson, assert those two songs comprise but one single, and thus a singular No. 1 shared by the two songs.

The first 10 of Presley’s 17 No. 1s preceded the August 1958 launch of the Billboard Hot 100. From his first topper, “Heartbreak Hotel” in 1956, through “Hard Headed Woman
in June 1958, his chart history began on Billboard’s Best Sellers in Stores list.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Gawker shocker

I’m shocked and flattered that Gawker, in an item headed “Things We Actually Like,” actually liked my Madonna piece today. Which by the law of blog averages means that they have to hate the next 350 things that I write.

Blog school: Post long, unreadable legal boilerplate whenever possible


Hats off to Rolling Stone for finding a way to combine the immediacy and informality of a pop-culture blog post with the cold, unwelcoming wall of text of a lengthy legal disclaimer.

A post on Thursday announced a contest for an “Iron Man”-themed cellphone with an innovative ratio of natural, casual language to snoozy boilerplate. Of the item’s 960 words, 871 are devoted to the kind of tight, irreverent voice that characterizes the best blogs: “By entering, participants agree to release and hold harmless, its parents, subsidiaries and affiliated entities, and each of their directors, officers, employees, attorneys, agents, and representatives from any damage, injury, expense, cost, death, loss, claim, action, demand, or other liability that may arise in connection with the Sweepstakes, or resulting from their acceptance and/or use of any prize, their travel to or from any prize related activity, their participation in this promotion, or from any misuse or malfunction of any prize awarded, including, without limitation, personal injury, death, and/or property damage.”

Now that’s good blog.

Full text below, with OMG parts highlighted:

To celebrate the release of Iron Man in theaters tomorrow, we’re giving away one LG gold-plated, limited edition Iron Man phone (check out the photo above). If you live in the continental U.S. and are over 18, send an e-mail to with your full name, age, address and phone number to enter. All entries must be received by 11:59p.m. next Thursday, May 8th, and only one entry is allowed per person. Read the full rules after the jump, and check back tomorrow for Peter Travers’ summer movie preview.

Official Rules for’s Iron Man LG Limited Edition Phone Giveaway


Open to legal residents of the Continental United States. Entrants must be 18 and older as of 05/01/08.

How to Enter:

1. To enter the “ Iron Man LG Limited Edition Phone Giveaway,” email your full name, age, address and phone number to Limit one entry per person. Sweepstakes begins at 4:30 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time) on 05/01/08. All online entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time) on 05/08/08.

2. No mechanically reproduced or computer generated entries permitted. Not responsible for lost, late or misdirected entries, or entries containing incorrect or incomplete information. Not responsible for any problems or technical malfunctions of any telephone network or lines, computer, on-line, or Internet systems or services, servers, computer equipment, software, failure of any email or entry or confirmation or winners notice on account of technical problems or traffic congestion on the Internet, problems with the website, or any combination thereof, including any injury or damage to entrant’s or any other person’s computer resulting from downloading any materials in connection with the Sweepstakes. Entries become the property of Rolling and will not be acknowledged or returned.

3. Winner(s):

One (1) Grand Prize winner will be selected at random by staff. Grand Winner will be notified by e-mail or telephone.

4. Prize(s):

Grand Prize winner will receive one (1) LG gold-plated, limited edition Iron Man phone. Approximate Retail Value (“ARV”) of Grand Prize: $1300. Actual retail value of the Grand Prize may vary. Certain restrictions may apply. reserves the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value.


5. Employees of, its affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising or promotional agencies, immediate family members and/or those living in same household are not eligible.

6. No substitution or transfer of prize permitted except as provided herein. Prizes are non-redeemable for cash. In the event of unavailability, Us Weekly may substitute a prize of greater or equal value.

7. All federal/state/local taxes are the sole responsibility of prize winner.

8. Potential prize winners must execute an Affidavit of Eligibility/Release of Liability/Prize Acceptance Form within 10 days of notification. Noncompliance/return of prize notification as undeliverable will result in disqualification and selection of an alternate winner.

9. By entering, participants agree to release and hold harmless, its parents, subsidiaries and affiliated entities, and each of their directors, officers, employees, attorneys, agents, and representatives from any damage, injury, expense, cost, death, loss, claim, action, demand, or other liability that may arise in connection with the Sweepstakes, or resulting from their acceptance and/or use of any prize, their travel to or from any prize related activity, their participation in this promotion, or from any misuse or malfunction of any prize awarded, including, without limitation, personal injury, death, and/or property damage.

10. Acceptance of any Prize constitutes consent to use winner’s name and likeness for editorial, advertising and publicity purposes in all media, whether currently existent or hereafter derived, without additional compensation, except where prohibited by law.

11. reserves the right to disqualify any person tampering with the entry process, the operation of the website, or who is otherwise in violation of the Official Rules. further reserves the right to cancel, terminate or modify the Sweepstakes in the event the Sweepstakes is not capable of completion as planned, including infection by computer virus, bugs, tampering, or technical failures of any kind. In the event of a dispute as to entries submitted by multiple users having the same email account, the authorized subscriber of the email account used to enter the Sweepstakes at the actual time of entry will be deemed to be the entrant and must comply with these Official Rules. Authorized account subscriber is deemed to be the natural person who is assigned an email address by an Internet access provider, on-line service provider or other organization which is responsible for assigning email addresses or the domain associated with the submitted email address. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY ANY PARTICIPANT TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE THE ROLLINGSTONE.COM WEBSITE OR TAMPER WITH OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THE SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, ROLLINGSTONE.COM RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK REMEDIES AND DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH ENTRANT(S) TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW INCLUDING CRIMINAL PROSECUTION.

12. By participating, entrants agree to be bound by these Official Rules and the decisions of, which shall be final and binding with regard to all matters relating to the Sweepstakes.

13. Any dispute arising from this Sweepstakes will be determined according to the laws of the State of New York, without reference to its conflict of laws principles, and the entrants consent to the personal jurisdiction of the State and Federal Court located in New York County and agree that such courts shall have exclusive jurisdiction over all such disputes.

Winner’s List:

For name of prize winner, after 05/09/08, send a separate, stamped, self-addressed, No.10 envelope to: “ Iron Man LG Limited Edition Phone Giveaway,” Attention 1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10104.


Thursday, May 1, 2008

Press release of the day: Unwarranted reunions, Part II


Joey McIntyre, Jonathan Knight, Donnie Wahlberg, Jordan Knight, Danny Wood

All Together Again On One Stage”