Saturday, September 15, 2007 :::
Preliminary Notes Toward The Taking of Notes Vol. 3
Sid Bucknor, Jamaican sound engineer
Igor Sikorsky, helicopter pioneer
Sir Richard Owen, anti-darwinian
Marty Palmer, candymaker (Twin Bing)
Leo Lerman, NY fashion journalism world man about town
::: posted by Brian at 8:09 PM
I have officially abandoned the "review every book I read in 2002" project.
New project: at least once a week record reviews.
At least once a week preliminary notes toward the making of notes.
I have a new favorite singer this week. She calls herself Roadkill. I listened to her for over five hours (I think) live a few weeks ago. Now I listen to her tracks on MySpace between assignments.
Latest renewed passion: Deep Purple.
::: posted by Brian at 8:01 PM
Wednesday, April 12, 2006 :::
More Preliminary Notes Toward the Taking of Notes
Brig. Gen. Kenneth J. Glueck Jr., U.S. Southern Command's chief of staff
Fanny Trollope, Domestic Manners of the Americans (Anthony's mother)
Elvin Semrad, residency director, Massachusetts Mental Health Center
::: posted by Brian at 10:32 AM
Wednesday, March 22, 2006 :::
FOR SOME REASON...
Posting something fresh here for the first time in over a year caused all the older stuff to change fonts and turn all quotes and apostophes into question marks. I will do nothing about this.
::: posted by Brian at 1:00 PM
Some Preliminary Notes Toward the Taking of Notes
Henry Sheve, great Mississippi navigator, 1810s
Paul Moddy, inventer, Waltham System--spinning and weaving in one operation
Jim McNerney, Boeing CEO
Casey Jones, Cannonball express, 1900
Walter Sickert, Jack the Ripper?? (artist)
::: posted by Brian at 12:00 PM
Friday, February 18, 2005 :::
Reading too much can make every one of one's own feelings, thoughts, and reactions seem like a cliche, overdone, been said and felt a million times before, to be avoided. (Although, as Mr. Rinaldi once told me, "Doing something just because it has never been done before...has been done before." The ellipses represent a conversational pause--he's a verbal artist--not anything elided by this author.) This might be one of the reasons I am now openly abrogating previous vows on this zine to write commentary on every book I completed in 2002. I may make a similarly foolish vow for last year, or this year. But I'm not. Yet.
I could probably go the rest of a normal human lifespan never buying another book, and still have plenty of fresh reading to do among the books I already own. And am putting in boxes.
::: posted by Brian at 11:10 AM
Wednesday, January 26, 2005 :::
Music From the Mint Green Nest: A Love Song
When I began this zine in 1992, it was all of a piece with a burgeoning energy, desire, need, obsession with giving something back to the dominant social movement of my life and times, yes, that's right, just gimme indie rock. I'm not embarassed, not anymore. I'm willing to consider that I should have been, but I'm not.
The culmination, and what with better planning, better sense, better knowledge, would have been the heroic capstone of that burst of energy and cash and time circa 1992-97 should have been the double vinyl release of Meringue's Music from the Mint Green Nest, on my label Cherry Smash. What I didn't realize sufficiently that Feb. 1997 was way too late to release something vinyl-only if you expected to sell any of them. As a result, 500 of them litter my living room and closets to this day.
But I still Believe. Lots of total strangers, loving them in a very sincere, they-aren't-my-drinking-buddies, I'm-not-trying-to-be-a-tastemaker way wrote me letters about how much they loved it. One of them, God bless 'im, bought a turntable just for it.
I've already broken faith with the original concept of Surrender #6 in service of trying to sell my book about Burning Man (and it has worked, that thing has sold an amount in 5 months that makes me happy.) I'll do it again to remind some portion of the world that Meringue made a really special album almost 9 years ago--damn--and some people noticed.
Go here. And here. I remember standing, weary with amazement, the first time I saw Trey, Frog, Roger, and Chris jamming all night long in the wayback of the Hardback. (They let you do that, the local dominant music club, then and there in Gainesville Fla. Just let you set up and do your thing all night if you needed to. Hey, that's what clubs are for, right?) Then I decided to put out their records. I remember hearing the disconnected vocal and guitar bits in Trey's living room during the year-long process of making Mint Green Nest. I remember the last time I played it and was renewed and refreshed and happy yet again, a flower I did a little bit, what I could, to nurture, and it is still blossoming and giving off a unique and irreplacable fragrance.
"Nothing sounds as good as I Remember That." If you lived it, you deserve, if you want it, a moment to torment the Present and the Future with your past. At least a chance to try, storing fragments of boxes of vinyl against a ruin that will, God bless us, never come. We may not get older and better but we get, if we try, older and bigger but the best part of it is sometimes these delightful and sweet and brilliant old moments that keep forming that Biggerness.
However, that this record is a moment in time for me is my problem, or glory, or however I choose to take it. But I believe the children are our future, and all God's children will one day dance in some garden where the metal burnished flame-flowers hang sideways from purple-spotted mushroom huts with warmly humming dancing bears and gnomes playing endless card games with young punks drunk for the third time, and this album will be all they hear in their hearts.
::: posted by Brian at 5:28 PM
Friday, August 06, 2004 :::
I've Been Living a Lie
I've been pretending that this was merely the sixth issue of my beloved xeroxed folded-over 8 1/2 x 11 zine from the mid-'90s. I didn't want to admit it was no longer the mid-'90s. I was so trim then. Certain restaurants that are no longer open were open. I still enjoyed new records. I didn't spend 90 percent of my life "online."
But it's not a zine. It's a web site. Some might even call it a blog. I'm looking reality square in the face and not flinching. At least for right now.
The traumatic shock that brought this to my attention was the release this week of my own first book, This is Burning Man. Perhaps some jackass will be writing half-remembered inappropriate comments on their own web site years down the line about my years of love, sweat, and ephedra. I can only hope.
I realized that the book represented far more effort than this zine, web site, whatever ever has. (Check the last time I updated it.) I do still intend to return to my task of writing about every book I read two years ago. (I may reduce each review to one sentence, or perhaps even some specific number of words. Not 17 though, because that would be haiku, and I still have my pride, even if I don't have my zine.)
But I'm breaking my little delusional fantasy world to tell anyone still reading this that they can read me doing actual pretty-much-daily pureblogging regarding my book, its fate, reviews, news, events, etc. at what I am calling, to my shame, my Burning Blog.
And here's the dedicated web site for the book.
And here's how to buy it.
And here's a radio program that did the first half hour dedicated to it, The Liberated Space.
I have to go now. We must sail again together soon. Your charm and good fellowship have been a succor; I thank you sincerely. I hope to return soon. When I do, this shall once again be a zine, not a blog.
::: posted by Brian at 2:41 PM
Sunday, December 07, 2003 :::
Will No One Rid Me of These Meddlesome Books?
Possible future essays in the zine: the hows and whys and deep ambivalences of becoming a late-in-life Deadhead after years of ignorant disdain for them; a long disquisition on my favorite photograph of myself. In the meantime, here are some more books I finished last April.
PSYCHIATRY AND NEW PERSPECTIVES ON CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR by C.R. Jeffery et al. One of the most openly evil books I’ve ever read, yet instructive in its clear-eyed and unashamed presentation of the totalitarianism hidden behind biopsychiatric explanations. This book stands proudly and strongly behind the ideas that there is no such thing as a choice for which someone should be praised or blamed or punished, and that, of course, the state should be able to forcible treat anyone for any reason at the call of biopsychiatric scientists.
Chapter four, “Law, Biological Psychiatry, and Diseases of the Brain” is one of the most brazenly hilarious examples I’ve come across of someone speculating beyond the evidence in defense of a ridiculous thesis—from page to page he both makes assertions about the “brain disease” nature of certain misbehaviors and ad hoc “syndromes” like post-traumatic stress disorder and then admits over and over that of course we haven’t found the evidence for these assumptions yet—lots of “assumed” and “probably” and “it is hoped before too long” peppered throughout. (You see some of this same rhetoric in defenders of evolutionary biology—they literally cannot imagine that their base presumptions might not be true, so whatever explanation they come up with that fits logically with those presumptions must be true. This does not, of course, mean that they aren’t right—it just means they haven’t proven it.)
The authors could have stopped the book after a paragraph proclaiming, “humans don't really act or choose, and we should be able to do anything we want to anyone we please because of this fact.’” The chapter in which the author details the actions of various famous murderers, muses on what sort of brain diseases we would have found if only we’d studied them, then leans back as if something has been demonstrated is also good for a sour chuckle or three.
This book is foolish, and motivated by pure evil. Still, it has one good polemical point: the authors are foursquare opposed to the standard insanity defense. Of course, they are against it because it implies that there are some people who are in control of their actions and should be considered responsible for them, and of course that can’t be true. The authors can’t even keep on top of their nutty presuppositions—one of them, for some mysterious reason, discusses the growth in crime in Miami after the influx of lots of Caribbeans and Central Americans—are we to presume they all suffer from some racial neurological imbalance leading them to crime? In one way the authors are more intellectually honest than many in this field—they recognize that biopsychiatry creates a divide between total freedom and total tyranny, and openly and proudly choose total tyranny. For those who don’t understand the connection between biopsychiatry and tyranny, or who deny it, this book is a constructive lesson. One might say that these authors are merely dopes and their thoughts on the implications of biopsychiatry are meaningless in judging its cultural and political effects and implications. That’s as may be, but I suspect in the realm of popular politics these guys’ conclusions will dominate more than the subtle (as a serpent) thinkers who say that there is no such thing as will or choice but we should—and will—have political freedom anyway.
LEXICON DEVIL: THE FAST TIMES AND SHORT LIFE OF DARBY CRASH AND THE GERMS by Brendan Mullen with Don Bolles and Adam Parfrey. An amusing oral history on the links between dumb kids, Scientology-linked groovy mid-'70s educational experiments, and self-indulgent dolts who could make a terrific and dreadful noise. Don was there behind the drums, Mullen hung around and talked to everyone, and Adam had to get the whole thing put together—there are some hints the tortured story of getting this book finished might have been as aggravating and funny as the stories in the book itself. Darby and the Germs are among the most controversial figures in punk history—genuinely controversial, in that no standardly accepted version on whether the band was ever any good or Darby an interesting singer/thinker/human being has yet dominated the “scholarly literature.” This book doesn’t really take sides either, though its very existence would appear to be a vote in the “Darby Yeh!” category. Not having been around LA before that fateful Dec. 8, 1980, I can only say that I can dig hearing (GI) almost any ol’ time.
ROBERT NOZICK by A.R. Lacey. A serviceable explanation of the major writings and ideas of an often-infuriating writer and philosopher. Lacey is not the kind of expositor who can make you see things in a writer that the writer himself couldn’t—that is, if you go in sympathetic to or aggravated by aspects of Nozick’s conclusions or style, Lacey won’t change your mind on any of that—nor will he make things that didn’t make sense to you in Nozick make any more sense. Is the practice of endless consideration of counterfactuals intellectually illuminating in the main? Was Nozick just being a self-glorifying jackass with his smug assertions that he wasn’t out to “coerce” people into agreement with him? What the hell is “organic unity,” such that we should value it (or, should I say, such that it defines value?) How can compensation play any real role in a system of justice with rights as side constraints? Lacey can’t answer these questions any better than Nozick himself. As such, not a whole lot to recommend this over and above reading Nozick himself, except that this book is a lot shorter than any of Nozick’s.
::: posted by Brian at 10:10 PM