Here’s something I haven’t done in a while: A long-form music feature published somewhere other than this blog. My buds Jon Mann and Derek Hawkins — two men of many talents, whom New Yorkers of a certain persuasion might recognize as the dual frontmen of the Brooklyn punk/powerpop band Sunset Guns — edit and contribute to a really fun blog called Square Zeros, which has a couple different functions. One is the online home of the Square Zeros podcast, in which Jon and Derek talk to active musicians about their very first bands, revisiting recordings their guests had made as teenagers. The other is the “In Defense Of…” series, in which musicians, writers and aficionados write about records or musical acts they love, but that are somehow underappreciated. That doesn’t mean those acts are unpopular. In fact, in most cases in this series, the act at the center of the story is extremely popular, or at least was for a brief moment. But in most cases, the writer thinks the act isn’t taken seriously enough by people of “discerning taste,” and sets about explaining what they hear in this record that makes it special to them. The best “In Defense Of…” posts get into some really interesting questions about art and fanship and subjective experience: Do I like this record because it’s good, or because I first heard it at a pivotal time in my life? What do my perceived tastes say about my hang-ups and prejudices? What do the things I like say about the person I think I am?
Turns out I’ve been writing an “In Defense Of…” column in my head about one of my 25 or so favorite albums for the past, I don’t know, seven years. Continue reading
This is not Led Zeppelin. This is Spirit.
I’m normally a big proponent of proper attribution in all media. I’m also a proponent of giving Jimmy Page hell for the sheer number of guitar licks he lifted without attribution throughout Led Zeppelin’s existence, and I dig the band Spirit. You’d think, then, that I’d applaud former Spirit bassist Mark Andes and the estate of that band’s virtuoso guitarist, Randy California, for finally getting around to suing Led Zeppelin over an uncredited nick that turned into the introductory passage of “Stairway to Heaven.” But… I just don’t like the sound of this lawsuit thing.
Here’s the thing: Jimmy Page probably based the acoustic guitar figure that opens “Stairway” off of “Taurus,” an instrumental track from Spirit’s self-titled 1968 album. Continue reading
Posted in Arts and Culture, The Internet, Thinking About Media
Tagged classic rock, jimmy page, lawsuit, led zeppelin, plagiarism, randy california, spirit, stairway to heaven, taurus
So much fun, we turned it into a lunchbox: Jeff Glagowski’s 2004 illustration of a giant mayor’s fictitious rampage.
This morning, the final editions of the three alt-weekly newspapers that serve Connecticut — the New Haven Advocate, Hartford Advocate and Fairfield County Weekly — all hit newsstands. The Hartford Advocate, which I discovered on the floor of my high school’s chorus room, was the first alt-weekly I ever read and inspired me to pursue journalism seriously. The New Haven Advocate, which I read religiously through college, opened my eyes to the premise that whatever I wanted to get out of doing journalism, I wasn’t getting it from being a journalism major. (I switched to English pretty quickly.) At some point in my 20s, I wrote for each of those three papers. It’s often sad to acknowledge a significant part of your past is gone (and almost always a bum-out to realize you’ve reached an age when you can look back and notice how entities that at one point defined your life are totally gone), but my own sense of loss is a mere detail. The tragedy is that every region deserves an alt-weekly, and to imagine every Connecticut college campus and artists’ colony and band rehearsal complex to not have one that serves its own denizens… well, the image just doesn’t feel like Connecticut to me. The Connecticut I know is home to a culture where mild crankiness and dry wit ride high, where homegrown music and art are championed by very vocal local boosters, where the landscape is dotted with a few of the more prestigious colleges and universities in the U.S., where the political conversation tends to pan leftward, and where an extremely diverse (economically and ethnically) group of people try to understand each other and get along. Connecticut is alt-weekly country, man.
Posted in Arts and Culture, The Internet, Thinking About Media, Uncategorized
Tagged alt-weeklies, ctnow, digital media, fairfield county weekly, hartford advocate, journalism, new haven advocate, new mass media, print media