Robert Kimmerle
executive branch in a nation of one

Wednesday, July 30, 2003
 
As we speak, Bill's on his way to doing a last-hurrah trip with a friend of his: three nights in Rome, three nights in Paris, a few days' indeterminate trajectory in between. I took him out to lunch yesterday, to help out with some eleventh-hour suggestions, and made two realizations that should have been blatantly obvious. One: going through my mental catalogue of places to find a good chocolate crepe or while away an afternoon gave me some heavy nostalgia pangs. Two: My brother is an independent full-fledged functional quasi-adult, and to boot he's one of the most fantastic human beings I could ever hope to meet, let alone be related to.

Needless to say, I hope he has a wonderful time on his trip, and I'm sure he will.


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Monday, July 28, 2003
 
More fun with Mogwai, from the webpage: "I've just noticed something funny on eBay. The people who are trying to sell our new LP are having trouble keeping themselves out of the picture as it's like a mirror. Caught." It's true, and shorn of its reflective carapace it's a good album, too.


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Saturday, July 26, 2003
 
If, for some reason, you feel compelled to visit the ctblackhouse.com website, don't; it's been taken over by evil cybersquatters who attempt to force-feed you spyware. A fairly decent history (though written before the thing was resolved, so chronologically incomplete) can still be had elsewhere, however.


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Three first impressions of the Roots:

I: I'm not a huge hip-hop fan. In high school, I was briefly into Public Enemy, back when "Fight the Power" was the most potent thing a boombox could ever conceivably emit, but it's a form of music I admire spottily and generally from afar. Songs about what brand of champagne you buy with drug money do not impress me. But I dug on the Roots, partly because the formula seemed appealing (all-instrumental hip-hop? skippy) and a couple of tunes heard out of context sounded neat. On several of my record-store wanderings I considered buying a copy of the first album, but always found something more urgent.

I did, at some point, eventually buy "Do You Want More?!" for my brother, who gets into Built to Spill but who also genuflects at the filthy temple of Jay-Z; I considered it missionary work. He liked it, unevenly, carted it around, thundered Nas or DMX out of his jeep instead. I borrowed the disc, liked it plenty, got heavily into two tracks ("Mellow My Man" and "Essaywhuman"), which I'd loop in my obsessive way.

II: I finally own a Roots album. "The Roots Come Alive", the live one, because it has my two favorite tracks plus another ("You Got Me") I'd heard and liked on some-or-other compilation. So an ad-hoc greatest-hits widget, plus maybe a shot at seeing what the Roots are like live.

Which is sometimes a dangerous proposition. Certain bands are live bands, at their essence, even beyond the interminable-pot-haze genre. Sublime were an anemic loser-ska group on their albums; on stage (and on the live disc they put out) they acquired speed, ferocity, uncanny control. Most, on the other hand, are not. The Roots are not like this, in either sense: they metamorphose entirely. Their studio albums reflect the properties of a small jazz ensemble: wit, snap, warmth, surprise. On the live album, their music is submitted to the experience and scrutiny of a greater number of ears, and it is transformed: expansive, haunted, at once garrulous ("You sound drunk", cackles the vocalist interstitially at his colleagues) and inspired.

III: I used up my annual allotment of MTV two nights ago, channel-surfing between baseball games: a half-hour live concert show, this installment featuring the Roots. Only room enough for a handful of tracks, all from the most recent album. My brother assures me that the Roots' last couple of singles have been in semi-heavy rotation. The crowd shots of the concert (polyglot, but largely white; everyone mouthing the lyrics) confirm this.

I am, ultimately, impressed by the Roots as a rock band, which was probably the intent all along but I've been faffing about with categorizations. ?uestlove, the drummer, has one of the truly great rock hairdos, a tremendous afro that moves in time with the music, like the rest of him. In a live setting, or at least in this one, the band goes for the big rock moves (rousing blues finish, searing electric-guitar solo-with-tongue, &c.) with demonstrable panache. It's like the future of rock in a parallel universe, as though gangsta stayed cramped in beyond-fire-code clubs and these were the lineal descendants of Jimi and P-Funk. That universe looks cooler, where I sit.


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Friday, July 18, 2003
 
Thirteen-hour workday. Been a long week generally; I've damn skippy earned my vacation. Black postcards, Dean Wareham my guardo camino, blissful.

Been an odd week for old friends, too. I met Jason in the city last Saturday; he's in town trying to reason out what his law degree's going to amount to this time next year, so we ate breakfastlunch and loafed in Tompkins Square Park and hobbled around lower Manhattan and bought books and tried to buy an ant farm and ate really fucking stupendous grilled meat from a pushcart. Hopefully that's what it is a law degree gets you these days.

Also, Jeff's got himself a blog now, which appears largely for the moment to be a chronicle of his valiant efforts to risk his ass commuting across London on rollerblades, which itself tells you quite a bit about the subject. It is, of course, much, much more than that as well. Jeff's post about my own blog is kind of dithyrambic, and mostly it's scaring the crap out of me; Jeff's a good buddy from les beaux jours, is now refining his mind control experiments, and hopefully I can either coerce him to come to St. Louis this autumn or I can find half a reason to scamper up into the mountains.


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Wednesday, July 16, 2003
 
The unintended consequences of business casual: actually wearing a suit to work causes fear and suspicion among the general populace. I dressed up to go to Dad's extra-fancy 50th birthday dinner after work, and my boss, in his typically wry British way, inquires: "So what time's the interview?"

By about 9:45a, however, I'd faced the question enough to warrant taping up a sign in my cube: "NO, I am not going on an interview today. Thanks for your interest, however." Naturally, this only had the net effect of reinforcing the paranoia.


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Monday, July 07, 2003
 
Update: As of sometime today my folks were back in the house, and services had been fully restored. (Mom couldn't figure out the home-theater widget Dad had installed, though. 'S cool. Neither can I.) Seems you can't go there unless you live there, though, and full cleanup will be some time.

Superior insight from Mogwai, whose music does indeed possess therapeutic properties, regarding the role of critics: "They are the patients we are the doctors, their assessments of our treatments are irrelevant." I wonder what Roland Barthes would have made of that.


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Friday, July 04, 2003
 
Um, holy shit. Actually, the wonder is that the whole of Stonington Borough didn't burst into flames; apparently a favorable (lack of) wind is to thank for that. Of course, the development plan for the mill was just underway, so who knows what that's going to mean.

At any rate the whole rest of the family was up there for the weekend; Dad and Bill were off on errands, but Mom was actually at the house, which means once the fire started she was effectively cut off from the rest of town. (Here's a pretty good aerial map of the borough. The mill complex is pretty obvious to spot on the left side, and the arterial road running up the left side of the peninsula is Water Street. Our house is south of the first cross street. Observe the scale; the whole of the map top-to-bottom is a leisurely eight-minute walk.) Mom responded by covering her face with a wet dishtowel and persuading a couple of neighbors to sail her around the borough and drop her in the main downtown area above Cannon Square, which is a pretty James Bond move as far as my mom goes. Less resourceful souls ended up getting evacuated above the square by more mundane methods.

Net result for us: No one hurt, thank god, and no direct damage to the house. No power, apparently no telephones (we did get a brief moment of worry when Dad called me asking if I'd heard from Mom; all the lines to the end of the point run through or past the mill, so phone services disappeared immediately). My folks ended up having to seek out alternate lodging, and Mom went looking to be compensated for her distress and inconvenience. Today they're going to back to the house (if they can; the fire's going to take a few days to burn itself out, and sections of the building that collapsed onto Water Street are now smoldering rubble) to grab clothes and empty the fridge and such; no one has any idea how long it'll be before the house is usable again.


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