decemberists coming, wapo circ decline

Not-tremendously-interesting story from today’s paper. Another not-tremendously-interesting story coming in tomorrow’s.
Just as I previously said all right-thinking Dallasites should have been at the Clem Snide show a couple weeks ago, all right-thinking Texans should be at the Decemberists show tomorrow night. You shan’t regret it — they’re terrific live and the new album is aces.
Why the Washington Post is losing circulation. This is the most depressing part of the decline of my line of work: The Post is an amazing newspaper, led by very smart people, and in the perfect newspaper market, but it’s still dropping readers. Awful stuff.
The most annoying part of the article is the scene from the non-reader focus group: “Former subscribers complained unread papers piled up at their homes, making them feel guilty because they hadn’t read them. The responses were not ‘No, I don’t like the Post.’ They were ‘No, I don’t want that hulking thing in my house.'”
I’ve sat in on those focus groups, and I can verify that’s an incredibly common complaint. That idea — that it’s not the content that’s keeping people from reading, it’s the sheer physical artifact — is soooo maddening, since it means there’s not much we on the content side can do to make things better. Harrumph.

two more stories

Two more stories today:
From the front page: “The number of ‘academically unacceptable’ schools in Texas could grow by a factor of 10 under a tougher set of standards approved by a Texas Education Agency committee.
“There are now 92 Texas schools labeled unacceptable, the state’s lowest rating. But if the proposed new rules had been in place last year, more than 1,100 schools would have earned the label and faced possible state intervention.
“‘We’re going to have to go after more schools,’ said Sandy Kress, the former Dallas school board president and Bush adviser who is among the new standards’ supporters. ‘We’re going to have to go to a place we have not gone yet if we really want youngsters to succeed in these ineffective schools.'”
From the Metro section front: “Former Wilmer-Hutchins Superintendent Charles Matthews was indicted Tuesday for allegedly ordering employees to falsify attendance data.
“The indictment, by a Dallas County grand jury, is the second in the last five months for Dr. Matthews, a former state superintendent of the year. His leadership of the troubled district is the target of numerous federal and state criminal investigations and has led the Texas Education Agency to take over district operations.”
I’m off to New York in a few minutes. Drop me a line if you want to get together while I’m in town.

sharon jones and the dap-kings

An unreserved rave to Naturally, the new disc from Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. Sure, it’s backward-looking and proudly retro, but damn is this some fine-ass soul music. Sounds like the best outtakes from an early ’70s Ike & Tina session; the Dap-Kings are tight and Sharon’s got a pleasant dominatrix vibe to her voice.
Certain songs (“My Man is a Mean Man”) really make me wish I was into recreational drugs, because I’m sure the trance-inducing qualities of the walking bassline would be quite swell under chemical influence.
Put this album on at your next party and I guarantee you people will start having red-hot monkey sex, right there on your Ikea coffee table. Anyway, you should buy it.
(This is in keeping with my recent fascination with all forms of black music circa 1972, which I’m starting to believe may be the peak of human cultural achievement. As the liner notes posit: “Somewhere between banging on logs and the invention of MIDI technology we have made a terrible wrong turn. We must have ridden right past our stop. We should have stepped down off the train at that moment when rhythm and harmony and technology all culminated to a single Otis Redding whine.” This was previously explored as part of my Madlib fixation of late.)
(Update: MP3 samples here, although “Mean Man” sadly cuts out just when it’s entering the stratosphere.)