Here’s my story from today’s newspaper, the product of the rare Sunday shift I had to work yesterday. Featuring a rare “Josh Benton” byline. (I’m supposed to be “Joshua Benton” in print, but I guess the weekend editors didn’t know.)
Some random music notes:
– Band I should probably be ashamed of feeling affection for: Failure, a sort of paint-by-numbers mid-’90s L.A. alt-metal band. I totally dug Magnified, their second album, which I got as a freebie sent to my college paper.
(By the way: Doesn’t this biography of Failure co-leader Ken Andrews read like it was written by a slavering fanboy? I’d always thought of Allmusic as having some editorial standards, but this reads like something that’d get overwritten on Wikipedia. “The career development of Andrews…is an amazing testament to his intelligence, talent, and commitment to recording rock music at only the highest level”? Really? I mean, I like his band, but…really? Or this, on Failure’s mediocre last album Fantastic Planet: “although practically unknown, a record considered by a small but extremely passionate group of followers as the post-grunge bookend to Nevermind“? Huh?)
– Classic performer who indie kids should pay more attention to: Stevie Wonder. Seriously, go listen to Innervisions. Just the 26th best album of the ’70s? I’d sacrifice a lot of Neu and Eno to save this from the big magnet eraser in the sky. The handholding swirl of “He’s Misstra Know-It-All”? The burble-funk organ of “Living For The City”? The seduction soul of “Golden Lady”? Essential, as is just about everything he did from 1972 to 1978.
(By the way, if you’re ever wondering if an impossibly creative stretch of your career is coming to a close, ask yourself: Am I considering recording an album entitled “Journey Through The Secret Life Of Plants”? If they answer is yes, your time may have run out.)
(By the way, this is a good site for reviews of ’70s funk albums.)
– Album I’m ashamed I didn’t know existed until a couple days ago: Tete a Tete, the “secret” (to me at least) Calexico album, recorded in 2001 with the French Amor Belhom Duo under the name ABBC. I’ve no idea if it’s any good; I’m mostly ashamed because I’m a proud (and annoying) Calexico completist. Note to self: Must track down. Speaking of my annoying completism: the set list from the 10/29 Calexishow around these parts — songs 1, 2, 6, and 8 being unreleased numbers we can probably expect on the new album this spring.
I have such a huge journocrush on Dana Priest. She’s just so damned good. With most good stories I read, I can at least conceive of getting them myself — I can see where the leads developed, how the info came out, et cetera. But pieces like this are just beyond me.
(Maybe it’s a regular crush too: she’s pretty cute.)
The liberal anti-anti-Wal-Mart backlash. I’ve expressed my comparatively pro-Wal-Mart feelings before here. I grew up in a Louisiana town too small for a Wal-Mart — and trust me, the town fathers would have killed to get one.
My biggest problem with Wal-Mart critics is that their real complaints often aren’t about labor practices or trade with China or employee health care. They’re about class, pure and simple: a disdain for poor rural people and the things associated with them. Throw a thin veneer of “style” and hipsterness on top of it — in other words, call it “Target” instead of “Wal-Mart” — and they’ll gladly rave about the convenience and bargains. It’s the same bullshit reflex that afflicted so many of the people I went to Yale with.
I have relatives who have tried really hard to get jobs at Wal-Mart because they’re considered a better place to work than the other options available. When I lived in Louisiana, I did a ton of shopping there. I just went to the newly opened Wal-Mart supermarket in my Dallas neighborhood for the first time, and let me tell you — it was miles nicer than the safely middlebrow Albertsons I’ve shopped at for four years.
As one guy puts it in the comments to that post: “boy…talk about some typical, ignorant, stereotypical limousine liberal comments on this thread…as someone who actually grew up poor…fuck you.”
Why Google Book Search is awesome:
“‘Joshua Benton,’ Ethan Podell spoke. ‘Are you prepared to earn your passage unto our great master? Our [sic] you a worthy servant of Satan?'”
With writing and spelling that good, it really makes you wonder why it’s only self-published.
Oh, and this:
“‘Everyone, this is Josh Benton, he’ll be joining our group.’ Leesa opened the meeting.
“Josh sat on the small metal chair with legs open and slouched over his legs. He wore a baseball cap pulled low onto his forehead and tilted on an angle. Angry gray eyes glinted from under the brim, giving each member a hostile once-over.
“‘What brings you here? A big burly guy like you couldn’t have been raped,’ Kim asked, noted for her aggressive nature.”
It turns out that this “Josh” fellow is instead a rapist who — and this is where things get strange — was ordered by his judge to attend group counseling sessions with rape victims. Because, you know, that’s just what a bunch of rape victims want — a rapist in their counseling midst.
Some times, I wonder if I’m ready to write a book. Seeing writing like this really bucks me up at times last that.
Arrested Development fans: Have you ever noticed that Buster has never, in three seasons, spoken to Lindsay? Extremely curious.
On a more macabre note, everyone’s favorite female Canadian serial killer, Karla Homolka, has been unconditionally freed by a Quebec court. Here are some details of her case. Karla got only 12 years despite, with her husband Paul Bernardo, raping and killing three young girls, one of them her younger sister. The sentence was controversial because the plea deal was worked out when public perception was that Karla was purely a victim of Paul’s abuse; it turned out, over time, that she was more of a willing, even excited participant in it. (Bernardo’s away for life.) Sick lady. More background from the CBC.