sly, madlib, seth roberts

Clearing out the link backlog:

arrested development swag for sale

If anyone in L.A. wants to go buy me stuff here, you’ll be my bestest friend forevah.

Friday, May 19 – Sunday, May 21, 2006: Estate Sales Los Angeles is pleased to announce that it will conduct an exciting prop house sale of the contents of one of Twentieth Century Fox Television’s favorite television shows of the past decade “Arrested Development.” Spectacular array of items will include several periods of furniture, magic show accessories and artifacts, interior décor items, art, books, kitchen appliances and kitchen ware, interior/exterior lighting, office furniture, extensive entertainment memorabilia and too much more to itemize. Don’t miss the opportunity to own a piece of this show.

Including the casket used in Good Grief!

ask a mexican — or a newspaper stylebook

I liked ¡Ask a Mexican!, Gustavo Arellano’s column in SoCal’s OC Weekly, the moment I started reading it a few months ago. It’s funny, and I think it’s actually pretty valuable. There are a whole lot of white folks who, despite living in places like California or Texas, never really interact with Hispanics. When I read that our local weekly, the Observer, was going to be running the column, I was glad to hear it.
(The Observer, OC Weekly, and a host of other alt-weeklies are all owned by the same chain, Village Voice Media.)
But then I read this week’s column. (It’s not online that I can find.) It has a riff on the terms “illegal immigrants” and “undocumented workers”:

The Dallas Morning News stylebook reportedly requires its reporters to describe as “undocumented workers” the men and women you call “illegal.”

That’s curious, for a number of reasons. First, “reportedly” is a weasel word — does the DMN stylebook say that or not? It’s an easily checkable fact. Second, why in the world does a columnist in Orange County know or care about the stylebook of a Dallas newspaper?
And third, it’s just wrong. Since I write for the DMN, I happen to know what our stylebook says. The entry for “illegal immigrant” says: “Use this term to describe someone who is in the United States or another country illegally, either by entering without legal authorization or overstaying an entry visa…Avoid the euphemistic undocumented immigrant.”
In other words, the precise opposite of what the column claims.
It wouldn’t have been hard to check, either. Google News finds 186 stories in the DMN that use “illegal immigrants,” versus 17 that use “undocumented workers.”
Like I said, curious. But then I saw that lots of Village Voice Media alt-weeklies were making the same baseless claim via Gustavo’s column. Here’s the Nashville Scene’s version of Gustavo’s column:

The Tennessean stylebook reportedly requires its reporters to describe as “undocumented workers” the men and women you call “illegal.”

Here’s Kansas City’s alt-weekly, The Pitch:

The Kansas City Star stylebook reportedly requires its reporters to describe as “undocumented workers” the men and women you call illegal.

And the original version from the OC Weekly:

The Orange County Register stylebook reportedly requires its reporters to describe as “undocumented workers” the men and women you call “illegal.”

(I’m sure there are more, but most VVM web sites, like the Observer’s, just link to the OC Weekly’s version of the column instead of reproducing what ran locally.)
Needless to say, the idea that “illegal immigrant” is somehow banned from each of these newspapers is wrong. (OC Register: 53 stories with “illegal immigrants” according to Google News vs. 4 with “undocumented workers”; The Tennessean: 25 vs. 8; Kansas City Star: 221 vs. 49.)
What I’m assuming happened is that Gustavo wrote the column with the OC Register line, which was then sent out to sister papers. Recognizing that readers in Dallas/Nashville/wherever couldn’t care less about the OC Register’s stylebook, local editors changed the name of the newspaper to their city’s daily.
(Kudos to Phoenix New Times. According to Nexis, it’s the only VVM weekly to have run Gustavo’s column but edited out the false newspaper claim.)
At no point in this process did facts interfere. Alt weeklies have long been known for criticism of the local daily — sometimes legit, sometimes knee-jerk. I just hope they don’t start exporting the knee-jerk stuff to each other.

the jeffs in louisiana

The reason for my lateness in publishing MP3 Monday? I was stuck in Houston after a flight cancellation, my second weather-related flight bumping in a week. I only straggled home to Dallas Monday afternoon.
I was in south Louisiana helping out the Jefferson Fellowships, the fellowship program that took me to Hawaii, China, and Japan last fall. (It’s a journalist exchange program between Asia and the U.S.)
The current crop of Jeffs was touring the U.S. to learn about energy policy, and I’d suggested to their chaperone Abby that they stop off in south Louisiana. So I ended up showing 12 reporters (from China, Burma, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, Bangladesh, India, Fiji, and the U.S.) around my homeland — taking them zydeco dancing, checking out Hurricane Rita damage, touring offshore drilling rigs, and feeding them all the local delicacies. Boiled crawfish, boudin, gumbo, raw oysters, shrimp, andouille, poboys, beignets — all the good stuff. It was great seeing all the new faces (and the one old one).
Also, because I’m sometimes told by masochistic readers that I should post photos once in a while, here’s a group photo taken Saturday in front of the glorious Cafe des Amis in Breaux Bridge. (I would be the green-shirted and alarmingly-haired gentleman in the back. The fellow sitting down in the center is Dickie Breaux, the owner.)

MP3 Monday: May 15, 2006

Welcome back for Week Three of MP3 Monday. As always, songs will be available for download for a week. Sorry it’s appearing a little later than usual on Monday; an unexpected Sunday night in Houston will do that to you.
This week we have a theme: the wonderful releases of the Numero Group, a Chicago-based reissue label. Numero is dedicated to digging up great old records that never got the respect they deserved.
1. “Who Knows” by Marion Black. From Eccentric Soul, Vol. 1: The Capsoul Label (2005).
Numero’s chief series is its Eccentric Soul line, for which it scours the archives of the small regional funk and soul labels that thrived (artistically if not financially) in the 1970s. The first edition centered on the Capsoul label from the big city of Columbus, Ohio: home of Big Ten football, the Ohio State Fair, and my old office when I used to cover the Ohio Legislature.
This Marion Black track highlights his buttery baritone — but the real reason I link is that it may be familiar to the indie hip-hop heads out there. The great RJD2 also hails from Columbus, and “Who Knows” forms the vocal hook for his “Smoke and Mirrors” (from his excellent 2002 album Deadringer.
2. “(I Feel Like A) Dictionary” by The Trend. From the compilation Yellow Pills: Prefill (2005).
“Yellow Pills” was a 1990s zine published by one Jordan Oakes and devoted to that most maligned of subgenres, power pop. I say maligned because the basics of power pop are so elementary that it attracts a lot of no-talents — there’s a lot of bad power pop out there, and not everyone who hears a Big Star reissue should then pick up a guitar.
But this compilation, pulled together by Oakes, assembles only the finest acts in obscure power-pop — you’ve never heard of any of these guys, trust me — and the finest of the fine is The Trend. They were a wee small band from Kennett, Missouri, and they released just a single album in 1983. You can tell they listened to Chronic Town, but the burbling bass and speed-freak drums say they were up to something of their own. Also, if you’re like me, you won’t be able to stop humming this song.
One more track from The Trend: “She’s Hi-Fi.
Where are they now? The Trend’s songwriter, a fellow named John McMullan, grew up to be a lawyer in his small town, although he still records some music on the side. (I only listened to a couple bits of his new stuff, but it seemed to confirm the truism that power-pop artists rarely age well.) Guitarist Mike Astrachan now does PR in Kansas City. Singer Matt Collier works for a company that makes bronze handrailings. Bassist Dennis Fuller does sports radio. Bill Joslyn brews beer. More about the band here.
Also, they were very handsome men. Notice the young woman in that photo; it’s the most famous Kennett, Missouri, native of them all.
3. “Theme From The Godfather” by The Professionals. From the album Cult Cargo: Belize City Boil Up (1968).
Facts about Belize: It is the only English-speaking nation in Central America, a legacy of its British colonial status. Guatemala claims it’s not a nation at all but a renegade Guatemalan province. Belize celebrates Baron Bliss Day every March in honor of some old British dude. Its citrus industry is based around the Hummingbird Highway. And its music is a mix of soul, R&B, calypso, and reggae.
The Professionals’ cover of the Godfather theme has guitar buzz straight out of Iron Butterfly, but a reggae bass line and a calypso lilt. For comparison, here’s a version of the original Godfather track (actually called “Love Theme” officially) performed by the Milan Philharmonic Orchestra.

i can’t write 55

The Express-News got a nice scoop on Texas considering raising the speed limit on some West Texas interstates to 80 miles per hour. But the story has a classic news-stats error. It quotes a state official saying, in effect, that people are driving that fast anyway and that the change is just reflecting reality:

[Carlos Lopez, director of traffic operations for TxDOT] said the department surveyed how fast cars were traveling on both interstates and found 85 percent of them were driving up to 79 mph.

But that means the opposite of what Lopez is trying to say. “Up to 79 mph” means only that people were driving at that speed or below. It tells you nothing about whether they’re going 78 mph or 2 mph. It’s just as factual as writing:

[Joshua Benton, proprietor of] said that his blog surveyed how fast infants were crawling across the day-care center’s carpet and found 100 percent of them were crawling up to 79 mph.

What I presume Lopez meant is something like 85 percent of drivers are driving above 79 mph. Or maybe that 85 percent are driving between 75 and 79. Who knows?

bbc’s interview mixup

As you may have heard, Apple recently won a lawsuit that had been filed against it by The Beatles’ management firm over the right to the Apple name. Once the decision came down, the BBC wanted to interview an expert on the subject, tech journalist Guy Kewney.
Unfortunately for them, when it came time to pull Mr. Kewney on stage for a live shot, they mistakenly pulled up a man named Guy Goma — who was the cabbie set to drive Mr. Kewney back to his office.
Here are the details. The video is here and so worth the download — if not for Mr. Goma’s tech wisdom, for the look of abject horror and then impish glee that comes when he realizes the mixup.