long song titles

Songs with particularly long titles. As a kid, I remember being fascinated by the Pink Floyd song “Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict.” I was easily amused back then.
As you might imagine, Sufjan Stevens is a real comer, long-song-title-wise. I particularly enjoy the song by laptopper Stunt Rock (previously referenced here): “First Chance I Get I Am Licensing This Track To a Car Commercial or Video Game, So Fuck You and Your No Sell Out, Anti-establishment Posturing, or Some Such in Your Face Remark of That Sort.” Also good are the various Dustin Hoffmanisms of Of Montreal.

asian ’60s beat

Asian Beat: An introduction to the music scene which flourished in Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore in 1964-1969. There was greatness in those hotel bars — I first heard it on Volume 9 of the Girls in the Garage series. A lot of today’s yuppied-up world music leaves me cold, but in the 1960s, there was so much tremendous culture-mixing going on all over — Brazil, west Africa, Thailand, you name it.
For a modern twist on the Asian Beat sound, there’s Dengue Fever. Coincidentally, for a modern twist on mosquito-borne pathogens, there’s dengue fever.

daniel golden column

Here’s my column from today’s paper, on the unfair advantages children of the rich and famous get in college admissions:

For instance, at Harvard the admissions rate for legacies is four times the rate for the hoi polloi. Is it because those kids are unusually smart? Nope – they actually have lower average SAT scores than other admitted students…

[Author Daniel Golden] shows how Al Gore’s son earned a questionable admission to Harvard, and how presidential niece Lauren Bush got into Princeton despite below-average SAT scores, mediocre grades at her Houston prep school and not bothering to apply until a month after the deadline. I’d like to see a working-class kid from South Dallas try that trick…

Mr. Golden writes about how, beginning in the 1970s, Duke – which comes out of this book looking awful – targeted the wealthy parents of Dallas prep schools because the university was looking for rich families to turn into donors, no matter how mediocre their kids’ academic records were. “We really worked Dallas,” a former Duke associate director of admissions told Mr. Golden. It was all part of Duke’s hunt for members of the “socioeconomically high-end.”

It’s also easily the most personal column I’ve written. (Not that there’s much competition for that title.)
Golden’s book, titled The Price of Admission, is really quite terrific. I say that as a reader, but even more so as a journalist — it’s remarkable how much he gets people to open up about some fairly nefarious things. (I guess they don’t give Pulitzers to people who can’t report.)
In case you think Golden can do this sort of reporting because he’s “of the rich” — what you might call the Dominick Dunne Theory of Reporting on the Aristocracy — it ain’t so. I’ve met him a number of times, and he’s kinda schlubby.

MP3 Monday: September 11, 2006

The rushed theme of this week’s MP3 Monday: live ’90s power-pop. As always, the MP3s will be up for one week, so be quick with your downloading.
Remember the Lightning” (live) by Velvet Crush. Recorded March 1995 at the Cabaret Metro, Chicago. From the album Rock Concert (2001). Studio version released as a B-side sometime in the early ’90s (?) and compiled on A Single Odessey (2001).
The Velvet Crush — ah, what a promising start! Their first two albums, In the Presence of Greatness and Teenage Symphonies to God, were amazing — chunky, tuneful pop with (by Album No. 2) an occasional bit of country breading. After those, they got all “mature” and a little boring for these ears. (Thus confirming Benton’s Law: Power-pop bands rarely age well.)
This is from a live album issued six years after its recording, which was during the glory days, when they played everything fast and loud. (As all power pop should be, yes?) The song is a cover, originally by Austin/L.A. band 20/20.
The Ugly Truth” (live) by Matthew Sweet. Recorded live in Grant Park, Chicago, July 4, 1993. Originally from the album Altered Beast (1993).
Matthew Sweet is the Crush’s musical older brother, having produced their first album, written the rave-up “Something’s Gotta Give” on their second one, and regularly used Crush drumming genius Ric Menck on his records and tours. (Velvet Crush opened for the only Matthew Sweet show I ever went to, which would have been around 1995.)
In fact, Menck is probably drumming on this track, recorded around Sweet’s artistic and commercial peak. His band cooked on this tour, as the rest of this bootleg proves.
Sweet would later fall in line with Benton’s Law and become less essential with each passing moon.
Emma Blowgun’s Last Stand” (live) by Beulah. From the DVD A Good Band Is Easy To Kill (2005); original on When Your Heartstrings Break (1999).
Beulah is the great exception to Benton’s Law, having gotten better with each album. (They’re also not purist power-pop, having mixed in other indie flavorings.) The original release date makes this technically a ’90s song, even though this recording is from a 2003 show. I really recommend checking out the Good Band Is Easy To Kill DVD, which is only $13 at Amazon — lots of great songs and amusing scenes from Beulah’s final tour. “Emma Blowgun” features a famously slow-burn three-minute open before Bill Swan’s trumpet hook kicks in. (Here’s a video for the song, skipping the intro.)
Man, Beulah were great. I miss ’em.

yale shmale

Yale Shmale! (Also, more directly, here. Note that the Canadian university in question has already changed its web graphic to be less critical of my alma mater’s most powerful alumnus.)
When a fellow Yalie emailed me that link, I misread it at first. “Yale She-male?” I thought. “I don’t remember that from my days in New Haven.”