Sep 24, 2010

What a good song sounds like

For all you youngsters -- or anyone else keeping track at home -- take note of what a finely constructed tune sounds like. Here is Frazey Ford (formerly of The Be Good Tanyas, taking us into the weekend....

Sep 20, 2010

Mr Brooks on the Tea Party

Short term gain, long term problem for GOP?

"....This doesn’t mean that the Tea Party influence will be positive for Republicans over the long haul. The movement carries viruses that may infect the G.O.P. in the years ahead. Its members seek traditional, conservative ends, but they use radical means. Along the way, the movement has picked up some of the worst excesses of modern American culture: a narcissistic sense of victimization, an egomaniacal belief in one’s own rightness and purity, a willingness to distort the truth so that every conflict becomes a contest of pure good versus pure evil."

David Brooks
Conservative political columnist
New York Times

Sep 17, 2010

Rockin' on the Block, Hoping...

If interested in helping, get to me.

Sep 16, 2010

Saratoga Springs: State of the City (1)

“Would you mind taking our picture?”

Now there's a common request for anyone that either resides in or frequents a popular tourist 'ville such as Saratoga Springs. Tourists put the pennies in the till of the local merchants, so one should always be willing to put on a civic ambassador's hat when asked to help out-of-towners record their trek to the Spa for posterity and to prove to those friends back home that “yes, I was certainly there.”

Such was the setting this weekend as I was knocking down a morning coffee on the sidewalk of Uncommon Grounds, when a 50-something couple asked for my assistance. Richard Avedon I'm not, but what the heck: OK, smile; that's it; look right at me; click. Then, as is typical for the social butterfly that I am, a conversation ensued as a means of learning about these visiting nomads.

But lo and behold, a surprise. It turns out that these folks are not tourists after all; they have been local residents here for the past three-plus years. The ensuing story was the common demographic trend of the time for this particular city: a real estate cash-out on residential property in the metro NYC area timed with an empty nest and early retirement from two public service careers had these people asking themselves if the 'city hassle' was really necessary any more?. The answer came back as a big fat No, their sights were set on moving the Bill & Mary Show upstate to the only town that they thought mattered, and here they are, three years later, asking a stranger to snap their photo on Broadway.

As we chatted, one thing became painfully obvious: these pleasant folks are basically strangers in a strange land. Their queries were the usual “where's a good place for Italian?” or “when is the peak leaf season in the mountains?” typical of day trippers, not of someone embedded in the community that should be dispensing such advice as opposed to seeking it.

There lies the rub: they are not embedded in the community. Yes, they hold a piece of paper stating that a plot of land and a wooden structure on the east side of town belongs to them and no one else; yes, they write a check a couple times a year to contribute to the public words; and yes, they drop a few bucks at the Farmers Market now and then – but that's about it. There are no PTA meetings, no block party BBQs, no beer leagues, no hunting trips with the buddies, no union hall weddings of co-workers – hell, not even Sunday morning coffee partners with whom to solve the world's problems.

Instead, one hears mumblings of the rare conversations with neighbors, bus outings to Yankee games now and then, a ballet or two and breakfast at the track at least once each August. There might even be a worthy cause to which they volunteer or even a political party, but nothing seems to stick when one is approaching such efforts more as a social portal than as an actual do-good effort. After the meeting, it's off to dinner out, with a table for two sufficing.

This modern day reality of life within Saratoga signifies just that – a transition from what was a small town with a high degree of social capital, deeply rooted neighborhoods and a deep sense of communal connectivity having given way to unattached individuals and couples roaming within, longing for meaning and comfort and wondering if they maybe it's a futile search in their new environment.

But this is a rare case, some might might argue of our new friends Bill and Mary. After all, many residents will think that their own personal calendars of fund raising events, gallery openings or volunteer calls as being legit examples of conduits to healthy community participation. They just might be, but then again, forcing a cat into his carrier cage doesn't usually make for a happy cat., does it now?

The question becomes this: when looking at a community — any given community, not just this one specific example – can we conclude that it has a working infrastructure that facilitates a feeling of community involvement, spirit and participation? How does one measure such a feelgood concept? Which traits provide a greater feeling of community than others, and to what degree?

We'll go deeper on this in the next part and do an analysis of the various segments of the city's current population from a Community Attachment point of view.

Sep 15, 2010

John Coltrane's Alabama

On this very date in 1963, four young black girls were killed by racist-planted explosives at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Martin Luther King delivered the stirring funeral eulogy three days later.

In attendance was John Coltrane. Inspired by both the tragic events and the moving oratory, the legendary saxophonist reacted in the only way he was capable: by creating a jazz composition. Thus begat Alabama.

The sax lines were based on Coltrane's memory and interpretation of King’s resonating funeral speech patterns. Then, five minutes in, the song shifts into elevated, thundering convulsions, keyed by the drumming of Elvin Jones. This represents the point in King's speech where he moved from individual mourning and made a call for a collective, renewed and determined struggle. It worked.

The John Coltrane Quartet, playing Alabama:

Sep 14, 2010

It's a beauti-faux world

Nothing's real, everything's fake, but it's all faux-bulous. Here's proof:

Fake Music:
Vocals tuned into the proper key by scrubbing software. MIDI-generated instrumentation. Adjusting the speed and placement of sampled beats and sounds, then calling it creativity. Put a name like Lady Gaga on it along with a train wreck of a side show and the sheep will bleep.

Fake Women:
Boob jobs and other enhancements. There's a group currently advertised on Craigslist for men who prefer natural breasts. It's labeled as a fetish club.

Fake Cover Girls:
Photoshop as the key beauty secret of the rich and gorgeous.

Fake News:
Disguised as the pursuit of conflict and the cult of personality.

Fake Politics:
Sloganeering, one-liners, talking points, whitewashing, drive by logic, screaming matches, intellectual thought branded as evil and media-propped sociopaths. We're doomed.

Fake Food:

As if the toxic fertilizers, preservatives and flavorings weren't enough to poison us, we now have a real wild card: genetic modification. Yowser. I'll bet it tastes good, though

Fake Life:
Reality TV. Enough said.

Fake Radio:

Playlists pushed through consolidated networks creates the illusion of creativity rising to the top.

Fake Athletes:

Raised like cattle on steady diets of steroids and growth hormones, our on-the-field heroes now resemble a Word Wrestling Entertainment road show. No wonder Vince McMahon's wife has a good shot at being the next Governor of Connecticut.

Fake Communities:
Corporate chain outlets serving as the local coffee shops, eateries, saloons and retail stores. Open space giving way to sprawl. Local media and voices: absent. Malls as town squares. Local art & music buried by Thomas Kincade prints, DJs and cover bands. Rarely an original local idea out there.

Fake Economy:
Nothing new is being made by anyone, so the populace is left trading money back and forth on things like real estate, life coaching, publicity or manicures. Eventually this merry go round has to stop; maybe it already did.

Fake Kids:
They're not really kids because they were ever allowed to learn the world as kids are supposed to do: naturally. So, instead of playing baseball in the field with the neighbors, they're given organized Little League. Or soccer or basketball or kite flying or on and on. Instead of wandering wild in the woods all day, they're put on a bus to take a chaperoned nature trip. Swimming in the lake is now day camp with perched lifeguards. No wonder the only legitimate career option for young people today is the military, public service or the corporate sausage machine: they haven't been taught how to think or act for themselves.

Sep 13, 2010

The bird IS the word

Just in case you have not heard..

Sep 12, 2010

News Flash: Hunger striker gets hungry

Goofball of the Week

Tom Cavanaugh
, a right wing'ing Tea Party activist from the rural reaches of Albany county, had a beef with fellow Teabagger Sean Hannity.

Apparently, the high profile Fox News host and GOP conspirator wasn't showing due respect to Mr Cavanaugh's main man, NYS gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino. Specifically, he wasn't giving the loudmouth sexist/racist any microphone time.

It was time for action; and Cavanaugh is apparently a man of action. He decided that a little street theater would right this hideous wrong, so he came up with the idea of staging a one-man hunger strike in front of Hannity's broadcast studio in Manhattan. He would surely cave now!

Down the turnpike Cavanaugh headed, setting up camp on the mean streets of the Big Apple on Thursday. It was time to get down to business and make Gandhi proud --- if he knew who Gandhi was, that is.

Fast forward (but not too far) to the following day; Friday. Mr Cavanaugh's inspiring words one full day into his heroic effort? "“I’m very tired. I really need a steak.”

Translation: "I'm out of here. All done. No mas, It's over." He went on to mumble something to a reporter about possibly being a target because he wears an American flag on some part of his clothing as he packed up and headed to the nearest fast food joint before retreating to the familiar safety of the Capital Region.

A target, huh? Well, here's a memo to Mr Cavanaugh: "Hey Buddy. We know you don't get out much, but we'll help you out here a bit. The fact is that there's at least one idiot just like you on every street corner in Manhattan trying to make some sort of point, so you needn't worry about being anything special that's going to make you stand out down there."

So this hunger strike was really called off because ... the striker got hungry. Now there's a guy I'd surely share a foxhole with.

Well, that's good enough for Tom Cavanaugh to win the honor of being our Goofball of the Week! Congratualtions, Tom.

(note: if anyone can point to a photo of this guy; get it over here. Stat.)

Sep 11, 2010

We shall never forget...

Sep 10, 2010

Who's making that racket? Sgt Dunbar!

You can look high and low for wacky musical fun, but you don't have to go very far to find it if you live in the Capital Region of NY. Not when Sgt Dunbar and the Hobo Banned are making their wacky noise in Ole Albany (which was just ranked as one of the ten most depressed cities in the nation, by the way).

Aptly described as sounding "like the Salvation Army Band playing a cemetery at midnight while on acid," these folks are sure to chase the neighborhood cats under the bed when playing in your hometown. But we love 'em here at Nanoburgh. After all, those cats have it way too easy.

Sgt Dunbar and the Hobo Banned, taking us into the weekend....

Sep 8, 2010

Writing's Minor League

So Open Source is a bias AGAINST collaboration? Someone thinks so:

"The Creative Commons movement and the copyright abolitionists, like the rest of their generation, were educated with a modern bias towards collaboration, which has led them to denigrate individual efforts and in turn fueled their sense of entitlement to the fruits of other people's labor. More importantly....threatens the future of civilization itself."

(from the jacket flap intro to Mark Helprin's 'Digital Barbarism' book)

Also included in here is the use of the current boogey-word of the radical right: collectivist.

Come on now. There are certainly a lot of points to be made on all sides of this debate, but: Let's just file this one under Not A Clue.

But I guess that's why this person is writing jacket cover flaps and not the actual books.

Sep 7, 2010

A Tale of Two Cities

When I talk to Boston friends about their "new business I'm starting up," the conversation is about a biotech, internet, new-energy, manufacturing or professional services enterprise.

When that same conversation takes place with an Albany acquaintance, it's usually about some Multi Level Marketing starter kit they just received from the UPS guy.

More on this later...

So how'd those predictions do?

With the 2010 Saratoga racing meet now concluded, let's see how Nanoburgh did in the crystal ball business. Let's go to the score card:

Prediction: Meet handle (on-track) would be down 5-10%

Result: Down 7.8%

Prediction: A Zenyatta-Rachel Alexandra matchup will not happen

Result: It did not

Prediction: The Travers winner will not be one of the Triple Crown winners

Result: He was not

Prediction: Top Trainer = Todd Pletcher

Result: Todd Pletcher

Prediction: Top Jockey = John Velasquez

Result: John Velasquez

Prediction: In-town tourism spending during the meet will be down

Result: Conflicting early numbers, but we may have been wrong on this one. I guess we will need to wait for sales tax figs to conclude.

Not a bad tally, is it? Now combine this with our having run the tables with 100% accuracy in the last Saratoga city council elections and we're on a roll!

We are now accepting offers for our predictions of the upcoming elections.

Sep 3, 2010

A Tall Man Conquers the World

The Tallest Man On Earth hits the big time

..and we knew it would happen

Folk star's early climb has local roots

Time for a right here plaque at the Parting Glass?

Saratoga Springs --- Being cursed as the new Dylan has buried many a rising star over the years: the names Willie Nile and Steve Forbert come to mind as two examples.

But Kristian Matsson, aka The Tallest Man On Earth, seems to have weathered that storm to the point of his now being deemed as the single handed saviour of American folk music. Not bad for a young guy from Sweden.

Nothing could make us prouder here at Nanoburgh, having played an early role in that rare and rapid ascension.

After having been intro'd to the earliest recording of this faraway coffee house hero by one of our indie-cred pals, it was immediately time for an email to figure out just what the hell this was all about. So began our across-the-pond planning to get this guy to the USA and see if lightning could be caught in a bottle. Just for kicks. After all, what the hell else do I have in my life to keep me occupied?

Advanced by little more than a quirky, low budget video to set the stage, we did just that: lining up a short east coast tour in the summer of '08 as a means of introducing him to both the US audience and the US music industry.

Part of that mix was an appearance at the Lobsterpalooza Festival in Albany and at the Parting Glass in Saratoga Springs; which was easy to accomplish, given that we produced both events!

Fast forward to now. TTMOE has toured worldwide, has bagged more "OMG!" reviews than can be counted, is the proverbial critics' darling and is treated as a conquering hero in every town in which he appears.

To think; it all launched right here! It seems like 1,000 people now claim they were at that Parting Glass show. That's funny, because I only counted about 85 that night! Our dwindling inventory of show posters from it are even fetching $30. Who'd a thunk?

We'll get him back in the area soon, maybe as early as spring. But we'll sure need a bigger room.

The Tallest Man On Earth, taking us into the weekend...


Sep 2, 2010

Bulletin: major discovery announced

Obsessed? Yeah, I would say so.

I've got a good friend, from back in the day, who has long been nuts with the movie Dazed and Confused. We all have our little obsessive quirks; and this is his.

"The greatest movie ever made", he claims. He might even be right; it at least ranks as one of the best period pieces. Of course, we're both biased because it was a piece from OUR period, and no movie ever got it more right than this gem.

Now, it's bad enough that I've seen this film three or four times myself; but I swear he's watched it from start to finish a minimum of 50 times. Now be advised: he's not some desperate loser tied to his youth in a productivity-killing way. He's actually as firmly planted a guy as I know. He's just kind of like the Dead/Phish head equivalent of this movie. So, every few months, he'll email me some new discovery found in some scene.

Today I received the news of one such discovery in my in-box. It takes place at the point where Wooderson (played by Matthew McConaughey)is rambling on about the typical nothingness of the day and then slips in his classic "I keep getting older, they stay the same age" line about his fondness for high school girls while in front of the hangout.

And the Big Discovery? To quote: "Check out Pink; he's got a one-hitter clipped on his belt buckle that he lights up, just like nothing! I've missed that up until now."

There you have it -- better late than never. Enjoy the scene; but you only will if you lived it.

Sep 1, 2010

Saratoga flyover