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:: 12.28.2002 ::

Well maybe I'm only dreamin' and maybe I'm just a fool
But I don't remember learnin' how to hate in Sunday school
But somewhere along the way I strayed and I never looked back again
But I still find some comfort now and then.

--from Steve Earle's "Jerusalem"

2002 shall now be known as "the year I became incredibly un-cool." Looking back at my top-ten list, a majority of these records are on major labels or the "giant indies." Four are solo works by men over the age of 40, and one, The Rising, is a favorite to win multiple Grammys. Who would have thought that I'd agree with the record-buying public for once? Eight out of the ten records are basically solo albums by men, if you count Ugly Casanova as Isaac Brock's solo project, and almost all of them have a key component that pushes them over the line from "good listen" to "one of the year's best."

Springsteen had the re-unified E-Street Band to give his songs that kick and passion they'd been lacking since 1984's Born In The USA, and Elvis Costello had (most of) The Attractions, particularly the keyboard work from Steve Nieve, to help make his best record in more than ten years.

Beck's latest wouldn't have been much if not for the stellar production from Nigel Godrich, and without Roger Moutenot behind the wheel, Under Cold Blue Stars could have been just another Josh Rouse album with promise, but lacking depth. Even George Harrison's posthumous album, his best in over 30 years, might not have seen the light of day had it not been for the hard work (and critical attention to detail) from his son Dhani and ELO's Jeff Lyne. The Mountain Goats' John Darnielle had help from all over the place to make his best (and best sounding) record in his long career. Even Wilco's much-lauded Yankee Hotel Foxtrot benefits greatly from the production of experimentalist (and newest Sonic Youth member) Jim O'Rourke, and Sharpen Your Teeth, is helped out heavily from Brian Deck, Pall Jenkins (Black Heart Procession), and Tim Rutili (Red Red Meat). This year, it seems everyone needed a little help from their friends.

2002 was also the year I found myself ditching indie rock for the sounds of both alternative and traditional country music, particularly immersing myself the works of Gram Parsons and Steve Earle. Earle in particular captivated my musical attention for most of the past twelve months, each of his records enjoying long stints in my ever-rotating CD changer. If this top-ten included all records I heard for this first time this year, Earle's El Corazon would have been on top, followed closely by Sidetracks, and Train A Comin'.

Jerusalem, his latest (and slightly controversial album thanks to a song written from the viewpoint of "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh) was a pleasant surprise. For an album I initially dismissed as "too rock," (and indeed, it is much more a rock record than a country album), it slowly seeped its way into my listening rotation and stayed there for months. First I got hooked on the catchy organ-led "What's A Simple Man To Do?", then the low-fi neo-traditional sounds of "The Kind" left me breathless (and hitting the "repeat" button). But really it's the title track, Earle's simple and honest vision of a peaceful Middle East, that clinches the deal and puts Earle in the realm of Album Of The Year.

(7:16 PM) :: (link)

:: 12.27.2002 ::

(listening to: The Clash: London Calling)

[death or glory becomes just another story] :: I think my friend Ryan described Joe Strummer's death best by saying that you know the world is a cruel place when all the ex-members of Motley Crue can walk into a room full of crack, smoke all of it and then walk out of the room throwing the devil sign and screaming "YEEAAAAHHH BABY!" Then on the other hand someone with the convictions and talent as Strummer dies at the heartbreaking young age of 50.

To be honest, not even in my punk rock high school days was I a big Clash fan. I was way too indie and DIY for that circa 1992, and The Clash were the "punk" band that my teachers knew and loved. How could they be good if my chemistry teacher liked them? I remember at a talent show some of the younger teachers did a skit to "Should I Stay Or Should I Go?" that involved them acting out the song. When the tempo sped up they'd start moshing around onstage and knocking each over in a comic fashion, mimicking us while doing so and making us thing they were a bunch of dorks (which, of course, they were).

But one day when I was 21 I found the London Calling LP in a used vinyl bin and picked it up for a pretty cheap price. It took me a couple weeks to put it on, but one evening when the dish pile in our kitchen got too high and I needed to wash a couple things before I made dinner, I cranked it up on the stereo in my room and headed for the kitchen. I thought the song "London Calling" was OK, and that "Jimmy Jazz" was a silly joke song, but by the time "Spanish Bombs" came on I was totally and completely hooked. It had only taken me six songs to understand why just about everyone I knew swore on the greatness of the Clash. I ended up doing all the dishes in the kitchen because I didn't want to stop the music.

(3:27 PM) :: (link)

:: 12.26.2002 ::

(listening to: Pete Krebs & Gossamer Wings: I Know It By Heart)

[reason #4 god doesn't want me to post my top-ten of 2002 list] :: As I sat down at the computube tonight with the full intention of posting my top-ten list, I discoverd that I had accidentally deleted all the MP3s that would accompany such a list. Fucking damn.

(10:51 PM) :: (link)

:: 12.25.2002 ::

(listening to: The Olivia Tremor Control: Black Foliage: Animation Music)

[the silence in the suburbs scares me] :: Drove out to the suburbs tonight for the Christmas holiday, spending the evening at my Dad's drinking good wine and opening presents, and then moving on to my Mom's house to wrap presents and drink beer. Everytime I go outside here the clarity of the sky and the silence of the area jumps out at me, it's strange to be in a place that lacks sirens, hooligans yelling at each other up the street, and fast cars speeding by. Less light pollution, more silence. Ah, the suburbs.

Life has been busy the past month or so, and it's only going to speed up come New Years time. Tomorrow (well, today) is Christmas, which includes the food/presents/slacking at my Mom's house, then a party back in Oakland. Thursday Miss Rodeo America comes back from Santa Cruz, Friday Kate arrives from Toronto, and then Sunday MRA's brother comes down from Oregon. Armando is also arriving sometime before the 31st, so the Bay is going to be packed with folk from near and far.

(1:02 AM) :: (link)

:: 12.23.2002 ::

(listening to: John Fahey: Blind Joe Death)

[how to screw up your internal clock, version 2.0] :: It was a busy weekend for us here around the bay. Friday night we had dinner at this great little Korean bar/restaurant way out in the Richmond district of San Francisco where they make cocktails with soju, the Korean version of vodka, including a really good lychee martini. Then we went to club Le Crappy for some dancing, but we ended up talking more and dancing less, the sole fault of the cough*goth*cough DJs who would follow up a Clash song with, well of course: Lush! It was sucktacular, but the company was nice.

Saturday was The Big Shopping Day (tm) in which I got all my Christmas shopping done in three hours. That is, all except for one necessary item, since when we walked in the store the line wrapped around the front, and then clear to the back of the store, and we're talking about a big warehouse type establishment here. I can honestly say that I could not see the end of the line, so we just turned around and left. Now I'm left to forage around for this particular item tomorrow while doing my weekly work deliveries.

But Saturday night was the busy night to end all busy nights this year. First we went to Miss Rodeo America's office holiday party and ate really really good pasta with sausage and some spinach salad while drinking wine and talking to people twice our age. The good thing about chatting with people who have lived in this area since before I was born is that I can ask them what certain streets and stores looked like before the buildings either fell down, knocked down, or were drastically remodeled. I racked brains all night until we headed home around ten.

THEN we headed down further into Oakland to a friend's flat where we ended up drinking and playing charades until 5:30 in the morning. See, we only meant to play one round, but my team got beat SO BADLY that we demanded a rematch. Even after I stumped Miss Rodeo America with "The Color Purple" (in the movie catagory), we still lost on the final question. By some miracle, their team of bastards was able to successfully charade Was (Not Was) for their second victory. How they did it is beyond me, but I went home to bed defeated.

Sunday was the playing music for hours and then watching TV for hours and then wrapping presents for, yes, hours. Sleep last night never felt so good, and even though I'm sure that the cats fought all night in our bedroom, I slept right through it.

(Quick note to all those who ordererd daily photo prints (thanks!) :: I had some problems with the place I get my prints made, but all is well now and I'm shipping out the packages on Friday. You'll all get bonus gifts for waiting so patiently. For the rest of you, the Daily Photo is taking a break for a week, we'll be back next Monday.)

(11:13 AM) :: (link)