Friday, October 31, 2008

Blame Aquaman For The Financial Crisis




[Financial Crisis]
I understand that we're in a financial crisis. Understanding why we’re in a financial crisis is another matter. I’ve read the articles and analysis but I still was left scratching my head. It took the scathing wit of Rolling Stone political reporter, Matt Taibbi, to break down the crisis in manageable terms for me.

“On the betting with money you don’t have to front, the CDS (Credit Default Swaps) is basically a form of insurance in which two idiots make promises to pay each other sums of money if some third totally unrelated person defaults on his debt.

Let’s say Aquaman takes out a million-dollar bond to open a gay strip club. You’re gay and you like superheroes so you think it’s a good idea – but your mother doesn’t, so you agree to pay your mother a million dollars in the event that Aquaman’s strip club fails, in exchange for her paying you, until that time, regular monthly payments of $10,000. All your family members agree with your mother and they, too agree to pay you $10,000 a month in exchange for a promise that you’ll pay them a million bucks if Aquaman defaults…So a year later your entire extended family is betting against Aquaman’s place and when it finally does go bust, thanks to Superman opening a far superior and better-managed club down the block, Aquaman’s one-million-dollar loss creates a hundred million dollars in losses for you (and, it turns out, for society in general, which might end up having to use tax money to pay your mother and everybody else for the bet you couldn’t cover).”

Sure, Taibbi isn't an economist but he took National Review's Byron York to task for spewing the right wing's talking points blaming the financial crisis on minorities and desires for an "ownership society."

Taibbi's insights and columns kept my sanity for this extra long political season. If you haven't read his skewering of Sarah Palin, check it out. I hate the phrase laugh out loud but it’s hilarious. And just to be clear Taibbi isn't a party hack. During the 2004 elections, he followed the Kerry in a gorilla suit. (Joseph Bateman)

Cock-Block the Vote

[Election 2008] It's never too early for a good voting machine conspiracy, so away we go:



Good news for Chuck Baldwin and Ralph Nader, though. This should make up for their lack of coffee cups at 7-Eleven. (Bill Frost)

Halloween Scolds

[Maudlin Media] Oh, here we go again. It's Halloween. It's a day for kids to go absolutely insane for candy and costumes and fun. That's fun. Remember fun?

The gang at KSL radio doesn't. Every Oct. 31, as sure as the leaves on the aspens turn golden, some forlorn scold(s) in the mainstream media has to conjure up the obligatory "what evils lurk in the Halloween candy bag" story. This year, it's these guys.

Don't let the geezers in the media turn you and your kids off to Halloween! Get radical, parents. Take back the night. Forget about the absurd "trick-or-trunk" parties where you lead your little one around an LDS Church parking lot and take candy from the trunks of cars. That's not the Halloween you had as a kid--why make your kids suffer? Give the little darlings spook alleys, dark-as-pitch neighborhoods, creaky doors, giant spiders and enough candy to black out. It's once a year, for hell's sake. Breathe. (Holly Mullen)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Energy Drink Terror!

[Media] So, did KSL pay for all of the evil, caffeine-loaded energy drinks featured in this fascinating video? And what became of them after the piece?



Maybe Duhg Wright's jacked up on 'em right now!



(Bill Frost)

It Gets Funnier Every Time ...

[Media] I love this story in the D-News about a deal between Davis County schools and Scholastic books to keep a new J.K. Rowling book under wraps until Dec. 4:

Tuesday, Davis County commissioners quickly approved the contract with Scholastic.

"We don't want a spell cast on us," said Commissioner Bret Millburn, reprising the joke he made in 2007.

(Presumably, the other commissioners then "reprised" their eye-rolling and forced, polite laughter.)

I love the fact that Joseph Dougherty remembered Milburn making the same half-assed "joke" a year and a half ago. Reading between the lines, you sort of get the feeling Dougherty didn't think much of it then, either.

(Brandon Burt)

Last Night's Obama Infomercial

[Campaign 2008] In case you missed last night's Barack Obama infomercial on CBS, NBC, Fox, BET, Univision, Cartoon Network and The Aquarium Channel (premium digital, totally worth it), here 'tis:



(Bill Frost)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Five friends (the sequel)

It's time for a second bunch of movie stars, even Borat, to get out the "Don't vote" vote.



(Jerre Wroble)

Marcus: Second to None DVD

[Comedy] Remember local comic Marcus? The guy who came in second on NBC's Last Comic Standing? Of course you do--we refuse to let you forget.

Marcus has been on tour with the LCS crew for months now, and he's just released the trailer for his filmed-in-Ogden comedy concert DVD, titled (ahem) Second to None. It's due out Nov. 21; here's a taste:

Second To None trailer

(Bill Frost)

Children Suffer Irreparable Harm

[The Sex Maniacs of Tomorrow] According to a story in the D-News, some parents are fuming because a reel jockey at the Megaplex in South Jordan got some movies mixed up. The audience was expecting High School Musical 3--and what they got was (gasp!) Sex Drive.

"I could not carry my little children out before they were exposed to extremely vulgar and sexually explicit material," said one parent. That's right--exposed!!! To sexually explicit material!!! (That means boobies and naughty words.)

Now, everybody knows the permanent harm that comes from the sight of a breast after the age of 2 and before the age of 18. Little Johnny is obviously now warped for life; those parents have no choice but to abandon their damaged goods at the nearest orphanage and start all over again from scratch. (But, of course, the less said about that, the better.)

Still, one gets the feeling that these parents may be overreacting a bit--if not for the sake of a deep-pockets settlement from Larry Miller, then because, as people who have cut themselves off from nearly all popular culture, they're incapable of determining what "extremely vulgar and sexually explicit material" really is.

(Brandon Burt)

2-for-1 Tickets at Slowtrain

[Live Music Stimulus Package]
In Slowtrain's weekly update, the record store announced 2-for-1 tickets for the following shows at Urban Lounge:

King Khan and the BBQ Show (Urban Lounge 11/4: $11)
Crooked Fingers (Urban lounge 11/6: $9)
Subtle w/ Zach Hill (Urban Lounge 11/10: $11)
Sole & The Skyrider Band (Urban Lounge 11/13: $9)
My Brightest Diamond, also comes with free bonus DVD, (Urban Lounge 11/15: $11)

I thought the deal sounded too good to be true so I picked up Sole tickets on my way to City Weekly. Two tickets for $4.50 a piece, even cheaper than seeing Fugazi when I was in High School. The deal only lasts until November 1 so
head over to Slowtrain (221 E Broadway).

If your looking for a great hip-hop show, check out Sole and the Skyrider Band. To be honest, I never really was a fan of Sole or Anticon except for Sage Francis, but his latest album has the Skyrider Band backing him. The full band adds an element that makes him stand out from the indie hip-hop crowd as well as provides an interesting live show. It's like watching Sage Francis back in the day with Gruvis Malt backing. Ahhh, those were the days. (Joseph Bateman)

Food Fright!

[Scary/Delicious] No more JELL-O and Gummi worms for Fright Night says Alpine Country Club Executive Chef Emanuel Vidolin. He's got something a skosh scarier in mind. Along with the usual prime rib, shrimp, and Kobe beef, he's going to challenge Alpine CC members on Halloween with buffet items that some Utah County denizens might consider truly terrifying.

The menacing menu includes Michael Myers' Tongue (AKA braised beef tongue a la vinagreta); duck livers with Chianti-dried cherries called Hannibal Lecter Liver and Chianti; and Calypso Crocodile Tail Sliders. Got thymus? The horrifying Halloween dinner at ACC also includes Frankenstein Brains: seared sweetbreads in a blood orange sauce. It all sounds so tasty it's spooky! (Ted Scheffler)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Get Out Tonight

Plenty of great shows vying for your attention tonight!

Portland's Alexis Gideon and Shelley Short hit up the Woodshed with two completely different sets. Gideon specializes in wonderfully bizarre electro-folk-hip-hop with an added claymation/animation component fueling his new video opera, Video Musics, while current tour mate Short makes her distinct mark on the country/folk movement with gorgeous, sometimes chilling, results. Salt Lake City's Black Hens open in the first of a two-night series sending off singer/songwriter David Williams to his great big recording gig in Seattle.

The Diplo-curated extravaganza featuring Abe Vigoda, Telepathe, Blaqstarr and the man behind it all, Diplo, arrives at Kilby Court for a night of eclectic punk, electro and hip-hop experiments.

Parts & Labor performs at Urban Lounge. The Brooklyn rockers' recent album, Receivers, includes segues and interludes provided by their fans for a distinct sound that reflects the best of both individual and group-generated creativity.

And finally, Meg White's biggest fan Ray LaMontagne plays the Great Saltair where he can better accomodate the huge outpouring of fans who quickly sold-out his originally scheduled appearance at a smalled downtown club. Leonna Ness and Salt Lake City's Paul Jacobsen share the bill.


(Jamie Gadette)

Deep-Fried Mitt


[Election 2016] Man, all this news talk about Mitt for President in four years is just sad. I used to delight in saying Mitt didn't have a snowball's chance in hell of getting elected president, but now whenever I do, I just feel like I'm telling a four-year-old that Santa doesn't exist.


The DNews pumped out this story about how Romney may be gunning for a 2012 run although he's just too busy being a party cheerleader right now. And you know what, he probably will run, but even with the exposure he's had in the recent primaries, he's still gotta alot of vote proselytizing to do. So Elder Romney if you really want to be called to the white house, it's time you made your next mission a little ol' place called the south.


Mitt has been raising some dough and spreading it around to various initiatives and candidates through his Free and Strong America PAC, but if he's serious about making another run at this thing he's gonna have to be knocking on doors and dropping some serious cash in the Bible belt-- for years. And here's the kicker, even considering that, I hate to break it to you friends, but he still ain't gotta shot for 2012.


2016...maybe. But by that time it may just be the case that Romney's years long campaign of convincing Southerners that Mormons don't have horns will be exploited by another rising star in the Mormon GOP crowd. One with business savvy, a (sometimes) progressive outlook on the environment and foreign relations experience. How is it that you say 'Huntsman for President 2016' in Mandarin anyways? (Eric S. Peterson)

Hey, there, groovy chix!!!

[Humor] Are you planning to wear a Halloween costume this year? Just make sure it's a sexy one!



(Brandon Burt with a shout-out to humormeister Jamie Gadette)

Dead Zephyr: Week 259

(Bill Frost)

Zack & Miri: Porntastic!

[Film] Lost in the semi-uproar over Larry Miller's Megaplex Theaters opting to not carry Zack & Miri Make a Porno this weekend: Someone's actually paying attention on the job!

Back in 2006, despite months of industry buzz and pre-notoriety for the cowboys-in-love flick Brokeback Mountain, the Megaplex just let that sucker in and then pulled it ... heh, heh. If you're, say, working in some sector of the film industry, even at a Utah theater chain, shouldn't you be aware of what's going on in the damn film industry at the moment? Just sayin.'

Megaplex Theaters: Punching the clock and looking out for you ... finally. (Bill Frost)

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Senator, the Guv, and the Wardrobe


[Corruption] Sen. Ted Stephens has been convicted on all seven counts. That is, Stephens is guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty (!)

Stephens represents the state of Alaska where, since 2006, an unusual weather pattern has held, making it "always winter and never Christmas," according to Mr. Tumnus, a community activist within the state's faun community.

According to a mammalian observer who agreed to be identified only as Mr. Beaver, the verdict can't be good for Stephens' campaign against Democratic challenger Mark Begich--although, in the curiously topsy-turvy world of Alaska politics, the race remains close.

Well-dressed Republican veep hopeful Sarah Palin maverickily blamed "the corrupting influence" of Big Oil and vowed to keep a real close eye on them service-company rascals, whose siren song has been the downfall of too many good, real-American-type Alaskans. Also Palin icily said that Stephens should "do what's right for the people of Alaska"--presumably implying that he should drop out of the race, move immediately to Massachusetts and change party affiliation. Otmin, a minotaur speaking on behalf of the Stephens campaign, stated defiantly that worse fates than banishment have befallen the Sons of Adam, and criticized Palin for not offering Stephens, a longtime supporter, "so much as a piece of Turkish delight."

The upswing is that this senatorial race now benefits Democrats regardless of who wins. The two realistically possible outcomes are:
  1. Begich wins, bringing Democrats one step closer to a 60-vote filibuster-proof majority, or
  2. Stephens wins, making the GOP the party of felons--and possibly even depriving Republicans of a vote should Stephens' absentee rate increase due to, say, incarceration in federal prison.
Meteorologists predict a break in Alaska's harsh weather during the first week of November when, according to polls, the long-awaited return of Aslan is expected to occur. Failing that, they say, a vice-presidential move to Cair Paravel would at least serve to divert Palin's attention to matters in the neighboring provinces of Telmar and Archenland.

(Brandon Burt)

And speaking of Salt Lake Film Center ...

[Naomi Wolf] ... the center's star-studded Raucous Caucus over the weekend was one of those events you walk away from feeling rather purposeful, thinking, "Wow, what did Salt Lake City do to deserve this?" After all, we're just a little blue pimple on a pretty great red-ass state. So how'd we get the likes of Phil Donahue, Michael Kirk and Naomi Wolf to appear less than two weeks before Election Day, showing their films, reading from their books, and sitting down to talk about how to fix our nation's ills? Wasn't there some battleground state who needed them more? Oh well, sometimes, I guess, Utahns just rate.

On Sunday, the premiere of Naomi Wolf's 90-minute documentary The End of America (based on her book, pictured above) was intense, to say the least. In it, Wolf details the 10 steps a country takes to essentially become Nazi Germany ... and then she shows how the U.S. has taken all 10 steps in days of late.

You can download the film for free right here. It's worth the view. And thanks for some shoulder shakin', Salt Lake Film Center.
(Jerre Wroble)


Not Too Late!


[Pre-Election Movie] It's not too late to catch one of the Salt Lake Film Center's Films-to-see-before-you-vote. Tonight for free at 7 pm at the Sorenson Unity Center (1383 S. 900 West) they will be showing I.O.U.S.A, a documentary about our nation's collective credit happy tendencies and how those could come back to bite us (even more so than right now).


So check that shit out, its free! (Eric S. Peterson)

Oh, That C-r-r-a-z-y San Francisco

[Travelogue] I just returned this afternoon from four days in the sassy and totally independent 51st state of San Francisco. And I feel right now as I always do after returning to SLC from SF--a little dizzy, a little like I've been transported from one planet to another.

In a good way.

My husband and I drove to SF for the wedding of a gay couple that is very dear to us. David Hardy and James Brentano have been committed to each other for 27 years. They own a condominium together in the city's Mission Dolores neighborhood. They have been together in sickness and in health. They each come from a huge, extended family (David a former Mormon of pioneer stock who grew up in Salt Lake City; Jimmy a Catholic who spent most of his youth in Connecticut). They got married in a lovely public park called Sigmund Stern Grove in the city's Sunset neighborhood. (That's the historic Trocadero Inn, above, which is where we danced and drank toasts to our friends' happiness.) Siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles and friends came from all over the country to celebrate. It was one beautiful event.

Of course, it held all that much more meaning that our friends chose to get married in the final days leading up to California's vote on Proposition 8, which would ban same-sex marriage. David and Jimmy are taking the whole thing in stride--if pro-Prop 8 forces are successful in banning their now-legal marriage, they will simply stay together, stay in love and keep fighting for the long-overdue recognition of their civil rights.

Anyway, San Francisco is famous for running a huge number of ballot initiatives every election year, and this season is no exception. There are 24 initiatives (they are identified by letters in the alphabet, so the list goes all the way to X). Needless to say, there are measures before San Francisco voters this year that would curl the hair of Utah voters. For instance, a nice woman with wildly curly gray hair, hanging past her waist, was standing outside a natural foods store in the Bernal Heights neighborhood, where we were staying, handing out leaflets for Initiative V, which would ban the Junior ROTC program and military recruiting in the city's public schools. This newspaper columnist is outraged by the notion.

Couldn't you just see it here in Utah?

So, I'm back in the real world now. SLC is my city and I love it. But it's always good to get the ol' senses recharged in San Francisco now and again. (Holly Mullen)

Tai Chi Pumpkin Carving


[Halloween Martial Arts] Have you wanted to begin the study of Tai Chi and specifically Tai Chi weapons training but were just too busy preparing for the holiday? Well now is your chance to consolidate these two activities into one bizarre martial arts craft event! Tai Chi instructor Steven Smith is offering a pumpkin carving event grounded in ancient chinese Tai Chi "big knife" training. The event will be this Thursday Oct. 30 from 6-8 pm, for more info on price of entry and location check out this site or call 363-5757. (Eric S. Peterson)




Cattaca (Gattaca for Cats)


[Cloning] Ever wondered if you could have a Halloween mask programmed into your genes before birth? The answer resides here:
(Jerre Wroble)

CMJ: Weekend Wrap-Up



I thought that my CMJ fun-fest was over after losing my badge on Thursday, but CW Marketing Director Annie Quan hooked me up with a replacement identity: Todd Something (her recommendation). It was no “Brian Bradford,” but I’ll respond to anything if it gets me into shows for free. By that time, however, it was too late to go to any of the shows I had planned – Broken Social Scene or the guilty-pleasure Saves the Day. My 16-year-old self is still kicking me. With no obligatory shows, I decided to take Friday night off … well, from the music.

I woke up at the crack of noon on Saturday, intent on seizing the day. First order of business: The Advanced Alternative Media party at the Williamsburg Music Hall in Brooklyn. I don’t know how AAM got my email, but the invite promised free food … so duh.

Despite my suspicions that the invite was spam to anyone who’s ever had contact with a music promoter, it turned out to be somewhat exclusive (good thing I RSVP’d; they didn’t even check my badge). Since it was a day showcase, it had more of a corporate feel than any other show: the smell of indie-industry types was heavy in the air. After being asked what part I did in the “industry” by a hipster-cougar (to which I responded, “I dunno, I slept my way into this party”), I retreated to the hot dog bar. At least they didn’t lie about the free food.

Here’s a quick rundown of the AAM showcase:

The Uglysuit – A nice band from Oklahoma City. They played atmospheric alt-rock that was pleasant, but nothing remarkable, but their enthusiasm to play in New York (it was their first time) was very endearing. They also had a lot of hair – sometimes it would get stuck in their guitars.

Crystal Antlers – Honestly, it was just too early for me to deal with Crystal Antlers, it was like watching every cliché of hipster-irony rolled into one performance. Imagine Dan Deacon, Mastadon and The Blood Brothers making sexy with American Apparel and Vice Magazine’s Dos and Don’ts section – that’s Crystal Antlers.

Ruby Suns – They’re a nice little New Zealand duo who play jungle rhythms amidst programmed beats and other electronic experimentalisms. They had a solid set, despite a little corny. It’s probably what it would sound like if Animal Collective had scored The Lion King.

A Place to Bury Strangers – Probably my most anticipated band of the whole festival – their debut album is one of my “Best of 2007 That I Found in 2008” and they have the reputation of being the loudest band in NY. The band was a little haggard from the long weekend (I think they had played a 2 AM set that morning), and they showed it through the first couple of songs. Halfway through, the band found its footing and delivered the wall of industrial sound that they’re known for. Singer/guitarist Oliver Ackermann will impressively abuse the hell out of his guitar just to get the right type of distortion, which he did during the band’s rousing finale. Pulling his guitar around the stage by its strings amidst a visual onslaught of strobe lights and rear-projection, he left the crowd in epileptic awe.

Monotonix – As I’m sure all of you who saw this band when they played with Silver Jews at The Urban Lounge already know: You don’t see Monotonix, you experience them.

Up to that point, the whole “party” felt forced and obligatory; the bands were haggard and no one looked like they were having much fun. In contrast, Monotonix lit a firecracker under our asses (figuratively, but I have no doubt they would actually do it given access to pyrotechnics) [Editor's note: When they played Urban, the lead singer was treated to a young lady licking his sweaty, hairy armpit after the show in a fascinating/horrifying display of animalistic foreplay].

The three-member outfit could’ve been direct descendents of Rasputin – sporting chimo moustaches and robes – and they were equally disgusting. Instead of setting up on stage, they set up their drum set among the thinning crowd. Using internal amplification instead of relying on the house sound system, they were free to move the entire band all throughout the venue, which they did.

Vocalist, Ami Shalev would jump on the audience, carry them, take beer away and pour it on himself, dump trashcans out on the drummer, climb to the VIP section and show his hairy ass to whoever like these were traditional Tel Aviv (their hometown) customs. Armed with endless power cables, the guitarist and drummer somehow managed to keep up with his shenanigans while (remarkably) never skipping a beat. Although it could have been passed off as kitschy (and the Zeppelin-esque music good, not extraordinary), the performance was exactly what the day needed. By the end of the show, the entire band was standing on top of the sound booth while fans supported the drumset.

The entire performance was a photographer’s wet dream, and I cursed my lack of camera. However, I did manage to get some pretty poignant shots with my camera phone. They’re a little blurry (or… arty?), but I think it gives a good sense of the energy.

After the AAM party, I made my way over to the Lower East Side. By that time it was raining very hard which, combined with no concrete destination, forced me into Pianos, a shitty overpriced bar that was recently featured in Nick and Nora’s Ultimate Playlist (they had the gall to charge me $4 for a PBR). While milking my cheap beer, a similarly-disgruntled Brittish fellow named Liam began chatting with me. He had specifically asked to come to Pianos cuz he heard it was known for putting on good shows. Since it didn’t look like the bands were going on anytime soon, we decided to blow to another bar around the corner, where the drinks are half the price (Welcome to the Johnsons – my favorite bar in Manhattan).

During our time there, Liam was kind enough to indulge all my American-centric questions (“So what does bollocks really mean?”) and pretended to be impressed by my music-journalism outlet (“That’s right, THE Salt Lake City Weekly. You probably read it all the time in London.”) After many rounds, we decided to go back to Pianos where we caught the end of a pleasant-yet-unexciting pop band.

Next up was the Inlets, who played contemplative tunes doused in melancholy. As boring as that sounds, they pulled it off pretty well. Even the presence of a banjo (my musical Achilles heel; Liam’s too – he was a fine chap, indeed) actually added to their most potent track.

When the Inlets were done, we were all forced to take a step backwards to “make room for dancers.”

“What kind of shite band needs dancers?” asked Liam. My thoughts exactly. It turned out to be the best performance of the night.

Glasser is an avant-garde musical act from LA, masterminded by Cameron Mesirow. Accompanied by a single guitarist, she belted impressive vocals in the vein of early Bjork. Her adorable prancing onstage was accented by the interpretive dance troupe, Bodycity. Although I was fried from a whole day of live music, she managed to stir me inside.

And then it was time to go home. I said goodbye to Liam and goodbye to CMJ. I fell asleep on the long train ride home, content as rain poured on the city above me.

On Sunday, I did laundry.
(Ryan "Todd Something aka Brian" Bradford)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Filthy Rag!

During my shift helping to man the City Weekly table at the Utah Humanities Book Festival at Library Square, a lady rolled up in a styled-out electric wheelchair and shared her opinion of our paper: "I'd look at City Weekly more often if it wasn't so FILTHY!" she said, and then smugly rolled away. I'm still not sure if she was talking about City Weekly content or ink smudges from the paper. (Ted Scheffler)

Mormon Strongarm Tactics?

[Danites] ProtectMarriage.com, a deceptively named group which seeks not to protect marriage, but to outlaw it for many couples, has made an offer to business owners it thinks they can't refuse.

The organization sent out certified letters threatening to expose any business which has contributed to Equality California (the good guys) unless it makes a like contribution to their own organization (the bad guys):
Were you to elect not to donate comparably, it would be a clear indication that you are in opposition to traditional marriage. You would leave us no other reasonable assumption. The names of any companies and organizations that choose not to donate in like manner to ProtectMarriage.com but have given to Equality California will be published.
One of the signatories of the letter was Mark Jansson, identified in an Associated Press story as "a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." Way to go, Jansson. You can't buy that kind of publicity for the LDS Church, you know.

The fact that the businesses contributing to Equality California are a matter of public record (the letters were, after all, mailed to EC's donor list) doesn't seem to cross their minds. What they're threatening to do is to spend money republishing information that is already freely available.

What's interesting is what this strategy does reveal about the people who head up ProtectMarriage.com:
  1. They're hungry for money. Otherwise, why would they resort to desperate extortionary tactics rather than traditional fund-raising practices? I recommend that LDS Church lawyers and accountants look very carefully into the financial records of ProtectMarriage.com because, if they're already broke after the church gave them so much tax-free money--not to mention all the generous donations made by church members themselves--there's obviously something squirrely going on. California is, after all, a land full of temptations. How well were the directors of this organization vetted? Who knows where all that money ended up?
  2. They think business owners are stupid. Why would these businesses have contributed to Equality California if they hadn't already read the reams of market research showing that support for these kinds of community organizations is good for business? "Exposing" businesses that support equality isn't likely to drive customers away; it just gives them free advertising.
  3. They have a highly elevated opinion of themselves. They think they're community organizers on par with Equality California, and thus they consider themselves entitled to an equal amount of community support. For years, EC has done lots of good in the community, and is well regarded for its work advocating for the elderly and the homeless. ProtectMarriage.com is a recently formed pressure group that will say anything to achieve its singular goal: to deprive gays and lesbians of their existing marriage rights in California.
Knowing that Californians are unlikely to vote for a measure whose only purpose is to deprive others of existing rights, these people have falsely claimed Proposition 8 somehow also accomplishes the positive goals of protecting heterosexuals, children and churches (groups not even mentioned in the amendment). A quick reading of the measure reveals that it does no such thing--all it does is take away the civil marriage rights of some people, based on their sexual orientation.

In order to accomplish their goal, they've tried to convince voters that, under the California Constitution:
  • Children are being brainwashed in public schools
  • Heterosexual marriages are being threatened
  • People are marrying animals
  • Churches are being taxed, and
  • All kinds of other crazy things are going on.
Come on, if a church were ever taxed, or if somebody had married an animal, it would have made front-page news all over the country! These people will obviously say anything to get the ballot measure passed. And it's not out of ignorance of the measure's actual legal implications--they have a lawyer onboard, for crying out loud.

These people are liars. Out-and-out liars.

Based on the LDS Church's response to Texas events earlier this year, it is very concerned with its public perception. Understandably, it doesn't want to be represented by crazy, child-molesting polygamists. So, I ask them: By the same token, do you really want extortionist thugs, liars, con artists and slicks representing the LDS Church to the larger world? To us, it looks like you've annointed the board of ProtectMarriage.com as emissaries for your gospel--and you should think very carefully about whom you get to carry your water.

(Brandon Burt)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Book Report

[Totally Lit] A bunch of us from the marketing and editorial departments staffed City Weekly's booth at the Utah Humanities Council Book Festival today at the Main Library.

It ended up being a blast; I was able to engage in may own, private little internal fantasy that I was somehow connected to the literary world ("Here's the critically acclaimed novelist appearing at a book signing. Why, hello, miss: Shall I make this out to 'my No. 1 Fan'? Alrighty, then ...")

I also got to spend some time chatting with marketing intern Melissa Wiener, who is usually so busy out doing things for the paper that I rarely get to see her around the office. She's dynamic and interesting, and the booth was, just, totally gay that afternoon. We met a compassionate and energetic woman who does outreach for LGBT youth in the northern counties, helping the kids cope with their often brutally homophobic home and school lives without dropping out, committing suicide, or succumbing to other self-destructive behaviors. So she does important work but, as you can imagine, the larger community isn't always that appreciative. So we'll just keep the specifics on the DL here. Her husband did have a very nice shirt, though.

THE NUT IN THAT BOOTH OVER THERE
On the Hazards of Non-specific Questions

Another gentleman simply wanted to know, "So, what's it like working for City Weekly?" Probably, the guy, going from booth to booth, was just wondering who the hell we were, but by the time he got close enough to read the banner, it was too late--I had already greeted him--so he politely blurted out the most obvious question he could think of.

Little did he know that I'm retarded when it comes to small talk, and I have the tendency to over-interpret open-ended questions in such a way as to maximize their significance on every level. The question I heard was, "Would you please form a genuine personal connection with me, describing your own subjective workplace experience in vivid emotional detail, while also affirming my own value as a fellow human being, keeping in mind that you're also representing not only the paper, but the entire journalistic profession?" Yeah, and would you like me to do all this while juggling several brightly colored balls, humming Sousa's "Washington Post" march and standing on one foot?

Now, the poor guy was only being polite--but, under my own special brand of imaginary, self-imposed pressure, of course I felt unprepared: Where's my stack of Sarah Palin crib notes? If I tell people about the affection I have for my co-workers, people assume I'm feeding them a line of bullshit because, really, it's not very common in this world to love and admire the people you work with. (It's just that they've all been so kind and patient in putting up with my neuroses--perhaps because they're all a little nuts, too--and I'm grateful for that.) So, to avoid gushing, it was more like, "Well, you know, sir, independent media is so important in a democracy, especially now that everything else out there is run by giant media conglomerates, making the existence of non-corporate-controlled voices more crucial than ever ..." Which is also true, but probably sounded really, really canned.

What has the world come to when honesty and earnestness sound false? I refuse to make up a calculated answer ("Just between you and me, we've nearly succeeded in our sinister plan to turn Utah's youth into drunkards, perverts and sex maniacs") merely for the sake of sounding plausibly evil. But, come to think of it, that might at least have made this guy laugh.

RARE-BOOK SKULDUGGERY
Sanders and Weller Reveal the Shocking Truth

After helping Wiener close up the booth, City Weekly managing editor Jerre Wroble and I went to a conference room where Tony Weller and Ken Sanders were doing an "Antique Book Roadshow" thing. Interestingly, though, hardly anybody brought books to be appraised, so it turned into a kind of Q&A panel discussion about the rare-book business, which was very entertaining indeed. Both Sanders and Weller have such strong opinions and vivid personalities, and they bounce so well off one another, that the conversation crackled and sparked for the entire hour. They should have their own TV show.

They discussed their strategies for dealing with book thieves: The meth-heads and women with baby strollers who steal books apparently don't realize what a small world independent bookselling has become. All these dealers know each other. So, if you steal a book from Sam Weller's and try to resell it at Ken Sanders', you shouldn't be surprised if Sanders develops an inkling of what's going on. They have their own ways of dealing with such situations, but it was the first time I ever considered that bookselling consists of more than just sitting among one's leather-bound tomes with a pipe and a snifter of cognac, discussing high-minded matters in low-amplitude tones with the endearingly quirky intellectuals who frequent your shop ("Did you get that first-edition E.M. Forster in?" "Not yet, but you should see this illuminated Chaucer. Just look at the condition of that vellum!"). Evidently, there is also quite an exciting cops-and-robbers aspect to the book biz.

I also learned that Mark Hoffman's forged inscriptions continue to crop up with some regularity, even though Hoffman's been out of business for some time. And, considering Hoffman's fascinating criminal history, there may even be a market for Hoffman forgeries as forgeries. Now I'm wondering whether or not anybody has ever forged a Hoffman forgery. What a twisted world! And so veddy, veddy interesting.

(Brandon Burt)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Live in Moab: Antonia Juhasz Exposes the Oil Industry


Her latest book "The Tyranny of Oil: The World's Most Powerful Industry--And What We Must Do to Stop It" is "the hardest hitting oil industry expose in decades," according to the press release. If you're wondering:

*Why are oil and gas prices so high?

*Who's really controlling those prices?

*How much oil is left?

*How far will Big Oil go to get it?

*And at what cost to the environment, human rights, the economy, worker safety, public health, and democracy?

The answers aren't what you think. They're much worse. But there's also plenty that we can do about it.

Juhasz will answer those questions tonight at 7 p.m. Her talk is at Back of Beyond 83 N. Main Moab UT 84532 435-259-5154 www.backofbeyondbooks.com (Joseph Bateman)

Leader of the Pack


[Election 2008] I forget who, but a while ago some jerk was really hammering me on the whole importance of Blue Dogs, or these kind of quasi democrats that are becoming especially trendy nowadays. In the interest of fairness to the poster, its true that a few hounds of the blue dog pack have very little in common with the democratic party on any fundamental level. Former Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia comes to mind as one ""democrat"" (yes I know, I put double scare quotes on that) who, more turncoat than anything, else was definitely one mangy cur of a blue dog as a political animal and a man worthy of a good punch to the neck if I ever saw him.

The reason I bring this up is, because while most coasty liberals might be wanting to neuter some of these blue dogs, the reality is that under an Obama administration these blue dogs are going to be some critical power players.

This election stands poised to potentially not only get a democrat in the white house but also give us a democratic super majority in congress and perhaps a filibuster proof democratic senate.

Hooray!...Right? Maybe?

Well, actually no, for anyone with a political memory that extends past the last eight years, one might remember that democratic majorities served up with a Dem in the White House helped pave the way for the Gingrich's republican revolution and the coronation of King George Dubya.

If that's not ringing a bell, the heyday Bush had with the republican majority and how that came back to bite the GOP in 2006 and (probably in a couple weeks) should be an example of why any party stands to blow it big time if they have too much power.

Which is why the blue dogs will be important in balancing out what could be a very powerful democratic government in the years to come. Blue dogs will be critical in bridging votes with conservatives and liberals and key to keeping the party from going overboard with the wine and cheese agenda.

Ironically, as one author has pointed out, Obama's biggest challenge in office will be learning how to control his own party and keep them from exacting a payback agenda against former Bush followers, that would be so liberal as to make Huffington blush and Ann Coulter spontaneously combust.

OK, if that weren't an embellishment about Coulter it would be worth it, but otherwise if Obama can't keep things bipartisan, we stand to set ourselves up for the same cycle of bouncing between partisan extremes from one term to the next.

So beware democrats-- you push this thing too hard after the election, and another four or eight years down the road--the political pendulum will come swinging right back into our faces with somebody as bad, or worse than our current Conservative-in-Chief, with cronies in tow. (Eric S. Peterson)

CMJ Night 3: Crystal Castles and Badge Drama

I’m going to compare my third night at CMJ to a $5 flask of Jim Beam, not because I have Bukowski-like insight to living the ultimate male taboo fantasy (the uninhibited bachelor, slobby, anti-social, freedom, etc.), but because it’s what I was drinking last night.

The idea of a flask is good: drinks at clubs are a hassle to get and expensive, and I’m not above college-level booze-hounding to avoid running up a $30+ tab. However, near the end of the flask, you’d gladly pay double to get the taste of cheap whiskey out of your mouth.

And that’s akin to my night seeing Crystal Castles at NY’s Webster Hall.

I arrived promptly at 8:30 – still early, but not early enough to look like an amateur. Warm with confidence, I strolled right up the door guy, badge in hand.

“Sorry sir, we’re no longer accepting CMJ badges tonight.”
Guh. I just stared at him and shuffled off to the side. I was so steadfast in seeing Crystal Castles, so sure that I would get in, that I had failed to make a Plan B. A group of fellow badge-holders, similarly exiled, began to form a line in case the doorman decided to change his mind (which, face it: being a doorman gives you that arbitrary power). With no alternative plan, I joined them.

After 30 minutes of waiting and no sign of entering the club anytime soon, I had an epiphany: I remembered I had a connection with a girl who works the door at Webster (apparently, alcohol slows reaction time). Intent on persevering, and an intense need to go to the bathroom, I walked up and asked if so and so was working. Door guy had no idea who I was talking about, but let me in anyway.

Although I’ve only hung out with this person once, she was such a sweetheart when I showed up. I’m never good at cashing in on favors and end up feeling like a mooching jerk, but she nodded me through, discretely slipping me a V.I.P. pass to top it off. And it was in the V.I.P. section that I finished that flask of Jim Beam. Classsssyyyy.

English band Fujiya and Miyagi opened with an energetic set of forgettable songs. They did a fine job of warming up the crowd, but they offered nothing new in the line of electro-bands-that-use-live-instruments bands that stretches as far as the list of presets they use. Also, half-whispered lyrics may work on their album (because, you know, they’re too hip to actually sing), but hearing it live made every song sound the same.

Now, I had only minimal exposure to Crystal Castles before seeing them last night – the only song I’d heard was “Crimewave,” a decent track that has the same sort of sonic-indifference that I found so boring with Fujiya & Miyagi’s set. When the Canadian band emerged looking like the group of Nihilists from The Big Lebowski, I anticipated a set of hipster-douchebaggery that wasn’t worth schmoozing my way into VIP for. What I got was something completely different.

Rather than singing her way through the set, frontwoman Alice Glass more or less screamed her way through it. Jumping, parading, rolling around the stage, the waify little Canadian had the audience by the balls. When she got close to the audience, people just wanted to reach out and touch her; even the front-row photographers put their thousand-dollar cameras at risk to touch her hand when she reached out. On numerous occasions, she made her way on top of the crowd, rolling over the sea of hands and refusing assistance from the bouncers who wanted her back on stage. You could tell that the audience almost resorted to moshing. It was single-handedly the most assaulting piece of electro-punk I’ve ever seen. And then, without saying a single word to the audience, they were done.

After the show, I ran into Ryan Powers of SLC electronic-clusterfuck Agape, who’s always such a joy to run into. He’s also a really funny guy. Next time you run into Mr. Powers, ask him about the tricks he can do with his iPhone. Fucking hilarious.

Agape does not play a showcase at CMJ.

Then I lost my CMJ somewhere between the club and the subway. And the night started out so well.

To be continued…?


(Ryan "Brian, if you're nasty" Bradford)

Vote, the Wright Way

[Election 2008] Don't know which way to vote in the upcoming presidential election? Even at this late date? Seriously? Anyway, KSL game show host, er, "newsman" Doug Wright is here to drop some knowledge with some fancy Interweb video. Never mind that Utah is in no way a factor in the electoral outcome, and will go for McCain/Palin because and only because of the one (R) rating they can support. Oh, and "We all have Mitt Romney remorse"? Take it away, Duh-g:



(Bill Frost)

Separated at Birth?


(Brandon Burt)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hey, Voters! Remember Private-School Vouchers?

[Politics] Think back to 2007, when a bunch of people decided that Utah was the perfect test laboratory for their experimental plan to kill the "socialistic" public-school system by diverting state educational dollars toward wacky, private religious schools.

Remember how we resoundingly defeated that crazy plan? Remember how we vowed to get back at the legislators who tried to shove the voucher scheme down our throats?

Well, it's time for payback, baby! Here's the list of the Legislature's school-voucher ringleaders:


Payback's a Bitch: Vote Against These Pro-voucher Candidates

Senate
  • Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo
  • Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper
  • Sen. Mike Waddoups, R-Taylorsville
  • Sen. Carlene Walker, R-Cottonwood Heights

House
  • Rep. David Clark, R-Santa Clara
  • Rep. Greg Curtis, R-Sandy
  • Rep. John Dougall, R-Highland
  • Rep. Keith Grover, R-Provo
  • Rep. Greg Hughes, R-Draper
  • Rep. Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns
  • Rep. Brad Last, R-St. George
  • Rep. Becky Lockhart, R-Provo
  • Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem
  • Rep. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George
  • Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman


Note that every last one of these candidates is a Republican *. Since concepts such as "recorded fact" and "historical evidence" are now tools of the vast left-wing conspiracy, each of these candidates will tell you that this list is obvious evidence of the media's evil, liberal bias. On the other hand, you might just chalk it up to the fact that, in recent years, the GOP has developed a disturbing, self-destructive tendency to welcome radical nutcakes with open arms.

Hm. Which do you think is more likely?

(Brandon Burt)

* As was Rep. Mark Walker, R-Sandy, who also would have appeared on this list of pro-voucher legislators--were it not for the fact that he resigned his seat in July, on the dark night before the House Ethics Committee was scheduled to convene hearings regarding allegations that Walker had bribed a political opponent to drop out of the race. (Note that this was a separate investigation from that involving Rep. Greg Hughes, R-Draper, who is also on the list of voucher supporters.) The Utah Republican Party, having become convinced of its entitlement to a political majority, is trying to laugh off the perception that an awful lot of its members seem to be under investigation these days.

Remember These Guys?



Salt Lake City's Band of Annuals is on the road. They started out strong blogging for City Weekly, but funny thing about tour: it's all about the music. Blogging? Not so much. A bunk van in the shop left them stranded in Seattle recently, so guitarist Jamie Timm took the opportunity to catch us all up. And heeeeeeeeeere's Jamie!

Six weeks into tour, stuck in Seattle for the last six days. I think it's time for a personal tour recap.
Let's see, where to start...

Ft. Worth, Texas: This night was the first time I ever regretted wearing a snap shirt. Normally the easy-to-get-in-and-out snap shirt is a bonus but on this night it made it a little too easy for groping. I'm not saying I don't enjoy getting fondled my drunk women, but it can be a little awkward.

Nacogdoches, Texas: I scored a 1966 Gibson SG Jr guitar for $150! Talked the guy down from $175. As soon as I walked in my eyes went immediately to a old looking guitar. It sure looked vintage ... how did it play? After strumming it once unplugged, I was sold. This guitar breathes! The quote of the tour is when I asked the pawn shop owner if it came with a case. It did, in his words, "a shitty case for a shitty guitar". It was appraised in NY for $1000 as is. Mint condition would have gone for over two grand.

Nashville, Tennessee: Aside from sleeping in the van and a run in with a stalker, it was all good! Oh yeah, I also met ROBERT PLANT!!

Chapel Hill, North Carolina: I was born in North Carolina and had only been back once since. The show was at a cool venue named The Cave. It looked like a cave ... I love caves.

Washington, DC: Crashed in an old school building and was abruptly awakened by an elderly gentleman in a suit ripping my sleeping bag off me, screaming, "Who are you?? What are you doing here??". My answer: "I'm in a band."

New York City: It was time for a change; time to get a haircut. Found an inexpensive salon in Manhattan, paid forty bucks and wha-lah, new Jamie! On the way out I found six-dollar imitation Ray Ban sunglasses. Lookin' good. I took the subway around to music row and perused the guitar stores. 30th Street Guitars was my favorite. Check them out. Oh yeah, I also acquired a cold and blisters on my feet. The blisters have left, the cold hasn't.

Winchester, Virginia: Showered and did laundry at Brent's brothers house. I'm not implying it was my first shower, I'm just saying...

Grinnell, Iowa: We had a last minute show at the university coffee shop. This college of 1500 people treated us well. Met some new friends and slept in the dorm lounge. Got kicked out of said lounge by a security woman in the morning. "Who are you? What are you doing here?" My answer: "I'm in a band."

Lawrence, Kansas: Broke up a fight between two frat dudes fighting over "some slut". Kirk and Trever had my back.

Denver, Colorado: Rocked out with Band of Annuals and Casey James Prestwood. My surrogate Denver mother, Connie, made me a sack lunch with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and chocolate milk. Thanks Connie. Casey was kind enough to let me borrow his Dr. Z Maz 38 amp. Playing this amp is like heaven ... Thank you Casey!

Pocatello, Idaho: On the way to the show we drove through Ogden, it was surreal being so close to home. I was still sick.

Seattle, Washington: Galactigone [BOA's van] got a cold too. He needs two new cylinders. Ouch, poor van. It is never fun being broken down but if we had to break down somewhere, Seattle is as good as any where. Our amazing friends Tyson and Jamie have been so kind and understanding about having seven extra people invade their apartment. I cannot think of a way to thank them enough. Our show at The Tractor Tavern with Minus 5 was great. Hanging out with Peter Buck was really cool. Scott McCoughy told me after our set that I was "a ridiculous guitar player". That made me feel real good. Our friends The Devil Whale and Matt Hopper came into town yesterday and we are going to their show tonight. I love those dudes.


That has been six weeks of tour for me. Wish us luck on getting our van fixed and finishing up the last week. We need it. And don't forget our homecoming show on November 1 at Urban Lounge with the Devil Whale. I'll be playing my new guitar and new amp, yippee!

JT, signing off.

HSM3 O.D.

[Squeal!] Yes, this weekend's opening of High School Musical 3: Senior Year (filmed in Utah, in case ya hadn't heard) is kind of a big deal ... but seriously ...

Five. Fucking. Features. In. Today's Tribune?

As opposed to one (so far, anyway) in the Deseret News?

Or this piece of hack work?

And now, Salt Blog's obligatory/exclusive preview of High School Musical 3:



(Bill Frost)

What, No Gordita?

[Sports/Free Food] This important news just in:

"The marketing department at Taco Bell was thinking outside the bun with a World Series inspired offer, now it's time to pony up. The fast food giant said if an eligible base was stolen during the series it would give a free beef taco to everyone in the U.S. Last night in game one of the series, Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett made the 90 foot trip, stealing second base and instantly creating a "pay up moment" for Taco Bell. Under the rules anyone who shows up at a Taco Bell restaurant between two p.m. and six p.m. local time on Tuesday, October 28th will receive a free Crunchy Seasoned Beef Taco simply by requesting one. Despite the stolen base, the Rays went on to lose the game, 3-2 to the Philadelphia Phillies."

More details on the fun-to-say "Steal a Base, Steal a Taco" campaign here. Warning: Be sure and get to your local Taco Bell before City Weekly's Eric "I'll Eat Anything Free" Peterson does; supplies are limited. (Bill Frost)

CMJ Night Two: Kid Theodore



[Local Music] At the risk of sounding like a certain vice-presidential hopeful, I just couldn't help feeling so gosh-darned full of pride watching Salt Lake's own Kid Theodore last night. In a city whose demeanor reflects the weather (and the temperature is dropping fast!), it's certainly nice to see some friendly faces. It's even nicer to see them put on such an energetic and effortless show.

I arrived at the beginning of Philadelphia-based band An American Chinese. Decked out in warrior makeup, headbands and miniature deer antlers, the band could’ve passed around a peace-pipe and called it a day. Instead they played some toe-tapping, energetic… er, I dunno. They could’ve played anything and I still would’ve liked them: Three adorable girls fronted the band, all wearing Native American garb. I mean, I hate to judge my appreciation for a band based on the attractiveness of the members, but I think I’ve developed a new fetish.

I’m actually ashamed to say that during all my time in SLC, I never saw Kid Theodore live. I’ve interviewed them for CW, and their LP, Hello Rainey was one of my favorite releases of 2007. Seeing them at Alphabet Lounge in Manhattan’s Alphabet Lounge only confirmed my shame: the boys were tight. The cramped stage/bar gave the band the energy to play a nothing-to-lose set that included favorites from Goodnight, Goodnight and Hello Rainey. The band definitely excelled when all three talented vocalists worked together, providing some stirring round-robin/call and response moments that shook the tiny bar. Despite being so far away from home, the band managed to bring along a formidable following; bassist/singer Ryan Darton thanked “the entire Alta High School for showing up”; the support fueled the already-energetic performance. CW Marketing Director Annie Quan was also there, making the night feel like it belonged to SLC.

Props to bassist/singer Darton who sang in Spanish AND scat during the closing song “Fashion-able.” Non-props to guitarist/vocalist Cole Barnson for being a good-looking, talented musician and stealing any slight chance that I would’ve had to speak to antler-girl. (Ryan "you can call me Brian" Bradford)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Gasp! Who'd Have Guessed It?

[Celebrity Gossip] According to the moderately grammatical blog of famed investigative celebrity journalist Ian Halperin comes the following shocker: Will Smith may be "light in the loafers." (For those not fluent in 60-year-old American slang, it's an expression that means Smith likes dudes.)

The real baffler is why the always entertaining Halperin considers this to be news. For decades, Smith has been pinging the gaydar
hard for anybody who's ever, say, watched his movies, seen him interviewed, heard his albums or examined his sweater collection. Will Smith might be gay? Sure--in the same sense that water might be wet, gasoline might be flammable and John McCain might be cranky.

For me, the most gratifying aspect of Madam Renata's reported revelation is not the gender of Smith's alleged short-term personal assistants. Frankly, I'm just relieved to hear that Smith is capable of getting off with a
discrete individual--he's so attractive and successful, I figured his sexual repertoire consisted of nothing more interpersonal than an empty room, a full-length mirror and a loop track from Rock the House. After all these years, any ability he has to connect on a sexual level with another human being should be encouraged--it shows there's a shred of humanity left.

To Halperin's credit, despite the "light in the loafers" crack--which seems worthy of a titillating exposé from a reporter of his grandparents' generation--he seems less concerned with Smith's sexual orientation than the possibility that Scientology has become Hollywood's version of Evergreen International--a program for self-loathing homosexuals to "pray the gay away."

What puzzles me is this: How could a perfect specimen like Will Smith--brainy, buffed, beautiful, blessed, a man with everything going for him--harbor so much self-hatred as to fall for some crackpot reparative-therapy program? What is Hollywood doing to these poor, unfortunate waifs?

Come out, Will, come out--we'll still love you. Probably more than ever.

(Brandon Burt)

Fun With the McCain Campaign-Sign Generator

[Politics] It's rilly Web 1.0! Try it!


(Inspired by Paul Constant at SLOG)

(Brandon Burt)

Absinthe Makes the Heart Grow ... well, you know.

[Eight-year-old Fads] You know a trend has pretty much run its course when it gets picked up in the dailies. Absinthe is now aboveboard and trendy, according to a story in the Trib. (No mention of the fact that its fin-de-siècle, illicit charms are what gained it a following in the first place during the late 1990s and early 2000s.)

Of course, in those days it had the benefit of having to be smuggled into the country. Now that a neutered version containing the wrong kind of wormwood is legally available in the United States, the Green Fairy doesn't seem quite as edgy somehow. More's the pity.

If you ask me, tastemaker that I am--*koff*--I can tell you that what you should really be drinking is Chartreuse. It's also got a pretty green color and is considered one of the most complex flavors in the world. (A yellow version is also available.) Its mind-altering (and healthful) effects are due to a secret herbal formula known only to one or two French monks, and what the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau doesn't know won't hurt it.

(Brandon Burt)

Cramping With the Stars

[Locals on Reality TV] Nooo! Utah's Dancing With the Stars hoofer Julianne Hough has tummy problems and ... Yeah, that's as much enthusiasm as I can muster. Take it away, Celeb TV:



(Bill Frost)

CMJ Night One: Lykke Li

Last night, bitter wind blew across the Atlantic and into New York City. I squinted against the gusts that blew up the avenues and pulled my hood tight, longing for more of a landlocked night. I’m no meteorologist, but I can only assume the winds came from more arctic climates. Possibly Sweden.

Lykke Li comes from Sweden, too. At the time, the connection seemed very clever to my chilled self.

CMJ (College Music Journal, not country music jam) is New York’s equivalent of SXSW, with the same sheer quantity of music that will makes any sort of scheduling moot. Lykke Li, whose music is a mixture of soul, indie and electro, was one of the major opening showcases for the festival.

After adding her debut album Youth Novels to my growing “Best of 2008” list, there was no way that I was going to miss out. Since this was my first time at CMJ, I showed up at the Lower East Side’s Bowery Ballroom when doors opened… at 7 o’ clock. I was the only one in line, looking like a total noob (even the door guys were busting my balls for coming out so early). After paying $6 for a drink, I wasn’t ready to plunder my moth-filled wallet on expensive drinks until Li went on – a scheduled 11 PM. So I left.

Lower East Side has lots of cheap bars.

I came back at 11, blurry with anticipation. Opening band Friendly Fires was just finishing up a rousing set, which made me a little sad to have missed it. Around midnight, Lykke Li took the stage.

Rocking her early-70s-chic that was both disco yet kind of Manson-familyish, Li was a bonafide presence in the vein of M.I.A. She upped the volume and changed the style of nearly every song from her album; considering her album is somewhat minimalist, these changes were especially rousing.

“I’m a debut artist, so I only have like, 10 songs,” she apologized before her band jumped in to a head-scratching cover of Vampire Weekend’s “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa.” I don’t know if the audience was tired or confused by the band’s tendency to prolong songs after the applause, but it was very quiet/dismaying for a NY crowd. You can’t but feel embarrassed when the singer whispers: “Why are you so quiet?”

Lykke Li closed with Youth Novels’ best track “Breaking it Up” (see video for proof), and only then did the audience go nuts. It was probably the bullhorn. Since she played all the songs on her album, I didn’t expect an encore, but it came.

“You guys are from New York, so you’ll like this one. Sing along,” she said as the bass line from Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” began.

Instead, she busted out a pitch-perfect rendition of A Tribe Called Quest’s “Kick It.”

“Can I kick it?!” She yelled, and we responded “YES YOU CAN!” And she did.

Breaking it up – alternative live video. Filmed by: Christian Haag from Lykke Li on Vimeo.
(Ryan Bradford aka Brian Bradford)

Dateline: Mumbai

[Media Survival] Dean Singleton, CEO of MediaNews Group and publisher of The Salt Lake Tribune is advocating American newspapers start outsourcing certain newsroom tasks overseas. He told a professional newspaper association this week many of his chain's California publications have already saved oodles of cash by outsourcing certain jobs such as copy editing to India.

Singleton, who has spent much of this decade buying up newspapers was already overleveraged--and that was before Wall Street went into the crapper.

Unions at MediaNews Group papers--most of them in California, where the notion of collective bargaining still exists, if barely--are of course none too happy with their boss.

Friends at the Tribune tell me each day brings more uncertainty about their future. They keep their heads down and do their jobs. They are doing all that is asked of them--blogging more, updating more stories all day, working longer hours for less pay. The thanks they get is likely to be a job shipped to Bangalore.

I'm sure comments on this post will simply tell me and others in my profession to suck it up--we're all vulnerable in this country to outsourcing and that newpapers are lumbering dinosaurs that should have faced that reality long ago.

Maybe. All I can hope is that in the depression bound to come our way soon, publishers will hang on to a few American jobs and put people to work ala the old Works Progress Administration model. Maybe a few Trib staffers could be kept on the payroll to push brooms around The Gateway editorial offices?

For more depressing news on editorial outsourcing, go here. (Holly Mullen)

Road to Nowhere


[Highway Star] Call me crazy, but when I think of scenic road trips what comes to mind are classics like Route 1 (Pacific Coast Highway), Historic Route 66, and the Santa Fe Trail. But the 14-mile long Legacy Parkway? Not so much. I mean sure, I enjoy the lovely cookie cutter housing developments and oil refineries that decorate this useless stretch of asphalt as much as anyone. But SCENIC BYWAY? The cities of Centerville, Farmington, North Salt Lake, West Bountiful, and Woods Cross are looking to secure official Scenic Byway status for the Legacy Parkway from the Federal Highway Administration. Yeah, and while we're at it, let's give the IKEA in Draper Historic Landmark status too. (Ted Scheffler)