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This Week’s Article

In David Foster Wallace, Matt, Tuesday's Article on December 29, 2010 by Two Barbers Tagged: , , , , ,

Thoughts on David Foster Wallace-9th Installment

St. George

Yeah, so the idea of rifling back through Wallace’s stories, essays, and interviews for a kind of composite, total expression of his experience with suicide and then, out of which, some complete explanation of suicide itself, is just a little too sentimental. It fits too easily into this narrative template that, stripped down, goes more or less like ‘all that exists of a person after he/she is gone are what he/she left behind’, which is useful in its own right and could work in many circumstances, but in this case is just too small and simple, and the opposite of robust. Applied here, it would be like being given the answer to a riddle or like an android version of true meaning.

Here’s relevant a quote from Everything & More, in which the specifics are not carbon copies of DFW’s, but it is obvious how they correspond-

“The cases of great mathematicians with mental illness have enormous resonance for modern pop writers and filmmakers. This has to do mostly with the writers’/directors’ own prejudices and receptivities, which in turn are functions of what you could call our era’s particular archetypal template. It goes without saying that these templates change over time. The Mentally Ill Mathematician seems now in some ways to be what the Knight Errant, Mortified Saint, Tortured Artist, and Mad Scientist have been for other eras: sort of our Prometheus, the one who goes to forbidden places and returns with gifts we all can use but he alone pays for. That’s probably a bit overblown, at least in most cases.”

And there’s a footnote that comes later in the paragraph that is not attached to anything in this quote, but expands on the concept and is essential to the point I want to make-

“In modern medical terms, it’s fairly clear that G.F.L.P. Cantor [who is the ‘mathematician’ of concern in the quote above and whom Everything & More is about] suffered from manic-depressive illness at a time when nobody knew what this was, and that his polar cycles were aggravated by professional stresses and disappointments, of which Cantor had more than his share. Of course, this makes for less interesting flap copy than Genius Driven Mad By Attempts To Grapple With ∞…Saying that ∞ drove Cantor mad is sort of like mourning St. George’s loss to the dragon: it’s not only wrong but insulting.”

This is taken out of context, somewhat, since the statement was tangential to the text, included for the sake of setting boundaries for the reader. The point was about how a to look carefully at a person’s biography and what the reader is able and unable to learn from it; how, embedded in this vehicle, are untruths married to truths like conjoined twins. But if I’m wrong about what DFW meant by it, or have myself twisted its meaning, you at least now know without having to have read the book. To say that Wallace is the sum of what you can quote from him is not only wrong…it’s insulting.

(aside: Can you insult someone who is not present to receive the insult and be affected by it, and could never possibly be in a position to receive or be affected by it? is a metaphysical question so I’ll just leave it at, it certainly feels like it will insult someone; and wrongly too.)

-Matt

Read previous blogs on David Foster Wallace here.

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Monday Suggestion (12-27-10)

In Monday's Suggestion, Rich on December 27, 2010 by Two Barbers Tagged: , , ,

MAD MEN

So I’ve been sick in bed for the past two days, what a way to end the year right?  As a result I haven’t really had the chance to write this blog.  However, in light of this I’m going to suggest what I’ve been doing with my time while sick (other than watching the Giants break my heart).

Mad Men is an AMC original program based on the Advertising Industry in the 1960’s, specifically the firm Sterling Cooper and it’s ace Creative Director turned partner Don Draper.  This show is full of sexual harassment, whiskey, cigarettes and all those other descriptors that can be applied to the good ol’ American way of life in the 60s.  Its captivating, funny, sexy and makes you want a drink and a smoke.  What else do you need in a TV show?

I just finished Season 1 on Netflix, and other than Modern Family, this might be the most addictive show I’ve seen in a really long time.  I’m late to the game (the show started in 2007), but luckily I’ve been able to get a fresh start as I haven’t watched a single episode prior to starting Season 1 in November.

I’m going to leave this post brief, as I’m going to take a nice hot shower and try to steam the crap that’s chilling in my sinuses out before I leave for first night of recording with Dussel Has Friends.

Here’s two videos that I think summarize the show well.  Seriously, go get into it…

Rich

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Good Enough For Government

In Good Enough For Government, Matt on December 24, 2010 by Two Barbers Tagged: , , ,

The Net-neutrality of Net Neutrality

On Tuesday, the officials at the FCC announced that they, in addition to deciding to finally let Eminem be, have approved a set of regulations on the distribution practices of broadband service companies, an issue that has been carried under the opaque, ideological umbrella dubbed “net neutrality”.

The temper and sheer volume of reports and blogs on this news, which not only generally highlight the fact that it was basically a split decision, 3-2, between Republicans and Democrats who make up the legislative, or ‘commission’ component of the commission.

Here’s a simple explicatory paragraph from the ‘About’ page of the FCC website that gives a helpful account of how the FCC is organized and how it functions…

“The FCC is directed by five Commissioners appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate for 5-year terms, except when filling an unexpired term. The President designates one of the Commissioners to serve as Chairperson. Only three Commissioners may be members of the same political party. None of them can have a financial interest in any Commission-related business.

As the chief executive officer of the Commission, the Chairman delegates management and administrative responsibility to the Managing Director. The Commissioners supervise all FCC activities, delegating responsibilities to staff units and Bureaus.”

…it comprises 16 executive bureaus and offices.

All of the details were published and posted in a document on the internet on the 23rd, which you can peruse here. It’s outlined in eight sections (first 87 pages) with four appendices, that go like…

  1. Lofty opening summary.
  2. Argument for the statements made in the summary.
  3. The rules to be imposed.
  4. The legality of the rules.
  5. How the rules will be imposed.
  6. Dates, continuing structuring methods, and review.
  7. Description of the legal procedure.
  8. Official orders for the particular offices to adopt the new rules.

The appendices includes all the information behind the main text…but a few random specifics are lists of commenters, concluding, concurring, and dissenting statements by the 5 commissioners, who are (left to right in the picture) Mignon Clyburn, Michael J. Copps, Chairman Julius Genachowski, Robert McDowell, and Merdith A. Baker…

from FCC website

…which is where the 3-2 net neutrality of the regulations is represented. The ruling is getting complaints from both sides, and it is also written somewhere in the appendices that it is pretty much guaranteed to be challenged in the court system.

-Matt

Also see Good Enough For Government, 11/26/10.

PS

Congress passed a whole bunch of bills this week, including the James Zadroga 9/11 Health Compensation Act on Wednesday.

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Special Vital Information (12-23-10)

In Uncategorized on December 23, 2010 by Two Barbers Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Top 20 Albums of 2010 (Part 4: Albums 1-5)

(5) Glasser – The Ring – My single greatest regret as a music fan this year was sleeping on this album up until about three weeks ago.  If I got this in time for the summer, it would probably have been even higher on this list.  This is one of the most talented groups I’ve listened to in a while and if you aren’t stoked to go see them after watching the video at the bottom of this post we probably can’t be friends…

Standout Track: Plane Temp, Tremel, Apply

Recommended If You Like: Bat For Lashes, The XX, Bjork, Felili

Purchase ‘Ring’ by Glasser on iTunes – Download

(4) Kings of Leon – Come Around Sundown – I said it before and I’ll say it again, anyone who downplays Kings of Leon’s songwriting ability saying they are just a pop rock machine with a country twang needs to listen to “The End” and reevaluate.  There is so much soul and depth to this song it’s amazing, right down to the old-time back porch piano outro…

Standout Track: The End, Radioactive, Back Down South, Pickup Truck

Recommended If You Like: My Morning Jacket, Pearl Jam, Mumford & Sons

Purchase ‘Come Around Sundown’ by Kings of Leon on iTunes – Download

(3) The Black Keys – Brothers – Unless you’ve been on an extended heroin binge or spiritual expedition for this entire year you’ve heard this record and know exactly why it’s up here.  It’s good to see these guys finally get the credit they deserve, they’ve been killing it on a smaller scale for almost a decade now.

Standout Track: Next Girl, Tighten Up, Ten Cent Pistol

Recommended If You Like: Kings of Leon, The White Stripes, The Raconteurs

Purchase ‘Brothers’ by The Black Keys on iTunes – Download

(2) Minus The  Bear – OMNI – I’ve seen these guys live more than any other band not from New York in the past five years.  This album is their best.  It’s dance-y, it’s technically savvy, and Dave Knudson is my all time favorite guitar man crush.

Standout Track: Broken China, My Time, Animal Backwards

Recommended If You Like: I really don’t know who to compare these guys to, just get the friggin’ album and all their others for that matter.

Purchase ‘Omni’ by Minus the Bear on iTunes – Download

(1) Arcade Fire – Suburbs – Surprise, surprise right? These guys have been top 2 in pretty much every ‘best of’ list I’ve seen this year.  Guess what, there’s a reason for it.  The Arcade Fire is the best band out there not called Radiohead.  They’re music is earthy and natural, yet still progressive and unconventional.  These guys manage to take vagabond gypsy rock and make it sound U2-esque.  Win Butler and crew could be the best band to come out of the 00’s….true story.

Standout Track: The Suburbs, Ready To Start, Month of May, Wasted Hours

Recommended If You Like: U2, Kings of Leon, My Morning Jacket

Purchase ‘The Suburbs’ by Arcade Fire on iTunes – Download

Honorable Mention: Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – okay, soI admit this one deserved to make the actual list.  I just couldn’t bring myself to do it though, he’s just such a douche.  Oh well, I guess if Bon Iver can get over that and work with him on this record, I should be able to give him an honorable mention slot. He gets no purchase link though!

The Rest of My Rankings

2010 Albums of The Year Part III (albums 10-6)

2010 Albums of The Year Part II (albums 11-15)

2010 Albums of The Year Part 1 (Albums 20-16)

Glasser – The Treasury of We

– Rich

 

 

 

 

 

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Vital Information (12-22-10)

In Music, Rich, Top Albums of 2010 List on December 22, 2010 by Two Barbers Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Top 20 Albums of 2010 (Part 3: Albums 6-10)

(10) Kele Okereke – The Boxer – The genius behind one of my favorite bands of all time (Bloc Party) used his solo debut to completely reverse the BP format.  Where BP was post punk indie rock filled with a touch of electro house, this album was electro house with a touch of post punk indie rock.  Even flipping styles around Okereke can do no wrong.

Standout Track: Unholy Thoughts, The New Rules

Recommended If You Like: Bloc Party, Boxer Rebellion

Purchase ‘The Boxer’ by Kele Okereke on iTunes – Download

(9) Freelance Whales – Weathervanes – Quirky indie rock with sugar based synth and melodies so innocent and poppy, Justin Bieber would probably call it soft.  Nevertheless the song Hannah was my most played song on iTunes for the past three months.

Standout Track: Hannah, Starring

Recommended If You Like: The Postal Service, The Limousines

Purchase ‘Weathervanes’ by Freelance Whales on iTunes – Download

(8) Foals- Total Life Forever – Foals is like a happy-go-lucky version of Yeasayer.  They’re indie and experimental but something in the vocals reminds me of the Fleet Foxes.  Either way, it’s a shame this album was slept on so hard this year.  Hopefully they’ll pull a Mumford & Sons and be able to find more success with it in its second year.

Standout Track: Blue Blood, Total Life Forever, Spanish Sahara

Recommended If You Like: Yeasayer, Bear Hands

Purchase ‘Total Life Forever’ by Foals on iTunes – Download

(7) Circa Survive – Blue Sky Noise – ‘Juturna’ blew my mind when it came out.  ‘On Letting Go’ did not.  ‘Blue Sky Noise’ is probably the most poppy out of the three, but it’s also the best.  I highly recommend checking these guys out live, Anthony Green is about as true to form of a front man as you’re going to find and somehow manages to be on point with that high-pitched growl even live (no easy task).

Standout Track: Imaginary Enemy, I Felt Free, Spirit of the Stairwell

Recommended If You Like: Saves The Day, Saosin, Coheed & Cambria

Purchase ‘Blue Sky Noise’ by Circa Survive on iTunes – Download

(6) Kid Cudi – Man On The Moon II: Legend of Mr. Rager – Don’t let the shittiness of the title dissuade you, this album is amazing.  I don’t care what anyone says Kudi is the most innovative mind in Hip Hop right now.

Standout Track: Maniac, Ashin Kusher

Recommended If You Like: Kanye West, Mos Def, Talib Kweli

Purchase ‘Man on the Moon II’ by KId Cudi on iTunes – Download

Honorable Mention: Eminem – Recovery – for reasoning please see my previous post on why this album was so important here.

2010 Albums of The Year Part II (albums 11-15)

2010 Albums of The Year Part 1 (Albums 20-16)

EMINEM – NOT AFRAID

– Rich

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tuesday’s Article (12-21-10)

In Music, Rich, Tuesday's Article on December 21, 2010 by Two Barbers Tagged: , , , , , ,

All Grown Up release new E.P. “I’m Over Here”

Springsteen Sting, the third track off of All Grown Up‘s new E.P. “I’m Over Here” starts off with one of my favorite lyrics I’ve heard in a while:

“I woke up bleeding from my hands again, I guess I’m working in my sleep.”

This line epitomizes the decade plus DIY career of this family.  I say family rather than band because All Grown Up has become so much more than just four guys playing music.  The “AGUnit” is a group of friends that have become the foundation on which All Grown Up stands, and the band is fully aware and appreciative of this.  Anybody who has seen the way they offer every ounce of themselves onstage would be able to support that statement with unwavering certainty.

Since the first AGU show I checked out in 2004, between my various bands playing shows with them and just going as a fan, I’ve probably seen All Grown Up 30 or 40 times.  Usually that would put me in fanboy territory, but the truth is it still leaves me a lightweight in terms of their fan-base.  Yes, I’ve seen over a hundred people come out to see them and they’re reputation is spreading everyday, but no matter if it’s Gramercy Theatre or Mr. Beery’s in Bethpage, you can count on the same 40 or so friends being in the front of the audience singing every word to every song.  This is where the family aspect comes in.

We aren’t talking Jonas Brothers fans here, we’re talking the friends the band grew up with and all the stragglers (such as myself) that they picked up along the way.  These are the same guys and girls that the AGU crew Beer-B-Q’s with in the summer and closes down the bar with every weekend all year-long.  It’s a crew that invented Friendship Friday as an excuse to have a good time together, and that I’ve seen the majority of at every Minus The Bear Show since 2005.  They’re great people who support the hell out of their friends, and I consider it an honor to count a lot of them among my own.

I sat down to write about the new E.P., but I don’t think I could have without the article digressing into what the All Grown Up family is all about.  At the end of the day “I’m Over Here” is five raw, emotive punk influenced tracks that exemplify every good friendship.  Every track is a house party in MP3 format, but also touches on those conversation topics everyone in their 20’s have had with their best friend at some point.  This is a really tough thing to accomplish and very few bands (The Get Up Kids, Jimmy Eat World, The June Spirit) have been able to accomplish it with any sort of sincerity in the past few decades, All Grown Up is among them.  Then again, when you get a band who are as talented as these guys are, and who’s biggest influence is legitimately their friends and family, it’s really not that surprising.

You should get the record here.

Then join the AGU family here.

And to top it all off, be here next Thursday.

-Rich

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Monday’s Suggestion

In Matt, Monday's Suggestion, Music on December 20, 2010 by Two Barbers Tagged: , , ,

Nebraska, by Bruce Springsteen, In Particular, “Highway Patrolman”

Putting Springsteen in the title runs you the risk of turning off hand-fulls of readers at a time, which is why I’ve been waiting for the right set of circumstances to suggest this album, and in particular this song. (There’s just a general weirdness behind the dichotomy of this suggestion that I can’t really explain or justify. It’s like, in a remote way, when you have two people that you call your best friend. I don’t want to just pick one to suggest. I could just suggest the album and, that way, the song would be covered; or just sever ties and go solo with the song; and maybe that’s what I should do since there’s this impulse to highlight it. But I don’t want to. [Additionally, there’s a chance that you may be a reader to whom the top assumption about Bruce Springsteen repelling people sounds really off base because Bruce is first and foremost extremely popular, which means it’s more unlikely to come across someone who wouldn’t be at least interested in reading an article about him. In that case, all I can say is we probably come from different orientations, but we can ultimately agree on how good the Boss really is.])

Anyway, the circumstance is-

  1. it’s the Christmas season, which is steadily on its way to becoming longer than the calendar seasons, and means a lot of hassle, both functionally and psychologically, one driving the other;
  2. work has been overwhelming (not entirely unrelated to Christmas, but now I’m perseverating);
  3. additional pressures pinned to writing (that is to say, trying to keep head above water), and I have a headache tonight.

Now, the reason why this subject fits those circumstances, is that Springsteen is really easy. Everyone knows him and has an opinion that’s set and dried, although this latter aspect could be the cause of difficulty if I was planning on making this about trying to change people’s minds.

There is no reason to think differently about Bruce Springsteen. Or, at least there’s no reason for someone to try to persuade another person against his/her tastes. But despite being aware of this, it’s really hard for me to imagine anyone not liking this song, if not being really moved by it. It could fly pretty well on its own as a suggestion for the week. Structurally, it’s of craftsmanship-grade quality. And artistically, it’s like Cain and Abel set in 20th century America, with irony that is as tragic and profound as the works of Shakespeare. It’s Steinbeck.

But as soon as I listen to the song, I want to listen to the whole album. If you’re the type of person who is turned off by Bruce Springsteen, be apprised that this song and album are NOT what you dislike about Springsteen. It’s not Glory Days or Thunder Road. There’s no saxophone. It is made up of the songs you hear on the radio that turn off the background noise of traffic and stress, with the first thing you hear when your inner monologue starts again being “Wait, is this Bruce Springsteen?”.

Sony has blocked the original recording off of YouTube, which is the best version. But this is the best one I found on YouTube.

Here’s a version by Johnny Cash. So if you hate Springsteen, the odds are pretty high that you’re into, or at least respect, Cash.

Nebraska. This is the title track and probably responsible for the “haunting” descriptor that is probably used most commonly in descriptions of the album as a whole.

Johnny 99. Ok, this one fits more with the popular Springsteen persona. But it’s still fantastic.

-Matt