randy bewley, and reminiscence

The Idolator obituary, if you hadn’t seen it yet. It is sad and tragic and far too young, and this is where I kick myself for not going out on a school night to see the reunion. (Part of it, of course, is that sometimes I want the magic to continue to exist in my head as it always was, and not as a reconstituted version. Which is why I only half-lobby for a Replacements “reunion” [in quotes because with Bob, it’s not a reunion].)

This is more about the chain of events, how things were, and how they are now. I’m trying to remember how I first heard that Randy was in the hospital, which was the initial report. I know I saw it come through some information stream which I cannot recall, and promptly sent that story to Miriam (living in Belgium, she would have seen it sooner or later, but I knew she would want to know sooner). Miriam and I have been friends since the mid-80’s. We started talking to each other after a show one night, after seeing each other at show after show after show of the same kinds of indie rock bands, on the Maxwell’s “circuit” (if you will – there were other clubs, of course, but the idea is, the types of bands who played Maxwell’s back then were in one group, and everything else was in the other).

Then, not long after that, the notice that he had passed started coming through. I should have timed the filter from the old-school PR guy or rock journo I surely got it from, until it hit, oh, say, Brooklyn Vegan.

I compare this to when D. Boon died, when I got an anguished phone call in the middle of the night, from someone in South Jersey who had heard the news – which was still an unconfirmed, but very reliable rumor – on a college station. It could have been WPRB, it could have been one that only broadcast at night and doesn’t exist any more. In a few days, we had the information confirmed – I believe even MTV picked it up – but the chain of information was slower.

I look at the quantity of people writing about Randy and I wonder if they ever saw Pylon or had been old enough to have seen Pylon. Not that the latter disqualifies you – it’s not my fault my parents had sex before yours, as a friend of mine says – but the volume seemed out of place compared to the proportion of Pylon’s importance in the large Music circle. In my group of friends, it would have ranked another late night phone call, but I wouldn’t have expected someone working in Tower Records, say, to have known or cared. I look at some of the younger music bloggers posting about Randy, and I think, “Are you doing this because you genuinely feel this loss somewhere or because everyone else is posting about it?” I will honor the former. I deride the latter. I read those blogs and think, You know, people who know and care about this will have found out in some other way besides your blog, and the people who read your blog do not know or care, and your inclusion of this here as just another thing to give you traffic or make you look smarter cheapens it, and does not give you any more credibility or authenticity.

Irrational? Maybe. Selfish? Probably. Elitist? Quite likely. So fucking what.

Maybe I am bothered because it is just so easy now, to find out about a random band in a random town, without having to dedicate any effort to it. You don’t have to go to a record store, you don’t have to send carefully-wrapped dollar bills in an envelope to a P.O. box in St. Louis or Minneapolis or Austin or somewhere in the places inbetween those dots on the map in order to get back a photocopied fanzine where there might be an article about a band you heard about but have never seen or heard (but want to). If you want to find the other people who care about the same music you do, you get online and go to whatever blog or MySpace or Facebook or a message board and voila. You’re not special ordering records (and I do mean records), you’re not staying up late and jury-rigging your antenna to pick up stations left of the dial (there’s a reason behind that song title, it’s not just a pretty turn of phrase).

I guess this is the place I turn into a cranky curmudgeon. It is all so fast. It is all so much. And I am not entirely sure it is better. In fact, I am pretty sure it is not. There is so much I love about the internet, so much it has given me. There is no way I would have pursued writing about baseball in any other way, and no way I would have had the kind of success I have had as a sportswriter without the internet. It would be so much harder to get my photography in front of people. It would not be so easy to stay in touch with friends, although I wonder sometimes if we weren’t better off with the phone and the parameters of watching long distance charges on phone bills. But I do not know about what it has done to music. It is probably 50-50, but the 50 on the other side just kills me sometimes

All of this sparked by Randy Bewley’s death, because the days I loved and cared about Pylon were those days when you found out about it because Michael Stipe mentioned them or someone brought home a copy of Flagpole from a trip to Athens or someone in a record store was playing the single when you came in. I remember hearing them on WNYU back in the days of the New Afternoon Show (I would sit in the parking lot at the end of my after-school job and listen as long as I could and prolong the drive home, since I got the best reception in my mother’s VW Rabbit).

I will stop right now by saying that I wish his friends and bandmates my deepest sympathy, and may his journey thrive.


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he’s at it again

Pete Townshend (Who he?) is the blog. Comments disabled.

The profile is the best:


The excerpts of his autobiography are over at, to make things more confusing. Comments on here.

What’s the Vegas line as to how long these will last, before some egomaniacal freak ruins the party?


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the muscle shoals sound

Given that last night I started pruning the iPod to take off things I am not sure I need to have with me 24/7 (even if I once did feel that way about it) (and this is a whole other train of thought that should be written about at some other time) right about the time I was desperately needing to hear Otis Redding and realizing I have a shamefully small amount of Otis Redding on my iPod, and that while it is all well and good that I consider Sam Cooke Live At The Harlem Square Club the greatest live album of all time and therefore it should be on the iPod, there is zero excuse for not having a far deeper representation of Mr. Cooke’s repertoire…this link (to a blog whose existence I was previously unaware of, but now delightfully so) is welcome and deserving of large amounts of traffic.

Espec. given the fact that I am well aware things are quiet around here, but is not supposed to be a “blog” per se, just using the blogging software to have my writing online, I sort of apologize for the lack of updates but not really. Kind of stuck in the fictional world right now. And writing my EMP proposal. But more anon, I swear.


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joel’s 10 favorite songs by ex-beatles

When I was in the 10-13 age range, I was such an obsessive Beatles fan that I used to carry around a pink spiral notebook which contained a calendar in which I’d written every significant Beatle event, ever.

My friend Joel (who scoured the Los Angeles area to find a garden gnome to put onstage at a show two days after George Harrison left this earth) beats me, hands down…as evidenced by his recent great contribution at Pitchfork.

Personally, I would have put something from Venus & Mars on there, and probably would have had a hard time figuring out what to pick from Band On The Run (there is no album in the entire history of music that is more of a time machine for me that that one).

No matter what, though, the presence of “It Don’t Come Easy” on there validates the whole thing (and ensures we will not engage in endless argument over this subject in future).

Joel plays guitar and bass and keyboards and egg shakers in Earlimart, who are going to play some more shows in your backyard soon (May 6 at Bowery Ballroom in NYC).


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obligatory bright eyes entry

I didn’t go see Bright Eyes when they were in NYC this week because I was in a temporary but brand new kind of b-r-o-k-e (which of course resolved itself the day after the show). But, I did write a review of the new album for Blogcritics, and my interview with Conor will appear in the next issue of Backstreets, which is out as of next week.

But the real reason for this post is the new song he’s been doing (which of course isn’t on any record) called “When The President Talks To God.” And in a stroke of absolute, utter genius, you can
download it for free at iTunes
. It’s a great, biting, eloquent talking blues, in the spirit of Woody and Arlo and Steve Earle. Writing a song like this is tough to do, it’s not just the lyrics that are important, it’s the tune and the performance and the delivery, and it’s freaking masterful.

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“have you ever had the feeling that you’ve been cheated?”

UPDATE, 1/31:: has announced that they will be providing refunds to anyone who hasn’t used their membership code to buy tickets. Nice egomaniacal spin to the press release, but I don’t care; all I care is that I can get my money back and use it for something else. It’s still the biggest ripoff ever.

First, I guess I have to apologize for being so non-trendy and unhip that I care about seeing U2. I had gotten worn out with the hype, but then I went to Brooklyn, for old times’ sake, and it was actually brilliant. They could still play, just the four of them rocked it out hard.

Yes, I am such a fangirl that I will pay $40 for a fan club membership. I had a Propaganda membership years and years ago, didn’t keep it up. But for priority ticketing, yes, I would pay $40. This isn’t the Rolling Stones fan club, they are going to do this right. I expect the Rolling Stones to take as much money from me as they can. I don’t expect this from U2.

Or so I thought.

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i could not think of anything more excruciating

eBay item 2289137864 (Ends Dec-05-04 15:00:00 PST) – KRIST NOVOSELIC, private plane ride & lunch, Nirvana

There is someone out there willing to pay over $1k for this agony? After all those years of avoiding talking to him at the JAMPAC pool tournaments?

Okay, honestly, I shouldn’t give him such a hard time, and I know that I take for granted the ability to view An Actual Member Of Nirvana In The Flesh after living in Seattle for 9+ years. And yes it’s for a good cause. Krist should have and could have done a lot more than he has done, he’s a smart guy who has a lot of people willing to listen to what he has to say.

Funny story revolves around him busting me and a friend, years ago, for videotaping his band at a show at the First Avenue Theater. We were actually wanting to tape Satchel and Hovercraft, had tape left over, and just ran it. He sent a flunky over to take the tape away from us – keep in mind that this was an all-ages punk rock DIY type venue, and not exactly the Kingdome, where one should shuttle out the sole member of your crew to take a tape of your band (that, I’ll point out, no one cared about then and no one does now).

(While we’re here: Is there a reason I need to buy the Nirvana box set? Anyone?)


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truth is stranger than fiction

Or, the musicologists that hang out on (otherwise known as “the dot-org,” to distinguish it from the steaming pile of useless officialness that is [hyphenated because of course some geek owns and feels so tied to it they’d rather have a link at the top of their page sending everyone to ryan’s official site than have to abdicate their domain name]) discuss the history of music:


The guitar part in I’M COMING OVER–“hey, wait, I gotta new complaint” from Nirvana in HEART-SHAPED BOX. try to deny it ”

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