Song of the Day: Kasey Anderson’s ‘Don’t Look Back.’

Kasey Anderson has been one of my favorite songwriter/performers for the last ten years. I’m playing keyboards with him at the Doug Fir Lounge in Portland on Thursday evening (headliner is Chris Margolin & The Dead Bird Collection) and this lovely song will definitely be in the set.

To learn more about Kasey’s recent jinks, hi- and lo-, check out this interview on the FarceTheMusic website. Then go to Kasey’s website and download his 2012 album LET THE BLOODY MOON RISE, for not a penny more than $5. It’s a great record.

Wilco is Onstage: Put Your Damn Cell Phone Away

Photo: Consequence of Sound

Photo: Consequence of Sound

If you go see Wilco it’s okay to bring a cell phone, but really a good idea to put it away when Tweedy comes onstage. And if you’re sitting in the front rows, where he can actually see you, it’s a goddamned great idea to put it away because if he sees you using it during the show, which he will, he will talk to you about it. Into the microphone, so booming-loud. And he’ll tease you, and taunt you and call you a motherfucker. Inciting the derisive laughter of everyone else in the hall, many of whom are also using their phones, only out of sight. And this happened last night at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland, Or. And was followed an hour later by Tweedy actually stepping forward to snatch another person’s cell phone, raised either to shoot pictures or a video of an encore, out of their hands and, after a victory salute, tossing it to the rear of the stage.

Was Tweedy  advocating for his art or just overreacting in a way that, if you think about it for a moment, you just know a guy who writes songs like that would react. Because his art matters that much to him, and also because it hurts him, psychically and maybe even physically, to create it. But he has no choice must because that’s the pain that makes the music, and him, more beautiful. And even if the other thousands of folks are alternately rapt and cheering him along it’s that one phone he can’t not see. Because the phone, in that moment, symbolizes all the humiliation he’s ever had to suffer to do what he does. And that person holding it, sitting there right up close where the artist can’t help but look for signs of his audience’s approval or disinterest, won’t be touched by what he’s working so hard to do. And, in the interests of emotional, physical and creative survival, must be destroyed.

That’s how it seemed to me, anyway. It was a beautiful show.

BRUCE coming to a venue near you! Maybe.

monkey

We’ve got some new BRUCE-ish appearances coming up in the not-distant future — how exciting for us. And possibly for you too, if you’re around and not too busy and ready for some down n dirty talk about BRUCE, Bruce, writing, reporting and sheep-shearing. Only without the sheep-shearing.

The fun begins this week in just a couple days.

MARCH 7,  RENO, NEV.

3 pm: University of Nevada/RenoJoe Crowley Student Union building — a 1-hour talk called Writing about Music and Musicians, focusing on BRUCE and previous works on Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson.

6:30 pm: Sundance Books, 121 California Ave.: BRUCE reading, discussion and signing.

MARCH 19, PORTLAND, OR: 

6 pm: The Town Club, 2115 SW Salmon: I’m almost entirely sure this is a members-only kind of thing, but maybe that’s you, or maybe you know someone, or I don’t know what). Point is I’ll be talking BRUCE with Oregon Historical Society boss and all around good guy Kerry Tymchuk.

APRIL  27, McMINNVILLE, OR.

1 pm: Terroir Creative Festival: 1 pm presentation, ‘Getting to the Source – The Biographer’s Pursuit. I’ll sign books in the bookstore tent starting at 2-ish, then lead a class for high school students (though I think that’s a small thing and may already be full, I don’t know) at 3 pm.

That’s it for now, but more is on the way, so stay tuned.

 

Behind the Seams with Marc Maron

maron

Not long into Marc Maron’s set at Portland’s Aladdin theater last night (Feb 28), the comedian spied a teenager named Avery in the front row and struck up a conversation. How old was he? What was he into? Did he do sports? From then on the show became a conversation between Maron and the shaggy-haired 16-year-old.

A mostly one-sided conversation, but Avery’s presence, along with Maron’s addressing so much of what he had to say directly to him — often while hunkered down right in front of the boy — invested the comedian’s lost-in-the-un-funhouse-of-consciousness musings an unexpected, and powerful dimension. Maron was talking to himself, really, and his news was tough, but ultimately good: Don’t be afraid of the bullshit in life. Bring it on, climb inside and master it from the inside out.

So this is what Maron does, both on the stage and in his increasingly well-known podcast ‘WTF.’ The podcast is an interview show, once devoted almost entirely to comedians and comic actors (he’s branching out these days, which is good). But when Maron has the right guest he’ll draw them deep into the muck, often prompting revelations. Chatting with Tom Green (famed for his MTV pranks show during the ’90s) a few weeks ago, Maron started the show by admitting that he had never cared much for Green’s work or what he’d seen of his character. No matter, he treated Green with typical warmth, drawing out his guest’s tales of glory and then his ugly, semi-redeeming run-in with testicular cancer.

Maron also gave Green the leeway to reveal how shallow and at times unpleasant he can be. Asked about his marriage to, and speedy divorce from Drew Barrymore the former TV star explained their split (which came after Barrymore’s supportive role in Green’s cancer battle) by wondering aloud how his host would feel being tracked by his wife’s paparazzi all day every day, and having the resulting stories being almost entirely about her. Weirder still, the cancer survivor spoke enthusiastically about taking up cigarettes, and the electric non-smoky cigarette he now uses. And proceeded to suck on during the interview, leading to weird gaps in his responses and an odd, choked tone in his voice.

So yuck. But once again Maron had led his audience so deep into  Tom Green’s flinty humanity the experience seemed revelatory. Not just because Green sounded like a dick, but because he sounded so puzzled about the whole thing. He’d flown so quickly to the top of his game, only to have the rules changed. His dream-come-true went sour and even now he has no idea what to do about it. I know that feeling. I’d wager you do, too. The big question for us is the same one Green still can’t find a satisfying answer for: what do you do next?

At the Aladdin show Maron tossed fistfuls of emotional crud onto the stage. Vivid tales of pornography and masturbation; the wonderful/terrifying burdens of romance and marriage (as symbolized by a nauseous helicopter ride above the island of Kauai), and the many mythologies people use to make it all make sense. Much of it was really funny, of course. Maron is a master of being simultaneously wise and outrageous, and when he went deep into the downside of pornography (you know you’ve lost your grip when you see your naked girlfriend in bed and look around to see where the dude is) or the crazy aggressiveness of evangelical vegans and atheists, the place twisted and flew like a roller coaster.

But it doesn’t all work. Maron is only now healing a decades-long reputation for blatant and unapologetic nastiness. His ongoing feud with Jon Stewart — they were once seen as quite similar, and Stewart often won jobs Maron really, really wanted — reveals far more about Maron’s shortcomings than anything else. That he refuses to back down, even after 14 years of sobriety and publicly distributed amends, is a bit dismaying.

But no one gets it right all the time, and Maron is nothing if not transfixed by his own, often gory, imperfections. You have to root for him, not just because he’s so smart and funny, but also because he knows how grating he can be. Everyone looks like a monster when they shed their skin, and his own personal horror, and great gift, is that he knows this all too well.

Now Avery does too. It might not save him from all the angst and hassle of real life. But it can’t hurt, so what the fuck.

Good thing: The ontology of live nude girls

vivalv

We do a lot of professional stripping here in Portland, Ore. Strip clubs throb in literally every quadrant of the city proper, and don’t even ask about the dirty business going on in between the Jiffy Lubes and lurid McBurgerJack outlets.

I don’t partake, less out of moral/ethical outrage than the simple fact that professional eroticism strikes me as basically the opposite of what I’m after on the eros front. But that’s just me.

We could — and perhaps should — go on at greater length about such sex industry; perhaps gauging the identities of the victims and the victimizers; the sense of who is actually running the game, and who is getting played. Complicated questions to be taken on another day. For now check out this five-minute report about some of Portland’s better-known dancers, club owners and assorted other sex pundits. The key words are abuse, freedom, art and empowerment.