Nick Cave: A Long Wait

It was 2001, September. I had tickets to see Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds at the end of the month for my birthday. Then something a little bigger than a concert happened, and air traffic into the U.S. looked (rightly) like a very bad idea. The U.S. tour was postponed.

Those of us with tickets were told we could get a refund then or hold our tickets to be exchanged when the show was rescheduled. I chose to wait, though I had no idea how long it would be. As it turned out, it was a very long time indeed. Oh, it was only another six months before the rescheduled concert, but I was never notified of the new date. Being busy with my job, I didn’t stumble across the information on my own. I found out about it by reading a review in the paper the day after it occurred.

I thought about that recently, when I received the confirmation that I had press credentials to see Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds June 21, 2014 at the State Theater. It felt like righting an old (if petty) wrong.

I thought about it again when we stopped at the box office last night to pick up our tickets and no one could find them.

I reviewed Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds for the Twin Cities Daily Planet over the weekend. It wasn’t the easiest concert review I’ve written, though not for anything like writer’s block. You can read the review here.

Nick Cave: A Long Wait

Hidden in the Stairwell

The building I work in is a repurposed warehouse. Two of them, actually, each with their own passenger elevator. The elevator for the side of the building I work on only goes down to the second floor, however. That means that when I enter the building on the first floor, I’m looking at two elevator rides to reach my floor.

Needless to say, one of the first things I did on starting work there was find the stairwell that lets me skip the ride between the first and second floors. Even if I didn’t mind using mechanical means to accomplish something it takes me less time to do under my own power, elevators and I don’t always get along. Too many elevator rides in a short period of time, and I’ll spend a day or two feeling like I’m riding them.

These stairs are…not great otherwise. They’re steep, the treads aren’t very deep, and the height is not entirely even from one step to the next. They were obviously made to be used in a pinch in a warehouse, not to coddle office workers like me.

However, building management did something smart to make the stairwells more appealing. Continue reading “Hidden in the Stairwell”

Hidden in the Stairwell

An Easy Escape

Shelley Segal is about to release her new album on Friday (or, if you’re in the U.S. and keep a daytime schedule, while you’re sleeping Thursday night). In order to fund production, she’s been taking preorders:

Hi! Thanks for visiting my Pledge page.

I’m really excited to annouce that my third studio album (as yet unnamed) [Since named An Easy Escape.–SZ]
is recorded. I am going to be releasing it through my independent label, True Music on May 30th 2014.

There is still a lot that needs to be done before the release. We need photos, artwork and we are going to be running print and radio campaigns for the album.

To help fund the release I am running a presale for the album here on Pledge Music and offering some fun and unique rewards.

The first thing you will receive is an acoustic video preview of one of the tracks, exclusively for pledgers.

Thanks so much for the support and for joining me for the release of my new album

Lots of love,
Shelley xx

She’s got some fun packages up for sale too. The album itself is $10 (Aus) downloaded, but there’s also an opportunity to pick up all of Shelley’s work on USB, get posters of the album art or t-shirts, and even to spring for a house party.

As I’ve mentioned previously, the first single from this album is the first studio recording of hers that I’ve heard really capture the energy she has as a live performer. If you’ve seen Shelley perform, you know that means you’re in for a treat.

I’m looking forward to the rest of this album. If you are too, go ahead and preorder. Shelley’s on her own indie label, which means she’s putting up all the money for production until she gets it back through sales. Buying the album now and downloading it on Friday means neither of you will have to wait.

An Easy Escape

TBT: A Little Too Alive

This post was originally published in May 2009. It still creeps me out.

Rick pointed me at this video, a hand-cranked automaton of the “Don’t tase me, bro” guy. I expected it to be funny. It almost was–the first time. After that, it just got more disturbing. Seeing how the gears work made it even more so.

The artist, Jon Haddock, seems to specialize in rendering violence (including metaphoric violence, like his sculpture of the 107th Congress voting for the Patriot Act) in cartoonish ways. Some of his work actually is cartoons. Some of it just simplified, isolated in time or with pieces missing. Somehow, though, the extra work required to fully understand what you’re seeing just makes it worse.

This video of another automaton, titled Testimony of Sgt. Cortez (This Kind of Monster), is a case in point. It begins with watching a set of noise-makers. You never see what makes the noise. Only the perpetrators of the crime are ever seen. The victims are not. It doesn’t help.

TBT: A Little Too Alive

A Very Funny Lady

If you followed the Women in Secularism hashtag this weekend, you saw Leighann Lord being smart and funny. But if you didn’t attend the banquet Saturday night, you missed her standup–and people in tears in the audience. Luckily for you, she’s been doing this for a while and has plenty of clips out there.

There’s plenty more where that came from too. Plus, if you’re in or near NYC, you have plenty more chances to see her for yourself.

A Very Funny Lady

TBT: The Tyranny of the Original Idea

This was originally published in May 2009. This idea that we have to present new ideas in order for our writing to be useful and good is something I still see in my blogging friends. Let’s just say I disagree. See also.

Two youngsters fall in love. Their love is forbidden because they belong to two worlds at war with each other. Realizing the futility of the feuds that keep them apart, they decide to flee. Confusion follows and our story ends in death.

Romeo and Juliet, of course. Or is this West Side Story? Sung in Shadow? Or Pyramus and Thisbe? Perhaps even Ha-Buah?

Earlier this week, Mike posted about feeling that his writing wasn’t original enough. Bah. I hate it when I see someone denigrating their own work this way. It’s silly and pointless and keeps people from contributing to the world. And may I point out, I’m hardly the first to say so. Continue reading “TBT: The Tyranny of the Original Idea”

TBT: The Tyranny of the Original Idea

When They Called Me, "Rasta"

Last week, Shelley Segal posted a video from her new album. The song is “Morocco”, and the video was shot in a market. I’m pretty sure I smelled the food when I watched it.

I have a weakness for footage of Mediterranean bazaars. The food, the clothing, the music from happier pieces of my childhood and adolescence without the dust, the din of voices, the crowds that I have a harder time handling now.

Then there was Shelley and the song. I particularly like Shelley as a live performer, and this song captures her energy better than I think her older recordings do. It’s always nice to see the face of someone you’ve gotten to talk to and like too. It made her more of a proxy for me in the Moroccan market, a sense added to by the fact that I would stand out there in some of the same ways she did, though not necessarily the ways featured in the lyrics.

The song itself has come in for some criticism from Moroccans, and Shelley has been attacked, for the fact that the lyrics deal with drug use, poverty, and sexual harassment. In part, I get it. I sympathize. When something is titled “U.S.A.” and covers materialist consumption, contempt for the poor, and bible thumpers, I know it’s giving a skewed version of the reality of my country. Those things are there, but they aren’t everything.

On the other hand, I also know that what someone sees of a country they visit depends on who they are. I’ve received a discount on my lodging, had servers and shopkeepers bring up local art and music events, and had conversations about politics and history when I’ve traveled because I’m not “one of those Americans”. What kind I am, I’m not sure, but people obviously make judgments about what I’ll be interested in based on how I look and carry myself. Sometimes, they’re even right. When they’re wrong, it can make an interesting story.

So when I hear Shelley’s song, I don’t hear someone saying this is what defines Morocco. I hear someone saying, “I went to Morocco with dreadlocks, a guitar, and a lip piercing. Here is what they said when they called me, ‘Rasta’.” That isn’t just not the whole of Morocco. It’s a slice of Morocco that very few people visiting would get to see.

“Morocco” isn’t so much a picture of how one tourist viewed a country as it is a story of how one country viewed a tourist. As a fellow tourist and a person who loves story, that makes the song worthwhile to me, even as I understand that people in that country may object.

When They Called Me, "Rasta"


The stereotype of hula dancing is a bunch of slim young women in grass skirts and bikini tops gracefully waving their arms and swaying their hips. Let’s just say there’s a little more to it than that.

(Warning, image stabilization processing does strange things to dance footage sometimes. I found the dance easy to follow in these, but having the background swim occasionally was disconcerting.)

Yep, that’s definitely not what I’m used to seeing. In case you’re curious, women also perform this stronger, more muscular form of hulu.


Swim Home

I found out last week that Mikael Rudolph, who performed out at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival for many years, died in February. It’s not surprising that I didn’t know. I’d drifted away from the bulk of the crowd we shared. Two bouts with cancer enforced some separation on his part as well.

This video gives a good sense of the range of work in his later shows. He called himself Mikael the Mime, but that doesn’t start to get at what he did.

If you’re doing your own act, though, don’t ever pick up that “kiss on the cheek” trick. The person who tried it on me just about got reflexively flattened.

Swim Home