Dulce et Decorum Est

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My dear Miss Molly Motown sent me this video, and I really like it. It reminds me of this. And this. And also of this. And oddly, this.

That’s a pretty good video.

Also since I love doing it (ever since I told a cab driver that “What a Fool Believes” sounded like if Aaron Neville and Jaco Pastorius made incidental music for “Designing Women“): Department of Eagles sounds like Nancy Sinatra hogtied Donovan and made him re-write Andrews Sisters charts for the Village Stompers.

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Dancing about Architecture***

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I went and saw the Dirty Projectors tonight in Williamsburg, and I went in cold. My dear Meags had asked me a while ago to buddy up under the auspices of whiskey and music, and since Meags has impeccable taste, I agreed. Not knowing what to expect, it was like: Fluffy made sirens and made them sing Trio Q-sides as if they were covering deep cuts from Remain in Light.

The show was totally amazing. It was the best band I’ve seen live in a while, and their live show was exponentially better than anything I’ve found that they could sit down and auto tune. When was the last time you felt like that?**

This video sort of serves as the anti-apotheosis of strange nomadic gowanus eau de vie, in that no matter how many hofner lutes you alpaca into the wilderness, you’d be better off seeing the Dirty Projectors live.*

I drank the Kool Aid.

*dear and seemingly pure of heart singers Amber Coffman, Angel Deradoorian and Haley Dekle have essentially perfect intonation and make “studio magic” type sounds in person… She crushes this song. No loops, little reverb. For loops: opening band Tune Yards is like Jahan Ramazani’s post-colonial nightmare version of Townsend’s porch party … in a good way.

** note: I didn’t want to dance, I wanted to watch them (specifically Angel Deradoorian’s bangs) with my hand over my heart and thank goodness that a) someone besides CSN&Y remembered three part harmonies and b) that I was alive in this strange world where some people are left handed.

*** “writing about music is like dancing about architecture”~ woodpecker

Nipsey Russell

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For those of you who might not know, Nipsey Russell was the “Poet Laureate of Television”. Though his career is varied and extensive, and his talents manifold, I first became aware of Nipsey as a  frequent guest on my favorite game show of all time, Pyramid. Hosted by the teak-faced Dick Clark and often featuring prizes such as sony walkmen, casio keyboards, and trips to Puerto Vallarta, Pyramid in the early 1980’s is the culmination of game show valor and skill, shoulder pads, and Mr. Russell’s impromptu verse:

Nipsey, known for breaking color barriers, freestyling rhymes (spawning many imitators), and pairing the brightest smile with the hypest turtlenecks, passed away five years ago this week. He was, and will continue to be, one hip cat.

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My cat, Nipsey Russell

“The girl that I would marry. Need not be young and fair. She should be a nymphomaniac. And be a millionaire!”

Civil Servants, Evil Rhythms

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Canceling stamps by hand (affixing the inky postmark that tells where the letter has been when it arrives and how it’s traveling once it leaves) is an incredibly tedious process, every one of thousands of letters sent needs to have a rubber stamp with date and location inked and stamped over the postage before each letter can then be shunted into various piles by destination. To do it by hand means repetition of the same dull motion over and over for hours. Unless….

This audio, of four men manually canceling stamps, was recorded in 1975 at the University of Ghana Post Office. It is totally amazing. In this recording: one man slides the letters with his hand out from a long line of post (the slide and slap heard in the middle register), inks the stamp on an ink pad to the right of the line of letters (the lowest bass thud heard in the recording), and stamps the letter (some of which have more than one stamp on them, depending on their address, which leads to the syncopation in the counter-rhythm), a second man takes the canceled letters and sorts them (other slaps on 1 and 3), a third man has a pair of scissors that he snips for the high metallic sound they make (snip, snip, snip, rest) not because they have anything to do with the work, and the fourth whistles in harmony.

The point of this song isn’t about making music for the sake of music, the rhythms are for no dancers, the extra stamps and scissor snips and whistle tremolos aren’t stage theatrics. The point of work songs is to make music to make the day go faster, to unify the motion of the working body in rhythm and though this idea often manifests itself often in our minds below the decks of listing ships, in dusty fields, in national parks, rarely might you think of such a simple and beautiful work song being spun out of such a mundane (and now often mechanized) indoor task. How lovely, and in the most American sense, efficient.

Just watch the first five minutes of this 1978 documentary about the state of the USPS, and think of what a little wah-wah-whistling could do for these people.

If you’re having a hard time visualizing what the stamp canceling music looks like, here’s a short video (but this guy’s stamp crew is like The Troggs to the University of Ghana’s Post Office Beatles):