Paris – Day five – Locks’o’Love

23 12 2013

locksOlove_Paris13Passed over the Pont des Arts today, a bridge sagging from tens of thousands of padlocks, left by lovers, a recent trend here in Paris.  So while I’m taking this picture, a man falls off a tour boat under us in the Seine, a police boat hurries towards him sirens blaring, two rescue guys dive headfirst into the chilly waters filmlike no wetsuits, the skipper tosses in a floating stretcher, they load in the drowning man up a chute for just that purpose, and the boat takes off with the rescuers half in the water.  All in a flash, as if in a dream.  Forgive me if I can’t seem to make a music connection to all this…


But earlier that day…
  Matisse_Mandolin  barBaseParis
A book featuring the photos of Robert Doisneau, a Matisse I’ve never seen (Woman with Mandolin) at the Musée de l’Orangerie, and an etched glass bass player at a cafe along the Rue Voltaire.

Lou Collage

4 11 2013


Photographed on Church St this am – collage in window, Downtown, NYC…

Tutti Fruity Rings of Saturn…

1 07 2013

Today John Schaefer’s show on WNYC ( Soundcheck’s Writers Club: Talking with Authors About Music ) will explore music and literature, and just by coincidence, THIS arrived in the mail today.

We’ve added it to our pop music pulp page

I mean how can you NOT love “Carmen Miranda’s Ghost Is Haunting Space Station Three”   Can’t wait for “Jimmy Durante, Vampire From Mars.”

A Blizzard of Sound

9 02 2013


Last Thursday Fred + B wandered over to lower Soho to see a gallery show that caught our ear, “We Buy White Albums.” It’s by artist Rutherford Chang, who confesses a passion for cataloging, so of course we liked him instantly. Here you can view the 650+ copies of the first pressings of the Beatles’ White Album (undated. Capitol Records. real title: Beatles) with the band’s name embossed on the white cover. The Recess Gallery functions as an anti-store (place that buys things off you and sells nothing), complete with neon signage, respite from the inappropriate commercial sprawl of the Met and MOMA.

As you may know the earlier versions of this double LP were numbered, and contained a few letter or symbol prefixes. While no one knows exactly, looking at our copies and talking to Rutherford, the numbered copies range into the three millions.


He had only one copy older than our earliest numbered copy here at the ARC, 0015105. Like ours, most of these artifacts have split covers, are tattered and yellowing. In his record store-like racks a clean white edge immediately catches your eye, on the gallery wall the ones that are drawn on evoked a kind of folk art, the flat white surface offering a chance to make the commercial, personal. One of our favorites was this one from Argentina featuring our favorite band, Los Beatles.


Beyond the visual, you can listen to any copy, and your informed choices will be part of an instant aural mix and eventually a layered reimagining of the album.

So trek through all that white stuff this weekend and have a look/listen to “We Buy White Albums.” You can also attend the closing Reception on March 7, 6-9pm to see how the collection has grown and the show evolved.

Recess Gallery, January 7 – March 9, 2013.  (646) 863-3765‎

Book Digitization @ ARC

23 11 2011

Some thoughts on scanning the ARC’s 20,000+ music books in partnership with the Internet Archive by project coordinator Alexis Cavaretta…

The ARChive is the kind of place that will say yes to just about anything – no exclusions. Their collection of music books reflects this diversity. As someone who must navigate through the catalog records daily, I’ve come to appreciate the unconventional nature of this collection. Some books are indeed very bibliographic and it is easy to capture information about the object and the scope of its content. It is also true that the book collection has some non-descriptive books that are more like pictorial works or are just old, published differently, or published in a different country and/or language. Though the most difficult and elusive bibliographic items, which are also some of the most unique, are not books but serials (think: event pamphlets, record company promotional products, tour/celebrity souvenir books, etc.), art books (Elvis Presley pop-up book etc.), and/or sheet music.

When we first started the project, I was concerned mainly with understanding how to use the Internet Archive’s (IA) Scribe II book digitizing machine and how to navigate their scanning software. The Scribe was ingeniously designed to preserve the books it scans. It allows the book to sit in a cradle, partially open, while the operator lifts the glass with a pedal to turn each page after each shot of the two cameras placed on an angle above. In order to the check human and computer error, the scanner works alongside the “republisher”, who adjusts auto-crop of images, verifies page numbers, and inserts metadata for scanned books.

As the project progressed, Will Susich (Archivist) and I created a guide for interns, outlining the detail oriented tasks that running the Scribe machine and working in republishing requires. We also started troubleshooting the various software, camera, and other sundry aspects of the project, which was all made easier by the presence of the Troubleshooter-in-Chief, Paul Nguyen, our IA contact. There were also choices to be made. Soon we began setting aside oversized books that are too large to scan and pop-up books, which cannot be scanned using the Scribe. For them we wait for the fabled “foldout machine” (we are in the queue), with which both can be scanned.

Overall, we soon began to understand the scope of the many factors that effect book digitization. Yet, the books (and related bibliographic objects) are always at the center of it all, giving us glimpses into the ARChive’s amazing and diverse collection. And now, many of those books are digitized and readable in our in-house electronic online database, which is hosted by IA. How we will provide access to the collection is still being decided, but the idea that there is a searchable online archive of a part of the ARChive’s collection is very compelling. This collection represents contemporary music cultural production, visual culture, and print history, which we hope our digital ARChive will provide visitors the opportunity to analyze and reevaluate.

ps x B: Google had asked us why we were doing this, as they were scanning all books.  Well we did showed them a list of the 25 Brazilian books that we had scanned, and they had only scanned four of them.  Case closed.

Boo-La La!

29 10 2010

Ah, the past.  It’s all coming back to me now.  Spirits in the air, then airmail brought this very nice memory from the UK.

This large poster was one of six placed around London in 1983 when I launched Volume, (736 page discography on punk and new wave music).  I was working out of the Rough Trade office, and doing my semi-official show with John Peel on the BBC.  Hand drawn this, calling on one-time artschool skills.

Brits like to dress up funny, but Halloween was not a big deal then.  So the idea was a costume party with music and books to hawk and a stellar group of judges (John Peel, Siouxsie Sue and Genesis P Orridge!) for best lookers.  Well I don’t remember much more than that, oh, except the bands were great and leaving Heaven at about 4 am, dressed in a latex red devil outfit, pouch stuffed with £4oo in small bills, with a bit of a buzz on, I was stopped by the police.

But that’s another story.

What I meant to say was my mother grew up in an inner city, industrial city, and her best friend’s family ran a funeral parlor.  Her best story was the time they were playing hide-and-go-seek.  Well who could resist crawling in an empty display coffin to hide?  Not my Mom.   Of course the lid came down and quilted screams did their best, but it was hours before they found her.  To this day plush interiors leave her cold.

So on this All Saints Day, in Mom’s honor, with a nod to the recently deceased singing undertaker, Solomon Burke, I’m building a musical coffin corner.

The king of emerging (from a coffin) artists will always be Screaming Jay Hawkins.  With his hand-held skull-on-a-stick and occasional upturned bonemustache. SJH put a spell on youth in the 50s. Freddie (ARC archivist) actually saw him perform, and here Fred laughs at one of Jay’s jokes in a scary 80’s LA TV appearance on Art Fein’s Poker Party.

Freddie also remembered some buried footage in one of the worst rock movies ever made (…and the good one is?), “Bop Girl Goes Calypso.” Here the Goofers leave no grave-stone unturned for a laugh, and perform one number rising from the pine.  Truly horrifying!

Now I mention Lady Gaga because to do so brings an additional 300 readers to our blog.  Like all novelty acts, she too has struck the occasional resurrectionist pose.

I could go on and on.

You see there’s CD cases, and guitar cases, a Japanese band and DJ turntable cases all shaped like coffins.  But blogs have to honor people who view the news on their mobiles, and never get to the bottom of anything, let alone a grave.

I say the ARC is not about entertainment – two bit knowledge, and too much of it – that’s what makes us spooky.  And this Halloween Mom bids you, Vichnaya pamyat! (Memorial eternal!) – that’s RIP in Ukrainian.

Walkin’ 9-5

3 05 2010

Yup, that’s how I spent my last tree huggin’ beach lovin’ day in San Fran, touring Muir Woods, Chimney Rock, Point Reyes (et fried oysters), Inverness (et Bar-B-Que’d oysters) and the Drake Bay Lighthouse – all north of the Golden Gate.  Muir is Redwoods a go-go, high and mighty, while the lighthouse ‘may be’ the ‘windiest point on America’s Pacific Coast,’  not to mention the loudest, with a drone to make you believe in the Siren’s call.   It’s all true.  Uh, and did I mention I like oysters?

But my REASONS for being in SF was to organize placing our catalog online, (something I try to do every ten years or so) and work on getting the Muslim World Music Day website built and hosted.  Thanks to all those helping with the tasks: the crews at Gracenote and the Internet Archive, and Scott San Filippo (who also donated copies of his single from a bygone era, “No, No, No”/”I Know What You Are” by his our-voices-haven’t-changed-yet band, The End (Friendly Ghost Records, 5536, 7″ single, n.d.).

Sidelines and highpoints include visiting author and critic Greil Marcus, getting a brief tour of the UC Berkeley Music Library, dinner at Chez Panisse, a buying frenzy at Arhoolie Records/Down Home Music and seeing a very nice show on the history of the SF rock.  Here’s two of many new adds to the ARC collection – you decide the sublime or absurd…

That’s Earl Bostic’s  Let’s Dance (King Records, 395-529, 12″, vinyl disc-LP, n.d.) and Jean (the gal) and GenII (the computer) on Two Loves Have I (Mark Records, MC 8518, 12″, vinyl disc-LP, 1974) in nothing less than Quadraphonic.

Somethin’s Happening Here – Bay Area Rock ‘n’ Roll 1963-73” was the show at the Museum of Performance and Design, co-curatored by ARC pal Alec Palao.  Alec graciously donated a copy of the book and 4 CD set chronicling the scene. Stephen Braitman, my redwood guide, also donated a pile of rarities to the show, including what is thought to be the only copy of a single celebrating White Levis by the Jefferson Airplane.  Ironic that the show is in the Veteran’s building, with many Viet Vets coming and going, while the show celebrates the same era with a decidedly anti-war POV.

Another treat was the murals @ the Beach Chalet.  By Lucien Labaudt, they rival the more well know group in Coit Tower, but overlooking the Pacific and surround by craft brewed beer ($2 a pint on Monday nite).

Tooling around SF in my rented Chevy, and seeing a pile of Chinese electric scooters @ the Internet Archive, forced me to buy this paean to forgotten glories.  I’m a former Wobbly and Michigander, so there ‘s a special place in my heart for Union songs and the vanishing breed of autoworkers.

Joe Lisi and His Guitar.   It’s the UAW All the Way (LEM Productions, ESS-1185, 12″, 33.3, LP, n.d.).

Speaking of auto-neurotica I’ve lived in NY for over 40 years and never gotten a parking ticket.  EVERY time I go to CA I get a parking ticket.  Is it me or signage?  Maybe it’s this side that is the easy-going coast?  So I love CA, but it’s a song I sing with an expression as below…

Thanks to Brooke and Gabby (Sonny Stitt’s grand-daughter) who made a week in SF possible and palatable!

Graffiti Artists

2 11 2007


This is from Barcelona, where I’m not exactly sure they are referencing the band, but, hey, maybe…

So lets see some other graffiti from bands around the world!

We would love to publish your photos on our webthing, or, just see if there are any more out there!

B. = Barcelona

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