ashes to pheonix

A small crowd... read on and you'll see.
The problem with burritos is the non-homogenized nature of the ingredients. You inevitably end up with uniform strata of the varied component parts. This effect is particularly bad when the layers are arranged vertically down the length of the tortilla-tube. Horizontal layers aren’t as bad, as you still stand a fair chance of getting a wee taste of the sum parts in a single chomp (the likelihood of which varies as an inversely proportional relation to the diameter of the burrito). Vertical layers, however, are wholly unacceptable. Taco Bell’s 7-Layer Burrito is almost always layered vertically. This means I may go several bites and taste nothing but tortilla and sour cream, or tortilla and refried beans. It’s just not good. I would like to open a burrito joint where the would-be burrito eater chooses their ingredients, all of which are then placed into a rock-tumbler for thirty seconds before being emptied back into the tortilla and rolled up for consumption. I could call it La Casa del Burrito Uniformemente Distribuida, or something equally catchy.

I’m going to talk music now, you can skip ahead four paragraphs if you’d like.

Several times over the years, I’ve read about Brian Wilson’s “lost” masterpiece – SMiLE. Conceived as a follow-up to the much-acclaimed Pet Sounds album, it was never properly released back in the day. Over time, I’ve read so much about the legendary album, the mystery and tragedy and brilliance of the whole affair. A few years back, I downloaded what was said to be the “definitive” bootleg assemblage of the album, and wasn’t terribly impressed. Then again, I really didn’t give it much of a fighting chance. See, I’ve never been a Beach Boys fan. Like any good music-lover, I can appreciate the songwriting, masterful harmonies, and clever arrangements… I guess I’m just not a “surf music” fan (unless we’re talking Ventures and Dick Dale type guitar stuff). Anyway, I shelved the Smile bootleg fairly quickly and didn’t really revisit it.

Then this year, Brian Wilson re-recorded, or re-assembled, or re0something’d the entire project. Flowery praise flowed in heaps from the critic-collective: finally the masterpiece as Mr. Wilson and Mr. Parks had intended it, as it would have been had he not had a complete breakdown back in ’67. Some even dared to compare to the unequivocal best album of all time, the more swoon-prone of the lot even going so far as to say SMiLE may in fact best said sergeant and his band.

The album was entirely “rebuilt”, largely by recreating existing bootleg versions of his original tapes (which he lost long ago), with re-recorded vocals. That alone is interesting to me, since it’s then fair to say that had not the criminal bootleggers been so diligent in stealing and preserving every snippet of the original tapes – Mr. Wilson may have not been able to complete this project. That’s another thing altogether though, but I guess we know where I stand on archival music (bootleg or no).

Anyway, the point of this what-was-to-be single-paragraph discussion of SMiLE is simply to say: now I know what all the fuss was about. Listening to this recent release, it’s clear this album is amazing. Re-recorded or not… it’s an outstanding effort, complex and lighthearted. It makes me want to bust out that old bootleg version, and hear it as it would’ve sounded back then – when Brian’s voice was still 24 years old and not all funky-slurry sounding like it is now. But still, as a mind-bendingly time-stretched effort, conceived in the halcyon days of the summer of love, and finally recorded in 2004, it manages to triumph despite the odds. Four paragraphs again where there was to be one… it’s just the topic of music… close to my heart. And if you could only hear “Surf’s Up” from this album… you’d know why. Thanks for listening.

OK, I’m done talking music. Back to the other-kinda-stuff talk.

Tonight I finished up digitizing the prank phone calls for the “box set” project. I have a few more random cassettes to encode, but for the most part it’s done. Now I have to split the 45min-long WAVs into individual tracks… which will be tedious. The participating members of the prank call collective and I hashed out details for the eventual production of the long-planned box set. We’re going all out: pro silkscreened CDs, a real “box” of slick glossy cardboard, professional graphics and production, and a collection of period-piece photos and mementos included in the extensive “liner notes.” We’ll each be contributing to a “background” writeup on the calls and music, so when the thing’s done it’ll look like it came off the shelf at Best Buy (at least, that’s the pipe dream right now). Why, you ask, when we’ll only make perhaps 5 or 10 copies? Because to us, the material is worth of the care. Dumb as it may be, I love those tapes… and have always wanted to give them a proper place in my music collection.

Also tonight, I watched bits and pieces of Control Room, a documentary that follows the Al Jazeera and their coverage of the war in Iraq. The main point of the film is to focus on the perception of the war, and the differences in the way different media organizations report things that ultimately effect that perception. From what I saw (I was running back and forth to the back room flipping cassettes over and building a new MAME hard drive for the Pac Man cabinet upgrade project, the latter being something I don’t think I’ve mentioned here yet), the movie looked really interesting. Anyway, a buddy of mine had it at work today so I borrowed it for the 30min it took to rip and burn a copy. Eventually I’ll sit down and watch the whole thing, but definitely check it out if you’re interested in the whole western/eastern viewpoint gig.

Tonight is the Dears show downtown. Glad to see Sacramento pulling a few more good shows of late, I like it a lot better than driving to the city. The last time the Dears were in town, we caught them at a very small club where the audience turnout was absolutely pathetic. A generous estimate would put the entire crowd at about 30 people… so we figured that would be the Dears’ last visit to Sac. For whatever reasons, they are trying their luck again. Hopefully the turnout will be better tonight (Friday), and hopefully they’ll play some stuff of their forthcoming new album (which hasn’t leaked yet… ahem… mp3 pirates… I’m waiting).

Wow, lotta writing today… and you know it’s gonna be a good entry when the 1st sentence is, “The problem with burritos is…” I think it’s time to hit the sack though, 11:30pm here and I’m pretty much hooked on this read-a-few-chapters before bed plan.

Dave out.

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One Reply to “ashes to pheonix”

  1. Today, indeed, was a superior blog entry. But I could not help but notice that it did not include an announcement for the DDR tourney. When’s it going to be. I have to start practicing!!

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