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recommended boston area events

tuesday, december 4th

kelly hogan

@ johnny d's

thursday, december 6th

conor oberst

@ converse hall, tremont st.

thursday, december 6th

jason isbell &

the 400 unit

@ the sinclair

friday, december 7th

the weisstronauts 14th

annual holiday jubilee

with guests tsunami of sound

preacher jack, & the derangers

@ the midway cafe, jp

friday, december 7th


moving mountains


@ the sinclair

saturday, december 8th

patrick watson

@ the sinclair

saturday, december 8th

the faint perform

"danse macabre"


icky blossoms

@ the paradise

sunday, december 9th

band of horses

@ house of blues

sunday, december 9th



@ the paradise

wednesday, december 12th

concrete blonde

jim bianco

@ the sinclair

thursday, december 13th

annual boston christmas cavalcade

benefit for the homeless

featuring tons of artists

(see fb event for details)

@ johnny d's

thursday, december 13th

nada surf

eternal summers

@ the paradise

thursday, december 13th

mates of state

in the valley below

@ brighton music hall

friday, december 14th

forgetters (blake from

jawbreaker's band)

& more tba

@ democracy center, harvard square

sunday, december 30th

sufjan stevens

sheila saputo

@ the royale

monday, december 31st

my morning jacket

@ agganis arena

monday, december 31st

deer tick

two gallants

@ the sinclair

monday, january 7th


@ the paradise

tuesday, january 8th


@ great scott

saturday, january 19th

mission of burma

@ the sinclair

sunday, january 20th

camper van beethoven


@ the middle east down

sunday, january 20th


@ the orpheum

sunday, january 20th

ra ra riot

@ the paradise

sunday, january 27th


@ great scott

tuesday, january 29th

kathleen edwards

sera cahoone

@ brighton music hall

wednesday, february 13th

yo la tengo

@ the paradise

saturday, march 2nd

unknown mortal orchestra

@ brighton music hall

tuesday, march 12th

tame impala

@ house of blues

thursday, march 14th

jukebox the ghost

matt pond pa

lighthouse and the whaler

@ brighton music hall

tuesday, march 26th

yo la tengo

@ the paradise

wednesday & thursday

april 3rd & 4th

they might be giants

@ the paradise

visit tourfilter for more shows

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Reaction, Repression, & Distraction

So somehow I'm supposed to just sit here and work without my brain shutting down as I read story after story of what could end up being the worst natural disaster in modern history, probably the worst in our lifetimes. Every couple hours the death toll jumps another few thousand, and I go from feeling overwhelmed to entirely numb, from incredibly motivated to completely stuck. How the hell am I going to sit here and write about silly, ultimately meaningless things in the face of what's going on so far away?

Same way I do every other day, I guess. Tragedy occurs constantly... but never to this degree, with this much immediacy, with this amount of available coverage. But it's always out there, and to move along we all need to just shut it out. As much as we can. Hopefully our minds can filter out just enough to get us by... just enough to keep us from going fetal.

"We have little hope, except for individual miracles," said hotel chairman Jean-Marc Espalioux the other day. A universal truth if ever there was one.

Having donated what money I can spare, I'm getting the same urge that so many others are right now... that urge to do something, anything else to help. Amie and I are trying to find out if there's any volunteer work we can do locally here in Boston.

I hadn't really felt that the media coverage was excessive, given the enormity of the disaster... until last night, that is. It was MSNBC and this woman that finally pushed me over the edge. She was interviewing a husband and wife diving team who survived the tsunami while underwater, and part of the conversation went something like this:
MSNBC Anchor Amy Robach: As you were swimming back to shore, did you see any bodies?

Diver guy: Well, it took some time to swim in, and we did start to see some debris...

AR: (interrupting) ... yes, but did you see any BODIES?.

(I could almost hear the producer yelling in Robach's earpiece: "Bodies! What about the frikkin' bodies?!")

Diver guy: Yeah, when we got back to shore, we did see some casualties on the beach.

(and I swear, at this point, I thought Robach was going to do a celebratory fist-pump)

AR: How did it make you feel, seeing so many bodies out there?
I wouldn't have been at all surprised if she started grilling them for specifics. How about dismemberments? Did you see any children? Did you hear any actual wailing? Tell me more, tell me more!


For one of the many first-person perspectives on the tsunami and it's aftermath, go here. She's a survivor, and a blogger, and she's sharing the stories she hears with us. Also check out the newly formed Bloggers Without Borders, who are working on relief efforts their own way. dailyKOS has some donation links, so if you haven't given anything yet, think about doing so. The quickness of the individual, humanitarian response to this has been pretty inspiring so far. Speaking of which, KOS also has a look at how Bush & Co. have already mishandled our governmental response. Yet another wasted opportunity. Sigh. Brian Wood makes some good points, as well.

Let's move on, shall we? I'm stuck here at work, I need a break from disaster updates and newly-found footage, and well... it's time for some relatively meaningless, but highly necessary, distractionary information...

Ida is touring! Yes, with their long-awaited album, "Heart Like A River", coming out in February, they're on the road for a ton of pre and post-release dates, and lucky Boston is their 2nd stop.

It's at an unusual venue, and with such a great lineup: 8pm, Saturday, January 22nd, in the Remis Auditorium at the Museum Of Fine Arts: Ida, with guests Jodi Buonanno (from the Secret Stars) & Thalia Zedek. Hot damn, I say. Tickets went on sale this morning, right here. There's isn't much more magical than seeing Ida live.

Christmas was kind to me, gift-wise. Lots of new reading material to absorb. The list...
  • Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon & Quicksilver - have been on my 'to get' list for a long time, and my boss hooked me up. Thanks, Tim.
  • Howard Frank Mosher's Waiting for Teddy Williams - started this one already, and I'm enthralled. It's a must read for any Sox fan, or any small-town New Englander, really. Actually, any small-town kid who ever liked baseball would probably dig it.
  • Tad Williams' Shadowmarch Vol. 1 - I'm a follower of all his work, and have been waiting for something new since the Otherland series finished up.
  • Henry Rollins' Get in the Van: On the Road with Black Flag: nothing like a some good punk-style tour stories.
  • Stephen King & Stewart O'Nan's Faithful - The story of the 2004 Red Sox season, written by two guys who had no idea it would have a happy ending. Psyched to relive it from their point of view.
  • Garth Nix's Sabriel (Book One of The Abhorsen Trilogy) - Recommended to me by Hollis a long time ago, has been on my wish list forever. Finally got it with an Amazon gift certificate.
  • Chuck Hogan's Prince of Thieves - Another Boston-centric novel, this one about a heist at Fenway Park.
  • Rafael Alvarez's The Wire : Truth Be Told - A behind-the-scenes look at the best drama on television. Now that the show is on hiatus (and maybe gone for good), I need my fix.
  • Also picked up a couple DVDs with gift certificates...
  • The Iron Giant (Special Edition) - glad I didn't grab it when it was first released, since this one has extra scenes and director's commentary from Brad Bird.
  • Garden State - one of my favorite films this year, and I'm really looking forward to Zach Braff & Natalie Portman's commentary track.
  • Speaking of Christmas gifts, if you haven't already checked out this picture yet, it's good for a laugh. That is not, in fact, Nina's cartoon-like tongue that Amie's holding... it's actually a patented Humunga Tongue. She's already started ripping the thing apart, but at least we got a couple of amusing pictures out of it. Oh, and look... she kinda likes Vermont snow.

    Want an Arcade Fire fix while you wait for them to resume their touring schedule? Here's a live video recording of them peforming Neighborhood #3 (Power Out) at Local 506 in Chapel Hill, NC, on July 28th. A nice recording, and in person, it's so much better.

    Writer Warren Ellis is folding his usually interesting, occasionally horrifying Die Puny Humans site into his main one at, so add or update your bookmarks. RSS feed here as of January 1st.

    Bostonians, take a few minutes and vote in the Noise Best of 2004 Poll, if you're into the local music scene. Or even if you're not. Ignorance didn't stop people from voting in November, why should it stop you?

    So Amie just got an iPod (yes, I've finally allowed an Apple product in the house). Didja know that your they actually come with the ability to record, but Apple ships 'em with that function disabled, requiring you to buy something extra to fix it? Well, here's how to unbreak it for free. Very cool. Let's hope I don't mess up Amie's when I try that out.

    I'm a Greg Rucka fan. He's one hell of a writer, and his first Queen & Country novel, A Gentlemen's Game (which stems from the Q&C comic series), was one of my favorites of the year. A couple months back he kindly offered up free, ltd. edition autographed book plates through his website, drawn by ace artist Steve Rolston, for anyone who bought the book and sent him a receipt. Which I did, and totally forgot about until it arrived in the mail the other day. Check it out...

    Tara Chace, weapon in hand. Very sweet, is it not?

    Chocolate Sam Adams Beer? Uh oh. And I've been trying to stick to the light stuff. Actually, it sounds kinda nasty.

    TV Gal lists the best televised quotes of 2004. There are a few gems in there. Gotta love Dr. Cox.

    I finally saw the "Bouncer" commercial for the United Church of Christ that the networks refused to show because it was an 'advocacy' ad. I was baffled by the so-called 'ban' when I read about it, but now that I've actually seen the ad, I'm even more confused. Heaven forbid anyone let a religious organization actually try to get some good PR. There is no reason this ad shouldn't have been everywhere. Unbelievable. And yet, unsurprising.

    Whoa, USA Today's Pop Candy column names cartoonist James Kochalka one of it's Top 100 People of 2004. He's up there at #53, in between Bjork and Prince. How deservedly crazy!

    Does the world really need yet another new search engine? This one's called Clusty, named for the way it clusters your results. Head over and type in your name. Worth about 10 seconds of fun.

    Now that I'm neck deep in their Emblems disc, I'm looking forward to Matt Pond PA's upcoming Winter Songs EP, which will have their cover of Lindsey Buckingham's Holiday Road. You can get an early listen over at the Matt Pond PA MySpace site.

    Yet another thing I can't wait for: Miyazaki's new animated film, Howl's Moving Castle, is already out in Japan. Reviews are expectedly great... but when's it coming out over here? Nearly a dozen countries are on the schedule, but no sign of the states. Insert grumbling here.

    I'll end this post with a little story. Beware, children, there's dirty words ahead.

    On the drive back into Boston from our Christmas in Vermont, thanks to over-plowed snowbanks and too-small lanes, I kinda bumped tires with a bright red, bulging Dodge pickup truck. The driver of said vehicle was, shall we say, none too pleased. And I wasn't exactly thrilled myself, but felt responsible since it was my lane that got squeezed.

    So we pull over to the side of the road, get out of Amie's car , and here's our "conversation":
    Pickup Dood: "What are yah, a FUCKEN ASSHOLE?!"

    Me: "So that's the way you want to handle this? You just wanna start swearin' at me, calling me names?"

    P.D.: "You hit my fucken' TRUCK!"

    Me: "Yeah... I know, but there's no reason for you to act like a dick. Seriously, grow up."

    (i know, that wasn't going to help anything, but this comeback was the best part...)

    P.D.: "YOU grow up!!"

    Me: "Just let me see if there's any damage."

    P.D.: "Look... (points) right hee-uh!!"

    (At this point, P.D. gets back in his truck and makes a call on his cell. The police maybe? Ok then...)
    So I check out where he showed me... and there's no damage. Nada. A white streak that I thought might've been from Amie's car was actually road salt, and it wiped off easily. I looked at his tire... nuthin'. So I took some digital pictures of his, I repeat, non-damaged rig, then knocked on his window as he hung up the phone.
    Me: "There's no damage. Y'know, all I wanted to do was get out, check for damage, and apologize... there was no reason for you to start yellin' at me."

    So I start walking away...

    P.D.: "Waitaminute! I want your information."
    He gets out of his truck, writes down the plate number and takes my name, then I go to leave. As I get in beside Amie, another car pulls up, a guy gets out, and starts talking to P.D... it's obvious they're friends. So the guy didn't call the police... he actually called for backup. I didn't wait around to find out why.

    Another prime example of the average attitude of Boston-bred drivers. In the face of what's going on in the world, this is the way we treat each other.

    If you happen to see a red Dodge pickup with license plate 4230 ZW ... well, you might wanna give the guy a wide berth.

    The next mission: My favorites things from 2004. I just betcha can't wait.

    featured mp3 download
    neil halstead
    live in cambridge, ma
    on november 14th, 2008
    previously: joy formidable - boston 2011

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