January 31, 2006

Liner Note for American Edit -- "Dr. Who on Holiday"

There's a spectacular mashup of Green Day's American Idiot album that's been making the rounds, purportedly done by Dean Gray called American Edit. Track 5 is called Dr. Who on Holiday and I've read several misinformed pieces about it, so I felt compelled to set the record straight as well as passing along a little trivia ...

Most people will tell you that Dr. Who on Holiday is a mash of GD's Holiday with the Dr. Who soundtrack. This is only sort-of right, and misses a deeper, more interesting truth.

The track is actually a mash of Holiday with the JAMs (better known as the Timelords) Doctorin' the Tardis. Doctorin' the Tardis was done in 1988, early enough in musical time that the concept of sampling was still fairly new. The Timelords sampled the Dr. Who theme, set it to a disco beat, added occasional chanting over the top "Dr. Who, hah, Dr. Who," in keeping with Gary Glitter's Rock & Roll (Part 1 & 2) and more-or-less let it rip.

When listening to Dr. Who on Holiday you can hear Doctorin' the Tardis fully kick in at about 30 seconds. At 1:50 you can hear a sample of The Sweet's Blockbuster, but this too is just a sample pulled in from the Timelords.

At 2:44 you can hear a sample of Gary Glitter's Rock and Roll (Part 2). What's funny is this is essentially a secret handshake because the Timelords went full circle and remade a version of Doctorin' the Tardis with Glitter laying down new material on a song called Gary in the Tardis (it appeared only as a fairly limited distribution single and on a CD called The History of the JAMs a.k.a. The Timelords), but the sample is not from that single, rather it's the original Glitter record from the 70's.

The Timelords themselves are an interesting musical anomaly. Formed by two truly eccentric (if not openly irritating) Brits, Jimmy Cauty and Bill Drummond, they did several attention grabbing stunts, including the burning ₤1,000,000 in pound notes and came under intense legal scrutiny for brazenly ripping off ABBA's Dancing Queen on an early JAMs record (the album was 1987: What the Fuck's Going On? for the track The Queen and I).

They would go on to record under a better-known moniker of The KLF -- a band that somewhat infuriatingly claimed to be obsessed with the Illuminatus books. Through shrewd negotiations, they were able to achieve the nearly impossible and gain control of their musical catalog in the UK. After considerable cult-bordering-on-mainstream success (including a few UK chart hits) they demanded that their UK offerings not only be pulled from production, but also be destroyed. The result being that only non-UK pressings of all the JAMs, Timelords and KLF work is available -- the original UK pressings command top dollar on the private market, although they have been dropping in price as interest in the KLF wanes. Who knows, maybe renewed interest via Dr. Who on Holiday will bolster the prices a bit.

As an aside, KLF fans are nearly unbearable to deal with, matched only in obnoxiousness by truly low forms such as Springsteen fans. They will claim that the JAMs/Timelords/KLF/FALL/K-Foundation invented rap (ignoring things such as James Brown's King Heroin in 1972), ambient (ignoring the entirety of Brian Eno's work of the 70's, most of which had Ambient in the title), trance (ignoring the entire Kraftwerk catalog) and sampling (ignoring John Kongo's revolutionary He's Gonna Step On You Again from 1972(!) and The Residents's brilliant Beyond the Valley of a Day in the Life in the late 70's).

haiku of the moment

although it is noon
nothing can be seen moving
unsettling stillness

January 30, 2006

haiku of the moment

gotta love "winter"
when it really just means rain
and no snow at all

Concert Review: James Brown - Bimbo's - San Francisco - January 15, 2006

[before this concert went off, i tried desperately to find concert reviews of james brown ... i'm including it here in the event that some other fan is trying to figure out if the godfather still has the ability to put it out or not.]

James Brown was to play at Bimbo's on the 15th. My favorite venue in CA, it's an old art deco, red plushy booth place seating about 500. That the Godfather of Soul would play a venue of this size is a true fluke, caused by only-God-knows-what. To compensate for size, tickets were jacked up to US$135. Normally I wouldn't fork over even a third that much for a show -it'd be Kutrate city, for sure- but to see one of my favorite recorded artists in a venue that worthy, I bit the bullet ...

I was hoping for moments of brilliance at best, but was fearfully prepared for outright disaster. His last few Canadian shows that preceeded this one received favorable reviews, so maybe just maybe there'd be a chance for something remotely resembling quality.

I wanted to get there about an hour before the doors, but in a series of somewhat lazy circumstances I arrived just as people were being let in the venue. Security was a tad more surly than usual (they checked my hiptop and shook my cargo pants down for a bulge that was nothing more than ear plugs). The very-scarce (and super-great) seats had all been marked "reserved." Things being what they were, it seemed best to just wait dead center of the mic, one person deep from the stage.

The wait passed quickly and the Soul Generals (Mr. Dynamite's backing band) came on only a few minutes late. After some awkward fixing of some sound problems, they played the obligatory warm-up and then Danny Ray (Butane James's pitch man of 45 years) came out, like he always does, for the announcement. This is the fifth time I'd seen James Brown and have seen the introductions be excrutiatingly long so it surprised me, when in the matter of just a couple of minutes, BOOM the Godfather of Soul is standing not four feet in front of me.

Donned in red sequins, with a lighter body weight than I've *ever* seen him, he quickly pushed the band into Soul Food, with an instant smoking sax solo from Jeff Watkins. It looked like it could drop into a night of James instructing people to the front, where he essentially was a glorified band leader, but it didn't turn out to be anything like that at all. For the next two hours he pounded out a set, very much from the front where he was constantly either singing/dancing or playing the korg, that felt almost as if it had been hand-selected by me ...

The playlist was made entirely on the fly, without any pre-thought, including:

* A shortened, but well paced version of Please, Please, Please

* The best version of Papa's Got a Brand New Bag I've ever heard him do live or recorded live (easily better than his version on Live at the Apollo which is just too damn fast)

* A very acceptable version of I've Got You (known incorrectly to J.B. heathens as I Feel Good)

* An experiment where the Brown tune Soul Power blended into a cover of Sam and Dave's Soul Man. The attempt stumbled a bit on the bridge, but came back strong on the end thanks to Mr. Brown's co-singer.

It was a show that was stronger than I'd even hoped for -- I mean, come on, Brown is 72 now -- and the performance really only bit it on a weak version of Living in America which was sped through much too quickly. Of the 13 pieces in the band, 11 of them were definitely on, the 12th (a soprano sax) heated up when facing off against Brown's smokin' hot guitarist. Only the Soul Generals leader (yes, that same old blond whitey) didn't really catch on, he seemed pretty put off by the early sound problems (or maybe he just didn't have his Metamucil). Hugely and amazingly, there were *no* medleys (God, how I hate them). And with the exception of L.I.A., there were no speed throughs.

The band was tight and on top of it. I was close enough that I could easily could see and hear Brown's count-off's and commands, with the Soul Generals, literally, just improvising under command as they went along. Every band member was straining-and-waiting for their counts and cues. Songs would often end with a bridge of something like The Chase or The Search and then wrap into another song on a vocal call- out by James. Very often the songs were coded, "do it like your mama says," was a phrase Brown repeated more than once that meant something like "play this refrain three times."

The high points for me were his instrumental Hold It, a scorching cover of Ray Charles's I've Got a Woman featuring only Brown on the Korg accented by a few soulful riffs from his now blue-hot guitarist. And, as if it couldn't go any higher, unbelievably, he did my second favorite instrumental he ever put on record, a cover of Johnny Otis's Every Beat of My Heart. I nearly stroked out and actually, purely unintentionally, screamed "OH MAN!" so loud that it got picked up by the house sound system. If he'd played Go On Now (and the way the night was going, it felt very much like he could have) I'm certain I would have died.

Not once, but twice in the show he flung the mic stand out, straight at me, so quickly and sharply that I ducked it only to see James snatch it back by the cord -- the second time, he pointed and laughed at me. The show ended with a sparkin' version of Sex Machine. All things considered (and there's a frickin' lot to consider here) the best thing for me was being able to see Brown dance -- actually watch his footwork. Every other time I've seen him I've either been too far away, or too low to the ground. Dance-wise the Fly, the Frug, the Robot and the Swim were all there -- the only thing I didn't see him do was the Mashed Potatoes.

From a physical standpoint the obvious way he's lacking is that so unable to do the splits, even in the form of something like a flying scissor kick, that he just reminds you how much he's missing when he tries. He definitely needs to work something else out as a substitute for that move.

He also was missing in the high-end of his gutshot screaming, something I would have liked to experienced again. It seemed to me as though he still had that potential, he just needed a little voice rest.

So let's do the unthinkable and compare this to both the Apollo recordings -- something that's not fully fair because I've never seen video associated with those shows (it may not exist) -- but I've heard both the recordings a million times and know the sets and formats forward and backward. Brown had to have been more energetic at the first Apollo show than he was here at Bimbo's, if for no other reason than he was in his 20's. But he didn't speed through the sets here like he did at the first Apollo show. Now it's true he whipped the crowd into more of a frenzy on that recording, but as far as frenzied crowds go I'll take young and black (Apollo) over old and white (Bimbo's) any day -- and I certainly can't blame Brown for his audience composition. His backing band is better on both I & II than they are here (only because he had the very best backing band ever assembled on those records). His control of the tempo of the show, and the fact it was spontaneous (both the Apollo shows were played from pre-defined playlists), were better at Bimbo's.

This show edges Apollo II, mostly because Brown was experimenting with ballading back then, and for damn sure, I didn't hear any Sinatra tunes at Bimbo's (thank God). So, as impossible as it is to believe, 40+ years later, and taking everything into account, he wasn't that far off his Apollo I mark, and above the II mark.

That this is even possible is baffling. Compared to the other four shows that I've seen, this was easily the best paced, although the raw fire of the band as a whole was probably higher when I saw him at the Maritime Hall a decade ago.

Was this show a freak? Just a good alignment of a lot of things? Certainly at least a little. Brown was very clearly impressed (and not acting) over the quality of his sax and guitar player. They were clearly "on," in a very unusual way. The small venue may well have helped -- possibly firing older club memories in the soul Triceratops, or at the very least having the band benefit by all being within an arm's reach. Brown's signals were clear and easy-to-read.

The crowd where I was standing was into it -- but front row crowds almost always are -- it's hard for me to say what the feeling was like deeper in the venue. Was it worth $135? Of course not. No concert is worth $135 (assuming you don't get to see Britney Spears with her providing a "happy ending" at the close). But when you compare all the shows I've ever seen to this one, and consider what James Brown has meant to me in my life (remember, I'm the guy with the signed Live at the Apollo poster on my dresser), it's hard to say it was a cheat. The icing on the cake? At one point, I think it was during Papa's Got a Brand New Bag, James Brown came over and started shaking hands with the audience -- eight or so people -- and I was one of 'em.

Can a performance like this be repeated? Logic and theory tells you "sure," but I'm not so certain. Other shows on this tour were definitely more of Brown leading than actually performing and that would have lessend the impact considerably. Both the Chicago House of Blues show and his show in Washington DC were vastly different than what I saw -- Brown was far more hands-off there. It feels like I just got real real lucky.

If you've read all the way through, and you've decided to go to a show, whatever you do, get absolutely as close to the stage as you can. Being "there" makes all the difference and would heighten even what would otherwise be a ho-hum show.

January 29, 2006

haiku of the moment

whine lowering pitch
surge of air from dark tunnel
subway train bursts forth

haiku of the moment

faded over time
yet defiantly stubborn
church steeple gargoyle

haiku of the moment

i am running late
and will be even later
there's a mangosteen

January 26, 2006

haiku of the moment

i know of a place
that is very near to here
but it's not the same

January 25, 2006

haiku of the moment

jet lag is no joke
it is more of a lifestyle
i need a new life

January 24, 2006

haiku of the moment

hyde park fog
suspended mist in stillness
see the air

January 22, 2006

haiku of the moment

up too damn early
purely to just sit and wait
hard to stay focused

riddle of the moment

q: how do you know the coke you're drinking is from england?

a: the label says, "coca-cola: soft drink with vegetable extracts." (only the english could figure out a way to make just the idea of a coke less palatable.)

January 21, 2006

haiku of the moment

when zombies are speaking greek
you know you are there

haiku of the moment

let it all go

riddle of the moment

q: how do you know you're on a britsh airways flight?

a: the breadsticks are "worcester sauce flavour."

January 20, 2006

the entirety of my beard

(i'm always surprised by how little there is when i shave it off.)

haiku of the moment

the great illusion
everything seems to be still
nothing really is

January 18, 2006

haiku of the moment

local barber shop
waiting room has six black chairs
and one that is white

haiku of the moment

with all things the same
difference has only one place
namely in the gaps

January 17, 2006

fence lichen -- mountain view

January 16, 2006

haiku of the moment

two hours are gone
hiptop ate my brown review
i do not feel good

haiku of the moment

james brown in concert:
got to see him do his thang
and shook the man's hand

January 14, 2006

haiku of the moment

median sprinklers
active during a rainstorm
so long tax dollars

January 13, 2006

haiku of the moment

night helicopters
fly overhead with no lights
never a good sign

why "the world's best mechanical engineer?"

faithful readers, you may notice that whenever i refer to my brother i always say he is the world's best mechanical engineer. i say this not only because it is true, but also as a mild search engine hack. by linking the phrase "world's best mechanical engineer" with the site www.scottharlanpe.com, i'm trying to get google and their ilk to recognize him in the raw search engine results ...

and so far, so good. google won't always give you the same search results every time you look for a word or phrase, but just now looking for "world's best mechanical engineer" brings him up sixth (and first as a person). NOT BAD CONSIDERING HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE IN THE WORLD.

if you'd like to help out on any website you have, you're certainly welcome to. with your help, my brother can be the the world's best mechanical engineer. and honestly, can you think of anyone more deserving of the title?


(special k, if you rat this out to google, i swear to god i'll make your life miserable.)

January 12, 2006

in the words of public enemy ...

... get up, get get get down.

[i shouldn't have to say this, but my brother (the world's best mechanical engineer), missed it ... make sure to press "play" on the video you're offered.]

haiku of the moment

it's disconcerting
to step into the shower
and find the tub full

quote of the moment

"living a life is a great experience, but i wouldn't wish it on

-- b1-66er

window condensation patterns

use my phone card, please

(1/14/04 -- we have a winner ... this card has been used ... hope whoever enjoyed their chat.)

you've been tolerating my writing all these months, or maybe you just stumbled across my site because you were looking for the world's best macaroni and cheese recipe. whatever. you deserve a reward and you deserve it now.

i have a phone card that i was forced to buy in a panicked situation that i now no longer need. i think you (yes, you) should have it. it's at&t. i hate that company and for damn sure i don't want this card to just rot.

dial 1-888-284-8341

the pin you want to use is 387-628-1816

it's good, in theory, for 40 minutes (i paid something hideous like 50 cents a minute for it). i'd guess there's > 30 minutes left on the card as i type. call your mom. call your old college pal before he drops off a cliff. bet your friends you can get donald trump on the line and then actually try and do it. make a prank phone call to howard stern. be creative. have fun.

post a comment here when you've used it.

haiku of the moment

strange coincidence:
three cars sitting on the street
all have dome lights on

January 11, 2006

haiku of the moment

box of chocolates
claims to have "imperfections"
each one thumb-printed

quote of the moment

"Unconsciously, my mind sweeps the dark corners and throws things into my frontal cortex. It is totally random and sometimes works to my
benefit ..."

--"smokey" kroll

haiku of the moment

blogger is gobbling
all of my mobile postings
i hate my desktop

January 10, 2006

quote of the moment

"it's always easy to spot americans in any international airport waiting
lounge. they're the ones who take up the most space. one seat for the
person and another one or two for their luggage."

--unidentified brit in heathrow airport's international waiting lounge

January 09, 2006

haiku of the moment

amber waves of grain
set to a mountain backdrop
in a world too bleak

neon -- boulder

quote of the moment

"tom was a person who lived deliberately."

--nii armah sowah

tom defore memories

as part of tom's memorial, they're asking for anecdotes and reminisces about tom. i've got a million of 'em, but thought i'd jot down the few that seemed best fit to print. figured i might as well catch 'em here too.


I'm B1-66er, I lived down the hall from Tom in the dorms and a year later, along with Mark "Solid" Goldstein, was his roommate in an apartment on College Avenue. In my seven illustrious and hateful years of college, Tom was my favorite roommate.

I'll stay away from talking about Tom's personality, since that was obviously his strongest trait and you'll be beaten senseless by what other people (redundantly) say anyway. I'll describe things I noticed about Tom and let you fill in the blanks.

Mostly when I think of Tom, I think of his idiosyncrasies ...

He cooked pancakes in Crisco, a trait that both Solid Goldstein and I labeled summarily as, "gross," even when he tried to defend it with, "but my Mom does it too."

He could play any instrument you handed him. Although his favorites were a small zither and (much to the dismay of Solid Goldstein) a first generation Casio synthesizer, I also saw him play a trumpet, a bassoon, a clarinet, a flute, a saxophone, a cello and a violin. This was before he ran across African instruments, but in general, the weirder the instrument, the more likely he'd be able to hammer out a tune on it in a couple of minutes.

He had an odd habit of cutting his own hair when he was nervous, which was pretty much all the time. I'm certain his patchy, short hair was a direct result of the high number of "girlfriends" that Solid G and I would spin through the complex. Assuming you weren't a member of the Sex Pistols, ring-worm-looking crew cuts weren't exactly the rage in the 1980's, but that didn't stop Tom from approaching the look of a what-kind-of-disease-does-he-have Mr. Clean.

One day he came in with heat-warped 45 of REO Speedwagon, a band (rightly) loathed by all of us. He poured mustard in a circle around the record, let it dry, and then hung it on the wall. We never asked why, but understood inherently that this would become the "Artwall" and proceeded to put weird crap up in and around that record for over a year. The artwall became an attraction that people who we didn't know would come by to see.

By far Tom's favorite thing to do in his off-time was to watch television with the sound off and listen to music. His very favorite combination was Devo and the Andy Griffith show. To this day, when I see Aunt Bea on TV, I think, "Whip it good!" That is because of Tom Defore.

There are a couple longer stories that come to mind ...


We were all fans of a borderline obscure English rock musician named Roy Wood. Tom decided we should have a party in his honor and make it a point of telling everyone we'd have food.

He then proceeded to make all the food out of Jello. So the pizza, for example, had yellow Jello for the crust, pink Jello for the sauce, dark red Jello for the pepperoni, sliced green Jello for the green peppers.

When the party started people asked about the food. "We've got chips, pizza, salad and Jello." Once people found out that everything was, in fact, made out of Jello, people laughed a little, bitched a little and then ordered several (real) pizzas. Tom said, "I knew that would happen. I just didn't want to pay for the pizza." For this effort, Solid G, the world's cheapest man, labeled him a "genius," a word I don't think I've ever heard him use since.

The capper, though, was we lived in an apartment complex called the "Crestwood Apartments." The sign outside our living room was done with red stenciled capital letters on white metal. In honor of the party, Tom went to McGuckin Hardware, bought red adhesive tape and perfectly cut out letters that said "ROY" to paste over the "Crest" syllable. His fix to the sign was so perfect that we lived in the "Roy Wood" apartments for the remainder of the year, and the sign stayed that way for more than a year after we moved out.


When we were still living in the dorms, Tom and I went to dinner one night and while standing in the cafeteria queue, I saw a small envelope on the community bulletin board. It had been turned face-down, but to me the size looked perfect to be a Select-A-Seat concert ticket envelope. Much to Tom's typically-nervous dismay, I unpinned it from the board to look at it.

Sure enough, it was a Select-A-Seat envelope and inside were concert tickets to see the Cars, in Denver, at McNichols Arena, at 20:00 that very night.

Tom saw them and asked, "What're you going to do?"

I looked at the clock, it was 18:20. I could see everything laying out, nearly perfectly, in my mind. I knew the schedules, I knew the drill. "In ten minutes the Denver bus picks up just across the street. That'll get us in Denver at 7:30. We won't have time to take the bus to the arena, so if you pay for cab fare I'll give you the other ticket. We'll grab some fruit from here, turn around and leave right now."

Tom shuffled and half-laughed like he did whenever he was nervous around me, which was to say, always. "I don't know."

"This is not hard, Tom. These tickets are a signal from God. We just go. And we go right now."


Like clockwork we made the bus, had a good ride, caught a cab and made the show. The tickets were for row OO and you could, literally, touch the ceiling from where we were sitting. Over Tom's objections we moved down to some empty seats and had a great time. The bus ride(s) back from McNichols went smooth.

But skipping back in the story a bit, the best part of the night was not the show, but rather what happened just as we exited the bus terminal. We were headed for the cabs when we were approached by a panhandler.

"You guys have any spare change?"

"No, man," I said, "sorry."

He looks at Tom. Tom said, "No. All we have is enough money to catch a cab to the Arena." Which was true -- buses were free during this heady period of time in Colorado history.

The panhandler looked dismayed. "You don't have any money"

"That's right."

It's weird. It's like the panhandler doesn't get it, so he just repeats. "None. You have no money."

"That's right."

"Oh man," he said. And the man reaches into his pants and pulls out a fistful of change about the size of a softball. He grabs a sizeable hunk of it and hands it to Tom. "Listen, fellas, it is no good to go through the world with no money. I should know." Before we can say anything, he leaves.

Tom's still standing looking at his open hand, laden with coins. "I can't believe you just bummed a bum," I say.

"Neither can I."

January 08, 2006

haiku of the moment

geese passing in flight
a spoon hitting a fruit bowl
home's familiar sounds

January 07, 2006

pic of the moment

haiku of the moment

fertilizer truck
sitting on aiport tarmack
diesel fuel abounds

quote of the moment

"these days, most people only grace the halls of a church for three
reasons: hatchings, matchings and dispatchings."

--minister in a conversation with me, circa 1982

January 06, 2006

endangered species

discontinued energy drink. 3/us$1 at the local grocery outlet. dig it.

haiku of the moment

suddenly awake
for no apparent reason
stillness looms beyond

January 05, 2006

haiku of the moment

reality rests
on just a few perceptions
none of which are real

zen koan of the moment

happiness is: grandparents die, parents die, you die.

January 04, 2006

haiku of the moment

tom defore is dead
devo and andy griffith
wish you were here, pal

special pic for mikkel and sara


January 03, 2006

haiku of the moment

that which does not kill
may not make you push daisies
but you'll wish it did

practical learning

you'd *think* there is nowhere in your life where chemistry, biology and sociology meet, but when you reason that you're forgetting the fine art of cleaning out your refrigerator.

you're all adults here, so rather than actually teaching you anything, let's do this university style and just immediately drop into an exam. to the best of your ability, answer the following statements with either "true" or "false:"

1. nothing should be growing on the inside of a refrigerator. ever. even if you might otherwise describe it as "white and friendly looking."

2. breathing bread mold is good for you because it's the same as getting half of a penicillin shot.

3. left covered with saran wrap on a plate for five years, a piece of salmon will lose roughly half its mass, but turn a much prettier shade of orange.

4. in situ, milk should never be described as "foamy."

5. left over tortellini gets white and "frosty" because fairies have blessed it.

6. according to the food pyramid, seven year old butter is no longer considered to be a "dairy product," but still isn't quite ready to be used as a building material.

7. it's good luck to keep one (same) pickle in a jar for your entire lifetime.

8. 10 year old gatorade will make you run twice as fast as brand new store bought.

9. aluminum is only a "fair" container of products when considered on geologic timeframes.

10. the biggest advantage of eating out at a restaurant is you know it's nearly impossible to get fed food from your own refrigerator.

January 02, 2006

haiku of the moment

a shimmering world
of dull gold and shiny black
sunset off pavement

January 01, 2006

haiku of the moment

strong wind, spitting rain
redwood bangs against window
ominous new year

my future in tin

these are the results of the finnish new year's eve tin experiment.

the first time (which is the "official" one), i poured the tin too
slowly, creating the multi-blobs. i cheated and poured a second one
quickly and got the single blob.

unfortunately, and i swear i'm not making this up, they both gave the
same result of bad luck *and* death.

it's been nice knowing you.