2013: Fever and few

Oh man, last year my end-of-year letter was called “A Newel's Retort” and there was this amazingly convoluted explanation for it. It was hilarious. Remember that? But I can't really use that again and go through the whole rationale and all that in case I've added people to this list (I really don't remember if I have) and for that matter I can't really expect you all to remember what that meant anyway but trust me it was hilarious and now I'm sitting here typing and I was hoping I would come up with another name for this before I sent it out but I just kept thinking of stuff like “Rear End Review,” which is stupid even for me. And hell, what's the point anyway? Am I just repeating things you already know? I'm probably Facebook friends with you anyway. I'm just repeating myself really. But even if it is pointless, I guess I don't know what's pointful. That probably the problem. Oh, but I can say “Happy New Year” to kind of wrap this in year's end sentiments. That works. But then while I was playing with the words I remembered this thing I wrote a few years back that was still sitting all lonely on my hard drive. I'd been reading a lot of Gertrude Stein, which all told is pretty laudable of me, and I wrote this thing called “Fever few.” So I got it out and put it up on my occasionally updated blog. It may not mean much but I can get on with thing now.

So. Happy New Year, one and all!

So way back in February my play Under a Scar-Filled Sky: The Buddy Zinn Mysteries (directed by Mahayana Landowne and produced by Kristen Persinos and Urania Mylonas and with Jefferey Emerson tearing it up in the title role and live music by Blaise Siwula) was staged at Dixon Place Theater in Manhattan. Oh man, what a thrill! There are very hazy plans to try to bring Buddy to life again. We are so open to ideas (where “ideas” = $). The script is also available as a cheap PDF at Lulu now, along with my two books from the last couple of years. And if you're a first-time shopper at Lulu (or haven't used the code before) you can get 5% off by entering the coupon code FAST5 (all caps) at checkout. I've also been posting chapters from my in-progress collection of holiday stories to Lulu as the appropriate holidays rolled around. I thought that might get me to finish them all this year. Oh well.

I've also been posting one doowop song a week on Tumblr. I got all excited about doowop in 2012 and was listening to a lot of the “Doo Wop Cafe” internet radio station and keeping a list of songs I liked. Once I hit 50 I thought, hey, that's practically a year's worth so I decided to share them. It's done with now but the page will stay up if you ever want to check out 52 hand-selected doo wop gems.

I did a weekly project years ago called “Headbanger's Brunch,” a heavy metal newletter that was hastily put together with no art or music that to my surprise grew in popularity until I killed it. People still ask about it and recently somebody started pushing me to give him all of them in a lump so I pieced together what I could find and sent him a PDF. There are a few people who push me to start it up again as well, which I won't be doing. But if you want most of the whole run of them, you can grab it here for the next week or so.

OK, so some music. Several years back I was asked to do a cassette release. I recorded five tracks (one by Ecstasy Mule with Len37, one with Jennifer Mesch as Vacant, one with a crackerjack band featuring Russell Scholl on guitar and vocals, Blaise Siwula on clarinet and Heather McCabe and two solo) in dedication to the Sex Pistols. MP Landis and I worked together on a 30-page booklet with his New York Times collages and my brief essays about punk. There was even going to be a small Vacant tour to kick it off. But, well, everything fell apart. I've put it up on Bandcamp where you can stream it for free or download it for $1. Downloading it is the only way to get the booklet, which I hope you might want to do since it explains the tracks. If you want to download it for free email me and I'll be happy to give you a download code (Bandcamp requires you charge at least $1 to enable downloading of additional materials besides the tracks.)

After some years of complaining about year-end best-of lists and then refusing to do them altogether, I caved this year and did them all over the place.

Best Jazz Releases for Jazz Critic's Poll / NPR Music Poll results You can find my ballot, with none of the Top 10, here.

Best Concert for the Northern Spy Records blog

Plus a forthcoming 20 Best Records of the Year for Perfect Sound Forever

Oh! Speaking of Northern Spy, you know I produced a record of Merle Haggard songs for them that came out in October, right? Bryan and the Haggards featuring Dr. Eugene Chadbourne's Merles Just Wanna Have Fun? It kills. You can listen to a track from it and listen to Chadbourne interviewing Bryan Murray and Jon Lundbom from the Haggards and also read a short bit I wrote about the record here.

Another bit of year-end writing I did was for the blog One Week / One Band (for whom I'm also working on a piece about Paul McCartney and Wings), who asked people to write about listening to music in languages they don't speak. You can read my remembrance about a drunken Berio nightmare and a bunch of other entries over there. Mine is the ninth one down. And Search and Restore asked me a question a week for five weeks. Lastly, I suppose, I was sadder than I might have expected to be by Lou Reed's passing. There is no other artist for whom such a small percentage of their work means so much to me. What a strange career he had. I don't need to go on at length here because I already wrote a love letter to the Velvet Underground a few years ago, but here is the memorial essay I wrote for Perfect Sound Forever. And here is a cover of the Velvets' “Here She Comes Now” that Ecstasy Mule recorded the week after he died. Sleep well, Mr. Reed. OK, here's to a productive 2014! Best wishes to you, Kurt

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