Slacker, Redux

It’s a small world, right? Let’s assess:

One of my favorite films is Slacker.

The town which I’ve visited the most is Austin.

A person whom I’ve known just shy of forever is Spike Gillespie.

This is appropriate enough background to say this: Spike is going to be appearing in a new version of Slacker, directed scene-by-scene by 20 different filmmakers. And in describing her role on her blog, I get name-checked in the piece. Craziness.

Time for a re-watch, methinks.

Silver Tray Hiatus, Plus…

Just a little summary post on some projects.

What’s live is: This is a summer project, only, in all likelihood. Working with some Webster U. students to create short documentaries on South Side culture, I thought I’d give those the framework of a blog. As these things go, I decided to add some additional content, too. So, there are 14 posts up now, with half of them dedicated to our visits to local institutions, the other half to South City odds/ends. The videos will be airing soon, as Tyler DePerro, is able to complete them. Ideally, by the end of summer, I’ll have a project with a certain look/feel, one that can be adapted into other web projects. Feel free to check in and give some feedback.

What’s likely dead is: Each of the last two years, I’ve thought that it’d be fun to chronicle the Fairmount Park experience, through visits to the place, itself, along with the roadside curiosities along the way. Each year, too, I’ve thought that you can only have so many non-paying projects in circulation. This one seems destined for the chopping block. With my betting pedigree, it’s also cheaper to not spend too much time at the rail.

In terms of a temporary pause, this summer I’ll be taking a break from the KDHX show Silver Tray. My understanding is that Spencer Musselman, who has often shared a microphone with Art Dwyer of “Blues in the Night,” will be hosting during June and July. That means a funkier, more soulful presentation than the Tray. Also, I’m lead to believe that we’ll rotate back to the the current status sometime in August. The rationale for my brief departure is pretty straightforward: the Friday, mid-day slot is an excellent one. Prime-time, in some respects. But with my working on Thursday nights, I tend to: sleep in, host the show, have lunch with my associates Jenn and Steve, only to realize that it’s somehow 3:30 (or later). This summer, I hope to work on three writing projects, each with a reasonable time commitment involved, so freeing up a weekday is somewhat necessary. (The number’s four when I include The South Side blog.) I also wouldn’t mind finding time to make some cash and, realistically, I need to get my fitness in check. All of this says that something’s gotta go by the wayside, if only for a bit. I thank the station for the break and look forward to running an energized show, come late-summer. The last version of Silver Tray, for now, airs in one hour.

By the by, since you’ve made it this far, tell me: do you have any good O’Connell’s Pub stories? Know someone that worked there for a minute? Did you have a good first date at the Pub? Bought a cool piece of furniture from J. Parker Antiques? Remember the Gaslight venue of O’Connell’s? If so, let me know.

So, Yeah, Friday Was a Great Day

Ah, Friday.

If I’d only enjoyed my first visit to Blues City Deli, with my friend and former radio co-host Amanda Doyle, that alone would’ve been a cool way to spend part of an afternoon. (That’s without the complicated-to-explain addition of some bargain t-shirt shopping at a clearance warehouse; next time.) And, earlier in the day, there was shared membership pitching on Silver Tray, with Valis (of KDHX’s day-breaking Trip Inside this House); that was pretty boss, as well. Then, to have a chance to go back into the studio, post-lunch, to enjoy three hours with Art Dwyer on “Blues in the Night,” well… that was simply one of the most enjoyable blocks of time I’ve ever had on the station. Just fantastic fun.

But the night’s activities turned a great day into something even more sublime, as The Painkillers played a wonderful set at Off Broadway, a venue that was suitably full for the occasion. There were so many rich, overlapping moments in the evening. Sean Garcia, who played music with me in our teeth-cutting, new wave days, before he went onto a successful run with Three Merry Widows, was on guitar and vocals. And he perfectly captured the feeling of late Painkillers guitarist/songwriter/vocalist Jeff Barbush, while melding into the trio of Jack Petracek, Carl Pandolfi and Mike Martin. Now, Martin and Garcia had their own nice run together in the band Tinhorn, so that bit of chemistry was expected; but together, the three, along with vocalist Tim McAvin, who joined the band for a trio of late tracks, was superb. There may’ve been a bit of nerves early, but those drifted away relatively quickly, as the group blended originals with some of the covers they were known for during the 1980s. If there’s a next time, here’s hoping that the group hones in even more deeply on their own catalog; the covers, though cool, are no more enjoyable than the originals.

As noted here before, the band’s CD is out now, in a new, remastered, expanded form. On Euclid Records’ house label, the 21-song disc is available at the shop, or via mail order.

Two things have circulated through my head since Friday night, now two days into the history bank.

1. In the liner notes, I used a word (in two forms) a total of three times in the first paragraph. I’m not sure how that happened, as I read and re-read that piece at least a dozen times before it was finally set in stone. But if the band can live with work they put out in their early-20s — material that they might feel self-conscious about to some degree — then I should be able to handle something as simple as using “portrayed/portrayal” three times in a forever-out-there set of liner notes. Right? Right? (Ugh.)

2. The whole getting into the ’80s state of mind has been freeing. Makes me wanna do something with that DIY energy I’ve just tapped. So there’ll be something coming live on May 1. Or not. Related to all this. Or not. Visit back on May 1.

Gn’R, Baby

Earlier today, the sounds of classic Guns n’ Roses was pouring out of the O’Connell’s Pub kitchen. With a light turnout in the restaurant and bar, the music was wafting through the room at a nice level and it started a conversation about the 1991 Riverport riot. Turns out that one of the servers at O’Connell’s was there, too, and we had a nice conversation about what the mayhem looked like from different angles in the venue. (She was on the lawn, I was deep in the stage-left seats.)

Two thoughts emerged:

Music really does bring people together. True.

And 1991 wasn’t exactly yesterday. Yikes.

Humor Me?: Flickr

I’m celebrating the upcoming arrival of my first check of the semester – due week six, no less! – by repurchasing my flickr pro account.

With a night in, I’ve organized all my sets and collections. How delightfully nerdy.

I’ve also undertaken some up new shabazz. To wit…

Did some solo UE at the abandoned Cahokia version of Parks College. And I’ve also started my long-backburner’ed latrines series. Classy! And there’s a red door series brewing. Tips?

A Dream…

Long have I dreamed of having a photo of a poet taken from my Flickr stream, to be affixed to an online journal dedicated to conversations with poets, with photo credit attached, thanks to the insistence of the very poet pictured.

Have you, too, had this dream? Tsk.

Here’s it, in reality. Aaron Belz at Poetic Asides.

Knew It Was True, Because It’s True: Quotes Count

There are times when I think that the concept of karma is complete nonsense, a foolish bit of flightiness that should be brushed aside without further consideration. At other times, karma really seems to fit a situation. It really, really fits.

A couple years back, Don Corrigan (my college newspaper adviser and the longtime editor of the Webster-Kirkwood Times) called me for a quote on a topic that he was writing about: the 1959 tornado that hit Midtown and created Gaslight Square as a strange, undpredictable side effect. As these things sometimes go, I didn’t really get back to Don in time and the anniversary passed without my quote in his piece. A couple months later, outside the newspaper office at Webster U., he justifiably gave me an earful of grief. I was busted. All I could do was nervously laugh and take the ribbing, which was delivered with (mostly) good nature.

This all veers back to this week’s Webster-Kirkwood Times and yesteryear’s Gaslight Square.

Some months back, I met with a pair of gentlemen (Richard Fuegner and David Roth) who were putting together a new book on Gaslight Square, which has been circulating into bookstores recently as “Gaslight Square Illuminated: The Rise & Fall of St. Louis Premier ‘Hot Spot.'” They sought me out because I’d done a previous book on the subject, “Gaslight Square: An Oral History.” We three sat down at the Bread Co. on Watson and kicked things around for an hour; I wished them well, told them to attribute any quotes from my book (which I welcomed them to do), and figured I’d see a title eventually.

What really got my attention this week was a cover story in the Webster-Kirkwood Times, written by Linda Marie Briggs-Harty. The eye-catcher was this quote, early in the piece:

Co-authors Richard Fuegner and David Roth said they were surprised no one had written a history of the Square to date.

“One other book quotes those who lived it, but ours is the first to outline the Square’s development–and demise,” Fuegner said.

I could say all kinds of things about the second ‘graf, but I’ll lead it off by simply saying this: Fuegner’s comment is bullshit.

Bullshit because writers should have the common courtesy to cite a prior work by name, rather than the vague description given by Fuegner, and passed along by Briggs-Harty. Bigger bullshit is the inference of their being first. To more accurately re/paraphrase the above, “‘Gaslight Square: An Oral History’ contains plenty of outlines about the Square’s development – and demise.” It follows a clear, sequential timeline of the Square’s history and works in most of the touchstones: the tornado, the arrival of key businesses, the departure of O’Connell’s in 1972, etc. The two had apparently thought about doing this book for long time. I don’t question why they took their time, nor do I begrudge another title (or many titles) on the subject; in fact, they were there and I wasn’t, so their stories have a certain weight. But I do wince when fellow media members take shortcuts like this, on a topic that speaks to my credibility.

So back to karma.

I work as a journalist in town, writing for straight-up news sources as a non-contractual, paid-per-piece freelance journalist. I also do promotional writing for several businesses, mostly done through handshake arrangements. Within the last year, I’ve ghostwritten advertising and marketing copy, and have penned anonymous advertorial content for others. In the modern media climate, being a professional writer means wearing many hats; some of them feel rather uncomfortable. During all these processes, I’m certain that I’ve cut a corner, or two, if judged by a media ethics workbook. All of us treat new media with some degree of confusion, posting, cross-posting, taking what makes sense and playing loose with attributions and citations. The need for speed’s a big part of all this, too, as writers aren’t just expected to execute assignments quickly, but to write cheaply, often for trade. And, frankly, when asked to crank content for next-to-nothing on tight deadlines, there’re few of us who take all the time we should, making things perfect every time out.

Maybe that’s the lesson I’m to take from the quote above. Slow down, take time, be precise, and be upfront about conflicting interests.

But if I’m in the penalty box for a bit of self-reflective time, I’m not going to completely limit myself from advocacy. Advocacy for myself and projects that matter to me.

I’m reserving the right to call bullshit when it’s deserved. And Richard and David, let’s cut out this “first book” talk okay? Because, frankly, that’s bullshit.

February’s 13

Films, “Broken English“: Netflix seems to feel that this Parker Posey vehicle is a comedy. If you enjoy laughing at someone as they slowly lose their mind, you’ll find this a laugh riot. For maximum effect, watch late at night, when in a comedic-desiring mood!

Inscriptions, Aaron Belz’s “Lovely, Raspberry“: At Left Bank Books, Belz took my book. Looked left. Looked right. Thought for a second. Looked left again. And then wrote, “Thomas! 1.26.11.” Damn! This cat’s the personification of brevity, the soul of wit and all that. (Great book, for sure.)

Post-“Wire” viewing, “The Corner“: To reference back to the original thought here, consider the HBO mini-series “The Corner” for that day when you want to be taken back down to Earth. Happy and don’t wanna be? But wanting to get drawn into a good show? And are you obsessing on Baltimore’s street-level drug trade? If all are “yes,” here’s your show.

Better-late-than-never, Todd Rundgren: At least the ’70s-era version. Apparently, I’ve just not been paying attention.

Lost-but-now-found, the art book: Karen Ried, you scamp!

Want, iPad: Why wouldn’t I/you/anyone else want one? Damn. Magic machines.

Books, “No More Prisons” by William Upski Wimsatt: Liberals will love. Conservatives will hate. I fall on the side of super-like.

Countdowns, March 15: First day of racing at Fairmount Park. It’s low-end, but it’s close. Bless them ponies.

Gigs, Lockwood & Summit: Raking the major coin for blogging here. Do check in, please?

Neighborliness, snow: Nothing brings a neighborhood together like a good snowfall? Need some salt? How about a push? Could ya use some de-icer? Man, we’re so much nicer when facing some minor difficulties!

Spring (into infinity) project, raising chickens: This seems like such a possibly joyous/possibly terrible idea. It’s that dichotomy that makes it so exciting.

Hobby, writing pitch letters: You fellow freelancers feelin’ me? What’s a bigger joy?

Urban exploration, this one guy: