Thursday, August 31, 2006

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream ...

After two years, they found "The Scream". How do you hide a stolen masterpiece for two years? Hooray! The news story here.

Random Notes for the End of August

Busy doing touristy things....on Tuesday we hit the National Museum of the American Indian in Lower Manhattan. Free admission, interesting exhibits. We all had a grand old time.

Yesterday we went to the New York City Fire Museum. It's also a small museum with small exhibits, but it is totally worthwhile. Admission is $5 for adults and $1 for kids. They have a slew of antique fire apparatus, equipment and uniforms.

Plus a nice retrospective on the history of fire-fighting through the ages. There is also a very moving tribute to 9/11, which was especially gut-wrenching so close to the 5-year anniversary of that horrific day.

Most moving were the photos and mourning bunting at the entrance, in rememberance of two of "New York City's bravest" who perished over this past weekend in a fire in the Bronx. The story is here.

Lt. Howard J. Carpluk Jr. (left), 43, was a 20-year veteran who was filling in for the day from another engine company in the Bronx. Michael C. Reilly (right), 25, a marine who had served in Iraq and a rookie firefighter who started in July, died the day before.

From there we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. As always, the favorite tends to be the Temple of Dendur exhibit

Melanie and Shayna enjoyed the Expressionists, playing the "Manet versus Monet" guessing game.

Shayna loved the water lillies.

Jolee's favorite exhibit was the musical instruments.

I enjoyed the Pollock:

Note to the Museum: hang your Calder mobile a little higher. It's too tempting for children to jump and almost touch.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Pearl Jam in Arnhem and Antwerp

This poster doubled for the Arnhem, Netherlands (August 29) and Antwerp, Belgium (August 30) gigs

It's All Relative

Ok, this is a toss-away post, but I'm technically vacationing, so just deal with it. Last September, one week into the life of BillyBlog, I boasted about the BilliPod (as I am wont to do, as any regular reader can tell you). Get a load of this:

To clarify the comment I made yesterday about the iPod. I don't have the white earphones (making me less of a target for podthievery on the subways), but I do take pride in the fact that I have a huge amount of tracks (7051) and they are so diverse. See, just dragging it out like this shows how I can be quite a bit of a dork and insufferable about it. Anyway, to further seal the deal, this is the playlist of what my iPod selected for me on shuffle on the way to work this morning:
Oh, insufferable blogger that I am, I proceeded to list all the sings I listened to on the way to work. Thankfully (maybe? maybe not?) I have discarded that practice. But one thing jumps out at me. The number 7051.

Nowadays, that seems quaint. The BilliPod, despite my purging scores of live Pearl Jam performances and other repetitive songs (I'm still clinging to my 44 versions of "Paint it Black"), I have continued to add, from my collection, from discs borrowed from the Brooklyn and New York public libraries, and from blogosphere. I am now at a staggering 12, 719 tracks. That's an addition of 5600 tracks, approximately, 467 songs per month, or 15 songs a day. Geez.

So BilliPod is bloated. According to the iTunes library, there are 253 Genres, 2320 Artists, and 3044 albums. 53.95 GB.

What's the point? No point. Just filling the void.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Crazy Shirts

Anyone who has grown up in Hawai'i knows Crazy Shirts. Since 1964, they have been an island institution, and have expanded to the West Coast, Florida and, much to my surprise, South Carolina.

They were the home of the "Kliban Cats" in the 70's and 80's, and in the late '80s, early '90s they introduced their line of specialty-dyed shirts. These were shirts dyed with chocolate and Kona Coffee, to begin with, and expanded to chili, money, hemp, and volcanic ash.

I initially started this post to showcase my shirts, thinking I could find photos of them online and post them here, but alas, they have so many great ideas and designs, they can't post them all.

Even my newest one, courtesy of my lovely wife fresh back from Vegas (where she snagged me a shirt and some li hing pineapple), can't seem to be found on the web, exactly. It's "Freak 'N Lucky Lucky Frog" shirt, money-dyed, from Vegas. This image isn't an exact replica, but the frog is the same (it says "Rub Here" on his chest). And the back says "When it's all on the line, it's freak'n lucky time!"

Also in my collection are a chili-dyed "Freak'n Hot" shirt, a "Blue Hawaii-dyed" sea turtle (or honu) shirt, a coffee-dyed gecko shirt, and a chocolate-dyed Big Island Candies shirt.

Of course, my favorite all-time Crazy Shirt is, go figure, beer-dyed "Bill's Bait and Beer Shop, whcih must be a popular one because I got mine many years ago and they still make and see it on their site. The back is the best.
I am off from work this week so let's see if BillyBlog suffers or flourishes. Of course, vacation week appears to be a wet one in the Northeast, at least the first two days.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Top 25 Albums #23

Well, it's been exactly 2 months since I posted #24, so at this rate, I'll reveal my #1 album in April, 2010. Hmmm. That may not be the best strategy. I guess the delay comes out of pure laziness, the same reason BillyBlog uses a Blogger template and doesn't have the bells and whistles of other, more handsome blogs.

It's like this: if I'm going to talk about a record, I'd like to accompany it with some tunage, so you can hear and sample the music I'm talking about.

So here is my #23 album on my top 25 list. And like all lists, the rankings change, moreso with music rankings, based on moods. There will be albums in the top 20 that may not meet your expectations of such an honor, but I am also basing this on emotional wallop and developmental significance. So, it's a purely personal list.

#23 is:

Before you bombard me with comments, let me explain. Is the eponymous 2006 release better than their albums Ten and Vs. ? Perhaps not. However, the Avocado Album (as it has come to be known) is inevitably compared to those first two discs. So, there's an X factor here that pushes it on to this list (remember, a band can only have one record on the list).

On July 9, 2003, I liked Pearl Jam. Liked them enough to buy a ticket from a friend of a friend to join them in seeing the band for the first time, at Madison Square Garden. It was a cheap, affordable ticket ($50), and I had always wanted to see them. Any regular reader of BillyBlog will recall that I talked the band to death in May-June 2006 of this year, after this album came out, so I don't want to be redundant. July 9, 2003, I saw Pearl Jam and became an instant fan. Not an appreciator, but a fan. I downloaded the concert the following day, further cementing my fandom.

Pearl Jam, released officially on May 2, 2006, was the band's first release after I became a true fan, so I was instantly amazed. But, the fact that the album was received well by critics validated my appreciation of the record. Then, seeing them in the Ed Sullivan Theater, blew me away.

From start to finish, the album is strong. From its opening chords, to its coda, the record kicks ass. In a period of a month, between the Letterman experience and the two shows in East Rutherford (June 1 and 3), I saw every song on the album (with the exception of Big "Let's-Save-it-for-San Diego" Wave) performed live. It is an amazing record. Maybe not as good as their first two, but because of my emotional attachment, my favorite.

For your listening pleasure, the following tracks are live performances of a few of the tracks on Pearl Jam:

Pearl Jam - World Wide Suicide (Live) - East Rutherford, NJ, June 1, 2006.mp3

Pearl Jam - Life Wasted (Live) - The Late Show with David Letterman, May 4, 2006.mp3

Pearl Jam - Marker in the Sand (Live) - Ed Sullivan Theater, Webcast Performance, May 4, 2006.mp3

Pearl Jam - Severed Hand (Live) - Saturday Night Live, April 15, 2006.mp3

Buy the CD here.

All MP3s provided on this site are hosted via official sites or with the artist/label's permission. On the extremely rare occasion when this isn't the case, the track will only be available for a very limited time. If you are the owner of a sound file and would like it removed, please email me directly. If you like what you hear, PLEASE follow the links provided to buy the records and support the music.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Friday Five on the Pod Post-Partum

Ok, so it's Saturday, I know. But this five came from Friday....

Time for another fiver of songs on the BilliPod.....shuffling away....

1) "For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her," the Simon & Garfunkel classic, covered by the Red Hot Chili Peppers at London's Canvas Club, April 14, 2006. Kiedis nails it. Awesome. You can download the whole set here.

2) "Mean Man" by W.A.S.P., the PMRC sweethearts, from their greatest hits collection The Best of the Best. No one sounds like Blackie Lawless. Buy it here.

3) "I Got a Fish" by Fishbone, the show opener, live at Entpe, May 27, 1989, in Lyons, France. The concert is downloadable here.

4) "This Time" by INXS from Live Baby Live. Buy it here.

5) "Fancy" by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs from their latest album, Show Your Bones. Buy it here.

Have a groovy weekend!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Album Cover o' the Day (Back in the Day)

Read what the blogger at The Groove Grotto has to say about this record here. Alas, the file is corrupted and I cannot download it to listen. With a cover like that, it's got to be good.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

A Little "A" Ball

That's a pretty sight, isn't it? That was our view from the stands prior to the Brooklyn Cyclones-Batavia Muckdogs game on Sunday, August 13. Yeah, yeah. I'm a little behind. That's the world-famous Cyclone just over the fence near the HSBC sign.

Nothing like a hometown crowd in a big city. We ran into a ton of people we knew, and it really felt like we were not in the biggest city in the world.

Jolee (in the red hat) took a break between innings to dance on the dugout of the home team.

After the game, the kids ran the bases. Shayna, below rounds second.

Jolee is in hot pursuit.

The Cyclones lost, but we didn't really care. We had a great time. We'll be back there at Keyspan Park on September 3. Be prepared for some deja vu.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Genius That is Al

Nah, that don't work, click here instead.

This Day in History, 1995

OK, in an ever expanding plethora of blog-options, here is a new feature. Yippee.

I reach deep into the archives of my soul, the jorunal, and resurrect entries from previous years, for your enjoyment/disdain. Who knows? Don't salivate too much, however, as I will spare you the entries that are too salacious or controversial.

As always, let me know if you like or dislike this feature.

August 23, 1995

Started reading David Lodge's Therapy. Wrote "Weddings, by Fellini," [a poem that previously appeared here, scroll down to October 25]. Tonite we go to a party for the newly-wedded couple. Yay. Finally. Tomorrow I'll write down "Karaoke".


it’s a sad rendition
of a sadder song
and the music
is empty-
a hollow echoing
of bombs-
and the politicians
move their lips-
as the words bleed
from white to red
and I cry out
“More sake!”
because I need it, bad,
need it to numb
the obvious,
as the horrible screeching
continues relentlessly
and drives the world
more insane

[Copyright © 1995 William Dickenson Cohen. All rights reserved.]

So that was it for that day. "Karaoke" was never published, may never be, but it's a poem I like, yet make no claims at greatness. David Lodge's Therapy had been reviewed in the Los Angeles Times Book Review and I went out and got it. It was the first Lodge book I read and, as a result, ended up reading many more. His Paradise News is #7 on my list of favorites. Read Therapy too. It's excellent.

Nothing too exciting, but what can I say. If you want exciting, watch this, and be prepared for some foul, uncouth language. The clip is 10 minutes long, but it has elevated the status of Kelly Clarkson in the eyes of many a music blogger. She climbs on stage at a local show and kids around with the band, singing a rip-roaring rendition of "Sweet Child o' Mine," the way Sheryl Crow should have covered it. Enjoy. (Again, skip this is you are offended by the language a hard rock band may utter at a show)

Monday, August 21, 2006

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Happy Belated

My daughter may have recently turned 10, but on Friday, someone else's daughter turned 14, which seemed almost as unbelievable.

The photo is from this month's Elle Magazine (I got this via a blog called Binky the Doormat). Unlike the birthday girl above, my girl still has me around to help celebrate. Recognize the threads? They were her dad's.

Any guesses? Her wikipedia entry is here, just in case you were wondering what Frances Bean Cobain is like. Remember feeling sorry for her as Courtney clung to her in what many of us assumed was a heroin haze?

I don't know why this felt blogworthy, but I have a soft spot for Kurt C. and I found this fascinating.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Skankin' to the Beat to End an Era

One of the things I have never done in New York City was see a show at CBGB.

The famous club which was a launching pad for dozens upon dozens of great bands, has been in the news of late. There has been a battle to close it down and I knew its days were numbered. I had even heard that the club will be relocating to, of all places, Lost Vegas. Blasphemy.

Yet with all the hand-wringing, I was displaced a bit, I knew it is an important fixture in the music business, and Melanie spoke fondly of going there in the 80's to see various and sundry musical performances. I figured I would never see the inner sanctum.

I figured wrong.

Last night, I discovered through the beauty of Myspace, one of my friends, the band Fishbone, alerted me to new tour dates. There it was, New York City, CBGB, September 28.

Ecstatic to hear such news, I quickly bought two tickets. I was happy as a clam. I learned this morning what most people may have known. CBGB is set to close on September 30.

So I will be seeing one of my favorite bands (expect to hear more from me on this in the future) at an historic venue at the end of a storied career. Say what you will, I can't imagine a CBGB in Vegas having the same flavor as the original. Maybe if they build it next to the Chicken Ranch in Pahrump.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


At some point, an iPod can be too full, or so it seems. The BilliPod is much bloated, of late, and I have been trying to keep it on a diet, trimming excesses (like multiple servings of Pearl Jam) and deleting stuff that, when I see it, I have no idead who it is, what it sounds like, or how it got there.

However, I have become more and more attached to a subheading on the BilliPod: the podcasts. Podcasts, for those of you who don't know, are mini-shows that are broadcast episodically through iTunes (and other music programs). By subscribing for free through iTunes, they update automatically when new episodes become available. I have 13 podcasts set up on the BilliPod, and I thought I'd share them with y'all, ranking them from most-loved to not-so-much.
Remember, you don't need an iPod to get a podcast. iTunes is free and you can listen on your computer. Each one is hyper-linked to the podcast site.

BillyBlog's Favorite Podcasts:

1) The Onion Radio News

Anyone familiar with "The Onion" will know this is good. What's more, it's short. Rarely over a minute in length, the daily (Monday through Friday) news item is reported with a seriousness that results in embarassing laughter while walking down the street or sitting on the subway. Always my first choice.

2) MTV News: Daily Headlines (Audio)

If I had a video iPod, I may opt for the video version, but I listen to this instead. It's a very short summary of music industry news, with occasional public interest stories thrown in. Over Spring Break, they did a week-long series on college students opting for community service instead of jell-o shots. It runs in the short range, from a minute up to five minutes, depending on how busy a news day it is.

3) The New York Times Podcasts

I actually subscribe to several, so I will go in order in a subset. There are actually more than I could possibly consume, so I have to limit myself to these

a) Most E-Mailed Articles
"James Barron, a reporter at The New York Times, discusses the three most e-mailed articles on every weekday." This usually runs 1 to 2 minutes and I get a heads up on what the "hot" topics over at the "Times" are.

b) Op-Ed Podcasts
I subscribe to the feed in which one piece is selected each week from the platoon of Op-Ed contributors. I also subscribe to each of columnist Maureen Dowd's editorials. She is sharp, witty, sarcastic, and always entertaining.

c) Only in New York
This weekly podcast talks about New York as a unique and vibrant place. A must for any New Yorker!

d) The New York Times Book Review
In all honesty, I get the paper version and will often skip this podcast (like all podcasts, each episode stays on iTunes until it is manually deleted). "Sam Tanenhaus, editor of the Book Review, talks with authors, critics and editors about this week's issue." I will sometimes listen while doing the dishes. It's a longer podcast (15-20 minutes) so it's hard to concentrate solely on the discussion.

4) 808-TALK: Hawai'i's Premier Podcast
This baby is long, but it's worth it. Episodes range from 30 to 45 minutes on average, but it is a healthy mix of "talk story," local news, and music from local artists in Hawai'i. It has a slight bent toward the tourist and visitor, but it's a nice way to reminisce as well for former residents (check it out, Frogma!). The weekly episodes can back up, but I recently ploughed through a couple of months worth on our recent drive to Baltimore and back.

5) Contrast Podcast
Surfing the mp3 blogosphere, I had heard of this for a while, but finally downloaded episode #19 "War and Peace" the other day. Basically, it's a compilation podcast, put together by one entity assembling from a bevy of submissions from the bloggers out there that are focused on music and mp3s. Guarantee, you will here obscure stuff. Each episode is themed, so episode #19 had a ton of war songs and a ton of peace songs. The shows run an hour or so, but it's a lot like listening on shuffle, only someone else is picking the music. OK, like the radio, only cooler, and without commercials. I have since grabbed episode 20, and have gone back and started with episode 1. This podcast is rising on my "must-listen" list.

6) Bill Maher's New Rules

Bill Maher's HBO show may be too much Maher for some, but his segment "New Rules," which runs 1-2 minutes, is often entertaining. An example:

New Rule: Airplane black boxes must now be made out of Keith Richards. The man, who has taken more drugs than Whitney Houston, Rush Limbaugh and Robert Downey, Jr., combined, recently fell out of a tree, and then crashed a jet ski. And yet, somehow, that cigarette never fell out of his mouth. What is this guy still running on? I've got to know. Because I'm beginning to think the future of medicine isn't injecting stem cells, it's injecting heroin.
That's from his May 12, 2006 episode.

7) Poetry Podcasts

I often have to be in the right frame of mind for these, but I nonetheless keep them around for the right moment.

The Poetic Voice - Houghton Mifflin Poetry Podcast

The Griffin Poetry Prize - Poetry Reading Podcasts

Poetry NewsHour with Jim Lehrer Podcast PBS

and my favorite of the four:

Poetry Podcast

That link also has some cool downloadable audio as well.

So, that's that. It was really the Contrast Podcast that inspired me to discuss these. The scary thing is, the number of podcasts that exist is staggering. Explore and discover, and feel free to share with me any podcasts you think are worth a listen.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Corpse Flower

Not something you see every day...check out Frogma's post here.

You Ain't Nothin' But a Hound Dog

Twenty-nine years ago today, Elvis left the building.

I had turned ten the month before. My oldest daughter just turned ten. Circle of life.

Twenty-nine years ago today, I was on an adventure with my father, travelling cross-country, on our way back from visiting my Grandma Martha and Grandpa Abe in Southern California. We had left Billings, Montana, where we had seen an A-League game featuring the Billings Mustangs.

On August 16, we had completed the 325-mile trek from Billings to Spearfish, South Dakota. We were in the vicintiy of Mount Rushmore. All I really remember about remembering Elvis was that he sang "Hound Dog." For a ten-year old boy, that was a cool song. All his love songs made me go "ick".

And so we heard it on the radio. I'm sure it was all over the news on the TV in the motel. I'm sure it was all people talked about. We saw Mt. Rushmore. And then we were off again, next stop Council Bluffs, Iowa.


Here's some More-akami. I finished another story from Blind Willow..., this one I had also read before, and it reminded me of the beach at Ft. DeRussy in Waikiki. It was another one that appeared originally in The New Yorker. Anyone who's been to Ft. DeRussy, read it here. Or even if you haven't. Another good Haruki Murakami story.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

More Murakami

Read two more stories in the Murakami collection today. One was very short, and is entitled "The Mirror." Alas, it is only available online at The Yale Review site, and for a price, as it apparently is in the July 2006 issue of that periodical.

The second story appeared in The New Yorker in June 2003 and can be read here. In the Uk edition, it is called "A Folklore of My Generation: A Pre-History of Late-Stage Capitalism." The "American" version linked above is just called "The Folklore of Our Times."

It is a very good story and I recommend a reading to those who have the time. Interesting to see the difference in titles, I am guessing the UK title is more true to the Japanese and that the U.S. title has been altered. I have found a review of the story here.

It is interesting, as well, to note the differences in the translations...."The king and his retainers (UK)" vs. "The king and his courtiers (US)". Or, prostitute (UK) vs. hooker (US).

Early in the story, Murakami's narrator tells the reader he has changed facts of a story he is retelling of a character in the story. Murakami says "the tone's the main thing," so even through the mysteries of different translations, words may differ, but if the tone remains true, the story is the same.

Monday, August 14, 2006

How Old?

I know, it's all relative, but this old blogger feels even older today. Not because I am celebrating my own birthday, but because I now have a daughter that's ten. Or should I say, I am celebrating my tenth anniversary of becoming a parent?

Anyway, here is the poem I wrote for her birth:

SPLASH-SOUND for Jolee Pauline Lineka Cohen

When the doctor lifted you into view
and announced that we had a new daughter,

a brief tender silence interrupted
the bustling hum of hospital din.

And your supernatural appearance,
a melding of glistening blue and pink,

solidly knocked the breath right out of me
with a gentle, yet powerful blow.

The primal smell of birth was rattling,
as I hovered above you, astonished,

listening to your small staccato cries
as several nurses gently rubbed you down,

swaddling you tightly in hospital cloth.
And when they handed me this brand-new life

that you knew only as yourself, nothing
more, your mother said to me from her bed:

"Recite a poem, Bill."
I drew a blank.

What could I possibly say?

This tiny weightless bundle in my arms
and all I could think of was one haiku

by Basho: "Old pond/frog jump in/splash-sound."
Here you were and that was what I whispered,

your tiny heart trembling in a new pond,
the ripples from your splash powerful enough

to carry me forward from this brief moment
all the way to the very end of Time.

Copyright © 1996 William Dickenson Cohen.
All rights reserved.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Buckaroo Bonzai

It's time for another Where's George?! update.

Last you heard from me on this subject was May 25, here. I had just received my first hit, that is, a dollar I had specially marked had turned up in Elmont, New York, about 16 miles from where I had released it back into the wild.

Since then, more has transpired...

A bill I entered on May 22 has been traversing Brooklyn, turning up 37 days later, 3.1 miles away, and then 18 days later it showed up in Williamsburg (still Brooklyn) and got transported across the river into Manhattan on July 17. The report is here.

On June 6, I entered a bill that turned up a month later (July 5) in Baltimore, 163 miles away.

One of the bills I entered on June 5 popped up yesterday in Monroe Township in New Jersey. It traveled at the average speed of 0.43 miles per day to get 28 miles away. Details, including a link to a map, can be seen here.

On the other end of the, er, coin, I have "hit" several bills recently, meaning I have entered bills that originated elsewhere and were already marked "Where's George?!"

Most recently, I found a bill that crossed the country, originating in Washington State, and traveling 2324 miles in a little over 151 days.

It took another bill I found on July 19 a longer time (2 Yrs, 327 Days, 4 Hrs, 32 Mins) to reach me after an 879-mile trek from St. Louis.

See, fun stuff, no? OK, ok, a little dorky, but still fascinating.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Friday Five

Ok, it's been a while since I did a Friday Five BilliPod post. Like it or not, it's easy to do, and fills a void, albeit a small one. Here is today's random five posting:

1) "Heartbreaker" by the Reggae-Zeppelin tribute band Dread Zeppelin. Picture a Zeppelin tribute band with reggae stylings and an Elvis impersonator on lead vocals. They ran the circuit in Pasadena long ago... Check their site here.

2) Nothing like a little Friday Nirvana, but this track is a cover of the song "Aneurysm" by a band called Dr. Know and the excellent cover project, Smells Like Bleach: A Punk Tribute to Nirvana. Other artists featured are Agent Orange, Dee Dee Ramone, DOA and The Vibrators. Buy it here.

3) "Birthday" by the Sugarcubes from the old MTV series album Never Mind the Mainstream: The Best of MTV's 120 Minutes, Vol. 2. This may well have been one of my first "alternative" CDs. It was released in 1991, and includes music from X, New Order, Husker Du, and Faith No More. Buy it here.

4) "Virtual Death" by Black Sabbath from their album Cross Purposes. This actually might be the first time I've heard this song. Blender magazine does monthly retrospectives of classic bands and lists key tracks that stand out. This was the one from the Sabbath's 1994 release, with Tony Martin on vocals. Not too shabby, yet probably forgettable. They couldv'e come up with a better title, no? Buy it here.

and finally....

5) "Back to Dungaree High" by Queens of the Stone Age, from the album Alpha M*th*rf*ck*rs: A Tribute to Turbonegro. I added the asterisks, by the way, sorry if you are offended. Turbonegro is a Norwegian metal/punk/rock act (Wikipedia entry here)

That's a shot of Turbonegro, not QoTSA. Have a great weekend.