Monday, September 19, 2005

Paying for the NY Times online

I'm a little annoyed that the Times has gone over to charging a subscription fee for some of it's "premium" content--including pretty much all of the op-eds, a la Salon. I consume a lot of my news and editorials online. I like to get a feel for different viewpoints, particularly from outside the U.S., so I hope this isn't a trend. Who could afford all those subscription fees? Particularly since I'm a partial subscriber for the home-delivered Times, as well as a full subscriber to my own city's newspaper, it's not like I'm opting out of the whole print newspaper scene. NYT is calling this an "upgrade" to my relationship with them. Ah, no... it's a lot of things, but not an upgrade. It says for print subscribers, the "upgrade" is free, but I have a sneaky feeling they're not including us Sunday-only people. The sign-up is sufficiently bothersome, that I haven't been able to find the answer to that question yet.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Stripes on NPR Sept. 27

Still haven't located an official setlist, but here is Jack's opening regalia--there's at least a little bit of Prince in Jack. Let's hope he doesn't decide to switch to a symbol for his name.

Anyway, I also saw that they are doing a Webcast of the Columbia, MD show on Sept. 27 on NPR. It will be available as an archived stream. Excellent!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

White Stripes in Concert

Thanks to my coworker Smorty, here is a shot from the concert, taken from the balcony. I was close to the stage, right in front of the speakers and some very busy security personnel, who no doubt, would have smacked me down, if I whipped out a camera. I was to the left of Meg. This is from later in the concert I believe, when Jack had removed most of his costume--a sort of Civil War-era long, black military coat and a hat with a cross on it (snagged from the set of Cold Mountain?). The show was great--I got to hear Jolene, which was definitely a highlight. And even though my sternum vibrated with every beat because of my proximity to the speakers and I lost Jack's voice sometimes, it was stunning to watch him play the guitar.

One of the cool things about being close was being able to see how Meg and Jack interact with one another. As you can see in the photo, her drumkit faces the wing, not the audience. Jack is the conductor and Meg follows every move he makes. Every now and then, he'll whisper something to her, and I also thought it was funny that he would reach out and grab her cymbals to deaden them, instead of her doing it. There is definitely something "unique" about their relationship. Megs stays put while Jack plays every other instrument on stage--piano, keyboards, marimba, mandolin, and a collection of guitars. The two techs are the very essence of discretion, gliding in and out with the quiet elegance of English servants in a Merchant Ivory film, and dressed identically in suits and derby hats. There is a lot of precision--bordering on obsessive-compulsiveness. It's as though Jack has created this very confined and orderly space within to go musically mad.

Here's the setlist as I remember it--with omissions of a couple songs that I wasn't familiar with and not in good order: Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground, Blue Orchid, Hotel Yorba, Jolene, I Don't Know What to Do, Forever for Her, Little Room, Doorbell, Ball and Biscuit, The Nurse (awesome!), Denial Twist, Little Ghost, Hardest Button to Button, Seven Nation Army.
I'm sure some good soul will post the official setlist, which I'll link to later.

I would definitely see them again--any time!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


One of my favorite books when I was a youngster--junior high?--was Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe. I haven't read any others since, so I'm starting Waverley, which begins his long series of historical novels. I thought I would like this one since it is set during the Jacobite Rebellion in 1745, a period that I've always been interested in. One of the places that I visited in Scotland was Scott's home at Abbottsford, near Melrose. (I found out much later that a branch of my family hails from Melrose. It is not at all unlikely that one of my ancestors helped lay the stone on the additions, or worked in the scullery!) It is such a beautiful place--mostly its location there in the Borderlands. But what I loved were his collections of historical memorabilia that hung on the walls and stuffed the curio cabinets. Cuirasses from Waterloo with holes punched through them from bullets, keys that locked in Mary Queen of Scots, a lock of Bonnie Prince Charlie's hair. It was wonderful and I could have spent a lot more time mooning about.
The image is BPC, not Scott, by the way.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

New Orleans

Others have blogged this, but I feel compelled also to point to this piece from National Geographic, written not quite a year ago, spelling out in eerie detail what just happened to New Orleans. If one more official says that this disaster was "more than anyone imagined," my teeth will be ground down to nubs. It is remarkably bad luck that just about the only people who did not expect such a calamity are the very people we depended upon to respond to it. This excerpt is from the article, written last year.

"It was a broiling August afternoon in New Orleans, Louisiana, the Big Easy, the City That Care Forgot. Those who ventured outside moved as if they were swimming in tupelo honey. Those inside paid silent homage to the man who invented air-conditioning as they watched TV "storm teams" warn of a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. Nothing surprising there: Hurricanes in August are as much a part of life in this town as hangovers on Ash Wednesday.

But the next day the storm gathered steam and drew a bead on the city. As the whirling maelstrom approached the coast, more than a million people evacuated to higher ground. Some 200,000 remained, however—the car-less, the homeless, the aged and infirm, and those die-hard New Orleanians who look for any excuse to throw a party.

The storm hit Breton Sound with the fury of a nuclear warhead, pushing a deadly storm surge into Lake Pontchartrain. The water crept to the top of the massive berm that holds back the lake and then spilled over. Nearly 80 percent of New Orleans lies below sea level—more than eight feet below in places—so the water poured in. A liquid brown wall washed over the brick ranch homes of Gentilly, over the clapboard houses of the Ninth Ward, over the white-columned porches of the Garden District, until it raced through the bars and strip joints on Bourbon Street like the pale rider of the Apocalypse. As it reached 25 feet (eight meters) over parts of the city, people climbed onto roofs to escape it.

Thousands drowned in the murky brew that was soon contaminated by sewage and industrial waste. Thousands more who survived the flood later perished from dehydration and disease as they waited to be rescued. It took two months to pump the city dry, and by then the Big Easy was buried under a blanket of putrid sediment, a million people were homeless, and 50,000 were dead. It was the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States.

When did this calamity happen? It hasn't—yet. But the doomsday scenario is not far-fetched. The Federal Emergency Management Agency lists a hurricane strike on New Orleans as one of the most dire threats to the nation, up there with a large earthquake in California or a terrorist attack on New York City. Even the Red Cross no longer opens hurricane shelters in the city, claiming the risk to its workers is too great."

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

I needed a laugh

It's been too depressing to post, but last night I read the Books section of the Atlantic Monthly, which you wouldn't think would be all THAT funny, but two reviews were really chuckling-out-loud clever: the mordant summary of Our Bodies, Ourselves by Cristina Nehring and Sandra Tsing Loh's hilarious take on her love of Nancy Drew (and a new book about the N.D. phenomenon). There are, of course, other reviews but these two saved the day. Personally, I never could get into Nancy Drew--next to the the Hardy Boys, she seemed a little too frilly for me.