Monthly Archives: March 2013

Mad About Pop

Give me a glass of wine, and I will scream and shout about the sorry state of music for hours. Last night’s rant was prompted by my friend playing me the vocal track (no music) of Lindsey Buckingham singing “Go Your Own Way.” And then a young Michael Jackson ad-libbing at the end of “I Want You Back.” And then Martha & the Vandellas harmonizing on “Jimmy Mack.” I could barely breathe. And by a quarter past wine o’clock, I was begging a table full of friends for the answer to the question that plagues my life, WHAT HAPPENED TO POP(ULAR) MUSIC? The music that allows a band like Fleetwood Mac to sell out arenas worldwide thirty years past their prime. Every single top ten hit from Motown. The Bee Gees. Abba. Phil Spector. The Beach Boys. The songs and artists that were equally adored by four-year-olds and 70-year-olds because they were SO FRIGGIN’ GOOD. The voices like Lindsey Buckingham and Michael Jackson that just overflowed with passion and personality. The undeniable pop song that even the staunchest pop-hater couldn’t resist. Please don’t mistake my love of music from the … Read more

Send Me a Postcard, Darling

Call me a Luddite, but e-mails don’t hold a candle to getting hand-written correspondence. Yesterday I came home to two postcards–one with just one line. “Sheila, I found this in a car and I thought of you.” It was a photo from 1975, a girl in a muted pink tank top, with rounded edges. Another came from Palm Springs, from two friends saying thanks for the tips on where to go (they loved Melvyn’s and Cheeky’s). It made my day. It was also a refreshing change from the usual computer-generated drab in my mailbox. Compared to an e-mail, sending a postcard is a time-consuming pain in the ass. But somehow taking the time and care to write a postcard or listen to a record, or cook dinner, or make a cup of tea (tea leaves, stove-top kettle) oddly ends up being so much more satisfying than anything quick n’ easy. Somehow these “inconveniences” or chores have become the anti-thesis to the non-stop, multi-tasking, not-enough-time-in-the-day, time-is-money, do-it-faster, progress! progress! progress! messages that bombard modern living. Convenience was meant to give us more time for leisure. Instead we have even less time, less vacation … Read more

Mapping In Style

For an artist, designing a Herb Lester map must be a dream job. You’re given one sheet of paper on which to bring a city to life–to map its many marvels, illustrate its feel, and guide its owner to a perfumerie in Paris or where they make the best sour dough loaf in Copenhagen. Of the ever-growing collection of maps I have amassed, each one is impeccably designed and beautifully illustrated by artists clearly thrilled to be a part of this project. The love for Herb Lester maps has spread to every corner of the web and to boutiques worldwide; all have praised Herb Lester’s combination of guide book, gorgeous design, very fine taste, light weight, and pocket-size. What began as a bare yet informative guide to help London freelancers find places to plug in their laptops, has evolved into a full-fledged map-making enterprise that has sought the expertise of designers and city-dwellers around the globe. I’ve put the Paris, London, and New York maps to the test, and can assure you that these folks know their stuff. I’ve spent years living next door to Greenwich Village, and had never even heard of … Read more

My Favorite Record #2

The Three Degrees: Collage (Roulette, 1970) This may be the coolest record in my collection. Nearly every time I play it out, a curious listener dashes up to the DJ booth to find out who, what, where, when! It was co-written by Joe Walsh, guitarist for Cleveland rock band, the James Gang and appeared on their debut album, Yer’ Album from 1969. A year later it turned up on the flip of the Three Degrees re-recorded version of the Chantels “Maybe.”A word of warning–“Maybe” came with a few different B-sides, so check before you buy! Both versions are brilliant; the James Gang’s leaning more heavily on folk-rock, whilst the Three Degrees get downright trippy, laying the psychedelia and soul on thick. The ever-changing Philadelphia girl trio already had 13 singles under their belt by the time this was released, but it would still be another few years before a turn towards disco would land them on the top of the charts–first with Soul Train theme song, “TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)” and then with “When Will I See You Again.” Apologies for all the pops and crackle. I never managed to find … Read more