For many the lo-fi, folk-rock “movement” of the late-'90s begins and ends with Neutral Milk Hotel. Originally formed in Ruston, La. by singer/guitarist Jeff Mangum as a recording project, it wasn’t until the 1996 release of On Avery Island that Neutral Milk Hotel became a full-fledged band. The budding foursome relocated to New York, where they would finish their short-lived career with an exhaustive tour for sophomore release In the Aeroplane Over the Sea way back in 1998. Think Sebadoh-meets-Guided by Voices. Critically acclaimed yet largely ignored by the mainstream record-buying public, the album eventually became something of a legend in its own time.
Fast-forward 16 years, and NMH has become the progenitor of such roundly lauded bands as Arcade Fire, Bon Iver and Franz Ferdinand, and their music has been covered by Brand New, The Dresden Dolls and The Mountain Goats. After a lengthy hiatus, Neutral Milk Hotel has finally reunited to embark on a reunion tour featuring the lineup from their seminal release, In the Aeroplane. This show is for old and new fans alike—yes, even indie-folk has made a strong comeback in recent years—and In the Aeroplane is, for many, still the defining release of the genre’s first wave, seamlessly blending folk, rock, psychedelic and shoegaze into one succinct package. Neutral Milk Hotel's all-ages concert at Kiva Auditorium (401 Second Street NW) tomorrow night is a must-see. The show happens at 7:30pm; tickets start at $36, and lo-fi indie-pop group Elf Power opens. Kiva Auditorium, Albuquerque Convention Center • Thu Apr 17 • 7:30pm • $36-$51 • ALL-AGES! • View on Alibi calendar
Although no contracts have been inked just yet, Weekly Alibi has negotiated a deal with Dandee Fleming to take over and administer RockSquawk.com, the local music scene site Fleming started four years ago and intended to shut down as of March 22. As you'll read in tomorrow's Alibi music section, RockSquawk.com has been an invaluable resource for local musicians of almost every genre—a cyberplace where people could go to air their grievances, buy or sell gear, read about upcoming shows or replace their shitty drummer.
The idea to buy the site rather than let it die was born when Alibi Calendars Editor suggested that, in the absence of RockSquawk, we should consider starting our own version. From there, it eventually occurred to us that, because RockSquawk.com is already established, familiar, easy to navigate and rather brilliantly put together, it might be in everyone's best interest to buy the site and leave it as-is.
And that's part of the deal we eventually made with Fleming: no aspect of RockSquawk.com will change. The URL, current look and all other aspects and elements of the RockSquawk will remain the same local musicians and supporters have come to love will remain untouched. and you won't have to enter the Alibi website to gain access to RockSquawk.com, either. Furthermore, I, personally, will have absolutely nothing to do with monitoring the site, so you'll be free to post all that nasty Michael Henningsen shit you want without fear of censorship (just don't use racial slurs, reference child pornography or recklessly slander anyone and we'll all be happy campers).
No re-launch date has yet been agreed upon, but we'll keep you posted. Everything that was on the site when it was taken down will be there when it comes back online, so many of you will simply be able to pick up where you left off. Long live RockSquawk.com, and many thanks to Dandee Fleming for his continuing efforts to make the Burque music scene better!
Ten years ago, when the Alibi was called NuCity, then-Editor Alma García and former columnist and Personals Manager (not to mention longtime Hunter S. Thompson companion) Norma Jean Thompson (no relation) embarked on a whirlwind journey to spend several days with the father of "Gonzo" journalism, driving around his property at breakneck speed and attempting to interview him while clinging to their own lives.
NuCity was roughly three years old at the time, and García and Thompson's bizarre and entertaining story was one of the first major features for the paper. Ironically, it's even more entertaining to read now--10 years later, and after Thompson decided to trade in his typewriter for a bullet to the head--than it was when he was a living crackpot.
The text of our decade-old interview with Thompson will appear in its entirety on our website tomorrow (Feb. 24). For now, here are a few short excerpts:
On President Clinton
Norma Jean Thompson: Do you ever speak with Bill Clinton? Does he know what you're saying about him?
Hunter S. Thompson: Oh, yeah. I got into the Clinton thing with the idea that we could influence people ... Yeah. The rock and roll president ... He stands for everything I hate, violating the third amendment, search and seizure ... I've said worse things about Clinton than I'm saying now ... I think the worse thing I've ever said about him is that he has the redneck taste of a man who would go on a double date with the Rev. Jimmy Swaggart. That's a nasty thing to say. I've also said he has the morals of a lizard. He's a hiccup of history.
NJT: You really don't like him. Do you feel a responsibility to the people who take your opinions seriously? Doesn't it just help people rally around the right when you put him down?
HST: That's no reason why I should spend another four years getting tangled up by a treacherous asshole like Clinton. There are limits ... He's further to the right than George Bush.
On General Politics
Alma García: You said in Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail that traditional liberalism is dying or is dead. Is Clinton exemplifying that?
HST: They should have done some ethnic cleansing of liberals a long time ago.
AG: What are the top three things that should be on the presidential agenda?
AG: Aside from resignation, is there any thing in particular you think should be at the top of the presidential agenda?
HST: It doesn't matter right now, because (Clinton) won't fight for it ... If people rallied behind him and decided to get something done, some agenda he endorsed, he would abandon it. It's a no-win situation, a serious character flaw.
AG: Who are the politicians you like?
HST: Not many. I'd like Gore in the House. Clinton you really can't turn your back on. If the Gores stayed in the cabin (on Thompson's property), they'd fit it. I wouldn't have to worry about them stealing anything. Now if the Clintons stayed there ...
AG: Who are the other bad politicians?
HST: Well, it's a crooked class.
AG: Who are the worst ones?
HST: Fewer and fewer good people are getting into politics.
AG: Who would you like to see as president? Next election, if it were possible, even if it's not someone who could possibly have a chance.
HST: I think Mohammed Ali would be good.
AG: Anyone who's a politician?
HST: If you're interested in generality ... Gore. He's pretty interesting. He's the only one I'd vote for.
AG: And then we would have First Lady Tipper.
HST: Well, that's realistic. What if Clinton got sick? Tipper's not that terrifying compared to the Clintons.
Tune in tomorrow for more of HST's 1995 opinions on drugs, sex, O.J. and ... death.
Following is the text of an e-mail conversation that occurred this afternoon between Food Editor Gwyneth Doland, Editor Michael Henningsen and Arts & Lit Editor Steven Robert Allen regarding the announcement earlier today of Al Franken's possible candidacy for Minnesota Senator in 2008. Enjoy a little Alibi interoffice bickering!
Gwyneth Doland posts:
WASHINGTON - Just one day after U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton decided not to run for a second term, comedian Al Franken may be throwing his hat into the ring.
Last year, Franken said he wanted to run for the Senate in 2008. But last night he told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that he is now considering his candidacy for next year.
Franken, a Minnesota native, plans to make an announcement live on his national radio show in Washington D.C. 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS will be in the studio with Franken for that announcement.
The announcement is expected to come near the end of the broadcast, which will be around 1:45 p.m.
Meanwhile, former U.S. Sen. Rod Grams, who lost his seat to Dayton in 2000, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that he is running for the open seat. He said Social Security, the deficit, the budget, Medicare and Medicaid are what prompted him to enter the race.
Other Republicans who may consider a run include U.S. Reps. Mark Kennedy and Gil Gutknecht, and Minn. Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer.
On the DFL side, activist Buck Humphrey said he's not ruling out a bid for the U.S. Senate.
The grandson of the late Vice President Hubert Humphrey and the son of former state Attorney General Skip Humphrey first said he wasn't interested in joining a growing list of candidates seeking the party nomination. But Buck Humphrey said later that he wouldn't rule outrunning for the open Senate seat.
Other potential DFL candidates include Minneapolis lawyer Mike Ciresi, Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson of Willmar, state Senator Steve Kelley of Hopkins, former Congressman Bill Luther, Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar, and former public development official Rebecca Yanisch.
State House Minority Leader Matt Entenza was considered to be a potential Senate candidate by many. However, he said Wednesday that he's not interested. During a visit to Worthington, Entenza said his interests are entirely in Minnesota.
Michael Henningsen wrote:
Great. Just what the Democrats need. A nerdy fucking comedian making a spectacle of himself as an actual candidate. It's like having the village idiot taking a stab at the throne just for shits and giggles. Get ready for Jeb Bush in 2008.
Gwyneth Doland wrote:
Actually, I think Al Franken is a pretty good guy. I was very, Very impressed by Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. The great thing about Al Franken is that he is absolutely committed to the truth. The genius of his book and his radio show is that he really does take people to task for what that homeless guy on the corner calls "nefarious mendacity". I like that about him.
Michael Henningsen wrote:
I didn't say he wasn't a great guy, but hardly anyone takes him seriously, at least as a politician. At best, he simply viewed as the quintessential whiny-ass liberal malcontent Bush-hater whose agenda amounts to generalizing and vilifying Republicans as whacko warmongers (granted, many of them appear to be just that). That's all fine with me, but it's not likely to have any positive effect on what's left of the weak-ass Democratic Party any more than Michael Moore, Jello Biafra or Noam Chomsky running for office would. The Dems need an established, respected politician to step up to the plate. Or they need John McCain to switch parties and start raising hell. Short of that or some kind of mind-blowing scandal in the White House, America is doomed to remain a Republican Quasi-theocracy for many years to come, or for at least as long as they can keep us at war in the Middle East. And remember the Bushies have four more years to find Bin Laden and haul him out just before the 2008 election.
Steven Robert Allen wrote:
In my opinion Al Franken's talk radio show is boooooring. It's one of the worst things on Air America.
Gwyneth Doland wrote:
I have to disagree. I think talk radio in general is boring. When it's really, really good it's called NPR. When it's so bad it gives me road rage it's Rush Limbaugh. Somewhere in the middle is Air America.
Steve Allen wrote:
Anyway, NPR isn't talk radio. The only show I listen to regularly on Air America is the morning show, “The Morning Sedition,” and it's astronomically better. Funnier, sharper, faster. Al Franken talks way too slow to be a good talk radio personality. And his writers are terrible. And he might be the only interviewer on earth who's more incompetent than Charlie Rose. Plus, I hate his Grateful Dead theme music. Yuck. Just my two cents.
Gwyneth Doland wrote:
In my opinion, Al Franken's show is the best show I've heard on Air America. He's intelligent, informed, and lures high-profile guests. He does a better job than the guy who sounds like Rush Limbaugh. And Randi Rhoads is a blabbering ditz who does the liberal cause a disservice. Her vapid shrieking is almost as bad as Rush.
Steve Allen wrote:
Well, I partially agree with you: Randy Rhodes is the one thing on Air America that I've heard that's worse than the "Al Franken Show."
Earlier today, Downtown Action Team president Luisa Casso issued an “emergency” press release, claiming that the fate of the New Mexico Scorpions (a semi-pro hockey team based here in Albuquerque) rests in the hands of the community.
The story goes like this: The Scorpions franchise has been sold to William Dutton, the same William Dutton who happens to be the director for Arena Management and Construction, a firm that happens to be working with DAT to push Mayor Chavez' arena-building agenda, which is likely just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to the sneaky stuff Marty has up his sleeve to ensure himself another term when he comes up for re-elect ion later this year. Now that Dutton, the same guy who gets paid to be pro-arena and see that the project is approved and completed, owns the freaking team that's purportedly going to play in it, Casso on behalf of DAT had this to say: “ IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO LOSE ANOTHER PROFESSIONAL SPORTS TEAM, YOU MUST MAKE YOUR VOICES HEARD. The Albuquerque City Council, Mayor Martin Chavez, the Bernalillo County Commission and Governor Richardson must know YOU support an arena in Albuquerque. Without a new arena in the Albuquerque area, the Scorpions will most likely HAVE TO LEAVE THE CITY.”
Oooh! We'd hate for that to happen! I mean, Scorpions hockey is such a huge source of revenue for the city, not to mention an important fellowship-building entity for the community. Gimme a break.
Frankly, hockey at any level other than the National Hockey League sucks ass. And hardly anybody outside major metro areas with really cold weather ever watched NHL games when they were actually being played in the first place. This is the desert. This is Albuquerque. Nobody but the Scorpions' team members and anyone who makes money from the team, and the Mayor and those who are pathetically loyal to him and his arena scheme give a shit about the Scorpions or hockey.
Let 'em leave, and let 'em build an unnecessary arena in some other city so its mayor can expand his legacy while older buildings rot and cave in on themselves.
Yeah, I was all for rebuilding the old Albuquerque Dukes Stadium, so I'm a hypocrite some of you might say. That was different. That was baseball.
Want to do something really meaningful in 2005? All you have to do is endure a little needle stick and give a pint of the red stuff that flows through your veins. It doesn't cost you a penny, your body replenishes what's taken within 12 hours and the blood you give could—check that—will save a life, most likely right here in New Mexico.
Hyatt Hotels of New Mexico is hosting its Winter Blood Drive For Life this Thursday, Jan. 6 at the Downtown Hyatt Regency (Third Street and Tijeras NW) from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sign up by calling (800) 333-8037 ext. 232 or by visiting [link]. (sponsor code: Hyatt).
Not only will you be doing something honorable and for the greater good of mankind, you'll have the opportunity to meet Hot 95.1's Chaz Malibu (ask him if that's his real name) in the morning hours, and the chance to win T-shirts and other prizes, including a one-night stay at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort, Sunday brunch at the Hyatt, Santa Fe Opera tickets, New Mexico Symphony Orchestra Tickets, car washes and much more! The blood you give could be the blood you'll one day need.
Last Friday, Dec. 31, was the last day of business at Merlin's Record Workshop, a longtime refuge for record collectors, vinyl freaks and concert-ticket buyers located in the Heights on Menaul near Juan Tabo. We at the Alibi sadly lament the passing of yet another locally owned, mom 'n' pop record store while most of the rest of the Burque population continues to buy its music at Hastings and Walmart without even a twinge of guilt.
In other news ... Citadel Communications-owned 103.3 The Zone radio station disappeared last week without warning or explanation, becoming 103.3 FReD FM in a heartbeat. The new format includes all the REO Speedwagon any human being could possibly be expected to stomach and nary a trace of Zone morning show hosts Moxey and Missile. Citadel has yet to cough up an explanation for the switch in format, but Citadel General Manager Milt McConnel told the Journal yesterday that Michael Moxey is under contract and that the company is actively searching for a new position for him at another Citadel station. McConnel didn't specify whether the new station would be in Albuquerque or elsewhere in the country. The 103.3 FReD FM splash page simply exclaims: “Playing stuff we like and taking our time making a website.” Gee, thanks. Apparently “we,” is a team of balding suits who haven't purchased or listened to a new record since High Infidelity came out. Presumably, FReD stands for what many of us feel about the state of the airwaves in Albuquerque: Fucking Radio eats Dick.
More to come as soon as I get a call back, but one thing is clear: corporate radio is all about the bottom line, not about the music or listeners. If more Foreigner IV listeners have proved in some market somewhere to purchase more bongs from some franchised head shop, then you can bet some corporate radio station owner is going to format a station in another market to capture that advertising revenue.
Next week (Jan. 6) marks our annual Year In Review Issue, in which we, your beloved/hated Alibi editors and staff spew our picks for the best of arts, entertainment, film, food and music during the previous 12 months. Unfortunately, there's never enough page space to accommodate everything I'd like to provide with regard to why I think certain records are so goddamned worthy as opposed to others, so I've decided to use the Alibi website to blather on endlessly about the Year In Music: 2004. As of Thursday, Jan. 6, you'll get to read my picks in the print version of the Alibi, and you'll be able to read reviews in their entirety of every single CD that made the cut this year, but not necessarily the final cut for the print version. Then you'll feel more confident than ever when writing to tell me how full of shit I am.
We're excited to announce Weekly Alibi's inaugural “Christmas in a Can” food drive to benefit Roadrunner Food Bank in Albuquerque. We'll be accepting any and all donations of canned and nonperishable food items Monday through Friday between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. at our Downtown offices, located at 413 Central NW (just west of Fourth Street, next door to Zeus Juice) from now until 5 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 23. Please scour your cupboards and pantries and make a special trip to the grocery store to purchase food items for our community's needy. Anything is appreciated, as long as it's a food item and comes in a can or nonperishable packaging. Help us help others this holiday season and feel good about yourself!
The following is just a tiny excerpt of my interview with Bill Maher, host of HBO's “Real Time with Bill Maher.” Since his Albuquerque appearance and the full text of the interview won't be seen until after the election, I thought I'd share a few of our more lighthearted, romantic moments here ...
Alibi: Do you think that George W. Bush's insistence on mixing politics and religion in his daily life conflicts with the Constitutional notion of separation of Church and State?
Bill Maher: I absolutely do. I think any reasonable person who studies the founding fathers comes away with the idea that they were not religious in the way that George W. Bush is. As a matter of fact, there's very little about George Bush that reminds one of the founding fathers. The founding fathers were, after all, European in their thinking; that's the world they come from. They were very well traveled, very well read, very erudite and cosmopolitan. They were nothing like George Bush—I'm not saying that as a criticism, I'm just saying that it's a fact. The founding fathers, the one group of politicians that we can all agree were great, were not "good ol' boys." That doesn't mean George W. Bush couldn't have been a good president, I don't think he was, but he certainly did not resemble the founding fathers in any way. And if you go down the list of who they were and what they believed in, you know, Washington was a nominal Anglican, but he didn't go to church and certainly not for Communion. Adams was a Unitarian. Jefferson was a deist—he was so hateful of religion that he wrote an edited version of the New Testament with the miracles eliminated [The Jeffersonian Bible].
On the other hand, you have Lincoln, who was rather religious, but he didn't wear it on his sleeve. They came to him during the Civil War with a Religiosity Ammendment, and he immediately nixed it. It's a very recent thing—since President Carter—that politicians can wear their religion on their sleeves.
Alibi: It really scares the shit out of me ...
Maher: It's one thing to be religious, which I am not and have no respect for, but it's even scarier when these people are Born Again. Born Agains believe that the rapture—you know, that shit—they really believe that the world is going to end, and many of them are so arrogant as to believe that it's going to end in their lifetime, they'd like to have that happen. And this affects our policy in the Middle East because these Americans believe this tribulation is upon us. It's one thing to have faith, but it's another thing when it's so important to your life that it affects public policy. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. quotes James Watt, Reagan's Interior Secretary, as having said in a Senate hearing of his stewardship of the environment that "I don't know how many generations we'll be around ..." (laughs) So if that's your view, that the world is going to end anyway so we might as well use the land as we see fit, that's a very scary development.
Alibi: In your opinion, are issues like abortion or gay marriage sufficient to base one's vote on?
Maher: Not in my opinion, but to plenty of people in Bush's base, that's what the whole thing is about, those wedge issues. Again, this is scary because we're in a very perilous time right now and we need to be thinking our way out. And for people to be guiding the ship of state by anything other than rationality is very dangerous. The Romans use to read entrails before they'd go into battle, you know, split a chicken open and have some high priest or something come in and look at the way the organs were laid out, and that would determine whether they went to battle or not. And we're not that much better if we're basing those decisions on our own silly superstitions. You've got to guide the ship of state with a compass.
Alibi: And how!
Read the full text of the interview in our Thursday, Nov. 4 issue and get tickets now to see Bill Maher on Tuesday, Nov. 9 at 7:30 p.m. at Popejoy Hall by visiting [link].