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Monday, Nov 26, 2007

San Francisco in the late ‘60s is one of the most highly mythologized places and times in rock history, and not without reason. The area spawned at least a half dozen top-tier bands, and figures like Jerry Garcia, Sly Stone, Janis Joplin, and Grace Slick became icons. Steve Miller wound up being one of the biggest pop acts of the ‘70s, and Carlos Santana, of all people, found a new life as a collaborator with younger pop figures in the late ‘90s, a role which he continues to play. The Dead soldiered on in various permutations after Garcia’s death 12 years ago, and they remain one of the biggest moneymaking groups in the industry. But it’s the music these folks recorded in the late ‘60s that serves as their legacy, and some of their best work can be found on Love Is the Song We Sing. For the first time, the musical and attitudinal highs and lows of the Bay Area scene are on full, accurate, and coherent display. Forty years was a long time to wait.


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Monday, Nov 26, 2007

Brooding, dark, hopelessly romantic, superlatively rock when it wants to be, and almost baroquely classical when it gets tired of that, this is an album to learn to love, track-by-track, play-by-play. All these elements—the warmth and humanity and musical complexity, the indelible images and koan-like puzzles, the guitar-based rock and classical embellishments—go a certain distance in explaining why Boxer is so good… but they don’t quite explain it. This album, like all great albums, somehow transcends all the factors that makes it work, absorbs them in a seamless whole and breaks your heart in the process. All hail Boxer, one of the finest indie rock albums of the year.


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Monday, Nov 26, 2007

This has been a great year for fans of smart television writing on DVD, especially those David E. Kelley fans out there. First we had the long-overdue release of Picket Fences’ first season and now this, Kelley’s ever-so-slightly more serious 1997 drama, The Practice. These young lawyers at a gritty, blue-collar firm work the system from all angles to assist their often less-than-innocent clients.  Touching on hot button issues of the day, The Practice crackled with smart dialogue and brilliant team chemistry.  Sure, it was better a few years later, but it grabs you at the very first episode.


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Monday, Nov 26, 2007
by Jodie Janella Keith

In The Boy Who Cried Freebird, Mitch Myers drifts between musical genres and literary styles. With a nod to granddaddies of rock criticism Lester Bangs, Nick Toches, and Richard Meltzer, Myers has attempted an “allegorical commentary via playful, music-oriented vignettes”. Every piece is about people interacting with music in some way. Rock oriented fables are spliced between long-form journalistic pieces focusing on a variety of genres such as folk, jazz, ambient, punk, and metal. Despite reading like a book set on random, Myers is a fantastic writer with a great ear for rhythm. His pieces on jazz have an implied swing beat built into the words, while his writing about hard rock is blunt and frenetic. Every piece is about people interacting with music in some way. Myers writes about musicians and listeners and their equally obsessive relationships with music because he is one of them. Despite the rapid-fire disorganization, Freebird welcomes rock geeks in with open arms and gives its readers a big hug.


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Monday, Nov 26, 2007
by Edward Wasserman

By Edward Wasserman


McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)


I’m sure that since Tim Page is a music critic for The Washington Post and won a Pulitzer Prize, he’s a fine journalist. But he did something stupid recently when he sent an aide to Washington’s ex-mayor Marion Barry an angry e-mail demanding to be taken off the solicitation list for some cultural initiative that Barry was pitching.


“Must we hear about it every time this crack addict attempts to rehabilitate himself with some new - and typically half-witted - political grandstanding?” Page asked. (Barry, you’ll recall, served six months after he was videotaped in an FBI drug sting in 1990.)


The Post was embarrassed when Page’s e-mail came to light and apologized profusely to Barry. Then the paper’s executives did something astonishing: They did not fire Page.


Why is that astonishing? Because no matter where else you look, in today’s newsroom environment, just about everybody who screws up, regardless of how serious the offense or how forgivable the sin, gets fired. Almost invariably, the firing is justified in the language of ethics.


Well, not everybody’s fired. The Los Angeles Times reporter who was posting comments under a pseudonym on various Web sites was only demoted and stripped of his column. (So pseudonyms are unethical? Somebody tell George Orwell and Mark Twain.)


He got off easy.


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