Because you always wanted to hear sludgy doom-metal versions of a-ha, Elliott Smith, My Bloody Valentine, The Cure, and a Kids in the Hall song from Brain Candy, not to mention a version of Slayer’s Dead Skin Mask that makes the original sound like it was performed by a barbershop quartet.
It appears that in America the very business of published news is in the midst of widespread atrophy, and now carries forward as does a sickly and aging man, coughing up blood and gasping for breath and bearing the pronounced stench of inevitable failure.
Why did no one inform us of this? Great shame must now consume those who kept silent about the 87 percent decline in newspaper readership nationwide. Great shame must now consume those who did not open their lips before our dealings were done, and allowed the industrious and cherished Yu Wan Mei Group to sink itself like a granite stone.
This band is headlining (sort of) the Daytrotter Barnstormer. I saw them play in Sean’s backyard Saturday morning and in a barn in Maquoketa Saturday night. They gave this Talking Heads cover a go both times. So good! The early session was more acoustic and the later show was more raucous and it was really quite the tasty morsel in either case.
I will have to upload a few of the photos I took at the shows at some point, but for now you’ll just have to believe me how awesome it was. We drove an hour outside of the city, due north. We got off the highway and drove through a small town. We hit a dirt road and drove about 3-4 miles through some rolling hills. A handpainted sign told us were on the right track. We parked in a field next to about 30-40 other cars. We then boarded a trailer hitched to an old Deere tractor. It was dark by this point, and we were surrounded by eight foot corn. The light of the tractor was trained on the thin dirt track. We cracked open some beers.
The barn itself was like the inside of an old wooden airplane that flew into the middle of a cornfield and dug itself halfway into the earth. It was essentially like a strangely shaped barrel. The walls were the ceiling were a big arch that peaked in a point at the top. String lights traced the outlines and crawled up the walls like an ivy made of light. The band played at the back end. Old vintage floor and table lamps helped illuminate the stage. Kids danced and someone gave out about 100 glow necklaces, making it the first barn rave I’ve ever been to. Old people, local farmers, and indie kids interspersed. It was amazing.
The tour continues tonight in Madison, hits Iowa City tomorrow, and closes in Coon Rapids Iowa on Wednesday. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend you take a drive and experience it for yourself. Show up at 6, since there’s barbeque at each show, too.
Eamonn Fingleton presents a contrarian view on the destruction of the US auto industry. He points to Japanese and Korean protectionism, government-support, and predatory pricing, but he also tears apart the media establishment for systematic ignorance and bias. I’m not sure I buy it all, but it’s a refreshing and interesting take nonetheless:
For decades East Asian competition has played a controversial role in the decline of the American car industry. Both Japan and Korea have long been accused of unfair trade and closed markets. For their part Japanese and Korean officials have argued that their markets are open and that an incompetent and heedless Detroit doesn’t make the sort of cars their consumers want.
In all the charges and countercharges, little of the remarkable truth of Detroit’s trade problems has come out. To see how well — or rather how badly — you understand the background, try this quiz:
1. What was the Detroit companies’ share of the Japanese market in 1930? (a) About 90 per cent. (b) About 20 per cent. (c) Less than 4 per cent.
2. How many models do the Detroit corporations currently make with the steering wheel on the right (the standard configuration for Japan)? (a) More than 40. (b) 12. (c)
3. 3. What was the combined share of all foreign makers – American, European, and Japanese – in the Korean car market in the last decade? (a) Less than 2 per cent. (b) Around 15 per cent. (c) More than 70 per cent.
The correct answer in each case is (a).
If you flunked, don’t feel bad. Just cancel your newspaper subscription.
“The unemployment rate was rising for Japan’s robots, and, following reports suggesting that EATR, a steam-powered, biomass-consuming military robot, could feed on dead bodies, its makers released assurances that the robot is a vegetarian. Thick dark blobs of unidentifiable goo were floating in the Arctic Ocean, divers off the coast of San Diego were attacked by jumbo flying squid, and at least nine shark-bite survivors went to Capitol Hill to lobby Senators in defense of sharks. A German “molecular” chef, using liquid nitrogen to prepare a dish, blew off his hands, and scientists found that swearing alleviates pain.”—
Love the magazine. As a favor, I have rewritten the Table of Contents of your July/August issue:
Cover House with Horizontal Wood Slats Page 43 House with Vertical Wood Slats Page 52 House with Horizontal Wood Slats Page 58 Ice Cream Makers Page 66 Pavilion with Horizontal Wood Slats Page 70 Philadelphia Page 80 House with Horizontal Wood Slats Page 88 House with Horizontal Wood Slats Page 96 House with Vertical Wood Slats
In a report that will surprise few of Bush’s critics on the issue, the Centres for Disease Control says years of falling rates of teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted disease infections under previous administrations were reversed or stalled in the Bush years. According to the CDC, birth rates among teenagers aged 15 or older had been in decline since 1991 but are up sharply in more than half of American states since 2005. The study also revealed that the number of teenage females with syphilis has risen by nearly half after a significant decrease while a two-decade fall in the gonorrhea infection rate is being reversed. The number of Aids cases in adolescent boys has nearly doubled.
The CDC says that southern states, where there is often the greatest emphasis on abstinence and religion, tend to have the highest rates of teenage pregnancy and STDs.
I like Starbucks. Yeah, sure, it’s a bit burnty, and yeah, sure, it’s a bland chain experience and yeah they’re everyfuckinwhere and yeah it’s cool to hate on em, but I find their espresso decent and there usually aren’t weird crazy talky people around when I try to work there.
Don’t get me wrong: I hate that they call some bullshit caramel turd a “macchiato” when that’s already an existing drink that is nothing like it. I don’t like trademarking the Italian word for 20 (“venti”) and using in place of “large.” And I think their broad array of blended faux-coffee milkshakes befouls what should be a simple, classic, coffee experience and turns it into a Big Gulpathon.
Most of the people who complain about how Starbucks put all those small coffee places out of business never had to drink at any of them. The great ones stuck around, and Starbucks has done so much to create a market for coffee drinkers that they generate as much business for those other cafes as they take.
I admit, it’s not my first choice when I’m somewhere where I know the coffeeshops. Starbucks ain’t no Baked and Wired or Murky or Tryst or Coffee Culture or Stumptown, but face it, it ain’t the worst either. As someone who’s had his fair share of crappy coffee from independent coffee shops heavy with attitude, I am happy for the knowledge that no matter where I am traveling, I can find a decent americano.
And admit it: your office coffee used to be Folgers from a 50 pound can. Now it’s Starbucks in foil pouches. This is good for the world.
All that being said, it seems to me that they are becoming more and more desperate as their business model fails. It’s tough to grow an upmarket brand in a down economy and they don’t seem to know what to do.
But even before the downturn, things were looking wacky. They started a record company and put out a few records. They courted Sonic Youth for a greatest hits record, got some good press out of it, and then screwed the band by hardly printing any copies at all. They promoted Akeelah and the Bee. It tanked. So now their media arms are shuttered.
They don’t seem to have a cohesive strategy - it’s try this and try that - and now comes the most idiotic move of all.
Now it looks like they’re trying to rebrand in certain markets to seem more like local coffeeshops. In Seattle, they’re remodeling a few stores without Starbucks branding, calling them something like “15th Avenue Coffee and Tea”, and each one is going to look different. They won’t say Starbucks anywhere. It will be Starbucks coffee in new coffee bags rebranded for the specific location. They’re going to sell wine and beer and have poetry readings.
We’re continuing our commitment to delivering specialty coffee excellence while refreshing our store design approach with an amplified focus on local relevance. Ultimately, we hope customers will feel an enhanced sense of community and a deeper connection to our coffee heritage.
Because being secretive and inauthentic is all about “community” and “heritage.”
One article, dropped by the Seattle Times a few days ago, describes masses of Starbucks employees spending weeks checking out competing coffee shops with folders marked “observation” and gives the general impression that Starbucks is trying to ape them. Another article in the Post Intelligencer alleges just that, in more explicit terms:
Located next to the Starbucks store that will now be called 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea in Capitol Hill, Smith owner Linda Derschang said Thursday that everything from the paint color to the light fixtures inside the coffee shop have been replicated to match her rustic, mountaineer-like bar.
“It’s got a lot of salvaged wood, it’s the same paint color inside as Smith and some of the wood framed chalkboards look very, very similar,” she said. “If they had decided to do that look in a different neighborhood or city that would be one thing, but trying to position themselves as an independent coffee house? Where’s the independent spirit in knocking someone off?”
Sorry, but this is bullshit.
Starbucks wants it both ways. They want to talk about quality of coffee purity while they load up your blended milkshake-like-beverage with caramel sauce, chocolate syrup, and whipped cream. They want to mainstream their product while appealing to customers who want a unique, local experience.
But this latest step crosses a line for me. If you go to a neighborhood you’ve never been in, and you see a Starbucks and a local coffeeshop, you can make your choice. It’s a clear choice. But if you see two local coffeeshops, but one actually isn’t, you aren’t making a choice. You’re being fooled. It’s unfair to you, and it’s unfair to that independent shop, who can in no way compete with a chain that has the marketing power of 16,000 stores and has co-opted your primary marketing angle.
Why do they think this is OK? I just don’t get it.
I think Starbucks has done much to create a coffee culture in this country, and I don’t buy the argument that they’ve put great coffeeshops out of business, but that doesn’t give them carte blanche. Their new model takes direct aim that those independents that have shown an ability to compete with them by plagiarizing their designs and their experience and covering up market reach with branding lies and false neighborhood “charm.”
It’s a dick move, and it’s the sort of thing that threatens to convert me from someone who comes to their defense into someone who stops giving them my business altogether.
What do you get when you connect Bradford Cox with Panda Bear?
It is hard to imagine two groups more overhyped or prolific in the past few years than Deerhunter and Animal Collective, so when I saw that Cox and Lennox paired up, I audibly groaned. Can these guys give it a break? I mean, can a week go by without a new release? Apparently not.
But then I listened to it. Damn.
It’s floating all around the net, but I grabbed it here.
Hurry up and head on over to the new Onion store, where you can purchase many fine Yu Wan Mei items, such as Gel (“Made with all ingredients, this gel is perfect for any occasion. Child and adult enjoy it equally, sometimes, as does even pets! If you need gel, buy this gel.”) and Miscellaneous Tasty Paste.
“If you think of it in human terms, there is a financial incentive that will be put in place, paid for by tax dollars, that will encourage women who are — single parents, living below the poverty level, to have the opportunity for a free abortion. If you take that scenario and apply it to many of the great minds we have today, who would we have been deprived of? Our president grew up in a similar circumstance. If that financial incentive was in place, is it possible that his mother may have taken advantage of it? Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court Justice, if those circumstances were in place, is it possible that we would be denied his great mind?”—GOP Rep Tiahrt (KS) Asks Whether Obama’s Mother Would Have Had An Abortion
After 2 days of listening to the aural maelstrom that is the new Oneida two hour long triple album over and over and over again, and this amidst a weeklong buffet of chewy Sonic Youth feedback, I am ready for some poppy boy-girl garage punk.