Archive for February, 2008

From Squirrel Bait to Oprah

Posted in Media, Music on February 29, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

Squirrel Bait

Former Squirrel Bait and Big Wheel frontman Peter Searcy (above, at CBGB’s in the 1980s, flanked by Squirrel Bait bandmates Clark Johnson and Brian McMahon, and sporting a St. Francis High School sweatshirt?) gets a big feature in today’s Courier-Journal, thanks in part to Oprah Winfrey. What’s that, you say? How does a guy go from opening for the infamous G.G. Allin at 16 to, much later, having his music featured on a special by “the most powerful woman in television?” As Jeffrey Lee Puckett explains, it’s all about licensing:

Searcy’s song, “I Believe,” from his latest album, “Spark,” has been chosen for use on “Oprah’s Big Give,” which has its debut at 9 p.m. Sunday on ABC.

It’s a “reality-contestant” show in which people are given hundreds of thousands of dollars and challenged to give it away in the most helpful, creative ways possible. The best philanthropist will be crowned the winner and receive a grand prize that Oprah is keeping secret.

“I Believe,” an upbeat song about the redeeming power of faith, may only be used for the premier — but it’s hard to say. Oprah could fall in love with it.

Meanwhile, commercials for NBC’s new “Lipstick Jungle” series have been featuring “I Believe,” with early versions splashing Searcy’s name and the song title across the bottom of the screen, MTV-style.

Song placement is a big part of how the music business works in the 2000s. Record stores and radio airplay have given way to downloads and exposure through TV and movie soundtracks.

“Radio stations can’t program new songs and artists like they used to,” Searcy said. “It’s funny because you grow up as a kid and you want your songs on the radio, but as a working artist, song placement is the best way to keep making money.”

Searcy’s introduction to Oprah’s world was facilitated by friend and song-placement professional Jonathan Palmer. Palmer, a former Louisvillian, is a creative licensing staffer for Columbia Records and helps get songs placed in high-profile movies and TV shows.

So there you have it. Mind you, it’s not clear from the article how long Searcy’s song “I Believe” will be on air during Oprah’s “Big Give,” but what the hell. Good job, Peter.

Squirrel Bait

UPDATE: Because I’m a nice guy, have lots of free time and a pretty extensive music collection, here’s Squirrel Bait’s “Hammering So Hard” from their debut EP. Enjoy. To hear Searcy’s”I Believe,” check out his site at www.petersearcy.net.

Music This Weekend, Feb. 29-Mar. 2

Posted in Happenings, Music on February 28, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

Presidente flier

While the Drive-By Truckers show Saturday at Headliners will undoubtedly garner the most attention in local media, there’s some other shows of note going on this weekend that you should be aware of:

First, on Friday night February 29th (Leap Year Day!), Presidente, Rude Weirdo and Plows play at Cahoots, 10 pm, $5. Rude Weirdo were really impressive when I saw them back in October with Boxmaker at Lisa’s Oak Street Lounge. They’ve also got a new lineup, with John Causey of Boxmaker (also ex-Undermine and Crain — wait, was John in Concrete too? I can’t remember) and Dave Bird (ex-just about every Louisville band I can think of) in the mix now.

Boxmaker Flier

Speaking of Boxmaker, they’re playing Saturday night, March 1st at Cahoots with the Scarlet Veil and the Mack — as you can plainly see above.

Antman

But I’d be remiss in not mentioning that your humble editor will be djing a show Saturday night as well. That is, at the Glasspack and the Broken Spurs show at the Longshot Tavern this Saturday, Brett Holsclaw of the Glasspack and myself will be spinning records. And not just any records, mind you, but a lot of local punk and hardcore stuff — kinda like what I played on a WFMU Listener Hour back in 2004. And there’ll be some other music, too. Y’know, like heavy guitar rock, psychedelic nonsense, maybe even some funk. We’ll see. Did I mention it’s also free? The Longshot Tavern is located at 2232 Frankfort Avenue, in Clifton. I guarantee that the Antman 7″ (see above) will be played.

PIM flier

Last not but least, on Sunday at Derby City Espresso, Pattern Is Movement, Mountain Asleep, and Lee Van Cleef are playing a show. Starts at 7 PM, costs $5.

Oh and don’t forget: tomorrow is your last day to get Terrastock pre-sale tickets for $55!

Oh Snap! Velocity Calls Out LEO!

Posted in Louisville News, Media, What's In the Weeklies? on February 28, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

Real Winners

Something I missed in today’s earlier What’s In the Weeklies? segment was Velocity‘s rather strange and feeble attempt to takedown LEO in their “This Week’s Winners & Losers” column. Along with the terrifying scourge of Oscar Pools, CBS and Ralph Nader, LEO apparently is guilty of the following:

The corporate weekly — it’s owned by a company in Pennsylvania, folks — which runs Dave Barry’s year-in-review and syndicated content that seemed edgy a decade ago, picked the wrong week to call Velocity “faux” anything. That was one hard-hitting, alternative cover story on dog training, guys!

How could I miss such snarkiness from the otherwise-staid servant of consumerism? Well, I hadn’t been out of the house Wednesday, so I was writing based on the online edition of Velocity, and neglected to click on the link for the “This Week’s Winners & Losers” column, mostly because it’s ridiculously fucking boring. So I apologize, especially to This Week’s Winners: Joel and Ethan Coen (above, from Velocity), Kelvin Sampson (he’s a winner because he’ll never be hired for a college basketball coaching job again?), the vague “Kentucky and Louisville Hoops” and, last but not least, Jon Stewart. Because we don’t get enough shallow entertainment and basketball coverage in the Courier, of course.

That being said, I ain’t no shill for LEO, neither. My take on Cary Semle’s story wasn’t much different, even if it is somewhat relevant to the now-nullified city dog ordnance. And I’ve certainly had issues with LEO’s music coverage, for various reasons. But compare Louisville’s two weeklies — as I hope to continue doing in the What’s In the Weeklies? segment — and the difference is quite clear: LEO covers news and culture, while Velocity is usually nothing more than a trumped-up buyers’ guide in the guise of an alt-weekly.

Meanwhile, Stephen George, one of the city’s best reporters no matter what masthead he appears under, has posted a fantastic rebuttal at LEO’s General Sense of Outrage blog. Will anyone at Velocity have the guts to respond? Wait and see, dear readers…

Even in Higher Education, Kentucky’s Got an Image Problem

Posted in Kentucky News, Politics on February 28, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

Prof. Popkin

Just when you thought the state of Kentucky’s overall image problem in the national media couldn’t get any worse (anybody watching “Wife Swap” tonight?), there’s this small, easily-missed item in the On Education column in Wednesday’s New York Times. It seems there’s been a rumor floating around the internets that the longtime History 323: The Holocaust class taught at the University of Kentucky by Professor Jeremy D. Popkin (above, from the NYT‘s web site) was canceled due to complaints by the University’s Muslim population, “which claims it never occurred.”

Over the past year, faculty members and administrators at the university’s main campus in Lexington have collectively received thousands of e-mail messages like this one, repeating the same baseless accusation — that pressure from Muslims had led the university to drop its Holocaust course. Like many who have sent these messages, the writer added her own preface to the one that appeared in Professor Popkin’s mailbox, writing in part: “I cannot see how you faculty can go to work each day and face a generation of young adults that will be lied to even more than my generation. What next? Are we going to rewrite the facts of 9/11 so that they fit the Middle Eastern beliefs? This is simply shameful, and I am disgusted by it.”

Any university trades on its reputation, and in recent years, Kentucky has been trying to improve its own. It has vigorously deepened its academic programs and added to its faculty, in hopes of raising its national standing and proving itself to be more than just a perennial basketball powerhouse. The last thing it needs, university officials say, is this smear on its good name.

“Initially, you get a couple of e-mails that on the face of it are ludicrous,” said Jay Blanton, executive director of public relations and marketing for the university. “We thought, surely people aren’t going to take this preposterous rumor seriously. And then you see it doesn’t die, it persists.”

The university’s president, Lee T. Todd Jr., expressed similar consternation.

“I understand quite well the power of the Internet,” he wrote in an e-mail message. “Information flows instantaneously without respect to somewhat arbitrary borders of geography or nation state. That’s a positive. In this instance, though, the University of Kentucky is experiencing the flip side of that power — the negative impact of an unfounded rumor that flows across a world seemingly without check. It’s disconcerting, although perhaps understandable in that context, that so many people would be the victim of a rumor so patently and obviously without merit.”

Back in November, the University denied the contents of the email through a press release, and even snopes.com regarded the email as a hoax, generated by some hick’s inability to understand that “uk” might not always refer to their favorite basketball team’s school. And though their reputation was besmirched, UK’s Muslim Student Association comes out looking good at the end of the Times piece:

Meanwhile, the e-mail messages put blame for something that never happened on people like Yahya Ahmed, a senior at Kentucky and president of the school’s chapter of the Muslim Student Association. “Something of this nature is not in our nature,” he said. “We’ve tried to promote unity on this campus, and this is detrimental.”

Mr. Ahmed has not taken Professor Popkin’s course. Then again, he has found other ways to educate himself. Last month, he went on a study trip to Israel. While in Jerusalem, he visited Yad Vashem, the memorial museum of the Holocaust.

Okay, so that’s fine: the University did what it could to quell the problem, the course is being offered this spring, and all’s right in the world, right? Well, not exactly. For starters, one has to wonder a bit why this is being reported on now, almost four months after UK disavowed the email. Sure, it’s relatively harmless, and everybody comes out smelling like roses except a few anonymous jerks on the internet (convenient, eh?).

But what about UK’s other chain-email problem? You know, the more recent one? Concerning the UK Student Government President Nick Phelps and that silly “Barack Hussein Obama is a Muslim” email forward? That’s been a much bigger story elsewhere, and is newer, so why not report it? Granted, as a story it’s just as idiotic, but as long as a national news organization is going to bother smearing UK, might as well go with something recent. If not something recent, there’s still plenty of examples of our state’s blatant racism, even in higher education.

What’s In the Weeklies? Week of Feb. 27

Posted in Drink, Food, Music, What's In the Weeklies? on February 27, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

Velocity

Velocity proves yet again that no matter what dire financial straits some Louisvillians may find themselves in, they can still be urged by the Courier‘s faux-alt weekly to buy crap. Yes, that’s right, this week’s issue features the nearly-offensive “What Recession” cover story in which the reader is practically hit over the head with things to buy, places to eat/drink, most of which isn’t free or even cheap (strangely, the cover story link doesn’t go to a story, so you’ll have to instead click on the “More Stories” series of links on the right side of that page). Honestly, if you must drink while being broke, the cheapest way to drink is to not go out, but drink at home. But hey, at least Velocity included where to find free wi-fi, right?

In other Velocity news, The Lumberyard, an awkwardly-named new literary journal based in Louisville stars in a profile, as does local t-shirt shop Dirty Tease (more stuff for you to buy!). Jason Isbell, formerly of Drive-by Truckers, gets covered in the main music slot.

Over at LEO, unsurprisingly there’s a far more substantive cover story exploring the claims made by both casino proponents and opponents — and their subsequent “truthiness.” The story, by Jennifer Oladipo and Cary Stemle, doesn’t come to any easy or pat conclusions. Which of course means it consists of actual journalism. Good job.

Elsewhere in the weekly, Stephen George contemplates the vigilante nature of Dateline NBC‘s awful “To Catch a Predator” segments. Exploring the relationship between NBC’s lurid sting operations and what Kentucky lawmakers are actually doing about online predators, this piece is incredibly informative — yet lets the reader draw their own conclusions. Another good job. Other news stories include more on the West Side liquor ban and the city’s dog ordnance (thrown out of court today by Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Martin McDonald).

In music, LEO critic Mat Herron has a short but interesting discussion with three African-American Louisville musicians — Butch Rice, Teenia Sanders, and Afrykah Wubsauda — about racism in Louisville. Unfortuantely, Herron’s “B-Sides” column — a profile of Cuban pianist Rafael Lopez-Prieto of the band Cosa Seria — begins with the sentence:

In near-flawless English, Rafael Lopez-Prieto explains a new crop of demos he’s cooking up in his home studio.

Why should it be notable that Lopez-Prieto speaks near-flawless English? Given the sensitivity of the “Voiceover” piece on Louisville music and racism, the clumsiness of the “B-Sides” column’s lede is disappointing.

Monday Morning Sports Roundup, Feb. 25

Posted in Monday Morning Sports Roundup, Sports on February 25, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

Brian Brohm

Is Louisville QB Brian Brohm’s stock sliding for the NFL draft? That was the seventh headline on Yahoo!‘s front page for a time yesterday afternoon, leading to Charles Robinson’s analysis of the Cardinal quarterback’s chances in the NFL Draft, scheduled in April:

Despite putting up a remarkable career with the Cardinals over the last four years, the whispers already have started in the personnel ranks about Brohm. Considered a possible top-five pick at the beginning of his senior season, there are those in the NFL who now think he could fall as low as several selections into the second round – which has made him the poster child for the player with the most at stake over the next several months.

Indeed, over at NFLdraftcountdown.com, their mock draft has Brohm as low as 8 — going to the rebuilding Baltimore Ravens. I can think of worse teams to play for — Atlanta Falcons anyone? But yeah, so is Brohm “slip sliding away,” to recycle a line from our Paul Simonquoting Mayor? Maybe, but you won’t catch Brohm saying so:

“There’s nothing really to be worried about,” Brohm said this week, when pressed about the trend of first-round quarterbacks unexpectedly slinking their way down draft boards. “I’m just going to go out there and perform. Wherever that puts me in the draft, that puts me. So I’m not going to worry about it. I’m not going to get stressed out about it. I’m just going to go out there and show what I’ve got.”

(Just an aside — I always wonder why sports writers even bother quoting most athletes. I mean, what is Brohm going to say? “I’m scared shitless of going to the Falcons?” Yeah right.)

Cardinal Baseball

In baseball news, the Cardinals opened their season with an ICE-pocalypse!-delayed double-header against the Cleveland State Vikings on Saturday. And wouldn’t you know it, Louisville swept the Clevelanders, 13-5 and 4-2.

And in basketball news, the Cardinals squeaked out a victory against a strong Pitt Panthers team on Sunday, 75-73, in Pittsburgh. The seventh straight win in a row for the Cardinals was a hard-fought game, and a thriller to watch. A portent of things to come in the Big East tournament? We shall see.

Beware the ICE-pocalypse!

Posted in Kentucky News, Louisville News, Weather on February 23, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

Ice!

(picture swiped from Page One Kentucky)

Holy crap! It’s the ICE-pocalypse! Cancel school! Send your workers home! Cancel the legislative session! Stock up on beer!

Okay, I lived in northern climes for a long while, I admit I’m a bit insensitive to Kentuckians and their lack of winter driving abilities. But, still, I find the absolute panic that overwhelms local media when a very minor winter storm comes through pretty amusing. That said, there’s nothing really funny about ice-induced injuries, power outages, and property damage. So I’ll try to be nicer in the future. However, at least one positive emerged from the ICE-pocalypse: We now know that Mayor Abramson is a Paul Simon fan —

Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson said metro officials also are concerned about ice-coated power lines “We don’t need them out there, slip sliding away.”

The C-J later struck that great line from their main ice story, the humorless jerks.