Saturday, September 8, 2012

15 years of Too Far to Care

This year marks the fifteenth anniversary of the Old 97s' first major label release, 1997's Too Far to Care.  For metroplex scenester teens in the late 1990s, Too Far to Care was our White Album, our Led Zeppelin IV.  Our Doolittle.  Everything about it was cool: its title, its cover art, its impossibly clever songwriting.  Too Far to Care was the last CD I played in Fort Worth before packing my stereo to move to Austin for college; it was the first CD I played in my dorm room on West 22nd Street.  When I tried to write fiction, I wanted so badly to capture its tone that I kept it on repeat for days.

To mark the anniversary, the group's lead singer Rhett Miller tweeted that the band would play the whole album at their August 24th show in Dallas (wish I could have been there!).  Miller is also working on a series of mini-essays about each song on the album.  From his entry on "Niteclub":

One lyric in particular has evolved in a sad, marvelous way.  When I wrote "telephones make strangers out of lovers," I was looking at a pay phone (remember those?), and thinking how the false connection it provided served only to increase the emotional distance between lovers.  Now, when I sing the song, I look out over the audience and it only takes a moment of searching the crowd to find a couple standing side by side, both looking at their phones.  These days, the telephone makes strangers out of lovers who are in the same room.
He's going in reverse order, writing about the album's last songs first.  Miller is a smart writer--no surprise there--and the essays are full of fun little revelations (example: Miller once shared a garage apartment with Clark Vogeler of Funland & the Toadies).  Mostly, though, it's fascinating to read Miller--who still seems like a kid--writing about getting older.  Because if Too Far to Care is fifteen, we're all getting older, and fast.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Ornette in Fort Worth

From the New Yorker: "One way into Coleman’s music is to think of it as avant-gutbucket. Hailing from Fort Worth (which figures prominently in the film, as in the clip above), he got his start in rhythm and blues and the blues are, conspicuously, at the forefront of his achievement." (Richard Brody)

Monday, September 3, 2012

John T. Edge on Houston Cuisine

In this month's Oxford American, John T. Edge writes about Houston's awesomely diverse food offerings:

Houston has identity issues. It’s less shiny and slick than Dallas. Less self-consciously Texan than Alamo-worshipping San Antonio. I would say it’s less weird than Austin, which likes to style itself as famously weird, but there’s evidence—the Beer Can Housemuseum, the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, that runaway octopus meal—to the contrary.

It's an ungainly place, the largest unzoned city in the U.S.  Here strip joints and strip malls bracket Craftsman bungalows.  And concrete culverts are called bayous.  It's not exactly a tourist mecca.  Or a nexus of media collection and dissemination.  In Houston, chefs like Shepherd and Caswell and barkeeps like Heugel work outside the glare.  

Food wonks have recently fallen hard for the antebellum revivalist cooking of Charleston--home base of the impish Sean Brock, recently profiled lovingly in Vogue (Jeffrey Steingarten) and the New Yorker (Burkhard Bilger).  But the new immigrant + city-proud chef algebra that makes Houston the most vital place to eat in the South right now hasn't garnered much magic-hour photography and breathless glossy magazine prose (until now).   

I disagree that Houston is "less self-consciously Texan" than San Antonio, but Edge is right that Houston is a great place to eat.  Check out the whole article: Savoring Mutt City (Oxford American)

Ranch Journal: 8:30-9:00 (supper)