Are you not entertained?
Top Ten Diversions Of 2002 (Emerson Dameron)
I'm not getting any younger, padre. In ’02, my ears weren’t to the tracks as they’ve been in years past. Most of the music I listened to was old: either gems grubbed from the historical archives (Lo’s Because You’re Funky comp and Birdman’s Hershell Gordon Lewis companion spring to mind) or old shit I used to crank in high school (particularly Snoop Doggy Dogg and Compulsion, of all things). I’m sure I didn’t hear half of the new records I’d’ve loved. That said, here are a few of the ones that did find their way past the Fruit Of Islam bodyguards and through the haze of hashish smoke, into my otherwise impregnable heart. I’m throwing in two books, a DVD and a URL, just to be different.
1. Tom Waits – Alice (Anti-/Epitaph)
Yeah, Blood Money had the immediate hits. But the other half of Waits’ Use Your Illusion yin-yang is the most sadly beautiful, satisfyingly eerie skeleton carnival he’s barked since Swordfishtrombones. Compared to anything else in his scatterbrained late period, Alice holds together like a Little Golden Book, and every number will eventually haunt you like a missed opportunity.
2. Surviving On The Streets: How To Go Down Without Going Out by Ace Backwords (Loompanics)
This is a solid reference manual. I'm positive Ace's advice would be invaluable to anyone who decided to flip off the family, the creditors and the landlord and take it to the streets. It's also a splendid memoir and rant, written with uncommon discernment, self-awareness and empathy. Amid his practical instructions, Ace introduces us to assorted denizens of the street scene, states his fearless opinions on some of the recurring practical and sociopolitical snafus that dog the homeless, and tells more hard-boiled down-and-out anecdotes than the entire Tom Waits back catalogue, all in the most likeable style I've read this year. Dave Eggers isn't fit to squeegee Ace Backwords' windshield.
3. Blackalicious – Blazing Arrow (MCA)
When “backpacker” has taken its place alongside “grebo,” this will still be hip-hop’s Songs In The Key Of Life.
4. Parker and Lily – Here Comes Winter (Manifesto)
Swank, dreamy lullabies from the top brand in apple-buttered make-out music. Don’t nod out before you get dem draws.
5. MC Trachiotomy – W/ Love From Tahiti (Bulb)
Find a 15-year-old Walkman. Load it up with batteries you’re pretty sure will crap out within 30 minutes. Dunk it in a toilet tank for 45 seconds. Now, slide in a mixed tape of early ’90s New Jack Swing, seedy airport lounge Muzak, and Andre Williams and Hasil Adkins mumbling about coitus in their sleep. You'll have something approximating W/Love From Tahiti, the next illogical step from Ween's The Pod and the only album released in 2002 with which I've been obsessed.
6. Shit Magnet by Jim Goad (Feral House)
The most articulate felon on commissary loose leaf since Iceberg Slim presents a harrowingly depressing, defiantly comedic treatise on guilt, using his own life as a case study. I tore through it in three days and it ate away at me for months. Only my ulcer gave me more to think about. He damn sure ain’t a role model, but I’d shoot a dog for a fraction of Goad’s talent.
7. Speedball Baby – The Blackout (In The Red)
NYC culture on the skids. Most charismatic frontman since Jagger.
8. Twin Peaks: The First Season DVD
I don’t get cable, but it’s poverty, not principle: I’ll happily sit through dogshit like CSI at someone else’s house for no better reason than to kill time. I’ve largely accepted the degeneration of mainstream visual media – I didn’t even see any particularly enduring films this year – and it takes something like reviewing the most addictive, adventurous TV show in history to make me demand anything better. Well worth the frustration.
9. Spaceheads – Low Pressure (Merge)
Ominous, elegant jazz funk. The perfect record to throw on when you’re waiting for something awful to go down.
Most inexplicably relaxing thing on the web.
By Emerson Dameron