Dusty's Cultural Curiosities

Sweet 16

clap.jpgTasty Tunes From 2005! Holiday time. Stocking stuffers, grab bags, gifts for friends, bosses, family members, and yourself. Year-end lists. Whatever. It's time for my assessment of new music from the past year. And though I haven't heard everything, from my vantage it was a bumper crop year for new music -- although if you listened to terrestrial radio, you might think otherwise. Some of it was from major labels. Go figure. But with the proliferation of MP3 players, why even bother with radio? I've had a grand time cobbling together set lists for my son's grade school parties, summer BBQs, NYC dinner soirees, and my yearly CD compilation for friends and relatives. In no particular order, my favorites released in 2005: Read more »

Imagine All The People...

lennon.jpgKen Krimstein -- our literary review editor -- suggested we post our remembrances of the day John Lennon was murdered and what it meant to you. It occurred to me that for the Baby Boomers and 'Tweener generation it was truly "the day the music died," the day our innocence was shattered and the new reality showed us that the 60's Utopian ideology would never, ever deliver.

Twenty-five years ago, I was watching Monday Night Football with my father in Akron, OH when Howard Cosell broke the story. I was shattered. My dad looked at me and couldn't understand why I was so upset. Read more »

To Hear Or Not To Hear...

thile.jpgDoubt often accompanies me when heading out to see a new, unknown singer or band. As some of you know, I’m a musician and an ardent music fan. And I seek inspiration from fresh, vital music. On any given night in NYC there are countess talented folks fine-tuning their machines in tiny venues all over the city, ready to be consumed by ravenous music freaks like myself. Being the father of two small children doesn't always afford me the time to drink from their wells, but on occasion I do slip away and imbibe. Over the last few weeks I've witnessed some extraordinary music. Two weeks ago keyboard wizard and recent Boulder, CO transplant Erik Deutsch held a piano recital with his jazz trio at his loft in Williamsburg. Read more »

Careful With That Disc, Eugene!

sonybmg.jpgSony BMG Music has detonated a bomb in their corporate cardboard headquarters. If you haven't read the news about their serious consumer faux pas, it involved the use of XCP software -- a copy-protected encoded software added to 52 of their CD releases to thwart piracy. Sony BMG was secretly installing a malware-style '"rootkit" on Windows computers via audio CDs that had this XCP software. These issues had no effect on the use of these discs in conventional, non-computer-based CD and/or DVD players. Moreover, this content protection technology was provided by a third-party company, First 4 Internet, and was designed to prevent unlimited copying and unauthorized redistribution of the music on the disc. Read more »

Urban Legends

urban.jpgDid you catch the Country Music Awards on CBS Tuesday night?

Country music from Madison Square Garden in the Big Apple. No stretch when one considers that New York once boasted the largest country radio station in the U.S. And many nomadic Americans who settle in New York enjoy country music or had some connection to it growing up. I know I did. My grandmother was from Tennessee and besides listening to country crooner Eddy Arnold, I got a taste of bluegrass and outlaw -- Cash, Waylon, Willie, and Merle. And besides, Roseanne Cash and her family and Steve Earle and his gal Allison Moorer all live in NYC. Read more »

The Castle of Quibbling

fortress.jpgI have found the task of reading Jonathan Lethem's wonderful coming-of-age novel The Fortress of Solitude a love/hate thing. I've taken my sweet ol' time (it was released two years ago), and while I loathe taking as long as I have, I've enjoyed the journey. Truly a journey of growth and maturity for white boy Dylan Ebdus, the protagonist, and his African-American friend Mingus Rude, two motherless boys left afloat in the tough neighborhood of Dean Street in Brooklyn.

Hailed by critics here and abroad, Mr. Lethem constructed a very tight, wonderfully colorful narrative about life in New York in the '70s. But I must take issue with a rock 'n' roll reference that is not entirely accurate. And for a novel with so many important pop culture references -- from Marvel comic books to the birth of hip-hop -- his editors should have caught this glaring faux pas. Read more »

Redwalls and Rice

RedwallsI don't get out to the movies much anymore. Two small kids can seriously impede a pop culture junkie. I've been resigned to wait for most of the new releases to hit the DVD market before I catch them. And believe me, this doesn't make me happy.

And books? Literature has been relegated to bedtime or subway reading, and this can be a very labored practice for taking in great fiction, fiction that should be consumed rather quickly, not over the course of several months. So it should be no surprise to me that I've increased my already insatiable appetite for pop culture by substituting music in the aforementioned pop culture categories. Sitting in front of my computer monitor all hours of the day affords me plenty of listening hours to stave off those hunger pangs. Read more »


CreamMonday night I witnessed the Cream reunion at Madison Square Garden. My friend Gary nabbed two tickets slightly behind the stage - kinda like being in the wings, as they say in theater - about 30 yards from the band, and two hundred bucks cheaper. From my vantage and with my binoculars, I was able to make out the entire set list taped to Ginger's music stand. I even saw the music keys and who would count out the intros. Wow, backstage access right from the comfort of my arena seat. The drunk next to me was howling about the last six times he'd seen Clapton in Boston. He and his wife had saved some jack and soldiered down from their Boston suburb and according to them "were gonna boogie with Cream." Read more »

CONVERGE is the Word!

iPodWhen we launched this site back in August, I said that the technology would afford the convergence of all media to one hand-held device. And we decided that we would use that technology to deliver our content to you. Not only the convergence of the audio and video, but the convergence of ideas and artistic sensibilities. Like the true definition of salon; a gathering place for people to share, listen and view literature, art, music, film, even politics.

It was no accident that I turned my phrase -- "CONVERGE is the Word' -- into our site's manifesto. Thus, It was only a matter time -- in the world of computer technology, only a few months -- before iTunes would jump from iTunes to Podcasting to Vidcasting and then converge them all together. Read more »


Patty SmytheI attended a marketing meeting yesterday discussing how to market this site, how to target a group, how to attract brand names to that target group, and it got me thinking about how we market things in general. Marketing gurus need to find target audiences for whatever brand they are trying sell. Target the brand and find your core audience and then smack that audience over the head with your pitch and pomp. Eventually they will see the value in that product or service or website and all will be right in the universe.

While I find value in that for a revenue stream, I also loathe it for being so narrow-visioned on a practical front. Read more »

Don't Label Me!

times2We live in a society that loves to label and brand everything -- cars, bars, clothes, genres of music, coffee shops, even porn sites.

Throw celebrities into the mix and bingo!, you've hit the Mother Lode, plus instant street cred! What a shame that we can't find anything better to crow about. And, recently I was dumbfounded by the spectacle of Times Square and its hyper use of labels while shooting a vid/podcast interview for this site. Read more »

Bang! You're Alive Again

biggerbang.jpgI attended the Stones' press conference on Julliard's balcony at Lincoln Center this past May. What can I say...I was curious and it was in my neighborhood, required no great effort. A beautiful spring day in New York and the Stones were rumored to be playing a truncated set. If they sucked, I'd duck out and cruise Tower Records across the street. But the crowd seemed to be buying into the big press circus hype of their umpteenth tour announcement, and after running into about 20 excited friends/colleagues, I quickly got swept up in the fervor of the moment. Even for a jaded rocker such as myself, I was surprised. Read more »


lanois.jpg"Blood of Eden" -- the special movie mix for the Wim Wender's film Until the End of the World -- is one of my favorite songs ever. It was a remixed track from Peter Gabriel's 1992 record Us, a gorgeous, spacious ballad unencumbered by the surgically percussive elements that made So and Us such massively popular albums.

Last week I had the opportunity to interview the artist responsible for co-producing, playing, and singing on this majestic piece of music, one of the true unsung heroes of rock and roll: producer/musician/songwriter Daniel Lanois. Read more »

Greener Waters

greenriver.jpgI love retro when it's done with style and reverential respect to the past, but what was John Fogerty ingesting in the Bay Area when he unleashed Creedence Clearwater Revival in 1968? CCR was all swampy, hooch-drinkin' roots-rock in a land infested by flower power and acid-jamming rock bands. Green River was ballsy, amp-cranked pop-rockabilly with snarling, hooky roots-rockin' guitar riffs shakin' the foundation of '60s pop radio. Fogerty's nasal vocals and simple yet thought-provoking lyrics made it seem so effortless. Yes, this was music easily digested by both AM and FM radio programmers, and consumers as well, spawning two top ten hits. It was all Link Wray guitar snarl and Sun Records trem and reverb economy, but never before done with such a distinct rock and roll voice. Read more »


cramps.jpgWho said you can't have a hip, edgy, smart audio and video podcast site? One that offers more than a modicum of creativity to the World Wide Web? Well, I started obsessing about my own site for about three weeks -- not a long time, but certainly an eternity in my mind. As soon as my partner Richard got me hip to podcasting, I was hooked and needed to fling myself into the podcasting fray. So I took a running leap and flung myself into it -- belly-flop forward -- and started making calls and begging some hip people I knew to let me interview them. Read more »

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