I Wrote A Letter To The London Observer.

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Dear Sirs/Ma’ams:
Your review of a Billy Graham crusade in Kansas City, published on October 17th, trots out familiar tropes: the fat American Midwesterner in big shorts, the knowing disdain for clerics seeking lucre from the faithful.


Here in the U.S., I read a similar piece so often that I wonder if it’s crafted from a template, downloaded from www.scarydumbpreachers.com.
It should be pointed out to your reporter that, while there is a Kansas City in Kansas, the Kansas City where this gathering took place, at Arrowhead Stadium, is actually located in the state of Missouri.
It’s remarkable to me that “What’s The Matter With Kansas?” is published in the UK as “What’sThe Matter With America?” It’s maddening to us New Yorkers, not to mention people from Seattle, Los Angeles, Chicago, and perhaps the most liberal city in the world, San Francisco, that while London is Britain, Paris is France, and Amsterdam is Holland, the United States is Springfield, Ohio.
Mike Doughty

The Soup Was Prompt; The Chicken, Tardy.

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A gig last night at Fez; just me, accompanied by Shahzad on guitar. He was fabulous. What a genius this guy is. He sounds like Bob Quine, Marc Ribot, and Jerry Garcia mashed up together.


Actually, no; he sounds just like Shahzad. He sounds like himself on any instrument (he was my drummer on the June tour; he’s generally a bass player). That’s the mark of a man with a true style, a real musical voice. I’m lucky to be able to share a stage with him, and just to enjoy his brilliance.
I made a joke that, being that Shahzad was the drummer on the last tour, and now he’s been bumped up to guitar player, that I was grooming him to be my successor in the Mike Doughty organization. People, meet Shahzad, the new Mike Doughty.
Fez is on Lafayette Street in Manhattan, in the basement of the Time Caf

I Link With Impunity.

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A Cambodian freak-out jam; a Vassar girl rants over noodling–


1) Cambodian chapey singers play this kind of weird, joyous, tumbleforth music, alternating improvised sung-rants with wild playing on a two-stringed, guitar-like instrument, the chapey dang veng. Kong Nai is a badass, a blind man, and can be found on the above link. Scroll down a little and click on either of two tunes by the sunglassed, grinning Khmer hipster.
2) I found this on Friendster. A student at Vassar extemporaneously holding forth on some hilarious shit. Enjoy this tune by Leanne Handelsman.

Abolishing the ‘Ing’ Flick.

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I’m seeing ads for this Affleck/Gandolfini flick, “Surviving Christmas,” and it’s depressing me for two reasons–


First of all, the unstoppable sprawl of the Christmas season, having breached Halloween, is now marching inexorably toward Labor Day. Not that I dislike tiny twinkly lights or tinsel.
Secondly–there is a cancer on the entertainment business. It’s the ING movie. “Saving Silverman.” “Chasing Amy.” “Finding Forrester.” Et al.
For some reason, I find three-word ING movies less objectionable–“Kissing Jessica Stein,” “Breaking the Waves.” Especially if there’s an article in there–the ‘the’ in the latter title–the rhythm, it seems to me, is less generic.
But can we please, as a society, abolish this practice? Fire the marketing departments? Force filmmakers into poetry classes at the Learning Annex?
Among the reasons I’ve neglected to finish my novel, “Ray Slape Is Dead,” is a fear that if I do find a publisher, they’ll force me to call it “Killing Ray Slape.”
(Well, OK, it’s more for the terror of embarking on the task–for a songwriter, used to terse, four-line verses, it’s like scaling Kilimanjaro. As a novelist–I forget who–said in an interview, “It’s like trying to cover the Empire State Building in text.”)
Also–another grammatical note–how do I do italics in HTML? Such poor form, on my part, to put film titles in quotes!! Gentle readers, advice please?

Folksy Japes.

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Kerry by a hair.


W is a formidable opponent, considering how quickly he got his shit together, dropping the hunching and grimacing of his Nixonian performance in the first debate.
The most remarkable thing to me was the last question, the softball about what they’ve learned from the strong women in their life. I hated that the question played so perfectly into Bush’s folksy shtick, and of course he knocked it out of the park with a joke about how his wife told him not to hunch and grimace. Even Kerry laughed.
Then Kerry said: “I think we’ve all traded up with our women.” Beat. “Especially me.” And the whole house laughed at the joke about his zillionaire spouse. Except Bush, who grimaced. Apparently it doesn’t please him that someone else could pop off a down to earth quip.

Baby Star Chicken-Flavored Crispy Noodle Snack.

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Pollster John Zogby, in this week’s New Yorker:


“Before the election in 2000, I called my call center in Utica and said, ‘Put this in the poll: You live in the land of Oz, and the candidates are the Tin Man, who’s all brains and no heart, and the Scarecrow, who’s all heart and no brains. Who would you vote for?’ The next day, I called Utica said, ‘Whaddaya got?’ They said, ‘Well, we’ve got Gore–,’ I said, ‘I don’t care about Gore. What’s Oz?’ It was 46.2 for the Tin Man and 46.2 for the Scarecrow…
“…But I asked this question again two weeks ago and the Tin Man led by ten points.”

Like a Chicken Leg, Writ Large.

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Cambodia’s King Sihanouk has selected his son Prince Sihamoni, who lives in Paris, and has been a choreographer, as his successor. Prince Sihamoni is the only guy I’ve ever heard of that studied cinematography in Pyongyang. Yeah, North Korea. Yeah, cinematography.


(I know this site is your main source for Cambodian news. Don’t front!)
Cambodian strongman (I love that term) Hun Sen, as well as Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who heads the opposition party, are backing the King’s choice.
The NYTimes says of Sihanouk: “Although the country is now run by commoners, the king’s word, founded on a centuries-old royal line and strengthened by his personal charisma, remains almost impossible to defy.”
The Times also describes Sihamoni’s mom, Queen Monineath, as “The king’s current wife.” CATTY. (Sihanouk is renowned as a player.)
The coronation’s not going to be soon. I want to go over to Phnom Penh and write about it when it goes down. Any editors out there that want to buy me a plane ticket?

Matutinal.

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Now having this camera I’m obsessively taking self-portraits and pictures of buildings.


I’m consumed with the water tower across the avenue from my apartment, and the CHEF building on the Bowery. And clavicles.
Songwriting for me is often writing a couple words or a phrase down every now and again, and plugging them into songs at some point later; so my creative day often amounts to lengthy dream-journalling in the morning, keeping myself occupied artistically with photography or lunch, and just waiting for the good shit so I can jot it down in the little notebook.

Emo Game.

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My dear McGonigal, on dating in Seattle:
“Girls are really psyched if you ask them out, because the guys are too lame to ask them out. The guys have no game. Well, some of them do, but the only kind of game they have is….EMO GAME.”

KING SIHANOUK OF CAMBODIA ABDICATES!

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Oh man! Colossal news for Cambodiaphiles like myself!


“Tired, frustrated and sick, King Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia said yesterday that he would give up the throne he has held, off and on, for more than half a century, throwing his nation into confusion and doubt.
“…King Sihanouk, 81, has repeatedly expressed anguish over the poverty and political turmoil that continue to torment what he recently called his ‘Kafkaesque kingdom.’
“…The king has indicated a preference for Prince Norodom Sihamoni, 51, a dancer and diplomat who lives in Paris. The prince is one of the king’s two children by Queen Norodom Monineath, his fifth wife.
“…’I express my gratitude to the people who would like to allow me, in waiting for my death, a tranquil life, in serenity, which I have not had since 1940,’ he wrote.”
The NYTimes says there’s a personal message from the King on his website, Norodom Sihanouk dot info. My second-favorite thing about Sihanouk (after his saxophone playing) is that he actually maintains a website.
Good Lord, I want to get over there and write about this…huge changes…Cambodia is so delicate…I’m frightened and thrilled…