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May 2005 Archives

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As this fellow will no doubt assure you, the only person more smug than a Rock Snob is a Comix Snob. We’ve now combined the two disciplines to create a new section, Snob Comix!, where, every once in a while, we’ll be enlisting the services of America’s finest cartoonists and illustrators to... do Rock Snob shtick.

We are honored to have Mad magazine’s legendary Al Jaffee* as our inaugural Snob Comix! contributor. Al does a bit called “Snobby Answers to Loser Questions!” For disclaimerish reasons, we’ll tell you that neither this site nor these particular drawings of Al’s have anything to do with Mad, though one of us did go to Mad’s office once at 485 MADison Avenue and got to meet the legendary publisher William Gaines.

* Yes, Al Jaffee really has done these drawings. Just to clear up some confusion: The “Illustrations by Ross MacDonald” credit that appears in tiny type at the bottom of each page of this site applies to the “banner” drawings up at the very top, the opening-page illo, and the little spot drawings in our excerpts section.

May 26, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »


Don’t ask us why, but, the stylish Webzine for connoisseurs of “intelligent smut,” sought us out for an interview. We drew the line at posing for one of their portfolios, though–that wearing-nothing-but-a-Telecaster thing has been done to death by Liz Phair. Anyway, you can read writer Margaret Wappler’s generous assessment of the book and her Q&A with the authors here. One P.S.: It might have been a case of mis-speaking, but in the bit near the end of the interview where one of us says that David Crosby is often blamed for the breakup of Crosby, Stills & Nash, it should say (as any Rock Snob will know) that Crosby is often blamed for the breakup of the Buffalo Springfield.*

May we add, while we’re on the topic of smut, that we’re utterly befuddled by Amazon’s suggestion, in their listing of our book, that people purchase The Rock Snob*s Dictionary in tandem with Legs McNeil’s The Other Hollywood: The Uncensored Oral History of the Porn Film Industry?

* This mistake has since been corrected. Though some wanker wrote in to us to say, “Calling them ‘the Buffalo Springfield’ is like calling Eurythmics ‘the Eurythmics.’”

May 23, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »


We are pleased to announce that The Rock Snob*s Dictionary is now available not only wherever silly books are sold, but at the Paul Smith shop on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, at 16th Street. Mr. Smith, a thin, devilishly handsome fellow from Nottingham, England, looks every bit the rock personage himself, and has attracted all manner of musicians, Snobs, and combinations thereof to his clothing shops around the world. (Charlie Watts once told one of us that he buys his Paul Smith wares exclusively in Smith’s Tokyo shop because the sizes fit him better.) In the New York shop alone, whilst trying on skinny mod trousers, we’ve encountered the likes of Sean Lennon, Lenny Kravitz, Chris Martin, and, best of all, Nigel Mogg. Nigel is, as all you Rock Snobs know, not only the nephew of Phil Mogg, lead singer of the British “space metal” standard-bearers UFO, but the former bassist of Nancy Boy, the short-lived ’90s neo-glam band that was fronted by Donovan Leitch the Younger. Ever the fashionista, Nigel is now selling his own collection of “kick ass denim and rock-n-roll cashmere” (his words) via the Mogg Jeans brand.

May 20, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »


The wholly unanticipated lovefest with the press and blogosphere continues, with the book getting appreciative write-ups from the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Long Island’s Newsday (linked through one of its affiliates because it has a more readable page), the New York Post, the very clever Free Williamsburg site (“Finally, a book has come along that can help explain some of those Chuck Eddy reviews we read in the Voice”), and even, so help us, the Jobriath Fan Collective!

Oh, all right, we’ll also include this humorless, grumpy evaluation from for balance. This is more of the kind of review we expected to get.

May 20, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »


This morning, the Rock Snob brain trust appeared on San Francisco’s beloved KFOG Morning Show to perform our now finely honed promotional shtick. Except KFOG’s Dave Morey & co. are several cuts above the usual basso drive-time primates, and had genuinely smart questions. Including, what is the actual name of the swirly-shaped piece of plastic that is snapped into a 45 rpm record so that it can be played on a turntable? (In the book, we use a representation of this thingy to signify a Rock Snob Vanguard item, denoting “an entry subject who is held in especially sacred regard by Rock Snobs.”)

David suggested that this is simply called a “45 insert.” A listener called in and claimed the thingy is called a “spindle adapter.” Then Steven, in a characteristic moment of Glaswegian pluck, decided that, absent any concise term, the thingy should henceforth be called a “Greil.” We checked with Greil Marcus about this, who said “There IS a name for that thing, but damned if I can remember what it is.” Hours later, Greil amended his statement to say, “I think I used to call them plugs. Or, more likely, ‘those things for 45s.’”

Absent any further argument, those 45 inserts are, from this day forward, known as Greils.

May 19, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »


What with the unprecedented cancellation of a Law & Order program looming (the melanin-deficient L&O: Trial by Jury; what, no room for appearances by Ice-T or S. Epatha Merkerson?), we figure this to be a prime moment to offer L&O overlord Dick Wolf a Rock Snob plot twist, gratis.

If you watch the Law & Order shows, you know that the detectives are always able to scare up clues about potential perps by pulling their “financials” (bank statements, ATM and credit-card transactions) and their “LUDs” (“local-usage details” of telephone calls). Well, it goes without saying that Apple keeps records of all purchases made at its iTunes Music Store. So, instead of dumping a suspect’s financials and LUDs, why not dump his iTunes library? The crucial moment of discovery might go like this:

GREEN: When the vic made her call to 9-1-1, the Erma Franklin version of “Piece of My Heart” was playing in the background. Followed by “Popsicles and Icicles” by the Murmaids. Then the line went dead.

FONTANA: Who the hell is Erma Franklin? I thought Big Brother & the Holding Company did that song.

VAN BUREN: Erma? Only the prodigiously talented sister of Aretha, Queen of Soul! And brush up on your history, detective: Erma did “Piece of My Heart” first.

GREEN: Right! And it gets better: We dumped the iTunes records of everyone who purchased both “Piece of My Heart” and “Popsicles and Icicles” in the tri-state area in the last two years. We only got four hits, two of them on the Upper West Side. And get this: Missing Persons just got a call from WFMU–one of their deejays, who lives on West 83rd Street, hasn’t shown up for work today.

FONTANA: Missing Persons! Now there was a hot group! Dale Bozzio was one gorgeous broad!

May 16, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »


Proving that Rock Snobbery knows no demographic limitations, we’ve been tipped this week by two distinctly different Web sites. Insound, the online music store whose lower-case credo is “indie emo garage punk noise electronic + essentials,” has trumpeted The Rock Snob*s Dictionary in its new newsletter, also running David and Steven’s Honest and Snob lists of Desert Island Discs.

Meanwhile, Alloy, a Web site for teen girls, has included The Rock Snob*s Dictionary on its “It List” of rilly, rilly cool stuff. Evidently, we’re right up there with Orlando Bloom and ThermaSilk hair products. “So turn your nose up and turn the page, rocker girl!” writes Alloy’s correspondent “Rebecca.” Thanks, ’Becca. To paraphrase Morrissey, you’ve made two happy men very old.

May 13, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »


The aforementioned Joe Clark alerts us to the fact that Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that isn’t acceptable as a research source to magazine fact-checking departments, has a rather droll entry about the “Heavy metal umlaut.”

Notes Joe, “Look what happens when we apply it to an unrockist rock band: Cöldpläÿ.”

Very clever. But somehow, it still doesn’t work for Bëlle & Sebästian.

May 11, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »


From a review of a Jimmy Webb album in the current (June) issue of Uncut:

“There are also flashes of LA light reminiscent of Steely Dan if you persevere with this weighty but ultimately rewarding disc.”

From The Rock Snob*s Dictionary, page 102:

Rewards repeated listens. Euphemistic phrase employed by rock critics to confer value upon a dubious musical work that, given the reputations involved, has to be better than it sounds.

And speaking of “flashes of light,” our tightly wound but highly entertaining blogging acquaintance Joe Clark, who works by day as a journalist and “accessibility consultant,” alerts us to a kerfuffle in Private Eye magazine over the (mis)use of the Rock Snob-standby word coruscating.

May 10, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »


As promised, we're posting some of the responses we got from readers who indulged in our exercise of making two Desert Island Disc lists--the first list being the albums that you'd honestly take to that desert island for your listening enjoyment, the second list being the albums that you'd claim to be taking to impress other Rock Snobs. This week's lucky listees are Michael Gaucher of Baltimore, Maryland, Mendy Gladden of Williamsburg, Virginia, and Thomas Carpenter of Ridgefield, Connecticut. Hugs and tinnitus to all of you! (More readers' lists to be posted next week.)

Hard Again, Muddy Waters
Legalize It, Peter Tosh
Waylon Live, Waylon Jennings
Chocolate and Cheese, Ween
Hooker n' Heat, John Lee Hooker
The Roxy, 1978, Bruce Springsteen (snobby, but only within Springsteen circles)
Capitol Collector's Series, Louis Prima
American Recordings, Johnny Cash
Songs for Swingin' Lovers, Frank Sinatra
Murder Ballads, Nick Cave

Shakin' the Rafters, Alex Bradford and The Abyssinian Baptist Gospel Choir
Buena Vista Social Club
Anthology of American Folk Music
The Blue Mask, Lou Reed
Tweez, Slint
Tago Mago, Can
Histoire de Melody Nelson, Serge Gainsbourg
The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, the Kinks
Canticles of Ecstasy, Hildegard von Bingen
The Boatman's Call, Nick Cave

Let It Be, the Replacements
Murmur, R.E.M.
Doolittle, Pixies
Marquee Moon, Television
Oh Inverted World, the Shins
Girls Can Tell, Spoon
Feast of Wire, Calexico
Make Out, the Rosebuds
Goo, Sonic Youth
Cypress, Let’s Active

Crazy Rhythms, the Feelies (white vinyl edition)
Sleeps with the Fishes, Pieter Nooten and Michael Brook
The Whitey Album, Ciccone Youth
LCD Soundsystem, LCD Soundsystem
Space is the Place, Sun Ra
Mwng, Super Furry Animals
Fleetwood Mac in Chicago, Fleetwood Mac
Kick Out the Jams, the MC5
Metal Box, PiL
Halber Mensch, Einstürzende Neubauten

Blood On the Tracks, Bob Dylan
Gorillaz, Gorillaz
Do You Want More?!!!??!, the Roots
A Grand Don't Come For Free, the Streets
Automatic for the People, R.E.M.
London Calling, the Clash
Rushmore, original soundtrack
Nimrod, Green Day
Repo Man, original soundtrack
Power In Numbers, Jurassic 5

Guided By Voices, Mag Earwhig!
Return of The Super Ape, Lee "Scratch" Perry & the Upsetters
Raw Power, Iggy and the Stooges
Another Green World, Brian Eno
Clouds Taste Metallic, the Flaming Lips
Kick Out The Jams, the MC5
Great White Wonder, Bob Dylan (bootleg)
The Specials, the Specials
The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, Pink Floyd
Bryter Layter, Nick Drake

May 08, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »


The Johnny Marr-garitas and Slint Juleps poured freely at Vanity Fair's launch party for The Rock Snob*s Dictionary at Andre Balazs's groovy new Hotel QT on Wednesday, and we thank the magazine for its support. We also thank those of you who squeezed into Jack's Stir Brew Coffee for our reading on Thursday evening, and our accompanist Lucas Papaelias for his expert guitar-picking and adept mimickry of everyone from Tom Verlaine to Nick Drake to Chic. Someone give this young man a recording contract!

As The Rock Snob*s Dictionary goes back to press for its second printing, we offer our gratitude to Eno, god of ambience, and Bez, god of good vibes, for the good fortune we've enjoyed. Keep an eye out for news of further readings and events.

May 06, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »


For those of you in the New York area: On Thursday, May 5, at 8 p.m., the authors of The Rock Snob*s Dictionary will stage a live reading at Jack's Stir Brew Coffee on West 10th Street, celebrated by New York magazine for having the best cup of coffee in New York City. Jack's is in the West Village, on W. 10th Street between Greenwich Avenue and Waverly Place.

David and Steven will read with authentic Rock Snob musical accompaniment by guitarist and School of Rock actor Lucas Papaelias, and an author signing will follow. That's author signing, and not, thank heavens, authors singing. Toby Cox of Three Lives & Company, the wonderful bookstore down the block, will be on hand to sell books to be signed.

We might add that Jack's is a tiny place, which not only precludes our original plans to have a laser show, a bubble machine, and undulating dolly birds on pedestals, but means that Jack can't fit a whole lot of people in. So get there early, or work out a system among your Snob friends to trade spots so that some of you can be there for "acetate" [p. 1] to "Mayall, John" [p. 70], and some of you can be around for "MC5, the" [p. 70] to "Zoso" [p. 149]. It's supposed to be a lovely evening, weather-wise, so we hope you make it.

May 04, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »


As promised, the two members of the Rock Snob brain trust herewith confess some of their Guilty Pleasures, the revelation of which will prevent us from ever being invited into some Eno- and Beefheart-favoring households again. Do you have Guilty Pleasures that you're willing to admit to, even at the risk of public Snob humiliation? If so, write to us care of, and we'll publish the most egregious admissions. (Also, to all of you who have sent in Desert Island Disc lists, the best of your lists will be posted this weekend.)

Without further Hüsker a-Dü, here are our first stabs at Guilty Pleasures lists, with--ulp!--more to come.


"I Want to Know What Love Is," Foreigner
Pure musical morphine; almost absolves these airbrushed dinosaurs from all the FM Hell they created.

"How Did You Get Here," Deborah Cox
Personally, I have never done karaoke, but if I did, this lachrymose house-music showtune would definitely be My Song. Who you lookin' at, bitch--you don't know me!

"Beautiful," Christina Aguilera
For when Steve is feeling a little :(

"Accidents Will Happen," Elvis Costello
Costello is the ultimate self-conscious, try-hard Rock Snob artist-lecturer. But he does occasionally write a good tune.

"You Make Me So Very Happy," Blood, Sweat and Tears
The very dregs of late-sixties counterculture; deracinated corporate soul for blokes who bought their hi-fis from Playboy ads. But try dancing to this song barefoot on a shag carpet, and you will believe.


"Free Me," Emma Bunton
The only ex-Spice Girl solo record I've ever heard. As stated in a previous post, Elvis Costello would justify such a pick by saying it "evokes John Barry's arrangements for Shirley Bassey" or somesuch. I just like the tune and her vocals.

"Breathe Your Name," Sixpence None the Richer
We refer to this group in the book as a bunch of "anemic Christian alt-poppers," but this song has a lovely, levitational quality; the kind of song a teen moppet like Hilary Duff should do.

"Harry Truman," Chicago
Toe-tapping and, dare I say, topical song by AM-radio stalwarts Chicago, plus it's sung by pianist Robert Lamm, so there's no grating Peter Cetera vocal to endure. Oh, hang it all, I like the Peter Cetera songs, too!

"I'm Telling You Now," Freddie and the Dreamers
Loathed by sixties-pop purists as a cheesy, cabaret-style Brit Invasion coattail rider, bespectacled Freddie Garrity was actually a better showman and singer than anyone in pop today.

"Big Bang Baby," Stone Temple Pilots
Doomed grunge bandwagoneers make an eleventh-hour attempt to be funny. The critics and faithful hated it; me, I thought it was catchy.

May 03, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »


Whilst out motoring this weekend past, one of us heard a song on the radio that was unusually pleasing to the ear. At the song's conclusion, the deejay came on to announce the title and artist: "Free Me," by... Emma Bunton, the erstwhile Baby Spice. The horror, the shame, the... GUILTY PLEASURE!

So it occurs to us now that, in addition to offering up our lists of for-real Desert Island Discs and Snob-cred Desert Island Discs, we should offer up our lists of guilty pleasures, the sorts of musical treats that will destroy our Rock Snob credibility altogether. Look for these in a future posting, and feel free to send in your own thoughts. Meanwhile, content yourself with this import-only Guilty Pleasures compilation.

Re: Emma Bunton--if we were Elvis Costello, we'd feel compelled to justify our adoration of her song by placing it in some historical Snob context, saying it evokes the sultry sass of late-sixties Lulu, or musing on how the arrangement evokes John Barry's work for Shirley Bassey, or, better yet, Tony Hatch's for Petula Clark. But we're just going to say we like the song. As participants in Bard College's experimental Rock Snob Recovery Program--which calls for a 14-day moratorium on reading Mojo and listening to anything reissued by Sundazed--we feel comfortable enough about ourselves to come clean about this.

May 02, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »

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