2003 Stands

The year ends with a repeat entry, two albums that have paved their music into my head. Though these albums were not released in 2003, they were for me, sadly. And here they stand as inspiration for a new year, a new realm of the possible, a new space of the marvelous in its infinite beauty:
Elliott Smith, Either/Or
Elliott Smith, Figure 8.

Best Albums of 2003, Part I

It’s time that I compiled, today and tomorrow, the best records of 2003, with handy-dandy links attached to each one. I listed to a lot of music this year, in part thanks to iTunes. I’m very aware that my taste in music has been super-conditioned by popular alternative opinion, but so be it — I stand 100% behind these recommendations.
The following is in no particular order because music, to me, doesn’t fit nicely in groups. Here is Part 1 of 2, however:
Lucinda Williams, World Without Tears
Soulful conjunctions of beautiful singing in various country-like styles
Coldplay, A Rush of Blood to the Head
Smartly written melodies
Be Good Tanyas, Chinatown
Beautiful Canadian soulful, southern music
The Strokes, Room on Fire
Overplayed but not overestimated, these young men are truly talented musicians
Lost in Translation, Kevin Shields and others
Beautiful, nonstop music lead by one of hte most important musicians of the 1990s
New Pornographers, Electric Version
Sweet harmonies that takes a long time to truly enjoy
The White Stripes, Elephant
Too smart, too cool, and too good not to play over and over again
Doves, The Last Broadcast
A surprising and ethereal album, with catchy strumming and fine lyrics
Interpol, Turn On the Bright Lights
A new old-time favorite, they sound better every time I hear them
The Shins, Chutes Too Narrow
Not unlike the other new “The” bands like The Vines, but better
Belle and Sebastian, Dear Catastrophe Waitress
Hated the first listen, swooned during the second, laughed during the third
Stephen Malkmus, Pig Lib
Well-written redux solo act by Pavement funnyman and great song-writer

Hand Hurts

It’s not what you think. I’ve been writing out by hand the addresses of all my clients, colleagues, friends, vendors, and other buddies on envelopes. I’m sending out a few hundred MANOVERBOARD 2004 Calendars (as I do every year now) and I should have produced a nice database for the project instead of tying my hand up in knots.
Alas, if you’d like to receive one of these beautiful calendars, please email me with your address and how many you’d like (under 3 per customer please) and I’ll send it out to you pronto.
Some observations:
1. People do not include their snail mail addresses on their website if they are sole proprietors. MANOVERBOARD doesn’t either, at least right now.
2. What does one call “snail mail addresses” without calling it that? What were they called before email?
3. I know that typing has played a “hand” in my hand hurting from writing.
4. Printed calendars are still very cool. If you’d like to send me yours, please use the above link. Thank you.


For about ten years now, I’ve thought that the best palliative to complex, inundating, and over-the-top commercial culture are acts of pleasure, large and small. Whether it’s sex, reading, conversation, or smelling a furry rabbit tail, whatever pleasure one takes in life is also inherently subversive, outre, and difficult for the larger culture to reclaim.
I’m no longer so sure about this, as it seems that most of the pleasure undertaken in the U.S. is now pretty commercialized to begin with. Our voyeurism has turned inward and it’s not clear where one person’s pleasure sales are another person’s wails. True rest is still very transcendent and transgressive. In this month’s issue of Utnet, Rabbi Arthur Waskow writes the cover piece called Reclaiming Our Day of Rest. It’s possible that doing nothing — and I mean nothing — can put one on the true path outside of commercial existence. “Nothing” can’t be bought, it can’t be packaged, and it can’t be managed. “Nothing” lives by itself, it requires no feeding or grooming, and it costs nada. And, at least for some, it can be the ultimate pleasure.


It’s the middle of Chanukkah, almost Christmas, and a few days to the New Year. What else to do but celebrate with some links:
The “new” new Zeldman, which I think is kind of disjointed, disfigured even. I don’t know why the tabs exist on the page, why a robotic asian woman is featured on the right side of the page, and I don’t know why there are about 8 different typefaces and type treatments throughout the site.
A blog that I’ve found to be good reading on Canadian real and Web life, which features poor design but great content.
Method’s web site, while no longer cool in its non-graphical graphical interface and stripped-down text-based logic, is still in black and white. When Method first did this a few years ago, I was taken aback. Now, it just seems funny and maybe interesting.
A list of RSS readers, which I may or may not have posted before.
My friend Victoria’s new company called Sweet Yaya that sells luscious-looking sweet things.

Saddam's Capture

I’m not sure of the total veracity of this Sunday Mail report on Mossad’s total involvment in capturing Mr. Hussein but the questions asked about Saddam’s capture one week ago are profound. These are things I’ve been asking myself, small twitches of wonder going off in the back of my head, but I’m glad that here they are in one, detailed list:
• WHO were the two unidentified men armed with AK-47 rifles who stood guard over the hole? Were they there to protect Saddam or kill him if he tried to escape?
• WHY did Saddam not use his pistol to commit suicide—and become the martyr he had long boasted he would be?
• WAS it cowardice that stopped him—or was he expecting to make a deal? To not only reveal the truth about weapons of mass destruction, but also about his deal with Russia and China, whose secret support had encouraged him to continue to confront the US.
• THE hole he hid in had only one opening. It was blocked. He could not have escaped. So was it in effect a prison? Was he being held there as part of a trade-off?
• WHAT was the $US750,000 (about $A1 million) found on him for?
• WHY did he have no communications equipment? Not even a mobile phone was on him.

Better and Brown

I’m amazed that the more I listen to Elliot Smith’s albums such as Either/Or, the more I’m astounded at his range of talents, depth of feeling, and melodic smarts. I can’t get enough of the piercing truths popping out of that guitars of his.
His songs are colored in ranges of brown — goldwatch-brown, sunset-brown, tobacco-brown, bloodstained-brown, shit-brown, oldwoodencoin-brown, sweetdirtsmell-brown.
I’m a bit ashamed that I had many of his albums in my collection for a long time, that I wasn’t impressed, and that, only after he died, did I become a massive fan.


FirstGov.gov was re-launched recently and I have much interest in it.
First, it seems to attempt to take the place of the for-profit portal featured in that all-too famous documentary a few years ago. Second, the re-design itself is boring, insulting, even tortuous — it looks like it was designed by eight different government committees sitting behind locked doors who could only communicate via keyholes. I wonder, even, if there was a designer in-house to build this monster.
Third, the site, as a friend noted, is not 508 compliant so it doesn’t adhere to the accessibility standards that the U.S. Government has set for itself. And lastly, sites like NYC.gov, which I had the pleasure of loosely working on a few years ago, have become models for online government communications.
Postscript: I do think the FirstGov portal is a good idea. I just wish the site looked and acted smarter.