16 September 2008

RIP Richard Wright

Richard Wright, keyboardist of Pink Floyd, died yesterday at the age of 65.

In his band, Richard Wright's contributions fell by the wayside. Roger Waters became the visionary and an accomplished lyricist, but my favorite Floyd songs came from the early era, after Syd Barrett was gone and up to Dark Side of the Moon. Gilmour contributed a lot, but Richard Wright was huge in this era.

I'm a little hazy on everything Rick contributed to the band, but one of his sublime moments as a songwriter was "Summer '68" from Atom Heart Mother. This album has to be the weirdest album to ever go #1 in England. It leads off with the 24 minute instrumental track, followed by an alarmingly introspective "If" by Roger Waters, followed by Summer '68. Then there's a throwaway Gilmour track, and then "Alan's English Breakfast", which is a marathon-paced track of found sound recording of deep frying bangers and eggs and Legos while on shrooms. Like if Ingmar Bergman directed a Monty Python sketch. #1 in England.

Like every high school denizen, I consumed Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here and The Wall in high school. I used to sneak cigarettes from my sister and stand out on my driveway, listening to Dark Side of the Moon, staring at the moon and weighing life. This is where bad high school poetry comes from.

When I discovered in college that Pink Floyd had made approximately seven albums before Dark Side of the Moon, I came home for the summer, stalked my local library, who had built up a burgeoning collection of 250-300 classical CDs and approximately 40 pop & rock. And yet they had the entire Pink Floyd catalog. So I requested them all. That summer, as I drove to and from work, I religiously checked my mailbox for the request cards from the library. It was my lottery. They all came through, and to this day, remain the largest fan I've ever met of the 'unsung' Pink Floyd catalog -- from the point Syd Barrett left up till the point of Dark Side.

'Summer of '68' was in there. Amidst all the Roger Waters megalomania and the psychedelia was this beautiful pop song that invoked the same England that (as I'd eventually learn) Ray Davies beautified.

Sonicly, Summer '68 was probably my first favorite song to turn up on the home system - the first song that could never be loud enough. It has incredible dynamics - the same shit I fell in love with all over again with the Pixies and Nirvana in the early '90s.

To this day, I still adore this song. Linked below. Rest in peace, Richard.

Summer '68

05 September 2008

McCarren Pool

I finally made it to McCarren Pool to see a show. My timing was impeccable, because Sonic Youth was playing the last ever show at the Williamsburg pool, as it's reverting to a public pool. This pleases me to no end. There are a lot of beautiful people clogging up that neighborhood, and they're pale as hell. I, for one, want to watch them burn. I will dress in black scuba gear and line my pockets with Baby Ruth bars, and go Caddyshack on their ass.

I hate outdoor shows. The bands I champion sound better with sound waves bouncing off ceilings and fat fanboys in backpacks. But I'd never seen Sonic Youth live before, and there was a hefty ticket price, so I figured the chaff would wait this one out.

First observation: Thurston Moore has sold his soul to the devil. He's older than Dave Murrow, but nary a wrinkle or gray hair. And really, how else can you explain a difficult band like Sonic Youth thriving under a shareheld record-exec canopy?

Thurston: I want to be famous and young forever.
Devil: Alright.
Thurston: And I want our bass player. Mercy, Mrs. Jesus! There's a teenage riot in my pants.
Devil: Oooooo. Gross.
Thurston: I look like Beck.
Devil: Fair point.

Thurston takes over a crowd. He's a great stage presence, an amazing songwriter, and a sick guitarist, as is Lee Renaldo. The two of them cut a rug.

But Sonic Youth falls into that Bob Dylan/Bruce Springsteen category for me. I want to love them and their music more than I actually do. On record, Sonic Youth is extremely viable -- the songs that Thurston and Lee write are all noteworthy. Live, they fall flat. Don't get me wrong. I love playing the bass, and if I looked as nice in a skirt as Kim Gordon, I'd probably draft Thurston & Lee. Fortunately, I don't.

28 August 2008


The days of true punk rock as we grew up to love it are over. 3 of the Ramones are dead. Joe Strummer is dead. The punk rockers from that era either got jobs or dress funny and hang out outside McDonalds.

So how much room is there for punk rock? In 2008? A little skeptical as I read this headline:

This Cuban punk rocker got thrown in jail.

Ok, a Cuban in jail. Of course, it happens all the time. They paddle to Miami with those delicious sandwiches, and we can't help but arrest them. But this is a little different. As the BBC News reports, one of the charges against him is "dangerousness". Dangerousness!

Let's forget for a second that being accused of "danger" would be a lot funnier and a lot more grammatically correct. Can you imagine being in a prison, rotting away, with a charge of 'dangerousness' against you? You'd feel ten feet tall, mostly because all of the dicks what got stuck in you.

Perp1 (you): What you in for?
Perp2: Murder 1. You?
Perp1: Dangerousness.
Perp3: Pretty mouth!

etc, etc.

I haven't heard the music, but it must take tostones to roast the government in Cuba. But I don't fuckin' buy it -- the guy's band is called "Porno Para Ricardo", which translates word for word to 'Sex For Richard'. And what kind of a fuckin band name is that? Would you go see a band called 'Sex For Richard'? The singer isn't even named Ricardo. He's named Gorki. So who the fuck is Richard?

I guess my point is, Punk rock is dead. And it's still better to go to jail in the U.S. than Cuba.

14 August 2008


I finally got around to seeing loudQUIETloud, a recent documentary about the Pixies. I had a chance to see it in the theater when, a couple of years ago Lincoln Center ran an excellent series of music-themed documentaries (I caught 'Does Everyone Stare' at the same series, which I wrote about here.)

It's one of the saddest musical documentaries I've ever seen. Maybe I'm ratcheting it up because the Pixies are so dear to me, but it almost hurts to watch. The filmmakers follow the Pixies as they re-form and cash in on their cult status from the late '80s/early '90s, when they put out a catalog of near-perfection. Never have I heard a band craft albums as effortlessly as the Pixies, one after the other.

The thing I found so sad about the movie was how mundane it is to be a Pixie. There are no rock 'n' roll trappings to be found. All they had to do was re-learn their amazing songs and show up. No booze, as required by Kim; no drugs outside of David Lovering's Valium addiction, which should make the Top 10 list of cheesiest addictions, a list that Lester Bangs would no doubt top with his cough syrup.

There was a nervousness that was expected, but no real excitement. And what hangs over the band and is never ever discussed at any length is the tension that tore them apart. It feels so alien -- not forced, but...well, numb. Charles approaches his job with the enthusiasm of a government worker. Android/guitarist Joey Santiago, the sanest guy in the band, seems more concerned about scoring a film. Drummer David Lovering is a nerdy 12 year-old in a nerdy 40-year old body who can't relate to anyone. Kim Deal, on the other hand, has always been extremely visceral, and has such a magnetic personality. But she brings her twin sister Kelley along with her for support and looks very shaky.

In the end, everything works out -- the tour is a huge success, and they keep playing. The live performances are kinda listless, but honestly, the Pixies were always distant on stage. But I was confused and a little saddened by the fact that it didn't mean 1/1000th as much to them as it did to me and droves of other fans.


I'm getting a slight taste of what the Pixies' members mindsets may have been, albeit on a much smaller scale. Monday night, Microdot is playing its first show with Rob in, I'm guessing here, 3 1/2 years. We have our good friend George to thank--if not for his annual Via Skyway blowout, who knows if we'd ever play together at all.

So when Dave pointed out that before next Monday's show that, hell, we'd all be in the same room together and could play a set, it made sense. They're good songs, if I may say so.

Here's the beauty of playing with the best guitarist I know and the best drummer I know. Dave and I pooled our mp3s and listened to recordings/demos, and picked a batch of songs. We got together and ran through them, whittling down the list a bit.

Two weeks later, we spent an hour with Rob before a Via Skyway rehearsal and ran through them. The set includes 3-4 songs he's never heard before, but that doesn't matter. Rob processes shit quick. I bet a lot of people cheated off him in high school.

And now, four days before the show, I'm calm. There's no real significance to this show. Dave, Rob and I are friends, see each other occasionally, and are going to play some of our very best songs. After Monday, we may do it again, we may not. Nothing to worry about.

I usually get anxious & a little stagefright before I take the stage. I don't think it's going to happen this time. We're going to play most of the songs really well, and the ones we don't...well, you may not even notice if you're there. I'm pretty confident most people will enjoy a bunch of the songs, and I'm very confident that Dave, Rob and me will.

And that's it. I've got that inner quiet.

19 July 2008


UPDATE: Myspace link fixed.

So my brother, who is arguably the finest human being on earth after my mother, just left town with his new band, Skybox. (Dad, you're in the top 10. Gandhi is #15, so you should still be flattered.) Skybox is a young indie rock band, and the songs on their myspace page suggested some interesting and solid music, but not earth-shattering.

My brother rolled in at 2am on Thursday with their drummer, Mike, who is a stand-up guy, and as it turns out, a kick-ass drummer. Later that day, I met their bandmates, who were also great guys. Christian, the guitarist/keyboardist, is a live wire. Imagine Matthew McConaughey wanting to keep his shirt on at all times, and being an incredible musician.

When they started their Thursday show at Galapagos, I had the joy of watching a band for the first time that I had no knowledge of. I wasn't rooting for them -- I know my brother rocks the bass and is a music pro. I figured he picked a good project, so I sat back and watched them.

By doing so, I was reminded that learning a band by seeing them live in an intimate venue is still the best way to hear new music. Singer/guitarist/principal songwriter Tim sometimes sings in a whimsical falsetto that I've heard in other bands, and tend not to like. But as the first few songs went by, I could tell how much work he'd put into crafting these songs -- there were incredible vocal harmonies, dynamics and song structures.

By song and beer 5, I was ridiculously hooked. This band knew exactly what they were doing, but in the audience, there was no idea what was coming next. I think I missed a couple songs as I was feverishly text-messaging friends to urge them to come out to Friday night's show at the Knitting Factory. But I was absolutely floored.

I've stopped seeing a lot of live bands because in New York, a lot of bands get by with terrific marketing haircuts and fanbases, and more because I'm sick and tired of going to venues where people aren't there to see shows -- they're there to hang, be seen, catch up with friends, sit on the floor, wear enormous backpacks and pretty much do anything but direct their attention to the band onstage.

There's no question I enjoyed Skybox so much because my brother was in the band. But I also got to hang with everyone in the band before they hit the stage. It made a *huge* difference. If I walked into a club and saw Skybox playing, I'd be impressed but reticent, because I'd be detached, and because some of the things they do I've seen other bands do. But getting to meet them before they hit the stage, seeing they were earnest, down-to-earth funny guys telegraphed how much of their stage presence was an act, and how much was their personality. And honestly, it was all personality. For example, Christian was a ham onstage, but he's a ham offstage. He kicks all kinds of ass--maple, strawberry, boysenberry ass. These guys were all legitimately psyched to be playing their songs for people, and got along so well.

Friday night's show at the Knitting Factory was even better than the Thursday night show. Same set, I'm guessing. There was a decent crowd, and pretty much all of them were there to see another band on the 5-band bill. And after they played their first song, I knew they were on. And I had the distinct pleasure of watching a band I now love win over a crowd. It's a truly amazing feeling to watch a band who you know is good play to strangers and convert them. After every song the crowd got more and more excited. After the 3rd song, someone yelled out "You guys are called Skybox?", registering them for the immediate future, where they jumped in a long line at the merch table.

This post is kinda about how good my brother's new band is, but it's really about the excitement I felt going to a live show from a band I didn't know whose performance and energy was so vital, and how meeting them beforehand triggered my excitement for these two shows. When you know the band you're about to see is really talented, loose, and happy to be playing, all is good.

Dan, if you read this, stay in this band. You guys are awesome.

04 July 2008

A Meme

UPDATED (7/07/08): Look at the bottom of this post for a couple downloads.

A new post about a band I love is coming up soon, based on the overwhelming response to the Walt Mink post. In the meantime, I'm curious what the people who stop by here are listening to. If you could oblige, name a few bands you're currently listening to, and a few great songs by each that have inspired said listening. If you got a blog, put 'em there, so maybe your commenters will chime in too. Here's my list:

ROLLING STONES (even before Jackson's post), I've been slowly filling in the gaps of my Stones knowledge. As a Beatles kid, I never really loved the Stones growing up, and predictably found Led Zeppelin more exciting. Which is odd, because the main reason I was never a Stones fan is that I dislike the blues. Actively. Certain singers will hit me right, but blues guitar in particular bores me.

But I liked the Stones enough as a kid to get Hot Rocks on cassette and hear the same songs on the radio. The mistake I made was that I assumed that the Stones' best material was on their greatest hits. I was wrong.

You can spend a year or two with a Rolling Stones album before tackling the next one, like the way they were released. That's kind of the way I've been tackling them - 10 years ago, 'Let It Bleed'. 7 years ago it was 'Satanic Majesties'. 5 years ago, 'Beggars Banquet'. Then 'Aftermath', then 'Exile', then 'Sticky Fingers', then 'Exile' again. There's really no rush. Although if Keith died, I'd probably listen to the entire catalog very very quickly. But he's not going anytime soon, is he?

2000 Man. From Bottle Rocket, and Satanic Majesties. Kinda goofy lyric-wise, but like with many Stones songs, the conviction is in the guitar playing and the drumming. I'm also a huge fan of sticking a song inside another song, like it's a Tauntaun.

Can't You Hear Me Knocking. Mick Jagger is one of the best performers I've ever seen live, and the best frontman by far. With that, and the David Bowie sex, must come a supersized ego. So it amazes me that he fades into the band so well on record, and becomes another instrument, not its figurehead (like on Sympathy, which I like but never need to hear again). That's just one of the amazing things about this song. Another being the 'fuck Carlos Santana, I can do this shit lying down' 2nd half. And then Charlie Watts doesn't know where to end. I love that shit.

Let It Loose. A deep cut on Exile. Just beautiful. This is one of those songs that should be heard, and not talked about.

Dead Flowers. I love songs built around acoustic guitar and drums, I realize. If I had the jaw, I'd suck that shit all day long. This is the happiest jilted lover song ever.

Turd on the Run. It just came up on shuffle. Nice.


As Misanthrope mentioned, I just went to see Polvo, the noisy math-rock geniuses, with Misanthrope and Barack Obama, Misanthrope's fuck-buddy. One of the best 10 shows I've ever been to.

Polvo's music is 'difficult'--imagine if Sonic Youth let Lee Ranaldo write most of their songs--but after meeting (and hugging) the band members I realized it's not some high-minded art thing. This is just how they see and hear the universe around them.

I don't love every song by them, not by a long shot. There's some filler on their records. But as somebody who has a knack for figuring out songs on guitar, the Polvo show was like a magic show. Alternate tunings abide, to be fair, but the guitar interplay in that band humbles me and dazzles me.

About the hugging: along with Misanthrope & Barack, our friend John Thomas was in tow. He went to high school with the guitarist and the bassist, and introduced me to
the band. After the show, when I realized my ass had been music-kickpunched and I loved this band, I used his good name to negotiate hugs from the band. The bassist was the creepiest -- he was 2nd of the 4. I ran into him in the bathroom, there was no one else there. He was finishing up, I was entering. I mentioned I had a bet with my friend John (false) that I couldn't hug every member of Polvo tonight. He obliged my request.

The weird thing is that I was telling him this while I was approaching the urinal, and finished my request as I had started the process. But this man waited for me to finish peeing, wash my hands, dry them, and hug him. He is truly the greatest man working in rock and roll today.


Thermal Treasure. The first song on my favorite album of theirs (Today's Active Lifestyle), and I've heard it 50 times, but it took 49 listens to understand everything happening in it. And it's been stuck in my head for the last three weeks.

Snowstorm in Iowa. Didn't hear it at the show, but it makes me think of John van Atta, and how he should've been at this show.

Fractured (Like Chandeliers). Years ago, the Misanthrope turned me on to Polvo, and this song in particular. I haven't been listening to it lately but it's the best Polvo song ever. When they played it, every mid-30s male in the audience turned into a 13-year old girl.


At the recent Via Skyway show, where I filled in on bass, we covered the early Cure single 'A Forest'. Great song, but it came out of a 3am text-message conversation with George, where I suggested we play 'Push', the guitar-hero song that wraps up Side 1 of 1985's "Head on the Door." I sang the Cure cover.

After the show, the bartender bought me a shot for singing the Cure song, which prompted me to ask him: who's better? The Cure or the Smiths?

(This is a huge sticking point for me. I love the Cure. I allow the Smiths, but I want to put Morrissey's face through a stain-glass window.)

The bartender said 'The Cure'. If only he were a woman! I bought him a shot for answering correctly. He paid for it.

I don't know why people knock The Cure. Robert Smith is one of the best guitarists to ever front a band, and they've evolved the same way that REM or The Stones have. Like with those bands, their last 5 albums couldn't grow grass, but in their heyday they were truly unique.


Push: My favorite Cure song ever. If you haven't heard it, you have no idea how good it is. The most underrated guitar hook of the 1980s.

Six Different Ways: A throwaway pop song on 'Head on the Door'. But it's such a thrill to hear a good band at the height of their powers throw away a song.

10.15 Saturday Night: Back when the Cure were a 3-piece, they made a song that should teach every band about dynamics. My 2nd favorite Cure song ever.

Exploding Boy: A B-side to 'In Between Days'. An incredible, incredible song.



29 June 2008

Corporate Rock *still* sucks

Devo is suing McDonalds over a new Happy Meal Toy, which strongly resembles the outfits Devo wore in their 'Whip It' video.

I have no problem with bands selling their music for use in commercials, especially since advertising executives developed decent musical taste. (The most recent example are ads I've seen during the UEFA Euro Cup featuring music by great Brazilian psych-rock band Os Mutantes.) And maybe I'm foolish but it still amazes me that McDonalds would steal from Devo, of ALL bands, to keep selling their multi-million dollar flavor of diabetes. And attaching American Idol to it is a pretty big slap in the face.

I wonder how much this sort of thing goes on. The only famous example I can remember from my lifetime is when Michael Jackson licensed 'Revolution' to Nike back in the late 1980s. Paul McCartney, a notorious suit in the rock 'n' roll world (let's not forget that he sued the Beatles) was livid, and I'd always assumed that it was McCartney defending Lennon's ideals, but it turns out that it was because he didn't get paid. Read about it in the Straight Dope (God, I miss the Straight Dope.)

But a much better example is that of Tom Waits, who has, among his other accolades, developed a stance against this very practice. From his Wikipedia page:

"Waits has steadfastly refused to allow the use of his songs in commercials and has joked about other artists who do. ("If Michael Jackson wants to work for Pepsi, why doesn't he just get himself a suit and an office in their headquarters and be done with it?") He has filed several lawsuits against advertisers who used his material without permission. He has been quoted as saying, "Apparently, the highest compliment our culture grants artists nowadays is to be in an ad—ideally, naked and purring on the hood of a new car," he said in a statement, referring to the Mercury Cougar. "I have adamantly and repeatedly refused this dubious honor."

Waits' first lawsuit was filed in 1988 against Frito Lay. The United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit affirmed an award of US$2.375-million in his favor (Waits v. Frito Lay, 978 F. 2d 1093 (9th Cir. 1992)).[46] Frito Lay had approached Waits to use one of his songs in an advertisement. Waits declined the offer, and Frito Lay hired a Waits soundalike to sing a jingle similar to Small Change's "Step Right Up," which is, ironically, a song Waits has called "an indictment of advertising." Waits won the lawsuit, becoming one of the first artists to successfully sue a company for using an impersonator without permission."

Good for Tom Waits, and good for Devo. I hope the courts find in Devo's favor.

20 June 2008

New Pornographers

The New Pornographers are probably the best band of this decade, and easily the best Canadian band of all time. (Fuck you Rush, and the unicorn you rode in on. And fuck you, The Band -- when I watched 'The Last Waltz' I fast-forwarded through all the music. Why do you need two drummers to play slow, lame folksy jam-rock beats? You suck.)

Their debut release, 'Mass Romantic', is the happiest record I own. It takes that Carpenters-"I want to kiss children and play Candyland" happy vibe and waits till they turn 18 so they can *really* kiss them. Preferably with their pants off. You know, sex.

It kinda sucks that the New Pornographers are so good at writing songs, because they could easily be the best cover band in the entire world. Witness their note-perfect cover of 'Don't Bring Me Down' by the Electric. Light. ORCHESTRA.

12 June 2008

Also (plug)

Stinkrock is a crazy sports fan. For the same reason I loved seeing Bruce Springsteen take the stage at Tramps with Soul Asylum and forget all the words to 'The Tracks of my Tears', I love the unpredictability of sporting events. So I've started a sports blog with a good friend of mine. If you're a sports fan or a man, come visit I'm Keith Hernandez!

Walt Mink

I was talking to Jackson recently about my increasing boredom with writing about music. Two reasons -- I'm not really seeking out new music, and since I gave up caffeine I lack the resolve to argue that 'Right Down the Line' by Gerry Rafferty is a better-sounding pop song than anything that came out in the last 10 years. Second, I am sick of the New York City music scene. It's turned into a microcosm of the machine I fled from in my teens when I gravitated to punk and alternative music.

When you do a new drug for the first time, it knocks you on your ass. We're all jealous of people who get to experience amazing things for the first time. But there are diminishing returns. I never have to hear another catchy rock song as long as I live. I have Big Star, Guided by Voices, the Posies, Sugar's 'Copper Blue', the Raspberries, everything Grant Hart ever wrote, Pulp, Lou Barlow, "Hybrid Moments" -- the list goes on and on.

The way for me talk about music is to sit down in a room with each of you (all 6 of you), listen to a song or an album side or a band and just talk. In a vacuum, it feels pointless. And here in NYC, since Brownies closed, there's no successful business model for building a live music venue with great sound unless overpriced drinks and overpriced haircut-wearing heroin-thin trendpackers are in attendance.

So if anyone wants to hear me talk about the bands that matter to me, that's all that's going down on this site from now on.


Walt Mink came out of musical mecca Minneapolis at the exact same time that the Smashing Pumpkins were convincing sad goths that overproduced records exalting misery were the great new and true art. Lead singer and guitarist John Kimbrough was cursed because he sounds like a chipmunk on helium when he sings. But he blasted through Orange amps, and is one of the lost great unheralded guitarists of my lifetime.

When I turned 21 I was stuck in St. Louis for my birthday, a city I transplanted to and never really got sold on. I drove down to a tiny club called Cicero's and saw Walt Mink play a fantastic show. Walt Mink was a 3-piece, with the guitar hero Kimbrough, his gorgeous wife on bass, and Joey Waronker on drums, who went on to play on Elliott Smith's 'XO' and tour with REM after Bill Berry faked an aneurysm because he was sick of the Douche Peter Buck.

I don't normally wax about guitarists but Kimbrough was incendiary. Where Billy Corgan decided to be a figurehead and write anthems like 'Cherub Rock' with insipid lyrics, JK focused on the guitar. These two guys were probably the only '90s alterna-rock guys with the chops to salute Hendrix, but you can hear Kimbrough springboard and dive tight. That fuckin Orange amp sounds awesome.

Here are a few Walt Mink songs--one from each of their first three records.

Miss Happiness: boomp3.com

Turn: boomp3.com

Overgrown: boomp3.com

02 June 2008


Happened over to Tony Alva's blog today and saw he enjoyed the hell out a performance by Kansas recently.

People, this is sad. I was given a ticket to see Kansas/Night Ranger in high school, and I went because they were 4th row seats. Night Ranger was a lot of fun, and apparently I was the only one who knew 'Don't Tell Me You Love Me' was their only serviceable song. At that point, it was probably my favorite song, I'm a starfucker, whatever. Bassist/singer Jack Blades attempted to throw me 3 or 4 picks but they all landed in the lap of some country club lackey in the 2nd row, who thought he was the hottest shit for getting all these picks. I realized that Night Ranger sucked because they couldn't flick picks worth a damn. Wait, I have a story.

I went to see Van Hagar in 1987 on the OU812 tour and scored 2nd row tickets...wait, I have a story.

There was this guy in high school named David Brown. He was the kind of guy that made you feel like he had already come up with an alias-y name like David Brown. Anyway, he had no friends and was super smart, and lived behind the restaurant I used to work for. And he was a ticket scalper. Or not quite--he was a middleman, between the scalper and the kids I went to school with. Occasionally, we'd cut class and for the rich sum of $20 (gold in those days) we'd cut class and head to ticket sales with him. At that point St. Louis venues would give out circus supply tickets as line numbers, then you were supposed to show up at the venue at 10 or 11am on a weekday with your line numbers. They'd flash the last two digits of line numbers up on the board, and the unemployed trailer set would send their better half scurrying towards the ticket windows. Our David Brown opened up a cd booklet full of duplicate tickets, ob/com'ly sorted in numerical fashion and clipped together. He pulled the ticket with the corresponding numbers, handed it off to one of us with a clip of cash and yelled, 'Go! Go! Go! Go!' like we were heading into war.

Along with the $20, David would get us great seats for various shows. I saw the Who reunion tour in '89 at Busch Stadium - I had seventeenth row. It was amazing. I also had 2nd row seats for Van Halen in '88. And during Eddie's I can do this when I'm drunk Eruption/Mean Streets/Cathedral/Eruption solo, he started throwing out picks. He whizzed one right in my direction from about 25 feet away. I was stone cold sober, but I couldn't get my hands up in time. But I swear to God, that pick whizzed *right* by my ear, so close that I could feel the displaced air on my earlobe. That's how you know Eddie Van Halen is a great guitarist--he flicks picks better than any of them.

At that show, I did get a pick from Sammy Hagar, who couldn't flick picks worth shit. It broke two weeks later and I threw it out.

Getting back to Night Ranger, I found Jack Blades' pitch-flicking abilities to be on par with Sammy Hagar's. And he was never in Montrose. *And* he was in Damn Yankees. This was probably the pivotal moment in my life where I realized that there were certain types of rock bands that mattered, and certain types who didn't.

And then Kansas came out. The set was terrible. Yes, the musicians were well-skilled, just like they are at Sam Ash. And even though I still have a nostalgiac liking for their epic 'Carry On My Wayward Son', Kansas prefaced it that night with a battle cry of 'ARE YOU READY?????'. Come on, Kansas. It's a good song, but we all expected to hear it. If you hadn't played it, a good percentage of us would have asked for our money back.

So, back to my point: here's a kickass performance from Otis Redding. I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now). No coolers or soft lawn needed. Just pure energy.

01 June 2008

What ITunes means to me, or how I spent my winter vacation

As I wrote a few months ago, I began losing interest in new music last year. It was a combination of a few factors: a frustration in the New York scene as a musician, a loss of interest in seeking out live music as venues closed, moved and featured worse sound, plus a merging of the lounge culture with the live music culture. Even at the Bowery Ballroom, where music sounds good, kids sit on the floors with their hair lice and gigantous backpacks and hit on themselves.

On the positive note, I pulled away from the excitement and hype of new music. Tougher than you think. Up until recently, I discovered most of my favorite bands from two sources: publications, and word of mouth. In the late 1980s, I was listening to classic rock and scrubbed metal, but Metallica's Garage Days led me to the Misfits, to hardcore, to punk and finally to indie rock. I subscribed to Rolling Stone when I was 16, and within a year or two they published their list of the best 100 albums, featuring bands I had never heard of or had considered. I bought Murmur, Zen Arcade, Let it Be and London Calling from that list.

In the year-end issue RS asked artists and other people (who I skipped) what they liked that year. This is common practice now, lists of new music, but then it was essential -- everything flew through word of mouth. Michael Stipe named 'Doolittle' by The Pixies was one of his favorite listens, and I snatched it up immediately.

(The guy who gave me a copy of Garage Days gave me some other Misfits songs, and turned me on to Fugazi. Already, I'd heard 6-7 of my favorite ten bands that exist today.)

Back to the present. This year I realized that what I'd heard from those years, and the music I sought out till recently produced enough great finds to last me for a lifetime. When is enough enough? Sure, there is good music out there being made, and I want to find the energy to keep searching for it. But it was time to take stock of what I'd acquired. So I went through my catalog and listen to everything I owned. Well, not entirely true--I listened to everything I felt like listening to. For instance, I've had no interest in hearing a Beatles track from 1962-1964; they're firmly forged into my brain at this point.

And then I hit on why I love ITunes. I could mold into a living, breathing diary and encyclopedia of the music that I love. Imagine if you had a radio show, where you could play anything you wanted all day. The IPod became my perfect radio.

My motivation ran along these lines: there have always been discussions about desert island music picks: If you could only take so much music, what would you bring? So I wanted to build my perfect radio. If I put the IPod on shuffle, I wanted every song to mean something. Gone for me is the album format that proliferated in the 1970s. Unless the album is perfect from start to finish, why do I need to hear the filler tracks?

There's been so much discussion about how digital music, particularly the mp3, and the IPod are no match for vinyl or even compact disc in terms of audio quality. So maybe I'm of the perfect generation, but growing up, I did 80% of my listening on cassette. Bought 'em through Columbia House. Taped albums and songs off the radio. So an mp3 is a fine replacement for a cassette for these ears.

And from January 1st until last weekend, I did just that. I listened to every song I had at least twice, and usually a third time, to make sure every song represented something, a memory, a story, an experience. I listened to 5,500 songs like this, knocked 1,000 off. It was an obsessive, compulsive exercise.

But going through it is like being able to fit every photo from my life into one photo album. Of course I have all my favorite songs from my favorite bands. I have 'Carousel' from the Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris soundtrack, which I used to dance along with like an acid monkey when I was 5. I have a few choice tracks from the first Meat Puppets record, which is one of the most unlistenable records I've ever heard, which is why I used it to send everyone home at parties I threw in college.

And there are definitely songs that I would never even dream of having access too if it weren't for a change in the way music can be compartmentalized in the digital age. I have mp3s from the last Guided by Voices show in New York City ever, where John van Atta gets up on the stage of Irving Plaza, and in a man-hug with lead singer Bob Pollard belts out the drinker's anthem 'Johnny Appleseed' which is going to sound legendary, and at a key point in the song he chokes on his phlegm, gets escorted off stage, and the guy escorting him offstage gets a shout-out from Bob and an ovation from the crowd. I also have an mp3 of my 5-year old niece singing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

I've built my own personal jukebox/radio. You should all be doing the same.

18 May 2008

A way to spend a Sunday

The best music ever made will never be heard.

Tonight I found myself behind a drum set for the first time in months. In a bad rock factory like Funkadelic Studios, where the paper thin walls bleed bad metal and leaden punk, nothing is gained or lost. For the 10 million bands who slave away in these caves, you'll read 1 successful band bio who forged their sound in an hourly rehearsal studio in Manhattan.

The drums sound awesome in these rooms. A cramped room makes drums sound huge--the sound bounces off the walls and makes everyone playing sound like Dave Grohl. The PA is a piece of shit, there's one good guitar amp out of 4, the bass gets nice and loud, and you get that feeling that you're tearing shit up.

Me and the Johns from Strikes Again! were in such a place, and even on a lazy Sunday afternoon when we'd usually be home watching bowling, the leaky walls and the Stooges-noise led us into an impromptu cover gig. It's the internet, so I feel compelled to report on the results:

Set length: 30 minutes
Attendence: 0
Set list:

(1) Fugazi - Place Position. from 'End Hits'. Ridiculously tight. Especially the third time we played it.

(2) A.C. Newman - On the Table. normal speed version. A.C. Newman is the lead singer of the New Pornographers. If you like Paul McCartney and don't know who Carl Newman is, buy the entire New Pornographers discography, A.C. Newman's solo record 'The Slow Wonder', and Zumpano's 'Goin' Through Changes'. If you don't like McCartney, hug your Yoko doll and piss off.

Speaking of which - for anybody who slags McCartney, listen straight through to Grammy-winning record 'Double Fantasy' by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. If you survive and still find 'Maybe I'm Amazed' and 'Band on the Run' less palatable, call a hospital.

(2b) A.C. Newman - On the Table, slow speed version. Change the speed on some of your favorite songs and power pop becomes heavy metal. We did. (I wonder if 'Love Will Keep us Together' might make a great sludgy metal song.)

(3) Faith No More - Just a Man. People love the Abbey Road medley and the Bohemian Rhapsody, the concept within a song. Concept albums are boring, concept songs are where it's at.

The best way to describe this song is this: You've just borrowed your stepdad's car, driven your Aphrodite to a beautfiful vista overlooking a landfill. You are our protagonist. You study the night sky, and transition your sweet nothings into a stark cautionary tale about Icarus. The earth flips. Replete with gospel choir, you score.

(4) Thank You (falettin me be mice elf again, edit) Turns out it's the same riff over and over. More fun with a horn section.

(5) Guided by Voices - Unleashed! Large-Hearted Boy.
(6) Guided by Voices - "Wished I Was A Giant"

These are two of the best rock songs ever written by the band who brought us together. When you're playing with people you're truly comfortable playing with, who speak the same musical language you do, it's a warmup and an invitation, a revisiting of the musical conversations we've had as frends, as bandmates, as fans of the same music for years and years.

On one level, there's no difference between being in a jam band and being in a punk band, or a jazz band, or a sleepy Sunday afteroon cover band. We all have our experiences, and we fumbled to share them.

But then we found them: Ramones, Sonic Youth, Pixies, Sebadoh. Song after song.

It's rewarding to build a song with a band that works its ass off, rehearses every split second. Strikes Again! has written, recorded and played some amazing rock songs. But in that room, when JVA picked up the drum sticks, and we all knew 'Judy is a Punk', that's friendship.

13 May 2008


Hey all, I have adjusted to my new day job. It seemed easy - I was supposed to turn lions into lambs all through March. I thought I did a pretty good job, but turns out, there was a *lot* of cleanup in April. And mint jelly.

This year at the All Tomorrow's Parties festival in the Catskills of New York, there is some serious shit going on. I feel like it's in my head.

The lineup of this festival...so many bands I loved get a chance to play music to the masses. My Bloody Valentine, Meat Puppets, Built to Spill (performing Perfect from Now on, one of my favorite albums of all time). Shellac. Polvo. Mercury Rev?!? Dinosaur Jr.?>? Yo la Tengo? Some guy named Thurston. When did the concert I always wanted to happen decide to do this? This is like Fugazi opening for the Clash opening for Johnny Cash backed by the Stooges opening for the Stones opening for the Beatles opening for me.

I'm not going, damnit. But the band-performing-album-straight-through dynamic is something I am very, very excited about, and hope it sticks. Three quick notes about the records being played at ATP:

(1) Tortoise. Millions of Us are Living and Will Never Die. I'm not extremely familiar with this record, but I'm statutorially familiar with the 21-minute track 'Djed'. I think it's the second track on the album? I will sorely and bacterially miss hearing this track live.

(2) Meat Puppets. Meat Puppets II. Are you kidding me? Are you frakkin kidding me?!?

Any fan of indie rock music secretly hopes that they have the obscure band in the watch pocket. Meat Puppets II was mine. Between St. Louis and Philadelphia, I only met one other person who loved the Meat Puppets. And he wore an oversized lime green blazer. And he was named Shannon. (Shannon, either you're Irish or you're not tucking between your legs, you're just lacking. Own up.)

Then Nirvana went in '93 and covered three Meat Puppets II songs during their Unplugged set and I lost my angle. So yeah, I guess I have a motive for the Cobain killing. I was home knitting. Still, listen to that album.

(3) Built to Spill - Perfect from Now On. The most ironic album title of all time. This album is perfect. Well, nearly perfect--the drums were recorded, carried out to the toolshed, hacked up by the hirsute uncle and pasted to tape with horse glue. But man, this album--

This album can be graphed and scaled. It's the most phenomenally sequenced record ever made. The first song, 'Randy Described Eternity', starts you from the top of your roof and launches you. And the rest is like a Hendrix record.

17 March 2008

INTELLIGENCE, Table of Contents

This posted out of order, 'cos I posted it chronologically. Play along and read it in order.

Part I
Part II
Part III






Have I plateaued the mountainous peak that is the intellect of the average scoundrel aged a decade or more? Again, this purveyor of choice anecdotes stands proudly before his peers, trembling with the anticipation of a gazelle that senses the hunting prowess of the lioness. Oh, to be a giraffe!

blog readability test

TV Reviews

Ha ha! Ha HA, I say! Now we are arriving at a metaphorical ship-christening. Might we assuage the ruffian who, in such a myopic approach to seeking enlightenment, hath instead mistaken a sesquipedalean for an intellectual?

To cement my intellectual standing among junior high school students, the purveyors of pubescent exhilaration (Farrahus Fawcettus Oglus Erectus), I offer the foolproof: insights, new perspectives, remembrances of civilizations past and present, the very philosophies of life that propel us like so many seagulls into so many aeroplane engines at the airport JFK: this knowledge is yours:

Corporate Rock STILL sucks.

Finally, a churlish non-sequitur: I am drawn quite fondly to the machinations of troubadours who engage in superficial deconstructions of the humour of and or pertaining to flatulence.

Intelligence, Pt. 2.

blog readability test

TV Reviews

Nope. I mean, nay! 'Tis extraordinarily misguided!

Let me try another attempt: Here's an article from the esteemed New England Journal of Medicine entitled "Treatment of Patients with the Hypereosinophilic Syndrome with Mepolizumab", if only because it's the working title of the next Stereolab record.

Marc E. Rothenberg, M.D., Ph.D., Amy D. Klion, M.D., Florence E. Roufosse, M.D., Ph.D., Jean Emmanuel Kahn, M.D., Peter F. Weller, M.D., Hans-Uwe Simon, M.D., Ph.D., Lawrence B. Schwartz, M.D., Ph.D., Lanny J. Rosenwasser, M.D., Johannes Ring, M.D., Ph.D., Elaine F. Griffin, D.Phil., Ann E. Haig, B.S.N., Paul I.H. Frewer, M.Sc., Jacqueline M. Parkin, M.B., B.S., Ph.D., Gerald J. Gleich, M.D., for the Mepolizumab HES Study Group

This Article
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Background The hypereosinophilic syndrome is a group of diseases characterized by persistent blood eosinophilia, defined as more than 1500 cells per microliter with end-organ involvement and no recognized secondary cause. Although most patients have a response to corticosteroids, side effects are common and can lead to considerable morbidity.

Methods We conducted an international, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial evaluating the safety and efficacy of an anti–interleukin-5 monoclonal antibody, mepolizumab, in patients with the hypereosinophilic syndrome. Patients were negative for the FIP1L1–PDGFRA fusion gene and required prednisone monotherapy, 20 to 60 mg per day, to maintain a stable clinical status and a blood eosinophil count of less than 1000 per microliter. Patients received either intravenous mepolizumab or placebo while the prednisone dose was tapered. The primary end point was the reduction of the prednisone dose to 10 mg or less per day for 8 or more consecutive weeks.

Results The primary end point was reached in 84% of patients in the mepolizumab group, as compared with 43% of patients in the placebo group (hazard ratio, 2.90; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.59 to 5.26; P<0.001) with no increase in clinical activity of the hypereosinophilic syndrome. A blood eosinophil count of less than 600 per microliter for 8 or more consecutive weeks was achieved in 95% of patients receiving mepolizumab, as compared with 45% of patients receiving placebo (hazard ratio, 3.53; 95% CI, 1.94 to 6.45; P<0.001). Serious adverse events occurred in seven patients receiving mepolizumab (14 events, including one death; mean [±SD] duration of exposure, 6.7±1.9 months) and in five patients receiving placebo (7 events; mean duration of exposure, 4.3±2.6 months).

Conclusions Our study shows that treatment with mepolizumab, an agent designed to target eosinophils, can result in corticosteroid-sparing for patients negative for FIP1L1–PDGFRA who have the hypereosinophilic syndrome. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00086658 [ClinicalTrials.gov] .)

The hypereosinophilic syndrome consists of several heterogeneous disorders characterized by sustained blood eosinophilia and eosinophil-related end-organ damage, with no identifiable cause, such as parasitic infection.1 The objective of treatment is long-term reduction of blood and tissue eosinophil levels to prevent end-organ damage and thromboembolic events. Except for the myeloproliferative variant of the hypereosinophilic syndrome (associated with the Fip1-like 1–platelet-derived growth factor receptor {alpha} fusion gene [FIP1L1–PDGFRA]), for which imatinib mesylate is considered first-line therapy, current management is based on long-term systemic corticosteroids.1,2,3,4

Eosinophil development from hematopoietic progenitors is regulated mainly by interleukin-5,5 which has a selective role in eosinophil maturation, differentiation, mobilization, activation, and survival.5,6,7,8,9,10,11 Since interleukin-5 appears to contribute to the pathogenesis of some phenotypes of the hypereosinophilic syndrome,12 interleukin-5 inhibition is a logical therapeutic target for this disease.

Mepolizumab is a fully humanized, anti–interleukin-5 monoclonal immunoglobulin G1 antibody with a half-life of approximately 19 days; it does not fix complement.13,14 By binding to free interleukin-5 with high affinity and specificity, it prevents interleukin-5 from associating with the interleukin-5 receptor {alpha} chain on the surface of eosinophils and their progenitors. In preliminary studies of healthy volunteers and patients with atopy, mepolizumab had few side effects and lowered blood eosinophil levels.15,16,17,18,19 Subsequent studies suggested that mepolizumab may have clinical value in patients with the hypereosinophilic syndrome.20,21,22

After these initial reports, we conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of targeted therapy for patients with the hypereosinophilic syndrome. Our aim was to evaluate the effects of mepolizumab on corticosteroid sparing and the maintenance of clinical stability in patients with disease that requires control with the use of corticosteroids.


Study Population

The study patients were 18 to 85 years of age and had the hypereosinophilic syndrome (defined as a blood eosinophil count >1500 per microliter for ≥6 months and eosinophilia-related organ involvement or dysfunction, with no identifiable secondary cause of eosinophilia23). All patients were negative for the FIP1L1–PDGFRA fusion gene, on the basis of in situ hybridization to detect deletion of the cysteine-rich hydrophobic domain 2 (CHIC2) locus, a FIP1L1–PDGFRA surrogate, in peripheral-blood mononuclear cells.24

Study Design

Our randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group, multicenter study, involved 26 sites in the United States, Canada, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and Australia. It was conducted from March 2004 through March 2006. After screening, patients entered a run-in period of up to 6 weeks, during which noncorticosteroid medications for the hypereosinophilic syndrome were discontinued and prednisone monotherapy (20 to 60 mg per day for at least 1 week) was administered to achieve a stable clinical status (defined as no new or worsening clinical signs or symptoms of the hypereosinophilic syndrome and a blood eosinophil count of <1000 per microliter). Methylprednisolone, prednisolone, or triamcinolone could be used at a dose equivalent to that of prednisone, at the investigator's discretion. (See Supplementary Appendix 1, available with the full text of this article at www.nejm.org, for details on blinding, exclusion criteria, eosinophil-derived neurotoxin enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay methods, and corticosteroid conversion.)

Patients whose clinical symptoms were stabilized with the use of prednisone monotherapy (20 to 60 mg per day) or the equivalent were randomly assigned in a one-to-one ratio to receive intravenous infusions of either mepolizumab (750 mg) or placebo (saline) and were stratified according to the daily prednisone dose (≤30 mg or >30 mg) at baseline. Mepolizumab or placebo was administered every 4 weeks during a 36-week period (final infusion at week 32). The prednisone dose was tapered, starting at week 1, using a predefined algorithm based on eosinophil counts and clinical manifestations of the hypereosinophilic syndrome (Figure 1A). Week 32 was the last visit at which a taper dose could be prescribed; the patient then took that dose until week 36, the end of the treatment period. This approach to corticosteroid dosing was used to maintain control by allowing for corticosteroid rescue therapy for disease flares.

Figure 1
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Figure 1. Study Design and Enrollment and Follow-up of Patients.

Panel A illustrates the study design and the prednisone tapering algorithm. The dose of prednisone (or equivalent) was adjusted at weekly clinic visits according to the blood eosinophil count and the clinical activity of the hypereosinophilic syndrome (HES). At the discretion of the investigator, tapering below 20 mg per day could have been achieved through alternate-day dosing, and tapering below 10 mg per day could have been more gradual, with a decrease in dose of less than 2.5 mg per day per week. Panel B shows the screening, enrollment, random assignment, and follow-up of patients. Patients could have had more than one type of protocol violation.

Patients who completed the trial or withdrew early but received at least two doses of the study drug entered an open-label extension study evaluating the long-term safety, efficacy, and optimal dosing frequency of intravenous mepolizumab. Patients choosing not to continue in the extension study completed a safety follow-up visit 3 months after their last dose of study medication.

Clinical Efficacy

The primary end point was the reduction of the prednisone dose to 10 mg or less per day (or the equivalent) for 8 or more consecutive weeks. A prednisone dose of 10 mg or less per day was considered clinically meaningful and a response lasting 8 weeks was considered durable. All end points were analyzed with the use of data from the intention-to-treat population (85 patients who provided written informed consent, were randomly assigned to a study drug, and received at least one dose). The primary end point data were confirmed in a modified per-protocol population (78 patients). Protocol violations (by two patients in the placebo group and five in the mepolizumab group) included a lack of documented history of the hypereosinophilic syndrome, use of unapproved concomitant medications, inability to stabilize the prednisone dose within the specified range during screening, and a prednisone dose of less than 20 mg per day at study entry. Data from the patients who violated the protocol were included in the intention-to-treat analysis.

Secondary end points were a blood eosinophil count of less than 600 per microliter for 8 or more consecutive weeks, the time to treatment failure (defined as clinical worsening requiring other therapy for the hypereosinophilic syndrome, a prednisone dose of >60 mg per day, or withdrawal from the study for any reason), a prednisone dose of 7.5 mg or less per day, receipt of no prednisone for 1 day or more, the mean daily prednisone dose at week 36, and a prednisone dose of 10 mg or less per day by week 20 and for 8 or more consecutive weeks. Post hoc exploratory end points included a prednisone dose of 10 mg or less per day for 24 or more weeks and the receipt of no prednisone during the treatment period, maintained until study completion.

We assessed the effects of the study drug on physical or psychological symptoms of the hypereosinophilic syndrome, health status, and limitations of daily living, using the Medical Outcomes Study 12-item Short Form General Health Survey (SF-12) (version 2) physical and mental component summary scores and the Rotterdam Symptom Checklist.


Safety was assessed with the use of adverse event reports, laboratory tests (clinical chemical and hematologic tests and urinalysis), electrocardiograms, physical examinations, and vital signs recorded both before and after infusion.

Statistical Analysis

We calculated that 84 patients who could be evaluated (42 per study group) would be required to provide a statistical power of 90%, at a two-sided significance level of 5%, to detect a difference of 33% between the two study groups in the percentage of patients in whom in the primary end point was reached (assuming the percentage of patients with a prednisone dose of ≤10 mg per day for ≥8 weeks was 80% in the mepolizumab group and 47% in the placebo group). Differences in the incidences of the primary end point were tested using a Cochran–Mantel–Haenszel test, with stratification according to the prednisone (or the equivalent) dose (≤30 mg or >30 mg) at baseline, at a 5% two-sided significance level in the intention-to-treat population. In the primary prespecified analysis, odds ratios were also calculated. Relative risks (without stratification on the basis of prednisone dose at baseline) and hazard ratios (with stratification) were also calculated in post-hoc analyses. The proportional-hazards assumption was assessed by inspection of the log–log survival curves.

Adverse events were also summarized. A log-rank test was used to compare the time to an adverse event between the two study groups, including data from patients who withdrew from the study.

An investigator advisory board, including the authors and the sponsor, designed the study, with scientific guidance from the Food and Drug Administration and the European Committee for Proprietary Medicinal Products. The sponsor was responsible for data collection and quality control and held the data but made them available, after ensuring confidentiality, to all the authors. All the authors analyzed and interpreted the data, wrote the manuscript, made the decision to publish, and vouch for the completeness and accuracy of the data.


Baseline Characteristics

Of the 107 patients screened, 85 were randomly assigned to treatment with mepolizumab (43 patients) or placebo (42 patients). The majority of patients in the mepolizumab group (36 of 43 [84%]) completed the trial, as compared with only 15 of 42 (36%) in the placebo group (Figure 1B). The most common reason for withdrawal was lack of efficacy (5 of 43 patients [12%] receiving mepolizumab and 21 of 42 [50%] receiving placebo).

There were no significant differences in demographic or disease characteristics between the study groups at the time of randomization (Table 1). Of note, the mean duration of disease was more than 5 years, and the majority of patients (82%) reported at least one clinical manifestation of the hypereosinophilic syndrome.

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Table 1. Baseline Demographic and Disease Characteristics in the Intention-to-Treat Population.


Prednisone-Sparing Effects

Overall, for 36 patients (84%) receiving mepolizumab and 18 (43%) receiving placebo, the prednisone dose was reduced to ≤10 mg per day for ≥8 consecutive weeks during the 36-week treatment period (primary end point) (hazard ratio, 2.90; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.59 to 5.26; P<0.001) (Table 2 and Figure 2A). Similar results were obtained when the primary end point was analyzed for the modified per-protocol population of 78 patients (hazard ratio, 3.27; 95% CI, 1.73 to 6.18; P<0.001). A significant difference between the two study groups was also found for the subgroups of prednisone dose at baseline, being more pronounced among patients requiring more than 30 mg per day than among those requiring 30 mg or less per day (Table 2). In the placebo group, the primary end point was more likely to be reached among patients who had been receiving 30 mg or less of prednisone at baseline (17 of 30 patients [57%]) than among those who had been receiving more than 30 mg (1 of 12 [8%]). In contrast, in the mepolizumab group, 26 of the 30 patients (87%) who had been receiving 30 mg or less of prednisone at baseline were responders, as were 10 of 13 (77%) who had been receiving more than 30 mg.

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Table 2. Effects of Treatment on Corticosteroid Use and Eosinophil Counts in the Intention-to-Treat Population.

Figure 2
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Figure 2. Efficacy of Mepolizumab Treatment.

Panel A shows the percentage of patients in whom the prednisone dose was reduced to 10 mg or less per day (or the equivalent) for 8 or more consecutive weeks (the primary end point). Panel B shows the percentage of patients in whom the prednisone dose was reduced to 10 mg or less per day for 24 or more consecutive weeks. Panel C shows the percentage of patients in whom the blood eosinophil count was maintained at or below 600 per microliter for 8 or more consecutive weeks. Panel D shows the mean prednisone (or the equivalent) daily dose during the study. The last-observation-carried-forward (LOCF) data are those from the second infusion onward. Panel E is a Kaplan–Meier plot of the time to treatment failure (defined as clinical worsening requiring other therapy for the hypereosinophilic syndrome, a prednisone dose of >60 mg per day, or study withdrawal for any reason) in the intention-to-treat population. Panel F shows the mean serum eosinophil-derived neurotoxin (EDN) values. The I bars in Panels D and F indicate standard errors.

All secondary and exploratory efficacy end points significantly favored the use of mepolizumab (P<0.001) (Table 2 and Figure 2B). Figure 2D shows the mean prednisone dose used during the study. (Additional efficacy analyses, with stratification on the basis of achievement of the primary end point and status of study completion, are presented in Supplementary Appendix 3.)

Blood Eosinophil Counts and Eosinophil-Derived Neurotoxin Levels

A blood eosinophil count of less than 600 per microliter for 8 or more consecutive weeks was reached in 41 of the 43 patients (95%) receiving mepolizumab, as compared with 19 of the 42 (45%) receiving placebo (P<0.001; hazard ratio, 3.53; 95% CI, 1.94 to 6.45) (Table 2 and Figure 2C). The difference between the study groups for this end point was significant in both subgroups of baseline prednisone dose (≤30 mg and >30 mg). Mean serum eosinophil-derived neurotoxin levels were significantly different between the two study groups at all time points evaluated (P<0.001, P<0.001, and P=0.005 for reductions between the mepolizumab group and the placebo group at weeks 12, 24, and 36, respectively) (Figure 2F).

Time to Treatment Failure

The time to treatment failure (defined as the number of days to clinical worsening requiring other therapy for the hypereosinophilic syndrome or an increase in the prednisone dose to >60 mg per day) was significantly shorter in the placebo group than in the mepolizumab group (P<0.001 by the log-rank test). Nine of 43 patients (21%) receiving mepolizumab and 29 of 42 (69%) receiving placebo had treatment failure. The median time to treatment failure in the placebo group was 136.5 days (95% CI, 106 to 199; Figure 2E); corresponding data could not be calculated for mepolizumab, since less than half the patients receiving that drug had treatment failure.

Health Outcomes

No significant differences between treatments were observed in the changes from baseline in SF-12 physical and mental component summary scores (Table 2) or the Rotterdam Symptom Checklist (Supplementary Appendix 3).


The mean (±SD) duration of exposure to study drug (defined as the time between the first and last infusions) was greater in the mepolizumab group (6.7±1.9 months) than in the placebo group (4.3±2.6 months) because of a lower withdrawal rate. Despite the longer exposure to mepolizumab, adverse events were reported at similar rates in the two study groups: 40 of 43 patients (93%) receiving mepolizumab and 41 of 42 (98%) receiving placebo (Table 3). An adverse event considered by the investigator to be related to the study drug occurred in 16 of 43 patients (37%) in the mepolizumab group and in 12 of 42 (29%) in the placebo group (Table 3). One patient receiving mepolizumab and four receiving placebo had adverse events leading to withdrawal; none of these events were considered by the investigator to be related to study drug. No clinically relevant trends or major safety concerns emerged from evaluation of the laboratory tests, vital signs, or electrocardiographic results.

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Table 3. Adverse Events Reported during the 36-Week Study.

Serious adverse events occurred in seven patients receiving mepolizumab (14 events, including one death) and five patients receiving placebo (7 events) (Table 3), but none were deemed by the investigator to be related to the study drug. Serious adverse events in the mepolizumab group were asthma, clinical flares of the hypereosinophilic syndrome, pneumonia, renal failure, bronchitis, cardiac arrest, dehydration, hepatitis, pancreatitis, pyrexia, rhinitis, and spinal compression fracture. Serious adverse events in the placebo group were clinical flares of the hypereosinophilic syndrome, pneumonia, dysesthesia, eosinophilia, nephrotic syndrome, osteonecrosis, and polyneuropathy. An 18-year-old man with severe hypereosinophilic syndrome and a history of multiple cardiovascular coexisting conditions died 110 days after his first mepolizumab infusion, and 26 days after his fourth and last infusion, from a cardiac arrest attributed to dysrhythmia and internal pacemaker–defibrillator failure. (Supplementary Appendixes 2 and 4 contain additional information about adverse events.)


The hypereosinophilic syndrome is a potentially severe and debilitating multisystem disorder associated with considerable morbidity, in part due to the side effects of treatments currently used for it. We report evidence that corticosteroid-sparing is enabled by mepolizumab in patients negative for FIP1L1–PDGFRA with the hypereosinophilic syndrome. Treatment with prednisone, which could be discontinued until study completion, was able to be stopped during the study in almost 50% of patients receiving mepolizumab.

Mepolizumab also was significantly more effective than placebo at stabilizing blood eosinophil counts. These effects are clinically relevant, given that reducing eosinophil levels is currently the primary treatment goal for patients with the hypereosinophilic syndrome and that long-term corticosteroid therapy is associated with a range of undesirable side effects.26,27,28 Since the corticosteroid threshold associated with clinically significant toxic effects has been established at approximately 7.5 mg per day of prednisone equivalent,27 it is notable that a prednisone dose of 7.5 mg or less per day in this study was achieved in significantly more patients receiving mepolizumab than in those receiving placebo.

No significant differences were found between the two study groups in SF-12 (version 2) assessments, which may reflect the protocol requirements for disease to be clinically stable at baseline and for stability to be maintained in order for the patient to remain in the trial. As such, the quality of life, as measured by the SF-12 survey, did not deteriorate during the study period. In addition, the baseline mental-component summary score in the mepolizumab group was similar to that for the general U.S. population,25 indicating that with treatment, patients did not feel impaired by their disease, making it difficult to show an improvement. The study population was composed of relatively young patients who were negative for FIP1L1–PDGFRA and had long-standing corticosteroid-responsive hypereosinophilic syndrome. The corticosteroid-sparing effects observed in our study suggest that mepolizumab has substantial potential to reduce treatment-related morbidity. Because this study was limited to patients who were receiving corticosteroid therapy and whose hypereosinophilic syndrome was clinically well controlled, no recommendations can be inferred regarding the use of mepolizumab for patients with acute presentations or who have not yet received corticosteroid therapy. The same holds true for patients with the hypereosinophilic syndrome that is unresponsive to systemic corticosteroids, as well as those positive for FIP1L1–PDGFRA.29

Mean serum interleukin-5 values at baseline were below the limit of detection (7.8 pg per milliliter) in most patients (Table 1). Such normal serum interleukin-5 levels are probably due to corticosteroid-induced suppression, since patients' symptoms were stabilized by means of corticosteroid therapy before randomization. The efficacy of mepolizumab in patients with physiologic levels of interleukin-5 suggests that this agent should not be reserved for patients with elevated serum interleukin-5 levels. Our results provide evidence that endogenous interleukin-5 in these patients with the hypereosinophilic syndrome has a critical role in regulating peripheral eosinophilia.

Our study assessed the effects of mepolizumab administered monthly during a 36-week treatment period, whereas previous studies of mepolizumab evaluated 12 weeks of treatment.15,17,18,22,30 Several of these studies focused on the treatment of asthma, showing significant reductions in blood, sputum, and bronchial eosinophil counts and safety but limited efficacy as measured by pulmonary-function testing.15,16,17,18 Much remains to be learned about the relation between blood and tissue eosinophilia and clinical response to treatment in patients with asthma and the hypereosinophilic syndrome. Although the number of patients in our trial was small, the preliminary findings suggest that the likelihood of achieving the primary end point with the use of mepolizumab was high in the patients with current conditions related to the hypereosinophilic syndrome. The primary end point was reached in 17 of the 19 patients with respiratory disorders, 5 of the 5 with cardiac disorders, 8 of the 8 with gastrointestinal disorders, 5 of the 6 with musculoskeletal disorders, and 8 of the 9 with nervous-system disorders, although in only 11 of the 16 patients with skin or subcutaneous manifestations (Table 1, and Supplementary Appendix 5).

In theory, since interleukin-5 potently primes eosinophils for enhanced responsiveness to activating signals,6 anti–interleukin-5 may be particularly helpful for reducing the eosinophil-mediated end-organ pathologic characteristics typically associated with the hypereosinophilic syndrome. Tissue and vascular damage results in part from the release of granule proteins, and mepolizumab treatment was associated with significant reductions in eosinophil-derived neurotoxin levels in our study (Figure 2F). In addition, the chronic tissue damage associated with the hypereosinophilic syndrome is thought to be mediated by eosinophil infiltration, and mepolizumab probably decreases tissue eosinophil levels in patients with the syndrome.21,22

Adverse effects were found in the mepolizumab group. One patient receiving mepolizumab had a fatal cardiac arrest, which was not considered to be drug-related by the investigator, who was unaware of the group assignment. Adverse events considered drug-related by the investigator were similar between the mepolizumab group and the placebo group. This finding is noteworthy, since the duration of exposure to study drug was approximately 56% longer for mepolizumab than for placebo, owing to the greater dropout rate (because of lack of efficacy) in the placebo group. In addition, some adverse events in both groups may have resulted from prednisone withdrawal rather than use of the study drug.

An ongoing, open-label extension trial, involving 78 patients from the current trial, will provide long-term information on potential safety issues, efficacy assessments, and optimal dosing frequency (see Supplementary Appendix 4 for details). This trial will help address whether long-term treatment with mepolizumab will durably reduce eosinophil counts while controlling disease.

In conclusion, our study demonstrated that mepolizumab treatment enabled clinically significant reductions in corticosteroid dose, and often corticosteroid discontinuation, in patients negative for FIP1L1–PDGFRA who had the hypereosinophilic syndrome. This proof-of-concept study shows that administration of anti–interleukin-5 antibodies, an eosinophil-specific and targeted therapy, has a potential clinical benefit.

Supported by grants from GlaxoSmithKline, the National Institutes of Health (M01 RR00064 and AI61097, to Dr. Gleich, and MO1 RR001032, to the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center), U.S. Public Health Service General Clinical Research Center (M01 RR 08084, to the Cincinnati Children's Medical Center), and the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Dr. Rothenberg reports receiving lecture fees from Merck and consulting fees from GlaxoSmithKline, Ception Therapeutics, Merck, and Cambridge Antibody Technology and having equity interests in Ception Therapeutics. Drs. Roufosse and Kahn report receiving consulting fees from GlaxoSmithKline. Dr. Weller reports receiving consulting fees from GlaxoSmithKline, Medimmune, Genzyme, and Microbia. Dr. Simon reports receiving consulting fees from GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, and Novartis and grant support from GlaxoSmithKline. Dr. Schwartz reports receiving consulting fees from GlaxoSmithKline, Genentech, and Novartis; royalties from Phadia through Virginia Commonwealth University for tryptase immunoassay licensing rights; and grant support from GlaxoSmithKline, the Philip Morris Foundation, and Pharming. Dr. Rosenwasser reports receiving consulting fees from Abbott Laboratories, Alcon Laboratories, Regeneron, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, AstraZeneca, and Genentech and lecture fees from Alcon Laboratories, Genentech, and Novartis. Dr. Ring reports receiving consulting fees from Astellas, Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline, and Schering-Plough. Dr. Griffin reports having been an employee of GlaxoSmithKline. Ms. Haig, Mr. Frewer, and Dr. Parkin report having equity interests in and being employees of GlaxoSmithKline. Dr. Gleich reports receiving consulting fees from GlaxoSmithKline, Genentech, and Novartis; lecture fees from Novartis, Genentech, and Sepracor; royalties from the Mayo Clinic for discoveries and patents; grant support from Jerini, Novartis, and GlaxoSmithKline; and having equity interests in Ception. No other potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.

We thank the members of the medical, nursing, and research staff at the trial centers for their invaluable contributions to this study, as well as Ellen Lewis, Ph.D., for assistance with preparation of a previous version of the manuscript.

* Members of the Mepolizumab Hypereosinophilic Syndrome (HES) Study Group are listed in the Appendix.

Source Information

From the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati (M.E.R.); the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Bethesda, MD (A.D.K.); Service de Médecine Interne, Hôpital Erasme, Université Libre de Bruxelles, and the Institute for Medical Immunology, Gosselies, Belgium (F.E.R.); Service de Médecine Interne, Hôpital Foch, Suresnes, France (J.E.K.); Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston (P.F.W.); the University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland (H.-U.S.); Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond (L.B.S.); Children's Mercy Hospital, Kansas City, MO (L.J.R.); Technische Universität München, Munich, Germany (J.R.); Envision Pharma, Horsham, United Kingdom (E.F.G.); GlaxoSmithKline, King of Prussia, PA (A.E.H.); GlaxoSmithKline, Middlesex, United Kingdom (P.I.H.F., J.M.P.); and University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City (G.J.G.).

This article (10.1056/NEJMoa070812) was published at www.nejm.org on March 16, 2008. It will appear in the March 20 issue of the Journal.

Address reprint requests to Dr. Rothenberg at the Division of Allergy and Immunology, Department of Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital and Medical Center, 3333 Burnet Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45229, or at rothenberg@cchmc.org.


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15. Büttner C, Lun A, Splettstoesser T, Kunkel G, Renz H. Monoclonal anti-interleukin-5 treatment suppresses eosinophil but not T-cell functions. Eur Respir J 2003;21:799-803. [Free Full Text]
16. Leckie MJ, ten Brinke A, Khan J, et al. Effects of an interleukin-5 blocking monoclonal antibody on eosinophils, airway hyper-responsiveness, and the late asthmatic response. Lancet 2000;356:2144-2148. [CrossRef][ISI][Medline]
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18. Menzies-Gow A, Flood-Page P, Sehmi R, et al. Anti-IL-5 (mepolizumab) therapy induces bone marrow eosinophil maturational arrest and decreases eosinophil progenitors in the bronchial mucosa of atopic asthmatics. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2003;111:714-719. [CrossRef][ISI][Medline]
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In addition to the authors, the members of the Mepolizumab HES Study Group are as follows: Australia: Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Perth — A. Singh, D. Joske; Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney — L. Coyle; Mater Adult Hospital, Brisbane — K. Taylor; Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne — J. Szer; Belgium: University Hospital Gasthuisberg, Leuven — D. Blockmans, G. Verhoef; Canada: Royal Victoria Hospital, Montreal — W. Carey; McMaster University, Hamilton, ON — J. Denburg; Cancer Care Nova Scotia, Halifax, NS — A. Padmos; University of Toronto, Toronto — N. Shear; Winnipeg Clinic, Winnipeg, MB — V. Taraska; France: Hôpital Foch, Suresnes — O. Blétry; Claude-Huriez Hospital, Lille — P.-Y. Hatron; Germany: Hannover Medical School, Hannover — A. Ganser; Rheumaklinik Bad Bramstedt and Universitätsklinikum Schleswig-Holstein, Bad Bramstedt — W. Gross; Italy: L. and A. Seràgnoli, University of Bologna, Bologna — M. Baccarani; Switzerland: Dermatologische Universitätsklinik und Poliklinik, Inselspital Bern, Bern — L.R. Braathen; United States: Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati — A. Assa'ad; University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, Madison — W. Busse; Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN — J. Butterfield; University of Utah Health Sciences Center, Salt Lake City — K. Leiferman; Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville — J. Murray, D. Hagaman; University of California San Diego School of Medicine, San Diego — J. Ramsdell; Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston — J. Sheikh; National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD — C.A. Talar-Williams; University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston — S. Verstovsek; National Jewish Medical and Research Center, Denver — R. Weber.


Saw this meme over at misanthrope's and I'd thought I'd give it a shot:

blog readability test

Movie Reviews

Oops. As an experiment, let me try posting the entire length of The Gettysburg Address and T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land". I want to see if it affects my score.

Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation: conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war. . .testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated. . . can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war.

We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate. . .we cannot consecrate. . . we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us. . .that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion. . . that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain. . . that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom. . . and that government of the people. . .by the people. . .for the people. . . shall not perish from the earth.
To err is human, to deflower, divine.

The Waste Land


APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.
Bin gar keine Russin, stamm' aus Litauen, echt deutsch.
And when we were children, staying at the archduke's,
My cousin's, he took me out on a sled,
And I was frightened. He said, Marie,
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.
In the mountains, there you feel free.
I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
Frisch weht der Wind
Der Heimat zu.
Mein Irisch Kind,
Wo weilest du?
'You gave me hyacinths first a year ago;
'They called me the hyacinth girl.'
—Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden,
Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not
Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,
Looking into the heart of light, the silence.
Od' und leer das Meer.

Madame Sosostris, famous clairvoyante,
Had a bad cold, nevertheless
Is known to be the wisest woman in Europe,
With a wicked pack of cards. Here, said she,
Is your card, the drowned Phoenician Sailor,
(Those are pearls that were his eyes. Look!)
Here is Belladonna, the Lady of the Rocks,
The lady of situations.
Here is the man with three staves, and here the Wheel,
And here is the one-eyed merchant, and this card,
Which is blank, is something he carries on his back,
Which I am forbidden to see. I do not find
The Hanged Man. Fear death by water.
I see crowds of people, walking round in a ring.
Thank you. If you see dear Mrs. Equitone,
Tell her I bring the horoscope myself:
One must be so careful these days.

Unreal City,
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
I had not thought death had undone so many.
Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.
Flowed up the hill and down King William Street,
To where Saint Mary Woolnoth kept the hours
With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine.
There I saw one I knew, and stopped him, crying 'Stetson!
'You who were with me in the ships at Mylae!
'That corpse you planted last year in your garden,
'Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?
'Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed?
'Oh keep the Dog far hence, that's friend to men,
'Or with his nails he'll dig it up again!
'You! hypocrite lecteur!—mon semblable,—mon frère!'


THE Chair she sat in, like a burnished throne,
Glowed on the marble, where the glass
Held up by standards wrought with fruited vines
From which a golden Cupidon peeped out
(Another hid his eyes behind his wing)
Doubled the flames of sevenbranched candelabra
Reflecting light upon the table as
The glitter of her jewels rose to meet it,
From satin cases poured in rich profusion;
In vials of ivory and coloured glass
Unstoppered, lurked her strange synthetic perfumes,
Unguent, powdered, or liquid—troubled, confused
And drowned the sense in odours; stirred by the air
That freshened from the window, these ascended
In fattening the prolonged candle-flames,
Flung their smoke into the laquearia,
Stirring the pattern on the coffered ceiling.
Huge sea-wood fed with copper
Burned green and orange, framed by the coloured stone,
In which sad light a carvèd dolphin swam.
Above the antique mantel was displayed
As though a window gave upon the sylvan scene
The change of Philomel, by the barbarous king
So rudely forced; yet there the nightingale
Filled all the desert with inviolable voice
And still she cried, and still the world pursues,
'Jug Jug' to dirty ears.
And other withered stumps of time
Were told upon the walls; staring forms
Leaned out, leaning, hushing the room enclosed.
Footsteps shuffled on the stair.
Under the firelight, under the brush, her hair
Spread out in fiery points
Glowed into words, then would be savagely still.

'My nerves are bad to-night. Yes, bad. Stay with me.
'Speak to me. Why do you never speak? Speak.
'What are you thinking of? What thinking? What?
'I never know what you are thinking. Think.'

I think we are in rats' alley
Where the dead men lost their bones.

'What is that noise?'
The wind under the door.
'What is that noise now? What is the wind doing?'
Nothing again nothing.
'You know nothing? Do you see nothing? Do you remember
I remember
Those are pearls that were his eyes.
'Are you alive, or not? Is there nothing in your head?'
O O O O that Shakespeherian Rag—
It's so elegant
So intelligent
'What shall I do now? What shall I do?'
'I shall rush out as I am, and walk the street
'With my hair down, so. What shall we do to-morrow?
'What shall we ever do?'
The hot water at ten.
And if it rains, a closed car at four.
And we shall play a game of chess,
Pressing lidless eyes and waiting for a knock upon the door.

When Lil's husband got demobbed, I said—
I didn't mince my words, I said to her myself,
Now Albert's coming back, make yourself a bit smart.
He'll want to know what you done with that money he gave you
To get yourself some teeth. He did, I was there.
You have them all out, Lil, and get a nice set,
He said, I swear, I can't bear to look at you.
And no more can't I, I said, and think of poor Albert,
He's been in the army four years, he wants a good time,
And if you don't give it him, there's others will, I said.
Oh is there, she said. Something o' that, I said.
Then I'll know who to thank, she said, and give me a straight look.
If you don't like it you can get on with it, I said.
Others can pick and choose if you can't.
But if Albert makes off, it won't be for lack of telling.
You ought to be ashamed, I said, to look so antique.
(And her only thirty-one.)
I can't help it, she said, pulling a long face,
It's them pills I took, to bring it off, she said.
(She's had five already, and nearly died of young George.)
The chemist said it would be alright, but I've never been the same.
You are a proper fool, I said.
Well, if Albert won't leave you alone, there it is, I said,
What you get married for if you don't want children?
Well, that Sunday Albert was home, they had a hot gammon,
And they asked me in to dinner, to get the beauty of it hot—
Goonight Bill. Goonight Lou. Goonight May. Goonight.
Ta ta. Goonight. Goonight.
Good night, ladies, good night, sweet ladies, good night, good night.


THE river's tent is broken: the last fingers of leaf
Clutch and sink into the wet bank. The wind
Crosses the brown land, unheard. The nymphs are departed.
Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song.
The river bears no empty bottles, sandwich papers,
Silk handkerchiefs, cardboard boxes, cigarette ends
Or other testimony of summer nights. The nymphs are departed.
And their friends, the loitering heirs of city directors;
Departed, have left no addresses.
By the waters of Leman I sat down and wept...
Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my song,
Sweet Thames, run softly, for I speak not loud or long.
But at my back in a cold blast I hear
The rattle of the bones, and chuckle spread from ear to ear.

A rat crept softly through the vegetation
Dragging its slimy belly on the bank
While I was fishing in the dull canal
On a winter evening round behind the gashouse
Musing upon the king my brother's wreck
And on the king my father's death before him.
White bodies naked on the low damp ground
And bones cast in a little low dry garret,
Rattled by the rat's foot only, year to year.
But at my back from time to time I hear
The sound of horns and motors, which shall bring
Sweeney to Mrs. Porter in the spring.
O the moon shone bright on Mrs. Porter
And on her daughter
They wash their feet in soda water
Et, O ces voix d'enfants, chantant dans la coupole!

Twit twit twit
Jug jug jug jug jug jug
So rudely forc'd.

Unreal City
Under the brown fog of a winter noon
Mr. Eugenides, the Smyrna merchant
Unshaven, with a pocket full of currants
C.i.f. London: documents at sight,
Asked me in demotic French
To luncheon at the Cannon Street Hotel
Followed by a weekend at the Metropole.

At the violet hour, when the eyes and back
Turn upward from the desk, when the human engine waits
Like a taxi throbbing waiting,
I Tiresias, though blind, throbbing between two lives,
Old man with wrinkled female breasts, can see
At the violet hour, the evening hour that strives
Homeward, and brings the sailor home from sea,
The typist home at teatime, clears her breakfast, lights
Her stove, and lays out food in tins.
Out of the window perilously spread
Her drying combinations touched by the sun's last rays,
On the divan are piled (at night her bed)
Stockings, slippers, camisoles, and stays.
I Tiresias, old man with wrinkled dugs
Perceived the scene, and foretold the rest—
I too awaited the expected guest.
He, the young man carbuncular, arrives,
A small house agent's clerk, with one bold stare,
One of the low on whom assurance sits
As a silk hat on a Bradford millionaire.
The time is now propitious, as he guesses,
The meal is ended, she is bored and tired,
Endeavours to engage her in caresses
Which still are unreproved, if undesired.
Flushed and decided, he assaults at once;
Exploring hands encounter no defence;
His vanity requires no response,
And makes a welcome of indifference.
(And I Tiresias have foresuffered all
Enacted on this same divan or bed;
I who have sat by Thebes below the wall
And walked among the lowest of the dead.)
Bestows on final patronising kiss,
And gropes his way, finding the stairs unlit...

She turns and looks a moment in the glass,
Hardly aware of her departed lover;
Her brain allows one half-formed thought to pass:
'Well now that's done: and I'm glad it's over.'
When lovely woman stoops to folly and
Paces about her room again, alone,
She smoothes her hair with automatic hand,
And puts a record on the gramophone.

'This music crept by me upon the waters'
And along the Strand, up Queen Victoria Street.
O City city, I can sometimes hear
Beside a public bar in Lower Thames Street,
The pleasant whining of a mandoline
And a clatter and a chatter from within
Where fishmen lounge at noon: where the walls
Of Magnus Martyr hold
Inexplicable splendour of Ionian white and gold.

The river sweats
Oil and tar
The barges drift
With the turning tide
Red sails
To leeward, swing on the heavy spar.
The barges wash
Drifting logs
Down Greenwich reach
Past the Isle of Dogs.
Weialala leia
Wallala leialala

Elizabeth and Leicester
Beating oars
The stern was formed
A gilded shell
Red and gold
The brisk swell
Rippled both shores
Southwest wind
Carried down stream
The peal of bells
White towers
Weialala leia
Wallala leialala

'Trams and dusty trees.
Highbury bore me. Richmond and Kew
Undid me. By Richmond I raised my knees
Supine on the floor of a narrow canoe.'
'My feet are at Moorgate, and my heart
Under my feet. After the event
He wept. He promised "a new start".
I made no comment. What should I resent?'
'On Margate Sands.
I can connect
Nothing with nothing.
The broken fingernails of dirty hands.
My people humble people who expect
la la

To Carthage then I came

Burning burning burning burning
O Lord Thou pluckest me out
O Lord Thou pluckest



PHLEBAS the Phoenician, a fortnight dead,
Forgot the cry of gulls, and the deep seas swell
And the profit and loss.
A current under sea
Picked his bones in whispers. As he rose and fell
He passed the stages of his age and youth
Entering the whirlpool.
Gentile or Jew
O you who turn the wheel and look to windward,
Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you.


AFTER the torchlight red on sweaty faces
After the frosty silence in the gardens
After the agony in stony places
The shouting and the crying
Prison and place and reverberation
Of thunder of spring over distant mountains
He who was living is now dead
We who were living are now dying
With a little patience

Here is no water but only rock
Rock and no water and the sandy road
The road winding above among the mountains
Which are mountains of rock without water
If there were water we should stop and drink
Amongst the rock one cannot stop or think
Sweat is dry and feet are in the sand
If there were only water amongst the rock
Dead mountain mouth of carious teeth that cannot spit
Here one can neither stand nor lie nor sit
There is not even silence in the mountains
But dry sterile thunder without rain
There is not even solitude in the mountains
But red sullen faces sneer and snarl
From doors of mudcracked houses
If there were water
And no rock
If there were rock
And also water
And water
A spring
A pool among the rock
If there were the sound of water only
Not the cicada
And dry grass singing
But sound of water over a rock
Where the hermit-thrush sings in the pine trees
Drip drop drip drop drop drop drop
But there is no water

Who is the third who walks always beside you?
When I count, there are only you and I together
But when I look ahead up the white road
There is always another one walking beside you
Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded
I do not know whether a man or a woman
—But who is that on the other side of you?

What is that sound high in the air
Murmur of maternal lamentation
Who are those hooded hordes swarming
Over endless plains, stumbling in cracked earth
Ringed by the flat horizon only
What is the city over the mountains
Cracks and reforms and bursts in the violet air
Falling towers
Jerusalem Athens Alexandria
Vienna London

A woman drew her long black hair out tight
And fiddled whisper music on those strings
And bats with baby faces in the violet light
Whistled, and beat their wings
And crawled head downward down a blackened wall
And upside down in air were towers
Tolling reminiscent bells, that kept the hours
And voices singing out of empty cisterns and exhausted wells.

In this decayed hole among the mountains
In the faint moonlight, the grass is singing
Over the tumbled graves, about the chapel
There is the empty chapel, only the wind's home.
It has no windows, and the door swings,
Dry bones can harm no one.
Only a cock stood on the rooftree
Co co rico co co rico
In a flash of lightning. Then a damp gust
Bringing rain

Ganga was sunken, and the limp leaves
Waited for rain, while the black clouds
Gathered far distant, over Himavant.
The jungle crouched, humped in silence.
Then spoke the thunder
Datta: what have we given?
My friend, blood shaking my heart
The awful daring of a moment's surrender
Which an age of prudence can never retract
By this, and this only, we have existed
Which is not to be found in our obituaries
Or in memories draped by the beneficent spider
Or under seals broken by the lean solicitor
In our empty rooms
Dayadhvam: I have heard the key
Turn in the door once and turn once only
We think of the key, each in his prison
Thinking of the key, each confirms a prison
Only at nightfall, aetherial rumours
Revive for a moment a broken Coriolanus
Damyata: The boat responded
Gaily, to the hand expert with sail and oar
The sea was calm, your heart would have responded
Gaily, when invited, beating obedient
To controlling hands

I sat upon the shore
Fishing, with the arid plain behind me
Shall I at least set my lands in order?

London Bridge is falling down falling down falling down

Poi s'ascose nel foco che gli affina
Quando fiam ceu chelidon—O swallow swallow
Le Prince d'Aquitaine à la tour abolie
These fragments I have shored against my ruins
Why then Ile fit you. Hieronymo's mad againe.
Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata.

Shantih shantih shantih


Ok, let's see if that helps.