Product of: Joshua D. Rothman . P.O. Box 1151 . Princeton, NJ 08542-1151


As seen all over the web: beautiful, color photographs of early 20th-century tsarist Russia. Some of them look like paintings or snapshots; all of them, because of the color photography, seem utterly modern to me. These are well worth your time -- my favorite is here.

The new R.E.M. record, Reveal, is out and track-for-track so beautiful that it borders on being insubstantial. I don't understand the critics who hate this album, but I do understand those who feel that R.E.M. are rocketing off into some nebular pop stratosphere from which their music has no true relevance. I saw Michael Stipe on David Letterman tonight -- more than ever before he seemed inscrutable, strange, and completely happy with his bald head and big red hinging mouth. If R.E.M.'s great records were preoccupied with Big Themes, then Reveal is preoccupied only with Beautiful Music: still Michael Stipe writes wonderfully. My favorite lines: It's the poison that in measures / Brings illuminating vision / It's the knowing with a wink / That we expect from Southern women. Good morning, how are you? / The weather's fine / The sky is blue / It's perfect for our seminar. -- I used to think, as birds take wing / They sing through life, so why can't we? That's certainly what Michael Stipe is doing, and quite well. The record is beautiful; I own the limited edition version, which has a big book of Stipean photographs -- they might be worth it if you are an R.E.M. obsessive.

As a teenager I spent a lot of time listening to R.E.M. records -- the really old and great records: Lifes Rich Pageant, Fables of the Reconstruction, and the Chronic Town EP. R.E.M. made a big impression on me; their early music was in fact impressionist and morbid the same way Radiohead's music is impressionist and morbid today. Regardless: the other day I played at WPRB the original Chronic Town EP on vinyl, from 1982. I was three when that record came out -- all over the sleeve DJ's had written their comments and notes. My favorite two: "I hope we hear more from this band," and "His voice is annoying." That just about sums it up I think. When I visit Southern states, I am always disappointed that they're not the mossy Gothic wonderlands R.E.M. suggest they are on records like Reckoning. When I saw the landscape photography of Sally Mann for the first time the first thing I thought of was R.E.M. and their famous photograph of the Athens trestle. Hokey as it sounds, I would like to go to Athens someday.

My other record of the week is the much louder New Pornographer's album, Mass Romantic. I can listen to "Letter From An Occupant" all day. And speaking of all day -- check out the pretty colors at Vitaflo -- soon to be everywhere, all over the web. There is a new parking garage which just opened down-campus from here; I'm going to go take photos and I will post them sometime soon.

posted by Josh Rothman 5/16/2001 04:29:58 AM

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