Dave Brubeck

Pianist and composer Dave Brubeck died this morning at 91.

I mention here for selfish reasons; Brubeck represents by far the most accomplished musician I ever got a chance to play with. He was 82 at the time, and a group from my college’s jazz band got to perform with him at Constitution Hall in DC. We practiced with him only once beforehand, and my cell phone went off while he was taking to us — it was my first cell phone, and I was still learning appropriate cell-phone etiquette. Before the show, I ran into Brubeck by the sinks in the bathroom, and he complimented my range on the trombone and reminded me to turn off my phone before the show. He seemed like a pretty cool guy, and he was still awesome at the piano.

Even if you’re unfamiliar with Brubeck, you’ve probably heard this one. Improvising in unusual time signatures is not an easy thing to do:

Friday Q&A, pt. 4: The randos

Via email, real-life friend Bill writes:

Ted Berg’s all-time, no-holds-barred, ultimate music supergroup line-up?

It switches all the time, as Bill knows. And you might have to look some of these guys up. For today, let’s make it funky and go with Stanton Moore on drums, Norwood Fisher on bass, Phelps Collins and Jimi Hendrix on guitars, and a horn section featuring Cannonball Adderley and Skerik on saxophones, Wycliffe Gordon on trombone, and Maynard Ferguson on the trumpet. I’m not sure I’d say any of those guys is the best all time at his instrument, I just think they’d make for an unspeakably awesome band. Hendrix could sing if necessary, but I don’t really think they’d need vocals very often.

First things first, I take off my pants. No one’s ever going to make me wear pants again.

What was it, $580 million or something? So figure I wind up with $300 million after taxes. I use $100 million to make sure my parents, my sister and her family, and all my in-laws are set for life. I put $100 million in the bank to collect interest and so I can pay taxes on all the stuff I buy with the remaining $100 million.

Next, I throw the most baller-ass party anybody can possibly imagine. Rent out some awesome venue, hire the fanciest caterer and have him make cheeseburgers, serve Johnnie Walker Blue in every cocktail, all sorts of ridiculous excess. I don’t even know if I have enough friends to come to my multimillion-dollar party, so I have my people reach out to Puff Daddy’s people and see if he’ll co-sponsor it and come hang out under the agreement that he is absolutely not to rap at any point in the party. We’ll book the remaining members of the Wu-Tang Clan for that. So it’ll be me and a bunch of my friends, Puff Daddy and a bunch of his friends, and the Wu-Tang Clan, hanging out. And there’s going to be carnival rides, games of chance, a wheel of cheese to put Andrew Jackson’s to shame, and that guy Ted Batchelor who sets himself on fire.

Finally, I buy the penthouse at 432 Park Avenue, the highest residential location in New York City, and a pet alpaca, and I hunker down for the pantsless life of an eccentric rich guy.

My listening habits suggest it’s the 70s or the 90s, followed by the 00s. I would have thought I listened to more stuff from the 60s, but looking through my iPod, it’s mostly the Beatles and some live James Brown material from that decade. I probably listen to more stuff from the 90s than any other decade, though I don’t listen to a lot of the same stuff now that I did in the 90s. I don’t have a ton of music I love from the 10s, because I’m old now and crotchety. These kids these days with their dubstep. Bah.


Wait, who said I’m going to die? I’m planning a full St. Germain.

Reports of Bigfoot’s existence exaggerated

Real-life friend Lee passed along this link to io9.com’s thorough takedown of the recent press release boasting DNA evidence of Bigfoot’s existence. It’s worth a read, and it answers several of the questions I asked when posting the press release earlier this week. Specifically, the DNA was taken from — among other places — a blueberry bagel from a Michigan backyard known for Sasquatch sightings. Apparently Sasquatch love blueberry bagels.

And while you’re at it, click on some of the links then slide merrily down the Internet Bigfoot rabbithole. Or start here, if you want to cut out the middlemen. There are a lot of people online who have a lot to say about Bigfoot.

Still rooting for Bigfoot here, but I’m guessing any increase in recent Bigfoot sightings and accompanying Sasquatch science is something similar to what happened with the crop circles in England: Pranksters producing copycats and ultimately hysteria. That’s only slightly less fascinating than Bigfoot, though. And I’m still waiting on a satisfying explanation for cattle mutilation.

Important NBA research

Spin Magazine puts together a comprehensive team-by-team ranking of the NBA leaders in rap shoutouts.

This is something I’ve been thinking about for roughly 15 years, no joke. Why? “Triumph,” one of the Wu-Tang Clan’s most recognizable singles and (though not really my favorite) certainly among their most epic performances, ends with a seemingly random reference to Rod Strickland.

Strickland’s from New York, so maybe Raekwon was showing some civic pride. But it seemed funny to me that this otherwise ethereal song should end with a shoutout to a pretty good basketball player. And I’ve always wanted to figure out which athlete benefited from the highest ratio of mentions in rap songs to actual ability, but it’s not something I have the wherewithal to figure out.

Lyrics NSFW:

Via Deadspin.


A team of scientists can verify that their 5-year long DNA study, currently under peer-review, confirms the existence of a novel hominin hybrid species, commonly called “Bigfoot” or “Sasquatch,” living in North America. Researchers’ extensive DNA sequencing suggests that the legendary Sasquatch is a human relative that arose approximately 15,000 years ago as a hybrid cross of modern Homo sapiens with an unknown primate species.

The study was conducted by a team of experts in genetics, forensics, imaging and pathology, led by Dr. Melba S. Ketchum of Nacogdoches, TX. In response to recent interest in the study, Dr. Ketchum can confirm that her team has sequenced 3 complete Sasquatch nuclear genomes and determined the species is a human hybrid:

“Our study has sequenced 20 whole mitochondrial genomes and utilized next generation sequencing to obtain 3 whole nuclear genomes from purported Sasquatch samples. The genome sequencing shows that Sasquatch mtDNA is identical to modern Homo sapiens, but Sasquatch nuDNA is a novel, unknown hominin related to Homo sapiens and other primate species. Our data indicate that the North American Sasquatch is a hybrid species, the result of males of an unknown hominin species crossing with female Homo sapiens.


Color me skeptical. I’m not typically one to doubt scientific research, but I don’t know nearly enough about the validity of the specific science here to go all in on Bigfoot. For one thing: Where did they find Sasquatch DNA?

Obviously I’m rooting for Bigfoot to exist, but someone needs to make with the Sasquatch before I take back all the nasty things I’ve said about everyone involved in the production of Finding Bigfoot.

Also, if Sasquatch — which is apparently the plural of Sasquatch, not Sasquatches — actually exist and have managed to defy the best efforts of the Finding Bigfoot crew and just about everyone else for this long, they’re probably pretty smart and strongly prefer not to be messed with. So, you know, factor that in before you get searching.

Via Gothamist.

Andrew W.K. forging party-diplomacy path for Wyld Stallyns

Eleven years after releasing seminal party-rock song “Party Hard,” while taking time out from speaking at My Little Pony conventions and designing a pizza-shaped guitar, serial partier (and motivational speaker) Andrew W.K. will head to the Middle East on behalf of the State Department to promote peace… and partying.

According to Mr. W.K., as a Cultural Ambassador he will travel to Bahrain next month and visit elementary schools, the University of Bahrain, and music venues “all while promoting partying and world peace.”

Andrew Kirell, Mediaite.

So that’s awesome. Of course, soon after the news broke, rumors spread that it was a hoax. But Mr. W.K. himself maintains that he is going to Bahrain to party. He also points out:

I’m not sure how accurate the following story is; it’s one of those friend-of-a-friend things that could easily be urban legend.

But some friends of friends apparently met Andrew W.K. after a show and, since he’s Andrew W.K., gave him their phone number and invited him to their party the next night. And apparently Andrew W.K. called them up the next day and asked, “If I come to your party, will there be hot dogs there?”

They weren’t planning on serving hot dogs, but obviously they were all, “hell yeah we’ve got hot dogs” and went out and bought a bunch of hot dogs. And supposedly Andrew W.K. showed up, partied with them all night, and ate about seven hot dogs.

Again, that’s not something I can confirm, but Andrew W.K. has tweeted about the merits of hot dogs on multiple occasions.

R. Kelly promises 85 new chapters of ‘Trapped in the Closet’

I want everybody to know I’ve got 85 chapters of ‘Trapped in the Closet’ waiting in the studio for y’all.

R. Kelly.

85! Eighty five! I wouldn’t believe it, except I totally do. He’s already come this far, and this is apparently what R. Kelly does now. I jokingly compared him to Homer when he was only five chapters deep, but if he really goes to more than 100 it’s probably time we stop calling him a contemporary R&B singer and start calling him an epic poet.

He’s also working on adapting ‘Trapped in the Closet” into a Broadway musical, which I will see. I really hope they don’t write a second song for it, though.

Via James K.