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One of my favorite albums of 1996 was Fiona Apple's Tidal. I'm sure I was drawn in, like millions of other males, by the extremely sexy video for the lead-off single, "Criminal." But the weakness of being influenced by the video made it so much better knowing the rest of the album was worth the listen -- that the sexy girl on the TV screen really could write songs, play piano, and sing. For weeks, the CD didn't even leave my stereo; the best time to listen was late at night with the lights turned off -- I'd call it very sultry alternative jazz-pop.

I eagerly awaited the release of her next album. The initial single, "Fast As You Can," boded well but the rest of the album just didn't have the magic of the debut (it was good, just not THAT good) primarily, I felt, because it wasn't as piano-driven/melodic as Tidal had been. This second release was significant for a reason wholly unrelated to the music contained within -- it sported the longest title of any album I can remember: When The Pawn Hits The Conflicts He Thinks Like A King What He Knows Throws The Blows When He Goes To The Fight And He'll Win The Whole Thing 'Fore He Enters The Ring There's No Body To Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might So When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand And Remember That Depth Is The Greatest Of Heights And If You Know Where You Stand, Then You Know Where To Land And If You Fall It Won't Matter, Cuz You'll Know That You're Right. Of course, the spine and most sane people just called it by the first three words of the title.

Aside from a couple of soundtrack-only songs (including a great version of The Beatles's "Across The Universe"), Fiona Apple then disappeared from my radar. Aside from finding a couple of bootlegs here and there, I didn't hear anything about a third album until early last year when she appeared in the "upcoming releases" circular in a Columbia House Music Club mailing (yes, I've been a member for over 20 years now). But the promised album never appeared.

Until I stumbled across it last week as a binary newsgroup download. I don't normally download officially-released material except when I'm certain I'll purchase the actual product. I do believe in putting money in the pockets of those artists I enjoy. So, I downloaded Extraordinary Machine (it was labeled as an advanced copy so that explained why I didn't see it on But, aside from checking a couple of tracks for sound quality, I hadn't yet listened to the entire album.

A few minutes ago, I stumbled across an article (while searching for concert reviews of Wilco's recent Albuquerque gig) that was headlined, "The Fiona Apple Fiasco," dated April 19. Apparently, the album was finished in May 2003 but the record company fat-cats rejected it for being uncommercial. When Fiona couldn't deliver what they considered a "hit single," the album was mothballed.

Miss Apple, like so many other artists, apparently has some extremely devoted fans. One started a website,, which is dedicated to urging the record company to officially release the album. What I downloaded is actually unreleased -- the eleven tracks were "mysteriously" leaked to the Internet over the past several months. I'm listening to it right now and the first six songs sound really good -- at least the equivalent of the majority of her second album.

The full article, from the Washington Post's Slate Magazine, follows:

The Fiona Apple Fiasco
The executives at Epic won't release her new album, but they may be right not to.
By Martin Edlund
Posted Tuesday, April 19, 2005, at 3:39 AM PT

Fiona Apple's third album,
Extraordinary Machine, looked like it was headed for the pop scrapheap. Completed in May of 2003, it was rejected by her label, Epic Records, on the grounds that the songs weren't sufficiently commercial to justify the expense of their release. After Apple failed in her attempt to write a more salable single, the album was mothballed—destined to be mythologized by devoted fans but otherwise forgotten and unmissed.

But a funny thing happened on the way to oblivion. Last year, two songs from
Extraordinary Machine were mysteriously leaked onto the Internet. Then the leak became a flood. In January of this year, a Seattle radio DJ named Andrew Harms began playing the other album tracks, which were quickly bootlegged and uploaded to the Web. Harms won't divulge the source of the songs, leading some to speculate that the leak was due to (extraordinary) machinations by Epic. Harms denies this.

Also in January, a 21-year-old Apple fanatic named Dave Muscato mounted a campaign through the Web site urging Epic to release the album. He and his cohort collected signatures, mailed foam apples to Sony-BMG headquarters (Epic's parent company), picketed outside the building, and raised money online to fund their effort. The campaign continues, despite the fact that all 11 album tracks (and several alternate versions) have been widely available on the Internet since mid-March. The album has essentially been released: The only thing missing is the $15.99 price tag.

Epic, meanwhile, has had little to say on the subject. It hasn't responded to the Free Fiona campaign and refuses interview requests. In February, the label issued the elliptical statement: ''It's our understanding that Fiona is still in the midst of recording her next album and we at Epic Records join music lovers everywhere in eagerly anticipating her next release.'' On Epic's behalf, the Recording Industry Association of America has begun cracking down on Web sites offering the songs for download.

Much of the abundant press and blog coverage has attempted to shoehorn this Cinderella story into another glass slipper: that of Wilco's
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. The similarities are striking. Wilco's album was likewise rejected by its label, Reprise/Warner, and the band was dropped. After buying back its masters, Wilco streamed the album online, where it was embraced by fans and critics alike. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was ultimately released, to much acclaim, by the boutique label Nonesuch Records (ironically, another Warner imprint) in 2002.

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot isn't a useful precedent. For one thing, it was a much bigger cause célèbre than Extraordinary Machine is shaping up to be. Fiona hasn't been dropped by her label, and she hasn't even stated publicly whether she cares if the album is released or not. Wilco's standard for success is also much different than Apple's and Epic's. Despite universal plaudits, endless rehashings of the David-versus-Goliath story, and a feature film about the album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot has sold only 517,000 copies to date. That's a big number for Wilco, but for an artist with Apple's track record—1997's Tidal sold 2.7 million copies and 1999's When the Pawn ... sold 917,000—it would be a major disappointment.

Which brings us to the question: Just how well would
Extraordinary Machine sell? It's easy to get the impression the public is clamoring for it. On March 18, Wired News ("Fiona Apple Is Cookin' on the Net") reported that "at any one time about 38,000 users in the United States are downloading songs from Extraordinary Machine." This is an astonishing number, and one that has been widely parroted. It would translate to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of downloads a day—a groundswell of interest any label would be foolish to ignore.

If only it were real.
Wired News' source for the number was BigChampagne, an online media measurement company that serves as a kind of Billboard chart for the surreptitious world of file sharing. But according to BigChampagne CEO Eric Garland, the figure actually refers to the number of people in the United States who were "sharing" the songs on the major P2P networks at one time—that is, making at least one track from the album available for download—not the number actively uploading or downloading the songs.

This is a far humbler figure, especially when compared with equivalent numbers for successful major-label releases. As of April 7, 3,994,837 people were sharing songs from
Hot Fuss by the Killers; 5,179,675 people were sharing songs from Green Day's album American Idiot; and 8,024,713 people were sharing songs from 50 Cent's The Massacre.

Obviously, this isn't an apples-to-apples comparison. These other albums have all benefited from lavish promotional campaigns and extensive airplay on MTV and commercial radio. But the degree of the interest in
Extraordinary Machine is even modest when compared to last year's big Internet phenomenon, The Grey Album by Danger Mouse (also unreleased and circulated exclusively on the Web). Whereas 278,327 people were sharing material from The Grey Album at its peak in April 2004, Extraordinary Machine topped out at 46,759 in March—less than one-fifth that number.

These numbers aren't comprehensive, but they do give a sense of the relative interest in Apple's album. "Given that Fiona Apple is a veteran who has released two previous albums, I think the online audience looks like her core, not like a popular audience," says Garland, who regularly advises radio stations and record labels about file-sharing trends.

It isn't difficult to see why.
Extraordinary Machine is a wonderfully complex album. By turns whimsical and solemn, it's full of topsy-turvy cabaret tunes, banging piano parts, and smart, sometimes clunky lyrics. The producer, Jon Brion, ornaments the songs with quirky, cinematic arrangements reminiscent of his soundtrack work on I Heart Huckabees and Punch-Drunk Love. In other words, Extraordinary Machine is just the sort of adventurous, critic-pleasing album that's nearly impossible to sell to a mainstream audience.

One song, "Please, Please, Please," even seems to anticipate Apple's troubles at Epic. She sings: "please, please, please, no more melodies/ they lack impact, they're petty/ they've been made up already ... / but me and everybody is on the sad, same team/ and you can hear our sad brains screaming/ give us something familiar, something similar/ to what we know already, that will keep us steady."

You can just imagine how it must have sounded to Epic back in 2003. This was when the young, husky-voiced, piano-playing beauty Norah Jones was riding high on five Grammy Award wins and more than 5 million album sales. And, at the same time, Epic's own young, husky-voiced, piano-playing beauty was remaking herself in the image of a midcareer Tom Waits. The decision to shelve the album must have seemed obvious.

Yet, it looks like the scrappy Free Fiona campaign and the skewed coverage of the leak may be swaying minds at Epic. The label's most recent statement, issued earlier this month, read: "Epic is continuing to work with Fiona's management toward the release of this project." This could be a costly mistake: Based on the evidence, there's no reason the label should second-guess itself.

Martin Edlund is a writer in New York.
Listen to "Oh Well" from Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Machine:


Once again, I'll be out-of-town for tomorrow's events in Albuquerque's continuing celebration of her 300th birthday. (I am, however, attending the Gathering Of Nations pow wow tonight -- although I probably won't be able to post a review until Sunday night or Monday).

There are some interesting-sounding events nonetheless:

Beginning at 9:00am, there will be a talk and slide presentation about "Landscapes, Cultural Properties and Archeological Resources" followed by a visit to the anscestral pueblo site of the 1000-room Piedras Marcadas. The Superintendent of Open Space, Dr. Matt Schmader, will explain how the residents of this old village and their descendants interact with the surrounding landscape. The free program requires advance registration by calling Petroglyph National Monument at 899-0205 ext. 337.

At the old main library (the Special Collections Library AKA Ernie Pyle Memorial Library at 423 Central Avenue N.E.), there will be a presentation of documents and memorabilia by and about famed WWII reporter Ernie Pyle, one of Albuquerque's most noted citizens. It seems to me I recently read something interesting online either written by Pyle or written about him (the memory fades sometimes); I'll see if I can't find it and post it if it's as interesting as I recall.

All of the public libraries in the Albuquerque and Bernalillo County systems are participating tomorrow in Dia de los Niños, a nationwide celebration promoting children's literature, reading, and bilingual literacy. Check with the individual libraries for times and details of events.

From 1:00 to 3:30, a noted archaeologist will lead a guided hike into Piedras Madras Canyon to discuss petroglyphs, cultural landscapes, and the continued importance of our volcanic escarpment to today's Indian, Hispano, and Anglo communities. Again, advanced registration is required by calling Petroglyph National Monument at 899-0205 ext. 337. This is the event I would have attended if I was going to be in town.

Gathering Of Nations 2005And, that seems to be all of the Tricentennial events scheduled in Albuquerque for tomorrow. Of course, the Gathering Of Nations continues at The Pit (Avenida Cesar Chavez and University Boulevard) with the Grand Entry of Dancers held at noon and 7pm. The crowning of Miss Indian World 2005 also occurs tomorrow evening. Tickets are $13 which covers the Pow Wow and Indian Traders Market.


For as long as I can remember, I've kept lists of useless information in various day-planners and notebooks. Along with keeping track of income and expenses I used to list, for example, mail I would send and receive, daily mileage (even when I wasn't driving cross-country), and other completely useless information. Luckily, most of that record-keeping was left behind many years ago (except, of course, for the financial kind).

But there are a few lists I do maintain for no real reason other than they keep some order to my daily routine. I keep track of the books I read (only those that I actually finish cover to cover are included -- I begin many more than I complete), the CD's that I listen to (again, if I fall asleep before hearing an entire album it doesn't count), and the DVD's I watch (I used to keep track of ALL the movies I'd ever watched -- either at the theatres or at home on television or video -- it was a HUGE list that dated to my earliest memories; alas, it was lost in a computer crash some years ago).

I did fall out of the list-making routine for a few years -- for all except the one of the books I'd finished. Reading does remain my oldest, and greatest, love afterall. That list dates back to 1997; I just added the 533rd title (I used to average around 100 books per year -- that's significantly reduced these days). I think I began falling behind in my reading when I made the switch to more heavy-duty non-fiction books rather than reading fast-moving adventure and mystery fiction. I've only managed to finish 13 books so far this year.

One of the message boards I participate in has a section where members recommend favorite albums they listen to. That got me back into the habit of keeping track of the music I listened to and, by extension, also the DVD's I watched. On the earlier version of this blog, I would post the daily lists -- a habit that quickly became rather boring. (I still like to show some of what I'm listening to, viewing, and reading which explains the sidebar content -- I usually pick my favorite of each out of the most recent activities.)

At the beginning of this year, I decided to keep track of this listening and viewing through the use of databases -- I wanted to know, finally, how many albums I listen to in an average year. I also thought it would be interesting to also track how many times I repeated a particular album (I have so many different CD's that I don't often listen to many more than once -- and sometimes my favorite artists don't get played for weeks or months, occasionally years, just because I might not be in the right "mood" to listen to them). In addition to the CD's and DVD's lists, I also decided to track how many of each type of media I burn this year. Those lists are about as useful as the others, but perhaps it will tell me how many CD's and DVD's I can burn before my burners need to be replaced. Who knows?

Anyway, it's only the end of April, but I'm somewhat amazed at the totals so far. If you've managed to read this far, you're obviously not bored by this sort of thing so here we are -- so far, in 2005:

CD's Listened To: 371
CD's Burned: 478
DVD's Watched: 73
DVD's Burned: 184
Wherever do I find the time?


Two weeks ago, I added new statistics counters to both my main website and this blog. They track a lot of information, which could be very useful if I ever choose to analyze what they really mean.

For site designers, information such as what browsers most of their visitors use can help them choose which elements to include on their webpages. Knowing what search engines people use to find their site can be useful in targeting an audience.

For someone like myself, who writes primarily as a means to keep his long-distance family and friends informed of the goings-on and other interests in his life, the statistics really don't mean all that much.

The only ones I really find interesting are the "geo trackers" which show which countries the various visitors to my sites live in. For someone who has spent his entire life reading about far-off lands (and actually managing to visit some in the past few years), it's just "fun" to see that I do have a bit of an international audience -- particuarly with the blog.

In the two weeks since I added the statistics counters, the homepage of my personal site has had 64 unique visitors from the United States, 13 from Norway (where a good friend of mine lives), and one from Venezuela (which came in just a short while ago -- can't think of anyone I might know down there, although I'd love to visit sometime!).

This blog has had somewhat more variety: 94 hits from the United States, eight from Norway, seven from Canada, two from the United Kingdom and one each from Spain, Mexico, Australia, Italy, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Belgium. (Why none from China?)

Kind of interesting...or, maybe not.



As I prepare my home for some imminent major construction (the replacement of all of the PVC water pipes), I've been wracking my brain for something to blog about. I haven't been inspired to write about much of anything all week. It's very telling when I look at my blog and see that the last several posts were the kind of inane quizzes that one relies on when one can't come up with something more significant to write.

I really try to avoid what I call the "Seinfeld" posts: those that are about absolutely nothing. The ramblings were a part of my earlier blog and, while easy to write, don't make for interesting reading.

It's not as if I don't have much to write about.

There has been a lot of interesting events lately in my home of Albuquerque, New Mexico; I've even attended some of them. I've written quite a bit about our ongoing Tricentennial celebrations and some of the city's history. I will continue to make those types of posts when the time is right.

And I've been attending a few concerts lately. I've already reviewed U2's show in Phoenix (and just finished a page on my personal site about the concert, complete with over 100 photos; check it out at and plan do so so for Tuesday night's Wilco concert and last nights Sarah McLachlan gig -- as soon as I find the inspiration to do those shows justice. With upcoming concerts by Bruce Springsteen, Los Lonely Boys, and The Allman Brothers Band in the next couple of weeks, I should have plenty of blogging material.

Or, I could blog status reports about my dealing with a stream of workers knocking holes in my walls while I try to edit music or video on the computer. I'm dreading the entire process (it's already been stressful rearranging furniture, particularly the huge oak bookcases, so access can be gained to the walls they need to get to; it's going to get mighty noisy and dusty when the actual work begins).

I've been perusing my favorite news and technology websites, not to mention numerous blogs, trying to find inspiration as well. While I've found some interesting stories -- such as the German hacker who managed to erase his own hard drive instead because he didn't recognize his own IP address, or my fears about the world's largest passenger plane (what if it crashes at full capacity?), I haven't felt the muse to blog about them properly.

My usual "backup" during times such as this is to watch our local news reports; the "only in New Mexico" aspect can make for some humerous topics. But, aside from the recently-divorced wife of current Albuquerque mayor Martin Chavez possibly running against him in the next election, nothing blog-worthy has appeared lately. I suppose I could update a few of my past posts about the odd weather we're continuing to experience (including more snow several days ago) and how the water levels in the Rio Grande or Elephant Butte Lake are at their highest in many years. But that would involve a bit of research to find out how many years; my recent laziness is starting to rear it's ugly little head.

The odd thing is, although inspiration to write about all these subjects still hasn't arrived, I find I just wrote about them so there's no need to wait for the muse.

Now, what to blog about next?



discover what candy you are @ quiz me


EmeraldYou are most like An Emerald! Caring, giving, - and very emotional. You're the person people turn to with a problem. You worry about everybody, and genuinely want to help - a little too much sometimes. As an emerald, you tend to take a more backseat to the other gems, but your inner beauty soon captivates those who take the time to get to know you. Congratulations ... You're the selfless gem everybody needs as a friend.

Which Precious Gem Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla


SamuraiYou are a Samurai.
You are full of honour and value respect. You are not really the stereotypical hero, but you do fight for good. Just in your own way. For you, it is most certainly okay to kill an evil person, if it is for justice and peace. You also don't belive in mourning all the time and think that once you've hit a bad stage in life you just have to get up again. It's pointless to concentrate on emotional pain and better to just get on with everything. You also are a down to earth type of person and think before you act. Impulsive people may annoy you somewhat.

Main weapon: Sword
Quote: "Always do the right thing.
This will gratify some people and astonish the rest" -Mark Twain
Facial expression: Small smile

What Type of Killer Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla


From time to time, I enjoy taking the various online quizzes that serve as blog-filler during those periods of writer's block.

You know the type: quizzes to determine "What kind of American English do you speak?", "What age will you die?", etc. Sometimes, the results hit close to the mark. But most of the time, you need to be able to laugh at yourself.

There are few good sources for these blog quizzes. My favorites are Quizzila and Blogthings.

Since I'm experiencing some degree of "what am I going to blog about?" today, I think I'll just post a few quiz results.




There are several Tricentennial events scheduled today, including a lecture on "The Founding Of Albuquerque" by the renowned Spanish Colonial historian Dr. Joseph P. Sánchez. This free event will be held at noon at The Hidden Patios of Old Town and will be followed by the presentation of the Meritorious Civil Service Medal to Dr. Sánchez by the Spanish Counsel General.

Also in Old Town today, Native American music will be performed at the Gazebo beginning at noon and there will be a "spectacular procession of colorful costumes and banners as they wind their way to Plaza Don Luis".

At 2;00pm, the Ehecatl Aztec Dancers will perform "warrior style" dances of the Mexika-Chichimeka traditionat the Main Library, 501 Copper Ave NW. At 8:00pm, the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra performs with guest conductor Javier Alenjandro Lorenzo as part of the Fiesta de las Americas series at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, 1701 Fourth Street SW.

Finally, Pueblo Days begins at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, a week-long celebration that will include dances, food, arts and crafts, and more.

It's getting difficult to choose which events to attend.


With all of the activities planned for the Albuquerque Tricentennial, I hope that the Gathering Of Nations isn't overshadowed as a result.

This annual event, this year is the 22nd, includes North America's largest Pow Wow (over 3,000 indigenous dancers and singers representing over 500 tribes from Canada and the United States), as well as the Miss Indian World competition and a market featuring over 800 Native American artists, crafters and traders.

This year's Gathering Of Nations begins at 7:00pm next Thursday with the Miss Indian World traditional talent presentations (tickets are $10 in advance). The Pow Wow begins the following morning at The Pit (University Of Mexico Arena on Avenida Cesar Chavez). The Grand Entry of Dancers (at noon and 7:00pm on Friday and Saturday) is not to be missed. The festivities end with the crowning of Miss Indian World on Saturday night. One-day tickets (covering the Pow Wow and the Indian Traders Market without re-entry) cost $11 for Friday and $13 for Saturday; a two-day pass (including in and out privileges) runs $19.

Apart from watching the dancers and drum groups, my favorite part of any Native American gathering is loading up on the great food -- particularly fry bread with sugar and honey, Navajo tacos, and the occasional bowl of mutton stew. I can't wait!

Listen to 2004 Gathering Of Nations Pow Wow intro. by Rosanne Abrahamson:



The first American account of colonial Albuquerque, many historians say, came from a dashing young lieutenant named Zebulon Montgomery Pike in March 1807.

And from his words, he seemed nothing short of impressed as he watched Albuquerqueans prepare for their spring crops by cleaning irrigation ditches.

Lt. Zebulon Montgomery Pike"We saw men, women and children of all ages at the joyful labor which was to crown with rich abundance their future harvests and ensure them plenty for the ensuing year," Pike recalled afterward.

"...The cultivation of the fields was now commencing and everything appeared to give life and gaiety to the surrounding scenery."

Pike's insighful expedition through Albuquerque, however, came about in an unsual way: as a detainee with a Spanish military escort.

He and his American troop were taken south to Chihuahua City for questioning after Santa Fe Gov. Joaquin Real Alencaster's soldiers took them into custody at the upper Rio Grande for trespassing on New Mexico territory.

Just a few years earlier, France had sold the Louisiana Territory to the United States, expanding the new American nation to the tip of northern New Mexico.

At the time, Pike "invited capture as the best means for gaining admittance to New Mexico and seeing what lay behind the Spanish veil," according to Marc Simmons, author of Albuquerque: A Narrative History.

Pike's diary, however, indicates otherwise -- he hadn't meant to intrude but simply lost his way. He thought he was on the Red River within the Louisiana Purchase rather than farther south on the Rio Grande.

His Spanish expedition ended around June 1807 when then military escorted his troop to American land at Natchitoches, Louisiana.

According to Simmons, Pike's expedition revealed that New Mexico offered untapped wealth if Spain's restrictions on commerce and travel could be broken.

It wasn't until 1821, however, that Mexico would declare its independence from Spain and the Santa Fe Trail would open to international trade.

"It is that period, which would last just over a quarter of a century with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that ended the Mexican-American War, that is often misunderstood and understudied," said Carlos Vásquez, the National Hispanic Cultural Center's history and litery arts director.

"It wasn't a down period -- it was really a time that brought economic growth, activity, entrepreneurship," he said. "It wasn't a period of depression but rather one of economic expansion."

In Albuquerque, it also was a time of religious prosperity. The village's only church, San Felipe de Neri, had been built in 1793 to replace the original 1706 mission church. By the 1800s, it was a true focal point for the village, said Tom Steele, author of Albuquerque In 1821: Padre Leyva's Descriptions.

"There was no separation of church and state then -- it was very much a hand-in-glove operation," he said. "So, it was the church that brought people together and to the plaza."

To read more about Zebulon Pike's explorations, check out these two sites:
Zebulon Pike To Santa Fe
Zebulon Pike: Hard-Luck Explorer Or Successful Spy?


TDKWhile the DVD Double Layer media prices remain sky high and whether we want it or not, the next generation of optical recording is coming our way. Traditional recording media provider TDK -- at the bleeding edge of recording technology -- released it's Blu-ray disc TDK Professional Disc (PD-RE23CN) today.

From the press release:

...The TDK Professional Disc, which uses a blue-violet laser with a short wavelength for recording and playback, boasts a capacity of 23.3GB – approximately five times that of DVD media – as well as a rapid transfer rate of 72Mbps. Thanks to its random data access capability and other features available only from optical disc media, it can be expected to find growing acceptance in broadcasting applications.
Due to the high-density recording required by the Professional Disc System, adherence of any dust on, or scratches to the disc surface can have a serious impact on recording and playback accuracy. By utilizing TDK’s DURABIS PRO, a hard coating technology developed for professional-use discs, TDK’s Professional Disc offers extremely high durability and recording reliability.
By use of a blue-violet laser with an extremely short 405nm wavelength, a large recording capacity of 23.3GB – about five times that of a DVD disc – is realized on a disc of the same size. In addition, high-sensitivity phase change materials and an optimized layer structure allows for a high-speed transfer rate of 72Mbps (144Mbps with two optical heads) with stabilized recording and playback.
And I just bought a dual-layer burner...instantly out-of-date.



Blogcritics: news and reviewsOne of the first sites I peruse each morning for the latest in music and film reviews, and to see what's being said about various issues in technology, culture, and politics is Blogcritics ("A sinister cabal of superior bloggers on music, books, film, popular culture, technology, and politics"). And, although I certainly don't regard myself as a "superior" blogger, I do believe in the shameless art of self-promotion.

So I'm happy to announce that my application to become a member of the Blogcritics team has been approved and that my first review there has just been published -- it's a slightly edited version of my "first listening review" of Bruce Springsteen's Devils & Dust album which I posted on Monday. Check out the new version at

Most of my reviews will be cross-posted between 'BURQUE BLOG and Blogcritics. I think I'd better starting honing my reviewing "skills" as well...



Firefox's parent, Mozilla, listed nine security flaws on their website this past weekend. Most involve the way JavaScript is handled, particularly with the pop-up blocker. All versions of Mozilla Suite prior to version 1.7.7 and all versions of Firefox prior to 1.0.3 are vulnerable. The best fix is to install the latest software updates, or simply disable JavaScript. More info can be found on C|Net's


Bruce Springsteen's new album Devils & Dust will be released next Tuesday, April 26, in North America (April 25 in Europe) in the new DualDisc format (CD on one side, DVD on the other). I received my copy earlier today and I'm in the middle of my first full listen (the CD is on track 9, "Leah").

Bruce Springsteen 'Devils & Dust' DualDiscI immediately thought that a "first listen" review would be a good idea for a blog entry. I thought about writing a few comments about each track as they played. But then I realized I'm terrible about writing about the music I enjoy; I really admire those professional music reviewers who can analyze lyrics and music, placing them in a social context or drawing links to past musical history. I tend to write things like, "I really like this song -- it reminds me of..."

But I'll give it a go:

First of all, Devils & Dust is essentially an acoustic-based release. That announcement had a lot of fans of Springsteen's rock & roll material groaning, thinking it would be similar to 1982's Nebraska or 1995's The Ghost Of Tom Joad (I happen to really enjoy both albums, although many of the tracks on Tom Joad do share a certain sameness in melody which can get a bit boring through the course of the record). Overall, this new album is not boring -- only a couple of songs share any similarity with Bruce's previous acoustic work (one of which, "The Hitter," was written and performed a time or two during the Tom Joad tour).

Springsteen has said that many of the songs on the new album were inspired by the American Southwest (as were most on The Ghost Of Tom Joad). Perhaps I'm biased somewhat since I've lived in this part of the country since July 1994 and enjoy the fact that Bruce is interested with the area (his 1996 concert here in Albuquerque holds special meaning for me as I first got to meet and actually talk to him after the show; he also jumped on his Harley Davidson motorcycle and roared down the dark street, thrilling the few gathered fans).

A few tracks on the album are actually muted rockers; I say "muted" because they lack the instrumental powerhouse of the E Street Band but still chug along nicely ("All The Way Home" is a nice example of this; I can't wait to hear Bruce perform it with the full band). When the title track first became available several weeks ago, there was a lot of discussion about how the tune sounded like "Blood Brothers," an E Street Band track from January 1995's Greatest Hits sessions. I don't really see that similarity -- I think "Devils & Dust" is a much better song -- but the harmonica break does remind me of "This Hard Land" (first recorded in May 1982 and long-considered one of Bruce's finest unreleased tracks, it was re-recorded and released on Greatest Hits). Also, at this time, I think the song includes the best lyrics of the entire album.

It seems like every Springsteen album over the past 15 years or so includes at least one song that makes me cringe. That honor on Devils & Dust goes to "Reno" because I find the lyrics a little too sexually explicit (which is why I don't really care for "Red Headed Woman" or "Pilgrim In The Temple Of Love" aka "Santa Gets A Blowjob"); I'm no prude, I just don't care to hear Bruce singing about that stuff. But I do like the smooth style of singing on that track and the acoustic picking (particular the slide guitar) sounds very crisp (reminding me of The Allman Brothers Band's version of Robert Johnson's "Come On Into My Kitchen").

"Long Time Coming" also reminds me of an earlier Springsteen song, although I can't quite put my finger on which one -- perhaps something off of 1992's Lucky Town. The drums push this song along (but lacks Max Weinberg's touch) and I quite like the pedal steel guitar in the mix as well as the female backing vocals (Patti?).

As far as the rest of the album, I think that's going to require at least one more listen to get a few more impressions down.

For now, I plan to flip over the DualDisc and watch the DVD content (video versions of several of the songs from the album with Springsteen talking about his inspiration for each one, as well as a 5.1 mix of all 12 songs).

I have less than two weeks to become completely familiar with the songs -- I have tickets to see Bruce's concert in Phoenix on April 30th.
Listen to "All The Way Home"



Spain's provisional governor of New Mexico broke all the rules when setting up a villa, with no idea the ill-founded community would become the bustling city it is today.

Albuquerque was born April 23, 1706, with the flourish of a quill pen and a dash of exaggeration.

From the start, there were great expectations for the little outpost on the Rio Grande.

The brainchild of a Spanish governor who was hoping to curry favor with the powerful Duke of Alburquerque, the villa sounded very impressive in the official letter announcing its founding. Written in Spanish, the letter declared:
"I certify to the king, our lord, and to the most excellent señor viceroy (the Duque de Alburquerque), that I founded a villa on the banks and in the valley of the Rio del Norte (the Rio Grande) in a good place as regards land, water, pasture and firewood,"
wrote Don Francisco Cuervo y Valdés, provisional governor of New Mexico.
"I gave it as patron saint the glorious apostle of the Indies, San Francisco Xavier, and called it the Villa of Alburquerque."
The new villa occupied an ideal site. It lay astride El Camino Real, the royal road linking Santa Fe with distant Chihuahua and Mexico City. It was on an easy ford of the river to the west, and the Cañon de Carnué (Tijeras Canyon) provided access through the Sandia Mountains to the eastern plains.

But if Cuervo believed he had earned the favor of the Duque de Alburquerque by giving the new settlement his name, he seriously erred. The duke, who presided in Mexico City as viceroy over all of New Spain, was upset.

Don Francisco Fernández de la Cueva Enríquez - the 10th Duque de Alburquerque - served as viceroy of all New Spain from 1702-1708.

It seems Cuervo had founded the villa without permission of the crown. Adding to the duke's displeasure was Cuervo's selection of San Francisco as the villa's patron saint. A recent order from Madrid had decreed that the patron saint of any new settlement in New Mexico would be San Felipe, patron of Spain's new king, Felipe V.

Despite Cuervo's gaffs, and since the new villa was an accomplished fact, it was allowed to continue. As New Mexico historian Marc Simmons explained:
"In a remote area such as New Mexico, some flexibility in application of the laws seems to have been permitted."
Simmons also notes that the issue of the patron saint caused confusion for 70 years until the 1770s, when the community finally chose San Felipe Neri over San Francisco Xavier.

It was not until the mid-1800s that the community would drop the first "r" and become Albuquerque.

The Whole Truth?

Cuervo's political gaffs were not the worst of his problems, however. It turns out that in founding his villa, and reporting on it to his superiors, Cuervo seriously stretched the truth.

Cuervo reported, for instance, that 35 families totaling 252 people had settled in the new community, that settlers' homes and corrals had been built, irrigation ditches were in operation and the first crops had been planted.

He also maintained that the casas reales (government buildings) had been started, and a formal founding ceremony had been conducted.

Cuervo assured his superiors that he had followed all "royal laws," Madrid's voluminous code of regulations governing conduct of officials and affairs in Spanish America. "The villa was sworn, taking into account the things ordered by His Majesty," Cuervo wrote.

Historians are not so sure.

In 1934, professor Lansing Bloom of the University of New Mexico did find El Instrumento de la Fundación de la Villa de Alburquerque (Instrument for the Founding of the Villa of Alburquerque) in the National Archives in Mexico City.

This document bears the signature of Cuervo and attests to the governor's order to found the villa. However, it does not address the questions of an official founding ceremony and a formal taking possession of the land. It also does not tell whether a grant of four square leagues of land (about 17 square miles) was made, whether parcels were distributed to settlers and whether the community was laid out with streets and a plaza, all required by Spanish law.

Further questions arose after Cuervo was replaced as governor in August 1707. He returned to Mexico City, where he held minor posts and died in 1714.

Records Checked

It was a common practice of Madrid to review the tenure of Spanish colonial officials after they left office. In 1712, officials looking into the records of Cuervo's 28 months in New Mexico raised questions about his founding of the Villa of Alburquerque.

In the ensuing inquiry, conducted by Juan Páez Hurtado, who had briefly administered New Mexico while awaiting Cuervo's arrival, it became apparent that there were serious discrepancies in the former governor's actions.

In his definitive history, Albuquerque: A Narrative History, Marc Simmons writes that witnesses testified that only 19 families totaling 103 persons, plus the 10 soldiers and family members assigned by Cuervo, had settled the villa.

Spanish law required at least 30 families for the founding of a royal villa.

Witnesses also told investigators that as of 1712, a plaza and streets still had not been laid out.

There seems little question that Cuervo, in his bid to solidify his hold on the governorship of New Mexico, heavily falsified his reports to the king and the viceroy. As Simmons wrote:
"No doubt, it was that simple motive which led him to color the truth. To the Spanish mind, the founding of a villa carried immense prestige, and the governor, beyond question, wished to add that accolade to his name."
Early Opinion

When he first reached New Mexico, as the newly appointed provisional governor, Cuervo did not seem overly impressed with Spain's remote North American colony.

In March 1705, only a few days after his arrival in Santa Fe, Cuervo dispatched a letter to the king in Madrid in which he lamented:
"I have never seen so much want, misery and backwardness in my life. I suspect this land was better off before the Spaniards came."
Even so, he was determined to improve affairs here -- in part because he wanted to convince the king that his appointment as governor should be made permanent.

When it came to managing one of His Majesty's royal colonies, Cuervo, a native of Asturias in northern Spain, was no novice. Since his arrival in New Spain (Mexico) in 1678, he had spent a quarter-century in Spanish colonial service. He had held posts ranging from a captain of infantry in Sonora to governor of the provinces of Nuevo León and Coahuila.

Colleagues regarded Cuervo, who ranked as a knight of the Military Order of Santiago, as a skilled administrator and soldier with considerable knowledge of frontier affairs.

John L. Kessell, a Spanish scholar and historian, believes Cuervo was an above-average governor in New Mexico who "filled the office capably in the shadow of the deceased Don Diego de Vargas, whom he replaced. Although he expressed to the king his disgust with New Mexico, he seems to have not held himself aloof from its people."

It was all to no avail, however. In August 1707, Cuervo was replaced by Jose Chacón Medina Salazar y Villaseñor, who literally purchased the New Mexico governorship from the king.

As Cuervo closed out his service in New Mexico and embarked on the long return journey to New Mexico, it would be interesting to know what his thoughts were as he passed through the royal villa he had founded under such cloudy circumstances. One thing is certain. He had no inkling of what the scattered settlement would become 300 years later.

Marc Simmons put it best:
"Sadly, there was no way he could peer into the future and perceive the legacy he was leaving behind; the small, badly formed town whose founding he had authorized and upon which he had bestowed the name Albuquerque was destined to flower one day into a great city."



While searching my DVD library for a good movie to watch on a rainy/lazy Sunday, I began thinking about my all-time favorite movies. I also thought about making a cool blog post listing them -- complete with thumbnails of the DVD covers, links to their pages on so I would get paid a few cents if you happened to buy any of them using the click-through, and short (yeah, right) reviews of each.

But while I was compiling my list (not so easy after the top three or four), a funny thing happened -- the rain stopped and the sun came out. I'd rather run a few errands (perhaps even walk to the post office) than be cooped up inside writing another long post and watching an old movie (will do the latter tonight if I'm still in the mood).

Anyway, here's the unannotated list:

1) To Kill A Mockingbird ((1962)
2) To Sir, With Love (1967)
3) The Great Escape (1963)
4) Lost Horizon (1937)
5) Patton (1970)
6) Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
7) Great Expectations (1946)
8) Kelly's Heroes (1970)
9) The Dirty Dozen (1967)
10) Kill Bill, Vol. 1 (2003)
Recently, I've noticed that the movies I enjoy watching most are either B-grades from the 1930's and 1940's or recent Chinese-produced movies (not necessarily the epic martial arts films like Hero or House Of Flying Daggers -- although both of those are in my Top 20 -- but story-driven pieces such as The Road Home, Beijing Bicycle, and Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring).

In fact, that sounds like a good subject for a future blog post: favorite foreign movies.

For now, however, I'm going to enjoy a bit of outdoor New Mexico.


The first chapter in Albuquerque: A Narrative History by Marc Simmons (Albuquerque: University Of New Mexico Press, 1982) is a fascinating account of the area's unique geography. I'll reprint that on my main website at a later time.

I did find a nice brief account of the arrival of the Spaniards on the Albuquerque Museum website which I reprint below:

The Founding of Alburquerque

Don Juan de Oñate, governor and captain general of the Spanish Kingdom of New Mexico, arrived in the Middle Rio Grande Valley in 1598. He quickly recognized the fertile area as an ideal locale for a Spanish community. But Oñate also soon learned the Pueblo Indians claimed almost all of the desirable land. Some of them were less than friendly, so Oñate prudently decided to continue north to explore other sites for the Kingdom's of New Spain's northern capital.

Catholic missionaries, not farmers, first settled in the area that would become Alburquerque, building churches in several pueblos in the early 1600s. During this time the Indian population declined, due largely to the diseases introduced by the settlers. Their lands along the Rio Grande between the Pueblo of Sandia to the north and the Pueblo of Isleta to the south became available to the Spanish colonists.

Although there was no formal villa in the area, by the 1650s several dozen Spanish estancias (farms), were scattered throughout the valley. Among them was the home of Francisco de Trujillo and his wife, dona Luisa, located on the east bank of the Rio Grande amid a large stand of cottonwoods, near present-day Old Town. The property, which came to be known as El Bosque de doña Luisa (the Grove of doña Luisa), was chosen by New Mexico's governor in 1706 to be the site of the Villa de Alburquerque.

In the 1600s, New Mexico was divided into two administrative units along the Rio Grande, the Río Arriba (upper river) and the Río Abajo (lower river), divided by an east- west escarpment twenty miles south of Santa Fe called La Bajada (descent).

Life on the isolated estancias of the Río Abajo continued in a normal routine until 10 August 1680. Pueblo Indians throughout New Mexico suffered repeated assaults from missionaries and Spanish leaders. Determined to rid themselves of their oppressors and their religious intolerance, forced labor and unreasonable levies on food and weaving, the Indians rose in rebellion killing many colonists and priests. They then drove the surviving settlers south, down the Rio Grande, past the Bosque de doña Luisa to Paso del Norte (present day Juarez). After a twelve year absence newly appointed governor of New Mexico, Diego de Vargas and his army, entered New Mexico taking control of Santa Fe and the province.

A statue of Don Francisco Cuervo y Valdés greets visitors to Old Town.

On 23 April 1706 Francisco Cuervo y Valdés, who replaced Governor Vargas in 1704, wrote to the king of Spain and to the viceroy of New Spain he had founded a new villa in New Mexico. Cuervo y Valdés named the community after the viceroy, Fernandez de la Cueva, Duque de Alburquerque. The governor, in his letter wrote:

I certify to his majesty: That I have founded a villa on the banks and in the valley of the River of the North in a place of good fields, waters, pastures, and timber, distant from this villa of Santa Fe about twenty-two leagues,... naming it the Villa of Alburquerque... There are now thirty-five families located there, comprising 252 persons, adults and children. The Church has been completed... the government buildings have been begun, and other houses of the settlers are finished with their corrals, irrigation ditches running, fields sowed—all without any expense to the Royal Treasury.

In creating the new community Governor Cuervo y Valdés failed to follow Spain's legal code when he did not inform the King and Viceroy about the villa. It was highly irregular and presumptuous for a provisional governor to act on his own, especially when Cuervo y Valdés wanted the governorship to be a permanent appointment. He then boldly requested the Duke of Alburquerque to contribute "bells, ornaments, chalices, missals, images and jewels...," for the new church located on Alburquerque's plaza.
While attending classes at the University of New Mexico in the Fall of 1994, I wrote a paper about the controversy surrounding the founding of Albuquerque. I think that, later today, I'll transcribe that paper and post it here.


I returned to Albuquerque from Phoenix too late yesterday to participate in the Tricentennial opening day celebrations -- but my DVD recorder taped the morning news highlights for me (and I watched details of the later events on this morning's news). It looks like the 18-month birthday party got off to a grand beginning with a half-marathon, a 100-balloon mass ascension, lots of mariachi and marching bands, a parade, and enough cake to feed over 5,000 people (early accounts said it would be one HUGE cake -- the largest ever baked -- but the reality was 55 cakes each cut into 96 slices).Roberto E. Rosales/Journal<br />Aztec dancer Jorge Garcia is a member of a group that took part in the

The weather was nice for most of the events as well -- a bit breezy in the morning but it turned sunny and warmed up to the mid-70's by afternoon. However, by the time our plane landed the weather had turned nasty with severe thunderstorms; I just learned that a funnel cloud touched down at Mountainair -- southeast of Albuquerque -- and continued airborne over the city all the way to another possible touch-down near Rio Rancho to our northwest. Tornadoes are extremely rare in the Rio Grande Valley; the only other one I can remember in the almost eleven years I've lived here occurred last June during the Rio Rancho Celtic Festival.

In my effort to track the activities of Albuquerque's 300th birthday celebrations, here's the account of the opening day ceremonies from this morning's Albuquerque Journal online edition:

Sunday, April 17, 2005

City Launches Tricentennial Celebration at Balloon Fiesta Park

By Lloyd Jojola
Journal Staff Writer

The birthday cakes were early— a year early, in fact. But by 11 a.m. Saturday, 55 big vanilla- and chocolate-flavored cakes had been sliced into enough pieces to serve about 5,300 people.

In grand fashion, thousands of Albuquerqueans gathered at Balloon Fiesta Park in the North Valley to launch an 18-month celebration marking the city's 300th birthday, which is next April.

Saturday's activities began near Bernalillo as about 450 registered participants took off in a half-marathon that ended at fiesta park.

Then, the first of about 100 hot-air balloons rose at 7:30 a.m.— creating the colorful sight that is most associated with the city.

"I think it was inevitable," Albuquerque resident Oliver Shaw said about the launch. "After all, we have this incredible balloon field and the city's noted for the balloon fiesta."

Mayor Martin Chávez told the crowd as festivities began, "It doesn't matter whether your family's been here for thousands of years or hundreds or if you just got here three months ago.

"All together, what a magnificent place we are."

A smorgasbord of events, from festivals to dedications, tours to art exhibitions, aim to highlight the Duke City's culture and beauty over the course of the celebration, which begins with the "Heritage" theme this month.

"Albuquerqueans seldom need a real reason to have a party, but this is a real reason to celebrate," said Jerry Geist, the chief organizer of the tricentennial.

"And it's celebrating something real, not artificial," he said. "To talk about the natural beauty of the place, the friendliness of the people, and 71 different cultures."

The city's true birthday is April 23, 2006, three centuries after then-governor of New Mexico, Don Francisco Cuervo y Valdes, wrote to the King of Spain: "I certify to the King, our Lord and to the most excellent señor viceroy (the Duque de Alburquerque), that I founded a villa on the banks and in the valley of the Rio del Norte in a good place as regards land, water, pasture, and firewood."

The place was named the Villa de Alburquerque.

Ross Dimas, a 79-year-old North Valley resident, slipped on a bolo tie with a polished piece of turquoise and bought himself a commemorative tricentennial license plate.

He remembers celebrating the 250th.

"I'll never forget," he said. "I went down to old Mexico and I got a bullfighter's uniform for that particular occasion and I had a big mustache, a huge mustache."

Spectators by late morning had shifted their gaze from the skies to a park stage. It was along a route that featured the "Parade of Eras."

A blessing and the sounds of drums, rattles and dancing launched the "Native American Era" and proceeded into periods detailing the Spanish, Mexican and territorial eras, and statehood.

The sights moved from horse-mounted conquistadors with pikes to sombreros and mariachi music. Covered wagons, hoop dresses and Buffalo Soldiers represented the territorial phase, while the statehood era was represented with a string of cultural groups and images, from Chinese dragons to Scottish pipes and drums.

Fourteen 15-foot-tall puppets, which were hoisted on the shoulders of people, concluded the colorful presentation.

"There is so much in the different cultures. It's wonderful Albuquerque has so many different ones," said Deluvine Baca. "You don't have to go all over the country. You can just come to Albuquerque."

Baca was part of a dance performance put on by Sociedad Colonial Española, and was peering from behind the stage to see the other participants.

People will be "dazzled" by what they see in the coming months, Mayor Chávez said.

"They're going to have a much deeper understanding of what Albuquerque's all about and who Albuquerqueans are," he said. "There is a richness in our history and culture that is unsurpassed."

The lesson about Albuquerque could come in handy.

Larry and Karen Elkin moved to the area last October, though they've lived and vacationed here in the past. But a long time ago, the name 'Albuquerque' might only have been heard in the movies and conjured images of the Wild West, Larry Elkin said.

"My wife's great aunt once asked us, when we were initially leaving New York to come out here ... 'Do you need a passport?' And I think you've heard that comment from others."

Of course, organizers believe the tricentennial is a great opportunity to pitch the city.

"This is a rebranding of Albuquerque," Chávez said. "I say all the time ... if you want to find the greatness of this city, you reach into our history and our traditions and our cultures.

"You relish that, and you express and articulate that in a modern context. And that's what's happening in Albuquerque these days."

© 2005 Albuquerque Journal
And now a bit of commentary:

I find it rather odd that there are no books scheduled for publication detailing Albuquerque's rich history. It seems like this would have been a great opportunity to update the few previously-published works -- in fact, the last truly comprehensive study of our city's past was Marc Simmons' excellent Albuquerque: A Narrative History, published in 1982 and out-of-print for many years (a reprint of part of the book, titled Hispanic Albuquerque, 1706-1846 was published a couple of years ago).

I do have a rather extensive collection of newspaper and magazine articles detailing various aspects of our city's history. From time to time, I'll be reprinting some of those (as well as portions of Simmons' books) here on the blog or on my main website. It's an interesting story and one that I'd like to preserve and share before I move away from here sometime next year.


Although I've always hated the term "bootleg", I do support the collecting of these live and rare recordings. The following article was published a few weeks ago by Stony Brook (NY) University's Independent (I added all the links):

Bootlegs Save the Music

Submitted by IanR on Mon, 2005-03-28 16:18.
By Ian Rice
Arts and Lifestyle Editor

The music industry has been in a definite slump for at least the last five years, if not more. Where at one time true artists gathered to give people beautiful songs to soothe their souls and create good vibes; now all you get are mechanical backbeats, sampled loops and trite, generic lyrics. For the assumed benefit of distracting the public from this mediocrity, you are also treated to big breasts covered by just enough clothing to sneak by the FCC’s increasingly watchful eye.

But some of us aren’t fooled for a second. We see today’s music for what it is: disposable garbage out only to make a buck for a roomful of record company executives. Speaking for myself, I’d rather have someone chuck razorblades dipped in hepatitis at me than hear one bar of Britney Spears’ latest release. But I do tend to border on the extreme from time to time.

So what do we, the masses yearning for good music, do? After all, there are only a limited number of good bands still active these days. Most of the greats hung it up years ago or moved into the province of lame and boring (Rod Stewart, anyone?), leaving behind a back catalog that while impressive in quality remains limited in quantity. When you’ve bought all the essential titles from the past, where do you go next?

"Concertgoers have, in essence, paid for the music by purchasing a ticket to the event. If they want to take home a recording of the evening’s performance, who are they hurting?"

The answer is simple: bootlegs. That’s right, bootlegs. The music industry hates bootlegs, as they provide free to listeners something that the suits could be lining their pockets with. I understand completely why record companies panicked over Napster and file sharing. After all, it costs money for a label to release an album; if you download that album for free, they can’t heat their swimming pool that year. But the bootlegs are a unique entity, one that remains separate from the legal repercussions of downloading commercially released music. The bootlegs belong to the people.

Many of today’s “working bands” (bands consistently on tour) allot the privilege of taping to fans attending their shows. The Black Crowes, Gov’t Mule, The Dead and Dave Matthews Band are just a few of the artists that hold an “open taping” policy at their performances. The bands also maintain an unwritten agreement with the tapers to use the shows for personal means and not make a profit from them. Trading between fans, however, is perfectly acceptable.

Record company disapproval has deterred many bands from instituting an “open taping” policy. But the artists that do permit performance recording see it as nothing but positive and pay little mind to the suits who frown on it. “We don’t care what the record companies think,” Black Crowes frontman Chris Robinson said in a Relix magazine feature. “It’s for the people who are really into the music and who’ve supported us…If someone wants to come tape our show and take it home with them, I mean, it’s their evening too – then that’s cool.”

Indeed, Robinson’s statement mirrors the sentiment of many tapers and traders. Concertgoers have, in essence, paid for the music by purchasing a ticket to the event. If they want to take home a recording of the evening’s performance, who are they hurting? As long as no financial profit is made, where is the harm? After all, record companies will still make their cash, as loyal fans will still purchase albums no matter how many bootlegs they possess.

I personally have over 3200 hours of music on bootleg discs, either traded or given to me over the years. Of those 3200 hours, 1600 of them are Black Crowes related. Now, if you took a look at my shelves full of commercially released CDs, you’d notice I own every Black Crowes album. Why? I mean, I undoubtedly have all their songs in my vast library of bootlegs. Why purchase the albums? Well, because I, like countless other music fans, support the artists.

Supporting the artists, by the way, is something that the record companies don’t do. In fact, they do just the opposite. In the over-inflated corporate world known as the music business, you’re only as good as your last million units sold. As it stands right now, if a release doesn’t shift a million or two copies immediately upon its release, it’s considered a failure. And what do artists get in return for selling at the platinum level? Well, in most cases they get less than a dollar per sale. So, to sum up, the artists do the work and the record executives reap all the benefits. If the artist fails to line the record company’s pockets with a release, they will most likely be dropped from the label. How’s that for loyalty?

Case in point is a band called the Spin Doctors. You may remember them: back in 1993, they were riding a multi-platinum album (
Pocket Full of Kryptonite) and the year’s biggest single (“Two Princes”). But when they released their second album the next year, it fell flat. To their credit, Epic Records did give the Spin Doctors a second chance (most likely based on the sheer commercial viability of their debut) and the band got to work on their third album. But since their sophomore effort was considered a dud, the new album hit the stores with virtually no marketing and zero promotion. So, when said album failed to get much further than gold status (500,000 units sold), the band was dropped from the label. Never mind that their two “flops” were huge strides for the band from an artistic standpoint or that Epic Records dropped the ball in terms of promotion – the band was sent packing. Nice, huh?

"...We tell people who come to our concerts that they can tape the shows if they want. I think it is cool that people are so passionate about our music." -- Bono of U2

Given this information, it’s no surprise that many bands are flocking to smaller labels when their deals with the corporate pork run out. Although smaller labels can’t offer acts the same financial clout the big names are able to, they still posses many more attractive and artist-friendly features. The most notable of the aforementioned perks is that smaller labels allow bands to record the material they want to record. Big labels will often pressure a band to produce at least one “hit” track per record and will even go as far as requiring song approval during the recording process to secure a chart-topper’s inclusion. With the smaller labels, the band’s can finally give you the songs they want you to hear.

The sheer lack of understanding and loyalty on the part of record labels regarding their signed artists is a big part of the reason bootleg recordings are on the rise in terms of popularity. The added benefit of the Internet is also an essential element. With a decent Internet connection, the right software and a little bit of patience, music fans can download and share an endless number of live shows via peer-to-peer networks. In fact, for once in the history of music, the fans are winning. They’ve figured out a way to legally circumvent the corporate pigs and get what they really want: the music.

Want to join in on the bootleg trading but don't know where to start? Check out these helpful links: - An Online Trading Community
Bit Torrent Explained
What You'll Have Access to Once You Get Involved



I thought I'd write a real brief review of last night's U2 concert before going down to breakfast. We arrived in Phoenix a little past 3:00pm yesterday afternoon.  After checking in to the Best Western, we traveled a little further west to the Glendale Arena, which was recently named America's best new major concert arena by Pollstar. The entire area around the arena is under major construction and will be a huge retail & residential area known as Westgate. I'm sure it will look really nice when it's finished.  When it's not playing host to concerts, the arena is the home of the Phoenix Coyotes hockey team and the Arizona Sting lacrosse team.

We did arrive in time to hear part of U2's soundcheck through the arena's walls.   We heard a bit of "Vertigo" and most of "Sunday Bloody Sunday". We had general admission floor tickets; there were two lines -- one for members of U2's fan club, one for non-members.  The doors were opened a little after 6:30 and your ticket was scanned upon entrance.  The scanner randomly selected people to be "upgraded" to the area enclosed by a elliptical track extending from the stage.  Alas, none of the three of us were selected for the elipse but we did secure a position about 5 feet from it's tip, center stage -- a prime taping spot.

I won't go into too many details (I'm getting hungry), but will mention the opening is great: there's a backdrop to the stage consisting of strands of multi-colored lights reminiscent of the New York skyline at night. After a pre-recorded intro. of different voices saying, "everybody" over and over, the band takes the stage for the opening song -- "City Of Blinding Lights." Other highlights included "The Ocean," from their 1980 debut album Boy (odd to hear it but not "11 O'Clock Tick-Tock" which it was linked to during many early live performances) and the first performance of 1984's "Bad" on this tour (one of my all-time favorite U2 songs). "Beautiful Day" featured a short tease of "In God's Country" from The Joshua Tree. The songs from the new album also sounded great -- I knew that "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own" would be a live classic from the first time I heard it last November; "Love And Peace Or Else" is a powerful song which led right into the one-two punch of "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "Bullet The Blue Sky" (which included part of "The Hands That Built America" at the end before leading into "Running To Stand Still" and "Bad").

But perhaps my favorite part of the entire show was the final encore of "40" from 1983's War album. The song takes it's lyrics from the 40th psalm and they hadn't performed it during the past three or four tours. At the end of the song, each member stops playing his instrument one-by-one and leaves the stage while the audience continues singing "How long to sing this song." The drummer, Larry Mullin Jr., is the last to leave the stage -- beating one last fill on the kit and cymbals -- and the lights come on while the audience is still singing. Indeed, walking through the parking lot after the show you could still hearing large pockets of people singing, "How long to sing this song." That experience gave me goosebumps after my first U2 concert -- October 26, 1987, at Kansas City's Kemper Arena -- and gave me goosbumps this time around as well.

City Of Blinding Lights - Beautiful Day/In God's Country - Vertigo - Elevation - Gloria - The Ocean - New Year's Day - Miracle Drug - Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own - Love And Peace Or Else - Sunday Bloody Sunday - Bullet The Blue Sky/The Hands That Built America - Running To Stand Still - Bad - Pride (In The Name Of Love) - Where The Streets Have No Name - One
The Fly - Mysterious Ways - All Because Of You - Yahweh - '40'

I'm eagerly awaiting my next U2 concert -- it probably won't be until December, however (there are strong rumors of a Kansas City show on December 12; I think that would be a good 40th birthday present to myself!).



Later today,  I board a plane for the short flight from Albuquerque to Phoenix.  I'm going to see U2 play at Glendale Arena and I can't be more excited.  A quick count reveals that this will be the fifth time overall that I've seen the Irish band since first seeing them at Kansas City's Kemper Arena in late October 1987  (a show, incidentally, I taped -- I think I may just have to convert that recording to digital one of these days).  Interestingly enough,  this will be my third U2 concert in the Phoenix area -- 1997's show was at Sun Devil Stadium and I saw them at America West Arena in 2001.

I can thank my sister for first introducing me to the band -- I do remember seeing the "Gloria" video on MTV sometime in 1982 and "New Year's Day" at the beginning of the following year, but Marilyn was a very big fan and used to play their War album quite often.  My first view of one of their live performances was watching television footage of the US Festival that May; I was enthralled with the singer's climbing all the way to the top of the huge stage scaffolding.  Later that Fall,  we saw the Live At Red Rocks concert on TV and I was hooked -- Bono still climbed high above the stage,  the band's energy was extremely high,  and the scenery of the amphitheatre -- the torches lighting up the rainy night sky -- was breathtaking.  My Christmas present to Marilyn in 1983 was the Under A Blood Red Sky mini-album.

By the Fall of 1984 I was a huge fan in my own right and purchased the "Pride In The Name Of Love" single the week of it's release; I received The Unforgettable Fire album for either my birthday or Christmas that year.  And I eagerly awaited a Kansas City concert to be announced.  Alas, the closest they came on the 1984/85 tour was Denver.  I was partially satiated by watching their Live Aid performance in July 1985 -- they truly stole the show at that mega-event -- and by a few live radio broadcasts later that year  (I believe my first semi-complete U2 concert tape -- not counting the short Live Aid set -- was the Dortmund show from November 1984 broadcast by Westwood One radio networks on KY-102).

In early 1987,  The Joshua Tree was released -- still my favorite U2 album.  I eagerly collected all of the singles released from that album -- each one came in several different formats, both 7-inch and 12-inch varieties, with differing non-album bonus tracks.  I recorded various interviews with the band off the radio or TV.  And, finally, they announced a single show in Kansas City in the Fall.  I remember waiting for hours to buy tickets at the Municipal Auditorium box office downtown.  The line stretched around the auditorium and up the street quite a distance.  But I scored two tickets -- in the Upper Level, Row P.  I attended the show with my sister's boyfriend at the time -- Rex, I believe his name was.  As always, U2 had a great opening act -- The BoDeans  (who I still enjoy listening to).  Unlike most other acts that play in the area,  U2 didn't attempt to cover the Wilson Pickett song "Kansas City," but they did play a ragged version of Neil Young's "Southern Man."

The next time I went to a U2 concert was in 1992 on the Zoo TV tour at Arrowhead Stadium.  Again, my ticket was in the far reaches of the venue -- Section 324, Row 24 (closer to my car in the parking lot than to the stage).  However, by the time U2 came onstage  (openers were Disposible Heroes Of Hipocracy, who I haven't heard of since, and Sugarcubes, an Icelandic band -- I still enjoy the solo albums by lead singer Björk), we had moved down to a position much closer to the stage -- almost to the field.  I don't remember too much about this show -- and I'm still searching for a recording of it -- but I thought it was very spectacular.

By the time of the next U2 tour,  I was living in New Mexico.  I had a choice to see the band in either Denver or Phoenix.  I chose the Sun Devil Stadium Pop Mart show on the Arizona State University campus.  That was a very overblown show -- Pop is my least favorite U2 album  (although some of the songs have grown on me since) -- with all sorts of props including the world's largest video screen forming the stage backdrop and a huge lemon on a swizzle stick that the band used towards the end of the show to transport them from the main stage to a small B-stage in the center of the stadium's field.  Although I have many live U2 recordings, the only "souvenir" I have of that entire tour is a DVD of a show they filmed in Mexico City  (on my birthday, incidentally).  I also traveled to Phoenix in April 2001 -- America West Arena was just across the street from the airport.

And that brings me to the present -- U2 are playing at the very new Glendale Arena on the western outskirts of the city.  This means that we'll be taking a taxi from the airport and staying overnight in a hotel, rather than my usual Phoenix modus operandi which is a short journey down the street to the arena  (most shows I attend are there, or close by) and then sleep in the airport, taking the first flight back to Albuquerque in the morning.  As a result, this show will be a bit more expensive than I normally like but it will be worth it.  We have General Admission tickets for the floor which will make it the closest I've ever been for a U2 concert.

And one of the friends I'm attending with has a really nice taping rig and plans to record the show  (he's fresh back from taping them in San Jose last weekend); what's interesting is that I already have recordings of EVERY show on the current tour  (well, except for last night's Phoenix show) -- I even have two different source recordings from a couple of the concerts.  The recordings are being uploaded to various servers very quickly -- but I'm beginning to rethink trying to get the entire tour  (after all, they have shows scheduled through December and their setlists don't change that dramatically from show to show).

Watch this space for a review of the concert either Saturday or Sunday  (after I've rested up a bit).  I'm sure it'll be a great show!



The Albuquerque Isotopes are off to a great start to the baseball season.  They are 7-0,  making them the only undefeated team in the Pacific Coast League.  The opening homestand began last Thursday against the Iowa Cubs and finshes up tomorrow with the Omaha Royals.  Then, it's a week on the road before returning to Isotopes Park on April 23rd playing the Oklahoma RedHawks.

Go 'Topes!


The Albuquerque Museum of Art and History in Old Town has spent the past couple of years undergoing a massive reconstruction.  Phase One opened back in February with 40,000 square feet added to the original building, including an 8,000 square foot changing exhibitions gallery.

The first major exhibition to fill the museum's new gallery is called El Alma de España or The Soul Of Spain, opening this coming Sunday -- April 17 -- as part of our city's Tricentennial celebrations.  It's the first exhibition devoted solely to the Spanish Masters ever shown in Albuquerque.

There will be nearly 100 works, paintings and sculpture, highlighting the range of art produced in Spain during the late sixteenth to early nineteenth centuries and will include such masters as El Greco, Murillo, Velasquez, and Goya.  These are being loaned from such renowned museums as Madrid's Prado, the Bellas Artes in Valencia, California's Hearst San Simeon Castle, and the National Gallry of Art in Washington, DC.

Opening day ceremonies, beginning at 1:00pm, will include presentations by various international art experts as well as flamenco dancing.



The opening ceremonies for Albuquerque's Tricentennial celebrations are to be held early this Saturday morning,  April 16.

Festivities will begin at 6:30a.m. with a half-marathon starting at Coronado State Monument and will continue with a hot air balloon mass ascension at Balloon Fiesta Park at 7:30 and the Parade of Eras at 11.  The parade will highlight the five distinct eras of Albuquerque:  Native American, Spanish, Mexican, Territorial, and Statehood with musical performances, traditional dances, etc.  There will also be a massive cake cutting with Mayor Martin Chavez cutting the largest birthday cake ever created.

Best of all,  parking and admission to the events is absolutely free.  Unfortunately,  I'll miss it all since I'll still be in Phoenix following Friday night's U2 concert  (but my plane should be landing just in time to see the flyover by the 150th Fighter Wing (known as the "Tacos").

It's all part of the city's year-long birthday party.  The tiny outpost on the Rio Grande del Norte was born April 23, 1706, when the Spanish governor founded the Villa of Albuquerque  (the community dropped the first "r" from it's name in the mid-1800's -- there are some here who would like to see it restored).  There are many grand openings,  celebrations, exhibits,  etc. scheduled from now through October of 2006.

Next year's Founders' Day looks especially interesting:  there will be an entrada  (meaning "entrance of a group")  with authentically-dressed people on a two-day trek recreating the original path of the founding families on their way from Bernalillo to establish Albuquerque.  Participants representing Native Americans and the 1700s founding families will be met on the trail with those representing 1800s American cowboys  (including a cattle drive with more than 200 head of Corriente cattle).  After an overnight camp at Sandia Pueblo,  the groups will be joined by representatives of the 1900s Route 66 era and continue south to join the Founders' Day parade,  ending in Old Town.  A Trail End luncheon,  torch light procession,  and a fandago will complete the day.

As 2006 will most likely be the year I move away from Albuquerque,  I want to participate in as many of these types of things as I can.



Right on cue,  Springtime signals the beginning of fire season in New Mexico.  I think we had our first small bosque fire around mid-March this year,  near the Isleta Reservation just south of Albuquerque.  Friday,  a large brush fire near the Rio Puerco west of the city shut down Interstate 40 for eight hours.  And there is now a large fire raging down near Socorro;  the Rio Puerco fire also re-ignited for a while yesterday once again shutting down a portion of the major east/west highway across the state.

In fact,  I-40 has had quite a few problems over the past few days.  In addition to the brush fire  (which, incidentally was caused by someone throwing a cigarette butt out of their car window),  high winds near the town of Grants caused the highway to be shut down due to the limited visibility.  This was the same area where blowing dust caused multiple chain-reaction automobile accidents on a couple of occassions last year resulting in three deaths.  The highway department spent thousands of dollars reseeding the private property adjacent to the Interstate but their efforts didn't seem to work.  So,  they are watching the weather forcasts very closely and keeping the "Road Closed" signs ready to put up at the slightest hint of a strong breeze.  All of the snow and rain we've received over the past few months certainly doesn't seemed to have helped,  either.

Still,  with all the usual signs of Spring down here -- the high winds,  the hikers having to be rescued off Sandia Peak,  the increase in wildfires -- nobody has told Mother Nature because I think she's confused.  As I look out my office window early this second Sunday in April,  I see snow once again falling from the sky and beginning to stick to the branches of the cherry tree and accumulate on the walkway.  The high temperature here yesterday was 67 degrees Fahrenheit;  the snow should change over to rain later this afternoon with a predicted high of 50 and it's supposed to be 60 degrees on Monday...and 73 on Wednesday.  Yeah,  and it'll probably snow again next weekend.

You've gotta love Springtime in the Burque.



I've seen a few commercials recently for the new movie Sahara, starring Matthew McConaughey and Penolope Cruz,  thinking that looks like a film I'd like to see.

This morning,  I found a review that mentions Sahara is based on Clive Cussler's 1992 novel.  That makes me want to see the movie even more,  despite the lackluster rating the reviewer gave it.

You see,  aside from being a fun author to read,  Cussler has real sentimental value for me.  My mother first turned me onto his novels with Raise The Titanic! in 1976;  indeed,  his were the first introduction I had to more grown-up adventure fiction  (I was ten years old at the time).  Over the years,  I continued enjoying his books purchasing each new one as it was published -- they are what I like to call "escapist" fiction,  often being so far-fetched that they take your mind off of day-to-day troubles much like James Bond movies.

My mother also remained a big fan of Cussler's and it was a standard annual birthday tradition for me to give her each new paperback  (and the hardcovers as I grew older and could afford them).

In December 1999,  Cussler gave one of his infrequent booksignings here in Albuquerque  (for the novel Atlantis Found).  It was a mob-scene with huge crowds.  Cussler was signing only one copy of the new book  (none of the back catalog was allowed)  per customer.  I waited in that line for hours,  told him the story about how I discovered his writing,  and had him inscribe the book,  "To Carol, Happy Birthday."  It was one of the last birthday presents I was to give to my mom;  she passed away in August 2001.  Sometime later,  during one of my infrequent visits to Kansas City,  my dad asked me if there was anything of mom's that I wanted.  The only thing I could think of was that Clive Cussler novel that he autographed for her.  It holds a very special place in my rather extensive book collection.

And everytime he comes out with a new book,  I automatically think of my mom and how much she would enjoy receiving it as a gift.  Which is why I'm going to go see this new movie despite what any critics may say about it.  For a couple of hours in a darkened theatre,  I'll be able to loose myself in the sheer nonsense of lead character Dirk Pitt's adventures trying to save the world from bad people.  And,  I can know that my mom is looking down on me,  pleased that I still enjoy these types of stories.

Here's thinking of you, mom!