August 29th, 2007

paul shirt
  • pgdf

Rare type of nominative determinism

In almost all cases of nominative determinism, it's the person's surname that carries the karmic weight. Mr. Trout goes to work for the Bureau of Fisheries; Mr. Ball becomes a coach.

But very rarely, an uncommon FIRST name, it seems, can determine one's fate.

Take the case of "Uriah King, a policy associate at the Center for Responsible Lending," profiled in a NEW YORK TIMES article on loans.

Now, "Uriah" is so rare a name today that any bearer of the name must be forced to identify psychologically with the most famous past character to bear that cognomen: Dickens's Uriah Heep.

And while Uriah King is certainly not the obsequious villian Heep was, note that his chosen field of endeavor is very similar, except on the side of the angels, as if he's trying to atone for his namesake's legendary bad behavior.

What's that, you say? He could have also become a rock star? Oh, right.....

Back..sort of... the country, that is, though I won't be home for a couple of weeks.  Spent some time at Patrick Gyger's home -- he runs the Utopiales festtival and the Maison d'Ailluers. which is a very cool science fiction museum in Yverdon des Bains, Switzerland, and then visted writer Brendan Connell and his lovely wife Anna in Bruzella, which is near Lucarno, then on to Lake Garda in Italy with writer Darren Speegle.  I was in England for the death of Harry Potter.  Few seemed distressed and I, for one , did not weep.  After all, life goes on despite the death of fictional wizards of dubious worth. 

I was in Gigon, the site of Semana Negra, one night.  I had gone to bed early and was brought awake by a sound that it took me a  minute to identify.  It was a seething sound that seemed to issue from every direction, even from  up above the hotel, like an electric tide or a swarm of crickets.  It was, I realized, the sound of thousands of human voices, alert and having a good time at 4AM.  This started me thinking how cloistered we are in the States, how removed and insulated from much of lfe. Even our public joys areexpressed within the confines of buildings and never while in the states have I heard a night sound like the night in Gigon--tens of thoudands of people of all ages walking along the waterfront enjoying the cool air,the music, the bars. etc. America seemed quite sterile and constrained..almost staid. This affected me powerfully and I'm giving thought to moving to Europe.  Moving quite soon, too.  Perhaps by the end of the year.  The subject bears further analysis but I have never before been so struck by the comparative vitality of European culture in relation to our own.  

Anyway...more later...

paul shirt
  • pgdf

Miami Cool

One of my favorite albums is Donald Fagen's first solo outing, THE NIGHTFLY.

It's a concept album in a mild way: all the songs are supposed to evoke the USA circa 1958. Eisenhower cool.

The last cut, "Walk Between Raindrops," summons up a time when Florida was still a relatively undeveloped, low-key, somewhat old-fashioned yet still swinging resort playground.

Well, yesterday I picked up the album depicted below (for 33 cents!) and saw the kind of group that would have been entertaining the Florida crowds at exactly this point in time.

The Four Populaires--Bill Sloane, Kenny Martin, Bill Walz, Chuck Bills--are so forgotten today that they evoke a mere three screens of Google results, all reflecting items for sale, no solid facts or history. They don't even rate an entry on

The liner notes tell us though that: "In 1957 when the beautiful and unique Restaurant-Lounge building of Pier 66 in Fort Lauderdale first opened its doors, the Four Populaires, seeking new fields to conquer, were engaged to present their unusual wares in the new Panorama Room. Their decidedly different offerings blended perfectly with the setting and tempo of the room and its awe-inspiring view, high above the sparkling Intracoastal Waterway. Their popularity has resulted in continued repeat winter engagements."

The music awaits my listening pleasure. But I anticipate plunging nostalgically back to a pre-Space Age wonderland.

Posted by Paul DiFi.

Sounds, Emo, Playboy, etc...

During the 80s and 90s, the richest, most diverse indie record tradition was, imo, in New Zealand, particularly as evidenced by the Flying Nun label which put out records by bands like Cakekitchen, Peter Jeffries, the Clean, the Dead C, the Renderers, Able Tasmans, David Kilgour, Tall Dwarves, Chris Knox, Bailter Space, the Jean Paul Sartre Experience, Look Blue Go Purple, and countless others. Now Flying Nun has come out withh a 25th Anniversary box set. Since I seem to be newly unable to post images, there's no picture, but you can find it on Amazon.

It's pricey, but still a bargain. Pop, punk, space's all good and good for you.


I had a sick dream last night that featured a T-shirt wearing fish named Emo, with a soundtrack that sounded like a seasick version of My Chemical Romance. It was enough to make me give up sleep, but in retrospect it was fairly amusing--Emo may make an appearance in the graphic novel I'm working on....


My Playboy piece on MMA fighter Chuck Liddell, butchered by editing (natch) and cuts to make room for liquor ads, will appear in the November issue, which hits the stands in mid-October. This is about three weeks after Liddell's next fight. Playboy's committed--their lead time prevents them from ditching the piece, but it would be nice if Chuck won. What's really important, I've been paid. Someday I hope to restore the cuts and include it in a collection.


Got a couple of movies cued up, including The Serpent's Tale, a Turkish horror movie with a good reputation. Also Inland Empire...but I'm not too sure.