adrian is rad


books: mysteries of pittsburgh and in the aeroplane over the sea

Filed under: — adrian @ 11:20 pm

In the last week I finished Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon and In the Aeroplane over the Sea by Kim Cooper.

Michael Chabon has become famous for books since Mysteries of Pittsburgh, most notably Wonder Boys and the Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Clay. It’s a story about a kid’s post-college summer, his gangster father, his gay friend and his retro-loving girlfriend. It also takes place, in part, in Junction Hollow, the “Lost Neighborhood”, an odd place in a ravine beneath CMU that one can end up accidentally, but rarely on purpose.

It’s a well-written book, interesting and engaging. It’s bittersweet; not too bitter, not too sweet. It’s like an indie movie.

Then I read In the Aeroplane over the Sea about about the best album of the last decade. It’s a small book, barely hand-sized and only a little over a hundred pages long, so you can really gun through this. But then again, it’s sort of like extensive liner notes and how many liner notes do you know that are a hundred pages long? The book goes through the history of the band and the Elephant 6 collective, and the events leading up to the recording of the album. If you are obsessed with this album, I’d recommend this book.

Next up: Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane.

18 Responses to “books: mysteries of pittsburgh and in the aeroplane over the sea

  1. dug Says:

    I spent a good chunk of the summer of ’04 riding through Junction Hollow, usually on my way to do a few laps between the Smithfield St and Hot Metal bridges and snack on some mulberries growing along the riverside. It’s most definitely a mystery of Pittsburgh, I didn’t know that area even had a name.

  2. dug Says:

    Late one night at bar in the Inner Sunset, music playing in the background…

    Dug: “Damn, Stevie Wonder is the fucking man!”

    Adrian: “Yeah, he’s alright I guess”

    D: “What, you got something against him?”

    A: “Well, I don’t agree with the production choices he made on a number of his songs…”

    D: “Oh yeah, like what?”

    A: “For instance, I don’t like the horns on this song.”

    The song playing in the background was “Sir Duke.” And it was at that point that I resolved to never, ever, never again listen to what Adrian had to say about music.

  3. andy (not andyl) Says:

    Listen. I’m sorry, but the actions of the man who is responsible for I just called to say I love you are indefensible. I’m with you for some albums. Songs in the Key of Life, for example. But I JUST CALLED TO SAY I LOVE YOU. If that’s not a man turning his back, I don’t know what is.

    And also, the Super Bowl halftime show this year? I was embarassed.

  4. andy (not andyl) Says:

    Also, I’d be ashamed of my lack of spelling abilty, as evidenced in the above post, but this is Adrian’s blog, so no matter how you cut it, my spelling is looking good, by comparison.

  5. adrian Says:

    Those horns really do ruin that song.

  6. Milkshake Says:

    Adrian is rad

  7. dug Says:

    Those horns ARE the song.

  8. dug Says:

    Adrian is rad

  9. jesse Says:

    wow. surreal.

    andynotandyl/adrian, which one of you brainwashed the other?

  10. andy (not andyl) Says:

    Really, I’m 99% sure we came to this conclusion independently. For me, it’s got a lot to do with the production of the time. I can’t stand all that crap that comes with the 80’s – low-quality digital pianos, trebeled-out mixes, gated reverb.

    A lot of artists, Mr. Wonder among them, made albums during that period that are patently unlistenable. And that’s affected my view on a lot of said artists. Especially when they continue to make foolish decisions (again, the Super-Bowl Halftime show) further into their careers.

    Not like this is really going to endear me any further to the reading audience, but Bob Dylan is another example. I mean, who listens to the Dylan albums made after 1970? The albums from the 70s and the 80s are unlistenable for different reasons (bad christian folk vs. poor production), but still – he’s been riding Blonde on Blonde for 40 years, now.

    Oh, also, I don’t like Led Zepplin, either. They’ve actually got a great sound, but I just can’t listen to ’em.

  11. andy (not andyl) Says:

    Also, this has got to be one of the biggest thread-jackings ever on – Just now, when I submitted my last comment, I saw the title of the post, and remembered what this post was *acutally* about.


  12. dug Says:

    Fair enough, but if you don’t listen to any 60s/70s artist that declined during the 80s, then what exactly do you listen to from that 20 year stretch?

    In any case, if Adrian’s reply had been that Stevie Wonder’s 80s productions had been the problem, that would have been fine. But we’re talking about SIR DUKE here.

  13. adrian is rad » Blog Archive » neutral Says:

    […] I played all of In the Aeroplane over the Sea after my recent reading of the book of the same title. […]

  14. jesse Says:

    and, interestingly, sir duke is from songs in the key of life, which happens to be the album that andynotandyl singles out as a goodie.

    ps. trackback comments don’t make any sense and they look weird.

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  17. ipickmynose: San Francisco Bay Area-centric, mostly indie music blog » Musee Mechanique is the best thing ever Says:

    […] I know this is only marginally related to music, but, in my defense: a) Neutral Milk Hotel went there and, from what I remember of the 33 1/3 book on In the Aeroplane Over the Sea they liked it a lot. b) there are a lot of mechanical music boxes, player pianos, mechanized orchestras and whatnot, to the extent that they’ve recorded, I believe, three CDs of the music of Musee Mechanique for purchase at their gift shop. […]

  18. adrian is rad » books: Summerland, What Jesus Meant, Brainiac Says:

    […] by Michael Chabon Andy recommended this to me after I read Mysteries of Pittsburgh. I finally got around to reading it. It’s the sort of book I don’t think I’d […]

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