I still have that poster on my bedroom wall.

I am probably one out of a billion fans that is writing to you during this time so I don't really expect for you to reply, but I do hope that you get a chance to read my letter.

I have been a fan of yours since my freshmen year at Stuyvesant High School in New York City. I liked you because you seemed to be more than just a rap star. Of all the people that came into the game you were like someone that wasn't trying to be a character. Everybody uses the phrase keep it real, but you actually felt real.

I was really sad when you were convicted of perjury. I wished that you hadn't lied to the grand jury about those dudes in your clique. I wish that you had told the grand jury that "you can't recall" or maybe plead the fifth amendment. It's not fair that you were punished. Some people are arguing that by not cooperating with the grand jury you were only protecting criminals and that one of the problems of the Black people is that they protect criminals and that they spend too much money and that they don't value education and that they name it ridonkulous names, but I don't think that they protect criminals.

No snitching means that I don't tell other peoples business. If I got busted with a few bottles of pifff on me I wouldn't tell the po-po that I copped it from 148th and Bradhurst(the red door bodega), because that would be snitching. Even if someone were to kill my dog I wouldn't go the police because that would be snitching. If someone were to hurt my mother I would go to the police but that doesn't really count against the 'no snitching' rule because she pays the mortgage, cable and electricity bills so I wouldn't be able to watch any Live jasmin porn without her, but now I digress from my point.

All I'm saying is that you are gully for real. Not fake gully like 50CENT is, because now everybody knows that he is the confidential informant in the Murda Inc federal trial. Not fake gully like all these rappers who get shot at but don't shoot back. By the by, did you hear that your 'girl' FOXY was fresh to deaf. Ha!

I hope that when you come home you put the rap game in a smash for good.

Last night I rode up to Chicago to see Cat Power

I wasn't all that into it. I mean, I would probably go to see her if she were playing in Iowa City, but it's a long four-hour drive. My friend, Mark, who had purchased an extra ticket based on the mistaken notion that Cat Power's status with Indie chicks would land him a date, was desperate for a ride. So he offered me his extra and gas money to use my car--plus he would drive both way. So I figured what the fuck.

We went straight to the best beer bar in the world--the Hopleaf on Clark and Foster--and drank a medium-sized fortune in Belgians. The Reader listed an opening act we hadn't heard of, so we figured showing up 45 minutes after the ticket's listing of 7:30 would be a safe bet to land a decent seat. How annoying that she was already playing when we arrived. It was a solo show, which I wasn't pleased about either, and the place was hipster central. There's something amusing about rapt 23-year olds with hair parted too far to one side "shhhing" each other at the slightest sound so as not to miss a single throaty sigh.

My first impression? This woman is not nearly as attractive as Mark had led me to believe. Mark is "in love" with Chan Marshall, but he admitted afterward that there was something distressingly linebacker-like about her appearance. Chan certainly doesn't look fragile. She looks like she could have wiped the floor with any of the chaturbate girls in the room. "Well, she's a cracker-girl," Mark told me later, as if that explained it. As a Southerner himself, Mark calls people "crackers" more glibly--and affectionately--than I do.

The music was good, but not worth the drive. Chan has a unique voice, for sure, and a gift for creating a sense of intimacy. There were moments when my attention was totally captured, like when she played that "Good Woman" song. She mostly played new material that I didn't know. She played a lot of covers, most of which weren't on the covers album. She did an oddly melancholy version of "Sugar, Sugar," which I liked. She didn't play an encore. She was done in a little over an hour. I would have felt ripped off if I had paid for my ticket.

About half-way through the show, she started losing it, babbling under her breath about how she wasn't living up to her own expectations. This kind of talk elicited some hilariously earnest encouragement, including a totally unselfconscious "you go-girl!" shout-out from one of her midwestern fanlets. This, of course, seemed to embarrass her even more. It seemed like everyone was expecting a meltdown, wanted one even, but there was only some awkward mumbling and an occasional pointless apology.

First off, we have the world-devouring club star

Today's post is dedicated to the artists and their handlers that have kept me hopping gingerly on pins and needles for the past couple weeks, during this time of deadline-crunchery. (If any of you fine press folks are Moistworks readers, I ain't mad atcha - I understand the difficulties of trying to juggle the various whims and outrageous demands of dudes like me.) Still, it's been rough going lately, stories that should take a day or two are stretching out to weeks, and at the time of this post there's really still no light at the end of the tunnel.

I was supposed to have a brief Annie feature done for Paste by early October, corresponding with the release of her installment of the DJ Kicks series. I just finished it on Sunday. Annie was on vacation for awhile, then my email questions got forwarded around through Internet limbo for awhile longer, and finally the answers arrived. She seems like such a sweetheart, I like to imagine it took so long because she was taking each question, holding it up to the light to examine it from different angles, pondering, drafting and revising, then wrapping up each thoroughly considered answer in a tiny box with a silk bow and sending it flapping on tiny silver wings over the ocean to land gently on my desk.

I'm in exactly the same boat with a similar Imogen Heap feature, which isn't going to make it into the magazine (which is in final-final layouts today) if I can't flip it by tonight. This comes on the same day when my girlfriend's car broke down and I have to drive her all over the known universe, and I have to sling espresso at my part time job tonight from six until midnight. Imogen was also apparently on vacation (maybe living it up with Annie at whatever magical place electro-pop angels got to unwind?) and now that she's back, she's got a battery of phoners lined up before she can get to my email questions. It's really going to come down to the wire. Still, her album Speak For Yourself is so phenomenal that we're desperate to get her into the magazine whatever the cost, and her people have been so helpful I'm confident that it'll work out. You've probably heard "Hide and Seek" before, but you can stand to hear it again - it's pretty much just a heart-stopping, a capellla, vocodered musical wonder.

So Imogen's people have been helpful, but Ghostface's (I'm supposed to review his show at the Cat's Cradle on Wednesday night for Pitchfork), not so much. We're still waiting for guestlist confirmation on that one. If push comes to shove I'll just bug one of my friends at the Cradle, but god help me if I have to go through the jasmin live managment. There's this one dude, let's call him Grouchy McClubberson, who's absolutely the meanest club manager I've ever encountered. Even though I've been going to the Cradle on the guestlist like once a week for years, he refuses to acknowledge that he knows who I am. It's not just me, he doesn't seem to like anyone, but it's getting pretty unreal by now. I imagine a scenario when I like, save his baby from a burning car or something, then go to the club for a show. "Hi Grouchy McClubberson, I'm on the list." Squints suspiciously: "What's your name?" At any rate, given the recent violence at a Ghostface show, it might be better for my health if it doesn't work out. This track is a Ghost cameo on DangerDoom's The Mouse and the Mask, whetting appetites for the in-progress MF Doom / Ghostface full length collbo that's almost definitely going to rule.

I also found out today that my passes for Death Cab for Cutie and Stars on Thurday night, which I'm also supposed to review, have mysteriously vanished. But I've posted Stars before and I don't think there's much user-end value in posting a track from the ubiquitous Death Cab, so I'm posting a track from The Clientele's Strange Geometry instead. The Clientele show is presenting a different set of logistical difficulties. I agreed to review it over a month ago, not realizing that the show was a) on Franklin Street, at the 506 and b) on Halloween. Either of these alone would be fine, put them together and you've got a pretty good recipe for disaster. I mean, have you ever heard about Halloween in Chapel Hill, particularly on Franklin St.? The police block off the area for blocks so it can fill up with many thousands of drunk, underage undergrads, cramming them into this cordoned radius (which is exactly where I'll have to go) to hoot and holler and climb lamposts and overturn parked vehicles and puke on one anothers' shoes. The boys devise elaborate three-man bong costumes, the girls take the opportunity to embrace their inner stripper and wear as little as possible (all right, that part's not so bad), it's an incredibly obnoxious scene and I'm already trying to figure out how I'm going to get anywhere near the club without having to walk for ten miles or get puked on. If this winds up being my last Moistpost, know that I've fallen in my quest to bring you fairly inconsequential concert reviews. Go forth and tell my story, so that I might live on eternally in the minds of men and women.

Low-Beam plays noisy, melodic boy-girl rock

During Christmas of 1977, they went across the Atlantic to London, England to go to rock shows. Over the course of those few weeks, they saw the Jam, the Sex Pistols, Chris Spedding, Eddie and the Hot Rods, the Only Ones, and the Kinks, among others. When they came back they formed a band, calling themselves the Reducers so that their albums would live in close physical proximity to their other heroes, the Ramones. The Reducers recorded a series of albums and since they couldn't find a label to put them out, they decided to do it themselves, making them probably one of the first, if not the first, "Do-It-Yourself" band. The Reducers had several moments where they seemed to be on the verge of breaking through, including being named the "Best Unsigned Act" of the 1985 CMJ music festival, and opening for the Ramones and the Replacements several times, but none of it ever turned into a record deal.

Peter Detmold, one of the two original members mentioned above, still lives in New London, where he owns and runs the Dutch Tavern, one of the oldest bars in New England where local boy Eugene O'Neil once puked on the bar. "The Dutch" would be the gathering place of musicians and artists in New London, if it weren't for the fact that it's a gathering place for all kinds of people. What the Reducers did ultimately was they took what they heard and saw in the U.K. and transferred it onto their own hometown. In the process, they mapped out the terrain of living in New London. They described the apathy, loneliness, longing, and boredom, and turned these emotions into music that was fun and could be played for their friends in crummy bars downtown. They created a forum for local to get together, and a vehicle to express themselves, and in doing so they set the template for what is now being carried on by the next generation.

There are really two reasons to start a band in New London and none of them involve getting famous. The first is that it's the most fun thing going in New London on most nights. And the second is that there's not a whole let else to do. It's a kind of paradox. Playing these shows is rebellion against the boredom, but it's also a reaction to boredom, and it becomes a kind of routine in its own right, that can, and does often, turn into a trap. But all this gets put back into the songs. This cycle, combined with the immediacy of having an audience of peers, has lately produced some very good music, all of it largely unknown beyond in this town.

Currently, there are four strong bands who live and perform in New London. The Can Kickers play punked-out, footstomping, hand-clapping acoustic hillbilly music. The Quiet Life, the youngest, best looking, and most ambitious at marketing themselves, play 70's sounding American rock. And then there's my favorite, Fatal Film. Of the bands in New London, Fatal Film is the most musically and emotionally ambitious, and the band that most embodies the contradictions of the place - the mixture of expectation and boredom. They are also the most self-assured, and with their first full-length album Video Bowling they became the first band in New London to make affecting art out of local rock'n'roll.

That the album is called Video Bowling says a lot. Yes, they do spend a lot of time playing electronic bar games. There is that, but the title also conveys this mixture of sinister fun and boredom, that sense of wasting away, frittering away the hours, that lurks in every song. The album was recorded in two days with each song getting one, sometimes two takes. Matt Potter, the lead singer of Fatal Film, recorded all the vocals for the album in one day, locking himself in the bathroom of their rehearsal space. This is all very much in keeping with the band's sound. The whole thing is about capturing the rawness of emotion, the messiness of the recording process, and by extension, the messiness of living. Potter is a master of the beautiful one-off, tearing through chord changes at breakneck speeds, while packing in as much emotion as possible.

I've been listening to the same sixteen Fatal Film tracks for a few years now and still they sound excellent. Their songs are emotionally complex, nasty, funny, raw, and at times, deeply sad. Potter wails, "I'm stuck with these weird white guys/and they stay awake for three days at a time/with my luck I'll be dead by midnight/or stay awake for three days at a time." I have a hard time pin pointing exactly what the antecedents are for this band or what they listen to. Gang of Four is probably in there somewhere with all the clanging, brittle guitar, the political savvy, and Potter's clipped vocals, but even that doesn't quite seem to work. Potter says that one of his major influences is the Frogs, and that seems true lyrically, but not quite in terms of the whole. None of that really matters though. What matters is that Video Bowling is a minor masterpiece of voice-an intelligent attack full of sharp asides, wry gallows humor, and dirty jokes. In short, Fatal Film makes smart rock that actually rocks.

I walked past the Brooklyn Courthouses on the way to work today

It's been Noah's Flood in NYC since I got back from Amsterdam - but even at 9 AM, there was an around-the-block line around one of the buildings. It turned out to be the bankruptcy court - New York, Eastern District, which covers Brooklyn, Queens, but not Manhattan and Long Island. Well and so, I walked inside....

The line, which formed a sort of spiral inside the building's main hall, consisted of people waiting to file, and hoping to beat today's 3 PM deadline. (The laws change over the weekend - come Monday, it'll be far harder to file, and shelter your belongings from your creditors.) I began talking to people, and a lot of people I talked to were (understandbly) freaked out. New York's ass-backwards bankruptcy laws won't let you claim Federal exemptions, and seem to date back to the Reconstruction:

"all stoves kept for use in the judgment debtor's dwelling house and necessary fuel therefor for sixty days,one sewing machine with its appurtenances, $5,000"

"the family bible, family pictures, and school books used by the judgment debtor or in the family, $5,000"

"other books, not exceeding fifty dollars in value, kept and used as part of the family or judgment debtor's library"

"a seat or pew occupied by the judgment debtor or the family in a place of public worship"

"domestic animals with the necessary food for those animals for sixty days, provided that the total value of such animals and food does not exceed $450*

"all necessary food actually provided for the use of the judgment debtor or his family for sixty days"

And so forth. The first man I talked to - a tall African-American guy who had to have been in his late thirties, but looked a bit younger - put himself through law-school by working the midnight shift as a beat-cop, left the law behind to become an NYC Teaching Fellow, and now teaches in Brownsville, where he needs to divide his fifth-graders up according to their gang affiliations. He looked to me to be the kind of guy our President should be singling out in his next State of The Union Speech, instead of screwing over - but what do I know. Towards the front of the line, a pretty girl in a green raincoat seemed to keep filling out the wrong thirty-odd sheets of paperwork; she was literally shaking - from caffiene, or something else, I don't know - but the shake reminded me of a young Katherine Hepburn. I wanted to pull her aside and ask if I could do anything to help, but I'm no exactly an expert in New York State bankruptcy law. Later, I wished I'd talked to her - she was beautiful, the shake was sexy, and American Girl goes out to her, whoever she was, and wherever she might be: God, it's so painful, something that's so close, and still so far out of reach!

The other songs sould be more-or-less self-explanatory, and James' Monday-morning followup is going to pick up the thread. In the meantime, Moistworks' Astoria Bureau wishes you all a dry, happy, and financially secure weekend.