If you and this blog go way back – like, you’re one of the ORIGINAL readers, back when three people read it instead of eight – you probably are familiar with my somewhat unhealthy fascination with criminal defense attorney James Ecker. Same goes for if you’re one of the couple people each week who find my blog by searching his name (okay, okay, so it’s probably just him, searching his own name a few times a week).

An Ecker Surge in the past couple weeks, along with some idle talk on the subject at work, has brought me to install a new feature in this space: Eye On Ecker.

In this feature, we’ll track the many criminal cases this silver fox takes on (historically, we’re talking stuff of the magnitude of Jeff Habay, the crazy ex-state senator who went down in a blaze of glory, and Ronald Taylor, the McDonald’s massacrist) from start to finish. Each time I see Ecker’s name or lovely mug on the tube or in the paper, I’ll make a note of it and will issue regular dispatches on his whereabouts and the results of his cases.

The guy is hired by nearly every high-profile defendant in the southwestern corner of the state; there must be a reason, and I doubt it’s that he’s affordable. These are life-and-death cases in a lot of instances. What does he do and how does he do it? Does he actually win cases or does it always come to plea bargain (I’ve rarely if ever seen an Ecker defendant who wasn’t pretty clearly guilty from day one)? Is that hair real?

We hope to answer all of these questions and more, all while avoiding libel suit, right here in the coming months with: Eye on Ecker.

this weekend

June 28, 2007

– Friday, the 29th: Centipede E’est and Karl Hendricks Trio (sans Alexei) at the Brillobox. I may or may not be able to make this one, but you should if you can. Okay, Manny wasn’t inaccurate when he suggested that “Gen Y’ers view Karl like [Generation X] viewed The Clarks;” I don’t really enjoy watching KHT (or KHRB, or whatever) but regardless of how you feel on that subject, Centipede won’t be playing shows for a while (what with Jim going on tour with Midnite Snake soon), so howsabout givin’ it up for them. Did I mention at the Arts Festival they played “New Sudan”?

– Saturday, the 30th: Des Ark with Julie Sokolow, Every Monster Truck Ever, at Roboto. Article here; I’m stoked that my enlightened editorial overlord chose to run the photo of Aimee reading a huge dictionary in front of the words “FUCK YOU MOTHER FUCKER.” Also, yes, there is a band called Every Monster Truck Ever, and they’re playing this show.

– Hopefully some tennis if I have time.

– The finishing touches being put on the super-secret blog project, and its unveiling. I might actually hold off until Monday morning to unveil it in a major way (not that it’ll be unveiled in a MAJOR way at all . . .) though the official date is supposed to be the 1st of the month. Technical aspects of this have been sapping a good bit of my blogging time, itself diminished because of my lack of home internet. Back to our regularly scheduled blogging soonish.

The latest glancing-about for events tells me that The Mountain Goats return to The Pittsburgh September 27 for an Elko show at the Rex Theater. Will I go? Perhaps. I’ll be brutally, sadly honest and admit that I kind of don’t like the most recent album. Perhaps with promises of lots of older material I’d definitely sign on. Regardless, there’s early warning for ya.

Why so reticent of late? Because you don’t want to hear about my dumb weekend and I’m not sure what else to talk about right now. Lots of smoothies and vegetarian cheesesteaks in my life. Maybe I’ll write an ode to those. Later.

notes on bands

June 22, 2007

EDITOR’S NOTE: I don’t get why this didn’t publish yesterday. I swiggity swear I hit “publish.” Oh well.
A few quick music-related things:

  • My Magic Wolf preview ran in this week’s paper. The release show is tomorrow night tonight; go there after the Joe Jack Talcum show.
  • Speaking of that show, it now features 100 percent less Daddy and a bit more Amoeba Kneivel and Weird Paul Rock Band. Do please come, it’ll be a good time.
  • Just finished writing a preview for next week’s paper of Des Ark. Excited for that show — it’s June 30 at Roboto, with Julie Sokolow and Every Monster Truck Ever.

hassling the hoff

June 20, 2007

Last night, I made some eh-okay pasta: penne with chopped up raw tomatoes, mozarella and an olive oil-balsamic-lemon juice dressing. I’ll eat the leftovers, but I’m not sure if I’ll make it again. I think I used too many tomatoes, and I don’t like raw tomatoes a lot in that context anyway. Oh well.

I then dove into Squirrel Hill to flyer for Joe Jack Talcum. In case you wanted reason to think I’m pathetic, I bribed myself into doing this in the rain by promising myself a bottle of vodka from the liquor store on Murray if I did a decent job of flyering. I hit the regulars (warm reception at the Exchange, icy stares of suspicion at Avalon, goofy nice dudes at Te Cafe who were already planning on coming to the show, doorway of Jerry’s) then grabbed a bus and made it home in time to watch the majority of “America’s Got Talent.”

Yes, that’s right. You probably know me as someone not easily enticed by the camp/kitsch/irony of stupid reality/competition TV shows. However, I have become a huge fan of “America’s Got Talent” this year. For this I credit:

  1. Living alone without the internet.
  2. The variety of acts featured — this isn’t a bunch of assholes who think they can sing.  This is a bunch of assholes who think they can sing PLUS a bunch of people who belly dance, do acrobatics with chihuahuas, break stuff with their butts, etc. etc.
  3. A pre-rehab Hasslehoff prone to losing his shit at random intervals.

The guy toward the end who sang the Police song made my heart feel warm. I hope he goes far. Same goes for Boy Shakira. His act was awesome in that it brought out two major cultural issues: mainstream treatment of trans people (you heard the competing cheers and boos in a way that doesn’t happen often on the show — the disagreement was intense), and the double standard inherent in favoring someone who’s attractive performing over someone who’s not as attractive. Shakira and Boy Shakira honestly do the same exact act; Shakira is a hot Latina lady, Boy Shakira is a kinda flabby guy. I’m glad Sharon and Piers moved him through, even if in doing so they moved the Hoff to angry theatrics.

The biggest disappointment of the night, though, was the judges’ dismissal of the Tuvan-style harmonic singing banjo guy. He was charismatic and talented, though I’ll admit the combination of throat singing and banjo ditties — especially self-referential banjo ditties about the origins of throat singing — is a bit awkward. But still, dude isn’t far removed from Arrington DeDionyso. And the judges’ treatment of him was a bit harsh, not to mention ignorant. It’s not easy to sing like that, frog-sounding or not.

gettin’ botanical

June 19, 2007

Friday night, went to the Chihuly exhibit at Phipps. Pretty sweet: the outside, sugar-crystal-looking pink thing was pretty astounding, and the room full of big marble-looking balls in a canoe was probably the best. Also impressive was the Thai room, replete with massive koi pond/aquarium. The only real drawback was the backup that occurred in the orchid room, but I’m sure if they didn’t control the ticket sales the way they do, it would be a lot worse.

It’s expensive to go in the evening (or anytime really), but totally worth it, methinks. I always forget just how huge Phipps is; I remember going to the National Botanical Garden in DC and thinking it was kind of paltry — definitely no bigger than Phipps, likely smaller. More on the exhibit here; purchase tickets here.

More recently: over the weekend, I played baseball with the little nephews; one is big enough to throw the ball well (he’s better at overhand than underhand, and is also really good at throwing the football), and the other is just big enough to kind of run around and sometimes pick a ball up and hand it to me. The bigger one is too big for me to pick him up and spin him for more than a few seconds now, but the smaller one is just big enough to want me to do it for HIM too now. It’s a neverending job, being an uncle. Oh wait, I forgot the part where it’s awesome.

Yesterday I spent some time going through old shitty Go-Kart and Hellcat comps and finding the songs that I guiltily still like a bunch: I will never deny Doc Hopper. In fact, basically the two songs they put on the “Go Kart vs. the Corporate Giant II” sampler fulfill my desire for pop-punk completely. The rest of the genre can basically go to hell.

Today it’s going to storm, and I, for one, am excited. I need to flyer for the Joe Jack Talcum show Friday at Roboto which you will be coming to, but I also will likely feel like hunkering down, cooking and chilling out in the rain tonight. We’ll see.


June 15, 2007

Didn’t have time yesterday to post about the show Wednesday night, so here goes —

Not well-attended, but that’s to be expected; it was a last-minute thing, on a Wednesday night, and the openers were all of dubious notoriety (for what they were performing, I mean). I have promoted shows that were less attended, for what it’s worth.

Greg read stories about woods porn. Evan played guitar amateurishly in his undies. I read poems most of my audience didn’t care about.

Cages were good; an intense curly-haired man plays guitar with a lot pedals, most of which he seems to not be using most of the time, while a pixie-ish woman in a funny dress whirls and contorts and does interesting vocal things. The Joanna Newsom comparisons are apt on some of the recordings I’ve heard, though a lot of what they were doing live was more in line with Sigur Ros-ish nonsense talk and atmosphere, only more effects-laden. I would’ve liked the singer to do something without so many effects (it’s clear she does really cool vocal things even underneath all that), and at times I felt like they weren’t necessarily completely together. But I got their double CD and I like it pretty good. I’d probably go see them again.