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Articles by Balaji Mani

September 12, 2008
How well do you know the local jazz scene in Boston? If you’re under 21, chances are you have some difficulty getting into clubs. Have you ever attended Boston’s national festival of music? Well, given that Boston hosts no such event, I can say that you haven’t. Spending three months in the city of love, Paris, I’ve realized how closely music and culture are linked — and how much we might be missing out in lovely Beantown.
September 12, 2008
Mike Gordon is weird. He’s best known as the bassist from the now broken-up Phish, but also as the author of Mike’s Corner, a section of the band’s newsletter which served as a sort of psychedelic literary repository. Take for example a story he published in October, 1995 with the beginning: “As far as tikes go, Johnald was a wee bit irregular. For one thing, he had an Amrope coming out of his head. You may be wondering, ‘What is an Amrope?’ I won’t piss on you for wondering that. Actually, it’s like an antenna, but it’s got some mold on it. It’s not something you buy at a store, maybe you do buy it in a store.”
May 9, 2008
It’s that time of year again: Robert Fripp and co. have reached a lull, anticipating their end-of-summer tour, and the only way to put food on the table (and promote the shows) is to release a blindly hand-picked bootleg from the King Crimson archive. And thank goodness they picked a decent show.
May 2, 2008
It’s no surprise that in Boston, a city inundated with eager students, free arts events harness high attendance. Last week, hundreds of such students attended a free performance of the Boston Lyric Opera’s last production of the season, The Abduction from the Seraglio. Though this is one of Mozart’s lesser known operas, the theatre filled to near full capacity. The Boston Lyric Opera has been offering free tickets to the public (but specifically targeting students) for the dress rehearsals of all its major productions. Before the beginning of the overture, Janice Mancini Del Sesto, the exuberant General Director of the BLO, arrived in the left box seat to announce this season’s recipient of the Stephen Shrestinian Award for Excellence. She then proudly led the audience in a grand applause for Joseph Valone, a Boston University music program alumnus; the award was a cash prize for a young, up-and-coming performer wishing to further his or her career in professional opera.
March 21, 2008
Few films (that I’ve seen, at least) achieve what Gus Van Sant’s latest work, “Paranoid Park,” accomplishes with such elegance and ease. If the disjointed, hand-wound montage of San Francisco traffic in the opening scene isn’t enough to foreshadow the lack of order and peace in our hero’s young teenage life, then certainly it’s the haunting soundtrack. Or, you also have the eerie shift in lighting when Alex (Gabe Nevins), America’s John Doe of troubled teens, escapes to the seashore to write an epic letter. Then you consider the fact that the majority of the scenes shift in and out of focus, sometimes barely giving the viewer any clue as to where the scene is actually taking place. This is where the success ofParanoid Park” triumphs beyond other films about the difficulty being a teenager: it is as though all the elements (artistic and practical) conspire together to make the viewer feel like Alex. We truly see and live as Alex is seeing and living.
February 15, 2008
Last week’s double bill at the Museum of Fine Arts brought to the stage two seemingly different, yet equally brilliant acts. I’d never witnessed such a divided audience before: young women and French-Americans anticipated Keren Ann’s silky alto and crisp guitar, while middle-aged men — some reeking of marijuana — patiently awaited Dean & Britta’s washy wall-of-sound. Personally, I was more of a Keren Ann fan, but nonetheless loved Dean & Britta’s set of laid-back tunes.
August 27, 2007
Growing up, my parents drove a car with only a tape player. My sister owned Moving Pictures, probably Rush’s most popular album, on cassette. I wore that tape out; now all the songs sound a half step up, but I don’t mind. Rush is a band that instantly made its home in my mental library and has been occupying and expanding it ever since. It’s not like I can stop them; they have 18 studio albums and five live albums in their back catalog.
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