Tioga Inn Resort proposal – Mono Basin / Lee Vining impact – Planning Commission virtual meeting this Thursday at 9am

(courtesy Mono Lake Committee)


The owner of the Tioga Gas Mart (the Mobil station/Whoa Nellie Deli at the foot of Tioga Pass, where CA120 meets US395) is planning to expand the operation to include a 100-room hotel, plus workforce housing for a further 150 people. These structures will be up to two stories tall and will be perched on the moraines overlooking Mono Lake. They’ll be visible from 395, South Tufa and many other highly-visited portions of the Mono Basin Scenic Area.

Lee Vining’s population in the 2010 census was 110 people. This development, if approved, could more than triple the population of the town. Light pollution and visual impact will be significant. CalTrans has stated it has no plans for traffic mitigation (for instance, a stoplight at 120 and 395). There are myriad other implications listed in the FEIR (link below).

The Mono Lake Committee and an apparent majority of citizens in Lee Vining — as well as hundreds of return visitors to the area — are opposing this development.

This is going to be a tough fight, and additional articulate, informed, and passionate voices are needed to speak out regarding the proposed development.

There is at least one upcoming Mono County virtual meeting* are two Mono County virtual meetings that will decide whether this development happens.

The first is the most urgent: this Thursday at 9am, the Planning Commission will decide whether to sent the project to the Board of Supervisors for approval.

** Details on joining the Planning Commission meeting this Thursday at 9am:

Accessible remotely by livecast at: https://zoom.us/join and by telephone at: 669-900-6833 (Meeting ID# for both is 634 770 837) where members of the public shall have the right to observe and offer public comment.

The Mono Lake Committee provides further details and suggestions for input here.

Mono Lake Committee Eastern Sierra Policy Director, Bartshé Miller, spells out MLC’s concerns about the proposed project here.

If the Planning Commission approves and sends the project to the Supervisors (and this seems likely)*, I’ll post the dates for the Supervisors’ public hearing — where the final decision will be made — on this blog.

Project Description and final subsequent EIR can be found here.

Thank you for your engagement on this manner of great importance to Lee Vining, Mono Lake, and the Eastern Sierra.

— Paul Ashby

* UPDATE April 14 9:45 pm: I’ve since learned that the Planning Commission’s yea or nay vote on the matter is non-binding. Meaning a majority voting ‘no’ still means there will be a Board of Supervisors meeting, where the latter will have the final say.

* UPDATE April 18: The Mono County Planning Commission voted 4-0 to approve the proposal and send it to the Board of Supervisors. More info can be found on Mono Lake Committee’s website.

* UPDATE April 27: The full 7-hour 30-minute stream of the planning commission meeting (including all public comment) has been posted.

Recent Acquisitions


Blinkar från Norr Metaphors for Things 2LP (A Strangely Isolated Place, US)

BPEOPLE BPEOPLE LP (Faulty Products, US) (replacement copy via LAFMS)

Califone Echo Mine LP (Jealous Butcher US)

Cross Record Cross Record LP (Ba Da Bing! US)

Durutti Column M24J (Anthology) 2LP+7″ (Factory Benelux, Belgium)

Roger Eno and Brian Eno Mixing Colours 2xLP (Deutsche Grammaphon, Ger)

Aoife Nessa Frances Land of No Junction LP (Ba Da Bing! US)

Fruit Bats Echolation LP (Jealous Butcher, US)

Inoyama Land Danzindan-Pojidon LP reissue (‎We Release Whatever The Fuck We Want Records, Switzerland)

Merrin Karras Northwest Passage LP (A Strangly Isolated Place, US)

Bill Nelson Sounding the Ritual Echo LP (used) (Cocteau, UK) (replacement copy)

Ocoeur Everything LP (n5MD US)

Rodelius Selbstportrait Wahre Liebe LP (Bureau B, Germany)

San Kazakgascar Scar Tissue 7″ lathe cut (Lather Records, US)

Tim Rutili | Craig Ross Guitars Tuned to Air Conditioners (Hired Hand, US)

youbet Compare & Despair (Ba Da Bing! US)


Higher Intelligence Agency Colourform FLAC (Beyond Records UK)

Higher Intelligence Agency Freefloater FLAC (Beyond Records UK)

Julia Kent Green and Grey (Expanded) FLAC (Leaf UK)

Bill Nelson The Jewel FLAC Sonoluxe UK)

Yoshio Ojima Une Collection des Chainons I and II: Music for Spiral FLAC reissue (‎We Release Whatever The Fuck We Want Records, Switzerland)

Loscil, Ocoeur, The Cure, Be Bop Deluxe – Reviewed on Part-Time Audiophile

As far as I’m confused, those Cure guys put out a couple okay LPs, but a certain Be Bop Deluxe album must’ve left somewhat of an impression on my sixteen-year-old self.

I also write about new releases from Loscil and Ocoeur, as well as those two older vinyl reissues by The Cure.

A Wizard / A True Star was released 47 years ago today

… and Patti Smith’s review (Creem, 1973) still hits all the right notes.

Recent Acquisitions


BGM Back Ground Music LP (Studio Mule, Japan)

William Basinski On Time Out of Time (Temporary Residence, USA)

The Cure Faith 2xLP (Vinyl Lovers/Lilith, Russia/EU)

The Cure Seventeen Seconds 2xLP (Vinyl Lovers/Lilith, Russia/EU)

The Durutti Column Fidelity clear and blue vinyl 2xLP (Les Disques Du Crepesule, Belgium)

Midori Hirano Invisible Island LP (Sonic Pieces, Germany)

Richard Horowitz Eros in Arabia LP (Freedom to Spend, USA)

Terry Riley A Rainbow In Curved Air LP (Music on Vinyl, Netherlands)

Todd Rundgren Runt gold vinyl LP (Music on Vinyl, The Netherlands)

Erik Satie Vexations Alan Marks, Piano clear vinyl LP (Les Disques Du Crepesule, Belgium)

Utopia RA LP (Music on Vinyl, Netherlands)


Jacek Doroszenko Infinite Values (Time Released Sound, USA)

Loscil Lifelike FLAC (Frond, Canada)


Be Bop Deluxe Modern Music (Deluxe) 4xCD + 5.1 DVD (Esoteric/Cherry Red, UK)

Rainbo Records – In Memoriam

Regarding a certain LA Times article:

I’ve seen this touching eulogy concerning Rainbo Records’ closing posted by at least five of my Facebook friends. I figured it was time to chime in once again.

I realize this might come across as ungracious.

Rainbo’s pressing quality and, especially, customer service were among the worst. Rainbo closed because it couldn’t compete with plants that were better at both.

When working at my previous job, at least two or three of our exclusive labels insisted upon using Rainbo, despite our protests.

Project after project found the labels being repeatedly lied to about the job being ready and “on the dock for pickup.” Or the “paper” (jackets and inserts) had been lost. Or plates had gone missing.

I can’t count how many LPs didn’t make street date because Rainbo was incapable of getting the majority of jobs done on time, or even being straight with clients about delays.

Maybe Rainbo treated other larger indies such as Rhino and Concord (back when such labels existed as indies, decades ago) better. Doesn’t matter. Unless you were in the upper 5%, apparently, you received the lamest excuse for customer service in the vinyl pressing business (and that’s saying a lot).

I spent about 20 years sitting across from our production manager. Week after week he’d get calls from the labels, listen, sigh, scribble some notes on the release schedule, line a couple things out, hang up, and mutter “fuckin’ Rainbo.”

I only post this because nostalgia doesn’t always translate to reality when it comes to small labels trying to get vinyl to its customers. You may believe Rainbo’s closure is emblematic of a difficult business climate, or changing market conditions. But it’s really because other pressing plants produce higher-quality vinyl, and definitely better customer service.

Goodbye to Rainbo?

More like good riddance.

Deutsche Grammophon is Signing Everyone Worth Listening To, Apparently

Not content with signings of the late Jóhann Jóhannsson, Max Richter, Hildur Guðnadóttir, Dustin O’Halloran (can Adam Bryanbaum Wiltzie be far behind?), and Rachel Grimes (Rachel’s), Deutsche Grammophon’s drive to world domination continues with the scheduled March 20 release of a new album by Brian Eno and Roger Eno.

That’s So 2019: Favorite Books, Music and Video

A Winged Victory for the Sullen The Undivided Five FLAC (Ninja Tune, UK)

Heather Woods Broderick Invitation FLAC (Western Vinyl, US)

Dustin O’Halloran Sundoor EP (Deutsche Grammaphon, Germany)

K. Leimer Irrational Overcast LP (First Terrace, UK)

Loscil Lifelike FLAC (Frond, Canada)

Craig Leon The Canon – Anthology of Interplanetary Folk Music Vol. 2 LP (RVNG Intl, US)

Chernobyl Miniseries (HBO)

Hildur Guðnadóttir Chernobyl score LP (Deutsche Grammophon, Germany)

Craig Childs Virga & Bone: Essays from Dry Places book (Torrey House Press)

Amy Irvine Desert Cabal: A New Season in the Wilderness book (Torrey House Press)

Terry Tempest Williams Erosion: Essays of Undoing book (Sarah Crichton Books)

Seymour Glass What’s Going to Happen to Us? book (Butte County Free Music Society)

Be Bop Deluxe Modern Music 2019 stereo mix and 5.1 mix 4xCD+DVD (Esoteric, UK)

The Beatles Abbey Road 2019 stereo mix and 5.1 mix 3xCD+DVD (Universal/EMI, US)


In the early- to mid-80s, I had a home recording project called Funharm.

It was low-fidelity instrumental dabbling, consisting of synthesizer, tapes, and sometimes guitars. Most of it was improvised; all of it was recorded to cassette. I managed overdubs by jamming a broken Q-Tip across the cassette recorder’s retractable erase head. As you can imagine, hiss became part of the mix. And, I liked to think, part of the charm.

I released two Funharm cassettes in 1983 and 1984. They got a certain amount of coverage in OP/OPTION, Sound Choice and the Contact List of Electronic Music (CLEM). I traded a bunch of copies with like-minded cassette-trading types. Each tape is numbered, and supposedly limited to 100 copies, but still have some left. Imagine that.

After the 1984 tape, Segments, I stopped releasing new music. I kept recording through 1988.

Last year, I digitized both tapes and offered them on Bandcamp. The tapes are for sale on Discogs. Mark Griffey interviewed me earlier this year. I just launched a low-key blog. And, because nothing’s real until it happens on Facebook, there’s that.

I’m going through dozens of old cassettes from the latter (and former) era and working on editing and cleaning up viable tracks, and have some other ideas in the works. I’ll post about any significant developments here and there.

Thinking About Ordering Vinyl From CDJapan?

I spent over $100 — not including shipping — ordering two Ryuichi Sakamoto LPs and two seven-inch singles from CDJapan.

The Bernie Grundman remaster of “Left Handed Dream” — US$34, plus overseas shipping — had a significant defect. The first song wouldn’t track during the last half of the song. The stylus on my cartridge actually bounced a 1/4-inch off the playing surface and continued to do so for 10 seconds, and the last half of the song was unplayable. I considered recording a video of the bouncing cartridge and sending it to CDJapan’s customer-service email address, but feared the defect was destroying my stylus.

I contacted CDJapan about the issue.

Their reply?

About the manufacture defective you mentioned, we haven’t got the issue from any other customers who purchased this LP.

And also we checked Sony Music website, they do not announce any defective for this LP.

We also checked the review in Amazon, there is only one comment, but he didn’t mention about the defective, he says the sound is very nice.

I’m touched by the fact that Sony couldn’t be bothered to acknowledge a problem with an expensive LP on its site. Shocking. Similarly, the fact that the only Amazon review claims the sound is “very nice” is consoling, as well.

I recommend that no one buy anything — especially vinyl — from CDJapan if this is what passes for their customer service.


Update [December 20, 2109]:

After I contacted CDJapan and informed them their reply was inadequate, I didn’t hear from them for two days. Finally they sent an email replying they were crediting my account (not refunding my money, or sending a replacement) for the defective LP.

I had also pointed out to their customer service rep that CDJapan needs to improve their packaging for shipping LPs. The two albums and two 7″ were loosely packed in bubblerwap, the placed in a carton that was twice as big as necessary, with no padding. When the package arrived, the contents were shaking loosely in the box. This issue wasn’t adequately addressed by CDJapan, other than the statement “we are relieved to hear that none of them [were] damaged.” This, alone, would make me reluctant to even consider ordering vinyl from CDJapan in the future.

Update [December 28, 2019]:

I was contacted by someone who stated they were “the A&R at Sony Music Direct Japan.” Evidently they noticed me ranting about the issue on Twitter. More news about this soon (most likely by way of me posting again on Twitter about it).

Update [January 14, 2020]

Sony Music Direct Japan has resolved the issue to my satisfaction, as has CDJapan. Thanks to both.