A sub-division of oldpunks.com

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Review: Gang Of Four - Return The Gift

The import of Gang Of Four's old-is-new-again CD contains an extra disc of remixes that begs the question: Will GOF try to out-club the club kids? Thankfully the answer is they don't even go there. Think of Return The Gift as a great new Peel session recorded a quarter century after the fact.

The career of GOF has paralleled that of Wire, with Wire producing more great albums up front before dissolving into irrelevance, only to come back strong riding a wave of nostalgia for jagged edges and asexual dance beats. I only point this out to show you how clever I am.

Why release covers of your own greatest hits? Well, it's not because the drum tracks needed improvement. It's more like how Pitchfork describes it:

To date, Gang of Four still have unrecouped advances on their EMI catalog and have never seen a dime of royalty cash from sales. So in order to pre-empt an attempt by their old label to cash in on the reunion with a best-of compilation they'd see no money from, they made their own best-of album, recording new masters that they'll be able to earn royalties from. It's good business.

Capital failed GOF then but they won't let that happen again! As they admit in interviews now, their politics aren't as they appear:

Q: Ah, so you were into politics already! A: No, I think that's overstating it. When you're young and doing those kind of things, you're throwing various things into the pot. Obviously, with the name Gang of Four, there's a certain element of irony and it's a little bit tongue-in-cheek. That's part of why that name works. But I don't think there was any political awareness at the stage.

Ah yes, to be young, dumb and full of art school pretentiousness. My god, their lyrics were something out of the SLA or a Sacco and Vanzetti musical, and it got more ridiculous as they went along because they tossed in groan-worthy double entendre sex references and packaged it in a disco coating that became increasingly laughable. The girls they love to see you shoot. Hoo boy...

Disc one opens with "To Hell With Poverty" and it's an in-joke confession. Track three, "Natural's Not In It", contains the recurring line "Repackaged sex keeps your interest" and it's an admission of the entire idea behind Return The Gift. "Anthrax" has a spoken/sung vocal on the right speaker which opens with the words "This is an archeology exercise really". Jeez, the cd keeps on referencing itself.

On the plus side, the versions here all kick arse and "I Love A Man In Uniform" is given a stiffer wrist. The drums pound and the guitar slashes and burns. The bonus disc isn't that bad either, with only a few wane efforts at dance groove and club kid numbnuttery. All in all Gang Of Four present themselves well and are presented well by others. This "proves something" and also lines their pockets with a few evil capitalist dollars. Everyone wins and Gang Of Four can still pretend they didn't sell out to maintain the interest.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Bowling For Punk Pennies

FINALLY! Someone made a movie about punk rock bowling in Chicago. That itch has been scratched. Now all I need is a Broadway production of Punk Side Story.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Review: Anton LaVey - Speak Of The Devil VHS

Speak Of the Devil came out in 1993 but uses so much old and beat up footage it looks like something from 1967. The title cards and effects are cheap enough to evoke grindhouse films of yore. This 89 minute self-promotion reel from Church Of Satan founder Anton LaVey is interesting mostly as a study of what his daughter Zeena describes as"a notorious figure of the 1960s' subculture of social experiment". It's a cult of personality where the leader is goofy beyond belief, and you can't watch this and not think Anton himself knows he's a light-hearted scam artist of middling success.

On the other hand, Zeena and her husband with the obvious fake name of Nikolas Schreck run their own Satan-based group, which claims her father's take on it was insincere and carny. There are also accusations of animal cruelty, domestic violence and sexual perversion that for all I know may have touched Zeena in more ways than one. It's obvious she thinks her father was evil, and not the good kind of evil either.

If Hollywood made a film on the life of Anton LaVey it might have the same vibe as Ed Wood. Here's a shlub fascinated with cheap novelty gags and carnivals who created a persona for himself that's too campy and cheap to be taken seriously. He chose "Satan" as a hook but what he was really about seems to be Paganism, Ayn Rand's Objectivism, 60's free love and a geek love of noir campiness.

If Zeena's stories are true I have no sympathy for Anton, but in Speak Of The Devil he comes across sincerely as a lovable, lonely, introverted, animal loving nerd who builds his own mannequins to sit in the bar area of his home, which he calls his "Den Of Iniquity", and loves nothing more than sitting at the pipe organ playing midway tunes. A surprisingly halting and boring speaker, he waxes semi-poetic on his love of the sea and of jobs he may or may not have actually held. The Johnson Smith gag catalogs of his youth may have been the turning point in his life that led him to create Satanism.

What to make of his invocation to Satan for "civility, understanding, tranquility, compassion, vengeance, sensuality, love and triumph", or when he says "Death is not a flattering thing." He comes across as the last guy you'd consider evil. He looks like he needs a hug. The film contains interviews with two young priests in the Church Of Satan, and they come across as angry and hateful. Anton, on the other hand, is more like a an adult child.

Anton Szandor LaVey was born Harold Stanton Levey in 1930. He died in 1997. He named his children Karla Maritza, Zeena Galatea and Satan Xerxes Carnacki LaVey.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Review: Kate Bush - Aerial

There was a time when an album was preceded by a 7" single, granted a 2nd if the material was there and sometimes even blessed with a third if the album was a smash. On the b-sides you'd get live and b-material from the recording sessions. Everybody who cared won. Now the emphasis is on the single as the only song of value. By decree everyone's a one hit wonder. The album is dead. Long live the album.

Kate Bush, on the other hand, dilutes Aerial by mixing a and b material to create a two disc set that should have been one, and even then it's not that good. It's easy to love Kate Bush and it's good to be supportive, but as someone who's followed every record since 1978's The Kick Inside I'm not going to stick a flower on this and call it a rose garden. Aerial is another Lionheart, which at least can be defended as coming out too quickly. Aerial is in some ways a lazy work, giving in to easy rhythms and repeating itself in tone and pace.

Disc one is front loaded with the best work, and I have to ask if this was a concession to the record label. "King Of The Mountain" is a classic, a subdued "Running Up That Hill" that teases of bigger and better things to come. "Pi" is thematically like "Experiment IV" and nobody sings number sequences as beautifully as Kate. Then "Bertie" offers a string and mandolin combination that sends you back to The Dreaming. So far all's well in Kateland.

Then "Mrs. Bartolozzi" lands and it's obvious Kate's gone stir crazy and needs to get out of the house more often. What makes it worse is that it doesn't stop at 4:35, instead it gets even more silly about washing machines and domestic mundanities. "How To Be Invisible" is the first Kate Bush song I know of that's so NOT a Kate Bush song. Stevie Nicks is in some ways the American Kate Bush, but I never expected Kate to write music that sounds like Stevie Nicks should be singing it. It's not a bad song, but still. Kate Bush has a "style". This is not it and it's not the only one on the cds. "Joanni" has a comfortable Peter Gabriel feel but is a b-side, along with Kate on piano on "A Coral Room".

Disc 2 is a wasteland. It's a season cycle of one, Spring, and I'll spare the details expect to say her son has a cute voice, a man should not sing lead on a Kate Bush song, I never thought Kate would go for the easy club groove or Latin rhythm, and "Aerial" is Steve Reich you can dance too.

Oh, Kate, you gypsy witch theater nerd. Come back to us.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Punk Turkey

Gobble Gobble Hey!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

November 22, 1963

Yesterday was the anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination in Texas. The only reason I know this is because of the 1979 song "November 22, 1963" by Destroy All Monsters. I can't find lyrics but it opened with "November 22, 1963, a shot rang out not from one from three" and had in the chorus "Jackie, Jackie Kennedy, hold onto his brains".

Equally good but known by all is "Bullet" by the Misfits, when they were more Ramones than Iron Maiden:

President’s bullet-ridden body in the street/Ride, johnny ride/Kennedy’s shattered head hits concrete/Ride, johnny ride/Johnny’s wife is floundering/Johnny’s wife is scared/Run, jackie run/Texas is an outrage when your husband is dead/Texas is an outrage when they pick up his head/Texas is the reason that the president’s dead/You gotta suck, suck, jackie suck/President’s bullet-ridden body in the street/Ride, johnny ride/Kennedy’s shattered head hits concrete/Ride, johnny ride/Texas is an outrage when your husband is dead/Texas is an outrage when they pick up his head/Texas is the reason that the president’s dead/You gotta suck, suck, jackie suck/Arise jackie o, jonathon of kennedy/Well, arise and be shot down/The dirt’s gonna be your dessert/My cum be your life source/And the only way to get it/Is to suck or f--k/Or be poor and devoid/And masturbate me, masturbate me/Then slurp it from your palm/Like a dry desert soaking up rain/Soaking up sun/Like a dry desert soaking up rain/Soaking up sun

A third Kennedy song that comes to mind is Human Sexual Response's "Jackie Onassis", which wasn't as brutal as the other too. I was only 2 1/2 when Kennedy was shot, but it's seared in my memory that Camelot died that day and life would horribly suck from then on in. Seared.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Tether-Fu !!

12/31/05: I watched Napolean Dinamite for the first time today and I had no idea he was trying to do martial arts with a tetherball. I created Tether-Fu many years ago. My lawyer has been alerted.

All men are glandmasters, but only a few are martial arts grandmasters. A grandmaster is the best of a particular style, and a number have become grandmasters by simply modifying an existing style and giving it a fancy name. I am the grandmaster of Tether-Fu, based on tetherball, more of a training method I admit but I can kick the ass of any inflated ball swung at me with a rope.

There's a martial arts story that goes like this (it may not be true but that's never the point): A farmer in a small village wanted to compete in the region's martial arts tournament, but being poor and busy he had neither the time nor training to enter. He strung a basketball-sized rubber ball chest high between two trees with elastic cords and started punching and kicking it. In time he was able to deliver solid punches and kicks to the ball no matter what crazy angle it came back at him. The next year he entered the contest and won because no matter what moves his opponent made he was able land punches and kicks directly at their heads.

I'm a big fan of self-correcting training devices like heavy and speed bags. I had a small bag one that attaches to the ceiling and floor which drove me crazy, and I failed miserably at building my own wooden dummy. I call these self-correcting because you know right away if a strike or combination doesn't work. Everyone can be a grandmaster of their own style as long as they master self-correcting training devices.

Tether-fu is neat because you have to strike, turn around and strike again. It's like being the poor farmer except you're a rich putz spinning around your backyard giggling like a ninny.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Review: CBGB: Punk From The Bowery DVD

CBs is open even though they have no lease, and if you need a cause to sacrifice your life for to you can still Save CBGBs. CBGB: Punk From the Bowery came out in 2003 and retails for $9.99. All in all, you get your $9.99 worth. You can't beat it though as a cheap stocking stuffer for that little crumb-bum on your Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or There Is No God Day list.

Here's the bands. In addition you get CB's owner Hilly Kristal hosting a meandering tour of the club that's so slow and meandering I will award six internet monies to anyone who can sit through the whole thing! His wheezing will stupefy and amaze you!

1. Agnostic Front - Something's Gotta Give & Believe 2. Cro-Mags - Malfunction & Hard Times 3. Madball - Lockdown & True to the Game 4. H20 - Faster Than The World & Guilty By Association 5. Poison Idea - Lifestyles & Just Get Away 6. Harley's War - Malfunction & The Regulator 7. UK Subs - I Live in a Car & Emotional Blackmail 8. The Varukers - Murder & Don't Want to be a Victim 9. Chaos UK - Selfish Jew & King For a Day 10. The Vibrators - Pure Mania & Baby Baby Baby 11. Molotov Cocktail - Kop Party & Alcohol 12. Kraut - Unemployed & Kill For Cash 13. Adrenaline OD - Suburbia & Old People Talk Loud 4. Even Worse - Major Headache 15. Furious George - Redrum

Agnostic Front, Cro-Mags and Madball are metal punk bands that call themselves hardcore. Show their clips to any civilian and they'll say they're white power bands. Just pointing that out. These bands also stalk the stage like rappers. Harley's War was straight up metal.

H20, Even Worse and Furious George were ok. Poison Idea were great, and so were the UK Subs, Chaos UK, The Vibrators, Molotov Cocktail, Kraut and Adrenalin OD.

CBGB: Punk From The Bowery is in no way a documentary. Sure Hilly reminisces, but once again, six internet monies will be yours if you can sit through the whole thing! He says punk was first called called street rock and that the mentally retarded Sid Vicious was an asshole to everyone. Then my head hit the counter from listening to Hilly's voice, which woke me up the first three times but then knocked me unconscious. I dreamt I was a pirate!

Link Wray Died

Link Wray has died. Robert Gordon still at large.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Science And Religion

The Intelligent Design debate is an inevitable controversy that wouldn't exist if both sides would just calm the fugg down. Bible literalists reject any science that goes against The Book while atheists believe the existence of science disproves the existence of God. Both side are nuts because while one the one hand literalists can't brush off all empirical evidence backed by reams of, uh, science, atheists have no proof there is no God. Religion is a science based on faith and atheism is a faith based on science. Ben Weasel once sagely wrote, "Science and Religion are not mutually exclusive". Hell, what if God created all science?

I'm a professional agnostic, so like sock puppet Cindy Sheehan mine is an absolute moral authority. I like religious people but am against proselytizing, which is condescending. Atheists are fine too as long as they hold back their bile, because as a group they're the most hateful and genocidal people I've come across, and it's often directed against family members, which means they're letting me know they live in Dysfunction Junction. As an agnostic I can also just shake my head and move on to more intriguing topics, like what a new Doc Savage movie should be so it doesn't suck like the last one.

The most excellent columnist Charles Krauthammer weighs in with Phony Theory, False Conflict 'Intelligent Design' Foolishly Pits Evolution Against Faith and then how about this: The Vatican's chief astronomer said Friday that "intelligent design" isn't science and doesn't belong in science classrooms

Here's the lyrics to Screeching Weasel's "Science Of Myth":

if you've ever question beliefs that you hold you're not alone but you oughtta realize that every myth is a metaphor in the case of christianity and judaism there exist the belief that spiritual matters are enslaved to history the buddhists believe that the functional aspects override the myth while other religions use the literal core to build foundations with see half the world sees the myth as fact while it's seen as a lie by the other half and the simple truth is that it's none of that and somehow no matter what the world keeps turning somehow we get by without ever learning science and religion are not mutually exclusive in fact for better understanding we take the facts of science and apply them and if both factors keep evolving then we continue getting information but closing off possibilities makes it hard to see the bigger picture consider the case of the women whose faith helped her make it through when she was raped and cut up left for dead in a trunk her beliefs held true it doesn't matter if it's real or not cause some things are better left without a doubt and if it works then it gets the job done somehow no matter what the world keeps turning

Thursday, November 17, 2005

All That Glitters Is Not Gary

Gary Glitter, 61, likes 'em young, and this time, Vietnamese.

Did you hear the one about the New York guy in court for sex with a minor? He said to the judge "Yer honor, I know she's only 13, but, come on, look at that ass!"

The Ukrainian Holocaust (I Hate Commies)

Frontpagemag.com posts an excellent interview with the President of the United Ukrainian American Organizations of Greater New York, who are protesting tomorrow outside the NY Times building to demand the surrender of reporter Walter Duranty's 1932 Pulitzer Prize. Duranty is roasting in hell for covering up Stalin's slaughter through forced starvation of up to 10 million Ukrainian peasant farmers.

This stood out for me because it's the horrific lie that underscores the hypocrisy of the far left and their insanely mislabeled "peace" movement:

"...Duranty intentionally covered up this whole massacre because he supported it. Just like the despotism he venerated, he wanted millions to die. Like every believer in earthly utopia, he yearned for the destruction of this world, since in his political vision, as in the vision of the Stalins and Maos and Pol Pots, it is only through human blood that this world can be purified. An earthly paradise can only be built on the ashes of millions of human corpses."

College Radio 101

Slate has a nice piece on how college radio works. I was a DJ at the University Of Tampa in 1979. The only way you could hear the station was if your radio was plugged into the college's electrical grid.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Review: 7 Seconds - Good To Go

Sing along with Kevin Seconds and crew: "Whoa-o-whoa-o-o!"

There's three 7 Seconds - old skool, new skool and new old skool. Old skool 7 Seconds of any kind rules. The half of New Wind (1987) not produced by Ian MacKaye found Kevin and crew slowing and U2-ing their way out of their fans' hardcore hearts. They released a few college rock records and I don't know when exactly they came back into the fold, but they did name a record "Out The Shizzy", which can't be a good thing. The cd alt.music.hardcore (1995) compiles three early 7"s and if you don't have it you know Jack S--t about the Reno, NV scene. Jack S--t was another band from Reno but that's not my point.

My point is that 7 Seconds were a cousin band to DC's Minor Threat, Ian coming up with Straight Edge while Kevin believed in positive thinking with true utopian zeal. Ian had opinions while Kevin had beliefs oozing out of his pores. He's a fanatic I'm sure but he means so damn well. Ian and Kevin also both wrote songs noting racism also works the other way against white people ("Guilty Of Being White" and "Racism Sucks"), oddities in bands you expect to be PC up the shizzy.

Anyhoo, Kevin has a new record out on store shelves. On my shelf at home I have 1999's Good To Go, which might as well be called The Crew Part (something), which is a good thing, a very good thing indeed.

Good 7 Seconds means one sound, and they can repeat it all day for all I care. The drumming is fast and never changes except for some intermittent transitions while the lead and bass guitars go to town in new and exciting ways. Good to Go is interchangeable with their release back 15 years, and I couldn't be happier. They throw in a little ska-type horn on "True Roots Show" for variety. That's all anyone needs as far as growth.

Kevin has a blog. Did I mention he has a blog? And that he coined the punk term "crew"?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

New Site To See

Audium has free live punkish things to watch and also other stuff that suggest a disturbed mind. Me likey.

Review: The Residents - Wormwood DVD

Ah, The Residents, the band I love and love to beat around the head for their bad choices. The live Wormwood DVD is but the latest in their recent efforts to release everything and anything, blowing to bits their old Theory Of Obscurity. They even preface the show with the title card "The Residents Video du Jour".

It's my guess Big Rez (the singer and possibly only remaining original member even though my bet is there's one more) is semi-retired. On their most recent cd, Animal Lover, you can sense the reins being handed over to a vague group of others. Oh well, I only hope Big Rez unveils himself while he's still alive and writes the book on The Residents that must be written.

Wormwood, released in 1998, saw them taking stories from the bible and presenting them as horrible acts of violence and cruelty. Big Rez on the DVD (as the narrator Mr. Skull) makes it a point they're not insulting religion but only trying to shine a light into the dark corners of the bible. The cd may do this this but not the live show, where hatred of western religion pours out everywhere. Like, whatever, but the stage show is angry and bitter, which wouldn't be a deal breaker if it also wasn't slow and often boring.

Wormwood hasn't aged well. Demons Dance Alone was a little better musically and a whole lot better live. Animal Lover needs to be rebuilt from the ground up but there's a lot there to be admired. By my count there's six good songs on the Wormwood cd, and only three were put in the live show. The three they did include are intentionally slowed down and made ugly. The Residents consistently slow down songs live, unlike every other band I know. 'Splain me Lucy!

The show is filmed well and the sound is good, a surprise considering it was recorded for a webcast. This is from July 16, 1999 in Bonn, Germany. I saw the Los Angeles show on April 24, and I don't remember Mr. Skull being as snivelly and sarcastic. Molly Harvey is, of course, the poop, and her focus on character is amazing.

It's as obvious now as then that the staging of Wormwood left a lot to be desired. Each song involves a simple gimmick and endless repetitive movements. The stage is just way too big. I love Big Rez but all he does is move about like a bull ape imitating Dracula.

Monday, November 14, 2005

I'm A Conspiracy!

Over at the Artforum conspiracy theory page there's a link to this blog. As of now it's at the very bottom. WTF?

Sure I work for the CIA, sure my budget comes from secret black ops funding, and sure I'm not really human but a cray computer running the latest beta human intelligence software, but don't I have the right to keep Larry Sellers from actualizing his dream of being something more than a paranoid nobody with delusions of relevance? Don't I??

What's A Buzzcock?

I installed Statcounter on my blog and it's been all laughs and tears since. It tells me stuff about my visitors, including IP addresses, where they live, how long they stayed, etc. The best lists words and phrases entered into search engines that direct them to my site. Just today someone typed "learn to dance like Mick Jagger". "Stevo Died" is big and so is, surprisingly, Tesco Vee. Every so often someone asks "What is a buzzcock?" or "What are buzzcocks?"

I know! I know! If you refer to page 22 of your copy of Tony McGartland's book Buzzcocks: The Complete History, it states that on January 20, 1976:

"Scanning the pages of Time Out magazine, a London 'what's on' guide, the three friends find no listing for the Sex Pistols. By chance, reading a review of a Thames television series called Rock Follies about a female rock group, they stumble upon the headline 'It's the buzz, cock!'. Trafford suggest that this phrase, with its hint of aural and sexual irregularity, would make a great name for a band."

Buzz is rumor, gossip, a fad, a craze or a flurry of activity, whilst cock is cockney slang for a few things but it's also a friendly reference to a male friend. Therefore, "It's the buzz, cock!" means "It's the poop, fellow!" or whatever the kids say these days.

It's a pubic cervix to help. Come again!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

To Andrew Folpe

Lost e-mail address. Received disc. Good so far. Long live the pudding pop proletariat movement!

Remainder of message coded. Use decoder ring!:

Friday, November 11, 2005

Punk Rock Car & Other


This one made me a bit ill.

Slate uses "Sex Pistols" In A Sentence

The LA-based Hudson jeans put a Union Jack on the pocket to evoke a venerable "tradition" of hand craftsmanship—though since Angelina Jolie showed off her back tattoo and, inadvertently, her Union Jack-emblazoned pockets on national television, the brand's London chic is more Sex Pistols than Princess Di.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

New Link Added

I've meant to link to Tammy Bruce for a while but what she wrote today made me do so immediately:

"One of the major themes of my book, "The New American Revolution" is the need for all Americans to reject the rantings of extremists from both sides of the political spectrum, whether it be Howard Dean and George Soros or Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell."

Thank you Tammy! My point exactly.

Read her bio. It might surprise you.

Review: Shonen Knife - Happy Hour

As I begin to type about Shonen knife, Dr. John of Swamp Fever, FL starts to feel a bit woody. Shonen Knife is his favorite substance in the known universe, besides his wife and child (the last part's a beautiful lie). Five days ago their drummer died in an accident in Delaware where the band van rolled over several times and landed in oncoming traffic. Yikes. Best wishes and deepest sympathies.

Here's a concise band history. I only own two of their thirteen+ releases, Let's Knife (1993) and Happy Hour (1998). They're fun, campy and delightful as can be but for some reason I can't imagine paying for their records like I would with Cub or even Ex-Girl, who owe an obvious debt to Shonen Knife. Maybe my tolerance for songs about food and animals only takes me so far. Maybe the cute meets Ramones meets kooky Japan thing confuses me. I like Shonen Knife, probably a lot, but the whole Shonen Knife THING is a bit too much for me I guess.

That said, Happy Hour is a fun and diverse record with all kinds of neat guitar tunings and added touches. It opens strangely with some mono-casio disco beats and electro-sampling, but eventually "Shonen Knife Planet" levels off and it's as weird as Ex-Girl. "Konnichiwa" is a nice fast tune and then "Cookie Day" rips out a killer ska guitar riff and a chorus so catchy it'll hook an eye. "Hot Chocolate" is club groovy and weird while "Sushi Bar Song" is like Josie and the Pussycats with "R"s pronounced as "L"s. "Fish Eyes" reminds me of Cub and the chorus on this one is great too. "Banana Chips" is mid-paced Ramones while "Dolly" slows down the riff from Iggy's "The Passenger. "Jackalope" is shagadelic. "Gyoza" opens with a stereotypical Chinese string instrument sound like Bowie used on "China Girl". "Gyoza" is Ramonesy with a chorus swiped directly from The Undertones' "More Songs About Chocolate and Girls". "People Traps" is just excellent. "His Pet" is ok and their cover of The Monkee's "Daydream Believer" more than ok.

To be honest, "Happy Hour" is reall really good record. Still, there's something so novelty about it......

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Play-Writing About Punk Rock

I recently exchanged e-mails with a fine young cannibal who asked my advice on the punk rock to make some dialogue in his work-in-progress (I know not what for) sound more authentic. The general topic was "who is punk?" and "what is punk?", two questions that would depress me if I cared enough, because they're unanswerable and playgrounds for screw-heads who think or pretend they know the answers.

Everything is punk and nothing is punk, ok? Like ART and Ward Churchill's Native American Identity it's up to each person to determine what's real or not. The arguments therein are for children in age and maturity.

He mostly wanted to know about the NYC bands of the 70s, especially Blondie, the Talking Heads and the Ramones. What most remember as the CBGBs scene was a collection of bands bound together mostly by location and shared artful weirdness. Some bands did nothing new or different, some only something different, while only a rare few were true innovators. I'll include Suicide but I mostly refer to the Talking Heads and (especially) the Ramones.

Writing dialogue about what is and is not punk is silly. First of all, who cares? Punk is mostly a look and a sound, whatever that may be. It's one thing to read about punk genealogy and another to have characters on paper or screen talk about it. Watch SLC Punk and The Anarchist Cookbook. Dissecting punk carries the same weight as debating the tensile strength of various ethnic nose hairs.

Second, there's no easy answers as to what is and is not punk. It's an argument with no resolution. It's waiting for godot with spikey hair and a bad attitude.

Third, punk isn't that important. Dogma deconstructed Catholicism and was interesting because religion is about the existential question, a huge subject. Punk rock is just, uh, music. Sure you can live your life surrounded by all things punk, but you can also wrap your life around model trains, gardening or a diaper fetish.

I advised this person to make the dialogue funny, mocking the characters for taking something so trivial so seriously. I haven't heard back. Good night and good luck.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Something I Didn't Learn Today About Husker Du

Dr. Frank linked to this way after-the-fact review of Husker Du's 1985 masterpiece New Day Rising. To each his or her own opinion but I found this to be a real groaner. Here's some things that stick out as I fisk for the first time in my adult life:

The record supposedly marked a breaking point where hardcore punk went “power pop”. Someone said that? Really?? Hardcore punk by definition never went power pop. I mean, there was as much disparity in sound in the hardcore genre as in the 70s CBGBs scene, but Husker Du's transition into college radio heck marked the end of their hardcore career, and that would be on Flip Your Wig anyway, not New Day Rising.

Nirvana and Green Day were considered to be Hüsker Dü imitators during their early days.
Nirvana, maybe, but Green Day? Green Day?? You can't draw a line from Husker Du to Green Day without it resembling the NYC subway map.

Most of the music was all so cute. I could only imagine Hüsker Dü getting pelted with gobs when they tried to play the fey post-break up ballad “I Aw-pa-low-gize” while opening for Black Flag.
"I Apologize" is cute? Cute?? Bob's screaming half the time and it's a blaring piece of HC wax. What the...

Worse, the record seemed to be little different from the sentimental dreck I heard on my local “alternative rock” radio stations at the time. I could hear traces of Green Day on the record—the feel-good singalongs that arose from the three-chord raveups.
I'm just speechless on this one...

Ten years later, New Day Rising now sounds like one of the great psych-rock albums of the 80’s.
Psychedelic Rock?... ???

There is also a strong Midwestern vibe in the Minneapolis band’s sound, which is a first for Hüsker Dü as they previously dwelled in the same post-punk and hardcore heard around the world.
Husker Du, from Metal Circus on, sounded like no other band than Husker Du.

I shake my head. That's all I can do. Bob, Grant, Greg, the world has forsaken you.

Kevin Seconds, Six Seconds, Five Seconds...

Kevin Seconds of 7 Seconds fame has a blog that's highly confessional. Geez, I didn't know Kevin was broke. I thought he'd have saved some of those punk rock millions he made back in the day. I wish him well.

'Splain me why he wore black tar under his eyes when he hated sports so much...

11/10/2005 update: Kevin's flophouse post was something he wrote in 1991. His blog says today he's still broke but living in better conditions. That's good.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Review: Jimmy Eat World - Futures

I know I'm not punk, at least according to the e-mails I get, so I know I have nothing to lose if I say Jimmy Eat World is one of the most powerfully melodic bands I've come across. I heard once that Dead Kennedy records are really Mel Torme at 3.27 times original speed. That said, Jimmy Eat World come up with nice melodies seemingly in their sleep. I'm a bigger fan of Bleed American, but Futures makes up for a few commercial concessions with enough melody and flair to satisfy all my faux-punk desires.

I'm too lazy to do a side-by-side comparison but I think Bleed American is generally faster and harder. Futures has more slow teen angst anthems so teenage girls can wave lighters over their heads at shows. I've never seen The O.C. but I know having a song featured on it can generate buzz and move units. I'm just guessing but I'll bet Jimmy Eat World rule the wasteland of the O.C.

I like fast songs (as long as they're not too fast or loud!) so "Just Tonight..." and "Pain" are my favorites. The stardard pace is mid but Jimmy never gets boring. There's soaring guitars, vocal harmonies and nice melodies all around. Not melodies, I mean riffs, man.

The lyrics are very emotional and poetic. Jimmy Eat World are like, Emoetic!

"Drugs" reminds me of Pink Floyd. "Nothingwrong" is Jimmy as a hair band, as far as that goes. By track 10 of 11 the mid-paced anthems seemed like one too many, so I lost interest and practiced the sullen/slouch combo I like to use at the mall. I liked Futures maybe more than I should. I'd like to punk up maybe 10-15% by new years. Any and all recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Hitting Adam Ant While He's Down

Not since the third Adam and the Ants comeback tour has so much energy been expended by so many to so little attention. The Prince and the Duchess have proceeded ceremoniously from one event to the next like harlequins at a convention for the colour-blind.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Review: David Bowie - Reality

I'm exceedingly pleased with Reality, and happy David Bowie decided to work again with producer Tony Visconti, who guided Bowie through the best albums of his career. Bowie's a collaborator with vision, or at least he was until Let's Dance. His ventures into club music only made him look desperate to be relevant. With Heathen (2002) and Reality (2003), maybe Bowie's finally comfortable with himself and his legend, or at least aware of what made him a legend in the first place.

Reality draws from albums as diverse as The Man Who Sold The World, Young Americans, Heroes, Scary Monsters and Outside. His band on this one is high and tight, his stated reason for making the album in the first place. Tony and the band knows what's best for David, and hopefully Bowie knows they're right and continues in this vein.

"New Killer Star" opens the disc and it's Scary Monsters all over again, a good sign. Iggy Pop's crooning is cooler, but Bowie controls his voice better and it's always a pleasure to hear the thin white duke's pipes. The cover of Jonathan Richman's "Pablo Picasso" goes the original one better, lending it a middle eastern dervish last heard on Heroes' "The Secret Life Of Arabia". "Never Get Old" reminds me of Heroes' "Sons Of The Silent Age". "The loneliest Guy" is a bit too much like "After All" from The Man Who Sold The World", but besides that it's ok. "Looking For Water" borrows the glam beat of"Rebel Rebel", which appears on the bonus disc and is a truly superfluous cover version of his own damn song!

"She'll Drive The Big Car" has a clumsy slow drum beat but it's otherwise a great reminder of what made Young Americans so great. The backup singing is masterfully soulful. "Days" employs two acoustic guitars to fine effect, and it has horns like his sessions before Ziggy Stardust. "Fall Dog Bombs The Moon" offers nice guitar leads of the Robert Fripp variety. "Try Some Buy Some" is a George Harrison cover and it does nothing for me (Bowie's worst song is his cover of John Lennon's "Across The Universe"). "Reality" is a real rabble-rouser, a sequel in spirit and power to Outside's "Hallo Spaceboy". "Bring Me The Disco King" closes the disc and it's too slow and moody. I imagine all the lights go out expect for a single spotlight and all of a sudden cigarette smoke fills the room. It's 2AM and welcome to the Bowie Room at Cleveland's beautiful Hopkins International Airport.

All in all a good record with its share of greatest hits material ("New Killer Star", "Pablo Picasso" and "Reality"). Welcome back David, the new teeth look great.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Review: The Adicts - Ultimate Addiction

I've always been on the fence about The Adicts. Are they a gimmick band or a band with a gimmick? I've leaned towards the former but admit I've been totally charmed by the band's bio (click the link on main page of the Adict's site) that shows the band to be hard working and self-deprecating. That damn cartoon logo and Clockwork Orange motif doesn't do anything for me but I see their point about being different and having fun. If they were serious about it I'd have to hate them on general principle.

Ultimate Addiction is a 20 track collection from 1997 that covers a recording career started in 1979 and continuing today with a tour schedule that resembles a death march. If they don't now live in SoCal they sure act like it. They're here again this week!

Everybody my age knows "Viva La Revolution" and "Joker In The Pack" through punk osmosis. "Chinese Takeaway" is a keeper, along with "Numbers" and "Distortion" (my favorite). The Adicts are sorta '77, kinda pub and a wee bit Oi, tossing in violin and even the xylophone for effect. "Younger Generation" fails at being anthemic but not by much. You can also pick up some Adam and the Ants camaraderie.

I like a few of their songs and they seem like nice old guys. I hope they sell a million t-shirts to the kids with that damn cartoon logo on it. Playing the punk rock sure beats working!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Review: The Vibrators - Pure Mania

Listening to this I just assumed Pure Mania was a Vibrators' greatest hits collection, but it's their debut from 1977. I'm sorry I didn't discover this sooner since it's super-duper-pooper-scooper, a true classic pop record of the '77 UK punk era. I read comparisons to The Stranglers, but it's not in sound. They were another existing band who adapted to the times when punk hit. Posers like to say punk is a monolithic institution, but it never was. Maybe only on the sub-genre level. Those who think a formerly non-punk band has no right to play punk music when the time is right are the same ones who insist a band isn't punk unless they're poor and angry. To these people, I say, eat my poop with a whizz chaser.

The Undertones would be viable peers of The Vibrators, but I hear bands not mentioned in any review. Jonathan Richman's iconic "Roadrunner" is an influence along with "Stepping Stone", recorded first by Minor Threat and then The Monkees. The Stones via The NY Dolls also have an influence. Back to Jonathan, The Vibrators' "Keep It Clean" is a nod of the SXE shaved head to "I'm Straight" (I'm certainly not stoned, like hippie Johnny). No matter who seminaled who, The Vibrators wrote 15 great original tunes and released it as Pure Mania.

I'm laughing me ass off at some of the Amazon.com comments: "I was somewhat unimpressed on first listen and the anti-drug sentiment and lack of rebelliosness" and my fave "i found this to be a highly overrated album. it was unexciting and unoriginal, and there was nothing at all edgy about it. in fact, there was an anti-drug song on it! now, i dont like drugs at all myself, but there is no place for an anti-drug song on what is supposed to be a good, threatening punk rock record. do yourself a favor and but something by the stiff little fingers, the stooges, the damned, crass, or something like that."

How ironic. Stiff Little Fingers named themselves after a Vibrators song. This same person also reviewed a book called, wait for it.......... Mauve: How One Man Invented a Color That Changed The World.

Kill Them. Kill Them Now.

Kayla, who is now 11 years old, testified during the trial that when she became thirsty, she drank from the toilet. She also testified that after she tried to sneak a piece of pizza, her adoptive father held a gun to her head and threatened to kill her.

Look at the picture of the little girl and then the Nickels. When she was rescued she was nine years old and weighed 27 pounds. They did this to her over a four year period yet were sentenced to only three years in prison.

I hope in the can they still know what to do to child abusers. May they have the entire three years to do their work and the tools available to do it right.