Friday, March 31, 2006
Thursday, March 30, 2006
Payday Punks gets funnier the deeper you read into it. Hit the site map and start clicking.
No one is really sure why Don hates faxless loans so much. Some of the Punks got him wasted one night off aerosol cans and glue, and Don told them something about a Frenchman pushing a no fax payday loan on his mother right when she first stepped off the boat. But who knows, Dirty Don is just a pissed off punk with an artesian gift and enough spray paint to cover Egypt.
The Fleischer Brother's dark and frankly depressing Superman cartoon shorts from the early 1940's are available to be seen here for free. This was the same studio that created Betty Boop and Popeye. People die and Lois can't go eight seconds without getting into trouble.
The Fleischers were hit or miss but their best work equals Disney's best. I'm a sucker for their "Color Classics" sing-along cartoons, found here. I dare anyone to defy the charms of "The Cobweb Hotel", "Ants In The Plants" ("Make him yell uncle, we'll bust him in the snoot!"), "Small Fry" ("Small Fry, hangin' round the poolroom, Small Fry, should be in the schoolroom"), "The Fresh Vegetable Mystery" ("The yolks on youz guys. I'm hard boiled.") and "Play Safe", which should not been seen on LSD.
They mixed live action and animation, and I always see faces in trees and buildings because the Fleischers anthropomorphized like mad.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Book Review: Dance Of Days - Two Decades Of Punk In The Nation's Capital
Dance Of Days is a decent enough book. It tells stories well and covers as much as it can through the political activist-colored glasses of the author, Mark Andersen. The book was co-written (read cleaned up) by DC alt-journalism staple Mark Jenkins, who probably and thankfully removed the tear-stained confessional aspects of Andersen's writing that moistens the book's beginning and end.
The subtitle is misleading to some because it's not hugely comprehensive of every band and scene in DC, but Andersen was not a writer by trade but an active participant in the Dischord scene as an organizer for Positive Force, a DIY activist group. The book is slanted heavily towards politically correct assumptions of what is right and real, but in that regard its saving grace is Andersen's compulsion to point out the good along with the bad. To his credit, and in defiance of the rules of political activism, he insists on reporting the DC scene warts and all.
In the world of Dance Of Days, "meaning" is really important. Lyrics contain the answers to all life's problems and banging pickle buckets in the park across from the White House accomplishes a whole lot. Shows are remembered in perfect detail, and the right word or note creates synergies between band and audience as close to a religious experience as most are ever going to experience.
The major players of the scene are creative types full of the euphemism "contradictions". Ian MacKaye is ok even though he's pushy with ideas. The DC scene would rank up there with Passaic, NJ if not for him. Henry Rollins is pathologically hypocritical in everything he does and says. HR of Bad Brains is clinically insane.
It's safe to say Dance Of Days is not a history of the DC punk scene but a well researched set of remembrances of what one person found exciting and interesting. It's where you can read the line "They were trying to survive, searching for a tribe, for family, for fun" and maybe not puke. Maybe.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Review: Rites Of Spring - End On End
Here's as good as any if you want a band history on DC's Rites Of Spring, the wellspring of emo in the emotional sense. Sonically they were a bit jazzy and trippy, where modern emo is more a post-grunge phenomena.
In 1985 they released their LP Rites Of Spring, which at the time I barely got into because I still wanted Dischord bands to sound like Minor Threat's EP's. I'm bad at growing along with bands and scenes. I came across End On End and figured since it was released in 1991 it was later material. I listened and it paled in comparison to my memories of the original album I haven't put on in ages.
Well, the joke's on me because End On End is the first album plus an EP and an added song. I'm surprised how timid (a relative statement indeed) these songs sound now, especially compared to Beefeater, who ripped into their album with a lot more fury. I also heard what Dag Nasty stole from them and made their own, but I also think the latter wrote tighter and more melodic songs. I guess it's about the lyrics, which I understood only a little without a handy lyrics sheet.
This memory from a reviewer on Amazon cuts the core of the matter with Rites Of Spring and emo in general: "20 years later, I can listen to the songs on this album and remember vividly the deep impact that some of them had on my life between 1985-86. "Drink Deep" was a song that had particular meaning to me because I listened to it a lot during a brief, but intense romance while on a European trip in June 1986. The girl broke it off near the end of the trip for fear of becoming too involved with me, and I can remember making her listen to "Drink Deep" in an desperate attempt to get her to apply the message of the song to our relationship. The message to me was live in the moment and don't let chances pass you by. Alas, she dumped me, and for the rest of the summer, I would tearfully listen to "Drink Deep" and the rest of the album when I pined for my lost love."
The EP tracks, which came out some time after the LP, sound like tentative demos. I like the EP better than the LP. I suspect Rites Of Spring is a band you need to know something about before you just go off and listen to them. They were important and influential, but I doubt this has aged as well as people's memories of them and "the day".
Alec Baldwin Hates Construction Workers From Long Island
I don't pay much attention to either Alec Baldwin or Sean Hannity, but in this transcript Baldwin seems to think it's an insult to call Hannity a former construction worker from Long Island. And if this line doesn't cut like a razor, "You should go back to building houses in Hempstead."
With debating skills like that, how can the guy lose?
The Ballad Of Saint Pancake
Courtesy of Little Green Footballs comes this seemingly improvised Billy Bragg re-write of a Dylan song, celebrating the life and death of rich girl, terror-abetting, violence-loving, game of tag-losing uber-martyr Rachel Corrie, shown here burning a home-made American flag and raging, raging against the machine to teach the next generation of suicide bombers why their own lives are of no value compared to The Struggle. Here's Rachel now in hell for the karmic crime of living a life of hate and calling it love.
She died trying to protect tunnels used to smuggle arms into Gaza, weapons used to kill Israeli men, women and children such as in this great "resistance strike" when a pregnant woman and her four young daughters were repeatedly shot in the head at point-blank range, an act the Voice of Palestine called "an act of heroic martyrdom".
Monday, March 27, 2006
Review: Fire Engines - Codex Teenage Premonition
Live from the men's room at the Edinburgh, Scotland Holiday Inn, it's Fire Engines! As I was listening to this repetitive set of repetitive songs I was thinking it may have been somehow worthwhile around 1980, but not today. Codex Teenage Premonition was released in 2005 but it's demos and live tracks from around 1980, so one point to them. I'll take somebody's word for it that Fire Engines were a great band, but this cd seems like a fanatic's only affair.
They came from the same scene as Josef K and Orange Juice, which doesn't bode well for those who like, respectively, coherent songs and staying awake. A fan on Amazon notes: "their modus operandi was NO BAR CHORDS, an approach that gave their kinetic dance-punk a wire-thin guitar sound perfectly complimented by cowbell percussion and funky, clunky drumbeats."
I'm a fan of asymmetrical, jagged, asexual funk as long as the funk comes last, and the cd opens well enough with "Sympathetic Anaesthetic". It got into 5th gear right away and never varied, making it to me a swell piece of math rock. But, most of the tracks not only sounded like the first, they held no surprises at all after the first six seconds. "The Untitled One" mixed it up a bit and "Discord" was decent, but the onslaught of sameness wore me down and I barely sampled through the second half.
I'd give Fire Engines more credit for being noisy if they didn't play the same song over and over again. I see how Pussy Galore might have been influenced by them. It's an interesting aesthetic that soon worked more like an anesthetic.
Screeching Weasel Live
Friday, March 24, 2006
I Can't Pronounce Baccaruda
Ben Weasel linked to a video of The Barracudas performing "Summer Fun" in 1980, featuring the worst lip-sync job of all time. It's a great song but the old car ad that intros the vinyl is a classic slice of comic genius. It involves a beatnik and a professional yet stiff radio announcer, and it goes something like this:
Announcer: I'm a Plymouth dealer. I'm a dealin' man, and right now I'm giving the best deal ever on that fast moving fastback the Plymouth Baccaruda.
Beatnik: Hey man, the name of the Plymouth fastback is the Barracuda.
Announcer: I know ... I can't pronounce Baccaruda.
Beatnik: Oh well, look man, try this ... Say Ba
Beatnik: Now put it all together!!
Beatnik: Well, it ain't Barracuda, man, but I think we got a hit record!!
Son Of Rube Goldberg Device
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Review: Space Cookie - Your CD Collection Still Sucks
I lent this to someone maybe seven years ago and never saw either again. There's a 99.65% chance it was sold for drug money. I bought it last week on ebay for $3.01 plus $3.00 postage. It's a cd few know about but I like it a lot and if you see it used it'll probably be selling for about $3.01.
This 1997 collection of 7"s and stuff is great because Space Cookie not only write catchy tunes, they play each song like it's the last they'll ever play. Everything distorts either by cheapness or design, adding to the chaos. Space Cookie songs are like having a cattle prod shoved up your wazoo. The urge to spazz out is strong. I put them up there with The New Bomb Turks and The Automatics.
Some tracks that stand out are "The Kicks Wanna Rock (On Elvis' Grave)", "Rina" and "Concubine". The lead Cookie ran Reservation Records. Check out his presidential facial hair. Where's Bill's left hand, and why is that woman smiling?
Moral Equivalence As Mental Disorder
Moral Equivalence is a debate tactic that enrages me since in practice it's a pretend way of sounding fair before you argue there really is no moral equivalence. It's Orwellian, and by the way, Orwell was anti-socialist. Hitler was a socialist and everything derived from Marx and Engels has proved to be a shitebox of human suffering. One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. Marxists are so fugged in this regard. You can't approve of genocide and be well-meaning, and as a last act of honor nihilists should all commit suicide before they hurt others.
The demented moral equivalence by Reuters is staggering:
ROME - The strong Western response to a threatened death sentence for an Afghan convert to Christianity looks something like a mirror image of the Muslim reaction to the Prophet Mohammad caricatures printed in the European press.
There have been no riots or sackings of Afghan embassies, unlike the violence that marked the uproar in Muslim countries after the Danish cartoons were published, but the shock and mutual incomprehension expressed in both cases are similar.
The difference lies in the issues at stake. In the cartoons row, Muslims stressed the sanctity of Mohammad, whom they say nobody, even non-Muslims, can criticize. The subtext was resentment against perceived Western prejudice against Islam.
Now, Western governments and societies are speaking out for religious freedom and against the death penalty. The fact many Western troops now help defend the Afghan government against al Qaeda and Taliban remnants heightened the outrage in the West.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Review: The Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!
The Lawrence Arm's sixth cd since 1999, Oh! Calcutta!, should not be confused with the long-running Broadway musical kept alive single-handedly (literally) by Asian businessmen who went to see the nudity. Japanese men will crawl to Saturn to see nudity.
Chicago is America's most underrated punk rock city. I won't go down that road again, but Chicago bands usually don't suck so if presented with a choice between Podunk and Chicago, go wit da Bears.
The Lawrence Arms feature two singers who thankfully avoid the screamo-metal-hip hop traps. The music itself is as hard, fast and noisy as you can get and still be pop-punk. Not always, but often, I'm reminded of Jawbreaker played loud and fast. That's a good thing. The next to last track, "Old Dogs Never Die", is the only song I can point to as a single. I remember when every record had at least one or two singles. After that there's the kinda-country, kinda Social Distortion ditty "Like A Record Player". The first ten tracks are of a similar style.
I'm not saying I'm too old for this, but I remember it took me years to get used to The Bollweevils, another Chicago band I felt too old for in 1994 since I was a Naked Raygun fan. Oh! Calcutta! will grow on me I'm sure.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
This film should have been called Bathe! (Thank you!). Dig! is the tragic story of what happens when twenty-something stoners cut their own hair. The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols could have used some of that sweet record company scratch to get a shampoo and style at Supercuts.
Director Ondi Timoner did an excellent job mixing textures and styles, making much of the hand-held digital camera work look substantial. Many events are captured on film, and between both bands there's nobody with enough class to keep their mouth shut or not act as dumb as possible, so the narrative is pretty much always backed up with visual evidence. It's a fun movie to watch even if you couldn't care less for neo-psychedelic 60's nostalgia (The Joneses) and alternative pop (The Dandies).
The major players are lead members Anton Newcombe (Jonestown) and Courtney Taylor (Dandies). Anton is a loathsome prick, an insane genius if you like the crap music he writes, otherwise just a mental case who whines on stage and off like a child in the back seat of a car when his brother touches him. The movie ends on the note that Anton is not allowed to see his newly born son. He's of the "I'm Jesus and my farts are new rock classics" school, while Courtney is a nice enough but gap-toothed pretty boy who let's his record label blow $400,000.00 of his future earnings on a video so hysterically wrong there's Busby Berkeley dancers with cardboard hypodermic needles for bodies above the waist.
Between the two bands there hasn't been so much tambourine shaking since The Partridge Family weekend marathon on TV Land. The Joneses have a member, Joel Gion, who goes by the title "Spokesman For The Revolution". He plays the tambourine, sings (I think) and wears women's oversized plastic sunglasses. I kept imagining a "kick me" sign on his forehead that's a command, not a suggestion.
Genesis P'Orridge takes a break from hormone treatments to say The Brian Jonestown Massacre are the greatest thing since collagen injections. Dig! is very funny if you like to watch bad things happen to stupid people. There's a number of Spinal Tap moments, and enough idiocy to satisfy any reality show junkie. The Massacre's first album for a major is rejected because it doesn't have any "songs". Anton intentionally ruins an industry showcase gig by screaming and fist fighting his own band members. Then there's the horrific "Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth" video by the Dandies.
In the end The Dandies, the "lesser" of the two bands even in the eyes of Courtney Taylor, prove the commercial and charismatic winners, touring Europe after a song of theirs appears in a foreign commercial (another Spinal Tap touch). Their music isn't even that bad, whereas Anton strums a sitar, blows a harmonica and plays guitar like Dylan to create a whole lot of nothing certain people find amazing. His big comeback finds him unable to play because he's too busy complaining, and then he's arrested for kicking some audience dude in the head in what has to be the most telegraphed move in martial arts history.
My money was on the film ending with Anton dying somehow. He's still alive. What an anti-climax. Great, more crap from a genius for who knows how long.
Monday, March 20, 2006
Review: Ultravox - Ha! Ha! Ha!
An unexpected blast from left field, Ultravox kicked major post-punk booty in 1977 on their second album while punk was still burning. Ha! Ha! Ha! is a far departure from the glam rock and melodic constructions of Ultravox. Ha! Ha! Ha! probably didn't sell well only because their audience was primed and ready for Roxy Music+, not loud fast rules. Joy Division fans have long pointed to the Warsaw demos as the band's punk experiment. Few know it, but Ultravox kept up with them step for step on Ha! Ha! Ha! (both sessions were from 1977).
What drives Ha! Ha! Ha! is a pounding Boogie Woogie pub rock feel and chaotic walls of noise. It's like Jools Holland arranged most of the songs but never bothered to record his keyboard parts. The walls of noise are part Velvet Underground, part No Wave. Together it's manic and quite danceable.
On a few tracks you get a whiff of "Sleepwalk" from their fourth record, which is a great riff to use when needed. The few mid-paced tunes end with an added panicked intensity as if making up for lost time. "Hiroshima Mon Amour" is the best known song from the album, and it's lushness did set the tone for their future works. At this point Ultravox is not yet a synth band by any means. They beat the crap out of standard instruments while using keyboards mostly for harsh drones and pounding rhythms.
They have their Eno moments but Ha!Ha!Ha! is not a pretty record (as in weak). It's a great punk record more people should know about. This ain't your puffy shirt new romance crap here, folks. This is great noise you can pogo to till dawn.
Friday, March 17, 2006
Punkymoms.com was featured in the O.C. Register. It's under new ownership, whatever that means. Check out that logo! Everybody knows an American faux UK '77 punk would never wear a Minor Threat shirt with that outfit. Get real! And what's that midget skinhead doing?!
They auction things on what they call Babybay. The Punky Pico de Gallo Platter in the food section was rated highly. The zine itself is very good, and the whole project looks very ambitious. Good luck to Punkymoms!
Compared To Skinheads?
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Review: Stan Ridgway- Snakebite: Blacktop Ballads & Fugitive Songs
I'd take a bullet for Stan Ridgway. I worked security for Wall Of Voodoo one night in 1982 and Stan sat next to me, asked my name, and then said, out of the side of him mouth as always, "So, tell me something about yourself." The nicest guy, hands down.
Snakebite, from 2004, is his best album since 1985's The Big Heat. I think his best songwriting was with Wall Of Voodoo, before his solo career as the great American storyteller of the imaginary, anachronistic noir west. "The Big Heat" and "Drive, She Said" were engrossing tales, but Stan didn't and couldn't write to that level all the time. Each song was expected to be a Raymond Chandler, James Ellroy and Raymond Carver masterpiece all rolled into one, and not even Stan could pull it off.
What one should expect from Stan is a group of songs you wouldn't mind hearing him play live. The big appeal of Stan Ridgway is Stan Ridgway, sitting at a piano lit by a single spotlight as cigarette smoke snakes to the ceiling, singing stories in a small club on a small stage. That's the stuff. I don't know if this is how he performs, but if not, he should.
Snakebite finds Stan with a catchier set of tunes, fascinating arrangements and a beautifully recorded cd that sounds organic and analog. The Delta Blues and a bit of roots country permeate the work, making this the first disc in a while where I imagine Stan and the whole band, not just Stan and a few musicians better kept in the dark. Here's the non-standard instruments found on the cd:
Jazzmaster guitar, squawk box, harp, wurlitzer piano, efx drums, sunblock, bug repellant, reed organ, fiddle, siren, harmonica, organ, handclaps, 2 string jawbone, french horns, mellotron, farfisa organ, celeste, flute, slide guitar, cello, viola, wooden swamp flute, dice, elka strings, sci-fi machine, violin, brass & monsters, brushes, angry birds, stylaphone, glockinspiel, trombones, carny drums, underwater bells, nylon & octave guitars, piano, PPG Wave, cocktail drums, banjo, tape loops, shovels and rakes, bamboo flute, bo guitars, tap shoes, beercans, spoons, baritone sax, hammer dulcimer, samples, hand drums, rhythm ace, train whistles, dustpan, trash compactor, saxophones, wurlitzer, mellotron, accordian, mandolin, nylon guitar, woodwinds and brass, cinema string quartet, popcorn box, marching drum, snake guitar, melodica, oberhiem, juno 106, moog bass, reed organ, mellotron, autoharp, marching percussion, woodwinds, hi- strung guitar.
Stan writes a great history of his involvement with Wall Of Voodoo, "Talkin' Wall Of Voodoo Blues, Pt. 1". I would still like to know what exactly went wrong. At times I detect a Lou Reed type delivery. Stan often sings like he's talking in tones. The lyrics are top notch all around. It's numerically impossible to top lyrics like "Oh, the people in the carnival, they all act just like kin / And you can't be in the middle when you're sleepin' with a Siamese twin / Oh, the dog-faced boy lifts his leg out in the pourin' rain / When you're travellin' with the carnival, there really is no shame / Nope, no shame". That's from "Running With The Carnival", which steals the happy riff from "Feelin' Groovy". Then there's this line "I gotta hang up now and crash into this house / Daddy's home!" Freakin' sweet.
Stan is the man, and I hope nobody's gunning for him because I hear bullets sting.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Lazy Day Photo Funnies
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Review: Gigantic (A Tale Of Two Johns)
I like They Might Be Giants. I like them a lot actually, but at this point (and especially in 2002) I don't think they warrant a feature length film. Gigantic (A Tale Of Two Johns) is an hour-long appreciation stretched to avoid short film status. The same can be said for the Fugazi documentary.
Gigantic is a love letter to a band that deserves a bunch of hugs and kisses, so I don't fault it for that. Still, it reminds me of a 60 Minutes segment that lasts 102 minutes. Celebs sing the band's praises and speak song lyrics, Senator Paul Simon gives a lecture on President Lincoln, videos prove their cleverness, John and John participate fully and Joe Franklin, a god of NY kitsch, speaks of them with wide emotion, which for him is like a rock crying. Ira Glass and Sarah Vowell appear a lot, and it hits me that TMBG are a perfect NPR band.
The history of the band is interesting but I wonder if anyone would come away from it thinking TMBG were (and are) innovative in ways never seen before. Maybe in the context of alternative music of the mid to late 80s, but definitely not before that. The new wave era is littered with clever bands with clever gimmicks. TMBG rate highly on the clever-meter but they didn't invent that wheel. That's just the old guy in me telling you kids you don't know nuthin'!
Here and there I got the impression they were trying for the same eccentric vibe of True Stories, with the East Village of NY standing in for Texas. My favorite factoid from the film is that many of their early songs didn't have long sustained notes because they tended to shut off or rewind the thrift store answering machine they used for their free Dial-A-Song service. 718-387-6962 just keeps ringing but they have a website now.
There's no story arc, just a story. There's no tension, no conflict and no tragedy that had to be overcome. It's a nice movie about nice people who record nice music. Weeeeeeeee!
Find Chester In Your Town
Remember, it's a sexual preference!
Added bonus: click on the squares to see photos of convicted rapists and child frickers in your area. Be sure to say howdy when you see them at the store!
3/16/2006 update: Toddzilla's comments are great. And I quote "Her face looked like a clenched fist."
Monday, March 13, 2006
Review: Manic Hispanic - Mijo Goes To Jr. College
Manic Hispanic's third cd from 2003 is a little better than the last one, The Recline Of Mexican Civilization, but it's all good from where I stand. Not only are they great musicians who "get" the originals, the enhanced Spanglish lyrics and comical vignettes make their records much more than mere gimmicks. I've never heard the other big covers band, Me First And The Gimme Gimmes, but when I read "Me First and the Gimme Gimmes continue with a flood of covers done the in the usual Fat Wreck Chords fashion" I'm glad I missed out. Manic Hispanic rule the covers wasteland.
Here's the track list: 1. Trippin on Mi Ruca (Drinking About My Baby) 2. Brand New Imapla (Brand New Cadillac) 3. Tio's Got a Secret (The Germs) 4. Cruise (The Brews) 5. Barrio Love (Barbed Wire Love) 6. Creeper Is a Lowrider (Sheena Is A Runk Rocker) 7. My Homeboy Is a Joto 8. Big Heinas (GBH) 9. Menudo Morning Nightmare (Sunday Morning Nightmare 10. I.N.S. Took My Novia Away (The KKK Tok My Baby Away) 11. Crusher (The Crusher) 12. Get Up Your Late (You Drive Me Ape) 13. She Turned into Llorana 14. Lupe, I'm Free (The Damned) 15. Code Brown (TSOL) 16. I Want to Be a Cholo
I wish I knew more Spanish. I'd like to learn but I'm a tired, middle age man.
Saturday, March 11, 2006
Punk Was Rubbish
I found this article by accident but it addresses what's been going on in my mind as I read Dance of Days. I'm up to where Rites Of Spring, Embrace, Beefeater and others are creating a renaissance in the DC scene, the endlessly referenced Revolution Summer (aka Revolution Summer Camp). I can't stop laughing.
The scene is nth power earnest and really, really super important. It's desperately working to keep things peaceful, exciting, meaningful and real. Still, it can't keep itself from exploding, imploding and losing members to adulthood. It's the word "yearn" as a course, guttural sound, like a hissing whine or when last night's Mexican buffet insists on leaving the next morning.
"Jon Kirschten - Chris Bald's younger brother, who had started coming to shows in the last year - confronted some slamming skinheads in exasperation. 'I was nearly in tears', he remembered. 'I just took a lyric sheet and pushed it at the guys, saying 'Here, please read this.' Instead one of them gave Kirschten a hard shove, the usual prelude to a fight."
Printed lyrics soothe the savage beast! Maybe that's what Grizzly Man needed. Damn, I lived there the whole time and somehow missed out on this endless parade of teenage numbnuttery. The harDCore scene was a kidz only clubhouse but some great records came out of it and I gave them credit for being organized. Who knew they were also so goofy and hopeless.
One more thought. The book refers to an incident where Lefty, (get this) the black, female and psychotic leader of a gang of teenage racist skinheads, almost starts a rumble with bikers when her crew knocks over a row of motorcycles because they aren't American made. Riders of Japanese motorcycles are not "bikers". Bikers ride Harleys, and the day DC punks knock over a row of Mongol's bikes is the day their remains are found spread out over twelve counties.
Sloppy Dan Is Dead!
Aged bag-o-crap Slobodan Milosevic died in his prison cell. Sadly it was from natural causes and not painful, slow torture like Action Jackson got.
Sloppy Dan oversaw a systematic rape campaign against the Muslim women of Bosnia, along with the regular menu of genocidal war crimes. A number of American Peace and Anti-War organizations are actually Stalinist front groups or fellow travelers, and they've offered legal and moral support to Sloppy for years. There's a seeming contradiction here but who knows what that could be.
If there's a hell, Miloseshit is ain't gonna be loving death.
By the by, when Bill Clinton was heckled as a war criminal it was in reference to him stopping Sloppy Dan and saving the lives of countless Muslims.
3/15/06 update: Of course Gnome Crapsky was a supporter of Sloppyshit
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Review: The Mayor Of The Sunset Strip
If I wrote this review twenty times it would come out twenty different ways. Let's see what happens.
KROQ disc jockey and scene maker Rodney Bingenheimer gets no respect. He's done so much for modern music, has asked for so little and has little to show for it except memories and an apartment full of memorabilia. Framed on his wall is Elvis' driving permit, given to him by the man himself. Director George Hickenlooper shows nothing but contempt for Rodney. The Mayor Of The Sunset Strip is a hit job from start to finish. So Rodney doesn't have a great radio voice. He's not forthcoming with information. He's had the same haircut since the 60s when he doubled for Davy Jones on The Monkees. He's a celebrity junkie. He has odd friends. His mother and father were shmucks. He wants to be loved but the object of his affection isn't interested. Big deal. Big effin deal.
Rodney was the John Peel of the United States. He played the original UK and NY punk records before anyone. His Rodney On The ROQ records were fantastic samplers of the original L.A. punk scene. He boosts bands he loves with the fanaticism of a pure fan with no agenda except to share his favorites with others. Still Hickenlooper chooses to make mock Rodney for his Zelig, Andy Warhol and Forrest Gump qualities. Worse, his attempt to reveal uncomfortable truths like in Crumb comes across as cruel and unusual punishment for a man whose only crime seems to be that he's the ultimate outsider type who somehow made himself the center of attention in the insider's world. Good for Rodney.
Special cruelty is saved for Ronald Vaughan, a.k.a. Isadore Ivy, an obviously mentally challenged man who yearns for fame with a passion you have to find touching (and also delusional). The camera stays on his cheap, worn out shoes for a few seconds and the only point I see is that the director finds this relevant. I was going to write he seemed harmless, but his infatuation with Jennifer Love Hewitt led to stalking and a restraining order. This was two years after the film though.
Kim Fowley litters the film too and I was constantly fantasizing him getting hit in the head with a brick. What a prick. Nancy Sinatra and Cher sing his praises endlessly, while David Bowie seems too aware of the camera to do anything more than act polite.
The Mayor Of Sunset Strip, for all its malice, is still well put together and an interesting history. Rodney deserves better though.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Review: Sleater-Kinney - The Woods
Sleater-Kinney are an amazing band. Corin Tucker is the most interesting female singer in punk and for a three piece they manage to create intense walls of complex and emotional music larger bands can only hope to replicate. There's nothing bad I have to say about Sleater-Kinney. Now, why is it I can only listen to a few songs at a time before changing any of their discs?
2005's The Woods is their seventh studio release in ten years, and when critics lauded their new maturity I knew something was wrong. The general gist was that Sleater-Kinney learned to "rock", which often can only mean they slowed down, wigged out and, excuse the irony, cock-rocked. The Woods starts fast and ends slow, which means I can finally listen to every song I want to on a Sleater-Kinney cd before turning it off.
There's a psychedelic feel to some of the songs, and the complexity of the structures are more intricate, which is easier at a slower pace. In the middle of "What's Mine Is Yours" there's a psychedelic metal guitar wig-out so out of character I wondered if this was a bow to No Wave. My favorite tracks are "Jumpers" and "Entertain".
Before writing this I went back and listened to both cds of the Liliput compilation. There's a line here, Sleater-Kinney progressing way beyond what Liliput was capable of, but a line still the same.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Music Is Better Off Seen As A Commodity
I'm 1/4 through Dance Of Days, an engrossing history of the DC Punk scene. I'll probably stop once it gets to years/bands I don't care about. Where I'm up to, Ian Mackaye is feeling really hurt again because someone said bad things about him, HR of Bad Brains is a Rasta prophet who gives a note to Biscuit of The Big Boys that reads "Burn in hell, bloodclot faggot", hate-machine Henry Rollins leaves the DC scene after a member of his SXE gang takes a baseball bat to the head in Philly, women are treated like non-entities, outsiders are shunned, heroin is a major reason why things don't happen... I could go on for a while.
Ian and Henry formed a crew to beat people up for fun after seeing firsthand an episode of the O.C. Reich destroying the L.A. punk scene. Let me type that again - the jock, suburban fuggknuckles who destroyed the original L.A scene inspired the prep school SXE gods to create a violent mob.
Dance of Days, while a decent book, is another collection of stupidity, rationalizations and royal fugg-ups. So-called creative people as a group are damaged goods, and maybe instead of idolizing them we should just humor them as long as they provide us entertainment. Maybe art is an insanity/genius thing, a savant thing or a cry for help thing more than about natural talent. Singers, writers, painters and poets are not better than those of us whose only skill might be to show up to work every day.
I, by buying a book, record or DVD, or by seeing a concert, am as important in the process of culture as the people who create the works. I help make it happen with my cash, and I validate them by paying attention to what they're doing. I pay their salaries, so give me my packaged goods and spare me your many personal failures.
I read books on music history so I can write about them. On one hand they give me information, but on the other they lead me to believe I'm better off not knowing how the sausages of music are made. It's really ugly.
Monday, March 06, 2006
Review: Hawthorne Heights - If Only You Were Lonely
Every so often I check in on what the kids are listening to. Today found me with the latest from Dayton, OH's Hawthorne Heights, an emo-screamo band. There's two album covers the label, Victory, claims you have to own to get "the whole story". My favorite amazon.com review notes, "They have so much less screaming than their last album, which would normally have upset me..." Their homepage is teen-centric and angst-tastic. As long as emo kids bathe I'm all for it.
Each generation has its own emo. Mine included 7 Seconds and The Hated. In the 90s I loved Building by Sense Field, and others like Seven Storey Mountain, The Promise Ring and Jimmy Eat World. That lasted a while and now I focus on silent noise bands like Screaming Silence and Chorus Of Zilch. These are not real band names.
Like Molly Hatchet, Hawthorne Heights has three guitarists. It probably makes a difference live. If Only You Were Lonely is clever until a few songs in when you realize each song is just a rearranged version of other songs. The only change of pace is "December", which has prom night slow dance written all over it. The cd is designed to appeal to everyone at the same time, from headbangers to crybabies. It's a delicate balance and they seem to do it well.
The best is the screaming guy who makes himself heard here and there. The regular singing is delicate, hurt and melodic, and then all of a sudden the screaming guy belts out a line like he's both puking and gargling. It's not an evil scream like death metal, it's just funny. I'd love to know more about the screaming man and why he do what he do.
Post-Punk Defined, Finally
Slate started an ongoing exchange about a new book on Post-Punk, a term as vague as Punk. The first entry has some timeline things off in my book, but hey, we all can't have my massive, swelling, itching brain.
Sunday, March 05, 2006
A Riot Of My Own
Thursday, March 02, 2006
Emo Lyrics Demystified
The Worst David Bowie Superhero Comic Ever
Vivienne Westwood, Still Sewing Truth To Power
Vivienne Westwood, the oldest looking UK '77 punk, went from designing clothes made from plastic garbage bags to tea cozy head burkas.
Westwood told reporters she wanted to raise attention to the case of Leonard Peltier, a American Indian activist convicted for the 1975 killings of two FBI agents. "Leonard Peltier is innocent. He's been in jail for 30 years now," Westwood said, pointing to the invitation letter for her show, featuring a blue penis with wings and the word "Innocent."
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Review: The Skatalites - Foundation Ska
I know The Skatalites are the Beatles, Stones and Hootie & The Blowfish of Jamaican Ska, but the 2-disc Foundation Ska is too boring to be anything but archival. Only four (by my count) tracks have vocals, and "Dr. Kildare" is missing the lyrics I have on a great mix tape. Instrumental Ska is nice every so often, but not one after a fricking other.
If there's a Skatalites cd of all vocal tracks, please let me know. The Skatalites are great, but if you point to these repetitive instrumentals as the best 60's ska you'll turn off a lot of potential fans. Here's a great place to start your journey to the wonders of the first wave. Take it from me, Dr. Ring-A-Ding, the Great Wuga Wuga. This cassette I know by heart.