<<< Monday, February 28, 2005 >>>

What If They Threw a Genocide And Nobody Came?

The humanitarian catastrophe in Darfur, Sudan, continues to get worse and worse and worse, and nobody seems to give a damn. Sadly, it’s quite possible you don’t even know what the hell I’m talking about, for while the media loads up on Michael Jackson and Paris Hilton, they have, with a few notable exceptions, basically ignored this genocide raging in the Sudan, affecting more than two million people.

“Not since the Rwanda genocide of 1994 has the world seen such a calculated campaign of slaughter, rape, starvation and displacement.”
Former President Clinton is on record as stating that the greatest regret of his time in office was his failure to stop the genocide in Rwanda. Yet here we are again, a decade later, repeating that tragic mistake, quite unforgivably, even as we purport to bring freedom and democracy to the world like some superpower Santa Claus. And compared to what’s going on in Darfur these days, Iraq under Saddam Hussein may as well have been a trip to Disneyland.
“During past genocides against Armenians, Jews, and Cambodians, it was possible to claim that we didn't fully know what was going on. This time, President Bush, Congress and the European Parliament have already declared genocide to be under way. And we have photos. This time, we have no excuse.”
Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times has been one of the lonely few following this story for some time, trying his damnedest to put the issue on the radar. Yet the silence from the US, the UN, and the EU has been deafening, even as ten thousand more people die horrific deaths every month.

Above, a drawing by a young child
in response to the prompt,
"Draw a picture of what your life in Darfur is like."

The President likes to swagger around and talk about battling evil. He claims to see things in black and white. Where the hell are you, Dubya? Certainly it’s not fair to lay all the blame at his feet, but his bully pulpit does loom the largest. Where is the leadership in Congress? Calling Mr. Obama…Step up to the plate, Europe. Earth to Kofi….

Where are our churches and religious leaders? I’m talking to you, Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell, James Dobson. Surely we can put aside our significant differences on other issues to work on something of this magnitude. Isn't this a moral issue on which we can all agree?

Where the heck is MoveOn.org?

When the tsunami hit, Americans of all stripes saw the horrors, opened their wallets, and gave freely. I believe we all want to do the right thing, however much we may disagree with each other about tax cuts for the rich or Social Security privatization. We have a responsibility to do something here, to step up to the plate. This catastrophe could be halted in short order with a minimum of resources.

So stand up. Get angry. We can make a difference. All we need to do is get this issue on the radar, and the shame at our complacency will take over. Write a letter to your newspaper. Contact your congressman or Senator.

Click here, here, or here for more info.

No MP3s today.

N/P Jackson C. FrankBlues Run the Game

<<< Friday, February 25, 2005 >>>

Left Hand Path, Part Two

<< Read Part One >>

MP3 of the Day: Black Widow – Come to the Sabbat
-From their monster of a debut, Sacrifice. This one might surprise you, as it did me, in that it is more prog than it is Sabbath-like.

Lucifer Rising: Sin, Devil Worship, & Rock n’ Roll
by Gavin Baddeley

Finally, after a number of casual references on the blog and an unintended, long-winded introduction to this post, the book itself. It’s not literature, certainly, nor is it a thorough guidebook for prospective Satanists; it's more of a compendium of pop culture references as threaded through the eye of the Beast. It is considerably flawed, yet an entertaining read from start to finish, written by a card-carrying member of the Church of Satan.
“Christians longed for the blissful ignorance of the Garden of Eden, regarding the fallen Lucifer as the epitome of evil for tempting humanity with enlightenment.”

“Christianity, in common with many cults, was an apocalyptic sect that awaited the end of the world with glee.”

“If people knew of the role the Hellfire Club played in Benjamin Franklin’s structuring of America, it could suggest changes like: ‘One Nation Under Satan’, or ‘United Satanic America.’”
In the first chapter, Baddeley traces a line from the Garden of Eden and the birth of the Christian Church through the Gnostics, the Bogomils, the Knights Templar, early witch-cults, the depravity of the French Baron Gilles de Rais, the Faust legend, the Black Mass, the Hellfire Club, Ben Franklin, the Romantic poets from from Shelley to Blake to Byron to Keats, Baudelaire, Poe, Twain, Comte de Lautreamont, and Nietzsche.

All this and more in a rather dizzying initial eleven pages. Much like the rest of the book, it is a mile-wide but an inch-thick. The author covers so much territory that he can’t possibly explore any of these subjects to the extent that my curiosity requires. But then, details aren’t the point, for he is merely laying the historical groundwork for the romp through pop culture to come.
“Crowley’s ‘Do what thou wilt’ can be read as a maxim for Satanic libertinism, as well as a command to discover the true self.”
By the second chapter, A New Aeon, we’re already up to the twentieth century. Aleister Crowley, “The Great Beast” himself, is the focus here. If you’re not familiar with Crowley’s life and works, you may know him only as a significant influence on Jimmy Page, but having previously read a five-hundred page bio on Crowley (Israel Regardie’s excellent The Eye in the Triangle), I can attest to the fact that this was a highly complex, misunderstood, and painfully interesting man, who stood as one of the tallest figures of the century. To dismiss him as a mere devil worshipper is sorely missing the point.

Chapters three and four cover volkish occultism and Satanic links to Nazism and the sixties counterculture. Hitler’s links to the occult make for a rather compelling read, while hippie utopianism is thoroughly deconstructed and set ablaze. Even though a lot of this material was already familiar to me (Stones, Beatles, Manson, Beausoleil, Anger), it is by no means less absorbing. I am obsessed with this period in American cultural history—the crumbling of the hippie dream, circa ‘68-’72, of which the late Hunter S. Thompson spoke so eloquently in Fear and Loathing:
“What Leary took down with him was the central illusion of a whole life-style that he helped to create ... a generation of permanent cripples, failed seekers, who never understood the essential old-mystic fallacy of the Acid Culture: the desperate assumption that somebody - or at least some force - is tending that Light at the end of the tunnel.”

“We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark -- the place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”
Baddeley then delves further into this Zeitgeist, in which the freewheeling spirituality of the times morphed into something far more sinister. Manson’s ugly head arises again, and we are introduced to Robert de Grimston’s Process Church of the Final Judgement, as well as a significant number of lesser cults that arose from the ashes of the sixties. Here too we are introduced to Anton LaVey and The Church of Satan.
“The Church of Satan—unquestionably the most significant movement in modern Satanism—is a bizarre beast, sustained by a web of conflicting values and concepts. It is an anti-spiritual religion; a totalitarian doctrine of freedom; a cynical romanticism; a profoundly honest scam; a love of life, garbed in the symbols of death and fear.”
Founded in 1966, The Church of Satan was LaVey’s attempt to codify (and cash in on) the hopelessly incoherent and practically incomprehensible satanic tradition. To his credit, LaVey succeeded where many others before and since have failed. His success was due mostly to the straightforward, common-sense approach he took to his material. His Satanic Bible was written in easy-to-read language that could be grasped by anyone—far different from the willfully obscure texts of Crowley and other black magicians of the past.
“Much closer to a philosophy of pragmatism than any religious dogma, The Satanic Bible now reads like an early self-improvement manual.”
LaVey sneered at the hippies and their “half-baked Eastern mysticism and naïve philosophies of universal love, recognizing in the hippie ethos another Utopian movement—like Christianity—fatally flawed by its refusal to recognize the bestial nature of the human animal.”

LaVey’s Nine Satanic Statements:
  1. Satan represents indulgence instead of abstinence.
  2. Satan represents vital existence instead of spiritual pipe dreams.
  3. Satan represents undefiled wisdom, instead of hypocritical self-deceit.
  4. Satan represents kindness to those who deserve it instead of love wasted on ingrates.
  5. Satan represents vengeance instead of turning the other cheek.
  6. Satan represents responsibility to the responsible instead of concern for psychic vampires.
  7. Satan represents man as just another animal—sometimes better, more often worse than those who walk on all fours—who, because of his “divine spiritual and intellectual development” has become the most vicious animal of all.
  8. Satan represents all of the so-called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification.
  9. Satan has been the best friend the Church has ever had, as he has kept it in business all these years.

I certainly do not stand behind most of these principles, but it certainly beats the typical media caricature of the devil worshipper. And while LaVey may have been a gifted and intelligent genius, he was also a world-class liar, manipulator, hustler, and charlatan. Although many of his grandiose claims were entirely fabricated, Baddeley dishes them out as if they were undisputed facts—another reason that it’s more than a little difficult to take this book seriously.

A brief run-down of the rest of the book:
  • Satanism in the cinema (Rosemary’s Baby, the Exorcist, the Omen, et al). A quick google would lead one to believe that an uncredited LaVey played Satan in Rosemary’s Baby, and I’ve long thought that as well, but apparently, this was merely one of his more widely believed legends.

  • “Satanic” music of the late sixties and early seventies (Coven, Black Widow, 13th Floor Elevators, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin).

  • Schisms and splinter groups in the seventies: The Temple of Set and other Satanic offshoots (Cathedral of the Fallen Angel, Brotherhood of the Ram, The Church of Satanic Brotherhood, Universal Church of Man, The Order of Satanic Templars, Order of the Nine Angles, to name just a few).

  • The PMRC and the Moral Majority. AC/DC, Kiss, Motley Crue, Judas Priest, Ozzy. Censorship, backward masking, the rise of religious fanatics in the eighties. Familiar stuff.

  • The “Genesis of Black Metal”: Witchfinder General, Mercyful Fate, Venom, Bathory, Witchfynde. When the music really started to get wicked.

  • Satanic Crime, Conspiracy, and the Ritual Abuse Myth. What is most disturbing about this chapter is the gullibility of the media and the public at large, who were led to believe in a non-existent worldwide Satanic conspiracy in the eighties.
    “None of the talk show hosts did as much to promote the Satanic conspiracy myth as Geraldo Rivera who, between 1987 and 1995, ran no less than four shows dedicated to Satanism. In the first of these, Geraldo claimed, ‘Estimates are that there are over one million Satanists in this country…The majority of them are linked in a highly organized, very secretive network. From small towns to large cities, they have attracted police and FBI attention to their Satanic ritual child abuse, child pornography, and grisly Satanic murders. The odds are that this is happening in your town.’”

  • Social Darwinism and Satanism in the 80s: The Werewolf Order, Genesis P-Orridge and Psychic TV, Coil, Current 93, Boyd Rice, right-wing fascism, Satanic links to high-ranking members of US and British Army Intelligence.

  • Thrash, Speed, and Death Metal: Metallica, Slayer, Possessed, Death, Cannibal Corpse, Deicide.

  • The “Second Coming of Black Metal”: Danzig (huh? black metal?), Emperor, Darkthrone, Mayhem, Burzum, etc.

  • War in Hell: The Death of Anton LaVey and Satanism in the 90s.

This book is fun and silly, if not an especially light-hearted read, but it plays extraordinarily loose with the facts, to its significant detriment. As for Satanism in general, there is certainly more to it than meets the eye, but it’s pretty difficult to take seriously as an ideology or doctrine.

Additional links:

N/P German Oak - s/t

<<< Thursday, February 24, 2005 >>>

This Morning Hurts

Damn. I woke up this morning thinking that this must be what a linebacker feels like on Monday morning. My whole body just aches. And while it’s true that I was aurally pummeled last night by a tremendous triple-bill of Kylesa, Planes Mistaken for Stars, and High on Fire, it’s not like I was bustin’ skulls in the mosh pit or anything. I only had three drinks, I smoked no cigarettes. So wtf? Yet for whatever reason I feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders.

I was real depressed most of the day yesterday, for some reason. Nothing in particular, just feeling stressed out and ill at ease. I had Part Two of my Left Hand Path post about 3/4 complete, but felt no desire to finish it last night, nor do I today, at least as of this moment. So in the interest of not burning myself out altogether, I think I’ll be taking the day off. Not from work, though I wish I could, just from the blogging gig.

Anyway, last night was a good time. The Planes guys arrived back in town from a successful tour, and they brought my boy Stan Wood with ‘em, along with the usual gang. He did sound for Planes on the tour, but I wasn’t expecting to see him, as I thought he was staying behind in Chicago. I’m so glad he came out. We go way back, and I love the guy so much but hadn’t seen him since a couple Decembers ago. I hung around him most of the night, catching up.

Kylesa was really fucking good. It’s been quite awhile since I’ve gotten into that crusty sludge-punk sound, but I was all about it last night. I picked up the album, on Prank Records, to go along with the seven-incher I already had. And Planes were their usual explosive selves. You could tell they were stoked to be back in town. I only caught a few songs of High on Fire, as I ended up in a side room with Stan and half the band, shooting the shit.

Until last night I had forgotten about the last time I saw High on Fire, or rather, didn’t see High on Fire.* I’m trying to remember what year that was…I think it was 2001. I was in the iron grip of a massively ridiculous Brian Wilson/Beach Boys obsession (I listened to nothing but Beach Boys records for nearly six months) and HoF played in town the same night as Wilson’s Symphonic Pet Sounds tour. My friend Brian and I caught the Pet Sounds show—one of the two or three best shows I’ve ever seen—and I was majorly, majorly fucked-up—let’s just leave it at that.

After that show, we cruised over to the Lion’s Lair to catch the late show with High on Fire. But I was so chemically twisted, and so incredibly obsessed with Wilson at the time, that all I could hear in my head were the beautiful strains of Pet Sounds, playing over the top of High on Fire’s wall of guitar noise. After a few songs, I had to excuse myself. I ended up spending the rest of the night holed up in my car, listening to Pet Sounds.

So anyway, I’m signing off for the day. No mp3s, but I’ll point you to the Kylesa website, where you can download a couple of killer tunes. More later.

N/P International Harvester - Sov Gott Rose-Marie

*This just in—actually, this wasn't the last time I saw High on Fire. Jodi reminds me that I also saw them at the Tavern a couple years ago, when Keith loaned some cash to my broke ass so I could go. Forgot about that one. Damn. This memory of mine just gets worse and worse.

<<< Wednesday, February 23, 2005 >>>

Left Hand Path, Part One

After coming across this article on the Reuters wire earlier today, I figured it was about time to get down to my little book review of Gavin Baddeley’s Lucifer Rising: Sin, Devil Worship, & Rock n’ Roll.
BUSTO ARSIZIO, Italy - The leader of Italian heavy metal rock band Beasts of Satan was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Tuesday for killing the group’s singer and two women in Satanic ritual murders.
I mentioned the book briefly in last week’s Skye Klad post, vis-à-vis the title of that band’s latest record and its probable origins from within the Bobby Beausoleil/Kenneth Anger/Charles Manson triangle of Satanic hippie black magic:
This story, unsurprisingly, played a significant role in Lucifer Rising: Sin, Devil Worship, & Rock n’ Roll, an equally fascinating book that I received as a surprise Christmas gift from the noiseboy. His accompanying note said that when he saw it, he thought of me, and just had to pick it up. I don’t know exactly how well that reflects upon me, but I was glad he did. I finally completed the book a few weeks ago, and I’ve been meaning to blog a little on it for awhile now. If all goes according to plan, there will be more to come.
Interestingly enough, only weeks earlier my wife's grandfather loaned me a copy of C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, thinking (correctly) that its logical and philosophical approach might make me consider its subject a bit more thoughtfully. Me, I got a real kick out of reading books on Satanism and Christianity at the same time. I tried to enter both with as open a mind as I could muster—a pretty difficult task, as I have fairly strong feelings on the material—but I did my best. In short order, I will take on C.S. Lewis, but right now, it’s all Lucifer, baby.

First, some background. My father was a Nazarene minister for the first fifteen years of my life. I went to a strict Protestant church three times a week and was forbidden to go to movies or school dances. I was a Bible quizzing master at age eight, facing off against eleven year-olds and smokin’ ‘em. At some point, my dad had a bit of a midlife crisis and quit the ministry. I don’t know much about his reasons for making such a monumental decision, as he passed away before I had much of a chance to pick his brain, but I’ve since built up quite a mythology in my head around the whole ordeal. From what I can understand, it was all about the hypocrisies of the church, coupled with a lifetime of pent-up feelings and existential dilemmas. But as I seem to be straying from my subject, and you, dear reader, are not my psychiatrist after all, I must move on.

A Battle of Tomes

After accepting the Christian paradigm as unimpeachable truth for my first fifteen years, I have spent most of my time since then questioning that paradigm and wondering just what exactly it is that I believe in. I have found some amount of solace in the tenets of Buddhism and Taoism, but it wasn’t until I read Robert Anton Wilson’s Cosmic Trigger eight years ago that I really found a belief system that I could take to heart, namely: I DO NOT BELIEVE ANYTHING.
“My own opinion is that belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence. The more certitude one assumes, the less there is left to think about, and a person sure of everything would never have any need to think about anything and might be considered clinically dead under current medical standards, where the absence of brain activity is taken to mean that life has ended.”
Basically, I discovered agnosticism.
ag·nos·ti·cism n.

1. The doctrine that certainty about first principles or absolute truth is unattainable and that only perceptual phenomena are objects of exact knowledge.
2. The belief that there can be no proof either that God exists or that God does not exist.
Given Wilson's brilliant quote above, I must take exception to definition #1, as I do not see agnosticism as a doctrine of any sort. I suppose this speaks to the certain amount of pride I take in reading about different systems of thought, however contradictory or opposed to one another they may seem. Thus, my appreciation for the irony of my reading material.

Oh yeah, the book. Well this introduction is getting long, and the hour is getting late, so I’ll have to save that for tomorrow.

In the meantime, quench your thirst for the dark side with these anthems:

Entombed – Left Hand Path
Rotting Christ – Lex Talionis
Venom – Welcome to Hell

*Btw, if I could recommend one and only one book to you, it would be Wilson’s Cosmic Trigger. Pick yerself up a copy. Changed my life.

N/P Kylesa - "No Ending" 7"

<<< Tuesday, February 22, 2005 >>>

The Noise of the Okies or “They Should Have Force-Fed Nixon This Album”

Last Friday’s post on Homestead & Wolfe inspired me to pull another Anopheles reissue off the shelf: the mighty Static Disposal, by Oklahoma’s own Debris’. As much as I enjoy the H&W record, this one is definitely more up my alley, musically speaking. And some fine day, when I draw up my definitive list of Best Avant-Noise/Art-Punk/Spazzcore Albums of the Seventies, this monster of a record will come in right at the top of the list.

I wrote about Static Disposal at length for Skyscraper magazine back in 2002, and rather than chopping up that article into blog-sized nuggets, I posted the entire article off-blog. Being now several years older and wiser, there are a few edits I would have made here and there, but I left the piece intact, as originally published. Revising your past work is a slippery slope… would someone please pass that on to George Lucas?

Please click for:

For those who felt that the Homestead & Wolfe tracks were a bit too, well, nice, might I suggest you try these on for size?

Debris – One Way Spit
“Aeauhieeerahhhieeraaahhaaa. . .1-pft--2-3-FOUR!”. . .the record kicks off and you can virtually feel the spit in your eye. . . it seems perhaps a stroke victim’s take on the intro to Minor Threat’s cover of Wire’s “12XU”. . . “One Way Spit” kicks off the album with totally wacked-out vocals and screams, undoubtedly one of the all-time classic unsung punk rock songs. . .aggressive and passionate, with cool background vocals, subtle skronks of horns, lots of guitar spazz and artsy noise. . .energy and intensity reminiscent of the classic ‘80s DC hardcore band Void. . .basically, I was floored.

Debris – Female Tracks
The second song, a (mostly) instrumental entitled “Female Tracks,” opens with a series of frequencies and modulations, which then unfold into a guitar-based spy theme of sorts. Horn runs splay all over, the image of Iggy Pop impersonating Ornette Coleman in a James Bond flick clearly comes to mind, as one deanna ‘D’ thrills the ears with her “sensuous mouthings.”

Debris – Witness
“Witness” wraps its horns and electronic whistles and gizmos and noise around the spoken word dada of a cartoon character in the tradition of Tom Waits’ auctioneer from “Step Right Up” or John Cale’s dark-humored Waldo Jeffers of the Velvet’s “The Gift.” An utterly bizarre story unfolds which reads like a stream-of-consciousness series of encounters with Jesus freaks, brought about by a flurry of Dali’s clocks; immobilization and hypnotism play a role in the final verdict, which, not surprisingly, remains unclear. More horns, more noise, more freeform freakouts.

Vinyl addicts: last I heard, Anopheles still had a handful of these left on wax, but if that’s still the case, they’re certainly down to the last few remaining copies. So don’t waste another second! For those who prefer the CD format, you should be okay, but it won’t be in print forever—do not hesitate to snatch this up!

Finally, as the Nurse With Wound list plays a significant role in the Debris’ story (see the article), I’ll point you here for more background.

N/P Espers – s/t

<<< Monday, February 21, 2005 >>>

Hunter S. Thompson 1937-2005

Oh my god. I was just getting ready to post on something completely different, when I checked in at MSNBC, to be faced with this tragic headline:

'Gonzo journalist' dies: 'Fear and Loathing' author Hunter S. Thompson shoots himself at 67, son says.

Needless to say, posts are subject to change up to press-time.

I’ve gotten uncomfortably used to depressing headlines the last four years, but I was ill prepared for that one. I expect a bazillion tributes to Thompson on the blogosphere in the coming days—he was a universal figure, one-of-a-kind, and hero to many—so I wanted to get my brief one in at the front of the stampede.

“I wouldn't recommend sex, drugs or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me.”

Few people have had a greater psychological impact on me than the good Doctor. Looking back, I figure I spent a good chunk of the years 1997 and 1998 tweaking my reality to apply the Fear and Loathing aesthetic, as I saw it, as I could try to implement it. This was both a conscious and unconscious act, I suppose. A trip to Arizona in the summer of '97 (cue Bryan Adams) with Jamie D to visit Stan and Matt at recording school—my eighty hours without sleep—ended up a conscious, if clumsy, tribute. Oh, the stories I could tell!

June and July and part of August of the next summer found me in DC, working an internship on the Hill. Much of my off-hours time I spent bumming around various quarters of the city in my then ubiquitous hat and leather satchel, all Huntered-up—my emulation was so blatant, I’m surprised I didn’t take to smoking my Camels through a cigarette holder.

Cheesy, naïve, a tad embarrassing? Oh yes, without a doubt. Yet I feel that those years I spent emulating the cartoon image of Thompson were vitally important to my growth as a human being somehow, though it’s not a thing easily explained.

“He who makes a beast of himself, gets rid of the pain of being a man.”

Neither is there an easy way of summing up this man’s life, a blurred cocktail of reality and fiction and self-invention and gonzo journalism. In a way, he was the last of the outlaws, fully embodying Dylan’s aphorism that “to live outside the law you must be honest.” You can’t read his work and not wonder how he got away with it all. In the end, I suppose, he didn’t. I guess what’s amazing is that he managed to make it this long.

Yet that is what depresses me most about Thompson’s demise. Like Keith Richards, he was a survivor. Having cheated death so often, he seemed invincible. His was a life-affirming tale.

I’ll never forget sitting around the old house on Division Street during the great snow-in of January ’98, listening to Thompson’s 1996 spoken-word adaptation of his most popular work, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, or going to the opening of the film later that year, heavily, heavily under the influence. Much as I enjoyed the movie, I like the disc better. Here is its final track.

Hunter S. Thompson – End of the Road…

So pour out a little liquor for one of the true greats of our time. Whatever he finds in the afterlife, we can be assured that he’ll make the place twice as interesting.

Dock Boggs Country Blues
Sleep - Dopesmoker

<<< Saturday, February 19, 2005 >>>

Bumpin’ Elbows With the Stars

Happy weekend, everybody. I'm jotting down this post between glances up at the Illinois/Iowa game on the tube. Nothing like an undefeated season to rekindle one’s interest in college basketball—I know, lame, right?— but honestly, I haven’t paid much attention to the Illini or college basketball since the days of Kendall Gill and Nick Anderson…and when was that, ’89 or somethin'? As of this writing, the Illini are down and not shooting or rebounding as well as usual, but on the plus side, it’s shaping up to be a good game.

Anyhow, I got a big day ahead of me. After the game, lots of errands to run, ebay packages to get in the post, taking my turntable into the shop (and another component bites the dust), trading in some discs at Wax Trax. Then Jodi and I are out on the town—first for a nice dinner somewheres, then we’re heading downtown for The All-Star Weekend Super Party, co-hosted by Allen Iverson and Catino Mobley.

Yep yep, it’s All-Star Weekend in Denver, and this town is bumpin’ somethin’ fierce. TV crews and cameras everywhere, press passes goin' around, scores of parties every night, and a shit-ton of sports legends, movie stars, and hip hop heroes in town. It’s one of the biggest things to happen to Denver in quite some time.

One of Jodi’s co-workers, her husband happens to be one DJ Cee Why, a DJ for The Ground Zero Movement in Denver, who is manning the turntables for Iverson and Mobley’s little shindig tonight, and she scored us a couple of tickets. There’s a “special celebration” going on for Donovan McNabb, and other invited guests include 50 Cent, the Neptunes, Lebron James, Terrell Owens, Shaq, Dr. Dre, and Jermaine Dupree. So, depending on who actually shows, we may be bumpin’ elbows with the stars tonight!

Apparently this friend and her husband were hangin’ at the Brown Palace early Friday morning with, among others, Ludacris and Lil Jon. They were all asking her where she worked, and when she said “Corporate Express,” Ludacris piped up, “Yeah, I know Corporate Express…I used to work at Barnes & Noble, and that’s where we got all our supplies.” “You used to work at Barnes & Noble?” she asked. “I ain’t always been famous,” he replied.

So anyway, Ludacris is a cool cat, which works for me, cuz he’s one of the handful of contemporary mainstream hip hoppers that I really like a lot. Not so, the hometown boy Carmelo Anthony, who’s apparently a dick. Or at least that was the word around town that night. Methinks he needs to take some pointers from his buddy Lebron.

Anyway, no mp3s here today, but I’ll point you to the following:

  • Check Cool Hand Bak for his write-up on Sweden’s Hip Whips. I would’ve blogged these guys eventually, but Bak beat me to it.

  • Go to The Cool Out for another obscure nugget made famous by a DJ Shadow sample.

  • Check out this cool promo video from the Congo's Konono No.1, who’ve been rockin’ my world all week!

  • And last but not least, download the debut podcast from the great Brad Rose and Foxy Digitalis.

N/P The Illinois/Iowa game

<<< Friday, February 18, 2005 >>>

They Don’t Make Youth Ministers Like They Used To

HOMESTEAD & WOLFEOur Times: The Gold Star Tapes 1973-75
Anopheles Records

Here’s another fascinating, little-known musical moment that might have been swept away into the dustbin of history were it not for a chance encounter with fate, which in this case, took the form of one Karl Ikola, founder of Anopheles Records and longtime purveyor of musical obscurities, mostly of the psychedelic variety. Best known for magnificent reissues of Debris’ wacked-out seventies psych-core and the pre-Dirty Three Aussie garage-punk band Venom P. Stinger, Anopheles took a major left turn with their 2004 reissue of this 1975 private press.

Named after the cross streets at the Good Samaritan United Methodist Church in Cupertino, California, Homestead & Wolfe were a musical collective borne of said church’s youth group, led by former Rip Chords member Ernie Bringas. In his role as youth minister, Bringas developed an extensive musical program, from which this ensemble sprang, performing at churches, jails, and high schools in the Bay Area in the mid-seventies.

Their recorded material was put to tape over a period of several years at Gold Star, the premier studio in Hollywood at the time, with H&W’s lineup fleshed out by a number of top-notch session players, including ubiquitous drumming virtuoso Hal Blaine. The vocal and instrumental arrangements of the young church organist, JoAnne Avery, are remarkably sophisticated, while the music bridges rock, folk, and pop: think Joni Mitchell and the Carpenters backed by Sneeky Pete and the Free Design, and you’re getting warm. And while you could certainly bring them home to your mother, they tackled a number of heavy social issues in their lyrics (Vietnam, Nixon, drug culture, the Middle East, even Wounded Knee!) alongside other songs of love, individuality, and human nature. Their squareness is in fact precisely their charm.

Homestead & Wolfe – Slow Down
Homestead & Wolfe – See the Children Die

Buy it at Forced Exposure, Revolver, Carrot Top, or Subterranean.

N/P: Kemialliset Ystavat - Varisevien Tanssi / Silmujen Marssi

<<< Wednesday, February 16, 2005 >>>

Antony & the Johnsons vs. George W. Bush

I had a bizarre dream last night. As usual, I can’t recall many of the details, but I remember that it involved George W. Bush, the U.S. military, and Antony & The Johnsons. Apparently Bush had just pushed through some new draconian anti-gay measure (imagine that!) which forbade citizens from sending any material deemed “pro-homosexual” (books, music, etc.) to a member of the Armed Forces. The shit hit the fan when I mailed a copy of the latest Antony & The Johnsons record to someone I knew in the Army, culminating in a showdown between Antony and Dubya, with me stuck in the middle. Now that’s one match I’d like to see! The rest is lost in a fog of REM, but it was one helluva vivid dream. I only thank God that militarystud Jeff Gannon/James Guckert and his giant cock didn’t make an appearance!

Antony & The Johnsons have been around for a number of years now, having issued their first album on David Tibet’s World Serpent label back in 2000, but have largely flown under the radar until recently. But with the release of I Am a Bird Now on Secretly Canadian, the Johnsons and their androgynous frontman figure to see their popularity skyrocket.

Featuring guest appearances from the likes of Lou Reed, Devendra Banhart, Rufus Wainwright, and Boy George, the record is an exquisite gem of astonishing beauty and quite unlike anything I’ve ever heard. It embodies a fair amount of cabaret and camp, yet above all it feels emotionally honest, tender, vulnerable, and seductive. And there’s no denying that Voice. Love it or hate it—and I’ve met folks from both camps— there’s no denying that Voice.

Listen for yourself. And there’s loads of information to be found here.

From I Am a Bird Now:
Antony & The Johnsons – Hope There’s Someone

From the self-titled debut:
Antony & The Johnsons – River of Sorrow
Antony & The Johnsons – Cripple and the Starfish

Antony & The Johnsons – Frankenstein
Antony & The Johnsons – Boy (excerpt)

Mad props to Secretly Canadian. That label has really come into its own in the last year or so.

N/P Jay FarrarStone, Steel & Bright Lights

<<< Tuesday, February 15, 2005 >>>

Rock Mosaic of Vancouver

Regular readers of Unfinished Novellas will recall my raving about the new Black Mountain LP, most notably on this post of January 19th. In the weeks since, I’ve lost not an ounce of enthusiasm for the band or the album—if anything, my gusto has only increased.

It’s still my favorite of ’05 so far, though the new Antony & the Johnsons LP is beginning to make some major inroads. Can a self-described “utterly genderqueer musical sensation” kick a lumberjack’s ass? Stephen McBean, watch your back!

So after creaming all over the Mountain, it seemed essential that I delve more deeply into the band’s close-knit Vancouver-based collective, which led me to some splendid long players by alteregos The Pink Mountaintops and Jerk With a Bomb. Apparently JWAB and Black Mountain are one and the same band, the former having changed its name, expanded its lineup, and morphed into the latter, while The Pink Mountaintops are a separate band featuring many of the same members. What is it with Canadians and their collectives, and how do they make it work? Much of the credit is probably due to the infinitely more progressive political landscape up north, far more conducive to artists of all stripes. But I digress.

Because I bought all three of these records (Black Mountain’s self-titled, The Pink Mountaintops' self-titled, and JWAB’s Pyrokinesis) within the span of several weeks, and the differences between the bands are rather subtle (though both The PMs and JWAB definitely sound rootsier and less RAWK than BM), their individual identities have, for better or worse, washed away, at least inside my head. I now hear them as one blurred mammoth mosaic of seventies trappings.

While perusing online reviews, I decided to jot down a list of other bands these three have been compared to. Here goes:

ZZ Top
Talking Heads
Joy Division
Fleetwood Mac
Bo Diddley
Billy Childish
Velvet Underground
Neil Hagerty
Rolling Stones
Led Zeppelin
Neil Young
Blue Cheer
Galaxie 500
Comets on Fire
My Morning Jacket
Jimi Hendrix
Dead Meadow
Black Sabbath
Jan & Dean
Pink Floyd
The Gris Gris
Grand Funk
Iggy Pop
Queens of the Stone Age

Quite a list. I’d say if you’re conjuring that disparate a catalog of influences in the people’s heads, you must be doing something right.

The Pink Mountaintops – Rock n Roll Fantasy
The Pink Mountaintops – Can You Do That Dance?

Jerk With a Bomb – Fine Health Is At Home
Jerk With a Bomb – Don’t Forget Your Love

So have a taste, then buy their records at Scratch.

N/P Konono No. 1Congotronics

<<< Monday, February 14, 2005 >>>

Skye Klad & Satan: Beausoleil, the Orkustra, & the Magick Powerhouse of Oz

Continuing in the space rock mode I launched last Wednesday, I come to you with a missive on the excellence of the Minneapolis-based quartet Skye Klad.

I forget where I first heard about this band, but it was only several months ago that I took a chance on their latest record, Skye Klad Plays the Musick of Cupid's Orkustra Asleep in the Magick Powerhouse of Oz. Buying a record without having heard the artist first is a tricky proposition to the say the least, no matter how glowing the review that drew you in or how enchanting the album title (Cupid’s Orkustra? The Magick Powerhouse of Oz? Yeah boyee, sign me up, I’m down for that mystical shit.) Sometimes it works, many times it does not—but when it does, it really makes this whole gig worthwhile.

Honestly, I’m surprised that I’ve only recently heard about this band, considering they’ve been around in some form or another since 1996. I haven’t heard any of their earlier stuff, but from what I’ve read, this new album, their third full-length, is a bit of a departure. Where their previous work was noisier and more experimental, with this album they have continued to develop a more song-based approach while maintaining their dark, esoteric vision. This is space rock alright, but the Klad ain’t no Hawkwind clones. In these dark, atmospheric dirges, inspiration comes from more gothic quarters, namely Coil, the Swans, and Current 93, and that is what really sets the band apart from their more traditional brethren.

Tribal and percussive, loaded with echoes and effects, and sprinkled with French horn and saz and flutes, the record is grounded in acoustic instrumentation. Like any space rock worth its salt, it meanders a bit in places, adrift in semi-ambience and thee infinite drone, but it always comes back to a “real” song. I submit the following two numbers, one a short but spooky-sweet vocal track, the other a slightly longer instrumental, both of which sound great on their own, but far better within the context of the album.

Skye Klad – The Cross of Lorraine
Skye Klad – Wildes Heer

Read more about it and order it here, or pick it up from Forced Exposure or the usual crowd.


While preparing this post, I got curiouser and curiouser about the album title. Cupid's Orkustra? The Magick Powerhouse of Oz? I mean, really, surely there was some sort of meaning behind this D&D-esque gobbledygook. Sho’nuff, a quick Google turned up an interesting connection. Both The Orkustra and The Magick Powerhouse of Oz were projects of one Bobby Beausoleil, whose fascinating story makes for one of the darker chapters in the annals of the sixties.

I couldn’t begin to get into the details here (go here for that), but suffice it to say that Beausoleil, today serving a life sentence for stabbing a man to death in 1969, will forever be linked to his former buddy Charlie Manson. Before he befriended Manson, though, Beausoleil was to play the title role in and write the music for filmmaker Kenneth Anger’s (of Hollywood Babylon fame) pet project Lucifer Rising, a cinematic black mass and satanic, acid-trip salute to the dark side. First as The Orkustra, and then under the banner of The Magick Powerhouse of Oz, Beausoleil threw himself into the project, only to fall out with Anger and drift into the Manson camp, with Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page, and Anton LaVey all playing cameo roles in this tragic story.

Most remarkably, Beausoleil would actually complete the music for Lucifer Rising, recording it from behind prison walls over a three-year period in the seventies. More on that here. I haven’t yet heard Beausoleil’s critically acclaimed work, only recently issued as a double CD, but sometime last year it ended up on my list of records to check out, where it remains, temporarily unheard to me.

This story, unsurprisingly, played a significant role in Lucifer Rising: Sin, Devil Worship, & Rock n’ Roll, an equally fascinating book that I received as a surprise Christmas gift from the noiseboy. His accompanying note said that when he saw it, he thought of me, and just had to pick it up. I don’t know exactly how well that reflects upon me, but I was glad he did. I finally completed the book a few weeks ago, and I’ve been meaning to blog a little on it for awhile now. If all goes according to plan, there will be more to come.

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! (I only now noticed that I'm posting about Cupid's Orkustra on Valentine's Day....a completely unintentional coincidence...or is it??...)

N/P The Tower RecordingsThe Galaxies’ Incredibly Sensual Transmission Field of the Tower Recordings

<<< Thursday, February 10, 2005 >>>

The Bug Eyes of Pugh

Google the name “Pugh Rogefeldt” (with quotes) and you’ll return about 4,630 hits. Narrow your search to pages in English and you’re down to 973, of which few will return a great deal of information about this Swedish psych-folk colossus. I’d certainly never heard of him before last fall, when his first two records came up on the weekly update list from Aquarius Records.

Being an obsessive fan of last year’s Swedish breakthrough artist Dungen, AQ’s description of his debut album, (Ja, da a da!) certainly caught my eye:
…We just got in this brand new import reissue of Pugh's 1969 classic debut, and quite a bit of it sure sounds a lot like what Dungen does, although overall it's somewhat folkier and more eccentric. Like the Dungen album, this is total ear candy for anyone into somewhat rustic psychedelic sixties pop…
A quick listen to the samples provided by Aquarius sealed the deal. I had to have this record. As if that wasn’t enough:
DJ Shadow fans will also find this of interest, 'cause you ought to recognize the very first sounds you hear on this album as the (uncredited) intro to "Mutual Slump" from DJ Shadow's Endtroducing. One of those "so that's where that comes from!" moments, and more evidence of Shadow's excellent taste...
It’s beyond me exactly how some 23 year-old California kid could have picked up on this fairly obscure late-sixties Swedish psych all the way back in ‘96, but the proof is in the wax. No doubt the lucky bastard has an original vinyl pressing too. But however the Shadow laid his hands on it, such were the aesthetic sensibilities that set Endtroducing apart from the rest of the musical pack and made for one of the finest records of the nineties—I’d say top twenty for sure, in my book.

When (Ja, da a da!) arrived at my doorstep, I was instantly taken. Firstly, I find the album cover mesmerizing in some strange way. There’s Pugh, leaning on his guitar, surrounded by the dense foliage of the Scandinavian forest. It’s gotta be his bug-eyed ogling of the camera, it just gets under my skin.

Then I pressed “play” and it was all over. I won’t even attempt to describe these sounds—just listen for yourself. These are the first two songs from Pugh’s debut, the first being the one from which Shadow lifted his infamous sample.

Pugh Rogefeldt – Love, Love, Love
Pugh Rogefeldt – Har Kommer Natten

Anyhow, I just got the second Pugh album, 1970’s Pughish, in the mail a few days ago, so I haven’t had a whole lot of time to digest it, but from a few spins, it’s almost as good as the first. And I’ve heard that the third album is worth checking out as well. A quick glance at his official web site reveals 14 more records, dating all the way up to 1999, but some of those album covers look pretty damn scary. I don’t think I’ll be pursuing much more of his stuff, but I’ll treasure these first few albums like the timeless sonic gold they are.

Rogefeldt’s first two albums were remastered and reissued on Metronome / Warner Music Sweden just last year. As far as I know, the only place I’ve seen where you can pick these up in the States is through Aquarius. They’re imports, so it may take them a few weeks to get them back in stock, but I highly recommend placing an order for this.

On a fascinating side note, a bizarre connection exists between Rogefeldt and his fellow countryman Quorthon (R.I.P.), the man behind extreme metal gods Bathory. The book Lords of Chaos, subtitled The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground, erroneously unveils Quorthon’s real name as none other than Pugh Rogefeldt! How author Michael Moynihan hit upon that false assertion is a source of wonder. This, from the Bathory web site:
For a Swede the name Pugh Rogefeldt would not need to be followed by any serious explanation. But for our international friends: Torbjörn "Pugh" Rogefeldt is a fifty plus something Swedish folkrock singer - sort of our equivalent to Tom Petty - whose prime days may lie some thirty years back in time. I must have strained at least a handful of jaw muscles laughing myself silly when I heard that first time.
Ha! Tom Petty! Now that's a good one!

N/P Randy HoldenPopulation II

Cab Calloway, Anti-Rove, and TheNoiseBoy in Pump Up the Volume

Alreet kiddies, the anti-rove has wonderful news for all of his loyal followers….

In a quantum leap of functionality, both Unfinished Novellas and The Blank Generation will soon be hosting mp3s. Now you will be able to hear for yourself bits and slices of all of this great music flooding our personal airwaves.

Most files will be hosted for a limited time only, then replaced with others, so visit often, and download while you can. Many, though not all, will likely be sourced from vinyl and will thus contain the requisite snaps, crackles, and pops. Get used to it.

The other point I must make is that mp3s will be posted to promote bands that may not be getting the attention they deserve or out-of-print stuff that strikes our fancy. They are posted for evaluation purposes, and are intended to get you to pry open your wallets a little wider and buy more music. (Forget about your rent! Skip lunch today! Support underground music!) They also are subject to removal upon the request of the artist or record label.

anti-rove to thenoiseboy:
subject: Pump Up the Volume

i just had this amusing image of you and i driving a jeep around with a server and computer equipment in the back, being chased by a bunch of fcc goons....

thenoiseboy to anti-rove:
subject: re: Pump Up the Volume


anti-rove to thenoiseboy:
subject: re: Pump Up the Volume

welcome to der weinerschnitzel, may i take your order please?


Talk Hard, ya’ll!

N/P Jose GonzalezVeneer

PS: In another case of truth stranger than fiction, have you guys been following the bizarre and highly disturbing story about Jeff Gannon, aka James Guckert, the anti-gay pseudo-journalist / right-wing propagandist / gay prostitute ringleader who was given extraordinary access to the White House beat under an assumed freakin' name? My god. Just when you thought this administration couldn’t get any more dangerously Orwellian, it does. This is an unbelievable story. Check out Incoherent Blather and No More Mister Nice Blog, and follow the links. You will scarcely believe your eyes.

<<< Wednesday, February 09, 2005 >>>

Hall of Mirrors: Space Rock Forever!

It was late ’96 or early ’97 when I was first enticed into the mysterious and then unknown world of space rock, kraut rock, and the psychedelic freakout. I was coming off years of devouring the Touch & Go and Dischord catalogs, Jawbreaker-style pop punk, the long-gone glory days of emo (Angel Hair, Christie Front Drive, Cap’n Jazz, et al), and a flirtation with nineties hardcore (Threadbare, Unbroken, Damnation AD—back when it was still novel and even a bit controversial for a straight-edge band to swipe so liberally from the metal playbook). I was looking for something new and different, and that’s what I got, in the form of a gaggle of big hairy Germans.

The noiseboy beat me to it—if I recall, he was the first person to play me both Can and Faust way back when—but I took that introduction and ran pretty far with it. About the same time, I met this dude named Clay, who had some variation of “Hawkwind” on his custom license plates and an enormous collection of discs by all these likeminded bands I’d never heard of. Then a group of my friends and I relocated across the Illinois River to East Peoria and a house on Division Street, conveniently located right behind Clay’s pad (Ahh…Division…the copious source of an ungodly number of insane, wonderful memories…).

I gotta give my man Clay massive props here, for he was the master, I was the student, and I sat at his feet when it came to this brave new world of space rock. He’d come up the hill almost every day with an armful of the most tripped-out, psychedelic shit I’d ever heard and proceed to blow all of our minds. It was not long before space and kraut rock (or whatever you wanna label it) became full-blown obsessions. I picked up a few Can albums, and I chanced across an original copy of the first Neu! Album for $1 (Yes, you read that right—one buck! Easily one of the greatest finds of my record-collecting career—thank you, for once, Peoria Record Company).

A 3 CD box set, The Space Box: 1970 & Beyond (Space, Krautrock & Acid Trips), from the vaults of Cleopatra Records became a bedrock of my excavations. While Cleopatra is rightly pilloried in many circles for various reasons, this box set was one of the best things to happen to me as a space rock neophyte. Featuring an array of classic tracks from Faust, Cluster, Gong, Popul Vuh, Harmonia, and no small number of Hawkwind offshoots, among many others, The Space Box stands even today as one of the first places I would point the uninitiated.

Where The Space Box focused mostly on the classics of the seventies, however, a new double-disc set on the Emperor Jones label titled Hall of Mirrors offers a similarly nifty introduction to the contemporary space/psych/freak-out scene. Astutely dubbed the “Reign in Blood of modern space/psych rock compilations”, Hall of Mirrors was compiled with loving care by Mason Jones of San Francisco’s SubArachnoid Space and Charnel Music, who quite obviously knows of what he speaks. It delivers, at two discs for the price of one, two hours of exclusive tracks from some of today’s finest, from the heavy hitters (Circle, Kinski, Acid Mothers Temple, Bardo Pond, Tarantula Hawk) to the lesser-knowns (Rubble, Gravitar, Up-Tight, Transpacific).

It necessarily covers a broad swath of musical territory under the banner of space rock, from Hawkwind-influenced stoner rock stuff to the blissed-out, drone-based side of things. If you’re thinking about dipping your toe in this scene, but you’re unsure where to begin, you have come to the right place.

CD 1
01 KINSKI Teen Center
02 CIRCLE Kuonopäivää
03 GRAVITAR Maybe Ben Hur
04 OVERHANG PARTY Le Fantôme de la Liberté [edit]
05 TARANTULA HAWK Excerpt from Live on KFJC
06 UPTIGHT Sweet Sister Vol 4
07 ST37 They Time (Edit)
08 VOCOKESH The Somnambulist Speaks
09 FARFLUNG These Clouds Are Solid
10 SPEAKER/CRANKER I Got Yer Head (Chopped Off)
11 DMBQ Small Hours

CD 2
02 FUZZHEAD Remember the Avalon
03 NUMINOUS Someplace Left Out
04 ESCAPADE 4'33
06 ABUNAI Our Wayward Fuel
07 BARDO POND Do the Flood
08 PRIMORDIAL UNDERMIND Non Servium (Undermind)
09 TRANSPACIFIC Fall River Mills
10 RUBBLE Grey Baby
11 YETI Raja Gaj

You can (and should) order this online thru Midheaven, Aquarius, or Other Music.

N/P United Bible Studies The Lunar Observatory

<<< Monday, February 07, 2005 >>>

The Ballad of the Noiseboy and Anti-Rove

Last week while reading ekletsgo’s blog I was moved by her choice of names for her soon-to-be-born baby, due in a few months: Ramona (if it’s a girl, that is.) Pondering this led me to google the lyrics to Bob Dylan’s “To Ramona,” which pointed me down a free-associative path toward my own long-running, personal history with Bobby D, inevitably leading me to my good friend and platonic knight in shining armor, the infamous noiseboy, aka Mr. Doug ------- (last name removed to prevent unwanted google hits). Upon reading my brief post, Doug was then inspired to write up this brilliant piece, which dare I say, led my unfailingly overemoting self to near tears of nostalgic joy just before leaving work on Friday. This piece is my follow-up.

Now I gotta stop right here and say that this is exactly why I got into the blogging business in the first place. (And of course, Doug was my direct inspiration for that, as well.) Truly, this is what it’s all about, the way one post connects to another and that to the next, propelling a virtual conversation that could only arise in the otherwise cold, technocratic climate of cyberia, driven by hyperlinks and comments and google searches, yet brings warmth and happiness to the real, flesh-and-blood folks behind the user IDs and stage names.

Our relationship dates back to 1989—that’s sixteen years, my friend—which means that I’ve known Doug for longer than I haven’t known him—which translates to: damn, we’re getting old. I couldn’t have put it better than he did in his post:
Jon and I have a special relationship. A very unique one, indeed. It dates back to seventh grade at Ingersoll Junior High in Canton, Ill. I don't know if this is necessarily true for him, but for me, Jon was the first person that I connected with in a truly meaningful way. He understood me, and I him. And we appreciated each other as the foolish little devils we were.
Needless to say, it is true for me as well. I often wonder how different my life would have been had we not shared those crucial moments in 7th grade English class. I am certain that it would be much less meaningful. Life’s weird like that, how such ordinary, everyday events of ages ago continue to wield influence and impact the present, years down the road.

I find it astonishing how our paths in life have remained more or less parallel, having survived the distance between us after I moved away from Canton. Though we haven’t lived in the same town since 1991, we graduated from baseball cards to indie rock together, we’ve both been publishers and promoters, DJs and poets, feeding off each other for ideas, egging each other on every step of the way.

Jon & Doug, two handsome devils!

It must have been the summer of ‘92 when we climbed a ladder up to the roof of my house in Morton with a cheap boombox and cassettes of Otis Redding and our significant Bobs, Dylan and Marley. This was the beginning of a deeper, more spiritual connection to the music we’d always known and loved. From that stepping stone, over the next year, he and I would begin to cultivate an interest in poetry and literature, separately, yet simultaneously, in parallel. Specifically, the works of Kerouac and Ginsberg and Burroughs and Ferlinghetti would capture our imaginations unlike any writers had before.

Certainly, the obligatory nod to the Beats is the ultimate of clichés for a couple of restless kids in suburban neverneverland who self-consciously fancied themselves nonconformists—yet neither can their influence be underestimated or brushed away so easily. The wild reverberations of Ginsberg’s Howl and Cassady’s kicks are still felt today, and they are mighty powerful elixirs to the young and young at heart. They certainly left a permanent mark on my soul, and Doug’s too.

We both took to writing poetry of a confessional nature and getting naked in public whenever possible. In ’94 we smashed Burroughs’ Naked Lunch into Kerouac’s Dharma Bums and came up with Naked Bums, the name of our little publishing company, later to morph into a tiny record label and promotion company. A number of chapbooks of poetry followed, including our first artistic collaboration, A Tincan Box Full of Goiters.

I just dusted off that thin slice of teenage angst for the first time in at least seven or eight years—it’s not often I bust such memories out—and, cringe-worthy though some (most) of its passages may be, it stands as a monument to the life and times of two high schoolers coming of age in the grunge era, trying to balance a healthy lust for life and creativity with the shot Cobain had just taken to the head. Sixteen pieces from Doug, both prose and poetry, including such classics as “Fat Man Wobbly Stool”, “Chewing Gum Sex”, and “Molle in the Musicals.” Seventeen numbers from myself: “Flicked Mosquito Mind” and “Her Breasts Inherited Thoughts That Might Lift Me Away” among them.

Here’s a brief classic from Doug:


And lo and behold, I found an old poem of mine that I actually still like (sorta):

You obtained your accent
in a Quik Mart, midnight with money,
disguised Charlie Chaplin bigwig,
part of hair slicked adjacent
to polymercury eyeball

You put a beard on
when I wasn’t watching you,
me, over your ever-changing shoulder
and laughingstock lower lip—
let there be no sequel
for the poor one
who can’t rearrange his face.

Another one of Doug’s pieces from the Goiters book stands out to me: this one an account of our June ’94 sojourn to Chicago to see Allen Ginsberg give a poetry reading. We had Soundgarden tickets for a show at the Aragon Ballroom that same night, but when we heard Ginsberg was in town, we had to skip out on poor Chris Cornell. We spent most of the afternoon trying to unload the Soundgarden tickets, to no avail—I still have the unused stubs. So we saw Ginsberg, and I met up with this girl there whom I was doing my best to court, but she was an utter disaster. If I remember correctly, we ended up totally ditching her, leaving her to walk the mean streets of the Windy City back to her car alone. Not exactly a chivalrous gesture, but from what I recall, she deserved it, sort of. Well, maybe not. Roll Doug’s account:
6/10/94 in Chicago
and here i was, sitting in this majestic & ornate room with domed ceiling containing ancient great authors & tiled walls & quotes & unknown symbols on the dome, watching this energetic sixty-something perform his tricks for me. to my right was this boy whom i’ve known for quite some time now, who’s feeling odd at sitting next to a girl he’s known briefly but is trying to impress nonetheless. she feels odd at sitting next to two strange characters, both different from each other but similar in the amount of oddity they possess. she didn't take notice to more than half of the long-winded, humorous conversation that i was having with the boy on my right, and this fact bothered the boy next to me. his countenance was slanted with disbelief, for the girl, it seems, isn’t all she was cracked up to be. i pity him; for he spent many hours pondering over her existence in gay nourishing visions of the two together. but alas, in life, nothing is for certain or always as it seems, with the exception of the ball of joy bouncing across the stage with his mini-organ on his lap & his balding head & wide satirical smile & booming attention-getting voice that makes you quiver with the directness & intensity that splurts out of every syllable. and to think, i wasn’t sure if he would be an interesting guy to listen to.

Thank God blogs didn’t exist back in 1994, or Doug and I would surely have unloaded an unseemly amount of our adolescent baggage into the unsuspecting arms of cyberspace. And possibly lived to regret it.

Doug’s mom had a key to their church, which we put to work for us. We’d sneak out of his house at two in the morning, drive over to the church, and unlock those holy gates. Oh, the things two enterprising seventeen year-olds could do at a church in the wee hours of the morning! The first order of business was taking advantage of the church’s copy machine. Too broke to fork over a measly ten bucks to Kinko’s, we printed up each and every copy of Goiters there. When we were done with the copier, the fun had just begun. We’d open up doors and cabinets, sneak food from the refrigerator, push each other around in wheelchairs, run around the sanctuary with socks on our cocks, all sorts of crazy shit.

Several times we went so far as to stage hour-long poetry readings from the pulpit. I still can’t believe we got away with this. We’d turn on all the lights in the sanctuary, put a blank tape in the church sound system, switch on the mic, press "record", and blaspheme away. We read a lot of our own stuff, along with the works of Leonard Cohen (I can vividly recall Doug’s theatrical rendition of “All Right, Edith”), Jim Morrison, and Ginsberg and Dylan (of course). This was where we first honed our spoken-word rendition of Ginsberg’s “America”, reinterpreted for two voices.

Doug, I still have three cassette tapes in my possession from these nights: The Presbyterian Church Poetry Jam Sessions, Volumes One thru Three, dated 1/8/94, 6/2/94, and 6/21/94. I’ve never listened to them, not even once, but someday, when it’s just you and me, we’ll get plastered and lend them our ears. Your rendition of “Masters of War” is on here too. Oh, I can’t wait!

One night, for some unknown reason, the pastor of the church showed up at 3 or 4 in the morning, while we were still there, up to no good. Oh my god was that a scare! Somehow, Doug conjured up some lame yet plausible excuse and we didn’t get into any trouble. This wasn’t the only time Doug’s quick thinking would save our asses—but the other time I’m thinking of is a story I still don’t want out ("Dylan in a dumpster", indeed), so ya’ll will just have to use your imagination.

More than ten years have gone by since those days of breaking into churches and reading the works of subversives. I think it’s been about that long since the last time I got naked in public. And mom, if you’re reading this, (and I really hope you’re not!) it could have been much worse—those wacky black metal kids in Emperor and Mayhem were burning churches down to the ground in Norway right about that same time.

But to the point. Doug, my friend, it’s been one helluva pleasure to know you all these years. I still have a couple of delicious tales up my sleeve, as do you, certainly, but those will have to wait for another post.

N/P - Cat Power - You Are Free


I borrowed the title of this post from a similar one from 1/20 on the noisereview blog: “The Ballad of Bedheaded and Darknerd.” Strange coincidence: both bedheaded’s wife and darknerd’s wife were in Doug’s and my class of ‘94 at good ol’ Canton. Now how effin’ weird and cool is that?

<<< Sunday, February 06, 2005 >>>

Headphone Riff

My headphones went out the other day—a mere two weeks after my poor excuse for speakers blew, necessitating replacement—“went out” meaning that you had to hold the cord in a certain position, “just so”, to get both channels to come in properly. Too annoying…and needless to say, entirely unacceptable for one whose electronic earmuffs become an extension of my body for hours each day. This pair lasted me almost two years though, with heavy use, so I can’t really complain.

When I got to the store, I was faced with a decision: save a few bucks and merely replace the functionality of the old pair, or spend a few dollars more and enhance the listening experience with wireless. I contemplated for a few minutes, and decided to go with the enhancement. Even after making the jump to a wireless internet connection last year, it had never occurred to me to go wireless on the headphone tip, but I’m quite sure I made the right choice.

I’m still working out the kinks…there was a little extra static at first, I had to mess around with the channels and levels and such, and it took me awhile to get my head around the idea of having to charge my headphones, but that will surely become habit in no time…all in all, while the jury is still out, I think I will be quite satisfied with my purchase.

Freeing myself from the audio tether unleashes a world of possibilities: namely not having to lift the needle off the record when I have to use the facilities, grab a beer out of the fridge, voyage into the record room, fold my laundry, or any other such thing that requires the slightest bit of mobility. Supposedly the range is up to 300 feet, meaning I should even be able to get away with mowing the lawn or sitting out on the back porch with these lovelies.

So my wife is now faced with the mildly amusing prospect of yours truly dancing around the house, doing a wireless jig, deaf to the outside world, with a giant hunk of plastic appended to my head. I’m not entirely convinced that this barrage of 900 MHz sound waves hitting my skull won’t eventually coalesce into a giant, ugly brain tumor, but for now, I’m taking my chances.

Next up: a new needle and stylus for my turntable. It’s been almost two years since it was replaced, and I fear I’m doing damage to my beloved vinyl by putting it off. And then after that, someday, I will actually get a receiver worth a shit.

N/P Morrissey You Are the Quarry

(Dedicated to the e-reunification with my boys Tim Boniger and Dan Hinkley—still very much as I remember them, after all these years)

Other fodder for my headphones tonight:
Pelican Australasia
The Undertones – s/t (Thanks, Doug)
Four Tet Rounds
The SpeakersEn El Maravilloso Mundo de Ingeson
Conrad SchnitzlerBlue

<<< Friday, February 04, 2005 >>>

The Week in Politics

I don’t know about you, but I got me a post-SOTU hangover something fierce. I’m a stone-cold political junkie, yet I’m already sick of hearing about Social Security, and that is a battle that has barely begun. I can only imagine the exhaustion you non-wonkish types must be feeling. Or perhaps you’ve tuned it all out.

Anyway, that said, the past few weeks have been an exhilarating time for us Washington geeks. This week alone we had the Iraqi elections, of course, and the State of the Union, in addition to cabinet confirmation hearings and the race for the DNC chair. Never before in history have political events moved so quickly, and there’s no reason to expect that this trend will decelerate anytime soon.

It’s absolutely overwhelming to keep up with. I’m SOOO glad I’m not an “official” political blogger, cuz I’d have already burned out by now. Guys like Matthew Yglesias, Josh Marshall, and Ezra Klein simply astound me. I don’t know how they do it, but somehow they roll out post after insightful post, multiple times each and every day. And it’s a good thing they do—they’re making a difference, they’re helping to drive and define the terms of the debate. I’m quite thankful for their kind.

Once again, I did not watch the State of the Union. I can’t take it—I’m just not much for the masochism and self-torture that a screening of Bushspeak entails for myself. I knew I’d be reading all about it in subsequent days anyway. I must admit that the grand, theatrical triumphalism of the SOTU and the oh-so-predictable gloating from right-wing quarters over the better-than-expected outcome of the Iraqi election were a tad disheartening. (NOTE: I did not say that the Iraqi election itself was disheartening—just the way it was spun as a vindication of Bush’s policies.) The current GOP power structure in Washington has done an amazing job of hiding the moral vacuity of said policies behind such facades. But one cannot hide hypocrisy and emptiness forever. There will be a day of reckoning, to be sure.

And I’m far from disheartened over the position of the opposition party. Despite the lackluster rebuttal of Reid and Pelosi, there are signs of life on the Democratic side. There are many reasons to think that this period in the wilderness will be a blessing in disguise for them.

A handful of blurbs from the week:

From Salon (I lost the direct link):
First things first: It is possible to hope for democracy to succeed in Iraq -- to wish for the best possible outcome for the Iraqis themselves, and for the rest of the world -- while still being fully critical of the Bush administration's numerous disastrous war policies. Setting aside all debate about the war's inception, it is possible to criticize Bush's policies precisely because one wishes for the best possible outcome in Iraq.
Maureen Dowd in the Times, yesterday:
He doesn't just want to dismantle the 60's. He wants to dismantle the whole century - from the Scopes trial to Social Security. He can shred one of the greatest achievements of the New Deal and then go after other big safety-net Democratic programs, reversing the prevailing philosophy of many decades that our tax and social welfare systems should equalize the distribution of wealth, just a little bit. Barry Goldwater wouldn't have had the brass to take a jackhammer to that edifice.

The White House seems to think Social Security was corrupt from the moment it was enacted in 1935. It wants to replace it with private accounts that will fatten the wallets of stockbrokers and put the savings of Americans who didn't inherit vast fortunes at risk.

Mr. Bush and his crew not only want to scrap the New Deal. By weakening environmental and safety protections and trying to flatten the progressive income tax, they're trying to eradicate not just one Roosevelt but two, going after the progressive legacy of Theodore.

With their brutal assault on history and their sanctimonious manner, they give a whole new meaning to Teddy's philosophy of the presidency. Bully pulpit, indeed.
From Slate:
If "Dear Leader" Kim Jong-il of North Korea and George W. Bush ever meet, I suspect the two will bond like long-lost brothers. Both men are first-born sons of powerful fathers who partied like adolescents well into their adult lives, after which they submitted to their dynastic fates as heads of state.

Both avoid critical thought, preferring to surround themselves with yes men and apply propagandistic slogans to the onrushing complexities of justice, culture, economics, and foreign policy. Bush churns out buzz phrases with the best of them: He believes in "compassionate conservatism" and fancies himself part of the "army of compassion." He's the "reformer with results" who embraces the "culture of life." He shouts his paeans to "liberty" and "freedom" (a combined 27 times during last night's State of the Union speech, according to today's Washington Post) while reducing civil liberties at home.
From McSweeney’s:
Things I'd Probably Say If the Bush Administration Were Just a Weekly TV Show and I Were a Regular Viewer

"Now, see, you can't just go and do something like that. That would be illegal."

"Boy, someone's gonna get fired for that."

"Wasn't that the one who made all the mistakes? Why is she getting promoted?"

"Come on, in real life you'd never get away with something like that."

"They really expect us to believe that?"

"Am I the only one confused here?"

"Does this make any sense to you?"

"Why is this still on?"

Finally, I never thought it would come to this:

Hi-diddly-do, neighbors, Ned Flanders is mainstream
Holier-than-thou character represents ruling values
And with that, this country has officially “jumped the shark.”

Bad ReligionSuffer
Kreator Live Kreation

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