Monday, December 22, 2003

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Somebody, somewhere, send some good vibes or something my way. Marriage is a shambles, job sucks, car's dead, I hate living here, cash to fix any of the above (bar the first, which nothing can repair) is scarce and growing scarcer... this shit ain't funny anymore. The abyss looms. Help.

Sunday, November 09, 2003


Got a hold of the new Martin Amis novel, Yellow Dog. Haven't finished it yet, so I'll forestall my comments until then, but reading it did bring to mind a piece I wrote (for the presumably disinterested readership of Lollipop magazine) a few years ago. As literary parody, it's probably lacking: in fact, it's probably one of the least successful things I've ever attempted (there have been worse, oh lawdy yes, but unlike most of those pieces, I had a very clear goal in mind and fell well short of the mark, owing to deadline pressure, general fatigue, and the toxins in my editor-in-chief's breath. Oh, and lack of talent, too; musn't forget that). Still, I have a strange affection for this Thalidomide babe o' mine, and I really need new content for this damned page, so here 'tis:

Vanity, Thy Name is Lucre

Editor's Note: The writer usually held responsible for this feature remains incapacitated with a number of purely literary ailments - a dermatologically rambling outbreak of Kerouacne, several drawn-out and convoluted Pynchon nerves, and a mock-epic bout of Tennyson elbow - therefore, the column will continue to be assigned to a panoply of guest writers until he either recovers or lapses into a delirium so entertaining that simply watching him try to work the keys of his Power VIC-20 with his earlobes will prove funnier than anything he's contributed to these pages in several years. This month's feature comes to us from Merkin Aimless, noted second-generation British satirical novelist and author of such best-lenders as The Lode of Auld Wanque and Spent Advances.

Writing short comic essays is, on the whole, difficult, isn't it. Isn't it. Words tremble out, don't they, thick with time-bloat and city-belch, scalloped with celestial seasonings, the pre-prandial paprika of night: the sky with its abscessed swells, its baked-on calculus, its periodontal table of the elements. One wouldn't blame the long-suffering essayist, would one, if he refused to assay the essay, to uproot his gingivitic muse in an attempt to straighten her orthodontal embrace (and they're always "her"s, aren't they. The muses, I mean. I think. I mean to say, I think, that I don't know. About the muses. I mean, they are, aren't they, always "her"s. Aren't they. Or aren't they).

I've been assigned a 1000-word comic essay. I have. If anyone were to ask me what I were doing, right now, at my award-winning word processor whereupon all my words are, after a fashion, processed, with the dolorous clouds of the London dusk as swollen and disproportionate as the cheques I receive from my British bullybag of a literary agent or the checks my American advance-attaché posts me in the post, this is what I'd say: I've been assigned a 1000-word comic essay. I have. On what subject, they did not specify. This is what they said (they did): "A comic essay. Yes. That would be the done thing to do." That sounds a bit awkward, doesn't it. Doesn't it. It does. But that is how Americans, that is how they talk. This I know because I've been to America, as everyone must. I've been to America, that land of nuke-lag and sack-hacks, of hard-ups and soft-ons, of pain-gloat and slip-ache... what was I writing about? Oh, yes, America. I've been there. I've heard how Americans talk. And Americans talk like that. As Americans must. And I know Americans, know Americans as only an outsider can. This is the thing: I am an outsider. Weaned on pub-grub and sick from ale-ail. I am not, you can tell, an American. Look at my pall-pallor, my sodden street-terror, my eructated erudition, my well-thumbed copy of the OED. Above all (above all), look at my teeth. Look at my teeth. The crumbled queue of decayed dentrifice, the rot-ridden rank of insipid incisors, the faux-feral file of unenamored enamel. Those... those are my teeth. My teeth. They are. These are teeth that have been to America.

Short comic essays, you may notice, have gone the way of the universe. They've gone that way because I just said they have. You remember. Three sentences ago. They've gone that way as the universe has: haemorraging astral hours without hope, without hope of space-clot or cosmo-stanch. The life, the life is bleeding out of it. And I'm the same way: I'm bleeding out of it. Could be the draught-draft, the glacial gust that wafts through the door, the d'or, of the pub where I spend my hours doing research for my latest novel, which itself has gone, not so much the way of the universe, more the way of America. Or my teeth. I can't tell: I'm bleeding out of it. Just like the universe. Except with italics. I go to the pub to seek, to seek, to seek the yeasty waft of pie-sloth and the inverted motor-smog of fag smoke, and also to listen for new low-life slang I can place in the scorched mouths of the dart-slags and bollock-bashers that form the supporting cast, the supporting caste, of my novels. "Don't cock me under, mate. Don't cock me under, right?" That's one I just heard. In the pub. At least I think that's what I heard: I can't be sure because I didn't dare (I didn't) bring my Oxford-educated second-generation novelist form too close to them to hear them right, lest I get a right nosing from them. That's another one, another bit of yob-slang I overheard: "Don't cock me under, mate, or I'll give you a right nosing, right?" Put that in the mouth of a quim-quaffing Cockney layabout, give him a dingy white van and a name like Kif or Biro or Shizz, and I've got a character. A walking metaphor to counterbalance the protagonist, who himself is a walking metaphor. Don't tell anyone (don't tell anyone), but he's me. He's me. A writer obsessed with the universe, America, and his teeth, except he's not me, or he seems not to be me, although I'll give him a name like Nigel Scribe or Denis Me, because I'll have him meet up (in the pub, I reckon. In the pub) with a recurring character called Merkin Aimless, who himself is a writer, and they can have conversations like this:

"So, you're a writer as well, are you?"

"That I am. That... I am."

"What are you writing now, then?"

"I'm into short comic essays. Right up to here."

"Ah. Ah. What's your subject?"

"They're Americans. They didn't specify."

"That must make it difficult, then."

"Not really. Not, not really. I've found, from writing critically-acclaimed novels these many years, that once you find your voice and become recognized for it, that you can pretty much slather any sort of blather onto the page, so long as you give the vague impression of significance, cosmic metaphor and sociological commentary and the like, and get away with it."

"I see. See: I see."

"Add a little post-modernism, like casting an idealized version of yourself in it somewhere, and you'll be set. Lauded worldwide. Get steady income. Enough to pay for a new set of teeth. They don't even have to be funny."

"The teeth?"

"The essays."

"Sounds brilliant. But there's one more thing: one more thing to ask. What if you do all that and you still don't have enough to fill the space?"

"Simple - just use a lot of repetition.

"Yes, that's it.

"Just use a lot of repetition."

Friday, November 07, 2003

Cripes, I've been one slack motherblogga. Almost two months without a post. Let's try'n redress the balance...

LAST MOVIE WATCHED (THEATER): Lost in Translation.

Lots of ink has been spilt in the name of Sofia Coppola's sophomore directorial effort already (of the sort that translates into just enough buzz to slide it into the local googolplex for a two-week run attended by a sparse smattering of suburban cineastes and people who couldn't get in to The School of Rock), which would be enough to make me clam up no matter how much I liked the thing - a little hype is a dangerous thing; a lot of hype might lead to mass prolapse - but, screw it, sing it out, soap it on the windows and leave a flaming bag of praise on every doorstep, this is a fine, fine movie. The things that the film's detractors keep pointing trembling fingers at (the lack of an iron-clad, Syd Field-approved plot matrix, the repeated shots of Scarlett Johanssen's backside) work just beautifully for me (that long, languorous opening shot of Ms. J's glutes works symbolically, you see, both stripped down and restless, much like the two main characters... aw, who'm I kiddin'? Drool*).

But as adorable (cutest baby fat in the biz) and convincing as a young woman adrift as Scarlett is, it's Bill Murray's show all the way. Of course, we all knew that. If he doesn't steal the show, it's not worth pilfering. Murray's screen persona, the thing that's given him far more staying power than any SNL vet to adapt their schtick to a larger canvas, is a kind of focused non-committment. Few performers have ever put quite so much energy into looking like they were just dropped off at the set minutes before shooting; his cinematic CV is full of wry, (at least seemingly) improvised asides and deliveries of written lines that clearly signal to the audience, "Yeah, I know, I'm not buying any of this either." Which, of course, is nothing special in and of itself - most comic actors these days aren't really actors (and many ain't that comic, either), they're basically shpritzbots plunked in the middle of a moribund celluloid wasteland and expected to power the whole works by themselves. The persona's the thing, which leads to either a sputtering mania that sucks all the life out of its surroundings (Jim Carrey, Robin Williams) or a smirky, superior indifference that makes everything around them irrelevant (Chevy Chase) - after all, if they don't care to get involved in what's going on around them, why should we? But there was always more to Murray than that - never as offputting nor as chilly as his comedic lessers, he's mastered a sly and impressive balancing act, not just the ability to be in the scene and apart from it simultaneously, but also the means to use that disconnection to draw the viewer in, (often) being the exemplar of silliness while somehow convincing you that there's something in the silliness that matters. (His closest showbiz equivalent is David Letterman, a guy who shares much of the credit/blame with Murray for ushering in the Age of Irony but who, over time, has revealed himself as the only sincere fellow in the superficial miasma of late-night talk - his every exasperated aside and disbelieving glance into the camera shows a refreshing lack of patience for show-biz bullshit, and, when it counts, has thrown aside the nutty entertainer mask altogether to share a humanity and sensitivity with scarcely a trace of mawkishness [his return from a quadruple-bypass operation, his moving post-9/11 monologue, and the full hour he gave to his dying friend Warren Zevon being the most obvious examples].)

This quality, always there even in the worst movies he's done (he expended so much energy in Charlie's Angels trying to remain steadfastly above his surroundings while affecting a laid-back, casual air that somehow still broadcast to the faithful that he's absolutely miserable being there that he, the least hyperkinetic aspect of the movie, was absolutely exhausting to watch), has been recognized and utilized by some of our more inventive young directors - well, two of them, at least. Maybe three, pending proof of Michael Almereyda's age. Wes Anderson's Rushmore, of course, finally managed to convince certain people that Murray is indeed an actor rather than just a walking smirk (something that some of us already knew, dammit - he may have worked just a bit too hard in the live-TV-redemption scene at the end of the much-maligned [but pretty durned clever and funny, despite Richard Donner's sledgehammer direction] Scrooged, but watch carefully when they run it this holiday season and notice how skillfully he peels away the layers of nastiness in Frank Cross and, beneath the mania, clearly shows exactly how each one crusted over him in the first place), but, if anything, Coppola captures Murray's inner Emmett Kelly even better than Anderson did there (and definitely more than Anderson did in The Royal Tenenbaums, despite a couple of crackerjack deadpan line readings from Murray). Murray's of-it-but-somewhat-out-of-it demeanor suits a picture whose theme is dislocation (temporal, spatial, emotional, spiritual - it's all there). He's never quite fit his surroundings (slightly awkward height, stomach, face), but here it's ramped up - everything in Tokyo is just a little too dark/bright/loud/quiet/fast/slow, a place where even images of yourself look alien. (One of my favorite moments in the movie is when Murray's [unlikely, yeah, but in a world where Steven Seagal continues to get even straight-to-video-worthy roles instead of being shot in the head and dumped in a desert grave, I'm willing to suspend disbelief] American action star runs across one of his old pictures on the hotel TV, a perfect cobbled-together abstraction of his life's work in a few seconds: one shot of a younger Murray [looks like the "Samurai Hit Man" sketch from SNL], one shot of a grimacing chimp, one shot of a car crash.) In such an environment, you gravitate to anything even vaguely familiar you can find, bad news for a fading star still prone to being pestered by fans (a situation, other than the "fading" part, to which Murray can certainly relate), good news in that contact with your fellow aliens can sometimes produce surprise confidantes, even soulmates. Not that fiftysomething Murray and somethingteen-playing-twentysomething Johanssen get up to anything creepy or gross (though the food at that one restaurant...shudder), which is a big relief. What they get up to (even without the meaningful, charged-but-chaste touch they share on the hotel bed) is far more intimate than mere May-December porking anyway. (not finished yet. starting to wheeze. i'm trying, lord, i'm trying...)

* Query: She's 18 now, so it doesn't matter either way, but if a girl under the age of consent plays a character over the age of consent, is it okay to lust after that character?

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

  • Crime is the disease. He is the prescribed course of antibiotics.
  • He borrowed twenty bucks last month - and now it's payback time.
  • You will believe a man can eat a fifteen-pound bag of meal.
  • Sometimes love has the strangest odor.
  • That isn't a hat.
  • He puts the "homey" in "homeopathic surgeon!"
  • Be perturbed. Be mildly perturbed.
  • See it again, in focus this time.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

it's all in lowercase, so you know it must be art:

woke up this morning with light entertainment in my eyes. warm outside, but freezing in the overground walk-in closet bunker i call home - i can see my breath, so i pantomime smoking for half an hour until i start pantomiming bronchial spasms, then i stop. stretched. arms covered in printer's ink and pulp - that tabloid duvet and samizdat pillowcase don't provide much comfort anymore, and besides, i find myself with an almost uncontrollable urge to pee or to run in a big wheel or to eat a breakfast consisting solely of pellets. and i'm all out of pellets. the water's been turned off again, so i can't wash, and if i leave the house, i just know those cheap assholes from the dyslexic school pull my shirt up and try getting yesterday's headlines from my neck and torso. so i think i'll stay in bed today. if the phone weren't on the other side of the room and broken, i'd call up the arts council and ask for another grant - i could call this "sloth #14." but i won't bother. keep it on spec. the critics will think more of me for it.

Friday, September 05, 2003

See? Back already. And the show-offishness must go on (I had something to post regarding an excerpt from Martin Amis' new novel, Yellow Dog, but the Guardian site has taken it down for some obscure reason, so it can wait): Sundays are the days for live-ish broadcasts on This Is Radium Crass, particularly my weekly series designed to showcase some of the not-so-old radio stuff I've gathered over the years, The Gold-Plated Age of Radio. Today (Sunday, despite what the post-date says), I'm presenting episodes from a couple of recent-ish British wireless comedy faves, The Mary Whitehouse Experience and Knowing Me, Knowing You (starring Steve Coogan - best known if at all in the States for playing Factory Records honcho Tony Wilson in 24 Hour Party People - as his most famous creation, the fatuous and clueless chat-show host Alan Partridge). The broadcast kicks off at 3 PM EDT (with repeats throughout the day likely) if you're interested (see link to your left). Please, someone be interested...
Is anybody still paying any attention? If so, apologies for not doing my part to clog up the pipes with insignificant minutiae for a full month. What can I say? I had a splendidly satirical mock travelogue based on my recent travels to the west coast set to go, only to return home and have my personal life cave in completely almost immediately upon touching down. Now the usual squirmy little attempts at wit that I fling around like a sporadically-constipated ape hardly seem worth it. And I loathe whining self-pity (wine-pitted self-loathing, on the other hand...), so I'm not about to add a "how many bitter tears I wept today" counter to this little corner of the net, or otherwise yak up the miserable confessionals in a pseudo-public forum like this. Writing my way out of this seems, at times, like an attractive option, but the words ain't really coming at the moment. (That said, pecking out this little excuse note is beginning to spark the smallest of flames right now - don't be surprised to see something more substantial here relatively soon, as I'm nothing if not completely self-contradictory.)

Anyway, this is just a public notice of apology to everyone who's expecting something from me, whether it be discs, dubs, books, reviews, critiques, phone calls or e-mails. Or blog entries. Gimme a little time, folks.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

As promised... jadees and lentilmen, I give you The High Hat.

I'm just so damn prideful and honorable of this project - a great bunch of (mostly) unknown writing/drawring talents working almost reflexively at the top of their game. I'd provide you with links to the best articles, but damn it, they're all great; just start at the top and work your way down. You will not be sorry. (Okay, for self-indulgence's sake, my major contribution to the inaugural ish is right here. I'm proud of it, but in no wise is it the best thing in the issue.) Cheers and roebuck to everyone who contributed, especially my buds Hayden, Lee and Herb, who really did the majority of the heavy lifting. 'Specially Lee, whose design work was incredible.

Check it out, gang - hope you like it.

Monday, August 04, 2003

Why no posts in a while, you ask? Oh, you haven't been asking? You're just wondering who I am and why I'm sleeping on your lawn? Fair enough - but, other than work, family, self-flagellation and snacks, I've been putting the finishing touches (or, more accurately, standing around smoking while the real talents involved have been putting the finishing touches) on an exciting new project, the details of which shall be made manifest shortly. Stay tuned.

Monday, July 28, 2003


"Hi, this is Bob 'Pushing Up the Daisies at Long Last' Hope inviting you to tune in to my new special, 92 Years of Laughter, 8 Years of Mostly Sitting Around and Drooling, and Several Hours and Counting of Not Being a Burden to Society Anymore! Join me and my guests Bing Crosby, George Burns, the Ritz Brothers, Jerry Colonna, Shemp Howard, Cantinflas, Jon-Erik Hexum, Scatman Crothers, Fatty Arbuckle, Lucretia Borgia, the lovely if slightly waterlogged Carol Wayne, Josef Stalin, and the 1972 Israeli Olympic Team as I bring you all the hilarity and entertainment you've come to expect from me! That's starting tonight and continuing indefinitely on NBC - the Newly Buried Celebrities network! Hey, Bing, is Heaven always this hot and filled with so many cries of mortal anguish? It's like the set of With Six You Get Eggroll! Well, at least I'm performing for the troops again - there's my old friend Billy Calley! How are you, Lieutenant? Why are they pulling your intestines out like that? Looking to prove you have guts? Heh, heh, yeah, I've got a million of 'em, well, 807, actually, but who's counting?..."

Sunday, July 13, 2003


Apparently, writing the header for this post has winded me. Gimme a few days' sleep and I'll get back to you.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003


(One draft, no stops for smoke breaks. A few minutes with the creative speedbag to get my chops in order. Any lack of coherence and/or cohesion is therefore neatly excused for once. Cool, eh?)

Apologize? Admit culpability? No way, mister. No way. Everyone knows that whatever caused those kids to do what they did, as often as they did, to as many elderly women, invalids and traffic cones as they did, is the result of faulty upbringing, too much fluoride in the water, or a missed bracket somewhere deep in their genetic code, not the little movies and products my insignificant little multinational conglomerate puts out. I don't know how many more times I have to say it - it's just entertainment. It has no effect on people's behavior. Sure, the clerical error at the ad agency that changed Zap Cola's slogan from "Zap Cola: It's Like a Party in a Can" to "Zap Cola: Say You Love Satan" was unfortunate, but those cans that turned up at the site of all those ritual killings in the Midwest can be, at worst, considered a misguided attempt at freelance product placement. You don't see your kids, uh, hanging out with androids just because they saw that space movie, right? So why all this fuss over Dude, Where's My Carbine? And no, those high schoolers in Montana, Nebraska, Maryland, Arkansas, Guam and Puerto Rico weren't quoting the movie when they slaughtered all those underclassmen with those weapons that coincidentally were constructed out of the same wine-cooler-bottle and peat moss mixture that Seann William Scott devised in the film - "Dude, I totally ventilated his torso with this easy-to-construct makeshift weapon!" has been in the zeitgeist for years now. We're just holding up a mirror to society. Don't blame me if you're not "hip." And now we're gonna get upset because the latest teen idol has a tattoo? And don't give me that "the swastika is a hate symbol" garbage - what obscure fact are you gonna dig up next? I mean, c'mon, give our kids some credit - or maybe I should say your kids since I don't have any, not anymore. They can read, at least almost a third of them can, and you know they pay attention to the strongly-worded disclaimer we run in every other episode of Stoliclicious Vodka-Flavored Bubblegum presents Cripplewhackers! "It looks fun, and it is, but don't try this at or anywhere in the immediate vicinity of your home." I think that makes things abundantly clear - certainly our lawyers think so. All I'm saying is that, when you point your finger at someone, you have three fingers pointing back at you, and a thumb looking off to one side, hoping not to get involved or something. Examine your own consciences (that is what they're called, right?) - maybe you spoke sternly to your children a couple of times, or denied them a second helping of cake for dessert, or encouraged them to study. Children are sensitive to these things, so naturally these things are bound to turn back on you. Maybe you should think about your inadequacies as parents, teachers, neighbors and pedestrians a little bit before laying all the blame on Captain Wacky's Whites-Only Funhouse. Or Carbo-Crank 72-Hour Energy Drink. Or the Micro-Glock. I mean, my company produced a Jesus biopic last year, and you don't see kids running around, nailing Jews to trees, do you? Aside from those three in Wisconsin, I mean.

Friday, July 04, 2003


1. Momus - "A Dull Documentary"
2. Fastbacks - "K Street"
3. The Ex - "Shooting-Party"
4. Cocteau Twins - "Aloysius"
5. Pernice Brothers - "Blinded by the Stars"
6. Keiji Haino and Peter Brotzmann - "Untitled 07"
7. L.A.M.F. - "Yggdrasil"
8. Onion Radio News - "The Chevy Chase Show Celebrates Another Blockbuster Season In An Alternate Universe"
9. Butthole Surfers - "Hey ('82 Demo)"
10. Subway - "Smokey Pokey World"
11. Bongwater - "Why Are We Sleeping?"
12. mike watt - "For e's Cousin's Baby's Baptism"
13. Nomeansno - "Stop It"
14. Young Marble Giants - "Posed By Model (Peel Session 1980)"
15. Beach Boys - "The Warmth Of The Sun"
16. The Fall - "Last Commands of Xralothep Via MES"
17. Richard Hell And The Voidoids - "New Pleasure"
18. Lucy Hamilton / Lydia Lunch - "How Men Die in Their Sleep"
19. The Colourfield - "Take"
20. Richard Pryor - "Acid"
21. Pere Ubu - "Caligari's Mirror"
22. 14 Iced Bears - "Come Get Me"
23. No Neck Blues Band - "Second Columbus Pt. 1"
24. The Cardigans - "Daddy's Car"
25. SNL (original cast) - "Shimmer"
26. Chills - "A Message to Pretty"
27. Gang of Four - "I Found That Essence Rare (Peel Session)"
28. Iggy & The Stooges - "Radio Ad"
29. All Natural Lemon And Lime Flavors - "When Things Come Falling"
30. Robert Forster - "Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)"
31. The New Pornographers - "The End Of Medicine"
32. Ossman & Proctor - "Tirebiter's Brew Pubs"
33. William S. Burroughs - "Present Time Exercises"
34. David Sylvian - "Late Night Shopping"
35. Woody Allen - "Kidnapped"
36. Ludus - "Breaking the Rules"
37. Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 - "The Streets Vibrated With Traffic And Power Tools"
38. The Negro Problem - "The Teardrop Explodes"
39. Ken Nordine - "Ecru"
40. Lenny Bruce - "Commercials"
41. Prolapse - "Autocade"
42. The Fall - "Just Step S'ways"
43. Throwing Muses - "Fish"
44. Caesars - "Let's Go Parking Baby"
45. The Postal Service - "This Place is a Prison"
46. The Rapture - "Olio"
47. The Scruffs - "I'm a Failure"
48. Saccharine Trust - "A Lasting Thought For A Dying Cell"
49. Broadcast - "Before We Begin"
50. Daedelus - "Experience"

Monday, June 30, 2003


1) All right, who the fuck slipped Stan Lee the Viagra? Let me make this perfectly clear - the only place I wanna see a stiff old man is in the drawer at the morgue. (Uh, let me rephrase that...)

2) Speaking of Stripperella, I can't quite get over the following passage about the Pamela Anderson-Lee-Rock-Rooney-Onassis-voiced animated series from Entertainment Weekly a couple weeks ago:

With lie-detecting breasts and glass-cutting nipples, Stripperella puts the squeeze on supervillains like Queen Clitoris, a cyberterrorist who's ''not to be rubbed the wrong way.'' (Admits Anderson, ''There couldn't be any more innuendos in a half hour.'')

Now, defines "innuendo" as "(a)n indirect or subtle... implication in expression; an insinuation." Which means that she considers the above quip clever. In fact, maybe she doesn't even get it (Pammie's own clitoris having been replaced by a specially-treated hunk of gluten several years ago). I'd volunteer to explain it to her but I'm too busy highlighting my copy of The Gilded Speedo: A "Son of the Beach" Concordance. Still and all, I'm mildly curious about the show, but I ain't watching it for two reasons: it can't be interesting for very long (lie-detecting breasts? F. Lee Bailey has those already) and she who provides the voice for the, ahem, titular heroine is such a plastic-encased disease farm that I'm afraid that merely standing at the mic has infected this cartoon with sickle-cel anemia.

3) Memo to Kelsey Grammer, aka Gary the Rat: we've forgiven you the cocaine abuse, the alcoholism, the car wrecks, the adultery and the allegations of pedophilia, but man, you gotta know that there are some things that just can't be excused.

4) Ren & Stimpy's back? And only ten years after its sell-by date? Awesome! And I'm sure they're just warming up, too - Fish Police: The Next Generation, anyone?

5) This has been the week of uttering phrases I never thought I'd say, and to "I saw the greatest Adam Sandler movie the other night" I'd like to add another: You know, Spike Lee might have had a point there. In fact, if I were Tom Kenny, Grant McLennan, The Singing Nun or anyone else with the letters "T," "N" and "N" in their name, I'd consider getting on the horn with my attorneys post-haste. Whether they have lie-detecting breasts or not.

(All Pamela Anderson jokes in the preceding post have been made possible by a generous grant from the National Overendowment of the Tarts.)

Monday, June 23, 2003

Has it really been over a week since I last dribbled any mental sputum on this e-blotter? With no end to the various unfinished threads I've strung out there in sight? I've been one messed-up fuckface for a long, long time, that's all I can say. (I hate all you accomplishing bastards, I do.) And worse, the only thing I've found the slightest bit interesting or enough to raise me even the slightest bit out of my torporous stupor is that Finding Nemo toy my boy got with his Happy Meal (I feel a new McD's lawsuit coming on - I ate three of 'em and they didn't work). I just never thought I'd see the day when you'd press the button on top of a fast food restaurant kid's toy and hear Albert Brooks' voice coming out. (For the purposes of this post, I'm ignoring the Modern Romance Overreaction Figures ["Quaaludes and Rolodex not included"] briefly marketed by the short-lived Burger Czar chain in '81.)

That's all I've got. Must get in my two hours of shambling and muttering in before work. Excuse me...

Saturday, June 14, 2003


Um, I forget.

Friday, June 13, 2003


A) Passport to Prague 2
B) Spring Fever
C) In Bed With Amy Lynn Baxter
D) Chica Boom 15
E) Nick Grande: The Aztec Dagger
F) My Baby Got Back 26
G) 69 Degrees of Penetration
H) Blue Jean Blondes 2
I) The Devinn Lane Show 7: Attack of the Divas
J) Afro-Centric in the Amazon 8

1) Shapely women test their sexual limits.
2) A sexy woman tries to find a good man.
3) Tempting women offer their services.
4) Sexpots use their charm to entertain men.
5) Young beauties enjoy passionate lovemaking.
6) Young starlets give in to sexual temptations.
7) A woman finds numerous lovers to please.
8) Vixens take off their clothes in order to please.
9) Lovely women fulfill their cravings.
10) Sizzling women find passion with men.

Answers tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003


A Mighty Wind, to my surprise, turned up at the local podunk googolplex this past week, drifting alone among the six theatres showing Matrix Reloaded, the four showing X2, the three superimposing Matrix Reloaded and X2 over each other, and the converted supply closet just off the concession stand still showing The Master of Disguise. ("It's still finding its audience," the manager insisted with a tremor in his voice, before throwing his hand over his mouth and fleeing to a dark corner.) For those not in the know or not entirely certain where the know is, in fact, located, this is the third "mockumentary" helmed by Christopher Guest (an actor/comedian with an impressive 30+ year resume but probably best known as the sweetly idiotic lead guitarist of the fictional heavy metal band whose amps go to eleven) and improvised by a large-ish ensemble from an outline devised by Guest and Eugene Levy (an actor/comedian with a similarly impressive 30+ year resume but probably best known as the father so understanding that he wasn't particularly disturbed to walk in on his teenage son fornicating with pastry). And like their previous pair, Wind focuses its satirical sights on an odd but recognizable portion of the American subculture - Waiting for Guffman (1997) dealt with Midwestern civic pride and community theater, Best in Show (2000) with the competitive world of canine enthusiasts, and this one comes almost full circle to the music-biz lampoonery of the most celebrated of all mockumentaries, This Is Spinal Tap (1984) [co-starring and co-created by Guest; directed by Rob Reiner] with its look at a gaggle of quaintly irrelevant sixties music veterans - only this time, instead of the slackened spandex of aging heavy metallurgists, it's the moth-eaten crewnecks of the once-mighty folk scene that provides the fabric for Guest and Levy's comic tapestry. Now, I don't get out to the movies much these days; financial, time and familial constraints have mostly conspired to make it so, though I'd be lying if I were to claim that the thin gruel ladled out by the dream factory (the stuff that makes it to the area cinemas in particular) was terribly appetizing to me in the first place. (This opens me up to accusations of snobbery, I know, in much the same way that my taste in music inspires snorts of derision on the part of certain parties of my acquaintance - rather than digress myself into a defensive cul-de-sac, I'll say only that I've been pleasantly surprised by some aspects of some of the mainstream pics I've seen recently [the darker, black-comic aspects of Spielberg's Minority Report, Ralph Fiennes rendering his serial killer the most sympathetic character in Red Dragon, etc.], even if the films in question wind up retreating into predictability and false emotionalism by the end, and that most independent films are just as bereft of imagination and innovation as their higher-priced brethren.) That said, it's fair to say that the arrival of this picture qualified as something akin to An Event.

(More later. Really. I mean it. I think.)

Friday, June 06, 2003

Don't bother with this, either.
Had a rough couple of weeks (details NOT forthcoming - what kind of a blog do you think I am?), which accounts for the lack of content here in that time. There's stuff to talk about - a now-ever-so-slightly-out-of-date take on A Mighty Wind being one subject - but I'm gonna need some time to get my act (however unnatural) together. But I owe you something ... Howzabout a transcript of the "best" rock "star" "interview" I ever "did," a truly frightening mid-afternoon phoner with Royal Trux' Jennifer Herrema, around the time they released the album Sweet Sixteen, an album about as appetizing and entertaining as its cover? The weirdest thing about this non-fab confab, though maybe it's not all that weird, considering, is that I spent a couple of months after its publication fearing some bizarre kind of junkie retribution for printing it, only to have it turn up, lovingly reprinted in its entirety, on their official web site. Anyway, here 'tis:

Jennifer, how's it going?
Uhhh... (pause) okay.

(Bravely) Uh, great. So, you consider Sweet Sixteen (Virgin) your most positive record to date. How so?
(pause, cough) More beats per second. (long pause)

Ah. Nothing in the lyrical attitude or anything?
Uhhh... yeah, it's just about...uhhh...the information. We've just got a better line on the information, where it's...uh...given out.

Sure, sure. Having heard your previous records, you seem to have grown out a little closer to the conventional rock thing. Is that fair to say?
Umm... you know, things change. (pause)

What in particular?
(pause) You know, I don't live in a shelter anymore, I live in my own house. I, ah... I get sick maybe once or twice a year now... I used to get the flu a lot and uh... (pause) we had to leave a lot of friends behind. (long pause)

(Starting to get worried now) So, what do you find are common misconceptions about Royal Trux?
Well, first, nobody seems to know the difference between my voice and Neil's. (long pause) And other than that, it's, uhhh... I'd say that the line between... consciously making decisions, affecting our surroundings, bound with allowing things to happen and being okay with that. I think that in the past, um... we've been commonly perceived as victims. (low, ominous) It's not true.

Have your compositional methods changed at all?
Um... not really that much, actually. (pause) You know... willful progressions. Willfully making ourselves (inaudible) future... crucial. But at the same time not letting ourselves, uh... you know. It's not strictly chemical, or... (pause)

Have you gotten much feedback on the album yet?
Uh, yeah... we've gotten feedback. Our record company really, really very much disliked this record. And our lawyer very much liked it, so... bit of a scandal. The, uhhh... I guess, you know, everybody I've spoken to... uh... has had... positive things to say. The things I read were, uh, sulky and like... it was inevitable that we'd leave some people behind. We've gotta shake 'em off.

What were the objections?
Um, too many notes, you know, and all sorts of political objections as well. We didn't exactly... um, feed... the machine by producing it ourselves and building our own studio. We met with a lot of hostility on that. There are people there... uh... that dig it, you know. And there are those that would not let it, uh... (pause) infiltrate.

Do you find life on the road at all debilitating?
Uh...(sigh)... yeah, I mean, it's, uh... I'd prefer to be left alone. I like to play, but in the end I'd prefer to be alone.

You have one more record to do for Virgin - what next?
Yeah, I mean, there's a lot... Neil's got a novel coming out, we've got a double album of outtakes and... out-of-print stuff coming out on Drag City this September, and, uh... (pause)

Neil wrote a novel, huh?
Yeah. (coughs) It's called Victory Chimp.

What's it about?
Uhhh...(pause) I don't know. (long, LONG pause)

Thursday, May 22, 2003


(I'm not at all sure about the wisdom of posting what follows here. After all, both the piece and the thing it parodies are almost five years (or 1000 scandal-cycles) old. But what the hell, I happened upon it while searching through my monitor-side box of important papers in vain search of any papers that might be justly deemed "important," and I have to admit, it's not bad. I have an especially fond memory of writing one particular paragraph in a fever of giddy creativity that almost never comes my way these days and that left me feeling as if my cranium was indeed in danger of melting. Anyway, here it is. Hope you like it. And if you do, heck, maybe I'll finish it one of these days.)

The following is excerpted from Jeannie Mullet's forthcoming memoir, Asleep on the Front Lawn of the World, to be published by Delaware School of Psychiatry Press in early 1999. Author's Note: The dialogue and all of the situations in this book have been reconstructed from memory to the best of my ability and under strict professional supervision. Since I was raised from my earliest days to be a vigilant, unimplicatable observer, I believe that if film footage, tape, or infra-red video existed documenting my life, or if such documentation hadn't all been destroyed in a series of unconnected and surely accidental fires over the last twenty-five years, it would bear a stunning similarity to what's reported here.

In the spring of my eighteenth year, I wrote a magazine article which proved to change my life forever. It appeared in the Veronica Lake Daily Newspaper on May 16, 1973. It was entitled "An 18-Year-Old Prodigy Considers Life, Society, Time, and Her Brobdignagian Struggle With Significance," and, although it was displaced by last-minute editorial jostling from the cover story of their Sunday supplement to the "Letters to the Editor" section, cut from 26,000 words to 150, and retitled "Local Girl Writes," it's fair to say that it was the most important article I've ever had published. In it I described coming of age in a time of social foment, prodigiously limned the details of the battle those of my generation were then waging with the encroaching forces of sociological malaise, and added a brief and pungent aside about my hometown's zoning laws, which was the only part that got printed. Even in that minuscule fragment, my discontent and world-weariness came shining out with crystalline clarity, not to mention the same finely-tuned wit and allegorical sensibility that inspired my creative writing professor at Rick's Community College to rave, "Shows some promise."

Yet this was only part of my story. I was born into the household of about two fiercely determined and ambitious parents, who had instilled in me from the first the desire to achieve great things, or at least to acquire great things and drive them across state lines if necessary. Before I had even learned to write, I was dictating poems, one-act plays, affidavits. My mother wrote down what I said and taught me how to make it better, strengthening my grammatical and expository skills using a variety of simple but extraordinarily effective methods which also helped me develop excellent penmanship in spite of the broken bones in my hands. Soon enough she gave me a typewriter, the act of giving alone demonstrating the stealth and breathtaking force of words as I caught it in my solar plexus. By 14, I had already been published in Young Girl magazine ("More Pictures of Davy, Please," reprinted in an annotated version in my forthcoming collection, Ruminations on God, Man, and Puppies), which led directly to a series of more ambitious pieces for the likes of The New Jerseyite, See and The National American, all of which were unanimously judged to be well ahead of their time (in fact, each of the editors of those periodicals sagely realized that my articles "[did] not fit the needs of [those] magazine[s] at [that] time" - and as of this writing, they remain so advanced), finally culminating in my Daily Newspaper opus. My mother, who had long encouraged me to "stay in [my] room and write, or whatever it is [I] do," to the point of keeping me padlocked inside for days on end to maintain and hone my compositional focus, was thrilled at my sudden success, though she was well enough aware of the dangers of unfettered praise on the creative ego to withhold her enthusiasm beyond a faux-dismissive wave of her hand, as if to say, Go. Don't rest on your laurels. Take it further. Get out of my kitchen. Actually, she vocalized that last part, but the implications (Create your own heat) were clear.

Predictably, the article caused quite a stir, and soon, letters were arriving on a daily basis in my mailbox. A well-known late-night talk-show sidekick proclaimed that I "may already have won" (through sheer talent and persistence, no doubt) millions of dollars, and enclosed the names of dozens of magazines that may be interested in my work, and encouraged me to choose as many as six of them, though he insisted that I was under no obligation to any of them. Invitations to join exclusive societies (a record and tape appreciation guild based in Columbia, a club for diners [those supping on the piquancies of our culture, unquestionably, though the exhortation was amusingly coy on that score]) were myriad, but it was one letter, secreted near the bottom of a stack of two I had received shortly after the article's publication, that rendered all others unimportant, a single typewritten page that has come to mean more to me than the dozens, nay hundreds, of fan letters, book offers, and cease-and-desist orders I have received in the years since. It was a personal letter from one of the greatest literary minds of our time, I.C. Seligman himself.

In truth, though I long considered him one of my literary heroes, I was perhaps the only 18-year-old in the country who hadn't read his classic paeans to youthful despair, The Receiver in the Wheat, Freda and Zippy, or Seymunki - A Book With That Title. In fact, I never read books at all because they give me sharp, throbbing headaches and then the bad people come out. But I knew well of him - his wild, prodigious talent so like my own, the legendary short stories he wrote at some point in the past for periodicals whose names escape me now, the fact that he lived in a house in some state with an "r" in it with his children if he had any. I had never in my wildest imaginings thought that such a genius would be interested in what I had to say, though I had put his name and address on the mailing list to receive my bi-weekly newsletter, Ecce Jeannie, just in case. There was no greater approbation for a young 18-year-old my age than to receive acknowledgement of my fresh, mercurial brilliance and insight from a man who probably wrote well like him.

I spent hours, days, hours poring over every nuance of his deceptively simple missive to me, studded as it was with obscured memoranda from the hidden corridors of his soul so subtle that only someone as perceptive as myself (preferably me) could pick them up. The way, for example, that my name in his salutation appeared in a different typeface and was slightly off-kilter from the rest of the letter - we hadn't even met and already he's symbolically separating me from the pack! (And the impish wit for which he was so renowned came through in his playful misspelling of my name, a touch so obviously influenced by Joyce, whoever she is.) Beyond that, Seligman opened up to me in ways I suspected one could only do in the company of strangers with whom they'd already formed a life-long bond. "Thank you for your kind letter," it began (demonstrating not only a rare and wonderful gratitude, but also a unique view of literature; in referring to the 38-page, single-spaced article I had sent him as a "letter," he taught me that all works of art, no matter how finely wrought, are as personal and as individual as correspondence). "It is always a pleasure to hear from my readers." (Note the subtle tinge of erotic longing.) "I never knew I had so many fans in Veronica Lake." (Here, again, he deliberately misaligned the proper noun, tacitly acknowledging the off-the-beaten-path nature of my hometown and my deep-seated feelings of alienation in it. What sensitivity lies within that skewed pica font!) "Your comments regarding my work are greatly appreciated (spoken like a true gourmand at the smorgasbord of the heart, looking for that extra serving of the potato salad of the peregrine spirit), as are any questions you may have asked (ever-questing, insatiably inquisitive, yes, I.C., yes, I see!). Unfortunately (are we not all mere slaves to fickle Kismet?, I.C. seems to be saying), due to the overwhelming volume of mail I receive ("overwhelming volume" - I was convulsed for hours at the Rabelaisian wit of that), I am unable (a particularly tricky nut to crack here - it took me six weeks of uninterrupted cognition to decipher the buried anagram here as "Mabel, u an' I," a delightfully bold invitation to a menage a trois. Sadly, I was never to meet this Mabel, but no doubt she was a saucy harpy/muse whose skin-tight vinyl jodhpurs and skillful proficiency with ostrich-skin belt and corn-cob holders would have given us both many hours of fulsome carnal diversion and provided fodder for many of the world-weary female protagonists in novels alas unwritten) to draft a personal reply at this time (and such a smooth segue from the interpersonal to the geopolitical! That accursed war!). Again, I thank you for taking the time to write and I send you my very best wishes (I don't think you need be a Freudian to divine what he was alluding to here). Sincerely (meaning, I think, that he was being sincere), I.C. Seligman (signed in a beautifully-rendered imitation of a rubber stamp imprint, yet another sly comment on the forced permanency of identity. It, too, was slightly askew, but I'll forestall any further analysis of that as my skull has begun to overheat again)."

In a word, I was flabbergasted. In two words, I was quite flabbergasted. In six words, I (two paragraphs omitted for reasons of space) That such a man would take such a consuming interest in a young woman whom he had yet to meet, much less broach matters both physical and philosophical in such a familiar (if oblique) manner was a source of no small amazement to me (though not unprecedented - Ernie Kovacs used to send me some rather obscene psychic messages through my television when I was a young girl until I had that problem taken care of). I don't know what it was that so enthralled me - perhaps it was the voice of experience that rang out, wizened but booming and resonant, from his letter (I was hearing some sort of voice, at any rate). Perhaps it was my desire for a mentor, someone to look up to in place of the father I never had (or, more precisely, to avoid the confusion of choosing among the four men who had been named in separate lawsuits as my father). In any event, I was compelled to respond. I spent several days carefully composing my reply, but musical notation seemed somehow insufficient, so I wrote him a letter instead.

I held nothing back. I told I.C. Seligman of my life here in this small New England town that was later discovered to be a dead Hollywood starlet (which would explain the exorbitant property values). I live a simpler life than most people my age, I tell him. I ride my bike three miles every day and hope to eventually leave the house with it. I don't enjoy writing much. I like finger painting, as it's the only body part I can reproduce convincingly, and relax by building dollhouses, hiking the utilities without prior notification, and throwing Barbie and Skipper out on their skinny polyethylene backsides. I don't have many friends. I thanked him profusely for his warmth, honesty and wisdom, and swore to carry what he told me to the grave, my own if need be. I completed my response and called the UPS man to come and haul it away, not knowing, having laid myself out so vulnerably, if the great man would ever respond in kind.

I need not have worried. Not two weeks later, but five, another letter arrived from Seligman. But for the fact that my name was even further off-kilter on the page and spelled with an ampersand this time, it was identical in every way to the first. The message was clear: the greatest truths are the simple ones and bear repeating; you should drop everything and come to Maizelike, New Hampshire to be with me immediately. I needed no further entreaty. I packed an overnight bag, jimmied the lock on my bedroom door, and set out on a journey of discovery that would ultimately prove tragic, revelatory, and very, very marketable.

Friday, May 16, 2003


(I'm gonna try and polish the rest of this off asap so's I can move on, and not make a sissy fuss about the 16 or so songs I've added since I started this - sometimes the only rock and roll I can relate to is the rock I endlessly roll up that goddamned hill of beans of mine...)

8. I'll cop to it - Throbbing Gristle was (is) a scam. Buncha pretentioid art-gits with a rare gift for making decadence and deviance seem kinda boring - heck, Genesis P-Orridge turned up in a recent issue of Musiq sporting a brand-new set of Richard Speck (no-)funbags and managed to look like Eddie Izzard imitating my Aunt Barbara, a vision that sounds at the very least diverting but was met by me with a yawn wide enough that my jaw became unhinged and I almost swallowed the cat. Artists? Sure, bullshit artists, albeit with a line of patter that all mod conmen would be happy to call their own; their third of the Burroughs/Gysin/Gristle issue of RE/Search way back in '81 was, when I first read it at age eighteen, an embarrassment of conceptual/philosphical riches (though the real embarrassment came when I tried re-reading it two years ago and discovered what an easy mark I was back then - I swear to God, if there'd been some bohemian death cult recruiters walking around Harvard Square in 1989, I'd've been dead from an arsenic latte long ago). And all this was quite exciting to me, especially since the only music of theirs I'd heard at the time was a two-minute fragment of something (to this day, I'm not sure what) heard through the weak signal of a far-off college radio station at the age of 13, which was so unlike anything I'd ever heard that I rushed to capture the last thirty seconds of it on tape just to prove I hadn't imagined it. (When I played it back, it didn't sound so weird to me at all, which should have told me something.) I was all fired up with intellectual-subversive adrenaline six months later, therefore, when an import copy of Throbbing Gristle's Greatest Hits (Entertainment Through Pain), draped in a nicely innocuous parody of a Martin Denny album sleeve, showed up at the mall record store. Took it home, quickly scanned the Claude Bessy liner notes and Cosey Fanny Tutti's gams, practically flung the thing onto my turntable, sat back and... was given one hell of an unpleasant education. Seems the media's sometimes not nearly as interesting as the message. Turns out that all the voluminous blather about "subversion" played itself out as banal drones and groans coaxed out of synths that its owners can barely play, occasionally subjected to wild, off-the-wall tricks like - ooh, watch out - running the tape backwards or fading a track out almost as soon as it begins, usually topped off with P-Orridge's vocals, which are usually so monotonous that to call them "deadpan" would be insult to both the dead and to pans. Granted, they happened into some pretty interesting cacophony sometimes and some similarly pretty interesting near-near-pop at others, and are one of the few electronic outfits to take the term "industrial music" seriously and literally (not so surprising, given that TG actually coined the phrase), as a lot of their recordings indeed resembled the dying throes of some broken-down factory. (And their pioneering work merely laid the groundwork for the excellent work they did after TG's initial split: the surprisingly vital run of singles [one of which even made it into a Volkswagen commercial] P-Orridge promulgated in Psychic TV, Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson's scary, multi-faceted, visionary work he whipped up both as leader of Coil and as an in-demand video auteur, and Chris and Cosey, um, did stuff too.) But the fact remains that much of their work only becomes explicable once it's explained at length, often great length, and while that's served to bolster some of their intentions w/r/t an audience's perception, media manipulation, etc., none of that means much when the music, the ostensible vehicle for these statements, winds up sounding so thin, dated and quaint.

So, why, you ask, did I include "Walkabout" on my playlist? Well, it is a radio station, after all, and three minutes of pleasant synth mumbles (yep, pleasant - I'm sure that's supposed to be some kind of statement in itself, but I haven't received the 56-page statement of intent yet) make for a nice leavening element between the usual yuks, jangles, plaints and shrieks. And besides, it's a handy reminder that Jim O'Rourke's starting to run out of Nicolas Roeg-inspired album titles.

Monday, May 12, 2003


6. This is, of course, the Cramps' cover of the Bostweeds' classic tit-le tune from one of the two reasons right-thinking people still suffer Russ Meyer to live, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! More than that, though, this is a pivotal moment from the original schlockabilly combo (the band that didn't need a bass 'cause they were base enough to begin with) - more or less the precise instant that their obsessions shifted from EC comics to E cups, and, not coincidentally, the moment their album covers started getting more interesting than the stuff inside them. (And please, no comments about what these images make you want to stuff inside them - there are children present.) The beginning of the end, then, but still a worthy addition to the apocryphal bosomanical omnibook I just made up, The Tura Satanic Verses. (Let no bad pun go unuttered, sez I.)

7. Oh, so much to say about this scratched-up, ultra-gaudy piece of pubic zirconium from the infamous Spector/Cohen collaboration-cum-collision, Death of a Ladies' Man. So much, in fact, that I ain't saying a word. I've actually been assigned to write about this album for a book project, and it's probably best to practice a kind of tantric/Kundalinic meditative-abstinence approach to saying anything about it, in honor of Laughin' Lenny's monastic period. Better that than to shout my opinion of it while unloading my gat into some aging B-movie actress, in honor of... well, you know.

Thursday, May 08, 2003


5. Sloan is one of my pet underrated pop bands (hardly a description wet with specificity, seeing as every band of wise guys following the big star towards one Rickenbacher-bedecked manger or another is bound to be considered underrated, seeing as none of them, in point of fact, rate with anyone but self-righteous neo-retro zine mavens and their ilk - with each passing month, the name The Big Takeover drifts deeper into the sea of wishful thinking), and "Penpals" is about as charming as they come. Whether this was their intent is anybody's guess (except theirs, of course, but I can't afford to call direct to Nova Scotia on a shepherd's salary), but to me, this plays like a sly derivation on the classic "We're really huge in Belgium" claim made by pop prophets without profit in their own land since time immemorial (or at least 1966). Written as a series of letters in humorously but endearingly broken English, it's a reminder of how even modest achievements can ripple out to all corners of the world. Something that surely comforted Sloan as they recorded their doomed major-label debut even as it comforts me now, though I don't imagine I'll ever get a letter from someone reading "I am crazy love you." Well, I did get an e-mail like that once. But I still didn't buy their Sta-Rig-Id cream or download the horny young palentologist MPEGs like they wanted me to. Love has its limits.

More soon...

Friday, May 02, 2003


1. Kind of a "commercial" choice for my station, tending as I do towards the b-side, the bonus track, the poorly-recorded piece of soundcheck detritus - there's more than a little of the stuffy-nosed sound archivist in me, I admit, as this playlist (and all that precede and follow it) makes abundantly clear. In fact, I've come to realize that my chronic downloading activities, which focus almost exclusively on out-of-print albums, hyper-pricey imports and even-hyperer-pricey bootlegs, aren't so much a blow against the lumbering beast that is the recording industry as a rude gesture aimed at the used-record-store clerk I secretly long to be. The belittlement, the utter septic contempt that those people can evoke with a simple scowling perusal of your precious second-hand purchase and a dead-eyed stare shot your way as they sightlessly toss your money into the coolly-retro till purloined from the inventory of a defunct Mom-and-Pop grocery store (Pop probably died of a sudden coronary, or maybe he drove Mom out of her mind Gaslight-style and took up with the receptionist at his endrocrinologist's office; they tried to keep the business going but nobody felt comfortable shopping at a Pop-and-Mistress store) - God, the artistry of the petty-elitist retail slug, a skill my politeness-addled brain can only dream of approximating... Well, you gracefully cruel rat bastards, you just see if you get my hard-borrowed $22.50 for that first edition vinyl of Godz 2 you have tacked smugly to the wall. You just see...

Oh, fuck, what was I talking about? Oh, yes, the Dandies. "Every Day..." may be somewhat better known or at least more readily accessible than much of what I twist folks' unsuspecting lobes with - a high-profile track on an in-print major-label recording that hasn't even been mid-lined yet - but, damn, I adore it so. Brazenly imitative as always (the shadow of ZZ Top's "Legs" hangs all over it), and suggestive of various banal depravities as they tend to be (the yawning grind of the hipster too jaded to even pretend that what he's doing is exciting himself, much less offending anyone), but (and?) it has the kind of refrain - not soaring, quite, but elated enough to hover a couple of inches off the ground and drift for a few minutes - that induces the kind of mild, slightly dizzy euphoria that the finest pop does best. Never fails to make me smile. On the inside, of course. So as not to arouse suspicion.

2. The noisy end of the circa-'81 Flying Nun spectrum - these murky clamorers later perfected a more accomplished brand of skreek as Bailter Space - and indicative of my desire to spin a New Zealand band that isn't the Chills, the Clean, or one of Chris Knox's many outfits.

3. From the last-ever local gig in MoB's initial go-round, and notable mainly in that this is one of the few songs that never made it to any release, official or semi-. Sound's a bit murky, but think of it as a boon - now you can experience what it must have sounded like inside Roger Miller's head! Um, great, right?

4. Fanboy geekitude nonpareil: Not only do I lace my 56k stream-of-self-consciousness with numerous works from my most-enamored-of cultish faves, I also feel it necessary to plop in the occasional tribute to said faves. I've already favored my micro-mini-sampling of the listening public with "Shoot the Sexual Athlete," Belle & Sebastian's ode to the Go-Betweens (and homemade Pere Ubu button badges), and now this, one of a shockingly large number of musical paeans to the speed-and-lager-ravaged inscrutability of a certain Mark Edward Smith. This Suede tune actually turned up while searching for an appropriate selection by Elastica (another favored band of brazen pilferers and bouncy hepster charlatans - "the connection is made," indeed; there's a foolish consistency running through this entire enterprise o'mine, for feck's sake), and I'm glad I dredged it up. Sure, this pisstake/homage (dating from when 'stica's Justine Frischmann was both in and, ahem, with the band) isn't the most representative swatch of Suede out there, but, once past the somewhat silly lyrics ("The boy Smith's called a super Scotch homo/ Bald, insane, Satanical romo" - okay, I changed my mind, scratch "somewhat"), the fuzzy, buzzy, almost Mary Chain-esque bluntness of this song - never truly grubby, mind you, that would compromise Brett Anderson's fabulous fringe cut, but the similacrum sings the same - handily reminds one of how surprisingly keen even their toss-offs (now, now) could be. Suede's slipped a bit in recent years, granted, but back when the nineties Britpop Marathon was being run, they consistently lapped the field while, after strong early starts, Blur lost ground nervously trying on everyone else's jerseys while still in motion and Oasis wound up disqualified for nutting each other and calling the timekeeper a "coont." The little fey games that Suede played at the outset were just a ruse, and an extremely clever one in pop terms - coy homocentricism was such a given by the mid-nineties that no one really cared and were even slightly embarrassed by the boy-smooching cover art and the bum-waggling stage act, so the harsh spotlight of media attention were busy singeing second-hand pudding-bowls and monobrows elsewhere while Suede was left to craft their grandly foppy bits of glamorama fa fa fa in relative peace. If you don't believe me, check out Coming Up, a brilliant album recorded after original guitarist/co-songwriter Bernard Butler split and not even the howling fan-tawds thought they had it in 'em, or better, grab 'hold of Sci-Fi Melodies, one of the very few consistently strong two-disc sets of the era - and it's nothing but b-sides. Bless their tarnished gold-plated hearts.

To be continued...

Thursday, May 01, 2003


1. Dandy Warhols - "Every Day Should Be a Holiday"
2. The Gordons - "Coalminer's Song"
3. Mission of Burma - "See My Friends (Bradford Hotel, Boston 3/12/83)"
4. Suede - "Implement Yeah!"
5. Sloan - "Penpals"
6. The Cramps - "Faster Pussycat"
7. Leonard Cohen - "Don't Go Home With Your Hard-On"
8. Throbbing Gristle - "Walkabout"
9. Tall Dwarfs - "We Are The Chosen Few"
10. Black Randy And The Metrosquad - "Marlon Brando"
11. DNA -"32123 (Live at CBGB's, 6/25/82)"
12. Velvet Underground - "Hey Mr. Rain (Version One)"
13. Love - "Good Times"
14. Roddy Frame - "Big Ben"
15. Autechre - ""
16. The Germs - "We Must Bleed"
17. The Smiths - "Back To The Old House (Peel Session)"

Explanations to come, maybe. And not a fucking word about that last one, 'kay?

Tuesday, April 22, 2003


My two favorite album covers right now -

Julio Iglesias, Tango:

I think somebody'd better go back and check the lyrics of "To All The Girls I've Loved Before" for evidence of implied consent.

Lara St. John, Bach - The Concerto Album:

Soon to be seen in the first issue of Maxim's new classical magazine, G-String, where she'll discuss the joys of a good triad, whether or not she's had her chords augmented, and demonstrates that, though famed for her violin playing and fond of ensemble work, she sometimes can't help but perform a cappella. (Excuse the dim innuendo.)

Friday, April 18, 2003

A friend from one of my many top-secret, highly-classified, invitation-only message boards that you are not even allowed to think about thinking about kindly forwarded me this, without question the greatest thing ever seen in the entire history of the Internet. Or at least the greatest thing that you know of. Heh.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003


The following CD was recieved at my place of employment several days ago, or at least I'm saying it was for the purposes of this mildly amusing riff:

Please note: This CD has been individually watermarked with a unique identification number embedded in the music. This number is traceable directly to the authorized recipient, which allows us to identify the source of any unauthorized copies or other reproductions of the music contained on this CD. The watermark is not changed or destroyed by extracting clips of the music, or by using any compression technology such as MP3. The sound quality of the audio playback is not affected. This CD is intended to be listened to solely by the intended recipient and no portion of its contents may be copied or reproduced in any manner, nor made available in any manner to any third party (whether by means of streaming, so-called "peer to peer" networks or mentioning to anyone that you've heard it). This CD contains an exclusive, personalized code that allows the authorized recipient to open a Web page with streaming, encoded audio and uncopyable MPEGs of rock critics and record store owners undergoing extreme and horrific forms of torture. Nobody can prove that this has anything to do with the fact that each of the now-maimed and/or deceased individuals in question left an advance copy of the new Fleetwood Mac album out where people could see it, but wouldn't you rather err on the side of caution? Unauthorized use of this CD is illegal and will also upset our executives greatly. Have you ever seen Ahmet Ertegun cry? We have. You don't want to. This CD may be played only once, after which it must be destroyed in the presence of (choose two:) a representative from the record industry, an Episcopalian minister, a thrice-decorated Marine sargeant, and/or folksy humorist/radio personality Garrison Keillor. After listening, please call the toll-free phone number embedded on the "play side" of this CD and one of our specially-trained experts will be at your house or place of employment within ninety minutes to perform a round of our patented Hypno-Shock therapy to erase any memory of having heard this CD and to induce vomiting every time it's mentioned for a period of up to six weeks. If the intended recipient knows anybody in the movie industry, we just thought of a cool pitch: a story about college students who download the latest installment of a popular fantasy trilogy several months before its theatrical release, and they all wind up dead seven days later at the hands of the shadowy New Line Cinema promotions department. We call it The Lord of the Ring. You are hereby ordered to chuckle appreciatively at that. Whistling or humming any portion of the music contained in this CD is unlawful and will result in a lengthy prison sentence, just because it annoys the piss out of us when people do that. This CD is enhanced with a variety of multimedia files and should not be played on a computer. This CD should not be played on a Walkman or a portable stereo or inside a Jeep. In fact, it's probably best not to play it at all. Back away slowly with your hands in full view of the CD. Thank you in advance for your understanding...Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Good lord, how this thing glowers menacingly at me. Oh, well, toss another old, bent penny into the well:


Thin mouth turned up in a humorless smile, hooded, squinty eyes that never seem to look straight at anything - he had the look of a skeptic or a lech permanently implanted on his face, which had its uses; it always took him a little longer to make friends, but nobody ever handed him flyers or religious tracts at the train station, the homeless never shook him down for a quarter, and even potential muggers opted not to get involved (nobody likes their workday needlessly complicated, no matter what the job).

(I'm not sure at this point, but I think this might have been intended as something of a self-portrait.)

* * * *


The Obliterati
The East Side Pedants
J.D.s with Ph.Ds
The Radical Deconstructionists
The Mangling Participles
The Hardcore Curriculum
A La Recherche du Stomps Perdu
Semioticians With Semiautomatics
Ce n'est pas une troupe de rue

Friday, April 04, 2003

I've been consciously depriving myself of blogification this past week, opting instead to spend most of my spare time trying to finish a movie review that I assumed (when the picture came out, oh, nine months ago) would be an absolute cakewalk, but is proving not to be the case, but, if you're interested, here's the last 25 adds to the Radium Crass playlist:

1. The Feelies - "Slipping (Into Something)"
2. That Petrol Emotion - "Can't Stop"
3. 8-Eyed Spy - "Run Through the Jungle"
4. Archie Shepp - "Naima"
5. Can - "Turtles Have Short Legs"
6. Swell Maps - "Blenheim Shots"
7. Barbara Manning - "Smoking Her Wings"
8. Clearlake - "Wonder if the Snow Will Settle"
9. Sonic Youth - "Electric Noisefield"
10. The Gerogerigegege - "Gape"
11. The Gerogerigegege - "Geek"
12. The Gerogerigegege - "Genderfuck"
13. The Gerogerigegege - "Gigi"
14. The Gerogerigegege - "Gum It"
15. Ut - "Evangelist"
16. The Fall - "Contraflow"
17. Radio Birdman - "New Race"
18. Momus - "The Minus 5"
19. Mull Historical Society - "This Is Not Who We Were"
20. The Fall - "Couldn't Get Ahead"
21. Swervedriver - "Up From the Sea"
22. No - "Pop Culture Death Camp"
23. Mark E. Smith - "The CD In Your Hand"
24. Julian Cope - "The Bloody Assizes"
25. Gang Of Four - "Why Theory?"

And if anybody out there wants an MP3 of "Pop Culture Death Camp," here 'tis.

More soon, hopefully...

Thursday, March 27, 2003

WHAT I'VE BEEN DOING ON THE SIDE (a partial list):

  • Writing hard-hitting political material for radical rodeo clowns.
  • Agitating for a faster gin fizz.
  • Getting the term "glutton for punishment" changed to "abuse gourmand."
  • Seeking a publisher for my series of holiday-themed mystery novels starring Donnie Claus, Santa's younger, smarter, trimmer brother - For Whom the Jingle Bells Toll, A One-Horse Open Slaying, and Mistletoetags.
  • Looking into the qualification process for the title of Death Threat Laureate.
  • Trying to remember whether I heard the sentence "Approval rating for Bush steadily dropping" on MSNBC or The Hot Network. Same with "radical Islamic sects."

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Bad taste moment of the moment: Three copies of Great White's Greatest Hits arrived at Boundaries the other day. Really, what's the rationale behind this? Is there anybody out there thinking, "God, what a horrid, uncalled-for tragedy - and suddenly I've got the urge to hear 'Once Bitten, Twice Shy'!" Well, we can only be thankful that it wasn't altered to include their version of X's "Burning House of Love"...

Monday, March 24, 2003

Easier to transcribe than to think today, therefore...


SPY COMMANDER: All right, men, this is a very crucial covert operation so it's important that you're prepared. Your watches have all been pre-synchronized to ensure that every one of you carries out his part of the mission to the split second and they also contain a tiny radio transmitter that will broadcast your location to our secret satellite, Space Object One, which we launched this morning in a highly top-secret ceremony from an undisclosed location which may or may not be 278 Birch Street, Bayonne, NJ. For security reasons, you are hereby ordered to forget I just told you that. Each of your packs contain a cylindrical tartan-plaid liquid receptacle - you turn the dial concealed at the bottom of the receptacle to the east, it activates a miniature water purification system which will enable you to drink your own sweat, tears or urine without any ill effects and with a pleasant hint of lime; turn it to the west, it becomes a fragmentation grenade capable of killing all life within a fifty foot radius. It also keeps hot things hot and cold things cold for reasons that are classified. Your jackets are lined with a material that is highly impervious to adverse climatic conditions and temperatures as low as -700 degrees and as high as 5000 degrees Fahrenheit. Your gloves are on back order; keep your hands in your pockets just to be on the safe side. Now, you have all been supplied with a pill which you should keep under your tongue at all times. In the event of capture, bite down immediately. It's a mild mood stabilizer that should subvert any depression or feelings of self-loathing connected with your capture. Are any of you pregnant or nursing?

The spies, all men, shake their heads.

Okay, good. Very critically important - take these no more than four times a day and at least half an hour after mealtime. Failure to do so will put you in violation of the Geneva Convention and subject you to court-martial, possible prison time, dry mouth, dizziness, or nausea. Any questions?

SPY raises hand.

SPY: Excuse me, commander, but, ummm, what exactly is the purpose of this mission?

SPY COMMANDER: According to our directives from the Pentagon and the State Department, we've been spending far too much time indoors watching TV and eating junk food and we need to get out and get some fresh air in our lungs and stop moping around the house so much - approximately $7.6 billion has been set aside for this purpose. Okay, we will reconvene at 0500 hours tomorrow - cookout and talent show on the beachhead tonight at 0830 following the Arts & Crafts demonstration and the optional pony rides. Dismissed.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

I don't want to use this forum to spout off about The War too much, but I do want to give CNN thanks for not showing the footage of the captured and/or dead soldiers that al-Jazeera has evidently been showing about as often as Comedy Central airs Caddyshack II (and no doubt the former would make me turn my head away from the screen and weep with sadness and disgust for the depths to which humanity can fall almost as often as the latter). Now if I can only shake this fear that Fox News has re-edited it, set it to music and will soon begin running it under the title "The Iraqi Horror Picture Show."

* * * *

(Don't mind the following - it just seems that it took me so long to write that friggin' Grammy piece that the weekly archives only show about the first third of it. So here's the whole thing again, for whatever passes for posterity:)




Ehh, it wasn't excruciating. Your typical industry backpat with the predictable victors (it looked like Norah Jones was the only person who didn't think Norah Jones would sweep - not a slur on her, really: she seems like a lovely girl, and Come Away With Me is an unfailingly pleasant CD, though it says something that I hear it at least twice a day [it's piped through the overhead play system at work] and I can't tell you what a single song on it sounds like apart from "Don't Know Why." I'm a little disappointed to discover that she didn't write the Song of the Year, too, if only because now, whenever I hear it, I'm going to have the image of the songwriter - a guy who looks like the product of a Wes Anderson/Todd Solondz genetic splice - in my head instead of the modest comeliness of Ravi's kid), and a bit too slickly run if you ask me: don't they realize, now that two-thirds of the commercial television programming schedule is made up of car crashes both symbolic and literal, that the main reason a lot of us check out any live TV event is the secret hope that something horrible, obscene or simply bizarre (Soy Bomb, come home, all is forgiven) will accidentally happen?

But no matter. There were some redeeming features, although with several days between me and the event, most of them are growing fuzzier and more indistinct - did Sheryl Crow really scream "Fuck the Army!" before taking off her top and leaping into an acoustic version of "Kick Out the Jams" Sunday night? Did Kid Rock catch a glimpse of Celia Cruz and turn to stone? Did Dylan convert to Druidism and renounce going electric? Ah, my mind is playing tricks on me, as the philosopher said...

Of course, the most important stuff about the event has more to do with what didn't happen than what did. By now, you've surely heard the rumor that the august body that controls the Grammys stated in no uncertain terms that anything having to do with the impending unfriendliness in Iraq was verboten. (That means the bravest moment of the night was Fred Durst's halting, mealy-mouthed pro-peace adlib. Not quite the act of blows-against-the-empire sedition that rock 'n roll is supposed to pull off as easily as an underage groupie's leopard-skin underclothes, but good for him anyway - better an earnest buffoon than a thuggish one. I guess.) But how about the fact that not a word was mentioned on behalf of the dead and injured fans of Great White, a band with an actual Grammy nomination to its name? (One more, I'm pretty sure, than the subject of the night's big tribute - but I'll come to that in a minute.) Oh, you say that doesn't bother you, that an aging and fattening hairband and what remains (quite literally) of their fanbase don't really amount to the flatulence brought on by devouring a hill of beans in this crazy world? That, tragic as the incident was, it bears no relevance to what goes on in the platter-spinning world of 2003 and would only harsh whatever mellow the rest of the show established? Okay, fine. What about how, in the memorial montage that immediately preceded the big musical climax of the evening, they inadvertently spelled John Entwistle's name with a superflous 'h'? Now you're offended, right?

Okay, whatever. It's taken me almost a week to finish this damned post - time constraints and unbearable fits of anxiety have conspired to make it so - and in that time, the only thing that really stands out in the memory was the rousing, moving moment when a small group of gentlemen, each one legendary in his own right, stood in a line on stage and paid impassioned homage to a fallen fellow traveller. I mean, Timberlake just nailed the rhythmic complexity of "Stayin' Alive" with his human beatbox routine, didn't he?

I'm kidding, yes, but only just - to be brutally and wimpily honest, 'N Sync's tribute to the Bee Gees' Maurice Gibb was probably the second-best musical moment of the evening for me. Most of the rest of the acts seemed to suffer from bad-monitor syndrome or sheer nerves or unnecessary appendages (like saddling Coldplay with a full orchestra). This, however, was just right - froth meeting froth on its own terms and rising to the same level together. Maybe not a great rock 'n' roll moment but surely a great rock 'n' roll awards show moment.

So, does that make the highlight of the evening, the guitar-slinging quartet of (from right) Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen, Dave Grohl and some schmatte-wearin' Silvio Dante lookalike trading lines and licks on the Clash's "London Calling" in honor of the recently-deceased (at least now his bones will have a chance to catch up with his teeth) Joe Strummer, a great rock 'n' roll moment? Yeah, I think so, though maybe not quite for the intended reasons. I haven't heard or seen the performance outside of the context of the show, where, frankly, the rousingly familiar strains of those stomping opening chords and the frisson of seeing some familiar faces belting out those exciting, if slightly confusing (if the sun's moving in, then why would the ice age be coming?), apocalyrics would have been tonic to this showbiz-sated soul at the end of three hours' manicured energy and Teleprompted excitement even if, in reality, this was just a slightly noisier version of the same, a sop to the aging punks and self-satisfied hipsters who spend the whole evening bitching about what a sad, industry-sponsored joke this all is, even though they tune in every single year without fail instead of heading out to a club or somewhere else where, even on a Sunday night, the action really is. Strummer's dead now; he's safe to lionize in the usual manner (one more dead punk and we'll be able to do a decent-sized series of postage stamps - Gob On These!), and the axe-carrying pallbearers on stage moved onto Respectable Street ages ago. (Never woulda thunk it five years ago, but Miami Steve was the coolest guy up there - the Sopranos connection helped, natch, but also his commandeering a weekly hunk of syndicated radio time to play his favorite garage rock records - the Ramones finally get the regular-rotation play they've always deserved! - and, not least, the actual performance he gave that night; he alone decided to affect a sneering Brit-punk voice [more Rotten than Strummer, but no matter] and he cut loose near the end with a rubbery, feral solo that moved right up to second place on my list of all-time great Grammy moments.)

Not that the other three were slouches, mind you. (And if they were, there's no way they could slouch as well as Little Steven - all those years of sidling up to el Jefe's microphone to contort and emote have given him the roundest shoulders in the biz.) Grohl was mostly just there, like he was the 104th caller in some radio station promotion, awed to be in the presence of the big boys even after this many years in the bidness - the goofy everyrocker schtick may get old soon, but it still plays well. Elvis Costello seemed in better and more robust voice than I expected, given his penchant for overemoting like a brute when the tempo gets into the red, so maybe new gal-pal Diana Krall taught him something about breath control and projection to go along with whatever it is she did that led him to make that mildly (if inscrutably) lecherous comment while co-presenting the Album of the Year award a few minutes later. And then there was Bruce. His performance here was of particular interest because he volunteered - indeed, leapt at the chance and probably nearly tore his designer working-man's dungarees in the process - to take Strummer's place when the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame indicts - er, inducts the Clash next month, so this could be considered a public rehearsal. And the funny thing? I had never really noticed before, but despite the predictable initial scoffing that greeted the selection from certain corners (my own included), the guy from Asbury Park and the yob from - ehh - Yobland (trying to get this damn thing done at last - no time for geographical-origin research) wind up having more in common than we thought. Similar passions? A matching set of public ideals? The same U.S. label? Well, yeah, all that, but look at the important stuff - the way each man stands at the microphone, the way that guitar slung around each man's neck is there as a percussive prop as much as anything, the way every vocal utterance seems to be pulled up from their feet and yanked out with a fair amount of pain. Give Bruce some anti-vitamins, damage his dental work, shave the sides of his head and throw him in some second-hand combat gear and he'd almost be a dead ringer (sorry) for Joe. Is that not enough for you? Okay, um, Bruce's early stuff was Dylan-influenced, and Dylan was influenced by Woody Guthrie, and, ah, Strummer's real first name was Woody... Springsteen co-wrote a hit record with/for the NYC punk chick who once banged Joe's bass player... one was born in the USA while the other was bored with the USA... okay, you got me. This all seemed much more airtight when I thought of it two goddamned weeks ago.

But, all that aside, you couldn't miss the eerie significance of the chosen song. It may only have been chosen because it's such a simple stomping rouser (or was it a rousing stomper? Where am I?), but, in an evening where precious little of consequence to the outside world was even alluded to outside of guitar straps and singers with the intelligence quotient of same, "London Calling" actually registered as a protest song, a howl against the seemingly inevitable cataclysms that await us over the next few months... or it did, at least, until I thought about the words a little more and recognized them as almost resigned ("London is drowning and I live by the river"), a short hop, skip and a jump away from apathetic if one even bothered to move. Which made it even more apropos. Can't escape the feeling that every gesture right now is a hollow one and that attempting to accomplish anything amounts to nothing more than sand castles at the foot of the tsunami. That goes for awards shows, but then, it always did - when this total negation winds up sucking up songs you loved performed by singers who once spoke to you, well, that's when you start gearing up for the End Times and accepting the cessation of all things good and bad with an all-encompassing indifference.

That's probably why my favorite Grammy moment of all time was the one two years ago when Steely Dan won Album of the Year for Two Against Nature. The camera dutifully panned to Walter Becker and Donald Fagen when their names were announced, and as they got up from their seats, they sighed.

Monday, March 17, 2003

I'll keep you posted on the progress of the Finkleman piece below - it's sure to grow slowly out of control, as such things tend to do in my hands. I'll take care of other business while it simmers:

There's nothing like the feeling of a nice, healthy creative spasm, is there? This past Saturday, I went into a recording studio for the first time in several years (or ever, depending on whether or not you define an acidhead with a TEAC four-track that's missing a track a "recording studio"), nothing on hand or in mind, and came out several hours later with, if not a masterpiece, a fine-sounding piece of self-indulgence and a sore throat from shouting. Not to mention a slightly dazed adrenal buzz, the kind that comes after you've pushed your inspirational envelope hard enough to sustain paper cuts. And when you have a couple of sympatico compadres, both fizzing with inspiration (the piece was built from nothing into an impressive sonic edifice comprising live and sampled percussion, mutilated fragments from an avant-garde classical piece, and the producer overdubbing his voice a dozen times into a Beach Boys-worthy harmonic weave [we're talking Pet Sounds Beach Boys here, not "Kokomo" Beach Boys]), it's all the sweeter. Anyway, for your perusal and heartless dissection, here's my hastily-scrawled lyric to the inaugural recording by No, "Pop Culture Death Camp":

The liberation forces finally broke through with their tanks
Confirming the rumors that had fluttered through the ranks
Weapons of mass distraction held in underground culture bunkers
Disco death squads, fashion fascists, hardened corps of punkers
Escapist artistes wielding promotional tie-in sabers
Protecting the bitter fruit concentrates of their labors
Wilted couch potatoes forced to maintain the stasis quo
All messed up and only one place left to go...

The pop culture death camp
Where the bodies are stacked like pogs
Gasoholics throw pet rocks
Through the Charlie-scented smog
Corpses wearing WIN buttons
Gold extracted from wind-up teeth
Wine coolers drench the surface
Faded plastic underneath

The tribunal was held at the food court just off Nuremburger Drive
Where paper-hatted prisoners - the only ones they found alive -
Testified of drive-through shootings, unhappy meals without a prize
And signs over the heat lamps reading ARBEIT MACHT CURLY FRIES
They caught the generalissimo manager of the local Walpurgismart
Confiscated his hate-filled tabloids and his warehouse of sofa-sized art
The lucky ones exiled themselves to Dollywood and Branson, MO
And San Franciscan enclaves where they covertly go with the flow

The pop culture death camp
Where old hairstyles go to hell
Riflemen with full Nehru jackets
The bellbottom of the well
The unfortunates became lava lamps
And emit a sickly pastel glow
This must never happen again
At least until it becomes retro

("I was only following trends!...")

Not high art, maybe, but it gives you a fair idea of where my head's at. Yeah, I know. Sorry.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Allow me now to return to an item I discarded over a month ago, dust it off, smooth it out, and knock a few new nails in it as I set the metaphor mixer to puree:

Lately, I've been fascinated (which is merely the kind code word for "obsessed" - judicious vocabulary choices tend to cut down on the restraining orders) by the work of a Canadian gentleman by the name of Ken Finkleman. If that's a name that means nothing to you, you're either not Canadian nor a PBS addict nor somebody who paid undue attention to the credit lists for the bad movies that played on cable incessantly during the 1980s (guess which one I am). Finkleman's an interesting case - a Canadian comedy writer who parlayed whatever success he attained north of the border into a lucrative gig writing (and sometimes directing) some of the most horrific pictures Hollywood churned out during the Max Headroom Decade. Don't believe me? Check out his CV. Airplane II: The Sequel, Grease 2, Who's That Girl? (I won't throw Head Office into the same hopper with those three, because, although it's still as messy and semi-incoherent as it played back in '85, it has a few crackerjack gags [as, to be fair, does Airplane II - remember Shatner's first scene in that one?] and a nice, meaty role for one of my personal heroes, Michael O'Donoghue)... less encouraging beginnings for a creative artist are hard to imagine.

He apparently recognized it too, seeing as he fled (or was chased out of) Tinseltown after Who's That Girl? , laid low for a spell, then quietly re-emerged as the conquering hero of Canadian television satire in the 1990s. In other words, the exact opposite of the usual Canadian success story, Lorne Michaels in reverse; from a profiteer without honor (add the 'u' at your discretion) in his adopted homeland to auteur of the small screen in the smallest big country on the planet from whence he came, and thence to cult figuredom when his works started trickling southward. Married Life (1995), his first series, which mockumented the intrusion of a film crew into the lives of a newlywed couple (admittedly heavily influenced, right down to the title, by Albert Brooks' brilliant debut feature, Real Life - as you will see, Finkleman steals and steals brazenly, but always from the best), made it into rotation at Comedy Central in mid-decade and caused as much of a stir as most of CC's imports tend to make, i.e., not a whole hell of a lot of one. But Finkleman was canny: he recognized that there was gold to be mined from the works of his fellow curly-haired, comic-neurotic Semites, he just chose the wrong one the first time. The Newsroom (1996-98) borrowed blatantly from Garry Shandling's celebrated backstage TV satire, The Larry Sanders Show, in its single-camera format, caustic showbiz-workplace comedy, and even its spare, white-on-black opening credits, but where it lifted the form more-or-less wholesale (albeit a form generic enough to avoid litigation), the twisting and darkening of the function was unique.

(more to come...)

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

I don't want to leave this sucker idle for too long and I'm still working up to adding a couple of things, so, until that time, endure this "classic" 'zine review from a few too many years ago that touches on a subject I'm going to write about here in a day or two. (Disclaimer: I claim absolutely no responsibility for the rest of the stuff on this site, other than the stuff I'm responsible for. I'll claim that.)