A 9-minute vitriolic spew of enormous demonic proportions by the outsider visionary Bern Porter. If ya love it that much, you can download the entire text here. And if yr still interested, here's a gang of his found poems.
Maybe we FMU folk just don't want to be alone in our own heads. We constantly placate ourselves with sounds. Soothing and dreamy, digitally produced hums and blips, orchestrated and melodic, indigenous chanting, or as is often in my case mostly cacophonous, repetitive and sense-crippling . Whichever our pleasure, constant sound appeases us like a back rub after a breast feeding (including the regurge on the shoulder part).
So it came as a bit of a shock to discover via a couple of hours of slack research that there are those who might enjoy a some quiet time. Like the freaks at Noise Pollution Clearinghouse, or their weirdo crunchy S.F. brethren Sound Pollution dot org who would accuse members of our little community of being "Sound Abusers" with the following modus operandi:
The Psychological profile of a sound abuser: From our studies, people that use noise in situations that are not qualified as an emergency, expose these forms of behavior:
1. Lack of awareness 2. Lack of responsibility 3. Intentionality 4.Selfishness 5. Lack of respect for others 6. Lack of respect for one self 7. Defiance, abusive behavior
I was very busy in September, and I only finished reading two books. I didn’t realize until I began to write this entry what it was that the two books had in common. Here, look:
The first book, “True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa” is by Michael Finkel, a former writer for the New York Times who was fired after being accused of inventing part of a story he wrote for the Sunday magazine section. This struck me as amusing and ironic, since I’ve always referred to the NY Times as “The Big Grey Pack of Lies,” although now that I’ve read Professor Frankfurt’s little book, I understand that it is actually “The Big Grey Pack of Bullshit.” (You can’t say that on the radio, though.)
In his book, Finkel describes writing the story that got him fired. He was assigned to write about the use of child slaves in cocoa production in Africa, but when he got to Africa he discovered that the story was pretty much a fabrication. Then, when he got home, his editors at the Times really, really, really wanted him to write the story from the point of view of one particular child cocoa worker—so Finkel invented a composite character and wrote the story, and then he got caught. He was home feeling sorry for himself when he got a call from a reporter in Portland who told him that a guy accused of murdering his family in Oregon had been apprehended in Mexico, where he was hiding out under the name “Michael Finkel from the New York Times.” This was so bizarre that Finkel got in touch with the guy and began a correspondence with him. The guy’s real name was Christian Longo, and although everyone is supposed to be entitled to the presumption of innocence, there is not one sentence in Finkel’s entire book that would lead you to believe that Longo was anything but guilty of the murder of his wife and three children. And yet, Finkel himself seems unsure of it all the way. He’s so flattered that some baby-killer would appropriate his identity that it’s not until he actually attends the trial, sees Longo in the courtroom, and picks up on the reaction of everybody else that he realizes that—quelle horreur!—Longo is probably a sociopathic mass murderer. Finkel himself comes across not as a bad guy, but just totally, terminally clueless.
I apologize for reminding everyone about the horrific election we had here in the states last year, but you may recall that roughly a year ago the people at JibJab made a hoakey video about President Bush and John Kerry set to the tune of "This Land is Your Land" by Woody Guthrie. As you also may recall, Ludlow Music, who owned the copyright for the song, filed a ridiculous lawsuit against JibJab for not obtaining proper permission to use the music. JibJab ended up hiring the wonderful people at the EFF to help defend their right to fair use and argued in their pleading that:
"(Ludlow Music's threats) have jeopardized (JibJab's) First Amendment-protected right to free speech and its right to disseminate that speech via its Internet hosting facilities. (JibJab) therefore seeks a judgment that its artistic expression is protected by the First Amendment and copyright's fair use doctrine, before that expression is silenced by (Ludlow's) threats."
Here's a video clip (mpg file for download) of John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and Mitch Mitchell (Jimi Hendrix Experience) performing under the name Dirty Mac as part of the Rolling Stone's 1968 TV special, Rock and Roll Circus.
After an unfunny Mick Jagger (doing a lame American accent) interviews an amusing John Lennon, the impromptu supergroup launches into a version of Yer Blues that makes the White Album version sound lame and hollow. This was the first time Beatle John had performed in public without The Beatles, and fortunately audio and video were on hand to preserve a great performance, with Keith on bass, Clapton on guitar, Mitchell on drums and Yoko mercifully crawling into an un-mic'ed black elastic bag. Apparently on other songs that day, Yoko provided her customary caterwauling. (If it's Yoko caterwauling on TV behind Lennon you want, see The Professor's post about the Mike Douglas show performance that made Chuck Berry's eyes roll.
Last week I was going to post an elegy for my husband, Robert Boyd, who died on October 6, 2003. Among many other things, as "Mr. Boyd" he was an occasional WFMU dj, and that's how I became connected to the station. But I felt surprisingly sad on this year's anniversary, then I felt stupid for feeling still so sad, and then I felt stupid for feeling stupid, and then I didn't want to feel anything anymore, so I didn't write that damn elegy, and then I didn't write the funny smut I usually do, because feeling sad and stupid and empty does not generate funny smut.
Rob once said he believed in two things, and WFMU was one of them. (The other was not God, in case you were wondering--it was the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where we met, and he had worked off and on since 1987, and founded the BAM Archives.) Though he was sick for five years with an auto-immune disease called sarcoidosis, he died suddenly, from a pulmonary embolism. You would think when someone goes from being young and healthy to being in a wheelchair, and in and out of the hospital a lot, and on a list of medications as long as your arm, you might talk about the possibility of that person dying. We didn't, in case you were wondering.
But something never felt right to me about Lil' Markie. For one thing, he looked human, but he sounded suspiciously like a puppet. But there were no strings to be found. From the sound of it, Markie carried himself like a well respected leader of the Christian Puppet community, but unlike Lil' Joey, Lil' Harry or Lil' Jackie, not only were there no strings, there were no hands up the back, no hinged dummy-jaws. Nothing to suggest puppetry. It didn't make sense. To my mind, the helium duck-child voice was not of human origin.
Now at last, the mystery is solved. The other day on the Bomarr blog, this video surfaced (Quicktime file). In it, you will see video footage of a Large, Happy Man singing the praises of Jesus. But that's not the strange thing. About halfway through the video, the voice of Lil' Markie emerges from The Large Happy Man.
This is visual proof that The Large, Happy Man swallowed Lil' Markie whole and is now exploiting him on tours of churches around the United States!! When Lil' Markie sang Use Me (MP3), he didn't mean this! The actual identity of the Large Happy Man has not been verified, but he claims to be one Mark Fox.
Your future kitchen contains the following: a dishmaker, countertops and cupboards that display illuminated listings of contents, a hydraulic sink, an x-ray refrigerator, and a cabinet that keeps your produce growing. Though not quite as arousing as the prospects of flying cars, teleportation, or food in toothpaste tubes, it's a start.
My wife Elisabeth is the curator in our home of all things I refer to (sometimes derogatorily) as "old timey": The Beau Hunks, Betty Boop cartoons, bluegrass music, The Marx Brothers, vintage children's books, the Carter Family, and all films pre-1950. Not that I don't sometimes take to these things as well, but I go reluctantly, as my aesthetic nerve center draws me elsewhere by nature. I am often, however, pleasantly surprised after an initial pooh-poohing.
Her latest addition to our collection of things from the "bygone era" is the W.C. Fields Comedy Collection - a 5-disc DVD set that's rapidly winning me over. First, we watched The Bank Dick (1940), Fields' much-heralded surreal comedy about a hapless, boozing idiot who falls into, out of, and back into good luck. I suddenly realized where the template for bizarre, free-associated stream of comedy like The Simpsons might have come from. "Has, uh, Michael Finn been in here today?" Fields asks the bartender, a signal to slip a mickey to Snoopington, the bank inspector.
I wasn't, however, prepared for International House (1933), a wild cinema burlesque of bits, sight gags, risqué jokes and bare skin. International House is a hotel comedy set in "Wu-Hu, China" - a precursor to films like California Suite, where big names in idiosyncratic roles hold together a film that's actually about almost nothing.
A certain Doctor Wong (played by a very un-Chinese Edmund Breese), has invented a cumbersome device called the Radioscope, which displays visual transmissions from all over the world and "needs no broadcast station; no carrier waves are necessary." Genius! What a great way to bankrupt the television networks that didn't yet exist. Interested parties converge on the International House to place their bids on the new device. Dr. Wong keeps promising, "And now, the six-week bicycle race!" but instead, we see:
-Cab Calloway and His Harlem Maniacs doing "Reefer Man": "Why, what's the matter with this cat here?" "He's high." "What do you mean he's high?" "Full of weed."
-Baby Rose Marie (eek!) performing "My Bluebird's Singing The Blues." Yes, that's Rose Marie, later of The Dick Van Dyke Show. She was even scarier as a kid, and at first glance I thought she may have been a midget. Must be seen to be believed.
-Rudy Vallee singing a smarmy, religious-themed love song (and being rightly trounced by Fields, who enters the room mid-song: "How long has this dog fight been going on?") Fields bad-mouthed Vallee intentionally, violating an agreement between Vallee and director A. Edward Sutherland, who had promised to keep Fields' comments on a leash.
Here's a great video clip of Reg Kehoe and His Marimba Queens, performing sometime in the early 1940's: big MP4 file | small MP4 file (click to download files). Here's the page on archive.org that this came from. There's more versions of it and info over there. Thanks to Carrie from Stay Free for alerting me to this little wonder.
This band apparently performed at the start and end of the vacation season in Hershey, Pennsylvania every year. The clip here came from a PBS show Matinee At The Bijou. A fuller version of this segment was made available to the public originally as a "soundie," a film reel that played inside a video jukebox of the day called a Panoram, a precursor to the Scopitone.
The bass player is a guy named Frank Denunzio, and he gets my nomination for the upright bass player hall of fame, for his visual antics alone. And then there are the wonderful Marimba Queens. Sigh.
All in all, a real delight of a clip. Maybe I'll rip and post a batch of tracks from other marimba bands.
This post concerns the most utterly mediocre music ever made, and the earth-shatteringly banal (and interchangeable) "bands" that made it - and yet I'm doing you a favor. Because I know you can't tell them apart, and it's been bugging you, as it's been bugging me, to match the SMOOTH HIGH-HARMONIED 1974-80 AM RADIO HIT to the ANONYMOUS WHITE, LIKELY MUSTACHIOED GUYS WITH THE LONG-FORGOTTEN NAME who made it.
Can you honestly tell the difference between Ambrosia and Pablo Cruise? Ace and Pilot? Have the words "whutchoo gonna do when she says goodbye? whutchoo gonna do when she is gone?" been permanently etched onto your ear, yet without the courtesy of an author to claim resposibility? I'm here for YOU. This is a PUBLIC SERVICE. Honestly, I'm sure this'll do you some good. (And I actually really like 2 of these songs! .... OK, one and a half.)
Clickable mp3 song snippets on the left, bands on the right -- some bands have multiple entries, just so you can be shocked by how many fucking hits they had. (And one giant yellow clue.)
Ace || Ambrosia || Dr. Hook || England Dan & John Ford Coley || Exile || Firefall || Gino Vanelli || Jigsaw || Little River Band || Orleans || Pablo Cruise || Pilot || Player || Pure Prairie League || Robert John || Seals & Crofts
On June 24, 1969, Look Magazine published an article about "the new radio" - "stations with a far-out format" including KMPX and KSAN in San Francisco, KMET in Los Angeles, WNEW in New York, and there's a mention about a little station in East Orange called WFMU, which had just managed to raise all of $13,000 for their operating expenses that year. Also, a creepily prescient scene featuring pot-smoking, mandala-wearing record executives who are none too concerned about "renaissance radio" encroaching on their profits. Download the article here. (PDF, 524k)
Later that year, Eye Magazine featured an in-depth 3 page article about WFMU and it's incongruous presence at Upsala College, which in description sounds a bit like the Faber College campus. This article has some really fascinating facts:
WFMU's first marathon ever raised $2,500, which was enough to keep the station on the air in the summer of 1968.
Leonard Bernstein once called the station to tell them "he liked what was going on".
Some things have really changed, like "A listener could call to request a song and hear it played 10 minutes later."
And some things haven't changed at all such as the station "being under the care of various dropouts, mistfits and professionals" and the perception of WFMU as being "considerably looser, more spontaneous and less professional".
Interviews with Vin Scelsa, Lou "The Duck" D'Antonio, biker mama Toni Stevens, and the Kokaine Karma guys, among others, round out this very interesting piece of WFMU History. Download the article here. (PDF, 1.18 MB)
Sorry I'm late posting this week--I seem to have lost track of everything, including whether or not I've already told you about the great Japanese CD Gramophone. See? You take all those nice free promotional CDs you've been using as coasters and pocket mirrors and put them on the gramophone and sing or talk, and then the needle cuts the grooves and you've made a wee, tinny recording of yourself. How fine is that? It costs about $30, depending on the exchange rate, from Hobby Link Japan.
But just in case someone else has already told you about the gramophone, here's the newest old technology, sure to be a hit with fans of Mac's Antique Phonograph Hour show--the Edison Cylinder Plastic Cup Recording Device!
Unfortunately, I think you have to speak Japanese to order this--the only place I've found it is on a non-English web site. But Yuletide is coming, so put it on your list and maybe Hoteiosha will bring you one!
Me, I'm still hoping for the complete DVD collection of "The Immortal Yi Soon Shin" with English subtitles.
Thanks for reading my blog entry this week, and may God bless.
A few of our neighbors who have gone well beyond the call of duty: Inspector Collector - dude living in a tiny Manhattan apartment is not only steward of the world's largest collection of Chinese menus, but also gathers mutilated money, toothpicks, shopping lists, and photos of tubers. Thanks Andy!
The Bubble Project (pictured, right) - one of these puppies has been placed atop an ad in nearly every subway station in Manhattan; over 15,000 of these stickers are in circulation.
This past weekend I was digging through the dusty record collection at Chicago's freeform radio station WZRD. Rotten Milk, a longtime WZRD DJ, foisted an odd cassette from the collection into my hands: L.A. "SUNSHINE" JEFFERSON - LIVE LONG, BE STRONG (DON'T DO DRUGS). I began to salivate as I scrutinized the bizarre cover of a headless torso with no hands rendered in an infantile scrawl.
The cassette contains one song, "LIVE LONG, BE STRONG (DON'T DO DRUGS)", a pretty catchy funk jam accompanied by a Casio, a pretty lady, and a bit of old-school rapping.
Google search on L.A. "SUNSHINE" Jefferson turns up nothing. The zip code on the cassette reveals it is from South Side Chicago.
Only weeks after the world lost the great R.L. Burnside, another stellar light of both the Fat Possum label and music in general has passed away; Paul "Wine" Jones died of cancer in Jackson, Mississippi on Sunday. He was age 59. His two discs Mule (1995) and Pucker Up Buttercup (1999) were pretty much in the similar vein of so many of his labelmates also plucked from obscurity and saddled in Oxford, Mississippi studios by FP chief excavators Matthew Johnson and Bruce Watson: raw, blazing display of an ever-dimming continuum between the roots of Delta jukejoints, Fred McDowell-style ass-shaking repetition and today's primitive blues done with pure spirit. With Junior Kimbrough, Asie Payton, RL Burnside and now Jones gone, that thread gets sadly thinner. Wine's sound was all his own vocabulary, and in the end influenced really by no one but himself and his surroundings. Buttercup is a fractured and odd blues record which at times rips speakers to shreds; it's the sound of someone barely familiar with a studio telling his story (joined by a fellow named Pickle on drums) in distortion-flecked sketches right down to the finale, appropriately titled "I Guess I Fucked It All Up." We at WFMU had the distinct pleasure of witnessing the man in action as he joined Kenny Brown and T-Model Ford for a hard-to-believe-they-were-rocking-AND-drinking-at-9AM live performance on David Suisman's Inner Ear Detour show back in 2004. Listen to his 4-song set here! (Real Audio) And also check out Pucker Up Buttercup's "Goin' Back Home" from another Inner Ear Detour show here (Real Audio). And, if you get a chance, do check out the excellent DVD documentary You See Me Laughin', which traces the story and the intertwining lives of many of these, the very last of the Hill Country Blues men. A third Jones album was in the works according to the Fat Possum catalog page that was originally due in January.