September 22, 2006

Admiral Yi Soon-Shin in My Living Room!

Hello, Everybody--nice seeing you again.

Admiral_yi_1 About a year ago (July 18, 2005) I wrote in Beware of the Blog about the great hero of my life, the Immortal Admiral Yi Soon-Shin, and the 100-episode Korean television series about him. Now a version of that TV show is available from DVD From Korea. I say a "version" because it's been edited down to 33 episodes in two boxed sets. I don't care—it's worth it, worth it, WORTH IT. It's worth the $90 for each box, and it's worth the $34 just to ship 'em over from Korea. I know, I don't have that kind of money either, but put 'em on your credit card-—it is WORTH IT. Supposedly the DVDs are all-region, and they are definitely English subtitled. If I could afford it, I would give these box sets to everyone I know for Christmas this year. But since I can't get them for you, I hope you will get them for yourself.

Island Lately I've been reading about another big hero of mine, Adriaen Van der Donck, the man who invented American democracy. I've been thinking about heroism, and how it's defined as much by circumstances as by character. If Japan hadn't attacked Korea in the 16th Century, Yi Soon-Shin would still have been born and lived and died, but he would not have been the immortal hero who was created by that war. Van der Donck, too, was shaped by the forces of history, and could just as well have been a  fat and happy Calvinist preacher in Breda in the Netherlands. Any random person you see on the street today may have the heart of a hero, but just not the circumstances ever to demonstrate it.

Esg One of the original members of ESG drives a New York City bus for a living: When you get on the bus, do you see a middle-aged Latina driver, or do you see the quintessential 20th-Century beat machine?

Thanks for reading my blog post this time, and may God bless.


September 20, 2006

Sex Bomb, Baby

Flipper_1 Last night I went to a party where Flipper played, which seems pretty hotsy-totsy to me, but it turns out no one under 40 even knows who Flipper is. I discovered this a couple of years ago, when I was out at WFMU during Pseu Braun’s Marathon show. I was sitting at a big, round table stuffing envelopes with a few FMU staff members and volunteers when Pseu put on “Sex Bomb.” “This is a great song!” someone said. “Yeah,” I chimed in, “You can’t beat Flipper.” “Wait! You know who this is?” someone else asked. I thought they were kidding, or just making fun of my general inability to ever remember the names of bands I like, but no—NO ONE—at that table had ever heard of Flipper before. Gol-durned whippersnappers! It was the first time I ever felt old.

Film Before the party last night I went to the premiere of the movie “American Hardcore,” which is an excellent documentary about the 1980s punk music scene. The crowd was pretty interesting—there was a guy who looked like someone had hit him in the forehead with a ballpeen hammer, but it turned out he’d trepanned himself, and a girl in a slinky, floor-length, red gown—because she was at a movie premiere—and Moby. Dr. Know and HR from the Bad Brains were there, and Steve Buscemi, and WFMU Program Director Brian, and my husband, Sluggo, who’s in the film. But mostly the crowd was old. The screening was put together by Paper magazine, and apparently all the old hardcore folks went to the movie and all the young hipsters went to the afterparty.

Hill Those kids missed a really good film—it’s well-balanced, funny, and thorough, and covers the entire punk scene across the U.S. (and in Canada!), not just in L.A. and New York. Thanks to historical hindsight, the Bad Brains are given their due as being perhaps the most influential band on the scene. I knew PMA stood for “Positive Mental Attitude,” but until I saw “American Hardcore” I had no idea that the concept came from Napoleon Hill’s self-help classic, “Think and Grow Rich.” I also didn’t know that the Beastie Boys chose their name because the “BB” was like a little homage to the Bad Brains. (The Beastie Boys are mentioned just once in the film, accompanied by the image of an original flyer for one of their shows. Just so you know, that flyer was drawn by David Waid, who is now executive director of the Arizona Democratic Party.) And I learned about Nig Heist, my new favorite band! Of course, the film’s soundtrack is spectacular. My only problem with “American Hardcore” is that they spelled Sean Taggart’s name wrong. It’s T-a-g-g-A-r-t, the last syllable spelled “art,” as in artist, and I don’t know why no one can ever get that right. It was spelled wrong in the credits, too—so annoying! But otherwise, it’s a terrific documentary and I recommend it very highly.

Heist Eventually Sluggo and I shuffled over to the afterparty with some of the other codgers, and we saw Flipper play, and Moby jammed with them and played bass on “Sex Bomb.” Those Flipper guys are old, too, but they still rock.

Thanks for reading my blog post this time, and may God bless.

September 14, 2006

Today is World Hearing Voices Day

Ear September 14th is World Hearing Voices Day. To mark the occasion a University of Manchester team is launching an investigation, based on recent research that suggests hearing voices in your head isn't a bad thing for some people. (link).

Researcher Aylish Campbell said: "We know that many members of the general population hear voices but have never felt the need to access mental health services; some experts even claim that more people hear voices and don't seek psychiatric help than those who do.

"In fact, many of those affected describe their voices as being a positive influence in their lives, comforting or inspiring them as they go about their daily business. We're now keen to investigate why some people respond in this way while others are distressed and seek outside help."

To learn more about the recent Dutch studies visit the Hearing Voices Network (link) or check out the exhaustive list of resources available at the Hearing Voices Movement Wikipedia page (link).

September 13, 2006

How to ruin a monumental recording

Bury the haunting 1970 vocal under a garbage scow's worth of New Age crap and retitle it "Parallelograms 2005." Then compound the embarrassment with a stock-footage psychedelic Straight-to-YouTube video.

The problem with the original recording was — er, what exactly?

September 06, 2006

Sites for Sore Eyes

Odd Musical Instruments
And accompanying MP3s. Thrill to the vibratory sensations of the Aeolian Wind Harp, the Violimba, and everything in between.

Google Flight Simulator
Tool around the urban wasteland of your choice in a primitive looking bi-plane. Scenery provided by Google Earth. Predictably, trying to fly across the Hudson to WFMU's Jersey City studios doesn't seem to be within its powers.
Sling virtual paint at virtual canvas and declare yourself a virtual genius in your own time.

Sleeping with God

I... I don't know what to say.

Cute Coffins
OK, now I really don't know what to say. Mom, would this race car coffin clash with my biblical pajamas?

The Wonderful Illustrations of James Blagden
From Kool Herc's legendary throwdowns to Jay-Z's coming invasion of Iraq. Whoa.

UK Folk Blog
With all your faves, a la Meic Stevens, Keith Christmas, Nic Jones, etc.

Shocking and Creepy Advertisements
Personally, we tend to find all advertisements a little shocking and creepy, but I guess if you're making a list...

Crash Course in the World of Early Photography
Which of course paved the way for shocking and creepy advertisements, but we won't make the connections if you're willing to pretend they don't exist.

It is strongly mentioned that you view this page while listening to anything from the DJ Soul Punk compilations. (Links to streaming Real Audio)

This month's links were sent in by Rich Hazelton, Bethany, Belinda, Hatch, Station Manager Ken, and the editor.

Oh, Crikey!

Irwin_1 I was surprised to hear of Steve Irwin’s death, although I guess I shouldn’t have been. I mean, he made a career out of putting himself in danger. And at least he died doing what he loved best—pestering animals who weren’t bothering anyone until he came along.

Apparently Irwin was working on a TV show with Jacques Cousteau’s son, and bad weather was keeping them from shooting whatever it was they wanted to film, so the Crocodile Hunter decided to go bother some stingrays and film that to use later on in a show of his own. And the stingray didn’t like it, and it stuck him in the heart, and he died. All the news reports stressed that it is incredibly rare for a stingray to kill anybody, but the statistics are based on people who encounter stingrays accidentally. In cases where someone goes looking for a giant stingray to intentionally rile it up, the stingrays are one for one.

In spite of Steve Irwin’s relentless enthusiasm, I think there was something very dark about him. Over and over, again and again, he put himself into danger. There was a sort of manic quality to the way he’d grab some giant venomous snake, hold it next to his face, look straight into the camera, and announce—in that dreadful Australian accent—“If this were to bite me, I’d be dead!” A couple of years ago, Irwin carried his infant son into a crocodile pen at feeding time. He was photographed holding his baby in one hand while tossing raw meat to the crocs with the other. When he was criticized for this, Irwin defended himself by insisting, “I was totally in control. I was in control at all times!” I think this is a clue to what was really going on with him.

There’s been a sincere outpouring of love and grief since Steve Irwin’s death, among the people who knew him personally, of course, but also from his many fans. But I’ve noticed something funny about the reactions of people who didn’t like Irwin’s television show, people who didn’t care for his non-stop in-your-face oh-crikey persona. We feel bad about him dying, and that surprises us. I think this is because, on some level, we realize we’ve been watching a guy cheerfully attempting suicide over and over again for years, and now, finally, he’s succeeded.

September 01, 2006

How To Play Asteroids

Stuff0001Hey, it's the Friday before Labor Day! For all the poor souls stuck at work this  afternoon, here is an instructional, hypnotic, short film* (23MB) to help you kill the time until you can get out and savor those last drops of summer.   

Remember these things:

a) Like gigantic slow zombies made of rock, Asteroids are the enemy.  So are those flying saucers - they're not friendly E.T.'s collecting plants throughout the galaxy:  they are slathering tentacled beasts and they are firing at you.  Destroy them all.

b) The best offense is a good defense.  As a back-up plan, another good offense is to not stop shooting. 

c) Keeping your ship of death in the center of the screen is part of a good defense.  Staying stationary and in the middle lets you worry about one less variable when things get hectic, and gives you the advantage of what The Art of War calls The Ground of Intersecting Highways: "He who occupies it first has most of the Empire at his command." 

d) Finally, the hyperspace button is useless, at best, and fatal, at worst, especially if you accidentally hit the button while dozens of rocks are whizzing around.  Avoid using it at all costs.

Feeling shooty?  Want to play?  Then hie your time-wasting butt over here, already.  Unlike WFMU's beloved juego de arcada, the online version is in English, and assumes that one actually cares whether they can see the entire screen or not.  But don't let that put you off.  You've been primed.  Go get 'em, tiger!

August 25, 2006

My Night With DJ Amanda

Oh, get your mind out of the gutter. If it was something like that, she’d be blogging about it herself in one of her genius entries for This Week in Sex. DJ Amanda and I went to see the New York Dolls at the heinous South Street Seaport last Friday, and that was my big night out.

Dolls The bands were set up to play in front of a very large sailing ship, and David Johansen wore a Cap'n Crunch hat and made pirate references. DJ Amanda and I said, “Arrrrrrghh!” but nobody else did. The New York Dolls sounded good and the show was enjoyable, even though there are only two original Dolls left. Their new songs were okay too, except that sometimes it sounded as if they don’t quite know how to play them yet.

The opening band was called the Tralalas. They featured the best beats and riffs of the 1980s, with four girls singing Go-Gos harmonies in front of a band made up of guys. One of the girls seemed pretty miffed that the crowd wasn’t that into them. I spent most of their set wondering how we could get away from the scary, scary white-eyed devil in the green striped shirt, and what kind of drugs he was on, and whether he would actually hurt us.

Here’s what I wondered while the New York Dolls were playing:
Is it hard to grow your hair that long when you’re as old as David Johansen?
Why is this the first live show I’ve ever been to where I can understand all the lyrics?
How long will it be before one of the Wall Street guys hollers out a request for “Hot Hot Hot?”
Why do Wall Street guys wear loafers without socks to work? Or do they just take off the socks when they want to go out and look casual?
If David Johansen and Iggy Pop had a fight, who would win?
Is that apparently unattended black backpack on the ground in front of me going to blow up?
Should I stand closer to the backpack so it’ll definitely kill me if it does explode?
Wouldn’t dying right away be better than living in a hospital with half my face gone?
Why does this fat guy think that bringing his girlfriend an energy drink when she asked for a beer is a good idea?
Did David Johansen ever think in 1973 that in 2006 the New York Dolls would be playing a free show in a tourist shopping mall?
Why doesn’t Sylvain Sylvain be quiet?
Is a song punk if it has harmonica in it?

Then when the show was over I wondered why they shut down the damned Dunkin Donuts at 9:00 PM on a Friday night and where the hell we were supposed to get a cup of coffee down there, but that was pretty much it.

Thanks for reading my blog post this time, and may God bless.

August 14, 2006

Hey Hey, Ho Ho, John Sterling’s Got to Go

Book_2 Like Hillary Clinton, who used to listen to Yankees games on the radio with her Jewish grandpa in Chicago, I have been a Yankees fan since I was a little girl. This is because of my elementary-school principal, Miss Gathman.

My elementary school had classes in a little red-brick building and in a converted two-family frame house next door. Most of the classes were doubled up—there was a first-and-second grade classroom and a second-and-third grade classroom—and there were never fewer than 38 kids in a class, although in fifth and sixth grades there were 52 of us, all in one room. No one seemed to think there was anything amiss with that, or with the fact that we had just one set of wordless first-grade-level science books for the whole school. Each year each grade got a couple of weeks with the science books, and we’d look at the illustration of a screw sitting next to an inclined plane, and in this way we fulfilled whatever  requirements there were for the science curriculum. Most of the teachers in the school were named Mrs. Johnson, except for Miss Gathman, who, besides being the principal, also taught the afternoon session of fifth grade the year I was in fifth grade, and then taught sixth grade all day the year I was in sixth grade. Miss Gathman read us the book “A Wrinkle in Time,” and she read us a book about a boy and his pet Phoenix. I loved Miss Gathman, and Miss Gathman loved the Yankees.

Gunn When the World Series happened, back in those ancient days of afternoon games and broadcast TV, Miss Gathman brought in her little portable television and the entire class of 52 Iowa schoolchildren spent a happy afternoon watching the New York Yankees play. Thus did Miss Gathman teach us that baseball is the most important thing in the world, and that the Yankees are the perfect expression of all that is good in baseball. I have never had cause to doubt her since. But, oh! John Sterling.

John John Sterling is the play-by-play announcer for the Yankees radio broadcasts. He used to do the broadcasts with Charly Steiner, and I don’t recall noticing any problems. Maybe Steiner did the play-by-play then, I don’t remember. But for the last couple of years John Sterling has been partnered with Suzyn Waldman, and the results have been bizarre. When two players hit home runs, one right after the other, John Sterling says, “Two home runs, back to back and belly to belly!” Last year he suggested that Yankee players should select songs from Broadway musicals as their individual theme songs. He calls Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrara “the Dominican Dandies.” When the Yankees were playing Toronto a couple of weeks ago, he went into paroxysms over how much one of the Toronto players resembled a character on the soap opera “The Young and the Restless.” But I don’t mind that John Sterling is odd. It makes it kind of interesting—I’m always wheeling around to stare at the radio in disbelief: WHAT did he just say? Plus, after all those years of listening to Phil Rizzuto, I’m used to weird, stream-of-consciousness broadcasting. What I find unforgivable is that play-by-play announcer John Sterling CANNOT CALL THE GAME CORRECTLY.

The other night he said the White Sox had sent in a player to run for Dye, but Dye had already been called out. In another game, when Derek Jeter got thrown out while trying to steal third, ending the inning, John Sterling said there were two men left on base—but if you didn’t count the guy who’d just been thrown out, there was only one. He can’t get the pitch count right to save his life. The pitch count! (Hey, John—take a peek at the scoreboard.) But the worst thing I ever  heard John Sterling do came in the game against Tampa Bay a couple of weeks ago, the one the Yankees lost after giving up 19 runs. The score was 19-5 in the bottom of the ninth, some guy (Green? Guiel?) was on third base, and some other guy (Guiel? Green?) got a hit and drove in the run. The score was so lopsided I was hardly listening, but I perked up a little at that point as John Sterling said, “And the Yankees get their sixth run of the game.” Maybe there would be an insane, impossible rally—with the Yankees, you never know. But then the next batter was out, and that was the end of the game. And John Sterling said, “And the Yankees lose by the score of 19 to 5.” Five?! It’s SIX! Six six six six six! He JUST SAID they got their sixth run! He couldn’t remember the score for, like, three minutes. And it was the FINAL score! The Yankees, who have a bazillion dollars to spend on a brand-new stadium and all kinds of broken-down old has-been pitchers, can’t hire a play-by-play guy who can announce the final score of the game correctly?

Heaven I don’t have any beef with John Sterling personally. I’m sure he’s a very nice man. I don’t mean to hurt his feelings, and if I met him in person, I’d probably feel bad for saying such critical things about him. But whenever John Sterling gets the pitch count wrong, Miss Gathman cries tears in heaven.

Continue reading "Hey Hey, Ho Ho, John Sterling’s Got to Go" »

August 11, 2006

More Chinese rocks

There is a great BBC piece on a new joint in China:

"The Rising Sun Anger Release Bar in Nanjing lets customers smash glasses, rant and even hit specially trained workers, state media reported.
The owner, Wu Gong, told China Daily that he was inspired to open the bar by his experiences as a migrant worker."

The two obvious things that come to mind are 1. Damn, Western Civ is really falling behind and 2. What about Bus Uncle?

Bus Uncle shot to world wide fame when a video of his verbal abuse on a bus hit the Internets three months ago (here is the bilingual YouTube version LINK). And while we here in the West are still working out the kinks as to how to turn internet fame into real currency (link), the anger bar suggests there are perfectly legal ways for man famous for verbal abuse to cash in on his street cred. Well, it turns out that Bus Uncle was hired by a resturaunt to do the meet and greet back in June! But, the good times didn't last because one night 3 angrier men in masks showed up and proceeded to beat the crap out of poor Bus Uncle (link)


Oh well. I still think we are falling behind, I saw more than enough evidence as to this when I went to China last year - but these next two clips perhaps demonstrate it best:  China Demo USA Demo

August 10, 2006

Goodnight, Sweet Arthur

Arthurly_1In my 10-or-so strange, wondrous years working as an "underground musician," one of the strangest and most wondrous experiences I had was sharing the stage with the late Arthur Lee (aka Arthurly), notorious singer and songwriter for the legendary L.A. band Love.

Sometime in the early 90s (don't ask me about specific dates—I am not among the date-obsessed, and someone else involved in the tale will likely remember better than I), J.Z. Barrell and myself were asked to put together a pick-up band to play a few shows with Arthur Lee in NYC, primarily to support the imminent release of a compilation/tribute CD of Love and Arthur's music, We're All Normal and We Want Our Freedom, to which Uncle Wiggly, David Kilgour, Eggs, Das Damen, The Mad Scene, Fly Ashtray, The Television Personalities and other bands of note at the time had contributed.  In actual fact, the release was delayed considerably by the cost of bringing Arthur to New York and paying his hotel bills etc.  The lineup consisted of J.Z. and myself on guitars, my fellow Uncle Wiggly member Mike Anzalone on Bass, and George Berz from Gobblehoof on drums.

To say that Arthur Lee had a bit of the schizophrenic about him is to make a complimentary understatement, but the minimal practice time the band shared with him was bizarre and memorable for many reasons.  Arthur first cut our set list in half ("don't do that anymore, WON'T do that, can't remember the words to that"), trimming it down to a neat 7-8 songs, but the essential crowd pleasers remained; we did "Signed, DC"; "7 and 7 Is"; "My Little Red Book" and a few others.  Arthur mumbled mostly to himself, joked hysterically about his own lyrics ("You made me come, I had to see the clear light") and wandered off after about 30-40 minutes.  We were so READY, having learned the songs right off the albums, that it hardly mattered; Arthur, of course, knew his own songs like his blood children.

Arthur_lee_1969The gigs were amazing (one at the old Knitting Factory on Houston St. and one at Keep Refrigerated in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the art/music space run by WFMU's own Fabio Roberti, et al.)  I had never known such unblinking attention from an assembled crowd; those closest to the stage were especially rapt at Arthur's every breath.  All the unfocused, schizoid energy Arthur had displayed in rehearsals was completely gone—he was a man in his element, singing his songs to a loving audience.  His focus and showmanship were giving me chills as I strummed out his tunes a few feet away.  Not too many musicians of my ilk have had the privilege of sharing the stage with a living rock legend and knowing the spiritual buzz that goes with such an experience; for this I am eternally grateful to Sloan Johnson (who coordinated the shows and CD release), my fellow players, and to Arthur of course.

At the Knitting Factory show, the 2 bands I was in at the time, Uncle Wiggly and Smack Dab were also on the bill, and Tall Dwarfs Chris Knox and Alec Bathgate were in the audience, as well as a great many other friends and colleagues in the underground pop scene.  To say that this was one of the best days of my life, up there with my wedding party and the birth of my son, is no exaggeration.

Continue reading "Goodnight, Sweet Arthur" »

More Mutants

So many mutants, so little time. Thanks for keeping the dream alive, Bryce!

2heads 800pxblue_lobster_02 6legs


Dognose Fishteeth Birdarrow


Raspx 5paw Mycena_lux_coeli0908


Tomato Broncomonkey

August 09, 2006

Hippies Score a Win v. The Pigs, Rainbow Gathering 2006

Circle_3 PATRIOTIC AMERICAN COMIN' THRU!  You fuckin' cocksucker.  Boy I'd like to hang every one of you motherfuckers.  We Love You.  Fuckin' Brownshirts.  Weeeeee Loooove Yoooooou!  Fuckin' Terrorist.  CIRCLE! CIRCLE!  CIRCLE!  WE!! LOVE!! YOU!!!!!

Download the pretty big video right here (43m mpeg), or youtube it here.

Bryce is Lord for hooking us up with this.

UPDATE  8/10/06: by special request here's an mp3 of the audio (6.6m) alone.

August 08, 2006

cucina multi task

Fawltytowers1_1   I grew up in a heavily Italian neighborhood in Rhode Island where several truths were self evident:  1. All my friends had a Nana in residence.  2. Nana was responsible for all the really amazing food that I was lucky enough to sample while mouching suppers, muddling through graduation parties or lazy summer birthdays in the backyard.  3. In the hot months Nana cooked in her 'summer' kitchen, usually in the basement or sometimes in a little workshop off the garage.  What I wouldn't have given for one of those cool, summer kitchens last week!   I am so very tired of cucumber salad... 4. The only Italian food secrets that my family picked up centered around "parmesan", as in eggplant parmesan. It scarred me for years.  But as an adult I have freed myself from those parmesan chains (made with Kraft 'canned' parmesan) and now use many of the staples of the old time Italian kitchen with ease.  My favorite is pesto.  And the time is now.

Basil is growing tall and fragrant this time of year so make up a giant batch and freeze it for the lean winter months ahead.  If you have never made pesto, it is terrifically forgiving and almost impossible to botch. If you have a farmer's market near you that is selling the entire plant, with roots dripping muddy water as you head down the sidewalk, this is a perfect amount to start your giant batch.  If you are buying it in smaller portions at the supermarket, buy two of the smaller bunches.   You'll need at least one bunch of flat leaf parsley, two if they look puny.  Wash and dry the bunches, separating the leaves from the reedy stems.  If you have a food processor the next step will be a quick and modern one.  If you don't, originally pesto was made using a mortar and pestle.  Authorities swear there is a marked taste difference, so go with what you know.

Continue reading "cucina multi task" »

August 01, 2006

A millipede in the bath and a snail by my bed: what i ate on my summer vacation

Surfing1_150 I have seen the headlines, and they are to be believed.  Fish Tacos are the new wave of culinary fabulousness.  This fits in handily with surfing becoming the new skateboarding, at least for us 'coasters'.  I am not purposely leaving out the landlocked types, it's just that born and raised in New England, I have never understood how humans could live without a huge body of water crashing at their doorstep.  (Hurricanes not included)
Surfin Tacos, 344 Main Street, Wakefield, RI was the fish taco that made me a rabid fan.  Fresh flounder from the Narragansett Bay, deep fried in a tortilla, with cheese and chipotle red coleslaw dolloped on top is a great taste combination.  I ordered fish tacos everywhere I went after that, but without the chipotle coleslaw it was just average. has a fish taco recipe with a coleslaw that I have altered to fit my taste buds. (see below)

A few hot summers ago I desperately needed an air conditioned movie theater in the middle of a July day. Uncharacteristically, I wandered into the surfumentary Step into Liquid.  Having never even touched a surf board, I was almost considering buying one after sitting through the most gorgeous, heart stopping water pic ever. Recommended rental.  Other hot water pics :  The Life Aqautic of Steve Zissou.  watch it for the villa, the music, Bill Murray, the submarine!  Contempt by Jean Luc Goddard.  Briggitte Bardot, a mid century mod Rome apartment, and a villa in Capri that is staggering.  (again with the 'villas'....hmmm). The grandfather of surf movies: Endless Summer.  The Fishing with John Lurie series, where he tortures his famous friends into insane adventures with lots of exotic locals, and plenty of food and drink. Terrifically funny.

Continue reading "A millipede in the bath and a snail by my bed: what i ate on my summer vacation" »

Program Note

IscreamFrom the Daily News: "Sirius Satellite Radio starts an eight-day commemoration of the late Jerry Garcia on Ch. 17."
--Guess they're going to play one of his guitar solos.

If you'd like to hear some actual music, this Saturday night, August 5, there's a free concert of Arabic music and dance at Untermyer Park in Yonkers, NY. At 6:00 there's a dance and percussion workshop with Yasser Darwish, and at 7:30 there's dance and music, with people playing the 'oud and the quanun and the ney and the duff and the riq, most of which I've never seen. And there's also an accordian--you can't go wrong with the accordian. Make yourself a little picnic, have a nice time.

July 28, 2006

Squirrel Songs

180pxgreysquirrel_1 There are days when I come up with such a fantastic idea for a post here.  I'll sit and I'll think about it and tell people about it and then make some notes and think about it some more and do some research.  Unfortunately, the longer I spend thinking about the Fantastic Idea and trying to hammer it all out, the more I start to think that it is in fact, not such a Fantastic Idea after all - or the F.I. is such a meaty bone (as Scott says), that I really need to put Some More Time into it.  And then I wonder what else I could write about.  And then, invariably, I start thinking about squirrels. 

Today, my friends, is one of those days. 

I like squirrels. When I was a child, I enjoyed climbing trees so much that I wished I could be a squirrel when I grew up.  I even wrote poems about it.  No, you can't see them.

Some people don't like squirrels.  They are afraid of their beady little eyes and their scratchy little claws, or that they will crawl up their pants leg, like what happened in this song (mp3).  Squirrel loathers would probably appreciate this song (mp3), too.

Other people, like me, don't mind the little guys.  They aren't afraid to look at life THROUGH little beady eyes, as in this song (mp3).  Sometimes they don't have the words to express their appreciation, so they write instrumental songs like this song, or this song, or this song (mp3s).  Sometimes they think that squirrels are SO great, they believe the critters are capable of solving crimes and starring in television shows (mp3), and putting out whimsical songs (mp3s).

And, of course, some people name their radio shows after them.   

Well, I'm back to hammering out the Fantastic Idea which will hopefully be revealed next week - or else I will have to resort to some more squirrel-related content.  In the meantime - please slow down on the roads, people.  The life you save could be a small fluffy one.

July 24, 2006

Travels with Sluggo: South

Dada Hello, Everybody—Nice seeing you again.
A couple of months ago, Sluggo and I drove down to Washington D.C. for the big DADA show at the National Gallery. Even though it was scheduled to come to MOMA (and it’s there now), we figured it was easier to drive 500 miles roundtrip with a Boston Terrier and stay in a smelly, cheap tourist hotel than try to see art at a big MOMA show.

Quarter To get from New York to Washington, you have to drive through Maryland. They should have put a rest stop on their state quarter, because they definitely have the best highway rest stops anywhere, all clean and fancy. My favorite thing is the Maryland rest stop penny machines. I love penny machines: They’re so low-tech, and so satisfying. You put in a penny—and also two quarters—and turn a big crank, and the machine keeps your fifty cents but it gives you back your penny, all squashed with a design pressed into it. The designs are usually the state bird, or the state capital building, or something like that. But at Maryland rest stops you can get the FRANK ZAPPA PENNY.

Penny Here it is. I guess Frank Zappa was born in Baltimore. I didn’t know that. The only famous person I ever knew of from Baltimore was John Waters. Someday I will get a squashed John Waters penny, and my life will be complete.

It was on this trip that I found another reason to hate the Patriot Act. The day before we left for Washington I came down with the worst sore throat and bad headcold that I’ve had in years. I was chugging Airborne, sucking on Cold-Ease drops, and gulping down Dayquil and Nyquill the whole way. Okay, here’s the thing about that: Because the rest of the country is addicted to crystal meth, the latest version of the Patriot Act, signed by George W. this past March, included a section called the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005  that restricts the sale of over-the-counter products that contain pseudoephedrine. I guess it’s a good idea. (I saw a TV show about how cutting the supply of pseudoephedrine directly correlates with a reduction in the rate of meth addiction, and I wish I could give you a link to it but I forget what it was called.)

Continue reading "Travels with Sluggo: South" »

July 20, 2006

Jerry Seinfeld, The Rockin' Years

ReoBruce and Gary were so stunned when Jerry Seinfeld became their drummer that they didn't even notice Neil's pants... or moustaches.

This (youtube link) is Heath, Mike, and David rocking out at an REO Speedwagon concert.  Thank you, goodnight.

July 19, 2006

Hospital Radio

Doctor Last night I enjoyed a pleasant visit to my local Jersey City emergency room courtesy of a sudden and acute allergic reaction of mysterious origin.  One moment I was sitting on my bed watching TV, the next I was in an agony of itch, contorted with stabbing pains and puking on the kitchen floor.   Hello, ambulance.  Hello, hospital.

There's a lot of interesting things going on in an emergency room at 2 in the morning, as you may imagine.  Like the guy in the next bed over who had been mugged for his Ipod up on Palisade Avenue, and was running on so much adrenaline he wouldn't stay put.  He came over to my side of the curtain to congratulate me on not taking the anti-nausea shot the nurse wanted to give me, and then he asked if I thought that the lengthy razor slash down the side of his face looked "very bad".  I told him that in my not-at-all-professional opinion that it looked ok, and that I didn't think it would need stitches.  We were pretty simpatico after that.  After getting a prescription for an emergency allergy shot, and drinking some vile green concoction, I was allowed to leave, giving my buddy in the next bed over a thumbs up on the way out. 

The experience got me to thinking about entertainment options in the hospital.  Sure, eavesdropping on the neighbors or chatting up ward mates is kind of fun, but besides that, it's pretty boring to sit in a bed for hours at a time waiting for someone to come poke you with a needle or to take your blood pressure.  Hospitals in the UK look to make the time for their patients go faster with in-house radio or television stations.  According to the Hospital Broadcasting Association, "There are hospital radio or television services in around 90% of hospitals in the UK." 

Generally small volunteer-run operations, many of these radio stations have websites where patients or their friends can make requests, or you can see what might be playing at any given hour.  From Wikipedia: "Most stations are on closed-loop wires and can only be heard inside the hospital wards on headphones or speakers next to the patient's bed. There are a few stations using AM or FM free-to-air transmission... some stations broadcast for only a few hours each week, with others using computer technology to provide their service 24 hours a day... Ward staff in many hospitals report that when a record request show is in progress, patients forget that they are ill for a couple of hours, while they enjoy listening to their choice of music and the choices of their fellow patients."

Here's a list of UK Hospital radio station websites you can check out, and one American hospital where the phenomenon's jumped shores.  I've already requested that the Barnet Hospital station play "Itch and Scratch" by Rufus Thomas (hear it on Debbie's January 17, 2005 show here (2nd song)), for all the patients in the allergy ward.   

Hospital Radio UK

Hospital Radio Bedside

Hospital Radio Barnet

William Harvey Hospital

Bishop Auckland General Hospital

Hospital Radio Perth

Kingston Hospital Radio

Radio Tyneside Online

Hospital Radio Chelmsford

Miami Children's Hospital (part of the Radio Lollipop Project started in the UK)

July 16, 2006

Free! Good Luck Horseshoe

King-Novelty-1 Low

July 13, 2006

Your Semi-Annual Employee Review

{un hommage à Al Jaffee, renowned smart-ass}

Pleasence 1. As you understand them, what are your duties/responsibilities with the company?

-Maximize usage of "mental health" days
-Come in early, stay late, never see family
-Know what all of our clients and co-workers are up to at any given moment; have a ready answer for any random question you might ask

2. Have the past 6 months been good/bad/satisfactory, and why?

-Satisfactory, breaking into widespread good whenever you leave the office
-Good, compared to 6 months at Abu Ghraib with Joan and Melissa Rivers
-Bad, considering that I'm actually expected to show up—I got into organized crime for this?

Robot_3 3. What can we do to make the processes of your department run more smoothly?

-Stop bugging me
-Play round-the-clock ragga breakcore streaming radio station
-Replace rest of staff with sexy female robots

4. What sort of training would help you to perform your job more efficiently?

-Ninja training
-Train me to tolerate a steady stream of gross incompetence and inefficiency
-Train me to beat the odds at Atlantic City

5. What about advancement?  Where do you see yourself 1-5 years down the road?

-In jail for killing all of you
-Winning the lottery and getting the hell out of here
-I'd take your position, but you so enjoy the taste of client ass, I'd hate to take that away from you

July 11, 2006

"it's not unusual to have fun with anyone"

Elvis Hey, things are lookin up, my ne'er-do-well friends.  Apparently, this thing called the modern day, which just happens all by itself, as easily as a clock ticking, has landed us another fabulous 'Eureka!".  No more do we ugly Americans have to worry about carrying drugs into far away nations, that in the past locked our lame asses up indefinately.  Now with the Senator-in-your-pocket, get-out-of-Dubai-jail-free game, lifetime incarceration is just another word for "Honey, could you get Orrin Hatch on the phone?"

On May 19th, Dallas Austin (maybe his mom was a big fan of Texas), music producer from the fine state of Georgia, flew to Dubai to attend Naomi Campbell's 3-day birthday bash. Pulled over at customs, Dallas was searched and his gram of cocaine confiscated.  Initially charged with trafficking, then knocked down to possession, Austin was tried and convicted on July 4th, and sentenced to 4 years.  Yet a mere hours later he was flying home to Atlanta. 

Immediately after Austin's arrest the phones rang from Dubai to Bahrain, Washington, DC to Pakistan, involving "multiple ambassadors, a prime minister, a prince, Lionel Ritchie, the senator, and religious leaders in Atlanta". (J. Leeds & S.Waxman, New York Times, July 8, 2006)   I have to say if I was in a prison in an Arab Emirate country I would try to do better on the Vegas ladder than Lionel Ritchie;  I'd at least drop a dime to Tom Jones!

Continue reading ""it's not unusual to have fun with anyone"" »

When Will the Watermelon Hit the Ground?

I spent the 4th of July weekend tooling around the Smithsonian American Art Museum/National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC. (link) Both have been closed for renovation for the past six years, and thus I was easily swept up by the opening weekend excitement. I took a few pictures and jotted down a few notes – I figured it would be a simple task to compose a blog-ode of sorts to these amazing museums, but, well, the very first piece I chose to write about sent this post careening in a totally unexpected direction!

Homer2 Winslow Homer painted the Watermelon Boys in 1876. It’s an anti-pastoral masterpiece fit for the final days of Reconstruction. But what exactly is the Obtuse Bard (as Homer was known to his pals!) saying? On the one hand we have a clever reversal of convention – this time it’s a lazy white boy whose consciousness barely extends beyond his mandibles! And while the African Americans in the picture do possess poise and grace – that stare into the distance suggests an awareness of a long time coming before Blacks and watermelons can publicly coexist free from prejudice and stereotype.

A long time indeed! Today the juxtaposition seems just as charged as in antebellum times.  Just this spring controversy erupted over a Washington State Math test that asked students to calculate what happens after Condoleezza Rice hurls a Watermelon off the top of the Federal Building (link).

It’s one of those questions that only leads to others.

Like: what was George Pal thinking when he created the racially charged cartoon ‘Jasper and the Watermelons’? Mr. Pal protested that he meant no offense but the cartoon was banned anyways – You can watch this 1942 oddity thanks to YouTube. (link)


30 years later Washington DC  broadcast personality and community activist Petey Greene asks perhaps the most important question of all: How do you eat a Watermelon? Watch him demonstrate and pontificate in this truly bizarre clip from his 1970s television show (link)

As I said, this post went a bit off track –I hope I have not ruined the Watermelon for anyone – It certainly makes for a fine summer snack. And if you find yourself in DC make sure you visit the museums.

July 06, 2006

Get To Know Zach Galifianakis

I must be out of my mind, having sold out again to the American Dream, with a mentally exhausting job, and a mortgage in North Jersey that I can't quite afford.  Me used to be cool guy.  WFMU DJ and shit.

Zachg_1You read my writings here.  Get to know me or not.
I may be a bit more nuts than average, but hell, I'm no Zach Galifianakis.

Zach Galifianakis looks like he parties hard, gets into fights regularly, and may be in need of serious psychological help—he's also the new saint of comedy in our overpriced home.

Perhaps you were fortunate enough to see his very short-lived series Late World with Zach on VH1, or his stint in the film and tour The Comedians of Comedy.  He was in Tru Calling on Fox with Eliza Dushku for 1.5 seasons.  Currently, he's cast in an uneven 1/2 hr. ensemble "fake news" show on Comedy Central, but his contributions are brilliant.  It's almost as if someone at the network knows he's a genius and is just making sure that the guy has a job.

(Speaking of Comedy Central, Carlos Mencia is so unbelievably unfunny—do you find his popularity as shocking as I do?  Carlos Mencia is Gallagher with the words "retard" and "beaner" as his mallet and watermelon.)

There aren't any real jokes or bits that I could recite or recount from Zach's repertoire that would resonate with anywhere close to the original impact.  The colonial-era standup comic routine in Comedians of Comedy had me in tears.  Let's just say Zach uses high imagination, confrontation, and a visionary skill to debase himself, being somehow scary and lovable at the same time.  He delivers esoteric routines and cheap gags with the same venom.

Fiona Apple knows the greatness of Zach Galifianakis.  Her "rejected" album, Extraordinary Machine, spawned the defiantly uncommercial video for the song "Not About Love," featuring Zach as the singer's mouthpiece, critic and interpretive dancer.  You can download that video here from

Here's Zach Web site, where I'm told one used to be able to order a DVD of the Late World show (my personal efforts have been unsuccessful.)

Perhaps the secret's already out about Zach Galifiniakis amongst the blog-chewing underground hipster set.  Like I said, I'm not a cool guy anymore, not as up on things as I used to be, but I just had to say something.

Fuck me.  Get to know Zach.

Sites for Sore Eyes

Punch in a few keywords, wait 10 seconds, and your computer will produce a fuzz-enhanced "dream" for you to enjoy while in the waking state. Any similarities to the real world turning into the one predicted by B-movies of the mid 1980s are entirely terrifying.

Short term memory is being underutilized, so what better way to help you keep your personal laundry list in order than a computer program that sets it to something that sounds like a 4th grader's rendering of the "Axel F" theme? (Streaming Quicktime movie)

The Air Conditioned Shirt
That's it, I'm throwing away my computer.

The Pitch Drop Experiment
More exciting than watching the grass grow, but with the bonus of Australian college students milling about in the background!

80s Music Video Index
Gloriously assembled with no regard for aesthetic or genre, thank god. The hits you love from the Angry Samoans, Al B. Sure, and onward.

In the age of Myspace, Friendster, Soulseek, Flickr, Dodgeball, Facebook, Netflix, and countless other online communities, Isolatr is just what you need to finally be left the hell alone.

Continue reading "Sites for Sore Eyes" »

July 05, 2006

WFMU in the News: OCDJ Sets a Course for Adventure

A4sailbt_1This week, former Saturday night hero and current sailboat enthusiast OCDJ gets a mention in the July 3rd Philadelphia Inquirer - see it here, third item down.

OCDJ will be manning the helm of his sailing vessel as he transports three bands on an 8 city tour later this summer.  Eschewing the normal band-in-a-van method of touring (which has gotten pretty expensive with the price of petrol these days), Jana Hunter, Peter & the Wolf, and The Castanets will be floating their way down the East Coast for part of their summer tour.  From the article: "They'll start August 19 in the Big Apple, then will ride the wind to Cape May (Aug. 23); Philly (Aug. 26); Wilmington (Aug. 28); Annapolis (Aug. 30); Fishing Creek, Md. (Sept. 2), and Norfolk, Va. (Sept. 4)." 

Here's hoping the trip is free of Scyllas, Charybdises,  Krakens, or other unknown creatures...

Listen to Jana Hunter on Liz Berg's 11/8/05 show.
Listen to The Castanets on Trouble's 11/18/04 show.
Check out OCDJ's archives and playlists here.

July 04, 2006

It's True, You Do Gotta Know When to Fold 'em

Kr_1 Here's Kenny Rogers singing "The Gambler" on The Muppet Show, before all that crap he started putting out in the '80s in '90s. (it's a youtube link).

July 03, 2006

I Think It's Me

Cherla Today is the fifth anniversary of my little sister’s sudden and unexpected death. Our parents being dead, she was my only family. She and I understood certain things about each other that no one else could ever understand. I would say we were very close, even though she lived far away, up in the mountains of Colorado, and even though for the last few years of her life I hardly ever heard from her except when she needed money.

She went through a period of needing new snow tires—a LOT of new snow tires. It made sense the first time she asked because it was winter in Colorado, and maybe it was okay the second time, although I don’t remember what the story was, but by the third time I wasn’t really buying it, and the fourth time I refused to send her any more money.

I didn’t hear from her again until there was this really great investment opportunity and she was going to triple our money, although she couldn’t quite explain how. I sent the cash, and never heard any more about that, either.

Some time later she announced she wanted to come visit me, but she couldn’t afford a plane ticket. I was so excited: She’d only come to New York once, shortly after I’d moved here, and I really wanted to show her everything I’d learned about the city and how my life was going. So I cashed in my frequent-flyer miles and got her a round-trip ticket, and I splurged on a couple of tickets to the Metropolitan Opera because I thought she’d really like that, and then the airline called me, something about how they didn’t allow people to trade in frequent-flyer-miles tickets for cash, and I said I didn’t want to, and then somehow the trip never happened. I didn’t hear from her for a while, and I had to rustle up some nice guy who didn’t really care about opera to go with me because those tickets were nonrefundable.

When Sluggo and I got married, she declined to come out for our wedding because March was the end of skiing season and she didn’t want to miss it.

While I was home during the first time I had face cancer, a letter came in the mail for her, sent to my address. It was from a lawyer, so I opened it to see what was going on. It was something about how he’d got the court date put off on account of her having to be out of town visiting her cancer-ridden sister—that would be me. I never quite got the straight story about that, but apparently she’d used my illness as an excuse to leave town and go to Mexico, although she’d told everyone she was coming here. I don’t think it ever occurred to her to actually come see me while I was sick.

Once she called and told me she’d been getting ready to have some kind of semi-medical procedure to get rid of some wrinkles, and the doctor had done a test before giving her anesthesia and had found a heart problem.  The story of the heart problem went on for a while, and finally she was scheduled to go into the hospital for more extensive tests, and she asked if I could send her some money because she didn’t have any health insurance. I cleaned out my entire savings account and sent it all to her. And then, just a couple of days before she was scheduled to go in for the tests, her heart stopped beating and she died. The money, of course, was gone, but so was she.

I don’t think I even realized how I thought of her almost every moment of every day of my life, until she wasn’t here any more. I can’t say I think of her every single day now, but I can’t say that I don’t—I don’t really know. Thinking about her was so natural to me that I’m not really aware of whether I’m doing it or not. I think about her a lot around this time of year, of course, and lately I’ve been thinking about how she treated me and I’ve realized that it didn’t really matter. In my mind I hear that old Go-Go’s song: “Someone always loves a little more, and I think it’s me.”

June 27, 2006

Game Watch, Not Death Watch

Cup Hello, everybody—nice seeing you again.

If you’re stuck at your dayjob and can’t sneak out to a nearby bar for two hours without getting caught, it’s been hard to follow the World Cup games. Supposedly there are online radio broadcasts, but it seems they’re blocked from reaching the U.S. somehow. I’ve relied on so-called online “gamecasts”—no audio, no video, but with various graphics and moment-to-moment commentary typed in by anonymous reporters.

The official FIFA/Yahoo site (sponsored by Emirates Airline) had very dry play-by-play descriptions and an extremely annoying real-time “fan chat” feature.

The BBC site had the advantage of British commentators who were willing to interject a little more personality into the play-by-play. Their descriptions were very detailed and well-written, but I couldn’t see any graphics while watching the live-text feed. I like the graphics to help me imagine the play on the field.

My favorite has been the ESPN gamecasts. The graphics are good and informative and are visible along with the live commentary. The ESPN guy (guys?) is clearly British also. He called some player who took a dive “a girl’s blouse,” and he says some pretty snarky stuff sometimes. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the first round:

"Babic attempts a pass to an imaginary player. He finds him."

"Ukraine are now playing with a back three and it's safe to say 3-4-2 wasn't Blokhin's ideal formation."

“81 Mins – SAUDI SUB: Massad comes on to replace Sulimani; Sulimani looked like Saudi Arabia’s best attacking player, but he is hauled off.
82 Mins – Massad’s first contribution is to throw himself to the ground, scream in agony, and then get to his feet when he realizes the free-kick has been given his way.”

“20 mins - Barnetta is annoyed when another free-kick decision goes against him. ‘Yargh,’ he cries. That's Swiss for ‘I disagree, referee.’ “

Or, from the second round: “Australia have lined up with what seems to be a 3-1-4-1-1 formation. Possibly.”

I find this stuff hilarious, and it helps take the sting out of my favorite team (NOT the Sockeroos, by the way) getting knocked out in the second round.

Speaking of the Sockeroos, here’s a listing of the official nicknames of every 2006 World Cup team.
Unfortunately, it’s from the Big Grey Pack o’ Lies, which I guess explains why USA are supposedly known as the Amerks.

Beckham And here’s some separated-at-birth visuals courtesy of a very nice English blog called OverYourHead. There’s more where that came from.

Thanks for reading my blog entry this time, and may God bless.

June 22, 2006


{mp3s and links herein}

ScreamSometimes I just want to scream.  Every once in a while, I MUST scream.  Not a Wes Craven type of scream—more like a John Lennon "Mama don't go, Daddy come home" type of scream.

Poor Munch's Scream was stolen, never to scream again—not in public anyway.
("Who's that kid in the back of the room?")

Screaming can be a good thing, a release.

Scream_and_scream_againVincent Price has no scream, not anymore; but he did "star" in this.>>>>>>>

Your screams have, and can be digitally detected and facilitated .

And where is my scream?  Buried By Time and Dust.  [check the drummer]
Time and Dust and Tymon Dogg.

Tomata DuPlenty can no longer scream, but here's what it sounded like.

Agoraphobic Nosebleed - scream temporarily silenced (bleeding stopped), but waiting for Phase Three.
But see Phase IV if you can.

Syd Barrett screamed inside, perhaps still.

And everyone likes a dish of I Scream.

Ahhhhhhh_1Here is the best thing I've seen all week; watch it long, watch it loud:


Scream and scream again.

June 15, 2006

The Rite of Exorcism

{2 large mp3s below the fold}

Rite_cover_1Now that the dreaded date of 6/6/06 has passed seemingly without incident, will the apocalyptic religious hysteria (and the mockery thereof) cease?  Heavens, no!  Not if Beware of The Blog has anything to say about it.  And where would the God franchise be anyway without its archenemy and eternal whipping boy—Lucifer, the Bringer of Light?  Are we all so confident that "nothing happened" on June 6?  How could we possibly be?  Babies were born, to be sure—so we'll see, I guess.

If, in the coming weeks, you find yourself speaking in unfamiliar, ancient tongues, exhibiting Tourette's-like symptoms, or contorting your body in new, unusual ways (without the benefit of a Yoga class), you may in fact be in need of a ritual demonectomy—an exorcism—one of the oldest and most hushed ceremonies of the Christian church.

So again I ask, how sure are you that NO DARK FORCE crossed your path last Tuesday?  (I do recall having an exceptionally shitty day at work, but it's likely that this was not a manifestation of Lucifer, who I generally consider to be ON MY SIDE.)

My wife's friend Sylvie believes that all great and small aberrations of mind and behavior are caused by demonic possession.  Syl deeply believes this, and has for many years befriended an exorcist (an ex-priest, if I'm not mistaken), apparently also attending a few of his ritual ceremonies.  Sylvie is far from alone in this belief.  To quote the sub-header of this article from, "Knowing when to exorcise and when to refer for psychiatric treatment is a nagging problem for priests."  Wow.  And you thought the priesthood was a cakewalk.  It's actually not a laughing matter, as every once in a while some poor person dies during a botched and perhaps misguided exorcism attempt.  There have also been several reports over the years of child abuse and even death during attempted exorcisms.

Rite_notes_1This staggering transcript [download pdf] from the UCCF says that, "Depression is the most common symptom and amnesia is considered the pathogenic sign of MPD [Multiple Personality Disorder]. In almost all cases there is a history of physical or sexual abuse in childhood, 50% being through Satanic abuse."  I'd love to see the research that led to that jaw-dropping statistic.  For a much more scholarly faith-based discussion on the issue of mental illness as demon possession, see this article from

A few years ago, I read an interesting book about exorcism.  For the life of me (heh heh), I can't recall the title, but it was a serious, un-sensationalized, case-by-case, chapter-by-chapter discussion of a handful of 20th century, "real-live" cases of demonic possession.  What made the greatest impression on me were the lives of these men, the exorcists—quiet, humble men, deeply devout but also ready and willing at times to question their faith.  Ambitious, sycophantic clergy members with their eye on the Monsignor's chair do not become exorcists.  For the most part, these men were initially asked to respond to a specific case by their superiors, their selection based on certain known qualities in their character (they are usually studious loners of few words); a case or two later, “exorcist” can become a career, and after a while, the rest of the church will hardly even admit that you exist.

Continue reading "The Rite of Exorcism" »

June 09, 2006

Worlde Cup: The Extra 'E' is for Extra ...

Soccer_urinal_1Men are weird.

June 06, 2006

The War with Omaha

War I grew up just across the Missouri River from Omaha, and I still have an aunt living there and maybe some cousins, so I was sorry that New York is at war with Omaha now.

Like most wars, this one was started by the Bush administration. First their dough-faced inarticulate functionary from the Homeland Security Department cut our anti-terror funding by 40% because they don’t think we have any national monuments or icons or big banks here, and then the usually rational Centers for Disease Control Fahey_1 and Prevention decided to cut our bioterror funds by 15%. And when we kicked up a fuss about it, Mayor Mike Fahey of Omaha said we should “stop whining.” Hahahahahahaha. I think Mayor Mike Fahey should come over here and say that.

Omaha got a 38.2% increase in funding because they have a major national icon, Offutt Air Force Base. Maybe nobody told Homeland Security that “air force base” Goat means it’s a military installation and presumably can take care of itself. Offutt Air Force Base is where Bush and his goat book wound up after being flown back and forth on 9/11, so I guess somebody thought it was pretty safe back then.  But now they need our Homeland Security money.
So now we have to hate Omaha and some other little dinky cities, all of which happen to be in districts where Republicans are facing hotly contested elections this fall.

I have not yet finished my FEMA online disaster management course  so I don’t know, but it seems to me, having lived here through both attacks on the World Trade Center, that New York is kind of a major target. The National Guard soldiers with the big automatic rifles full of live ammunition standing around my train station every morning when I go to work sort of make me think, you know, that somebody, Alltel_1 somewhere, might be gunning for us. But maybe not. Maybe the Evil Ones really have targeted Jacksonville, Florida, home of that major national landmark and icon, Alltel Stadium, where the Jacksonville Jaguars play whatever sport it is they do, and so that’s why they’re getting a 26% increase in Homeland Security funds.

And I have to admit I’m actually kind of relieved that the funding cuts apparently mean that the NYPD won’t be able to carry out their “Ring of Steel” Lower Manhattan Security Plan, Code_1 installing hundreds of spy cameras and computerized license-plate readers all over downtown. The Ring of Steel was supposed to have been modeled on the same no-privacy-ever program that allowed London cops to identify pictures of last year’s London Underground bombers just a week or two after they blew everything up, long after their blown-up dead bodies had been recovered and their identities were already known. I don’t quite understand why a system like that would make me more, you know, secure, since it seems like it just lets the Authorities spy on you and doesn’t seem to actually prevent any Bad Thing. But, like I said, I haven’t finished my FEMA course yet.

And the other good thing about Homeland Security saying we don’t need that money any more is that it must mean we aren’t on Code Orange alert--where we’ve been NON-STOP for THE LAST FIVE DAMNED YEARS—anymore. Right? I’m sure Homeland Security will put New York on Code Green any day now, maybe even before I finish my FEMA course, maybe even today.

June 03, 2006

What's On My Micro, Part 3: Experimental Sounds, Long Tracks

To you, the hot weather may mean good times, beers and rockabilly in the backyard.  To me, it means laying flat on my back in the AC, annoying little nubbie headphones jammed into my earholes, with the Micro playing lengthy musical extrapolations—sounds I can get lost in, and temporarily forget about the curling sidewalks, teeming humidity and roasting sun outside.  Here are a few recent faves:

Cover_2-Toshiro Mayuzumi + Makoto Moroi - "Variations sur [7]"

Somehow, even with the eye-popping quality of this record sleeve, RCA felt obliged to actually put some music on the disc as well.  This track is early Japanese musique concrete, from two of the masters; utterly engaging and surprisingly modern-sounding.  Composer Mayuzumi also scored over 100 films in his lifetime. In my search for more information on the recording, I found this page, with more mp3 downloads from this fertile era in Japanese avant-garde music. [Variations sur 7 mp3, 21MB]

Amm_1-AMM - "ICA London 23rd March 1966" (unreleased)

This recording captures UK improvisational giants AMM in their earliest incarnation (see this bio written by founder Eddie Prévost)—beautifully dense, screechy, shambling, and still shaking off their jazz and Cage-influenced foundations.  [Track 3 mp3, 15MB]

-DDAA - "Nouvelles Constructions Sonores sur Fondations Visuelles" (cassette, 1991)

DdaaDDAA (Déficit des Années Antérieurs) formed in 1979, and are one of my all-time favorite musical groups.  In the early 80s, they were lumped in with the post-Throbbing Gristle "industrial" scene, but musically and thematically speaking, DDAA have always had more in common with Ralph Records (also see this) and the LAFMS.  Some of their best recordings over the years have been cassette-only releases; this mp3 represents side A of the above-named cassette.  [NCSSFV-A mp3, 62MB]

Continue reading "What's On My Micro, Part 3: Experimental Sounds, Long Tracks" »

June 01, 2006

Sites for Sore Eyes

Nasa Employees Smokin' Crack
Or perhaps just overexposing themselves to some of WFMU's more experimental programs? Click on "Play Video", turn up your speakers, and begin your descent.

Start Your Own Religion
And if you're a successful guru, you could earn $5000, the adoration of the masses, and have a documentary made about you.

Never Work Again, Ever
A real-time, worldwide sketchpad that's as fun to contribute to as it is to just watch. Any similarities between what you see here and what you see on the restroom walls at Port Authority are sadly telling of the IQ of your average humanoid.

Great Character Actors
Badly designed relic-like webpage, but amusing from the "I need to learn everything about Walter Brennan in five minutes" vantage point. And give it up for Ed Begley Sr.?

Ten Things I Hate About Commandments
Youtube link to a hilarious re-cut for the preview of Charlton Heston's "Ten Commandments". Of the main character Moses, this begs the question: Can a Zero be a Hero?

How to Pirate a Vinyl LP
And subsequently bring the music industry to its knees. Ooops, too late!

Tribute City
A worldwide index of tribute bands. Favorites include Abbalanche, The Clashed, and Pete Loaf. Much to our collective surprise, there doesn't seem to be a YES tribute band called "Yeah", but there will be soon, damnit.

Continue reading "Sites for Sore Eyes" »

May 31, 2006


Camera0026_1 I can't tell you how delighted I was to come back from vacation to find that the thermonuclear device I ordered had arrived.  The ultimate weapon will certainly come in handy around here.  For instance, to convince certain tardy DJs to hand in their premium masters.  Ahem.

That reminds me - to all the listeners out there who have sent in thermonuclear devices (and 2006 Marathon pledge payments) -- your swag is coming soon!  If you haven't received yours yet, you should be receiving it by the end of JuneMouse of Today pledgers will be getting their premiums a bit later this summer, most likely starting in July.  I hope we will wrap up the majority of swag mailing for 2006 by late summer.  If you have questions about your stuff in particular, please drop me a line.  And big thanks to everyone who came through for WFMU this year.  Your support is the fuel that keeps the Freeform Furnace burning hotter than a hundred Thermonuclear Devices.

May 26, 2006

Peek Freans are a Very Nonexistent Cookie

Nice Hi Bronwyn,

Thank you for visiting and for your interest in PEEK FREANS Biscuits.

It's great to hear from consumers who are looking for our products because it lets us know how much you enjoy them.  The tough part comes when we have to share the news that the product you're trying to find has been discontinued.  If products don't seem to be popular with our consumers, and demand starts to drop, a decision is made to discontinue the item.  Once this decision is made, we stop making the product and the remaining supply is shipped from our warehouse to the grocery stores.

If you haven't done so already, please add our site to your favorites and visit us again soon!

Kim McMiller
Assoc Director, GCR Consumer Services

May 23, 2006

Travels with Sluggo: North

Canolli_1 A while back Sluggo and I drove up to Boston for the weekend. I’d always wanted to go there, but now I don’t know why. It’s a pokey little place, full of college kids and Red Sox fans. The best thing about it is a place called Mike’s Pastry that has the best cannoli in the world. Do not write to me and say you know where there’s better cannoli until you taste Mike’s. Then you will know for sure. Overall, the food in Boston is very good and fairly inexpensive, which is lucky because there’s not much to do there except eat. The most fun thing we did was to see a performance by Dheem, a classical Indian dance troupe, that was really outstanding. But we weren’t in Boston to have fun, exactly—we were there so I could be filmed meeting another faceblind person.

Thingnostop When I was still on air at FMU, I mentioned a few times in passing that I have prosopagnosia, also known as faceblindness. For some reason, my fusiform gyrus isn’t hooked up properly and I can’t recognize human faces. This is a very rare neurological disability, and I’ve been participating in a documentary that’s being filmed about it. I’d never met another faceblind person (there are only about 200 of us in the whole world), although I’ve corresponded with some via an e-list. The guy who administers the list is named Glenn. He lives in Boston, and the filmmakers were in Boston, so we decided I’d go up there and meet Glenn in person, on camera.

Narnia I was really nervous about it, but it turned out to be okay. Whether it’s because he’s the list admin, or because he lives in Boston where prosopagnosiacs go to get studied by Scientists and Experts at Harvard, Glenn has met plenty of other faceblind folks, so it wasn’t a big deal for him and that helped me calm down a little. Mostly I just wanted to thank Glenn in person for running the faceblind list, because I like knowing there are some other people out there who see the world a little bit the way I do. I like knowing they have the same problems I do at parties, and they don’t see any point in having photos of their loved ones around, and they call people who aren’t faceblind NTs (for Neuro Typicals). I like getting recommendations for movies based on the fact that they have characters I’ll be able to identify all the way through the story. (“Chronicles of Narnia” got good marks for that.)

Continue reading "Travels with Sluggo: North" »

May 18, 2006

Hot Dog Preparation with Jack Bauer (to be read by Kiefer Sutherland)

You may have guessed from my other posts here that I am not one of those superior "actually, I don't even own a TV" types that go to great lengths to eschew all television broadcasting—"except maybe some public television"—as unnecessary, unacceptable, or even evil, brain-rotting drivel.  No sir, my Mom plopped me in front the set at a young age, and I still count on it sometimes for opialicious, escapist viewing.  In fact, I'm a whore for 24, Fox's utterly preposterous, improbable, real-time nailbiter about terrorist plots and the people who foil them.  I have to be in front of the TV every Monday at 9 (fuck taping, I want to watch in "real-time"), and rarely do I get up during the hour, even to piss.

Bauer_2Kiefer Sutherland's "character" Jack Bauer, basically an unstoppable force of will with no bathroom needs and a never-dying cellphone battery, commits incredibly heinous acts every episode in the name of stopping the terrorists:  he hijacks airplanes, chokes his girlfriend up against a wall, shoots innocent middle-aged women in the leg, and gets hapless civilians killed all the time and just says "damn it."  (You may have even heard of the "damn it" drinking game; there are other, more complex 24-themed drinking games too.)  Considering that this is all supposed to be happening in one single day, that's an awful lot of malice, even in the name of patriotism.  If the show weren't so damn entertaining, it would be completely indefensible.  In fact, some people are very upset about 24 and the supposed message it sends about our eroding civil liberties.

ChloeStill, how could I resist the charms of CTU's resident super-nerd Chloe O'Brien (played by Mary Lynn Rajskub), a highly capable, no-nonsense government hacker dressed in vintage sweaters and a permanent scowl – my kinda girl.  The current season also features guest star Peter Weller as a cold-hearted, super-badass terrorist collaborator.  I've always been a big fan of Weller's films, including Robocop, Buckaroo Banzai, Naked Lunch and especially the underrated 1983 man vs. rat allegory Of Unknown Origin.  The cast also includes veteran character actor Glenn Morshower (from the film Dead and Buried, and a whole host of TV and film roles.)

My fantasy (well, one of them—I have many, most unrelated to 24) is that Jack Bauer, in his no-nonsense baritone flooded with purpose, guides me through the mundane tasks of my everyday life.  As I change my son's diaper, clean the apartment or prepare lunch, Jack Bauer from CTU is there, on his undying cell, talking me through the specifics of each action with bomb-defusing precision.

The following takes place between 7:00 PM and 7:15 PM.

"William, this is Jack Bauer, Los Angeles Counter Terrorist Unit – have you ever cooked hot dogs before?  No?  Well don't worry 'cause I'm going to talk you through it.  We are dealing with especially volatile materials here—Nathan's Famous Cheddar Cheese Beef Franks, so I need you to follow my instructions to the letter; I don't need to remind you that thousands of lives are at stake, and I imagine that you're pretty hungry.  Chloe obtained an extensive file detailing your hunger rages, Mr. Berger, so don't play games with me—you and I both know we haven't a second to waste.

Continue reading "Hot Dog Preparation with Jack Bauer (to be read by Kiefer Sutherland)" »

May 15, 2006

Best State in the Land, Joy on Every Hand

Absinthe_2 I was at a party a few weeks ago where I drank absinthe and touched monkey puppet taint.  I used to would’ve thought that was a pretty fancy thing to do, but then I started to get worried that I was losing touch with my Iowa roots. So I was glad when my friend the Dawg Lady gave me a DVD about Villisca, a little Iowa town pretty near to where I grew up.

Iowa_2 Of course, people don’t just run around making movies about little Iowa towns unless something happened there, and what happened in Villisca was the particularly brutal ax murder of 2 adults and 6 children one night in 1912. The murders are still unsolved. The film, Villisca: Living with a Mystery, doesn’t downplay the horror of the killings, yet it almost pays more attention to the horror of what happened to a town that was torn apart by suspicion and never recovered. I think it is one of the most thorough and well-balanced true-crime documentaries I’ve ever seen.

VliscadvdIt IS a little slow—I could probably have done without quite so much footage of a pickup truck on a 2-lane highway, or the sun going down over a field, and there are an AWFUL lot of old ladies who remember that they were scared by the murders when they were 7 years old, and so on. But in a way that slowness just kind of gets you into the rhythm of the town. The filmmakers take their time, consider all the possible suspects, and then suddenly, right at the end, they introduce a new possibility and reallyrushthroughit. But these are just editing quibbles. It’s a good movie, and if it were recut, I think it could be a great one.

Continue reading "Best State in the Land, Joy on Every Hand" »

May 12, 2006

Airplane Insanity Part 2

Head4 Top_flughafen_kai_tak Last year I wrote at length about some of the less-talked-about traumas of flying, i.e. things probably worse than delayed or lost luggage. For instance, the sheer horror of what was formerly Hong Kong's Kai Tak International Airport, its runway built out on the water due to land shortage. Up until its closing in 2000, arriving 747s had to make a sharp right turn before hitting a delibately-checkerboarded mountainside, then drop like a dead weight onto a fastly approaching runway, while still turning and missing a ton of high rise buildings. Thanks to the glory of You Tube, and a recent personal hell flight from Texas, I decided to update that post and show this (660K mpeg) clip of what streetgoers got to witness in the heyday of Kai Tak. Several people have written to me since that old post and declared that they literally were eye level with people hanging laundry on their rooftops while making their hectic descent into that place.

Even more harrowing is the airport on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten, where a thin strip of beachfront, open to sunbathers and swimmers, lies only yards from the touchdown point of major international flights. This montage (5.8M mpeg) chronicles a beach-eye view of assorted arrivals; stay with it, the planes get bigger and bigger, and at one point while a large Air France jet spools up for take-off, some spectators (clearly having enjoyed this before) are holding on to the blast fence while their bodies levitate horizontally. Who the hell needs Club Med for island entertainment?

Blue_angels Finally, Ken forwards this great link to a hilarious video of a civilian from the Atlanta Journal Constitution taking a joyride with a Blue Angels F-18 pilot. With camera focused on his position in the backseat, the dude acts all tough, until of course he gets blasted vertically to 7,000 feet in two seconds and rolled like a zeppoli through sugar at the San Genarro. There are a few individual videos, the best one is #2 where he keeps passing out and then waking up to say what a great time he's having. He finally asks about the barf bag in #4.

My New Show

BaxHello, everybody—nice seeing you again.

I stopped doing the last regularly scheduled show I did on WFMU mostly because of the FCC’s increasingly draconian restrictions on what we were allowed to say on the radio. But now, thanks to DJ Anupan Boonchuen of Bangkok, Thailand, I believe I will be able to come back to the air. DJ Anupan Boonchuen of Bangkok, Thailand is the genius who has just launched Dog Radio Thailand, the radio station for dogs. DJ Anupan etc. used to be a dog groomer, and noticed that when he played music while he worked the dogs were more relaxed and more willing to be handled and groomed. So he decided to start a new radio station that would broadcast canine content only.

Doing a radio show for dogs would definitely be one way to keep myself from blurting out the Bad Thing on the air. I guess I’ll have to find a lot more Thai pop music than what’s in WFMU’s library, though, because that’s pretty much all that Dog Radio Thailand broadcasts. And I’ll have to learn some Thai dog commands, because they do that, too. The DJs occasionally say “sawasdee” over and over again. This means “hello,” and apparently Thai dogs are trained to lift a front paw when they hear that word. So maybe only Thai-speaking dogs will be able to understand my new Dog Radio show. I think the most fun part will be when I get to play sad Thai songs, though, because on Dog Radio Thailand the DJs howl whenever they play a slow song, hoping that their Dog Listeners will join in and howl along.

Maybe I can ask Famous Guest DJs to sit in with me each week. I wonder if DJ Kenny G would like to be my dog.

Thanks for reading my first blog posting now that I’m back, and may God Bless.

May 04, 2006

Put a cork in it!

Mexicocity68ii1_2 On Tuesday afternoon, while visiting the most insane New York style art moment (Donald Judd at Christie's preview auction showing on the 20th floor of the Simon Schuster building, 1230 Avenue of the America's, until May 7) I peered out the squeaky cleanest windows this side of Holland and what to my wandering eyes did appear? Looming over Times Square, a ginormous image of Sean Combs, any art lover would never want to see: standing with sunspectacled head bowed, fist raised in the air, closed in a Black Power salute.  To culture cuties born after The Brady Bunch had been removed from prime time TV this may not mean much.  But in 1968 at a Mexico City Olympic Games award ceremony, Tommie Smith and John Carlos bowed their heads during the American national anthem and raised gloved fists in the air in a Black Power salute for a very different reason. Risking their lives and careers, Smith and Carlos were stripped of their medals, ejected from the Olympic Village and further meets, to protest the treatment of African Americans in 1960's America, and to highlight the lack of equality that most Americans were keenly unaware of, and desiring to stay that way. "Puffy" isNeckless carpetbagging off of the bravery of these athletes' protest in order to make a buck using political street cred. Another African American athlete was stripped of his championship title in 1968 for resisting the draft: Muhammad Ali.  I'd like to see "Puffy" try to manipulate that into a sale. Go back to registering voters, P.

When was the last time you got down on your hands and knees and thanked a cork?  If you were a pirate you sure as hell would be raising a glass of rum to the cork gods, providing you with a unbeatable, portable stopper for your long ocean voyages, pillaging the high seas.  But as a cosmopolitan drinker of the fine vine, do we realize how good we have it?  Well, no, and soon if the anti-cork vigilantes have their way, corks will be a thing of the past...

Continue reading "Put a cork in it!" »

Chinese Rocks, Part II

Everyone's got China on the brain lately.

Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit here a few weeks ago was tainted by the expected gaffes and inconclusive chit-chat that have dogged this administration's (lack of) foreign policy, to say nothing of the fact that Hu visited Microsoft and Boeing before arriving in Washington, a clear demonstration that he knows who really runs this country (or was simply following an efficient Eastward itinerary.)

On a lighter note, my favorite blog humorist Brian Sack is currently in China, and has been posting some hilarious dispatches about his adventures there on his Banterist site.  Topics include the Terra Cotta Army, the squat toilet, lost train tickets, food, cabs, beggars and the Liv Tyler Store.

Grace_chang_1The_hole10_2 As you read, listen to these mp3s from the film The Hole (dir. Ming-liang Tsai, 1998).  The songs, by Shanghai-born Grace Chang, a film star and recording artist of the 50s and 60s, are employed as colorful, choreographed interludes in an otherwise bleak-humored tale about a plague in Taiwan at the end of the year 1999.  The Hole (aka Dong) was part of a collection of films by different directors called 2000 Seen By....

Calypso | Tiger Lady | I Want Your Love | Achoo Cha Cha | I Don't Care Who You Are

Pk14 Also for your listening enjoyment, here are 4 mp3s from my new favorite Communist uniform and fake beard-wearing Beijing band PK14.  Their sound is a heady, foot-tappin' mix of rock, post-punk and avant-garde influences.  Note: these tracks are served up "as is," with no titles (sorry to the information addicts):

PK14 1 | PK14 2 | PK14 3 | PK14 8

If you like these, here are links to PK14's demo and MySpace pages, featuring more streaming and downloadable music by the band.

As an added bonus, here's the late great Chinese actor Leslie Cheung (he dramatically committed suicide in 2003) singing the theme from John Woo's A Better Tomorrow [mp3].

May 03, 2006

Third Coast International Audio Festival Calls for Submissions

MixThe Third Coast International Audio Festival has announced that they are seeking for submissions for 99 Ways to Tell a Radio Story - "an experiment in documentary radio style and execution inspired by the French literary group Oulipo...  Founded in 1960 by French writers Raymond Queneau and Francois Le Lionnais, and includng others such as Marcel Duchamp, Italo Calvino and Georges Perec, Oulipo promotes the art of writing under specific, self-imposed constraints, with the intent of triggering inspiration and yet unexplored creativity," a la Kenny G's recent Cake-athon.

Submissions must be 2 minutes, 30 seconds long and contain the following three sounds in this order:

A pre-recorded voice

A rhythmic noise

An exclamation

Four submissions will be chosen as the official 2006 TCF ShortDocs and presented by their producers at the TCF Conference in Chicago this fall. The other submissions will remain part of a permanent and public archive at The deadline for submitting a story for ShortDoc consideration is September 8th.

More information and details about the competition can be found at the TCIAF website here.


May 02, 2006

Sites for Sore Eyes

Twenty Strangest Gadgets
It would be remiss of me not to mention that Ed Gein may have foisted some input in the direction of the top slot.

Don't just say it, live it.

Have a TV Installed on Your Tombstone
Presumably, so your loved ones can remember you with reverance that one normally ascribes to an after school special or a WB Network teen drama.

High Speed Video Gallery
The water balloon explosion is particularly engrossing.

Now These are Some Messed Up Monkeys
Get comfy for a short, filmstrip-styled primer on the bi-peds you know all too well.

ASCII Movies
Including some dirty ones, for you ASCII pervs.

Continue reading "Sites for Sore Eyes" »

May 01, 2006

DIY kind of gal

Hippy_chick1Our Bodies, Ourselves My Ass. Now you can clone your vagina for posterity. This of course can create pesky post-consumer waste, so you may want to help save the planet by fashioning your own menstrual supplies. This practice apparently solves the issue of proximity to toxic chemicals contained in disposable feminine products.

Call me a consumerist pig but I'll just bet all the crap in the New Jersey soil will get me sick faster than a bloody tampon. That's why I'm thinking of building my own hovercraft!

April 27, 2006

Zombies Zombies Zombies, Part I

Wm_zombie_1Though ostensibly fictional characters, zombies have featured prominently in my very real life.  In addition to the usual permeation that comes from being a lifelong horror film fan, zombie references, lore and culture have been gradually woven into my life's fabric such that I'm living what one might call a "Zombie-Plus" existence.  I see zombie metaphors everywhere I look, and the allegorical ammo from 1,000 wasted "body shots" litters my floor.  Often when we're getting ready to leave the house, in an effort to get my wife to move faster, I invoke the urgency of an imminent zombie attack (much to her chagrin.)

So how prepared are you for a real Zombie attack?  Will you be ready, really ready, when your community members, neighbors, family and friends, recast as the rotting undead, come for you, driven by a single-minded hunger for your flesh and internal organs?  In these days of protracted apocalyptic prophecy (i.e., the end times have been "approaching" or "here" for several centuries now), one had better be ready for anything.

In 2003, Random House published The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead, written by Max Brooks (the son of Mel Brooks, and a sometime SNL writer.)  Though I am very glad it's there, I haven't yet read the book, making me only slightly less knowledgeable of its contents than Tucker Carlson is of any topic he discusses on his MSNBC program.  Whether or not you've read Brooks' book, you may find the following related survival test amusing and informative.

My wife and I, early on in our marriage, had the necessary family meeting on this topic, and found ourselves to be on basically the same page regarding a possible zombie attack:  1. Board up all points of entry to our home, but also know that this, much like The Club, is ultimately only a visual deterrent.  2. Do not allow entry to anyone who has been bitten, no matter how much we used to like them.  3. If either one of us gets bitten, they're toast for the greater good.  4. In all cases, aim for the head.

Zme_4An essential zombie tome that I have read is The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia, by Peter Dendle, which attempts, with a fair amount of success, to assemble into one reference, all zombie- and living dead-related motion pictures, with a brief description of each.  TZE is so far only available in an expensive, hardcover edition, but it's quite worthwhile as a reference book, to say nothing of the shining beacon it becomes (with its colorful jacket and spine) on your bookshelf.

The book covers all the major touchstones of zombie filmdom plus a whole lot more, from early classics like Jacques Tourneur's I Walked with A Zombie (a haunting, beautiful mood piece, though not at all a "zombie film" in the modern, post-Romero sense; Lucio Fulci (see below) does however cite Tourneur as an influence.) to newer, notable low-budget creations like J.R. Bookwalter's The Dead Next Door.

Continue reading "Zombies Zombies Zombies, Part I" »

April 26, 2006

Let me tell you 'bout the Birds and the Bees

Bees_1 New York City bans the maintaining of animals that are "wild, ferocious, fierce, dangerous or naturally inclined to do harm".  Which means unfortunately your Komodo dragon will not pass muster at your upcoming co-op review.  But then neither will your back-to-nature, peace-loving bee hive.  Beekeeping in the 5 boroughs is against the law, so if still sweating after your next Critical Mass bike ride, you are looking for a few more law breaking endorphins, think about beekeeping.  Dozens of NYC bee outlaws keep hives on rooftops and in backyard gardens.  You can buy urban hipster honey at the Union Square farmers market, but don't strike up a conversation about your hive lifestyle with Mike Bloomberg next time you see him on the subway, unless you want to get sent to the big house.  Well, not really, but it sounds so much better than getting fined...

Honey bees get a bad rap. They are actually hard-working stiffs who live only to collect pollen and get on home to momma queen where they whip it up into a frothy honey stew; it is actually the wasp that is the vicious hunter of the bee world, who's out looking to rumble.  New York City honey bees are partaking of the city's bushes and trees, along with flowers sitting curbside and on fire escapes.  As a result urban honey tends to be sweeter than country honey, and could be just what the natural doctor orders when it comes to a spoonful a day to keep the allergies at bay.  Eating honey during allergy season is a form of immuno-therapy to give your body a small dose of what ails it, to jump start its defenses and fight off the nasty ill effects of sneezing and runny nose.  If you are an allergic city dweller, honey from Sullivan County doesn't have the necessary urban mix of tree and flower pollen, so perhaps a medicinal waiver is what we need to overcome the ban on bees.  First medical marijuana, now medical bee hives.

Continue reading "Let me tell you 'bout the Birds and the Bees" »

April 21, 2006

From the Fellas to You, Ladies!

Rundfahrt The Swiss Tourist Board would like to offer Ladies worldwide a relaxing alternative to 2006 World Cup madness: "Women wanting to flee the football euphoria will find plenty of attractive offers right here" (wmv). This kind hint sent courtesy of my Russian soccer-enthusiast boyfriend.

Meanwhile, I got this manly e-card from my friend Dave, an american banking executive who has created a few household spills of his own. Whatever that means. Ew.

April 20, 2006

"Hemp Hop" Kustom Komp

{downloadable mp3s}

Happy 4/20, motherfuckers!

Here's every track from a kustom "Hemp Hop" compilation I made in 2003.  Nineteen tracks, lots of good shit.  All tokin', all the time.

This goes out to Terrance and Kevin, my old smoke buddies from Trenton, who introduced me to "haze," and tried in vain to teach me how to roll a blunt.

Suck it in and hold it deep.  Wish I could join you all, but ah, you know...

Nun_cannabis_28kb_3HEMP HOP
1 Bob & Tom – Weedies
2 Double D – Blaze A Blunt
3 B-Legit – The Hemp Museum
4 Eazy E – Down 2 Tha Last Roach
5 Iconz – F Heron
6 RBL Posse – Smoke A Blunt
7 Project Pat – Blunt To My Lip
8 Redman – How To Roll A Blunt
9 Total Devistation – Hemp Rally
10 Krayzie Bone – Smoken Budda
11 Warren G – Indo Smoke
12 Warren G – Smokin’ Me Out
13 Luniz – 20 Blunts A Day
14 Luniz – Got 5 On It
15 Trick Daddy – Weed Song
16 Dayton Family – Philly Blunt
17 Andre Nickatina – Smoke Dope And Rap
18 Dr. Dre – Blunt Time
19 Schoolly D – Smoke Some Kill

{P.S. - I'm sure that there's plenty of other good tracks out there; please don't tell me what I "left out"—instead, go roll your own compilation.}

April 19, 2006

Crouching Mixer, Sleeping Rice Cooker

Ducati Equipment.  Some people never have enough of it.  Witness nearly an entire American economy supported by the desire to constantly upgrade, enlarge or expand.  For some people, the right equipment assures success at their new found interest, whether it be a Ducati superbike or an Aga stove. 

I like to believe I fall a little shy this side of kitchen equipment lust.   I finally own a toaster AND a microwave, after years of using my stovetop and broiler for all toasting/re-heating needs.  And I still boil water in a kettle on my stove, just like a cave woman.  Really...I use a one cup Melitta coffee filter for most coffee needs, (tip to future female DJ's: my lack of coffee maker knowledge keeps me out of the line of fire when I have guests or bands out to the station, a good thing.)Masterpicture

BUT i do own a rice cooker!  It has truly revolutionized the way I cook rice.  First of all it can't burn!  Who among us can raise their hand truthfully and say they have never burned the rice?  What?  You're lying!  This white plastic, god-like gadget can cook brown or white rice, jasmine and all.  Most fantastically for the Jetsons among us, it can be pre-programmed to come on when you are away to be rice-a-ready on your return.  You will need this feature, because it appears to take nearly twice as long to cook rice as the old, burn the bottom way.  But who cares about time?  Perfection is the goal here.  Add up all the time you save not scrubbing/destroying your favorite KOBENSTYLE DANSK cookware that you bought on Ebay before it went through the roof, and it all makes sense.

Continue reading "Crouching Mixer, Sleeping Rice Cooker" »

April 06, 2006

The Ganesh Brothers—Don't Overthink It

GaneshI had the greatest time Tuesday morning, driving in to work listening to Lol Coxhill & Fred Frith - The French Gigs.  It's moments like these that make me think, "improvised music is the only true music," which of course isn't the case, but it does have a nice ring to it.  When I've been assailed by every riff, hook, chord progression and melody line that structured pop/rock music has to offer, it's good to know that Cecil Taylor is there waiting for me.

I always hope to be taken on a journey by every artistic presentation, and the great thing about good improvised music is that the journey is only partially scripted; your mind, and your perception of the sounds serves as the "additional instrument" in the proceedings; you have some control, at least, of the emotional reaction you have to what you're hearing, and where you go with that reaction.  Pop, by contrast, is a much more guided tour, where no doubt one artist's, or one band's vision can be extremely beautiful, but you're still being taken by the hand, sometimes dragged along into a "here's my trip" situation.

While improvised music lends itself to subjective interpretation by the listener, it also opens the door to the purest form of individual musical self-expression possible.  The absence of structure, and the presence of inspiration, in the best circumstances, creates a direct line between the soul of the performer and the sounds emanating from their instrument.  When I saw Michael Evans play solo drum kit for the first time, I realized how direct that line could be.  I was so impressed, and Michael was gracious enough to meet with me a few times during the winter of 1996, for some sessions (recorded on cassette) that I still cherish.  I learned a lot about improvisation just from interacting with Michael.

I also learned by listening, both on record and in live performance, to AMM, MEV, Cecil Taylor, John Coltrane, Tony Oxley, Haino Keiji, Fred Frith, La Monte Young and The Theater of Eternal Music, Donald Miller, Bruce Russell and so many others.

When the band I was in, Uncle Wiggly, called it quits in the spring of 1998, I had it in my head that I was only going to play improvised music from that day forward.  Uncle Wiggly's music had, for the most part, been meticulously structured (albeit with improvisational passages), but my decision was brought on as much by a hunger for exploration as by a personal backlash.

Continue reading "The Ganesh Brothers—Don't Overthink It" »

April 03, 2006

Sites for Sore Eyes

Damnit, I am an indiviual. Individual. Individual. Individksadjx a..wq?qx./!!@.

Women in Broadcasting History
Great online exhibit of works pertaining to women's contributions to radio and TV. Hey, where's Laura Cantrell? Can I get a Pseu Braun?

Hard. Rock. Hallelujah.
It's re-affirming to see that the precious space where GWAR meets teenybopper television drama never goes out of style. (Youtube video)

The Undying Comedic Genius of Jack Handy
The man who brought you "Deep Thoughts", as well as other gutbusters... Witness here an archive of some of his best.

Interactive Breasts
I can't even begin to imagine how much bandwidth they're wasting on pimply teenage boys.
Online museum of 80s synthesizers, with sound loops and beats ahoy. A nice complement to this site.

Everything but the Kitchen Sync
Gigantic, no-theme, online art exhibition featuring more than 150 contributors.

Beautiful Crime
A great collection of grafitti and guerilla art from NYC.

Continue reading "Sites for Sore Eyes" »

March 30, 2006

Canterbury Vids

The Music For Your Eyes site has been added to my weekly visit list of RapidShare download blogs, which also includes Garden of Delights, 8 Days In April and others.  While the latter offer full-album mp3 downloads as .rar or .zip archives, Music For Your Eyes offers an impressive selection of "vintage rock music videos from a past glorious age."  There's Punk, Post-Punk, Folk, Brit-Folk, Krautrock, Tropicalia, Psychedelia and lots more to warm a music lover's heart.  (The path to downloading the actual clips is somewhat protracted, however, and if you're not paying for a RapidShare account, you're only permitted to download 1 "free" clip every 80 minutes or so.)

Much to my particular delight is the selection of clips by artists from the Canterbury school, some of which I've offered here:

WyattWyatt_3Robert Wyatt is an artist that I especially admire, both for his outstanding musical career and for the supreme quality of his character.  The Robert Wyatt biography, Wrong Movements (SAF 1999), is an inspirational read.  In the first video clip, Wyatt is seen on Top of The Pops in 1974 performing "I'm A Believer"; he's assembled an all-star band, including Fred Frith, Nick Mason (who produced Wyatt's Rock Bottom album), Richard Sinclair and Andy Summers, for what is essentially a mime session.  The latter clip is a BBC Four performance from 2003 of "Sea Song," originally from Rock Bottom.  More clips from the BBC Four concert can be streamed on YouTube[download mpg 1 31MB]  [download mpg 2 48MB]

Ayers_1Here's Kevin Ayers (like Wyatt, a former Soft Machine member), with his band The Whole World (from The Old Grey Whistle Test 1972), in a live performance of the song "May I."  Ayers is flanked by British rock greats Lol Coxhill and Mike Oldfield[download mpg 39MB]

CaravanCaravan (Pye Hastings, Richard Sinclair, David Sinclair and Richard Coughlan) performing "Golf Girl" on the German show Beat Club (24th July 1971), from the album In The Land Of Grey And Pink.  I'm amazed by the great Beat Club segments that continue to surface, especially seeing as they're live performances, rather than lip-synched.  [download mpg 86MB]

Soft_machineThis last clip, of Soft Machine, is from my personal download archive (not via Music For Your Eyes.)  It's a performance of "Composition Based On Three Tunes" also from Beat Club (27th March 1971), featuring the quartet that formed the core of the Third and Fourth albums:  Wyatt, Hugh Hopper, Mike Ratledge and Elton Dean[download mpg 120MB]

March 29, 2006

From the WFMU Press File: Subliminal WFMU

CookiemagListener Tom from NJ sends in this clipping from the April 2006 issue of Cookie magazine.  It's a nice little feature about wee Caleb Hickman's cool room, with its awesome climbing wall, fantastic firepole, and oh-so-lovely Freedom is Freeform poster!



March 27, 2006

The World is So Full of a Number of Monkeys ...

… I’m sure we should all be as happy as junkies.

Hello, everybody—Nice seeing you again.

MonkeyBack in Iowa, when I was growing up, my Grammy Carlton used to recite a little nursery rhyme to me. It went: “The world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.” And it’s true, it really is. One thing the world is full of is monkeys, and some of them are very old. George Bush—the monkey, not the president, although the president obviously has some simian qualities, but we are talking monkey here, as in little Capuchin helper-monkey, not ape as in “Ape shall not kill ape”—George Bush, the monkey, is 19 years old, and he belongs to Joe OrganBush, the organ grinder. It turns out that Organ Grinder is a very specific title, correctly applied only to those who have both a hand-cranked music machine called a street organ and a monkey. Organ Grinder Joe Bush is one of just four or five actual organ grinders in the whole country, and he will be at Coney Island on Sunday, April 9, along with his monkey and a whole lot of other street-organ players. I believe there will be a tanzibar as well, although I have no idea in the world what a tanzibar is because it’s not in Webster’s 11th. This is all happening between noon and 6:00 P.M. on W. 12th St. between Surf Ave. and the Boardwalk. As a longtime WFMU Listener I thrill at strange sounds, and I doubt that I will ever have another chance to hear such melodic cacophony. Plus there will be a monkey. A very old monkey. A terrifying little old man of a monkey, wheezing and demanding coins from me. I WOULDN’T MISS IT FOR THE WORLD! And I hope I’ll see you there, too.

LancelinkRemember last year when the Mesa, Arizona SWAT team put in for a $100,000 federal law-enforcement grant to train a little Capuchin crimefighter? They wanted to get a monkey and outfit him with a little Kevlar vest and a video cam and a two-way radio, but I think they forgot to ask for the barrel organ. Anyway, as far as I know, they haven’t heard back from the feds yet. I was very sorry to hear that, because I was really counting on monkey crimefighters to stop the bum fights. So that’s the monkey update.

Continue reading "The World is So Full of a Number of Monkeys ... " »

March 23, 2006

Austria '90-'91, Part I


Poster_4In the winters of 1990 and 1991, the band I was in, Uncle Wiggly, was fortunate enough to tour in Europe.  These tours, and our first LP release (on the independent Nur Scheiss label), happened largely as the result of a friendship with the Austrian band H.P. Zinker, who had lived for a time in NYC.  Bandleader Hans Platzgumer used to list his favorite groups thusly:  "Led Zeppelin, Metallica and Uncle Wiggly."

Band_3Though the bulk of our shows were within Austria, we also played in Switzerland and Holland, with some glorious days off in Prague, Amsterdam and parts of Germany.  The crowds varied from small to large, but were almost always thunderously appreciative.  At the time, we had a small but solid following in New York (mostly East-Village based), but New York crowds were often jaded and scenesterish; everyone was in a fucking band.  It was revelatory, then, for us to play long, three-encore sets to cheering, enthusiastic kids who may or may not have heard our one and only album.  We were nobodies being received like artists. 

Traveling as a band is unquestionably the way to see Europe.  People opened their homes to us, we ate great (mostly free) meals, and yes, adorable teenage girls hitchhiked from one city to the next to see us play.  We also had the honor of sharing bills with the cream of the Austrian underground, and though, much like NYC at the time, many bands in Europe were trying to sound like Sonic Youth and Pussy Galore, the memorable ones were all distinctly voiced with something original to offer.  Aided by the fact that I was a "radio personality" at the time, I flew home with a neat stack of promo vinyl and cassettes.

Where are they now?  Dunno.  I haven't spoken to any of these people in years, though a few of them, Andi Haller from Loud and Maz Lauterer from Maz Paniac in particular, were good friends of ours at the time.  I remember these tours and the people and places involved very fondly, especially now that I'm a full-time desk jockey and rarely find the time to make music.

Attwenger_1Attwenger - Hans-Peter Falkner is the Jimmy Page of the ziehharmonika (accordion), and in fact bares a strong physical resemblance to the Zeppelin auteur.  With drummer Markus Binder, the duo melds traditional Austrian folk music with punk and ska backbeats—wholly original, and quite something to see live.  This mp3 represents side A of their debut cassette (Nur Sch. Rec!, August 1990).  [Cassette Side A mp3]

die Goaß - This is the Attwenger duo's more traditional side project, where they play "Ober-Österr Volksmusik," M. Binder putting aside his drum kit to play double bass and tuba.  [Plottntölla mp3]

Continue reading "Austria '90-'91, Part I" »

March 21, 2006

Food of the Gods

Hello, everybody--nice seeing you again.

Pancakes_3My pal Punchy e-mailed me this week to point out that nothing says “Happy 15th Anniversary, now let's live forever!” like age-defying pancakes. He's right! And the best, most godliest age-defying pancakes of all are made by Pat Robertson. Yes, that Pat Robertson! The Pat Robertson with the Christian evangelical TV show that's watched by about 1 million viewers daily! The Pat Robertson who wants the United States to assassinate Hugo Chavez, the democratically elected president of big oil-producing country Venezuela!

“You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're Venezuela_1trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war. And I don't think any oil shipments will stop.” That's what Pat Robertson says! “We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.” He says that, too! But now he's making pancakes—AGE-DEFYING PROTEIN PANCAKES!

It's amazing what Pat Robertson can do with some flour, some eggs, and some faith! I just wish I could give you the recipe for Pat Robertson's Age-Defying Pancakes, but you have to sign up with the Christian Broadcasting Network to get it, and I guess I am just not ready to defy death yet.

Patr_1Don't you think Pat Robertson should send some of his pancakes to poor Ariel Sharon so he can defy death? I don't think he will, though, because he says that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had a stroke because God was mad about the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. “He was dividing God's land, and I would say, 'Woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the [European Union], the United Nations or the United States of America.'” That's what Pat Robertson said on his 700 Club TV show. “God says, 'This land belongs to me, and you'd better leave it alone.'” God is Pat Robertson's personal pancake-eating buddy, I guess.

Continue reading "Food of the Gods" »

March 17, 2006


Hencam1212Follow the exciting adventures of Milly, Penny and Tilly on the Hencam, the UK's best online streaming chicken cam!

March 16, 2006

The Big 1-5

Hello, everybody, nice seeing you again.

This Friday, St. Patrick’s Day, will be my and Sluggo’s 15th wedding anniversary. Fifteen years is a long time—a LONG time. It’s like the sentence you get if you’re convicted of a Class A felony in New York State. But here we are. I could go a lot of different ways with this, but I think it would be nice to tell, again, the old story of how we met.

CartoonI was doing the Truckstop Teaparty show from 3:00-6:00 on Friday afternoons, and one week when I got off the air I stopped by to see Station Manager Ken. He was working on LCD (Lowest Common Denominator), the program guide magazine we used to have, and he showed me a cartoon that someone had submitted for it. I figured he was showing it to me because he knew I liked comics—I talked about them on the air sometimes—so I looked it over and said, Yeah, this is good, and handed it back to him. “Did you read it?” he asked. Well, no, I’d just looked at the pictures. So then I read it, and it was all about me, and my show, and this guy listening to my show, and trying to imagine what I was like. And he hadn’t sent it to me, directly, which might have seemed weird or a little creepy, but had just submitted it to LCD. I was so delighted: Here was a talented, funny artist who appreciated my show.

I got his phone number off the business card clipped to the back of the art, called the number—and got an answering machine. “Hi,” I said. “This is Bronwyn C. from WFMU. I just saw the cartoon you sent into LCD, and I wanted to say thanks, and aw shucks, and everything. It’s really good, and I’m, uh, really flattered and happy to have such a nice Listener.”

MagazineJust then DJ Rob Weisberg walked in. “Oh, you got Sluggo’s cartoon,” he said. It turned out he knew this guy, Sluggo, from the work he’d submitted to Screw, where Rob was working at the time. It was Rob who’d suggested LCD as another place for Sluggo to submit his work. “Is this guy cute?” I asked. I’d just broken up with my boyfriend—whose name I don’t think I’m allowed to say here—two weeks before, and I sort of felt like that was long enough to be single. Rob said that, being a guy, he couldn’t say whether Sluggo was cute or not, but he wasn’t ugly. That was good enough for me. I called back, got the answering machine, and left another message.

Continue reading "The Big 1-5" »

March 03, 2006

Hey, CENTCOM—If you don't pledge to WFMU, they win!

091centcom"Army Reserve Maj. Richard J. McNorton, CENTCOM's chief of engagement operations, said the team contacts bloggers to inform the writers about any given topic that may have been posted on their site. This outreach effort enables the team to offer complete information to bloggers by inviting them to visit CENTCOM's Web site for news releases, data, or imagery.     The team engages bloggers who are posting inaccurate or untrue information, as well as bloggers who are posting incomplete information. They extend a friendly invitation to all bloggers to visit the command's Web site. 'Now (online readers) have the opportunity to read positive stories. At least the public can go there and see the whole story. The public wants to hear these good stories,' he said, adding that the news stories the military generates are 'very factual.' ...     The team's motto is 'Engage,' and Flowers and others work with more than 250 bloggers to try to disseminate news about the good work being done by U.S. forces in the global war on terror. The effort, officials here said, has reached more than 17 million online readers."

March 01, 2006

My Teenility

Hello, everybody, nice seeing you again.

ClancyA few weeks ago, a day or two after my birthday, I was on the train and the conductor came through collecting tickets. I have a monthly pass that I keep in a little wallet-type holder, and I pulled it out of my bag and a weird thing happened. It’s a cute little Paul Frank ID-holder-type wallet, sky blue, with Clancy the giraffe on it, and I’ve always liked it because I like how cheerful it is. I was pulling it out of my bag, and all of a sudden—I was embarrassed by it. I was embarrassed by my Clancy train pass holder, and my red glitter Paul Frank skull-and-crossbones wallet, and my pink Julius make-up bag. These are things I carry with me every day.

Julius_1I’d never even thought about how much other Paul Frank stuff I have: My sky blue Julius messenger bag, and my red Julius slipper socks, and my three pairs of white Julius panties. But suddenly I was mortified by it all. “Omigod!” I thought. “I’m TEENILE!”

Bonsey_1I never thought about my red sparkly wallet until I was down in Florida last year and pulled it out to pay for something. “Is that a skull and crossbones?!” the cashier squawked. I thought she was going to call in her minister to pray for me. I couldn’t believe something so cute could terrify somebody so much, which made me like it even more. But now I have to replace it. I have come to the conclusion that it is finally time for me to grow up. Good-bye, happy little skull and crossbones.

Coon_houndHere is my new wallet, and I hope you can see it from the scan. It’s dark burgundy tooled leather with dark green lacing, and it shows a hound dog chasing a raccoon over a log, which is about as much grown-up sophistication as I can stand.

Thanks for reading my blog post this week, and don’t forget to pull out your wallet and make a pledge to the WFMU fundraising marathon.

February 23, 2006

Fecal Matters: No More Of Your Lousy Doody Germs

{one mp3 below fold}

Remember my mini-rant a while back regarding people who "forget" to flush after using the toilet?  Well, it's high time I addressed an even more mind-boggling and potentially more devastating nasty habit: that of refusing to wash one's hands after executing a "Number 2."  Seeing someone else's poop can be repulsive, but actually ingesting microscopic amounts of said material can kill you, or at least make you really, really sick.

I'll begin with a little story.  Back in my freewheeling single days, I had the displeasure of sharing an apartment with a certain fellow we'll call Sam.  Sam was loud, overbearing, and would thrust himself into any conversation, full of opinions on every topic, regardless of whether or not he possessed the actual knowledge to back these opinions up.  His most disagreeable trait, however, was his distinct lack of good personal hygiene:  he was always bordering on being grossly overweight, washed infrequently (often not changing his clothes for several days), and his hair was visibly greasy and matted.  Worst of all, when Sam made a "long visit" to the bathroom he shared with 3 other roommates (his "lady love" included), we never, ever heard the sink running prior to his exit.  Typically, this was followed by his thrusting a meaty paw into a plate of food or an open bag of chips on the kitchen table.

WashhandsThis behavior dumbfounds me to this day, as I've personally observed it in dozens of other individuals.  Is the avoidance of this critical step in health and hygiene a matter of casual indifference, forgetfulness, or is there some deep-seated arrogance that leads a person to not clean their hands after wiping fecal matter off their body?

I've spent a fair amount of time in corporate office buildings, the halls (and therefore the toilets) of power, and I've observed that the neglect of post-defecatory hand washing runs across all lines of class and station.  In fact, the lowly page or file clerk might be more apt to wash their hands ('cause their Moms raised them right) than the dapper yet world-weary executives, who may imagine that their status has somehow imbued them with self-cleaning hands.  Old men not only make strange sighing noises at the urinal, they also sometimes freely spread their "upscale" bacteria amongst the unwitting minions.

CNN released a report (link and scroll down) recently wherein they tested the ice dispensed in self-serve soft drink machines from several well-known fast food and convenience stores in 5 American cities, 23 samples in all.  It came as a surprise, even to me, that the ice from 4 stores tested positive for, you guessed it–fecal matter!  What chance of survival do we have in a world where even our ice is not safe from other people's doody germs?  To quote the transcript:  "...the most common causes of ice contamination are poor handling and storage."  I guess those little signs in food-service industry rest rooms everywhere have not been doing their job; perhaps there will soon be openings at 7-Eleven, Dunkin Donuts, McDonalds and Burger King for rest room hand-washing monitors.  (See this hilarious post on One Egg Shy regarding the CNN report.)

Continue reading "Fecal Matters: No More Of Your Lousy Doody Germs" »

February 21, 2006

Say It Ain’t So, Dolph

Hello, Everybody--nice seeing you again.

DanishNow, thanks to that damned cartoonist, when Iranians go to their local bakery to buy a delicious, flaky pastry, they have to ask for “Roses of the Prophet Muhammed” instead of  danish. Just like we had to ask for Freedom Fries, remember? Do you even remember why we had to do that? Anyway, if I had read that thing about the pastry in the New York Times, I would have known it was just someone duping the Big Grey Pack of Lies again—Iranians eat danish?—but it was in Metro, the free newspaper that people are always thrusting at you on the street, so I believe it. Also, I found the same story online at the BBC News site, so as long as it never appears in the Times, I will believe it.

I found a really good place to buy walnut Roses of the Prophet Muhammed a few weeks ago when Sluggo and I were going to Great Small Works’ last spaghetti supper at P.S.122. It was January 7, and it was cold, and we were walking down 1st Ave. from the train at 14th Street and passed a nearly empty little storefront with one guy standing inside behind a counter, looking out at us. The counter was very small, with a few cookies and a few pastries and a small coffee maker on it, and behind the counter stood this big, wholesome-looking guy in a hemp jacket. There was nothing else inside, no business name on the window, no decoration, nothing pinned to the walls, and he was just standing there, like a soldier on duty. I caught his eye as we went past, and he gave me a tight little hopeful smile. “Let’s stop and get some coffee,” I said, and we turned around and went back inside.

All there was for sale was right there on the counter—a few of each of three kinds of cookies, and a few of each of three or four kinds of pastries. And coffee. “Is this all there is?” we asked. It was. The coffee was good, and the walnut danish rocked—flaky on the outside, moist on the inside, hardly sweet at all, with a few walnuts and a little bit of cinnamon in the very center. After I kept insisting that the place must have a name, the guy finally said we could call it Birdbath. Of course, he never said that was its name, he just said that we could call it that. Sluggo and I couldn’t figure out if it was a cult, or art, or what, but I went back last weekend and now they have a little statement up and I guess it’s a project. But the walnut danish are still mighty good.

DolphI read another story the other day that I’m not sure is true, this one from the Daily News. It said that a fifth-grade teacher named Dolph Timmerman had been charged with groping 10-year-old girls at a public school in Bushwick. “Dolph Timmerman” is the name of a character on The Simpsons, allegedly named after a guy who went to high school with Matt Groening in Portland, Oregon. Lincoln High School’s alumni site says their Dolph Timmerman lives in New York now, but whether it’s the same Dolph who’s accosting children, I don’t know. Do you think having an animated character named after you would cause that? Sluggo had an animated character—a maggot, in fact—named after him once, but I didn’t see that it made much difference.

Thanks for reading my blog entry this week, and may Allah bless.

February 16, 2006

Tangerine Dream Bootlegs: No Longer Solely the Province of Stoner Geeks

(mp3s below the fold)

Td_2One of the great things about WFMU is that despite its inherent hipsterism, the majority of the staff have an ear for quality that supersedes notions of what's "cool" or "underground"—good music is good music, and most of us know it when we hear it (though subtleties of opinion will naturally vary from person to person.)  This is not to say that Tangerine Dream gets played on the air very often; not at least since Richard Ginsburg's Synthetic Pleasure program had its last broadcast.

The passage of time is a great quantifier in the arts, and music that may have seemed to be the exclusive province of geeky stoners in its original historical context (Jethro Tull, let's say), now rings true and timeless, and may be imbued with an unexpected vitality that makes it sound even better, or more relevant, than when first heard (or ignored.)

Zeit_1I find this to be especially true in the case of Tangerine Dream, whose work, at least from the time of their formation in 1967 through the latter 70s, may have a lot to offer the jaded, post-modern music fan, especially those who feel (as I do) that electronic music is currently in a terrible rut, chasing its tail through PowerBook blip city.  When in doubt, return to the roots.

To consider Tangerine Dream, one must first view their early albums, those preceding 1974's Phaedra.  That album was a turning point in the band's sound, whereupon analog sequencers became the dominant compositional hardware in the band, and ultimately this was the sound that would define Tangerine Dream, through their globally successful albums, tours and film soundtracks.  An enthusiastic, fans-ear-view account of the first 4 albums (Electronic Meditation, Alpha Centauri, Zeit and Atem) can be found in Julian Cope's Krautrocksampler, which I'm also indebted to for sparking my rediscovery of TD upon its publication in 1995, when I was already more than 10 years into my fascination with so-called Krautrock.

The first 4 Tangerine Dream albums (especially the latter 3) are masterpieces of amorphous rock improvisation, with only occasional jolts of hypnotic rhythm, dominated by mellotron, simple electric guitar and analog synths.  Yes, many rock bands were improvising in the post-psychedelic era, but not like this.  The music on these albums fills the room like no other, the power of these pieces being their elusive, vaporous quality—there's next to nothing to grab onto, the "patterns" slip away as quickly as they emerge—nonetheless you're engulfed. You may also find, as I have, that different aspects of the music will emerge with each subsequent listen.

Continue reading "Tangerine Dream Bootlegs: No Longer Solely the Province of Stoner Geeks" »

February 14, 2006

If You Won't Be My Valentine, They Win.


February 09, 2006

Welcome to New Jersey: Now Get the Hell Out of the Way!

Welcome_2 My new work routine finds me once again on the roadways of New Jersey, roads that I'm quite familiar with, and have traveled most of my driving life.  I've done enough traveling around the country to know that bad driving is a national affliction, but in the case of my home state, aggressive driving seems to have always been an epidemic.

(After living and driving in the San Francisco Bay Area for almost 2 years, I can tell you that drivers there may carelessly run a red light, they may even hit you or kill you, but it will be because they are dreamily contemplating their next move, or the alignment of their chakras, less because they are chomping at the bit to get to the office to close a deal and otherwise roll around in 3-letter business acronyms.)

Fortunately, the very congested nature of New York City traffic dictates that no one gets too far, or moves too fast, in a single clip.  This likely diminishes the number of road fatalities that might otherwise occur; though anyone who reads the paper knows that pedestrians are routinely mowed down in NYC, often with little or no punitive action directed at the driver.

Highways_1 There is certainly a "style" to Northeastern US and NJ driving, an often maniacally aggressive, thoughtless tear ever forward, fueled no doubt by coffee, 60-hour work weeks, hunger, sexual frustration, inebriation and other maladies, none peculiar to, but somehow exacerbated by living and working in this most densely populated, frustrated little second banana of a state.

The statistics reflect the aggression, too.  According to a nifty little pamphlet produced by the state, "...more than half of NJ’s drivers are angry when they’re behind the wheel. Almost half, the data show, are likely to try to "punish" other drivers. In 2003 in NJ, this attitude, combined with the above-mentioned driving behaviors, resulted in more than 68,000 vehicles being involved in crashes, an 8% increase from 2001.  These crashes resulted in approximately 200 fatalities and 34,000 injuries."  Download the pamphlet here [pdf]; then take the damning "Are You An Aggressive Driver?" quiz.

Continue reading "Welcome to New Jersey: Now Get the Hell Out of the Way!" »

February 08, 2006

The Birthday Paradox

SchieleScientists and Experts—and Mathematicians—have determined that if you have 30 people in a room, there’s a very good chance that two of them will have the same birthday. (With 23 people, there’s a 50.73% chance that two will have the same birthday, and the probability goes up as you add more people from there.) I think all 30 of ‘em have had a birthday in the past couple weeks: First there was DJ Miss Amanda, then Sluggo, then our friend Punchy, then me (and Mozart and C. Lutwidge Dodgson, a mathematician himself), then Neil, then Lisa P., then one famous WFMU DJ that I think I’m not allowed to say, and then Listener Smartski, and Station Manager Ken, and my old friends Elaine and Harriet, and Dr. Colby’s birthday is coming up fast. Okay, that’s only 14, but it seems like more when you’re whipping around to 3 or 4 parties every weekend.

To celebrate Sluggo’s birthday, I took time off from my dayjob and we went to see the Egon Schiele show at the Neue Galerie. We’d never been there before because it costs $15 to get in and they don’t have any “pay-what-you-want” hours. It’s kind of a funny museum because it was started by a couple of rich guys (Ronald Lauder and Serge Sabarsky) who happened to have big collections of Austrian and German art and absolutely no idea of how poor people live. For example, an individual Neue Galerie membership costs $275, but don’t despair—student memberships are just $75! What kind of students can afford that? Rich ones, I guess. But the Galerie is very nice, and I enjoyed it. It’s housed in a gorgeous old mansion on Fifth Avenue, across from the Metropolitan Museum. It reminded me of when the International Center of Photography used to be in that old brownstone on Fifth up in the 90s—I really liked that building, and was sorry when ICP moved to Midtown, though I’m sure their new facility is more convenient and practical.

EgonI guess the Schiele show was made up of work from Lauder’s and Sabarsky’s collections; there was some interesting personal ephemera—including a portrait head modeled in bread by Schiele when he was in jail for corrupting a minor—along with a few paintings, but it was mostly drawings, which was interesting because you could really see Schiele working out some artistic problems in them. My favorite thing in the whole show was in a room on the third floor, where a drawing of a seated woman from 1908 was hung next to a drawing of a seated woman from 1909. The 1908 drawing looked like a competent student work, and the 1909 drawing looked like an Egon Schiele. It looked to me like whatever it was that happened that made Egon Schiele an artist happened between 1908 and 1909. While I was standing there a docent came through with a tour of well-dressed blonde ladies, and one of them asked, “What about the common affluent people of the time? Were they repressed?” The common affluent people ...  I thought about that question for a second. It really ticked me off, but I couldn’t figure out why, so I moved on to the next room where there were some relatively wacky fashion drawings from 1910 or 1911. I couldn’t tell if they were fashion designs or fashion illustrations, and I couldn’t find any more information about them anywhere, either in the museum or online. Maybe they were from some freelance project ES did after he started to blow up in Vienna. The other things I learned were that Schiele’s wife, Edith, had a very nice Border-Collie-looking dog named Lord, and everybody died in the big influenza pandemic of 1918.

Continue reading "The Birthday Paradox" »

February 02, 2006

Bodies in Plastic Remain in Plastic

Hello, Everybody—nice seeing you again.

BodiesexhibitI had a birthday last Friday (1/27), which brought up a lot of morose reflection about aging, decline, and my inevitable demise—maybe not the best state of mind for viewing a show of preserved corpses. But as a nostalgic gesture to the time when I was the little News of the Dead girl on WFMU, I decided to go see “Bodies: The Exhibition” at the South Street Seaport as my birthday treat. Tickets to “Bodies” are expensive—about $25—which meant that Sluggo couldn’t go with me, but D.J. Kelly kindly came along. This turned out to be a really good thing, in that I had company without having to listen to a lot of griping about the South Street Seaport, and long lines, and tourists.

SeaportThe South Street Seaport is heinous, though. It’s the little corral where they send tourists who are most comfortable in a mall just like the mall back home, but with boats. As we got in line to buy tickets for the exhibit, I was thinking I’d made a bad mistake. There were a lot of tourists. If you don’t want to stand in line to buy tickets at the door, you can get them in advance online [] or by calling a snotty French-speaking woman in Montreal. But those tickets are for timed entry, and between the various New York transit systems and D.J. Kelly’s very special space-time continuum, I knew timed entry was not an option for us. As it turned out, the exhibit is very well run and the lines moved quickly. We were inside within 20 minutes.

There were three very interesting things about “Bodies:” 1. The human body. It really is an incomprehensibly amazing thing. 2. The respect shown by the crowd of viewers. The only time I heard anyone make any jokes at all was at the vitrine with the bladder specimen—“No wonder girls have to go all the time!” (But that was D.J. Kelly and me talking, and everyone else there was pretty good about it.) 3. The incredible preservation process used for the specimens in the show.

Continue reading "Bodies in Plastic Remain in Plastic" »

January 26, 2006

The Party's Over, For Me At Least

Are you in your teens, twenties, thirties or even older, still riding the wave of immoderation that we Americans call "partying"?  G_d bless you, you savage, but know this:  respect and observe that "all things in moderation" rule, choose day-to-day mental stability over that delicious buzz, or you're liable to end up like me:  too old and too crazy for any kind of substance abuse, period.

You think I'm joking?  Despite my flip tone, I'm actually dead serious.  I find myself, just past the crossroads of my forties, unable to engage in any kind of mind-altering consumption of any type.  Sad, right?  Or is this what they call "maturity"?  Not that it matters what my personal philosophical opinions on the situation are, as it's hard physical realities that have brought me to this sober (and sobering) state.

Have_a_drink_1 The fact that I don't really drink alcohol or coffee anymore separates me tremendously from my fellow humans.  "Have a drink," they say, "it's legal and everyone's doing it.  Besides, one little drink won't hurt. It'll loosen you up."  One little drink, of beer, tequila or champagne (I hate the moldy, rotten stench of wine, and haven't touched the "hard stuff" in years) gives me an immediate sour ache in my stomach, and the next day I'm so depressed that I'm suicidal, ready to hang myself from the tree in the backyard.  So much for booze.

Cafe What about coffee?  It's fun, it's tasty, gives you that little lift, and is sold in endless varieties on literally every street corner in America.  One-half cup of non-decaf coffee turns me into the madman that the media had people convinced Howard Dean was after the 2004 Iowa Caucuses; a whole cup, and the slightest aberration in my routine can and does provoke homicidal feelings of anger, spraying death like the Luftwaffe.

I used to smoke cigarettes, never heavily, but a little bit in high school, and then off-and-on throughout the 90s.  Now, 30 minutes of exposure to second-hand smoke leaves me with a 24-hour sore throat.  If I forget myself and actually take a drag, a defibrillator may be required.

Continue reading "The Party's Over, For Me At Least" »

January 24, 2006

Okay, I'm Faceblind, but--




--I'm just sayin'.

January 19, 2006

Adventures in the NWW List, Part 5

Previous posts:  Part 1  |  Part 2  |  Part 3  |  Part 4

JagodicI was pleased to find that a few of my originally intended items for this post are actually available on CD.  The Capsicum Red album, Appunti Per Un'Idea Fissa, seems to have been reissued in the 90s, and is listed as available here.  While the original LP (from 1972) is fairly standard classically influenced progressive rock, with lots of heavy organ, the psych-pop flavored singles offered on the reissue are alone worth the price of the disc.  There also seems to be a relatively new CD reissue of the Martin Davorin Jagodic album Tempo Furioso (originally released on Cramps), available here (usually "dispatched" within 24 hours); the Jagodic record is an absolute must-have for fans of wildly inventive music-and-sound collage, the style being similar to the best works of Luc Ferrari.

Also check out the Insect and Individual blog, a great new page, offering several NWW List items for download as complete albums. (You will need to have WinRAR installed.)

Now, on to the latest offerings:

PolePôle - The first 2 Pôle LPs, both from 1975, were also the first 2 releases on the legendary French Pôle label.  Almost every artist from the label's brief lifespan (1975-1977) is noted on the NWW List, and the ones that aren't there probably ought to be.  Both Pôle albums are masterworks of early 70s Euro-space-rock, subtle, creepy and synth-laden.  Personnel vary between the 2 albums, though arranger/synth player Paul Putti (who is also credited as producer on Inside The Dream) seems to be a constant.  The lineup on Inside The Dream also features Jean-Louis Rizet, one-half of the Besombes-Rizet duo that created a monumental double-LP entitled "Pôle" that same year, so it's easy to see that the whole scene was quite incestuous, comprised of a small group of fertile, creative individuals.  Here is a detailed page (ein Deutsches) on the Pôle albums.  Each record is comprised of 3 tracks apiece; I've included 1 from each for download.  [In the Maelstrom mp3]  [Villin-gen mp3]

HeratiusHeratius - Gwendolyne - Eccentric and un-categorizable French band's sole LP, released in 1978.  Electric guitars, reeds, organ, percussion and voice etc., fitting comfortably amongst Philemon Arthur and The Dung, Dedalus and the more experimental bits of Faust; in short, idiosyncratic with a capital "I."  I have only an mp3 download of the album, so if there are in fact actual track titles, I'd love to know what they are.  Played previously on WFMU by Charlie and Tony Coulter[Track 2 mp3]  [Track 3 mp3]  [Track 5 mp3]

SchickertGünter Schickert - Samtvogel - Though Schickert's second album Uberfällig (from 1980) has been available on CD for some time, Samtvogel, originally issued on Brain in 1974, remains unavailable.  Too bad, as it's a milestone of minimalist Krautrock guitar, with cyclical, hypnotic phrasing, similar to the work of Achim Reichel and Manuel Gottsching's Inventions for Electric Guitar album.  If anything, Samtvogel is darker, more psychedelic and less plodding in its repetitions than the Gottsching album.  This is a must for Krautrock fans, and way overdue for remaster/reissue.  [Kriegsmaschinen Fahrt zur Holle mp3]

Continue reading "Adventures in the NWW List, Part 5" »

January 17, 2006

The Perfect Medium and the Fall of Rome

Hello, Everybody—Nice seeing you again.

BookHaving been educated beyond my station (which is Grand Central, where I will soon be living in a cardboard box), it’s surprising that I was never required to read Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. It was just one of those things I always supposed I’d get around to some day, but I never did. That’s why I was so pleased to see that Penguin’s new “Great Ideas” series includes a little volume called The Christians and the Fall of Rome, some 96 pages excerpted from the massive 3-volume Decline and Fall.

There are a dozen titles in this new series of excerpts from great writers, and the covers are so well-designed, and the in-store display is so tempting, that I wanted to buy them all, even the ones I’ve already read. But, Jeez, they cost $9.95 each! There’s really no reason for that. I think the material is all in the public domain by now, and Dover manages to put out similar books in their Thrift editions for, like, $2.00 each. I can’t afford to pay $8 for cover design at the moment, so I only got the Gibbon.

I expected Gibbon to be, you know, the definitive official history, droning on in period prose, but then on page 9 he says, “Every privilege that could raise the proselyte from earth to Heaven, that could exalt his devotion, secure his happiness, or even gratify that secret pride, which, under the semblance of devotion, insinuates itself in the human heart, was still reserved for the members of the Christian church; but at the same time all mankind was permitted, and even solicited, to accept the glorious distinction, which was not only proffered as a favour, but imposed as an obligation.” Ha! It turns out Gibbon was a big ol’ bag o’ snot (and I mean that as a compliment), with lots of slyly worded criticisms of the established religion of his day. I really enjoyed this little book, and think it’s more likely now that someday I will read the whole original work—or at least the longer Penguin abridgement of it.

Continue reading "The Perfect Medium and the Fall of Rome" »

January 13, 2006

Fozzie + mp3 + waka

Waka_wakaRecently I searched The Internet for audio of Fozzie the Bear saying "waka waka".  Don't ask me why, just ask yourself this question: Does there exist a situation that cannot be improved by the addition of a puppet bear saying "waka waka"?  Don't think so.  Anyway, the only result my search yielded was a messageboard where this one guy posted "I've just wasted 52 minutes of my life searching The Internet for audio of Fozzie the Bear saying 'waka waka'!"  So I guess it's just not there.  Soooo,  I guess this is an opportunity!! 

mp3 for download: Fozzie The Bear "Waka Waka"

I Am The Source!!  Now enjoy this picture of Navin Johnson rejoicing in finding his name listed in the phone book.


Dammit.  Couldn't find one.  Well, don't look at me -- you go be the source!  Get your name listed in the friggin Internet Directory.

January 12, 2006

Go Dance It Waist Communal: A Spambox Full of Avant-Rock Potential

{a lot more below the fold!}

Thinking that you'll never be as good a lyricist as Mark E. Smith, or even Stephen Malkmus?  I may have a solution that will provide some hope, a conceptual springboard of sorts.

TplqYou see, my wife receives a lot of a certain type of spam, spam I've been asking her to save all these many months; as I keep saying, "there's a blog post in that, for sure."  The mails are unusual in that they do not appear to be "phishing" for anything, and most of the time do not include any clickable links; they sometimes contain images of watches, software or others items for "sale," but most often no links are provided where one could actually make a purchase.  A few of the mails contain a hyperlink that simply says, "Click Here Now"; no one is ignorant enough to fall for that one, are they?

The most interesting features of these mails are their headers (which seem to be randomly generated), as well as some abstract blocks of prose that often appear at the very bottom of the messages themselves.  (Upon investigation, I found that much of the prose consisted of nonsensical extracts from Dickens' David Copperfield.)

Xmo_1It's almost as if some deft programmer actualized code to simulate the creative thought processes of Tristan Tzara or Captain Beefheart

This is where YOU come in—the indie rocker waiting for that shower of ideas to come, so that you can form a band, get some cred and make a video (to be shown on New York Noise.)  If we've any hope of stemming the tide of cute-girl temper-tantrum noise rock currently infiltrating the underground, bold new strides must be made in the realm of avant-rock.  So get unlazy, pick up your axe (sorry, is that Metal talk?), and write some new songs, with these computer-begat snippets as inspiration.

Me, I'm retired.  I'll be here waiting for my promo copy of "Reverend Gonzalez Coachman" b/w "Electrode Frederick."

Immediately below are the headers, reproduced exactly as they appeared; some of them even make sense.  I've taken the liberty of highlighting my favorites:

-Not count by jockstrap deacon
-so break go saltpetre
-Is cancel as doldrums
-No clean my obstructionism
-his make to frothy
-Or count a settler heliport
-so need or exception swineherd
-on turnon do vulgarian
-The first time cluj shutdown
-No sign of magnet carrycot
-As count do digit
-He send he bachelor
-his fit a iron polyethylene
-The swim as baptist slanderous

Continue reading "Go Dance It Waist Communal: A Spambox Full of Avant-Rock Potential" »

January 09, 2006

I Get No Kick from Prosecco

Hello, Everybody—nice seeing you again.

BiscottiSluggo used to drink a lot, which is why he doesn’t drink at all now. But once a year, on New Year’s Eve, I come home with a little bottle of Champagne and we drink a toast and eat some fantastically bland cookies that my Grammy C. taught me to make. She called them “biscotti,” and so I grew up thinking that biscotti were small, round, baking-powder-biscuit-like cookies. I was delighted the first time I saw “biscotti” on a menu in New York, and then I was dismayed when I got served a hard, rusky little thing like a petrified slice of toast.

For years, I thought Grammy C. had made a big mistake. Then, this year, there were actual Italian-speaking Italian people from Italy at Dr. Colby’s big New Year’s Day party, to which I’d brought some of the biscotti I’d baked the night before. I offered some to Umberto, and told him, very apologetically, that my grandmother had called these cookies “biscotti,” but now I knew that was wrong. Umberto told me that, on the contrary, “biscotti” was sort of a generic term, and that technically these odd little cookies were, indeed, biscotti. I was so happy! “So,” he said, “your grandmother was Italian.”

“No. She was Welsh,” I replied. That seemed to confuse him. “Welsh,” he said. He repeated it a couple of times and walked away, and I never did speak to him again, but it made me very, very happy to find out that Grammy C. knew a biscotti when she baked one.

Prosecco_1Last year, when we still had a little money, I got a book about wine as a Christmas present. I read all about Champagne, and Prosecco, and Cava, and Sekt. Then I went to a Champagne tasting at Astor Place, and started researching, I don’t know, domains and stuff. I don’t remember much of it any more, unfortunately. But I decided that instead of doing what I usually do, which is randomly grabbing a bottle of whatever was on sale for New Year’s Eve, I was going to make a thoughtful and informed choice. I took my notes and went back to Astor Place on the afternoon of December 31, ready to buy some really good (but not too expensive) Champagne.

Naturally, it was a madhouse. There was one poor, overworked Champagne guy trying to help dozens and dozens of empty-headed little NYU students who just wanted something that would get them drunk as quickly and as painlessly as possible. The poor guy would ask if he could help them, and they’d say they wanted some Champagne, and he’d ask what style they liked, and they’d look at him as if he were speaking click language, and then he’d steer them to the Korbel or whatever was selling for less than $10 a bottle. Physically, the guy reminded me of WFMU’s Program-and-Music Director Brian, and later it turned out that he was like Program-and-Music Director Brian in other ways as well. Finally my turn came, and the Champagne guy asked wearily if he could help me, and I told him I’d like a small bottle of something dry  (as in brut, not “extra-dry,” which actually means a little sweet), and light-bodied. I told him my husband liked Moet & Chandon White Star (which IS extra-dry), but I preferred the Billecart-Salmon we’d had for the faux-Millennium in 2000. Oh, and I didn’t have a lot of money to spend. And I mispronounced all the French words, including “Champagne.”

Continue reading "I Get No Kick from Prosecco " »

January 06, 2006

H.P. Lovecraft: An Appreciation

{seven mp3s below the fold}

Pickman_1As a lad, my introduction to proper literature came via the works of Howard Phillips (H.P.) Lovecraft (b. 1890.)  I had been reading Marvel Comics since the late 1960s (initially they were read to me), and as the 60s became the 70s, the Marvel team reacted to the counter-culture explosion by pushing the fringes of comic book artistry.  Initially a fan of Spider-Man, I was dazzled by the newer, more obscure Marvel titles like Man-Thing, Howard the Duck, Werewolf By Night and Omega the Unknown, some of these created and penned by groundbreaking writer Steve Gerber, and sometimes featuring full pages of graphic text without images.  For Marvel, this was a revolution, and I excitedly rode the wave with them.

I remember being blown away by Marvel's rendering of the Lovecraft tale Pickman's Model (download pdf) in Tower of Shadows #9 - January 1971.  The story, with its shocking ending, was so typical of Lovecraft, leaving the reader white-faced and fearful of the unexplainable.  My mother, perhaps feeling that I was ready for "real" literature, and knowing my penchant for the macabre (already well-formed at age 7), passed down a collection of H.P. Lovecraft stories that had belonged to my grandfather.  Mom knew what she was doing, and I remain a fan to this day, seeking out the author's obscure writings, film adaptations etc.

OutsiderThe first Lovecraft story to make an enduring impression on me was The Outsider (download pdf); in fact, I still tear up a bit when I think of the tale's woeful conclusion.  Though couched in the milieu of horror/fantasy (as were the bulk of the author's popular works), The Outsider is a note-perfect metaphor for societal alienation (not unlike Herzog's The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser) that transcends genre.

Another great short story, one that has undoubtedly confounded musicians since its publication, is The Music of Erich Zann (download pdf).  Based on the "chaotic babel of sound" the author strains to describe, musical artistes from across the genre spectrum have tried to interpret the bizarre emanations of Lovecraft's enigmatic, haunted viol-player.  Personally, some of Phill Niblock's compositions, and occasionally the music of Art Zoyd, have struck me as appropriately Zann-esque.

Lovecraft's mightiest of literary muscles was his ability to eloquently and elaborately describe the essentially indescribable:  alternate dimensions, ancient beings, dream worlds and the minds of madmen.

Continue reading "H.P. Lovecraft: An Appreciation" »

December 29, 2005

Happy New Year, Enjoy It While You Can

Got big plans for 2006?  Here's hoping, for your sake, that they don't include food stamps, federally funded day care, or Medicaid.  Our President's 2006 Federal Budget Plan is "unjust," at least according to some folks that likely helped to put the smirky frat boy into office for a second term.  So much for Jesus' teachings on charity.  If even mainline Protestants are backing away from Bush, you've got to know that times are hard in this whitest of White Houses. 

Elgreco5thseal_1Thanks for nothing, religi-os; we knew he sucked from the get-go.  Now we're stuck with him for another 2 years.  Very few even dare to breathe the word impeachment, as apparently spying on Americans (without informing the court or Congress), and leading the country into an unjust war (via scripted lies) are not obviously impeachable offenses; not like getting a blow job and then lying about it, which clearly caused the country much deeper and more far-reaching damage.

Perhaps even more surprising is the monumental lack of Internet hysteria over the coming date of June 6, 2006.  This is the Day of The Beast, peasants!  Can we please see some enthusiasm here?!  And I thought you people were hungry for apocalypse.  An albeit cursory 30-minute web search produced minimal links regarding the upcoming auspicious date for evil, though I did find this.  (Religious fanatics seem to have a penchant for ugly, garish and poorly scripted html.  Show me a professional-looking apocalyptic hysteria website, and I'll eat Werner Herzog's shoe.)

OmenThis is not to say that we don't have plenty to fear, the birth of the Antichrist child notwithstanding.  For one thing, some knuckleheads decided (presumably with the current high marketability of horror films) to remake The Omen.  Eeek!  Of course, it will be so much "better" than the original, if only for the inclusion of mega-CGI scary effects.  I can see the marketing tie-ins now:  lick 'em stick 'em "666" tattoos at Burger King (they go under the hair, kids); and giveaway disposable cameras that take pictures of people, revealing the violent ways in which they are destined to die.

In other ominous entertainment news, a $120 ticket purchased for the June 6 performance of Broadway's The Odd Couple may or MAY NOT include stars Matthew Broderick (a known killer) and Nathan Lane (a known unconvincing Oscar Madison.)  Please, NO MORE!  But wait, there's also the Newport International Film Festival, which for unexplained reasons commences on June 6, a day when we all should clearly be hiding and praying at home; one need only look at the photo of Billy Zane in the Flash sequence at the NIFF homepage to know that we have much to fear.

Continue reading "Happy New Year, Enjoy It While You Can" »

December 26, 2005

Rich Christmas

Hello, everybody—nice seeing you again.

A few weeks ago I wrote about how worried I was about Christmas this year, because we are very  broke and, in spite of what people say, it’s obvious that one is expected to spend money at Yuletide. I suspected we weren’t alone down here at the bottom of the barrel, and from some of the comments and e-mails I got, it sounds like I was right about that. One thing I guess I didn’t make clear, though, was that I’ve always really loved Christmas. I love the bright, cheerful decorations, the happy music, the delicious food, the fun of going to parties, and the excitement of giving and getting presents. No matter what’s happened in my life, I’ve always tried to keep Christmas as best I can.

B_puppet_backI think our Christmas this year turned out to be the best one ever. Over the years Sluggo and I have discovered what works for us and what doesn’t, and we’ve  adjusted our Yule celebration until it’s just right. First, we stay away from family on Christmas; intead, we visit them all on New Year’s day, when things are a little less fraught. We catch up on each other’s lives, exchange gifts, and then we go home. We did call the family on Sunday, though, to wish them happy holidays, and Sluggo’s mom told us she’d made a pork roast for Hanukkah, but something went wrong with the recipe (which she’d never tried before) and it came out all greasy and inedible. We could barely hear her over the background noise of our 11-year-old nephew pounding away on the drum set he got for Christmas. After we hung up, we were even happier to be snuggled in front of the fire in our own little house, eating Christmas cookies and watching a Harold Lloyd video.

It took a long time before Sluggo managed to get over his aversion to holidays, but now he is starting to like them. We decorated our Christmas tree together this year, and he made some cocoa for us to drink while we hung the baubles. Every year Dr. Colby gives us some new ornaments, and now the whole tree is beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Oddsville. This year she sent two weird little snowmen—or they might be ghosts—made out of what appears to be toilet-paper papier mache. They are very strange, and we love them. 

I like to cook and bake, so we’ve got the food part taken care of. Some fancy-shmancy food writer once said that hell is two people and a ham, but ham was on sale at our local supermarket for $1.39 a pound, which is really, really cheap around here, and we are looking forward to reincarnated ham from now until New Year’s, when the bone and scraps will make their final appearance in the Hoppin’ John. We always think of Mr. Boyd when we eat that dish on New Year’s day.

Continue reading "Rich Christmas" »

December 22, 2005

Guilty As Charged: Pop'd to Def

Def_leppard1 This is the first in what will hopefully be a short-lived series of sub/admissions to WFMU's Beware of the Blog that I have named Guilty As Charged. In these posts I wish to exorcise for hopefully more than myself some curious obsessions that stall, stop short or otherwise trip me up in the mainstream of popular culture, current and dated. Alright, there's a shorter term for it: Brain Farts. I find that seemingly unrelated thoughts snowball in my mind, gathering hysterical momentum over a few days, ultimately culminating in a delusional and erroneously-perceived synchronous event.

Extreme The latest whirlwind started when I heard a cover of  Extreme's "More Than Words" by Latino R&B musician Frankie J. Which led to thoughts of Nuno Bettencourt. Who is the one-half hairball of that burned-to-memory MTV video (depicted on the left) that in the blush of the nineteen nineties brought America To Tears, for various reasons. A shudder ensues when I recall what was either the rumour or execution of placing other half-hairball Gary Cherone into the role of lead singer for Van Halen. But back to Nuno. He happens to be a hot accomplished musician, who has never had a problem getting accolades from in-the-know hard rock guitarists, guys who seem a million miles removed from the vanguard of music. I am lead, like that plastic thing atop a ouija board, to Paul Gilbert. The guitarist for Mr. Big, who had a fun song called "To Be With You" around the same era. Mr. Gilbert, according to my research is a huge star in all the Asian territories. No doubt why. Mrroww.

Now that we have our cozy retro jammies on, I feel compelled to pass on the info that same-era kings of the Shredd-Ballad Def Leppard are set to release a covers album called YEAH! . It's contents are being leaked out and then squashed on the web lately, so I guess that means it's causing a bit of a stir. Some of the numbers re-visited include songs by Jobriath, Blondie, The Sweet, Roxy Music, ELO, Kongos, Badfinger and The Kinks. You can listen to a clip of DL's quite nice rendition of Waterloo Sunset here. No Foolin' - talk about Pour Some Sugar On Me....

Turkish Sci-Fi Workout

VlcsnapCourtesy of the classic Turkish Star Wars rip off Dünyayi Kurtaran Adam, I've got a workout montage that will have you tying styrofoam boulders to your ankles and sweating off those holiday sweets in no time.

It's a big one at 28MB. GRAB IT!

If you're not familiar with this amazing film check out this review or stop by MySpleen which is currently running torrent of the full feature (sign up req).

December 15, 2005

The Emperor's New Horror Clothes or Why Aswang Is Better Than The Devil's Rejects

Haig_2I really wanted to like The Devil's Rejects.  I really did.  By all accounts of past taste, I was their target demographic, a true devotee of horror films.  It was obvious to me, after watching the film's predecessor, House of 1000 Corpses, that director Rob Zombie was also a true genre fan, one who had seen all the right films, and knew how to distill these influences into a raucously trashy good time.  (I should note that I've just recently seen TDR on DVD; due to a babysitter shortage, ever-rising ticket prices and anticipated shortcomings in theatergoer behavior, we don't get out to the movies much.  Rest assured multiple spoilers are included herein.)

EgdailyThe Devil's Rejects fails because it takes itself way too seriously, making nods to all the right classic horror/exploitation films, but approaching none of them in terms of being shocking, providing true thrills, or penetrating the psyche the way a real horror film is supposed to.  Though the cinematography has many merits, B-actor heroes abound (Ken Foree, P.J. Soles, E.G. Daily, Danny Trejo, and the film's stars Sid Haig and Bill Moseley), and ultimately there is great potential here, the whole presentation left me cold and unsatisfied.  ME, a veteran horror fan since age 7.

Forsythe_1I was also excited at the casting of the great character actor William Forsythe as the vengeful Sherrif Wydell, then disappointed at the mediocre dialog he was forced to read (some horseshit about "God's vengeance" etc.)

The protagonists of the story are lawless, unrepentant, random killers, but their acts are neither shocking nor impactful, merely desultory.  Why do they kill?  These characters are not embodied with the creepiness or enigmatic power (or cannibalistic purposefulness) of the family in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a film that the director and myself clearly hold in high regard.  Personally, I ended up feeling bad for the innocent family of country musicians besieged by the killers; why them?—they weren't even having sex for chrissakes!

Aswang1_4In horror film terms, sadistic and senseless violence perpetrated on unwitting innocents can be easily portrayed, though most often ineffectively.  In 1972, when Wes Craven released Last House On The Left, the terror was effective.  Enough to make that film a transcendent classic, one that got under your skin and disturbed you, so much so that even when the sadistic killers receive their well-deserved gruesome comeuppance, one feels sickened, maybe even a little ashamed or sad, rather than triumphant.

Continue reading "The Emperor's New Horror Clothes or Why Aswang Is Better Than The Devil's Rejects" »

December 08, 2005

"You Shouldn't Have!", Pt. 1

Buckcent200804175klWith Christmas fast approaching (just 14 shopping days left!) I thought I'd help out a bit by suggesting gifts sure to induce jaw-drop in your recipients. Let's start with fake animals...

This year's Talking Billy Bass is Buck The Animated Stag. Click here for a video of Buck in action.

If Buck is a little cheesy by your standards, check out Animal Makers, creators of David Letterman's Late Show Bear. They design and build animatronic critters for Hollywood - and maybe that special someone on your gift list!

The King of Marvin Gardens

In my world, it's almost never a bad time to watch a bleak, neo-realistic 70s Hollywood drama.  These were often simple human stories, told in a sometimes opaque and slowly evolving fashion, populated by complex, layered characters.  Remember when movies didn't need to spell everything out for the dimwitted, AND carry a 30-minute epilogue?  Well I do.  Keep your Spielberg blockbusters, Sundance channel indie charmers, your Harry Potter movies and your Lord Of The Rings trilogy.  Give me Electra Glide in Blue, The Panic In Needle Park or Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore.

Kingofmarvingardens_4_4The other night I sat down to re-watch an old favorite, The King of Marvin Gardens, from 1972.  King... is especially relevant here, as the principal character, David Staebler (played by Jack Nicholson), is a free-form DJ of sorts, a morose autobiographical storyteller, representative of a style prevalent on the FM band during the late 60s and early 70s, though barely present today.  Staebler's stories are told in a slow, patient style that would never stand amongst modern computer-ordained commercial FM formats.  The character's closest modern equivalent might be public radio storytelling giant Joe Frank.

David, a doleful loner, is called away from his nighttime air slot and grim 2-story Philadelphia flat to Atlantic City, by his troublesome wheeler-dealer brother Jason, played by Bruce Dern.  In recent years, Dern had performed memorable turns as a psychotic guardian of Earth's last botanical garden in the moody Sci-Fi thriller Silent Running (1972), and as the last guy you'd want as an LSD-tour companion in Roger Corman's The Trip (1967), the latter written by Nicholson.  Dern and Nicholson had already worked together on several films, including Drive, He Said, Jack's directorial debut from the previous year.  The wonderful Ellen Burstyn (see Alice... above) also stars as the sweet nut-job Jason's been shacking up with.

Continue reading "The King of Marvin Gardens" »

December 07, 2005

Brandon's WFMU Diaries

MakeitstopI'm always fascinated by stories of how WFMU's listeners came to be so. It's like wistfully recalling losing one's virginity which, from what I understand, has happened to some of our audience already. The rest believe sex is overrated compared to the euphoric heights achieved hearing Kenny G singing Wittgenstein, or Mark Allen's Commercial Interruption episode.

New listener Brandon, a librarian from Atlanta e-mailed Station Manager Ken with a link to a site detailing his week of ravaging by the brusque and musky-smelling (Hey, I just think it reads a little like the Story of O or something) He writes:

I haven't proofread lately for any embarassing comments I might have made in there, since this was just intended as a private email series... but now that it's on the web anyway, I thought some of you might be interested to read it. Loved what I heard that week, and I've become a regular listener. 
Just sent another donation, since you'd said in the "state of the station" program that
this is a slow time of the year for cash flow.  Thanks for helping maintain such a high quality station.

Thanks, Brandon!

December 05, 2005




Continue reading "*" »

December 03, 2005

Christmas Lights Sequencer From Hell

Animated Christmas lights-KenzoMerry Christmas, Con Ed; or, I'm Glad I Don't Live Next Door to Them.

3-minute video (Windows Media) (Or here or here) (Music is "Wizards of Winter" by Trans-Siberian Orchestra)

(Artist neighbor unknown)

Another arrangement on the same house, with Jingle Bells audio by (brace yourself) Barbra Streisand: 2-minute video (Windows Media)

(Users of better operating systems can view Windows Media video using the open-source video player VideoLan (a.k.a. VLC).)

The light arrangements are by Carson Williams on his Mason, OH house.  The show ran four hours a night at low volume, simulcast via low-power FM radio for drive-bys, and used 16,000 lights and the Light-O-Rama sequencer.

Or, play Pong on the side of an office building using your cell phone.

(Thanks to Barrett Golding and others for more info!)

UPDATE 12/5/05: How to make the EXACT same display on your own house using Carson Williams' sequencer file.

Yet another UPDATE 12/8/05: Williams has pulled the plug on the light show at his house, due to traffic problems and accidents in front of his house.

UPDATE 12/20/05: Another video to the same music here (Windows Media) (thanks Joe!)

December 01, 2005

Blanket Fodder

In honor of my second week of hazy reality following hernia surgery, I present some "previously unreleased" material (i.e., I'm feeling too leaden and lifeless to churn out something shiny and new.)  These then, are my riffing sessions, ideas that might have been full-on essays (or blog posts), had they only jazzed more than 3 paragraphs out of me.  Hope you enjoy.

Don't Show Me Your Shit

One of my personal goals is to make it through life without ever seeing another person's faecal waste.  Well I've already failed, though by no fault of my own.  A holistic M.D. once asked me if I "looked" when I flushed after a dump (I have to assume this was a "psychological" question), to which I replied, "Yes, I look. I look FONDLY."  I say bye-bye.  But only to my shit, not yours.

FlushThe arrogance in "forgetting" to flush is staggering.  It's sort of the ultimate fuck you.  "Here, man, here's what I think of you.  Look what I left for you.  Isn't it pretty?" 

So don't show me your shit, OK?  I don't want to see it.  Don't take pictures of it, either.  (And that means YOU, Dave; your camera phone privileges should be suspended for life.)  The image of your brownish-yellow, spiraling doopy-doops will give me a bud of repulsion that will last a lifetime.

On Necromancy

Levi_4If raising the dead were as easy as lighting a few black candles and reading from a book, everyone would be doing it.  The focus and dedication required to conjure up a spiritual entity within an exhumed corpse, usually for the purpose of divining information, is way beyond a guy like me.

Eliphas Levi, widely believed to have been somewhat successful in such ritual conjurations, most likely didn't have to punch a clock full-time.  Bon vivants such as The Great Beast, Aleister Crowley, were removed enough from ordinary society by wealth and class to afford them the time necessary to indulge in such pursuits.  I can't remember the last time I went on a horseback opium-poppy expedition, crafted a homunculus, or just performed a good ol' black mass.  There just isn't time for these things once your life gets going.

Continue reading "Blanket Fodder" »

November 24, 2005

A Diagram of the Home

(hommage mineur à Bil Keane)


November 21, 2005

Blubber Chicken and Middle-Class Pie

Hello, everybody—nice seeing you again.

HhelperI was reading a social history of housework, because that's the kind of thing I do for fun, and in the chapter on cooking the author said that now that a whole generation has grown up eating Hamburger Helper, that's what Americans think home cooking is. They associate a good, home-cooked meal with Mom dumping the contents of a box into a pan and mushing it up with some ground beef. This made me feel very un-American, because I'd never eaten Hamburger Helper in my life. Then one night I happened to have a pound of ground beef in the Kelvinator, and it was a night Sluggo wasn't going to be home for dinner, so I decided to experiment. I walked to the store and, mirabile dictu, Hamburger Helper was on sale that week. There were a lot of flavors; I hadn't expected that. I didn't know which was the correct, all-American flavor to get, but there were empty spaces on the shelf so I figured probably the "regular" flavor was already sold out. I wanted to do my experiment, but I wasn't so committed to it that I was willing to get a raincheck and another pound of ground beef the following week, so I finally chose "Oriental" because its name seemed more politically incorrect, and therefore more all-American, than "Stroganoff."

ChickenWell, it was dreadful. The predominant flavor was salt, apparently as an attempt to disguise the bizarre chemical flavors of the other ingredients. I like salt—I sometimes snack on sea salt straight from the box—but Hamburger Helper was too salty for me. I am sorry for the Americans who eat this stuff, but on the other hand I'm not a foodie, either. Foodie food is peculiar in its own way. For instance, foodies are responsible for blubber chicken. For hundreds of years, American cookbooks have advised folks to roast a chicken by letting it sit in a 350-degree oven for an hour or two, depending on the weight of the bird. It was delicious, and it was fool-proof—but unfortunately it wasn’t foodie-proof. Pick up any new-fangled foodie cookbook, and you’ll discover that you should be putting your chicken in a 500-degree oven for a while, and then lowering the temperature for another while, and then you will wind up with a nasty, undercooked, blubbery bird which apparently you are supposed to pretend to enjoy because if you don’t you are an unsophisticated rube who only wants your food to taste good.

Continue reading "Blubber Chicken and Middle-Class Pie" »

November 17, 2005

Poor Christmas

XmasI have been poor most of my life. Not poor as in, “we have to cut back on the cleaning lady’s days,” but poor like being passed around from one relative to another to live, and wearing other kids’ used clothes, and going an entire north-Midwest winter with no winter coat because nobody noticed I didn’t have one. I don’t remember ever being hungry then, but I do remember being cold; I cried from the cold sometimes.

I worked hard in school so I could get a scholarship to college, because I knew that was the only way I’d ever get out. I got a full scholarship to a school in the Pacific Northwest. The winters were warmer there, so my lack of a winter coat didn’t matter so much. I arrived at college with my entire wardrobe: two sweaters, two pairs of jeans, underwear, socks, a pair of clogs, and a jacket. I don’t remember being cold there, but sometimes I was hungry. I stood in the cafeteria where the other kids emptied their trays and took the food they didn’t want. I remember when the price of a box of saltine crackers went up a nickel at the local store, because that meant I couldn’t afford them any more. Then my little sister came to live with me. One of the happiest days of my life was the day we qualified for foodstamps.

LilbrooOne year I started saving at the start of the school year, and by Christmas I had $6.00. I had three people I had to get gifts for, so I used the money to buy cheap little address books at a 99-cent store and some fabric scraps, and I covered the books with the fabric and decorated them and wrapped them in paper I drew myself. It wasn’t so bad, really. I think I have a naturally sunny nature that probably would have come out more if my life hadn’t been so hard when I was young, and that year I thought, “Well, at least I’ll never have a Christmas as poor as this one. Every Christmas from now on will be better than this.” But I was wrong. This year is worse.

Continue reading "Poor Christmas" »

(F:) Drive Video Vault

Face_1Rarely do my worlds collide with such hilarity as in this clip from grindcore band Dying Fetus.  To see the Blue's Clues "face" and other images from popular children's TV used in this fashion brings me great joy.  (Everyone knows that Death Metal vocals started with the Cookie Monster, anyway.)  Go on, play this video for your kids—with the given indecipherability of the lyrics, I'm sure no one's in danger, despite the title.  Here's more information about the band and the album, plus guitar tabs for the song.  [Dying Fetus - Kill Your Mother Rape Your Dog mpg]

SmithSince there seems to be a Fall renaissance going on, it's timely to view these clips of the band in their salad days.  First, one of the earliest lineups performing "Psychomafia" and "Industrial Estate" (plus some interview footage), taken from the What's On? program in 1978.  Note the presence of original keyboardist (and Mark E. girlfriend) Una Baines.  The next clip is a raucous live performance of the song "Smile" from 1983, when the band was featured on the BBC's The Tube.  BBC Radio icon John Peel appears briefly in the intro; Peel waived his hosting fee, with the agreement that The Fall could perform on the show.  All this should make you ripe and ready for The Wonderful and Frightening World of Mark E. Smith, an outstanding 2005 BBC4 documentary that is so good, the lack of a subsequent DVD release would be criminal.  (RSM contributed)  [Fall clip 1] [Fall clip 2]

StranglersHow cool were The Stranglers?  Look at Hugh Cornwell—you wish you were half as cool as he is in this Top of The Pops clip, where the band apes to their version of Burt Bachrach's "Walk On By."  Not the greatest lip syncher, but still way cool.  Start with a base stock of Roxy Music, add some Ray Manzarek keyboards, fold in four creative, decadent minds and stir, with lots of grit and sweat from the pub floor and voila! — one of my all-time favorite bands.  Why are The Stranglers not as heralded as some of their contemporaries from the UK punk explosion?  Was it Dave Greenfield's refusal to leave the prog era behind and cut his hair?  Perhaps they were too dark, too literary or too sexy for their own good.  The Stranglers still perform and record today, albeit without Hugh, who's busy with his solo projects, including two books and a touring/recording band.  [The Stranglers - Walk On By mpg]

Continue reading "(F:) Drive Video Vault" »

November 10, 2005

Who Really Cares...

Momsbox_1...about correct grammar, spelling and punctuation?  As someone who has pursued a career as a proofreader and copy editor for almost 20 years, I consider myself part of that withering breed of cranks who do care, but are at the same time aware we're fighting a losing battle.

The publishing and news media industries, for the most part, do not pay their editors a living wage (it's more of a live-at-home wage), and why should they, with all the chuckleheads out there nursing Jimmy Olsen dreams?  As a result, newspapers, magazines, Web pages and even books in print are riddled with typos, misused punctuation and poorly written sentences.  Fightbono_2Just look at this doozy (pictured) I found on a while back—sentences like this are commonplace on CNN, MSN and other Web media outlets.

If you want to make a living wage as an editor, you'll most likely need to go to work for THE MAN, in one of several "evil" corporate industries such as law, finance, pharmaceuticals or healthcare.  These industries don't generally care about correctness, either.  They care only inasmuch as it affects their bottom line, i.e., if something in print isn't as it should be, they could be fined, be sued, or even (gasp!) lose an important client.  (Don't even get me started on Continuing Medical Education, a wholly corporate-funded scam, and the subject of another blog post for another time.)

So who really cares?  Lynne Truss does.  Truss expanded her well-received BBC Radio 4 series, Cutting a Dash, into the best selling book Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation.  Anyone with even the slightest reverence for correct punctuation usage and grammar will find this a laugh-out-loud read.  To demonstrate the strength of her convictions, upon the opening of the film Two Weeks Notice, Ms. Truss went to Leicester Square with a six-inch apostrophe mounted on a stick, holding it strategically aloft so that, for a time at least, "Weeks" carried its proper possessive.

Most passersby told Truss to "get a life."  The sting of this comment, in this context, has been felt at one time or another by all intrusive, stickler-types like myself.  My own wife, bless her, has weathered years of my "pronunciation tips," and never once told me to "get a life."  But just try telling someone to "get a life" as they blab on about last night's NFL spectacle, the "tribal council" on Survivor, or Lindsay Lohan's drunken escapades.  These things, apparently, are more legitimate stuff of which to make up a life than our glorious and complex written language.

Continue reading "Who Really Cares..." »

November 07, 2005

That Boy Jumpy Sure Can Dance

Hello, Everybody—Nice seeing you again.

WfmubinsThe WFMU Record Fair this past weekend was the most fun ever. Everyone had been waiting a year for it, and folks were ready. There were great live acts, and bizarre entertainment in the AV Lounge, and album cover modification procedures, and dancing, and food—and, of course, tons of vinyl, CDs, and stuff. So much stuff. Usually I can’t even buy anything at the Record Fair, because when I’m confronted by that much recorded material the acquisitive part of my brain overloads and shuts down. I walk up and down every aisle, and then I leave. But this year I was on a mission to find a recording that featured washtub bass, and I want to thank that one dealer who came down $5 on the price so I’d have enough money left to get home. But still … there was a lot of stuff.

I don’t know anybody who doesn’t have a lot of stuff, huge accumulations of pop-cultural detritus: comic books, plastic toys, baseball cards, books, records, CDs, 8-track tapes, shoes, hats, teapots, watches, fountain pens, videos, art, little bits of metal picked up off the street, shopping bags, postcards—anything—everything—all of it at once. I never thought of myself or my friends as being participants in the great American consumer economy, but when I look at our itty-bitty living spaces stuffed full of crap, I have to reconsider.

I think there are various categories of stuff, or that stuff is acquired for several different reasons. There are things that are useful, but I think most stuff is not acquired to be used. One very nice wristwatch is a useful thing, but 37 assorted wacky watches hanging from nails on the wall constitutes stuff. People who collect things may take solitary pleasure from their collection: a philatelist can sit down and leaf through his stamp album and enjoy the collection. But stuff often seems to require an audience. The thing I enjoyed most about my collection of jackalope postcards was the reaction of people who appreciated the humorous aspects of anybody having a jackalope postcard collection in the first place.

Continue reading "That Boy Jumpy Sure Can Dance" »

November 03, 2005

Chinese Rocks

What has Wm. Berger been doing since he left the WFMU airwaves in 1999?  Well, a lot of things.  Among them, amassing a collection of great Chinese pop and rock music.  Mostly by way of recommendations from online friends in China and Taiwan, I've collected a handful of great, contemporary Chinese rock albums, and I have to assume that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

China has emerged in recent years as an economic giant, also seemingly in the midst of some dramatic cultural changes.  The children of upscale Americans are learning Mandarin, a language that may soon be as common here as Spanish if the Chinese have their way with the global marketplace.  Chinese hit movies like Hero and House of Flying Daggers play here (undubbed) to massive box office response.  There's no time like the present, then, to get acquainted with some of the Republic's rock underground.

WongblackmaskAnthony Wong / Anodize - Hong Kong cinema star Anthony Wong Chau-Sang has acted in over 130 films since 1985. He made a name for himself playing opposite Yun-Fat Chow in blockbusters like Hard Boiled and Full Contact, and won awards for his portrayal of Wong Chi Hang in the notorious Bunman film.  I watch every Anthony Wong film I can get my hands on; he's a wonderful actor of great range and depth, bringing humanity and a dark, personal humor to even the seediest of roles.  He's also a musician, having released several CDs of idiosyncratic punk/new wave-inspired rock, sometimes accompanied by the metalpunk band Anodize.  His album of covers,Wong_1 Bad Taste-But I Smell Good (2002), is perhaps the most well recognized internationally.  Here's a nifty Anthony Wong page with some good photos, a (Japanese) fan page, and links to my IMDb comments for two of his films [1] [2].  (He should not be confused Anthony Wong Yiu-Ming, another very successful Hong Kong singer and actor, whose music is more the syrupy radio-pop variety.)  [mp3]  [mp3]  [mp3]  Anodize - [mp3]

ShrSecond Hand Rose Band - Part of the Beijing scene, Second Hand Rose derive part of theirShrcover_1 sound from traditional "Northeastern" music, blending Chinese folk instruments into a standard rock format.  Vocalist Liang Long always performs in drag, often in traditional garments.  Musically, they bring to mind 70s glam pop, especially Roxy Music.  Second Hand Rose have also made a splash in Switzerland for some reason, performing at several cultural festivals there.  Here are some Web pages about the band, in German and English[mp3]  [mp3]

Continue reading "Chinese Rocks" »

October 31, 2005

Things to Think and Boo

Hello, Everybody—Nice seeing you again.
I always advise my Listeners to check the business news sections of web sites or the newspapers, because how else are you going to find out what’s really going on? For instance, how else would we know that the haunted house business is not what it used to be?

Hw_magFirst off, who even knew it was a business? Well, it is. There are a couple of trade magazines called—surprise!—“Haunted House Magazine” and “HauntWorld” (“the ONLY haunted house magazine for professionals!”) There is a haunted house industry association, and haunted house trade shows where haunted house industry professionals can meet with haunted house vendors. But unfortunately it’s not the business it used to be. All those old houses are being seized under the new eminent domain rulings, and there’s all those new safety regulations, and the price of liability insurance keeps going up, and it’s getting hard for a simple animatronic zombie entrepreneur to scare up a few bucks. So don’t quit your dayjob.

I was trying to think of something really scary to leave leave you with this Halloween, and here it is:

When asked if she approved of the Park Slope Pavilion movie theater’s policy of searching the bags of all patrons. Ms. Bridget O’Connor said, “Oh, definitely, I hope they continue. It puts your mind at ease. It might take a couple extra seconds, but what doesn’t?”

Well, EXACTLY. What doesn’t?

Thanks for taking a couple extra seconds to read my blog entry, and happy Halloween.

October 24, 2005

The Stradivarius of the Washtub Bass

Hello, everybody—nice seeing you again.

WashtubOne reason Sluggo and I are still together, after ALL THESE YEARS, is that he is never boring. He’s always finding some new thing, like Punjabi Radio   or the Tejano Conjunto Festival in San Antonio.  And he likes all the weird, interesting things I dig up, too.

Sometimes people I don’t know very well, like someone I work with at my dayjob, will express doubt about our eclectic tastes; one guy I thought was a good friend of mine said he was surprised that I really like this stuff, and that I wasn’t just pretending to like it to seem “cool.” I still don’t understand that. Why would you pretend to like something? When I lived in the Midwest, I never assumed that people pretended to like Paul McCartney and Wings just to seem pathetic.

Anyway, the latest thing that Sluggo’s really into is washtub bass. Here’s THE web site.  And here’s a link you can start with if you want to hear what a washtub bass sounds like.  But before Sluggo could start playing washtub bass, he had to build one. First he built one out of an beat-up little galvanized garbage can we had lying around, along with an old broom handle and some sash cord, but already he’s improving on that. He went out on a local hiking trail and found a big tree branch that blew down in the last storm, brought it home, debarked it, whittled on it, and made a staff that’s the pole for his new washtub bass. Of course he’s carving a block of wood into a figurehead kind of thing for it, and now we have to buy some taxidermy eyes of various sizes. He’s already invented a double bridge, and is making me drive him around to garden supply stores to look for just the right kind of weedwhacker cord to make the perfect string. I’m sure it won’t be long until he’s the Stradivarius of the Washtub Bass. He’s also very excited about getting his photo up on this one web site that has a picture gallery of people with their washtub instruments.

When I was growing up in Iowa, the washtub bass was still around. It wasn’t exactly common, but it was common enough that I got the message that it was kind of outré and not a proper thing to like, even though I DID like it. I liked the sound of it, and the fact that it was made out of, you know, a washtub. I liked the cigar box banjo, too. (Now here is a digression—how is it that the people of Southwest Iowa are taking over WFMU? There’s me, sometime DJ Bronwyn C., from Pottawattamie County, and there’s DJ Clay Pigeon, from Audubon, and there’s DJ Bethany from just across the Missouri River in Omaha. What’s that about?) Anyway, I don’t care what’s  supposed to be cool, and what isn’t, I like what I like, and I’ve always been that way. I guess that’s why I like WFMU.

Thanks for reading my blog entry this week, and may God Bless.

October 20, 2005

What's On My Micro, Part 2

I'm back on the bus to NYC.  Off for a while, then on again.  Such is the life of a perpetually dissatisfied freelance worker.  The need arose, then, to refresh and revise the playlist on my Micro, resulting in the new inclusions below, though all but one of the artists are not terribly new (I must be at risk of High Luddite status; so few new artists impress me anymore.  With a few notable exceptions, new bands seem to often be just an amalgamation of older, better influences, unworthy of the sum of their parts.)

I also want to retract the statement made in my previous post about certain artists not qualifying as "music for being on the move."  Sooner or later, the complexity of moods triggered by commuting, and the city environment, will require a little Stockhausen or MB.

ApolloApollo - Apollo (1970) - A gutsy Finnish rock act who were very much of their time, formed by members of the popular 60s group Topmost.  The album is evenly split between Beefheart-style screwy blues guitar numbers, and Aphrodite's Child-esque string-soaked prog ballads.  [mp3]  [mp3]

Association P.C. - Erna Morena (Live) (1973) - Pan-European improvisational rock band, with similarities to early Soft Machine.  Noodly psychedelic extrapolations, with some very rewarding emergent themes for the patient listener.  I wish more of their catalog were readily available.  A detailed information page about the band can be found here[mp3]

BladderBladder Flask - One Day I Was So Sad That the Corners of My Mouth Met & Everybody Thought I Was Whistling (1981) - Two sides of mind-warping sound collage created by the Rupenus brothers, aka The New Blockaders (see below).  The Rupenuses were also the masterminds behind the Mixed Band Philanthropist project and LP from 1986.  [mp3]

Haikara - Another great discovery in early 70s Finnish rock, Haikara were more progressive and complex than Apollo (above), with inventive song structures that sometimes incorporated Scandinavian folk themes.  Essential for fans of Arbete och Fritid and Panta Rei[mp3]

Continue reading "What's On My Micro, Part 2" »

October 17, 2005

Back to the Books

Hello, Everybody—nice seeing you again.

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.

Continue reading "Back to the Books" »

October 13, 2005

W.C. Fields and International House

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.

Wc_fieldsHer 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:

Reefer_1_2-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."

Rose_marie-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.

-Colonel Stoopnagle and Budd, a dry-as-parchment duo of radio satirists, presenting sight gag inventions, and the bizarre slogan "Stoopnocracy is Peachy."

Continue reading "W.C. Fields and International House" »

October 11, 2005

Here Comes the New Technology, Same as the Old Technology

Hello, Everybody--Nice Seeing You Again.

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. 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!

Edison_1_1Unfortunately, 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.
-Bronwyn C.

October 06, 2005

Adventures in the NWW List, Part 4

As we continue to approach the outer fringes of the Nurse With Wound List, information on releases becomes either scarce, or steeped in speculation and hearsay.  Since I know that I am, to a degree, facing an audience of fellow experts and enthusiasts, any further illumination (or correction) on these artists and their releases is always welcome.  I have acquired several of these titles as CD-Rs or as downloads, so in a few cases I don't even have the original LP sleeve in front of me to scour for what little information may have been available there.

For background information on the list, many other artists and links, please see this index of my previous posts.

HorrificHorrific Child - L'étrange Monsieur Whinster - The Horrific Child album is, to me at least, the jewel embedded in the forehead of the golden idol that is the NWW List.  Part rock album, part experimental album, part imaginary horror soundtrack, L'étrange Monsieur Whinster is a psychedelic pop audio show, flowing naturally from one surprising sequence to the next.  Horrific Child was the creation of one Jean-Pierre Massiera, also the composer behind the Les Maledictus Sound project from 1968.  Les Maledictus Sound were an inventive, high-brow concoction of Easy Tempo-style instrumental mod big band music, with heavy brass, plucky bass and fuzzbeat guitar.  Horrific Child is certainly the logical stylistic next step from that record, evidence of the composer's having survived several years beyond the psychedelic era.  A section from side 2 of L'étrange Monsieur Whinster was released in 1999 as a bonus track on the CD reissue of the Les Maledictus Sound album.  Originally released on the Eurodisc label in 1976. [L'étrange Monsieur Whinster - side 1 excerpt mp3]

Roberto Colombo - Sfogatevi Bestie (Ultima Spiaggia 1976) - Milanese composer, arranger and producer who worked with some of the giants of Italian rock and pop, like PFM and Patty Pravo.  Colombo recorded two solo albums in the latter 70s of this intense, tightly arranged Zappa-flavored progressive jazz rock. Here is a short biography in Italiano.  [Caccia Alla Volpe mp3]

GreyDavid Cunningham - Grey Scale (1976) - Irish-born composer and producer David Cunningham is perhaps most well known for being in The Flying Lizards, and for their string of new wave hit singles ("Money," etc).  Cunningham is also a popular music producer in the UK, working with artists like This Heat and producing Peter Greenaway film scores with Michael Nyman.  He's also worked on countless projects with his long-time collaborators David Toop and Steve Beresford.  Grey Scale was Cunningham's first solo LP (released on Piano in 1977, predating the Flying Lizards by a few years), and remains a coveted collector's item.  It's an album of homespun minimalist themes for small ensembles, and quite cleverly conceived (make sure to read the sleeve notes at the following link.) Detailed information on the album can be found here. [Error System BAGFGAB mp3] [Error System C pulse solo recording mp3]

Continue reading "Adventures in the NWW List, Part 4" »

October 03, 2005

Things to Think and Do

Things to Think and Do

Hello, Everybody—Nice seeing you again.

I accidentally got a job writing fiction once. It was a pretty good job, and it paid pretty well, but the problem was that I’d never written fiction before and I wasn’t sure how to do it. Up until then, all I’d written were true stories of my real life, which apparently someone had mistaken for being fictional, but weren’t. (Of course, now that I know more about serious literary writing, I understand that it’s all pretty much just thinly disguised autobiography anyway, but at the time I didn’t know that.) So anyway, I panicked, and then I read that George Saunders—one of my favorite writers ever—was teaching up at Syracuse, so I wrote to him and asked him if he would teach me writing in a sort of freelance tutoring, don’t-tell-the-University way. He said no, of course, but he was very nice about it. As far as my writing job went, it turned out not to matter too much anyway. And George Saunders is still one of my favorite authors, so I was very happy when Dr. Colby asked if I wanted to go see an adaptation of Pastoralia at P.S. 122 on Saturday.

We did go, and we had a jolly time. The story, about a guy who works as a caveman reenactor at a failing theme park, makes a fine play. I haven’t had the chance to go back and reread it, but it seemed to me that director Yehuda Duenyas did a nice job of adapting it for the stage. All the technical stuff was good, and Michael Casselli’s sets and Kirstin Tobiasson’s costumes were excellent. I don’t go to plays very often because so much of the acting just annoys the crap out of me, but these actors didn’t, and both Aimee McCormick, who plays Janet, and Ryan Bronz, who plays Ed, were outstanding. Bronz conveyed so much with just his facial expressions, which can’t be easy when you’re wearing a caveman unibrow headband. He’s no Kim Myung Min, but he’s very, very good—although it might not be so successful in a bigger theater where you couldn’t see him right up close. Pastoralia is in the wee little theater space on the 9th St. side of P.S. 122 through next weekend, and I recommend that you see it if you get the chance.

Here are some other things I’m looking forward to doing to fill time until I get my Hepatitis shots and ship out for Louisiana:

Continue reading "Things to Think and Do" »

September 29, 2005

Shit From an Old Glove Compartment

My Mom rarely throws anything away.  I wouldn't say that she's a hoarder of tragic proportions, not like some you may have read about, but her home is unquestionably a museum of old magazines, old clothes, useless furniture, dried-out magic markers and cat knick-knacks.  "No Surface Left Uncovered," I like to say.  Every once in a while, her hoarding leads to unexpected discoveries, like a plastic baggie full of paper items retrieved from the glove box of the Dodge I drove throughout the early 90s.  As I sorted through them, these papers recalled a tattered reality of past lives, past loves, old friends and past decadence.

ModernizeI used to have an assortment of little cards like this one, which typically carried a handwritten signature on the back (otherwise it was fairly useless.)  That signature (theoretically) endowed the presenter with the ability to purchase certain "specialized groceries" at said location(s), which would not have been available to the walk-in patron.

Song"Song For Uncle Wiggly to Sing" - Lyrics that were never musically realized, penned for us by friend and genius painter/performer TJK Haywood aka Wooden Thomas.  His work also adorns the cover of the second Uncle Wiggly LP, Across The Room and Into Your Lap.  Here's a link to Wooden Thomas' web site, and a free mp3 from his milestone album, Age of Aquarium.

EnvelopePostcardEnvelope and postcard from Thailand.  Sent by Sari Rubinstein, now The Queen of Rubulad.  Inside the envelope were a personal letter to me, and this glorious postcard of the Wat Chayamangkalaram Buddhist temple in Penang.  The postcard lacked a street address, but was written and addressed in name to my friends Mark Ashwill and Julie Spodek.  I guess I was supposed to hand deliver it.  Note my proto-hip Bedford Ave. address.  Some goateed beatnik no doubt lives there now and pays 4X the rent my roommate and I paid in 1992.

Continue reading "Shit From an Old Glove Compartment" »

September 26, 2005

Wouldn't It Be Nice—

if Brian Wilson called you on the phone? He will, if you just donate $100 or more to Hurricane Katrina relief through his web site, He'll also match your donation dollar for dollar. I figured probably you'd give the money and then get one of those auto-tape calls, like the ones from political candidates that are always clogging up our answering machine at election time, but no—Brian says he will call to say hello, or even answer a question if you've got one. Do you have a question you'd like to ask Brian Wilson personally? I can think of a couple. But you've also got to have the $100.

Waiting to Deploy

Hello, Everybody--nice seeing you again.

Here’s how I know that Hurricane Katrina was one of the worst disasters ever to hit this country: They’re willing to use me to help clean it up.

A couple of weeks ago, when the Red Cross said they needed 250,000 volunteers to go down and help the victims of Katrina, I went to their web site to sign up. ( It turned out they weren’t looking for 250,000 volunteers, they were looking for 250,000 volunteers with specific disaster-response training. I can sort of understand that. I know they don’t want a whole bunch of kind-hearted people showing up and then standing around wondering where they’re going to eat and who's going to give them a place to stay. But I’m pretty self-sufficient and I’ve got skills: My first job in New York was driving a wholesale grocery delivery truck, so I can drive and I can lift heavy things. I know how to change the oil in a car, gap spark plugs, and use an engine timing light, in case somebody has a 30-year-old car that needs that. I know how to knit. I can type about 90 words a minute. I have a vast repertoire of obscure song lyrics and memorized poetry. I’m a pretty good shot with a handgun. I can play the cello. I know how to replace faucet washers and fix the toilet when it runs all the time. In college I had a work-study job that involved performing vasectomies on the rats in the psych lab, so I can do minor animal surgery. I got Red Cross lifeguard certification when I was 16, and Red Cross pet first-aid certification last year. That’s right: I have Red Cross pet first-aid certification, yes I do. And that’s why the Humane Society of the United States seems willing to send me down to Gonzales, Louisiana to clean the cages of the animals rescued from New Orleans.

Last Monday there was an article in the Daily News that said the Humane Society ( was looking for volunteers to go down to the Gulf and rescue animals who are still trapped, but they also need people to walk and water and feed and clean up after the animals that have already been saved and are being held in the big emergency shelters in Gonzales and in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The story said “even people without experience can pitch in.” Actually, I do have some experience cleaning cages and all—I was an assistant at a veterinarian’s office for a while in college, too, because back then I was thinking about becoming a vet. I sterilized stuff and ran simple tests and fed and watered  and walked and cleaned up and washed the animals that were being sent home and held the ones that were being euthanized when their owners couldn’t bring themselves to do it. And I do have that Red Cross pet first-aid certification, so send me! Send me! SEND ME!

Continue reading "Waiting to Deploy" »

September 22, 2005


When I awoke suddenly at 3 a.m. the other night to the sound of a ferociously loud motorcycle on the street outside, I knew then what this week's post would be about.  After trying to fall back to sleep for 30 minutes, I got up and started writing.

BabyThose who know me know that I am all for noise in the proper context.  I listen to music that often prompts others to say "that's not music."  I love Merzbow, MB, Goat, Yoko Ono, Whitehouse and The New Blockaders.  But noise in the public, urban landscape can be intrusive, offensive, disruptive, disheartening and sometimes rage-producing.  Usually this kind of noise is propagated by individuals guilty of what I consider to be the greatest of personal sins:  obliviousness.  They're oblivious to the fact that they share their environment with others who are trying to live their lives in relative peace and harmony, i.e., "that's me, and I'm doin' it 'cause it feels good."  Most city noise isn't personal or malicious, it's worse; it's negligent and casually disrespectful.

Every so often, I read something about the measurement of big city noise levels, or about some legislator who wants to mount anti-noise laws as a quality of life issue, but things don't ever seem to change that much, and I think the whole situation speaks to the sad limitations of human nature and humans in general.  Environmental noise is likely causing us more harm than mere annoyance.  There is also speculation that noise may be making our kids dumb (see this link too) and hard of hearing.   Noise may also be damaging our wildlife.

When I enter "street noise nuisance" into Google, 90% of the links on the first 3 pages are UK-based; is this because the British are more apt to use the term "nuisance" or because goddamit, we're the USA, we're loud, proud, aggressive and prone to preemptive invasions?  In fact, a battery of noise-complaint-related Google searches I did brought up more UK and Canada-related links in general, supporting the common notion (which I'd like to believe is wrong) that Canadians and the British are generally more civilized than we are.  (The few relevant links I was able to find that related directly to the northeastern US are collected at the end of this post.)

We all have our "if I were Mayor, President, or King of the Free World" fantasies, and here are a few noise-related offenses that I, were I to ever hold high office, would terminate with extreme prejudice.

Continue reading "NOOIIISSSE!" »

September 19, 2005

The Card Man

Cardman1_1Hello, Everybody--Nice seeing you again.

One day, years ago, I was walking down Madison Avenue on lunch break from my dayjob at a law firm. I was on the west side of the street between 39th and 40th, when a chubby little man with a bad haircut, wearing an ill-fitting, brown blazer, handed me a business card as he walked past. The card had the name of some employment agency on it, and I tossed it into the next trashcan I came to.

A few months later, he did it again. I was on lunch break, on Madison, near the spot where I saw him before, and he handed me the same card. “What is this?” I asked.

He looked a little startled when I spoke to him. “It’s about a job,” he said.

“What kind of job?”

The question seemed to make him uncomfortable. “You have to call,” he said, sidling away.

When I got back to my office, I did call. A woman answered. “Hi,” I said. “A gentleman gave me your card and suggested I call about a job.”

“You’ll have to come in to the office, “ said the woman.

“What kind of jobs do you have?” I asked. “Are you a temp agency?”

“I can’t talk about it on the phone,” she said. “You have to come in and see us.” Of course, I never did.

Continue reading "The Card Man" »

September 15, 2005

Adventures in the NWW List, Part 3

For background information on the NWW List and related links, see my previous posts.

The Sperm - Shh! (1970) - The 60s counterculture hit Finland with explosive results.  Even prior to the late 60s, Finland was considered an important center for contemporary electronic music and avant-garde art and performance.  If you then consider psychedelic and progressive rock on into the 70s, the Finnish scene was so rich that once you start listening you'll never run out of new discoveries; certainly, a wealth of curious releases remain unissued on CD. Several key titles have been made available on CD by Love Records.  For a detailed account of what went on, and the artists that propagated the mayhem, see the Finnscene site.  Also look for the indispensable compilation CD Arktinen Hysteria - Suomi-Avantgarden Esipuutarhureita (Love Recs), featuring several artists from the NWW List and other notable Finnish maniacs.

Sperm_1The Sperm were formed in 1967 by Pekka Airaksinen (who also features independently on the NWW List), J.O. Mallander and other giants of the Helsinki art/music scene, making them sort of an underground "supergroup."  They organized happenings, and made outrageous music using electric guitar, tape manipulation and other noises, spiritual grandaddys to the likes of Throbbing Gristle, Merzbow, Matthew Bower and The Dead C.  Yes, this album really is that good. [Heinäsirkat mp3]

Also quite worthwhile is the recently released Pekka Airaksinen/Sperm 2-disc collection including unreleased goodies, Madam I'm Adam (features 2 other tracks from the Shh! album.)

VianPatrick Vian - Bruits Et Temps Analogues - Excellent moog-based rock album released in 1976 on the legendary Egg label.  It's a wonder this hasn't been reissued, what with the intense interest in all things analog, to say nothing of the dozens of "sampleable" grooves herein.  Similar to early Heldon, or mid-period Tangerine Dream, but really its own thing and a very enjoyable recording.  Patrick Vian had previously led the group Red Noise (1970), also featured on the list.  [Grosse Nacht Musik mp3] [Tunnel 4 Red Noise mp3]

Continue reading "Adventures in the NWW List, Part 3" »

September 12, 2005

The Books of August

Hello, Everybody—nice seeing you again.

I thought August was a pretty good month for me. I’ve been feeling better and was able to get out and have a little summer fun--I went to a couple of parties, an art opening, and a wedding, and I saw Jean Nathan speak in Bryant Park about her brilliant book, “The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll.” But then I looked at the books I’ve read over the past month, and I started to wonder about what’s really been on my mind: Two of ‘em are about my childhood homeland, two of ‘em have the word “gothic” in the title, one of ‘em is about surviving in extreme circumstances, and one of ‘em made me think of a very dear, dead friend.

Amer_sgns American Signs: Form and Meaning on Route 66, by Lisa Mahar (2002, The Monicelli Press). Is there anything better than reading a book by someone whose mind works just like yours? Lisa Mahar traveled Route 66 from Chicago to L.A. and analyzed the motel signs along the way--their history, evolution, construction, function, and the messages they convey--with charts, illustrations, and many photos. The fact that she even thought to do this thrills me, but the execution--the book itself--is even better. Here is the caption to one of my favorite illustrations: “Motels signs that included a saguaro [cactus] illustration were relatively common along Route 66, but none were located within the natural range of the species. This illustration, which locates the motels in relation to the plant’s native habitat, is based on an illustration in Douglas Towne’s ‘The Mysteries of the Wandering Cactus Unearthed.’” Okay, maybe she could have used a better copy editor, but the book is a real treasure. It’s 272 pages long, and I thought of Mr. Boyd as I read every page.

Continue reading "The Books of August" »

September 08, 2005

Adventures in the NWW List, Part 2

For the background and explanation of the Nurse With Wound list, see last week's post.  Also, last week I neglected to link to this great NWW List site, chock full of useful information.

Now on to this week's list of exceptional recordings.

Urban_1990Urban Sax - I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I avoided listening to Urban Sax for years.  You see, I have a thing about names, and the name Urban Sax conjured up visions of the stereotypical street alto player, clad in a loose-fitting geometric print blouse and a leather Stetson, bopping David Sanborn riffs to the aether somewhere near 72nd and Broadway.  How wrong was I?  Very wrong indeed.  Upon cautious investigation, I found that the "urban" in Urban Sax refers to the original project concept of creating sound environments in cityscapes via a large group of selectively positioned brass players.  Urban Sax is the creation of progressive music icon Gilbert Artman, founder of Lard Free and member of the experimental trio Catalogue with Jac Berrocal.  The band's discography up to and including the Spiral album in 1991 is varied and stellar, and perhaps most importantly, not what you might imagine.  Their sound is low on skronk, high on drone and performer interplay, such that the expected saxophone sounds are often submerged in harmoniously unrecognizable waves of tone, color and percussion.  Urban_1For more information (and if you can at least somewhat read Francais) see their homepage; also see their brief but informative Wikipedia entry.  Though I believe that most of the Urban Sax catalog has appeared on CD at one time or another, nowadays the discs are reasonably hard to find.  Their self-titled 1977 album is a masterpiece, comprising four sidelong pieces of organic waft and shimmer. [Urban Sax Part 3 mp3]

Osamu Kitajima - Benzaiten - Debut rock/ethno/psych album released on Antilles in 1974, incorporating traditional Japanese instruments (koto, biwa, wood flute) into the standard rock mix. Largely instrumental and proto-new age, but definitely a rock record first and foremost, with heavy electric guitar passages.  Kitajima has an extensive discography, though my guess is that Benzaiten will appeal most to fans of the list.  Today he is "Dr. Kitajima," and runs new age label East Quest records. [Benzaiten (repris) mp3] 

Continue reading "Adventures in the NWW List, Part 2" »

September 05, 2005

Only the Realistic Survive

Hello, everybody--nice seeing you again.

Katrina Like everyone else, all I know is what I read on the Internet.  Of course, this week  I’ve been following the story of Hurricane Katrina, and I’ve listened to the mayor of New Orleans’ radio interview and I’ve watched the president of Jefferson Parish break down and cry, and I’ve read all those commentors asking, “How could this happen?” That seems a little disingenuous to me. People want to know why President Bush couldn’t attend to the biggest natural disaster in the country’s history, when  he was in Florida--the Bush Fascism Testing Ground, the state that “won” the election for him in 2000, where his brother’s the Governor--within 48 hours after one of the big hurricanes hit there last year. Well, why do you think? Within 48 hours of Hurricane Katrina the administration announced that all those Louisiana and Mississippi National Guard soldiers over in Iraq were NOT going to be allowed to come back early, and if that’s not a good, solid indication of their brand of leadership, I don’t know what  is. People say the Department of Homeland Security failed during this crisis, but actually they’ve continued to do their work--spying on American citizens’ public library records and preventing Canadian rescue teams from entering the country to help us. And the Navy has announced that Robotic Lord Cheney’s former company, Halliburton, will be restoring power and rebuilding three naval facilities that were wrecked by the hurricane in Mississippi. We can all take comfort in that, I guess.

Continue reading "Only the Realistic Survive" »

September 01, 2005

Adventures in the NWW List, Part 1

StapletonIn 1979, the members of Nurse With Wound, Steven Stapleton, John Fothergill and Heman Pathak, compiled a roll call of their favorite "outsider" musical artists to include with their first album, Chance Meeting on a Dissecting Table of a Sewing Machine and an Umbrella.  No other details were provided, just 300 or so names in block type.  The second version of the list included several newly added names, and came with the To the Quiet Men From a Tiny Girl LP in 1980.  Stapleton and co. knew not what they hath wrought; the so-called Nurse With Wound List has since become a scavenger hunt of holy grails for fanatical collectors of Krautrock, progressive rock, psychedelic, post-punk, jazz, free improvised and experimental music.

Most of the artists on the list stem from the period 1969-1980, that gloriously creative, fertile era when most of my favorite records got made, boundaries were broken and excesses were indulged.  To date, many of these artists and their recordings remain unissued on CD, though a substantial number have been made available by stalwart reissue labels like Alga Marghen, Captain Trip, Fractal, Spalax, Paradigm and MIO.  In fact, the list is at least partly responsible (along with the Freeman brothers, Julian Cope and others) for the resurgence of interest in the Krautrock genre and the reissues that followed.

I have attempted to include here only selections that cannot be easily found elsewhere.  By and large, the labels that have endeavored to put these titles out are very small labels that deserve your patronage.  I have no desire to undercut their business, or the business of specialty stores and distributors around the world.  Most of what you'll see and hear here (and in future posts) are rips from my personal vinyl collection, or else they've been acquired as downloads via online file-sharing communities.

OrchidOrchid Spangiafora - Flee Past's Ape Elf - According to information found here, "Orchid Spangiafora is Rob Carey sometimes aided by Byron Coley & Chris Osgood (of the Suicide Commandos)."  This album came out in 1979, and has got to be the weirdest record ever released on Twin/Tone.  Brilliant, obsessive, hilarious spoken word-tape-cut-up-hell of the highest order.  For audio samples, or to purchase a "custom CD-R" from Twin/Tone, click here. [Sheer Madness mp3]

Sally Smmit and Her Musicians (1980) - Hangahar - This is The Mekons' Sally Timms like you've never heard her, long before she became the belle of skewed new wave-country music fans everywhere.  Released on the ridiculously short-lived Groovy label (Pete Shelley's label, which also released his now ultra-rare Sky Yen album), the album is two sidelong pieces of shambling post-Yoko Ono, post-Can jamitude. Undoubtedly an influence on Kraut-pranksters Damenbart. [A - Part One (edit) mp3]

VertoVerto - Krig/Volubilis - Dark, hovering, French progressive psych released in 1976 on the Tapioca label.  Tapioca was associated with the obscure Pôle label, responsible for the original release of this and several other monumental French prog classics featured on the list, including the Besombes-Rizet double LP. Guitars, keyboards and ominous vocals. [Et Terre mp3] [TK 240 S 52 mp3]

Continue reading "Adventures in the NWW List, Part 1" »

August 30, 2005

Bronwyn's iPod Shuffle

Hello, Everybody—nsya.

There’s lots of things I don’t have, money being probably the main thing because if I had some money I might get some of the other things I don’t have now. Then I would have those things, but I wouldn’t have the money any more.

One of the things I don’t have is an iPod Shuffle. But if you go to the web site that explains how to automatically fill up your Shuffle with your favorite corporate listening product, you will see that Syncitunes_1Bronwyn's device is copying a tune called “Tonight We Fly.” I wanted to hear what that song sounded like, so I googled it and found a reference to a group called Divine Comedy, but I couldn’t find any links to that song or any little samples of it. I did find a record company called Divine Comedy that has lots of stuff I think I’d really like to hear. Maybe we can get them to send some things to Program and Music Director King Brian at WFMU. But even if I did have some money, I don’t think I would trade it for an iPod Shuffle, because if I were listening to real music I might not be able to hear the songs that are always on in my head.

Thanks for reading my irregular blog entry, and MGB.

Found and Found

HewasrippedTo beef up a previous post on found items, I discovered a wealth of links for sites offering an array of cultural detritus and other people's crap:

Found photos: Big Happy Fun House
Sound collage artist listing:
An alarmingly expansive collection of found items, retro-heavy: Swapatorium (be sure to click on the video link for Laffun Head)
The Grocery List Collection: yep, 800 of 'em
Snapshots: Square America
Photos and pop ephemera: Happy Palace
Halloween-related crapola: Old Haunts
X-mas-related junk: Santa and me!
More found photos, organized by year: Time Tales

Whoa people, get a life. I mean, c'mon, don't you have something better to do than live vicariously through other people's garbage? Yeah, me neither.

August 29, 2005

Pablo Picasso, He Was No Porno

Hello, Everybody--Nice seeing you again.

Nick Bertozzi is smart, funny, good-looking, and talented. Unfortunately, he’s also a cartoonist. He started out the way a lot of alternative cartoonists do, drawing his own crude, obscene, and funny comic book, “The Incredible Drinkin’ Buddies.” Then he got all artsy and drew “Boswash,” a story about a cartographer that, instead of being printed as a book, folded out like a map. He won some awards for that one. He drew a bumper sticker Wfmu_1for WFMU in 2001. His art got better and better, and he started getting illustration gigs, and he got married and had a little girl, and his comics got more and more serious and historical, ’cause you don’t want to draw dirty stuff when you’re thinking about keeping your daughter off the pole. That’s why I was surprised when I heard that some poor guy in Georgia might be going to prison for giving away a comic book with a Nick Bertozzi story in it.

Every year, the comic book industry has a promotion where they give away free comic books. This is supposed to lure people into comics stores, as if there’s anything in there you’d actually want to buy once they get you inside. I used to love comics, but I don’t go into comic shops any more because I got tired of pimply-faced 17-year-olds calling me “Ma’am” as if it were an insult. Anyway, this guy, Gordon Lee, owns a comic book shop in Rome, Georgia, and he had a bunch of books for 2004 Free Comic Book Day that he couldn’t even give away, so he decided to hand them out to trick-or-treaters on Halloween. One of the books was an anthology called “Alternative Comics #2” that featured an excerpt from “The Salon,” Nick Bertozzi’s graphic novel about Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso. You know how kids love the early cubists.Cubism Nick did a lot of research on these guys, and the story is historically accurate, including the fact that the first time Braque went to Picasso’s studio, Pablo was painting in the nude. Naturally, that’s the part of the story that was excerpted in “Alternative Comcs #2.” Gordon Lee says the comic—which has a "Mature Readers" label—was accidentally put in the give-away pile, where it wound up being handed to a 9-year-old boy. The kid’s parents complained, and Gordon Lee was arrested.

Continue reading "Pablo Picasso, He Was No Porno" »

August 25, 2005

Living Room Photos Found On Foxtons' Brooklyn Condo and Coop Listings

Relr18Here are some living room photos I found while perusing Foxtons' Brooklyn condo and coop listings:

Continue reading "Living Room Photos Found On Foxtons' Brooklyn Condo and Coop Listings" »

August 18, 2005

What Really Happened... Natalee Holloway?

How does someone just up and disappear?  Why can't they "tune up" murder suspects in Dutch territories?  How long can a European rich kid keep quiet?  These and other questions may plague us forever, but we can be pretty sure that it's unwise to get drunk in a foreign land and make out with a sadistic rich boy that you just met, however cute he may be.

I would like to see her returned to her family alive and unharmed, but with the passage of time, a positive outcome seems less and less likely.  Still, judging by the seemingly everlasting media coverage of the Holloway case (particularly by the always "compassionate" Fox News), one would think this were a global tragedy of tsunami proportions.  Get some perspective:  In the United States alone, more than one million people are reported missing each year; most of them do not have three Dutch F-16 warplanes with lasers and special cameras looking for them, either.

Chances are good that the Bad Thing has happened to young Natalee.
Running the acknowledged risk of extraordinarily bad taste, I offer these alternative possibilities:

-Shot by disappointed office seeker

-Harem girl at Brunei Palace

-Managing Aruba Denny's

-Drowned self, despondent over Terri Schiavo passing

-Drowned self, despondent over Jackson verdict

-Drowned self, despondent over choice in America's Top Model 2005

Continue reading "What Really Happened..." »

August 11, 2005

Wm's DVD Hit List

DVDs have been around long enough that releases pandering to more obscure tastes are now a given.  (If you remember, it took CDs a while to delve into the farther reaches of "good" taste; now we hardly blink when confronted with a 19-hour G.I. Gurdjieff box set.)  I no longer have any doubt that I will someday hold in my hands DVD reissues of WR: Mysteries of the Organism, Dellamorte Dellamore, Elevator to the Gallows and the works of Kenneth Anger.  There are a few films recently (and not so recently) surfaced on DVD that warrant mention, both for their outstanding quality as films, and for the celebratory fact that someone had the cojones to put these titles out.

The Ultimate Camper-Slasher FilmJustdawnposter
Forget Friday the 13th.  Forget the whole series.  Jason Voorhees (one of the dullest characters in the horror genre) has nothing on a couple of inbred Virginian twins.  Whatever camp appeal the loosely strung together kill scenes of the Friday series may provide, Just Before Dawn (1980) is guaranteed to thrill on a more sophisticated and cathartic level.  A worthy descendant of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Just Before Dawn has a subtlety and lingering creepiness not seen too often in this genre, i.e., what you don't see, or what you see quickly out of the corner of your eye, is ultimately more unsettling than any graphic gore that could have been provided.  Shriek Show's reissue packs a full 2nd disc of cast and crew interviews, trailers and stills galore.  Click here for my full review posted on the IMDb.

Eye Myth2003may029_brakhage_3
I’m a whore for the early days of experimental film, especially of the 50s and 60s.  The thoughtfully-assembled, gloriously remastered Stan Brakhage double-DVD on Criterion (rel. summer 2003) was therefore a must-have.  Brakhage’s goal was to liberate the eye from learned perceptions, i.e., "How many colours are there in a field of grass to the crawling baby unaware of 'green'?”  Nowhere is this notion more manifest than in Dog Star Man, presented on disc 1 of the set.  In addition to the images filmed, the actual negative was painted on, scratched and distressed any number of ways.  The result is a fast moving (but not un-soothing) cavalcade of color imagery and superimposition.  That said, the sheer beauty of Dog Star Man, and many of the other films in this collection, will likely keep the uninitiated from feeling bored or over-articized; inasmuch as these are unquestionably experimental works, lacking plot or narrative, they are nonetheless accessible to anyone with a relatively open mind and a set of working eyes.  (Note: Some films in the set are not for the faint-hearted, including unblinking autopsy footage and a live birth; these are not, however, typical of what’s presented.)

Continue reading "Wm's DVD Hit List" »

August 04, 2005

Will Smith Does Ozzfest

Will4OK, not really, but he's there. America's favorite ex-rapper, Mr. Will Smith is traveling on this year's Ozzfest. Why? His wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith is the lead singer of a "metal" band called Wicked Wisdom who is playing the second stage daily. Sigh. You know where this is going & it's gonna be ugly. So first, let's briefly talk about Ozzfest. 3/4ths of the performers on the 2nd (smaller) stage have to pay Sharon/Ozzy/Ozzfest Inc. the sum of $100,000 for the privilege of playing. Sound like a good deal? On the surface it seems like perhaps it could be worth it for the exposure (it doesn't to me, but someone's gotta play Devil's Advocate), but your money could be better spent on a publicist for a couple of years for that dough. The "second" stage starts at 9:30am, so whoever plays first (The Haunted the day I went) gets no new audience. Aside from whether or not it's a good idea to pay the money to play, Ozzfest has spots that are coveted by metal bands, new and old.

Continue reading "Will Smith Does Ozzfest" »

Cymraeg Ceraint Deilyngu Yn Deall

In a previous post, I solicited WFMU anagrams.  Now I'll propose another: 

Welsh Friends Merit Understanding.

Believe it or not, we've got a pretty strong Welsh contingent here:  Wales may claim myself (myfi), Brian Turner (Durniwr), Evan "Fwnc" Davies, Gaylord Fields (Barciau), and Bronwyn Carlton (no change). There may even be others, and I wish they'd stop hiding.

Sheep_at_fence_1Ha ha ha, sheep at a fence - oh yeah, never heard THAT one before!  Ah, but frankly I'm not here to foster understanding and warm relations between Us Welsh and everybody else - not in that way, anyway.  We revel in your misunderstanding.  No, I just like the language, and since You People are always with the "what the, whaaa- it's all consonants?!", I thought maybe I'd address it... a little bit.

Back in the day when just about every DJ we've got took to mangling the band name Gorky's Zygotic Mynci on the air, I gained a reputation as the guy who knew how to pronounce it.  I had, after all, just returned from a trip to Llangollen, (mp3) host of the annual Eisteddfod, (mp3) where I learned how to pronounce both of those words.  Click on 'em to hear me say them, then look below the fold where I'll teach you how to do it too.

(By the way, "Gorky's Zygotic Mynci" actually contains no Welsh words, it's just all nonsense -- I think.)


So anyway, there I was, just back from Conwy Castle on the North Sea, and nearly every day I'd hear someone on the in-house intercom going "Scott, will you please come to the main studio and tell me how to say 'Merched yn neud Gwallt eu Gilydd', or 'Iechyd Da'".  It was a hoot - I even got a Welsh phrasebook.  I haven't picked it up since 1998, but I still have it.  Now along comes Gruff Rhys from Super Furry Animals with his "Chwarae'n Troi'n Chwerw" and his "Yr Atal Genhedlaeth", and I don't feel like such a smartypants anymore.

Ha ha ha, sheep at a water fountain... Fountain_sheep

Continue reading "Cymraeg Ceraint Deilyngu Yn Deall" »

August 01, 2005

The Dog With No Nose

Hello, Everybody—nice seeing you again.
I have a dayjob at a dog magazine, and when I first started there people kept telling me about the dog with no nose. They said he lived somewhere in the neighborhood of our office, and that occasionally they would see him outside being walked. As an extremely gullible person, I am always a little afraid of being pranked, and for a long while I thought this was probably just some kind of initiation trick, like going to camp as a kid and being sent on a snipe hunt or when the other production staff at the Village Voice used to threaten me with tales of Gauzehead, the dreaded specter of Deadline Doom. I did actually see Gauzehead once, and he was truly terrifying. He also had an uncanny resemblance to Andrea, the drummer for the Fuzztones,
but I’m sure that was just a coincidence.

Anyway, one day I went out for lunch very late, later than usual. I was talking on my cell phone to DJ Amanda, when I saw him—The Dog with No Nose. It is almost impossible to describe what he looks like, because it’s just so wrong. He’s a nice old Golden-Retriever-looking fella who’s missing the top front half of his face. His tongue laps out periodically as if he’s trying to smell things with it like a snake. He shuffles along the street leaving a wake of double-takes and horrified looks from the people he passes. “Omigod!” I hissed into the phone. “It’s The Dog With No Nose!” “Oh, I’ve seen him,” Amanda replied. It turned out she knew all about him, having run into him once when she took her Puli , Dodger, to the Animal Medical Center in Manhattan.
This would seem to confirm some of our office speculation that The Dog With No Nose lost his nose due to some awful accident or maybe an illness, dog nose cancer or something. Dogs are not vain, so the ghastly disfigurement probably doesn’t worry him, but how does he get along without the sense of smell that is so important to dogs? Was his nose removed to save his life, and was that a kindness or not, given the circumstances?

I have been thinking a lot about The Dog With No Nose lately, since my skin cancer’s come back all across the tip of my nose and a little spot on my upper lip. I’m just finishing my fourth week of chemo, and my nose is coming off in hunks. I realize now I’ve always been rather fond of my nose. I stare at it in the mirror and suddenly find it perfectly adorable. I know I’m going to miss it if they have to take it off. Having been through cancer twice before myself, and having been the friend or relative of a number of other people who have had other types of cancers, I know it’s difficult sometimes for well-meaning friends to know what to say or do. Of course, everyone is different in their reaction to serious illness, but here are a few things I’d like my friends to keep in mind, and maybe other folks would find these helpful as well:

1. Please don’t be afraid to ask how I’m doing. I want to know you care about that. But please don’t call me at work and ask for the full report while I’m sitting in a cubicle. E-mail is probably the best way to contact me, because even when I’m home I may be tired or may not feel like talking right that moment about being sick. Send me an e-mail and tell me you’re thinking of me. Tell me I can call you anytime if I feel like talking. Think of something fun we can do together that doesn’t involve my sitting in direct sunshine. Please don’t disappear from my life just because you’re afraid you’ll say the wrong thing. Telling me you care about me is always appropriate.

2. Please be optimistic, but don’t tell me your elderly uncle had skin cancer and the doctor just scraped it off and he was fine. I really hate it when people act like skin cancer is baby beginner training wheels cancer and not the “real thing.” I have already endured being told I was going to lose an eye from this. I have been through two major operations—one took four hours, and the other five hours, and I had to be conscious during both of them while pieces of my face were being removed. The left half of my face is so scarred up it looks like a hippie chick’s patchwork handbag. On the other hand, I don’t want to hear about how many people die from skin cancer every year, either. So this is tricky, I know. Maybe you can just concentrate on how lucky I am to live in New York, where there are so many great doctors to help me. There have been some terrific advances in treatment since I had my surgeries a few years ago--that’s a good thing to keep in mind, too.

3. Make me laugh. Send me a funny card, or a copy of the funniest book you’ve ever read. E-mail me a joke. Send me a DVD of a funny movie. If you’re SURE you know my sense of humor, you can even make jokes about my stupid illness. DJ Kelly told me that if I had to have some of my nose removed, she would donate tissue from her ass to replace it. This made me howl, because she knows her ass is a never-ending source of hilarity to me.

4. IF you can do it honestly, compliment me on some aspect of my appearance. Not only does my face look weird right now, but being sick makes me feel ugly. On the other hand, I’ve recently lost 22 pounds and I look pretty good. I just got a great haircut. Saying something nice would really boost my mood right now, if it’s sincere. We had a small electrical fire in our office last week, and the cutest fireman came to check it out. I said something flirtatious to him, and HE FLIRTED BACK. I can’t tell you how great that made me feel.

5. Pray for me. Scientists and experts have found that other people’s prayers have a positive effect on the recovery of sick people, even if the sick people don’t know they’re being prayed for. So please put in a good word for me with your deity of choice, or just picture me happy and healthy, flirting with some fireman, my adorable little nose intact. I’d really appreciate it.

Thanks for reading my blog entry, and may God bless.
-Bronwyn C.

July 26, 2005

A Trip To American Girl

This past weekend I joined my wife, mother, sister, and two nieces to witness first hand a fine example of the cult of marketing and conspicuous consumption known as American Girl.Twilight20zone_1

For those of you who don't know, American Girl is a brand of doll that has insidiously worked its way into
the hearts and minds of little girls across the nation. Neither as ugly as Cabbage Patch dolls, or as curvaceous as Barbie, these seemingly harmless, All-American childlike dolls thrive as parents recognize that someday they'll be able to enter into the preserved rooms of their children's past and pretend for a moment that everything is as they wish it to be. There, the dolls and their accessories (and, boy, are there accessories; they could open another store next door just to sell the accessories) will provide a Norman Rockwell twinge of nostalgia for happier (ie. younger, less medicated) days.

Continue reading "A Trip To American Girl" »

July 14, 2005

Fury Fest: France's Answer to Heavy Metal Parking Lot

Horns450For Diane's accompanying audio archives on Fury Fest 2005, click here: Realaudio | MP3. For the playlist, click here and for the bigass Fury Fest Foto Gallery, click here

After the bloodbath in Paris, see this blog entry, was I really ready to go to LeMans for Fury Fest, the best metal/punk/heavy lineup of the summer for three days of camping and partying with my horns up? Hell yeah!

June 24th, Friday, my friend Rob & I were off, leaving from Paris for an uneventful but safe drive to LeMans once we found the Peripherique (the highway that encircles Paris, and basically the "way out"). Fury Fest was right next to the LeMans raceway at Le Parc Expo du Mans, but although the two sites were next to each other, both were huge and I could not get a decent photo of the racetrack from the site, it was still too distant.

We met friends near the festival entrance & proceeded to set up camp; putting up the tents was theTent4804 easy part - finding an area where we'd be able to find our tents at night while in any condition, that was a bit trickier. A spot by a light pole was perfect, and the labor was done in minutes, voila!

The festival was set up with three stages, all inside; total band count for the festival is a whopping 96, and as far as I know, the only band who did not make it was Murphy's Law. Most of the bands on earlier in the day are given half hour sets, then 45 minutes to about 25% of the performers, then the headliners get anywhere between one & 1.5 hours to play. The Velvet Stage would be the first one I hit today; Belgium's Leng Tche, featuring the vocalist from Aborted on drums was on at 12:55. The Velvet Stage is the smallest

Continue reading "Fury Fest: France's Answer to Heavy Metal Parking Lot" »

The Buttsex Conspiracy

My first tidbit of sexual misinformation came in the fourth grade, when Peter Heinz next door told me that babies were conceived in the anus.  Even at the time, this seemed confusing, but it wasn't until a whole year later that I discovered his information had been completely erroneous.  But perhaps Pete Heinz was a prophet in his way, a seer into the dark trends of the coming century in internet porn.

If modern pornography is a reflection of contemporary society, and I believe that it is, then there's an awful lot of buttsex going on.  And by this I mean straight buttsex; gays, of course, must employ buttsex as a means to express their affection - this is one of only two viable pathways in their case.  Straights, however, have no such excuse.  As a straight man, if you're fortunate enough to have a mate, or at least a woman willing to lie down with you, she comes readily equipped with a magnificent vagina, one of creation's greatest achievements, its labial folds and fleshy contours custom-designed to ensconce the penis.  So why do you wanna force your way in the back door, brother?

We have a saying in our home:  The butt is for "exegesis only."  Exposition, explanation and interpretation.  As far as our needs go, it's exclusively an exit, not an entrance.  No tongues, fingers or other appendages need traverse there for us to have a satisfying sexual experience.

Continue reading "The Buttsex Conspiracy" »

July 11, 2005

Harrowing Goddamn Airports

Kaitak1_1_2I've been fortunate enough to visit five countries and a bunch of far-away US cities in the last few years, mainly due to the relatively cheaper airfares that have been available (though who knows for how long). Flying has always been a love-hate affair for me; I mean it's exciting and all, but for every event like seeing the Grand Canyon at 35,000 feet in clear weather like I did two weeks ago, there's been a screaming kid who would begin shrieking the second our flight pulls back from its gate at Newark and stops the second the plane pulls up to the gate at London's Gatwick 6 hours later. It's a real test of nerves, and I can never ever sleep, let alone focus on such great epics as Starsky and Hutch (and for some reason Iberia is very fond of Simone). I have a relatively good understanding of aerodynamics, so I know that a plane isn't just going to fall out of the sky, but the cold hard reality is that you are basically sitting in an unnaturally bouyant metal can filled with bodies and luggage, breathing other peoples' recycled air, while enormous amounts of flammable liquid are gobbled into more metal cans that droop from a wing to hopefully belch air fast enough to push the whole deal fast enough to take flight and stay there. And landing is the worst part, especially when you consider some of the quirkier aspects of some of the world's airports.

Continue reading "Harrowing Goddamn Airports" »

July 10, 2005

Philatelic Hallucinations

Rwanda6It seems in times of political turmoil in small countries, culture takes shape. You might never imagine though, that it would evolve into a trash-culture wayback machine. If a nation's pride is mirrored by who is represented on their postage stamps, then the countries of Rwanda, Tuva and Mordovia to name a few have some serious self-esteem issues. Cases in point:

God Save The Queen (of rock n' roll, Stevie Nicks),

Alternative life-stylings of Xena, Warrior Princess,

Karakalpakia, in central asia, honors a great warrior,

Tupac Lives! (somewhere in the Russian Federation),

Say My Name! The Congo shows it's Bootylicious pride.

July 05, 2005

The Cable Report 07/05/05 (TV That Scared the Crap Out of Me)

In tribute to TV Land's "Greatest Made-For-TV Movies Of All Time" campaign (this week, and next, I believe), I'm firing up a Cable Report.

The Day After
The preceding parental advisories were more than warranted. I've begun to mentally compile a list of grocery store freak out scenes, and The Day After has a spendid one. Watching this again, I was knocked back by the unrelenting bleakness, the degree of bickering insanity amongst the characters, and the special FX are not too shabby - look for the signature explosion scenes in which victims are x-rayed as if part of a cartoon. Additionally, who can argue with ANY Jason Robards appearance.

This mini-series did nothing if it didn't convince me that my parents were face-peeling aliens. The scare lasted weeks, and was eventually replaced by the belief that my Mom was trying to abandon me in the middle of Sears.

Salem's Lot
I'd venture a guess that some of you didn't even know! It sucks so bad now, because it was a TV movie then. Not to discredit TV movies as a whole, but you wanted scary and gory, and this is neither. To note: Salem's Lot did prominently feature Geoffrey Lewis, father of Juliette, and the ultimate on-screen sidekick. Speaking of character actors, and as such, getting completely off track here, who knows the name Michael G. Hagerty? Let's end with a nod to Michael G. Hagerty:

For years, I was hell bent on the misconception that Michael G. Hagerty was John Candy's brother. The pop-culturally semi-literate will know him as the Mike Duffy in the "AAMCO" episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. His bio on reads as follows:

"Graduated from the University of Illinois. He worked at Chicago's Second City. He now lives in Los Angeles.

Often plays vendors or merchants."

July 01, 2005

Sites for Sore Eyes

From cameo TV appearances from grunge rock icons to floating Russian women to fear-mongering French people, Sites for Sore Eyes distills the web down to its most quizzical, unusual, and fascinating corners. This month, we offer the following for your consideration:

A Steel Drum Tribute to the Ramones
Ramones songs have been re-done in every style under the sun, and though I'm still holding out for chanting monks re-interpreting the entire "Road to Ruin" LP to ambient trip-hop beats, this is a reasonable diversion for the moment.

Unconfirmed Reports
Is it....? I mean, could it be? It couldn't be.... Could it?

King Buzzo of the Melvins
Caught in the stands, enjoying America's Pastime, & then ridiculed by television announcers. I still think he's got cool hair.

Make the Collector Nerds Sweat

To hell with your mortgage, car payments, or kid's future. Someone -- probably with the word "vinyl" in their email address -- is dropping a wad to take home this mind-bending stash.

Auto-Music's Automachine!
Release Stereo Total's next album before they do!'s Headacher
Don't eat the brown html, kids.

The Virtual Museum of the Boombox
In many ways, the boombox was the cultural bridge from the suburbs to the city. Re-live the magic here, while marveling over innovative (i.e. stupid) features like the boombox with a built-in synthesizer, the boombox with THREE tape decks, or the boombox with a built-in... phone jack?

Iraq War Fatalities
As "mapped across the dimensions of time and space". Note that this only charts coalition deaths, not those of the Iraqi soldiers or civilians. It's especially disquieting if you watch it with the map and city boxes unchecked.

Roger Moore's Fantabulous Eyebrows
'Nuff said.

Free-falling Russian Gymnist
The lava lamp for the 21st Century set. Or perhaps just another mildly pervy but totally addictive waste of company time and bandwidth.

Computer Programmer or Serial Killer?
It's as difficult as you'd expect to determine the difference, I'm troubled to say.

Many, many thousands of movie title screen shots
Why? I can not tell you, my friend.

Children who have been abducted by aliens
And the pictures they have subsequently drawn. Also includes information regarding thought-screen hats, which prevent FOUR (4) different breeds of aliens from reading your mind.

The Fatal Consequences of Masturbation
I dunno, I thought it made sophomore year go by a lot quicker. Feh, alarmists...

This month's links were contributed by Irwin ChusidBrian Turner, Evan "Funk" Davies, Lou Ziegler, Ken Freedman, Listener Pete from Boston (and NJ), Mister Science, and the editor.

June 23, 2005

Look Down

CokeFormerly reserved for me when I catch you talking about Tom Cruise, looking down can now be used for the blowing of your mind, with art.

The artwork of Julian Beever uses a distorted perspective to give the illusion of three dimensions. It’s like that Hans Holbein painting you didn’t understand in grade 10 art history. He draws some cool stuff like Tony Blair falling down a well, a rescue operation not involving gravity, reality based pop-up ads and himself. Via:Flaphead.

If you prefer your visual perception sober but want your preconceptions about the connection between Stanley Kubrick and Jupiter squashed, see Toynbee Tiles.

June 16, 2005

Cleaning Out My Inbox

Furniture2_1Time to move this stuff from my inbox to yours...

One of the true wonders of New Jersey.

Japan-bashing artwork by Korean schoolkids.

Finally, a roadmap to the wide world of sexual deviancy. Human Furniture? Turkey Men?

Amazing German karaoke version of Bohemian Rhapsody (MP3). I've got a ton more stuff like this to put up in the next few days, watch for it!

Cool trippy movie called Ministry Messiah by Dutch filmmaker Gints Apsits (Quicktime).

The Museum of Retro Technology, including rocket powered bicycles and alcohol-fueled record players.

Van Gogh's letters, indexed by keywords like "venereal" and "hallucinations."

A Russian painter's incredible online gallery and even more incredible gallery interface.

All hail The Toilet Union.

Catalog of various end-of-the-world scenarios.

Wonderful art by Alex Gross.

The Fifty Greatest Song Parts. It would be fun to do a FMU version of this.

Copyright-free spoken word samples of famous literary works via Penguin Books.

Beautiful gallery of early photographic technique of cyanotypes by photographer Edwardo Aites.

Good new mashup of Led Zeppelin and Snoop Doggy Dogg (mp3).

Do Not Click On This Link. 

Thanks, boingboing, peremeny, Sarah, Music for Maniacs, fazed, beatmixed, J-Walk

June 13, 2005

The Toughest Movies Ever Made

Prime Cut (1972)

Simple. Gene Hackman runs hookers out of a meatpacking plant and Lee Marvin (in a suit) chases him through a field with a machine gun. Not only is this the toughest movie ever made, that was the toughest sentence ever written.

Death Hunt (1981)

Again, this is very simple. Charles Bronson, Lee Marvin, Carl Weathers, and Ed Lauter run around in the middle of a Canadian nowhere and a lot of blood flows. A lot of blood…in a Peckinpah way. A man gets his arm caught in a bear trap, and in lieu of getting morphine or any sort of treatment, he gets PUNCHED OUT. Lee Marvin repeatedly kicks the dead body of a comrade, yelling, “You dumb son of a bitch!!!”

The French Connection (1971)

There’s really only one scene in The French Connection: When Popeye Doyle (a 41-year-old Gene Hackman) leaves a bar at dawn, trashed, and manages to pick up a beautiful girl riding her bike around his crappy neighborhood. This scene is tough…tough to believe.

Love Liza (2002)

Tough. Tough to sit through.

Cannonball  (1976)

Paul Bartel’s unfunny account of the elicit coast-to-coast race was the first movie that disturbed me with violence. A good example of how PG-rated violence in the 70’s would be R-rated violence today. Cars crush people, and they bleed from the mouth. Drivers are head-shot by snipers, and it contains a Carradine.

June 03, 2005

Uncyclopedic Knowledge

BookburningIf you thought Wikipedia was unreliable by allowing my kid sister to rewrite the article on tort reform, drop by the Uncyclopedia for articles so content free they may only pass as sources with like 30% of professors and maybe one or two news sites. Discover the Pope's Discography, liberal leanings at Fox News and why Communists adhere to a strict typographical style which forbids all capitalization, punctuation, and spacing, so that all letters may be brought together as equals.

Remember, since it's a Wiki you can freely edit and expand upon the Uncyclopedia, so who's going to write the WFMU entry?

Capsular Reviews of Anything 1.1

Out of the Blue  (1980)

Dennis Hopper runs up and down the hallway, waving his hands and screaming. Dennis Hopper sits at the breakfast table, drunk, waving his arms and screaming. Linda Manz, later of Gummo "fame" (Solomon's mom), runs away to carouse around with a "punk rock" band. Not much fits in-between the (these) lines, here. An entertaining wreck (no pun intended).

The Ice Pirates (1984)

This is the eleventh or twelve movie that I remember seeing in the theater. Condorman was the fourth, and The Black Hole was the first. The all-knowing North Pole glowing crystal that creates the universal star rating system is pulling one over on me. This movie got two stars. The climax is loaded with pre-MTV scatter-brained editing tricks. Oddly "name" cast with Robert Urich, Anjelica Huston, Ron Pearlman (ok, ok), and a Carradine.

The Ballad of the Whiskey Robber ('s a book)

Best true crime I've read in months, and I read the living shit out of true crime. This past Christmas, I went on a cruise with my mother. When I wasn't drunk (afternoons at pool and prior to daily nap), I read the 2003 and 2004 editions of The Best American Crime Writing in the space of a week. Totally engaging, easy, and addictive. Scary Monsters and Super Freaks is in the same territory, but more entertainment biz related. Perfect vacation fare. In order to fit in better on the pool deck, I purchased Robin Cook's Seizure from the duty-free shop, but I couldn't dance with that thing. The Nashvillian real estate agent sunning next to me was engrossed in Robert B. Parker's Stone Cold, but we're veering into fiction here, with my only point being that THIS BOOK, the story of Attila Ambrus, is a must and erases all other true crime...for now.

Do's & Don'ts: 10 Years of Vice Magazine's Street Fashion Critiques

Do your research. There is a picture of a corpse-painted Black Metaller. The caption refers to him as "Speed Metal" and goes on to make a tired joke about metalheads huffing glue or suffering from incest down the line or something. Practitioners of speed metal do not wear corpse paint. I felt like I was reading Andy Rooney on Metal, if, of course, that existed.

Every Thin Lizzy album before and including Chinatown worth owning. Why, at this late stage in the game, do I have to keep telling people this?

May 29, 2005

Staring into the thin air...

Runningwithsquirrels_1  I was thinking that if the drinking/running club Hash House Harriers was to merge with the ham transmitter-chasing T-Hunters or Bunny Chasers , another club could form comprised of drunks running around the woods looking for radio signal sources.

Speaking of my listeners, two of them sent some blog fodder. Listener Laurie wanted to share Joe Pernice's indie version of MTV's Cribs . Listener Tom inadvertently mentioned poutine which I was ignorant of, and hope to remain so (at least in practice). On the Canadian tip, enjoy the Crucified Mountie visions of painter Michael Harris.

May 24, 2005

Thank you, that'll be $59.99.

Akihead_1Well, no luck snaring my soulmate, but I'd say Richard Sandrak's is ready for an e-card.

May 14, 2005

The Candy That Kills Is The Candy That Saves

Killercandy_2Jumbo mint balls the size of peach pits are responsible for the tragic choking deaths of two young New York City girls only two days apart. It's freakish flukes like this that are hog heaven for New York Post headline editors. And while it's no "Headless Body In Topless Bar," today's "KILLER CANDY" cover, with a photo of the peppermint perpetrator looming over its innocent pig-tailed victims, was certainly enough to make me gag on my Cap'n Crunch. Paramedics rushed to the scene but I coughed it up just in time for the following candy-as-redeemer item on Page Six.

CbgbcandybarCBGB owner Hilly Krystal and chi-chi downtown confectioner Chocolate Bar are unveiling two limited edition lines of chocolate CBGB products this Monday. The CBGB's Punk Rock Box includes a 16 piece truffle collection embossed with the history and iconic images of CBGB's illustrious past, complete with a postage-paid petition to save CBGB's. Also available are CBGB Retro Bars in two flavors - dark chocolate with espresso crunch or milk chocolate with hazelnuts. We suspect Joey Ramone was more of a no-frills Gem Spa egg cream kind of guy but he'd no doubt appreciate the sweet sentiment.

Dick Cheney's Skin Pores

CheneyIf the idea of numerous local brothels or furry human music has got you a little to frisky for church tomorrow, go ahead and take advantage of Google image search’s most revealing feature for an instant buzz kill. It’s the ability to browse only high resolution images by clicking the "large" option in the upper right corner after a search. What you’ll find after a little browsing is all your favorite famous people in the kind of frightening detail once only available to their plastic surgeons. I’ve gone ahead and located (Warning, these are very big jpegs) Elvis Costello, Bill Cosby, Salvador Dali, Harrison Ford, former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien and current boogyman Dick Cheney for your viewing displeasure, but that's only the tip of the iceberg. I have a feeling that with HDTV becoming mainstream there is much more extremely disturbing wrinkle detail on the way, so go on and be the first amoung your friends to own the Steve Buscemi photo that's just gotta be out there.

To boldly go where no Vic-20 has gone before

Shatner_vic20dFive photos of William Shatner in a Commodore Vic-20 commercial.

"Why buy just a video game from Atari or Intellivision? Invest in the wonder computer of the 1980s for under $300, the Commodore Vic-20. Unlike games, it has a real computer keyboard. With a Commodore Vic-20, the whole family can learn computing at home. Plays great games, too. Under $300! The wonder computer of the 1980s, the Commodore Vic-20!"

Not good enough? Then browse through the rest of the current issue of Retrogaming Times Monthly online magazine, or browse through the past 100 issues for all your TI-99, TRS-80 Color Computer, Commodore 64, Timex Sinclair 1000, Colecovision, Odyssey 2, etc. needs. Y'know, game reviews and stuff!

May 10, 2005

Ashtray Heart

Smokeblower_1  There's an underground movement to make smoking sexy again... Coherent Light is an adult site that caters to fans of dominant babes who light up and don't give a flying fuck. In fact, they wanna blow smoke in your face and maybe snuff a Kool 100 out on your ass. 

Despite warnings by the Surgeon General about its effects, butt sex may be gaining popularity as we become increasingly fetishistic in reaction to ever-shrinking national liberties. But never mind what I think, take it from Valentine and her Lucky Strikes (wmv) or Nadja with her long Marlboro (wmv).

May 04, 2005

Audio cassette tapes. Beautiful cassette tapes!

TDK DC-90project C-90 is an online museum of images of cassette tapes.  I didn't THINK this would get me so excited, until I stumbled onto images like the one at the right, sending me back to forgotten early childhood memories of making little home radio shows on my portable tape recorder, taking apart and unravelling the cassettes, and marvelling over how  quickly the audio quality deteriorated in such a distinct way.

Enjoy the cassette pr0n!

(Thanks to Soviet listener Andrei for the link)

May 03, 2005

Get your anti-mind-control software now! (For Linux & Amiga)

MindGuard is a program for Amiga and Linux computers that protects your mind by actively jamming and/or scrambling psychotronic mind-control signals and removing harmful engrammic pollutants from your brain. It also has the ability to scan for and decipher into English specific signals so you can see exactly Who wants to control you and what They are trying to make you think.

MindGuard works by leveraging your computer's aluminum-based innards to both detect and emit psychotronic energy using advanced quasi-quantum techniques. Once a mind-control signal is identified and analyzed, MindGuard can generate a specially tuned anti-signal that will jam the incoming signal. If MindGuard is unable to properly identify the signal, it will generate psychotronic white noise to ensure the signal's harmful message is scrambled.

If you think protecting your hard drive from viruses is important, but give no thought to the safety of your mind...

Read more and get it here!

April 05, 2005

One Less Car

If you haven't heard the Cosmic Cowboy's show on the current Critical Mass troubles, go ahead and  do so: (Realaudio archive). Critical Mass is a fun, legal and peaceful event that is fairly cop free in most locations and I highly recommend it. Okay, now that that's out of the way, what is a cyclist to do when they want to break the law and probably their spine? They repress that urge and leave it to the pros. Lucas Brunelle has got some terrifying movies of street races through busy, chaotic traffic. My favorites include drinking & racing, monster track, drag race NYC and ice ice . Check them out!

If less extreme bicycle photography is more your style maybe you would like to mount your own camera the coat hanger way or the bottle cap way.

Finally, if you're searching for a way to make your spokes spell out "Fuck Bloomberg" maybe this is more your style.

March 31, 2005

Another geeky diversion

GeekduhGo forth and waste away your workday, you nerd.

March 16, 2005

In Related News

The internet is still not safe for anyone.

March 15, 2005

Ode to the Vee-Dub

Rabbi_3Mike Lupica’s last post mentioning his favorite teenage past-time of destroying shopping carts using his VW Rabbit made me all teary-eyed and nostalgic… my first car was also a VW Rabbit (’83 convertible, holla’). Alas, we reminisced about the endearing mechanical misgivings of the Volkswagen anymodel, circa late-70s through mid-80’s, and discovered that our vehicles had oh-so-many maladies in common.

Here is the shortlist of our favorite vee-dub idiosyncrasies:

  1. Temperamental horn or oil alarm
  2. Simultaneous malfunction of speedometer, odometer, and gas gauge
  3. Water dripping on feet while driving in rainy weather
  4. Side window/rear view mirror spontaneously detaching
  5. Sh-sh-shudder if driven over 80 mph

VW-inspired tunes from the WFMU archives (click to hear Real Audio):
Il y a Volkswagen “Kill Myself”
Gilberto Gil “Volks, Volkswagen Blue”

Os Incriveis “If My VW Bug Could Talk”

To further establish the divinity of the VW Rabbit, this ’84 beast that runs on used veggie oil says it all. Take that, Delorean.

And speaking of garbage-powered vehicles from the future... Crispin Glover (interview, Real Audio) swung by WFMU last week for a chat with Pseu Braun.

March 04, 2005

Kate's Lazy Meadow

Kate_2Kate Pierson from the B-52's  operates a fantastic motel in the Catskill Mountains.  All the rooms are decked out in 50's style decor right down to the tchotchkes.  Includes high speed internet access, full kitchen/bar and a selection of unusual DVDs.  One of the rooms is even pet friendly.  Head for the hills!

Your Kicked Ass

Who!Sadly, your ass has already been kicked, many many times over.  This is not entirely unfortunate.

In any event, please send my regards to your ass.

[Diabolical Media Player for macs]

February 25, 2005

The Sounds of Scientology

Beck_beardIn an attempt to raise the bar of blog posting, I humbly present to you… more celebrity smut! Yesterday at the fun factory, Brian Turner flashed a copy of the new Beck album carrying the theme of game-boy music, and made a comment about how his beard-rock phase must have been a failure (see failed beard to the right). Brian thinks that Dave Navarro must’ve told Beck that game-boy music is the next big thing while they were each on the receiving end of a lapdance. Click to hear the next big thing (Real Audio) deconstructed in an archive of Kenny G’s show from 2003.

The Beck-talk got me thinking about Scientology, cult of choice for the uber-fabulous. In all honesty and laziness, I don’t give a damn about the principles guiding this religion/school of thought, so I’ll skip it for the sake of us both. But if you're truly curious, this L. Ron Hubbard song lends a rather lucid explanation (click to hear "Terl, The Security Director" in Real Audio). On with the smut! Here are some names of interest that are or were involved in the enigma that is Scientology (thanks, internet!):

Lisa Marie Presley
Nancy Cartwright
(the voice of Bart Simpson)
Isaac Hayes
William S. Burroughs
(eventually left)
Chick Corea
Courtney Love
Billy Sheehan
(Mr. Big)
Edgar Winter
Leonard Cohen

Leif Garrett
Nicky Hopkins
(Savages, Cyril Davies All Stars, Jeff Beck Group)
Doug E. Fresh
Edgar Winter
(Edgar Winter Group)
Darby Crash (went to an experimental high school run on principles of Scientology)
Chaka Khan
Gloria Gaynor
(ex member)
Ricky Martin (ex member)
Charles Manson (eventually left)
Incredible String Band


February 24, 2005

What To Do With Your Spare Time


February 23, 2005

Illegal Karaoke?

KaraokeAn interesting twist to the ever-growing copyright saga: one enterprising man has obtained the North American rights to many Cantonese pop songs and videos and is busting karaoke bars that use bootlegged versions. Labels including EEG, Universal, Warner, Go East, EMI, and BMG have signed agreements with Nicolas Chai and his royalty collection company Entral.

About 300 karaoke bars across the U.S. are being investigated for using bootleg karaoke videos, and will have to pay $20,000-$30,000 (!) per year in royalties to Entral. Bars refusing to pay are being sued, and their karaoke equipment seized by local authorities.

Read the whole story here.

February 22, 2005

CSI: Audio

Hackmanconversation If you treasure audio like some of us do at WFMU,  you would think Coppola's The Conversation would be the apex of dorkdom rising from the darkest realms of the recording world. But that shit is soo '74.

I haven't really kept up with how Hollywood has been portraying those in the business of "audio forensics". We hear alot about surveillance nowadays, but that was only part of Harry Caul's (Gene Hackman's character) job in The Conversation. The real meat of his job and of the film came from the decoding of the recorded information.

Now that magnetic recording devices have been relegated to the status of artifact , one wonders if Harry Caul would get as much female action in 2005 without having to roll around on a dusty warehouse floor, wrestling with yards of tape surrounded by tractor wheel sized reels. The audio forensic scientist in this day and age likely has a flat ass and an oversized forearm from sitting in front of a Mac with his digital editing software for hours on end.

A company called Computer Audio Engineering is one of the cutting-edge places out there in the business of decrypting audio for clients like the U.S. Department of Justice, insurance companies and defense lawyers. They perform services like "intelligibility enhancement" and "event sequence analysis", stuff I never would've imagined could be so sensitively disseminated. They also do good old fashioned telephone recording, of course with a digital retrieval system, duh!

Here's descriptions of their services, which I assume represents technology offered by similar firms out there. So if you're a Junior Dick with an ear for the ghosts in the machine you might want to investigate the possibilities in this field.

ADDENDUM-de-dum: Gorge yourself on audio geekdom, including flawed experiments and stupefying mp3s over on The Science of Sound blog!

February 21, 2005

Synergy & Fatigue

Ct_fatigueSome years ago I went to work for a little family-run business. One of the two brothers who started the company had come up with a brilliant idea: he saw how the home office market was building, how people were buying laser printers and getting into desktop publishing. He realized no one had paper to run through these new machines. The only paper available was white “Xerox” paper, lightweight stuff.
He got everyone he knew, including his Dad, to lend him money and he started an offshoot business from his brother's office-paper business. He printed up a catalog, rented some mailing lists and was off and running. The company turned a profit its first year.

The entepreneur's dream so far, right?

I came along as employee number 53. I started as a phone operator, someone who took orders from people calling the 800 number. I had been out of work for seven months at the time and would've taken anything.

The company grew incredibly, adding ten employees a month soon after I started. Hiring was based solely on competence: color or age or sexual preference were no barrier to being given a chance to prove yourself. And the brothers were there every day, even their dad, who was in his mid-fifties.

The dad and I would step outside for our cigarette breaks and converse a bit. We talked about Roosevelt, how he pulled the country out of a depression, how the current job market stank, about the fucking Republicans and so on. The father was a very smart man, had always been self-employed, taught his sons how to make their own way in the world. He’d never been rich but he had never been hurting either. He helped his sons when they needed help. He staked them to their seed money.

The sons were good businessmen. They hired one of their best friends to build the company up. All of them liked their employees - or gave that impression. They talked to us like we were friends, called us by our first names, lent us money when we were between paychecks. They gave nice raises and generous bonuses. They threw parties often. The Christmas parties alone were legendary, lavish affairs in huge catering halls. They grew more elaborate every year, with nice gifts and dancing troupes and a full sit-down meal. One Christmas the father stood out in the front room, entreating us to fill up bags from the huge appetizer and dessert spreads on our way out the door.

This policy of generosity extended to the customers. Early on we borrowed the Nordstrom's philosophy: “If the customer is unsatisfied - for whatever reason - do what it takes to make him or her happy”. It was the first lesson taught to new employees. We went out of our way to communicate to customers that we wanted their business, that they could trust us to take care of them. Some customers abused the policy, weaseling free stuff out of the company, but the owners understood it as the price of doing business. The majority of our customers came back time and time again because they knew we they’d end up satisfied with the goods and the service.

Continue reading "Synergy & Fatigue" »

February 20, 2005

Make This Squirrel Lamp!

Ct_squirrel It's a lamp, it's a squirrel, it's FUN!

February 18, 2005

Tall Tales from Hometown U.S.A.

Last week at WFMU I bore witness to a conversation about the indie-star-studded history of Maplewood, NJ, thanks to FMU’s own Maplewood pop culture historian, Noah. Bill Zurat and I were surprised to hear such a laundry list of who’s who associated with Maplewood in some way. I remember thinking, “What’s the deal with Maplewood? My hometown wasn’t nearly that cool, and it's in the East Bay, so close to Berkeley and SF…”

Then I came up with a mental list of hometown claims to fame for Martinez, CA. That list contains three items:

1. Joe DiMaggio was born there. I saw some PBS special on him a while back, and when asked where his hometown was, he merely said “San Francisco.” Maybe he was afraid that any mention of his unremarkable origins would trigger a fall from the glory of being a baseball superstar who was married to Marilyn Monroe.

2. John Muir built a home in Martinez, and lived there for about 25 years, as he taught the public to respect nature.

3. Birthplace of the Martini. This, however, is a point of contention. Martinez, CA is one of three cities to insist that they hosted the fateful introduction of gin to vermouth and an olive. The other two cities are San Francisco and New York. Of course, we must put these three claims to the test.

Who would win in a fistfight?
Strike 1 for Martinez.

Martini_1Who has the plaque?
Martinez gets points here. They have an honest-to-god plaque sitting on a city street “documenting” the birth of the martini and the lore surrounding that fateful night. A plaque, man. That’s pretty legit, right? Well, I’ll give you a little Martinez, CA background. The former mayor of Martinez was in office for about 15 years or so, and didn’t even live in Martinez. The City of Martinez’s website adds even more clouds to further obscure their legitimacy, as it states “We feel that we have a beautiful city and we cordially invite you to come and visit ‘Shangrila.’” Back up the train. Claiming credit for the martini is one thing, but Shangrila? Well, I guess as long as Shangrila includes an oil refinery and a lot of antique stores, they might have something here. As for plaques in SF or NYC, I have yet to either come across any or seek them out. Let me know if you've found any plaque-like documentation in these cities.

Who wins the name game?
San Franciscini: nope.

New Yorkini: nuh uh. Manhattini: gettin' there.

Martinezini: ok, I didn’t need to go there. But actually, both SF and NYC have some decent name associations (see below).

Which story holds the most water? You decide:

San Francisco: Alleged birthplace, Occidental hotel bar. Sometime near 1849, a miner asked bartender "Professor" Jerry Thomas for "something special" and instead of being escorted to the back room by the “Professor,” was apparently served the first martini in history. Incidentally, the alleged first documented recipe for the martini was written by "Professor" Jerry Thomas in 1887 (in his bartender's guide, listed as the "Martinez", a sweeter predecessor to the modern martini). Some stories claim that Thomas was from Martinez, closing off doubt in the name dept.

New York: In 1911 at the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York, head barman, Martini (name fits!) di Arma di Taggia, allegedly mixed half-and-half London Gin and dry Vermouth with orange bitters. He then chilled the drink on ice (no word on shaking vs. stirring) and strained it to a chilled glass. Apparently Knickerbocker regulars asked for variations of the drink and added the olive.

Martinez: Aforementioned official-looking plaque reads, “On this site in 1874, Julio Richelieu, Bartender, served up the first martini when a miner came into his saloon with a fistful of nuggets and asked for something special. He was served a ‘Martinez Special.’ After three or four drinks, however, the ‘Z’ would get very much in the way.” Another alleged “first documentation” of the martini in a bartender's manual was in O.H. Byron's Modern Bartender's Guide in 1884.

If you wish to read more about the unremarkable town of Martinez, CA, click here. This article doesn’t quite do justice to the multitude of toothless yokels yammering to themselves along the city streets, but you do get a PG rated version.

February 16, 2005

WFMU eBay Auctions

Ministryoil_2Check out the latest crap WFMU is offering up for auction on eBay!

Click here to bid away.

Highlights include Ministry Motor Oil, tube socks with the Breeders’ logo, and a few Plastic Ono Band shirts to please the Yoko fans.


February 03, 2005

How Debbie Got Her Spots (So To Speak)

Chris & Debbie
Tell me a story.


I have this '68 Les Paul I call Debbie. Let me explain: A Les Paul is an electric guitar, designed - supposedly - by the guitarist Les Paul (formerly Lester Polfuss) and manufactured by a company called Gibson, after Orville Gibson, the founder. So I named my guitar Debbie, as in Debbie Gibson, because I thought it was funny and because Debbie Gibson grew up not far from where I did on Long Island. Debbie has a very special paint job, a truly magnificent coating of metal-flake blue which reminds me of a ceiling in a horrible Italian nightclub, the kind of ceiling that captures the merest whisper of light and irridesces like there's no tomorrow. One of those ceilings that's supposed to approximate the Milky Way or the night sky or some damn thing but just looks like an Italian nightclub ceiling.

I love Debbie in a way I couldn't possibly explain. I COULD explain but I'd sound foolish. Listen: Debbie is the most wonderful thing I've ever held in my hands. She's beautiful and shapely yet ugly and beat up. She weighs a ton (the heavier a guitar, the more it'll sustain). And she gives up this sound, this ungodly boom and clang that hits me dead between the eyes and makes me feel omnipotent. If you hit a chord just right you're rewarded with angel trumpets and devil trombones, like pulling the lever on a one-armed bandit and finding quarters up to your knees a moment later.

I don't hold Debbie as much as I once did. I can't bear to see her these days because we went through some tough times together in a band led by an ex-girlfriend. Debbie reminds me of the ex-girlfriend, which isn't Debbie's fault but is unavoidable and understandable. But I love to look at Debbie and pick her up and plug her in and flail away on her for awhile. She never fails me. I leave her in the corner and turn the lights down and gaze into her paintjob, getting lost in the deep blue metalflake. Wasn't I telling you about her paintjob?

Continue reading "How Debbie Got Her Spots (So To Speak)" »

February 02, 2005

The Big Duh

Great South Bay
THE BIG DUH: A True Story

In the rear of the 1980 Lindenhurst High School Yearbook, the alphabetical listing of graduating senior's adacemic and extra-curricular achievements included a future goal:

National Honor Society
Marching Band
Ski Club
To own my own clam boat

Most kids had similar down-to-earth aspirations. One said:
To see the Mets win the pennant. I copped a line from Steve Martin: To be all-knowing master of time, space and dimension. It never ran.

Tommy P. also never got his goal into the yearbook. He dropped out in junior year. I knew Tommy – not well – but we’d say “Hello” in the halls. He was like a lot of guys in Lindenhust High: not too bright or terribly ambitous but always playing the angles. He did one thing well: he sold pot.

Once I graduaited, I heard no more about him. During a holiday visit to my mother’s house, I turned on the local news to see Tommy’s parents seated side-by-side on a crummy couch in a sad-looking living-room, tearfully appealing for the return of his head. “We want to bury our son as he lived.” his father said.

All the time I knew Tommy he had a head. What happened?

Apparently, Tommy and an accomplice set up a phony drug deal. They were to sell non-existent cocaine at a late night rendezvous in a shuttered Farmingdale gas station. They brought along a loaded shotgun and a bag stuffed with newspaper. Around three in the morning they meet the money men. Tommy’s accomplice pulls the shotgun. The money men scatter. One of them is clobbered with the butt of the shotgun. It goes off, hitting Tommy full in the chest, mortally wounding him. Never hit someone with a loaded shotgun.

The gas station is now empty, save for Tommy – dead or quickly dying – and the accomplice. He decides he must dispose of the body. Hunting in the dark, he finds a knife. Deciding he'll fashion a mystery corpse, he begins cutting off Tommy’s head. He’s not familiar with the job, having seen too many horror movies where heads pop off like bottle caps. It’s a slow, labor-intensive job. Blood is everywhere. He also slices off Tommy’s hands, placing them in a garbage bag with the head. The torso with the legs goes in another bag.

Both bags are thrown in the trunk of the accomplice’s American sedan. He drives to the Great South Bay. In the pre-dawn gloom, at the end of a long dock, he chucks one bag into the water. He drives a few miles east, to another dock, weghs down the second bag with stones, and flings it in. Then he drives home.

A few days later, the torso bag surfaces. Sufolk County cops arrive, open the bag and are shocked. Will the identity of this bloated headless, handless corpse ever be known?

On the news they never identified the cop who reached into Tommy’s back pocket and pulled out a sopping wet wallet stuffed with ID but I imagine him letting out a big “Duh!”. Like that wouldn’t be the biggest “Duh!” ever.. They must’ve wet their pants over that one down at the precinct house.

When Tommy’s head and hands surfaced several days later, no ID was needed. His parents collected the parts and had a closed-casket funeral. I did not attend.

So long, Tommy.