These kids are my fuckin heroes.
What joyous news did I receive today but that Troy or Dead Western of approximately Sacramento has a new song, “PPL ARE SCARED!”
On my massive list of “people I wish I could know better if I weren’t always working etc etc and I hope when we see each other every 10 years we’re still friends,” this dude is definitely in the top rolls of the scroll. And he’s one of maybe five lateral lyricists on the west coast who really have it, not weird for weirdness, but a real command of original usage, metaphor, atmosphere, stuff hipsters can’t fake.
Yes, he has to move his head like that to make his voice that deep, yes he can sing that deep much louder, filling a whole street. I never seen him use a microphone since what, 2006, 2007. Maybe he would if he sold out SAP Center but fools are ignorant.
Here’s a little older one, but not as old as us, I’m sorry to say.
It’s time for GENTRI-FI!
Bell’s Palo Alto – Bound Together SF – Pt Reyes Station Books – Monkeywrench Austin – Wooden Shoe Philadelphia – Bluestockings NYC
After seven years of holding down the rowdy and fascinating Drunken Odyssey, literature professor, drinker and writer John King, lately of Florida, has released his novel Guy Psycho and the Ziggurat of Shame upon the summer reading market. This writer thinks shame like walk of shame, like you’re wasted. It’s a story about a decadent goth band’s journey to get a decent gig that involves reliving the legend of Gilgamesh for this weird-ass superfan in his fortress in Tennessee that must be modeled on Adrian Belew’s house.
King’s site is full of truly interesting and mostly-useful perspectives on literature, including an entire series on Shakespeare films. Also discoverable is a tender longitudinal document of King’s friendship with Orlando’s Nathan Holic. His name is Holic, people! John’s like breh, I’m a holic too, wenn du weisst was ich meine. I can imagine them together, drinking or eating opium or what the hell King does, and discussing the tough choices of writing novellas.
Where Guy Psycho comes in is its connection to King’s noteworthy love of comic books and B movies, documented on the site under “curatory of schlock.” The reader gets a strong sense when reading down Guy Psycho‘s relatively slender spine that the novel, far from being one of those “serious” books, is to be read as a comic-book ride, which is appropriate since Gilgamesh began as the comic book of its day, as did Faust.
Right away this writer liked how the story is about a fictional band, because fictitious music is some of the best (see hatestep). In the front of the book we get the members of the band conveniently listed, followed by the admonition “style is meaning.” Thanks, professor! The book then drops us into a wheel of speeding events that definitely give flashbacks of harried nights on tour, all arranged to a sort of ritual importance that should not be overlooked just because it’s a crappy band on a crappy tour. Did King play punk rock? “Oh, but Beto O’Rourke did. Did you know he can skate too?” Fuck right off.
Early on in the text we get something of Douglas Adams’ ability to render the prose itself scaled to its significance, oscillating within painstaking precision and hyperbolic decadence, though this attenuates as the plot thickens. King writes to write, and his affinity for comic book slapstick backs up against all kinds of cultural signifiers and name-drops disguised as hallucinations. This writer bets that such economy is probably what he was going for in terms of technique in Guy Psycho. What Carl Hiaasen would read like if he weren’t a boring normy.
The text is at turns cleverly satiric, intentionally “psychedelic,” as some commentators have named it, and often claustrophobically jumbled. Without giving anything away, the whole story is in a series of interiors, and there are times when this writer stopped reading to imagine both how all these vistas would render to the naked eye, as well as how stressful some of these leaps of imagination physically would be. Keep in mind that I did Cumberland Cavern once and am still traumatized. Did King squeeze through Cumberland Cavern before he set this son of a bitch somewhere beneath Rock City? I’ll keep my comments to myself.
Besides our mutual love of Tennessee, ziggurats and made-up bands, I noticed that I easily could grab King’s references to ancient literature, but part of me wonders if the lay reader would get some of the characters’/settings’ intentions/functions. My only critique would be for King to slow down and let us feel it, and to let the characters really work things out. There are some feelings expressed inwardly by the guitar player, but by way of late-placed exposition, instead of an opportunity to test Guy’s ego in front of the family, or make an in-your-face parallel to the relationship between Gilgamesh and Enkidu that many readers might need. Or not! Just thinking on the keyboard here.
As Gilgamesh and Guy Psycho run on epic running-gear, I don’t expect Hamsun’s psychological clarity, but I would like to see the band members really come up against each other’s abilities, will and personalities to provide some kind of tension in need of decision. Without it the book only really pinches at the band members’ high-heel-tortured feet, and reads like one of my 2-Strats comics, where the reader is just along for the ride and doesn’t get to touch.
All in all Guy Psycho and the Ziggurat of Shame is filled with hilarious visuals, insightful gags and a brief lesson in ancient epic. What Guy has to be ashamed of is up to the reader. Don’t download it, dickieeeeee, buy a copy and then give it as a gift after you read it!
I saw fuckin Bill Laswell, the man, last night in SF with his frequent collaborator John Zorn doing a thing they call Konx Om Pax. I went with my old pal Diahrrio of A Fashionable Disease, the best band in Santa Cruz in the oughts, and his girlfriend Danielle, who together do various noise projects. One of my other old friends showed up at the Chapel by surprise and a fine time was had by all. Below is the lame cellphone proof photo of the Chapel, one of SF’s great newish venues in the face of so many old ones dying.
Laswell’s doing his Material bass thing with all the effects and Zorn’s farting into his thigh with those red army camo pants. Tell me he wears those around Manhattan.
The coolest part was after the end when the two retreated upstairs after an hour, having said not a fucking word to the audience. Me and this other cat waited at the bottom of the stairs and finally our main man, Security Fred, offers to take our records up with him and get them signed. Thanks Fred! Laswell signed my old Celluloid Records Time Zone single!! Fucking stoked. Thanks Bill!!! It was a once-in-a-lifetime show, and even benefited something about pretending to care about abuse and destruction of migrant laborers over the last 50 years.
For the uninitiated, it’s hard to put the scope of Laswell’s contribution to punk rock and alternative (in the true broad sense, not like the 1994 BMG catalogue) music over the last 40 years into a quick statement. Before and even with the internet, Laswell is the only reason we know about Fela Kuti in the US. He seems to have been playing a game of making the most connections throughout his life. His bands Material, Last Exit, and Praxis, just to name a few, touch punk, hiphop, new age, ambient, jazz, Coltrane’s biggest fans Pharaoh Sanders and Sonny Sharrock, Bernie Worrell, and the Primus guys. He’s all about collaboration and mutual aid amongst artists. If you play the six-degrees game in contemporary music, you will find Bill every time. That woozy light-funk bass he’s known for might sound goofy in today’s context, but remember that he did it first and never stopped. It’s further notable that both Bill and Zorn have worked tirelessly to unite musicians on both coasts.
Not until I saw the ad for the show did I really feel how much his stuff has informed my life. What a treat to see him play. You can look up the similarly-cosmopolitan Zorn, I’m not really an expert except to say that his record project Tzadik was the inventor of the $35 fucking CD in the 90s, so we never dared hear Naked City even though we knew it’d be the most badass hardcore skronk that we needed to hear. Diahrrio’s band A Fashionable Disease was just a little influenced by Naked City, as it happens.
It was an old-guy set, which I loved, done by 10, and we were in bed by midnight.
How in the hell did I only just find out, today, 19.6.18, about Clifford Coulter and his East Side tunes??? And on Impulse! Man, I owe a lot to Eric Avila for Folklore of the Freeway. His bibliography saved me from looking like an ignoramus. The book gave me the tip about the Mayfair district being called Sal Si Puedes (there’s one in Watsonville too, heh), as well as about Helena María Viramontes’ Their Dogs Came With Them that I finished yesterday. Let’s get out if we can.
Apply yourself and it comes to you …
If you believe in this lie, you’re a fool, my friend!
The odds are too high, you’ll never win. That’s the way it is.
Here’s an excellent talk by Jon Taplin of the Annenberg School of Communication at USC and father of Post-Consumer‘s Nick Taplin, on the problems of libertarian dumbshits who control the internet and also US politics. Remember kids, libertarians and neonazis are the SAME PEOPLE, Google CEO or not.
As a fairly true anarchist artist who is always about community, dialogue and exposure before “copyright,” I nevertheless appreciate Taplin’s warning that “the technological revolution is coming for all of your jobs.” Does that make me double down on copyright? Fuck no! It makes me double down on 1.) reduction of reliance on capitalism’s rules for survival and 2.) increase of sharing all things so that they don’t end up falling apart when whatever thing comes for whatever of all our things. Enjoy the video!