Entry 0111: Black Coffee, Part One

18238212_10154665422578590_8821091909768844160_o

LP: Queens of Noise by the Runaways

1977 Mercury Records SRM 1-1126

Favorite Track: Queens of Noise

 

The laser snake surged with potential energy, its purple scales pulsing with biofed power. It was coiled around a memory tree on the lowest branch where the data was richer. Cy and I had our converter packs with us, but weren’t interesting in computer history right now; we were smuggling. Black coffee was a crime. The president general had demanded a sweet world, a media wash on all things bitter. Every morning was video loops of cats stretching and children writing new patents. Outside my house, eight dead bodies laid in the gutter. Coffee addiction was the only thing keeping me alert and alive. Same with Cy. So we pooled our limited sources together and decided to wake up the world.

But we could only do that if we could get past this laser snake. We were not prepared for it. Laser snakes spawn where government secrets get filled with radiation six-packs. Nearly silent, able to read barcodes and ID chokers, laser snakes are typically used to guard something valuable, but, frequently, one or two will go rogue and eat for sport. They were most deadly around water, which, thankfully, wasn’t within a hundred miles of us. Well, thankfully because we were near a laser snake, but that lack of water was actually one of our biggest headaches in the black coffee world. We hated to serve our patrons powder.

Cy turned to me. “I forgot my sodium bicarbonate balloon at the guild.”

I saw a flicker of tension drain his face of its usually calmed countenance. I didn’t have much in my bag either, but I had a jacket because I get cold easily. It was my father’s–the only thing I had of that legendary figure. His wanted poster was still at the post office although that place was abandoned seventy years ago. Briefly, I thought of all the unread love letters and post cards. There was a story there I would have to write later.

“Cy, be prepared to run.” I tried to sound confident but the laser snake hissed, a zillion ones and zeros booming like thunder.

“Now!”

I threw the jacket on top of the snake. It was on fire before it even left my hands and I felt my fingertips blister. But the snake thrashed wildly, incinerating its way through the cloth, but Cy and I were long gone, 18 bags of coffee grounds awaiting their water source.

We just didn’t know at the time that we were under the eye of the president general.

Entry 0108: Patti Smith plays Horses in Cleveland

LP: Horses by Patti Smith

1975 Arista AL 4066

Favorite Track: Land

LP: Horses by Patti Smith

1977? Arista AL 4066, reissue

Favorite Track: Land

The chill of the icy morning air woke me up a minute before my alarm went off. Daylight saving time had robbed me a precious hour of unconsciousness. I still hadn’t packed. My mouth felt fuzzy, but tolerable. I hoped my body odor was the same. I was bound to Cleveland to see Patti Smith play her seminal album Horses in its entirety. Horses is everything to me. This album changed my life more than probably any other album besides Smash by the Offspring, which was the album that made me fall in love music. But Patti Smith saved my taste in music.

When I first decided to collect records, I thought I was going to amass a small sample of jazz albums. I had an idea about having music to listen to while cooking plus realized that I could name five or six jazz musicians but have never heard any of their music (or at least not consciously). So I set off to the record store and bought a few jazz albums and then I happened to find London Calling by the Clash (one of my all-time favorites) and Horses by Patti Smith. Back at home, I listened to the jazz and enjoyed it. But it was when I put on Horses and Gloria started up with its sneering provocation of “Jesus died for somebody sins but not mine” that I knew what I had to do: I had to collect punk albums. Sorry jazz. You are wonderful and needed, but punk is my soul.

Sitting in the car in the back seat, my feet kept tapping awkward rhythms to the alternative playlist coming from the speakers. I was with two wonderful co-workers on the road trip of our lifetimes or, at least, it felt that heavy at the time. The father-daughter duo bantered in the front and I laughed along with them, but my mind kept spacing out during the long stretches of Ohio farmland. I couldn’t wait to eat. A beer would be the best. Actually, just get me out of this car already! I’ve pulled some super long car trips in my childhood, but I’m secretly starting to get real antsy in them. Getting old means feeling like you are going strange–maybe not crazy in its full sense of mental illness, but that feeling you cannot tolerate certain annoyances as easily any more.

We arrive on good time and with plenty to kill. Being a cold Sunday, we have few places to go within the Playhouse Square area. After a cozy and necessary Irish meal and beer (I had a black and tan for the first time in probably 7 years), we took an Uber to A Separate Reality record store where all three of us scored some dream records. My haul were nice original copies of Tim Buckley’s self-titled and Lorca album, the Bush Tetras’ Ritual EP, and the Live at CBGB’s compilation with Mink Deville’s Let Me Dream if I Want to (a song I love so much from that No Thanks punk rock CD box set). On the way back to the hotel, I imagined my next day off: a bottle of wine and all these new records.

The State Theater is beautiful. A Discordian miracle happen: I had bought my tickets separately than the Rileys. I only vaguely remembered where they sat. I picked a random seat. We were seated by the polite staff only for us to discover that I picked the seat directly behind theirs. Hail Eris! Then the lights dimmed and applause thundered from the 1,000+ audience members. Patti Smith strolled on stage dressed in her black vest and pants, a slight hop in her step as if she got some really good news right before entering stage left. Lenny looked the same as on the back of the album except for the obligatory white hair of venerable age. Then the piano chords rang out and Patti sings “Jesus died for somebody’s sins…” The place is already going nuts.

“Gloria” was a wonderful opener just like on the album. At first, I think they had Lenny Kaye’s guitar too low, but as the night went on, the more impressed I became with him. It’s so easy to get distracted by Patti’s frantic lyrics coming-at-you with beautiful imagery and brain-exploding meanings that the power of the music is present but not demanding of your ear. But if you listen to the individual instruments: damn, this is a tight band. Which they displayed with a relaxed version of “Redondo Beach”, which made me think of Pina Coladas. Then came the first vocal challenge of the night: “Birdland”. How was she going to do this? She did it with power in her voice. Anyone who believes that you should only see a band during their prime time or that no band is worth seeing 30 years later is a shit head. Patti Smith was as powerful now as she was then. Maybe, possibility, she could be better. When she hit the chorus for “Birdland” even the most prolific Patti Smith hated would have melted and been moved by her performance. “Free Money” rocked on and the band seemed to only get more energetic as the night wore on. As soon as that song ended, Patti quipped, “That was the end of Side A.This is where you physically flip the record to side B.” Us vinyl nuts found that funny, at least.

“Kimberly” is one of my secret favorite songs off that album. Patti told the audience about “Break it Up” which she wrote with Tom Verlaine of Television and how it is about Jim Morrison and his lack of grave at the time in France. “Land” well, do I even need to say how powerful, floor thumping, and volcanic explosion of catharsis and improv that had everyone on their feet dancing awkwardly in the confined seating areas of the State Theatre. For “Elegie” she sang the names of the musically dead while allowing people to add their own names. At that point, I think most people thought the concert was over. But they were not done. We were treated to “Dancing Barefoot” (my favorite non-Horses Patti Smith song), “Ghost Dance”, “Citizen Ship” and “Pissing in the River” from Radio Ethiopia!!! The hall reverberated with the magic of the band’s talent. Someone threw a Jerry Garcia shirt on stage and Patti launched into a rant against Jerry Seinfeld only to realize she misread the shirt. She also told us what she bought at the store: turmeric drink and a pear is all I remember.

And then the encore happened. After making us wait and clap and whistle and shout (like a professional) Patti came out and they tore into a ten-minuted rendition of “My Generation”–their famous cover that destroy’s the Who’s version in classic pass-the-torch-and-burn-the-past fashion. Patti even shredded on a guitar, wailing mad feedback like a proto-Kim Gordon and ending the cacophony by ripping all six strings off.

I had to immediately have food and a bourbon after that. For two hours, I was in heaven.

Entry 0105: Xmas Conan Reviews

14633184_10154031378328590_2734062650388637841_o

7-inch: Long Distance Lovers by Huggy Bear

1994 Gravity, Gravity 9

Favorite Track: Tuff Lovin

 

Happy holidays and anti-holidays to all of you crazy people out there! I had a wonderful trip to visit family down in the Carolinas. There was plenty of family photos, the traditional watching of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, cookies and other good food, presents, and, of course, time to bond with my nephew, an expert in insects, birds, and Jenga destruction. Also, I picked up this sarcastically wonderful head cold. But that gave me some time to catch up on my Conan the Barbarian stories, so let us see what he was up to this time! Spoilers below, of course.

“The Frost Giant’s Daughter” – 4 out of 5 broken skulls

Robert E. Howard

 

How long I have waited to read this tale? This is the tale that inspired The Sword to write a song about (and probably other bands as well). This is one of Fran Frazetta’s best Conan pieces and is the cover of the book (and an album cover for Dust). When I first started to show interest in Conan the Barbarian, it was the first tale whose name I learned. So how did it stack up? Quite well. Conan has found himself with an AEsir war party who has been slain in a mighty battle that leaves Conan all alone. A semi-nude woman appears and taunts him which drives the battle-weary barbarian into a lusty anger (how rude Conan! What are you a barbarian or a gentleman?) and he pursues her deep into the winterlands. Conan can never quite catch her and she sends two Frost Giants, her brothers, to attack Conan, which leads to an excellent fight. At the last moment, the woman calls upon her godly father’s name and a blindly bolt of lightning causes Conan to pass out (something he does a lot. I should have kept track of that.) When he wakes up, he thinks it was a dream until he sees her veil in his hands.

The tale is based upon Bulfinch’s version of Atalanta mixed with Apollo’s chase after Daphne after having been struck by Cupid’s arrow. This may be the mythological justification for Conan’s pursuit with intent to rape, but that aspect of the story is problematic. Now no one should be reading Conan and thinking he is a good guy and modeling their life after his behavior, but this action is too far wrong even for an “anti-hero”. In fact, Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter added Conan’s code of honor towards women in the very next story, stating specifically that Conan would never rape a woman, which I think was their (perhaps lame) attempt to gloss over this story. The rest of the story, however, is brilliant. It contains some of Howard’s best landscape descriptions and the battle with the Frost Giant’s is vicious. Also, it was a nice break from all the treasure hunting. A man overcoming the powers of nature and some gods before ultimately being humbled by a very powerful god, reminding Conan that even he has limits.

“The Lair of the Ice Worm” – 5 out of 5 broken skulls

L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter

 

This title excited my brain to no end. I wanted to just pull out a piece of paper and draw what I thought the Ice Worm looked like and its lair. The story did not disappoint. Conan is traveling through the mountain ranges at the beginning of spring. A woman’s scream alerts him to some cave people circling a strange woman, so Conan begins to impale them upon his lance until it breaks. But his war axe handles the rest. The woman hardly knows a word Conan can understand, but she follows him into a cave so they can stay warm. Soon, they make love–okay, I did roll my eyes at this. While Conan slumbers, the girl sees two giant eyes. When Conan wakes up, he finds her missing and his honor shamed that he did not protect her. He follows the Ice Worm’s tracks to its lair and uses an ingenious idea (Conan understands science!) to defeat the Worm. I loved this story because the descriptions were just like out of a movie or an excellent D&D campaign. I love stories set in cold mountains during the winter. The Ice Worm was a great villain: a giant mouth with thousands of teeth to eat the flesh off the skeleton, but also a freezing breath to save food for later. Perhaps the plot is a bit too simplistic, but it show cases Conan as a maser fighter against even the most vicious of beasts.

“The Queen of the Black Coast” – 4 out of 5 broken skulls

Robert E. Howard

 

The first epic Conan tale. Some people rank this as the best Conan tale. Although I disagree, it certainly is a strong one. But like “The Frost Giant’s Daughter” even its lush language and large-scope plot cannot hide the sexism and racism in the story. The story starts with Conan fleeing a crowd by leaping on a barge and quickly befriending the captain, Tito. Conan admits he does not understand civilization: he had been called into trial as a witness (this may be the third time Conan has gone to court; is this another thing I should be keeping track of?) and frustrated at not understanding why he was there, Conan broke the skull of the judge and fled. What is interesting about this is you have the typical American “anti-hero” attitude against the Man (court system, police, government, etc.) which is commonly thought of as happening in the ’60’s, being presented in a Conan story written in 1934. Unfortunately for Tito, Conan is a bit of a curse of his companions as they are almost immediately attacked by Belit, the Queen of the Black Coast, which is exactly the groan inducing title you think it is: a white woman considered a goddess by superstitious black natives, who come with tom-toms, spears, and circular shields. By Crom, Robert E. Howard! She is also topless although maybe because she is also sailing around the hot southern oceans that would make a little sense…okay, looking at all the ladies glaring at me, nope, nevermind! Tito and his crew are killed and Conan leaps aboard Belit’s ship expecting to die, but Belit is sexually turned on by his savage nature and she asks him to become her mate. The sex hinted at suggests BDSM. Thus, Conan becomes a pirate and makes raids along the Black Coast until Belit decides to find a fabled lost city full of treasure. Okay, people have to stop doing this around Conan. It is definitely bad luck. As they travel down a lonely river, a giant snake eats one of the crew members. I suspect the Weird Tales editor said to Howard: “It has been five paragraphs since someone has died. Kill someone quick!” Then we get to the real meat of the story where they find the treasure, Belit issues some bad commands maybe under a curse, a winged creature has destroyed their water supply, Conan leads some troops into the jungle only to pass out at the touch of a black lotus. There he hallucinates the eons of history of the forgotten city: where superhumans lived but devolved into winged apes and other humans were turned into hyenas. Then comes a lot of death, including Belit who is hung from the yardarm. Conan’s final showdown expertly combines brutal wartime with the supernatural, which makes these Conan tales so special.

I really appreciated the scope of this story. It takes the normal Conan tale and stretches it into three distinct sections, pushing the limits of what Howard could get away with. A movie could be made out of this tale alone. Belit is a bit hokey as a character, but a better woman character despite her nakedness and immediately sexual attraction to Conan. Had Howard wrote out her background and how she become Queen of the Black Coast, this may have earned another broken skull in my ratings system. The dialogue between her and Conan feels comfortable and sort-of believable despite how fast they seem to pair up. Besides there is a jump-cut of time between sections one and two of the story, where obviously the two love birds would learn about each other. We are treated to Conan’s inner thoughts about gods including Crom. I did not expect this sudden religious contemplation at all! Then you get a Lovecraftian ancient history lesson followed by a bloody fight and a mourning Conan who gives Belit a Vikings funeral. Like I said, the scope of the story is impressive and had Howard only fleshed it out just a little bit more–say another 3,000 words–this would be contending with the best (minus the sexism and racism, of course). That being said, I would recommend this story to people first picking up Conan as an introduction besides “The Tower of the Elephant.”

Entry 0104: Mix Tape 2016

15325382_10154214406598590_1867153977696199954_o

7-inch: She is Beyond Good and Evil by the Pop Group

1979 Radar Records ADA 29

Favorite Track: She is Beyond Good and Evil

 

2016 was a terrible year. I shed many tears, clasped many a friend to my shoulder as we tried to hold each other up. However, 2016 was a great year in music for me. I discovered two bands that I binged on, finally got Hex Enducation Hour by the Fall, found some of my favorite punk albums as originals, discovered the groove in Veneuzuela during the 70’s thanks to Soul Jazz Records, and, like every one else, enjoyed the Stranger Things soundtrack. In fact, after making this list, I discovered this year I spent a lot of time listening to early electronic/industrial music–a good bit of it instrumentals. Needless to say because of the size, I am not going to put them in any particular order. You are going to have to be your own DJ (or just use the shuffle button).

2016 Mix

Song ————— Artist

  1. No One Can Find the War – Tim Buckley
  2. Carnival Song – Tim Buckley
  3. Pleasant Street – Tim Buckley
  4. Hallucinations – Tim Buckley
  5. I Never Asked to Be Your Mountain – Tim Buckley
  6. Once I Was – Tim Buckley
  7. Phantasmagoria in Two – Tim Buckley
  8. Get On Top – Tim Buckley
  9. Strange Feelin’ – Tim Buckley
  10. Buzzin’ Fly – Tim Buckley (Now in my top ten favorite songs of all time)
  11. Gypsy Woman – Tim Buckley
  12. Other – S U R V I V E
  13. Dirt – S U R V I V E
  14. Copter – S U R V I V E
  15. Angels and Demons – Echo and the Bunnymen (another favorite!)
  16. Erotic City – Prince (I already loved this song, but I rediscovered it)
  17. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – Lee Ving
  18. Another Christmas Beer – Fear (a classic!)
  19. Soldier of Love – Arthur Alexander (also knew about this one but was excited to get it on vinyl)
  20. She is Beyond Good and Evil – the Pop Group
  21. Mind Your Own Business – Delta 5 (also just super excited to get on vinyl)
  22. I Remember – Suicide
  23. Radiation – Suicide
  24. Mr. Ray – Suicide
  25. Touch Me – Suicide
  26. Harlem – Suicide
  27. Breath the Fire – the Soft Moon
  28. Circles – the Soft Moon
  29. Out of Time – the Soft Moon
  30. Parallels – the Soft Moon
  31. Insides – the Soft Moon
  32. Want – the Soft Moon
  33. Black – the Soft Moon
  34. Wrong – the Soft Moon
  35. Deeper – the Soft Moon
  36. Rainbow Demon – Uriah Heep
  37. Sunrise – Uriah Heep
  38. Spider Woman – Uriah Heep
  39. Rain – Uriah Heep
  40. Sweet Lorraine – Uriah Heep
  41. Tales – Uriah Heep
  42. The Magician’s Birthday – Uriah Heep
  43. Green Machine – Kyuss
  44. Le Coeur Au Bout Des Doigts – Jacqueline Taieb
  45. Laisser Tomber Les Filles – France Gall
  46. Roller Girl – Anna Karina
  47. Je Suis Folle De Tant T’amier – Arlette Zola
  48. Black Star – David Bowie
  49. Lazarus – David Bowie
  50. I Can’t Give Everything Away – David Bowie
  51. Nine Plan Failed – Adam and the Ants
  52. Never Trust a Man (With Egg on his Face) – Adam and the Ants
  53. Paralysed – Gang of Four
  54. What We All Want – Gang of Four
  55. In the Ditch – Gang of Four
  56. Song I – Wire
  57. Internal Exile – Wire
  58. Dead Weight – Wire
  59. Still – Wire
  60. I’m on Fire – Chelsea
  61. Decide – Chelsea
  62. Blank Reflection – Nots
  63. Inherently Low – Nots
  64. Entertain Me – Nots
  65. Ha Ha Ha – the Julien Ruin
  66. Just My Kind – the Julien Ruin
  67. Cookie Rd. – the Julien Ruin
  68. Lookout – the Julien Ruin
  69. I Decide – the Julien Ruin
  70. Mr. So and So – the Julien Ruin
  71. Time is Up – the Julien Ruin
  72. Calverton – the Julien Ruin
  73. Araguaney – Vytas Brenner
  74. Amor en Llames – Pablo Schneider
  75. Machu Picchu – Un Dos Tres y Fuera
  76. Polvo Lunar – Miguel Angel Fuster
  77. Basheeba – Angel Rada
  78. Son De Tambor y San Juan – Un Dos Tres y Fuera
  79. Dame de Comer – Miguel Angel Fuster
  80. Caracas Para Locos – Ofrenda Vytas Brenner
  81. Panico a las 5 a.m. – Angel Rada
  82. Deny Everything – the Circle Jerks
  83. Back Against the Wall – the Circle Jerks
  84. What’s Your Problem? – the Circle Jerks
  85. Nine Million Rainy Days – Jesus and the Mary Chain
  86. April Skies – Jesus and the Mary Chain
  87. Stranger Things theme – Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein
  88. Kids – Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein
  89. This Isn’t You – Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein
  90. The Upside Down – Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein
  91. Hanging Lights – Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein
  92. Over – Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein
  93. Danger Danger – Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein
  94. Making Contact – Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein
  95. Breaking and Entering – Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein
  96. Baby Please Don’t Go – Budgie
  97. In the Grip of a Tyre Fitter’s Hand – Budgie
  98. Jumping Someone Else’s Train – the Cure
  99. Plastic Passion – the Cure
  100. Fire in Cairo – the Cure
  101. Dusseldorf – La Dusseldorf
  102. Time – La Dusseldorf
  103. Rheinita – La Dusseldorf
  104. Geld – La Dusseldorf
  105. Miss Fortune – Faust
  106. Der Garten Sandosa – Amon Duul
  107. Ein Wunderhubsches Madchen Traunt von Sandosa – Amon Duul

 

Whew, enjoy. It could have been longer.

Entry 0103: The 27 Active Cults and Conspiracy Theorist Groups

15289136_10154194942638590_6516290276751832454_o

7-inch: Ca Plane Pour Moi by Thee Headcoatees

1997 Sympathy for the Record Industry, SFTRI 485

Favorite Track: Ca Plane Pour Moi

 

I made a discovery last night that had me rolling on the floor. It was an unfinished book, a sequel actually, titled the Turdian Shithouse Revelations. It proposed to be a book about the truth, the Turd, and how life is harder to pin down than by simply being alive and observing it. It also has a fourth grader’s sense of humor, but one that is surprisingly refreshing. I won’t tell you how I got in contact with the authors on the spiritual plane (but it did involve a chicken egg, three stalks of celery, and short hairs of a well-known movie star) and was granted permission to copy my favorite section! Enjoy!

There are 27 current conspiracy groups and cult memberships that tell the truth in today’s universe. If you join any of these, your life will be short and abnormal. You will regret learning the horrible truth, however, your mind will be unlocked from the state-wide conditioning it has been put through. Good luck finding them. I told them never to call you back.

  1. The Turds – Assholes and philosophers. Status: Easily avoided. Membership: 7 billion.
  2. The Tubians – Fanatic, lustful. Status: Lightning strikes twice. Membership: Probably 4.
  3. Moon Nazis – Fascist, mooney. Status: Can be seen on a clear night. Membership: 144.
  4. Space Whalers Association – Slick, spermy. Status: There she blows! Membership: 36.
  5. Teenagers – Moody, anti-social. Status: Always hungry. Membership: 2 1/2 billion.
  6. Controlled Bigots – Silent, hateful. Status: Medium rare. Membership: 77 million.
  7. Faggy Poets – Desperate, needy. Status: You never who is and who isn’t? Membership: ?
  8. Psychotic Mind-Readers – Irate, ornery. Status: More than you think. Membership: x>?
  9. Porno Jihadists – Duty-bound, well-hung. Status: Making more everyday. Membership: x>? + x>? squared + x>? cubed + etc.
  10. Carpetbaggers – Folksy, traditional. Status: Extinct. Membership: 0.
  11. Joggers – Athletic, paranoid. Status: Sun risers. Membership: 200 million.
  12. Hallucinating Baptists – Holy, high. Status: Coming down. Membership: <
  13. Apocalyptic Astronauts – Weird, thin. Status: Mostly Russian and American. Membership: 27.
  14. Diabolical Grabbag of Fetishes – Inquisitive, gay. Status: Neon lights. Membership: Debatable.
  15. Unbalanced Librarians – Nerdy, Eccentric. Status: Overdue. Membership: 501.
  16. Magnetic Sterilizers – Loose, edgy. Status: Hospital parking lots. Membership: 100,000 thousand.
  17. Spirited Atheists – Contrary, nocturnal. Status: Potential. Membership: x=x.
  18. Careful Readers – Bookish, blind. Status: Page-turning. Membership: 6 billion and two.
  19. Degrading Street Performers – Untalented, broke. Status: Avoid subways. Membership: 1 million.
  20. Corporate Tax Lawyers – Evil, type A. Status: Submitted to IRS. Membership: Being recounted.
  21. Virginal Venusians – Hot, bothered. Status: Dying out. Membership: > or equal to 100.
  22. Jurassic Mathematicians – Scaly or feathery. Status: Ancient. Membership: Riding a comet somewhere.
  23. Assailing Asseyes – Anarchic, valuable. Status: Unlimited. Membership: Infinity.
  24. Full-Moon Psychologists– Thoughtful, temperamental. Status: Once a month. Membership: 28-31.
  25. The Twenty-Five Masked Fat People – Fat, masked. Status: Dwindling. Membership: 19.
  26. New Age Illuminati – New, aged. Status: Bavarian, like a pretzel. Membership: Fortune 500.
  27. The Truth – Liar, pants on fire. Status: Determined. Membership: 0.

Entry 0090: Savaged Again

13247848_10153699130233590_6730149375352425572_o

LP: Adore Life by Savages

2016 Matador Records OLE-1076-1

Favorite Track: Sad Person (but The Answer live)

 

Here I am again reviewing the Savages. I wish I could do this every night. I am in awe about this band. You must go see them live. They reach deep inside you, pluck the most vital organs and nerves, and spread a feeling of being welcome throughout your soul. Let them in.

I arrived at the show late, in my work clothes and dress shoes, and a bit winded running four city blocks. Yes, I ran to the show. Also, I have never been to the Taft Ballroom before so when I heard the grinding opening notes of City’s Full start while the attendees scanned my ticket, I considered just running straight past them. They were older and I doubt (but maybe be surprised?) that they could catch me. Down the stairs I went and bam! there stood the Savages on a raised stage surrounded by people reaching for them. Ayse was just smiling and playing her bass with measured control, fingers sliding up and down the neck like forked lightning. I pushed through the crowd till I found my friends right at the front, Jehnny Beth right in front of me looking down with those intense face of hers. (I love it when she sings No Face. Her face is wields a lot of power, almost as if she was an actress, and is easily a face that stands out from the crowd.)

Speaking of Jehnny Beth, I heard many people talking after the show about how she changed their lives. One friend claimed she fell in love when Jehnny looked right at her and sang When in Love. It’s true. Jehnny’s stage performance (or maybe it is just who she is and it shines out twofold while she is on stage) makes everyone feel welcome and included: she shakes people’s hands, she stares with those beautiful and haunted eyes directly at you, she keeps her face still and calm but will break down and laugh every now and then, and she embodies the noise and music her bandmates create around her. It is impossible not to feel elevated heights of emotions. Even listening to their records is like a needle scratching dust away from the groove. The acute introspection leads to a clearer glass reflection.

She also does all this in some high heels. I went dancing in high heels once in college. My feet were bleeding. I could still dance like the maniac I am but there was definitely a challenge to it and perhaps a fear of turning my ankle.

The set list was different in order from the show I saw in Cleveland. They did not play Evil or I am Here, but played Shut Up. No criticism here because I looked up their ridiculously long tour schedule for this year, but they were a smidgen less energetic than in Cleveland. Plus the Grog Shop’s low ceiling lead to more of Jehnny’s stage-diving antics whereas the Taft Ballroom’s high-ceiling gave the venue a sense of openness like a stadium show. Jehnny still dove into the crowd: first being carried out on her knees while she sang pointing at people, then she fell back and drifted back to the stage. So, yes, they were still ferocious in Cincy.

Once again, The Answer is just so incredibly powerful. Gemma Thompson’s guitar work rips the airs apart, each note a savage tearing of sonic structures. Fay Milton smiled a couple of times as I jumped up thrusting my fist into the ear. T.I.W.Y.G. sounded better in Cincy then Cleveland: they have harvested its raw power into a fantastic finisher with crazy lights casting you in dark shadows, then blinding you to a greater light as if you were under attack by bombardment. They dedicated a song to Alan Vega, who recently passed and traveled to another planet according to Jehnny, but I am surprised they didn’t play their cover of Dream Baby Dream.

Adore was breathtaking. “Maybe I will die maybe tomorrow so I need to say / I adore life.”

I agree.

Entry 0089: The Adventure Begins

13652956_10153802252093590_7809625561365692664_o

LP: Run Fast by the Julie Ruin

2013 The Julie Ruin TJR101

Favorite Track: Lookout

 

“Not much of a tavern,” grumbled the hairy dwarf as he doffed his heavy helmet unto the table, which groaned under the weight, “I bet the strongest tankard their ale tastes like my grandmermer’s feet.”

Adlace chuckled and surveyed the smoky room. It smelled of pumpkin spice, tobacco, and fish frying in lemon. The bar keep was a tough looking man of taciturn nature and scabbed knuckles. A few thieves and rouges were in all the corners, hoping shadows and low candlelight protected their identities from the right people. Adlace began murmuring a few words, attempting to detect magic in any of the people or the weapons they carried.

Starl came back with three glasses of a hazel color, a few breadrolls, and the fish fry over some local leaf of an anise-flavor. She sliced her roll with her jewel-encrusted dagger and more than a few eyes looked over at them.

“Put that away,” muttered the dwarf, Granitetooth, as he splashed as much beer into his beard as he did his mouth. “I suggest we sleep with one eye open tonight. Or move through this damned rain. There’s something here I just don’t trust.”

“Could it be because we are in the southeast? Far away from your Glitter Mountains? You’ve been surlier the further we have traveled–” Starl began but Granitetooth interrupted her.

“The air’s too warm. It’s not the people. They are…pleasant.”

Starl flickered a burnt piece of fish into the nearest fire and turned back to the dwarf. “You use that excuse every time. First, the air was too moist in the Forest of Seven Stars. Then it was too much in Tower Clomax. By the time we got to the fishing village of Pl’aan, you said the air was too sterling.”

Adlace was laughing. The emaciated man in the blue cloak sitting by the fire emitted a strong magical presence although Adlace was not sure if he was a wizard or if he carried a magical item that gave off an aura. For the moment, he kept his eyes of his friends.

“Also,” Starl continued, “don’t interrupt me again or you will lose that stubby tongue of yours.”

“Aye,” Granitetooth scowled, “I mean no disrespect, my Lady, but it is a habit I’ve picked up sitting on the Dwarven Gem Guild console. We would have been there all day arguing with each other if we went one at a time.”

“Didn’t they dissolve last winterfall without ever settling the market prices for certain precious stones?” Adlace watched as the magical stranger was approaching them with a slight limp in his steps. His face was streaked with dirt, but his eyes seemed unnaturally white.

Granitetooth now chuckled, a sound much like rocks rolling down a cliffside. “Aye, the Guild was really an excuse to swap tales about collecting rocks. One time, Jagcleft…”

The stranger stood in front of the table, his hands twitching slightly. “I hate to join your party unannounced but secrecy is of the utmost importance. And time is slight.”

Granitetooth had reached for his axe but Adlace restrained him. Starl measured the stranger with her piercing green eyes but saw no visible weapon on him. In fact, he looked rather sickly or of poor constitution. His voice was as soft as his body.

“I need some people willing for a dangerous adventure. But the reward would be quite significant.”

Granitetooth finished his tankard. “And what would be the reward?”

The stranger smiled and all three of the adventurers noticed that all his teeth glowed an eerie cerulean color.

“A dragon’s horde of treasure.”

 

Entry 0083: Savage Rock: a review

13244033_10153699130238590_835253927469119616_o

LP: Silence Yourself by Savages

2013 Matador OLE-1036-1, Pop Noire OLD-1036-1

Favorite Track: Husbands

 

The anticipation to see the Savages play live was like a downed wire sparking before my shoes. If I’m lucky, I’ll feel every bit of electrical power paralyzing me as I incinerate. The coming conflagration is awaiting me in Cleveland at the Grog Shop, a venue I heard stories about back when I was in university. My friend and I were already on the road, the cool air blowing our hair back, Dylan on the stereo. It is only a four hour drive, but each yellow line recedes into the infinite middle distance. I could quite possibly never get off this road.

I heard Savages for the first time at a house party. A curly-haired boy with a wisp of a mustache pulled into his living room and said simply, “Listen to this.” Ten seconds into the song, I was memorizing the name of the band and the album title. I began to tremble. Some of the sounds they were making reminded me of being crushed by a garbage truck. Or the impact of a collapsed structure. My curly-haired friend just smile.

When their second album “Adore Life” came out, I bought both of them on vinyl and went home immediately. I had a new favorite band but I hadn’t realized it yet. Not until I saw that they were coming to Cleveland.

Speaking of Cleveland, we roll to a stop in front of a refurbished firehouse. Our host, for the sake of identity protection I will call Mr. Hilarious Wormbody, Third Order of the Erisian Lebron James Society, greeted us with a tour of occult significance: an occult church where a president of the USA preached, a Freemason temple which was kicked out of the order for being too radical, and the hotspot in the séance community that now houses three Emmys. Probably haunted Emmys. We ate outside in the surprisingly sunny weather, enjoying the breeze off of Lake Erie. A visit to the Art Museum only added to the excitement of the day as I stood in front of the musketeer swords daydreaming. Also, my love of ancient Egypt flared an itchy interest I hadn’t scratched in years. Expect a mummy in my next story…

Then came time for the concert. The lights dimmed. The crowd was an interesting mix of old and young, punk leather and dreaded hippie, short and tall, the thrilled and the smug. The band came out and Jehnny Beth immediately erased any notion of a boring show. Just in her greeting, she oozed enthusiasm. The first song “I’m Here” tore through the venue, each note a chain of ball lightning rocking every member of the crowd onto the balls of their feet. Gemma was just as I had imagined: standing in the corner  reticent about letting her hair escape her eyes, but holding nothing back on her instrument, which I rather suspect she was viewing as simply an extension of her fingers and hands. When the bass line and drum beats began “Sad Person”, I screamed and tried to dance in the tightly-packed crowd. Jehnny’s performance was infectious–articulating each word like a gun shot, yet smiling and high-fiving people, making everyone feel welcome and included. The audience is part of the band and the band is as much the audience.

Then she started stage diving. A couple of times she was mere inches from hitting her head on the ceiling above. The Grog Shop is not very tall. While most people’s eyes gravitated to her body being passed from person to person, I snuck glimpses of Gemma, Fay, and Ayse–they seemed content in their own worlds as if they were not even playing a show but just existing. They played mostly from “Adore Life” but threw in some old songs as well. I loved everyone from “Husbands” to “Slowing Down the World” to “Evil”. When “the Answer” came on, I stopped moving, rooted in place by the impressive crunchy sound of Gemma’s guitar. I’m pretty sure the guy at the soundboard pushed the lever to the max for the guitar; on the album, the sound was much more balanced. But live, it was the perfect move. That riff was rough concrete being chewed by a hand-cranked lawnmower. I contained myself before I just lashed out and threw my arms into everyone’s faces. Instead, I started pogoing up and down. Then Jehnny was crowdsurfing again and I was holding her up, the music and blood going to my head, and then everyone seemingly decided to let go at once, did we act like a herd, maybe she was just going to drop to the floor and sing right into our undeserving faces, but she totally is love with us, tonight we are all one, and no she is not dropping but just hanging by those strong arms of hers from a pipe, and I am standing there right next to her wondering is she frightened does she care is she laughing this is awesome oh I will grab her boot and lift and there are so other people and she is back on top of the world again and waiting and watching and I think she just looked at me so I stepped forward and she jumps and for a moment I panic because my outstretched hands are align with her breasts and that would be awkward so I moved them and she lands on me and I’m sure my fingers just poked her in the neck which was awkward and then she up and over me and back on stage and despite her hair slick with sweat the smile is continuing the fantastic drumming is my heart beat the bass line is catchy with hints of groove in it and Gemma isn’t facing the audience anymore she is lost to the superior craft of her musicianship and Jehnny is saying “Fuckers” a lot and they are coming to Cincinnati and I’m going to see them again and the concert is over and I am laying on an orange couch in a haunted room full of Emmys thinking to myself that I am a Savage and what a hell of a concert I just attended.

Entry 0082: Silverfrost Forest, part one

12191766_10153293540748590_2899593264981900542_n

7-inch: Main Squeeze by Huggy Bear

1994 Famous Monsters of Filmland Trouble03; Rubber Bugger Discs Dump 019

Favorite Track: My Best Kiss

 

The Bob Dylan playing softly from the overhead speaker was annoying him. Normally, Stan didn’t mind Dylan, in fact, was quite a fan of Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde although he could never quite listen all the way through Nashville Skyline after his breakup with Jessi. He could hear her timorous voice behind each blast of the harmonica: why did you cheat on me? why? He never did, never even thought such a thing, but she never trusted him and the relationship couldn’t handle the strain.

And Stan was definitely feeling the strain during this chess match. His opponent was a swarthy, frizzy-haired fellow with sad, brown eyes and an aquiline nose. He hardly spoke, yet each time he put down a piece, he did it with a force that spoke volumes: you are one step away from losing. He was up a knight and a pawn, but had doubled up pawns on the king’s side and left his king trapped in the corner. Stan knew in order to win, he had to lure the stranger into making a mistake, which usually meant making a risky gambit. After drumming his fingers on the tabletop until he felt a wet patch near his napkin, he remembered to take a sip of the cold lager the relatively cute waitress has poured for him. It tasted a tad flat. He wondered if they ever cleaned the tap pipes at Arnie’s. Finally, with a sigh more held in contempt of Lay Lady Lay then his choice of retreating his bishop back to his original rank, Stan moved his piece, tried to smile, and asked, “Are you visiting our small little town? Or did you get rained out on your way to Salonium?”

The corners of the stranger’s eyes seemed to wrinkle up for a second. He flashed a stained smile that bespoke years of habit. “Before I answer your question, may I ask you one? When was the last time you told a ghost story?”

Stan laughed despite the straight-forwardness of the question. He took a healthy swig while he pondered if he ever told a ghost story. He had few friends, mostly girls, spending summers digging up worms and odd insects in the woods and solving puzzles by the fireplace in the cold autumn and winter. After a second sip, he remember a night, his first night at the university, where he had met Zoe. A rainy night where the two pink moons cast a spellbinding warm glow on the puddles scattered across the sidewalks and campus greens.

“Yes, just one. I guess you can say I’m not a scary guy.”

The stranger moved his piece, an innocuous forward-stepping pawn. “There is no tiny person in your eye. The reflection of my face bears no teeth. I would hazard you have plenty of scary stories to tell.”

Stan paused. Dylan turned into the Rolling Stones and then some British Riot Grrrl band whose guitar amps sounded like they were permanently blown-out. What in the hell? The stranger looked back down at the chessboard in concentration. He hovered his left hand over his queen and knight as if he were about to take a second move, but then dropped it by his side. The waitress gave Stan another beer and a forlorn smile.

“Now how am I suppose to take a comment like that? I see you haven’t touched your drink, so now I have to ask myself what kind of trailer park headtrip shit you are on–”

“I came here to see you. And hear your ghost story,” he said gruffly. Then when Stan tried to speak again, he cut him off: “I collect them.”

Stan crossed his arms. The room had a sharp, cold smell to it. Something medicinal; something tinged with ethanol. He remembered Zoe, sweet Zoe with her dark eye, chubby freckled cheeks, and scarred arms. He remembered the way she would hold him, how he would be afraid to fall asleep sometimes in her arms, and how he would watch the candle melt down to a small stump of hot wax until, at least, his strained eyes would close against the sun coming through the blinds.

“I only told one other person this story. It is the only ghost story I know and, I’m afraid to disappoint you, but it is not a very good one. I was born in Maine where I lived in a cabin deep in the woods near Lincolnville and the Camden Hills State Park. We called it Silverfrost Forest due to the heavy snows during the latter months. I lived with just my father, a fly-fisherman, hunter, and town annoyance. No town hall meeting was complete until my father stood on his heels and delivered thunderous sermons about the greed of the local officials, bankers, and business owners. His many trips to incite protest, and many nights in jail, led me to stay up all night in the cabin, shivering at every twig snap, every strong gust of wind, every weird chattering.

When I was seven, I decided impulsively to go outside, into the woods, and learn where all these sounds were coming from. I don’t think exactly that I trying to face my fears. I think rather like a chess game, I had to understand how all the pieces move. I wondered all among the tall spruce and pines, marveled at the bats catching insects out of the air, and even found beauty in the small purple berries among the weeds and wildflowers. It wasn’t until I couldn’t hear the creek anymore that I realized that I did not know how to return home.”

The stranger finally raised his glass and down the whole liquid contents down his throat, his Adam’s apple bobbing furiously as the tides of fermented yeast slid into his stomach.

“May you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows your dead.”

Stan nervously tittered. “I’ve never worried about the devil. Go ahead and put down that eyebrow. The devil is fearsome, in legend.”

Then he leaned close to the stranger, “It’s the witches you have to worry about.”

 

to be continued…

Entry 0078: On Record Collecting and Record Store Day

12552605_10153410452648590_9125046960970239041_n

7-inch: Inconvenience by the Au-Pairs

1981 Human Records HUM 8

Favorite Track: Inconvenience

 

The local newspaper did a feature story about record collectors in Cincinnati. I was selected to be interviewed and photographed for the story, which can be read here: http://citybeat.com/cincinnati/article-35009-vinyl_revival.html. I had a lot of fun with this and I especially love Jesse Fox’s photograph, if you allow me to sound vain for a second.

With Record Story Day looming ahead of us, it got me thinking about the evolution of my record collection: how it started on a whim, how exploring a new genre of music reinforced my love for punk rock, how I discover new music, how I collect 7-inches now, and will it ever end? Here are some scattered thoughts:

  • You should be listening to the Au-Pairs. You might not have heard of them; they get the short shrift when people talk about post-punk music. I discovered them through a CD at the library titled Totally Wired, an excellent collection that exposed me to numerous bands including Pylon, the Mo-Dettes, and Romeo Void and also features some bands I knew a little about such as Delta 5, Bush Tetras, and the Raincoats. The Au-Pairs are a groovy band with brittle bursts of political and sexual noise-bombs that cut open the unconscious norms and divide your brain into new progressive thoughts. Your you can just shake your butt. Guaranteed to get you laid.
  • My record collection will end someday. I am actually incredibly close to finishing off my full-length punk collection. But the seven inches and new music and further exploration into older music will keep me busy for some time. Especially now that I am allowing myself to collect some classical music. I doubt I will go over 1,000 records though. And I will sell them off one day, hopefully to a young person just about to start a journey.
  • I like Record Store Day. I understand the complaints from smaller indie labels about getting their releases delayed over yet more re-printings of Bruce Springsteen albums. But that’s capitalism and that is why more people need to fix old vinyl plants or build new ones. I like Record Store Day because it has saved one of my favorite types of local businesses. I like the community aspect of it. Tonight, I am meeting with friends to have a sleepover and then wake up early and go stand in line. I’ll talk to people in line. Afterwards, at brunch, people will be spinning records. It’s a holiday and one of my favorites.
  • For the first time in a while, I am excited about new music. If you have not heard Savages, Shopping, Ought, or the Nots, get on it! Also, one of my all-time favorite bands Wire has a new album coming out that I am super excited about.
  • I cannot guarantee you will get laid. Disregard previous comment.