Reading these has sucked me into a sort of existential vortex. I no longer can distinguish reality from some fractured cartoon landscape where the all alternate realities (whether snowflake, bubble, or otherwise) are collapsing in on themselves.
Thank you so much to everyone who came and watched us at Pianos and Goodbye Blue Monday in NYC, we had a great time. Wait a minute, I said “we.” What’s the deal with that…?
THE DEAL WITH THAT: my good friend Melissa has been deputized as a temporary member of RED LANTERNS! She accompanied me on several tunes in NYC (which hopefully I’ll have footage of relatively soon) and we had so much fun, we’ve decided to make a regular thing of it. We might be doing something non-RL related, but in the meantime, she’ll be playing guitar, uke, accordion, piano, and anything else she can get her hands on, with more panache than I could hope to possess.
We’ll be doing a song or two on Wednesday at the GULU-GULU open mic, which is always a blast.
Our first New England show will be THIS THURSDAY at the DERBY DELI in Salem. As always, it’s free and you all should come check this shit out, if only to see Melissa play a genuine, honest to god squeezebox solo.
We will subsequently be recording an album/EP, possible with some new songs, possibly with some old ones that we’ve put a new twist on. Can’t say much more than that, however, it will feature cover art by iamdirtfarmer himself, the illustrious and illustrative Pete Shea, who foolishly proffered his services. Haha, what an drip.
After that, the next show in MA will be a the MIDWAY CAFE on June 30th with the awesome dudes in THE THIN HEIR (myspace.com/thinheir), as well as RADIO CONTROL (http://www.myspace.com/radiocontrolmusic).
Many fun and terrifying prospects to come. Stay tuned.
Was the finale particularly good TV? Hard to say. In terms of answering questions raised by the show itself (the big one being WHAT THE FUCK IS UP WITH THAT FREAKY ISLAND???) it was pretty much nothing, which, while certainly not required, is lazy writing.
That said, the last 20 minutes of the show had me in literal tears. Endings like that always kill me.
It’s about fucking time someone puts this whole “debate” into a clear, reasoned format. This whole “inoculations give children autism” malarky is not only built on flawed, inaccurate science, logical fallacies, and hysteria, it is exceedingly difficult to combat. Parents who’ve bought the anti-vaccine garbage have a wonderful “common sense” argument: my child appeared normal pre-vaccine and post it developed autism, thus there seems to exist a correlation. Furthermore, any effort to argue this is interpreted as diminishing their struggle or denying that their children are in fact autistic.
The simple fact of it is that you can argue just as passionately that vaccinations can cause cancer, macular degeneration, broken arms, and mean-spiritedness. It’s a logical fallacy that has been backed by science that NO RESPECTED SCIENTIFIC JOURNAL CAN PROVE. Of course, one can always point to poor Galileo being forced to recant his findings by the scientific leaders at the time, that is to say, the inquisition. However, Galileo, unlike our good friend Dr. Andrew Wakefield, did not have as much to gain financially by throwing his “findings” into the mix. Galileo also wasn’t supported by Jenny McCarthy.
Very excited to have booked my flight to New Orleans in June. Yay traveling!
On the subject of New Orleans, I’ve been enjoying HBO’s Treme. The first episode was a bit sleepy for me and it hasn’t hooked me like most HBO shows do, but that might have more to do with it be much less high concept than almost anything on HBO. It’s a nice slice of life show and I’ve been digging on it.
Pretty soon I’ll be posting the songs from Miss and Match, once I get a decent master.
I’ve been on a huge Cramps kick. I think something about California reminds m how much I love ‘em, but frankly I’m surprised there hasn’t been more of a popular resurgence, what with the recent death of Lux Interior and the whole indie scene embracing fuzzed out 50s and 60s pop (Beach House, Surfer Blood, Best Coast, Male Bonding, Dum Dum Girls, Vivian Girls). I suspect the twee holdouts might be somewhat uncomfortable with the more shamelessly grotesque and sexual aspects of the Cramps and prefer to remain ignorant to (if not willfully ignore) them as the pioneers they were.
This is actually something that fascinates me. Musically and completely devoid of context, the Cramps aren’t that hard a pill to swallow for the modern indie-rocker. They played a sloppy, primitive, arrested development form of DIY rock and roll, very unpretentious and built around arcane collecting culture (the Cramps must have spent years digging up old weirdo 45s). Sure, they were more aligned musically with the bombastic blues and rockabilly performers, but they had a healthy garage and psychedelic influence as well, an influence which seems to be run amuck these days.
The rub seems to be in the fact that the Cramps were self-consciously and gloriously “punk,” or (if that term seems too limiting) transgressive. Not in the sense of the usual mohawks and safety pins, but more in the sense that they appeared as a scary, scary gang of misfits. Lux was the consummate ghoul, aschewing the foppishness of Johnny Rotten or machismo of Danzig and bringing the kind of Iggy Pop physicality to performing.
Poison Ivy deliberately tried to look as sexy and as threatening at the same time, like a drag queen who was going to push you down in a back alley and rape the shit out of you.
Together, they made music that was ghoulish, dirty, and more than a bit silly. Current indie darlings like the aforementioned might claim they embrace a certain transgressive attitude in their music or aesthetic, but they cop to it in such a coy, delicate way that you KNOW, deep down, they’re still deathly afraid of looking stupid. And not stupid in that, “I wear goofy glasses and shapeless grandma sweaters” kind of way, more stupid in the, “I don’t give a flying fuck what anyone thinks, I’m going to vomit blood on the first three rows.”
I think this speaks loudest to the fact that culture (probably the internet) has completely neutered the idea of “punk.” I don’t want to dismiss the kids throwing basement shows and starting bands like the indie darlings as not doing something that requires real commitment, drive, and passion. Nor do I want to disparage any of the bands I’ve mentioned here (all the names listed before were from the top of my head and the most recent plays on my iPod).
But the difference is in it’s relation to the outside world. You ask these bands what they’re doing and I’ll bet you not ONE of them will say anything about trying to freak people out or shake people up, and I think that is symptomatic. Most weirdo kids with guitars don’t need to embrace their weirdness in that aggressive, confrontational way, maybe because (gasp!) the world (or american pop culture at least) has become generally more accepting. They get to just be, do whatever music makes them happy in that cutesy, untempered way, and people either like it or it languishes in obscurity. And the “punk” holdouts, well they’ve always sort of seemed to me to be kind of a relic.
Not that “Punk” is dead. It remains as a word that hipsters will usually bandy about to lend gravitas to whatever they are currently jazzed about. Oddly, these days it seems to be used mostly against itself, subverting the expectations of classic “punk.” “DIY is punk.” “Bluegrass is punk as fuck.” “Lady Gaga is punk.” “Disco is the new punk rock.”
The issue is not that any of these assertions are wrong per se (which, for the record, they are in such an insipid and obvious manner that I feel no real compunction to waste my time detailing why), is more that the term is being self-applied. In lieu of any real prejudice from the outside (does anyone really feel strongly against bluegrass?), the term “punk” is thrown in to cultivate the feeling of conflict. Not only are you making whatever silly music you like, you’re being “punk” while doing it. The problem is that NO ONE GIVES A FUCK. You’re not in danger of getting your ass kicked in the streets if you play in the Vivian Girls. No one is boycotting Surfer Blood and smashing their albums en masse. You’re ALLOWED to play whatever music you want these days, someone will hear it and like it and a group will almost certainly accept you; and this realization is seeping into the culture and, I believe, diluting the intensity of experiences and ideas. There’s no more, “In for a penny, in for a pound.”
Punk’s not dead, it’s just not necessary any more.
Remind me to post the pictures of the LPs i picked up in San Francisco.
At some point, I’m going to be digitizing and uploading some of the 45s I got in San Fran as well.
I’ve always like the moral complexity to Iron Man/Tony Stark. In a way, it allows him a certain freedom in his portrayal. Unlike someone like Captain America or Superman or Thor or Spiderman, whose iconography is deeply tied to the idea of doing stark, absolute justice in every case and is too prominent to stray (unless for the sake of an “imaginary story”), Tony exists in this sort of moral limbo. Yes, he’s expected to do right, and we believe fundamentally he wants to, but we are able to accept it when he fails.
If you think about it, he’s always been written as a morally ambiguous hero, still heroic and well-meaning, but flawed (and not just in that “Brooding Anti-hero” way, thank god). His origin (both original and the subsequent retcons) has him tied deeply to nationalism and an extremely unpopular American war (Vietnam, Gulf War/Afghanistan respectively) as an arms dealer. From there, a large chunk of his most iconic stories haven’t involved grand, cataclysmic threats, but more personal threats to him. Whether its a villain trying to take over his company (Stane, Hammer), his tech being appropriated (Armor Wars), or just his self-destruction consuming him (Demon in a Bottle), these threats are somewhat ambiguous: you wouldn’t necessarily call in the Avengers. Heck, during most of Armor Wars (if I’m remembering this correctly) Iron Man is acting pretty recklessly and in flagrant disregard for UN law, basically throwing a tantrum and taking on anyone and everyone who he thinks stole his tech. It’s an understandable perspective, but not quite the black and white moral battle we’re used to.
I remember specifically the end of the Extremis storyline where Tony, realizing that the terrorist was a threat even after incapacitated, blows the guy’s head off. Tony is an AVENGER, and he murders a man in cold blood (true the guy was a mass-murderer and it was just after a brutal fight). Captain America could never pull this off. People are still flipping their shit over him decapitating Baron Blood, and that guy was a vampire and was like 30 YEARS AGO.
The central push of his character is his technological brilliance and innovative genius combined with the fact that he’s so fundimentally and irrevocably human. Whereas Batman wears Bruce Wayne like a mask, Iron Man IS Tony Stark in a suit. And Tony Stark, as brilliant and well-meaning as he is, is a man, a playboy and a cad and limited (or possibly more flexible) in his ethical scope.
Some of the IM best stories (or at least the moments I geek out on) are the ones where Tony is faced with a problem and fixes it by upgrading the armor or making technological innovations. In this regard, Iron Man, in a weird way, escapes the superhero convention of the first costume you ever wear you are beholden to for the rest of your career (which, considering he made his first appearance in that gray clunker, is a godsend). Every few years, his appearance gets a slight upgrade.
The conversation Tony had with Thor in the most recent issue of Invincible Iron Man I thought was nice and very in character. Sure Tony doesnt remember all the Civil War shennanigans. But would he do it again? Hell yeah he would! Because he thought it was right at the time, because all the factors and variables got plugged into the great computer in his head, and they spit out the same conclusion, and Tony cannot get over this in a way.
Is this a dick thing to think? Hell yeah it is. But it’s true to who he is, what he is. He cares about people, wants to save the world, and thinks he’s one of the few people smart enough to actually pull it off. That’s really the essence, the core of who he is. His friends died, he became an international fugitive, and he couldn’t stray from the thought that the plan was right, just poorly executed.
Having Tony be a dick I think gives him real depth, gives him an impetus and vitality.
Sad news this morning: Wendy Dio, wife and manager of Ronnie James Dio, announced that the iconic metal singer died today after fighting stomach cancer since his diagnosis last fall. Dio, whose long career included singing with Black Sabbath, Elf, Heaven & Hell, Rainbow, and DIO, of course, was 67.
Today my heart is broken, Ronnie passed away at 7:45am 16th May. Many, many friends and family were able to say their private good-byes before he peacefully passed away. Ronnie knew how much he was loved by all. We so appreciate the love and support that you have all given us. Please give us a few days of privacy to deal with this terrible loss. Please know he loved you all and his music will live on forever.