Tuesday, April 29, 2008
(There's a thread on the Nomeanswhatever forum where you can share your "without Albert Hoffman, I never would have..." stories, btw).
Monday, April 28, 2008
Friday, April 25, 2008
“We’re the group without CDs,” he explained, with typically deadpan humour, before translating into bad French (“le group sans CDs,” or something like that). “A glut of good stuff [such as CDs] is still a glut,” he opined, and No Fun doesn’t want to contribute to it; he told me about a CD he released in a run of one, giving the copy to a single fan, under the name of David M’s Ironic Acronym - saying that, tho’ people may not be able to buy No Fun CDs at Red Cat and Scratch, at least “the one guy who has [that one CD] is pleased.”
I cannot argue with such logic. But will he provide me a CD burn of 1894, my favourite No Fun cassette of yore? (The one with “Be Like Us,” “Work, Drink, Fuck, Die,” and, if memory serves, “Paisley Brainbolts of the Mind” on it. I can live without “I’m Not Taking Suzy to the Be-in,” tho’ I’d probably pick up Snivel, too, were it, say, available on CD.) Mr. M is noncommittal on this question: “maybe.” I get around to it again, and he stands firm: maybe.
When he found out that I was a Vancouver writer - hence my search for the Wire piece - and that, indeed, I was at the Vancouver Complication gig, where No Fun performed in duo form, he asked if I’d written the review of it that he’d seen run in the Big Takeover, reprinted (apparently) from some local mag. It took him describing the review to me - which he called “the best No Fun review ever” - for me to realize that indeed it was not mine: “the guy said he went out to his car to get something and when he came back he found out that he had missed No Fun, ‘but he heard they were really good!’” David gave a little chuckle. That gig was in fact one of only three No Fun gigs I've seen - I saw No Fun at Christmas at the Railway, years ago; I saw them open for Robyn Hitchcock even further back, at the Town Pump; and I caught the Complication mini-set. I'm primed to see No Fun play again.
And so: the next David M. gig at Chapters will be on May 17th, and, David reports, he may also do something special for Mothers’ Day. This time, I’ve got the date fixed in my head, and I’m going to be there.
He may have an 1894 for me, after all.
(Post-script: You can apparently download "Be Like Us" for free at Download.com, btw. I wonder if No Fun have a Myspace?).
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Photos by Femke van Delft
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Note: the image on the left may not reflect the final cover, as I lifted it from a launch invite they sent me, but it'll give you some idea what to look for! The painting is Of Course Animals Have Souls, by Lurie; you can view it and more of John's work here.
Also exciting to me is that the new issue of the Wire is out, which features my one-page Global Ear report on the local avant-garde music scene. Drawn up from interviews with Josh Stevenson, Heather Jean McDermid, Dave Chokroun, Dan Kibke, and J. P. Carter, it also manages to pack in about as much Olympics-dread as I could fit into a 1000-word survey of new music. Subscribers already have it, but stores may not be getting it for a few days yet. At some point - I assume soon - samples of some of the bands discussed (like, say, Ejaculation Death Rattle, or Sistrenatus, or the Her Jazz Noise Collective, or - whoever gets it together to send them sound files) will be appearing on the Wire's site.
It's always nerve-wracking when new people are publishing my writing, truth be known - kind of like leaving your baby with strangers: you never quite know if they're going to chop off its feet, or subject it to Satanic Ritual Abuse, or somefin'. It might go to explain why I feel half-ill tonight, tho' generally speaking, I've overtaxed myself these last few months (in part, due to these very articles!). I can see why most folks come home from work, thwack on the television, and open a beer...
Thankfully, there is less worry to be had re: Bixobal, the third issue of which is out, featuring my enormous interview with Peter Stampfel of the Holy Modal Rounders. It's the third piece I've done with Eric and I have no reason to think it'll be any less positive an experience than the No Neck Blues Band thing (issue 1) or the Phil Minton article (issue 2). This one you're gonna have to hunt for, tho' I gather Scratch sometimes gets in copies. There's routinely stuff by the Bishop brothers of the former Sun City Girls, and all sorts of cool outside/experimental music articles and reviews. THIS is where my heart really is, musically speaking - and check out the pic on the cover, by Climax Golden Twins' Rob Millis, of a record store in India:
Anyhow, anyone wanting to congratulate me on the subTerrain piece (or fans of John Lurie's) might wanna come down to Cafe Montmartre at 7PM tomorrow night (ie., Wednesday) for the magazine launch. I may or may not be reading/playing a portion of my Lurie interview, but I will definitely have John's new book in tow, and I'm told that Sandy Bone will be providing musical entertainment...
Sunday, April 20, 2008
All photos by Femke van Delft
You know the Salvation Army down by Zulu Records? You ever shop the used CD rack there? I have. Discs too scratchy for Zulu sometimes get ditched there, and occasionally I’ve scored cool books or vinyl, too (Monocerous by Evan Parker for a buck!). Anyhow, a few weeks ago, I was lookin’ thru their CDs, thinkin’ hm, this 7 Seconds CD is kinda TOO-too scratchy, and this Dog Faced Hermans CD actually doesn’t have any disc inside it - but hey, look, there’s a disc by Petunia (that's the official site; hear his songs here, or check Petunia's Myspace here).
Petunia gets passionate
Now: Petunia’s name has come up around me mostly in the course of my interviews - two, now - with Al Mader, aka the Minimalist Jug Band (yes, you’re right - I incorporated a bit of the first one into the second, and yes, there is a sentence-level glitch in the Nerve article, which I tend to black out with felt pens when sharing the print copy around. My editor was so used to my impeccable prose that he got lax, I guess!) Both o’their most recent CDs - Petunia’s City of Life, or: Hayride to Hell, and Al’s Thrift Stories - featured the same song, “My Gal” by Petunia yoked to Mader’s “Love isn’t Blue,” making the most of their mutual guest appearances. Fun idea, but I’d never really seen him live before or spent time on him as a solo phenomenon, and while I’m gradually being seduced to the glories of country music - the roundabout way, through oldtimey and Eugene Chadbourne covers, and the like, or, say, by Rich Hope and his Blue Rich Rangers - whom I heartily exhort any fans of the form to come see at the Railway on the 29th - I did not know that I was ready to buy a CD by anyone who yodels and appears on his CD art in a cowboy hat, however good Al told me he was. So even at $2.99, having considered it, even having carried it around the thrift store with me while I browsed, I ultimately put it back on the shelf.
Ah, penance. This weekend I paid $20 for that selfsame CD at Slickety Jim’s Chat’n’Chew, where Petunia performed alongside the Minimalist Jug Band and some guy from Abbotsford named Cam Twyford, whom I had not heard before. At first the young Mr. Twyford’s acoustic strumming seemed a tad too maudlin and hippie-sincere, with a song, say, about how raindrops dream of the clouds when they fall, but must drown in collective puddles to survive once they reach earth; a bit of a “Earnestness Yecch” factor overwhelmed the endearing aspects of some images (“we’re all magical, tragical mixed-up grasshoppers,” say), which was unfortunate. I started to warm to him when he started singing about the importance of fertilizer - well, poo, really - to gardening and the seed cycle, and by his final songs - one with the memorable couplet, which I do not at all understand, “We are the memory stealers/ We’ll amputate your feelers” - I was enjoying him quite a bit (tho’ poo came up again in his final set - “thank God for plumbing/ it takes your poo away” - which seemed an odd aesthetic choice; who would want to be pegged as “the guy who sings about poo?”). Cam DID give a plug to The Skinny, which apparently has a review of the Minimalist Jug Band’s most recent CD in their 2nd, current issue. While he wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, I would bet he’s one o’ the better singer-songwriter-folkie types that Abbotsford has produced.
Twyford’s songs alternated with those by Petunia and Al throughout the night. Performing in front of a “David Lynch red curtain” - Femke joked that she expected a dwarf to appear, and Petunia in particular, impeccably dressed and neatly groomed, looked like he could have stepped out of a country bar in Lost Highway - the two men provided a very interesting counterpoint to each other. Petunia presents as a professional cowboy performer with a long history behind him, singing in a rich, twangy, perfectly-controlled voice about how crickets were calling in the Canadian night, doing a rendition of “Blue Christmas” - as if he knew that unseasonal snow would soon start falling - and doing a terrific, passionate take of my favourite song on the new disc, “Mercy” - a sort of dark rockabilly tune with an upbeat tempo and pleasantly anguished lyrics. His patter was well-organized and perfectly delivered, and his humour - as he joked about busking in London, say, before singing a song about that city - tended to a dry, wry wit.
The Minimalist Jug Band looks to the heavens for inspiration
Tho’ Petunia did have a goofy li’l ragtime-type horn that he blew into to accompany himself at times, he came nowhere near the impassioned faux-nuttiness of Al’s performance, which tended to be a little prop-heavy that night: he had a Smarties box on a coathanger that fit around his neck where Petunia actually had an instrument; and he made a little self-assaultive gag of sawing through some wrapping material that he’d tied into his longish hair while riffing on “Take the Ribbon from My Hair,” or whatever song that was. As always, his humour was kinda self-deprecating (by request, he did “I’m a Lousy Lay” and other favourites like “Problems in a Box” - Femke was laughing aloud for that one, which she hadn’t heard before - and “Making Myself Sick.”) One treat was a new song he did about a trip to Iceland, where “people don’t die except by suicide;” he jokingly riffed on how miserable the environment was, and how at home he felt there (“I wish I’d never come here/ and I wish that I could stay...This place is miraculous. This place is ridiculous. I guess that’s true of all of us.” I’m not entirely sure I scribbled down the lyrics correctly, but the song was delightful. Probably a couple of years until it appears on CD, alas.
Andrew Burden by Femke van Delft
And if that doesn’t seem like enough for your money (which was basically by donation, tho’ most people also ate or had a beer; I recommend the turkey sandwhich - named a Dove in Your Hand, I think, or maybe a Bird in Your Bush, for reasons our cute, pleasant waitress could not explain), after Al and Petunia and Cam had all done a couple of sets, an enormous, nose-pierced, cowboy-hatted fellow named, I think, Andrew Burden (of the Golden Wedding Band) also did one song - a country blues number that was interspersed with impassioned Screamin’ Jay Hawkins-ish scats, which he roared with a gusto that made the short hairs at the back of my neck tingle and caused the ghost of Dave van Ronk to bend an ear towards the proceedings. I gather Slickety Jim’s (on Main at Broadway, btw) will be having more such events in the future. I heartily recommend checking them out, 'specially if Petunia is curating...
By the way, Al: much as I appreciate the fact that the first two - and now, doubtlessly, three - links that appear when anyone searches for you are articles written by me, you really oughta at least get a Myspace page, or Facebook, or SOMEthin'! You don't wanna be left out in the cold!
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
This video, however, stands out as something new to me - a clip of an elephant painting what seems to be, well, an elephant (whether it's to be understood as a self-portrait or a portrait of another elephant I can't really say, particularly since the animal likely has no idea what, exactly, it is doing - just producing lines as taught). Having looked into this a few years ago, I can attest that elephants were painting no such images back then; this is something wholly new. While the cheering tourists seem pretty gullible, it's still pretty remarkable to watch, and is already a Youtube favourite. I had no idea that the elephants could be trained to this extent - to produce actual likenesses.
For further research: a Thai website that sells elephant art; and a Snopes urban legend page on elephant art, with various further links. Also take a peek at eBay item 280217166008, an image of some flowers painted by an elephant, and compare it with 280217182162 - from the same seller in Thailand; the paintings are very nearly the same, showing the degree to which the elephant is just doing what it's been taught. One past auction (280215951756) by the same seller, vero389, shows a pair of elephants walking in the field, and fetched over $500 US - the priciest elephant art piece I've yet to see (is it the family theme, invoked by the fact that one elephant is slightly smaller, that accounts for the high price, or the simple fact that the paintings actually look like elephants?).
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Hey, Peter Brotzmann has a Myspace Page!
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Well: there's a new episode of South Park online that seizes this fertile territory and runs with it. This will be funnier if you saw certain animated features of the 1980s. I certainly did... I'm really hoping they used the BOC's "Veteran of the Psychic Wars" in it (how do I type an umlaut onto the O in BOC, anyhow?).
And God, yes, there is work I should be doing tonight, rather than watching South Park, but I've been feeling so awful this last week that I'm allowing myself some needed time off today (which I guess the trip to Seattle yesterday was, too, tho' I was exhausted by the time I got home...). I think I have short circuited my migraine cycle, finally - I woke up this morning with a headache, took a vasoconstrictor, suffered for a couple of hours, bemoaning my lack of codeine... And then I remembered how I broke my last migraine cycle, a couple of years ago. I won't tell you my copin' mechanism, but - it isn't jenkem, that's for sure, and no cats are involved. And unlike the various expensive prescription meds I've explored, it actually works quite well, both as a painkiller and as a way of switching off the Migraine Program. (Or so it has done tonight).
Sunday, April 06, 2008
Saturday, April 05, 2008
Friday, April 04, 2008
Thursday, April 03, 2008
1. The background of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and the religion of Pastafarianism.
2. A new sculpture erected in the US of the same.
May you be touched by its noodly appendage.