Sunday, March 03, 2024

Lou Reed Tribute 2024: well, that was weird (and fun, but not the way I expected)

David and Danielle (somewhat blurry)

So that was fun, but a bit of a weird night. It began, for me, on the #7 bus on the way to the Princeton, where, with my mutant tongue loosened by a cannabis lozenge (Edison Jolts, AKA the strongest way to get an edible at a government store), I cut loose on a bus driver who had been trying to throw an elderly First Nations woman (with an elderly dog) off the bus because he had decided that she was just riding around without getting off anywhere. I actually stuck up for him while chatting with this woman, who had taken offense, making peace, trying to make her feel better while I was at it: "he probably has rules he has to enforce -- don't take it personally, he's just trying to do his job. What's your dog's name?" ...Except he then pulled out from a stop just after picking up two more elderly people, one with a walker, one with a cane, who were still trying to get into their seats at the front of the bus when he began veering back out into traffic. Both almost fell over. So rather than just pretending that hadn't happened, I actually ended up going right up front and rather loudly telling him to slow down, pay attention to what's happening on your bus, and let people with walkers and canes get seated before you pull out: "You're a public servant, and this is your public. It is not their fault if they are old or poor or disabled! Wait for them to sit down! You can do better than this!" 

I am sure my spastic voice served my cause further. It's not often you get people with a mangled locution who speak with the voice of moral authority. I wonder if Jesus had a lisp? (Art Bergmann and I talked lisps briefly the other day; he had asked me if I had gum in my mouth, seeing my white tongue, which is, in fact, a somewhat common, and fair, mistake: how often do you encounter twin-tone tongues in the world?). 

Art Bergmann and I by Patricia Kay

Anyhoo, this ended up making me great friends with a few fellow passengers, it seemed; they were grateful and some quite chatty afterwards, as was I (it was the cannabis talking). But then the bus driver sort of redeemed himself a bit: when he was barking at her previously, he had demanded that the elderly First Nations woman tell him what stop she was getting off at, so he would know where to eject her and cut her freeloading ride around town short, and then, even after I'd given him a bit of a drubbing, started in on her again: "You said your stop was Gore, and we just passed Gore, so it's time to get off!" 

Which was probably just him not wanting her to keep riding on his bus (because you can't just ride around on a bus all day, you know, to which I say, Why not? Who cares? She's not disturbing anyone). Except she HAD said she was getting off at Gore, and we had passed Gore, so since his gruff manner was just provoking her again, I stepped in, using my lubricated people skills to ask her, kindly, "Did you actually want Gore?" She was dug in on the defensive ("I know where I'm going and I'll get off when I'm ready!"), but it developed that she had, in fact, missed her stop, so the bus driver was, uh, actually right, though he was still (kinda) being a prick about it. The fact that he was still doing his job, however badly, seemed weirdly meaningful and redeemed him a bit, so when I eventually got off, a few stops later, I apologized for having yelled at him, and told him I was NOT going to call and complain about him, which I had previously threatened to do. He got all the punishment he deserved from my mutant tongue lashing -- I mean, maybe he was just having a bad night. 

I have'm too. 

Anyhow, whatever happened further was not my problem, but the above will end up the strongest memory of the night, because -- at least from the seats in the rear where we ended up, the Princeton show was not very musically engaging, which was not entirely the fault of the bands: with the only seats available being way in the back, there were maybe a hundred people sitting between us and the stage, and maybe a third of them were performers, who were mostly happily socializing amongst themselves while their friends played. Video exists: try watching David M. sing Lou Reed's "The Bed" while everyone at our table, including his bandmates, wife, myself, my wife, and some other friends of mine have overlapping conversations! 

Good fuckin' luck!


The songs, by the way, are "The New Reindeer 2013," part of a Christmas tradition of M's (documented on record in a couple of variants, on Five Wenceslases and 27 Other Contemporary NO FUN Christmas Classics, which I guess is actually my favourite Christmas album) whereby he picked a recently-deceased celebrity and appointed him a replacement for a shot Rudolph (the deceased celebrity here being Lou; as far as I know, this was the only song in the evening that had nothing written in it BY Lou Reed, a brief closing riff on "Sister Ray" not withstanding, but that was instead ABOUT Lou Reed, sorta). I believe that this tradition (appointing new reindeer to the sleigh) ended when David's long-time collaborator, Paul Leahy, died; while David developed a suite of songs in honour of Leahy called Leahy Stardust, including a very inspired original, "You Need Your Tongue to Stand Up," which I don't believe has had any official release, he did nothing so glib as to appoint Paul the lead on Santa's sleigh. An exhaustive list of celebrities who received that honour, previous to that, is not within my grasp -- I think there might be a Dal Richards reindeer out there, too -- but there is definitely also one about Elizabeth Fischer (of the Animal Slaves and Dark Blue World), whom David liked because she was friendly with his little dog Ozzy; that version of "The New Reindeer" is actually a slightly acerbic anti-assisted suicide song, relating to Fischer's choice, in the pre-MAID days, to go to Switzerland for an escape from the pain of terminal lung cancer, which I think David found startling and problematic. 

David M. and Ozzy, by Dan Harbord; see more of his caricatures here

Note: the Residents are working on an album about Jack Kevorkian; Hardy Fox actually died via assisted suicide himself. David M. occasionally covers "Santa Dog," but this is still a digression. 

As for actual Lou material, besides "The Bed," David also got Dave Dedrick (not the biggest Lou fan) to hold the Gorgo for "Take a Walk on the Lime Side," then closed his set with "Ozzy's Vicious," a full-length rewrite of "Vicious" but written about his (dearly loved, now departed) dog misbehaving. I had never heard it before, and I barely heard it last night, but I enjoyed what I could make out.  

If, sonically, it was pretty much impossible to enjoy the music from the back, given such circumstances,  the night was VERY fun socially. I don't think I've talked to so many people I knew in months. A short list of people I talked to includes Ani Kyd Wolf, Eddie Dutchman, Leonard Pennifold, a couple of teaching colleagues, Adam Kates and his gal, David M. and his gal, my gal, Tim Chan, Tanya Van ("Is that ANI FUCKING KYD?!"), Scott Beadle, Cora of Cora and the Moon, Nicky Noodles (by whatever name you know him - Gnick, Cam, whatever), and a couple of the people who occupied the table to the left of us. I also waved at Dan Harbord, Talesha Zimmerman, Mo Tarmohamed, and Tony Lee. But with everyone, including the musicians, happily socializing, unless you were Dan Harbord (or sitting at his table, right up front), you weren't going to be able to exactly ENJOY the performances much. The vibe was OVERWHELMINGLY too social for that.  

It's Nick!

But that doesn't mean that piquant things didn't happen. Before I comment on the second band, Cora and the Moon, let me note that I am TOTALLY CURIOUS about them, now; but also was very confused by the contrast between their bandcamp and their live presentation, which was more, uh, "Outsider music," if you'll forgive me, than the gorgeously produced, slightly Lynchian dark Americana of the album (Paul Rigby, it transpires, is NOT a performing member of the live band, just a friend of theirs who made their material sound great). Their sound was more Moe Tucker than Lou Reed, which is not meant as a complaint: I love Moe Tucker's recorded output, even if she's ended up in a weird cranky Trump-lovin'-grandma kind of place (I tried being her Facebook friend for awhile and, yeah, no, Moe and I are not on the same planet. Life in Exile After Abdication and I Spent a Week There the Other Night are still great records). 

Cora and the Moon from the back of the room

But I digress. Anyhow, I really liked that Cora and the Moon changed up one song that they had proposed for "Average Guy," almost as if they were heeding my wish for more post-Transformer Lou to be repped, but that prompted an odd conversation with the person to my left about why the singer was calling herself a guy. "Because the song was written by Lou Reed, who was a guy," I explained, then had to keep explaining to this person that pretty much all the songs we were hearing were by Lou Reed. They kept asking me, every few songs, "Is this written by Lou Reed?" and I kept saying, "Yes, it's a Lou Reed tribute show," without realizing for some time that they did not know what that meant. Some of this is down to the nature of bar conversations, which are not ideal for the exchange of information; but eventually, when I figured out the source of the confusion, I did a better job explaining. There were still about five instances of, "Is this by Lou Reed?" before that. 

What was weirdest about that, though (sorry, Cora!) was that (stoned, you understand; I was high; please do not accuse me of transphobia!), prompted by this question about "Average Guy," I then began to wonder, from my seat way at the back, if maybe Cora was in fact trans or a drag queen? I mean, I didn't know anything about this band, besides having really kinda dug what I heard of their album (I'm arranging to get a CD of it), but there sure seemed SOMETHING quirky about the singer -- I just couldn't tell HOW quirky. She was dressed in a very cute frilly vintage-Americana top, like she'd just flown in from a Nashville cowboy bar, and had quite a fullsome head of hair -- fullsome enough that I began to wonder, "Is that a wig?" My somewhat dope-addled speculations were not helped by the fact that we far enough away that I couldn't really make her out; while it seemed very unlikely that a female-presenting transperson (or drag queen) would make an ironic gesture out of singing "Average Guy," which, surely you realize, was ALREADY an ironic gesture on Lou's (gender-non-conforming) part, I actually utterly loved the idea: I would LOVE it if there were someone from the trans community (or a drag queen) in a frilly top singing Lou Reed tunes, you know? I'm sure Lou would have dug the idea, too; that aspect of Lou was not really visible last night. 

...And speaking of the trans community, at one point I told Erika that "Mo is sitting at the table over there," and she heard me say, "Beau is sitting at the table over there," and, before we cleared it up, she got all excited that Beau Wheeler might be performing. I bet he could pull off a hell of a Lou Reed cover, actually -- maybe even "Average Guy!" Note for 2025...

Anyhow, later I chatted with Cora and yeah, uh, no, she's a biological female. (I mean, I didn't ask, but it seemed fairly clear). She's been around for some time, making music, apparently, but I still don't really know much about her, except that she loves how Rigby made her record sound. I plan to investigate further. More to come, maybe? If she's not too pissed off at this! 

Ani Kyd Wolf and I

...You begin to get the sense of the kind of night it was. By the time of Ani Kyd's set, I basically gave up trying to appreciate the music and reconciled myself to socializing ("One of us, one of us"), because no matter who played, there were a hundred conversations happening between me and them and no matter what was happening onstage, I wouldn't have been able to properly listen. I still tried to get a gander of Ani doing "Heroin," and Ani looked like she was enjoying herself (to answer my own previous question, it was much more a reading of the Velvet Underground and Nico's version of "Heroin" than Lou's Rock n' Roll Animal "Heroin," btw)... but focus was not really possible. 

Determined to enjoy at least one set of the night before we escaped, I got right up front for Pill Squad. It worked; they were the only band whose music was not impacted by the packed room, who at that point were to my back. Seems sitting right up front is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY if you really want to get into the music at the Lou tribute. Otherwise, bring people to talk to (or be prepared to talk to whoever's at your table, which is sometimes fun, too!). 

By the by, Pill-Squad-wise, I also shot this vid, this vid, and this vid (with Scott's assent). Turns out that Kelly, the bassist of Pill Squad, was the one singing "Femme Fatale," not Tracy.  After that, our little group left in a cluster to go hang out for awhile at David M's place, where we watched the first half of John Carpenter's Starman

Dear Nick "Monsterdog" Mitchum: this means I did not stay long enough to see Leonard Pennifold's set, let alone video it, as you requested. Hell, by the time we turned off Starman and Erika and I went home, Pennifold still wouldn't have taken the stage. I did, however, chat with Leonard briefly, when I found myself standing next to him, to apologize that I wasn't going to see his set and to let him know that a friend of mine was a big fan...  though he was less excited to learn that he had a fan when he figured out that it was, like, just you, not because there is anything wrong with you qua fan, but but because he thought for awhile that he had a fan HE DID NOT KNOW ABOUT. But no, it's just Nick Mitchum: "Oh, that guy! Yeah, I know him."

Anyhow, I said hi for you.

It ended up being a fun night, but not for the reasons I had hoped. I missed a bunch of people I had hoped to see, but I have no regrets -- we left when we had to leave. And now, having completed my report between my 6am pee-and-feed-kitten wake up and the present moment (9:29 AM), I am going back to bed for awhile. Next up, if they write back, will be piece on the SLIP~ons and Tranzmitors, playing a March 8th birthday gig for Brock (competing with the Dayglos at the Waldorf, but I may be able to catch all three bands that I care about if I time it right -- the Dayglos seem to be going on a bit later). 

Oh, by the way, in other news, Betty Bathory's Paranoid Romantic has a gig coming up. Didn't see that coming! In my experience,this is "Betty lite" -- if you want the full-on shock rock effect, see Daddy Issues, but if you just groove on Betty's singing, sans theatrics, she's great in whatever she does! 

Friday, March 01, 2024

Lou Reed Tribute Night 2024: Setlist Leak! Spoiler alert!

Above we see a Lou Reed Japanese gig poster from October 2000: I was there only for the first night, at the Akasaka Blitz, the setlist for which is here. Lou did what then was mostly new material, both off the album represented in the art here -- the stellar, Hal-Willner-produced Ecstasy -- and his equally underrated Set the Twilight Reeling, leaning into guitariffic jams with Mike Rathke, the two men clearly having a lot of fun just interacting with each other without any interest in recapturing past glories or duplicating solos note-for-note; it was fresh and exciting and felt like a real privilege, like Lou wasn't catering to us so much as letting us in on what HE was into at the time. 10/13 songs in the main set are from those two albums. The other three ("Turn to Me," my favourite song off New Sensations; "Romeo Had Juliette," off New York; and "Smalltown," off Songs for Drella) were all welcome but certainly not hits. About my only disappointment, in terms of older-songs-not-played, was that he omitted one of my favourite-ever Lou songs, "The Blue Mask," which he did on some other dates on this tour, including the Vancouver leg, which is a bit more fullsome and has more Velvets stuff to boot. In any event, I enjoyed watching Mike and Lou jam so much during that main set that I probably would name the show as one of my top ten concert experiences ever... 

By contrast, the encore, which did acknowledge some fan favourites, seemed bored and rushed and obligatory, and I would have much rather had fifteen more minutes of him jamming out on recent tunes with Rathke than doing "let's-get-this-over-with," forced-march versions of songs that seemed to be kind of dead to him. I can name five songs at the drop of a hat off the two main albums they drew from ("Possum Day," "Sex With Your Parents," "Hookywooky," "Big Sky" and "Hang On To Your Emotions") that I would have preferred to the versions of "Sweet Jane," "Take a Walk on the Wild Side" and "Perfect Day" that we heard; they're not songs I care much about, of Lou's, but I care even less for the idea of seeing him practically rolling his eyes to have to play them yet again ("Dirty Blvd" was still pretty great, though). 

C'est la guerre.

If people are curious, there is a great live CD from the same tour, recorded in Germany -- it might be some sort of bootleg (tho' it exists in a couple different cover variants; maybe one is more legit than the others?). This one was available at some locations of Sunrise Records, last I looked (but not Metrotown; I bought that one):

But back to the main point, which is the Lou Reed tribute on Saturday at the Princeton (1901 Powell). If you plan to go, know that this is a popular event and you should arrive early to secure a table. The food at the Princeton is decent, note -- I've had the nachos and the fish and chips and recommend both (the steak was okay but it was pretty much you expect from "affordable pub steak;" I recall being more impressed with the fries). Non-drinkers can take heart that they have Philips Iota beers, which are very tasty; and there may be a meat draw, if you want to gamble for meat (we will be packing a cooler bag and ice). 

I promised a leak, though: with apologies to the event organizers, at the bottom of this page, I am sharing something maybe I shouldn't: someone posted the top-secret list of bands and songs.

I mean, you don't have to read it if you don't want to. I am posting it right at the end so you can still read this and only have a FEW songs spoiled. I don't blame you if you want lots of surprises; me, I'm real grateful to see what's happening (no, Al, no one is going to cover "Future Farmers of America," so don't get your hopes up). I have no idea if I'll make it to the end of the night -- I doubt Erika will, and she's my ride; tho' I definitely want to stay to see the Lulu's, with Eddy Dutchman, Ed Hurrell, Lisa Lloyd, and... who is the drummer this time? 

Anyone going on after them, I'm apologizing now (1am is LATE for us workin' Burnaby residents). 

Some notes follow before we get to the actual photo (which just lays it all out).  There are a lot of bands that I just don't know, some of whom have no internet presence that I can detect, like - who is Rubarb? And a lot of the songs are Velvets tunes and 70's Lou favourites that require no comment from me. I mean, delivery is everything, so even songs I've had enough of can be brought to life by the right performer doing a terrific performance. I generally don't get excited about the prospect of seeing "Femme Fatale" live, say -- surely the most-covered Velvets song ever? -- but Pill Squad (the band of event organizer Scott Beadle) could just be PERFECT for it -- Tracy has a kind of deadpan, wry delivery and no one does deadpan and wry like Nico, so...

But I will remark on a few pleasant deeper dives (mostly from earlier in Lou's career, not later, but still appreciated). 

David M. is the person that I (obviously) know best of the players, and his voice is ideally suited for "The Bed," which is a real outlier of the songs people are choosing: "bummer Lou," off Berlin, Lou's most depressing album. But it's nestled between humorous material ("The New Reindeer 2013" can be heard here. from the year of Lou's death, plus there's a song inspired by David's delightful, departed animal companion Ozzy, who once humped my leg, and a Gorgo ad -- a very silly David M/ NO FUN tradition.) So you get a bit of everything, there -- suicide and whimsy, the David M. way. 

M. is the person I know best of the people on the list, obviously. But I didn't know Cora & the Moon  were before just now, and now I want their record (cute cover, cute title... wow). "I Found a Reason" is my favourite song off Loaded, and they sound perfect for it... and it looks like Paul Rigby is in the band! Holy crap! 

DB3 is Ani Kyd Wolf's new project with Don Binns and Don Short... isn't this also her in the pic for a song by New Space Pimps, too? Is she in two bands, or...? I wonder if the DB3 will be following the Velvets' version of "Heroin" or the Rock'n Roll Animal one? I gather Ani is clean and sober, looking really fit and bright these days, so "Heroin" is a somewhat provocative choice. Incidentally, there are some appealing "reaction" videos to "Heroin" on Youtube... I liked watching this guy hear the song for the first time -- how he perks up when Lou starts the vocal, say; I was impressed that he instantly picked up Lou's Bob Dylan influence, which is not so obvious on this song (but is elsewhere on the album)...

Pill Squad is doing three songs -- one the aforesaid "Femme Fatale," but also, the prospect of Tim Chan singing "Kill Your Sons" sounds pretty cool... "Kill Your Sons" is a great, unheralded mid-period Lou song and could easily be connected to the horrible shit going on in Gaza right now (Tim may not intend the connection, here -- it's his bandmates who tend to the political, generally - but Israeli soldiers shooting into a crowd of starved Gazans getting flour is just fucking horrifying. I mean, I hated Hamas for what they did on October 7th but they have so effectively provoked Israel into atrocities that I'm now starting to wonder if there might not be a lasting peace after this current war. It seems unlikely, and there are way too many martyrs for it to seem worth the cost, at this point, but maybe when all the blood is spilled there will be some cause for hope? I was ranting here awhile back about how obscene "the War of the Flea" seems -- deliberately provoking your enemy to inflict mass casualties on your own population, then claiming it is your enemy's fault -- but I guess I'll judge the tree by its fruits, as they say. Anyhow... I digress). 

Re: Zafirios, it's really nice to see "What's Good" repped (the only song off Magic & Loss in the night, unless I missed something, and subject of a video I never saw, which I just linked; this is another essential Lou album for people who are stuck in the 1970s and has another song I'd love to see covered at a future event someday, "Warrior King"). I love the image of "bacon and ice cream" in the lyrics and in fact have a playlist on my phone called, no foolin', Bacon and Ice Cream, which starts with this song. I think I have seen Zafirios once before but not sure when... great song choice...

...and speaking of (kinda) later Lou, Circus in Flames, fronted by Doug Andrew of Shanghai Dog, is going to crack the seal on New York, which, like I say, is one of the only Lou albums to appear in that Akasaka Blitz main set, in the form of one of the songs Doug will be doing. This clip of that song (I am leaving the title out to not to spoil it for surprise-seekers) is from that Dusseldorf concert but is a fair approximation of what I saw in Japan that night. As for New York, Crushed Velvet (who?) will also be doing "Dirty Blvd" off that album, later... 

I think the Lulus are doing mostly the same set as the last year but with a different drummer, plus I am not sure if they did "Rock'n Roll." The Eds gravitate towards that mid-70s Lou thing, which I do not -- the least-played Lou Reed album in my house is probably Transformer -- but they did muscular, pumpin' versions of "Vicious," "Hangin' Round" and "I'm So Free" last year, with Tony Lee on drums. And their spelling mistakes can be fun at times: "Viscious," in the red bubble below, has prompted me to go a step further into singing, to the same tune, "Viscous," as in, "Viscous... you got me thick and sticky... you're slimy and you're slippy... oh baby you're so viscous." 

It is really unlikely I will still be there after that -- it will be around 12:30 when they finish, if things go to plan (which they don't always do). I am glad Leonard Pennifold is putting "Sunday Morning" into the mix but it will technically BE Sunday morning when he performs it and... well, we'll see.

Rocket #9, the second-to-last band on the bill, gets some credit for deep diving, but their deep dive goes pretty far back in time, to those early, primitive Primitives recordings Lou and Cale did, pre-Velvets. But I wonder how sincerely they're going to attempt to replicate the first "song" on their setlist? If they do more than a minute of it, they could clear the room... 

Which is too bad, because Gnick Gnash gets kudos for the cleverest song choices of the night, doing a suite of three songs whose titles share a common element. I like the closer, in particular - a great song to end the night on, for those who stick it out to the very end. 

More about the Lou Reed Tribute Night here. Now does Red Cat have that Cora and the Moon record...? I think I have a stamp card nearly full...

Saturday, February 24, 2024

BUT WILL THERE BE SNAKES? Some thoughts on the Reverend Kristin Michael Hayter and charismatic Christianity

DAMMIT THE SHOW IS CANCELLED, and not in the sense that it's become politically verboten: she's got a fever and is sidelined in Portland.

DAMMIT! So it goes. 

EDITED TO ADD: I am coming fresh to the Reverend Hayter's works and wrote this without much foreknowledge of what to expect. I had not paid attention to Lingua Ignota, and did not realize that she'd done sold-out shows here under that name, also at the Rickshaw. There are lots of things to play catchup with, lots of better-informed readings of her work than mine (see here, for instance, for a record review of her current album, Saved!, or here, for a past interview with Hayter nearing the end of the Lingua Ignota project). Do note that Wednesday's show at the Rickshaw will be all-seated; that some pages (though not the Rickshaw's) note that Vancouver noise artist The Rita will be opening; that there are actually two albums of relevance to the show, Saved! and Saved! The Index; and that in many ways the standout track on those albums, at least on short exposure, is "How Can I Keep from Singing," which has piano that reminds one of Diamanda Galas, vocals that do not, and a layered background track of glossolalia (speaking in tongues), which you really need to stick around for to get the full effect. Yes, I have let Chris Towers of The New Creation know about this gig. . 

Oh, also note that she apparently really did get ordained (I believe I heard that here -- she describes it somewhat archly, disparaging her own qualifications, making it sound like the "Vegas wedding" of ordinations); that her background is also, it turns out, Catholic; and that I'm going to bring a copy of this book to gift to her as a gift, though no, there won't be snakes; my title is cheap. But snakes are not irrelevant and I really do hope to get one of those t-shirts... Now we go back in time to me, knowing nothing of the Reverend Hayter or Lingua Ignota, trying to orient myself: 

I was raised Catholic. Going to church on Sundays was fucking dull, often smelling strange (worse than the worst New Age bookstore, a cloying incense reek) and involving bizarre ritualized behaviours that were hard on the knees (kneel/ sit/ stand/ kneel, over and over; I never knew what the cues were, just followed everyone else, and never received an interesting or satisfying answer to the "why are we doing this" question; I wasn't convinced my parents knew, either). Everyone seemed stiff and uncomfortable, there was always a baby crying in the back, there were prayers that I could get little meaning from and some of the dullest fucking music ever made (there is LOTS of great gospel out there but none of that happened in our church!). It's kind of bizarre how un-moving the services were, considering they were generally about the teachings of someone who did things like throw people out of a house of worship for conducting business, who even allegedly "overturned their tables," while he was at it, suggesting some passion in the act. Christ instructs people to go out and minister to the poor, to reject material wealth, to confront hypocrisy, and to not make an idol of him; I don't think gathering in your Sunday best in front of his statue and talking about how great he was or how devoted you are to him actually would impress him much: "Why aren't you gathered in here instead of being out there, ministering to the poor? Why are you dressed like that? What's with the statue of me? Didn't you read the part where I said..." 

On the other hand, I think Christ would at least be entertained by charismatic Christianity: "Okay, no,  to be clear, this is also not what I meant you should do; but it's way more fun than what they're doing down the street." Electric guitars? Speaking in tongues? Drinking strychnine to prove your faith?  Feckin' snake handling? ("What on earth does this have to do with my teachings? No... what?... these people are insane... but let me watch for a minute.")

I actually wrote a paper on snake handling, once, so I know a bit about its origins -- that its founder, George Went Hensley, was inspired by a piece of gospel that suggested that "these signs shall follow" the faithful, that they would not succumb to poisons, nor die if bit by serpents: which made him all excited to go find a rattlesnake, pick it up, and see what happened (he ignored that other bit of scripture about not tempting the Lord thy God, and his followers apparently ignored the fact that years later the same man would die vomiting blood after having been bitten by one of his rattlers, which kind of suggests either that the signs lied or that he was not one of the faithful, either of which, you might think, would serve to discourage people from following his example, to say nothing of his painful, spectacular death, which he embraced while refusing medical treatment, because it's God's will and all that; if that's not enough to put you off a movement, well...). Note that that one dubiously-interpreted passage aside, there are no scriptural precedents for picking up snakes as an act of worship, though there was an early snake-worshipping Gnostic sect called the Ophites who thought the snake was in fact the second coming of Christ (it's been awhile since I wrote that paper so pardon me if I can't explain). But the snake handlers are not Ophites, and the snakes they handle aren't, in their eyes, manifestations of Christ, as far as I know (which is what the Ophites believed), but, uh, actual snakes (or possibly symbols of Satan?). Conversely, while the Ophites were into the snakes, from what I've read, they didn't hand them around -- they kept them on the altar and prayed to them, or something, but didn't dare them to bite. 

The things people do in the name of religion...

In fact, I am assuming that the Reverend Kristin Michael Hayter, playing the Rickshaw on Wednesday, draws a line in her artistic/ spiritual practice well before you get to rattlesnakes. Which is fine by me: much as I love the idea of snake handling -- since I like snakes and can think of no more insane (or colourful) manifestation of Christian worship; it's like passing around a partially-loaded gun and saying, "If you trust God, pull the trigger" -- if someone breaks out rattlesnakes at the Rickshaw on Wednesday, I'm fucking leaving. 

Or at least moving to the back. 


1. It does sound like there may be some speaking in tongues! (There certainly is on the two records of relevance to this show, Saved! and Saved: The Index). 

2. What the Reverend (really!) Hayter is doing sounds extreme enough in some of its manifestations that there is at least some cause for concern about her mental health. Her dissertation, we gather, was entitled Burn Everything Trust No One Kill Yourself (!), which sounds a bit extreme, as, we gather, is some of her previous work as Lingua Ignota. And according to the show description on the Rickshaw page, her speaking in tongues is achieved by "self-imposing a variety of conditions; sleep deprivation, fasting, repetition of prayer, and sensory overstimulation." What? I've seen some pretty bizarre hijinks in my time as a punk -- Facepuller throwing a running lawnmower* into the pit at a show at the Cruel Elephant remains a favourite example, as does (though I wasn't there) the Spores show where Danny swung a length of cow intestine like a lasso, not realizing it was still full of blood and shit -- but I haven't heard of anyone using sleep deprivation as an aspect of their performance. 

Plus the same show description itself touches on the question of mental illness: " SAVED! is a renunciation of life. Here solace is found in absolute retreat from the world, far from pain and sin, burning with the holy fire until the end comes. And it is written: as you are when the end comes, so will you be when you must face Him. Whether this is enlightenment or insanity is up to the listener to decide."

3. And while I brought up snake handling mostly to be provocative, it turns out that it's way more relevant than I realized when I began writing this: for instance, Hayter's label, Perpetual Flame Ministries, did have a snake handling t-shirt for a time. To which I say, "Does it come in 3XL?"

And in fact, if you Google "Kristin Hayter snake handling," you get a few hits, though they are descriptions of her recorded music, not her concerts (ie., "I get snake-handling church vibes through the way this song is arranged," from this site, talking about the song, "Nothing but the Blood of Jesus").  And there is even an image from a snake handling service on one of Hayter's posters, which is also used as their Facebook banner.  Which image, I think, involves some of the same people photographed above, actually...

I expect, piquant as all this is, that in fact, what we will see on Wednesday might actually resemble more of an least somewhat conventional concert -- that it's going to have more in common with seeing, say, Diamanda Galas than an actual tent revival (Hayter and Galas cover the same song, even; I prefer Hayter's version). I could be wrong, but the impression I get from seeing Hayter interviewed is that of an intelligent, sincere artist who is using elements of ecstatic Christianity as an entry point into self-exploration (see also this Kerrang! interview). She is some sort of on-and-off Christian, so it's not an insincere or ironic engagement with faith that we're witnessing, but she has said that her relationship with God is complicated, which all the best relationships with God are... I assume that none of the things that actually make me uncomfortable about Christianity will manifest -- that none of us will be expected to kneel on the floor or the Rickshaw (though I bet it's more comfortable than the bar we had to kneel on in church); that no one is going to threaten me with hell if I don't join their dumb little club; and that Hayter isn't going to go on any rants about homosexuality (leave it to the guy with the microphone who testifies out in front of Metrotown Station, telling us that we must have "no homo sex;" you kind of wish he'd just get over it and suck some cock, like he so obviously wants to do). In fact, relevant or not, in emphasizing stuff like speaking in tongues and snake handling, I've been trying to titillate readers, to get people curious about the show, but really what I think the reasonable selling point is, is, uh, the music.

Which I really like, so far. It sure beats the shit out of the hymns of my youth. I actually want to save my experience of this for the concert setting, so I've only dipped a toe into the recorded works, but I'll be there at the Rickshaw Wednesday to see what this looks like in the flesh. I don't really know what to expect, but isn't it more exciting, that way?

More about the Reverend Kristin Michael Hayter here; more on the Rickshaw show here; and listen to the song, "All My Friends are Going to Hell," while you're there (and check out this song by the Knights of the New Crusade, while you're at it; they speak in tongues, too!). 

Oh, and by the way, Perpetual Flame Ministries also involves one of the people from Ontario metal band Vile Creature, KW Campol, though I have no idea if he's on this tour.  

*the lawnmower was sans blade, it turns out, but none of us knew that at the time. 

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Was that a wet dream? (...a strange random queer orgasm in the night)

...So there is some sexual detail in this blogpost, as you may gather. 

I think my last wet dream was in 2008; I was staying at my parents' for a weekend visit, back when both were still alive, sleeping on their couch. I don't think my Mom had had her stroke, yet. I dreamed that a local writer I know (male!) was sucking me off and woke up with a wet spot in the front of my shorts -- an embarrassing thing to have to conceal and clean up when your parents are awake before you! Anyhow, I would have been 40, then; if I have had a wet dream since, I haven't noticed it.

I do sometimes have sexual dreams, but they rarely involve other people. Usually I'm trying to find a place to masturbate (to straight porn; there is no queer element to these dreams), but I keep getting interrupted; I wake up unsatisfied, with an erection, which usually correlates to a strong need to pee. Never do I reach orgasm in these dreams, even if it is ONLY in the dream; they're quite frustrating -- wankus interruptus.  

The other week, things changed up, however. I had a dream where I was having sex with a young Asian-Canadian man; we were in his bedroom in his parents' home. I am not sure if I was also  younger; the dream has no elements of reality in it, so I have no idea who he was supposed to be, or even if I was supposed to be myself. But we were fucking, and he warned me that we should stop, because if we continued, our ejaculations would stain the sheets and his parents would find out about it. There would be no way to clean up and keep closeted.  

I thought about it for a second, considered my priorities, and decided, fuckit, I'm coming! So I grabbed myself, gave a few strokes, and exploded semen all over the bedsheets.

The young man was freaked out. His sister came into the room and he explained to her, begging her to help. I was sitting naked in the bedsheets, enormous gobs of semen all over the place (it didn't look much like semen, but was clear and had the sparkly sheen of a petroleum biproduct). I felt kind of pleased with myself.

Then I woke up and checked my shorts to see if it had been a wet dream. It felt like it might have been -- there certainly was an orgasm of some sort involved in the dream, or the sensation of one (can one have the sensation of an orgasm without it actually having been an orgasm?), even if (assuming orgasm and ejaculation can be separated) I had not actually produced any goo, I had all the other feelings I associate with coming -- the tingling explosion of light shooting up the spine, the burst behind the eyes, etc. 

Anyhow, there was nothing in my shorts that I could find. I would have been kind of impressed and kind of mortified (56 years old and still coming in his pants!). 

At least it wasn't another dream where I couldn't manage to jerk off, though. Those are annoying. 

Post-script: 20 people have read my sex dream since I posted it this morning. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Los Furios with Dragstrip Devils (top), Cawama (middle), Melody Mangler (red) and Justin Sane (brunette), February 24th at the Rickshaw!

Great night last night at the Rickshaw for the Los Furios homecoming show, their first in Vancouver since pre-COVID times. Very full house, more than Mo or I had expected; it was main-floor only, no balcony, that I could see, but it was still pretty packed, so it looks like my press support actually made a difference? (A few people actually cheered when Kyle gave a shout out to "my man Allan" who did the article, so somebody seemed to have read it!). Shot some vid of (Kelowna psychobilly band) Dragstrip Devils (who were fast and tight and playful) and Los Furios (in fine form for their big Vancouver comeback show), but I only snapped pics of (Vancouver/ Latino surf punks) Cawama, because I was saving my battery (but holy hell their cover of "Too Drunk to Fuck" was grand; there is a past clip of them doing it here). I checked out shortly after Los Furios did "Crazy World," which Kyle prefaced with some sensitively-worded stuff about supporting a ceasefire in Gaza, so I missed the last few songs -- footsore and exhausted after a very long day, I stuck around only long enough through "Body Bag" to determine that it wasn't a Nomeansno cover -- but it was really fun to dance to "Revolution Rock," and I learned a few new favourite Los Furios tunes (like the exuberant, punky "One Last Time," which was my fave of the songs they did that I did not already know).  They also did a song off their upcoming album, Old Ghosts -- which should surface on their bandcamp any day -- which gives some sage advice about not opening the door when the doubts and regrets and so forth of your past come knocking. I can't remember the actual chorus now, but I could see Jonny Bones of (fellow ska-punk travellers) the Bone Daddies in the audience, singing along from the gitgo. Bones is a fast study, I guess!

Nice to be back in the Rickshaw -- feels like it's been awhile, don't think I've been there since last Keithmas -- but Squid and the Reverend Horton Heat are both coming soon. It was good to be back. 

All photos by me. Everything on this blog is "not to be re-used without permission," but, like, just ask (Adam PW Smith has professional-level shots if you're lookin').