Child Of The Eighties

First off, the irony about my whole complaint with music aping the past and retro is this: probably the first record I can remember really owning, and really loving, and the first film I saw that really, really made me want to make music and also maybe have a mixing desk larger than a car as the predominant feature of whatever space I would spend the most time in in my life, is Paul McCartney's Give My Regards To Broad Street. For those who don't know, the film itself is a series of music videos and performances held together by the thinnest of plots. Those music videos and performances depict McCartney and various musicians miming to re-recorded versions of McCartney compositions, some from the Beatles era, and some from solo albums that were very, um, recent, when the film and soundtrack were made. For all of the numerous and valid critiques of the film that can be made, I dare any geek out there to watch the engineer put the Studer into record and feel any negative emotion besides envy.

Here's the video for the remade version of "Silly Love Songs". The costumes and makeup are either campy or atrocious, but sort of spectacular in their failure. I wonder if there was some wry commentary meant by combining the "futuristic" look with the song itself. Like, regardless of how different the future will be, whether in our imaginations, or in reality, there will always be a need for "silly" love songs. Or was this a bad attempt at New Romantic style a year or two too late? Who knows. Jeff Porcaro and Steve Lukather from Toto on drums and guitar, respectively, and Louis Johnson, most likely the Louis Johnson of the Brothers Johnson, on bass. Dig.

Secondly, Risky Business is probably one of my favorite films of all time. I don't know that I identify with it as much as I used to, nor does the satire ring as true today, given all of the euphemisms and rationalizations that have been marshaled to conceal the reality of the fact that the "me decade" never really ended. However, the style, the real feel of night and the city, is so vivid, so enchanting to me. I still want my own life to feel more like Brickman's Chicago. Even if, in Joel's world, I am just some guy walking down the street headed somewhere else. Oh, oh, and the music. Have I posted this one before? If not, my tiny dot in the web has never been mine. There must be more Berlin-school meets Steve Reich out there, but I have listened to most of the Tangerine Dream records made in the 70s and early 80s, a lot of Froese and Schulze solo albums, some other Deutsche stuff, etc., and this track still, still, really stands out. But you already knew it was the best. Didn't have to tell you that.


More Retro and Cities

More stuff. An essay in search of a thesis. Stop me if you've heard this one before. I write more often than the world changes.

Simon reacts to the "Schema" post here.

The city is, I think, always a subconcious preoccupation for me. Both of my parents were city planners and I think I thought I might follow them in that direction at some point in my life. In fact, I think what dissuaded me most from going that direction, besides personal stuff, is that the same issues that are now being discussed in music were already becoming problems in that field*. While most authors that I recall reading back then were still obsessed with the twin "evils" of late Modernist architecture and suburbanization, I was already sensing issues, not with gentrification, but with the more sanitized version, New Urbanism.

New Urbanism sought to recreate some of the main virtues of city life, for instance, the focus on walking and public transportation as opposed to the use of the car, mixed-use development, and a preponderance of public space. From what I can tell, the most talked-about works of the movement from outside of the sphere focus on new developments like Celebration in Florida. But there was certainly an interest in redeveloping existing urban sites and urbanizing denser suburban areas. Between the house subscription to the ULI magazine, and all of the development in perpetually cash-rich Washington, DC, and, especially, Bethesda, MD and Arlington, VA (both just outside DC's formal limits but very integrated into the metropolitan area), I got to see a lot of the ideas play out fairly quickly after they were conceptualized.

What struck me immediately about New Urbanism is the comfortable relationship it maintains with capital. Whereas in Jane Jacobs' utopian vision of urban life, the city is anarchic and thrives on the uncoerced cooperation of its residents, New Urbanism's democratic vision, supposedly derived from Jacobs, had no compunction in integrating large corporations into the process of (re)development. 

Partially, this is, of course, due to pragmatic necessity. Cities, for the most part, don't buy land, don't develop it, and don't build the buildings themselves. Hence private developers. But even developers need help. Hence banks. But, as my mother said years ago, banks don't loan money unless there is a good promise of return and that possibility of return can only be ensured by securing large retailers as tenants in the buildings to be constructed.

Whether due to the nature of how projects are financed or not, New Urbanist developments tend to reflect the values of those who construct them, specifically a consumerist vision of democracy, instead of a radical one. The difference between the two is the difference between choosing amongst choices or choosing the choices themselves. Zygmunt Bauman, in his book Postmodernity and Its Discontents, and speaking specifically of the arts, likened the situation to a stage, access to which is now more universal than before, with the catch being that nobody can throw anyone else off. As in a New Urbanist mall, we can choose anything we want, even to not shop, but there are no options that dis-include shopping or not shopping.

There is a New Urbanist development in Arlington called Pentagon Row (some pictures here). I  used to visit it quite often, partially because of a compulsion towards new spaces, regardless of whether I like them or not, and partially because one of the local businesses added to the project to add flavor (both literally and metaphorically) happened to be the most convenient location to me of a DC-area chain of Lebanese restaurants that I enjoy. Like many developments in the style, there is a public space there, a square, meant to be a place of gathering. But the private nature of the whole development overshadows the ostensibly public purpose of the space. For all the allusions to Italian piazzas, it's almost impossible to imagine anything ever happening there. All of the stores and restaurants have big windows; the distinction between public space and shopping space is collapsed.

My parents, especially my father, were fairly enthralled with New Urbanism. Products of the 1960s, participants in the backlash against anonymous public housing and the suburbs, they still invested in urban planning the hope of their times: that the way urban environments were constructed could truly influence on a fundamental level, the lives and societies that inhabited them. But their focus was purely on form, not content. Any development which promised walkable, tree-filled streets, mixed-use development with street-level retail, and buildings that integrated with each other in harmonious ways was, de facto, a good project. I feel like this focus on form has interesting parallels with music, whereby  the tension of how music actually functions socially, and who it serves, is completely glossed over in favor of the formal concerns of recreation. In fact, the "lame"-ness of it all, of retro culture, has a lot less to do with aesthetics, than with what is at stake, the content, which is nothing.

I've been uneasy with the word gentrification for a while now (way before I read Lloyd's Neo-Bohemia - minuscule pat on the back). What I'll continue to reiterate is that the mere shuffling of the racial, cultural and economic constituencies of various neighborhoods pales in comparison to the ontological shifts that happen in these places as they become part of the "mapped", or mediated, post-industrial landscape. The post-industrial hipster migration to urban centers is an echo of earlier industrial migrations and will have the same transformative effect of those earlier migrations. The people will come and go, the purpose will remain the same. That the racial, cultural and economic backgrounds of those migrating are much more coherent than those of the people being pushed out is incidental to the process of gentrification itself. The sites of exclusion and discrimination exist elsewhere, not physically, but socially, in terms of how cultural knowledge is disseminated. The cultural knowledge of the worker class of the new economy is the resource to be exploited, replacing the physical labor of the older economy.

What both bottom-up gentrification and top-down New Urbanist schemes share (as well as the critiques of both Modernism and suburbanization), besides their preoccupation with "livability", is that they install white, middle class people as the foundational class of urban narrative. In some ways, it's true, because the height of American cultural production, the Post-WWII period, happens to be circumscribed within the period between their flight and return to urban space. But that narrative also inscribes a certain deviancy within culture produced outside of it. That deviancy, that "energy, frustration (and) need for temporary transcendence" is what needs to be removed in order to make the music function.

(so i'm no closer to necessity here - but now maybe the question is - why do us "crackers" have to do this? from where does the bourgeois desire come for "predictability and control"? I feel like there is answer somewhere in the process of the depolicitization of what I have called biological antagonisms. difference as a revolutionary political strategy that makes impossible the empathy necessary for revolutionary change... is the idea of "difference" a bourgeois idea? did it precede it's use as part of the vocabulary of multiculturalism? did it undermine structural critique? is it now, this bloodless tolerance, undermining the disciplining process of culture? is "difference" its own disciplining process against culture? Badiou wrote in Ethics that tolerance can't tolerate intolerance... but intolerance is the lifeblood of politics and culture! how to even recover "bad" taste from so many years of listening?)

One more thing...
There's a tension. On the one hand (and yes, I have started to read Retromania now) between what Simon describes as the omnivorousness of the ideal consumer, and the fact that, now that all tastes can be catered to, there's no need to change anymore, either externally or internally. You can stay with your tribe forever.

I meant a long, long time ago, to respond to this post and the idea that retro could be a strategy for the "radical rejection of the consumer capitalist need for constant novelty". I disagree. Actual novelty can be a really awesome, valuable thing. The problem with capitalism is that it sells you the same shit over and over again with slight improvements. As an act of pure creation, outside of the social ramifications, the iPhone is big development. That Apple has to sell you a new one with slight changes every year is where the real waste of consumer capitalism lies. Likewise with music. Basic Channel/Chain Reaction  was novel. The ten thousand records that sound like those records are what creates a perpetual market, in the worst sense of the word, for the initial style. That market takes the initial music out of the narrative of history, outside of itself as a specific even. And since, as I mention here, most consumers are not that educated, the market persists because of/enables historical amnesia. The amnesia that prevents radical desire.

Novelty was a way of opening up space ahead of capital, the thing that created the utopian moment of culture as something that could belong to someone before being sold. The fumbling attempts by capital to catch up with and integrate new ideas actually solidified and dramatized the cultures it tried to exploit, and helped them to form their moral vocabularies.

*Ironically, given that the barriers to getting things done are much higher, architecture and urban development have been way ahead now. One example: Autobahn, the harbringer of sleek Modernism in popular music, hadn't even been released when Pruitt-Igoe, a model Modernist housing project, was demolished. While your down here distracted from narrative, I should also mention that the architect who designed Pruitt-Igoe, Minoru Yamasaki, was also responsible for the design of the World Trade Center. Freaky, huh?


Music On The Internet

Is like your date vomiting in your food the first time you've gone out together before dessert has even arrived. All arousal is anticipatory and rarely fulfilled without a strenuous amount of disassociation or desperation (ok I'm really not that judgmental of individual folly - but people in general - a bit of a jerk, yes).

To quote the standard, "in a restless world, like this is, love has ended before it's begun". I watched some concert videos of GOAT in action in anticipating possibly taking a semi-vacation to New York or DC in April and including one of their shows in my plans, but was sorely disappointed. Fuck the Internet. 

There's this guy who reviews records on Youtube. He wears big glasses and reviews a lot of current indie stuff. Normally, I don't, but I did. He made a good point - something to the effect of, if this band is all about ecstatic release, can't they even jam out? Most of the tracks are fairly short. Didn't bug me as a listener to the record. Still doesn't. Will still buy, etc. But watching the concert videos and seeing the songs performed with virtually no improvisation, and not even really quite as well as the versions on the record. Fuck.

Totally undermined the romance, too, knowing that, if taking mushrooms and going around shirtless covered in random paints or liquids, dancing my ass off, is the proper response the music, well, I would be the only one doing it. And I would probably be documented endlessly. That would make a great picture, actually. To take a picture of all the people taking pictures of the one person who actually decided to let themselves go at a concert that seemed to be about letting oneself go, but wasn't. Of course, the picture of the people taking pictures is already a cliche. Maybe a picture of the person taking the picture of the people taking pictures? That would actually be a pretty profound picture.

What is it about the way people are educated? They never seem to take anything literally. It always pissed me off in school. Now, its everywhere.

I used to tell a story.
Back when I was in high school
There was a day when a bunch of us were having lunch after a quiz on American poetry
and Somebody 
asked me who the guy was who wrote about the wild yawp and I said Whitman!
and they said I got it right 
but they didn't


Hopefully this is obvious to everyone

So sick. Been growing on me for months now but I am really feeling it. Why am I so repressed? Really need to take some mushrooms and smear myself with ash paste and dance around to this. Or so I'm told. Almost tempted to buy a CD just for easy repeats... Anyone have any further recommendations along this line? Music has to be played with conviction, not just be a mishmash of the same sources...


Still Homesick

Missing DC again. Real bad. I remember why I wanted to leave. Outside of government, it's a really small town. Inside government, possibly even worse. It's not a town to live in if you want to feel like you are on the cutting edge of culture. The electronic music scene sucks. Like every city in America, it's always on the edge of getting big without quite getting there. It's gotten really expensive. It's not Chocolate City anymore. H St NE turned from burned-out ghetto to sports-bar shithole so fast that the hipsters it was marketed to never even had a chance to move there. I could barely keep myself apart from self-important interns then, and I imagine it's even worse now. The records stores aren't that great.

But it's the little things, the things I haven't found replacements for, even when I was in New York. The  Kung Pao chicken at City Lights of China (which is not the amazing, but always tasted exactly how I wanted it to). Kramerbooks. Not a great bookstore because they have everything, just because they always had something I wanted to take home. Taking a piss in the bathroom inside the hotel outside of which Reagan got shot. Dukem's Awasi Tibs. DUANGRAT'S!!! The Potomac. Wandering the monuments listening to Slowdive stoned. Random conversations at Pharmacy Bar. Seeing The Rules Of The Game and Battle Of Algiers steps away from the FBI building. Battling tourists on the Metro escalators. Walking up the stairs of the Dupont Circle Metro station just because. Hating Georgetown, but going to Cafe La Ruche anyways. Going to late night, smoke-filled dinners at Bistro Francais, back when smoking was allowed. Spending a Sunday reading the New York Times at the Four Seasons. Watching the Redskins lose so many times. Old Ebbitt. Walking along the GW trail past National and listening to the cabbies talk in thick accents about their distant homelands. Walking less than two miles from my (relatively) affordable appartment to the White House (fuck who lives there, it was fun!). Oh yeah, and visiting my favorite Rothkos or Bacons or Dubuffets before or after a hamburger. Why not? It was free, just like the Truffaut or Antonioni film shown on 35mm the weekend before.  DC might be the most beautiful city in the country. It felt less parochial than New York. But New York is the privilege of being parochial and knowing that people everywhere else actually give a shit.

There was a period. Why did I think life could get better? When I was still living in Virginia but bartending in DC. There was a cab driver. Ali. He used to pick myself and a coworker up every night after work. He gave us a discount because he could depend on our business. My coworker would get dropped off in a northern section of Arlington and then we would head south to Crystal City and grab Pakistani food at 4am at a 24-hour place filled with cabbies heading home. I would get some chicken, some rice, some bread, stuff myself, and get a ride back to Alexandria. Real, real peace.

But so much of it has gone. Chinatown. Convention Center. I remember when downtown had edge to it, when there was mystery. I never got to go the club district that has now been replaced by a baseball stadium in SE. Red! DC Sanctuary! There's so much more. Olsson's. Tower Records Foggy Bottom. The electronic music section. A real one! With Chain Reaction and No-U-Turn. On CD of course.

You know what has happened to cities in the last 15 years. For some reason, I keep thinking that that trend can be escaped, can be outrun. But it's not the case. Family has never been home to me, and every community that I have searched for and found is gone. Sure, the people remain, but what can we do? It's that adult solution of just living one's own life that makes me so sad. The people I've seen at their best, enabled by the support around them, now just taking their diminished place. Is this all that can be? For me too?

DC was when I believed in art most, and also when I gave up. It's just a representation of imagination. I want a new ontology! And I know it comes down to belief. Which is why our current era sucks so much. It's not a lack of things to believe in, just a lack of belief.

DC is beautiful and Brooklyn is fucking ugly, Manhattan is an island for assholes, and I don't think I'll ever quite have what I want. I don't know if I can even define it. But if I have to choose between having no life, having a life that's not quite good enough, and continually torturing myself with a life that doesn't exist... Something is better than nothing. For a time there, for real, I felt, as Audrey Hepburn said in (surprisingly) one of my favorite films, Sabrina, "in the world and of the world". That's not too bad, is it? Is it foolish to want more? Or can I at least keep wanting more while gaining just a little more pleasure from my time?

Of course that time corresponded with the time during which I had the lowest expectations for myself. So what does that mean? That's what I have to figure out before I return.

Or maybe I won't. For fuck's sake, I just want a life again, regardless. Illusions, mystification, romanticization: purpose.


More Curtis

Awesome demo... drumming is good too, actually. Less musicians, more space...

Drummage 1970s 3 of 2

Thought of some more...

Few comments. I just like to dance, dammit!

Eddie Kendricks "Girl, You Need A Change Of Mind" Dave McSparran

Don't know much about the drummer - just going by what AMG says. Nevertheless, nothing special technically, but the feel, the feel, the increase in tempo, the switch to four-on-top... just breathtaking. If you are familiar with the cannons of underground disco and house music, you know this one. It's a favorite of the most influential American DJs ever. Mancuso, Levan, Hardy. Probably Knuckles Siano, Krivit, whoever else, too. I don't know if this record ever made it out of that scene, though. Can't imagine why not. Top 5 soul music track of all time, for sure. Stop not believing me and try moving along. I like Marvin, Stevie, too. But. Speaking of...

Stevie Wonder "As" Greg Brown

Just more great feel here. I really like the way the drummer alternately pushes and follows the music towards greater levels of intensity without ever getting too dominant. Each fill takes things a little higher, but the compulsion to hit too hard is mostly restrained. It's still a ballad, after all, and one by Stevie at that.

Curtis Mayfield "(Don't Worry) If There's Hell Below, We're All Going To Go" Don Simmons

Again, going by AMG here. I believe my copy just lists the musicians and not their roles... Surprised I like this record? Kidding, of course. Almost went for "Move On Up", but the interaction between the bass and the bass drum is really nice here. That little flurry of syncopation on the kick at the end of the bass phrase before the "one" comes around... drives the song forward and gives it the attitude.



So after re-reading most of The Condition of Postmodernity (Harvey) and finishing Neo-Bohemia (Lloyd), I came up with the following table, which is after a similar, though not equivalent, table by Hassan, quoted by Harvey:

Industrialism---> Post-Industrialism
Material Commodity Production---> Social Value Production (via aesthetics)
Use Value---> Exchange Value
Fordism---> Individualism
Republicans---> Democrats
Biological Antogonisms (apparent)---> Class Antagonisms (hidden)
Nationalism---> Delusional Nationalism
Welfare: preserver of reserve army of labor---> Welfare: legacy
Internal Market---> External Market
Alienated Subject---> Self-fuffilment
Mass Politics---> Lifestyle Politics
Group Actualization/Ambition---> Self-actualization/Ambition
Oppositional Culture---> Commodified Culture (at base, ie Baudrillard, simulation without simulated)
Fixed Accumulation---> Flexible Accumulation
Reality precedes Perception---> Perception precedes Reality
Hard Control ---> Soft Control
"Masculinity"---> "Femininity"
Structural Critique---> Psychology
Underclass: reserve army of manual labor---> Underclass: reserve army of aesthetic labor
Mental Discipline---> Social Discipline
Physical Strength---> Physical Stamina
Rote---> Creative
Gentrification---> Mediation
Modernism (new space for exploitation)---> Retro (reclamation of old space for re-exploitation)
Working Class---> Middle Class
Love Before Sex---> Sex Before Love
Disciplined Exploitation---> Voluntary Exploitation
Grey Flannel Suit---> Jeans
Blue Collar managed by White Collar---> White Collar managed by No Collar
Poor: "useful idiots"---> Poor: useless
High School---> College

So I don't make any claims for brilliance, for accuracy, for novelty, or anything else when it comes to the above. The table is just something to keep my own thoughts organized., a way of framing the world that is necessarily incomplete because the picture within is so complex. But it did lead me to hypothesize something. Which is that Retro is a structural necessity within the new formation of capital.

Although industrial capitalism can never be eradicated completely given that material commodity production is also what reproduces human existence on its massive scale, as a focus of policy and self-perception, industrial capitalism has receded from the imagination, and even the physical landscape. If I recall correctly, most large American corporations who manufacture goods not only do so offshore, but also sell these goods mostly to non-Americans. A lot of the supposedly "wrong" economic policy practiced recently at the Federal level, especially staring in 2008, seems "wrong" because the person perceiving it be wrong does not understand the reality described above and sees the period that could be  described as the "Fordist social contract" aka the welfare state as somehow being a proper equilibrium, when in fact it was, at the time, a necessity for the perpetuation of capital accumulation, not a concession to social justice by the elite. Regardless, that "concession" is no longer necessary. The internal market is no longer a growth market (in fact, it has been based on the abuse of credit for decades, credit that may never be available again at the previous scale).

So we now have, at least in my perception, two simultaneous capitalist systems. The Industrial system, which, at least in the United States, is now embodied in disinterested manufacturers, who, as noted, no longer need Americans, neither as producers nor consumers, and the former reserve army of labor of this system, who now have no place, neither physically, nor economically, nor culturally, in the new system. The new system, is, of course, the Post-Industrial system. This system, which places a premium on education and cultural fluency, no longer needs the race and gender-based antagonisms of the past because, first, it is not in this new system's benefit to prevent new ideas, new fashions and new aesthetics from developing (the formation of new markets is contingent), but also because the direct exploitation of  the factory has been replaced with indirect exploitation. As Lloyd notes, the creative class generates far more money for real estate speculators, bar owners (taking advantage of virtually free labor and the hipness of the neighborhood in which their businesses operate), and, of course, media conglomerates, than members of the class will ever see. In fact, most are open to this exploitation, invite it even (think of reality TV at the extreme end of this process). There is no selling out anymore, neither as a possibility or as a stigma. Or rather, there is the possibility of feeling served or not served by the new organization, but it is not possible to create and not participate at the same time.

(This is not to say, at all, that "hipsters" suffer like, say, Latino workers at food processing plants. We are talking about relations in capital, not social status and the material conditions of an individual's life.)

So how does this lead to the idea that retro is necessary? Well, it doesn't, at least, it doesn't in terms of what I have written above and how much more needs to be filled in between this paragraph and the last. Maybe I don't quite understand it yet. Maybe I am wrong. Here's what I have so far:

The loss of the alienated subject, structural critique, mass opposition (through the fracturing of markets via flexible accumulation) the loss of biology-based antagonisms (which persist but are no longer "beneficial") which form groups out of necessity, instead of deliberate taste, has caused the production of new cultural material to exploit to come to a standstill (or at least, to become so slow as to not be able to keep pace with the speed of commodification necessary to provide the necessary profits). The structural need for perpetual growth (you gotta spend money to make money) has reopened past forms to exploitation. The new underclass, no longer alienated, no longer antagonistic, only concerned with personal growth, is only too happy to repurpose older cultural product for the new market. This repurposing is the stripping of any referents or cultural baggage that belonged to the older form of social and economic organization.

(I think I am getting at something but can't quite prove the necessity thing. Sometimes I can't type as fast as my brain writes - there's more here but I already forgot it - we'll see if it comes  back to me. I think another important thing to note is that - well, I've felt in myself, and have written about, a real frustration with the way that social issues continue to dominate the mainstream political discourse and I think some of the above has a lot to do with it. Within the new socioeconomic context, a huge swath of gender-, race- and sexuality-based critique seems to have somehow lost its politics, and has become a distraction from deeper issues instead of a view into them. That's not to say that I disagree with the fundamental goals... it's more that the noble language of those movements somehow seems now to be deployed towards less-noble ends. To be brutish about it, I believe that abortion should be legal, but find no solace in the liberal discourse around the issue, which reeks of privilege [in the "new world" there is no figurative poor and uneducated female "victim" upon which to build a moral foundation] and the mediated alienation from the self and the body that is so much a part of the post-industrial mental landscape [the phrase "getting in touch with yourself" seems to me like it has two subjects].)


The broader the generalization, the better!!!

Is it me, or has (white) American music and surrounding critical discourse never really recovered from the turn against psychedelia towards roots in the late 1960s? I don't think the "betrayal" is even really acknowledged or perceived.

Outside of black music, the UK rules my world. I don't think it's a fetishization of the exotic (though I imagine the UK like I imagine a perfect city - small enough to know everything about, large enough to not have to see everyone you know every day - that's the only romanticization). 1965 - 1995. Revolver to Different Class (putting aside electronic music!). For years now, I've tried to get myself into all of the classic 1980s American music that I "should" like. The Replacements, Husker Du, etc. But it all seems strangely parochial to me. We're a parochial country (we won't even notice when the rest of the world doesn't need to care about us anymore). Even Black Flag always seemed like it was concerning itself with a local struggle. LA cops. "My War". I know I'm wrong. Probably it's just the sounds. Maybe it's just that I like reverb? Space?!?! Eventide. Lexicon. Flood, hell yes, Albini, only if you know martial arts.

Say what you will about U2, but I always liked their ambition. The broadness of scope. Could an American band even make Achtung Baby or something equivalent (don't take me too literally here - no more Bonos necessary in this world at this time, I agree)? It's too bad that most of the people who like that record are U2 fans, you know what I mean (because I still think you all are missing something out there - but whatever - I don't even think the people who like it get it or else things would be different now)? All the bands they were inspired by when they made that album are always just going to be "cool kids" bands. Loveless is great but I remember being 13 and feeling like I was in on some joke that excluded everyone else. Like, "don't you know there are nice, melodic pop songs buried underneath the forty layers of guitar?". How much is that knowledge really worth? Nothing. At least those forty layers are nice.

Stravinsky is "urban", too. Do people actually listen to music or do they just notice who is making it?

Small town blues. Everyone here has tattoos and flannel shirts and there are many beards (am I too old to try and look like David Sylvian in 1981? I can't pull off the hair, that's for sure, but maybe I can stop wearing jeans? Grey wool flat-front trousers - punk as fuck - Organization Man is made of straw).

The big downside of the American underground's fear of pop is perhaps the resistance to any sort of totalizing vision. It's just a unique view of life instead of life. And the uniqueness is what is compared and contrasted with other uniqueness. Does it really matter if "life" is correct? Outside of the 1960s, there was Nirvana. And REM (but "Shiny Happy People" sounds like what I hate about politics in a country that imagines there is no class society or self-preserving elite - like maybe if we paint a picture of earth with a caption underneath that says "don't mess with my mother" on a placard and stand outside a nuclear power plant then we can show those corporations and then we can drink some tea afterwards - sencha). And the Talking Heads, too, maybe (I'm not old enough to know). Is that it? For the BIG stuff with BIG ideas, I mean? I don't think Blondie quite makes it. Who else? Fleetwood Mac? But the subject matter is a little different (though I still haven't heard all of Tusk - jesus what do I do with my time?). Foghat! The Wipers deserved better, but probably wouldn't have taken it. See what I mean? Pere Ubu? Big hole in my life, methinks. I hope so.

Perhaps the UK just likes weirdos more (more likely they just have to sell fewer records to have their say). Except we're all special here in America, aren't we?

Entryism is the worst pop ideology, except for all the others. Have I posted that here before? I've been meaning to for a long time.

None of these ideas are new to me. I could have written this a decade ago.

But I need this crap out of my brain and somewhere else.

I may be incorrect. Or worse, boring!

Could you imagine being my editor? If so, you must be getting paid well. Congratulations!



Tiny Little Addendum

In thinking about last night's post (or this morning's post - bartender hours, you see?), I recalled a word that I used to use often to describe the nature of the malaise, a word that seemed to disappear from my vocabulary but I think is quite apt.


For those who don't recall, an intransitive verb is a verb without a direct object to refer to contained within the sentence in which it is used. Stretch it out a tiny bit. If a verb is usually an action and object is another word for a point or a reason then you see what I am getting at...

Great Article

Spectacular, really.

Maybe I'll have something constructive to add tomorrow. Surely, it won't be as insightful or as well-crafted as anything linked-to above. And no, I'm not feeling sorry for myself.

For now, I'll just say, more easily expressed now since reading the above: Most of the bitching I do here, whether it's about music or politics or whatever else, is simply because I am sick of being told that (my) life has no meaning. And so exuberantly.

And you could say, well, why are you letting other people define meaning in your life? Well. I don't. I still buy records and fuck around with my music equipment and read and write. Towards what end besides my own pleasure? Apparently, now, that's the only end there is. And if life is all about that particular end, I get just as much pleasure from ordering pizza and watching action films. I just keep thinking that there has to be some better use for my time. Why?

I don't know. This can't be it.

(By the way. Yes. I start too many sentences with conjunctions. And there are fragments (like this one). It's just bad style. My English teachers did teach me better than to write as I do.)


It's Just So Awesome

Justice Department: "The condition that an operational leader present an 'imminent' threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future."

In some small way I am glad that there is a separate justice system for the elite and the rest of us. Because the logic of the Justice Department, applied in the real world, would allow a racist shop owner  to justify killing any "menacing"-looking black youth in anticipation of their "imminent" armed robbery of the shop.

Fucking balls, man. Fucking. Balls.

There's a local Leftist library/communal space that has a little poster in the window of a nearby restaurant inviting people to their weekly potluck dinner. It says something like "before we can make changes in the world, we have to organize, and before we do that, we have to meet each other". I guess I shouldn't laugh, or be so cynical. It's true, isn't it? But, what is it about the Left in this country? It's like we have to start all over again all the time. Read the Justice Department again. Potluck? 

(I bet if I showed up there with meatloaf we'd be talking about the damn cow the whole night.)


Drummage 1970s Part 2 of 2: This One Goes To Eleven

Well. This entry is written sober. Even if I was drunk, I would be sober now. For you see, in anticipation of getting Internet service in my new apartment (living alone - so productive, so isolated), I reformatted my hard drive, updated my OS, and reinstalled all my programs. I remembered to copy most of the files to my email account for re-introduction to my "new" machine. All of them, in fact, except the list I created of all the tracks I wanted to write about. Shit.

So this is off the cuff. We'll see how it goes. First, an addition to rock, and then, something completely different.

The Who "Love Reign O'er Me" Keith Moon

Well, he had to appear sometime, didn't he? I'm way later than others in finishing all of my drummage posts and also being a bit lazy in not checking right now, but I don't seem to recall Moon popping up too often.

I can't imagine the 1960s, the SIXTIES 1960s, the one everyone remembers, as being too fashionable or interesting to a lot of people now (I'm even told by a few record shop owners that new vinyl pressings of the Beatles albums aren't doing exceptionally well). Sure, there is always some acetate somewhere of some tiny bit of flatulence recorded by some mentally-unstable genius and/or mentally-stable accountant with a hidden (lack of) talent for music that will invariable get unearthed, in order to "complete the picture" of a decade (note to historians: I ate a piece of foccacia today), but I think the closed circle that has kept revivals of styles from the first half of the twentieth century safe from appropriation (save Maudlin and Sons and their ilk) may finally no longer encompass the 1960s. Which, like everything else in life, is good and bad.

Listening to 1960s bands is a bit depressing, now, isn't it? For all of the resentment I felt towards ye olde boomers growing up, as their history was constantly sold as History in order to market nostalgia, I miss the feeling of culture being dominated by a group of people with a clear sense of the world and their place in it. Those years seem really, really far away now. The irony of retro culture is that, if it is an attempt to discover history towards finding a footing on which to build the future, the process has yielded quite the opposite result.

The Who is a band that I admire more often than I enjoy. I want to love them. They always seem like the underdogs amongst the legends that surrounded them when they were at their best. And Quadrophenia seems to embody so many feelings I have towards a life spent, relatively speaking, in the more bohemian sectors of society. The alienation and sadness and difficulties adjusting and, more than anything, the psychic costs of believing in something more than it deserves to be believed in, and believing in it more than most. Disillusioned but still hanging on, perhaps out of "fealty to the event", the sense that those "brighter side(s) of life", seen "not very often", have to matter, have to be held onto out of spiritual, not pragmatic, necessity; that's Townsend, and that's me. You could say that the Who sold out in the 1980s, but I'd say that they made literal something that had already happened, not just to themselves but to everyone else. I'd also say, more than any other band, and mostly because of the above, they'd fucking earned their money and had every right to take it.

But Moon, yeah? Drugs. Alcohol. Self-destruction. The now-tedious tropes of quickly-fading rock mythology. Oh, but he could play, you know? I don't have any particular words. Just that whole "ecstatic" drumming thing pushing a transcendent piece of music even higher. 

The real part two, now. Part two is funky.

Lyn Collins "Think" (Likely) Clyde Stubblefield

The obvious choices are the best, aren't they? I assume this is Stubblefield. I assume you are dancing right now. What I find interesting in funk music from this era is that the actual playing is so different than what I think people who don't play instruments imagine it to be. The parts all have to be played with almost tedious precision. A funky room would probably be filled with random stuff, might involve velour or velvet. Funky food would be filled with strange and atypical odors, or would just be bad, falling apart. Funk music? Funk drumming? It's really as tight as can be. It's a room painted white with no dust in it at all. No wonder Kraftwerk. It's not a stretch at all. Stubblefield is practically German engineering.

Does this make any sense? Well...

James Brown "Get On The Good Foot (Live)" Clyde Stubblefield

... look at the faces of everyone in the rhythm section. Are they having a funkin' good time? Of course the horns are, of course the dancers are, of course James is. But look at the bassist! The drummers! Might as well have kept that job at the factory! James was probably a harder boss to deal with. Unless the boss at the factory was a racist. And given all these guys are from the South...

Oh yeah, and this is a jam too. Keep watching. Pretty sure that is Jabo coming in for "Soul Power"...

The Winstons "Amen, My Brother" Gregory Coleman

Soul Searchers "Ashley's Roachclip" Kenneth Scoggins

More breaks, more breaks, more breaks. Of course. So much has already been said. But the actual records are good, too. Never mind the whole genres they spawned. Plenty of ink has already been spilled on UK hardcore and jungle and drum and bass and hip hop and everything important and innovative that has happened in electronic music. However, as much as I love all that, there is a certain point in the night when I just want to hear pop classics and I, child of the 1990s, may find myself making an ass of myself anywhere, everywhere, most likely at home to this (not an exact sample but clearly precedented) and this and even, really, sorry, this. So "Ashley's" doesn't win per se, but yeah, totally underrated. Relatively speaking, of course.

Both bands are from DC, incidentally!

Parliament "Mothership Connection (Live)" (Best guess is) Jerome Brailey

What a difference a few microseconds can make. So laid back compared to the JBs stuff. But just as precise. What is it about this performance compared to the others? No answer but pleasure.

Loleatta Holloway "Hit and Run" Earl Young

If, and I doubt it, there is any chance in hell that Mr. Young played all the way through on this, then this would have to go into the "ecstatic" drumming category, if only because playing this way for that long can make one lose their mind. There's a real change in feel here from most of the above. This swings.  It's just as precise. But the space between notes is calculated differently. And because of that it moves your body in a different way. It's lateral, not vertical. Try thrusting to it (preferably in solitude!). Now try shaking your ass. Left. Then right. Or the other way around. Or even around. Feels different? Yeah it does. People are more perceptive than they know. Because, compared to the music above, and forgetting all social context, this is feminine music, this is gay music (at least for more feminine gay men). Everyone was right in the 1970s. Except that so many of everyone were sexist and homophobic. Fuckers. What a loss for America and everyone in it. Because, outside of all the wasted time and wasted lives and hate and anger, house and techno, and, of course, disco, are, like, pretty good. And, outside of Jock Jams, still, mostly, nobody gives a shit. 

Well - if I can remember the last three, I'll put them up. Until then, I'll try and remember the 1980s.  The 1980s without drum machines or samplers. Urgh. Do I have to?