Monday, February 28, 2005

Chocolate Superimposition

Yeah, still here, though well hogtied. Behind on much university work; mind all over the goddamned place. My dad is very ill... Can't stay focused on anything.

My copy of John Stuart Mill's On Liberty unacountably became tattooed with a brown stain. There's a sort of sideview 3-D thumbtack shape dripping on the "b" in "edited by," as in "edited by Elizabeth Rapaport." A thumbtack sheathed in a spit bubble...

More (or an outright expurgation) soon.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Where Shall We Toil? Where Shall We Be Foiled?

Now that post-production of the new TLASILA alb has begun, we're collectively scratchin' our lice-infested noggins regarding touring in '05. Many of the guys have other projects (uh, kinda obvious, that), and everyone's plate is permanently stacked to the rafters. I'm only free in the summer/early autumn, Mark's doing a Sightings trek in May, Rat's frightening the few remaining grandmothers who've not yet been exposed to Hijokaidan with a Squelchers safari in June, and Andrew has perhaps the craziest sked of all. God only knows if we'll ever see Thurston again; Don has a serious NYC day job, and Ben's usually up to his bleached platinum monobrow with film-biz biz in Los Angeles.

Australia/NZ is a promising option (our majordomo Chris is there, jetlagged and shoeless, even as I bleed), as is Scandinavia/Eastern Europe. We haven't hit Canada in nearly a decade (!), and Japan is in our crosshairs as well. The only domestic real estate we're likely to visit this year is in the West, or Southwest, or maybe a combo platter o' both...

Frankly, we're stumped. At least for the moment...

###

Oh yeah... Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 10, 2005

I'm Loathe to Respond, but Too Vain to Resist...

(Posted 5 Feb; revised 9 Feb.)

Many of you have asked for a list of my fave 2004 recordings... This, as you may have inferred from previous writings, is least amongst those things I am inclined to do. As sad as it is for me to admit, however, I have developed such a inventory.... Just for you.

But only one notable in each category; I can only stand so much of this shit.

These are my opinions. I claim no prescience.

***

Fave Single

Kryptic Minds & Leon Switch - Hide the Tears EP (Metalheadz Meth 56, 12'')

Psychotic* darkside jungle; precision rocketeering via Venusian gravitational assist. Snares like the footsteps in Fassbinders' Love Is Colder Than Death... Flipside remix was, for my wizened ass, perfect. No other track enjoyed more in '04. Jaw hit the fucking vanilla shag, etc.

If KM and Leon go to the toilet, I download the residue.



(* Literal; I developed sympathetic Capgras' Syndrome after listening to the remix. I was certain my mp3 player had turned into a vengeful steel mesh collander.)

Tiny-ass KM&LS pic stolen from discogs site.

***

Fave Album


Blevin Blectum - Magic Maple (Praemedia/Bleakhouse praecdb01, CD)

First grabbed it in October, and, by November, hadn't given it more than a cursory listen... Backstory: when OHNE were in Helsinki, we were housed in a villa often rented by Avanto. Incredible views, agreeably luxe...

Elvira and I shared a room overlooking a half-frozen lake. Before going to bed on the evening of the 18th, I queued a handful of albz on Winamp and closed the lid of my laptop. We could hear the music well from where we lay, but we didn't want to blast Daniel (Lowenbrucke), who was sawing logs in the adjacent suite. The Discreet Music vibe was ideal, and we slept blissfully. My dreams were filled with wings, kites, and lengths of colored thread. Geometric shapes were traced and plotted... Then I awoke to Magic Maple. I lay in bed, warm and secure, with Elja's head on my shoulder. She slept, still, and I smiled like a goddamned fool; I was enraptured. Snow skittered across the upper sash of the wide, double-paned window, a faint but audible analogue to Blectum's floodlit, drywood termite quadrilles. (Particularly, as Maple's particles are wont to construe themselves, during "David & Justine, 47th & San Leandro.")

No need to compare it with anything save itself. No missteps. No irritations.

Again, for me, perfection.

Blevin Blectum in her regal magnificence. (From the BB site.)

***

Okay?

Beast,

TS


Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Just Tryin' to Tell a Fucking Kid About Brand Recognition

In the library, as usual. An androgynous freshman dude walks into the "Internet cafe" (scores of PCs on tables, backless chrome-rimmed stools, and self-serve Starbucks in an adjacent room) wearing a CBGB t-shirt. I'm listening to Marquee Moon on my Rio. The dissonance... too perfect. I'll bet you 50 million dollars he doesn't know who TV are... Hold on, I'm gonna ask.

You people better dig out your shovels, 'cuz I'm owed serious clammage. He knew squat.

No big deal, but I had to race my Yugo through the jarring intersection... I'm old, he's probably an evangelical, shit changes, and the scales never fall away.

Monday, February 07, 2005

1000 MG of L-Lysine Against Fascism

(Begun 26 Jan 05, completed 6 Feb, updated 7 Feb.)

Notes to self: didn't realize it at the time, but Rat was completely fucking wasted by the time we went on. He fell backwards into Don's amp from AWK's initial downbeat, and he didn't stop falling until his train arrived in Raleigh 48 hours later. The stage was under siege throughout most of the show... Roger from Monotract, Leah from Magik Markers, Max and Twig from Nautical Almanac, one of the nutcases from 16 Bitch Pile-Up... Christ, I lost count. Mic cables unplugged during a third of the performance. No monitors. Ben's amp was fucked by someone in one of the supporting bands. (Thanks for giving us a hint!) Andrew's electronic triggers didn't trigger much of anything, as those cables had also been jerked from corresponding sockets.

We began with "Percent Obstruct Street," one of the new pieces from the 12/04 Echo Canyon sessions. Audience went spectral shades of apeshit, but as I couldn't make sense of anything we were doing, I kinda shrugged and wondered what the big deal was.

No sense of shared nothin'. My own movements appeared to be projected on a similar, mesomorphic outline, a blurred version of myself. Chris, Thurston, and Ben were buried in toxic sludge; Don and Andrew were chewing their lips in deafening 5.1 Dolby.

99% of the time, Rat was face down. Aud ate heaps...

We followed "Obstruct" with a 40-minute (yup) version of another of the December songs, "Mothers Over Silverpoint." By terminus, stage had pretty much been demolished. Not my desire. For the generous audience, however, this seemed to represent the living fucking end. They howled for a very long time. Alas, as the congregation bellows, my belief in the Scriptures nosedives.

Another goddamned spectacle, at yet another fucking noise gig... Jesus, at this juncture I'd sooner we opened for Manowar! (Or, The Libertines. Sparklehorse. Red House Painters. The Music. Muse.)

Seriously bummed afterwards; our set was such a stalled Amtrak suicide bid. I thought we hadn't done much of anything, save survive (or otherwise avoid) a series of gruesome mishaps. Ben and I were glum in the downstairs lounge; the kind words of sundry well-wishers made no impact. Kim and Thurston dropped by; they could see disappointment in our orbz. (It's not that we thought we sucked, but we'd planned on levitating the fucking Pentagon. No smiles on my mug for 20 hours...) Ugly chicks dangled invites to drug soirees. One, without making eye contact, said to me "dude, you're a wild man." I wanted to fucking die, or at least shove a good book in her face. As useless gestures and orphaned urges beget naught but frustration, we opted to evacuate.

A trio of purported comrades, each wrecked on malign substances for which they obviously had little tolerance, flapped their jaws derisively as we departed. Knowing that they had spent the better part of our performance thrashing about either on or at the periphery of our stage, mouths agape, soiling themselves, I dismissed their pitiable taunts and exited into the bitter DC night. Still, the vibe, such as it was, had been spoiled. Scowling at these miserable, "transgressive" chimps, we floored the van and got the fuck out of muzak Hell.

(I forgave these poor louts their lack of grace, knowing full well I've still a volume or two - or ten - to absorb on the subject...)

AWK and I retreated to the hotel, where we watched odd infomercials (including the mildly astonishing How To Make $4,000 a Day in Your Underwear at Your Kitchen Table) until Don and Ben arrived from an Jagermeister ice luge afterparty. I slept poorly. Next morning, the cab took forever. Frisked at Reagan; at least the Feds were paying attention! Oafs in Stetsons slouched at the AirTran gate. I was thankful that I'd lost the power of speech.

Very happy to be back in Atlanta. Spent hours shopping for DVDs... Dined at a favorite old haunt, then drove back to Western Blot. Took a valium, and awoke at 3:00 p.m. Elvira signed on to Messenger shortly after, and my life was slowly restored.

I'm looking pretty awful in the photographs, no? All this Euro cavorting has taken me away from my routines. Still, I put a particularly poignant spin on butt-ugly.

Never saw Krist Novoselic upfront, bounding, purportedly, on his twee size-threes. (I only remember a bunch a bearded dudes with cameras, their moist ladies huddled under frilly gingham frocks.) Guy from Fugazi gave me a big hug afterwards, and I was (to borrow a favorite Dave Philips hyphenate) mega-chuffed. (I first met GP in 1984 when Rites of Spring played the same art gallery as Peach of Immortality. Now that, Christian soldiers, was an odd fucking gig.) Never much of a Fug fan (don't think I could name any of their songs; that's no slight, only a reflection of my musical tastes), but I've always thought well of Mr. Picciotto...

As an expression of disdain against a foul status quo, Noise Against Fascism was, on some level, successful. The mainstream media sniffed and moved on. Blogs and boards enjoyed a few days of traffic, after which interest waned... 710 packed into a club which holds 750. Not SRO, but it sure looked as though heads were screwed into rafters. The audience was as welcoming and enthusiastic as any I've seen, and this was gratifying, if not altogether comforting.

(My disappointment and subsequent ambivalence should in no way detract from Chris Grier's achievement; he executed flawlessly. Everyone was paid well, egos were greased, and libations flowed without cease. He ain't TLASILA majordomo for nothin'.)

We bid farewell to genre tedium. Better red than dead, better dead than rigid.

TS



Photograph provided by courtesy of Patrick's NAF Pantophobia archive. Many thanks!

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Damned If You Don't...

4 Feb 05

Crawling through academic briars all week; lotsa contusions, many sweet scrapes. Managed to post a few NAF pix; the remainder are in queue. (I know you're all impressed with my speed and efficiency.) Had good phone time Wednesday night with AWK; Thursday, spoke with Chris and Mark Morgan. Re CG/MM: the former leaves for an extended Oz trek on the 11th, and the latter returns from a Michigan ashram in late February. Much that cannot be repeated here, all of it very satisfying...

5 Feb 05

Okay, all the pix have been posted; in the forthcoming weeks, expect more to trickle in from the hinterlands...

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

No Xmas for John Rhys-Davies: TLASILA Tour Reminiscence Vol. 2

(This entry was begun on January 14.)

Oh dear, it's been four months since the tour, and I remember less than ever. An ideal situation! At present, I'm watching deleted scenes from the bonus disc of the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind DVD; conversely, I haven't watched more than three minutes of TLASILA footage - in total - from the September convocation. And we shot, er, loads. (If I were now to write "And Peter North was DP," I'd be pushing it, and peddling auld wares as well.) It's not that I'm not solipsistic, but, in these dim days, I have a pronounced tendency to not compulsively review. (And, in redundancy news, I kinda just need to charge forward.) I'd rather someone like Aida Ruilova or Chris Habib (both of whom obviously already have plates stacked sky high) deal with it. Despite my vid proclivities, I have sounds darting through my consciousness; I have a powerful desire to track down, stake out, and murder each one of them. (Oops, I just received an image from A Minute to Pray, a Second to Die. My brain plots against me...)

Off track again. Kate Winslet never previously did that much for me (I always got her mixed up with Helena Bonham Carter), but she's rocking these extended improvs, and she has an unmistakable allure. I dig full frame...



Bug Jar (9/15) - disappointing turnout, probably the (second) worst of the tour. Maybe 80 or 90 bodies, tops? As usual (for the God and Country trek, that is) promoters were, to be charitable, less than aggressive in spreading the word about the gig, thinking AWK's presence alone would drive a snarling MTV 2 horde into the foyers of their clubs. Sat at the merch table for a few hours with Leslie Q, listening intently as she spun tales of domestic peril. It was an odd evening out. Foul ropes of yellow-green vomit lay adjacent to the side stage door; we had a pretty cool set, I suppose, though for me it seemed more of a lull, a coalescing. John Schoen (a Rochester stalwart and all-round decent chap) tantalized with promises of a double disc set of Roxy Music outtakes or alternate takes or whatever they were from their Eno-period Musikladen performances, but to date, he's sent nada. (Dude, you're killing me!) Great to vibe with the darling, delightful Dave Cross (of Coffee renown, not th' other Mr. Show 'un); the mammoth (both in girth and character) doorman salvaged my video camera after I'd inadvertently left it in the gutter. Cheers, good sir!

(Note: "second worst" is accurate. The mob at Newport, Kentucky numbered far fewer, perhaps less than 50. All of whom were likely performing with us that bleak, yet exhilarating evening. For those of you not familiar with Southgate House, it's a swell venue, big-ass Iowa barn-sized, with two floors, many bars, a sympathetic and caring staff who'll sweeten your nipples while tweaking your beverage, and a local audience - those not on stage - which can be roused from stupor. And we manifestly failed to bring the millions. A shame, really, since the promoter assembled an absurdly fecund package. Your loss, OH/KY... Er, with profound thanks to those who attended and enjoyed the festivities... Christ, I'm too fucking thoughtful. Goddamned Ethics degree!)

Flywheel Arts Collective (9/16) - awesome gig, at least from this jaded perspective. Temple of Bon Matin (even in their fractious September state, still very enjoyable), The Believers, Corsano/Moore/Moore, Magik Markers... The Flywheel sold out and dissenters feared an AWK fan-crush, but daft thoughts flew that eve, and the throng's demo was naught but predictable. (In other words, they complained about themselves.) A lovely, predictable throng, of course. Many hot ladies... And more than a few dudes who stood with arms crossed, semi-scowling, as we shot our load across the distaff prow. We encountered this minority often. They either wanted or expected some sort of sonic replication of Wigmaker, and thus they couldn't get down with our heavy prance vibe, no matter how hard everyone else around them was fruggin'. (Word to the unwise: we did that album already. We're not doing it again.) They seemed blistered, abandoned and upbraided by our embrace of - good Christ, how could they? - an ecstatic tension (sans conventional release), of motherfucking joy! Forgive the apparent slide into hagiography, but I've nothing really to ask forgiveness for, and I've every right to describe. (Robbe-Grillet is still tucked under the Guarneri ebonized chin rest of my smashed-up '75 viola.) But, hail to the supergods, we did perform an impromptu (and likely ill-advised, and utterly unrehearsed) cover of Charles Tournemire's Symphonie-Choral Op.69, and at that anarchic juncture the Shave-as-Avant-Garde-Bulwark boys jumped ship. Still, many fluids were exchanged, and the front line dancers were soaked. Sam Sebren (from the great, much-missed Splotch) was there too! Blown away by the strict Believers vibe, and dazzled, like everyone else on Earth, by Corsano's focus and control... From there on out, 'twas cool as a mobile morgue. Awesome thighs on those Magik lasses, and they strangle you with 'em as soon as they get crankin'. (Skulls not crushed, but dreadful red hand prints where palms met coconuts...)

Nope, no complaints whatsoever. Bunked over at Kim and Thurston's manse, and until very early morning I ripped discs from one of the many 60-foot high stacks of promo CDs which littered the kitchen counters. Next day we flogged some merch, brunched, did laundry, and sat aghast as Chris Grier's feet became ever more befouled. (That's why the ladies love him. No conception of shame.)

It's weird that some of our older fans can't make the transition with us, but, of course, it's also quite normal. I'm not living in 1996 anymore (although it's true that I lingered there, post-marriage, for several years), and there are no more Wigs, God and Countries, Where a Horses, Les Tricateuseses, Commmiinngggs, or Tony Conrad, Fat-Asses left in me. (The mere presumption that those works, especially Wigmaker, are the "best," the most unhinged or risk-taking, is galling.) I'm fifteen billion light years past those traumas, and the brake lights haven't yet winked. If any of you are wondering about our precise coordinates, the new album should assist in your triangulation efforts. That's a promise.

Safari Lounge (9/17) - looked grim, initially. Not much of a venue, no managerial controls, no staff, no nothin'. Located in a filthy, brackish back-alley, the joint had "Great White" (or "The Shirts," or "NZ indie losers") written all over it. (In smeared Crayola Tub Tints...) It was a precise analogue of my 10th grade conception of what a really cool rock club (and we're talkin' '72, mind) should be. Alas, that premonition failed to include Ben McOsker as doorman and cashier... Eventually, a pair of elder freak-types approached, and they turned out to be both owners and absolute kittens. We hauled our gear in, sniffed around the place, and after a bit of stilted chat proceeded to follow Rat's nose to a (semi-partially vegan, for my sake) hot dog stand-cum-bizarro-boîte oft-visited by the portly Laundryroom Squelchers crew. There we finally encountered the AWK fan-crush (at least the tip of the spear of said crunch), and much mirth was shared as Andrew and I sang Sparks tracks from desiccated memory. Back at the Safari, the hermetic Load CFO held a bucket in one hand, and a papal decree in the other: "no soul shall be asked to give more than two dollars in donations at this door." I was going into blind panic mode, but Rat calmed my ass down. "C'mon, this'll be the best gig of th' fuckin' tour." Then... The masses arrived, the other groups parachuted in, and we had one helluva sweet ride. Huge aud (for the size of the place), an albino rat-munching python in the corner, no annoying DJs, cheap beer, many hot-ass Prov lovelies with short-short-short skirts and oddly glazed eyes, another set of marriage-collapsing Russki/Hindi crunk-jazz from Temple of Bon Matin, a generic noise display that turned out not-so-generic (courtesy of Pleasurehorse - Mac touch-pad massiv krew in da, er, dump!), grind as raspberry sorbet (thanks to the stolid, no-nonsense Necronomitron fam), and Grier, still shoeless.

We peeled out and crashed immediately into Vanishing Point 'dozer blades. The gods made love in pools of our cochlear fluids, as short skirts edged ever closer...

Synopsis: another takedown. (I was stunned that anyone bothered to show.) Rat nailed it: not the best gig, but certainly in the top three. We shall make a point to re-visit dear Providence! (Balto too.)

Afterwards, we decamped to Villa McOsker, where we left the empty husks of Bastard, Grier, Wolcott, and Morgan. (The cat hair-to-opulence ratio was pegging above recommended levels on our TSI IAQ-Calc™ indoor air quality meters, prompting the rest of us to retreat, clothespins affixed firmly to schnozolas, to the Biltmore.) It rained hard all night; the image on the splash page of the TLASILA site was taken as our tour van sped through the wet Rhode Island underworld on our way to Load HQ...

Chris worked his way out of the putrescent corner he'd passed out in, hopped a cab (if I remember correctly), and soon joined us at the hotel. We spent the morning dividing receipts and carefully folding our clothes into tight little pocket-sized squares. I will never finish this fucking entry.



Providence was enshrouded in a foul mist; as the wind swirled below in the beer garden, we made a break for the van.



After a week in the alien heartland, it was a massive fucking relief to head back into New York.

SUNY Purchase College (9/18) - was cancelled. Miscommunication. All for the best, however, as we ended up needing the extra time for Tonic preparations. (Fucking undergrads!)

Tonic (9/18) - the top, a total blast.

Such as we were, in as much as we could be said to be anything, we embodied the essence of whatever the fuck we could be. Most possibilities lurched into, and drained.

If you were there, you know.

Got so stoned downstairs I spilled a drink on to the lap and legs of the lovely Jocelyn Shipley; of course, this suave move coincided with Kim Gordon's arrival at the table. My putz value rose dramatically.

Soundcheck blues are always eroded by a decent dinner and a few drinks... For some reason, we chose Mexican. Not bad or anything, but always a bit too sumptuous in advance of required gig gesticulations. Left my goddamned olive green khaki hat there.

The booze afterwards was helpful. Shot the shit with Monotract, Double Leopards... Latina bartender gave me her number, but I tossed it soon after. She was cute and all, but thoughts in that sacred regard were thousands of miles distant... Great to be at Tonic in Morgan's company. We hate everything, equally. (Shades of the Fleming/Smith duo circa '75. Loathing, O, such loathing.)

The show? Murder. Kim and Thurston danced throughout, which sorta blew a fuse below the superolateral surface of my right cerebral hemisphere. A true "wha-?" arc of disbelief. Likewise, around the periphery of the stage, decorum was abandoned, shame sent packing. In most of the photos I've seen, I'm grinning like a psycho ward patient in a Hari Rhodes hallway scene from Sam Fuller's Shock Corridor.

Those very sexy NYC lepers were kind enough to accord us many huzzahs, a pair of encores, and the right to share many litres of sweat. The entire fucking audience refused to budge until they'd heard from us a third time. At last, ecstatic piss.



The sound dude had to fight his way through the mob to reconnect the mics... Not wanting to spoil things, I opted for an extended ass-kiss, thanking all for their enthusiasm, their desire to permanently rid the world of smallpox, etc. Afterwards, my ex-semi-girlfriend from '99, Kitt, emerged from the middle of the fray. I was delighted to see her. Drinks, palaver, replay of break-up trauma, etc. Despite knowing better, I put on the moves which worked well five years earlier. Had her on the ropes maybe for a half-sec, but, of course, she knew better also... Kitt looked great, still twitchy and possessed of an intelligence far too large to comfortably fit into such a skinny-ass frame. Before I get all (J.) Iglesias on you, I'll fast forward to...

Chris Habib, and the photoshoot for I-D mag. Not certain whose idea this was (Thurston's?), but suffice it to say, I didn't make the November centerfold. I'm sure the editorial board rejected the pix as soon as they saw the sweaty, middle-aged goofball clutching Pretty Things and Sly and the Family Stone DVD boots as though they were contemporary cultural markers... Wish I could have been there to hear their comments: "Oh, mother of God, no. No, no, no... Oh my..."

What cunts! My beauty has retreated to internal arbors...

Still, life was great. Wowing New Yorkers always makes me rigid. Nice crowd of admirers/stalkers on the sidewalk outside the club... A Russian girl who accompanied my friends Suzanne and Mark hit the гвоздь on the голова with this observation: "You do not make dissonant music. This was psychedelic music, but for today." (I swear I'm not making this up.) Not exactly how I might have characterized the Tonic vibe, but coming from a new listener, perfect. Marc Weitz was there, Aida Ruilova was there, the extended Sightings family made it down, my pal Bert from university flew up for the show... Such a beautiful vibe.

(Said freq. was found strangled at a Black Dice gig two weeks later.)

We packed up the gear, dropped everyone off... I hit the sack at dawn. After a great gig, I kinda think I deserve a sick night of sex, or an early morning curb crawl with salmon-jacketed Euro coke-chimps, or at least a bout of googly-eyed hand-holding at a Village cafe with a West 60s trust fund gal who'll likely not recall a thing a week later... I've had plenty o' the above, but now, desires are convolved, and my heart, once a foul, poisioned organ, resides elsewhere, restored. With delivery vans rumbling in the streets below AWK's tar-paper penthouse, I replayed memories of passionate kisses with Elja outside a market stall in St. Petersburg, Russia. (I am such a pussy.)

WFMU session (9/19) - aka The Lozenge Tapes. A fitting conclusion... Great session, although my vox had long since departed for Valhalla... Brian and the crew made us feel like golden pariahs; the cupcakes were divine. Grier had to catch a train, leaving the studio during a break in the recording. The post-partum pall landed, hard. It was over...

More to come.



(Snap by Uli Loskot, taken at Baltimore's Tarantula Hill sweathole on September 11, 2004.)



And here's my wizened mug (yet again), from a mid-December self-portrait. Note the (very expensive) luggage under the eyes, the cheeks carefully tucked away... Such a good lil' narcissist, eh? (My pedigree demands it, unfortunately... Even Stockhausen would do well to smear on a bit of body glitter.)