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. . . 2001-06-19

As a belated Father's Day present, let's reveal the generously uncut submissions to our latest fabulous Caption Contest:

  1. Is that a brisket in your basket, or are you just glad to see me?

  2. Shit, if it's going to be that kind of a party, I'm gonna stick my dick in the mashed potatoes.

  3. Austin Powers: On Her Majesty's China Service

  4. OW, my tattoo!

  5. But when Procrustes said this wouldn't fit, I really lost my temper!

  6. Banned in Japan

  7. ... and that's how the Mino tore.

  8. Smile when you say that, Mister.

  9. You know what they say: big sandals, big basket....

  10. You call this Medean Rare?

  Flandrin's Theseus

Congratulations to all our winners, and special thanks to our artist, Napoleon III's very own Jean-Hippolyte Flandrin.

. . . 2001-06-20

Why (via EBlort), despite all this, I am hesitant about moving to L.A.

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Updates via updater:

The best Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 interview ever not done with Seymour Glass is available. All is expressed within the music, true; but here all or something like it is explained or something like it:

AE: I'd love to hear more covers. I'd love to hear bands totally make fun of it. Because that's one of things that's given us the most pleasure, totally fucking up our own songs in practice.
BH: When we were practicing [in late 1999] we started getting into that, and it was so much fun. I was singing like the guy from the Cure, singing "The Operation" [from Strangers] like that. That felt so good. And I was thinking, "I feel so stupid for not having started doing this eight, ten years ago, just pick someone and sing like them." It's a blast. Suddenly I felt really emotional. I was crying a little bit, like: "Oh, yeah, that's the voice I should have been using all this time. His."
Yes. Exactly. (Or something like it.)

A not-quite-something-like-Seymour-Glass interview also exists. The correct answer to how they sound, by the way, is "po(o)p music." Pronounced "Poeh, open parenthesis, oh, close parenthesis, pee period music."

Why is it that it (or something like it that it) only comes to me now that I never asked to interview TFUL282? Is it for the same reason that I told Samuel R. Delany that

Of course, my idea of a good interview question would be something like "So what does Lou Christie’s speaking voice sound like?" or "Why do you think poets are usually so much funnier in their writing than they are in person?"

. . . 2001-06-25

The mirror image of a lie is not the truth, but it may be a more interesting lie.

. . . 2001-06-23

Boy Band, 1977
I don't write about music as much as I used to, but as I was reminded yesterday by one of my fraternal quadruplets, everyone should always write about Television, so here's one of the things I used to write:

If they'd stuck together, Richard Hell and Tom Verlaine might've headed THE band of the late '70s. As singer, Hell was the loosest and most natural sounding of a new breed of screech-and-gulp-ers. As frontman, Hell invented punk fashion. (Malcolm McLaren, having failed to cut a lasting deal with him or with the New York Dolls, took the Dolls' sound and Hell's look [and lack of interest in bass] back to England for his pick-up band.) And Verlaine could take care of the remaining little chores like writing and playing music.

But they were jerks who hated each other. Hell left, ultimately deciding that a musical career took seriously uncool amounts of exertion. Verlaine thereafter leaned on a whiter-shade-of-pale imitation of Hell's phlegmatic vocalese, coming off like Barney Fife next to the Lawrence Olivier instruments.

I read where Verlaine and Hell were childhood pals who escaped from the orphanage together. Yeah, right; and those are their real names, and Bob Dylan was a freight-hopping Okie. But I believe the story about them finding Richard Lloyd through the Village Voice ad: "Fender guitarist wanted for all-Fender band." There's one guitar lineage for the pliant and slippery Gibson, starting around Chuck Berry and leading to both heavy metal and L.A. AOR, and another for the clanky cranky jangle of the Fender, starting around Buddy Holly and leading nowhere by the mid-'70s. Smooth excess vs. rhythmic constraint. (Which is why a first time Television listener can feel let down after all the hype: "I thought this was a guitar band?" It's a different language of guitar.) Lloyd, a classic pop musician, plays classical Fender -- clean lines with a clear structure -- and makes a perfect friendly adversary to Verlaine's soul-trapped-in-wood-by-an-evil-spell....

Ooh la, Verlaine's guitar. As weak as his solo studio work can be, I'd never pass up a chance to hear Verlaine in concert, wringing an incredible double-back-on-a-dime range seemingly out of his bare hands. Keith Allison is right to use the word danger so often. It seems like a physical transformation is going on: a centaur with Verlaine's spindly upper body shoved on a Siegfried-sized bucking horse, or a guitar Little Mermaid (book not movie) who wished for a human voice and now feels knives in its throat every time it breathes.

Add the jagged drumming of Billy Ficca, and although the band runs like clockwork, it's with glass gears and a lot of sharp edges. Luckily, Television was rounded out by the bass of "Nonsonic" Fred Smith, the only non-virtuoso in the band and the only nice guy -- nice enough to help keep the band together for the course of two albums and a couple of tours, and nice enought to show up on both Verlaine's and Lloyd's post-breakup albums.

"But I love disaster. And I love what comes after...."

Something went wrong after 1981 (see sidebar). With Lloyd's solo work, the problem is easy enough to figure out -- he writes tuneful pop rock but has a completely tuneless voice. With Verlaine's studio recordings, I don't know. There's a pervasive lack of motive force, an absence of "danger," though that seems an awfully melodramatic way of putting it.... ENERVATION, DON'T GO TO MY HEAD. But all the live shows I've seen over the last twenty years, including the recent silent film accompaniments, have been a different matter. And spirit.
The Neon Boys - "That's All I Know Right Now" and "Love Comes in Spurts" 7-inch
Hell yodels, Verlaine mimics the 13th Floor Elevators jug burble, and "Love Comes in Spurts" is quite a bit different from the Blank Generation song.

Television - "Little Johnny Jewel" 7-inch
Odd choice for a first single, since it's so long they have to put the solo on the B-side and it has some of Verlaine's silliest lyrics. Guess they did it just 'cause it's so good.

Marquee Moon
Most popular cut among neophytes is "Marquee Moon" itself, whose pair of solos scrawls a big magic-marker outline around the contrasting styles of Lloyd and Verlaine, but every song has been my favorite at some point. Special 1977 Secret: Marquee Moon is danceable all the way through.

Arrow bootleg LP, later expanded into The Blow-Up cassette and CD
Wherein "Fire Engine," "Marquee Moon," and "Knocking on Heaven's Door" are smacked hard against the stage and revealed as geodes.

Very Verlaine, very studio; the lyrics are a Mystic Fire Video remix of The Thin Man, with Verlaine's muse as Nora and guitar as Nick.

Tom Verlaine - Tom Verlaine
Kind of Adventure II, minus the band and, on the first side, his muse. She comes back on the second side and, man, does she sound annoyed.

Continued decline from songs into concepts, but worth it for Verlaine's two best pretty-boy pop singles, "Fragile" and "Mary Marie."

Words from the Front
Nadir, honey, is that you?

Keyboard-heavy Anglopop.

Flash Light
Verlaine picks up his guitar again but it doesn't matter much. The bitch is gone.

Warm and Cool
I.e., Tepid. Dusty flat-arched brown shoes trek through Peter Gunn's bars, the saloons on the Streets of Loredo, and Twin Peaks' hotel lobbies. The perfect score for the first surf noir movie. Where is that movie, though? Where is it?

Reformed Television - Television
You can't go home again.
Well, you can't go home to a studio, anyway. But you can kinda go home to a club or concert hall. This has serious implications for urban planning!

. . . 2001-06-26

"His voice was like an organ...."

Contrary to what you might gather from the past two decades of sob brothers, male hysteria far pre-dates 1970s feminism. In fact, the symptoms have stayed pretty much the same since the first hetero guy first realized that he wasn't getting everything he wanted right away; the purported cause merely varies according to which female stereotype's most prevalent at the time.

For example, 1961 seems like a golden age of unthreatening women, some brittle (Julie Harris, Piper Laurie), some pliant (Natalie Wood, Leslie Caron), but none of 'em rigid, or even erect. What's to complain?

But I recently took a look at Judith Merril's 6th Annual Edition: The Year's Best S-F and found some familiar complaints, including Richard McKenna's Fight-Clubby "Mine Own Ways" ("He walked hard on his left heel to feel the pain and he knew that it is no small thing, to be a man"), Kingsley Amis's "Hemingway in Space" (a Gardner Dozois title if ever I heard one), and, most direct of all, Joseph Whitehill's "In the House, Another" (bafflingly yet pokingly acclaimed by Samuel I. Bellman as "baffling the pieties of political correctness yet poking gentle fun at both sexes"), here reprinted for the benefit of next year's crop of postcultimultifeminitional college students.

Oh well, we only had six more years to wait before Joanna Russ published her first Alyx stories (which, oddly, remain unmentioned by Prof. Bellman)....

And only thirty-four years after that, Gene Wolfe's "Copperhead" shows how far we've come.

(Apology in arrears: Wolfe's polished surfaces and unutterable plots show to better advantage at novel-length, and There Are Doors delivers the "women are weird, dude" message more impressively. At shorter length, by far the best recent example I've seen is John Crowley's "Exogamy." But "Copperhead" is what's linkable....)

. . . 2001-06-28

Bless our Mondegreenery home

You know what I always thought was really great about "Runaway"? When Del Shannon says he's

Wishing you were here by me
In endless misery.
I still wouldn't want any of my friends to take him up on the offer, but I had to admire his honesty.

And now I don't.

. . . 2001-06-30

Lorine Niedecker, from "Switchboard Girl":

I divined this comedy, Dante, before I went in. But I had to have a job....

I was the September dandelion – forty, female – seeking a place among the young fluorescent petunias. I kept cropping up in the world’s backyards while here in America, on all sides they shear civilization back to the seventeen-year-old girl....

(Sounds like the corrected collected works will be out this year....)

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Mary Oppen: Charles [Reznikoff] worked at the American Law Book Company down on the Brooklyn side of Manhattan Bridge and after work in the evening sometimes we would meet Charles and walk with him across Manhattan Bridge the full length of Manhattan, stopping at his favorite restaurants. Here to have blueberry muffins, another place to have some other specialty that he knew about. And so we reached his home up in the Bronx; it was a long walk. Charles did this every morning to get to work and every evening to get home, and when he didn't walk with us he wrote as he went along. This was how he had time to himself....

He was a very hard man to praise. Going for walks with Charles and talking -- if one ever approached, even obliquely, saying something that might possibly turn out to be favorable, Charles would immediately begin some anecdote, usually to do with his father's millinery business....

George Oppen: ... The last time I tried to praise Charles, he at once interrupted to say, "George, I'm sure we both do the best we can."

... The meaning of Charles' poetry to me is a small man walking about a city, his eyes and his ears alive in the city, who sees everything and this is the politics. The rest, the lesson for young poets, is a very simple one. It need only be perfect.

KPFA interview by Charles Amirkhanian, 1974
printed in Sagetrieb, Winter 1984

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One step forward, two steps back

Earl Jackson, Jr. writes:

Memento, Fight Club and Usual Suspects seem to resonate in ways that I fear might be terribly obvious after the work I might do to discover that.... I think the producers of Memento should re-release it next year but retitle it Memento II.
Those were the two movies that Juliet Clark immediately associated with Memento, as well. My guess is all three (and many other recent "challenging" successes from Hollywood) share some mutually-supportive traits: But that's probably what Earl meant by terribly obvious.

His Memento II proposal makes sense -- reckon I'll have to wait for Memento III? or Is It IV? before I finally get to see those PalmPilot scenes....

. . . 2001-07-02

After several a summer dies the horny swan

Futurologists (via Geegaw) notice what's changing exponentially. They then center their "laws" on those changes. What they never learn (because then they couldn't be futurologists) is that changes stop (or, for the Heracliteans in the room, changes change). Exponential changes just stop faster.

. . . 2001-07-03

One of our Brooklyn/Toronto readers queries:

It would be a great help to my current project if you'd get back to me with your idea of the two or three greatest LINER NOTES of all time.

1. One-String Eddie Jones & Edward Hazelton - One-String Blues
The original 1964 liner notes are unsigned (and typewritten); some quick web research reveals the writer as folk music collector Samuel B. Charters. However, in the great tradition of Anglo-American fiction, Charters is only a framing narrator. The next-level-down storyteller (and illustrator) is "a Los Angeles designer and artist who has for many years been seriously interested in ethnic music of every kind," Frederick Usher Jr. ("with assistance by Roderick Usher"). The innermost stories, told by Jones and Hazelton on the recording itself, integrate with the frames to form an overwhelmingly resonant narrative about American class structure, race, and the limited power and unlimited enticement of art. I think about this package all the time.
A One-String

Where is Foot Foot   2. The Shaggs - Philosophy of the World
The jacket is a beautiful work in its own right and an essential rounding out of the aural experience: have you ever heard anyone talk about the Shaggs without mentioning the backstory?

3. The complete works of Pedro Bell & Associates
If I have to pick a single example, I guess it'd be his wildly offended and offensive Electric Spanking of War Babies for Funkadelic. But I got to specially mention the Funkcronomicon panel where Bill Laswell gets eaten by a skanky demon girl.
  I'm DEEP

. . . 2001-07-04

Declaration of Dependence

Even the most attentive reader will have failed to discover one of those near-ubiquitous "other weblogs" sidebars in the Hotsy Totsy Club, but that's not because I'm a Mister Stuck-Up Patootie McSnoob. On the contrary, I love all the crazy kids in our impressively scatterbrained new genre. It's just there's no room for sidebars in a dive like this: individual entries assume a formatting freedom which precludes a page-high multi-column layout.

Since I'm currently engaged in a couple of more extended projects (a tribute to Son of Paleface, a "reading edition" of George Gascoigne's autobiographical novel, and an essay on Jean Eustache), let's celebrate the Club's second anniversary and my lapse of attention with an Other Weblogs Fullbar:

Subhonkered: abuddhas memes - Alamut - Apathy - Bifurcated Rivets - bitchcakes - - Boing Boing - BookNotes - Bubble Chamber - - Byun-o-matic - Calamondin - Cardhouse - Caterina - davidchess - drat fink - dumbmonkey - Ethel the Blog - Flutterby - Follow Me Here - Geegaw - Generosity - ghost rocket - gmtPlus9 - Groke - Guardian Unlimited - haha no serious - harrumph! - Hypogee - Invisible Broadcast System - jamie - jill/txt - Joel on Software - lake effect - latenightpool - - lightningfield - Looka! - Metascene - Monkeyfist - mrpants - Need To Know - Now This - peterme - Pop Culture Junk Mail - Pursed Lips - q - rc3 - ResearchBuzz - Robot Wisdom - Scrubbles - Simcoe - Sprezzatura - strange brew - Stumpshaker - Synthetic Zero - TBTF Log - Tomalak's Realm - Weblog Wannabe - wood s lot - Yet Another Web Log - Zaa Zaa Furi

Manual: allaboutgeorge - Ancient World - Arts Journal - blort - Bovine Inversus - BradLands - Brain Dump - clinkclank - ComicGeek.CA - Dagmar Chili - daily dean - Dancing Sausage - dangerousmeta - DrMike - Eclogues - feminist media watch - grim amusements - Gus - Honeyguide - JimWich - John Saleeby - Lines & Splines - Making Light - markpasc - METAEZINE - metameat - Neat New - NewsTrolls - NextDraft - NQPaOFU - Obscure Store - Open Brackets - Pumpkin Publog - s. kamau mucoki - Splinters - Timothompson - Tomato Nation - Unknown News - Usability Weblog - World New York

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...and with Hotsy Totsy's first ever MSNBC link (albeit trailed by errata).

... an' anotha thing ...... then again ...

Copyright to contributed work and quoted correspondence remains with the original authors.
All other material: Copyright 2001 Ray Davis.