The Culture Bunker

if you're like us.... here's the dope.



• When I checked my email last night at about 9:30 PM, I had an unexpected message from Andrew Gray, who played WE Fest back in around 1999 as part of a ferocious Philly punk band called MidIron Blastshaft.  It turns out he was in Wilmington, and his current band Hoots & Hellmouth were opening for Snake Oil Medicine Show at the Soapbox, so I popped in my car and headed downtown.  I'm really glad I did.

I'm always leary when my Yankee friends tackle the alt-country landscape.  More often than not, the end result feels fabricated and stiff, like a shiny tv movie version of a hardscrabble culture that I've naturally been steeped in and have a huge respect for.   For most of them, no matter how hard they try to pretend they're on the front porch, it's painfully obvious that they're really on a veranda.

I'm excited to say that this is NOT the case with Hoots & Hellmouth, who delightedly stomped and hollered through one of the best sets I've seen all year.  In lieu of a drummer they've constructed small plywood risers with tamborines on them, and together they stomp out the songs' rhythms as they play, the risers amplifying the percussion of their boots.  It's that kind of heartfelt ingenuity that puts them a cut above not only most Yankees in the genre, but pretty much everyone trying to capture a scene that was originally created by poor rural folk who made due with what they had, used what they could get, and played their hearts out mostly just to please their neighbors before they all went back to the daily business of very hard manual labor bright and early the next morning.  The musicians' natural and exhuberant glee was palpable, the young ladies in the audience bobbed and swirled, the men drank and laughed, and I had one helluva ball.  Hoots & Hellmouth nailed it.



• Unfortunately, our cultural landscape is littered with the corpses of phenomenal people who never knew the simple pleasure of knowing how deeply they would be loved.  

When jazz singer Eva Cassidy died in 1996 at the unforgiveably young age of 33 from melanoma, there's no way she could've known that a camcorded live performance from that same year would one day travel digitally around the world, leaving thousands of people like myself  breathless, heartbroken, and devastated by the loss of someone we not only never met, but someone who we never even knew was there.  

As I listen to her patiently and privately sing "Autumn Leaves " just months before her death,  I am beside myself.

The dead artist who was unappreciated during their lifetime is a cliche.  Pollack's  drunken car crash, Robert Johnson's barroom brawl, Van Gogh's ear, Nick Drake's overdose. 

But things should be different now.  In this new populist era, in this internet era, please, support the musicians and artists who genuinely move you.  Write about them, sing their praises, spread the word, especially about the little guys.

Eva Cassidy, an unknown unsigned musician from Washington, DC, left little footprints that will beautifully whisper themselves into your deepest dreams, and she died without you there. 

If you find something small that you love, work to make it bigger.  If you're moved by someone, let them know.   Don't assume the artist knows already, because they probably don't.   Send them an email, and tell them that you're listening.  Tell other people that they should listen, too.

Don't let the people who are singing the soundtracks of your lives die not knowing you exist, because from death metal to country to classic rock, it happens more often than you think.



• While I'm sitting here doing the grunt work of WE Fest for this year, I'm also watching a bootleg DVD of Killing Joke playing a Rockpalast live concert (not the usual indoors Rockpalast stuff, it's some kind of  open air festival event from 1985), and I just wanted to say, if you haven't heard them yet, go forth and discover Killing Joke.  KILLING FUCKING JOKE.  

Not the Enigma stuff, listen earlier.  Early Killing Joke are like Joy Division, but with muscle instead of self-pity.  If  Ian Curtis had decided to take the complexities of  his pain out on you and punch you in your fucking face instead of snuffing himself, well, that's Killing Joke.  Stark, brutal, tribal, repetitive.  Impatiently patient, harmonically atonal,  and ultimately relentless.  Awesome.

• While I was doing WE Fest prep work tonight I accidentally got to see our old competitors Foxy Shazam play live, ha!   Y'all may remember that a few months ago, our video and their video went toe to toe in an MTVu showdown, and while they beat us in a squeaker, I'm glad to say that their show tonight was great. 

As they were loading out, they were beyond gracious, they even hugged me when they found out I was the Majestic Twelve singer.   Lemme tell ya, it's hard to tell in ten minutes, but those guys seem like some good fucking dudes to me.  Respect in spades, because not only does their band kick ass,  but as individual human beings they aren't fuckwits, so you need to give it up, and spend the coin.   Go see Foxy Shazam, and get rocked, you little bastards.



• To have an idea of how idiotically I submerge myself  into random bits of popular culture, you'd have to see where I work.   I'm lucky enough to work at home (which might also be considered an incredibly stupid thing to do, since it means I end up working all the time) , but while I'm busy answering email and phone calls, working on the book, or the next CD, or storyboards for the next video, or pimping out eBay listings to pay for all our junk,  or organizing WE Fest, or listening to all the stuff folks are kind enough to send to us, etc etc, there are always other multiple culture junkie tasks playing themselves out in the background.

While I sit on the floor,  on my hideously red beer stained carpet, there are three screens above me in addition to the laptop I'm typing on now.  One usually has a news channel with the sound turned off.   Another is currently being used so I can monitor the transfer of all my old underground VHS tapes from my snail mail trading days to DVD (right now, it's GG Allin's first 2 hour backstage tape from 1993), and the third is what I'm actually kind of watching at the time, which right now is "Popstar" from 2005, starring Aaron Carter.

Popstar, baby!   And yeah yeah yeah,  I know it sucks, virtually all teen oriented pop movies suck, that's obvious.   The question is - and this is a really important one - how MUCH does it suck?

Does it suck as bad as Mariah Carey in "Glitter"?  Does it suck as bad as Prince in "Under The Cherry Moon"?  I love Prince,  I even watched that movie twice in an honest to God movie theater when it came out to be sure it sucked as bad as it does.  Though the end credits video for "Mountains" kicks ass, yeah "Under The Cherry Moon" sucks.   And don't get me started on "Graffiti Bridge".   

Of  course, I also watched the Bee Gees and Peter Frampton in "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" twice in the theater when it came out because I actually liked it , I even bought the bubble gum cards!  But I was 9 years old, so cut me some slack on that one.   In order to make up for it, I totally refused to go see "Across The Universe" and even felt actively annoyed by it's very existence.   Leave The Beatles alone,  enough already fer chrissake.

In any case, does "Popstar" suck as bad as the American Idol monument to vapidity that is "From Justin To Kelly"?   Can it ever hope to eclipse the bad taste tsunami of  The Spice Girls'  "Spice World"?   Or - wonder upon wonders - can it possibly topple my all time favorite of suck, "Cool As Ice" starring Vanilla Ice as the rice-burner-riding pimp generic "hip hop" (ahem) king of  absolute unapologetic wanna-be corporate manufactured pseudo street-cred, all and all totally encompassing orgasmically hideous embodiment of suck?

In any case , nah, "Popstar" can't hold a suck candle to "Cool As Ice".   Damn!   Though the rest of the music is crap, the opening cut is actually a pretty well  produced hooky pop song, and they get bonus points for casting veteran 1970's pop stars David Cassidy as Aaron's manager and Leif  Garrett as the school janitor, ha!  

"Popstar" is unfortunately less a paeon to true suck than a junior high afterschool special soundtracked by excrutiatingly boring vanilla pop music.   Hardly worth your time unless you're a 9 year old girl, "Popstar" is nothing more than innocuous, and even falls short in the all out suck department.  

However, it does have one really fantastic moment when the high school's resident "mean girl" (played by Adrianne Palicki who would go on to be a featured character in "Friday Night Lights") threatens the young pop star that if he doesn't take her to prom, she'll tell everyone he's - gasp - a lipsyncher!  And he almost caves, that's the big moral dilemma of the second half of the film!!  Fantastic!

On the other two screens, the stock market rallied a bit after yesterdays crash, and GG Allin ran around naked, hanging out intoxicated with his friends while getting punk rock girls to punch him in the face and pee on him.  You know, the usual.



• Since I'm such a fan of  rock and roll cinema, I feel a bit of a mook to admit that before this afternoon,  I didn't even know that Flame existed. 

I've been a casual fan of the British 1970's band Slade for a number of years,  mostly because as a kid in the early 80's I fell in love with the single "Run Runaway".  B ut I also fell for Slade by accident  due to Quiet Riot  (who, by the by, should be in the Guinness Record Book as the most successful cover band ever).

"Cum On Feel The Noize" and "Mama Weer All Crazee Now" are songs by Slade that didn't capture the kids stateside when they were originally released, but a scant decade later  the fellas in Quiet Riot were savvy enough to sense their untapped potential and used those songs to propel themselves into the mainstream of every day American FM radio apple pie.   As a bonus they punched the entire genre of metal into the mainstream, which is no small feat - despite the fact that their hits were cover songs, that was really important.  Kevin DuBrow, rest in peace.

But unbeknownst to us Yanks, back in 1975 Slade made their own rock and roll movie, a movie that's still criminally unknown here in the US.

"Flame"  was ahead of it's time.    Unlike the antics of "It's A Hard Day's Night" or any of  it's many inferior knockoffs  ("Mrs Brown, You've Got A Lovely Daughter", et al),   "Flame" is a much more realistic look at the kinds of mishaps that would later be spoofed in "This Is Spinal Tap,"  merged with a glimpse into the sometimes brutal (and physically bloody) rivalries between steel cold corporate management and music business street thugs  in the rough and tumble UK record industry of the pre-disco era.

There's an awful lot of truth in this movie, it still plays, it still resonates.   Not to mention that the pop-glam soundtrack kicks ass,   and if  our next record has a little shade of  Slade here and there, well, now you know.

Long live the rock. 



• Alex from THE FORMS just sent me their newest disc, a self-titled effort and the first from them in four years, and as expected, it's a truly impressive thing.   I've been a fan of all things Threespheres for a long time (Desert Fathers, Acquaman, etc), and there are so many things to love about this record -  the way it repeats and swirls, the muted and impossible cascading guitars in the background that sound at times like the half-shimmering ghost of  Snakefinger, or perhaps David Torn's work on David Sylvian's "Secrets Of The Beehive" if it were mixed less obviously and just exhaled past you in your travels. 

It's math rock that whispers underneath the cadence, there's heart holding up the numbers,  I have no doubt that an awful lot of people will be hearing and worshipping this record very, very soon, and deservedly so.   Produced by Steve Albini, for those keeping score.


• On a very different note, I just returned from a local meeting of the Wilmington Planning Commission, where I got a healthy dose of  local politics in action.   Lemme tell ya folks, it ain't pretty.

Most of you don't live anywhere near here and could care less about local Wilmington, NC  politics, but perhaps this is a fairy tale that applies to every community, so hey, cue the soundtrack by Twink, and let's indulge ourselves in a modern day fairy tale!


Once upon a time, a man bought two pieces of land (right next to each other) so he could build a house for his family.  All of   the people in the small neighborhood were friends with each other, and whenever they got a new neighbor, they got very excited!  They waved as to him as he came down the street, and wondered what he would bring to the annual Christmas party!  Would he bring cookies?  Would he bring little smoked weenies on sticks?  It was exciting!

But soon it became obvious to the neighbors that the new man wasn't at all what they had expected.  He was not nice to them at all!  

He told the government he was building a "footbridge" to a teeny teeny weenie point of   land in the middle of the wetlands, and instead built a big big bridge that could hold not just a car, but perhaps even a firetruck, or an ambulance.

He told the city and county he was going to make a teeny teeny weenie driveway to the teeny teeny weenie footbridge, but instead he dumped a lot of dirt into the wetlands and built a wall to hold it in,  so he could build a big big road with giant streetlights running all the way to his big big bridge.   Oh my!

Using that big big bridge, and that big big road, he built a big big house on that teeny teeny weenie point of  land, which was not what anyone had expected at all!

The neighbors went to the people who uphold the laws to try and stop him from doing these bad things, but the county and city officials didn't seem to care much. 

The building inspector said, "we know he didn't have a permit to build the big big bridge, but it's such a lovely bridge now.   Why should we make him take it down?"

The people who were supposed to protect the wetlands said, "yes, he poured a bunch of dirt into the wetlands and built a little wall around it without permission so he could have a big big road, but now he has paid a little fine, and it's such a lovely big big road with such very expensive big big streetlights, why should we make him remove it?"

So the new neighbor got to keep his big big bridge, and the new neighbor got to keep his big big road with the big big streetlights, and even though the road made all the rainwater collect in poor Martha's yard (which made her very sad), the county and city still didn't seem to care very much at all.

What I haven't mentioned is that when the new neighbor bought the property,  there was already a perfectly good house there for the new neighbor to live in.   A beautiful house,  in fact!

But it turns out that the only reason the government let the new neighbor build his big big road and his big big bridge to a big big house on that teeny teeny weenie point of  land, is that if he did so, he would have to tear down the perfectly good house that was already there.  

You know, because that's the law.   He could trade the old grandfathered house in the Conservation Overlay District for a brand new big big house that was also in the COD, but he couldn't keep both.   

But of course,  he really wanted both!  He thought it seemed such a shame for him to have to tear down a perfectly good house just because he'd built a big big road with big big streetlights going to a big big bridge that leads to another big big house on a teeny teeny weeny little point of land smack dab in the middle of  "protected" wetlands,  so the new neighbor went to the SRB (which is fancy talk for the Subdivision Review Board, which is even fancier talk for "the guys who say you can't just buy some property and split it up into teenier pieces and break all the rules in order to make a quick buck"), and the SRB unanimously told him he couldn't keep the old house and his new one too, because that wasn't the deal in the first place, and gosh, that would be just greedy and crazy!

But tonight, the Wilmington Planning Commission did something new.  They were feeling wacky!  They decided that for all effective purposes, who cares what the SRB says.   From now on, the Wilmington Planning Commission are the ones who have the final say as to what can and cannot be a legal subdivision in Wilmington, NC.  

The WPC were warned repeatedly during the hearing by their legal counsel that if they made that decision, they were taking on a responsibility that was brand brand new.   But they wrung their hands, and they shook their heads, woe is them!  They said they personally hated that big big road with the big big streetlights that goes to a big big bridge that goes to a big big house on a teeny weeny point of land in the middle of the wetlands, but that their hands were tied, and there was nothing they could do.  So from here on out, everyone who is denied by the SRB gets to laugh and say, "ha, silly SRB!", and go straight to the WPC next, where I suppose much hand wringing and irrational silliness will ensue.

Against the recommendations of staff, and making pointless the unanimous decision of their own SRB, the Wilmington Planning Commission decided 4-3 that COD setbacks and the specifics of 400 foot private access easements are ultimately just "minor considerations", and that they would allow the new neighbor to have his brand new subdivision,  all logic,  fairness, decency, sanity and history be damned.

And the most amazing thing  is, the new neighbor still doesn't seem to have ever actually lived in the perfectly good old house, let alone the new big big house on the teeny teeny weeny little point of land in the middle of the wetlands!   Imagine that!  

A cynic might even suppose the new neighbor wasn't ever even a new neighbor at all, but was instead just a developer intentionally and repeatedly lying and breaking the law in order to make a buck.   But that would just be cynical, right?

In any case, I guess he had his victory party somewhere else.  




41. LITTLE FYODOR adores Babushka.

42. JOHN CONLEY is in The California Oranges.

43. SUJAN HONG likes The Thermals.

44. LORI FURY makes delightful handmade dolls.

45. BETH LIEBLING lives on several continents.

46. TREVOR THOMAS is in Hex Machine.



• Another riveting installment of the dada experience that is GOING THROUGH OLD SNAIL MAIL AND GOOGLING PEOPLE WHO WROTE ME A LONG TIME AGO:

31. ERNEST MANN was murdered by his grandson.

32. KEITH HOPKIN quit Asobe Seksu because the other band members turned into cranky pricks.

33. KENYON HOPKIN still loves music, and is still Keith's brother.

34. JOE CHIAPPETTA is a silly daddy.

35. DOUG BRUNELL writes for Film Threat.

36. ANNA CHRISTENSEN thinks that Jet suck.

37. MIKE WOOLDRIDGE is the That Guy guy.

38. DEAN OPSETH is in Medicine.

39. LAURA FUINO wants to Take U Down.

40. TODD EVANS owns more pairs of big rubber boots than most people our age.



My wife ELFed me, her and the kids.  Merry Christmas!

• Here's the second installment of  our ongoing cultural experiment GOING THROUGH OLD SNAIL MAIL AND GOOGLING PEOPLE WHO WROTE ME A LONG TIME AGO:

11. JAMES MOREL is a tattoo removal mogul.

12. RYAN GILLIKIN is his mortal enemy.

13. SALLY CREWE is about to release her third CD.

14. PETER KING runs a specialty vinyl pressing plant in New Zealand.

15. BECK PASCOE is NOT the one in prison for child molestation, thank God, that was a mistake.

16. DAVID KODESKI tells Roger Ebert what to do.

17. ELI KOLB has fantastic hair.

18. ANN KORNUTA has built a delightful body of work.

19. JAMES KOCHALKA is a superstar.

20. GREGG YETI refuses to quit, even when I throw fruit at him.

21. JEFF KREBS moved his songs to Michigan.

22. KEITH FOSTER is still bringin' da funk.

23. JANET KUYPERS has been very, very busy.

24. MICHEL CICERO is the managing editor at Ms. Magazine.

25. KATHY BIEHL has Astro-Insight.

26. ANDY LARAIA is teaching at George Mason  University.

27. LANCE LAURIE likes circus and spooky things.

28. THOMAS PRADEL manages bands.

29. JERRY LEHANE III has the Christmas spirit.

30. TERO LEHTO is blogging in Finnish.



• Since I'm cleaning house, I've pulled out all my boxes of mail from the 1990s.   Let's track down all the people who wrote to me over a decade ago and see what they're up to:

1. JEFF JOHNSON had a sex change operation. 

2. AUDUN LINDHOLM has his own Norwegian Wikipedia entry.

3. RICK  CLAPPSY is serving a life sentence in prison for killing his girlfriend.

4. BRITT DANIEL started a band called Spoon.

5. ANGELO JURKAS was in the Croatian tv movie Volim Te.

6. SCOTT WOODS opened for The English Beat in October as the drummer for Just Plain Big.

7. AMY KARNS digs Boticelli.

8. TONY KENNEDY means Midnight.

9. LARRY SAKIN wants campaign finance reform, and he wants it now.

10. BARRY KIMM might have convinced you to buy beer or go see the Predators play hockey.

Look for future exciting episodes of  "people who sent me mail a long time ago".



The Mystic Knights Of The Oingo Boingo On The Gong Show!  I can't believe I didn't know this existed.  If anyone out there has any of the original Mystic Knights performances pre-Forbidden Zone, I'd love to see them.  You can find some great Mystic Knights audio here.



• Has anyone else out there been watching Nimrod Nation on Sundance?  It's delightful.

It strikes me in a weird way as the complete flipside of   Errol Morris'  Vernon, Florida, which is great fun, but is ultimately a mocking look at the people it purportedly celebrates.    Thank God that other than the punchline title of this series, there's nothing that's condescending about Nimrod Nation. 

There's lots of Watersmeet, Michigan oddness, tradition that seems really strange to anyone not from there, but while Morris obviously perceived and portrayed his southern protagonists as tongue in cheek fodder, this show is a sincere and loving ode to a snowbound small time life, and it's absolutely charming. 

When watching,  I sometimes wonder what Morris would have done with the same footage.  Would he have the same affection for, say, the taxidermist who chainsaws a giant wood sculpture for the Nimrods basketball team?   I doubt it.  

And as a side note, if you've ever laughed out loud watching Vernon, Florida while an old man holds up a turtle and says, "this is a gopher",  guess what?  He's right.

He's not delusional, he doesn't think that the reptile he's holding is a mammal.  He's holding a Gopher Tortoise, and everything he says is absolutely correct.

I have no doubt that Errol Morris knew this, but unlike Nimrod Nation, Morris chose to exploit the edit at the expense of his subject.  I'm a fan of  Errol Morris, and I like his films, but that says something about him.  It also says something about the filmmakers that made Nimrod Nation, because they've embraced the eccentricity of their subjects and rolled with it like a softly falling snow instead of exploiting it for an unfair giggle, which ultimately makes for a much more satisfying experience.



• Those of you who know our masked pals in the demented punk band Klobbermeister know that they're all about blood, damage, alcohol, and ruthless super perverted sex.   So, of course, that makes this even more fucking hilarious.   Klobber on!

Since I posted versions of  "Pass The Fucking Egg Nog" over in the news section a few days ago, I thought I'd give y'all a heads up about some of our other favorite holiday experiences:

1. THE BILLY NAYER SHOW - "Must Be Santa" - Any song with the phrase "reindeer's butts" in it is a winner with us, and the lo-fi Man On The Moon version is even better than the 45.

2. FEAR - "Fuck Christmas" - Other punk bands from this early 1980's era get more props and t-shirt airplay than Fear  (I mean, yeah, The Misfits were great, but kids - why always The Misfits?  Seriously, there are a ton of great choices there, try a little), in any case, I always thought Fear were the epitome of what a punk band should be - snotty, propulsive, funny, smarter than the average bear, and with Lee Ving they had a lead singer who really could without a doubt (and without working out) kick your whiny little ass.   Plus, I'm pretty sure they invented the whole "thank you, fuck you" thing,  they were better at baiting and irritating an audience than anyone before or since.  So while we're in the holiday spirit, also check out their appearance on SNL's 1981 Halloween show, and then trade in that Misfits shirt for a Fear shirt, or GBH, or DK, or Cro-Mags, or Crass, or shit, you know, anybody, sheesh - go for it, live a little!

3.TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA - Miller Lite Christmas video - OK, you've all seen this, but the bassist from TSO (who's primarily in the legendary metal band Savatage  of course)  fixes my Mom's air conditioner down in Florida, he still works at the family business when he goes home, even though he certainly doesn't need the money.  Is that fucking rad, or what?  Axl Rose is a stone cold pussy compared to Johnny Lee Middleton III.

4. HE-MAN/SHE-RA - A CHRISTMAS SPECIAL - Okay, time for a crash course in Usenet!  Everybody else talks too much,  I'll make it simple, ABC as 123, completely newbie friendly.

Usenet is a bunch of newsgroups.  Newsgroups are like online bulletin boards, and anyone can stick stuff up there.   But while the bulletin board on your dormroom door can only hold little pieces of paper, these newsgroups can hold whole dvds,  avi movies, ripped cds, emailed diatribes, scans of comic books, whatever.  

Newsgroups aren't part of the regular internet, and if you really want serious access to all this stuff, you need to spend a little money (but seriously, it's just a little money).  In order to search and browse what's in the newsgroups, we use a company called ngindex.  You can use this site to browse around and see what other people have posted over the last six months or so - check it out, you'll be amazed.  You can look for free at what's available, but in order to download something called an NZB file, you'll have to suscribe, which costs about $2.50 a month.

I could get real complicated here, but I won't.  An NZB file lets you download all the parts of a movie, or a cd, or whatever, all at once.  You see, with big files, they have to be posted in parts, and you have to put those parts back together after you've downloaded them.  An NZB file means you don't have to find all the parts yourself , the NZB file does it for you.

You're also going to need a usenet server, we use Giganews.  You know how with  the original Napster you kept a file on your computer so folks could upload stuff from you, the same way you downloaded stuff from other folks?  Well, usenet doesn't work that way.  People just upload stuff to usenet, and usenet servers hold on to whatever's been uploaded for a while.   Giganews has a 200 day retention for binary files (that's your movies and your music).  This rocks, this means that you can quickly download from Giganews whatever any one else has uploaded in the last 200 days.   No seeders versus leechers, you just go get it, fast as hell.  Subscriptions to their service range from $8-$25 a month, depending on how much stuff you plan on downloading. 

And finally, you're going to need software to download those files.  We use Newsbin Pro, which costs $35,  but it's so much faster than LimeWire or Bit Torrent that it's disgusting.   Seriously, even with a ton of seeds and a cable modem, if you download a DVD with BitTorrent it might take a day, but with our Giganews/Newsbin Pro usenet set-up, it only takes an hour.   Multiple streams, crazy crazy fast.   Usenet beats the pants off of P2P, you'll be stunned.


So here it is in a nutshell -

1. Browse or search at ngindex to find what you're looking for. 

2. Download the NZB file from ngindex. 

3. Double click that NZB file to open Newsbin Pro (you'll have to tell your computer that an NZB file should be opened by Newsbin Pro the first time you do it, no big deal). 

4. Newsbin Pro will connect to Giganews  and will then download all the parts of whatever it is you want to download.  These parts will be automatically saved in a folder on your harddrive. 

5.Now you have to put these parts back together, probably using WinRAR, which is just basic software.

6. And voila!   You've got whatever you've downloaded on your harddrive, and can either watch, or listen to, or read, or burn that sucker.

7. As a side note, sometimes when you download the different parts, some of the parts will be damaged.  PAR files fix damaged files, so download the RAR files and the PAR files, just in case.

So, ho ho ho, welcome to Usenet!  We were gonna show you where the NZB file is for the He-Man & She-Ra Christmas Special, but just found out it's actually commercially available now , hot diggity!  Ya see, we don't really waste our time downloading stuff that's commercially available, there's so much that's truly rare and not even for sale.  Everything else, heck, we'll just stick it in one of our Netflix queues (and we don't download cams or telesyncs either, for the record, they always look like crap).



Yeah, I know, I know, I suck!  I always say I'm gonna keep this thing updated, but I get sidetracked.  Still, I'll do better from now on.  No, I mean it.   Seriously.

• Most folks here in the states have never heard of British comedian Steve Coogan, but the guy is a master of uncomfortable moment humor (for fans of The Office, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Lisa Kudrow's shortlived series The Comeback, it really is must see stuff).    After reading about him in the New Yorker (specifically impressed by his insistance that the Sherlock Holmes novels were actually autobiographies), I tracked down every episode of Saxondale and I'm Alan Partridge, and both series are squirmingly delightful!

In I'm Alan Partridge,  Coogan is a woefully inept DJ who's arrogance and hubris are seemingly the only things saving his fragile ego from complete collapse, as he manages to unintentionally insult and embarrass everyone in his path.  In Saxondale, Coogan plays an ex-roadie who now works in pest control, fondly remembering his days loading gear for Deep Purple, showing off his muscle car on the weekends, and navigating the ins and outs of his hapless anger management program.   Brilliant.

Blood Tea And Red String is truly a labor of love, a dark and movingly surreal fairy tale told in stop motion animation by Christiane Cegavske, who spent 13 years making it.   I've never seen anything quite like it, it strikes me as the kind of thing you would get if Louis Malle's Black Moon and Dame Darcy had a baby.

• Since my wife and I now have a gorgeous baby girl, I've gotten back into cooking to help out some around the house.  For a great cheap meal, try this out:  buy some Ramen noodles and boneless chicken breasts.  Cook the chicken in a covered skillet, using lemon juice as a base to steam it under the cover (but make sure you keep the pan wet - if the lemon juice starts to burn and blacken in the bottom of the pan, the taste gets extreme).  While cooking, spice the chicken with Tarragon, Cilantro, and lemon pepper.  Put the chicken on a bed of unspiced Ramen noodles.   Pour a little slightly diluted onion soup over that, and sprinkle a few capers on top.  Tastes great, easy to do, looks real fancy, and it's cheap, cheap, cheap!

• Yes, it's true.  Every week I DVR all three hours of Lucha Libre on Galavision and burn each episode to DVD.   Where else are you gonna see flying miraculously acrobatic brawlers, an embarrassing assortment of unapologetic racial and social stereotypes, and let's not forget to mention midgets dressed in full masked superhero regalia, all beating the living crap out of each other?  Nowhere, hooray!  Long live Lucha Libre!

Super Porky is my favorite.   I just had to quote this from his MySpace page, how can you not love this?

" Superporky es fuerte, whenSuperporky was born the nurse saw my dick and said, "WOW" then Superporky had sex with her, at the time it was the 3rd women Superporky had had sex with. Superporkys' tears cure cancer. Too bad he has never cried. Superporky does not sleep. He waits. Superporky does not hunt because the word hunting infers the probability of failure. Superporky goes killing. Superporky is currently suing NBC, claiming Law and Order are trademarked names for his left and right legs. The chief export of Superporky is pain. Superporky sold his soul to the devil for his rugged good looks and unparalleled martial arts ability. Shortly after the transaction was finalized, Superporky roundhouse kicked the devil in the face and took his soul back. The devil, who appreciates irony, couldn't stay mad and admitted he should have seen it coming. We now play poker every second Wednesday of the month. To prove it isn't that big of a deal to beat cancer. I, Superporky smoked 15 cartons of cigarettes a day for 2 years and aquired 7 different kinds of cancer only to rid them from his body by flexing for 30 minutes. Beat that, Lance Armstrong. If you can see Superporky, he can see you. If you can't see Superporky you may be only seconds away from death. A blind man once stepped on Superporkys' shoe. Superporky replied, "Don't you know who I am? I'm Superporky!" The mere mention of his name cured this man blindness. Sadly the first, last, and only thing this man ever saw, was a fatal roundhouse delivered by Superporky. Superporky doesn't read books. He stares them down until he gets the information he wants. A Handicap parking sign does not signify that this spot is for handicapped people. It is actually in fact a warning, that the spot belongs to Superporky and that you will be handicapped if you park there. Superporky once ate three 72 oz. steaks in one hour. He spent the first 45 minutes having sex with his waitress. When the Boogeyman goes to sleep every night he checks his closet for Superporky. Now you know."



Charlie Dore - Cuckoo Hill.   Where do I begin?   Ya know what, fuck it, I know where to begin.  This is my favorite record I've heard in the past year.

And make no mistake, I've heard a lot of great music over the past 365 days - unsung pop punk that's gonna rule the world, brutal chest exploding death metal, whispering singer songwriters who can make you cry even if you fight it with all your muscle and your might.

But this is the record I find myself coming back to again and again.  This is the record that's truly become a part of my life.   Years from now, when I'm sitting on the porch with a cold glass of iced tea as I giggle with my wife, this disc will be floating through the jasmine in the background.  

My kids are going to grow up and grow old with "Cuckoo Hill".  When they hear these songs in years to come, they're gonna have the same rush I get when I'm stumbling from radio station to radio station and Carole King's "It's Too Late" emerges from the static.

I want to find a way to make you buy this record.  I don't know how to do that.  But I've heard enough goddamned records to know the difference, and especially if you love Joni Mitchell, Norah Jones, mid-late 70's Carly Simon..  Jesus Christmas, if you love good music,  you need this. 

It's the real thing.  It's the rarest of things.

It's really good.   It makes me smile.  It breaks my heart.

It is phenomenal.



Suckdog- Drugs Are Nice the cd (be sure to read the review at that link by my old friend Russ Forster of  8-Track Mind and Underdog Records infamy), Drugs Are Nice the book, and Drugs Are Nice The Suckumentary DVD.  I forget who first exposed me to Lisa Crystal Carver, I think it was probably Oliver Squash, or the Eerie Materials guys, but I've really been in love with it from first (truly indecent) exposure.  People seem to forget, but there was a lot of transgressive stuff going on during the mid 80's into the 1990s, more than just GG Allin and Richard Kern.  Lisa was different in lots of ways from the pack;  for one, her stuff  always transcended the shock value in weird ways - it was as funny and over the top as it was dark and violent (much more so, really), and it was really smart without trying to be in the least, the epitome of what my old pal Brent C from Thora-Zine magazine labeled "scum",  meaning that anything went, and just because most people wouldn't think of it as music didn't mean it wasn't great fucking music, even if that meant a recording of a Tokyo traffic light, or Lisa and her friends squealing with equal parts vehemence and glee while they banged on pots with spoons (knives, more likely).

But ultimately, I don't want to think about it too much, that would just be dumb, 'cause the whole scene was - and is - extraordinarily, delightfully visceral.   I like listening to her songs, reading what she writes and watching her do stuff, because it's always really fun, and interesting, and ridiculous, and puzzling, and great.  I quote her all the time from the end of her Kill Ralph Records 45 - "the thing that people seem to miss, is Lisa is a capitalist".   So if you hear me sing that little phrase with my name inserted (as I've done now for more than a decade),  now you know who I stole it from.

Djinbala are a swirl of leaves blowing down the sidewalk, brisk and beautiful, vibratingly alive.  a pinch of pathos, a smidgeon of chaos, and lots and lots of  moonlit  firedancing.  The nice anonymous young fellow who turned us on to this called it "gypsy jazz", which is a swell description, but I think there's more;  it's rootsy and experimental, traditional but quirky,  I've never heard anything quite like it.  And the players are dead on I might add, check it out, it's exciting.

• Newsflash!  George Bush is a dick.   I had a great three+ hour conversation last night with a critic who gave (what I thought was) a really good and fair review to Schizophrenology (Brian Tucker from Bootleg).   It wasn't 100% positive, and in particular, he wished we would've left politics out of  it, but it wasn't knee-jerk,  and I thought he did a great job.   He thinks that overall the disc was weakened by the overtly political tongue in cheek stuff, and that the rest of the record - which he really liked - was doomed to be overshadowed by tracks like "Condoleezza, Check My Posse" and "Thank God Everything On TV Is A Lie".   Not to mention the fact that he's fed up with people saying "fuck Bush" just to be cool or get laid (though he made it quite clear in the review that we shouldn't be lumped in with that kind of riff raff, and had obviously thought seriously about this stuff).

And you know, he has a point.  When we started working on Schizo, the first two songs we finished were "Condoleezza Check My Posse" and "Grandfather".   I played them both for a great longtime radio guy I have a ton of respect for, Jerry Girard, and he said we should probably release "Condoleezza" under a pseudonym.   He didn't see how we could make both songs feel at all at home on the same disc, and was afraid that we would end up branded for life by most people as that "Condoleezza Check My Posse" novelty band, despite all the other stuff we've done in (dun dun dun!) "the scene".   And I won't lie about it, we thought about it, 'cause that would suck.  But ultimately,  if we released Condoleezza as someone else it could be spun as if  we were hiding for fear of pissing people off  (this was in late 2004 before Bush's plummet in the polls, there wasn't much of a bandwagon to jump on then), and who cares anyway, that would just be bullshit.

So ultimately, we figgered it was just best to do like normal, and do whatever the hell we wanted letting the chips fall where they may.  After all, what's the point in being stubborn little indie fucks if we can't make bad long term marketing decisions?  ( Gotta mention that line came from a chat with our friend Cory Branan who stopped by the bandroom with the esteemed Andy Bilinski last week - just wanted to make the excuse to give 'em a couple of  shout-outs!  Go listen to 'em, they're great.) 

In any case, deciding to do whatever we want even if it makes no sense has turned out pretty good so far, so we can't complain.  We think we'll stick with it.

Besides, shit ,  I love "novelty" songs!  I'm a big fan of  straight-up pop music, I'm a lover of all music and a lover of music history, and when I look back I find that an awful lot of "important" music has turned out in the long run to be very unimportant, while "novelty" songs can become touchstones for generation after generation.   One of my best early memories is my Dad playing his beautiful cheapass $50 guitar and singing Tom T Hall's "Sneaky Snake" to me and my brother.

Cab Calloway's "Minnie The Moocher" was a novelty song.   "Yackety Yack" by The Coasters.  "Jambalaya" by Hank Williams.  "The Monster Mash",  "A Boy Named Sue" , "King Of  The Road", "Yellow Submarine" (hell "Rocky Raccoon", "Lovely Rita", "Octopus's Garden", a lot of Beatles tunes),  "Puff The Magic Dragon", "Alice's Restaurant" (all funny talking blues are novelty songs),  "Da Da Da",  I could go on for days.   Novelty songs rock!

That being said, as we get the next disc closer to completion, we don't really have a "novelty" song right now.  And none of the songs are overtly about politics either, it's just not playing out that way.

We have a horror story about abandoned and abused children ganging together in the sewers, and then rising to kill their parents for their crimes.   We have a swaggering oi-chorus rocker about sensitive indie rock boys who aren't really sensitive indie rock boys, and really just want to get laid.  We have a screaming salute to a DIY movement of  pillowcase flags, a quiet ghost story for a woman who's still waiting for her husband to return from sea, and we have a poem about a carrot who doesn't have the balls to say "no".

We'll see how she travels, and then we'll see what you guys think, but fuck it, we're into it.

To wrap up,  George Bush is definitely still a dick, but me and the critic are buds now.   And that's what it's all about, eh?  Good times.

Now,  all y'all go listen to Dan Bryk because it's the right thing to do.



• Check this pic of  Kenyata's cousin Alyson surfing - bring the foam, baby!



• Check out my buddy Scott Houle playing drums with The Up at the beginning of this!  Rock and roll, buddy!



Chris "Crow" Smith - Songs For Emeline - Those of you who know who Crow is will most likely remember him primarily as the drummer for the stripped down, raucous, take-no-prisoners-rockabilly-force-of-nature that was Flat Duo Jets (and who worth a damn in NC doesn't have a great Dexter Romweber story?!) 

All these years later, Crow has finally emerged with a solo CD, and it might take you by surprise.   A collection written and recorded for his daughter, it's a quietly delightful thing;  collectively the songs bring to mind things as disparate as Nirvana at their most acoustic, Loudon Wainwright III at his most un-ironic, and (dare I say it?) seventies light rock ala Loggins+Messina at their most interesting (perhaps CSNY is a better reference?  There's something going on in the harmonies I haven't exactly been able to place yet, but whatever it is, I'm diggin' it).   Good stuff, check it out.



•  Cancelling AOL - from now on, we all must tape every customer service call we make, forever.

•  Kembrew are my favorite band on the planet right this second

•  PokeGangsta

•  Copyright Criminals



•  Quick Release

•  Attack Of  The Pot Muffins!

•  Michael Krasowitz

•  The Beerbelly - the best invention ever

•  Shakerleg



Sorry for being away from the farm!  We're in the middle of promoting the new CD as well as the new video, and also are recording the next disc right now - I'll be back on point soon

•  My Space: The Movie



Lancelot Link is finally on dvd

Rob Schrab!  Rob Schrab!  Rob Schrab!


Diet Coke and Mentos

Keith Schofield



Mr. No Legs

Sisters Of  Mercy - "Floodland"

Bush Gets On MySpace

Carlton Draught Big Ad



• Simple - "Soldier"

Laugh At Us: The Merry Pranksters

Voxtrot - both EPs are great, I prefer the new one

Nickel Creek - "When You Come Back Down"

George Gershwin Remembered



Leif Jonker's Darkness - The Vampire Version

Helium Dreams

Hype Machine

Six-String Samurai

In Flagrante Collecto



Jose Gonzalez - fans of Nick Drake rejoice.  And check out the Bravia commercial here


Baby Got Book

Broadway - The Golden Age



• I just heard that Desmond Dekker died.  Get Up Edina.

Ash Ra Tempel - "Jenseits"

Brilliant But Cancelled

Guy Goma

Dazed And Confused - Criterion DVD release



Evolution Of  Dance

Batwoman is a lesbian now!  No, look over here

Unicef  Smurfs video

matt pond PA - "Several Arrows Later"

Ali Thompson - "Take A Little Rhythm"



Howard Devoto - "Rainy Season"

Buzzcocks - "Why Can't I Touch It?"

By Dawn's Early Light

• Widsith - "Maker Of Song" - does anyone have any information about these guys?

Dessau - "Thanksgiving"



Tammy Faye Bakker - "The Ballad Of Jim And Tammy"

Billy Bragg - "Levi Stubbs' Tears"

Rondo Hatton

Dayton Family - "Goin' Thru A Thang"

Bonnie Hayes And Wild Combo - "Girls Like Me"




Feable Weiner - "Dude Your GF Sucks"

• Jan Kounen - everything!  start with Gisele Kerozene

The Northern Pikes - "Things I Do For Money"

Social Distortion - "Mommy's Little Monster"



Blazin Hazen

24 Hours On Craigslist

Soft Cell - "Sex Dwarf"

The Polecats - "Make A Circuit With Me"

Jack Nicholson orders a pizza



Cat,   I'm A Kitty Cat

Adam Elliot

Metal Urbain - "Panik"

Officer Roseland - "Fiero"

Bathtime In Clerkenwell




Fifty Percent Grey

• Glen Campbell - "Galveston" and "Wichita Lineman" - hooray for Jimmy Webb

Tones On Tail - "Burning Sky"

Israel Bissel.  Not Paul Revere.  This is why the Catholics are so upset about the DaVinci Code - they know that history is quite often written by popular culture as opposed to historical fact.  

And hey, they have a point - already I see people who discuss the recently publicized Gospel Of Judas not in the same light as, say, The Gospel Of  Thomas (meaning a historical document from an early Christian tradition that was subsequently rejected (along with many other texts) from the official Catholic canon), but rather they see it as a true document rejected and buried by the church for some nefarious purpose.

And that brings up a whole 'nother conversation - despite the fact that the argument is brought up by the knee-jerk reactions of folks who haven't really studied the stuff  beyond reading an article in Time magazine,  is there something to the idea that some Biblical texts were rejected improperly?  Why were all those texts rejected?  What political decisions vs theological ones came into play?  And while we're at it, why on earth was "Revelations" included? 

I could actually write about this stuff for days  -   about Robert Wuhl's excellent "Assume The Position" which debunks the idea that truth naturally eclipses power over time.   About people automatically condemning "revisionist history" whether it has validity (Andrew Jackson was a murdering lawless SOB) or not (the unsubstantiated pseudo-scholarly fantasy that Abraham Lincoln was secretly gay).   And about not only the validity of the Catholic church's concerns when it comes to the DaVinci Code, but also about the irony of their current efforts against this recent tide of misconception, considering the fights the church has waged against scientists like Galileo and Darwin where they've tried to suppress real science in order to force their own misconceptions into the historical record and maintain political power.  

History is fickle, history is a hoot.   History is scary.

Why are there dozens of documentaries about Hitler's holocaust of the Jews, but almost none about Stalin's?  Stalin killed more people, you know.   Stalin just doesn't seem to have the same lure or staying power culturally - how come?

Why do so many Americans think of  European conquerers like Cortez as being inherently evil, while at the same time ignoring the genocides committed by the peoples they conquered?   After all, these were cultures that viciously expanded their own empires before the arrival of the white man - the empires of the Maya, Inca and Aztec were not built by people going from village to village, and asking politely if you wanted to join their club.   They committed the same horrors as the Europeans, they just didn't get into big boats and go across oceans to do it. 

And in a replay of that in today's world, w hy don't more people see that our mistakes in Iraq are not justified any more than Saddam's intentional atrocities were?   The attempts to force people of a different culture into being Christians vs the attempts to force people of different cultures into Democracy... what's different between then and now?  What's the same?  Why aren't both sides rationally talking about it and figuring out what the right thing to do is from here on out, instead of just picking sides and whacking away at each other rhetorically?

Actions - whether motivated by ethics or power - can work for the better good, or they can create a more difficult and devastating reality, and historical perspective and the truth, perhaps never the twain shall meet.   Stuff worth thinking about I think. 

And as a rule - a largely forgotten one in this day and age - arguing and thinking are not the same thing.

To get b ack to the starting topic, here are some more great rides of the American Revolution.  Very cool stuff.



MiniKiss versus Tiny Kiss

matt pond PA - "Emblems"

Sugarcubes - "Collection"

VH1's 100 Most Metal Moments

The Innocents



Sythe Cameron for just being Sythe Cameron

The Squid And The Whale - believe the hype

Blaggards - "Bog Songs"

• Clap Your Hands Say... no.    It needed to be said.

hybrid motorcycle



Wet Robot - "No Purr"

Swingin' In The Painter's Room

The Harvey Girls

Incident On And Off A Mountain Road

The Distillers - "Drain The Blood"



ma-shot-pa - "The Space Between"

Adam Freeland - "We Want Your Soul"

The Dixie Chicks on 60 Minutes

this is viral.

Slave 2 The Bean Designs - yep, that's us as the site's soundtrack



What Is Indie? - A new documentary on DVD that examines the various shades of being "indie", and what that term means exactly nowadays.  A fun watch,  I enjoyed in particular the rationalizations of people who want desperately to believe you can be signed to a major label and still be indie (big yuks from the Majestic Twelve over here about that one) - you'll agree with some stuff, and giggle at other stuff, but definitely check it out!  Plus,  since Kenyata advance ordered the disc in support of the project director Dave Cool thanked him in the credits, extra bonus points.

• Who doesn't love a Star Trek pop song?


Johnny Cool



Twelve Dolls - "Cars And Girls"

• Ron Odom's "Thoughts On Present Culture" in the most recent issue of  Avenue Magazine

Lady Snowblood

Hebrews  in bondage and they don't mean Ben-Hur

The Conqueror Worm



Hero Pattern - "Don't Even Miss Me" video

Mitch Hedberg - "Mitch All Together"

PPR - "8"

Philip Price - "Man Down"

Ashes And Snow



Goodnight Curses - "Down By Choice"

Jesus Loves Porn Stars

Adam Stennett

The Swingle Singers - "Surfboard"

• Indoor Life - "Ha Bi Bi" (the original Relativity version, not the Elektra one)



Loudon Wainwright III - "A Live One"

Erik Wayne Patterson

Killdozer - "King Of  Sex"

What Is This - "Mind My Have Still I"

Ryuichi Sakamoto - "Neo Geo"



Ghostface Killah - "Back Like That"

Monopoli - "Hit And Run"

Fear on Saturday Night Live, Halloween, 1981.

Cocteau Twins - "Orange Appled"

Kellie Coffey - "Texas Plates"



• A new British reality TV show chose five washed up ex-boy-band members, and gave them a challenge:  can you make a comeback?   The catch is... you have to do it in drag,  and actually pass yourselves off as a girl band this time around.  I shit you not.  It's called "Boys Will Be Girls",  and admit it -  you can't wait to see this little experiment in abject humiliation get played out over here in the States. 

You can start making your dream lists of  ex-stars to get tortured... now! 

Here's ours:

1. The guy from O-Town who said his management wouldn't let them write their own songs because they were "afraid of his talent."

2. Mike Love,  just because he's an arrogant prick.

3. Er... ok, we're done, and even Mike Love was obviously cheating.  Truth is, we just don't know much about boy bands.  But if someone does this show here in America, we're willing to learn.

Sadaharu - "Punishment In Hi Fi" (haven't heard the most recent disc yet)

Muppets Magic From The Ed Sullivan Show

Patty Griffin - "Chief"

New York Doll - in tribute to Arthur Killer Kane



• Last night on NPR I heard a reading from Hooking Up: Protective Pairing For Punks that stopped me in my tracks.  It's an amazingly powerful primer that was written to help straight male prisoners understand the "jocker-punk" behind bars relationship.  What was ostensibly meant as an assistance to new prisoners in an unwinnable situation  is to the rest of us - those of us outside the penal system - truly terrifying non-fiction.  

But when I went looking for a link for it this morning, and to find out more about the author (Stephen Donaldson), well that's when my ass really got kicked.  I knew him.  Well, that's an exagerration - I only met him a couple of times when my old band was playing up in NYC, and I think we were on a compilation alongside one of his spoken word pieces and only corresponded briefly - but Stephen Donaldson was better known to those of us in the late 80's/early 90's DIY scene as Donny The Punk.  Donny died of AIDS in about 1996.  I had forgotten about the things he wrote,  maybe even subconsciously blocked them out because they're so horrific.   You should read Hooking Up, but be forewarned - Stephen King ain't got nothin' on this.   Especially if  you remember the friendly and soft spoken man who wrote it.

Day Of  The Fight - "Take Your Oil"

Jeffrey Butzer - "She Traded Her Leg"  the whole CD, not just the song

The Frames - "Perfect Opening Line"

The Treniers - "Say Hey (The Willie Mays Song)" - in fact, listen to the whole WFMU radio show this link leads to.  Tons of great stuff from Kay Starr to The Queers.



The Gentlemen - "He Had A Mother Tongue"

The Foibles - "Theme Song"

Mr Encrypto - "Another Good Year"

Bedroom Heroes - "With Eyes In Sing"

Talk Talk - "Life's What You Make It"




Leon Ware - "What's Your Name?"

Helicopter Helicopter - "The Deep Sea"

Sturgeon General - "Mojave"

The Real Thing - "Rainin' Through My Sunshine"



• Lookout kids - my buddy Action Housecat just sent me a MP4 of what the new devL disc is gonna soundlike.  Prepare to get kicked in the face and love it.

Moral Orel

Tomahawk - "101 North"

Carlos Guitarlos - "When The Pain Stops Killing Me"

The Deadliest Catch



Stephen Colbert's Brass Cojones

Hell's Highway

City Of Men - absolute must see viewing

Teun Hocks

Steely Dan - "Gaucho"



The Steam Pig - "Bastard Ugly Everything" - my ol' buddy Boz just keeps on kicking ass!

Ozzy Osbourne for "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter"

• 9 The Film - clip here - trailer here - website here

Something Blue

• And while on the topic:   Sleepless In Seattle