What follows is C's fault...for posting the bit about Suede.
This is the Londoner Grill in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Sherwood Forest Blvd. across from the Celtic Center. I took this photo while I was staying in Denham Springs because I had business in Scotlandville.
Last night I found my self watching Live Forever: The Rise and Fall of Britpop...for like the sixth time. It weren't any better this time than it was the other five. I'm just easily distracted...easily amused and obsessive. So there you are. I was trying to find a clip of Suede's performance at the Brit Awards in 93....Animal Nitrate. It's been blocked on You Tube by BPI but, I thought I had seen it in Live Forever. I was wrong. In fact, Suede are given pretty short shrift...reduced in significance to a magazine cover. The film ought to be called Live Forever: The Rise and Fall of Oasis and Some Other Bands that Owe Their Existence to James Brown (the puffed up editor of Loaded magazine, not Macon, Georgia's own God Father of Soul).
They could just have easily called it How the Idea of America Manipulates the British Pop Psyche.
For our purposes the discussion begins with Jon Savage...
"The Pendulum (in the early 90's) had swung back to America. There's always this tic-toc, tic-toc, between the U.S. and the U.K. At least in the U.K. Often in America they don't give a toss about what's going on in the U.K."
And continues in part two...
(the usual warning about language when hearing from with these potty mouths)
The Elephant in the Room or How Americans Will Dance to Anything by Day-Pesh-Kamode
To my mind, some obvious questions arise in those passages from Live Forever. We're gonna get 'em sorted out...sussed if you like. None of them has to do with the sentiment of resentment toward American culture expressed by Jon Savage, James Brown, et al. as a matter of historical fact. Besides you can't argue with sentiment...sentiment just is. What we will try to do is address certain issues...one, what is American Culture? That might seem an impossible question to answer in a few paragraphs. It's not. Believe me it's doable. We'll talk about Budweiser.
Two, what does it actually mean to "Make it in America?" This seems to be a recurring issue with certain bands or elements of the British music papers. We may not be able to come up with a definitive answer to that question but, I think we can add emphasis to elements of it that are often overlooked. We'll listen to Band of Skulls do a Ford commercial (we may have to digress at this point and explain that Ford is not actually a British car maker).
Three, is it true that Americans don't normally give a toss about what goes on in British popular culture? I think by answering the first two question it will become obvious that Americans do...that Britain wields a tremendous influence in America. It's not exactly the same as wielding influence over the culture but, it's pretty hard to shape something that barely exists...and to the extent that it does exist, does so under extremely rigid parameters. /
Here is where I should say something about football...just to irritate Kibber but, one of the reasons I'm hiding this post in ridiculous, pretentious "fancy dress" is that there is no football right now and I'm bored out of my freaking mind.
Go Gators...six months from now.
I should also say a word about terminology. Those of you who read this blog know that I have no allegiance to this ridiculous notion of America (me and Spliff call it The Imperial Construct of America)...I'm a Southron and y'all know this. Making that distinction is not necessary, except where it is necessary, in the following discussion. So enjoy the rare instance where I will be including myself, and my people, among these other ragamuffins.
Also, also...we should get Canada out of the way before proceeding. We are honored to have, here at Flimsy Cups, Canada's greatest export..Spliff (aka Dread Pirate Jessica). You can read her thoughts and, if you're lucky, interact with her here on these pages. Nothing more need be said about that.
To be continued...
I know Adamparsons...red phone booths and double-decker buses. We're dealing, to a certain extent, in generalizations and stereotypes. Don't get your Bowler in a bunch. Go eat a crumpet and settle it down.
Friday night, as Martha and I sat on the couch, tryin' to get reaquainted after bein' apart for almost a week, we heard the familiar BE-Dink of a text message notification. We didn't recognize the number or...
Rather than call the police to warn them that the city of Jackson was in for serious trouble that night...we told 'em to rock it.
Where I drink beer, smoke cigarettes, try to catch up on promised posts...and fail.
Despite it all...it's still a great song. The point, which I'm not sure I ever really got around to was this...the cause orientation of the Clash seemed to fly in the face of what Punk might have been.
What we should have talked about was Mick Jones utter failure as a dancer.
Pretty Vacant is the money...although, I've recently been disappointed to discover that the line which I thought brilliantly read..."I don't believe in illusion/'cause too much ain't for real"...is actually "too much is for real." Boo. Still, I'd rather hear EMI.
Anyway...you can decide whether we're caught up or not.
Y'all know I spend a lot of time on the road...and if you're a careful reader you know I do a lotta diggin' on the radio. I've got my i-tunes but, nothin' beats a pleasant surprise.
One of the great things about being in Mississippi is that more often than not, the best things to come across the airwaves are the local products.
It's been almost a complete shutout in last few days as I've crisscrossed the fish bowl that this part of the world has become.
Not just songs either...Jerry Clower will often get some air time, in a city with any traffic, around rush hour. An obvious attempt to curb people's nerves...which, when you consider the amount of traffic we're talking about, demonstrates just how low the tolerance for interference of any kind is around here.
They broke mold...lotta broke molds around here.
We end with an appropriate highlight...we are sleeping in Slidell, Louisiana after all.
Last weekend, in an attempt to never leave the house again...ever, I watched a documentary about Joe Strummer. I'm not sure I learned anything new...I was already certain that John Cusack has nothing of interest to say about anything before he popped up in this pogram. I'd never really seen the timeline of his early life straight through like that...public school (boarding school we'd call it), the quasi-hippie days and the sense of having missed the revolution...his recruitment into Punk Rock....
Later in the week, I read an article about Conservatism and Modernism...the importance of Modernism in bringing about the kind of a-political, anti-ideaology, Conservatism that your author subscribes to...coming to tradition and belief through an absolute skepticism that anything can ever be known. Much of it focused on T.S. Eliot....but, the article glanced against Punk Rock describing it as the last Modern expression in Popular Culture.*
It was the last sight of, what one reader called, "manly nihilsm." The last unflinching look at a world without Authority and the consequences of such a situation.
It's here that Strummer comes back into the picture. That's where we'll pick it up...after tomorrow or, not. We can't talk about it today because this post is about to be buried.
Tomorrow, the Southeaster Conference will decide it's Champion as the Georgia Bulldogs and the Alabama Crimson Tide get after it in Atlanta. Y'all know we ain't missin' that.
Be here or be square punks!
*Here we could swerve into a lengthy discussion about the towering genius of Mark E Smith and the Mighty Fall but, we probably shouldn't. We should point to No Wave, strains of Hip Hop, and the Slackers of the author's youth as other examples...and so we have.
Last night, Martha bought tickets to see B.B. King in January. We're takin' the Big Man and I can't wait. He's still chapped about not being able to go in the clubs when we were on Beale St.. Every time I go to work in Memphis...I have to explain to him that I am not going to Beale. I'm going to the boring part of Memphis. He never looks very satisfied with that answer.
I was maybe ten before I had a stereo of my own. Before that I carried a tape recorder around. The only cassette I had was a collection of B.B. King's Hits. I just kinda took possession of it. Daddy didn't seem to mind too much.
He was up all last week.
Recently, Martha actually took some time to read the blog. "No wonder you love your job so much," she laughed..."your out there every day with your people." They're my Daddy's people too...and that's never lost on me.
As a kid, nothing tickled me more than his stories from the road. The seafood market owner that ran numbers...the murderous wives..."When you see that nigga you tell him I'm comin' to kill him"...collecting money in Jukes on a Friday nights...clearing out of a house with the owner because a snake had slithered into the kitchen. Nothing much has changed.
(Daddy was born in a house...probably deeper in the woods than Otis)
Macon, Georgia was the scene for a lot of these stories. The place has a kinda hold on him and he loves it but, I don't think it was always a happy time. He seems to have been kinda in between. He lived in efficiency and didn't own any more than could be thrown in an MGB...at short notice. Some clothes and a hi-fi.
He jokes about having pheasant under glass for Thanksgiving at Ocmulgee. Translation: sitting on the side of an Indian mound, drinking Wild Turkey...watching the river.
He laughs...a kinda squeezed cackle that I've inherited.
This was my view yesterday as I waited on the fella I was workin' with. We'd already been at one account for an hour. After the third or fourth false departure...I had to make it official. I'm professional sitter...a hall-of-famer but, we weren't sittin'. We kept gettin' up to leave...only to end up in a different part of the restaurant. A call would come in...an email. It just kept draggin' on. So, I told the rep I'd meet him at the next stop and said my goodbyes to the owner.
The next stop was a curb store...a block over from Church St. Curb stores in places like Indianola aren't just convenience stores. They are designated loitering spots. The dealer stands in front of the store. In this case, a big framed, solid brother, sauntering in front of the ice chests...casually swingin' his arms around his around his belly...hitting a fist against an open palm. Occasionally he'd step off the curb into the parking to meet a walk in customer...or lean into the passenger window of a car. Dirty drive through.
There's always a couple of old fellas holdin' up the wall...drinking from paper bags, lookin' for a dolla to hold. They hungry. A car swerves into the parking so the driver can holler at a friend...maybe one of the people that just seem to appear from nowhere, with no discernible purpose, other than to make a racket before disappearing. Just a lot of browsin'.
I'd sat there for thirty minutes. The dealer eye balled me a couple of times and then moved to the other side of the parking lot. He didn't offer...and nobody had bugged me for a dolla. I was beginning to think something was wrong when this kid came down the alley on a bicycle. He was barely pushin' the peddles fast enough to stay upright. It was comical. He was wearin' shorts, ashy legs, black socks and shower shoes...topped off with a sweatshirt. The hood pulled up over a big flat billed cap...it all came to a point about two feet above his eyes. This kid was teetering like he had a road cone on his head.
Then he saw the cigarette hangin' out of my window, pushed a little harder, straightened up and made a bee line for the truck.
"You gotta another cigarette bra...you got one for me?"
"Sure thing man...here."
"You...you gotta light."
"Brother...you ain't got nothin' but a habit do you?" I handed him a lighter.
He was obviously high...his speech was slow and deliberate but, his body was fightin' the control. there was a subtle jerk to his movements. He stared down the cigarette at the lighter...he was focused but, it took a couple of tries to get the square into the fire.
"A habit...oh yeah...people say I gotta habit..you gotta watch people around here. They try to lace you. They got me one time...put some crack in my cigarette."
"Tryin' to get you hooked huh?"
"Yeah...yeah...you gotta watch these folks. They'll lace you. They all know me 'round...I be hangin' around he-uh all the time. You...you need some weed or some crack."
"Naw...man. I'm here to work. I'm just waitin' on my partner to show up."
"You cool bra...you cool."..he thrust his fist through the window for a bump. "Not like these people 'round he-uh...they lace you man."
"Have another one man"...I handed him another cigarette and the fist came back through the window.
He straightened up best he could and went wobblin' back down the alley.
I was still gigglin' when my buddy showed up. We went in and got down to business. The stores run by and Indian fella that always seems a little frazzled and worn out with it...but, the cook, who must do more than just cook around there, is a real sharp brother who really gets engaged with the business of food. Then there was Forealla. I don't know exactly what this dood's role is in the store but, he got all up in our business...when he was inside.
"You gotta Guy-roo? Oh damn...God is good. We wus juss talkin' bout this last night. Forealla. We was talkin' about the Guy-Roo...We need the Guy-Roo...and here you is. Damn...God is good."
This cat buzzed like a bumble bee on somethin'...he was enthused. He was wearin' a flat billed cap too..shoved over a bale of tight dreads. Ear buds hangin around his neck. He kept goin' outside...to smoke. Then he'd jump right back in it...
"The Guy-Roo...we gotta get this foreallla. DAMN!"...and back out he went.
That's when it occurred to me that I'd forgotten something in the truck...before I could get to the door Forealla comes bustin' back in. I kinda shot on out to the sidewalk. There, filling the passenger window of a car, was the caramel coloured face of a maaaaaaaaad black woman.
"Wha' you need to do Motha ***** is Shut the **** Up!" She yells almost right into my face.
I have no idea what transpired between Forealla and this woman but, she was pissed.
Forealla couldn't let that go...so he comes back out and starts hollerin' at her...all the while the cars movin' through the parking lot until it gets parallel to my truck...where I'm laughing so hard I can't remember what I came out for.
Then the car stopped. I didn't here but, evidently Forealla had called this woman a Bitch.
This woman has been shouting the whole time and her voice is starting to strain a little bit but, it's not cracking. She wasn't gettin' hysterical...there was no fear of Forealla. No fear at all when she through the door open and let him know...
"I'mma show you who the Bitch is."
She went back to the trunk of the car. Her friend, who had been cackling through it all, calmly stood by the trunk bobbin' her head...eatin' pork rinds...while the lady flung it open and started diggin' around. The possibility of her comin' out of that trunk with a shotgun...was feasible. Still, me and one those people that just appear in these parking lots, were bent over laughing...what are you gonna do?
It wa'n't a gun...it was stick. A head crackin' stick
She was bent on dentin' that boy's skull. He knew it...and disappeared back into the store.
I love The Delta...the most Southern place on Earth.
Those buildings you see there are on Church St....that's where B.B. King (and whole host of others) first plied his trade.
Used to be a Turner Drugs on this corner...Easy Pay across the street. Radio stations from Yazoo City and across the Delta used to broadcast live sets from this spot...including sets from Elmore James.
I wasn't there for all that though...well, I was but that's not why they're payin' me. I was there to find a restaurant that didn't have a sign. I walked right by it...
Stickin' out of a door was the face of a goodin'...round and jowly with drooping blue eyes. An aloof expression under the bill of a ball cap. He had on, what looked like a dark blue work short and an old pair of jeans. I followed him inside...short fella and round but, spry. Maybe it was the puma racing shoes.
That was the first flare I noticed.
When we got under the lights of the bar I realized his work shirt was actually herringbone. Swanky but, not nearly as swank as his ball cap. The front of it glowed like the end of the rainbow. There was a cotton boll about the size of a child's first above the bill...covered in gold glitter. Delta Gold it said.
That's the Delta. The most Southern Place on Earth...so flat water wont run. Every town has the same rows of two story buildings. You'd pass right by the whole thing and never give it a second thought. You'd never guess those scruffy store fronts hide some of the best restaurants in the state...posh boutiques, book stores and art galleries.
Little Fred loves the Delta.
According to statistics it's the poorest place in the United States outside of an Indian reservations but, it's got some of the oldest, stinkiest money anywhere. This was the Victorian middle east....the cotton that fueled British textiles. Yazoo City, the southern point of the Delta, was originally called Manchester. When Southerners and Britons "cotton on" they are cottoning on to Delta cotton. It's also the source of nearly every popular music form in the Western World.
We are waiting...waiting for Isaac to turn hurricane. Waiting to see where it'll land. Waiting for Wednesday to see what, if anything, we're dealing with. Above all, waiting to make sure the **** cable's on Thursday night for South Carolina at Vanderbilt.
I was supossed to be on my way to Natchez this morning...then onto the Louisiana State Penitentiary...
Angola...red hats, Leadbelly, the Rodeo.
That trip's been cancelled. Not only are prisoners being transferred there from the Coast...people from south Louisiana have booked every hotel room from here to Dallas.
Folks are jumpy. If you live around here, especially south of here, hurricanes are just part of the territory. They don't come every year but they will come. Some are worse than others.
Kate was the worst one I sat through as a kid. Me and the Sister spent that night in the hallway just like them kids in the picture. Even in there we could hear the wind pushing against the house and pine cones pelted the roof at a rattling pace.
Of course, my parents, in true Cracker fashion, stood on the front porch gawking.
"D'you see that?"
Turns out what they were watching was the glow of tornadoes that were bouncing dangerously around the house. Just as the storm started to show the first signs of slowing, my brother pulled into the drive way. He had spent the worst of it trying to find a place to buy cigarettes. HA!
The real disaster became clear the next morning when we realized that, instead of being cut loose for a week while the school was shutdown, we'd be spending every hour of daylight picking up limbs and raking.
Some are worse than others...then there's Katrina. Seven years ago today, on a creepily similar path to Isaac, she reached her most vicious strength. Next day she came ashore on the western edge of the Mississippi Gulf Coast and erased it. The counter clockwise sweep of the storm took care of the rest...a 30ft wall of water mauled everything in it's path. Houses were blown to atoms, floating casinos were picked up and moved half a mile inland. More than 200 Mississippians lost their lives. Jackson is 160 miles from the coast. Katrina hit it us as a Category 2 storm.
For a minute that was the story. Then the levees gave way in New Orleans. Even though Mississippi had taken Katrina in the teeth, the Gulf Coast was almost forgotten. I read a story in the Guardian a couple of years ago on the anniversary of the storm. It claimed that New Orleans had been hit by a 30ft storm surge.
It conjured up images of the Quarter being crushed by giant waves...of Andrew Jackson being toppled in his square and, most horrifying of all, Crescent City Books being turned to pulp. Not exactly...that's what happened to Mississippi...the extreme northeastern edge of New Orleans sticks out between Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Borgne.* Except over land, there isn't really a clear path from the Gulf to New Orleans. To be sure, the water came and it was a disaster but it was not an obliteration event like the Coast had suffered.
Of course, one reason Mississippi didn't make as many headlines was because our governor, Hailey Barbour, came out the next day and declared that looters would be shot...and everybody knew he meant it.
Anyway, Isaac is not Katrina...and maybe once it passes maybe people can get back taking these things in stride and I won't have to cancel my &*&^ plans and spend the entire week in the office.
A Katrina stump...trees killed by the storm have been carved into fish, dolphins and birds from Gulf Port to Waveland. Reminders but pleasant.
*The French Quarter in New Orleans sits against the Mississippi River and being on that side it avoided most of the damage.
Even adamparsons might not be able to resist this one...there's a wiff of laser lights burning through dry ice smoke in it's epic sweep.
Because I live half my life in hotels I've developed routines that can be carried out in any room with a television and a wireless. Some stability of habit...like locking myself out of the room...is important.
Mostly I flip the channels looking for good-bad tv (not only do I love good-bad television..I like bad-bad television. Give me an hour of cars being repossessed or grainy footage of people trying to steal ATM machines...bliss). I smoke and read blogs.
My mind falls into the same meandering pattern it does on Friday afternoons in the office. An actor from an antacid commercial will appear as a victim on Law and Order...I'll wait for the credits and then google 'em. I'm on IMBD now...now Netflix where, of course, I can't find anything I'm looking for.
If there's no Ancient Aliens on t.v...no pop-up-video reruns of Jersey Shore...I'll throw the headphones on and wait for a distraction.
Last night's came when Wire popped up on the itunes...Heartbeat. A song that I hadn't heard for a long time until recently...a brilliant song and one of my favorite covers by Big Black.
Big Black to Steve Albini...Albini to the one of those records from the late eighties/early nineties that seemed to made specifically for me...Tweez by Slint.
Ron...the guitar bit that cuts through it like mechanical snake just floors me.
There's some language there in the beginning. I wonder if Albini is still in the habit of provoking outburst and recording conversations in the studio. For all his well earned credibility, that crap was mostly corny. The "touch my stuff" bit before Vamos on Surfer Rosa works...the "into field hockey players" does not. Here, when he genuinely seems to be begging for a new set of headphones is good. The "oh mans" seem phony to me.
Slint was actually an off shoot of a band that, in the distortion of a rear view mirror, developed legendary status...Squirrel Bait.
They were great...for a Husker Du tribute band.
I am a fan though (especially after what I made selling that first record a few years ago). One could do a lot worse than ripping off Husker Du.
The real reason Squirrel Bait has the cache that it does is because of the bands it spawned...Big Wheel, Slint, For Carnation, Tortoise, etc.
The picture that serves as a video for Good Morning Captain is the cover of the album Spiderland...the photograph was taken by Will Oldham.
The Brute Choir from Viva Last Blues.*
I think his cousin was in a band that pre-dated Squirrel Bait with some the members. At any rate he was from the same crowd in Louisville, Kentucky and members of Slint went on to play on Palace records.
We drove to Baton Rouge one Saturday afternoon and saw him play for about 45 minutes before they turned the lights on him. Closing time was 2:30 am and was strictly enforced that night. They got a cop off the street to make the announcement because everybody in the bar, including Oldham, was furious.
We had sat through 3 hours of local hacks, burnt up all our pocket money on the pool tables...we were all well oiled and now this? It was all worth it when Martha, the one that never colours outside the lines, got busted for snatching the set list. HA!
In a more direct line of sight is Tortoise. Slint split into two major projects...For Carnation and Tortoise.
Spiderland is sometimes referred to as the first Post-Rock record...well, here's Post-Rock at it's self-indulgent heights. At least Jim O'Rourke played the guitar.
I did go see 'em...at the karlstorbahnhof ...where, evidently they are still pushing the Post Rock.
Unfortunately for Tortoise....they had chosen Doo Rag as their opening act.
Tortoise didn't stand a chance and I don't remember anything those eggheads played that night.
The Sea and Cake was side project between members of Tortoise and a fella from Shrimpboat. To me they sounded like an airbrushed, honkier version of Thinking Fellers Union Local 282.
According to one website they only played about 15 shows in the 90's and I was at one of 'em...in an attic, in a building, in some German town I can't remember the name of. In fact, all I remember was buying a t-shirt with Bees on it and blacking out in the car on the way back.
Long before any of that (92 maybe) I saw Big Wheel (the other off shoot from Squirrel Bait) in a student union center at a college. What really stands out from that show is the opening act...a local band that did the greatest version of Sweet Child O Mine...evar! EVar!
It's a testament to the scope of Squirrel Bait that I've seen (what?) four acts that are direct heirs...and, with the exception of Will Oldham who is untouchable, three of those shows were just something to do. I owned their records and didn't go reluctantly but, I wouldn't have driven 300 miles round trip, like we did for Oldham, to see any of the others.
So, that was Wednesday night...because CSI was all reruns and because Kibber posted this Moon Duo clip back in June. I immediately downloaded it and have been beating it against my brain every since.
Having down loaded it...I wanted more fuzzy beats and more...eventually leading back to a couple of songs I had almost forgotten about...Cheree by Suicide and Heartbeat by Wire.
"This Malkmus idiot is some kinda song writing genius" Gary Young.
The last post was meant to be about the Boy...it got outta hand and now I'm obsessing.
My compulsive issues with The Fall are well documented, and mercilessly ridiculed by some, in these pages. Of course, it's not just the brilliance of Mark E. Smith that causes these bouts...brilliant though he is...there's a crack in my mind and right now it's being filled with nonsense and racket. Pavement.*
I've also finally figured out how to edit videos...kinda.
A tore-up but steady rhythm...when the lyric starts, with a squeal, it's stretched beyond melody. Then almost at the point of white noise it breaks into an Arena-Rock solid riff...claps and all...before descending back into jibbberish and noise. A slice of genius...this one.
"I forget sometimes how much I like them."
Unlike most of my obsessions, Martha's on board with this one. Not so much the Drag City, recording project stuff but, the actual songs that came later. By the time Slanted and Enchanted was released they were an actual band...for better or worse.
Elevate Me Later.
The Reflex by Duran Duran was once hilariously described as "cocaine set to music."** The crescendo at the end (2:10-20) and the breezy way it glides back to earth is about as close to the sound of a toke as you're likely to find.***
"Swingin' nunchucks like you just don't care"....If you want to know what my early 20's sounded like...when the past never crossed my mind and I had no notion of the future. I just was...here it is.
Looking back on it...not such a great time...mostly I was drunk but, the music was good.
There was one last great album...probably the best of the lot.
"They all sounded like hits to me...but I was smokin' a lot of pot." Malkmus on Wowee Zowee
For about six months Wowee Zowee was considered their first misstep...then a round of on-second-thought reviews started. The album was a masterpiece but, by that time the damage was done. The egos here were obviously more fragile than they may have appeared. I think it's what killed 'em. There were two more records but they didn't sound much better than the contractual obligations that they were.
Alright maybe that'll get it outta my system...thanks for humoring me.
*My Bloody Valentine is another recurring problem of mine...don't be surprised if I spend a month in the future posting When You Sleep every other day.
**Kibber did that.
***As a responsible parent I do not partake..and besides, it is illegal. Still, I am amazed that one can legally soak their brain in pure corn liquor but, grass puts you at odds with the law.
After that it goes squirrely. I spend a lot of nights in hotel rooms. Sometimes I sleep like a comatic...other times not at all. So, I always travel with some sleepytime. Sometimes I take it and don't lay down right away...sometimes I take it and try to post on the blog.
Corrections, edits and further elaborations in bold.
"Cant I for...forklift me"
Since the mid 90's certain desperate people...me...have been waiting for somebody to fill the small but noisy space that was created in Drag City, then abandoned, by Pavement.
That's one sentence...one terrible sentence. You should have heard how mangled sounded in my head.
"We're here for terrets...uh Tibet Tibet."
We've talked about these clowns before.
Apolitical, Un-In-Volved - "Music and Fame/A Career/Career/Career/Korea/Korea." "Obviously" they explained "it's a song about nuclear proliferation in Korea." I reckon they never got their spot on 90210. HA!
"In the court house's double breast/I'd like to check out your public protest/Why're you complainin'/Talk"
This is worth dwelling on at some point. They weren't just apolitical...they were unconcerned. It seems like every crop of kids either wants to tear the world down or make it a better place. At the very least they've got somethign to say. It's all very earnest...and predictable and boring. Pavement didn't seem to have anything to say...emotionally (we'll delve further into this on the N.W.A. post that's coming) and "politically" detached. Aloof like Nancy Sinatra in the video for these boots are made for walking. Awesome.
In a profound sense Pavement were an expression of anglophilia...punk/post punk imports, burning airlines catalouges, THe Young ones...we were all over it...except for the fashion.
Alright stop...just stop. These are notes not complete thoughts. The thing to do here would have been to start with the American influences...and then point out the profundity of British influence on their music. It gave them a different vocabulary than the "grunge" acts that came up at the same time...Cobain's love for the Vaselines not withstanding...that stuff was "classic rock" with Sonic Youth guitars.
It also suggested a certain kind of musical upbringing that progressed from new wave back to punk and on to post punk that a lot of people coming through the 80s went through...a lot of record collectors anyway. A vocal minority in a group that was small to start with.
Anyway...they maintained British references throughout. You can hear Malkmus at the end of Hit the Plane Down (another song that owes a great debt to The Fall)...repeating the line from The Happy Monday's song Step On..."you're twistin my melon man." One of the last singles they ever released was backed with covers of The Killingn Moon by Echo and the Bunnymen (y'all don't know what a freak I am for then do you?)and THe Classical!!!
Ayway I hashed it.
"Steve Malkmus never had an original thought in his life" Mark E Smith
It sounds for all the world to hear like the Pixies putting there juju on New Face in Hell. They ripped off Swell Maps too...like it was on clearance. Sonic Youth and Big Black...these were some dead serious record collectors. They weren't rebels and didn't a cause...just because was good enough. No anger...just curing knowing boredom with mischievous.
Every joke comes to a punch line...an end...and it was obvious almost from the start that, ultimately, four tracks couldn't contain 'em.
"mixin' cocktails with a plastic tip cigar"
This is Summer Babe..a single befor the first proper album was released. The songs brilliant but it's clear that our friends here..high on hard drugs and Chrome...are becoming post-punk's Beach Boys...not a bad thing at all as it turns out.
Video's a little goofy...but, it's fun enough I reckon...and the smile at the end is a perfect ending.
Not that it wasn't a beautiful thing to hear blossom. I'll put money and my left pinky on Crooked Rain/Crooked Rain...as the most effortless piece of noise/pop written in the last 500 years. It's Jan and Dean cuttin their own version of Pet Sounds in the garage....Elevate Me Later, Stop Breathin, Fillmore Jive, Heaven is a Truck....get out!
"Now the blood's blister/the blister's black"
There may be hope though...Thursday night I was recruited to be a music man. The Boy handed me a drum. Then, because we needed to be cool, he found us some "shades"...strapped the blue battered push button yamaha electric over his shoulder and checked the schedule (a dollar store ethesketch).
This needs some clarification...The Boy pulled out this cheapy ethcasketch and started runnin' his finger along it like an ipad to check our tour schedule. He was all business...HA!
"We have a show in you and mommy's room."
He walked in and immediately took possession of half the room...threw the neck of the guitar up around his ear and started bangin' the buttons...
You cut yo finger
You cut yo finger
You cut yo finger
the cops came
You lost you mind
You lost you mind
You cut yo finger
It was jaw dropping...that's all.
His momma had to hear this...so, I grabbed the "schedule" and announced that our next show was in the kitchen.
"Ok but you sing."
"No you're the singer man."
"No I don't wanna sing."
"But I don't know the words dude."
"Yes you do."
"You do know the words...the song is Jesus Loves Me."
That's how it goes round...around here.
Whatch out y'all he's got just enough ramshackle in him to pull it off...and he's got the hair for it.
The real tragedy here is I couldn't embed a video for Heckler Spray.
Among those that know me...I am known for self control and restraint. Master of my appetites, I am a paragon of sobriety...typical Southroner.
Having said that, there are two things I am powerless to resist...and I gorged myself on them this weekend.
One is boiled peanuts...
I will eat cold boiled peanuts until they run out or I pass out.
Then there's banana pudding...
and the less we say about that the better...people from my church read this blog.
Besides...what more could be said after this.
We've talked this bunch before...the trashier little sister of the B-52's who was given a bottle half full of corn liquor and a copy of Cracker Culture for a pillow but, otherwise neglected and left to her own devices.
A reader set me off on this jag by mentioning something that had nothing to do with Southern Culture on the Skids on her own blog. You know who you are...Kibber.
Perfectly Southron weekend.
*While looking for a picture of a peanut stand I came across an article in a new york paper encouraging people to eat boiled peanuts. The author called it strange...then said it was strange again to boil peanuts..."unlike the traditional roasting." It would be like me saying it IS strange but people in Japan use soy beans to make a sauce. Not that it may sound strange to us where peanuts have little to no impact on our culture...it IS strange. Morons.
Yesterday I's in Merigold...north of Cleveland and just south of Mound Bayou. If you're on 61 travelling north...take a left when you see the Dollar General on your right. Almost immediately you'll come to a trailer on your right that's sitting in the middle of a cemetery that hasn't had a burial since the 1880's...there are decaying tombstones in the front yard of this trailer. Take a left down the gravel road...and shortly you'll come to Po Monkey's.
To the delight of American Studies types, it still sits on the edge of a cotton field...where it's been for 50 years.
I've never had the pleasure actually. As much time as I've been spending up here though, we should be able to fix that.
I tell where I have been though...where we had a lot of good nights...The Subway Lounge in Jackson on Pearl St.
Of course, it's gone now. Robert Mugge made a documentary about the place in 2003...Last of the Mississippi Jukes. It pops up on IFC and other cable channels every now and again. I think at the time they were trying to save it but...it had been a death trap for decades.
Some times I hated the place. There could be this smug air, at the long table, of young Democrats slumming so they could tell their kids they used to hang out with black people. Very unfair and really kinda ridiculous on my part...but the loosened ties, awkward head shakes and table taps made it hard not to be a little skeptical.
Mostly I just loved it.
The last time we were there...me and Martha emerged on to Pearl St. with the sun in our eyes. Watched as the drummer was dragged out onto the sidewalk and waited to see him hauled in the back of an ambulance.
The place closed daybreak Sunday morning. They served beer there til around midnight. After that you had two options...bring your own booze or buy cans of Bud from the house next door.
I thought about the place yesterday as I sat in the car across from Po Monkey...and thought about Tom Schweers. He was a good buddy of mine...was a groomsman in my wedding. Until a couple of weeks ago, last I knew he was an officer in the Navy. Now I don't think he's with us any more. I ran into a mutual friend, J, the last time I was in New Orleans and the news wasn't good. Tom's daddy died of Huntington's disease and J said he had been diagnosed too. When they last they spoke he was in bad shape...that was five years ago.
There were no signs of deterioration the last time me and him were in The Subway Lounge...except for that brought on by Irish Whiskey. Man he loved that stuff. I tell you what else he loved, evidently more than life itself...lily white brunettes jittering in short red britches.
The place could really get rowdy after about 2am...really. That night it was laaate and we were standing...propped up...on the back wall when right in front of us, this girl jumps up and starts shaking like she's gettin' paid for it. Tom, high as a Georgia pine, locked in and, completely ignoring the two gigantic brothers that were with her, made a bee line for her. I grabbed him, pulled him back against the wall but...he was on a mission. Her friends I taken notice and after the second lunge, I dragged him up the stairs and out.
Since neither of us were in any shape to drive there was nothing to do but walk back to his place in Belhaven...after buying another six pack, of course. You'd really have to know Jackson to know just how extremely dangerous that walk was but...not as dangerous as the certain clobbering we were facing inside. We left a trail of freezing beer cans all the way home. I'm not even sure if we opened any of 'em. Fools and drunks...his sister never spoke to me again. I always got the blame.
I hate it that we got separated. I hate it that the Subway's gone. I reckon that's just how it goes.
We're gonna take a break from April...I don't think the blog can take it.
I'm in The Delta this week and it always deserves some attention.
About halfway between Ruleville and Cleveland on 8 you come to Dockery Farms.
If you were looking for the beginning of the Blues...the birthplace...this is about as close as you can get. Charley Patton worked here and played his guitar.
There are speakers planted all around these buildings. You push a button and you can hear Patton and others as you walk around the grounds.
Patton's a fascinating character. He embodies all the complicated murky issues that surround the music and it's origins...race, identity, proprietorship. He was black, white, and Cherokee...he played what we'd call country music too. He weren't born in The Delta...he was born down in Hinds county between Edwards and Bolton.
BUT...everybody from Robert Johnson to John Lee Hooker, Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters came to hear Charley play.
Did somebody say Muddy Waters?
Un******touchable! Makes me want to kungfu chop the desk in two.