a new low in topical enlightenment

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Issue #1 (July 8, 2009)

An Introductory Note
from Chris Collins

The New Vulgate is the weekly digital journal of a small consort of individuals flung across the continental United States which hereby arrogates to itself the authority to ruminate on a variety of topics which will include but not necessarily be limited to:

literature. cinema. technology. politics. philosophy. music. media. international relations. metaphysics. culture. humor. time. geography. sex. physics. communication. arts. human relations. cosmology. photography. psychology. education.

as well as the authority to present largely visual objects of possible aesthetic and/or entertainment value including but not necessarily limited to:

photographs. paintings. sketches. film stills.

and to offer links to objects and websites of possible interest from various corners of the internet.

That being established, let transmissions begin.
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Still from Harry's Passion (2004), video by James Fotopoulos

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From the desk of Joe Carducci

The new issue of The Big Takeover (64) has a good Pt 1 piece on The Controllers, and one on their label What Records?‘s Chris Ashford. Waxpoetics (35) has the Mahavishnu Orchestra story in nice detail. Punks get along, and hippies hate each other, I think I can boil those stories down to that.

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The New York Times sent their rehabbed media columnist David Carr to write up rehabbed grainbelt rocker Jeff Tweedy and the Wilcos. Like most winners in these days of not-overnight success, it turns out Tweedy is competitive and ambitious, at least according to some guy who used to be in Soul Asylum that Carr knows from his Twin City Reader days. Jeff married the second most important club manager in Chicago, Sue Miller so there could be something to that. (The most important club owner, Joe Shanahan turned him down I guess.) Tweedy was the better half of Uncle Tupelo -- Jay Farrar always sounded like the dude from They Might Be Giants to my ear -- not very downstate.

But there are two other bands that really did the job on midwest country psychedelia that the rock press and public radio authorities keep crediting to Jeff. Those bands would be Souled American, from Chicago and now downstate Franklin, and Grandpa’s Ghost, from Pocahontas, Illinois. If there was all this “progress” and “transgress” on the Wilco albums you certainly wouldn’t have the tastemakers Carr calls up like Rita Houston of WFUV and David Dye of WXPN touting them. Souled American last got attention in The Believer as a trigger for some writer’s fantasy piece about his idea of them as band-phantom -- kind of like that genius’s remake of the “Damaged” album from memory by numbers. No-one writes about Grandpa’s Ghost even though they have released more albums than the rest combined in the last ten years. (And that doesn‘t count hours of work you must risk eyeball trauma watching Fotopoulos video to hear.)
[Inset image from Scene of the Crime video by Fotopoulos (2004), soundtrack by Grandpa's Ghost]

David Fricke, who might just know better, claims in the new RS that Wilco’s been running from the obvious for most of this decade. I guess if you frame the obvious as the Jonas Brothers (on the RS cover), or Rob Thomas (the feature review this issue) you aren’t fully dead wrong. Speaking of dead the MJ issue of RS is probably out tomorrow. The best thing I read about Jackson was Jim Fusilli’s piece in the WSJ July 1st, How Jackson Did It. It was about his best music.

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The media and the diplomatic strata worldwide has allowed the worst regimes to norm their rhetoric to the point President Obama thought he was going to sit down and reason with them. When the Ayatollah ordered up a victory for God and the losers objected, that plan blew up. Big media was about to bury the Bush doctrine once and for all and crown the Obama doctrine for delivering proper hard-nosed, goo-goo, geo-green results in Lebanon and then Iran. Columnists and editorials touted the defeat of Hezbollah in Lebanon and then ramped up for Iran. NY Times editor Bill Keller dispatched himself to Tehran to handle the crown, and Joe Klein of Time was there for same. Instead the story was told by tweet, text message, email and cellphone video by people in the streets.

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Thee Graydon Carter, who stitched his Vanity Fair Editor’s Letters together in a book called What We’ve Lost (the text most experts credit with heading off the otherwise immanent Bush-Cheney coup) which was published as a favor by Farrar Straus & Girroux, winning the coveted “Recommended for Public Libraries” rating from Reed Business, seems to have lost out on both the Iran and Michael Jackson stories. Luckily Carter focused like a laser on stories ripped from last year’s headlines: Sarah Palin (Final Days!), and Heath Ledger (The Lies, the Meltdowns, and the Moose-Size Ambition!). I’ll miss Vanity Fair.

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On Sunday June 19 at 1:45pm Eastern over CNN's GPS progrum, Professor Sree Sreemivasan of Columbia University described the Cable News directors as having to "curate" the video and pictures coming out of Iran via the web. He must've been trying to impress host Fareed Zakharia, or maybe he thought he was on George Stephanopoulos' program -- neither’s feet touch the ground. I thought I was listening to New York rock critics discuss the Grammys on Charlie Rose. The Curating Must Stop!

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Lee Abrams formatted FM radio in the early seventies; now watch him get paid to feed his fat face coast to coast on WGN America. I prefer the old WGN of Diver Dan, Ray Rayner, and dubbed Bergman movies at 1am on schoolnights. Abrams is the Tribune Company’s Innovation Chief. He flies himself to cities to check out their municipal cuisine atrocities. Wind-shear can be a beautiful thing. Maybe Lee knows why suddenly we have to listen to Bush and Foo Fighters all over again in all rock and pop formats.

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Minutemen Double Nickels on the Dime 25th Anniv event is becoming an official event with at least Mike Watt attending. It‘s put together by Mike Fournier who wrote the Continuum volume on the album.

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Roctober mag’s Black Punk rundown is expanding online.

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For those entering the Albany Country Fair Demolition Derby July 25th in Laramie, Wyoming, I have been asked to underline Rule #2: No alcohol allowed in the pit! Just because the whole point is to smash into other cars does not mean you may drink. See you at the Junior Meat Breed & Market Goat Show.
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Drawing by James Fotopoulos

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In the Verdugo Mountains above Los Angeles

Photo by Chris Collins
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In the waters off Los Angeles

Photo by Mike Watt
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From the desk of David Lightbourne

So there’s Stephanopoulos asking Delaware’s former Permanent Senator and provisional Friend of Imus what he makes of Sarah Palin’s resignation. George has already suffered decades of Biden non-answers -- elaborate, unctuous, ornate, inexorably in motion toward a self-serving flourish. Joe has a kind of telegenic charm not even false teeth and hair plugs can entirely diminish.

He putters around in the political clutter Palin drags around behind her like a series of kitchen spills. The vice-president has no dog in this hunt and can now relax right there in the Kleig-light glare of this pro-forma inquisition.

Joe ends a chain of clich√©, conventional wisdom, palaver and nonsense on nothing less than a Palin-scale high plateau, cleaving all but the heart of the artichoke. He observes that, to a significant extent, Gov. Palin’s announcement had been “a personal decision… and I think we have to respect that.”

Biden undoubtedly knows that Todd Purdum the author of Vanity Fair’s recent scurrilous slash-and-burn feature on Palin will appear next right there on Meet the Greek. He has no dog in the hunt but has a dog’s nose and detects numerous noxious scents. He suffers constant duress from handlers forever cautioning him not to step in it.

Indeed, the level of vituperation in Vanity Fair’s hatchet attack would force certain “personal” decisions on any politician, though the context be as personal and non-public as a Wal-Mart parking lot. The hatchet only narrowly missed and Palin now has an even larger Eskimo Spitz in this hunt, coincidentally a public crusade for all that is good about America. (Always cunning, Sarah has not yet declared publicly whether Vanity Fair is good for America.)

What Biden fails to realize are their shared traits of innate character. Overripe phrases spill from Sarah’s bee-stung flip-flopping lips as from a drain-spout into a rain barrell. Joe might have to duck her next water balloon. His sin and her sin are identical -- both doomed species of metastatic hypocrisy.

Biden insists we ought to “respect” the situation Sarah Palin found herself in last week -- in fact a landscape of ad hominem vilification hauled down from the high regions of Graydon Carter’s legendary intellect and judgmental prudence. Yes, Joe, we have to respect that if every bone in our head could can achieve that level of chickenshit. Joe, you continue to never change.
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In the Snowy Range Mountains of Wyoming



Photos by Joe Carducci
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• The New Vulgate
• Joe Carducci, Chris Collins, James Fotopoulos, Mike Vann Gray, David Lightbourne
• Copyright retained by the writer, artist, or photographer

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the Souled American tip. I knew there must be other torchbearers out there. Re: Grandpa's Ghost--Anybody know what Ben Hanna is up to out there in Brooklyn?

    ReplyDelete