a new low in topical enlightenment

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Issue #32 (February 10, 2010)

San Pedro, California

Photo by Mike Watt

Drawing by James Fotopoulos

From the desk of Joe Carducci…

Decibel Magazine interviewed David Chandler, Scott Weinrich, Mark Adams, Armando Acosta, and myself on the making of Saint Vitus - “Born Too Late” (SST 082), which was recorded soon after Wino joined the band in 1985. The seven-page feature includes two photographs by Naomi Petersen that haven’t been seen before; it’s not on-line but it's something to look for at the newsstand.

L.A. Record has an interview up with Dave Chandler.


Henry Rollins on BBC.


CST's profile of Ric Addy, proprietor of Shake, Rattle and Read, one of the more interesting shops in Chicago, and where I found a record-less cover of the United States of America album to go with my cover-less record of same.


Kicksville cache, Lester Bangs' letters to Miriam Linna:

“I mean, I love the Ramones and Clash and Richard Hell and Talking Heads and all of ’em too, but it’s not exactly the most expansive, effusive, warm-blooded music ever made. Suit’s the time ‘n’ all that, I know, I know, but jeez it feels cold and bleak out here (or in here) sometimes… I mean, I ask you, WHERE ARE THE PAUL REVERE AND THE RAIDERS OF 1977-8? (I’m totally serious about that.)”



This piece has a lot of detail about ONO that is news to me. Of course we at Thermidor didn’t know much about them when we put out their two albums, “Machines That Kill People” (1984), and “Ennui” (1986); we just liked the noise. The piece also has Travis’ mid-70s Cleveland stories with interesting Peter Laughner recollections.

Listen to the recent ONO session at Coach House Sounds studio.

ONO upcoming perfs this month in Chicago:

•16 - The Whistler "Sycamore Trees"
•19 - First Pres. Church/Woodlawn Collaborative/OpenMIC
•27 - Mortville "In Every Dream Home a Heartache"

[Photo: ONO, Coach House Sounds, Chicago, Ill., by Joe Carducci]


Binky Philips of the Planets, eyewitness to the founding of Kiss… and a few months later on Isis trying to follow Kiss.


Trip Henderson sits in on harmonica around NYC during February:

•15 - Parkside Lounge 3rd Monday Old Time Jam, hosted by Whistlin’ Wolves (9pm)
•16 - WKCR (89.9 fm) w/ Honky Tonkin Radio Band (9:30 - 11pm)
•19 - Jalopy w/ Frank Shaap (8pm), Redbird Round, Whistlin’ Wolves (10:30pm)
•20 - Banjo Jim’s w/ Whistlin’ Wolves (10pm)
•23 - The Rodeo Bar w/ The Second Fiddles (9pm)


WSJ on the Film Forum’s forty years.


James Parker on I Am Ozzy:

John Osbourne: “I remember this bloke getting me in a headlock and trying to punch my teeth out, and all I can hear on the jukebox is this kumbaya bullshit being tapped out on a fucking glockenspiel while some knob-end with a voice like his marbles are in a vice warbles on about 'strange vibrations.’”


Screw the Rules -- Your Channel.

I’m worried about Judy McGrath. She’s always out front whenever MTV makes some big announcement that alters the direction of our very pop culture foundation! You know, like this big Snookie thing going on. But she’s nowhere to be seen. I hope she isn’t out on the ledge over this end of Music Television thingy. Who knows, Judy, Sumner might have one more wife left in him.


Inner Mongolia’s last steam trains.


Christopher Hitchens' review of The Cleanest Race, by B.R. Myers.

He credits Myers with revealing the rightist-racist regime the former communist state has become. “The whole idea of communism is dead in North Korea, and its most recent ‘Constitution’ has dropped all mention of it. The analogies to Confucianism are glib.” Well perhaps… depending… but the polar opposite of America with its convulsive succession of youth-cults, is not so much communism as more fundamentally gerontocracy -- what the technically modern state becomes when it’s left to pre-modern social devices. Any tyranny that doesn’t consume itself quickly as in the French First Republic or Germany’s Third Reich, goes static and as the Party ages it must first find something to do with its young males. Some enemy to throw them at. Lenin oversaw Russia’s cultural revolution, though Mao’s is the one we remember by that term. We see this now again and most diabolically in Arabia when the patriarchs collect third and fourth wives -- removing young women from their cohort and then encouraging the young men to embrace their futurelessness via jihad and death. With North Korea, it has seemed to me likely that we -- the US, Japan, South Korea, and the west -- will be lucky if we find that the Kim family regime might have been tipped over with the slightest of bluff-calling and only the past masses of starved and crushed North Koreans will pay. If we are not so lucky, many people may die by bio, chemo or nuclear attacks in Northeast Asia, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, or Madrid or London or Los Angeles or New York, for who knows where they will ship what they have manufactured.

Regarding America, it is the far-enemy of all such gerontocracies, and the attraction its popular culture has for the youth in them makes it a near-enemy, even an internal-enemy as well. As I’ve written before, they don’t fear America as a threat to control them so much as they fear that our example will unleash their own pent-up energies which any patriarch -- those in Pyongyang, those in Qom -- understands as the threat of chaos and their fall.


It takes Jane Mayer close to ten thousand precious New Yorker words to argue that President Obama and Attorney General Holder have not actually deviated from the Bush administration’s Justice Department’s handling of terrorists, though that treatment nevertheless caused damage to the country worse than any terrorist has inflicted. Or maybe it takes that many words to disguise a mash-note to two hunks of her dreams. The WSJ says something similar in a tenth the time but then it isn’t toting around such unwieldy pretenses while uh… distracted.


Three Irish Kings of County Cook

The case of the booby-trapped Lieutenant Governor is a pretty interesting window into the white male urban demimonde. Not the tattooed-up PBR drinkers of America, but the slightly overweight, Bud Lite drinkers of the lower middle class. These have often had a false start or two in their work-lives and their love-lives and the rapidly moving modern world must seem to them a mysterious party that they aren’t invited to but can’t help dream of slipping into. The Illinois Democratic Party primary ballot is always full of these guys. The winners tend to be connected to existing powers in the city, county or state government, or sometimes they are dry, reform obsessives like the young Pat Quinn, an aide to Gov. Dan Walker who made his name via the media and the founding of the Citizen Utility Board to keep an eye on Commonwealth Edison. His best claim to fame in my book is his successful drive to shrink the Illinois legislature from 177 to 118, but he was really stung by Dan Hynes’ recent television ad featuring the late Harold Washington on video explaining of his hiring of Quinn as city revenue director. It was a shocking split on the reformist side back then.

Well, Scott Lee Cohen must be some kind of a lumpen-genius because he won touting his job-fairs in ads when no-one knew who he was. He is a self-made millionaire pawnbroker. He candidly underlined his early failings (some of them anyway) when he earnestly threw his name and money into the race, but the newsmedia had more important things to bore us with. Cohen appeared with his ex-wife on television last week in effort to fight for the place on the ballot he had won. Then three days later at the half-time of Superbowl XLIV their two boys plus his fiance and her boy were beside him weeping as he resigned his ballot position. He stepped down to keep from hurting the Democrats but I think Governor Quinn (himself elevated to Gov from the Lt. Gov position when ex-Gov Blagojevich embarrassed his party or committed crimes, I forget which) has not saved himself.

While this went on last week, Speaker Madigan was silent and Mayor Daley pointedly refused to pile on: “So anybody who’s allegedly -- who’s arrested and the case is thrown out, should not run for public office. Is that right? You want that done? I’m just saying, it’s a very complicated issue.” At first I figured this was just more evidence that the city Dems are ambivalent about having another Democratic King downstate with his own corn-belt constituency. The Cook Country Dems have often given indication they were more comfortable leaving the Governorship to a Republican. But Daley and Madigan also know who Cohen is, and how many others like him fill the neighborhoods. Daley is even less well spoken than Cohen and it famously took him three tries at the bar to become a lawyer. He is one of those guys -- as gifted as he actually is. Madigan did the deed with Cohen, and yet Cohen thanked him and Daley too in his press conference, “I want to thank Mayor Daley for coming out, being a gentleman. I want to thank Speaker Madigan, who met with me on a personal level to give me advice, give me some reasons why it would be best for me not to be on the ballot.” Reformer Quinn on the other hand let the professional pols do his dirty work, while he never even spoke to Cohen. Quinn called a press conference for Monday morning to try to get back into his own story and oddly, to get a little of that Cohen magic, just in case: “I think anyone who’s human would be sympathetic to a man who spoke from his heart…. I met him on the campaign trail and I always found him to be a person who had a real heart for the working people…. It's never easy making those decisions, and I commend him for doing that, for making a decision that puts our state and our party and our country ahead of personal interests."

Quinn is at the top of the ballot, not Daley or Madigan, so the Democrats will lose the votes of these neighborhood guys, at least the white ones, to the Republicans in Illinois. The Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell stepped on the last of Cohen’s fingers clinging to his rationale by noting that Illinois has denied 13,000 hunting licenses and fishing permits over unpaid child-support payments. Very true, and those are 13,000 natural Democratic votes thereafter up for grabs to the Tea Partyers and/or the Republicans. Its true that divorce law doesn’t weigh so pitilessly on these guys as it did back when Perot was in the game. Politicians responded to them, recognizing that while a professional might raise two families, a working stiff cannot. Union jobs aren’t there anymore and the service economy offers greater options to working class women.

Election day addendum

Interesting recent articles from the dailies, but overall I’m struck by the poor quality of the coverage, especially the television coverage on election night. Usedtobe, Chicago’s six or seven stations sent dozens of reporters and anchors out across the city and county and state to run live coverage of the count. Many of those reporters are now national fixtures: Ray Suarez, Sheryl Atkisson, Lester Holt and others. And each station had its own specialist; some of these are still around but they are not central to the coverage anymore.

John Kass flashes back to the Democratic Convention Illinois unity breakfast which turned into an Oprah show. What you need to know about the vid is that Jesse Jackson Jr. one year later was trying to buy what Blagojevich was selling, but the john always gets off.

Lynn Sweet’s rundown on Speaker Madigan.

Kass takes his eye off the ball, onto William Cellini, Republican.

Green urinals, copper pipes, city hall is a union shop, just say ‘no’ to PVC and open the windows.


Christopher Caldwell in the FT on One Step back for mankind.

“The debate over Nasa bears some resemblance to the debate over Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent: whether it is efficient or not, if you do not maintain such a programme, you will lose the skills that enable you to have one at all.” The story also fits with the feminization narrative one sees as women have taken over education by norming the girls, pathologizing the boys who more and more leave school before college. The feminists of the Democratic Party would zero out Nasa as well as the military for social welfare spending if they weren’t of use to the party as jobs programs.


Ishmael Reed on the film Precious in the NYT.

There’s a whiff of the Scott Lee Cohen/Child-support blues in the brothers’ ’hood too, only here/there it’s the black woman who has the greater options which lays additional pressure on the man who won’t be going to college, or working in an office, or writing mystery novels.


Alice Kaplan, The Nation, “Ghostly Demarcations: On Ramon Fernandez”, a review of a son’s memoir of his father, “an esteemed literary critic who became, from 1936 to 1943, the self-appointed ‘minister of culture’ for a fascist populist movement led by Jacques Doriot, the former communist mayor of Saint Denis.”


Obituaries of the Week

Phillip Martin, Moses of the Choctaw, in the WSJ.

Andaman Bo tongue extinct.

"It is generally believed that all Andamanese languages might be the last representatives of those languages which go back to pre-Neolithic times," Professor Abbi said.

Felice Quinto, Paparazzo Zero.


New York Times vivisection

There must a big position opening up on the editorial page because film critic A.O. Scott had two think-pieces in the Sunday NYT. Frank Rich must think he has the stuff. Think again, I’m afraid. Scott’s “Apolitics and the War Film” is premised on what the NYT seems to understand as the likely appetite of its readership across the university faculties of this great land for films which “show” positive political awareness. Reluctantly and gently Scott and by extension the Times in its cultural mode, delivers filmmakers from this agit-prop charge. The least they could do on the Arts page, but this was Week in Review. Scott’s piece doesn’t really number the films that did paint the nightmare Vietnam scenario for Iraq and failed, as drama of course, but as teachable moments as well since nobody saw them. It’s that the better films begin with an un-ideological acceptance of war that Scott wastes our time fathoming. Even worse is his “Turncoats who become Heroes”, especially considering he probably reads his own paper and saw David Brooks’ “Messiah Complex”, a far smarter and more succinct treatment of the common new-left fantasy of being down with the brothers against the Man, only in outer space or back in the olden times.

Elisabeth Bumiller in NYT, “A Well-written War, Told in the First Person” is yet more spoon-feeding harsh realities to the sensitive NYT subscriber list (portrayed in those TV ads as Whole Foods hipsters looking for a mirror on weekends). Here it's war literature actually written by soldiers who were there. Imagine, not a NYT subscriber among ’em by the sound of it.

The unsigned “Abstinence Education Done Right” editorial would have been written by Gail Collins a few years back but now is likely written by the remaining editorial masthead female, Carla Anne Robbins, the deputy editorial page editor. I’m just guessing the nervous, too-subtle-by-half word-exercise must have been written by a woman well drilled in the evasion of all that went wrong with the sexual revolution for women. Now there’s a hurt locker.

“The New Math on Campus” by Alex Williams was in the Sunday Styles section so it shies from deep sociology other than the numbers themselves. Apparently the Ivy League schools tend to tilt male still, but elsewhere when schools made to use an affirmative-action for males “the US Commission on Civil Rights moved to subpoena admissions data from 19 public and private colleges to look at whether they were discriminating against qualified female applicants.” Very funny. But I love this construction: “In this way, some colleges mirror retirement communities, where women often find that the reward for outliving their husbands is competing with other widows for the attentions of the few surviving bachelors.”


Brasilian “sub-imperialism” feared on the Left by the Left as it seeks a successor to Lula da Silva.


FT preview on Canada’s choice to host the G7 at Iqaluit, capitol of Nunavut, where “Canada’s east coast seal hunt is the world’s largest… ‘Putting seal meat on the G7 menu can only be seen as a deliberate provocation to EU representatives,’ said Arlene McCarthey, a UK member of the European parliament and one of the main proponents of the EU ban.” How un-Canada-like, maybe they’ll win these Winter Olympics.


The Hockey News has a nice issue on the stands valorizing the hockey jersey through history.


The Tribune’s K.C. Johnson on the Bulls’ Tyrus Thomas.

Johnson is finally telling what he knows here as he seeks to call the trade of Thomas before it happens. Yet he is at pains to salvage his yet-to-deliver narrative of Coach del Negro should’ve been fired. Not Orwellian enough for the sports page, K.C.

(thanks to Steve Beeho, Jay Babcock, Andy Schwartz)

The DuPage River, Naperville, Illinois

Photo 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

1 comment:

  1. Joe, can I request some writing on Repulse Kava at some point in the future? I just scored their LP off of ebay (a deal at $7.99 + s/h!), and there is a dearth of info about them on the web.
    That record is amazing, and seems to point the way to several bands that came in their wake, from various regions' undergrounds.
    Thanks for your consideration.