a new low in topical enlightenment

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Issue #47 (May 26, 2010)

Sunrise in San Pedro

Photo by Mike Watt

Eyes Squeezed Shut
(Or, You Could Go Blind! Or Fat!)
(Or, Frenchmen Do Get Fat!)

By Carolyn Heinze

I can see why they didn’t put the Gérard Depardieu masturbating scene in the trailer. It wouldn’t make for good box office results. O.K. sure all right fine, if it had been Gérard Depardieu masturbating back in the Seventies it would have been an entirely different story. Back in the Seventies, Gérard Depardieu was kinda hot. But Mammuth came out just a couple of weeks ago, so in this film he’s all modern and masturbatory and present tense and present time and present decade and present day. And not to be shallow, but when you see Gérard in the flesh? In that full-fledged full-frontal fleshy façon ? Well not to be shallow or anything, but he’s gotten kind of . . . fleshy. (And get your minds out of the gutter — geez! — I’m not talking about that.) Actually, not to be to shallow or anything, but he’s...well he’s actually gotten kind of fat. Less in that jolly “ho-ho-ho” kind of way and more in that “wheeze-hack-wheeze-will-he-make-it-to-the, uh, climax” kind of way. So you can see where I’m, er, coming from.

D’abord : Some clarification, some precision, some facts, in the interest of actual accuracy for accuracy’s actual sake. In all actuality, in that (anti) climactic scene Gérard Depardieu is not actually technically masturbating. This is le show beez after all — there’s another droopy old fat-guy actor doing it for him. And technically, in all actuality, in the full-fledged-fleshy-full-frontal sense, you don’t see everything, tous, la totale totally fully up-front. But suggestion is worth a thousand unwelcome images as I like to say, and in Mammuth’s mammoth masturbation montage, you kinda — don’t look! — see enough. Or you kinda sit back, right there in the dark, and you close your eyes, or more like squeeze them tightly shut, so tightly shut that you kinda smudge and smear and stream your salon-issue swag mascara that you filched off a friend who works in such fields, and you sit back, voluntarily voraciously vision-impaired, hopefully not thinking of England and hopefully-definitely not thinking of the Queen, but hoping, with hope-inspired hope, with hope for hope’s sake, for it all to be hopefully over and wistfully, wantingly, wishfully, willfully thinking about Something Else. Like Gérard Depardieu’s career.

And here’s what you conclude: For a big-name, big-deal, big, publicly-personally in-real-life straight, once-married and many times heterosexually-involved high-priced A-list leading man, Gérard Depardieu’s not afraid to get it on with guys. Not on screen at least. And this wasn’t just at the beginning of his career when he was paying his dues and getting paid less, but in the middle of his career and now, too. You know how with some Hollywood actors, some sexily sexed-up sexy leading men, how they wear well-cut clothes so there’s rumors about them being gay and so they have to take parts that are all butchy and burly and macho and manly just to keep their rates up? Gérard Depardieu doesn’t seem too concerned with that. Nope, là-dessus, Gérard Depardieu ne me semble pas très inquiet. And he shouldn’t be worried: Word has it that he averages about 800.000 euros (the euro being what it is — or increasingly isn’t — that’s roughly $993,000 U.S.) per film, and in France that’s not change for chumps. And while admittedly, one must admit, that he hasn’t always made genius choices when it comes to scripts, Gérard Depardieu has made some kick-ass films. Especially the ones where he’s getting it on with guys. (What? You’re wondering why I didn’t make an ass-joke? Minds out of the gutter, puh-leez!)

Like remember Les Valseuses . . . “The Waltz-ers” directly but “Going Places” en américain ? You know, the film he always seemingly unconsciously refers to in interviews, as if he seemingly knowingly unconsciously knows that he and Bertrand Blier and Patrick Delwaere and Miou-Miou were onto something? Something Big? Something big and creative and artistic and innovative resulting out of them just freely fucking around? You’ve seen it, right? Right?? You probably have, with Depardieu being the single-most famous French actor on the other side of the Big Pond and all. I’m sure it played, like, everywhere. But if you haven’t then go out and get it, and if you don’t speak French make sure it’s with sub-titles and everything. I’m sure you’ll find it – how could you not? Because it’s goood, so good, so great, so gigantic that in my dictatorship, if I was a dictator, one would call it a chef-d’oeuvre and nothing else. This is the kind of film that other directors should wish they had made, the kind of dialogue that other writers should wish they had written. And that scene when Depardieu tricks Delwaere into sleeping with him? (Depardieu more or less actually rapes him, actually, but less in that Deliverance kind of way and more in that post-Nouvelle vague French cinema kind of way. . .) Well just quit shifting and squirming and bleating and squealing because that scene’s so damn-near perfect it’s an unconscionable understatement to call it merely “good.”

And then there’s Tenue de Soirée, also by Blier, starring Michel Blanc and Miou-Miou and of course, Depardieu . . . And he’s such a natural, such a pro, such a ham without being a ham (he’s still sorta svelte after all) . . . and you feel like you’re watching someone who’s understood, in the best and purest of ways, what he’s meant to do. Of course he gets it on with Blanc, and that’s kinda the point, but it’s kinda beside the point, too. I can’t remember who he gets it on with in Buffet Froid, or if he even does, but he plays a helluva charming killer in a helluva suitable setting: The bleak-blah-bland borderline-Paris business district of La Défense. Back when it was still being built. (Remember that first scene, where he kills the guy in the RER station? It...well it kinda killed, non?) It’s another one of Blier’s cult creations, in which his dad, Bernard, stars too. (You remember – he plays the police inspector who turns a blind eye to Depardieu’s murderous ways.) That film was sooo good, so clever, so creative, so classy that when French audiences first saw it they were so shocked that when the screenings were over a number of indignant viewers stomped back to the box office to demand their money back. Talk about being on to something! Right on!!

So what happened? Why, in so many of his more recent films does it feel like Gérard Depardieu is just putting in time? Arguably his period with Blier – during which he confessed going into it in the spirit of making movies, and going through it breathing and bothering with and living for Blier – was kind of like a college football star’s glory years, a glowy-glorious-gloriful gad-about an art form that seemed to be headed so far beyond where it actually ended up. Oh sure, he’s still a pro now, and a natural and a ham, too, with the more sophisticated hammish savoir-faire of an artist who’s refined his chops, who’s evolved and developed and matured. He’s the ideal unassuming husband to Fanny Ardant’s sultry-but-insecure wife in the typically French love story à trois that serves as the basis of Nathalie. And he does what it takes for Chabrol in Bellamy, the first time he actually worked with the much-loved, much-revered, much-adored adorable old Uncle Claude. You can’t accuse Depardieu of not delivering what’s called for, or for not simply doing his job; he shows up and jumps in, pulls it all together and gets it done. But you also feel a little sad, a little wistful, a little nostalgic all the same. A few years ago he announced his retirement — said he had made enough films. It was time to pay more attention to his wine châteaux, to be a man of the terroir, to fill his fingernails with dirt, to get back down to earth. No one believed him, of course, least of all himself, and he still shows up on the big screen, more often, so much more often than from time to time. It’s different, though, and he’s different, too – not ‘off’ but off all the same. Like something’s shut him down . . . turned around what used to turn him on.

“That’s the danger of cinema or of what television has shown us. The danger of uselessness, or of information. Now we know everything, but it serves nothing,” Depardieu recently lamented to Premiere. On the same Mammuth media push, he vented to VSD: “We live in a world where there are no more mysteries, where everything is clear. . . What impresses me about cinema is sometimes what bothers me. . .”

You can see why he took the role in Mammuth, a sort of road-trip movie by a sort-of similar-but-French version of the formidable frères Coen. We can beat up on Benoît Delépine and Gustave Kervern for making us watch Gérard beating off, but we sure can’t accuse them of indulging in inexcusably indulgent intellectual masturbation. Or of showing and telling too much – except for that part about, well, you know – when all we needed was a peek. On the surface this is a French story, a real French one, one that’s identifiable to any Frenchman or Frenchwoman who has ever battled their country’s Kafka-esque administration and lost . . . And they all have, and they all do. I could go into detailed descriptions of what Mammuth’s all about, recount how Depardieu’s blue-collar character is forced to embark on a fool’s errand to round up a few lost fiches de paye (that’s ‘pay stubs’) so he can collect on his retirement. I could rant about how ridiculous this exercise is, in and of itself, and how, yes, oui, mais bien sûr !, all French workers are expected to keep these documents for life or else. But that’s only one side of the story, the French one, and to reveal the farther-reaching human side would be to kill the mystère. Because Mammuth is a human story, grainy and great and mysterious, and it’s better to watch it and see then to be shown and be told. Besides, you’ll go see it, right? I mean, it has to be showing somewhere. What with Depardieu being such a big deal and all.

In its delightful little way, Mammuth is a throwback to Les Valseuses – tamer, sure, but subversive and savvy and superb and smart all the same. And in his seemingly unconscious conscious way, Gérard Depardieu seems to consciously-unconsciously make the connection. Once again venting to VSD: “Les Valseuses was in the spirit of youthful provocation, we were in the spirit of revolution. (With Mammuth), we’re in the spirit of demolition.”

Maybe so, peut-être, maybe so. And maybe not, peut-être pas, maybe not. Strong spirits are hard to demolish, after all, while revolutions demolish a lot. But in between there’s hope that some people get it . . . and, having filled their fingernails with dirt, revive their taste for stirring shit up.

Images: Depardieu in Mammuth (1 & 3); Depardeiu in Les Valseuses (2)

Photoessay by Joe Carducci

Along Hwy 130, Centennial Valley, Wyoming

South of Blue Diamond, Nevada

Above Warner Brothers, Burbank, California

Red Rocks, west of Las Vegas, Nevada

Northwest Arizona, along I-15

Along Hwy 130, Centennial Valley, Wyoming

Drawing by James Fotopoulos

From the desk of Joe Carducci...

Post Wars Europe seems to be rushing to recapitulate the American experience since the Civil War began our own anti-democratic new class imperative of federal level centralization of former state or county or municipal or individual authority in a fraction of the time. Since the new left’s integration into the Democratic Party here we’ve had our own fans of this Europe attempting to force our own former organic fifty-state-flavored re-shuffling of old world inheritances into these imported imposed social-central models. The Sunday NYT had this chart of Europe’s “Pension Problems”, a.k.a. “Societal Death Curve” to illustrate the math-that-can’t-be-retained (NYT readers were Humanities/WSJ readers Math and Sports).

Here’s a short roundup of reaction to this recent Greece-triggered watershed moment. Even the German financial newspaper editor the NYT found to applaud it all seems to concede the cart of union has always been ahead of the horse; he figures the horse will now gladly vote to put the harness on itself and pull that now even more burdensome cart.

Clive Crook in the Atlantic on Europe’s Missing Foundations:

“Lackluster leadership? I’d say Europe got into this mess because its leadership was far too lustrous for much too long. When did a united Europe ever capture the imagination of many of its residents? The European project was an elite-driven, top-down affair from the outset. Its leaders took the view, often explicitly, that Europe’s voters did not know what was good for them and would have to be led to enlightenment. There was never any willingness to let public indifference or outright hostility moderate the pace. For the most part, voters were not consulted. When they were, and voted No in the occasional referendum on further transfer of power to Brussels, governments resolved to keep on asking until the voters got it right. Germany adopted the euro despite a sustained majority opposed to monetary union. The political foundations for union were never laid. Governments kept building higher and higher regardless.”

Peter Boone and Simon Johnson in the FT, "How the eurozone set off a race to the bottom".

“Over the past decade, the eurozone has facilitated one of the largest moral hazard schemes of all time. Until Friday, this operated at two levels. Spain and Ireland built huge banking systems, drawn into a property bubble -- but really based on the rules of the eurozone, which implicitly underwrite its commercial banks without adequate supervision. Portugal and Greece ran old-fashioned out-of-control fiscal deficits, financed by bank lending -- with all the debt available to use as collateral for short term borrowing (‘repo’) at the European Central Bank; and underwritten by implicit too-big-to-fail guarantees, which became explicit this weekend.”

Gabor Steingart in the NYT, "It Takes a Crisis to Make a Continent".

“Yes, the rules governing the euro are being breached every day, causing panic in the market. But this is part of a movement forward, not dissolution. According to the monetary union treaty signed in 1999, member states were never meant to take on the debts of a fellow member state, and the European Central Bank, modeled on the German Bundesbank, was meant to ensure monetary stability at all cost. But, at this critical moment, Europe decided that monetary unity was not enough, that it was worth breaking the rules to bring its members closer together as a political unit…. Having forced itself into an era of continental policymaking, Europe must now play catch-up with its democratic system… if the achievements of this crisis are to survive, European leaders must figure out how to make sure the people are heard in the political process. Europe as a decision-making body is a fact; now it has to become more democratic.”

Martin Wolf’s FT blog on Carmen Reinhart’s diagram of the fiscal plot playing out soon in your theater and upon all the world’s stages.


Gillian Tett in the FT contrasts how the Irish have accepted what they must do, “Irish treat pain of crisis like a hangover: lying on sofa, groaning”, while the Greeks essentially demand more drinks on the house.


Here’s a marker of civilization to aspire to for Muslim believers and pretenders in these toast-modern times; it’s no mystery, they’ve heard of Christendom, Western Europe, America… Start by putting up with an Adam Gopnik canvassing recent Savior-Prophet-Nice Guy literature by all manner of fearless cream-sipping atheists “reading and unreading the Gospels” as he or his polyglot editor puts it. Put up with this vicariously and then expect some many publications, if not the NYer, to make you wear it too.

Husna Haq is an American correspondent at the CSM, but her plaintive, "What’s a Muslim-American to think?", regarding the ‘Everybody Draw Mohammad Day’, a protest over the censoring of Comedy Channel’s “South Park” program over its own wise-ass observing of the proscription against depicting the image of Mohammad, by putting him in a bear suit -- all this in a cartoon of course --, reveals that she had no conception that her fellow Americans expect her as a Muslim to put up with exactly what any Christian or Jew has had to put up with. Where did she get this dangerous idea that her faith would be exempted? Is she a NYer subscriber?

Right on cue hitting his mark, Jim Blanchard has Gospel Album art up on his new flickr page.

And also on schedule appears a Luis Buñuel documentary. Of his many playful critiques of Catholicism, Simon del Desierto (1965), about a desert mystic come down off his pillar for a night on the town is one of the best. Buñuel’s finale of this 45 minute masterpiece features the sometimes a great commotion, Los Sinners. The film itself is must viewing for all Muslim-Americans and “South Park” fans.

Reut Cohen at frontpage.com on Suad Joseph, Apologist for Gender Apartheid.

“Predictably for contemporary Middle East studies, Joseph paid tribute to Edward Said’s deeply flawed book Orientalism, which helps explain her rejection of any implied Western superiority regarding women‘s rights…. Incredibly, Joseph theorized that Arab women want to be claimed by men, and therefore have no objection to being subjects of a patriarchal and theocratic society in which their individual rights are abridged. The audience, which appeared to consist mostly of Center for Near Eastern Studies and Women‘s Studies faculty, nodded their heads in agreement with this troubling statement.”

Michael Young in Slate, "Reading Paul Berman in Beirut".

“But for me and others in the Arab world, Berman’s account of the European idealists posed an essential question deriving from our own experiences. This question Berman has posed again in the brilliant, uncompromising The Flight of the Intellectuals: What does it mean to be a liberal, and how does one uphold liberal values when politics, misshaped by passions and biases, self-righteousness and self-deception, can lead to the defense of thoroughly illiberal ideas?”

Simon Akam on Amy Mills’s book, Streets of Memory: Landscape, Tolerance, and National Identity in Istanbul, is another of a seemly endless unmasking of supposed Islamic ecumenical golden-age cosmopolitanism, stories often peddled by western double-dome leftist atheists for all it earns them in which battle they are waging? I forget.

Daniel Pipes on Ian Johnson’s book, A Mosque in Munich.

“Johnson opens with a review of the systematic Nazi efforts to recruit Soviet Muslims from among their prisoners of war. Many Muslims loathed Stalin; and between 150,000 and 300,000 of them fought for the Axis in World War II. In other words, over and above their unfulfilled propaganda effort directed at Arabs, the Nazis actually fielded a substantial force of mainly Turkic Muslims under the leadership of a scholarly Nazi enthusiast named Gerhard von Mende.

After the German defeat in 1945, Johnson follows von Mende as he continued his anti-communist work with ex-Soviet Muslims, now in a Cold War context. But his network of former soldiers proved not very competent at the task of arousing Muslim hostility against the Soviet Union. Their leading intellectual, for example, had served as the imam of an SS division that helped suppress the Warsaw uprising of 1944. Islamists quickly proved themselves far more competent at this political and religious challenge. Johnson explains that they ‘wear suits, have university degrees, and can formulate their demands in ways that a politician can understand.’

The heart of his fascinating study lies in tracing the evolution, much of it in Munich, from old soldiers to new Islamists. It's a classic tale of 1950s intrigue, complete with rehabilitated Nazis, CIA-front organizations, and dueling Soviet-American ambitions. Johnson shows how, without anyone quite planning it, the Americans usurped von Mende's network and handed it over to Said Ramadan.”


The dimming Path, Naomi Mapstone in the FT on neo-mayhem in the Peruvian highlands. When Fujimori’s away, the Maoists will play.

Philip Delves Broughton reviews recent testimony from Burma in the WSJ.

Seth Mydans in the NYT shoots the wounded in Udon Thani, Thailand. Whereas the paper went nutzoid over the constitutional defense against a President’s coup in Honduras, they are very understanding of the coup by the Thai urban elite against the rural majority’s choice. They even switched colors on us. Blue is Red; Red is Green; and Green is Brown. And now Wydot tells me I need my eyes examined!


Tobias Buck and Vita Bekker on Israel Inc’s families face backlash, in FT.


With ex-wildcatter-in-chief George W. in retirement the NYT feels it is safe to run very good background features which seem to accept the wild west culture still extant in the Houston-centered oil industry, even during this well catastrophe. Tuesday had both this hilarious portrait by Henry Fountain of Pat Campbell, former well-killer in Kuwait and before that with Red Adair, and this more sober story by Clifford Krauss and Tom Zeller about the remarkable sea-drilling specialty company, Transocean. Elsewhere in the paper and across the media pencil-pushers are beginning to blame President Obama which is stupid and might only pressure the state to mis-respond. When this well is “killed” the oil industry -- our oil industry -- will have learned invaluable things about deep water techniques. It would be a terrible waste for the paper-cut/clean-fingernail crowd in Washington to forbid the further use of this expertise. Nobody really wants Russian expertise or Chinese expertise to be filling these contracts in these deep water fields. Bury the brave men, pay their widows, clean up what you can and then let them get back to work.


Alexander Theroux on James Haley’s biography, Wolf: The Lives of Jack London, bemoans Haley’s thread fanning homosexuality flames out of the smoke of what, his fire in the 70° below Yukon night? But Theroux likes the book otherwise and American letters certainly needs all the exposure to Jack London it can get. One thing that stands out as I research my way into the swashbuckling era of early film production in the teens and twenties, is that all the many roustabouts and cowboys who made the films were under the living/aesthetic spell of Jack London.


WSJ editorial, "Climate change and the courts".


The short unsigned editorial in Monday’s WSJ gets right to the nub of the historical bait-and-switch which the many liberal defenders of the federal prerogative as it pertains to the extra-wide load they insist can be constitutionally driven through the commerce clause (all 16 words: “to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes,”), because some part of interstate commerce moves along federally funded highways and thereby all social behavior in any business comes under its purview as administered jointly til November by Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (call him Jay), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation, and Congressman Henry Waxman, Chairman of the House Committee on Energy & Commerce.

In the NYT editorial, Limits of Libertarianism, and in the NYT’s resident forensic expert on Conservatism Sam Tanenhaus’s Sunday comment the far less efficient with their own and our time, because first they must pocket absurdum, before they presume federal authorship of human and folk patterns. Of course, as the WSJ alone insists, the old Confederate states were out of line as governments and this was a proper target for federal constitutional intervention. Ross Douthat, the NYT's new conservative columnist has valid criticism of Rand and Ron Paul’s political impulses and even the general outside-the-box dynamic’s danger to wander intently into conspiratorial swamps, but Douthat seems unaware that to sign up for merely what is politic is to fail to correct anything about where this country has drifted.

The truth that is left to the impolitic involved the using of the civil rights movement to take care of other pending business of the Left’s. That that business now deeply encoded at all levels of government is part of the current crisis of leveraged state spending which threatens the bills-paying private sector’s ability to outrun the red ink is making this what the Right is talking about. What is politic for politicians to bring up was once determined by the news media unified by post-WWII corporatism. Now a shell of its former robust self, can the news media still play its own invested rear-guard defense of this New Deal/Great Society quasi-constitutional state? I think not.


Matt Ridley in the WSJ, "Humans: Why They Triumphed".


Daniel Horan in the WSJ on Martin Preib’s book The Wagon.


Ben Ratliff in the NYT "Rethinking the Myth, Exile on Main St."

It’s hard to write well about music and sound and it is so rarely done you wonder whether most writers are really hearing anything but the marketing-buzz subchannel. It’s pop criticism rather than what you’d call music writing or rock criticism. I recently talked to author and Lightbourne college-chum Robert Cantwell and mentioned to him I looted his book, Bluegrass Breakdown, which I found in the library of North Central College in Naperville, for his description of the musical sensation Swing. Perfectly relevant to my rock book, in fact desperately relevant as there is so little such writing in rock criticism itself that I was forced to write it in the first place. I found Cantwell’s description so striking that I mentioned it to Lightbourne on the phone in Portland back then and he told me he knew Cantwell and had to go find the book.

Sunday’s NYT has Ben Ratliff tracking down the music-making truth under the Stones-myth encasing the “Exile” album. It’s less what Ben gets out of Richards and Jagger that tells, it his own intent listening and description of “Loving Cup”:

“It’s country gospel gone lurid, and it seems to rise up out of a nap. Nicky Hopkins’s piano chords circle around a G at slow tempo in an echoey room. Charlie Watts starts pumping a bass drum at the third beat of the second bar; he’s either late or early, but finding his way. Piano and drums roll up to the D chord at the beginning of the first verse, and Mick Taylor bends two guitar strings under Mick Jagger’s opening line: “I’m the man on the mountain — yes, come on up.” Onward, Mr. Watts weaves around the beat, smashing down on his high-hat, forming weird and clattering snare-drum fills. He both shapes and follows the group’s euphoria and the music’s subtle acceleration. The Stones gather around the song like pickpockets, jostling and interfering with it. Keith Richards, playing rhythm guitar and singing backup, quits harmonizing and starts to shout.”

How the rough, living, error-risking music-making of the sixties became a reactionary rearguard defense against the future of punk’s rough, living, error-risking music-making is a story still not told. But its what makes it almost impossible for me to listen to the Rolling Stones’s FM radio and Oliver Stone soundtrack staples when they pop up here. I mean, “Tumblin’ Dice”?! Whereas the left-overs, the non-hits and the old Brian Jones-era garagey Stones (“Fortune Teller”, “Its All Over Now”, “Play with Fire”…) are great to hear when some station mistakenly airs them. Still, I wouldn’t deny that free of Jones Keith Richard built a beautifully designed modern R&B-imbued rock sound where any power-chords were held mostly in reserve. It’s the sketchiness of this version of “Loving Cup” that allows one to listen down into the “jostling” clutter and contention of this early take and hear the music the players heard.

That so much musical history is mere uninspected boomer myth comes hinted at everytime there’s real listening attention paid again to actual recordings by greats-but-not-gods like Hendrix or the Stones. The human sounds of Hendrix’s “The Valleys of Neptune” and the expanded “Exile on Main St.” ought not be so surprising. But in the early seventies the pop critics took over the discourse as Lee Abrams and others took over radio programming, and before you knew it what Lightbourne called “European performance standards” were recuperated by those who considered themselves blues connoisseurs. They figured as long as they hated Boston they were clear no matter the sound engineering budgets required for music they actually preferred, Fleetwood Mac, Eagles, etc. (Again, the Carducci rule on this: the dumber the music audience the more perfect the music must be.) I don’t have to tell you that, unlike the Stones’s loss of their visionary Brian Jones, Pink Floyd’s loss of theirs, Syd Barrett, yielded not much beyond musique concrète, (but it was perfect).

The actual result of that early decadent tax-exile phase of bringing the studio into your home as the Rolling Stones did for parts of “Exile” bears some perverse relation to D.I.Y. strategies soon to come. At SST the bands came into the recording studios of Los Angeles with their own engineer/producer so as not to be recording by the rules of the industry. I loved the look on the Reebok-wearing feathered-hair house-engineers’ faces when Spot entered and walked up to the board grinning and nodding like a cartoon character, wiggling his fingers at the board as if warning it that this would be no rule-following Van Halen sound-alike about to sound off. When Greg Ginn was forced by conditions to wear headphones they’d have to be duct-taped to his head; I don’t remember the engineer still being around by that point.

Now that classic rock and certain punk era musics are seen (heard) as connected in any decent historical mix on the web, the radio or a stadium P.A. perhaps the radio-programming music-publishing box-office winners will endow a pension fund for old-timey punks as the old-line industry once did for the blues and country musicians whose folk donations did so much to pour the foundations for the industry’s mansions in the hills.


Alec Wilkinson in the NYer follows Ry Cooder around as he follows Los Tigres del Norte around the Southwest. The piece sketches out Norteño music and the band’s interesting history and deep success. But its left to me to mention that the records are engineered by Joe Pope, formerly of SST recording artists, Angst, and once the owner/flunky of Systematic Record Distribution, not to mention boyhood chum of Jello Biafra.

“John Reilly, Los Tigres’ press agent… told me that most acts have to be taken through the kitchen when they return to their hotels, to avoid the fans in the lobby. Los Tigres have to go through the front door, ‘You take them through the kitchen, and you shut down the hotel,’ he said.”


Jason Gross asked a lot of music writers and editors, wtf? Listen mostly to me, and Byron if you must, but note it’s the music editors who really offer little but assertions of their own prerogatives. More reasons we are in such a mf’in golden age.


Bruce Kalberg (now there was a music mag editor!) has a photo exhibit up at Reserve soon and so they’ve put a full 1982 issue of his NoMag up for your perusal. Check out the Black Flag ad we threw together using the doodles a Unicorn studio engineer did on a band-photo with added punk graffiti-for-the-ages, plus read Chuck Dukowski’s ‘History of L.A. Punk’. Chuck wrote that at the Unicorn offices after Black Flag’s first UK tour. He knew all the bands out playing live and I remember Laurie O’Connell and I throwing in some of the artier fringe-dwellers for his consideration. Laurie (of the band Monitor and art cabal World Imitation) came into the studio with the Meat Puppets and stayed on as a Unicorn hand in the days when everything was still hunky dory.


Read Eddie Flowers pr spiel for the new Gulcher release, by Hollywood Squaretet, which features Larry Copcar, Todd Homer, Joe Baiza, and Dan Clucas, for some real furniture-breaking rock-writing as we once knew it back in the papyrus era when long-distance calls were too expensive to make.


Flipside is now an online zine.


John Garcia Euro tour late May/June. In Kyuss and thereafter Garcia is underappreciated as a vocalist. It took me some acclimation to his style to get into him but I managed it as I listened to those albums a lot. Here is my favorite recording of his, real soul-fury on “If Only Two” from Unida’s album, “Coping with the Urban Coyote”, on Man’s Ruin Records from 1999, back when everything was hunky dory.


Trashflow Radio, Saturdays, WAIF-FM, Cincinnati, Ohio, has an archive full of great themed programs.


Michael Hurley is on the road in Ohio, Penn. and Oregon.


Trip Henderson’s next roots and blues sit-in sets:

Whistlin’ Wolves
Saturday May 29, 9:30pm
Googies Lounge, 154 Ludlow St., NYC

The Second Fiddles
Saturday June 5, 8pm
Hurdy Gurdy Folk Music Club
10-10 20th St., Fair Lawn NJ


Here’s one of the best things written about David Lightbourne since his death last month. Joleen Knight posted it on her blog and its a great portrait of Dave in what turned out to be his Wyoming winter.


Thanks to Steve Beeho, Mike Safran.

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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

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