Thursday, May 26, 2005

Good Grief!! Posted by Hello

A.D.D. Special!

I'm feeling spread-thin, all over the map. I don't think I've really got a.d.d., but I am easily distracted. I think it's way over-diagnosed. I do think that most people that grew up when I did and watched tons of bad TV have short attention-spans. I also think that there probably are a lot of folks that actually have a.d.d., but I think medicine is over-prescribed. But whenever there's money to be made you'll suddenly find a large portion of the populace that can't help but buy what their selling. This gets me to thinking about the whole "People have always been like this/We are just more aware of it because of the super fast transmission of information" argument. Topics that lend themselves to this are generally of the negative kind such as pedophilia, teen pregnancy/drug alcohol use/delinquency, violence, greed, fraud, and a slew of others. Topics that are perhaps more controversial or hard to classify in nature that prompt this debate include homosexuality, mental illness, child-rearing, materialism, family values, and the mysterious obsession most dudes and some women have with sports.

I tend to lean towards the side proclaiming that people are basically the way they have been since the dawn of time. There are more people alive today than the sum of all people that lived before them (supposedly), so it makes sense that one and all of the many quirks of the hairless ape would be exponentially widespread. This in combination with the fact that for whatever reason bad news is the most popular kind, and the fact that this news can travel the globe instantaneously would create the illusion that the world/this country/kids today are going down the toilet. I won't even get into the fact that I believe the media is intentionally instilling us with an irrational fear. This brings me to something that has been on my mind more and more in the last 5 years, human nature. People never cease to amaze me, and like it or not the ones that have the greatest impact on me are the assholes. I am constantly blown away by the highs and lows of the way people treat others( or themselves for that matter). Let me just say that I am far from saintly, selfless, or philanthropic but I like to think I give as much as I take in most of my dealings with others. I have seen recent examples of extreme generosity(see previous posts) and of extreme selfishness.

I must have been living in a fantasy world to a larger degree than I thought while going to U.N.T. in Denton. That and the fact that most of the people I mingled with were delusional as well (ie. artists/musicians/freaks) made for a harsh reality-check when I moved back to Dallas to become a part of the rat-race. The faster pace, materialism, and lack of a sense of humor or an interest in culture I was accosted with nearly every day caused me to consider relocating many times as I plan to in the next few years. It's really due to a combination of things that I had to deal with more truly evil people in any one of the 8 years or so I've been back than the whole 6 or so I lived in the little college town 30 minutes to the North. For example, I have had far more landlord/housing problems in Dallas. The worst being the cute, little grandma types. They get away with murder because most people are afraid to ask them for anything, and when you do they play dumb like a little wrinkled pro. And don't get fooled if they happen to be "artsy" or liberal or "laid back", they're the most dangerous. I just feel like venting and everybody else is already sick of listening to me. I've got a lot of craziness in my life that is beginning to come to a head right now despite my best efforts. If things get just a little better soon I'll feel like the last few years of struggle have been worth it. At least I'm starting to feel like my cajones are back if you know what I mean.

So as not to be a complete bummer here's some mindless fun:

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Ambassadors of Dino Park, and "me" in the future. Posted by Hello

Friday, May 20, 2005

Found in the back seat of a tricked-out Delorean!

Yes, the above photo was in fact discovered recently by an anonymous source when detailing the interior of an exotic, 1980's sports car with major modifications including, but not limited to, a flux-capacitor and, inexplicably, one of those dash-mounted, disgusting, plastic spitoons popular among the "snuff-dippin" crowd. (I am aware that this is a probably a run-on sentence!) For those of you who have been spared from being intimately familiar with my face I can attest that this guy looks VERY MUCH like what I would look like with a simulated age-progression of 15 plus years. I hope I mutate in a slightly more pleasing manner, but the truth hurts, right?
In reality the photo is of some golfer who played at the Colonial or something featured in The Dallas Morning Snooze, I mean News.

As this is a limited topic I thought I'd make a quick mention about last weekends very enjoyable trip to Dinosaur Valley Park in Glenrose, Tx. Kara and I were invited to accompany our friends Matt, and Sharon Bagley along with their baby-girl Arabella. We met at their house and went to breakfast at Barbec's on Garland road. Barbecs is a popular greasy spoon famous for their beer-biscuits. We hit the road and about 1.5 hours later we were feasting our eyes on a town put on the map by the fact that there are honest to goodness, extremelly well-preserved Dinosaur tracks, as well as hiking/biking, swimming, and camping areas. The first thing you see when you pull into the park is two big statues. One is a T-Rex, and the other the dinosaur formerly known as the Brontosaurus, and now known as something else. The baby instinctually pointed and babbled repeatedly. We of course hit the gift shop right away. Then we went to the area with most of the tracks which is a shallowish creek. This was my first clue that this day might involve a lot of crossing over slippery, precarious rocks while carrying strollers and other baby gear.

We made the crossing unscathed and headed out on the trails. This was great fun, even with the necessity of carrying the baby-jogger over the harder to navigate sections which were plentiful. Matt, and Arrabella seem to be fairly fearless and I was impressed. In addition to being in contention for cutest baby of all time Arrabella is also brave. She's going to have to be to keep up with her father. Hanging out with Matt is always an adventure, largely due to the fact that he is very active, a free-thinker, and a bit eccentric. Most of the best memories of my college days involve him. We've both come a long way, but I like to think that we've maintained many of the traits and values that were so important to us then.

After hiking for at least 2 or 3 hours we decided to leave and grab some food. We had planned to swim originally but we were all tired, and hungry. Besides that we did all get our feet wet when we removed our shoes to cross the riverish part. Bare feet in contact with rocks that have been rounded off over the years still hurt. Who knew we were so tender? We headed back to Dallas and had dinner at The Lakewood Dixie House. We plan to go back to the park for more, and this time we're going to stop at the CREATION EVIDENCE MUSEUM for some laughs. From what I understand this is the "brainchild" of Dr. Carl E. Baugh who claims to have a master's degree in archeology and a Ph.D. in education from the mythical Pacific College of Graduate Studies. Youv'e got to give it to a guy that would devote a whole museum to debunking evolution in a town littered with evidence to the contrary. I hear they've got some hilariously bad art there. I can't wait. Here's the link, which even I haven't looked at yet:

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Knights of the New Crusade! Posted by Hello

Reviews by !#*$!*@! default!

I haven't been able to buy new music to the degree that I would like to for quite a piece now so I will review two "newish" albums I have been listening to. The first being MY GOD IS ALIVE! SORRY ABOUT YOURS! from The Knights of the New Crusade, and the second being BLACK FOREST from The A-Frames. The Knights are up to something, and what that is, is a topic of debate. On the surface they are an "accidentally" comical, right-wing, ultra-Christian/Fundamentalist garage-ish rock and roll band. They dress as medieval knights in chainmail with helmets made out of what appears to be strategically cut metal buckets. It's a great look. (Get ready to hear elements of zillions of record reviews featuring things that there are no better words to describe...) The sound is stripped-down, no frills, rock AND roll. The players are obviously well schooled on the history of raw, garage rock and they should be. The word on the street is that they are in reality a supergroup of sorts( at least to the relatively small world of garage/punk fans). At least one member of the legendary MUMMIES and/or a former member of the PHANTOM SURFERS are involved. The Mummies pretty much defined early '90's garage rock and were among the most true to the form of a handful of groups doing it at the time such as THE GORIES.

Whether or not they are serious about the "message" they are spreading is obviously a joke in itself. The lyrical content of the album is almost entirely straight-forward, consistent with the Christian image, and seemingly serious other than one use of the word FUCK. The approach and ideology are however WAY over the top, which is a signifier of irony, or social commentary. On this level it seems like a big middle-finger to what is apparently the mentality of the majority of the United States, particularly the Bush supporters. There is the slight possibility that the Knights are employing a brilliant display of double-speak. That is to say that at heart they do have some kind of Christian values and they're pulling the wool over everyones' eyes. They've got the Christian kids listening to good old rock and roll (with punk undertones), and they've got the more open-minded garage rock fans listening to songs about God. They actually played at what is supposedly the most popular Christian teen club in the U.S., THE DOOR, which is here in the Deep Ellum Area of Dallas. Unfortunatley this was a few days before I caught wind, and though I am not a Christian or even particularly religious I wouldn't have missed it for all the SUV's in Dallas. (which I would sell and/or destroy) Either way this is one of the best albums of the year. They've really beat the odds, but by combining a controversial "gimmick", rehashed, and in some cases appropriated(stolen) classic "garage" classics, with a great sense of humour and love of good music these cats have created something new in a genre that is both underappreciated, and overdone at the same time.

The A-Frames are rehashing some ideas too but not quite so much with the stealing. I just mean that they sometimes wear their excellent influences on their sleeves. These guys have been embraced by many garage/punk fans and I guess that's because of their minimal, mid-paced, and agressive approach, but I think they would be bigger with the indie/eighties people. It's like a droning, robotic, ominous kinda thing with vocals that sometimes recall early Joy Division. I'll admit that I bought this because I kept seeing their name mentioned amongst other bands that I enjoy, or might enjoy and I found a new copy on for a few bucks. If I had paid $12-16 or so for this I would have been slightly dissappointed as I like to own albums that are at least 90% (oh what word to choose...?) listenable. That's not to say that nearly every track on this disc isn't, but I'm attempting to make a point. The obvious standout song being EXPERIMENT, I wish they were all more in that direction. I'm all for variety in a band or even a album that genre-hops like mad but I tended to like the louder, more tense songs the most. There even were some good ones that had backup vocals by the girl-person in the group but I liked the less "indie" sounding material best. They're on Subpop records(who seem to have gone soft, but in an o.k. way) but played at the HORIZONTAL ACTION MAGAZINE BLACKOUT in Chicago, which is the like the punkest of the punk amongst modern garage-punker types. They're kind of between two worlds and thats a good place to make interesting music.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Hasil Adkins performs, while who I think is writer/director/producer Caleb Emerson does his best "Alan Lomax" field-recording thing. Posted by Hello

Underdogs and gutter-punks

The Fringe Media Film and Music Blah-blah was last night and it was perhaps the most well attended of the recent shows. This was due in no small part to the many "friends of the band" Sleezus Fist and the Latter-Day Taints brought in. Some of them were funny too! Like the drunk-rocker girl who tripped in the dark and tried to play it off by remaining on the grimy floor of the Redblood Club, and having what I'm sure was a very important conversation on her cellphone. This was done quite loudly I might add! The short film was forgettable and I didn't stick around to see the band, having gotten my fill via their website, but the feature film made it all worth it. DIE YOU ZOMBIE BASTARDS was great, not perfect but very entertaining. If it were perfect I wouldn't be wasting my time writing about it here for all you fine folks(!?!). Perfect films/music/art/books are pretty much covered by many other more capable writers. I love the underdog, and even the most brain-washed and undiscerning of you probably have or will at one time or another. It's that phenomenon that occurs when a creative person or group still has the rough edges, a fire in their belly, and hunger to do it for the right reasons. This doesn't mean they won't, or don't want to sell out it just means they're nowhere near it yet.

I think the guys that made it are out of Rhode Island, and they have had some stuff at Tromadance, and a big movie festival in Berlin. The story involves a loveable, eloquent, homicidal maniac in search of his wife who is kidnapped during an idyllic picnic of a decapitated head and champagne. The evil Dr. Nefarious has seen her own depraved, and cannibalistic acts via his remote viewing technology and must have her for his own. Conflict firmly in place, our "hero" scours the globe visiting different locals on a seemingly aimless quest for her. This does allow for the insertion of many colorful characters, the most entertaining and legendary of which is the recently deceased rockabilly, one-man-band Hasil Adkins who I kind of eulogized in a previous post. As a fan even I was suprised at just how genuinely eccentric, backwoods, and brilliant "The Haze" was, and I kick myself for missing him at last years Las Vegas Rockaround. The film is entertaining, absurd, and funny enough to satisfy those that are already familiar with what comes with watching a low-budget, independent, undergound movie like this one. If you're only used to watching Hollywood mind-rot then stear clear, OR try it out, maybe you'll be converted.
Almost forgot about the gutter-punks. Not much to say but as they are often around when Justin is involved I just think it's funny that they are oblivious to the fact that they and most of the other varieties of "hard-core" punkers have a stricly regimented uniform that smacks of mindless conformity. As I've often heard those that were around before punk broke big the first time (in late '76/early '77) say(approximately) "...the minute you saw mohawks and the standard leather jacket everywhere it was nothing but posers...", and that was a LONG time ago. Or as I used to say in high school, "Everyones trying so hard to be different that they're all the same". I know it's been said before, but what hasn't.

Watch the trailer, and look at the purty pictures:

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

X. They Rock! Posted by Hello

X-The Unheard Music

If you've never heard the great, L.A. band X do yourself a favor and pick some up. It's a crime that they aren't more well known, thus the title of the excellent documentary about them. The Unheard Music is without a doubt one of the best rock and roll movies of all time. This is the kind of movie that I think could be appreciated even if you weren't crazy about the band. The band is comprised of Exene Cervenka on vocals, John Doe on vocals and bass, Billy Zoom on lead guitar, and D.J. Bonebrake on drums. If you've seen the film The Decline of Western Civilization then you already know that they left the other the L.A. punk bands at the time in the dust, musically at least. Maybe they couldn't match Black Flag, or The Germs for sheer sonic-attack, or attitude but they made up for it with VERY catchy, well-written and well-executed songs and originality. They also had more charisma than a hundred Erik Estradas on top of musical chops for days.
They took the idea of cowpunk to such a level that it evolved into a rare and listenable mix of punk, early rock and roll/rockabilly, and country with some kind of previously unknown, mutant harmony. Exene who handles most of the lead vocals is backed up by John Doe who knows just how to compliment her often atonal, beautifully droning voice. I know bow down to the blonde god of guitar, Billy Zoom. To say he makes it look easy is a great understatement as he looks straight ahead with a huge, childlike grin on his face never once looking down at the fretboard while he tears off blazing licks and solos like a punk-rock greaser with soul to spare. The whole thing is held together with the steady pounding of Mr. Doe's bass but the real secret weapon is drummer Bonebrake. He has found that perfect balance between keeping it simple and playing his technically superior little ass off. He says something in the film about trying to make up for the lack of other orchestral type instruments. He does manage to work some original beats into what would normally be by-the-numbers rock and roll drumming.
John and Exene met in a poetry workshop and that sentiment is a common thread throughout their music. Emotional without a hint of sappiness, serious without pretension, and "party" music without overt stupidity, X stands the test of time again, and again.