Notes From The Flip Side: 08.01.2004
"The bottom line is a punk - our putative existential hero - needs to buckle down, align himself with folks of good character and get down to motherfucking business."
Fuck You And Your Lawsuits.
I love ranting. I swear, it's one of my favorite hobbies, particularly when it involves calling people onto the carpet. Over the past couple of years, I've seen The Hope Conspiracy a few times and they have never failed to deliver a stunningly powerful show. If that weren't enough of a reason to write this, Kevin is just a hell of a nice guy and you will eventually see an interview with him on this site (I've been lagging on transcription; I'm sorry).
Now. Apparently, The Hope Conspiracy played a show in San Diego in 2001, during which a kid was injured. That's a bad thing and no one likes to see it happen, but by all accounts, the actual damage was fairly minor - especially when you consider that an out-of-court settlement was reached for $10,000. That's not permanent injury settlement money - that is, effectively, paying someone because it's cheaper to give them some cash to go away than it would be to fight the case in court, regardless of the outcome. Spending an extra $10,000 to win in court is a Pyrrhic victory at best.
Over the years, I've learned a lot about punk rock. One of the most important lessons I've learned is that people who stay involved with punk for any length of time will eventually get hurt at a show. I watched a friend of a friend wander into the pit at a GBH show - within 5 seconds, he had gone face-down in the dirt, losing a couple of teeth in the process. When I saw Pegboy in 1998, Larry Damore accidentally punched me in the nose. It hurt like a son-of-a-bitch, but that didn't make it any less of an accident. Back in the mid-1990s, I took a boot to the back of the head at a Bad Religion show - that one required a trip to the emergency room for some stitches. I've been kicked, punched, elbowed, head-butted and kneed - I've been hurt in more ways at more shows than I ever thought possible. Not once did I think about suing someone because I went home with a partially shaved head and some stitches or lost a pair of glasses after getting clocked.
It's part of punk rock. I'm not saying that violence is necessary. I'm simply saying that shit happens. While it sucks when someone gets hurt, people going to a punk show cannot plead ignorance. We know that this sort of thing can happen. It's not a Celine Dion show, for fuck's sake - if you go to see a band, you walk through the door with the knowledge that you might be injured by the end of the night. You are effectively putting yourself near harm's way - and sooner or later, harm will stop passing you by and will pause for a moment to work you over a bit.
All of this is my way of asking you to stop by The Hope Conspiracy's site and donate some money to help cover their settlement costs. Musicians don't make a lot of money - most of them don't even have health insurance, much less enough cash to deal with something like this. I've created a PayPal button below so that you can easily send them something if you'd like to help out some tremendously decent folks who are in a bit of a bind.
Oh Shit, It Was Just A Fucking Typo!
All this time, Bush and Cheney haven't been selling us bad intel - they've been selling us a grade school fuck up! You see, in the days after September 11, 2001, someone in the intelligence community was apparently sleeping when a bulletin went past their desk - you someone hit Q instead of N and ... well, you all know what kind of hijinks resulted! Hey - shit happens, right? Those wacky policy wonks! What will they think of next? I wonder if George is snickering to Cheney about this right now - "Hey DiQ, I punQ'd the Quntry! I punQ'd AmeriQa!"
Now that I've written that, I almost wish it were true. I'd probably sleep better at night. But, for the record, the administration is looking into Al-Qaeda / Iran connections. Hey George, I've got an idea - why don't you go find a rainbow connection? I distinctly remember hearing when I was a youth that, someday, we'll find that one.
The Peace President.
You know your message is mixed when even AP wire reporters, some of the more neutral journalists in the business, are pointing out that you started two wars in four years but still want to be remembered as "The Peace President."
It's Deja Vu All Over Again
Another round of physical therapy, more muscle relaxants, more anti-inflammatory meds, more painkillers. I swallow my breakfast with a glass of water and an echinacea chaser. My nightcap gets lodged in my throat because a 10 mg tablet just gets stuck too easily. Tomorrow morning, I head in for more deep tissue work and some more electro-stim therapy - which is apparently what they call slapping some electrodes on my back and turning up the juice until the muscles contract.
I'm getting to be an old hand at all the wrong goddamned things.
I know that my life is exactly what it needs to be right now because I've been writing hundreds of words every day but still ... I can't help but that I'm just too fucking young for all this shit, that maybe my body is finally catching up with how old I've felt for the last decade or so.
So I'm doing stretching, flexibility and strengthening exercises. I do these mutated sit-ups that feel like someone is injecting napalm into my stomach. I go into a clinic two or three times per week and a guy who easily has 20 or 30 pounds of muscle on me goes to work on my spine with his elbow. I signed up for an absolute beginner's yoga class this morning. I wake up hurting and go to bed the same way. I grit my teeth and bear it through the day and try not to medicate.
And in some fucked up way, all of this is starting to seem transcendent. It's starting to seem like this too is little more than one more challenge to overcome, one more obstacle to go over, one more ass to kick.
Off The Top Of My Head ...
- I can't even begin to say how much I love the new Paris Texas album. I can sum it up based on "Your Death." It kicks in with a bassline that sounds so much like the intro to Ride's "Decay" that I had to make sure this wasn't on Sire and produced by Alan Moulder ... or if that doesn't strike your fancy, Ned's Atomic Dustbin (ca. "Godfodder") will fit in just fine as well. The vox remind me of Revolver's best singles, like "I Wear Your Chain" ... and then there's the guitars - sure, they sound like something that Revolver would have played, but for fuck's sake, this sounds like the best bits of Flock Of Seagulls' "Space Age Love Song"! This description may just sound gross to some, but I haven't been able to stop listening to this song (and, to be fair, "Hip Replacement" off the same album has damn near fought this song to a draw) today. If this album doesn't blow up bigger than Jimmy Eat World - not that such a thing is necessarily desirable or that the band would even want that - I'll never know why. It's filled with huge hooks, anthemic riffs, soaring vocals - this album has it all. It's just fucking awesome.
- And just because I didn't write enough about "Hip Replacement" and anthemic hooks that make absurd guitar hero poses all on their own - seriously, those hooks are acting like they saw Pete Townshend at Woodstock and learned everything they know about stage presence from Ted Nugent album covers - this song absolutely destroys. It's as if someone took the intro to Dillinger Four's "An American Banned," fed it a shitload of cheap trucker speed that they copped outside an all-night greasy spoon somewhere around Joliet and told them to play power chords - nothing but a couple of assaulted power chords with a few beats between them and then beating the shit out of some more power chords. And then let them ring. Don't stop them ... just let them hang there in the air because we aren't done with them yet. And then there's this fucking noodling solo that weaves in and out of these riffs, but the ridiculous thing about it is that the main solo sounds like it pans - it isn't enough that you have all this rock - all these ringing, hanging power chords - now you have to listen to the solo and it's so fucking bad-ass that it has to circle around you like it's sizing your lame-ass up for another beating even though the riffs haven't finished rocking the fuck out of you yet.
- After reading items 1 & 2, I'm reminded that I'm sometimes prone to hyperbole, but in this case, this is the first thing that's forced my ass out of a chair in days ... and I'm not just standing. I'm dancing my ass off, singing along and rocking the air guitar.
- And just because you're laughing, if I didn't hear songs that make me feel like I'm nine or 10 and hearing The Clash for the first time again (and let's be blunt, I'm not comparing Paris Texas to The Clash; I'm merely noting that the initial primal thrill, that ecstatic, blissful rush of hearing a song like "Hip Replacement" or "Safe European Home" is almost identical; that, purely from a music fan's perspective, such a rush can come from anything, including my third favorite song of the moment, I Am The World Trade Center's "Future Sightings"), I have no business writing about music. If I wasn't a fan - if I was just some overly analytical asshole with a Web site and didn't get off on hearing nothing but one song on my headphones with the volume cranked up on repeat for hours, I have no business writing about it. If I couldn't appreciate and accept the guilty pleasure that pop songs represent - if I couldn't celebrate that pleasure - then I would need to quit while I was at least somewhat ahead, or even. And yeah. That means I'm still here.
- Tom recently started a blog. It's about surfing. If you completely overlook the undeniable fact that he's an awesome writer, he's taken more piss out of more grommets in his first handful of posts than your average case of catheters takes out of a whole retirement home's bed count of people. See, Tom's been a great writer since I met him, every word dripping sarcasm when he gets a chance to flex his muscles. Like me, he works in environments which tend to corral his writing and rein it in, but Charlie Don't Surf is showing what I've always known he was capable of. Maybe this blog he's doing will serve a similar function for surfing that Peter Gammons all too frequently seems to serve for baseball - and I hope it will. See, Parker's blog has a conscience, focuses on the soul aspects of surfing (a concept we can apply to anything any of us do - those core things that keep us doing something even though we aren't famous, even though we don't make money and all too often lose money at it, even though we may suck at it, even though people may make fun of us for doing it - like the way I used to skate, all carves and grinds and no ollies, airs or plants) and is really beginning to focus on calling bullshit on the glossy parts of the industry. Everything worth doing requires someone like Tom or something like his blog to keep it honest, to preserve and, in this case, begin to restore its integrity. Go get 'em.
- With all the spam I get about Xanax, I'm beginning to wonder if someone's trying to tell me something - like lay off the caffeine. Fuck 'em. When I hit PT tomorrow, I'll be - as my dear friend Bart Chaos once put it - stone fuckwire crazy.
- For fuck's sake, stop emailing me about those goddamned Into Another reviews. Those records are almost 10 years old and the band hasn't existed in years. Get over yourselves already. Don't you have something more important to complain about than a record review on a Web site? Like, you know, the possibility of suspended elections in the U.S.? Like the possibility of disenfranchisement? Like the prospect of an impending police state in the name of keeping you safe? Fuck that! I'd rather be stabbed with a box cutter because enough people kicked up a fuss about the election than be safe and deal with more whining about irrelevant shit.
The Sultans. Paris Texas. Jesse Malin. The High Llamas. Client. David Candy. Miracle Chosuke. The Mountain Goats. Radio 4. Ted Leo. I Am The World Trade Center. Adrian Sherwood. Weird War. Bikini Kill. Sleater-Kinney. Forcefield. The Warmers. Jackie Mittoo. Weird War. Hella. Godspeed You Black Emperor!. Communiqué.
"Napoleon Dynamite," "Before Sunrise," "Before Sunset"
Joseph Campbell, "The Power Of Myth"
Paul Avrich, "Anarchist Portraits"; Bertrand Russell, "Why I Am Not A Christian"; Umberto Eco, "Island Of The Day Before"; Alan Lomax, "The Land Where The Blues Began"; Peter Guralnick, "Lost Highway" and "Sweet Soul Music"; Thomas Wolfe, "You Can't Go Home Again"; Steven Heller, "Graphic Design History" (edited with Georgette Ballance); Gunnar Swanson, ed., "Graphic Design And Reading"; Daniel Guerin, "No Gods No Masters"