Caterpillars

Posted in Whatever Else on November 28th, 2018 by bill

We are all caterpillars and it is our misfortune that, in defiance of nature, we cling with all our strength to our condition, to our caterpillar appetites, caterpillar passions, caterpillar metaphysics, and caterpillar societies. Only in our outward physical appearance do we bear to the observer who suffers from psychic shortsightedness any resemblance whatsoever to adults; the rest of us remain stubbornly larval. Well, I have very good reasons for believing (indeed if I didn’t there’d be nothing for it but to go off and dangle from the end of a rope) that man can reach the adult stage, that a few of us already have, and that those few have not kept the knack to themselves.

–René Daumal, A Night of Serious Drinking

Song of the Week, 11/24/2018

Posted in Audio transmissions on November 24th, 2018 by bill

Lately I’ve taken to naming an Artist of the Quarter, where I assign myself to dive deeply into one artist’s catalog over the course of three months. The first was Pink Floyd, and the second is The Fall.

To my mind the early Fall is hit and miss, with bold experiments in barbed pop sitting side-by-side with perplexing nonmusic. But they hit a real groove in the mid-80s, around the time Mark E. Smith’s wife Brix joined the band. The mid-to-late 80s Fall were tight as a belt on Thanksgiving, stunningly prolific, and perfectly balanced between accessibility and provocation.

The first Fall album I bought, 1988’s The Frenz Experiment, is still my favorite. All the songs are great, but something about this one stands out; only The Fall would match a riff clearly and shamelessly lifted from a Spinal Tap song (“Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight”) with a disturbing story about an East German athlete and his unfortunate brother, who “patriotically volunteer[s] to be sent on a labor beautification course of the countryside northwest of Dresden.”

 

Song of the Week, 11/4/2018

Posted in Song of the week on November 4th, 2018 by bill

Sing it, John.

Song of the Week, 10/27/2018

Posted in Song of the week on October 26th, 2018 by bill

Tony Joe White, the king of Swamp Rock, passed away this week. I must admit I didn’t really know his music, aside from “Polk [not Pork] Salad Annie,” which was famous for being covered by Elvis. But as it happens, just the other day, I heard this song on the radio as I was driving home from the Bay Area. It’s a good ’un.

 

A few words from René Daumal

Posted in A few words from Lao Tzu (or someone like him) on October 26th, 2018 by bill

Space is generated by need. Let’s say you’d like to take a walk. You simply project in front of you the necessary space which you walk across as and when [you need it]. The same with time. Just as a spider secretes the thread down which she climbs, so you secrete the time you need to do whatever you have to, and you proceed along this thread which is visible only behind you but usable only ahead of you.

–René Daumal
A Night of Serious Drinking

Song of the Week, 10/13/2018

Posted in Song of the week on October 13th, 2018 by bill

While driving back from the Bay Area this week, I heard the following and had a real WTF moment. If you want to do the same, listen before reading any further:

This turns out to be the work of one Bruce Haack, an electronic music pioneer who built his own synthesizers and put out lots of records, including one called Electric Lucifer that was fairly notorious in the 70s. Upon repeated listening “When Mothers of Salem,” culled from a recent compilation of his previously unreleased music, is maybe not quite as mind-blowing as I first thought; but I like the groove, and I’m always a sucker for weird songs about Jesus.

Through a strange series of circumstances, Haack appeared on Mr. Rogers Neighborhood back in 1968. Fred was super-into it:

As were the kids:

I think that last clip has been somewhat manipulated after the fact; the original seems to have been blocked by PBS, which now has Mr. Rogers behind a paywall. My instinct is to say “Screw you, PBS”; but I know Fred would want me to be nice.

Song of the Week, 9/30/2018

Posted in Song of the week on September 30th, 2018 by bill

Word arrived today of the demise of Otis Rush, one of the more underrated bluesmen. Though less than a household name, he was a guitarist and singer of raw, simmering power. Don’t take my word for it; here’s no less an authority than Lester Bangs, in Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung:

His singing is as fierce as any of the other Big Boys in the neighborhood, but it’s that guitar work you’ll keep coming back for. It’s beyond blues, beyond rock, certainly into atonal propositions too lewd for a family publication such as this. It sounds like giant bloody icebergs shuddering up to crunch together in the deepest, longest night of typically endless midwestern winter, and if you don’t think there’s icebergs in the Midwest you’ve never been here. This album is a masterpiece. It has nothing to do with anything but pain and hate and exorcism and impossibility, and if I were you I’d buy it.

I honestly had no idea that Otis was still alive, so it would disingenuous of me to feign great sorrow at his passing. But he was the man in his day. Check out, for instance, this oddly jaunty little number called “Violent Love” — blues guitar and cognitive dissonance at their finest.

It Is Risen

Posted in Whatever Else on August 21st, 2018 by bill

Turns out reports of my iPod’s demise were greatly exaggerated. It was the outlet the electrician had killed, as I discovered when I tried to plug in a replacement speaker. When retrieved from where it was lying in state and supplied with electricity, the iPod sprung right back to life.

Roll away the stone!

Song of the Week

Posted in Song of the week on August 19th, 2018 by bill

Since Aretha passed away this week the encomiums have been coming hard and heavy, as well they should. I don’t know what I can add; in the end it always comes back to the music, doesn’t it? I mean, check this shit out.

R.I.P. My iPod

Posted in Whatever Else on August 18th, 2018 by bill

Screen Shot 2018-08-18 at 1.37.00 PM

This week saw the demise of not only the great Aretha Franklin (of whom more later) but also my ancient and decrepit iPod, a gift from my stepfather back in 20(??) [this information not available] — engraved with my name and the URL of this very blog, no less.

For the last few years, after its battery died, it lived in the dock of a small speaker in the bathroom. But it continued to serve, providing shower music a couple times a week. Last Monday, though, the electrician working on our kitchen shut off the power for several hours. Apparently the electricity had been providing life support for the iPod, which did not revive when the juice was restored.

No tears need be shed — it had a good run. But we shall not see its like again, that’s for sure.