A few words from HST, part 4

Posted in R.I.P., HST on April 24th, 2017 by bill

How long, oh Lord, how long? And how much longer will we have to wait before some high-powered shark with a fistful of answers will finally bring us face-to-face with the ugly question that is already so close to the surface in this country, that sooner or later even politicians will have to cope with it?

Is the democracy worth all the risks and problems that necessarily go with it? Or, would we all be happier by admitting that the whole thing was a lark from the start and now that it hasn’t worked out, to hell with it.

—“Fear and Loathing in the Bunker,” 1974

Song of the Week 4/22/2017

Posted in Somebody's birthday, Song of the week on April 22nd, 2017 by bill

Iggy Pop turned 70 this week, which is just rude.

But he’s still got a lust for life.

Song of the Week, 4/16/2017

Posted in Song of the week on April 16th, 2017 by bill

A few days ago this song came up on the iPod I keep in the bathroom, and every time that happens I end up listening to it a bunch of times because it is such a goddamn beautiful tune. It’s from Stephen Malkmus’ first solo album, which is now…wow…16 years old. Hit it, Steve.

A few words from HST, part 3

Posted in R.I.P., HST on April 14th, 2017 by bill

A good month after finishing Hell’s Angels, I finally cracked open The Great Shark Hunt to look for material of current interest. It didn’t take long. The first piece after the Author’s Note is called “Fear and Loathing in the Bunker,” and on the second page Hunter says:

Nixon…was blessed with a mixture of arrogance and stupidity that caused him to blow the boilers almost immediately after taking command. By bringing in hundreds of thugs, fixers and fascists to run the Government, he was able to crank almost every problem he touched into a mindbending crisis. About the only disaster he hasn’t brought down on us yet is a nuclear war with either Russia or China or both…but he still has time, and the odds of his actually doing it are not all that long.

This seems especially apropos in a week where President Von Clownstick discovered how much fun it is to bomb people. First it was Syria, then Afghanistan, and North Korea may be next:

China warned on Friday that tensions on the Korean Peninsula could run out of control, after North Korea said it could test a nuclear weapon whenever its top leader, Kim Jong-un, decided, and as an American naval group neared the peninsula in a show of resolve.

“The United States and South Korea and North Korea are engaging in tit for tat, with swords drawn and bows bent, and there have been storm clouds gathering,” China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, said in Beijing. (New York Times, 4/14/2017).

Read more »

Song of the Week 4/8/2017

Posted in Song of the week on April 8th, 2017 by bill

This week I find myself in New Orleans where, purely by coincidence, the French Quarter Music Festival is happening. This is how I came to see local legend Irma Thomas belting out “Time Is on My Side” yesterday at the “Abita Beer Stage,” sounding something like this:

Irma’s version is not the original — it was done first by trombonist Kai Winding and his orchestra in 1963. But it was her cover, recorded in early 1964, that provided the template for the version the Stones did later that year.

This song is used to chilling effect in the movie Fallen, which I think is about due for another viewing at our home. It also was featured in an episode of Treme, which was set in New Orleans, which brings us full circle and lets me get on with my day.

Song of the Week, 4/1/2017

Posted in Song of the week on April 1st, 2017 by bill

Now for something a little more contemporary…this week’s choice is a song from America’s most beloved rap duo, Killer Mike and El-P, also known as Run the Jewels.

These two guys are each talented on their own, but the chemistry between them is something special. This was on display a few weeks ago when they came to town in support of their latest album. It was flat-out one of the loudest things I’ve ever experienced – ribcage-rattling loud – but survivable with the help of earplugs and vastly entertaining. If they ever come to your town, you should check them out.

 

Songs of the Week 3/25/2017

Posted in Song of the week on March 25th, 2017 by bill

I was listening to the radio Thursday when the host teased an upcoming segment on the recently deceased Chuck Barris and I thought “No, you idiot, that was Chuck Berry who just died.” But alas, it turns out that both the Gong Show host/self-proclaimed CIA hitman and the co-inventor of rock’n’roll/ladies restroom video enthusiast departed the Earth this week, within three days of each other.

Both of these men led long and complicated lives full of triumphs and setbacks and a certain amount of just plain weirdness. I wrote about Chuck Berry on the Beatles blog today, but I did not have occasion to mention my very favorite Berry song, “Come On.” Just listen to the way he says “I wish somebody’d come along and run into it and wreck it”:

As for Chuck Barris, I recommend a spin through his Wikipedia page, where you’ll learn that in addition to being a television impresario, author, and “assassin” (the CIA denies it, but then they would), Barris was a musician and songwriter whose credits include Freddy Cannon’s #3 hit “Palisades Park.” Not exactly a lightweight.

Song of the Week 3/18/2017

Posted in Song of the week on March 18th, 2017 by bill

Recently I’ve been working on digitizing the aging cassette tapes of my old KZSC Santa Cruz radio shows, circa 1986–7, and it’s gotten me thinking it’s time to revive the old tradition of naming a song of the week. To honor the tradition I’m going to start with a classic from that era.

I first came to know Ashwin Batish when I started going to his shop, Batish Recording Enterprises, to buy blank cassettes. As my cassette needs were considerable in those days, I was a frequent customer, but to my regret I did not get to know him well and it took me a long time to learn what an interesting cat he was. And by the time I did learn my time in Santa Cruz was just about up.

It turned out, though, that Ashwin was not just the guy who sold me tapes by the case; he was a master sitarist from a long line of master sitarists. During my time at KZSC he released an album called Sitar Power where he laid classical Indian melodies over drum machines and electric guitars to create what might be called raga’n’roll. (He himself never called it that, though he did love to give his songs goofy pun names.)

My favorite song from it was one called “New Dehli Vice” on which Ashwin’s fleet fingers fly over the frets, shooting out bursts of cascading notes like sparks from a roaring fire. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve played air sitar to this song over the years; I was doing it again just now.

I find myself reflexively referring to Ashwin in the past tense because my memories of him are from long ago, but I just looked him up the web and he appears to be doing well. He’s on Facebook and Twitter (@sitarpower, naturally) has a website at ashwinbatish.com. He even has a new song called “Sitary Sitary Night.” It’s good to know some things haven’t changed.

Top o’ the Mornin to Ya

Posted in Bread and circuses on March 17th, 2017 by bill

irish obama

I’d like to dedicate this St. Patrick’s Day to my favorite Irish president, Barack O’Bama.

We miss you, Barry. Write soon.

Dinosaurs

Posted in Audio transmissions, Bread and circuses on March 14th, 2017 by bill

Listening to a cassette tape of one of my old radio shows, circa 1987, I ran across this grimly humorous recording of William S. Burroughs from the Giorno Poetry Systems album Better an Old Demon than a New God. It seems chillingly relevant in today’s climate; see if you don’t agree…