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…

What Time Is It?

Posted in Golden (State) Years on March 11th, 2017 by bill

I haven’t written much about the Warriors this season because it has been, and continues to be, my officially stated position that the games that matter are those that will be played in April, May, and June. But given the way things have been going lately, it may be time to say a few words.

Until about two weeks ago the Dubs were sailing along, looking set to wrap up the #1 seed in the Western Conference without much effort. New acquisition Kevin Durant was having a remarkably productive and efficient season, and the biggest complaint I was hearing from W’s fans was that it was kind of boring how badly they were beating everybody.

Then, in a road game against Washington, Wizards center Marcin Gortat knocked over Warriors center Zaza Pachulia, who rolled onto Durant’s knee. After holding our breath for 12 hours or so, we learned that Durant had a bruised tibia and was projected to be out for four weeks. This was not so bad; the worry immediately after the injury had been that he might be done for the year.

In the meantime, the Dubs lost that game against Washington, then the next one against Chicago — the first time they’d lost back-to-back games in two years. After bouncing back to beat the Knicks and Hawks, this week they again lost back-to-back games to Boston and, last night, Minnesota. Tonight, they play the San Antonio Spurs in a matchup many of us had circled as one to look forward to. But coach Steve Kerr says he’s going to rest Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andre Iguodala; and with the Spurs missing Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge, this one had gone from marquee matchup to battle of the benches.

When the smoke clears, the Warriors may have lost three games in a row and five of their last seven, and be clinging to a tenuous half-game lead over the Spurs in the standings. This is no time to panic, though. I mean, if you wanted to, you could, but I don’t think it would be a good idea. Every season has its ups and downs; last year the W’s put off the downs until they got to the playoffs, which didn’t end up working out so well.

In fact I think that this is a good time to affirm that, to coin a phrase, We Believe Again. (Welcome home, Matt Barnes.) Steph and Klay will shake off their shooting slump, Draymond and Andre will get this stretch of peculiar behavior out of their systems, KD’s knee will heal up, and all will be well with the world. And when it does I’ll be there to say, politely and with a smile, “I told you so.”

Happy 75th Birthday JC

Posted in Somebody's birthday on March 9th, 2017 by bill

Not that JC — I’m talking about John Cale. Not the one from Oklahoma, the one from Wales. Author of many great songs, “Cocaine” and “After Midnight” not among them. I’ll let him explain further:

 

Guest Post of Fake News… or Is It?

Posted in Bread and circuses on March 5th, 2017 by Mark Cassel

Fuckface Von Clownstick has signed a new Executive Order to replace the quotation under the Statue of Liberty with one more up to date. It will be inscribed thusly: “Give me your well-off folks able to support themselves. Don’t send any Bad Hombres or any Muslim Terrorists claiming to be Refugees. And make sure they are Extremely Vetted and speak English as goodly as President Trump.”

A few words from HST, part 2

Posted in Bread and circuses, R.I.P., HST, Read it in books on March 3rd, 2017 by bill

America has been breeding mass anomie since the end of World War II. It is not a political thing, but the sense of new realities, of urgency, anger and sometimes desperation in a society where even the highest authorities seem to be grasping at straws.

The above was written in reference to the Hell’s Angels, circa 1966, but just imagine how much worse things have gotten 50 years down the line. Well, I guess you don’t really have to…all you have to do is look around.

A few words from HST, part 1

Posted in Bread and circuses, R.I.P., HST, Read it in books on February 25th, 2017 by bill

My call for a visitation from the ghost of Hunter S. Thompson has so far gone unheeded, so I have decided to embark on a rereading of the complete HST oeuvre, starting with Hell’s Angels. When appropriate, I will share a few choice bits.

Parts of HA seem oddly relevant in the current landscape, particularly the portrayal of people whose politics are consistently at odds with their own self-interest. (“The Angels will be among the first to be locked up or croaked if the politicians they think they agree with ever come to power.”)  The following could easily refer to a certain subset of Von Clownstick voters, could it not?

Their lack of education has not only rendered them completely useless in a highly technical economy, but it has also given them the leisure to cultivate a powerful resentment…and to translate it into a destructive cult.

Sacred Songs, Part 6: Dear Believer

Posted in Audio transmissions on February 10th, 2017 by bill

Screen Shot 2017-02-10 at 9.06.21 AM
This one took some weird twists and turns along the way. Did I really want to kiss U2’s ass by putting them next to Lennon like that? Ah, to hell with it, it all sounds good to me.

Playlist: Read more »

Invocation

Posted in Bread and circuses on February 3rd, 2017 by bill

In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upward-mobile — and the rest of us are fucked until we can put our acts together: Not necessarily to Win, but mainly to keep from Losing Completely. We owe that to ourselves and our crippled self-image as something better than a nation of panicked sheep…but we owe it especially to our children, who will have to live with our loss and all its long-term consequences. I don’t want my son asking me, in 1984, why his friends are calling me a “Good German.”
– HST, 1971

Frequently over the last few months I’ve found myself wondering what Hunter S. Thompson would have had to say about the improbable and terrifying rise of President Fuckface Von Clownstick. We know in general terms, of course: Hunter would have hated him. But how, exactly, would that hatred have expressed itself? Would it have reached the same level as HST’s legendary antipathy to Richard Nixon?

We could really, really use a little of the old gonzo magic right now. I hereby call upon the spirit of Hunter Thompson to visit me in my dreams and tell me his thoughts. If he obliges, I’ll let you know.