Saturday, October 21, 2006

Interview with Tom Shannon

I haven't been posting lately, due to it being completely unrewarding. I recently saw online that someone thought I was someone else, and let me just say that this is not true; and I don't want to go into further discussion of the matter. As you can well imagine, I don't think I will be posting very much anymore, if at all.

Also, Agony Shorthand, which I read often, has called it a day. I may, on occasion have disagreed with Jay's opinions, but when do you agree 100% with anyone? It was well and intelligently written, and I will miss reading it.

Final note, commenting has been disabled, due to an abundance of recent spam that somehow managed to get past the Blogger's filter. I can reinstate the comments, but it would entail wading through offers for obtaining prescription drugs online and hot stock tips.

Here's an interview conducted months ago with Tom Shannon of the Cheater Slicks. They have a new record, due out next year, and being a reliable band that has consistently produced great records over their long lifespan, I am going to take and educated guess and say that it's amazing.

Phil Honolulu: How old were you when you first started playing music?

Tom Shannon: I was 21, David was probably about 25, and Dana had been playing since he was a teenager. Neither David nor I played much until we were a couple years out of college. David was pursuing painting and I was just working. We both played other instruments in grade school. David was a pretty good trumpet player. We came from a musical family. Our dad is an accomplished pianist. In some ways that thwarted us rather than helped us.

PH: Did you play in a band before The Cheater Slicks?

TS: I played in a band called the Fishers in college back in 1984. It was just for fun, but was actually kind of a precursor to a lot of bands later that did garage and soul stuff. We had a black female singer. I had only been playing guitar about two months when we formed. It was fun but had no ambitions of being anything. Dana was in a high school punk/metal band called The Four Letter Words. He was just the singer. He formed the band with some degenerate pot head friends and they played their high school talent show. He sang "Gloria" I believe. They even played Boston a couple times and got some attention because they were bizarre high school kids from a nowhere town. They rode into Boston on the train to do their shows. David played with some friends in NYC but nothing serious.

PH: When did you first realize you could sing?

TS: I think I knew I could sing when I was a child. I heard things in a musical way, but was too shy and self defeatist to actually try singing. I think I knew I had the ability. Playing guitar and singing was of course another matter and took a couple years as a band to start to emerge. Dana was the first to sing in Cheater Slicks. "Leave My House" was the first song we did with vocals. Our first few shows were instrumental. We had a violin player. It was very droney noisy strange drug rock. Then we auditioned singers for about a year none of them working out. We then had to start singing for ourselves to get the sound we wanted. We were just too strange for most singers to latch on to. We felt we could do it better.

PH: How did you first meet Dana?

TS: Dana was in a band with a guy I went to college with. I had just moved to Boston, David hadn't even moved up yet. Anyway this college friend was involved in the music scene already and was friends with Stephen Merritt, and others in that clique. When David moved up we had another drummer. A High school friend of mine who ended up quitting right away. David and I continued to work on things alone after his departure. This college friend said we could use his practice space (for a fee) and "borrow" his drummer who turned out to be Dana. The minute we played together we knew there was something there. It was crude and awful, but the sound was already there. That's important when forming a band! We were lucky. Whoever we tried to bring into the band, it was always just the three of us somehow as the essential core.

PH: Did you really calculate how you wanted the Cheater Slicks to sound, or did it develop more organically?

TS: We have always worked organically and never tried to make a song sound like anything. It has to develop on its own, and if it's good we keep it if not we throw it out. This was true from the very beginning. We play and develop songs for years before recording them, because we have to wait for them to mature into their final form. We do it instrumentally at first and then add the vocals later after the music has developed sufficiently. We've never once verbalized how a song should be. We have never spoken between us about a song structure. We play it until it finds its own logic.

PH: Someone told me you're a fan of Alex Chilton's 'Like Flies On Sherbert' record, which is a favorite of mine, I'm just wondering what you think of Alex Chilton's other material...

TS: I saw Alex Chilton in Boston in 1986 or so and he was great. It was a shambolic set, not like the later more professional ones he started to do. I then hunted down as much of his stuff as I could. I like him pretty well up to "High Priest" then my interest dwindles. I loved the way he could make great songs from chaos. Even Big Star has an element of this. "Sister Lovers" is a masterpiece and "Flies on Sherbet" was influenced, I think, by his work with the Cramps. Being a huge Cramps fan at that time, I loved the messy rock n roll of "Flies". Panther Burns is great from that period also. I still respect him greatly and don't mean to speak ill of him in any way.

PH: What kind of music do you just DESPISE?

Many types. Most bands just bore me and that's the worst offense. I like to see depth and emotion in music, and lately that seems lacking. I don't like "suburban" whining crap. It has to cut deeper than that. Also I really miss rock n roll. There's not a lot of it out there anymore. Tons of punk rock, very little experimental original RNR. People don't seem to know how to play that beat anymore. We are getting farther and farther away from it. People view it as corny, I think. Nothing is truly threatening or outrageous anymore. I'm not a big fan of this neo-psychedelic folk thing going on right now. I wish it would just go away.

PH: Is there a Cheater Slick's song you're proudest of?

TS: I've always thought "Possession" was a huge breakthrough for us. That was when we became a band in my mind. It really stood out at the time. And we did it as a three piece. That let us know it could be done. I'm very proud of many of our songs, but I'm not egotistical about it. To me, they formed out of the atmosphere and we were the conduits. I've heard many songwriters say the same thing. Therefore I don't take full responsibility for their creation. And that is why they are still fun to play today. They haven't changed much and they're still alive. I'm proud of many of the quieter songs we do which get much less recognition than the most outrageous ones. Our band would not be what it is if we didn't do the melodic stuff.

PH: Do you ever listen to your earlier records, and wish you could go back and change things?

TS: I do not listen to our records much after they have become ingrained in my mind. Yes I would like to change many things about them, but I never would. The songs are what they are. Being self conscious of their deficiencies is all just a part of the growth process. They are moments in time...snapshots of ideas. But they are fixed in time. I would like to do a live record at some point to show the difference in how we play them live. Most of the songs are much heavier live.

PH: How long have you and your brother been painting?

TS: My brother was an art major in college. He was always extremely artistic. He still does art, but not a lot of painting at this point in time. I'm sure he'll get back to it. But lately he's been sculpting and working with molds and casting. I am an occasional painter and just started a couple years ago to help my mental state when I was going through some problems. I haven't done much in a year or so.

PH: Do you read reviews of your band? How do you deal with bad reviews?

TS: We got so many bad reviews when we started. It was a real obstacle to overcome, but we really didn't care because we had this concept in our heads that could not be reversed or changed. We were pretty much in a tunnel vision state at that point. But still it was discouraging to be put down so much because we were different. The late 80's and all of the 90's sucked musically. We had few bands to play with so we got paired with bands that hated us and we were subjected to a lot of hate and scorn. Not to mention all the audiences we drove out at that time. We could clear a room faster than any band in history. Still can on some nights! Luckily for us, certain people liked us and that gave us the confidence to think "we must be doing something right". Now the reviews are much kinder to us, but we are still largely ignored.

PH: Any current music that you really enjoy?

TS: I enjoy all of the noisy fucked up bands out there that still stick to rock n roll roots. And that does not mean they have to be traditional. We play with a lot of good bands these days. It's very encouraging, and they keep us young and alive and respect us because they know we never quit.

PH: Are you much of a reader? What have you read lately?

TS: We all like to read. My reading has been sporadic lately. It comes in spurts for me. I have been an avid voracious reader at times, then I have to put it down and live. Lately I haven't been doing nearly enough of it and I feel it in my soul. The last book I read was a biography of Djuna Barnes. I don't know what the others are reading right now.

PH: Do people from your normal life (folks from your job, etc. - people out of the whole band loop) know about the Cheater Slicks?

TS: I would say not. At our jobs, yes. Beyond that...not many would know or care. We are a very low profile band, and we do not talk about it much to people outside of the music scene. What we do really wouldn't make sense to most people and I don't want to inflict it on those people.

PH: Do you ever miss Boston?

TS: For me personally- not as a place to live. It is an interesting city, and we do have friends there. The music coming out of Boston is much better than it used to be and WMBR was a very supportive station. I have no hard feelings about Boston. We got our asses kicked, but that's just part of our story. We played with some good bands there and had some good opportunities also. There's still a little bit of the backstabbing quality of that city that bothers me though...

PH:It seems like people are finally starting to give the Cheater Slicks some much overdue credit, do you attribute your recent upswing in popularity to anything specific?

TS: I don't think the upswing is huge. It's still nearly impossible for us to play live because our fan base is so small. I think we have become influential to current bands, but that still does not trickle down to the prosperity of our band. It's very strange. I'm gratified that we have had the longevity that we have had. We've been very lucky that people still find our ideas interesting. That's really more important than packing clubs full of asshole know nothings. I hate going to shows filled with those people. That would be a curse to us.

PH: Can you describe the genesis of 'Thinkin' Some More'?

TS: At this point I really can't. What I can tell you was that it was very structured with cues and all sorts of inner workings that lead us like a map through the improvisation. And we did drink a bottle of whisky before recording it, and we did end it right when the reel of tape was very strange. It was our tribute to The Velvet Underground...that is pretty obvious...and it was our way of showing we could improvise and not just be another "garage" band...we practiced it A LOT which drove everyone in our rehearsal complex crazy...maybe THAT was the genesis!

Monday, July 31, 2006

Could It Be?

Got this comment, from Anonymous:

"fuck all you dumbfucks j williams"

'j williams'? Could it be? Could it be the J Williams of "i THREW!!!!!! a bananana!!! at maRk E SMITH!!!'S face!!!!" fame? Wow! This is exciting! He's in The Talk! He took time out of his busy schedule, making records in The Talk, and writing songs in The Talk, and performing items from the vast back catalog of The Talk to throngs of devoted fans of The Talk, to write to the likes of me! I feel all warm inside. You know, when you spare time trying to make people who have never done anything directly to you that you nevertheless feel an undeniably compulsion to insult feel bad about themselves and trying to nudge them gently into the realization that they are worthless and insignificant, well, an email like this makes it all worthwhile. The Talk are truly an innovative, impressive band, whose work will live beyond the realms of the human capacity for comprehending infinity. They are just that good. I mean, SHIT, look at his comment! Let me be the first to say: Mister Williams has an elegant way with words. Somebody get this man a book deal! Chain him to a typewriter! Hire a dictaphone operator! He's intellect is obviously impressive, and his command of English is frightening.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Academics - They Are Always Right

Penned by a Prof at Wesleyan:§ion=essay

Monday, July 03, 2006

New Feature

I have started a new feature for you, dear readers. It's called:


I've never met this nimrod, but I can tell, he is a real piece of shit (readers without iron clad stomachs are advised not to look). Here is the recipent of the first Letters Have No Arms Asshole Alert:

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Book Review "The Enchanters Vs. Sprawlsburg Springs"

Yep, even the title of the book has a halfassed, halfbaked, 100% unfunny joke in there, a soft fumbling prod masquerading under the context of a sharp jab. The eponymous Florida neighborhood is given the fictional title of 'Sprawlburg'* in 'writer' Brian Costello's toothless attempt at raging against, and lampooning the mediocrity of American suburban cookie cutter culture. It's ironic, because his book is just as benign, and predictable as any committee designed corporate slice of pap. I'd say it's the literary equivalent of some quickly erected boring suburban house, with nothing special to distinguish it from hundreds of thousands of others in American's never-ending sprawl. But building a house, even a lousy one, is an accomplishment. But writing a novel that is this bad? No dice, slick. Take a clichés plot, obvious observations, poorly rendered characters, bad jokes, top it off with some badly written romance, some repetitive wanna-be Steadman illustrations to fill some space, a hearty dose of masturbatory back slapping, a giant dose of childish sentimentality, and you're in the neighborhood of just what you're getting into if you make the grievous mistake of opening this book's cover. You know that box in 'Hellrasier', when you open it, and a thousand hooks come out and tear you apart while demon's that specialize in torture come out and take you into realms of pain that no mortal has ever had to experience? Well, you're better off opening that box then this book. It's far more pleasant.

In elementary school, I was told the title is supposed to tell the story of the book. We all (except possibly, Costello) know that's not necessarily true, but in this case, it's 100% true. There's a weak joke in the weak title of a weak book that you could easily extrapolate to be a one phrase telling of a weak story with weak, overdone themes. You'd think he would put a little more thought into the title of his debut, especially considering, by his own admission, that it took him "ten years" (page 192, part of his name dropping, self aggrandizing afterward) to write. Let's see, ten whole years? 3,650 days? To write a book, that including the liberal use of (bad) illustrations, and a two page afterward, is still only 193 pages long? So, it took him, 18.9 fucking days to write each page? So, this passage, on page 38:

The Blue, white-lettered sign announcing the entrance to the city limits came into view, a sign that should have read:


...but in a time-honored tradition, the newest generations of civic-minded prankster teenage geniuses changed it with blue spray paint so it always read:


That takes up about a quarter of the page, took 4.7 days to write? That joke took days to craft? To think this guy once accused me of being someone with nothing to do.

Pull up a chair and take a long hard look at some of the store names Costello's got under his sleeve:

Deep Dark Tan World
Poppyseed Bagel World
French Cafe Oui! Oui! World
Asbestos Removal World
Thin Crust Pizza World
Tattoo World
All-American Bigass Butterburger World
Canadian Meat Pie World
Liquor Time World
Compact Disc World
Air Filter World
Frozen Fishstick World
Worldly Pancake World
Cockring World
Australian Map World
Good Time America Family Restaurant World
Bitchin' Car Stereo World
Giganto Right Wing Video Chain World
Mr. Baked Potato World
Riboflaving Vitamin World
Roast Beef Au Jus World
Yer Basic Chicago Style Pizza World
The Wisconsin Universe of Cheese Castle World
Planet Clitpierce World
Gong Happiness China World
El Huevo Loco Costa Rican World
Mountain Oyster King World
Malibu Beach Surf n' Turf World
Iowa Hot Buttered Corncob World
Yee-Haw Wyoming Big Black Angus Rump Roast World
Nuthin But Cranberry Sauce World
Loud Willie's BBQ and Blues World

or where the climatic, 'Day Of The Locust' styled climax, only without anything interesting, cathartic, plausible, or amusing occurring, takes place: Latent Republican Hipster Music Club World.

What a side splitter, eh? I can picture the author, surrounded by dog eared copies of Hunter S. Thompson, Bukowski, Bangs and Kerouc books that you should get out of your system before you hit your twenties, smiling inwardly at his wit. Imagine how horrible that scene would be to watch. Now imagine how it is to read. It's even worse. There's nothing a matter with that kind of humor. The Simpsons are great at creating fake store names, riffing on the ever smaller gap betwixt complete absurdity and the manufactured reality, but then, The Simpsons has dozens of talented writers. 'The Enchanters' doesn't even have one. Furthermore, it doesn't even remain consistent, Sprawlburg is supposed to be an uptight, tightass town chock full of conservatives and rednecks, and the whole town goes into a world class tizzy over one punk band, but they still have retail establishments that specialize in piercing clits and selling cockrings, and cockrings only. So, rather then keep a relative consistency to the book, the writer goes for a horrible joke. This is fiction grounded in reality, so any Meltzer Dada spew as an alibi for some really poor humor isn't going to fly with me. Even the narrator, who goes by the name of Shaquille Callanhan, works as a squid cutter at an establishment called "Cleveland Steamerz Good Time Bar and Grille World". Get it? A Cleveland Steamer, for those of you who do not know, is when one party defecates on the chest of another, then sits down, and rocks back and forth on the excrement. Pretty funny in itself, right? That's a four alarm knee slapper, and if you don't think so, you must be uptight or something. in fact, to use a phrase straight from the book "I don't even know what to do with you", of course, the fact that the PLACE where he WORKS, has the SAME NAME, well, that my friends, that's comedy.

Full disclosure time, ladies/gents/boys/girls - I've had a run in with Costello before. Not in person, mind you, (I have standards), although I did see his 'band', which sounded like the type of generic hardrock masquerading as punk I've been putting up with, sitting through waiting to finish, or diligently putting in my 'sell' pile since I started listening to the music in the first place. Paying lip service to the Germs and Electric Eels, while wearing your best '77 styled threads, appropriating some kind of attitude, and then playing the same generic four chord snooze, doesn't make you especially interesting. Anyway, I made a mention in this here blog, saying that I found his band to be 'mediocre'. For his band, that’s a compliment. A few days later I got a lengthy, indignant email, from the writer of this very book, and some upset comments from Mister Costello on Christmas day, a few years ago, some of which I responded to. Much of his anger, besides being quite upset over his nasty diaper rash, was over my negativity regarding rock bands. Occasionally, I would read one of badly written, ego saturated columns online at Terminal Boredom, and I once got an email, describing another, alleged hissy fit the writer had when someone heckled him onstage at his talkshow. Which made this excerpt of pages 84-86, which, by my calculations, must have taken roughly twenty days to write, apropos:

God, they were awful. Bland 1990s self-absorbed go-nowhere noodlings, where everything's so self-conscious and arty, so "pretty picture," so cold and prefabricated. Like everything else about our town, we'd wonder if we were the only ones who saw it, because if you stripped away the hoo-haw, there was nothing but pretentious bullshit hipster types were too dumb to suss out. [Note: Pot? Kettle?]
Reneee threw her wine glass at the diminutive guitarist's feet. It shattered louder then the music they played. "This band's [italics] terrible."
"Yepper." I threw my wine, then a couple other drinks from a nearby table. They arced beautifully and splashed into the eunuchy lead singer's pensive face. Nobody in the audience had the guts to stand up to us, because we were The Enchanters, and we had an unearned reputation as total psychopaths.
After sitting through half of their boring set just wanting to go to sleep, I daintily cursed at the band.
"You lousy limpdick asshole fucks!" I screamed, picking up food from tables and hurling chicken wings, shrimp, lemon wedges, potato wedges, everything landing on stage or on the performers, who didn't respond to our attacks, trying to remain above the fray while looking around wishing somebody, anybody, would deal with us. This reaction to us just made sense after drinking two bottles of wine each.
"You guys stink! Go back to Chicago!" Renee screamed. I made to throw a chili dog at the showoffy overly syncopated drummer, armed arched back like Joe Montana, but was sacked and grabbed, and my throwing arm was forced behind my back. Some goon bouncer with chocolate pudding ring facial hair threw me out, promptly followed by Renee, who landed next to me on the sidewalk, and inside, we could hear, for the first time, a gut reaction: applause.
"It's about time you showed some humanity, you fools!" Renee yelled inside, standing up and extending a hand to pull me up.
"I was only dancing," I slurred, as I rose to my feet. "Why would they kick us out?"
"Oh, don't worry about them," Renee said as we walked to where we parked the van. "But my neck is sore." She looked up to the sky like a soldier waiting for the freedom bird that's gonna take him back to his hometown. "Hint. Hint."
I laughed and rubbed her neck as we walked down Apple Avenue, past all the lame dance clubs and theme bars blaring their synthetic house noise out onto the street, through and past the armies of black-silk-shirt-wearing, gel-headed club dudes and their scantily clad silvery sparkled women. We had put on a good show back there, and I was proud.

Yeah, so the dealings with my guy were negative, and he implied that if I ever met him face to face, he just may want to punch me. But, I'm telling you, honestly, reader. If Costello and I were inseparable bosom chums, close since childhood, the whole 'two souls inhabiting one body' guff, bigtime best friends, it wouldn't change my opinion of this book one iota. It's terrible.

Plot goes thusly: lead character, too big for his britches dumbfuck that thinks he smart, in terms too lame to discern if it's strictly satirical, but too mundane to be considered absurdist, wages war against the humdrum walls of everyday small town Florida life. He does this by joining a band as a drummer, immediately bedding the female lead singer, romance ensues, as the band, increases in popularity, reaching critical mass and imploding before everyone goes back to being the same numbskulls they were before, yet changed. Newsflash: this kind of drone has been done to death, and these obvious observations under the pretense of being some kind of actual insight is a bore. So the theme falls flat, and the author's (I hesitate to use the term 'writer') attempts to struggle with it are like watching a stand up comedian bombing badly and trying in vain to salvage some dignity. One of the problems, is the central conceit of the book, the Enchanters are one of those monumental bands that rarely graces humanity, and inspires the people around them. In the opening pages, describing the narrators first show with The Enchanters, he looks at the various party guests, and then in one of the books numerous lapses into confusing chronology, goes on to describe the bands the guests later started, The Enchanters as a facsimile for the oft-repeated 'everyone that saw them went out and formed their own band' maxim attributed to the Velvet Underground. Problem, is, the writer is not skillful or evocative enough to ever make the Enchanters sound interesting, intriguing, or worthwhile, much less monumental. Then, the descriptions of the bands that formed in The Enchanter’s wake supposed to be, rib ticking nyucks, is just satire that not quite there, and doesn’t work. Within the first few pages the writer's intentions are horribly muddled. Are we supposed to think the bands are good? Bad? Coattail riders? We're not talking deliberate ambiguity, just poor writing. We get name dropping left and right, The Stooges, The Buzzcocks, Black Randy, Lou Reed, etc., all part of the hodge podge of influences that The Enchanters utilize, but again, the description of the music, which the body of the novel rests on, is so poorly done it makes the entire thing fall apart. As the band gains popularity through it's house party live shows, record store clerks at 'Obscure Pop Culture Reference CD and Record Review World', "ordinarily snooty clerks lost their cool, begging us to put out a record”, the local television station does a special on the band, where their impact, albeit locally, is compared to Elvis and The Beatles, and the one good local rockcrit, a throwback to the glory days, describes the band "MOST IMPORTANT thing I've seen since seeing the Germs back in '79 (which didn't feel that important really at the time) and maybe even Altamont in '69 ...yeah, they're THAT good, kids." One, consider the implications of the drummer in a band as thoroughly boring as the Functional Blackouts, writing a book about, in first person, about the drummer of a band, and saying that said band is that good. Does that make anyone else's head reel?

Listen to this rehashed 60's rebop, during one of the descriptions of an Enchanters live show:

We were winning, and it wasn't political-that's always the last thing to change-no, it was energy. Something bigger then was opening before us in our minds (assuming we didn't suffocate ourselves at these parties), the very possibilities of what life could give us. It was no longer, just school or work, then home to the TV. We had reclaimed our lives, and while we didn't have the numbers, much less the guns, we at least had each other, and we at least had these shows.

What are The Enchanters like?"[They] wanted to stand out, tired of the same old boring retrograde nonconformity". They do so by dressing in identical costumes (football helmets) and wearing identical orange face paint. When "None of the old rebellions worked anymore at freaking squares" they dangle hand lotion under their nostrils to resemble snot, and write absurd slogans on their t-shirts. The book has no real forward momentum, as Costello describes various episodes of their lives. It doesn't go anywhere, offers no real insight into character, it just kind of lurches around.

As for the love story, it starts of pretty quick. Narrator falls for the lead singer, who deep-sixes her no dating anyone in the band rule ‘cause he is just the appealing, makes out with him on the porch at the show, and goes and fucks him that night. She's a poorly written, unrealistic tramp, that reads like wish fulfillment fantasy of a fifteen year old punkers ideal women. You don't believe the love affair for a second, or even that she is something resembling a real person, so any romance or pathos when it goes to shit, it all goes right out the fucking window. As for the narrator, he throws a glass of wine at his beloved when she has the gal to ask him how stupid he can be when he fucks up cooking pasta, then he slams the door, and runs off and cries. I'm not making that up. When she opens her heart to him, in what is supposed to be a touching episode, revealing how her mom went gradually batshit, leaving her emotionally scarred, Costello gets to the reason. The character's Mom used to tape record her own bodily noises. Yep, comedy and tragedy, they are inseparable, aren't they? The book lurches around, tales of love and the band rubbing elbows until it concludes with their first big show, at the club the band previously had too much punk rock scruples to play. I don’t want to give away the ending, but I will let you know you’re not missing much. But the hoary old plot contrivance of the band needing money, and having to play THE BIG SHOW, comes into play. Yep.

The book’s got some quotes on the cover; some from people outright praising it, like Todd Dillis, who edits things I don’t read. Or Shawn Shiflett, an author I’ve never heard of, and I read a lot. I can’t believe it got published, and I’m even more flabbergasted people liked it. I’m not at all jealous, because I’d rather have a terminal disease then have written a book this terrible, but that something this unnotable, and unfunny, can actually garner any praise, much less a publisher, is truly sad. Even worse is the two page, back slapping acknowledgment that ties up the end of the book (note: can we please not have writers thank a dozen people and talk about themselves and the context of which they sat down and wrote something anymore?), giving a final gust of hot air and ego before it mercifully finishes. Get this: Costello actually teaches fiction writing at Columbia College in Chicago

It's the kind of book you imagine a junior high school kid writing. A kid with ambition and unwarranted self confidence - probably the offspring of supportive parents who never gently let their untalented progeny know that they are probably better off working as desk jockey that pursing a dream they are too boring and lack the skill to accomplish. His friends laugh, happy that their buddy wrote a book. His parents encourage, happy that they took the time to sit in front of his PC and try to creatively express himself. Some second rate blogs, and tiny little literary outfits catering to a more counter culture crowd might unload a little praise here and there, but the purpose of criticism isn't to pat everyone on the back. This is the real world, so let's call a spade, a spade. Or in this case, a smug, self satisfied masturbatory amateurish waste, a spade. But let me clear something up for the easily confused out there: writing a book is not much of an accomplishment. Anyone can do it. Big fucking deal. Spending years crafting something? So what? If the said book isn't very good, then the writer's time, and by extension, mine (which I have to admit, isn't very valuable), was completely wasted. This juvenile ode to nonconformity, poorly rendered romance, sophomoric punk rock ethos and naive optimistic humanism strikes me as bullshit. Not to mention the fact that the prose chomps. Skip it, there's more literary value in reading a street sign.

*The NAME OF THE BOOK is misspelled on THE FUCKING COVER. You get the idea of what kind of literary geniuses we're dealing with?

I was going to send this email, to the head of the writing department where Mister Costello teaches, but decided not to. Anyone that employs this writer, as a writing teacher, is a monster, and obviously capable of anything. I don’t want to cross them.

To: [name excised, easily found on the internet]
From: philhonolulu [at]
Subject: ‘The Enchanters Vs. Sprawlsburg Springs’

Dear Mrs. ---- ------

I recently read the novel "The Enchanters Vs. Sprawlsburg Springs", and I have to say, and forgive the superlative, but I am being truthful: it is it one of the worst novels I've ever came across. After slogging through it, I discovered that the writer actually teaches at your establishment, furthermore, teaches WRITING. I wanted to register my displeasure that your department actually has the gall to employ someone that writes so poorly. What wisdom can he possibly impart on his students? What insights are they going to receive? What can they possibly learn? Have you even read the abomination in question? If I was a parent, and my offspring was in your writing program, I would be appalled. Not because I found anything in the book objectionable thematically, or because I found the book to be offensive... No, simply, put, it was just so horribly, amateurishly written, that the fact that you would have this person teach at your establishment is black eye on your entire college, and to my thinking, makes your entire department a joke.


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Hey Justin Williams, Fuck You!

Not only do I think this Justin Williams guy is a piece of shit from his horrible band, or his childish actions, or his absolutely intellectually invalid attempts to rationalize said actions... But to properly research this post I had to look at Pitchfork Media. Now I'm really pissed.

Anyway, this dipshit, not because he is a immature whiney fucker - is actually trying horn in on something that wasn't any of his business and correct (in his own myopic manner) an injustice that had nothing to do at all with him. How did he perform this heroic deed? He threw a banana peel at forty nine year old Mark E. Smith's misshapen head in Arizona, causing all manner of chaos on a tour that was already wobbling along on it's last legs after the entire backing band left. Why did this busybody piece of shit feel the need to stick his nose in, of all people's, The Fall's business?

According to noted news organization,, Williams said:

"FUCK MARK E. SMITH HE SUCKS, MARK E. SMITH a.k.a MR. BURNS has managed to piss off his band so bad they quit and left him in america with his crazy wife slash one fingered keyboard player... MARK pulled a corkscrew on his bass player poured beer and ashed on the head of his tour manager while driving (who has also quit the tour) and played only one full set without slithering off stage to his R.V. to dive into a bottle of scotch."

Well, it is Mark E. Smith, didn't you do your research, asshole? That shit happens to The Fall all the time. Big goddamned deal, they are, after all, the fucking Fall. Business as usual.

"the man is in his late 40's and looks older than my dead grandfather i'm sorry to those out there who are fall fans but you do not know this guy he is an idiot the three other members of the fall are great guys nice as can be and i wish the best for them..."

Well, I am perfectly willing to concede that Mark E. Smith is a jerk, an asshole, or someone who is not at all fun to be in a band with, but he's not an idiot. Beneath his ghastly exterior and horrible interpersonal skills, is someone who is intelligent and articulate. I've made fun of people's personal appearance before, but only when it is something they can change (like if the idiot, yes, legitimate idiot) in the Soledad Brothers got a decent haircut, then I wouldn't make fun of him anymore. Mark E. Smith presents himself decently, like a normal working class fuck, without any pretension. You see what the assholes in The Talk look like? I'd sure like to stab one. So what if Mark E. Smith looks old? He's been releasing records since 1978.

And yeah, I've gotten guff for criticizing people when I am told I shouldn't be allowed to touch their shoelaces, but the only thing notable about Williams, besides having even worse grammar and spelling skills then yours truly, and The Talk is that they managed to weasel their way on to an ineptly booked The Fall tour.

So Justin Williams, took it upon himself, unsolicited might I add, and in the spirit of selfless altruism, to throw a banana peel at forty nine year old Mark E. Smith while he is playing on stage.

"i was told by the falls tour manager he and the rest of the band were going home without mark knowing and this would be the last show this really pissed me off BAD!!! if this had happened a few years ago i would have beat the shit out of him but i'm older now so i picked up a dirty banana peel ran onto the stage and threw it in his face as hard as i could and walked away he ran after me with some 1800's English boxing hands and wanted to fight i laughed and walked away knowing in my head this man has only a few years left..."

It pissed you off BAD!!! Did it? Did it make you ANGRY!!!, too? Are you UPSET!!!? How about you go FUCK!!! yourself? To Mark E. Smith's credit, he still tried to fight the much younger, and presumably fitter, Williams. But Williams is just too awesome to fight, even after provoking someone. What an asshole.

After The Fall left the stage, the crowd chanted "U.S.A." and demanded a refund. Why would anyone ever chant "U.S.A.", what kind of assholes go the Fall shows in Arizona? And why didn't they do something productive, like beat the shit out of Justin Williams, whose fault it was in the first place? (Oh wait, I'm wrong, it was Smith's fault that Williams had to do that).

Williams offered this apology:

"p.s. sorry to everyone in phoenix i threw a banana at mark during the show i know you payed good money to see that shit but if it was not for us talking the rest of the band to come to phoenix they would not have even showed up so be lucky you even got that much do not be mad at us be mad at MARK E. SMITH he does not care if you were there or not he does not care about his fans trust me i know first hand"

Oh, okay, that makes it all better. The lack of periods really underscores your argument.

Why do people think violent crime is bad? If tomorrow, some enterprising young psychopath beat Williams to death, would it really be that horrible? I mean, let's face it, our gene pool is already irreparably fucked, there's plenty of people on the earth already, what would it manner? It's all Buddhism folks, if some asshole in The Talk dies horribly, and nobody cares, did it actually happen? Here's hoping we can find out, and soon.

Interview Coming In A Few Days

For real this time.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Excellent News, Provided Someone Isn't Yanking My Chain

Hello Readers, My Dear Sweet Readers,

I received this in my inbox recently, and felt compelled to share it with you. You, the vast throngs of the great unwashed with access to a computer, and access to the internet. Those of you, the cultural elite, who still regularly peruse my site, hoping for any wit or wisdom to be deposited from my pen, who kept their hopes up despite total lack of updates for a couple months.

To witt:


My name is ALFIE FALCKENBACH and I am the producer and owner of the 2 HUBBLE BUBBLE albums, and yes, I'm going to re-release them later this year, because I'm tired of fans being ripped and paying hundred Dollars or more for bootlegs!
We'll probably put both albums on one audio compact disc.

Best regards,


Well, I hope someone is pretending to be Mister Falckenbach in a misguided attempt to get my hopes up, fool, or confuse me. But I have a good feeling that this news is correct and true, and that the bootleggers will be foiled, and moneies properly installed in the rightful coffers via the magic of a legitimate release.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Darren McGavin


Don Knotts


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A Move I Will Never, Ever, Ever See

Nanny McPhee

Chris Penn


Monday, January 23, 2006

Anything I Can Do?

Anything, where anyone would buy me airfare, and a ticket to go see All Tomorrow's Parties?

Where I can see THE SCIENTISTS, THE FLESH EATERS, and Letter's Have No Arms' interviewee Ben Wallers and THE COUNTRY TEASERS all in one night?

I can't afford it, and I have no money, no savings, no resources. Not even my records are worth that much. So, if anyone wants me to do anything for them (and I do mean ANYTHING), contact me, please.


Thursday, January 19, 2006

Wilson Pickett


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Bad Writing

From 'More Goat Than Goose' website:

Black Lips
Let it Bloom
In the Red Records

Sixties garage revivalists the Black Lips hit the scene once again with a new release, Let it Bloom this time on Los Angeles' In The Red Records. The album features sixteen tracks of raw punk all of which are dedicated to the memory of Greg Shaw, the grandfather of garage rock. Let it Bloom, is the Black Lips third full length release and is the groups most melodic album to date.

With original 1960's era Harmony guitars and vintage amplifiers the Black Lips reinvent the sound that defined the underground music scene of the decade. Most obviously comparisons can be made to early Rolling Stones (think 12X5), the Kinks, and the Troggs.

The scraggly looking quartet kicks off the new album with "Sea of Blasphemy" a danceable track with a fuzz guitar undertone. "Hippie, Hippie, Hoorah" the third song on the album makes use of heavy reverb to capture the bands 60's retro feel. The Black Lips also put a unique spin on the Archies classic "Sugar Sugar" in track 13 "Dirty Hands" on which they change the lyrics to be about building sand castles, smoking dope, and getting tattoos. Let it Bloom is definitely not for everyone, but music geeks and punk rock enthusiasts will find themselves pleasantly surprised with the new Black Lips album.

Paul Borchert

Just terrible, terrible writing. Bland, passionless, and uninformed. Like reading translated stereo instructions and lacking any type of criticism or insight. The Archies? What the hell are you talking about? Wrong song titles, failure to recognize the Dutronc cover as such, and the last line is a study in thudding banality.

Hey Paul Borchert, don't quit your day job of staring off into space trying to form a coherent thought, okay pal? Asshole. Idiot. Moron.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Lou Rawls


Saturday, December 17, 2005

Does Anyone Need A Gmail Invitation?

I have a bunch, email me if you'd like one.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Richard Pryor


Sunday, November 27, 2005


Is the entire LP any good? I've had the altogether great 'A Dream For Julie' on the second Nuggets box for quite awhile (dig the changes and the big bold vibrato on those chords) and before I cough up the cash for the entire record, even on the basis of an exceptionally strong song - I'd like some assurances that I won't be flushing my money down the toilet. I think a lot of it is how much I've been listening to the Zombie's superlative 'Odyssey and Oracle' as of late, and even if 'Time Of The Season' has me running full tilt boogie for the tonearm (so I don't have to endure that overplayed number that, through no fault of theirs I associate with baby boomer bullshit nostalgia fests) the rest of the record is pretty much perfect.

Want to get the LA Dusseldorf reishes, too, but I don't know if it's the krautrock where there are actual songs and you can actively listen to, rather then the passive textural sound workouts of say, Faust (who I like, but only put on as background sound for some other activity, instead of wanting to put on a CD-R and give to someone with a hearty endorsement) which is all well and good, but not what i'm in the mood for with my limited record buying dollar. Not to mention those import prices, which are ridiculous.

Also, did I mention already I saw the surprisingly tolerable 'Punk: The Attitude' documentary? I don't know if I did, but it's worth watching. In addition to the usual parade of footage and interview subjects, they get into No Wave and other stuff you wouldn't expect 'em to. Kids today have it easy, getting a really quick and easy history lesson like that. Some more quick impression? Their efforts at disguising the fact that they couldn't obtain the licensing for Nirvana are pretty hilarious. Glenn Branca is possibly the most annoying person in the entire cosmos. Their assertion that there was no notable punk rock from the No Wave era until Nirvana came along is, at best, dubious. Henry Rollins, is the last person that should be poking fun at shirtless macho jock types, and that lineage of the Velvet Underground leading up to mainstream acts like Blink 182 and other people that sound just like them shouldn't be seen as sad and tragic, but as an encouraging indication of how punk rock managed to seep into the mainstream (arguing what constitutes punk rock is a loosing battle, but I'd say with all certainty, that Blink 182, Green Day, and their ilk, are not punk rock in the way that I've define it). Anyway, despite my (exceptionally valid and insightful) criticisms, I'd suggest watching it.

Friday, November 25, 2005

I Hate This Country, And It's Populace

Let's make a holiday of stealing our land from a bunch of savages (but make sure to leave out the part about 'stealing our land from a bunch of savages' and replace it, with I don't know, a fairy tale about a bunch of savages and some ignorant, puritanical Pilgrim shitfuckers having a fucking dinner party), and celebrate it by... Encouraging gluttony. Gluttony, might I add, marked by the consumption of the most bland of all meats. There you have it: America in a nutshell.

If we've got the time, let's squeeze in some homoeroticism/ceremonialization of a bunch of illiterate horrible goons in tight pants who tackle each other and play catch for a living (football). Let's dress all this up in bullshit ribbon about being thankful for our families (what is the divorce rate right now? How much higher is the probability that you'll be murdered by a family member then by a stranger?) before we top it off and buy a bunch of shit we don't need on Friday.

I spent Thanksgiving alone, the way I like it. I was invited to a coworker's house, but I declined the invitation. I have empty spaces to stare off into, which I prefer to meeting someone else's family. I don't like YOU - what makes you think I would like your goddamned family? Just because I see you everyday because I need to get my paycheck from somewhere means that you somehow think you're entitled for some of my companionship? Doesn't matter - I know the reasoning behind said invitation. It's so they can display their selfless altruism (the party that invited me was banking on this future conversation: You gave a bunch of money to the poor? You're a charitable individual that makes a public display of how much they care? Oh yeah? Well, I had fucking PHIL over for Thanksgiving dinner, top that, motherfuck). I'll be dipped in human shit before I'll a trophy on the mantle of concern for these fucks. Had three turkey TV dinners and am about to call it a night. Nothing good is on TV, and the book I'm reading sucks. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Coming Soon

Letters Have No Arms, The T-Shirt.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Link Wray


I should have seen him when I had the chance.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Help Me Out Here, Folks

I've tried, a half dozen LP's have passed through my hands, a dusty box set sits on my shelf, and some CD's are gathering dust, unplayed. I've got all matter of stuff beckoning to be traded for something I will actually listen to. I've tried. Oh, how I have tried. I've tried listening in my car late at night, listening while drunk, listening after watching a Western. I read one of the volumes of his autobiography. I can whole heatedly admit that the image of him being the shit kickingest sumbitch from Catalina to Timbuktu seems valid. I think I may have even forgiven for, if memory serves finding God (after all, the devil is the only deity that passes muster with yours truly). But, I just don't get Merle Haggard. Maybe it's me.

Maybe it's that my Country ears just aren't developed enough. I've never owed a cowboy hat. I hate camping. I'd rather get a terminal disease then go on a cattle drive. I think the romanticism of the West is completely ridiculous. The old West was, depending on the season, either far too hot or far too cold, and every single person was illiterate ugly, mean, covered with filth, or some combination of all four. I think the modern Country Music industry is only slightly preferable to Nazism. I love the Carter Family. I adore Ernest Tubb. I listen to Hank Williams often. Johnny Cash, Marvin Rainwater, Dolly Parton, George Jones, Roger Miller, Buck Owens, The Louvin Brothers, Tammy Wynette, all of them are great, and I find myself putting on their records. But still, is my straining to find something that makes Haggard stand out amongst such towering company and coming up short is like asking some Country aficionado to discuss the finer points in the difference between Pussy Galore and The Birthday Party?

I don't know. I'm about to permanently give up, and jettison myself of all Haggard material. His songs always seem to throw in a wrong chord, and while terrifically competent, never really stick in my noggin. I think of his output as passive background ambience, and anything more and my take-this-off-the-turntable muscle begins to itch something fierce.

So tell me, before I throw in the towel, anything I should listen to? Any wonderful tracks I managed to miss that I should dust off?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Right Now, I Am Sick

It could have been all the candy I ate (prodigious, near staggering amounts - and this is coming from a veteran of gastric overindulgence) or it just could have been whatever bug is going around. I refuse to take flu shots (don't trust 'em). Even though the cheap scumfucks with skeletal features and dead eyes who hold the elusive keys to the dusty, unused purse strings are murderously cheap cocksuckers, they spring for some fuck with dubious qualifications with a needle and some mystery fluid to come around and poke everyone in my office who is up for it on the company's dime. I never go for it. And don't give me shit about the stuff I heard about on the radio that can supposedly keep certain varieties of bird flu away, I read the Great Influenza and even if Bush finally did something decent (although motivated by a deep, pervasive desire to try and redeem his performance in the face of crisis in the public's eye - note: I could try and be funny and flippant and say that much of said public deserves the misery they brought themselves by voting for his stupid, stupid ass into office, but it's too soon, check back in a few months and maybe I will edit this part I am writing right now out) with his surprisingly competent plan to prepare for the onslaught of a global pandemic of death that will give me a great excuse to not leave the apartment for eight months, we're flat fucked either way, and man, that Wilson was a jerk, wasn't he?

Sickness is cramping my already scattershot gibberish, and my already poor command of simple grammar and inability to express coherent thoughts is suffering, as am I. I feel like my body is a car bound for the scrap heap, a real junker. A ten penny shitbox. I can barely control it. I cannot achieve comfort in any position. My nausea is overpowering. My limbs periodically loose feeling. A great heat settles around me, followed by a bone chilling cold. Getting up is torture. I feel like I ate a wheel barrow full of graveyard dirt. My eyes ache, even when closed. My head feels like I just removed it from the inside of a bum.

I am sitting on my chair, which is groaning, and my back is hurting and I'm hunched over, looking at the screen and listening to my cheap ass old fashioned monitor hum and I wish I had someone to bring me a nice bowl of chicken soup, a hot toddy, or a tall glass of pulpy, fresh squeezed orange juice. The only edibles I have around here are some leftover Almond Joys (why did I buy those? I don't even like them. Phil Honolulu/me is a 100 Grand Man, goddamnit) and some cold buffalo wings that I think are rancid. They are in a takeout container, which has filled with condensation and the thought of the buffalo wings makes my mouth water, but not in the impending tastiness way, but in the way that serves as a prelude to vomiting. For me to not want some buffalo wings, means I am fucked up, and even that House M.D. motherfucker, that is on TV right now (and who I would be watching, if I was the type of no good asshole dickhead fuckface dumbshit stupid shitsack idiot that watches that) would be horrified by the symptoms of me being disgusted at the prospect of ingesting buffalo wings.

Is this what we have to look forward to? I've just got some kind of cold/all purpose S I C K going on, what is a real, bona-fide disease like? I know people that claim to be sick every day or two, always stuck with a case of the sniffles and acting like it's terminal. But when a real one comes along? I've known people that have been really sick, and it's horrible and ugly and sad but they seem to handle it with such grace. Would I be able to? How can people cope? I have been thinking about heroism (and my lack thereof) lately, and the ones that really come to mind are the people that fight disease, scientist types in smocks with poor social skills who are dedicated to improving the quality of life, not motivated by the desire for fame or money (although I am sure some are), but the ones that really want to HELP PEOPLE. I generally do not like people, but there are times in the abstract when taken as a big vague group, humanity, warts and all, aw shucksness of it, and thinking of the pain that people have to go through and how someone could ease that and want to spend their life doing it, and it all seems so goshdarn noble. Especially for someone that, as means of [don't know yet] gets his jollies insulting second rate shitty bands on his blog. How do people in shitbucket countries and neighborhoods that are violent and poverty stricken and inconceivably terrible to a fat ugly whiteman in San Diego who gets knocked on his ass by a weak cold and nearly cries everytime he thinks of all the girls that he had the hots for (note: unrequited), but are able to get out and/or help people and whatnot, y'know, and again, not wanting the fame and blah blah blah. I've read that true altruism doesn't exist (and can certainly see the argument, like, y'know we're talking for reaping spiritual rewards later) but even if some sociology type from a big fancy school who spends much of their time talking to other very smart people who live in handsomely decorated homes and have research assistants, social behavior is, um, a PRETTY BIG FUCKING BALL OF WAX, and there are exceptions, and some people could, conceivably be altruistic and not motivated by and sub?conscious guff (hey God, you see what I did, just there? get my eternal reward seat ready there, pal, i'm on my way) or showboating for others/God again, just actual nice helpful people. I've always been vaguely distrustful of people like that, assuming that they have the torso of a missing Boyscout in their ceiling vent, but they're has to be some out there, and what the fuck am I doing talking this uninformed, uneducated line of jive on a blog anyway? Fuck I feel terrible. I want to sleep sleep sleep, but I can't. I can just stare at the ceiling and feel bad. My kingdom (note: who am I kidding? It ain't shit) for some chicken soup. With lot's of noodles. Steam wafting off. Nice little bit of barely perceptible bite to the broth. Noodles. Maybe some pieces of carrot. It's not too much to ask, is it?

That's Just Fucking Great

To view, select it and feel my pain.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Tokyo Electron

Some bands I just never make it to. I hear the various critical huzzahs, but far too many records are dubbed humdingers for me to take the 75% horseshit ratio of that sentiment very seriously. I had these guys pegged as second tier, sight unseen, just because it was easier to rationalize not purchasing their record (note: professional writers are never as honest as I). I had some money burning a hole in my oversized slacks, so I took the plunge on the recent Tokyo Electron album on a lark. Let me tell you, I'm glad I did. This one's a real pip, and Tokyo Electron's gotta be one of the better lineups going around right now. It's too bad they didn't go through San Diego on their recent tour, because I may have had to go and attend.

Noisy guitar, howled vocals, tight songs, the parts all add up. It's good stuff, it's aggressive and scary in a legitimate way, not some manufactured 'dangerous sound', or intentional use of horror iconography (which they defiantly don't do), but just scary in how serious and sincere these guys sound. Doesn't sound like they intentionally sat down wanting to write a song for kicks, but they had to write a song because otherwise they'd go crazy. They even got a bluesy ballad of sorts, with little curlicues of poppy synth coming out of left field. In a way, it reminds my of the Sex Pistols - they seem like a much faster band then they are. They don't have breakneck tempos, but it feels like it. It's just all the intensity aurally translates into it sounding faster. Tokyo Electron's the same way, just uglier. Tokyo Electron gets Phil Honolulu's seal of approval.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Did I Tell You I Hurt My Foot?

I did. Saturday. It still hurts. I was boiling water to make some coffee with my french press, and in maneuvering the pot to pour into the press, I managed to spill most of the rolling boil of water directly on my naked right foot. It didn't hurt nearly as bad initially as I thought it would, but it hurts now. There is no exterior mark, just a feint sensation of pain that creeps up when I am not concentrating intently on something.

I Am Going To Try And Post More

I really enjoy Halloween.

It is, by far, my favorite holiday. It actively encourages eating too much candy, extortion, vandalism, and little kids dressing up like Satan. I am looking forward to buying a big bowl of candy, donning the 'ol giant pumpkin costume (complete w/ stem hat) playing some scary sound effects, leaving my front door open, and drinking beer and eating sausage while waiting for little kids to come so I can give them as much candy as their skinny little arms can carry. Last year I got a decent amount of kids. I try to reward the kids who actually dress up as something scary with more candy. The the bland little fuckers that dress up with pansy costumes, like Princesses or Firemen, they get a little less. I want Zombies, Devils, Demons, Monsters, etc. I am a traditionalist. I also, am going to avoid my work related Halloween party. Why, in my right mind, would I ever want to go to work and see people I see far too often, only not get paid for it? What kind of sick fuck enjoys that?

Halloween falling on a Monday, it sucks though. A Busy-Body in my building is making noise about having Halloween on Saturday night, so her foul kids from her lousy bloodstream won't be too tired at school come Tuesday, but she fails to realize her bullshit is just going to fucking confuse everyone in my building. Even me, and I don't confuse very easily.

Finally got the Black Time record, which I am enjoying very much. I am surprised how much it reminds me of The Time Flys. Haven't heard any of the singles or 10" or what not on various European labels with poor distribution, so I am hoping some enterprising whippersnapper compiles it all for me later.

Also, I have never heard anything by the following bands, could someone tell me if they think I would enjoy it? And if so, what would be the record to pick up?

The Swans
Spring Heel Jack
The Zoomers
No Neck Blues Band

Thank you.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Pink Reason

I am not one to go try and find new bands on MySpace. Just not my cup of tea. Sure, if a trusted associate or pretty girl tells me to check something out, I will. But randomly tramping through looking at burgeoning careerist's profiles? No thanks. My sense of irony hasn't been firing on all cylinders, and even though I am sure I could find a few bands that would make my idiot alarm go off with disturbing force, I just don't have the patience. So I'll just be passive, thank you.

Anyway, a reader recommended that I give Pink Reason ( a listen, and I went in expecting the typical thing. Y'know, three chord '77 jive or look Ma! I got a delay pedal! noise/art what-not. I got far from either, and lemme tell ya - I like it.

It's good stuff. The one that comes up first on my browser "Throw It Away", has a the same ramshackle, um, 'vibe' that early Royal Trux has, like you were lucky enough to walk into the best part of a two hour drone when everyone was hitting everything just right. The drum fills are subtle and great, the ominous guitar lines fit in snug. An evil howl of dark feedback vocals almost overpowers the song, before it lilts off into a meandering acoustic fade. I dig the relax crawl of the tempo; it's like the song instinctively knows it's good and doesn't have to go fast to impress anyone. 'New Violence' has some great echoed drums and nicely bizarre synth. It has a seat of the pants, semi improvised feel to it, and the deceptively simple little synth riffs are perfect in context, plodding organic blurps over the chime. 'Slate Train' lazily drifts on subtle synths and echoed percussion, like a far more calm track on the first Intelligence LP.

Here's hoping someone will make a Pink Reason LP. I would certainly purchase it.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Charles Rocket


Friday, October 07, 2005

A History Of Violence

Sucked. Really terrible. Critics ignored 'The Brood' when it came out, a unique, suspenseful, frightening, smart, darkly funny and deeply satisfying movie. But when Cronenburg deep sixes any personal style and emits a craftsmanlike snooze with some terrible performances (William Hurt, take a bow, as the least convincing gangster since the cast of 'Mobsters'), poor writing, and just in general boring as watching paint dry (I was amazed at the actual running time, because it seemed at least twenty minutes longer), critics take notice. They like it. They think it's intelligent, fascinating, etc. It's not, it's sad watching a major talent fall flat on his face. All the panty shots and noses driven into brains aren't going to change my mind, and those are two of my favorite things.

I'll write a longer review later, when I am less disgusted.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Comments Hidden

Because of all these spammers. My inbox is all fucked up.

Monday, September 26, 2005

I Feel Fucking Terrible

Seriously, what is the point of sticking around?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Willie Hutch


Thursday, September 15, 2005

Robert Wise


Sunday, September 11, 2005

Gatemouth Brown


Saturday, September 10, 2005

Huge Interview Coming Up

It's going to knock your socks clean off your feet. You're going to be sitting there, barefoot.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Bob Denver


Thursday, September 01, 2005

RL Burnside


Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Shitty Writer + Horrible People = Crappy Book

Some reader/asshole recommended to me that I read Ben Mezrich's "Bringing Down The House: The Inside Story Of Six M.I.T Students Who Took Vegas For Millions", citing how exciting it was, non-fiction that reads like a white knuckle thriller, etc. Well, let me clear something up, the book is a horribly written piece of shit about people who can all go and suck my cock. First off, weather you are a junkie who knocks over the corner grocery for his fix, or an intelligent overprivileged college kid who knows how to count cards and utilize team play, stealing is stealing. There's a great exchange in Charles Willeford's 'Miami Blues', that also in George Armitage's excellent film adaptation, namely, after the criminal explains how he steals money...

So you're kind of like Robin Hood?
Yeah. Except I didn't give any money to the poor people.

Mezrich lacks any comparable wit, and is too blinded by his conception of a exciting life to offer any ethical judgments. Maybe the story, which in itself interesting, could have been compelling with a decent writer relating the tale of highly intelligent scholars who make their living as sleaze-balls. However, Mezrich, who already had a book deal while still enrolled in Harvard, is one lousy fucking writer. Listen to this idiot describe his personal visit to a strip club:

When the overhead lights blinked on for a brief moment as the clock struck three A.M., an image straight out of Caligula's fantasies was seared permanently into my memory: a sea of undulating skin rippling and rubbing and writing as far as my eyes could see.

To Call Las Vegas's Crazy Horse Too a strip club would be misleading - both to the connoisseurs or the form and to those who abhor the very idea of nude flesh for cash. Built, consciously or unconsciously, to resemble a Roman orgy at the twilight of an Empire... The CH2 was quite possibly the most decadent place I'd ever been.

A strip club in Vegas, yeah, I am sure that is what Caligula fantasized about. In fact, Mezrich's description of something as pedestrian as a Vegas strip club makes it pretty obvious that his idea of fast times is having half a wine cooler and staying up late enough to catch Leno. Read again, as this two bit hack tries to describe swagger:

I entered the circular casino like Kevin Lewis had taught me bold, arrogant, leering at the gorgeous blonde waitresses in their tight black shorts and dark stockings, walking in long strides as if my cock ran halfway down my leg. My hair was slicked back, my silk shirt open two buttons at my neck. My jacket flowed around me like a cape.

Or, when when these hardened card counters get into a conflict hard boiled just oozes out of the page:

"We're playing with fire," Kevin said, moving away from the phone. "We've been hit four times in one week."
Fisher looked away disgusted. Kevin felt like smacking some sense into the fool.

Or my personal favorite:

A burst of applause filled the room as Martinez took a measure bow. "Of course, this is just a demonstration model," he said. "I wouldn't wear the fat suit in Vegas. It would certainly hamper my success with the ladies. But you get the general idea."
"Over the past few days," Fisher tag-teamed in, "we've been out in L.A. meeting with a top Hollywood makeup artist. For a small fortune, we've purchased some of the highest quality disguises - prosthetics, wigs, hair coloring, skin dye-available on the market."

Watch out George V. Higgins, someone else has an ear for dialogue! Mezrich comes to insanely obvious conclusions like he is a sage of great wisdom, instead of some sheltered chump. Strippers care only about the money. People can't win in Vegas. The security in Casino's is tight. Sure, for the typical Vegas crowd, run of the mill morons whose idea of high literature is shitty book like this, that might be a revelation. But for anyone who isn't an idiot, it is not.

For someone ostensibly so smart, Kevin sure can act like a fucking nitwit. When it becomes abundantly clear that everyone employee in every Casino in the entire world knows who they are and they get spotted within half an hour of entering any such establishment, his dumb ass still decides to try again. He's just a greedy rich jerk, who never got the leg-breaking or crippling that he so richly deserves. The money wasn't enough for this scumbag, he wanted to be famous, too, so he gets his buddy to write a book, relating his adventure. Fuck him. In case you think this book ends with a bang, it doesn't, one of Kevin's poorly rendered associate gets punched in the face, someone else gets their house broken into and some money stolen, and someone breaks into Kevin's apartment. Yep, that's the ending. This book sucks, and I hope Ben Mezrich gets hit by a car.

Right Now I Am Horribly, Horribly Depressed

Just thought I would mention it.

The Fall 'Fall Heads Roll'

So, a friend sent sent me a CD-R of this, the upcoming Fall album, a few months before it's release proper on highly questionable 'label', Narnack. Yep, the folks at Narnack, who I would like to make fun of more but cannot due to their wonderful Bunnybrains box and Intelligence release (not to mention the jim dandy 'I Made A Bomb' - kudos, fellas), had the deep pockets/endless reserves of patience/good taste to sign The Fall. They tweaked through the mixes and delivered an alternate version of the acclaimed, and rightfully so, 'The Real New Fall LP (Formerly "Country On The Click")' last year and now they've got Smith's next. I dunno if I am reviewing the final record/mix/mastered/what have you, especially considering that it might strike Smith's fancy to go and remix the entire thing at the zero hour or drop a track or two, but this is what I've got, and I am going to share it with you, out of the kindness of my heart.

I've been looking forward to this record for quite a bit. Not only are the Peel Sessions from this record great - particularly 'Blindness', which rides along a bass riff so ominous, menacing and funky that it easily ranks of with the best of Steve Hanley, some big shoes to fill - but The Fall seems to be on an upswing lately, before going on one of their inevitable downturns when the Reggae influence gets to pervasive. It's not a comfortable subject, but let's be serious here. How much time do you think Mark E. Smith has left? How many new Fall records are we going to get? It's easy to take the incredible longevity for granted, since we've had a couple LP's and reissues belched out into the racks every year, but sooner or later the only thing that could stop The Fall will occur, and will be down one unique cultural treasure. Okay, enough sentiment, what did that little wrinkled, cantankerous motherfucker come up with this time?

Leadoff track 'Ride Away', a strange choice to open the record, is a blended Joe Meek/reggae/Wire slow tempo pop mopery. oddly catchy number done with great economy, i.e. sparse keyboard and occasional guitar over a simple beat and Smith's vocals. 'Assume', which you 'assume' are just going to ride out on one riff while lurching into the stop/start mode, explode into some great electronic guitar blasts before shifting back. 'Blindness' suffers from comparison to the Peel session, with too much production fuckery aroundery and a muddled mix, while 'What About Us' careens around but just ends up looking like a coattail rider to the far the superior 'Sparta F.C.' As for The Move cover, The Fall's version of 'I Can Hear The Grass Grow' is an absolute showstopper. That's the mark of a good band, when they can take a Nuggets certified classic that you've heard a thousand times and invigorate it. They don't piledrive it or fuck with it, or rework it. They just do the song, and do it great. Shit, it's hard to tell without the benefit of a decade or so, but i'd say it can go toe to toe with 'Mr. Pharmacist'...

Anyway, yeah, the record's a good one. It's consistent, Smith & Co. seem less satisfied to litter their records with throwaway tracks, more inclined to work out a whole song rather then leaving it 3/4 of the way finished (which sounds lousy, and occupies the middle ground between those Fall songs that sound 1/2 finished, and are great). On the whole, the band just seems more focused. Like I said, good record.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Brock Peters


Monday, August 22, 2005

Bob Moog


Friday, August 19, 2005

One More Quick Thing (I'm On A Fucking Roll Tonight)

Also, quick question, does anyone out there have the 'Extreme Music From Africa' compilation? Is it worth getting? I assume it will be something that proves to me that there are assholes with delay pedals on every continent, but the concept is so thoroughly bizarre that I am nevertheless intrigued. Anyone?

One Quick Thing

I really dig the new Time Flys record. Reminds me of the Black Lips, in the sense that just when you think a particular formula is in it's death throes (60's punk in the case of The Black Lips, '77 punk with a capital P in the case of the T.F.'s) along comes a band that makes you realize that you were completely wrong. It's kinda like what Pauline Kael said about 'The Wild Bunch' and the genre of the western, just instead of florid lines about wine bottles that look very clumsy when quoted, I'll just go the more pedestrian route and belch up a cliche: they breath life into the formula. Love the start/stop lurch of the songs and the dry, piercing treble of their guitar solos. Also, 'Oooga, oooga' is my favorite lyric in quite some time.

If their personal appearance wasn't so disturbing (very possibly, deliberately so), I would love to go out and see them. Maybe I will, but in any case, at least I have the record. I think I will listen to it often. I think I'm a little late on this endorsement, but I'd like to recommend it to you, dearest reader, just in case you were on the fence about purchasing it. Don't download it either, okay? Just purchase it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Three New Stones Tracks

I decided to take the plunge & invest $2.97 in the three 'exclusive' new Rolling Stones songs from their upcoming record on the ITunes music store. Note: I did not download said tracks illegally, even though, of all people, The Stones do not seem to need any portion of my nearly three dollars, no matter how great. But rather, I did it out of respect. Mick, Keith, and Charlie have all provided me with far more joy then I will ever give to someone else, so even if they are a few decades past their prime, who am I to object when they want three clams to listen two three of their tunes before September 6th and the release of their new record? I'll gladly fork it over, less then a beer in a bar, and ominously, about how much it costs to get a gallon of supreme. The Stones, they deserve it.

The last new Stones song I heard was the mediocre 'Don't Stop' off of their oldest-trick-in-the-book greatest hits package/new two or three songs record the clearly frightened of a chart failure Stones released to coincide with their last tour. The song wasn't a travesty (they would need to incorporate more Reggae influence for that) but it was a mediocre, lazy number that lacked focus. One of the things I really wanted to have happened before I (or more likely, they) died, was hearing a new, and great Rolling Stones single on the airwaves. It's been quite awhile since 1981, so the likelihood they have it in 'em is decreasing drastically with each passing album. Maybe I'll get lucky.

So, first up 'Rough Justice'...

First off, the title is terrible, conjuring up images of Mick's horrendous clothing during the Tattoo You Tour, where he combined eye gouging neon colors with shoulder pads too flamboyant for the homoerotic badguy in 'The Road Warrior', with skintight pastel tights with incorporated knee pads. It's enough to make a man want to take back all the nice things about the man he said earlier. The title is lousy, I don't know if Mick is trying to reference some S&M type titillation with a vague political message (this is before I've even heard the song) but it just sounds like the first thing that popped into his wrinkled head.

But the song starts out a-okay, with a meaty stuttering riff, until the song gets into it's minimalist groove propelled by the incomparable Charlie, and fuck a duck, this song isn't half bad. After going the soft route, trying to get a hit through safe midtempo numbers, or yet another fucking ballad, The Stones are trying to do what they were meant to do in the first place and what everyone has been waiting for them to do, namely: JUST DOING ANOTHER FUCKING ROCK SONG.

Then, well Dear Readers, Mick starts spouting off cliche and a weak attempt at a double entendre followed by a few more cliches and well... It kind of fizzles out the impact. Don't get me wrong, hearing a Charlie fill is still just as impressive, some of the slide guitar is right on the border between the too proficient (as Mick Taylor was getting, before he threw his hissy fit and left at the right time to avoid embarrassing himself) and the just right (as say, Beggar's Banquet), and Keith can milk more mileage out of one chord than a dork like Santana can do out of a whole tour, but lyrically, and this is from a guy who demands very little of lyrical content (you pay attention to lyrics, next thing you know you're at a coffee shop in Maine wearing a sweater and making dream catchers while self publishing your own poetry) the song is embarrassing. But it's better then anything the Stones have done in years, but then again, they haven't done SHIT for more then a decade.

Next up, 'Back Of My Hand'...

Blues. Blues lyrics. Blues structures, the kind of thing The Stones can do in their sleep. I know it's their roots, and they've done as much for blues as any man who commissioned an hour long special on television about himself, but what was revelatory in the mid sixties is pretty trite today (and that goes doubly for you, Jack White). If you thought rock cliches were hard to swallow on the preceding number, wait until you get earful of BLUES COMPLAINTS 101 on this little ditty. Tough to swallow. 'Back Of My Hand' isn't as good as 'The Storm', another buried B-Side, nor is it as good as the hovering over okay/pretty good as 'Rough Justice'.

The Finale, 'Streets Of Love'...

The token ballad, the soaring chorus that overpaid producers bumbling around in the studio bothering the engineers use to justify their presence, the song is calculated as all git out to be a big wet sentimental hit. I don't like it very much. It's pretty hard to listen to, actually, and I can't even imagine the horror if they daresay, make a music video out of this, with Mick's 'hair' getting buffeted by the wind, his open shirt flapping in the breeze, as he emotes to the viewer and backlit Keith does knee bends cradling his old telecaster. Please, no.

Well, the tracks could have been far worse. Without the benefit of the time, which can make anything easier to critically analyze in context, I'm going to say this: The new tracks aren't bad. Even if I sound like I'm being rough on the Stones, for a band with such a massive catalog of great songs, they are bound to have some also-rans and numbers that aren't especially impressive. For some oldsters to pop out a collection of songs this decent in the first place is an accomplishment, and for the Stones to stay on top of the charts, even if their game has slipped considerably, is unprecedented. I'm glad they are still around, and the Stones are one of those acts where even their bad stuff just makes you like them more. It's endearing, and it reminds you that they are human.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Warning, Those Of You In The Midwest, Do Not Leave Any Pies On Your Windowsill

It's old news, and it's been for awhile, but anyone can get their brief fifteen minutes. 'Specially nowadays, as economical to produce Reality TV seeps through an indiscriminate populace's television, and any dipshit with a website can get gain grass roots notoriety. But straight from a third rate paper spitting distance from my second rate town, comes this article, that I came across this morning on the internet while looking for pornography.

So, let me get this straight, one big fat asshole decides to walk cross country with no particular goal and it's worth this much newsprint? What's the next feature article, 'Man Decides To Get Hair Transplants'? C'mon, one airheaded fatty decides to abandon his family for a few weeks and walk across the country (note: your refrigerator and couch will still be waiting for you, alongside your lack of willpower) and all of sudden he's an inspirational force? How hard is it to inspire people? I know people's lives are empty, but I didn't know they were so empty that the utterly unremarkable tale of one fatass who is too good for say,


is going to give people hope? Hey, I got news for you, if Steve Vaught gives you hope, then your life is hopeless. I wish I had the luxury of unloading my three kids on my wife who has had to sleep next to my horrendous bulk for nine years who will work like a dog to support my fatass while I get interviewed my television crews and walk across country to fame, fortune, and adulation (has he inked a book tie-in deal yet?).

"You find out pretty quick you're boring."

Other people are less apt to catch on, though.

"If you live your entire life and only affect one person positively, that's a good life[.]" - Steve Vaught

Actually, Steve, and Gary, who is the glorified typist behind this poorly written piece of shit, this statement is simplistic, trite, pat, condescending, and totally and completely wrong. Maybe Steve honestly believes that in his cholesterol clogged wheeze brain, but that doesn't cut the mustard with me. To live a 'good life', you should do a lot more then affect one person positively (Hitler affected some people positively, was his life good? Ted Bundy had plenty of friends). Steve and Gary: leading a good life probably shouldn't include running down old people and killing them, even if it does put me in Steve's corner, because I hate the elderly.

"I'm just a human being like everybody else, but every human being is capable of doing amazing things[.]"

Also, not true. How many humans do you know? America is chockablock with easily distracted, ignorant, boring people, the vast majority of whom aren't capable of doing anything amazing. That is to say, unless your conclusion of being 'amazing' includes buying too much stupid shit, having an unearned sense of entitlement, eating a lot, frequenting terrible establishments, going through life without the desire to learn anything, having stupid kids, or being able to tolerate their jobs. I hate America. Actually, that's wrong. Maybe there is hope for America. Say what you will about that monstrous American teenager, but at least portions of them lack sympathy for fat backpackers whose slight knee injury and rash is news. I'd like to shakes hands with whatever miscreant fired paintballs at Steve. Thank you.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Terrible Blog Alert

A reader pointed me in it's direction. I was going to sit down, roll up my sleeves, and rip the guy a brand new five bedroom, four bath asshole, but I don't have the gumption. Also, I don't want to read the entire thing, even though it's busting out at the seams with fodder to I'm attempting to stop wallowing in negativity and intentionally exposing myself to things I loathe. Maybe that would help me sleep, give me a better attitude, make me more attractive to the opposite sex, etc. Or, maybe not. I was thinking of writing something about someone that I see posting on message boards, who I have come to know somewhat just through his relentless championing of a lousy band on the internet and his very sad Myspace profile. Something about this person is pretty hilarious, how out of touch he is, his idealized self image projection, and his refusal to see how much people dislike him. He may very well be the most irritating person on the entire internet. That's right, the most irritating person on the entire internet, and since the majority of the world has access (if they so please) to the internet, and since it hasn't been proven that humans reside elsewhere in the galaxy, then Scottie Diablo may very well be the most irritating person in the entire Universe. Maybe someone in some rural village with no computers is more annoying, but for now my vote goes for Mister Diablo.

Re: earlier blog: I will say this though, why do people dislike blogs? Obviously, I am in no position to be objective on this, but if someone wants to post something, quickly, easily, and for free, why is that so terrible? Yes, I am well aware that many blogs out there are very poorly done, that just because any asshole with a misplaced ambition lodged in their noodle and a vague aspiration to be a writer now has a forum, and the desperate cries for attention that pass as writing make up an alarming proportion of blog content... Well, you don't have to read it. If you do, and you search through the underbelly, reading between the lines and getting glimpses of people's private selves, it's pretty incredible. Not well written, but fascinating. But some blogs are great, I can stop fiddling with this bullshit & go to, say
right now and listen to songs I would never hear otherwise. I can get information on bands that otherwise I would never know about on others. I can go to and read intelligent, well written, literate reviews about the music I'm not going to see in print anywhere, except maybe Bull Tongue.

Where was I? Where's this going? Doesn't matter. I didn't sit down at the computer on this too hot Saturday morning and have a clear plan of attack for what I was going to write, after I got too lazy to read the entire poorly written and unamusing blog, even though it would have been absurdly easy to make the guy look like the idiot he very obviously is. I'm not even going to mention the blog's name now, anyway. He probably has more readers then me.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Fonts I Despise, Pt. I


Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Anyone See The Trailer For Herzog's 'Grizzley Man'?

And am I the only one that thinks this Tredwell guy looks like an insufferable hippy asshole?

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Hubble Bubble

Pull up a chair.

There's been a bit of internet chatter as of late over the great debut LP by Belgians Hubble Bubble. Lemme add my ¢2, okay? Mostly notable for having Plastic Bertrand on the skins, Hubble Bubble has lapsed into hopeless obscurity since it's '78 release. It was booted a few years ago, but even the bootleg is worth an inordinate amount of money, far more then even most connoisseurs of such claptrap are willing (or able), to spend.

Well, folks, I listen to Hubble Bubble with far more regularity than I listen to other semi-obscurities as Big Balls and The Great White Idiot (One Okay Lp and A Band That's Just Not That Special), The Kids, or even fellow non-reissued proto punkers, Hackamore Brick. I'd put Hubble Bubble on about an even keel with The Pack (whom I love), but Hubble is a more interesting band - but more on that later.

Big Balls And The Great White Idiot is, let's face it folks: no great shakes. Sure, they've got a funny name and are from Germany, a nation not known for it's sense of humor, but there's not a whole lot more to 'em. Their first LP out of their surprisingly large discography (note: it's not difficult to amass a large discography when you're writing consistently boring songs) is the only notable one. It's just okay. Give me a minute while I reflect inwardly on Big Balls, and shrug.

Hubble Bubble is a better band then fellow Belgians, The Kids. I put the Kids at about the same level as The Avengers, a band that had three or four great songs (that all sound very similar) and a number of mediocre songs, that just sound like pale imitations of their good ones. Yeah, don't get me wrong, The Kids and The Avengers both had their moments, and their moments are great... But, when it's not the cream of their oeuvre and listening to 'em is spread over more then a solid dozen or so minutes, well, it's starts to all sound the same. This may sound like I'm trying to be insulting or mean spirited, but it's just in my nature, a solid dozen or so minutes is far more then 99% of bands will ever do. There's nothing wrong with writing a few classics, that have elevated themselves into the punk lexicon and calling it a day. But let's be clear on this and sgree that the remainder of the LP is little more then an afterthought, okay?

Hackamore Brick & Hubble Bubble are two different animals, whose only real similarity is they both have yet to have a proper reissue. How can someone reissue The Mentally Ill and not those two bands? I like Hackamore Brick just fine, but the later is more my speed.

Hubble Bubble has a welcome weirdness to it. The production is bizarre, and I mean that as a compliment, with the occasional analog electronic blurps, and the drastically different vocalists, different songs on the record sound like a completely different band. They can careen through a song like The Damned ('Look Around'), have a more mid-tempo almost New Waveish feel ('New Promotion'), make you think they are rubbing elbows with synth punk ('Little Jeanie'), or do some great demolitions/covers (Sandy Posey's 'Born A Women', some hippie jerkoff's 'If You're Going To San Francisco', the Kink's 'I'm Not Live Everybody Else'). This is when they aren't doing an overamped solo on what sounds like a broken ukulele ('Freaks... Out!'). Yeah, it's a heckof a record, let me tell you. I'd say it's worth buying, but I can't advise anyone to spend $100 dollars on a peice of vinyl, no matter how magical the contents therein. Spending $40 on a bootleg, well, that's just silly. But I will tempt you by saying it is an unsung punk LP, maybe even THE unsung punk LP, that could go toe to toe with most classic punk records and come out okay.

Now, how come nobody has done a proper reissue?

Monday, July 25, 2005

Edward Bunker


Friday, July 22, 2005

News Flash: Richard Hell Is An Asshole

This is from the introduction to an interview with Richard Hell on a reader forwarded to me.

Dear Reader, strap on your bullshit bullshit guards, strap them on tight, and double check 'em, because this is going to be a bumpy read...

Here's the intro to the piece, which was written by someone I've never heard of, Adam Travis;

Interviewing Hell

During a recent trip to New York City, I stopped by Richard Hell’s apartment in the East Village. We had coffee, made literary small talk, and recorded an interview. Several days later I sent him a transcription of the interview along with an unfinished introduction to the piece. What follows is Hell’s spirited response and critical comments to my introduction.

25 February 2005

Yo, Travis,

Listen, last night I looked at the interview. I'm pretty inured to ignorant journalism, and the second half of my double take regarding your introduction to the interview took about twenty minutes to fully develop, but once it occurred it was energetic enough that it resulted in the attached annotated version of your intro.

Dude, I don't know what remedy there is for your condition but some hard knocks. Anyway, for the record, the line that really ignited my slow burn was, "As a poet now, Richard Hell is perhaps not as good as he could have been had he not spent upwards of twenty years playing music." Though as indicated in the attachment, the whole intro is consistent with the obnoxiousness of that line.

To be fair, I have to admit that when I was around your age, I was nearly as bad, maybe worse. When I was 18 and had started that literary magazine I mentioned, I wrote Allen Ginsberg for a poem and then when he sent one I rejected it.

But, you know, this interview is nothing special. Under the circumstances I'm really not going to break my butt to have it ready for you. It might be interesting to include this exchange with it. If you want to suggest a simple way to salvage it, I'd consider it. The cool thing would be to take an extra week and include this exchange (with the attachment below), but I don't expect that. Otherwise, if you're determined to go on with the process, I'd suggest you write a new slightly more appropriately humble intro, and I'd do the work I'd need to on the interview proper over the weekend when I can find the time. Otherwise, let's just write it off to experience and forget about it.



First off, Richard's use of terms such as 'Yo', 'Dude', and 'Later', instead of terms more suited to someone his age, such as 'Oxygen Mask', 'Assisted Living' and 'Irrelevancy' is pretty fucking silly. Let's get a few things straight here: first and foremost, let's be honest with ourselves here: Richard Hell's novels are lousy. If he didn't used to be a rock star with a small bag of tricks and big sack of pretension, whose principle claim to fame was his association with more talented people and a song lifted from an old McFadden record (also, he was on heroin! wow!) nobody would give him the time of day. You see how horrible most of the writing be published now is, right? Richard Hell isn't even that interesting. Honestly, I'm surprised that Hell's books aren't coming out on Henry Rollins's imprint, which is the most mean spirited, hateful thing I can say about a writer (I'm being perfectly serious). Richard Hell made a few lousy albums and was lifted by the tide of a very specific time period into a cultural position he doesn't deserve in the least. When was the last time you pulled out a Richard Hell record? When was the last time you perused a Richard Hell book? Shit, the guy wrote a novel when he thought he was a vampire. Let me repeat that:


Have you read of his sophomoric, quasi autobiographical, horridly unoriginal novels? His poetry by numbers? Just because shit for brains teenage theorists on the smokey end of a bong sing his praises to high heaven, doesn't make him any good. Richard Hell's music is no great shakes, and his writing's a snooze. Up his.

Okay, on to the aforementioned, much ballyhooed intro (Hell's comments are in brackets).

If Richard Hell had died fifteen years ago he would only be remembered for his essential contribution to the beginnings of punk rock in New York in the 1970s. No small feat, I’d say.

[You would? You'd say? You would say? You'd say both those things? You? Mr. Adam Travis?]

Okay, even though I find Richard Hell's comments here surprisingly funny for someone that appears totally devoid of a sense of a humor, the writer is essentially accurate. If Richard Hell died right now (and if he was in front of me and I had a handgun, he would) his writing would be a footnote. I'm not saying that to fit my argument, it's a fact. Do you think his obit is going to read:

Late last night, famed novelist and well regarded poet Richard Hell (actual name Richard Myers) died. After a long battle with near deadly levels of ego, he finally succumbed to fatal levels of self delusion. Oh, he was also in this band called Television, as well as his own band, called Richard Hell and The Voidoids, as well as being a founding member of The Heartbreakers, but nobody gives a shit. His book 'L'Oeil du Lexard' has been universally loved by readers the world over and has been universally admired as one of the crowning achievements in all of literature. Even God was quoted as saying 'you spend a week creating the universe, but when one of your children goes and writes a book like that, it makes it all worthwhile'...

No, it's going to be something like:

Late last night, musician Richard Hell, one of the founders of New York's 'Punk' movement, and a member of seminal punk groups Television, and The Heartbreakers, as well as his own group Richard Hell and The Voidoids, died. Oh, Hell also managed to somehow publish some shitty little books that nobody read that only he and a few morons through were good (they aren't)...

Okay, back to the interview:

Many rock and rollers become rich and famous, but few can claim to have also had a significant impact on culture at large.

[I don't think it's a real interesting subject, but how about Elvis Presley, James Brown, the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Sly Stone, The Sex Pistols, Run-DMC, and Madonna? It's absurd and embarrassing for you to place me among those who "can claim to have also had a significant impact on culture at large" as a "rock and roller" with a throwaway line like that. I do not make that "claim." On what basis do you? You think you're flattering me, but you're just being a condescending twat.]

Okay, Adam made a pretty stupid comment. Not only is it not especially relevant, but let's be serious here. It's not good writers that are going to be commenting on Hell's literary work in anything but a dismissive way in the first place, so Hell should just keep his lips zipped. Calling the guy a twat? What is he, ten?

What's that? Serious writers do like Richard Hell? William Gibson? Dennis Cooper? You mean, William Gibson, inventor of the genre of cyberpunk? Give me a minute, I have to laugh for a good half hour before I can sit back in front of the keyboard. Oh, wait? Dennis Cooper likes Richard Hell's lit, too? You want to see my Dennis Cooper impersonation?

"Then I fucked the hole I made in his neck, did I mention that I'm gay? Because I am." - Dennis Cooper

Back to the interview:

That kind of accomplishment, especially in such a here-today-gone-tomorrow genre of music,

[What?--more poetry survives than music? And/or--what?--poets have anywhere near the "impact on culture at large" as pop musicians?]

Adam is pretty much right, although he didn't articulate his argument very well. Musician's fame, notoriety, and fortune can dissipate frighteningly quick. Just ask the Von Bondies.

More interview:

can be a major obstacle to being taken seriously in any other medium. Since music Hell has devoted himself almost entirely to writing (mostly novels), and occasionally poetry. In fact, poetry was the first thing he did seriously (before music) when he came to New York in the late sixties.

[The first thing I did seriously at that time was get drunk, the second was try to figure out how to support myself financially. Poetry was a distant fourth or fifth.]

Oh, wait, don't you mean the first thing you did was breathe? Or eat? Or act like an asshole? You did write poetry (excuse me while I point in the general direction of New York and laugh) before you were a musician, asshole.

More interview:

As a poet now, Richard Hell is perhaps not as good as he could have been had he not spent upwards of twenty years playing music.

[Fuck you. If you want to say something like that, say it to my face. You don't hear me making claims about how "good" my poetry is, but who the fuck do you think you are? All this writing of yours is presented as if you're a person called upon to make judgments from some position of earned respect. That's not who you are. You're a callow kid with a job reading slush for a pretentious irrelevant "poetry" magazine {Poetry, not Bookslut} ([previous bracket comment's Travis's not, Hell's or Honolulu's]). You sought an interview from me, I was kind enough to grant it, and now you're being an asshole by exercising some grotesquely deluded misapprehension that your role in this includes some call to fucking critically assess my skills. Also, it was not twenty but ten years I spent with bands.]

Wow, as someone that routinely gets really upset over trivial matters, this outburst of Hell's is still really surprising. Yeah, that Adam Travis sure is the asshole here, not Hell. In fact, Hell's being a really nice guy. Sure Adam's mental meter may hover towards nitwit with surprising regularity, but he's directly paying a guy he admires a soft compliment (hey Hell, notice the qualifier of 'perhaps') that while, not true, isn't nearly as sweeping of a statement as he made it out to be. Actually, it doesn't matter if Richard Hell spent ten or twenty years playing music, he would still be just as pretentious and bland of a poet and novelist as if he had never picked up his bass.

More interview:

That statement is so obvious of any occupation it probably doesn’t even need to be made.

[Except by an incomprehensibly self-satisfied fool.]

That's not especially good writing, but not deserving of Hell's jerkisms. I think Hell has the fourth tier rag that nobody reads confused with some big outlet, so he should give the only type of people that want to interview him anymore (idiots) a little leeway.

More interview:

But whereas most poet-rockers’ involvement with poetry doesn’t go beyond one or two volumes of crappy verse,

[Again, who gives a shit what your opinions are concerning "crappy" verse? What have you said or done for us to have any reaction but baffled impatience at your presumptuous, casual, throwing-around of such epithets? This writing of yours is what's crappy: it betrays nothing but unearned self-importance and a complete lack of understanding regarding the nature and purpose of the journalism it's purporting to practice.]

Adam's absolutely right. How many musicians contribute well crafted prose or verse to the world of literature? It's not a matter of opinion here, it's cold hard fact. Hell is living proof, no wonder he's upset. Hell's attitude is also total bullshit, sweeping statements aside, the argument of having to do something in the first place to be in a position to comment on it is totally intellectually invalid.

poetry seems actually to have been a significant part of Hell’s life and work.

[Thanks for your prized approval.]

Well, it is/was, right? Also, I don't see any approval on behalf of Adam Travis being offered in this statement.

More interview:

Even his forthcoming novel Godlike is all about poets and poetry. It is a commonplace to say that poetry does not matter to the rest of culture – and true, most writers, musicians, painters, and even actors, lead careers that are influenced almost not at all by poetry. It is hard, though, to imagine Hell’s work without his involvement with poetry.

[Gee, does that mean I'm accepted into your approved pigpen of the cognescenti?]

It is hard to invoke Hell's work without his misguided ambitions and misplaced literary aspirations. Adam Travis's statement seems accurate to me, but then again, I'm someone that doesn't read much poetry and thinks 'Surfin' Bird' is as good of a song as anything Dylan ever came up with, shit, we are dealing with rock music, aren't we?