What Did You Do During the War?
September 26, 2005... I guess what I was tryna say in my last post was that, although "Fortunate Son" is about poor people being used as cannon fodder in wars that rich people start but rarely fight in--see George W. Bush and the Vietnam War, for example--the song could also serve as an anthem for the victims of Hurricane Katrina--people whose well-being was ignored in the design of New Orleans' transportation system. For the many, many people who could not afford to drive or fly out, there was no escape and no appropriate refuge.
Does anything sound quite as sweet as a used LP or CD--particularly a used LP or CD you searched high and low for before finding?
I found a used copy of OutKast's Aquemini recently, after looking for it for about five years. Mind you, I haven't actually felt the urge to listen to it yet, like I probably would have if I'd shelled-out and bought it new five years ago… But it's the principle that's important: it doesn't matter if I ever listen to the goddamned thing; the point is that I never paid full price for it.
Sometimes, though, an LP or CD you desperately want--but never actually expected to see--turns up in a used bin. On those days, years spent sifting through tattered copies of the various different pressings of Split Enz' True Colours and owner-autographed copies of Men at Work's Business as Usual suddenly all seem worthwhile.
The day I found a copy of Shut Up, Little Man in the used new arrivals bin (!) at Penguin Music was sooo "one of those days" that I doubt it will ever be surpassed in my life.
I learned of Raymond and Peter, the stars of Shut Up, Little Man, from reading a catalogue put out by WFMU, an independent, freeform radio station in the New York City area. The catalogue, which is no longer published, was a compendium of the weirdest of the weird in music and other ephemera--all of which one used to be able to get through WFMU. Even in this rarified company, however, Raymond and Peter stood out…
Warning! Do not download and/or play the files below if you are easily offended. Heck, even if you are hard to offend, ask yourself just how badly you want to hear these mp3s before you download them. Seriously…
You can't say I didn't warn you…
Raymond Huffman and Peter Haskett were roommates in a low-rent apartment building in San Francisco whose drunken fights and tirades were taped--first surreptitiously, then less-than-surreptitiously--by their next door neighbours. Clearly, Raymond, the "little man" of the CD's title, found homosexuality and homosexuals distasteful. Peter, on the other hand, did not share this opinion--quite possibly because he was "a queer cocksucker." Fortunately, the two shared a taste for alcohol, a taste that kept them together, and the lines of communication between them wide open, for years.
Note how Raymond implies that Peter may have dodged military service. This may be an indication that Peter was the son of a Senator, or at the very least, like George W. Bush, the son of a Congressman. Interesting…
Over the years, many musicians have drawn inspiration from Raymond and Peter. There is a track called "Raymond H." on the 1992 album Mother of All Saints by San Francisco proto-avant-folk group Thinking Fellers Union Local 282, for example. And Blonder Tongue Audio Baton, an album released by the Swirlies in 1993, features a snippet of Raymond during a moment of contemplation and reflection. "I'll kick the shit out of any--or kill," he says before being cut off by the Swirlies' woozy, lo-fi trip-pop.
For more about Raymond and Peter, including the opportunity to buy some groovy merchandise, check out the Shut Up, Little Man Official Web Page, which promises and delivers "nothing but profane language."
For more about Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 and the Swirlies, stay tuned.
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