Tight N Shiny
June 29, 2005... I remember the first time I saw the Jesus Lizard. Must've been 1989 or so and they were the headliners of a mid-week show in a dank, underground dive called The Apocalypse--now a salsa-dancing gay bar called El Convento Rico.
I was there because I knew that the vocalist (David Yow) and bassist (David Wm. Sims) had previously been in the seminal Texas group Scratch Acid, a psychotic, vaguely gothic band whom I'd loved to death.
The show was one of the great ones--right up there with the Crucifucks show I wrote about on April 10. The songs were bass-driven, but multi-layered--just as Scratch Acid's had been. The band was tighter than fuck--however tight that might be. And David Wm. Sims scowled the whole time.
As for David Yow… Listening to his shrieking and yelping lo those coupla years, I'd developed a mental image of the man: long, thinning, greasy hair and a wart-covered nose. That, in the flesh, he turned out to be a midget, too, only heightened the effect.
At one point during the Jesus Lizard's set,Yow hawked-up a great green gob (big enough to have its own personality) onto the club's claustrophobic ceiling. He gazed with pride upon his creation for a few seconds, then gently guided it back down to the safety of the stage with the index finger of his right hand.
Later, during an instrumental, he pulled his scrotum out of his jeans, squeezed it tight in his fist so that his testicles verily popped out … and held the microphone up to them for the duration of the song.
In between, Yow paced back and forth, scowling, daring the fifty odd (sic) people in the audience to look him in the eyes. Eventually, one unlucky person found themself unable to avoid his stare. Suddenly, Yow started to smile. Relaxing, so too did his victim. Then, just as suddenly, Yow was scowling at him again.
It was a terrifying experience--even more terrifying than being front row center for a performance of the False Prophets, which is pretty fucking terrifying.
Of course, no Canadian band has ever had that sort of effect on me. Canadians just can't do menace.
As I wrote last week, Canadian artists like The Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, A.C. Newman, The New Pornographers and Stars have written some of the best songs I've heard in recent memory. But they're all soft. Soft and yellow--like non-Quebecois margarine.
I mean, Joel Plaskett writes a mean pop song, but he's not exactly striking fear into the hearts of the corrupt bloodsuckers and slime-coated bagmen who run this stinko joint, is he? In fact, those horse felchers would probably be delighted to have their daughters going out with the strapping, young Junior Boys.
Make no mistake, though--soft is not the new hard and quiet is not the new loud. They're completely viable options, sure, but not the only ones.
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Listen to Ralph Nader
June 23, 2005... The weirdest fucking thing happened to me yesterday morning.
As I stepped off the curb at one intersection, I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, a motorist trying to make a right turn in front of me. Now, if you are one of the 5% of North Americans whose legs aren't painted on, and who actually walks (!) every now and then, you'll be familiar with the scenario: you've reached an intersection at the same time as a motorist who wants to turn; you, as through "traffic," have the right of way, but the motorist doesn't want to stop, so they keep coming.
As it just so happens, I respond to these situations the exact same way as a pedestrian. Sometimes I slow down, but I usually keep moving forward. I guess I'm kind of "stubborn" that way.
In this case--as in every other case thus far--the driver hit their brakes and I was able to continue on my merry way. As I crossed in front of her, I looked at her, bowed slightly and whispered the most heart-felt thank you I could muster.
Once I'd cleared the intersection and the driver was able to complete her turn, she stopped her car in the middle of the street and starting yelling out the window at me. "You didn't even look!" she shrieked. (In point of fact, I had looked. I looked, saw someone intent on intimidating me from asserting and enjoying my rights, and proceeded to assert and enjoy them anyway. Seems the reasonable thing to do.)
I pivoted on one heel and walked back toward the lady's minivan, explaining that, as through traffic, I had the right-of-way. "I know that," she replied, "But in the interest of self-preservation, you should look before you cross."
I tapped the side panel of her car ever so gently with my umbrella and replied, "Ma'am, you’re using a weapon here. The onus is on you to use it safely."
As the exchange continued, I briefly considered garrotting her, but realized that this would deprive her child, sitting in the back seat, of an education. I mean, what are the odds the kid actually knows how to walk to school?
Then something happened I've never seen before.
"You should look before you cross," the driver said again, "Because there are a lot of idiots like me out there."
Shocked, my frown turned upside down, I said "Okay," and walked away.
I must've listened to today's song a dozen times before the lyrics finally sunk in. Yeah, I hate fast cars, too, Pete.
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Pass the Dust, I Think I'm Bowie
June 22, 2005... Golly, there sure is a lot of injustice in the world. But hey, isn't this a great song?
Yeah, I know it sounds like Bowie, but the lyrics have an allusion to the Clash in them, and Dan Bejar has a really neat voice.
Exactly when did Canadian rock get so good? Over the past two years, songs I've heard by Canadian artists like The Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, A.C. Newman, The New Pornographers, Stars, Junior Boys and Joel Plaskett have been among the best I've ever heard from anywhere. What's up with that?
Why is the Canadian non-corporate music scene so strong?
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On the Rebound
June 18, 2005... If you read blogs with any sort of regularity, you'll already have read words to this effect, but… Sorry about the lack of posts lately. Things have been heck-tic.
For almost three months now, I've been working full-time at The Dead Hand. More recently, I took on a second job--at nights and on weekends--doing what I actually went to school to learn how to do. (My thinking is that, if I grab experience in the field whenever I can, maybe some day I'll actually be able to support myself doing that instead of catering to the Depends crowd.)
Complicating matters, Gumdrop and I broke up about a month ago, so I've had to find a place to live, buy housewares, pack and move… I've barely had a chance to unpack, let alone feel what it is like to be separated from the person I've lived with for two-and-a-half years... But I started to feel it a bit over the past week, and it feels bad.
Connected to the break-up, I haven't had connectivity for almost two weeks now. My internet "service provider," promised me access at my new address effective June 8, but didn't actually deliver a modem until June 14. As of this morning, they techies was still tryna work out the bugs.
It has been a brutile few weeks.
The story associated with today's song illustrates one of the reasons why, I believe, downloading will not kill the music industry.
I was up late one night recently, a full two-and-half-hours after the arrival of my first yawn, when I put on a burned copy of KRS-One - A Retrospective. Like always, I played the tracks I like more and skipped over the ones I like less.
I knew a little bit about KRS-One. I knew that he started out with DJ Scott Larock in a duo called Boogie-Down Productions, that Larock was killed after the release of the first BDP record, but that KRS-One carried on under the Boogie-Down banner. I knew that, over time, his raps became more topical and--eventually--didactic. I knew that, at some point, he began recording under his own name.
I didn't know which of my favourite KRS-One songs were recorded when, though, and that's the sort of thing I've got to know. I've got to know the arc of the man's career--how he sounded in 1988 versus how he sounded in 1994.
So, I surfed on over to the All Music Guide website to try to piece it all together. All Music always has the goods. If you've ever tried to use it, though, you know that fucker is about as friendly as auto-erotic asphyxiation. How's a motherfucker load so slowly? What--are they writing the motherfucking text at the same time I'm typing in my search terms?
Bear in mind: it's 2 a.m. My eyes are like two little peeholes in the snow. I do not need this frustration…
People who go out and buy a legit copy of KRS-One - A Retrospective don't have this problem. The CD insert tells them which record each song was originally released on and when it was released. They go to bed earlier and awake refreshed.
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Afterbirth of the Cool is an audioblog dedicated to popular and unpopular music and is meant to be lighthearted fun. Notwithstanding its name, this blog has little to do with jazz and nothing at all to do with Miles Davis… Not that there's anything wrong with Miles Davis...
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