Fighting Against Making the Pie Higher 9/30/00

I’m glad that I’m not the only person who thought the whole idea of Gore having a mole in the Bush camp to spy on Dubya’s preparation for the debate is so totally absurd that most likely the Bush camp leaked the videotape to the Gore camp themselves in the hope of smearing them. This article points out how weird the situation is, and how the Republican party has layed twisted traps like this before. It still does not mean that the Democrats have not tried to ape the Republican party in order to beat them, and acted in collusion to keep third parties out of the debates.

Might as well write about this album, as actually, i have heard it more than any other in the past month… against my will, of course! It’s John Wesley Harding’s “Confessions of Saint Ace”, and i must hear it perhaps three or four times per day at the very least. When i first heard it, i thought it might be a very bad contemporary Elvis Costello record, but Elvis Costello could not record something this bland, could he? (okay, so he definitely can.) It has all of the fire and inspiration of bands like Cowboy Mouth and Better Than Ezra (hee hee, they were dropped from their label last week!) which translates as “none at all.” the lyrics are clumsy, mistaking cliches about “i love to watch you die” for something shocking, and goign for a grabbag of styles in a lame attempt to pretend towards versatility in songwriting. It’s all paint-by-numbers! There’s even a Beatlesque tune that has a build and fade-out to a return with a piece with mellotron for no good reason. Every time i hear it come on the bookstore’s speakers, i ache with boredom. I beg anyone not to buy this record, and encourage this poor guy to continue his career. He’s probably very swell in person, and drinks expensive beer, and has read a lot of nice books, but as a singer-songwriter, he’s artificial tofu.

Fighting Against Making the Pie Higher 9/29/00

There’s a slew of new articles on the Online Journal, but i don’t have much time to ruminate on them today.

Thinking about Lester Bangs yesterday has me thinking about yet another book (one that I have not bought yet) called Punk: The Original. It’s a collection of the zine by the same name. I was actually thinking about Lou Reed too, as some on Raindogs listserv mentioned what Lou Reed might have said about Tom Waits back in the ’70s. There’s an interview with Lou Reed in the first pages of the book, and Reed’s just as just as pretentious and full of shit as he was with Lester Bangs. at one point, the interviewer makes an aside saying, “Who does he think i am? Lester Bangs?” Aside from the Velvet Underground and possibly the album Transformer, Lou Reed was a complete has-been, except as a walking joke to the New York scene. Punk went for the punchlines every time, and i might have to buy the book just for that interview! I’m really fond of zines anyway though. Damien, friends, and i used to write one in Hammond called Plague that earned us a lot of enemies, and i went on to do one alone called Fugue. I love the internet, and i love personal webpages, and e-zines, but i miss the pre-Internet print zine scene. It was so mysterious, and disconnected. I’d send off a couple of dollars in the mail, and never know quite what i was going to get, no matter what Factsheet Five might say, as it was so outrageously out-of-date and incomplete, even though i read each page with 8 point font cover to cover with eager anticipation. my fave was Cometbus, and in a way, it still is. I gotta start collecting the back issues……

Damn. No time to write today!

Fighting Against Making the Pie Higher 9/28/00

It’s Captain Beefheart Day! Why? I dunno, but it seemed right to listen to the three albums that I have back to back, Safe As Milk, then Trout Mask Replica, and finally The Spotlight Kid/Clear Spot (okay, so that’s really two albums, but it’s one CD…) It might be uncool, but my fave of those is the relatively straightforward, almost bouncy Safe As Milk. Trout Mask Replica is mindblowing weird, and is a great monolithic focal point for rock music, but it’s just not as fun for me, and probably never will be. Aside from the music, there’s the covers that complement the music. The freaks on the inside cover of Trout Mask Replica makes sense in a way, and I’ve actually been in groups like that. I know where they are coming from more than the Magic Band on the cover of Safe As Milk, some guys in dapper suits who decide to play mutant blues. They don’t even look like garage band, but perhaps some guys who might try to sell you a used car. Also, oddly enough, it draws the straightest line of lineage to the Softboys for me, who i also love, and played something by… Can of Bees, and then some pieces from Invisible Hits.

Thinking of Invisible Hits, that brings up the song “Rock and Roll Toilet”, which is a weird piss-take on the Rolling Stones “Brown Sugar”, and reminding me of the recent Dandy Warhols album, since one of the singles “Bohemian Like You” is yet another rip on those same chords. I wrote it was totally disposable a few weeks ago, and i still think that….but i’ve found myself throwing it in the CD player far more than it seemed i would. it’s hard to tell what that means yet… maybe that i’m in a bad mood and don’t want to be “challenged” by music for awhile.

And to steal some links from Kempa.com, i was pleasantly surprised to find that he has a bunch of links to Lester Bangs articles and quotes. I don’t know how long he’s going to keep them all up, but i read most of them before anyway. I only got into Lester Bangs after reading Julian Cope’s Head On/Repossessed this spring. He raved about what a madman he was, and how even his bad opinions were interesting, I decided to give Bangs a shot. I had ignored him before, as he wrote a funny yet wrong review of a White Witch album once. I devoured Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung, and was eager for more, only to find nothing else had been collected! Let It Blurt came out shortly after that, and i’ve only made it halfway through the book, as it’s mindnumbingly depressing and bleak. It’s not that Let It Blurt is not a good book, but some of the pain in it was too raw for me, too familiar.

Fighting Against Making the Pie Higher 9/27/00

I used to read NME online nearly every day for a couple of years, but it’s just gettign too boring to care about anymore. Why must they keep reporting on Madonna, just because she got herself seeded by Guy Ritchie? Her new album is barely worth mentioning based off the singles I’ve heard. Is nothing going on there anymore? Where’s the rumors on SFA’s “Text Messaging is Ruining the Pub Quiz as We Know It”? What’s Hefner doing? Hasn’t the Arab Strap released a new album? What kind of cereal does the Beta Band like? It spooks me to see writers actually get worked up about Blink 182 and Slipknot touring there. Ugh! See! Globalization is Evil!

I just cannot say whether Jesse Ventura of Minnesota is a good governor, but he is kinda funny. I just read his rant on NPR.org. It certainly would have been funnier if he named names and more incidents. It also would have been better if he mentioned things that the media deliberately neglects reporting, like Dubya Bush skipping part of his service in the Air National Guard during Vietnam or glossing over the current protests against the World Bank in Prague. I heard on the radio that 400 people were arrested, but they were all violent anarchists and foreigners, so it was okay. 400 people? How many violent anarchists do you know? Not many, and almost certainly they are not in Prague. And if this is the World Bank, why is it that “foreigners” should mind their own business, to stay home and not to protest? CNN is reporting these protests as “anticapitalist”! Since when do monopolies acting in collusion constitute capitalism? Listen to the way that the news is reported. Listen to which words are used, and how sentences are constructed. They are written that way on purpose.

The only other tiny bit of news I’ve heard on the World Bank is about Bono of U2 whoring himself out (what else can he do?) trying to give the World Bank a “hip and young” view (since when has Bono been either?) saying that the president of the IMF is his Elvis. His cause is having the poorest nations in the world having their debt forgiven, but the ’80s and Live Aid are long gone. This is the Evil Empire.

I must confess…. i have been outcast yet again. A week and a half ago, i signed up to a webring, to let more people know that the site exists, and when it’s updated, but this site has not appeared on the list once. They have not even told me that i’ve been rejected. My guess is because I haven’t shelled out $70 bucks to get my own domain name, and have my own server. I feel so self-conscious. Boo-hoo… it reminds me of back in the ’80s when no one would talk to me because i didn’t wear Polo shirts and Guess jeans. Oh, the horror… sniff. I’m fighting back tears now. Maybe i should deliberate on whether the Softies or Marine Research is cuter, or mock Pitchfork, or write endless blogs of “Hey! I’m online! How about that?!”

To hell about that… how about that T-REX?!?!?!?!? Telegram Sam! He’s my main man! Wooooooo!!!!!!!!!!

Fighting Against Making the Pie Higher 9/26/00

Kenniwick Man! Now the corpse has to be turned over to the Native American tribes that claim him as an ancestor. It might surprise a couple of my friends that i think that it’s total bullshit. I side with science on this one. If someone asked me if they dug up my grandparents to dissect them them and genetically test them, it would not bother me. As for the argument that I come from a different culture, and have to respect a culture alien to mine, what about human sacrifice? A lot of human cultures indulged in that practice. I have no right to say it doesn’t bother me, or try to stop it? Yes, I would wind up imposing my own values on someone else. I’m not thrilled about that, as it opens all kinds of nonsensical philosophical debates, but that’s my gut feeling. After all, as things stand, it’s not absolutely proven that Kennewick Man is absolutely these tribes ancestor. He may even have been an ancestor for a rival tribe that was exterminated by genocide by the tribes now claiming him. Could we put these contemporary tribes on trial for those crimes? Yes, that’s pure, insane speculation, but so is the judgement that wound up declaring that Kennewick Man is a Native American, just because he died here more than 500 years ago. By that same notion, those Norsemen who settled Greenland and possibly further south, are Native Americans. Curious ruling. 9000 years old, and people want to stick him right back in the ground… and i suspect it has very little to do with reverance.

Listening to Clinic “Internal Wrangler” at the moment. Yep, it’s another album bought at Spiller’s in Cardiff! Manic, nervous energy! Nerdy, nervous bastards who bounce around snapping rubber bands at each other, who may take notice of you at any moment and stab a ball point ben into your throat to practice the technique of an emergency tracheotomy! They have a troop of howling gibbons from the infectious disease lab implanted with bionics and singing backup! And all of this is performed on a streetcar with its bells clanging as it crashes down the hill! Yeah, i like these guys a lot.

Fighting Against Making the Pie Higher 9/25/00

Yesterday the Christians, who will buy anything that has the Made by Jesus label, today the yuppies who buy anything with the Starbucks label. Actually, the incident was on Sunday morning. Two yuppie-wannabes came in. The male pointedly asks me about a “rumor” he has heard, that some Barnes and Nobles have actual Starbucks cafes, and some Barnes and Noble only happen to sell some Barnes and Noble products. I dont’ know about the other stores, but i confirmed that our cafe just sold Starbucks coffee, and was owned by Barnes and Noble. I don’t care much, as they are both corporations out to steal my soul.

The very testoterone packed male order a grande white mocha and the woman ordered a short cafe a lait. In other words, a large and a small. I get fed up with all of the shorthand speak that many of these people try to use, as it only confuses me, and often they are only aping things that they read in magazine articles or saw in commercials. I left after serving these two, after Liz came back from her break, only to be called back ten minutes later, because they wanted a refund. The man said that it did not taste like they expected it to taste. It was not up to Starbucks’ standards. I made no argument, merely handing them their money without looking him in the eye, let alone smiling. The simple fact is that it is Starbucks coffee, and it tasted just fine. These two yuppie-wannabes wanted to show that they could tell the difference between real Starbucks and a knockoff brand by tasting, and only fooled themselves. I might not have thought that, other than the man askign those silly questions about our cafe being a real Starbucks or not. The only difference is which pocket of which CEO it goes in!

It didn’t help that he had a crumpled newspaper in his hand when he was getting the refund, a newspaper that came out of our racks, a newspaper that he did not buy, a newspaper that we would not be able to sell because of its condition yet we’d still have to pay for the vendor for. I care nothing for the money that Barnes and Noble lost, but of the hypocrisy of these elitist pricks who want to one-up the poor, hourly wage employees.

For that matter, there was another peice on NPR’s Weekend Edition that annoyed me, by some writer who was mad at the impersonal manner of employees in fast food restaurants. He came down hard on the employees, completely forgetting that these people barely get paid to do this hot, oily, thankless work, for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people who will buy a Whopper, then demand why it doesn’t taste more like a Big Mac. His conclusion? “Maybe fast food isn’t so fast.” How do these hacks get airtime? He then went on to end the piece about the blank, unsympathetic stares that the workers give the customers, totally ignoring the fact that most often that blank stare is only a mirror of what they are seeing. Need a villain to blame? Why not the corporation who sells poor quality food, and a government that lets the corporations get away with paying less than a working wage? Oh, wait, i get it. I hate those little hats that those workers wear too, especially those tennis hats… but the corporations bought those too.

What I’m listening to this morning is an album that i picked up for free, a promo sent to the bookstore, Bebel Gilberto “Tanto Tempo”. Mellow, spacey, Latin. Decent backgroudn music, although it doesn’t get inside my soul and nurture it. It just drifts along in the background, an empty medium to travel through. I put it on the stereo originally to relax and calm down, but it doesn’t seem to be achieving that effect at all. Some of the less Latin jazz sounds actually irritate me, but on the whole, I like Gilberto’s voice. Hell, sometimes it could be Stereolab, even though it is probably getting packaged as world music.

Fighting Against Making the Pie Higher 9/24/00

Does anyone else feel like we are living in a retread of the ’70s? Lots and lots of teen pop, lotsa disco diva nonsense, and a lot of bloated, flacid rock. What makes me think of it even more than any of those three is how much Christian rock is around right now! It seemed that there was a lot of Christian type bands around in the ’70s, singing about how you got a friend in Jesus, and now we have bunch of bands like Creed, Days of the New, Jars of Clay, and P.O.D. I reserve all other comment right now, while i try to figure out how many other Christian bands are so close to the mainstream.

But i do NOT reserve comment on what one of the real bestsellers at Barnes and Noble is, even though it is not on our bestseller list. It’s the abominable series Left Behind. We might actually sell more of those day to day than Harry Potter. I still have not read it, and probably won’t, as I have too many books that interest me on my own terms than read a book that I hear enough about from our customers and fellow coworkers to get a clue. When i hear “thought-provoking” used time after time by people who don’t know each other, i get quite suspicious. It’s similiar to reading those music reviews that seem plagiarized from a press release by the band. WHY is Left Behind thought provoking? I’ll tell you what IS thought-provoking though, the reader reviews written on Amazon.com. Anything those people have to say, pro or con, says anything that needs to be said about the quality of these books… that “religious fiction” is one of the saddest examples of niche marketing.

Fighting Against Making the Pie Higher 9/23/00

Today’s biggest gripe. Last night some guy that I’ve more or less liked working with made this bitchy remark about me making a CD of “XTRMNTR” for him. I mentioned that I had a CD for him, and I’d give it to him later.. and the fucker made a remark about, “What is it? How to buy and influence friends?” I was so oblivious to the ugliness of the remark that I thought he was making a joke about the long title of And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Our Dead… but he doesn’t know that band, nor will he ever. It was just an ugly remark, for no damned reason, and I’m quite pissed about it, let alone the fact that he goofed off all night while the rest of us work, flirted incessantly with a new female employee, and occasionally made comments about a certain someone else that i found quite two-faced. So to hell with him. He ain’t getting his CD, and can continue to wallow in his sad, little world where shit bands like Three Doors Down and Slipknot “rock”. What a limp buncha cockrock. If someone listened to such shit, wouldn’t you throw them a lifepreserver to keep them afloat? Is it wrong to want to share music? I’ve never even told him that those bands suck!

As for “good” cockrock, it’s a Jon Spencer Blues Explosion morning, of the “Xtra Acme USA” variety. I still don’t have a clue whether it’s all a big put-on or not, but it doesn’t matter. I just needed something loud and abrasive to cleanse the palate of my mind.

I have a bad habit that I don’t want to break. Every weekday that I happen to be home, the television is on the Cartoon Network, for the Toonami lineup, in the hopes that there’s some new episode of Dragonball Z on. I haven’t been home on a weekday in seeming ages, and I’m missing Goku bashing the skull of the Androids. I know most everything of what happens, as once i found this crazy webpage that summarized nearly the entire Dragonball saga, from the first episode, all of the way to the end of the GT series. I cannot find the site right now though. All I know is that I miss the simpleminded heroics and the mindless, overwhelming violence. I cannot believe that weeks of episodes can all focus on a single fight that lasts only a a couple of hours in the context of the show. I aspire to be more like the trusting, optimistic Goku, but find that i actual identify with the green, pointy-eared Namek Piccolo, for being a misunderstood outcast with his own sense of honor, or self-doubting Kurrilan, who never quite makes it as a superhuman hero. Come to think of it, i love the repeating theme of defeated villains are incorporated into the cast of heroes, because they wind up so obsessed with defeating Goku on their own terms that they wind up defending his values so often that they forget why they are fighting on his side in the first place, because they want to defeat him, not because they shared his belief in what is righteous and good.

Fighting Against Making the Pie Higher 9/22/00

Sheesh! After reading this post on the Online Journal, it looks almost impossible that the dork Dubya Bush is going to be elected. I’m extremely relieved, but in reading this article, I’m also disappointed, in the same way that every time that a hurricane makes it into the Gulf of Mexico, I start rooting for it to hit New Orleans, as there’s no way that New Orleans will ever stay above water with the force of a decent hurricane cruising up the mouth of the Mississippi River. I don’t want people to suffer, and in good moods, i love that city, but there’s a wild streak in me that revels in the possibility of maximum chaos. Imagine Dan Quayle as the President, and then imagine him having an uncontrollably foul mouth and a bad temper. Wouldn’t that be a gold mine for every comedian in the world? Of course, the nation might not survive it….

Today’s a singles kinda a day. That’s what crushed me about the death of that harddrive, as i had turned it into the biggest “mixtape” that i had ever made… it was not so much whole albums, as a song here and there that I needed to hear at a certain moment, without going through the record collection, and creating a huge mess, like the one that is sprawled on the floors right now of two different rooms in the house. First a little off the Stooges first album, and then a little off Captain Beefheart’s “Spotlight Kid”, then a little off Elvis Costello’s “This Year’s Model”, and maybe a song or two by Buffalo Springfield. And then maybe some more Stooges. Goddamn, they were an ugly band! It strikes me as weird that they are now used in car commercials, and used in movie soundtracks, only to sound more brutal and nasty as anything produced today. How the hell did this stuff spring up only thirteen years after Elvis freaked out the nation?

Oh, don’t worry… i don’t think about Elvis a lot… hardly ever really… it’s just that i borrowed this Greil Marcus book “Double Trouble” from the bookstore, and it’s comparing Clinton to Elvis. The writings are really a collection from all through the past nine years, since Clinton began the run for president to his impeachment, with random pop musings in it as well. It comes across as the musings of an authentic schizophrenic, as schizos are never really as funny as they are supposed to be. This book is not very funny, being the pseudo-profound pronouncements of an archetypical babyboomer… that nothing really happened after the ’60s, that everything is a pale echo of that. Aw, fuck that! For all my love of music from that period, plenty has happened. Marcus has a couple of paragraphs that I like about Kurt Cobain, but the rest of it just leaves me cold, as it seems that his ability to empathize and learn died years and years ago… that his brain is a crystallized net that can only use certain touchstones to relate to the universe at large… Elvis, Dylan, Beatles, Sex Pistols… that’s all there really is, isn’t there? what a dry wank this book is…. I’m still eager to see the movie “Almost Famous” though. (And here’s another write-up.) I just found out that a “Lester Bangs” is on it, although the words coming out of his mouth did not soudn like the Lester Bangs I’ve read. I need something mindless to cleanse the palate of that “intellectual” junk… some Ramones!!!

Science News Daily is claiming that life on Mars is even more unlikely due to some recent experiments. It seems that the thin atmosphere lets too much ultraviolet light get to the surface, releasing too much oxygen, which in large doese is corrosive to organic compounds. It’s nice that the article has the scientists sayign that perhaps life is still below the surface, btu they are still thinking in Terran confines. Paint outside the lines, damn it!

Fighting Against Making the Pie Higher 9/21/00

Managed to exchange the new yet very broken harddrive for another one with few objections, not that anyone should have objected anyway. Waiting to install it until tomorrow. Today’s my parents 37th wedding anniversay, so there’s not much time.

Bought a few books on the bargain racks, and with my discount they were next to nothing. (i wish this worked more with CDs.) One is High on Rebellion by Yvonne Ruskin. It was about some damned place called Max’s Kansas City, which existed in the late ’60s and the ’70s in New York City. Instead of coming across as hip and cool though, it comes across as self-absorbed and pathetic. Sure, there’s a lot of writers and musicians that i appreciate that made appearances in that sleaze factory, but it just leaves me with this empty, hollow feeling reading the details. Too vapid, too voyeuristic… The other book is Nippon Pop by Steve McClure. This one was a lot more fun for me. Even though I’m only passingly familiar with a few Japanese rock bands, like Pizzicato Five, Cornelius, Guitar Wolf, Shonen Knife, and Buffalo Daughter, i really got into the crazy style these bands have. I doubt whether I’d get into the sounds of the unknowns very much, but i love the images of the avant pop art that they project themselves into.It’s odd that some of the same pop art seemed to be explored by some of the people that hung out in Max’s Kansas City. The Nippon Pop book made me want to dress up in crazy costumes and play act more than it made me want to listen to the music though! Trust me! It’s GREAT fun!

Tonight’s posting was fueled with Barry Adamson’s As Above So Below. Crazy, crazy, cool groovy style! Sheesh! Today’s whole post seems all about style, something i have very little of. Still, listen to this album can trick me into believing that i do for a few minutes. Dangerous, brooding stuff, and it doesn’t fit with anything going on in my life right now, so the fact that it still works well says a lot. The monkey speaks his mind!