Burning Flags Press The website of Glen E. Friedman. Renowned for both his work with musicians like Fugazi, Minor Threat, Public Enemy, the Beastie Boys, Slayer (and many, many more) as well as his groundbreaking documentation of the burgeoning skateboard phenomenon in the late `70's, Glen has been privvy to (and has summarily captured on film) some of the coolest stuff ever. He's also an incredibly insightful and nice guy to boot.
SoHo Blues - Photography by Allan Tannenbaum Allan Tannenbaum is a local photographer who has been everywhere and shot everything, from members of Blondie hanging out at the Mudd Club through the collapsing towers of the World Trade Center on September 11th. You could spend hours on this site, and I have.
Robert Otter Photographs Amazing vintage photographs of New York City, specifically my own neighborhood, Greenwich Village.
oboylephoto Just some intensely cool photographs of abandoned places.
The Weblog of Spumco's John K. The weblog of cartoonist John Kricfalusi, crazed mind and frantic pencil behind the original "Ren & Stimpy," as well as "The Goddamn George Liquor Show." Surreal, unapologetic, uncompromising genius.
I know I suggested that yesterday's post would probably be my final entry of 2007, but fate intervened. No longer able to tolerate the Galveston beach house's shoddy internet access, my brother-in-law Parts (short for "Car Parts," a nickname the origin of which has been lost in the mists of time) went out and procured us a WiFi router of our very own. We're now firing on all cylinders, so with that....
TITLE: "The Death & Resurrection Show" ARTIST: Killing Joke ALBUM:Killing Joke RELEASE DATE: 2003
I didn't bring my iPod on this two-week trip, rightly assuming that I wouldn't really have the opportunity to listen to any music while minding our two little kids and hobnobbing with the in-laws. Apart from a few fleeting drives to the nearest supermarket, I haven't listened to any music at all -- and from what I can tell, Texas radio stations suck from a giant tube of rancid bean paste (imagine a steady diet of post-Creed faux-grunge and schmaltzy country). The best music I've been able to find on the Lone Star dial was a station this afternoon that played AM hits from the 70's, not unlike K-Billy's "Sounds of the Seventies" in Resevoir Dogs. The most grooving thing I've heard in the last two weeks has been "Dance With Me" by Orleans. Actually, I did hear the signature beep-beep of Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" incongruously wafting out of a redneck bar in downtown Galveston yesterday, but apart from that, I've been musically famished.
But music's always in my head. In this instance, I've had the opening notes of this song by my beloved Killing Joke chugging in my brain for the past nine days. The opening cut -- and originally the title track -- of the `Joke's triumphant 2003 return to form, "The Death & Resurrection Show" found the band with ranks almost complete (with both Youth and Raven handling bass parts). With Big Paul Ferguson still long absent from the drum stool, the band recruited Dave Grohl to bash the skins, and bash them he did. The end results -- produced by grizzled Gang of Four guitarist Andy Gill -- were nothing short of entirely explosive.
This track isn't my favorite on the album (that would be "Blood On Your Hands"), but when I first heard it (courtesty of a leaked MP3), it legitimately blew a new part in my hair and re-affirmed my faith in the band's ferocity and staying power. The following album, 2006's Hosannas From The Basement of Hell, retained the fiery bluster of its predecessor, but not the finesse. To my mind, this track represents the band's last great effort. Here's to it not being their final one.
Greetings from windswept Galveston, Texas. We arrived here two days ago. Most of my wife's family and their accompanying offspring are here (the last stragglers arrive in the next couple of days). All of us are living in a large rental house right on the shores of the Gulf. It's beautiful, but we're sort of living all over each other. At the very least, we're all eating -- and drinking -- with gusto, my little ones are having a ball playing with their gathered army of cousins, and I've managed to finally finish the sprawling Michael Palin's Diaries 1969-1979: The Python Years. There is a high speed internet connection here, but unfortunately, none of us have really been able to make it work. As such, I'm currently squatting on some neighboring beach house's WiFi router, which crashes with infuriating regularity. This may be the last post here before I return to my beloved New York City.
With that in mind, I'd like to take a brief moment to ruminate on the year about to end. I don't like bandying phrases around like "worst year ever" or "bleakest year of my life" (surely using such words only tempts fate), but to borrow the title of an old Bad Religion album, Could Hell Be Any Worse? On a personal level, between my job being eliminated right out from under me and an illness in my family (not to mention the sudden passing of my friend Paul Raven), it hasn't exactly been the jolliest year for me. On the bright side, I've been able to spend an inordinate amount of time with my still very little children, a luxury I'd imagine few fathers get to enjoy. When I do return to the workforce, I will assuredly miss the constance of their company.
While I figuratively shake my fist at 2007, I'm hopeful and optimistic for 2008. I look forward to a new job (hopefully transpiring soon), a new period of productive activity and new challanges for myself and my family. In short, I simply cannot say goodbye to 2007 soon enough.
Hey again, all. Well, I'm back at that same Starbuck's, squinting at my laptop for a fleeting few moments before I have to race back to the house so we can pack up the whole gang (now numbered at 12, but soon to swell to a chaotically dissonant and logisitically unsound 21) and head to Galveston (where, I'm told, there is a high speed internet connection waiting for me...we'll see). The last two nights have found Charlotte and Oliver sleeping with a bit more peace, which has made life considerably easier. Christmas Day has come and gone. Now onto New Year's.
Yesterday, meanwhile, my brother-in-law Tim and I were let off our respective leashes to go catch "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" at the local, Rhode Island-sized mall. It's rare that I get to go out to the movies any more, much less to a film I've been gagging to see, so I was already ahead.
In terms of the film itself, I haven't read any reviews as yet, but I'll say this much: I FUCKING LOVED IT. Sure, it's entirely over the top -- not to mention that it's a musical -- but it's so goddamn awesome I can't stand it. You may, however, want to think twice before you bring your grandmother to it. Sure, it's a musical, but it's one of the bloodiest films I've seen in long, long time, especially for a big budget picture. The blood flows off the screen is blinding torrents, warm arterial sprays and dripping, crimson rivulets. I was quite surprised.
Depp is excellent. His accent is spot on and his voice is surprisingly accomplished (think mid-career Bowie). Apart from ripping off poor Dave Vanian's quiff, I give him high marks all around.
Joyeux Noel, y'all. Well, so much for that "I'm gonna continue posting every day" stuff. I'm typing at you from a Starbucks in suburban Houston, Texas. It's the morning of Christmas Eve, and I don't have a whole helluva lot to report, but I'll share this anecdote with you.
About four years ago, I was milling around the Virgin Megastore on Union Square (which, I just learned, is slated to close in 2009 for reasons currently unknown), and I ran into an old friend of mine from high school. We started catching up, and I let slip that my wife was pregnant with our first child (the one who'd turn out to be Charlotte), and I confessed that I was feeling a bit of aprehension in terms of what lay ahead. My friend -- who was already a father twice over at that point -- immediately launched into a heart-warming pep talk about the transformative power of becoming a parent and how it was the best thing that ever happened to him and all that stuff. It was an incredibly encouraging speech, actually. In any case, his biggest piece of advice was that we (the wife and I) should never feel limited by the circumstances of being parents. Let them (the children) adapt to our lives. It was up to us to dictate and set the standards, not them. We should travel and enjoy life as we normally would. We shouldn't feel suddenly constrained because we'd procreated. Evidently, my friend and his Missus had continued to pursue an active life of globe-trotting even with a pair of toddlers in tow. They'd consciously refused to let the baggage of having children slow them down.
Four years and two children later, lemme tell ya something. As affirming and heart-warming and hopeful as my friend's pep talk was, here's the real deal: traveling with children is a bitch. Don't do it. It's maddening. Stay home. The Pyramids, Iceland, the Alamo, Hong Kong, The Great Wall of China, Paris, New Guinea, Angkor Wat -- all those places will ideally still be there by the time your kids have grown up and gotten the hell out of your hair. Dragging your screaming, squirmy little ones through airport after airport is only going to turn you prematurely grey. The fun doesn't stop when you reach your destination either. The new surroundings and unfamiliar sleeping arrangements are also going to play a few tricks on your routine-craving offspring, which means that the notion of sleep with become as elusive and mythical as the Loch Ness Monster.
We're four days into our two week trip. Here's hoping the kids acclimate soon. That's all I want for Christmas, at this point.
TITLE: "Divide and Conquer" ARTIST: Hüsker Dü ALBUM:The Living End RELEASE DATE: 1994
Tomorrow I'm bound for the blood-soaked bowels of Bush country as I head to Houston, Texas for the holidays. Despite being not-at-all Texan, my in-laws live there, so we're packing up the plantation and heading to the Lone Star state for two weeks, spending half of it in Galveston. I'm heading to a state where people are afraid to honk at each other at traffic lights lest the person in the car in front of them step out of their car with an automatic weapon. That said, Texas did give us Joe King Carrasco & the Crowns, D.R.I., At The Drive-In, Roky Ericson, ZZ Top, M.D.C., The Secret Machines and The Butthole Surfers, so it's not all bad.
So yeah, I'll be minding my P's and Q's and not shooting my mouth off like the flag-burning, effete, liberal, smart-assed city boy that I am. But I'm still bringing my laptop. In the wake of the NaBloPoMo challenge of November, I've really gotten into the habit of posting every day. I can't promise that I'll be able to sustain that, but I'll certainly try. Hell, I'm going to be there for two weeks -- I'm sure there'll be something worth writing about.
In any case, apropos of absolutely nothing, herewith one of the very greatest songs of all fucking time (if you ask me). This is a live recording of "Divide & Conquer" by Hüsker Dü. Back in early-to-mid 80s, Hüsker Dü was band I was initially skeptical of. Sure they played super-fast and hard, but to my narrow mind at the time, Husker Du simply didn't look like Punks. Next to, say, the Circle Jerks or Black Flag, they looked like a trio of plumbers.
This was a ridiculous reason to write them off, of course (it was for this same reason that I was late to the table in appreciating bands like Mission of Burma and even Gang of Four). Punk Rock - much less music in general - has nothing to do with one's sartorial and/or tonsorial aesthetic. Hüsker Dü may have looked like tubby, hirsute, mustachioed plumbers, but DAMN if they didn't write entirely incendiary songs with a good deal more depth and art to them than those of my still beloved Circle Jerks, as well.
In any case, blah blah blah... if you don't know Hüsker Dü, you should immediately put down what you're doing and go pick up a record of theirs (I recommend everything up until Candy Apple Grey, which bored me to tears). This particular version of "Divide & Conquer" (far and away my favorite ever song of theirs) comes from their criminally out of print live album, The Living End. I actually prefer this rendition to the studio recording. Something about the squall of guitar harmonics and feedback right before drummer Grant Hart starts pounding into the intro completely fires me up every time I hear it (not too unlike the live intro to "Complete Control" on the Clash live album, From Here To Eternity). And when big Bob Mould ushers in the song with that ridiculously adrenalized riff (at precisely 00:12), it's - as far as I'm concerned - one of most exciting moments of live rock and roll ever captured on tape. You may beg to differ, but whatever. You're wrong.
So here it is. Turn it up. Hüsker Dü. "Divide & Conquer". Merry Christmas.
I own two watches. One is a fairly standard one which also displays the date and performs a couple of other needless functions. The other watch is a red one the comes garishly emblazoned with the Punisher logo on it (it's very silly, but I like it). In any case, I woke this morning to find that, for no readily discernible reason, they had both stopped working during the night.
I never hung out in Washington Square Park as a youth. As far as I was concerned, it was something to pass through on my way to points South and West. I wasn't a member of the hordes of dope-smokin' faux-hippies hanging around the fountain or one of the crusty actual hippies hosting tuneless sing-alongs of John Lennon warhorses on battered acoustic guitars over in the corners. I have nothing against all that, but I just didn't take part. But it was certainly a scene unto itself, and has been for some time. For decades, Washington Square Park has acted as the literal and figurative heart of Greenwich Village and been a haven for folkies, bealtnicks, hippies, bohemians, chess-enthusiasts, stoners, skaters, punks, families and simple sun-worshippers alike.
Unfortunately, the Washington Square Park that has meant so much to so many people for years and years is getting an entirely unsolicited and much-maligned facelift. I'm not entirely sure why the Square is undergoing a radical make-over, but I believe it has something to do with the fact that the fountain simply isn't flush with Washington Square Arch and the trajectory of Fifth Avenue (it's a little Westerly of being in that direct line). That's it. Apparently, this massive, hugely expensive undertaking is happening solely to rectify that obsessively anal-retentive pet peeve.
Personally speaking, I can think of at least a dozen other landmarks that could use an overhaul of this sort. Washington Square Park is fine. Why must we fuck with it? Must we feverishly "upgrade" everything? People suck.
The renovation seems poised to begin in earnest. I passed through the park this morning with little Oliver and the bulldozers seem ready to start bulldozing. As such, I understand that the central area of the park is to be closed until some point in 2009. What that means for the Eastern areas of the Park (including the playground in which my kids routinely run around) is a mystery. Regardless, a major part of the neighborhood is going to suddenly become off-limits, and the storied character of same is about to change forever.
Meanwhile, just up the road on my street, I was tickled to find that public outcry against the impending occupation of the former site of BBQ on University Place by North Fork Bank has kicked it up a notch! All I can say to that is Amen.
Honestly? Not much. I haven't really given it a great deal of thought. I mean, I just turned 40 in October, and my fantastic wife gave me a gift certificate for a new computer and my sister gave me an abjectly ridiculous 160GB iPod (which evidently holds the highest number of songs before infinity) -- neither of which had I done much to earn. In terms of material possessions, there really isn't much I'm craving. Music-wise, there isn't anything immediately on the horizon that I must own (or that I haven't already tracked down). I'm game for a new good book (as I'm finally approaching the home stretch in Michael Palin's truly exhaustive Diaries 1969-1979: The Python Years), but there isn't really a single title out that I'm especially fired up about. If anything, as dull as it sounds, I already have too much stuff. I'd be better off getting rid of a few items than accumulating any new ones.
Again, I can't say I'm feeling especially deserving these days. By the end of December, it will have been six months since this happened. As such, the notion tallying a list of wants beyond "a new job" seems somewhat ill-considered. Things do seem to be happening on that front, but developments occur in such a mercurial manner that I can't really say anything further about it. Regardless, it remains my primary objective.
In any case, if you are dead set on giving me something (and you really shouldn't be), I'd happily accept and be rapturously grateful for any one of these items, although I can certainly manage handily without them. The only thing I really want for Christmas is for my family to be happy. Beyond that, it's all gravy, as they say.
TITLE: "Thorn of Crowns" ARTIST: Echo & the Bunnymen ALBUM:Ocean Rain RELEASE DATE: 1984
It was a horrible day outside yesterday. The snowfall that started after midnight turned into a hateful combination of rain and frozen ice. As such, myself, the wife and the little kids were cooped up in our apartment, which is always a recipe for blood-splattered disaster. When we could no longer tolerate the shrill punishments of hearing "Dora the Explorer" and "Go, Diego, Go" bleating out of our television like a piercing dog whistle, Peggy (the wife) turned on this insipid children's album (Humpty Who?....seek it out and snap it in half when you find it, and then strike the person who sold it to you in the gums with a hammer). This almost made Daddy want to sprint for the liquor cabinet to ease the pain, but that wasn't really on the menu.
In any case, when that forty-five minutes of abject, soul-immolating horror ended, I immediately fired up my iTunes and the first song to come blossoming out of the speakers like a vulgarly pulchritudinous sonic flower of feral neo-psychedelia was "Thorn of Crowns" by Echo & the Bunnymen - SALVATION! Being as punchdrunk (or, as my lovely British wife says, "woodsqueer"), as I was, I couldn't stop myself from jumping up and frugging as if the very stability of the space/time continuum depended on it - especially when Ian lets out those "Yea-KICK IT!"s. To my pleasant surprise, both of my kids started dancing along (Charlotte, age 3 and Oliver, age 1), and our living room was transformed into a rocking post-punk disco with less laughable hair
This song rocks, and the world is a better place because of it.