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.
My eagle-eyed comrade Drew spotted this gallery on Flickr by way of NYU’s Tamiment Library. Check this selection of images from photograph John Penley, largely focused on social activism circa 1989-1994. Be warned, there are also a few NSFW shots in there.
I don’t post too often about politics here, but this current election season seems fairly exceptional, so I am going to again part from convention –- pardon the pun –- and dabble in that taboo topic, albeit with a nod to this blog’s normal preoccupations.
Rock ‘n’ Roll and politicians rarely play nice together. Aspiring candidates want to appear populist, hip and down with the kids, so they play canonical favorites at their rallies –- only to be scolded, in predictable course, by the rockers responsible for those songs for appropriating their music without express consent. It’s happened more times than can be humanly quantified, replicated this past week at the RNC, where Trump’s been playing Queen’s “We Are the Champions” -- rather presumptuously –- much to hirsute guitarist Brian May’s “frustration.” Really nothing new about that story at all. Reagan did it to Springsteen. Rand Paul did it to Rush. Sarah Palin did it to Heart. It’s old news.
In those instances, one feels that Republicans should really stick with unmistakably affirmed supporters in that realm, but I guess Ted Nugent and Kid Rock can only be at so many places at once.
But there were a couple of other rock/RNC stories that broke recently that I thought were a bit more fun.
First up, there’s G.E. Smith. If his name doesn’t immediately ring a bell, you may recognize this sorta journeyman guitarist as a long-time player for folks like Hall & Oates and David Bowie (look for him in the video for “Fashion”). More famously, he was the longtime bandleader for “Saturday Night Live” (as well as prefiguring Gene Wilder as Gilda Radner’s husband). In any case, Smith is apparently a card-carrying Trump-supporter and leads the house band at this year’s arguably troubled RNC. His judgment was called into question earlier this week when he unveiled an ill-conceived trek through one of his former employer’s hallowed classics, that being “Station to Station” by David Bowie.
Beyond it simply being a musically ambitious and presumptuous choice (would the late Mr. Bowie have wanted his music played at this event?), there are other concerns that should have sent up a few red flags. Instead of dusting off something comparatively innocuous like, say, “Let’s Dance” or “Golden Years,” Smith selected a sprawling, quasi-conceptual suite from Bowie’s most notoriously troubled era, when a dabbling in fascism, the occult and massive piles of blow were the order of the Thin White Duke’s day. Suffice to say, “Station to Station” isn’t a simple pop ditty. Its clearly stated invocations of “one magical movement from Kether to Malkuth” and that “it must be the side-effects of the cocaine” might have given some pause, had they been paying closer attention. Given the tenor of the event, I’d suggest Smith’s band would have been better served by an airing of “I’m Afraid of Americans.”
More giggles were had, however, on Tuesday, when 90’s “alt.rock” hit-makers Third Eye Blind showed up to play an RNC-affiliated event … and proceeded to mock the fuck out of all present (“Raise your hand if you believe in science”) and endearingly not really play any of their hits. Now, say what you want about this somewhat notoriously dickish band and their music, but that was pretty ballsy. I generally have no problem with avowed dicks behaving like dicks towards other dicks. And with a similar nod to “Station to Station,” who at the RNC thought it was a good idea to invite a band WHOSE BIGGEST HIT IS ABOUT DOING CRYSTAL METH to their convention? Sorry, but they shoulda seen that comin’. 3EB, I salute ye.
This, in turn, got me wondering about how some other fabled right-leaning rockers might reconcile the dichotomies between their political affiliation and their art. Take, for example, the outspokenly Obama-hating Glenn Danzig of Flaming Pablum favorites, the Misfits et al. While boasting one of the most distinctive voices in punk and metal – largely devoted to crooning about monsters, necrophagia and murder -– our Glenn is a committed, Fox-watching Republican. Some might remember the enjoyably ridiculous inner sleeve of 1994’s Danzig 4 which depicted a Bill Clinton-impersonator shaking hands with a sniper who’d, evidently, just put all four members of the band in oblong, pine boxes (see below). Yeah, like Bill didn’t have bigger fish to fry, at the time.
But being the meat-n’-potatoes, blue collar Jersey Republican Glenn arguably is, how must he feel about Dr. Ben Carson taking potshots at the ol’ Lightbringer? I mean, Danzig put out a goddamn album called I Luciferi? Which infernal master do you serve, Glenn? It must be a real dilemma!
My greater suspicion is that Danzig is probably more of a Johnny Ramone-styled Republican – more defined by his disdain for the other party than for an admiration for the tenets of his own. Comparable to Danzig’s split loyalties, let’s remember, Johnny Ramone might have sworn allegiance to Reagan and Bush, but he also thought the Manson Family was pretty swell, as well.
It’s been another flabbergasting week of horrible news, and yet another instance wherein the stark realities of the world render virtually everything on this blog unspeakably trivial. I’d love to put up more pictures of lost record stores or needlessly detailed ruminations about one dumb band or another, but that all seems so stupid and moot right now.
I have no salve to assuage the news of the day, beyond emphatically asserting that racism is very real and should be entirely intolerable, but this week’s crimes -– like countless ones before them -– are systemic.
I have a couple of posts in the works, notably yet another Flaming Pablum Interview, which I hope all will enjoy.
Unfortunately, the news events of the day (from the Brexit to the continued failure to enact meaningful gun control legislation to the ongoing, terrifying circus of abject idiocy that is Donald Trump), make it all feel more meaningless and trivial than can be quantified.
As such, consider this applicable tune a place-holder....
Even before Cruz and Kasich dropped out of the race this week, thus making Donald Trump the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee (I envision Donald experiencing some sort of flatulent approximation of the Quickening from “Highlander”), I started hearing allusions as to how we -- and by we I mean people who don’t have their heads way up their own ass -– all need to start finding ways to co-exist with, empathize with and even respect Trump supporters as their ineloquently bloviating candidate gets a more mainstream makeover in the press and starts acting more “presidential.”
Yeah, pardon me, but fuck all that!
I have one particularly learned friend and former colleague on Facebook who posted an article from Bloomberg View by one Ramesh Ponnuru, recently, about how frothy-mouthed vitriol-cannons of the East Coast “elite” -- like, I guess, myself -- are only fueling the fire of Trump supporters by continuing to be so vocally disparaging of their evidently challenged cognitive abilities. Here’s a choice excerpt from Ponnuru’s piece…
People who disdain Trump voters en masse are, it seems to me, confusing two questions: Should an intelligent and decent person back Trump? And can an intelligent and decent person back Trump? I’m a firm no on the first question. But the answer to the second question is yes.
Sorry, but NOPE!
True to form, I weighed in on the ensuing thread on my friend’s Facebook page and it took very little time before things simmered to a testy boil. Cooler heads prevailed, mutual apologies were exchanged, and we all endeavored to keep things civil, if only out of courtesy to our mutual friend who first posted the provocative article.
Here on my own goddamn blog, however, I still cannot fathom how or why a sentient human being SHOULDN’T bristle with abject contempt at the notion of someone endorsing and supporting the ideas Trump’s been espousing. I have several lefty friends who tell me to not even worry about it, as Hillary is a complete shoe-in, so why not just sit back and enjoy the circus?
But, see, I don’t agree with that either.
Personally speaking, I’m not a particularly huge fan of Hillary’s (I voted in the New York primary for Bernie), but I’d sure as shit prefer her in the White House than Trump. At the very least, you cannot discount her smarts, professional experience and demeanor (none of which can be said for Trump).
That all said, you’d have to genuinely be an idiot not to notice the palpable rage Hillary inspires in large swathes of this nation. I’m related to a boat-load of Republicans, and a single, well-timed invocation of her name will set them off like no other. I’ve seen it in action. A lot of people really think she’s the quintessence of evil and everything that’s wrong with Washington D.C.
With that in mind, I’m not at all convinced that she can beat Trump in November, leaving me with the very genuine fear that Donald Trump could very well ascend to the office of President of the United States of America, and if that notion doesn’t send a chill down your spine, check your pulse.
Here’s another choice tidbit from Ponnuru’s article…
[Trump supporters] already think that people who oppose Trump look down on them, and it’s one reason they are backing him. When anti-Trumpists openly announce they have no respect for Trump voters and wish to shun them, they just confirm these Trump supporters’ view and harden their resolve.
As I tried to assert on my friend’s afore-cited Facebook thread,THAT DOESN’T MAKE TRUMP SUPPORTERS ANY MORE SYMPATHETIC, ANY MORE JUSTIFIED OR ANY LESS INTELLECTUALLY INFERIOR!
The defense of Trump’s disarmingly vast field of support is that his acolytes are intent on sending Washington a wake-up call designed to broadcast their discontent with both parties. I am not for a moment suggesting that our current system of government is flawless (remember, I’m rooting for Bernie), but putting Trump in the White House will not remedy the problem. It’s like putting a lit firecracker into your broken toaster -– yeah, it’s sure as Hell gonna shake things up, but it’s not going to fix the problem.
Whether it was initially calculated to turn out this way or not, Trump has stirred up something deeply ugly in this country. No, he’s not the first to do this (hello, George Wallace), and he probably won’t be the last. But by unleashing it in supposedly enlightened 2016, we’ve collectively taken a giant leap backwards. Violence has been flat out encouraged by the candidate, and hateful, racist rhetoric is now validated under the guise of dispelling “political correctness.” Listen, assholes –- “Political Correctness” is just a catch-all term for being considerate, inclusive and egalitarian. Last time I checked, those were all noble, all-American ideals.
Point Blank: An endorsement of Trump is an endorsement of his message, and you’d have to be DEEPLYFUCKING STUPID not to recognize that message as one steeped in bigotry, misogyny, hatred, violence, avarice and crippling myopia.
If you cannot recognize Donald Trump as the repugnant, ineloquent, megalomaniacal villain that he so inarguably is, you should be seriously ashamed of yourselves. I will continue to have nothing but derision and contempt for you, and I will NEVER feel otherwise.
Incidentally, the image at the top was appropriated from a t-shirt that’s been encouragingly sold (out) by Reaper Records. It’s essentially an homage to the cover art of this single.
In the wake of the last twoposts, I just wanted to quickly expound on something, lest I run the risk of seeming oblivious, insensitive, incurious or just plain stupid.
Since about the autumn of 1984, I have had one replication or another of Mike Coles’ iconic cover of the first Killing Joke album adorn my walls. A poster of it hung in my bedroom during my latter high school years. That same poster graced the interior of each and every dormitory cell and off-campus bedroom I occupied throughout my college days (see above). Years later, as an arguable professional, I have a lovingly framed print of it in my office (you can fetch your own here).
I’ve boasted the image on myriad t-shirts over the years, and even fleetingly entertained the notion of getting a bit of it as a tattoo about twenty years back (I demurred from that one, although I have friends who proudly sport that ink).
In a nutshell, the visual representation of that first LP by Killing Joke, as I said in that first post, is inexorable from the band’s music. Those striking images are part of Killing Joke’s entirety.
That all said, of course, their origins --- as starkly captured by Don McCullin in the dark days of 1971 -– are something else entirely.
In taking a step back from the giddy search my comrade dub and I undertook in order to pinpoint the photographs' (both front cover and inner gatefold) locations, I would like to say that we deftly and respectfully side-stepped delving very deeply into the actual events transpiring in the photographs in question beyond surface details. But, in retrospect, I don’t think that’s enough.
Put plainly, the scenes depicted in McCullin’s photographs are part of a much larger and much more complicated story than a bit of provocative album cover art by a post-punk band. While “the Troubles” didn’t play out here in the United States in anywhere near the same capacity they did in Northern Ireland and in England, the story was certainly in the news. To many, the specifics of that narrative may seem abstract or convoluted, but they were very real and very serious.
Even this many decades after the fact, the conflict in that part of the world remains nothing to make light of. Regardless of one’s stance on the subject, blood was shed, lives were lost, and families were affected. For those who lived in the flashpoint of those tumultuous times, I can only imagine the sensations McCullin’s original images must continue to conjure. I sincerely doubt any of those sensations are positive.
Given the stark worldview espoused, at the time, by Killing Joke, those pictures matched their music and their sensibility to a tee, but that doesn’t negate the fact that the photos ultimately mean something else – something that doesn’t belong to anyone other than the individuals depicted. It seems easy to divorce them from their proper context, but it’s that very context that gives them their power to begin with. Killing Joke adopted those visually arresting symbols because they provoke such responses. They’re not supposed to go down smooth and easy.
But it’s somewhat shamefully easy to forget all that and get caught up in comparatively trivial minutia. With all that in mind, while I cannot and do not speak for any of the concerned parties, please understand that in putting together these posts, it was never mine nor Dub’s intentions to appear disrespectful or flippant regarding the underlying (but ultimately indelible) associations of these images.