The Dovells' "Bristol Stomp"
The Dovells' "Bristol Stomp" from 1961 is a doo-wop track that has an aggression and crudity and potential for going berserk that reminds me more of rockabilly than of doo-wop. Maybe we can think of its relation to real doo-wop as like the relation of the garage punks to the Stones and Yardbirds. The dance is said (by Wikipedia) to have originated in a "blue-collar suburb," Bristol, Pennsylvania. No other track I've heard by the Dovells or by songwriter Dave Appell has this emotional feeling. Maybe it's just something I'm projecting onto the track anyway, a potential I heard in their roughness that they hadn't put there themselves.

This entry was originally posted at Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

Just like you keep a chair empty for your Senator when you hold a town hall
Sorry I haven't been communicating more. Kind of caught up (as a spectator mostly) in Twitter snark about Trump et al. (The Onion: "Heartbroken Russian Ambassador Thought Special Meetings With Jeff Sessions Were Very Memorable." Matt Yglesias: "It's traditional for the Speaker to hide the health care bill at the start of the seder so the children can search for it later." Yglesias again, in response to "Sen Cornyn, emerging from GOP healthcare mtg, was just asked what the plan is. 'You think I'm going to tell you what the plan is?'" "No Mr Cornyn, I expect you to di-- -- wait, it is totally reasonable to expect you to say what the plan is!")

In the meantime, here's a Chinese cover of Dschinghis Khan's "Moskau."

(Unfortunately, there are no high-quality rips of the MV — in fact, this rip seems to be the only one, though of course there are many rips of this particular rip, this being one of them; i.e., probably not the original rip itself.)

H/t John Wójtowicz for reminding me there's a Dschinghis Khan, and Twitter person @LoofaFace for the empty-chair ref I used as the title of this post. (@LoofaFace's moniker itself is taken from a memorable Daylin Leach tweet.)

Urgent update: David Frazer informs me that there's a North Korean dance to "Moskau" performed by Mullah Resmat protégés Wangjaesan Art Troupe.

This entry was originally posted at Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

Days of Future Posts Mid-February Edition
Several potential posts I'm working on, which you may see or may never see.

1. A point-counterpoint of the extremes in my attitude towards politics. 10 items in all, plus further musings and slip-slidings. For a taste, here are numbers 1 and 2.

Odd number. (1) Politics is a social space that allows for people to say things that are more stupid and destructive than what they allow themselves to say in almost all other spaces.

Even number. (2) Politics is a means by which the most vulnerable and targeted people in society can organize to defend themselves and gain some social power. (Obviously, it's also the means by which other people can target and rip off the most vulnerable. Those vulnerable people themselves can't actually organize and defend each other unless they gain allies and advocates among the less vulnerable. In fact, it's these latter who do most of the organizing and defending.)
2. Kind of bouncing off this first post, my psychologically creating the conditions under which I might actually engage in politics per se.

(1) Don't assume we have to dumb ourselves down to (a) sway voters, (b) pressure our enemies, (c) get along with our allies.

So, let's say, as a working premise, that we can and should speak and act honestly and thoughtfully, and if colleagues claim that strategy and tactics demand we don't, the burden of proof should be on them. Don't fall for tones of voice that sound "realistic" and "knowing."

This argument is with myself as much as it's with the world.

(2) Joy. There needs to be joy and satisfaction not just in the outcome and the sense of trying to do the right thing (neither of these joys being very available e.g. when we're losing or when we're flailing and confused); there needs to be joy in the doing, joy every day or at least every week. This reverts back to the previous point. The joy of thinking, the joy of discovery: these are always available if we want them and for me they're necessities, not luxuries. But also, for me, they ultimately — thinking, discovering — need a community. This isn't just because ideas get better when discussed and argued over. For me, ideas need to be shared or the whole process rots. Maybe that's because, in my head, the audience I imagine for my words is even worse than the one that's actually out there. Nonetheless, out there there's obviously a malfunction, a train wreck, a breakdown...
3. For a brief period, mid 1977 to mid 1978, I was writing poetry. I'd barely ever read the stuff, barely read anyone's poetry, not counting Shakespeare and Emily Dickinson, and not counting song lyrics (the latter being a pretty sizable amount of "not counting") — to the extent of knowing traditions of poetry were there but barely knowing what they were. I approached the enterprise with alienation and adventure: this was someone else's dinner table, but I could somehow leap the process, start in the neighborhood of my own rocks and foothills. I was using as my workbook Kenneth Koch's books on teaching the writing of poetry to kids and old agers (Wishes, Lies, And Dreams and Rose Where Did You Get That Red and I Never Told Anybody). I worked hard at not falling into being "writerly" or "poetic." —Harold Bloom and Mark Sinker to thread, but note that poetry and poets definitely weren't my touchstones: this came at a time when I was running away from my music obsession, and trying to evade my calling as a critic. I emphatically did find my poetic voice, one like no other. And then I stopped. More accurately, music called, and songs, and criticism, "poetry" somehow briefly installed on the path.

4. Bob Dylan really did deserve that Nobel prize, but there's a point-counterpoint here, too. The first point is that if the Nobel people really did want to open the floodgates to American song, allow for songs to come rushing in, Dylan is a gutless choice, the songwriter who's the anomaly with the billboard sign "A Poet, Not Just A Songwriter" rising up to the sky above him. Whereas the true obvious worthy recipient, the living master and genius who nonetheless doesn't safely push the Respectability button or the High Art And Literature button, is Chuck Berry. And once you've got Chuck you've opened those gates to everybody from field hollers and nursery rhymes to Brill Building to Jay-Z, hicks and hacks and streetcorners, truly breaching the cellophane that separates low and high and medium.

But the counterpoint here is that if you take songwriting for granted, and the breach as long done, Chuck is a rather staid choice, obvious indeed as an accepted classic — whereas Dylan is the danger guy still,* the one who explodes everything, simply wipes out the limitations of what you can do with words, draws on everyone and invites you to overthrow them all, no limitations on ambition, yet try it yourself and you're more likely to blow off your own hands than to produce much of value.

And then, this not on the subject of whether or not he's prizeworthy, we need to take account of the content of a lot of those exploding words. Dylan as much as Lou and Iggy (not to mention the more decorous Leonard Cohen and Paul Simon) effectively inserts into popular song the idea of self-destruction as a form of social protest. If you put together my critiques in "The Autobiography Of Bob Dylan"** and my "PBS" essays in the first two issues of Why Music Sucks, what you get is that we — indie-alternative, the supposed underground, the rock critics, our set of Musical Marginal Intellectuals — let self-destruction stand in the place of social analysis. Or let it validate the social analysis, let it make the analysis feel real whether or not the analysis was actually any good. And of course this applies in spades to the Academic Left. (This isn't Dylan's fault, it's in our culture without Dylan anyway, and I wouldn't say that you should think of self-destruction as the main legacy or message of Dylan, what the guy's about in full, and of course he pushes against the self-destruction too — he's an overload of messages, that's a feature — just there's this whole extolled "poet" thing that manages to sidestep huge hunks of what the poetry actually says and does.)

*I mean, I don't think of what he's doing now in the 2000s as danger-guy stuff (though maybe if I knew it better I would). 1965 and 1966 are the key danger-guy years, and they're still there, as it were — still here — haven't been assimilated.

**And here (or here if Google books switches up as it sometimes does and makes the other two go blank).

This entry was originally posted at Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

Another Way To Call A Cat A Kitten (Hello Dreamwidth)
I got a Dreamwidth account back in 2009 during a previous LiveJournal hullabaloo but never got around to doing anything with it. Now I've finally "migrated" or "archived" or "backed-up"* all my lj posts onto Dreamwidth and set Dreamwidth so that all my Dreamwidth posts will automatically cross-post onto LiveJournal as well. All my old LiveJournal posts are still on LiveJournal too. So I'll be actually writing my posts on Dreamwidth, but I assume commenting and conversational back-and-forth and action will still almost all be on lj. And I'll cross-post your lj comments for you onto my Dreamwidth, unless you object or do doubleposting yourself.

My LiveJournal:

My Dreamwidth:

The only major glitch in the copying is that in my posts my video embeds were lost, which means that, whenever I want to find a compulsive activity that enables me to avoid being in the social world, I'll go back and spend time adding videos back to the old posts on Dreamwidth. Also, as far as I can tell, Dreamwidth doesn't have the capacity to let us embed videos in comments at all, which is a drag; so not only are all your and my video embeds lost from comments, they can't be reinserted either. Oh, and Dreamwidth sidebars will have fewer links and I don't think there's a way to stick Taylor Swift's "Lose Yourself" there either.

Under the cut I describe what impelled the change.

A wild or turbulent disturbanceCollapse )

*None of those words is really accurate: I didn't "migrate" so much as simply got Dreamwidth to copy all my old posts onto Dreamwidth. But as I say up in the text, the LiveJournal posts stay on LiveJournal too.

This entry was originally posted at Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

PSA concerning my list of Top Singles For 2016
I don't expect to finish my Top Singles List until early January, but in the meantime I need to make clear that the current positioning on my YouTube playlist of Pussy Riot's "Straight Outta Vagina" at 75 and Die Antwoord's "Bum Bum" at 76 is not meant to present the observer with a binary choice.

Carry on.

In the meantime, Badkiz cover a Badkiz song
In the meantime, Badkiz cover a Badkiz song.

(This is a very subtle post that only davidfrazer will appreciate fully.) (Also see our conversation regarding Badkiz' impact on Korean Taekwando outfit K-Tigers, and the impact of Melbourne bounce on each.)

Stars Vomit Coffee Shop (reissue) (Frank Kogan, Red Dark Sweet, The Pillowmakers)
Purchase CD from OSR, and Zach certainly deserves your business; but also you can download and stream at bandcamp, and can stream on YouTube* and Spotify.** Orig. cassette 1984, CD reissue 2016. [UPDATE JUNE 2017: OSR have closed down, so the YouTube and Spotify streams will go dark one of these days. However, Zach says that the bandcamp will stay up indefinitely. Hurrah!]

Frank Kogan • Red Dark Sweet • The Pillowmakers

Two thirteen-year-old boys went out to fight each other in 1967, when I was in eighth grade. I and a friend of mine went along to watch the fight. It turned out that the boys were afraid to really fight, which both relieved and disappointed me. The boys made up rules: no punching, no hitting in the face. So the fight was just a shoving match. After watching the boys push each other for a while, I said to my friend, "This reminds me of that song from last year..." "Yeah," he laughed and finished the sentence for me. "You're pushing too hard."

I started listening to pop radio when I was twelve. I liked songs by the Cyrkle, Kinks, Count Five, Buckinghams, Beatles, Troggs, Human Beinz, Simon and Garfunkel, People, Easybeats, Electric Prunes, Eric Burdon, Bee Gees, Monkees, Neil Diamond, Music Explosion, Outsiders, Grass Roots, Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs, etc. The two songs that hooked me on rock and roll were were "Hanky Panky" by Tommy James and the Shondells and "Mother's Little Helper" by the Rolling Stones. I was attracted by the intense sound of this music rather than by the lyrics, though in retrospect I realize that the lyrics reflected my feelings. I couldn't listen to "96 Tears" because it upset me too much. Most of these songs were variations on the Dylan-Stones-Yardbirds transformation of rhythm and blues into hard rock. They took r & b's call-and-response and turned it on its head, so that it felt like separation and alienation. The epitome of this was the Stones' "Get Off Of My Cloud." The best of the '60s stuff still kept a sense of r & b rhythm. I was impressed by singers like Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, and Iggy Pop, who used the voice as a rhythm instrument.

In the late 1970s in New York I thought about joining or putting together a band. My friend Rich Campo told me to listen to James Brown. I did that, and also listened to a lot of '70s disco and funk I'd been too stupid to pay attention to the first time around. I got the idea, stimulated by watching the Contortions, that a new music could be created if I took the emotional edge of a group like the Velvet Underground and give it a firm base in swinging blues and funk. I was excited by Spoonie Gee's "Spoonin' Rap" and "Love Rap," which felt like punk and sounded like disco. I wanted to make music that went beyond the narrow (and narrowing) emotional range of hard rock (a.k.a. punk) without denying its truth. This tape is evidence that I didn't succeed. Rich and I made several attempts to put together a band, but nothing jelled. Finally I met up with Andrew Klimek and Charlotte Pressler, who had little interest in disco-funk but a lot of ideas of their own. We played out together as a trio in September 1981 under the name Red Dark Sweet. Shortly after that we added Charlotte's friend Donna Ratajczak on drums. Donna stayed with the band until early the next year, when she quit and was replaced by Rick Brown.

Charlotte and Andrew had a knowledge of music that ranged from medieval to early country to avant garde, but its core was the same '60s garage-goes-Velvets stuff I'd grown up on — except Andrew and Charlotte had heard interesting possibilities in the music that I hadn't. I explain it like this: freedom, expansiveness, improvisation, and noise experimentation are a logical extension of music like that of the Byrds and Bob Dylan (Bringing It All Back Home is a good example). These qualities already belong to rock and roll; they needn't be brought into the music from some other tradition (such as jazz, art rock, or the serious avant garde). I truly believe that Red Dark Sweet was (and still is) playing the essence of '60s and beyond rock and roll. Red Dark Sweet differs from the current punk revival groups because Red Dark Sweet plays the music for its possibilities rather than its notes. In any event, club owners immediately classified us as an art band, which says more about their fear than our music. It also limited where we could perform, and who would see us. This frustrated me. These frustrations eventually caused me to quit the band. I wanted to take the show on the road, so to speak. I wanted to go out and find an audience, as the Dolls had, as Black Flag had. The other band members thought that this was unrealistic, given our lack of money and connections.

Ironically, Red Dark Sweet is now in Cleveland where they are performing and actively trying to promote an alternative music space. I've spent the last year and a half working on this tape and failing to put a band together.

When I left Red Dark Sweet I got together with Stefano Arata, a guitarist who liked the Troggs, Television, Pere Ubu, the Thirteenth Floor Elevators, and other groups like that. This was what I wanted. I'd decided to abandon the idea of punk-disco fusion (a fraudulent version of which was beginning to dominate radio) and stick with my garage roots. This was a mistake. Without Andrew my music lost its expansiveness and I fell back on sounding like junior-high meanness. I broke out of that towards the end of the Pillowmakers' existence by writing ballads. As did Stefano. That period of the Pillowmakers is not documented on this tape because I don't like the concert tapes of those songs. Stefano and I spent months auditioning drummers, most of whom thought we sounded weird or that we were doing art rock. I thought we sounded limited. Finally we asked Stefano's friend Carol Meinke to drum with us. We worked hard, and eventually were able to put on some tight, intense shows. But I never could convince myself that our music mattered.

Except for "Hero Of Fear," an old Red Dark Sweet song, the solo material on this tape was written in the last fourteen months. I wrote the music to "Baby Doe" on my thirtieth birthday.

Miscellaneous Notes—In "Mrs. Hanson" I repeat one note for seven minutes. "Di Conti" is narrated by Di Conti's boyfriend, impersonated by Charlotte. "Hero Of Fear" is also known as "Bagel With Schmeer." "Linda Lu" was originally a Red Dark Sweet "song"—really a bass line and words that the band tried to make into something. Stefano's guitar playing on the Pillowmakers' version pulls the song together. The bass line was inspired by "Funky Nassau." Andrew is the only person who has understood the third verse of "Fire Hydrant" without it being explained to him. "Baby Doe" uses the same rhythm as "Sister Ray." FK's lyrics: Early stuff ("Worms," "Hero Of Fear," "Stars Vomit") are about people being addicted to their own oppression. "Transit Cop" is based on a true story. At the Canal Street subway station in Lower Manhattan you can transfer from the BMT line to the IRT line. The BMT goes into middle-class Queens, the IRT goes into the ravaged slums of the South Bronx. The cop didn't want the bum riding into a good area, I presume. After he's kicked off the train, the bum starts babbling. The other songs are all "Hey Joe."
Frank Kogan
December, 1984

tracklistCollapse )

Personnel and creditsCollapse )

Accolades and a few recent thoughtsCollapse )

Claw-dancing roundup
Cross-posting from Tumblr, where cureforbedbugs wrote:

Were you mildly disappointed in the new M.I.A. album even though you kind of liked it, and decided to listen to M.I.A. knock-offs instead and were then disappointed in them, too?

Try THIRD generation M.I.A. knock-off Tkay Maidza, who out-clonestamped Santigold this year, and ALSO gave us a second gen Sant-O-gold and also gives a few hints of, like, is that Kid Sister? – or something. Basically, this album takes all the shit I’ve been kind of rooting for but not feeling for the last five years and just gives me a 100% decent all the way through album of it. Don’t expect anything less than totally derivative, and if that bothers you then, well, I hope you enjoy all of that super original horseshit you’ve got clogging up your year-end lists. 2016 is a nightmare; give me comfort food.
My reply: Haven't made it to the albums, but on this year's singles Tkay Maidza seems to be getting the singsong M.I.A. but not the jumprope or the tunnel-under-the-earth-and-claw-your-face-off M.I.A. Meanwhile, M.I.A. on her own singles (esp. various "Bird Song"s) is sing-songing and face-clawing and excavating like always. And on another meanwhile Tkay Maidza is shining as a sharp-toothed dance diva for Martin Solveig and Motez. And on a couple more meanwhiles, Tymee is still playing it too real and tough but she's truly grabbed me for the first time since she was E.via. And Die Antwoord are an art project disguised as a rodent infestation, but they're outdoing all the aforementioned.

Testing my twitter feed
This is a test.

The joy of disputatiousness
Want to post something quick with the early east coast polls just closing.

I wrote this last night in about three minutes while waiting to see our therapist:

If Clinton wins I want to go forth with the joy of intellectual argument and dispute. If Trump wins, I may need to forgo this joy in favor of simple support for those engaging in intellectual and practical resistance. —Of course it's hardly either/or. Think of the joy of the intellectual dance step. Soldiers take time to dance. And support and resistance don't lose their pull even if Clinton wins, with danger not quite so pressing.

(Then our therapist ushered us in.)

What was on my mind was what a hero I think Matt Yglesias has been overall at Vox and on his twitter feed, but that he's kind of being a minor jerk whenever he gets snarky about theories of "economic anxiety" and such that are sometimes applied to Trump voters. It's like neither he nor anyone similar knows how to get to an intelligent conversation on the subject, or really knows how to want one. It's not an urgent conversation, but life would be more fun taking the Yglesias types to task than just supporting them shoulder-to-shoulder on the subjects of greater urgency (like urban density, which he's truly smart about, but poses no fun philosophical puzzles). —Really, I believe if done right disputatiousness is an important part of support. But if Clinton wins I'll feel a sigh of relief and think even if the disputatiousness is not done so right, it'll eventually right itself, or something.

But it's important to dance.

Dance to the beat of the living dead.

Songs Implicated In Bullying Scandal (Top Singles, Five-Sixths Through 2016)
I feel emotionally battered by the election, feeling simultaneously vulnerable and malicious, as if I'll be attacked for anything and nothing and I run constant fantasies of going back and settling old scores.

I've been sitting on most of this list for a month now, wondering what to say. I don't know how this music "plays" among the people most affected by it. I'm also not completely sure whom I should consider the "people most affected by it," anyway: thirteen-year-olds uneasily trying to figure out who they are and what other people think of them, and being subjected to this music, to these vids? Kids who when they listen don't see or hear themselves and wonder what's wrong with themselves for not being like it, kids who do see themselves and don't like what they see, kids who like what they hear, like what they see, don't realize they're being set up, kids who are inspired to change themselves, kids who are just having a good time, um [trying to think of positive impacts], kids who grasp these as vehicles for love, for excitement, for conversation, for adventure? I don't know. Kids who like the way they look when they dance to this? Kids who hate the kids who dance to this?

—Why am I privileging "kids" here? ('Cause they're the ones for whom "who am I?" social choices are still fairly open, and influenced.) Why am I still listening to so much kids' stuff, anyway? (Well, other stuff I listen to isn't likely to produce singles.)

But, age 62, wondering why I'm not finding or particularly searching for good music fronted by people my age, two-thirds my age, three-fifths my age, even half my age; or fronted by male people; or explicitly political from the political Left.

I hardly ever visit the lyrics translation sites,* if the lyrics would provide much of a hint.

So I'm not doing much research, am I? Just sitting around wondering.

Locker room talk: I was molested (in a bullying, taunting way) in an actual locker room when I was a teenager. I recently dashed off a piece for my writers group about how if I imagined myself on the bus with Trump I'd think he was, among other things, challenging and bullying me. It didn't dawn on me to include what was done to me back in my track-and-field locker room. In my junior high bullying piece back in WMS #9 I said something like, "It was all over by ninth grade," but the molesting happened when I was in 9th grade, so clearly it wasn't all over. I don't know if I ever even brought up the locker room with a therapist (until last Wednesday, when I did). Maybe I thought (somewhat correctly) that it was relatively small cheese in comparison to the effect of the verbal teasing of a few years earlier. Anyway, songs in my life then were part of the soundtrack, whatever support or fear they provided.

From approximately 1963 through 1980 people more-or-less "socially" like me made great music that had a strong public presence. Afterwards, they didn't. ("People more-or-less socially like me" is vague enough.)

This is why I never post this. I'm just... not wanting to put thoughts together. Making excuses, it feels like.

Tension two paragraphs back between the phrase "people more-or-less socially like me" and the fact that one way of being "like me" is having a similar visceral response or aesthetic sensibility.

So, if I were to study old Mayan art and somewhat understand its world and be moved by it, does that make me more Mayan (if only marginally so) than I'd been before? (But do I have any idea whether my being "moved by it" is similar to how the Mayan's responded to it or what they did with it? Well, presumably if I'd done some research I'd have some idea about that, too.)

I get the sense that K-pop mostly comes from the mainstream and is geared towards cheerleader types and jocks more than to the freaks and the greasers (to use ancient terminology from a different part of the world). Also, duh, I don't know what I'm talking about it. Cheerleaders and jocks aren't necessarily more conservative than greasers, anyway, and are often less explicitly reactionary. Also, I assume (not necessarily correctly) that those who create K-pop are living in a Seoul version of Hollyweird, hence a bit more liberal than their audience. I think of particular performers, e.g. Brown Eyed Girls, and video director Hwang Soo Ah, as being vaguely on the "left." Whereas T-ara, for instance, traffic less in the need for some kind of breakout. But, e.g., T-ara's videos with director Cha Eun-taek hardly seem authoritarian or particularly traditionalist, and many of them are very good. (Cha Eun-taek is in the news right now in relation to an emerging government influence-peddling scandal, but not only do I truly know little about it, I'm wary even on my Blog That No One Reads of linking someone to the word "scandal" when I don't know what I'm talking about. I'm mindful of how the simple constant repetition of phrases like "T-ara bullying scandal" and "Clinton email scandal" creates the sense in the broad public that certain people MUST be in the wrong, even when most of the public has no idea whether or where there really is a scandal and what the alleged wrong is. Cha to his credit was one of the few industry people to tweet in support of T-ara (and Eunjung in particular) during their duress.)

"Songs in my life then were part of the soundtrack, whatever support or fear they provided." (Songs Implicated In Bullying Scandal!)

In the old days, when more people read my lj, at least a few people who knew more than I do would come along and help me out.

Here's a YouTube playlist of my Top Singles, 2016; will continue to be updated. Think I'm probably underrating the Mike Larry and overrating the

YouTube playlist: Ongoing Singles 2016

1. HyunA "How's This?"
2. Britney Spears ft. G-Eazy "Make Me..."
3. Crayon Pop "Vroom Vroom"
4. 4minute "Canvas"
5. FAMM'IN "Circle"

6. Tiffany ft. Simon Dominic "Heartbreak Hotel"
7. Era Istrefi "BonBon"
8. Aommy "Shake"
9. Serebro "Slomana"
10. NCT 127 "Fire Truck"
11. Wonder Girls "Why So Lonely"
12. DLOW "Do It Like Me"
13. Oh My Girl "Windy Day"
14. Serebro "Let Me Go"
15. Blackpink "Whistle"

16. Tiggs Da Author ft. Lady Leshurr "Run"
17. Britney Spears "Do You Wanna Come Over?"
18. NCT U "The 7th Sense"
19. Your Old Droog "42 (Forty Deuce)"
20. Serebro "Chocolate"
21 through 52Collapse )

*Pop!gasa has a good reputation, though I forget who said so (which makes my use of "reputation" in this sentence a good example of what reputation is).

Way To Go
New Crayon Pop.

Advance single "Vroom Vroom"

About perfect: Light splashy Italodisco, a boat ride past small islands. Writer and (I think) lead singer Way adds enough ache to give this a promise of passion, a hint of adventure.

Album teaser, Evolution Vol. 1

First 8 tracks, I guess; 17 are due, 10 all new. Track 2 has interesting promise, as if it's early-mid Sixties girl group morphing into soul, or early Eighties Britain burnishing up that sound so that it glistens. Or something different; it's only several seconds. Track 6 is on a different Sixties borderline, like the Animals grabbing at teen tragedy and creating a venomous adult wail — not that I expect Crayon Pop to get close to venom, or to full slaughterhouse wailing. Probably will just be nice woman dancing into the distance, leaving small pangs of dust to glint in the sunlight.

Title Track Single "Doo Doom Chit"

Track gallops and kicks right out of the gate. So much for my impression from the teaser that it'd go down a tad too easy.* In fact it's so pushy and crowded I'm having trouble disentangling it. The beat seems to be battling the atmospherics, while Crayon Pop prance steadfastly forward. Strong, but I don't know if I know how to hear it.

Anyone want to tell me how you're hearing it?

h/t David Frazer for the alert, and the post title.

*"There's a powerful monomaniacal repetition at 9 seconds in that lasts for two-and-a-half seconds ('Shaky shaky shaky HAH!' or something like that) which potentially upends or punks up the song in a good way. The rest at first listen goes down a tad too easy, though I like the flimsy discarded-cardboard drum-like sound that propels the track."

I Knew My Tribe Was Something To Do With Music (Stop Using The Word "Tribal," Pt. 2)
Have this and at least another post to add to my previous discussion of "tribal." I'll reiterate right now that the term "tribal" when used for modern social identity is very wrong, and you shouldn't use it unless you're referring to actual tribes or clans.* But I do want to take better stock of the positive appeal of the term, why people reach for it and aren't readily coming up with alternatives.

 photo Gathering Of The Tribes.jpg

One quick answer is that, especially for those who apply it to themselves, "tribe" is a much warmer term than "class" is, is much warmer than any other available term except for "family," in fact is in use precisely because it suggests a family-like bond but can be used for groups larger than the family, can be used for strangers with whom one might nonetheless sense a strong attachment, a feeling of being potentially at home with them — but "tribe" also carries the potential of leaving you alone and apart and under threat when you're not with your tribe or family but are instead dumped into what feels like someone else's, or in a shack in that family's back yard, or you're born into the wrong one.

So "tribe" here feels more emotionally apt than the other available terms and doesn't have the negative connotations that adhere to words like "clan" or "caste" or "ethnic group" or "religion" or "nation."

Prior to reading my first post, Mark Sinker, who was busy celebrating his birthday instead, emailed me this comment based on the title and the first few sentences:

On Friday I was interviewing and filming my old friend Liz Naylor... She was describing how the rock press in the 70s — and the free press and the alt press and the zine press — were her substitute for going to university, basically. She came from a suffocatingly cloistered working-class home in Hyde, which is a small satellite town of Manchester (also world capital of serial killers: the Moors Murderers and Harold Shipman). She grew up in a house with no books; no access to "culture" in the sense of films or music or art or anything. School was no help: it just amplified the announcement that if any of this stuff exists — books or films or music or art — it is NOT FOR THE LIKE OF YOU, LIZ. In desperation, she set off for libraries, independent bookshops and record shops, Fall gigs etc. The rock press, she says, is "how I located my tribe" — meaning (at first bite) other feminist lesbians of mischievous punky bent, committed to a lifelong battle with self-destructive urges, and (at second) always somewhat in truculent contention with any group she appears to be declaring herself part of.

If she'd said "The rock press is how I located my class," it would immediately have necessitated a second level of explanation: because surely (or anyway at first listen) her "class" is what she was ESCAPING from.
My immediate response to Mark, unsurprisingly, was that her family is what Liz was escaping from as well, and also "This is how I located my tribe" is akin to "This is how I located my self" (via locating my true kin in opposition to my mere biological kin), this is where I live, this is true vibrancy. Whereas, "This is how I located my class," would've missed this resonance, that she'd found her home, her people, "class" being too obviously contingent, being somewhere she's stuck, maybe, or something she might leave or lose — contingent of course being EXACTLY WHERE SHE IS, imo. (Her "truculent opposition" might be precisely because she feels a familial bond, hence somewhat trapped again, but (also) might be because she's not in a class but in class systems, which give us the background feeling that we're behaving out of continual choice and that locations are precarious.) "Tribe" is false here, but it is in use precisely because it seems to explain the socioemotional pull of the group.

Fwiw, this is one way social mobility happens, through the leaving and finding of cultures.

One thing about actual tribes is that they're fundamentally not a choice. Maybe in some instances you could defect from one tribe to another, or one tribe could split off from another; but my assumption is that mostly you were either born into one or you married into it, with occasional people being kidnapped into it.
Liz made a heartfelt choice, almost a romantic one, like modern marriage — but in a sense by calling it a tribe she cast it as not a choice: perhaps the tribe she discovered would have been her one-and-only tribe even had she not discovered it. Without it, she'd have wandered in the wilderness. Those were her people, even if she hadn't found them. Of course, like modern romantic marriage, she could actually go through a break up, and likely will, likely did. But when she found it, it felt like forever.

Actually, in a clip that went up on Mark's Kickstarter site, what she says is, "there was just this real sense of survival, of needing to kind of go out in the world and find my tribe, find my people," which is a bit different from saying "how I located my tribe": the first makes it a search, puts the tribe in her future, with perhaps a sense of creativity, not just looking for her tribe but helping to bring one into existence. (This makes my riff above on the "one-and-only" even more questionable than it already was, since Liz may never have exactly found her "tribe." Mark says, "i'd have to check if elsewhere she says she found her tribe — i think she did mention it more than once." Also, "she's using the word slightly flippantly anyway (to mean, 'it's absurd to imagine such a thing could exist but what else do i call it?')."**

* * *

The next post will return to what got me going last time, the use of the term "tribal" by Krugman, Klein, DeLong et al. to identify problems, "tribe" not being altogether a pejorative, but "tribal" being used to connote an impediment, something that prevents people from seeing clearly and acting for the overall public or general benefit.***

But in the meantime I'm pasting in the rest of my email convo with my buddies Mark Sinker, Luc Sante, Don Allred, and John Wójtowicz:

Email, the Wild FrontierCollapse )

*Is "tribe" even the right word for tribes? That'll also be briefly taken up in a future post, the potential lumping together of disparate social forms and social groups in one category — not just "tribe," but "Latino" and so on. —"Cultural appropriation," though, isn't my beef with the word "tribal." The word's mainly being used as a metaphor, anyway; the problem is that it's the wrong metaphor. See the June "tribal" post for part one of my beef.

**Longer quote:

I had this sense somehow that there was this, loads of information out there, there was loads of interesting things in the world, and, you know, I kind of didn't know how to get to it. I think I sort of knew my own world was, felt a bit impoverished... I think there was just this real sense of survival, of needing to kind of go out in the world and find my tribe, find my people. That's easier said than done in Hyde, because it really was, there was one shop that stocked music press.
Later in the clip:

"I knew my tribe was something to do with music."

***I am hoping this post will inform that one, the sense that "familial" or "tribal" bonds feel harder to break than do "class" ones, that families and tribes claim more allegiance — even though these aren't actual familial or tribal bonds, we're not as attached or forced into them, and they're continually broken, though without this breakage necessarily helping us to move onward from the world they give us: the social systems tend to hold us even though the group identifications don't.

****E.g. Bob Dylan "She knows there's no success like failure, and failure's no success at all."

*****She mentions "grammar school," which in England is a type of secondary school, whereas in American usage the term refers to elementary school (roughly ages 6 through 11), the term now fading out.

Imagine a room when you stretch a rod diagonally up to the opposite ceiling corner (Miles and Pete)
Hoisted from lj comments, a couple of paragraphs I'd forgotten I'd written, 4 years ago, upon the death of Pete Cosey:

To me mid-'70s Miles caused as much a revolution in my idea of what sound could be as anything did short of James Brown and Richard Meltzer; so it's on the order of dub or hip-hop in making me rethink. Don't have good words for the rethink, it dating from around 1978. But let's say that one was previously thinking of music as made of rhythms and melodies (not necessarily how I thought of it in my life, but as a musician I was trying to get good with rhythms and melodies), and maybe chord progressions and harmony, though I was never all that competent with those. And "call-and-response," which in my mind symbolized the idea of notes in interaction, musicians in interaction. But with Miles I was getting an expanse of "space," though since music unfolds in time this space is mostly temporal. But imagine a room, and what happens when you stretch a rod from a floor corner diagonally up to the opposite ceiling corner and then start hanging cloth from the rod. The room is divided differently, it could be several rooms now. Anyway, I think of Miles as creating a space and then in a couple of seconds reorganizing it with a horn blast here and a wah-wah squiggle there, so there's constant reorganization even while the funk rumbles on. I also had in my mind the image of the sound running forward and then suddenly halting, leaving kinetic energy in the silent space that follows (and rarely would the sounds stop all at once; a particular instrument would stop unexpectedly, and this absence would help shape our perception of how the rest of the sound seemed).

From Donald Creamer (On The Corner) and Pete Cosey I could hear something that wasn't limiting its sense of possibilities to what the chords and the melodies seemed to invite; so we'd get notes or riffs that could feel like streamers, or like jets of paint...
I'd say it was Davis far more than Cosey who was responsible for this reorganization, but Pete Cosey's on my mind because of an article in Premier Guitar (Tzvi Gluckin, "Forgotten Heroes: Pete Cosey"). Among other things, it sent me to these performances. I hadn't known that Cosey was the lead guitarist on Electric Mud, an album I'd passed over when it came out. I'd assumed, possibly correctly, that it was a sound that Chess had forced on Muddy.* So, hearing this for the first time; some of it's stunning.

And here's a link to Melvin Gibbs' "Canto por Odudua" near the end of Cosey's life.

h/t Andrew Klimeyk.

*At age 14, I think I conflated Chess's campaign for Electric Mud with one at the same time for Howlin' Wolf's This Is Howlin' Wolf's New Album. He Doesn't Like It. He Didn't Like His Electric Guitar At First Either. Cosey's on that one as well, which I also need to listen to.

Days Of Future Posts
So many days, so few posts.

Look, I'm really a comment-thread guy more than a blog guy, but making supposedly correct triage decisions not to engage in various Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, etc. convos has left me w/out much public presence, while creating a lot of "notes" for posts here I should "write."

Not in the order they will, could, might, or won't appear:

--Grand opening for the hallway-classroom link and tag. I created them several months ago but have so far never properly introduced or promoted them. Perhaps there will be a banner and balloons.

--Tribal 2, the strong reasons people probably have for using the term "tribal" in a positive sense, like, regarding themselves even (which still doesn't mean you should use the word if you intend to engage in actual for real smart thinking, esp. pertaining to current political and social grouping(s)).

--Tribal 3, the strong reasons people like Paul Krugman, Brad DeLong, Ezra Klein, and a vast ever-multiplying et al. including probably you use the term "tribal" as a pejorative to denote one of the many things that fuck up and make stupid the current political etc. discourse (which still doesn't mean you or Krugman, DeLong, Klein, et al. should use the word if you intend to engage in actual for real smart thinking regarding current political and social grouping(s)). Paraphrases Upton Sinclair.

--Dead Lester 3. Yes, everyone is clamoring for this. </sarcasm>

--Dead Lester 4. One of the Dead Lester posts will be about why I think Paul Nelson never adequately responded to Irwin Silber. This post will be better received than the other one.

--Replication, in regard to understanding the utterances etc. of human beings other than oneself and perhaps other than yourself, too. This will be fun, I hope. It may refer back to the Mark Sinker adjunct thread that for a couple of years now I've been promising to add more to. The post may or may not refer to The Crisis Of Replication in the so-called social sciences, though that part of the post may be less fun.


--Oh My Girl wtf. ("Windy Day.")

--Cahiers du Cinema, Manny Farber. This post will not be as interesting as you were anticipating.

--Who is our most distant animal relative? This post will not answer the posed question, instead will be a meta meditation on taking sides, developing a rooting interest, etc., in which I will try to endeavor not to take sides or root for anything, except maybe will root for rooting and for taking sides, despite my failure to take sides, or root, in the post, unless I do take sides.

--That political discourse appears to batter through, demolish, and utterly flatten the wall between hallway and classroom while being the stupidest, most screwed-up, and destructive discourse in the world would seem to create a challenge to my assertion that (e.g.) rockcrits are being audacious and intellectually strong in not honoring the boundary between hallway and classroom. (The previous sentence leans heavily on the phrases "appears to" and "would seem to.")

--Is there a way for mathematics to finally click for me so that I might someday actually get it and enjoy it? (See the middle of Dave's post, here.)

--Yardbirds raveups.

--Bob Dylan's "Maggie's Farm." (Inspired by Edd Hurt's excellent comments on the "Antirockism Is Rockism" thread.)

--Interesting that Mark says "even the Ramones" (all bands being coalitions) given that the Ramones may be the epitome of a Bowie-Roxy-like "Oh oh oh, look look look, see the disparate elements we are combining," e.g., "See us do power chords with Ronettes melodies" and "Watch us do Dylan existential angst as if it's standard teen heartbreak" or "Watch us do Stones confronting-the-inner-fascist as dumb three-chord la-la-la" etc. etc. (This is a passage from a 4,000-word, rambling, very poorly integrated email I wrote and never sent because I hadn't finished it or remotely come close to figuring out what I was saying; perhaps a readable 1,500 words can be extracted from this. Potentially featuring Earth, Wind & Fire and the Pointer Sisters, who actually appear on a Kantner-Slick song.)

--Is "Only The Good Bits" as bad as "Too Many Bad Bits"? (Perhaps in regard to Paul Morley, and perhaps a continuation of PBS Revisited.)

--Why do we remember the past but not the future?

--Truffaut and Kogan (more of PBS Revisited).

--Wittgenstein doesn't buy into the dichotomy between particulars and universals. (This probably can be applied to the replication thing, now that I think about it.)


--I'm a comment-thread guy. I practically invented the comment thread. So why are even the good comment threads so killingly mediocre? Why is the Internet such a disappointment?

Quick Before It Vanishes (discovering Paul Morley)
Trying to drum up interest in Mark's UK rockwrite anthology (which needs to happen, Kickstarter here, quick, only 3 days left) by reengaging controversies from last year's Freaky Trigger thread on the Overground/Underground conference. Posted comments on Paul Morley (here, here, and here), whose work I'm now just starting to explore. Excerpts from my comments:

Okay, Morley's 1982 "Quick Before They Vanish"* piece, let's see how it operates. It courts and uses our response, e.g. wants us to balk at his claim to like everything (no one likes everything; that's not what liking is about) and wants us to compare ourselves to those people who are into only the Pop Group, one side of a Roland Kirk LP, and just the best bits of Sandinista. Also, while the specificity, Pop Group–half-Kirk–bits o' Sandinista, bring such people to life, we're to recognize that they're a type and they're hyperbole, so it can be similar artists not those three in particular and there might be five not three, or 105 or 505, the important attribute being the progressive discernment and diminishment, from a group down to a side down to only the good bits.

[*Link only works sometimes, other times gets me an error message. If you can't access the piece, email me and I'll send it to you. Also, if you clink the link at Pˆnk S Lord Sükråt Cunctør's comment on the Freaky Trigger thread it's more likely to work, though I don't understand why; it's the identical URL as on mine.]

Morley's tone has a certain uncertainty; there's no hesitance, it's a strong commanding voice that relies on us to amplify its doubts.

He starts, "when people ask me what music I like… I say 'everything.'" I think he's trying to imply that, whatever their restrictions, the charts, for at least the moment, carry a message of everything, that they are somehow open to more than they'll ever contain, and you can't ever be sure what they'll contain. In any event he likes everything, but then of course he immediately, deliberately contradicts this: it turns out not only doesn't he like everything, here off the bat is this Genesis song at #10 that he can't stand. So now that's the challenge, does his "I like everything" manage to prosper nonetheless? Morley hates the next song too, Charlene's "I've Never Been To Me." "It's a great feeling, isn't it, to hate things?" He's performing a quick martial arts wrist flick, so it's not "I like Genesis and Charlene after all" but I like hate and I like that Genesis's and Charlene's presence here gives me the opportunity to hate them. By implication, this could also be standing on behalf of the bad bits of Sandinista. If Sandinista were all good would it be as good?

(Okay, here's something the piece isn't stating, and if it's implying it this may be inadvertent: but, if we'd be diminished without the opportunity to hate Genesis, we're also diminished without the opportunity to put the Pop Group–Kirk–Sandinista Bits people in their place. They broaden Morley's story just as much as Genesis and Charlene do. So we can say that — obviously — Morley includes these people in the story. But I don't think we can meaningfully say the charts include them in their story.)

A fantastical reordering of the worldCollapse )

(But this is pretty great.)

Floating Fields Of Tough (Singles First Half 2016)
1. 4minute "Canvas"
2. FAMM'IN "Circle"
3. Aommy "Shake"
4. Tiffany ft. Simon Dominic "Heartbreak Hotel"
5. NCT U "The 7th Sense"
6. Tiggs Da Author ft. Lady Leshurr "Run"
7. BTS "Save Me"

For some reason I'm picking mood pieces here (tracks 1, 2, 5), sound that's atmospheric but with its sleeves up and muscles flexed, floating fields of toughness. Tiffany, tall and lithe (track 4), is in a mood too, ol' r&b sadness, integrity in heartbreak.

Tiggs isn't playing tough. He'd rather do fear, if it's got speed and a beat.

Aommy is cute and hot and fiery, seems working class to me: in the video, power is kicking the people who can kick you, and imagining (imaging it as if) they'll take it as just hard flirting, and so will the viewers — 'cause the woman doing the workout still needs to flirt, her boundaries not really protected, and maybe she wants to flirt as well, or works it well, anyway, and isn't really seeking an alternative. At least, it feels to me as if the video wants to have its cake and eat it too. Or maybe it's just a workout vid with fantasy advice for women getting by in what remains primarily men's space. The coda is good-naturedly inclusive. I don't know Thailand, so these are distant guesses.

Not keeping up, obviously; four of these I scarfed up only this week.

And 4minute are no more, by disagreement, not choice, it seems (reading between lines of the public reportage).

Help Kickstart my friend Mark Sinker's "A Hidden Landscape" (UK rockcrit anthology)
Help kickstart my friend Mark Sinker's A Hidden Landscape anthology, which is a spinoff of the Underground/Overground rock press festival/conference* he curated last year in re UK music press 1968-1985. Here's the Kickstarter link, if you're curious or want to make a pledge.

Key word in his writeup is Tumult, also Serendipity, "unexpected stuff you were unlikely to find side-by-side anywhere else on such a scale." My word would be Encounter, and my question would be, "Encounter what?" On the three panels I've heard from the streams, I thought that (the so-far-unread-by-me) Paul Morley was especially slamming. Defended the Pistols' and the Damned's sartorial showbiz tendencies by saying they were the types — as opposed to bloated '70s superstars — who were actually embodying the glamorous cape of Little Richard (I think it was fellow panelist Barney Hoskyns' sneering at the Clash's cut-offs that moved Morley to rise in defense of the secret glamour of the boy punks). Looking at my sketchy notes, I see Morley saying that the writing then was ideological life or death, believed it could be experimental, that it represented extraordinary times. He repeated the word “Momentum." I get the image of a gigantic boulder rumbling from past to future, a rolling body of work "that you can try to copy or distort or change into something else."

You might ask, how is that different from what we've got now every day on the Internet? The answer could be, "It isn't," but maybe there was a smarter tumult then, and in any event it would've had its own flavors of surprise and so might surprise you — or is likely to surprise me, anyway, given that sitting here in America I never really absorbed these people in depth (Simon Frith being the major exception). I'll say sourly that my current rockwrite/musicwrite world has become adept at sidestepping the Encounter, and sure doesn't feel like Momentum, or a tumult of experiment. And U.S. rockcrit has always sucked at follow-through, from the early '60s get-go. My understanding is that these are going to be all new essays (sprinkled through with conference excerpts), from people old as me who will be new to me nonetheless. We'll see what I encounter, if hidden in the prose is a cape of glamour.

(In the meantime, any suggestions as to where to start with Morley?)


*Lots of it was streamed, and I've just checked and the streams still flow. I've linked them here, where I commented on the commentary, too.

Frank Kogan "Wreck Of The John B"
Ha! I have no memory whatsoever of recording this. I like it. I'm guessing it was 1985, which would confirm my hypothesis that my singing got a lot better during the year after Stars Vomit Coffee Shop. Had assumed my singing voice would forever be intolerable to me, but this is not always the case. I like how my guitar only partially accommodates the melody, so there's a kind of zinging tightrope wire of tension between rhythm chords and the prettiness. Keeps the thing alive 31 years later.

I suspect this track was solicited by Al Margolis, but it might have been someone else and Al was the person who put it out.

Stop using the word "tribal" for modern political or social groupings
Stop using the word "tribal" for modern political and social groupings.

1. The groupings in question actually act much more like classes than like tribes. (Yes, I'm putting the matter crudely and confusedly.)

2. Setting aside its potential racism towards Native Americans — "clan" or "family" would be just as wrong conceptually — the term mislabels a part as a whole. That is, a tribe is a society with an internal social structure, whereas groups like "lower-middle-class whites" and "college-educated blacks" and "Republicans" and "Democrats" and so on are subgroups within a society, subgroups that relate to one another to form social structures.

Not that tribes themselves never had relations with one another. (I can't say I know much about it, either the structure of, say, the different Native (North) American tribes and Amazonian tribes, etc., or the structure of the interplay between tribes.) "Inside" and "outside" are never absolute social distinctions. But caveats such as this one shouldn't be used to obscure the basic mistake built into the metaphor "tribal."

3. The deep basic mistake that concerns me most is the idea that we have social class, here, as one kind of social relation, but that then there's this other stuff, "culture," there, that works differently from class. In fact, instead, class and culture are so deeply intertwined that "intertwined" itself is much too weak a word.

Obviously, all my points here are what on Wikipedia they call "stubs." This one has the most stubble of all. To say briefly what needs several hundred thousand words: what we tend to call "economic class" must have a cultural component or else class mobility both up and down would be too easy and desirable. Embedded in this idea is that e.g. those "in" the "lower" classes get positive status, and meaning, and love and excitement and a feeling of at least being somewhat "at home," right where they are, even though where and who "they are" is actually always necessarily slippery and at risk and even though they don't necessarily conceive where "they are" as belonging to or inside a class. ("In" got scare quotes above for being a problematic word.) The classes nonetheless make up the landscape in which people find (or look for) themselves. So a class isn't altogether unlike an ethnic group. But it is fundamentally different nonetheless in that to be in (or near) a class is to be part of a social structure that relates you to those who are in or near other classes.

That is, people don't fit snugly within a class. That's not how modern class works. They live instead within class systems, social structures, some of which are fairly ad hoc. But it's within these systems that they work out who they are, their creativity and their loves as well as conflicts and oppression and resentments. And they don't find movement all that easy, or inviting.

(To add another circular or elliptical twist or tangle to all this, as the world gets ever more cosmopolitan, ethnic groups themselves are more and more acting like classes (even more than they always did), so are in relation to other groups as part of a structure, rather than as separate structures in themselves, but paradoxically appear more and more as a choice, with at least some leeway, much greater than in the past, as to whether or how much one deploys one's ethnic identity (of course depending on circumstances).)

4. But most crucially and controversially I'll say that, while upper-middle-working class or some near variant on that is probably "right," i.e., is the basic structure of modern "advanced" societies, such classes often aren't the classes of our most immediate experience, and often aren't the classes that are in most immediate effect. So e.g. being a "freak" or a "feminist" or a "progressive" or a "leftist" or "indie" or "intellectual" may not just feel more crucial and more like an identity than being precariously "middle class" does, it puts you in everyday relation to other social groupings. For example, back in my high school, freaks were in relation to normies, to liberals, and to greasers so were part of a social structure that included these other groups. (And yes, I'm claiming such groupings really do structure a good deal of social life, as do the everyday adult groupings that are much vaguer and more ad hoc than the ones in high school.) Again, it's not that you feel at home in your particular class or group — most students felt estranged and many were unaffiliated — it's that such groupings constitute the social landscape and affect and direct your social choices. (If you're an "outsider" you're nonetheless in this social structure, which tells you you're outside the available groups, but nearer to some than to others, and influenced by all.) My basic point here is that to understand such groups, e.g. "freaks," you have to think of them as CLASSES not TRIBES.

Items 5 through 14: the sideways middle class, and bad explanationsCollapse )

Ezra Klein’s "How politics makes us stupid"Collapse )


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