March 30, 2009

Bail This

I have little patience with all the anti-bailout hysteria & all that stupid fake populist bullshit. Almost as little patience as I have with the bailout itself. Those little pieces of green paper we carry in our wallet tend to obscure the truly abstract nature of money. Money is above all an idea. And right now, nobody (but NOBODY) has an idea just what the hell is going on with this thing we call an economy.

Obama's plans for the economy may work, or they may not. He doesn't know; nobody knows.

One thing I do know: if you took the $9.8 trillion set aside for the TARP fund and, instead of giving it to the banks, we gave it to US citizens, each and every one of us would get over $37,000. That's right, $37,000 (actually, if you go by US citizens 18 and over, you're looking at $43,035.42, but who's counting?). Now, I'm sure there's a very good reason that wouldn't work, but I'm more sure that I don't know what that reason would be. It seems to me that all the spending that would create would get the economy rolling. And even if people actually saved or invested it, well, that means it would be going into the banks and brokerages, right? How does that fail?

Like I say, I'm sure that there's a good reason this wouldn't work, but inflation isn't it, so don't bother me with that (as in, I could re-budget for $5 gas if someone were handing me $37,000).

* * * * *

While I'm at it, that Domino's ad sucks. "My economic bailout plan" my ass. Anytime I hear "bailout" or "main street/wall street" in ads, I want to punch people, then I want to boycott the business running the ad. My only consolation is that the person who wrote that ad is probably unemployed now.

* * * * *

My Economic Bailout Plan aka In Rotation for Early Spring:

Lou Harrison
- Suite No. 2 and Six Sonatas
LaMonte Young - Sarabande
Harry Partch - Two Studies and Barstow
John Cage - Dream and In a Landscape
(the above performed by John Schneider, just & adapted guitars, and Amy Shulman, celtic & concert harp)
Sun City Girls - 330,003 Crossdressers from Beyond the Rig Veda
Doom - Born Like This
Big Star - Third (Sister Lovers)
Pharoah Sanders - Izipho Zam
My Dad is Dead - Shine(r)
Brahms - Ein Deutsche Requiem
Ligeti - Double Concerto for Flute and Oboe, San Francisco Polyphony, String Quartet No. 1, Continuum, Musica Ricercata
This Heat - Deceit
Butthole Surfers - Psychic . . . Powerless . . . Another Man's Sac
The Jam - Sound Affects
The Clash - Sandinista!
Sir Richard Bishop - Polytheistic Fragments
Robert Nighthawk - Live on Maxwell Street
Hound Dog Taylor - Natural Boogie
Son House - Delta Blues
Carcass - Reek of Putrefaction
Verdi - Requiem
Eleventh Dream Day - Prairie School Freakout
Giant Sand - Chore of Enchantment
MC5 - Kick out the Jams
Bolt Thrower - . . . For Victory
Robert Pete Williams - Robert Pete Williams

March 29, 2009

We Count!

Growing up, I was always baffled by the Nielson ratings champs. I mean, did people really watch Knight Rider (besides my little brothers)? Or Charles in Charge? Or Hello Larry? Or that show with Emmanuel Lewis and Alex Karras as his dad? And what about the good shows nobody watched, from Hill Street Blues all the way down to Arrested Development? Who the hell are these "Nielsen families" anyway?

We are, that's who. At least for one week. For the first time in my life, I feel important.

March 28, 2009

The Jukeboxes of Clarksville, Pt. 1

I was saving this to get published somewhere else, but it doesn't seem to quite fit anywhere I'm looking to put it. Besides, it's not like I'm going to get paid for it.

This is a fairly extensive rework of a previously posted blog. This first part should look familiar to people who follow my foolishness, but the next couple installments are substantially new.

Oh, and sorry about double posting the poem, but I decided to leave it in even though it's already here.

The Hut on the Trail West

The Pizza Hut on Lewis and Clark Parkway stands largely silent. In the J-Town Pizza Hut, the jukebox spews top songs until someone ponies up some change to play something different. Here, however, silence is the rule rather than the exception, and the austerity is matched by the empty tables – no grated cheese, no crushed red pepper, no salt, no pepper.

The jukebox is one of those modern CD jobs, 4 plays for a buck, 25 for a five, filled only half full. Lots of cowboy hats, lots of classic rock, that's what this Clarksville jukebox has. Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Fleetwood Mac, Bob Seger, Martina McBride, John Mellencamp, John Mayer, and lots and lots of cheap compilations – rap, r & b, rock, country, all straight off the radio . . . the only thing that would earn a worn dollar bill from my pocket is Johnny Cash's 16 Hits.

A couple of the employees are hanging with friends at a corner table. They are loud, but not obnoxious. They are older than average pizza jockeys (this being late afternoon, the kids are in school), of ambiguous age somewhere between a hard-rode 35 and a weathered-but-youthful 48. I jump a little when, from out of nowhere, the jukebox springs to life. It's some generic manicured cowboy hat. As suddenly as the jukebox blares awake, it again falls silent. In the three times I've eaten there, I've heard three songs: two cowboy hats, and one hippie lite jam which I imagine was Dave Matthews . . . it seems no matter how many times I hear Dave Matthews, I never can register how he really sounds.

Driving back to the store at the end of my break, I think about those soldiers who go in before the bombers fly and "paint" infrared tags on the selected targets. I think about calling in an air strike. I am not in a good mood. There's something about Clarksville that makes me feel like Céline (and I don’t mean Dion). It's not like Anderson, which is getting progressively poorer, damaged, displaced, and desperate. Clarksville's not this thing in decay; it's just this thing. There's something about Clarksville that puts my gut on the boil.

Corporate Corned Beef Could Be a Lot Worse Than an Arby’s Reuben Sandwich

It's not as if there's a kosher deli in Clarksville, IN. Far as I know, the closest top-notch deli is Shapiro's in Indianapolis. The Arby's reuben has soggy, processed "marble rye", stringy sauerkraut, flavorless swiss cheese, and corned beef that can be pretty nasty at times. Nonetheless, more often than not, it hits the spot . . . besides, corporate food rules the Lewis & Clark Parkway, so there's not much in the way of competition.

The Arby's also stands out because, unlike most of the other joints on the strip, it actually plays a normal over-the-air local radio station in the dining room. Of course, "local" needs to be segregated out with big-ass quotation marks, since commercial radio is no longer local. The only hint of local flavor is in the advertising, making it local in the crassest of ways. So, you’re sitting there chilling with your reuben, and there's irrepressible chatter, commercials, commercials, commercials, and (theoretically, at least) music. I'm not sure exactly what is what, because it's all woven together in a white-noise-invisible tapestry of blandness, like the swiss cheese and sauerkraut on the reuben. This is what seems to be called Easy Listening (a step blander than Adult Contemporary), though it should be called "I Don't Want Anything Even Remotely Involving to Pass Through My Earholes".

Besides the reubens, the main reason I come to the Arby's is the big front window. It's a grand window, from tabletop to ceiling, with minimal interruption from support pillars or dividers. I chill in the booth with my books, notebooks, sandwich, fries, unsweetened ice tea, and look out the window . . .

And, friends, it is a bleak view indeed. Down at the southwest corner of the dining room, looking up to the northeast, the massive white block overpass of 65 marks the horizon. The rest of the tableau spreads forth like a perspective exercise in an intro to drawing class: streetlights, signs – Hooters, Denny's, Home Depot, h h gregg – concrete, and a wire-crossed sky vast and indifferent. I have often tried to capture the emptiness in words, and even with a camera, but the void escapes my expression.

I have written a chapter of a detective novel staring out the window of Arby's. It will more than likely never be finished, but in it, I (the detective) am a voyeur spying on a banal lover's tryst in the Don Pablo's across the street. The lovers disappear into static air. In reality, everything gets swallowed up & disappears in this landscape.

One day, as I stared out the window, a Dodge Neon pulled up in the lot & kicked me out of my reverie. The Neon was sort of a dust-brazed dull gold color, and it had a spoiler, and a HUGE white Playboy bunny decal taking up most of the back window. A skinny white boy (about 20) rolls out, sporting a wife beater, baggy jeans, and a medium-thin gold rope. He seemed like a nice kid and all; he had his 20 year old wife with him, and a little girl, and he treated them both with obvious love and uncommon respect, but the symbol was still jarring . . . that fucking Playboy bunny, blaring incongruously from the back window of a sad little Neon, an aspiration to a goal simultaneously worthless & unobtainable, a playaz desire to be what his disguised handlers say he should be (though what he really be is cannon fodder in the culture wars), filed & forgotten by the true playaz populating the capitol of this country, a lost boy doomed by a defective cultural marker . . .

Ah, Clarksville. I resist accelerating this strip of mall of a town into a symbol, but it keeps reaching out to me, positing itself as type . . . and it promises nothing but oblivion.

I slouched down to Louisville Derby weekend of '97. I've lived in the Highlands; I now live in Butchertown. The majority of the last ten years I've worked in Clarksville. I’m not slow: it hit me between the eyes as soon as I showed up. From '98:


Rain ankle deep
soaks through holes in shoes.
They're dealing morphine at truck stops in Clarksville -
it's not news, friend,
nothing surprises, and little lives here.
This, then, is the promised land:

cancer as connective tissue,
a facile denial of what is, followed by the
disappearance of is:
a map spread across the passenger seat . . .

here, by this cigarette burn,
an anonymous junction of Interstate 65.
Hell is there, or hell is not.
Stories are told, rich at a dime a dozen:

and a filmist’s manufacture,
an oncologist's atmosphere . . .

and this, the promised land,
blurred with opiates
dispensed like potato chips in the Bigfoot.

I’m not wrong about this.

March 24, 2009

Randomized Madness


A roll of the dice.


A cut of the cards.


A toss of the coin.

Ever watch your bracket crash irredeemably after the first weekend, and think to yourself "I could have done better flipping a coin"? Well, here you go. The first bracket was done rolling a pair of dice: odd numbers win for the top team, evens for the bottom. The second bracket was decided cutting cards: black for top, red for bottom, and the deck was shuffled after every round. The third was done flipping a coin: heads for the top, tails for the bottom.

As you can see, the top bracket is plausible, with the overall number one seed (Louisville) actually winning it all. The other two are just goofy.

March 22, 2009

This Mansion We Call "The Web" Has Many Rooms

I had a little fun downloading Dan Willems's shortwave mania this weekend at the Adept Recordings site. You should do it too! He posted handy zip files which contain not only mp3s, but the covers as well. It's like a shortwave box set! How cool is that?!

Those of you already familiar with the Adept site will probably notice not a lot has changed lately . . . but I ask you, how far have you dug into it already? There's tons of great stuff there, even if a lot of it is just excerpts and samples.

Plus, I have a feeling that we will see more stuff creeping onto the site in the not-too-distant future. Dan's been threatening updates forever, but it seems we'll see them start showing up sooner rather than later. Sick City 4! is exploding in front of our eyes, and I'd bet some SC4! recordings will surface soon. I'm trying to get him to put up some of the duets I did with Bart Galloway as well.

Bookmark it, check it out, keep coming back. You won't be disappointed.

The Adept Recordings home is here.

Adept MySpace is here.

How Old Were You . . .

When you figured out that Buck Owens and Grandpa Jones were the cool ones on Hee Haw?

March 13, 2009

This Ain't No Heartfelt Shit, This is Halo of Flies!

Halo of Flies began recording in 85, released their first 7" in 86, refined their sound by 88, and stopped recording in 91. They never released a full album that wasn't a compilation of singles. They were never particularly popular, even by 80s/90s underground standards. Mainly, they were known as Tom Hazelmeyer's band - Hazelmeyer himself was better known as "the guy who runs Amphetamine Reptile Records". AmRep was a popular/influential 80s/90s indie label with a distinct sound that rivaled contemporaries Sub Pop, Touch and Go, Homestead, SST, and so on. AmRep had many name bands on its roster: Melvins, Helmet, The Cows, Boss Hog, Chokebore, Helios Creed, Nashville Pussy, God Bullies, Dwarves, etc. Perhaps the single most overlooked band on the entire roster was HoF, Hazelmeyer's own band. It was also one of the most overlooked bands of the entire indie explosion.

HoF was an unholy amalgamation of 60s garage psych, the MC5/Stooges protopunk axis, the spirit of 77, sharp British Mod, and outright noise. From the very first single, they were all about desperate, linear forward drive: "Rubber Room" sprints ahead like muscular vintage Detroit sheet metal & iron. As the short time passed, our heroes became more practiced in the studio, and their sound progressed from driven to compressed to claustrophobic to explosive. Songwriting, never HoF's strong point, became progressively more irrelevant as the band evolved. The final studio single, Big Mod Hate Trip, was the most blatantly Mod work they did, and as such did feature a lttle more in the way of songwriting, but otherwise displayed the same undifferentiated nihilism of the later HoF work.

Punk rock is always rock - that is, it always has a certain conceit to hang its hat onto. The Ramones were nothing more that a fast and loud pop band (with the Phil Spector/Shadow Morton/New York street sound being the epitome of pop for them). The Sex Pistols were a fashion statement. The pre-punk New York scene was heavily associated with the visual/performance art scene, as well as the Romantics (not the band!) as patron saints. The Clash had their proletariat politics, Jello Biafra and the Dead Kennedys had their political satire, the West Coast generally had their rebellion to American bourgeois culture. Halo of Flies has none of that: they only have the raw primal roar of negation, they only have the noise.

HoF is a punk power trio that reveals itself with aggressively buzzing distorted guitar, raw-throated grunting midrange vocals, Keith Moon-styled drums, and major compression. Hazelmeyer's guitar riffs are less song components than gestures, and Anglim's drums run forward with the sputtering logic of shortwave static (not unlike Moon himself did all those years ago). As mentioned, HoF doesn't deal with song writing per se, but rather produce objects (songs) with different scars and textures. The band's preferred method of releasing their music (all 7"s, no albums except to compile the singles) is apropos, since every single song is an expression of the same raw, pre-verbal demons. There is plenty of variety within the songs (much more so than the average pop/punk band), yet taken as a whole, a HoF collection is a bit brutal and overwhelming. In this sense, HoF is more like grindcore bands such as Napalm Death than other punk bands.

Punk rock is simple. It also doesn't bear repeating ad infinitum. Punk bands either evolve beyond punk, break up, or become parodies of themselves. So, The Clash restyle themselves as the new Rolling Stones with updated reference points, the Sex Pistols break up, The Ramones keep doing the same thing over and over and over again. Halo of Flies had a short, intense career, a career that may have ended up completely off the radar if not for the success of the other bands on Hazelmeyer's record label. Halo of Flies is the epitome of raw, nihilistic angst, and they don't let music or musicianship stand in the way . . . more than music to represent the thing, HoF comes closer than perhaps any other band to the thing itself.

Raw, spectacular, and stripped of artifice, Halo of Flies is the ultimate punk rock band.

March 7, 2009

Fragment: Action Figures

Prank -


when the soul becomes great, it becomes prankish

ca-pering around the sun
as denial of the spirit of gravity
shed the earth
shed the parable permanence
become the parable elevation

escape the lying poets of

the ONE, the PLENUM
Permanent -

the problem is to leave the earth, and not to leave the earth
be that which must be left behind
and godless
the lion will
divested the happiness of slaves
be that which overcomes, that which must be overcome

squinting in the yellow sands
burned by the sun
surrounded by islands/wells/oases
oases where living things rest under dark trees
marketplaces churches government buildings
idolaters and idols and idols hiding from the stare of the sun

be fearless and great
be a struggle
a becoming
an end
an opposition of ends
the crooked path of will

"Whatever I create and however much I love it -
Soon I must oppose it and my love."

3/7/09 minus font and layout structure