October 15, 2012


[UPDATE: This post has been edited for style (it was one hot mess when first posted).  The content remains essentially the same.  If you want to see the original version, it is up at notes toward everything, just so you know that the post still says the same thing, only it no longer runs in circles.]

The captions:

Leah-Lynn Plante

“Today is October 10th, 2012, and I am ready to go to prison,”announced 24-year-old Leah-Lynn Plante yesterday. By Thursday morning, the Portland activist was in custody and could remain incarcerated in a U.S. federal prison for 18 months, although she has not been charged with a crime.
Along with two others in the Pacific Northwest, Plante was remanded into federal custody for her refusal to provide a grand jury testimony regarding activists in the region. Matt Duran and Kteeo Olejnik were jailed in previous weeks for, like Plante, refusing to cooperate with a grand jury. All three are now being held in U.S. federal prison, not because they are being punished for crime, but, as the National Lawyers Guild’s executive director Heidi Boghosian told me earlier this year, “to coerce cooperation.”  -- Natasha Lennard, SALON
Pussy Riot
This is a member of Pussy Riot.  You already knew that because that's how western controlled media works.
Wake up.

Another bullshit meme.
  • This sets a false opposition between Leah-Lynn Plante and Pussy Riot (Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich).  Defenders will point to this as a critique of mainstream media, and it is clearly intended as such; however, the two terms "Leah-Lynn Plante" and "Pussy Riot" are definitively placed in opposition to each other.  Whoever put this together establishes a false dialectic with "Plante" and "Pussy Riot" at the poles: why are these two terms opposed?  They are both symbols of oppression . . . more than mere symbols, they are both locations of oppression.  The explicit charge here is that the term "Plante" designates an authentic location of oppression, while the term "Pussy Riot" designates a false (media manufactured) location of oppression.  This is simply not true: both terms are very real locations of oppression; and as such, they have no business being opposed to each other.
  • So we already know all about Pussy Riot "because that's how the western controlled media works" . . . oh, really?  Then what are their names?  THEY HAVE FUCKING NAMES! Nadezhda Tolokonnikova!  Maria Alyokhina!  Yekaterina Samutsevich!  Use the names!  The person who put this meme together wants to critique "western controlled media" for creating a false symbol of oppression.  But in the process of "critiquing" the media this person makes the same mistake that he/she indicts the media for making: by dislocating the oppression of the term "Pussy Riot", a real location of oppression is converted into an empty and compromised symbol.  As this meme self-realizes (by becoming more popular on tumblr., facebook, etc.) it becomes part of the master narrative, thereby adding yet another reterratorialized symbol into the lexicon.
  • At a certain point, "critique" of "western controlled media" becomes a reterritorializing mechanism when it is deals in such empty symbols.  These symbols become slotted into master narrative, and get dealt with in ways that serve that narrative, such as dialectical/polar oppositions, the privileging of the ideological over the specific, the transcendent over the immanent, etc.  Critique is not useful when it reinforces the ideological imperatives of the controlling narrative; and, again, by opposing two locations of legitimate oppression, this meme not only trivializes genuine locations of oppression, but it supports a master narrative by dislocating true critique.
  • Any critique of specific media revolves around the unreliability of that media. An accusation of unreliability assumes that there is such a thing as reliable media.  "Reliability" in its turn assumes assumes the receiver or audience (or "consumer", in the truest sense of the word) of media is passive, and therefore dependent on the media to be reliable.  This is a false hope.  An accurate critique of media starts from the assumption that ALL media is unreliable; a true critique will mark an entry point into the media's ideology as well as how that ideology functions in the real world (such as it is).
  • The Leah-Lynn Plante caption is from SALON.  How the HELL is that not mainstream media?  This whole piece of shit collapses under its own contradiction even before we get to any of these other objections!
  • And anyway, exactly what is mainstream media anymore?  It's hard to focus on locations like network television, major western news outlets, etc., as mainstream when facebook is more popular and ubiquitous than any of them.  Media has become atomized to the point that "mainstream" has very little meaning in any general sense: one only has to look at Fox News's indictment of "lamestream media" to see that.
  • On top of everything else, it is ridiculous and petty to try to establish one level of suffering by opposing it to another . . . yet another case of internet infantilism.  
Western media did indeed create "Pussy Riot" in the sense it functions above.  It did violence to the real legacy, the real location of oppression that is Pussy Riot.  This meme does exactly the same thing.  It is naive, stupid, and ridiculous.

The western media has also, through its criminal silences, done violence to the ongoing legacy of Leah-Lynn Plante.  This meme also does violence to Plante by reducing her to a symbol in a base dialectic of authenticity, by turning her into "Plante" and paralleling the dislocated symbol "Plante" to the dislocated symbol "Pussy Riot".

In the process, both Leah-Lynn Plante and Pussy Riot (Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina, Yekaterina Samutsevich) are demoted from true locations of oppression to mere symbols of exchange.  In other words, BOTH are dehumanized.

October 11, 2012


all those pretty little pictures
so . . . wrought
these little things
            portraits of
            nothing, insignificance

Be not a star that burns
  -- heat and corruption
sweat and dank
            the small things are not easy

October 5, 2012


So, I'm old enough that 7"s were the way you bought your music, or at least if you were an AM radio kid that's how you did it.  Now, of course, 7"s are a little more esoteric.  This little nugget is the second edition of Gubbey Records' split series: the series places Gubbey chief Dave Rucinski's Furlong on Side A, with a special guest on Side B.  The first edition featured dark troubadour Anderson on Side B (with a solo version of Sean Garrison's "White Flag") along with Furlong's "Egg McMan" on Side A (also including a very nice cover of Leadbelly's "They Hung Him on the Cross" as a special bonus).  The latest edition takes an altogether different tack, pairing Furlong with Louisville improv/NRG jazz monsters Sick City Four.

Furlong rips into the proceedings with "Sex Bunker", a stoner metal sprint that plays a bit like a Saint Vitus LP on 45 rpm.  There's only one thing to ask from this, really . . . ROCK! . . . and, rock it does.  But that's not all . . . the more you listen to Furlong in general, the more you notice the little things, and not just the little production-type details that make a "professional" sounding record: sure, Furlong stacks up the guitar tracks, but they stack up the ideas, too.  So, you get the stoner metal lunge at the core of "Sex Bunker", but you also  get the punk velocity, nods to shit as diverse as Edgar Winter, Spinal Tap, Seattle sludge, the Stooges, and a whole bunch more sunk so deep into ideological mix as to be mere texture.  Perusal of the bonus track on the digital download, "Hoarder Fire", leads you down the same road by a different path: Zeppelin by way of Stone Temple Pilots, with the nervy guitar(s) tweaked into a psychotic benzedrine edge instead of STP's insipid junkie redolence.  Taking Zeppelin bombast and translating it into punk rock is no simple task, and Furlong nails it here.

This is, no question, a tricky path to walk down.  The only thing worse than pastiche is rock pastiche.  But Furlong never falls into that hole: everything here serves the purpose, and that purpose is . . . ROCK.  Having said that, Rucinski does manage a lot of mileage out of a deceptively simple surface.  Three songs is an extremely limited sample size; but is he (as Dan Willems has implied) transforming into a punk rock Brian Wilson?

Side B roars to life with the bellowing growl of Dan Willems's baritone sax (and that's a low B-flat baritone to you, bitches!), with the horns and guitar falling behind into a menacing cord, and Bart going apeshit on drums underneath.  Starting out very much like early 90's Ken Vandermark-era Flying Luttenbachers NRG jazz, "Burundi Punch Clock" establishes its head and quickly falls off the table as horns, drums and guitar slide all over each other briefly, only to tumble even further into a brilliantly abstract Chris Willems guitar break.  While the "solos" stack up in a way that roughly approximates jazz, this is less about musicians taking their turn, and more about each adding another piece to the jigsaw puzzle, for each part is inextricably linked . . . and, in spite of the amazing playing throughout, "Burundi Punch Clock" is about the links.

Essentially, the band forms four poles, and "Burundi Punch Clock" writhes in between.  Bart Galloway (drums) and Chris Willems (guitar) are the staccato jab, throwing accents and pulses all over the place (somewhat ironic, considering the traditional rhythmic role of both instruments in jazz).  While not specifically melodic (though very close), Bart's percussion lines alternate between small masterpieces of phrasing and spiky contrapuntal texture.  Falling into a dialogue with Bart's drums, Chris ups the ante by continually frustrating any expectations of melody and rhythm: you will always find Chris's guitar where you don't expect it, and when you're there with him, he hits you jaw dropping fragment and is gone again.

That leaves Dan Willems and Heather Floyd to define the other two poles.  Dan's baritone supplies the main riff of the head, as well as a lot of texture (not to mention a lot of the character of the song, given the singular sound of the baritone).  Dan's parts on this cut have a familiar "out" jazz sound to them (and he's as good on his horn as just about anybody you care to name), but his lines are pulled apart by the other polarities in play, making them more abstract and richer for their incompleteness/abstraction.  Heather, on the other hand, cuts across and through everything with her trumpet like a dry laser: the economy of her line organizes the chaos around her like metal shavings around a magnet.  Quite often, through the force of her playing, it is Heather who organizes/defines the Sick City Four.  Except, of course, when she chooses not to.

Antithetical to the ordered unfolding of jazz improv as well as to the fire-and-reload nature of most other free improv, "Burundi Punch Clock" is a small masterpiece of interlocked improvised parts that form a dramatic whole.  And the Sick City Four managed to squeeze all that onto a 7" record (!); usually their pieces are dramatically longer.  BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE: buy this Furlong/Sick City Four single, and you get not only a slice of Furlong stoner punk heaven, not only a roiling Sick City Four miniature demon, not only a free download for a head-pounding Furlong bonus track, BUT ALSO SICK CITY FOUR'S "THE ANACREONTIC SONG" - AN INTERPRETATION OF THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER!  I'll leave that one to your imagination, at least until you buy the single.


Furlong and the Sick City Four are joining Humongous for a double record release party at Astro Black/Quills Coffeehouse on Saturday, October 13th.  $3 gets you admission PLUS a free copy of the Furlong/Sick City Four 7"!