Friday, September 30, 2011

mr. becos’ fall 2011 mixtape

what it is: mr. becos’ fall 2011 mixtape
where i found it: all over the place

When was the last time someone made you a mix tape? Sure, we now have Pandora and internet radio and youtube and a bunch of other bullshit, but I miss mix tapes. I’m sure no one will record this onto an actual cassette and drive around listening to it, but I encourage you to anyway.



Demian – Windy City
Some good basic rock. Like a scummy version of Sugarloaf vs. the Allman Brothers. One of the many things I've stumbled across on the mighty Cosmic Hearse.

Black Sabbath – Symptom of the Universe
Though it makes me think of Beavis and Butthead, the opening riff cannot be denied. And the second half is like being sucked up into a vacuum cleaner along with an acoustic guitar.

Michael Chapman – Stranger in the Room
Very good picking. And what a band. And the lady squealing at the end catches me by surprise every time.

Vic Chesnutt – Chain
RIP to this guy. Does the pianist know he’s playing Duke Ellington’s African Flower?

Roy Harper – McGoohan’s Blues
Long winded, but poetic and great, like any angry/bitter folk should be.

Clara Rockmore – Tchaikovsky’s Valse Sentimentale
If you can overlook this as a gimmick (in that it’s played on a theramin) it’s a beautiful rendition of this piece. You may or may not want this visual in your head while listening:

Peste Noire – Rance Black Metal de France
OK. This starts out sounding like an ogre singing along to a national anthem and soon there’s heaviness and slide guitar, then harmonica, then bird sounds. What in the world is this? Very great. The last note may be my favorite part.

Woody Guthrie – Buffalo Skinners
Guthrie sings hauntingly about needing a job, chasing buffalo for money and things turning ugly and brutal.

Pest – Descending
Two pests on this mixtape (see above). This one is from Norway. Good meat and potatoes black metal shuffle. These guys do a lot with the essentials.

Rolling Stones – Under My Thumb
You've heard it a million times, but the choice of the marimba is surprisingly great and the way Bill Wyman’s bass switches in and out of fuzz gets me every time. Keith Richards has some sharp guitar stabs in here too.

Blanketship – Smilin Faces
The old material that this song fools around with always struck me as disturbing and bitter and I feel like this treatment does a good job of further unleashing its inner darkness. This came through the WFMU archives.

Immortal – Blashyrkh
Back to Norway. Immortal is the best. Singing about frozen imaginary kingdoms with such conviction. If you have not seen their head scratching videos please watch (jumping out from behind rocks, wearing witch hats, running along the edges of sheer cliffs, being grim and frostbitten on a mountaintop, etc). 

Jimmy Reed – Big Boss Man
Classic material always worth hearing again. Reading Keith Richard’s Life book recently got me back onto this and a few other things (see Under My Thumb above). Hearing this again is even better than reading about the “cocaine shacks” that Keith and Ron Wood had built behind their stage amps or when Richards tried to kill a guy with a sword at his daughter’s wedding because the guy helped himself to some spring onions without permission.

The Cash/Dylan sessions – Careless Love
Hear Johnny and Bob, two national heroes, improvise some firearm humor.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

yet another bottomless pit

what it is: chocolate monk
where i found it: see below

In the early 2000s, when I was a much more active and on-the-scene dude, I ended up organizing a few auxiliary shows around the first No Fun Fests. Through this I got connected with Dylan Nyoukis and his cronies from the UK and they passed me a number of releases on the incredible Chocolate Monk label. In those days they a hundred or so releases out, by now that must have doubled. Mostly these are noisy, but really-great-noisy, affairs. One example is the admirably physical live act Sixteen Bitch Pile Up, which is exactly that: sixteen women piled on top of each other in a writhing heap, each howling into a microphone for about twenty minutes.

Not long ago I found out that an overwhelmingly large chunk of this stuff is available for free here. Check it out for yourself. I won't provide any more information, because the kid in this video has a much better review style than I could ever hope to cultivate:

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

graffiti squared

what it is: weird patterns
where i found it: around town

One of my favorite unintentional art forms = people doing a poor job of covering over graffiti. While it's usually in a color that's not quite the shade of the original, sometimes they don't even try. It clearly does nothing to un-deface their property, but it often leaves some great and unusual shapes.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

the jungle book

what it is: werner herzog's diaries from the amazon
where i found it: the public library

If you're a Herzog fan you may feel you can get enough of his ranting and raving about his Amazon adventures in the documentaries My Best Fiend and Burden of Dreams, which are fairly expansive. Conquest of the Useless, however, his diaries from that time period which weren't translated into American until last year, goes much further and more intensely into the same incredible warp. The entries are unrelenting, and it's not going too far to say there is greatness on just about every page. To prove this point I'll pick a few excerpts, flipping through the book at random:

The helicopter of the Bolivean president, Barrientos, flew into a power line and crashed from a low altitude. He had suitcases full of money with him. presumably from drug deals. The helicopter immediately caught fire, but although people were there and tried to rescue him form the blaze, no one could get close, because the heat made the submachine guns carried by the president and his entourage start firing wildly.

I had a violent, absurd quarrel with Kinski about his mineral water, with which he wants to wash himself now. Otherwise peace and quiet. Suddenly Kinski started yelling again, but it had no conneciton to anything here. He was beside himself, calling Sergio Leone and Corbucci rotten vermin, no good so-and-sos and cyclopean assholes. It took a long time for him to wear himself out. Then his yelling flared up again briefly, as he called Fellini a bungling idiot, a fat bastard. Then in late morning I finally got some sleep.

On my mosquito net, in the light, sits a green, prehistoric looking animal, motionless, gazing down at me.

You get the idea. It is full of the heartbreaking, the enraged, and the hilarious, and while this post has already been long, I have to mention three other things in particular:

1) Herzog's ongoing bewilderment at absurd animal behavior,
2) Long rants about the soul-less cowardice of Jason Robards.
3) A scene in which Mick Jagger is found walking through ankle-deep jungle mud in a tuxedo 

If you're a person who's ever been sucked into to Herzog's deceptively calm German drone narration and kind of don't want to come out again please read this thing.

we are all suckers

what it is: street art
where i found it: greenwich village

This street art reminds me that you really can brand anything. And that we're all idiots for paying a dollar a bottle for something that comes out of the tap for free.

Monday, September 26, 2011

clean caffeine

what it is: iced coffee recipe
where i found it: some website i can't remember

All Summer I've been drinking iced coffee so good that I think I might keep drinking it all Winter. It's  cheap, easy, strong, and the buzz feels a whole lot cleaner than hot coffee (which always leaves me feeling like I've just bombed my insides and not had any water for a week).

Here's the recipe:

1 part grounds to 4 parts water. Stir and let soak overnight. Strain it through a fine sieve or cloth. That's it.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

another bottomless pit

what it is: the avant garde project
where i found it: carl of crown heights (see below)

Carl of Crown Heights, the same guy who first told me about Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities and those ridiculously good black Mosaic jazz box sets told me about this bottomless pit full of what we used to call 20th century composition. Do they even call it that anymore? I haven't been to music school since before Y2K destroyed the the world, so I'm not sure. At any rate, you can get seriously lost in here. Worth a visit for anyone who likes (usually) beautiful and (always) weird sounds.

I haven't been through the enitre above discussed archive, so I'm not sure if there's any Stockhausen in there, but I sure do like this picture of him. His interview style also cannot be beat.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

homeland security

what it is: assorted materials for keeping out the crackheads
where i found it: the route i walk to work each morning

There are many materials for keeping crackheads off of your stoop or sidewalk. Some seem more effective than others.

magic marker
spray paint, milk crates and old clothes
fucking razor wire across your porch

personal declarations

what it is: my favorite recently seen t-shirt texts
where i found it: around town





Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

i knew it had to exist

what it is: south korean hatred
where i found it: cosmic hearse

The South Koreans have been through a lot: Japanese subjugation, a seemingly permanent American occupation, the psychotic Kim family as a next door neighbors, nuclear rockets pointed at their heads for 60 years, an epidemic of widespread joyful Christianity, etc. Finally someone from the homeland has channeled the power of psychotically permissive black metal to show us what's really under the surface. I'd been searching for this for a long time (my wife is from Seoul and I feel a vicarious grudge at the above frustrations as well as a bewilderment at the seeming lack of SK underground culture) and finally found it here. Thanks Cosmic Hearse.

Along the same lines of South Korean breakthrough evil, I might recommend the film I Saw the Devil. Holy crap.

*Special mention goes to the band Apparition and their song title Popularity Fucking Koreanmusic's Gruel.

pure intensity

what it is: ????
where i found it: the south

This was forwarded to me by Randall from Georgia, who I hadn't heard from in a lot of years. Then this thing comes out of the blue. I'm not even sure how he got my e-mail. Anyhow, he's a guy who taught me that the Rolling Stones were not just a band  that makes crappy radio hits, but could create things like MONKEY MAN and MEMO FROM TURNER. At this point in history that might seem obvious, but when you're an acidic 17 year old it's a meaningful discovery. The effect of this music will be greatly increased if you can listen to it on vinyl pretty loud. This is probably true of Mark Gormley's music as well, but I haven't been able to find a vinyl copy as of yet.


what it is: decay
where i found it: harlem

Harlem is not a neighborhood I have nostalgia for as it continues to change. I've lived and worked there off and on for ten years and in the process I've been accosted, intimidated, ignored, yelled at, insulted, glared at and been made to feel generally unwelcome (other than by the people I work with closely). Maybe that's what should happen when whitey heads uptown. At any rate, it's a community heavily afflicted by poverty, AIDS, drug use and street crime and despite real estate agents doing a good job of jacking up the prices of everything and cluster bombing the place with chain stores there doesn't seem to be much of a dent in the chaos and craziness of the place. This is a bad thing and a good thing. Here are some examples of a few things you can still routinely see around Harlem USA.

Rotting and rusted pimp mobiles

Buildings with their roofs caving in unchecked (note little tree growing out of top)

Homemade stain glass windows

More homemade stain glass windows

Homemade giant crucifixes (this one's about 15 feet tall)
Nonsense announcements. This was directly across from the Five Percenters' world headquarters, so at first I thought it maybe it had something to do with supreme mathematics, but it turns out it's the name of  this Turkish musician. Maybe he played at the nearby Apollo or something?

An empty space where the NNCK blues band headquarters used to be

Good Times style portraiture
Workmen knocking down neighborhood landmarks. This building used to house probably the world's only combination Muslim-Carribean restaurant/shoe repair shop (which was actually really good).

I couldn't get a picture of this, because they move too fast, but I should also mention the criminal teenagers that haul ass around the neighborhood on dirt bikes, sometimes cutting into crowded sidewalks and going the wrong way in traffic who the cops don't even bother to try catching. Speaking of the cops, the other day I saw someone get a ticket for jaywalking while there was a bum ten feet away smoking crack in plain view. Welcome to Harlem.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

put them in the iron maiden

what it is: slayer zine
where i found it: long long ago, recently reemerged at st. marks bookshop 

I have a soft spot in my heart for pre-internet underground metal tape trading. I was never heavily into "doing mail" myself (I never knew what to say in letters to metal heads from Eastern Europe or Florida), but I had several friends who were obsessed and dedicated. I certainly benefited from their hard work when they passed me early Napalm Death, Obituary and Autopsy materials. Despite so much recent underground metal hype, I was still amazed to see a new compendium of Slayer zine (a huge, cheap hardcover tome - $30!) at the local book store. Author Metalion was front and center in demo sifting for 20 years and despite a lot of adolescent bullcrap in-jokes his enthusiasm for brutal metal and gore movies is pretty much unparalleled. Fortunately he clears the hurdle of taking anything too seriously and just when a band interview is getting boring from some guitarist talking  somberly about misinformed and shallow occult ideology Metalion pulls out questions like "So, do you like kangaroos?" or "Why is your logo so shitty? Shouldn't you make a better one?"

tearing me apart

what it is: ?????
where i found it: i have harper's magazine to thank for this

This is old news to most, but I feel a calling to spread the word anyway. This thing in the guise of a movie is at once heartbreaking, hilarious, pitiful, confusing, deeply depressing, sexually repulsive, enraging, laughable, bleak, stupid and profoundly indescribable. The Room. I know a lot of people just watch the little clips on youtube for a good laugh and there's nothing wrong with that, but to get the full impact it MUST be viewed in full. Several times minimum.

how to howl

what it is: the bible of building weird electric noisemakers
where i found it: tape-op magazine

The mighty Tape-Op magazine - an unbelievably good magazine about audio recording that offers FREE subscriptions through their website - had an article about Nicholas Collins and his excellent book Handmade Electronic Music a few years back. The book is a simultaneously great and horrible thing to have happen to you (eye strain, minor electrocution experiences, hours of your life spent in Radio Shack, etc.). If you have any interest in making underwater microphones, turning credit cards and microwaves into instruments, "aztec-ing" parts from your kid's toys and turning your radios into theremins this is the book for you.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

more hieroglyphics

what it is: more mysterious scrawl by civil servants
where i found it: under a bridge in queens

old timey music

what it is: an old timey music blog
where i found it: texan jeff (see below)

If you like old time music, what a blog you're in for here. I was told about this by Texan Jeff of Amarillo. The same guy who pointed me in these directions:

1960s Merle Haggard

The Temptations Psychedelic Shack


How's that for a navigational track record?


what it is: a three volume killer of a novel 
where i found it: in a roundabout way through book culture

This novel puts most others to shame. A long, funny, horrific, psychedelic roundabout voyage that you don't want to end (except in the endurance requiring hundred-some pages of graphic descriptions of murdered Mexican women's corpses). There's something here for everybody, but certainly no one person can enjoy everything about it, which is part of what makes it great. No plot summary can possibly do it justice. Read it.

The employees of Book Culture - one of the few independent bookstores left standing in NYC - were all hot on The Savage Detectives, Bolano's previous novel, which was kind of slow and crappy compared to this, but it got me interested enough to check this one out. Boy am I glad I did. 

great options

what it is: a multiple choice test
where i found it: a harlem phone booth


what it is: weird utility worker street scrawl
where i found it: queens