Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Thursday, December 20, 2012

mixed martial arts enthusiasm

what it is: mixed martial arts enthusiasm
where i found it: an old friend

Here we have two guys who really, really like mixed martial arts, both of whom have excellent performance art type punk music on their resumes (the Nipple Five - good luck finding any of those records - and Oxbow, respectively). In addition to these credentials they are also now the hosts of Bloody Elbow and Knuckle Down, again, respectively. I don't know what the hell these guys are talking about 99% of the time, but I watched this in full and enjoyed pretty much every minute of it.

Oxbow should be easy enough to find and inevitably enjoy. 
Here's the Nipple Five's big hit: SHE WAS ON EX, I WAS ON SALE


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

death of a weird, good drummer

RIP ED "MR. SKIN" CASSIDY

Dead is Ed "Mr. Skin" Cassidy, the excellent drummer of everyone's favorite stepfather-stepson virtuoso psych band, Spirit. Previous to collaborating with his stepson Randy California, Cassidy played with a lot of jazz heavyweights like Cannonball Adderly, Thelonious Monk and Roland Kirk. What a guy. Here's a link to the super 1970 album Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus if you're in the mood for this kind of thing. 


Monday, December 17, 2012

what to eat if you're sick

what it is: what to eat if you're sick
where i found it: the net

It being cold season I am surrounded by sniffling coughing people and I'm trying to decide what to feed them. I will be using them as guinea pigs to see what works so I can use it on myself when I'm the one ailing. My research has lead me to the below site, where a surprisingly large number of people have posted their favorite sick foods. You may want to bookmark this.

Friday, December 14, 2012

obscure metal primer

what it is: obscure metal primer
where i found it: in the family/wfmu

If you feel that you need a primer in obscure early metal (with a bit of the lore that goes with it) here is one extremely good option. The drummer from Gnaw spins his favorites for three hours straight. Everything from Tormentor to Tankard. Hit the pop up player and get proto-crushed.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

goodnight ravi

RIP RAVI SHANKAR

If all of these great musicians keep dying we're in danger of this just becoming an obituary blog. Now we have Ravi Shankar, everyone's favorite hippie co-opted sitar player. In case you have any illusions that Shankar himself enjoyed the hippie lifestyle, here is a quote for you: “People would come to my concerts stoned, and they would sit in the audience drinking Coke and making out with their girlfriends. I found it very humiliating, and there were many times I picked up my sitar and walked away." Because of all of this Beatles based attention and sometimes corny instructional monologues on his albums there is some danger that his virtuosity and dedication may be overlooked. I was also not aware until reading his obit that he was trained in the West before making a sudden decision to return to India and "the old ways . . . where there were mosquitos, bedbugs, lizards and snakes", throwing out his Western clothes and going at the sitar hard core.   

Here's a super documentary that has some interesting anecdotes about his guru (tying his hair to a tree so it would wake him when he dozed while practicing) and has some amazing footage of Shankar and his tabla player having a vocal-ese dialogue in a park while also playing polo.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

farewell charles rosen

RIP CHARLES ROSEN
Dead is Charles Rosen, a giant of classical music. To tell you truth I had no idea he was still alive, but his vinyl box set of Bach's late keyboard works is one of my favorite piano recordings of all time. I don't know if you can find it on CD, but here are a few excerpts on youtube (including a nice picture of him with Elliot Carter). He also wrote a tome on Beethoven. Hayden and Mozart, which I've never gotten around to but which is supposed to be a big time classic and some claim that he single handedly changed Beethoven interpretation in the 20th Century. At any rate, rest in peace.


Monday, December 10, 2012

korean sauna

what it is: korean sauna
where i found it: new jersey

This weekend I needed some relaxation so I headed out to this 24/7 Korean Sauna in New Jersey I'd been hearing about. Located on a strange industrial street and looking like a concrete sports complex, this ended up being a highly odd experience that I would definitely recommend. Some sights included a room full of wandering nude men with mixed martial arts on the TV, some Korean guy beating the crap out of my feet for thirty minutes, a huge and gaudy 120 degree Fahrenheit Egyptian pyramid you could lay inside of, people wandering aimlessly in cult-like pink outfits, a buddha in a water garden, a giant brick sauna decorated with deer antlers, rooms full of people sleeping in arm chairs, walls covered with bizarre symbols constructed out of pebbles, etc. Here's their website where you can watch the semi-creepy video tour. If there is a giant Korean sauna near you please go.

Friday, December 7, 2012

one of the good guys

what it is: one of the good guys
where i found it: nyc


Pretty much every free jazz musician and improviser to wash up on the shores of New York City since the 1970s has had to contend with the philosophical and musical force that is Daniel Carter. Truly one of the good guys and one of the few people I know who has been able to stick to his ideals with little compromise, Daniel has maintained an honorable policy of collectivism and anarchy (not the kind that usually includes wearing masks and smashing stuff) and applied it to his music for decades. Though he's played with Sun Ra, Cecil Taylor, Sam Rivers and most every heavy, he puts just as much energy into playing with random bands of kids and can be found lugging his many horns throughout the five boros on his way to some d.i.y. basement show most days of the week. I haven't seen Daniel in a couple of years, but I work with a lot of younger jazz, improv and noise musicians and mentioning Daniel's name pretty much guarantees an enthusiastic smile and some story or another. He's also a champion talker with an elastic sense of time and if you're willing to get into the conversation you might still be standing there on a cold street at dawn discussing everything from Alice Bailey to Akashic Chronicles to modern dentistry. Here's an interview with him from the late 90s. Here he is in flight with Paul Flahrety and up front with Shipp/Parker/Cleaver. Check out his records and gigs if you can. They don't make many like this guy.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

pizza delivery as music education/DB RIP

what it is: pizza delivery as music education/DB RIP
where i found it: delivering pizzas/the times

One of the most important phases of my music education was the period of time in which I was a pizza delivery guy. I had hours and hours to drive around and listen to cassettes and local radio. A few selections I had on frequent loop included:

1) The Stooges' Funhouse. On loop for days at a time, even through the "free jazz" parts.

2) A mix tape of those early 70s Neil Young albums like On The Beach and Time Fades Away that were poorly transferred from scratchy vinyl copies (the only format on which they were available up until about three years ago).

3) A Can tape of mysterious origin which simply had the word CAN scrawled in marker on the front of it. Fifteen years away from internet omniscience, I had no idea who Can was and it took a great deal of asking around to get any leads, but boy I liked that tape.

4) The motivator for this post, Dave Brubeck's Time Out. I listened to this tape so many times that I knew the play by play of pretty much every note of every solo. One of the most embedded albums in my brain landscape. You should embed it in yours too. Here's the ridiculously twisty opener. If you're into seventies garbage you may also want to check out what that decade did to Brubeck when his sons came of age. At any rate, DB just died at age 91. RIP.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

great non-becos interviews

what it is: great non-becos interviews
where i found it: mr. dubin of new jersey

Mr. Dubin of New Jersey recently turned me on to this guy Nardwuar the Human Serviette (which is supposedly his legal name) because of his extremely extensive knowledge of rap esoterica, even more notable because he is a dorky semi-obnoxious-voiced eccentric Canadian white guy. His specialty seems to be knocking the socks off of big time rap stars with his research skills. This one with Waka Flocka Flame and his brother is an excellent example as is this video interview with Riff Raff (though it's not quite safe for work).

He's also a punk fan. Browsing his show I listened to this interview with Ian Mackaye, which is a great one even if you don't care in the least about the history of punk. There's a lot of interesting aspects to it - a long talk about go go music, banter between two guys with extensive knowledge of Jimi Hendrix bootlegs, a heated/escalated argument regarding Nardwaur getting his feelings hurt by Ian at a hockey rink 20 years ago, Nardwuar trying to give MacKaye gifts he doesn't really want, etc. There seems to be a lot of strange things about this guy and a bunch of clips of him floating around (for example him giving soap made out of bacon to one of the guys in Odd Future), so if you can tolerate his voice he's worth spending a little time with. Ice Cube thinks so. Here's the radio archive.


Monday, December 3, 2012

interview #7 - my sister


The Mr. Becos interview series continues with my sister

Mr. Becos: You used to infiltrate gay youth conferences for a living.

Sister: Hmm. Maybe I don't want to be interviewed. :) I'd really rather not talk about that. Next question?

Mr. Becos: Previous to that you worked as a telephone customer service representative. What was that like?

Sister: I have had a variety of jobs that have each provided me with learning experiences. From waiting tables to working retail, dealing with people is eye opening. Office equipment customer service is no different. You never know what wild personalities you're going to come across. More often than not people are extremely disrespectful when they feel they are better than you. It's disappointing. I can't say I wish to return to my days of answering phones to field toner explosion questions, but I did learn that there are better things in life!

Mr. Becos: Now that we're talking about your work history I remember you labored in a wings place where a lot of construction workers ate lunch. To your memory, did any of them ever say anything worth repeating?

Sister: As a bartender, I generally tried not to listen to the customers' conversation - especially considering they're drinking so much at lunchtime on a work day. Some things are better left to the imagination!

Mr. Becos: Have you ever had too much to drink on your lunch break?

Sister: No, I usually keep it to one margarita or glass of wine. If I had more than that I'd be napping under my desk all afternoon!

Mr. Becos: Do you ever mix pharmaceuticals with these margaritas you drink at lunch?

Sister: Not that I can recall.

Mr. Becos: That would seem to be a yes.
In a previous answer you said: people are extremely disrespectful when they feel they are better than you. Do can you remember any particularly egregious examples of this?

Sister: It's actually a no. :)
Being cussed out over office supplies not arriving as expected is an example. Really?! Worth getting so upset about? Again, so many more important things in life.

Mr. Becos: I think it's a yes :)
I get really upset about office supplies sometimes, which I am ashamed of.
Two part question: Is there a god? If you don't want to talk about that infiltration job, will you tell me what the gay agenda is?

Sister: It's a no. :)
There is a God. I saw perfect proof of it this week when our friend was rescued safely after six days stranded in the woods.
I do not have a well versed knowledge of the gay agenda so I don't feel I can adequately answer your question.

Mr. Becos: I read about that in the news. The headline was something like "lost veterinarians rescued in Montana". What happened? 
Sister: Thankfully it had the best outcome possible. Two friends went on a hiking/camping trip in Glacier National Park in Montana and got lost along the way. Planning to spend only one night in that part of the park, they ended up getting stranded and spending six nights. Thankfully, they are very experienced and were very well prepared. Rescuers finally found them Monday afternoon and they are now home with their families.

Mr. Becos: That's good news. Have you ever been lost in a forest?
Sister: In a figurative sense, I am lost in the forest almost daily. In the literal sense, I don't recall ever being lost per se. Maybe a few minutes of confusion on which fork in the path to take, but never actually lost. My husband does have experience being lost in the woods. It's a real life story of the blind leading the blind. He was leading a blind hiker on a trail in the mountains of Colorado, and on the way back to the trailhead, he had an allergic reaction that caused his eyes to swell shut. He had to find his way back without being able to see. Thankfully in this scenario, all made it back safely without any overnight adventures of being stranded in the forest!

Mr. Becos: Next two questions:
You are known for your love of US Weekly and People. Last we spoke Sinead O'Conner had just quickly failed at an impulsive marriage. Is there anything that has happened since that I need to know?
Also, you are a mother of two. While your children are usually well behaved, what do you do when they are simultaneously going bezerk and demanding differing things?
Sister: I do love to keep up to date on the cooky happenings of celebrities and their twisted lives. I think you'd be interested to know the name of Uma Thurman's new baby - it's a doozie - Rosalind Arusha Arkadina Altalune Florence Thurman-Busson. Poor child - how is she ever going to be able to spell that in kindergarten?!
My strategy on handling the bezerk happenings of my children varies depending on the nature of the demands. Many times they are both required to go their respective rooms and have some alone time to think about how they should be behaving. Other times, I try to decide who started what argument and who deserves to be rewarded with the granting of his or her demands. It's a constant challenge and ever-changing dynamic. The end goal is generally to have everyone come out of the situation uninjured and well-adjusted. The constant referee job can be challenging, but the moments when they are hugging and getting along and worried about what the other wants make it all worth it!

 Mr. Becos: You live in historic Richmond, Virginia, where one amenity is a long street lined with giant statues of confederate war heroes. Several years ago the city added to this series the somewhat mismatched statue of Arthur Ashe, an African American tennis player who died of AIDS. I heard a rumor that one of the more traditionally minded cement workers planted a confederate flag within the base of the statue. Is this true?
Sister: That is the rumor. It's one of those urban legends that I guess could only be solved on MythBusters if they a) tore down the statue or b) have some super xray vision. There was quite a large amount of controversy over the placement of that statue. It wouldn't surprise me if the story were true!

Mr. Becos: Two part question: Would you be willing to head down there with a sledgehammer and a flashlight to find the truth? Are there other Richmond mysteries that our readers should know about?

Sister: Ahh, Richmond is rich in history and mystery. A great way to learn about the treasures of Richmond is through a Segway tour. You can tour Hollywood cemetery and a lot of other neat places like Edgar Allen Poe's stomping grounds. Plenty to learn about the mystery of Richmond.
I myself would not be strong enough to sledgehammer through the statue. I would be interested to know the truth though!



Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

maharishi honey

what it is: maharishi honey
where i found it: a friend in india

Don't cheat youself by not watching these in full. Fullscreen please.



Tuesday, November 27, 2012

that's what you get for being so creepy

what it is: alice cooper gets a sudden surprise when he plays with black magic
where i found it: dj brian turner

Monday, November 26, 2012

interview #6 - wouter vanhaelemeesch / urpf lanze

The Mr. Becos interview series continues with Wouter Vanhaelemeesch AKA Urpf Lanze: a Belgian musician, visual artist, and CEO of the record label audioMER. You can hear his music on the recent Incunabulum New Music for Old Instruments compilation or on the new Urpf Lanze LP coming in the new year. Some of his art can be seen at the bottom of this post.

Mr Becos: Your guitar playing is kind of feral and moody, but every once in a while some real technique floats to the surface. Where does that come from?

WV/UL: Technique is like a big giant bat that got stuck in your bedroom. As long as you don't try too hard to catch it, it probably won't hurt you. Starting to play the guitar on the lap completely changed how I played. For example, I can fret with my thumb or hit the low E rhythmically while playing a chord. Also, I need to invent all new chords; I can use my pinky to get way up there and at the same time slide my thumb way down and stuff like that. I try to pick up on what sounds weird or wrong and then get into that. It's not a question I get too much though, the only time somebody bothered to ask me anything about 'technique' was when a German guy rather angrily asked me 'do you even know how to play the guitar?' after a show. I do remember that I played a 12 minute riff singing 'I hate your town' over it a few moments earlier.

Mr Becos: You've been described as "little gollum singing the blues". Do you identify more with Lord of the Rings Gollum or Jewish folklore Golem?

WV/UL: Since both of these characters don't wear pants, it's impossible for me to choose between them.

Also, I do NOT sing the blues. Even though I'm hugely influenced by Charley Patton, Peg Leg Howell, Robert Wilkins, John Lee Hooker, Big Joe Williams, Frank Stokes, Blind Willie Johnson, Robert Pete Williams and Method Man, I do not, nor will I ever sing the blues. I despise people who take certain chords and play them in a certain progression, I feel that it's wrong. Just because it ain't broke, that don't mean it's fixed. That being said, for me blues is about depression, hatred, contempt, homicidal rage and hormonal conflict. Which happen to be my subjects also.

Mr Becos: You say you don't play the blues, but you keep your guitar in your lap just like Jeff Healy, the blind white popular blues player. Are you going to tell me he's not an influence?

WV/UL: I actually saw some footage of him on TV when I was a kid. I wasn't playing music then but I do remember thinking 'why doesn't it occur to other people to play a guitar like that? Seems to work for that guy'. Later in life I saw pictures of Charley Patton holding his guitar upside down, making a weird chord with his fingers and it triggered something. At that point I was tired of doing what I was doing. By downtuning that thing it and putting it down I tried to get rid of all the musical baggage I had. It's all upsides; it forces you to sit down, which is good for thinking and it makes for a nice little table where beverages can be put on.

In the end the guitar is just a piano without legs. Now you could glue some legs on to it and then give it cute little socks and ballerina shoes but if you put it down it becomes something more sinister; like a legless, armless torso for me to play with. Now that I think of it, a guitar with legs, socks and ballerina shoes on is actually way more sinister.

Mr Becos: In addition to being a blues enthusiast golem you run a record label, audioMER, which seems somehow connected to an art publishing house, art research entity and an art book fair. Are you one tentacle of this beast or do all of the tentacles emanate from you?

WV/UL: I'm not really connected to the other stuff, but Jeroen Wille with whom I run audioMER works for the publishing house as a graphic designer. We do work in a rather autonomous way, so I guess we're more of a stray tentacle.

I was also involved with a label called Smeraldina-Rima, that I founded with a friend called Levi Seeldraeyers. One of the last projects that I did with him was Robbie Basho's 'Twilight Peaks' album. I'm not really involved with the running side of things there, but I do contribute some artwork now and then.

Mr Becos: Wasn't that some kind of lost Basho relaxation recording?

WV/UL: Since a few years I've been really obsessed with Robbie Basho's music, and I tried to get my hands on pretty much everything he recorded. I downloaded some album called 'Twilight Peaks' on an obscure blog somewhere for which I could find no info whatsoever. I started emailing Glenn Jones, whom I knew from setting up some shows.

He told me Basho got asked to do an album by a company that owned a chain of new age shops that sold scented candles and other crap in the early eighties. By that time, Basho had fallen on hard times, not having a record deal and seeing his audience shrink and shrink. The new age company had started this label called 'The Art of Relaxation' under which they wanted to produce tapes with new age music to be sold exclusively in their shops.

So they asked Basho to do a collection of solo guitar compositions of a more soothing type. Basho didn't like the idea, wanting to record an orchestral composition he was working on at that time, but needed the money so went with it. Glenn was pretty close to him at that time and remembered that Basho was sort of reluctantly getting started on a solo guitar album, but got into it more and more and eventually recorded something that was pretty fantastic and up to par with his best work from the sixties and seventies. The label slapped a bunch of shitty reverb
on it and started selling the tapes through the shop but went out of business (quelle surprise) soon after that. Pretty soon after that Basho died in a freak accident. The place that held the master tapes had thrown them out.

Luckily, Robbie had sent some demos (no reverb) to Glenn for him to check out, and Glenn still holds those. So he suggested me putting it out on the Smeraldina-Rima label.

Mr. Becos: Your label AudioMER has also put out some releases by Jozef Van Wissem, probably the world's only avant-garde lute player. Where did you find this guy?

WV/UL: I met Jozef at the Kraak festival in 2007. I thought it was awesome, a guy playing a Renaissance lute over field recordings, going from really minimal tunes to classical pieces played backwards. We talked a bit after that and I put out the first Brethren of the Free Spirit album on audioMER a few months later. We became quite good friends over the years, I did a bunch of drawings for his label Incunabulum. For his solo stuff and collabs he did with Smegma, United Bible Studies and recently his new record with Jim Jarmusch. Jozef is actually the one who sort of dragged me on stage to do Urpf Lanze live, asking me to be part of the 'New Music For Old Instruments' festival he curates. So all complaints should be directed to him.

Mr Becos: Belgium has some really active and interesting musical ferment. For the ignorant, what are some current Belgian labels (RIP Conspiracy) and/or musicians worth investigating?

WV/UL: That's gonna be a long answer, there are a ton of great artists round here. From the top of my head and apologies to all I forgot; Ignatz, Hellvete, Floris van Hoof, DSR Lines, Eric Thielemans, Je Suis le Petit Chevalier, Bear Bones Lay Low...

Labels you ask. Well Kraak is a good one, I like Morctapes, I always dig what Ultra Eczema digs up, Sub Rosa does some really great stuff like a book of outsider artist Adolf Wölfli with music by Baudoin de Jaer. That's really one of my favorite releases of this year. The singer from Alkerdeel also has a CD-r label called Luchtrat which translates as 'air-rat' (that's how we call pigeons here). There's a new tape label called Smeltkop that's doing some cool stuff. Also Beytal Tapes. Shelter Press did a really good Rene Hell / Pete Swanson split LP, they also do books.

Mr Becos: I don't know much about politics or economics, but last time I was in Belgium I heard a heated, drunken argument in which a non-Belgian yelled "your country is based on exploiting others’ resources! When the diamonds run out nothing will be left but a puddle of beer and chocolate!" Are you worried about becoming a refugee when this happens?

WV/UL: Beer and chocolate will get you through times of no diamonds, better then diamonds will get you through times of no beer and chocolate.





Saturday, November 24, 2012

how to make use of a chord

what it is: how to make use of a chord
where i found it: like twenty years ago then it re-emerged form the muck in 2010

Here are some folks demonstrating how to make excellent use of a single chord. I also love the viewer comment: "pretty sure the guy in the back is a centaur".


If you want to dial it back a few years here's another of their lengthy classics.



Friday, November 23, 2012

a semi abandoned graveyard

what it is: a semi abandoned graveyard
where i found it: around the neighborhood

I decided to take a stroll in the woods yesterday to walk off some turkey and low and behold, what did I find but a weird abandoned graveyard. I had to hop a fence to get inside and there seemed to be no active road or path leading to the place. However, in sections the grass appeared to be mowed. In other sections the graves had fallen over (had been knocked over?) or were totally overgrown with brush. The most recent death date I could find was 1971, but others stretched back to the 1850s. What a find. Take a look.














Wednesday, November 21, 2012

interview #5 - carl smith

The Mr. Becos interview series continues with Carl Smith, a painter, musician and IRS employee living in Texas. Some of Carl's art can be viewed HERE.



Mr. Becos: You're doing a lot of work as a visual artist these days, but you previously gained notoriety as a saxophone wielding free jazz missionary who managed to get banned from many clubs. Tell us a few good stories about getting banned.

Smith: Thanks for your question. There are not too many stories about that. Most places I got my band banned from, the owners were pretty nice about it. I would usually just get a "Don't call us for any more gigs, ever" and they would at least wait till the end of the set to say it. It was weird though, but maybe the music was really that bad? I am not sure. It was very frustrating. It only happened about five times and I could usually find somewhere to play. We are talking about Texas. Folks are not all that up on that creative music stuff here, but I wanted to play so bad, you know?

Mr. Becos: You grew up in Houston. Did you ever meet Bushwick Bill of the Ghetto Boys? Spend any time in the 5th Ward neighborhood that he's always going on and on about?

Smith: I was born in the 4th ward, but never met Bushwick Bill. When I was about five my father moved away from there because he had a car battery stolen from his car about every month. It was nuts and got way worse in the 1980s.  I had friends that would dare me to walk down one block in the 5th ward while they would watch from a car a safe distance away. Those bets won me 20 bucks! You have to be invisible, which is a skill I have perfected. I am street smart, though no one seems to care about that. Most people want to know where I went to college. F*ck college! I was actually a pretty tough kid, though I am rather soft now, I would get in fights! I usually got my ass kicked though.
These are great questions! Do you do this at work?

Mr. Becos: This is my job. I make so much money interviewing street smart invisible men. Did you ever use your skills of invisibility to commit a criminal act?

Smith: Great question. But honestly I have never done anything that exciting. I am way to old to commit crimes.

Mr. Becos: Was it actually you stealing the car batteries so your dad would get you out of the ghetto?

Smith: I was too young for that. And also not very smart.

Mr. Becos: What made you put down the horn and pick up the brush?

Smith: I always wanted to paint as a kid but did not get to for lots of boring, poverty based, etc. reasons. Music has become increasingly more difficult to organize lately and make work with my current job. I can kinda make art whenever, you know? So its a little easier, its also an expensive hobby and I kinda have some bread to get supplies now that I did not have before.

I really got into music when I moved from Houston to Austin, thinking I would make friends better if I played music. I got sucked into creative music. It was actually pretty hip in the mid 1990s and I just thought it was always that way, not realizing it was a trend at the time. I started organizing free jazz bands and put a lot into it without a plan b, which everyone should have by the way. I actually put in too much it seems and got burnt out. Sometimes I get calls for gigs, maybe once every couple of months, but I have not organized my own groups for a while. I have an album that I have not found a home for I finished this year.

Mr. Becos: On one of their live intros Slayer exclaims: "Some say the pen is mightier than the sword, but I say fuck the pen because you can die by the sword!!!" What do you think about this?

Smith: You can die by the fucking pen! One of those old timey ones you dip in the jar. Straight to the neck, and there would be not one shred of glory in it, either. Death by sword though, that’s pretty awesome. Civil war style. These are great questions. Where do you come up with this stuff?

Mr. Becos: You put out a couple of albums in German. Why?

Smith: I was learning German at the time. I wanted to learn at least one other language besides English and German is the easiest. For the albums though, I have no good reason really. Albums are weird, right? I prefer concerts. But felt like I needed to make some. The last album I made was called WittiW, which is not German but some dumb word I made up. I am growing it turns out?

Mr. Becos: My knowledge of art history is poor, but I can see that your paintings seem to belong to a specific branch of the abstract family and be  relatively consistent in some stylistic way. I have three questions.  Who are a couple of your favorite painters? Do you work mostly intuitively or with some end in mind? When I was in junior high school there was a fellow student who painted a piece called "The Man With Radish Hands" using his own blood. Have you ever used non traditional materials such as this?

Smith: I have never used blood, but I have made sculptures, or assemblages, or whatever the fuck they are called, that used a lot of spray foam and spackling paste and shit like that. I would love to see "The Man With Radish Hands"

I am trying to make abstract art. I like this guy: PETER MASLOW and this guy: BRIAN RUTENBERG

I have a pretty specific process with painting. I make a pastel sketch of whatever my idea is and then I execute it with paint on canvas but it changes a lot as it goes on. The best part of the process is when I can trash the sketch and focus on the piece instead of looking back and forth at the paper sketch. I guess it’s intuitive, but it does require a lot of stopping and looking and thinking. And it is often based on a series of ideas I am working on at the time that seem to have a specific development that is usually a variation of an idea. I like to work in a series. I mean like 30 or 40 of a series; as many as possible. That way you increase the odds one of them will work out. So many of them don't.

So much of the decision making process is based on so much baggage, and of course all artists are limited by their limitations. Being aware of those are very important. The fine tuning towards the end is the least fun part.

Painting is really hard, so if there is an emotional component to the painting, if often ruins it if I do not keep it under wraps. I have to be in a very specific place to do it right. What did John Cage say about people playing his music? Some people take it too seriously, some people don't take it serious enough, and some people get it just right. If I am too anxious or stressed it doesn't work. I try not to think about anything besides what I am doing but everyone knows how hard that is, really. Most of the time I get very lost in it and staying totally objective is impossible.

Mr. Becos: Is it true that you have a background a both a professional skateboarder and an IRS agent?

Smith: Never professional, amateur. But I did skate for a long time. I found an old skate video I was in, shortly, if you go HERE and go to time stamp  15:20 I have a short thing in there. Weird.

I have worked for the IRS for 5 years, mostly as a clerk but also as a tax examiner. I currently work in the accounting department of the IRS Austin processing center right now.

Mr. Becos: Maybe this is confidential, but have you ever examined a blatantly dumb tax return?

Smith: Surprisingly not. People screw them up sometimes, but usually try pretty hard to do it right. When people do send in the tax return forms I mean. We would get a lot of toenails, boogers, and sometimes razor blades in the mail from people who just hate the IRS.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

two bye byes

what it is: two bye byes
where i found it: two realms

Two RIPs today that have little to do with each other (as far as I know).

First up we have Daniel Stern, a giant in the field of infant research and psychoanalysis. Studying infant-mother interactions in extreme detail (poring over video tapes second by second), he opened up whole new ways of looking at infancy and the ways our pre-verbal experiences set the foundations for the rest of life. If you have any interest in this kind of stuff (my guess is that you were a baby at some point in time) his Interpersonal World of the Infant is a classic.


Next up we have Jack Gilbert, one of our great travel poets. Instead of yammering on about him I'll just post one of his poems here.
 
The Mail
What the hell are you doing
(he writes) in that worn rock valley
with chickens and the donkey and not farming?
And the people around you speaking Greek.
And the only news faint on the Armed Forces
Network. I don't know what to say.
And what about women? he asks. Yes,
I think to myself, what about women?

Bye guys.


Monday, November 19, 2012

keys to the country kingdom

what it is: keys to the country kingdom
where i found it: the public library

If you want keys to kingdom of old and obscure country music here are two very creatively named good bets: Nick Tosches Country and Charles Wolfe's Classic Country. Dig into the stories of country weirdos such as blind Riley Puckett, minstrel virtuoso Emmett Miller, swingers Milton Brown and his Musical Brownies and the debauched yet soft voiced Lefty Frizzel. Tosches is more gleeful about excess and misery and Wolfe's research is not as good, but you can come away from both of these tomes with a whole new take on what happened to music in the 20th century. Good luck. You might end up listening to nothing but Jimmy Rogers or the Louvin Brothers for a few months.


Friday, November 16, 2012

what ever happened to . . .

what it is: what ever happened to . . .
where i found it: the 80s/now

My guess is that you never wondered what happened to Ray Cappo, the singer of Youth of Today, one of the better straight edge vegetarian hardcore punk bands of the 1980s (believe it or not there were a lot of them), who made inspiring micro hits such as Break Down the Walls. YoT were also mildly famous for one of their music videos that featured a montage of animal slaughterhouse scenery, but I hate seeing that business so I'm not posting it. At any rate, a few months ago I chuckled when I read a review of one of their recent reunion shows where Cappo was reportedly doing yoga asanas on stage while warming up for the set. Then there was an article in the Times this week about how he has become a superhuman yoga practitioner who can do single hand stands like a Jedi in training on Dagoba. Check out this video (though the camera gets a little fogged) for a pretty amazing demonstration of this guy's abilities. Here he also waxes philosophical in front of a ski lift.   


Thursday, November 15, 2012

texan jeff strikes again

what it is: texan jeff strikes again
where i found it: my mailbox and inbox

You may have read my recent interview with Texan Jeff, a Becos reader and lab technician who sends me boxes of crap all the time. Since that interview he has attmepted to poison me twice. First with these:


Then with THIS. I feel kind of funny all of a sudden.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

transcendental guitar solo

what it is: transcendental guitar solo
where i found it: the sphere of narcissistic indulgence

Monday, November 12, 2012

interview #4 - texan jeff

The Mr. Becos interview series continues with Jeff, a Texas lab technician and professional wrestling fan who regularly mails boxes of crap to Mr. Becos so he has something to write about.

Mr. Becos: I understand that at one time you believed that you were being attacked by witches.

Texan Jeff: It was my only experience hallucinating which wasn't drug related. I had a really high fever and my leg turned red and black. For some reason I told the ER nurse I was bit by an asp.

Mr. Becos: That could be the complete interview, but I'm going to proceed. You are a veteran of the Gulf War. Do you think this "asp bite" could have been related to the elusive but much discussed Gulf War Syndrome?

Texan Jeff: I work in a hospital lab so I try not to dwell on what it could be. I spent a few weeks in the hospital on that occasion and exactly two years later it hit me again. They have no idea what caused it. This Christmas will be two years since the last time it hit. I'll keep you posted.  I have a theory that it's caused by toxic  mosquito spray. When I was a kid these trucks would drive around spraying an awful toxic spray to kill the mosquitos.  The goal was to run with the truck and see how long you could keep in the fog. I was pretty much city champ.

Mr. Becos: We had the same game in my neighborhood. I never made it very far because I was a pussy. What kind work do you do in this lab?

Texan Jeff: I'm a lab tech. I spend my day looking through a microscope.  The great thing is I have little contact with other humans and I'm free to listen to the music of my choosing.  The bad part is I've voluntarily sentenced myself to being around other people's body fluids and I have to witness people dealing with some truly awful shit.

Mr. Becos: What's the worst disease you've been in close contact with?

Texan Jeff: Humans on meth. 

Mr. Becos: With all if this labratorial musical freedom, what are some recent selections?

Texan Jeff: I've spent most of the week listening to Milton Brown and his Musical Brownies. The only other thing I've listened to is the Elvin Jones Blue Note stuff.  I just read that Milton Brown was narcoleptic! Its a shame he died so young.

Mr. Becos: From what I understand he fell asleep behind the wheel (with an underage girl in the car) and died from complications of the accident. You recently visited NYC and bicycled to every Sun Ra landmark you could find. For those of us with less investigative skills and poor stamina can you fill us in on some of the highlights?

Texan Jeff: If you have narcolepsy and have been drinking let the underage girl drive!  I was lucky enough  to be bicycling with a friend who knew all the Sun Ra spots. I loved the sun palace in the east village where the whole entourage stayed.  In the same neighborhood as a Hells Angels chapter!  Its crazy to imagine them in their costumes walking among the bikers to Slug's saloon.  That place is a pastry shop now. It's tiny. I can't even begin to imagine what Sun Ra or Albert Ayler sounded like in there.  Not to mention seeing Lee Morgan get murdered while performing.

Mr. Becos: They say that his jealous wife shot him in mid-solo. They also say that you used to make weird paintings and nail them to telephone poles around town. Are you still keeping up the good work?

Texan Jeff: She should have let him finish the solo. I quit poisoning the neighborhood when I moved back to the Texas panhandle. Besides, Stanley Marsh has the market cornered on putting up fake signs and art around town.  There are tons of billboards with quotes from Jesus that are begging to be defaced. 


Mr. Becos: There are few interviewees I could or would ask this question of, but what is your favorite Ric Flair pre-match speech?

Texan Jeff: The reunification of the Four Horsemen inspired some of Flair's best moments.  I'll always remember him invoking the Peaches and Herb song, Reunited and it feels SO good.  I just came across Ric Flair as the wanderer.
  
Mr. Becos: I've actually been to that venue in Atlanta to see WCW (when it still existed). As you can tell from the crowd acoustics, it's incredibly small. Do you have any insight as to why Flair's nick name is "Space Mountain"?

Texan Jeff: There wasn't any reason for the ladies to spend money at Disney to ride Space Mountain when the Nature Boy was in town. Here's an invitation to ride space mountain with a parental advisory included.
  
Mr. Becos: If one of our readers decides to visit the panhandle of Texas, what kinds of things could they expect to see?

Texan Jeff: For sure they will get to see lots of dust and feel a wind storm or two.  If they get lucky they might get to meet some kind people. But, I wouldn't bet on that.  More than likely they"ll bump into someone that is god fearing, angry and mean.  If they are really unlucky they will meet someone with a head full of meth. We do have the beautiful Palo Duro and Caprock Canyons. So, come on down! Our local law enforcement will be waiting for you.

Friday, November 9, 2012

another mastermind leaves the planet

RIP TED CURSON


Well, last week we had Elliot Carter and H.W. Henze taking off and now it's Ted Curson, who had the formidable resume of playing with Mingus, Dolphy, Shepp, Cecil Taylor and Andrew Hill. We've got some very large empty chairs to fill down here.


LITTLE LEES (cover art clearly selected by record company execs with corny taste)

TEARS FOR DOLPHY

By the way, if you want to hear more, WKCR is doing a special Curson broadcast this Sunday.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

stalk a shark

what it is: stalk a shark
where i found it: a team of crazy scientists' website

This site details the goings on of a group of sharks and their human stalkers, who catch great whites (please see the pictures of the catching, what is wrong with these people?), tag them , name them and track them. You can pick a shark, such as Albert (a 9 foot great white from the southern African coast) and follow his travels, read about his biographical details and stay the hell away so he doesn't bite your ass. Leave a little time for this, the site gets increasingly engrossing as you explore it more.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

hashish and gamma radiation

It seems to me me that if you were to mix hashish and gamma radiation that you would either get a baked incredible hulk or this.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

down: two musical masterminds

RIP Elliot Carter and Hans Werner Henze, two of the twentieth century's greatest classical composers. 

In the face of popular jazz, rock & roll and rap, they managed to keep the weird and romantic tones alive. I like this quote from EC's obit: when asked why he had chosen to write such difficult music: “I learned that the public didn’t care. So I decided to write for myself. Since then, people have gotten interested.” 

igor and elliot
hans

Monday, November 5, 2012

must run

what it is: must run
where i found it: nyc

People across the city could really use some help about now. Instead these assholes spend 100,000 calories running in a giant circle. The caption under this picture in the Times read "I started the run with a chip on my shoulder, but now I think I understand the other side". Hopefully these guys got a couple of gas cans thrown at them.





Friday, November 2, 2012

last hurricane post (i think)

New York is still a fucking mess. 
It would be nice if you donate to the Red Cross. 
The Weather Channel will match your donation HERE.

interview #3 - anders nilsson

The Mr. Becos interview series continues with Anders Nilsson, a Swedish guitar master and greencard lottery winner living in NYC. Anders' new solo guitar album is available here. You can watch a video from the album here.


Mr. Becos: So you won the lottery to become an American citizen and shortly thereafter you had sudden and serious heart problems. Were the two events related?

Nilsson: Your memory is almost right mister....In 2003 I was a lucky winner in the green card lottery, giving me the right to live and work in the US on a permanent basis. Should I stay out of the country for more than a year at a time I waive that right. Interestingly, when you apply in the lottery they don't ask you why you want to live in the States, only for your country of citizenship, home address, age and a passport photo. I'm not an American citizen and haven't taken the steps to become one. In the process of getting my green card there were several documents one needed to present from the homeland; criminal record, financial situation etc, and a health report. Included in that last one was a lung check. I guess they want to ensure nobody enters with tuberculosis.... I always felt fine and had never had any known problems with my lungs or respiration but a spot the size of a ping pong ball was detected in my left lung during an x-ray check. Upon trying to analyze it the doctor says he isn't sure what it could be but it looks like a tumor and must be taken out in order for him to state I'm healthy. So it was removed and I stayed in the hospital for 2 weeks, dealing with the healing and the pain. The tumor was benign, but left undetected it could potentially have caused me serious harm in the future, should it turn bad. I now have about 85% lung capacity and it doesn't feel any different, except I get fewer colds. So I'm a lucky winner alright! 


Mr. Becos: Why, in your opinion, do Scandinavians play such great metal? This sounds like a joke, but I seriously want to know.

Nilsson: Good question....I don't know what the consensus is, or what he truth is, about the origins of metal. It is probably unanswerable. The history books and folklore might have interesting things to say about it. When I was growing up in Sweden and starting listening to various types of metal bands in the mid 80's, the national scene seemed to be pretty strong, there were already a lot of bands playing it I believe. I was too young to go to shows but the National Radio was airing both well-known and unknown bands at the time. I really wish that still would be a common occurrence for uncommercial music there, here and everwhere else.... So metal has been part of the culture stream, although narrowly accepted for a long time. Of course it had more of a taboo and dangerous, threatening counter-culture character in the beginning like so many other fresh art forms and styles, in its customs of presentation etc. The most well-known and exposed band in the 80's were American and British. I guess the old "imperialists'" always took charge and marketed/advertised the hell out of whatever they thought could sell. So Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer, Megadeth, even WASP were the most popular bands over there, purely based on exposure in the media. The Swedes are much less aggressive about presenting what it's sitting on and I don't quite know how the Nordic region has earned the status of metal mecca. The Swedes don't really govern their own heritage, when it comes to the domestic folk music for example - it's largely treated as cobweb-covered museum pieces, like antiques. When I was studying at the Malmö Academy of Music back home we learned about it in class, but the general public has very little awareness and understanding of this tradition. Perhaps metal could be seen as folk music; people gather 'round to play music in the homes, garages etc and the music tends to speak to the youth, and be impossible for the elders to ignore. Through longevity it has become a cultural facet that won't be ignored.
It's easy to bring up superficial cliches such as the lack of sunlight during half the year as an inspiration to go make energizing, dark music often singing about pagan-era concerns but I don't know.....    

Mr. Becos: You played a good deal with the great and extremely under-rated drummer/improviser Tom Bruno, who you might call a "free thinker". In light of his recent passing is there any esoteric Bruno knowledge that you think should be passed along to all of us?

Nilsson: I met Tom Bruno through Matt Heyner about 10 years ago. Matt took me to play with him at their usual spot - the subway. Tom's thing down there was way out for a lot of people walking by, some dug it. We were improvising freely and not concerned with pleasing anybody by playing familiar things. Sometimes Sabir Mateen would join us on horns, the band TEST (Tom, Matt, Sabir & Daniel Carter) often played down there before I knew them. From about 2003-2005 it tended to be just Tom and I, once or twice a week. He would roll a small drum set through the subway mazes. We would barely make any money, but I thoroughly enjoyed making music with him in that setting. I learned to project a lot better playing with him. He was all about doing whatever you wanna do and be free, and having fun while doing just that, an artist. Be a free person, and remind others to feel free! His playing has its own unique character and there's no way I can describe it in words really, perhaps only as humane. Certainly, he made me feel encouraged to do the same, my way. We also used to get together uptown at the Hint House to play, and there we would sit around and talk about stuff more. You're right, he was extremely underrated, even though he used to play with jazz names long ago - Sonny Simmons for one. Tom kept saying he's looking to play totally free, play how you feel, if you're in a funk, play that, if you're happy, play that. He told me a lot of stories and was quite the charmer a lot of the time. He liked saying "merry and bright" which is a quote from his (I believe) favorite writer Henry Miller. He was mostly cheerful, always kind and no bs. and he got a lot of feeling out of playing. My favorite quote being: "If it ain't fun, fuck it."

Mr. Becos: You just put out a solo guitar album, which is pretty creepy. How did you creep yourself up in preparation?

Nilsson: Thanks for listening to the album! I named it "Night Guitar" as the common thread and mood of the pieces on it suggest nocturnal vibes, at least to me. I think the polar relationship between pliable opposite characteristics such as; slow-fast, active-passive, organized-chaotic etc. is used pretty clearly on this particular album. The pieces were realized using overdubbed electric guitar parts with a compositional scheme in mind during a few long days and nights in the studio. The tranquility, feelings, and clear vision of ones own mind and soul at night are powerful ingredients in life that I find inspiring as a human being, and a good starting point for solo music. To me, the music has a tension that holds up throughout the album, and the narrative-like tune structures come from watching a lot of film noir, reading "pulp" fiction and living in this crazy, beautiful world right now. I'm pleased you find it creepy.... I've always found myself attracted to harmonic dissonance. Stark contrasts, sudden, unexpected eruptions of distorted jabs rubbing against a basically tranquil, thoughtful mood speaks to me. It's released on the Soundatone label

Mr. Becos: I probably have my facts wrong. Again. But I seem to remember a story about you getting separated from your band mates in Angelblood on the freezing streets of Paris with no money, not knowing the way home and not speaking French. How did you survive?

Nilsson: Dear Mr. Becos, where do you get your questions from? Ha ha! It's fascinating how the mind can and sometimes will fill in exaggerated fabrications of distant memories. I'm not 100% sure I'm not distorting the truth myself but this is what I remember; the episode you are talking about took place in Paris in 2004 or 2005. Angelblood had just played a show at a lovely place in Poitiers, France and had taken the train back to Paris where we spent the final night before flying out the morning after. It is true that I don't speak French and it might have been chilly. In any case, the band members were all invited to a fancy art opening that night; a big party at some nice-looking place with a lot of well-dressed art connoisseurs. Somehow Matt Heyner and I were separated from the other band members who might have had more of an interest getting ahead, and in, to enjoy themselves. By the time the two of us got to the entrance there were "security" staff questioning who we were and where we were going. We weren't trusted, nor let in, and so we got a little pissed off at the establishment and the forerunners in our band. Instead we tried to get in through an alternative way, and somehow ended up walking up some stairs to an apartment building, knocking on a door where there was a party going on, perhaps this is part of it we thought. Turned out it was a private little dinner party of nice french people, and we found ourselves basically invited to stay for dinner! However, we went back to the main entrance and I forget how but we did get in eventually. Later that night all the band members and a related child slept on the floor of a tiny apartment, I fell asleep instantly. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

all saints day

It's All Saints Day so here is a good clip of some old school godawful noise that has nothing to do with All Saints Day.


my favorite part of the storm

what it is: my favorite part of the storm
where i found it: dispatches

There has a been a small uproar about Mayor Bloomberg's sign language interpreter, Lydia Callis, with good reason. It is impossible not to watch her. She makes every little point look incredibly interesting and as one commenter said "she is poetic and dancer-like".

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

oh yeah

thanks to anonymous

what it is: thanks to anonymous
where i found it: in the middle of a hurricane

I am not really interested in hacking, but about  year ago i signed up for the anonymous feed because they had the most interesting news about occupy wall street when it was all feverish and still had a park to squat in. All I can say is that on Tuesday night while the NY Times had the same dramatic headline and pictures for hours on end and 1010 AM news radio was droning on about the fact that they didn't have lights (eventually fading off the air), anonymous was giving second my second accounts of things like areas where 911 didn't work, street reports of flood levels, up to date transformer explosions and debunking photoshopped photos and bullshit reports. Thanks anonymous!

Monday, October 29, 2012

my neighbor the cannibal cop

what it is: my neighbor the cannibal cop
where i found it: work

When I showed up to work last Thursday they had the street blocked off and news crews were everywhere. It turns out one of the cops from the precinct next door to my office, who I saw on the block form time, time had plans to become a cannibal. And he appeared to be a perfectly nice guy. You can read about him here. His name is Gilberto.

Oh yeah, and there's a big hurricane coming.

Friday, October 26, 2012

demon overlords who need to do sit ups

what it is: demon overlords who need to do sit ups
where i found it: youtube

Overlords Abbath and Demonaz Doom Occulta of Immortal get five stars in my book. I respect their dedication to awesome facial expressions, Blashyrkh worship and beer. However, if they're going to continue the shirtless white painted torso look, they really ought to do a few sit ups.


P.S. there seems to be some kind of youtube in-joke going on here as they've encoded GAY in all caps within the page address.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

spooky masterpieces

what it is: spooky masterpieces
where i found it: the village

Every year the kiddies in my village paint these masterpieces on the downtown shop windows. I love this stuff.