Tuesday, January 31, 2012

more about jack

what it is: more about jack rose
where i found it: late night in philadelphia

I realized after mentioning Jack Rose yesterday that I'd never dedicated a post to him, about which I should be ashamed. Two years ago he died all of a sudden after burning up the fingerboard for about ten years straight. If you've never heard his albums, please do. Great finger picking cross between Fahey and Indian music and pre-depression blues. Everybody knows that, but what they might not know are these little stories that I remember about him.

1) The first time I met him I stayed at his house after a gig in Philadelphia. He got wildman drunk and forced me to listen to Elvis bootlegs, a single recorded line delivered by the Greatful Dead's Pigpen (over and over and over) and a few single notes of a pedal steel solo (over and over and over) from a David Crosby solo album.

2) He had a bad temper on stage sometimes and would often abruptly stop playing and loudly reprimand someone in the audience. Once this included yelling "turn off the fucking reverb!" to the soundman only for the soundman to reply "there is no reverb". Another time he yelled "learn how to clap!" when someone tried to help keep time along with him (it happened to be the lady who set up the show and lived in the loft where it was happening = highly awkward).

3) I don't know if his death was in any way alcohol related, but one of the last things he said to me, over extremely spicy soy chicken, red-faced and sweating, was "I've got to get that bottle of whiskey taken off my rider".

4) I have never seen anyone so excited as when Jack showed me a new Reverend Gary Davis right hand picking pattern he had just learned. Like a kid on Christmas morning. This guy was a true enthusiast.

5) A selection of other things I don't remember because Rose was a heroic drinking partner.

6) The most important thing I learned from the guy was that it is still possible to do shit the way you want to and believe in. He was extremely grumpy, hard headed and uncompromising when it came to his opinions and approach to music, which served him well in trying to survive as a touring musician this day in age and not cave in to all manner of bullshit along the way. I hope he's making god listen to Elvis bootlegs right now.

Monday, January 30, 2012

who's your favorite avant-garde minimalist lute player?

Mine is Josef Van Wissem. I met this guy when I was playing at a guitar festival a few years ago. My favorite part of the weekend was eating breakfast with him (aside from eating Thai food with Jack Rose - the last time I ever saw him). He travels the world, is kind of grumpy, plays custom made lutes and delivers some otherworldly, spacious, repetetive, hypnotic sound. He even works in field recordings and has a megolomaniacal concept that as he travels he is visiting the stations of the cross in airports across the world. He also wears ruffly outfits and is smitten with early music. Yes.

Here's his UBU sight, with lots of free music and commentary. How can you lose with song titles like "How the Soul Has Arrived at the Understanding of her Nothingness".

Friday, January 27, 2012


what it is: warlock
where i found it: the strand

No this is not another post about metal (though the title could easily be the name of a metal band), nor is it about male witches, unless you think of gun slinging as a type of necromancy. This is about the novel Warlock, by the greatly named Oakley Hall. Occasionally you come across  a work that stretches or exceeds the boundaries of it's genre and gets down into some of the lower/upper depths of human motivation. The Godfather, Valis etc.I think this is one of them.

This is not easy to do. Many have tried and failed. In my opinion Cormac McCarthy is right at the top of that list. So is Thomas Pynchon (who happened to write the blurb on the back of Warlock), even though he's a favorite of both Charles Manson and Timothy Leary (apparently they bonded over Gravity's Rainbow when they were in adjacent California prison cells).

Mean as a snake outlaws, striking miners, Apache killers, lunatic generals, a lawman with golden revolvers, villain capitalists and murderous gamblers are all here, but it sort of reads like a believable every day account. I like it.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

rise of the greeks

what it is: greek underground metal
where i found it: see below

When I think of Greeks the first things that come to mind are Socrates, discus throwers, fraternity brothers and financial ruin. Metal makes me think of the snowy north, not so much of Zeus and the Parthenon. For many years I've resisted listening to Greek metal, probably because of lame band photos and horrible cover art. For example:

what appears to be either an all seeing bunch of carrots or an all seeing bird's foot
 However, I recently came across this, an excellent Greek underground metal compilation with extensive commentary on each track. It made me a believer. Please don't be scared away by the horrifying title of the post, "Bromantic Interlude".

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

piggy rises from the dead

what it is: the new/old voivod
where i found it: alternative tentacles!

blacky vigorously emits some sounds
I never would have pegged Jello Biafra for a Voivod fan, but here we have a (double vinyl!!!) reissue of Voivod's earliest recordings on Alternative Tentacles. I hadn't heard a note of Voivod since they put out Angel Rat and that stupid song about "The circus left without me. And I'm alone with you now" and when Metallica's Jason Newstead got on board I thought it to be wholly preposterous and didn't even bother to believe it, but these early demos have really rekindled my affection.

Any band with four members named Away, Blacky, Snake and Piggy can't be all bad, but here we have them in their late teens living in some shitty Canadian industrial town playing something that sounds like a cross between Venom and Black Flag with impressive passages of finger tapping and sloppy drum fills.
We also get great pre-Sci-Fi-concept song titles like Condemned to the Gallows, Helldriver,. Slaughter in a Grave, Black City, Incantation, Suck Your Bone and Warriors of Ice all in the same place. No "circus left without me" crap.

Inner photos include the the band scaling a giant gravestone as well as Snake wearing a gas mask and the lamest/cheapest looking bondage gear on which I've ever laid eyes. All hail the Voivod.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

those guys that do voiceovers

what it is: a guy that does voiceovers
where i found it: long ago in atlanta

Mr. Reagan, live from inside an autistic child's snow globe (see below)

Have you ever wondered what the guys who do voice overs are actually like behind the dramatic, deep and soothing tones in which they speak? I have an old friend who is now a voice over artist. Here's a sample of his excellent work.

commercial yapping

When you dig a little deeper, though, the below link is what you find. I like to think every voice over artist has a side project along similar lines. If only we could find them.

live from inside an autistic child's snow globe

Monday, January 23, 2012

your prefered level of unease

what it is: ?
where if found it: the same place as those paula deen quaalude videos.

In case you don't follow the comments on this blog, I will point you to this deeply unsettling clip:


Saturday, January 21, 2012

diabetes is good

what it is: the repugnant horror of paula deen
where i found it: unfortunately, all over the place

There was too mcuh in the news this week about Paula Deen, who makes unhealthy food, has a bullshit Southern accent and announced that she has diabetes/is sponsoring a diabetes pharmaceutical product on the same day. What was less discussed is that she also inhabits an internet-based drug-fueled alternate reality. Reader JPW pointed me to the first of these videos. Kind of like DJ Screw's music, but the vibes are really bad.

Friday, January 20, 2012

the genius of jelly

what it is: the genius of jelly
where i found it: some new orleans brothel in the 1890s

Five reasons to love Jelly Roll Morton

1) He was the first person to transcribe jazz, essentially turning it from an oral to an oral/written tradition. While this made it possible for jackasses like Wynton Marsalis to turn jazz into a sterile academic exercise it also codified some amazing and alive orchestration styles that we may not have ever heard otherwise.

2) He yells out weird things in the middle of his piano solos like "Oh Mister Jelly!"

3) He wrote a fantastic and hilarious autobiography, recording some New Orleans/Black American traditions that may have otherwise been lost.

4) He delivered poetry over music boastfully detailing his pimping, fondness for profanity, creative interactions with guns and women, drinking, revenge fantasies and wealth 70 YEARS before any gangster rappers were even born.

5) His first name = slang for vagina

Thursday, January 19, 2012

the S.O.B. chord progression

what it is: the chord progression to play if your a no good sonofabitch
where i found it: various record bins

If your going to leave your woman and insult her on the way out this might be the chord progression for you. Both of these songs can probably be traced back to the same folk roots or it might just be a cooincidence, but I love them both dearly and each has much to offer in it's own way.

First up we have Johnny Cash's Understand Your Man. The man in black at his most mean-as-a-snake and rednecky. Don't tell your kin folks to give me no talkin'. I'm tired of your bad mouthin'. Etc. The combination of mariachi horns and back woods knife slide guitar works surprisingly well.

understand your man

And here we have the same progression also used to deliver a fuck you to an unfortunate lady. Here are three versions to enjoy.



peter, etc.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

twinkies retire

what it is: twinkies retire
where i found it: the news

Last week it was announced that Hostess is filing for bankruptcy. This is vexing, not only because I eat five or six Twinkies a day, but I was also going to use my Twinkie consumption as an excuse for any murder that I may eventually want to commit. I'm too young to remember this, but an elderly psychiatrist friend of mine told me that the guy who assassinated Harvey Milk and the San Francisco Mayor back in 1978 (on my birthday, no less) claimed that his eating of Twinkies was related to the killings. And he beat the rap. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

quasthoff retires

what it is: quasthoff's retirement
where i found it: the news

I am usually not too big on classical vocals. Sometime in the 90s, though, I heard a performance by a guy named Thomas Quasthoff on the radio that blew me away. He's recorded a wide range of works, but it was Schubert's Winterreise that got me. I found a few of his albums (usually with just a noble looking shoulders-up portrait of him on the cover), listened a lot and then got blown away again when someone told me that the guy had been poised in utero and apparently had no arms and no legs. This was before the internet allowed us to confirm in an instant whether someone in fact has limbs or not and I didn't believe it. A few years later I saw a full body picture. No arms. No legs.
It was announced this week that he's retiring. Go with God Quasthoff.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

the demon gets outed

what it is: the demon outed as a mere jewish boy
where i found it: BB

Reader BB found this clip as a suggestion after he viewed the Thor video posted here a few days ago. Gene Simmons gets outed as an ordinary Jewish boy on national television. Go old lady.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

interesting things to say before a guitar solo

willie nelson: "pick one"

david lee roth: "edward? thank you"

merle haggard: "flurry on me one time"

rob halford: "good god, pluck me!"

Friday, January 13, 2012

weird bible verses

what it is: weird bible verses
where i found it: some other blog

Every Wednesday this guy blogs about strange and mystifying excerpts from the Bible. One recent one is about collecting and amassing the foreskins of your enemies. If anything is worth subscribing to, this is.

Vintage Faith

I believe I found this on one of the world's worst named blogs, Boing Boing, but they post about 20 times a day and I don't have time to file through all of their insanity right now to verify this.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


what it is: getting rid of stuff
where i found it: i'm buried in it!

My New Years resolution is to get rid of one thing every day. I could link this to some lofty Buddhist ideal of unattachment or something, but it's more that I just keep freaking out and throwing temper tantrums, feeling like I'm drowning in stuff.
So here is "What I Got Rid of Today - Volume I, What I Got Rid of So Far".

1) A weird zine with a Viking on the front. I got this at one of those handmade Christmas craft fairs they used to have on the Lower East Side.

2) An old dictionary. This was my wife's old dictionary from when she first came to the USA. Now she speaks English good so she doesn't need it anymore.

 3) I complained about this book in another post. Too long. Not enough interesting parts. Won the lame National Book Award. Never going to open it again.

 4) Twilight. I got this for free at a book swap, figuring it might be OK if it's about vampires and werewolves and everyone on the subway seems to be reading it. Then I was on an airplane and the passenger next to me was watching the movie, which I saw without sound. It was nothing but a teenage girl sitting around her house looking concerned, an anemic looking dude also looking concerned and some guy riding a motorcycle shirtless through the woods. Fuck this.

 5) Some old toe molding. This came from the attic of a home my family lives in. I though I would use it to make my house look sharp, but there's about ten rusty nails in every board, making it impossible to deal with. Fuck this, too.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

a bed of nails reminds me of . . .

what it is: indian pole dancing
where i found it: jpw

I recently posted about a bed of nails that I came across on the way to work. This reminded reader JPW, one of this blog's most valuable bullshit contributors, of this Indian pole dancing. After seeing this I wonder how we can still think of golf or bowling (or football, baseball or basketball) as athleticism.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Monday, January 9, 2012

hag favorites vi

what it is: hag favorites vi
where i found it: various record bins

I've always said that given a tree, I can accomplish anything. From the sounds of this song, I am not the only man who believes this.

shade tree fix it man

Saturday, January 7, 2012

hag favorites v

what it is: hag favorites v
where i found it: various record bins

In this one, Haggard falls in love with woman who sounds a lot like a hooker. The neighbors are curious about what in the world they could be doing behind those closed shades, probably something lewd. Haggard is happy as a clam, though. He even lets out some Bob Wills style falsettos to prove it.

living with the shades pulled down

Friday, January 6, 2012

my commute

what it is: my commute
where i found it: harlem, usa

Yesterday was my first day back from Christmas vacation and walking across Harlem to work on a freezing day was an ugly re-entry. I've posted about my commute a number of times before, but it seems to always be a fresh source of the grotesque. Here's three things I encountered.

1) I almost stepped in a huge puddle of not-yet-frozen blood (it was 16 degrees fahrenheit out, so it couldn't have been that old). Not only was it covering the sidewalk, but it was also sprayed across a nearby car. Probably a knife attack, but you never know. I didn't stick around to snap a picture.

2) A makeshift bed of nails constructed to keep the bums from sleeping on given surface. I've posted about similar security measures before, but this one is really top of the line.

3) A message to the community:

Thursday, January 5, 2012

hag favorites iv

what it is: hag favorites iv
where i found it: various record bins

This one presents Haggard as the all seeing eye. The way he intones the word "revenge" at the beginning often gives me the chills. I think he means it.

i'll always know 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

hag favorites iii

what it is: hag favorites iii
where i found it: various record bins

On this one Merle and his small town friends scratch their heads and try to figure out what a guy from the city could possibly be doing climbing up a hill every day in the direction of where a pretty girl lives. The stupid backup singing gives it an extra edge. I thought the question often asked in the South was "what in Sam HELL is going on?", but Merle seems to think it's "Sam HILL". Maybe he's just adapting it to his purposes and you probably weren't allowed to say "hell" on country radio in those days anyway. At the end I find the lines "he wont tell us" and "wish I knew" particularly enjoyable, but I can't really articulate why.

what in sam hill's going on?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

hag favorites ii

what it is: hag favorites ii
where i found it: various record bins

This song begins with Merle moving into a tavern against his will after being kicked out of the house by his woman for an unnamed offense.

I don't need to say much other than we begin with the line "Well, this old smoke filled bar is something I'm not used to". Awesome pedal steel playing and this is an amusing TV performance to boot.

i'm always here at home til closing time

Monday, January 2, 2012

hag favorites i

what it is: hag favorites i
where i found it: various record bins

I've decided to spend the next few posts discussing some Merle Haggard favorites. Listening to this stuff on youtube seems kind of lame, but it's also most covenient, so I'll provide links here and leave it to readers to hunt down the vinyl if they're so motivated or better yet dig up a cassette and play it in a pickup truck with the windows down.

The first selection is a classic example of the self loathing ballad. We know we're off to a good start when the song begins with Merle intoning "I'm going off of the deep end". It also has some fantastic backgound picking and includes lyrical kickers such as:

You give me no reason for my drinking
But I can't stand myself at times


My weakness is stronger than I am
I've always been the losing kind

You can even hear him chuckling at himself and his own foolishness at occassional points throughout the song. Clearly, his delivery conjures some magic that the written word can't, so here you go:

i can't hold myself in line