Monday, October 1, 2007

love is a kick in the bullmarket

Love is a Kick and a Bullmarket.
I worked at Rough Trade records really briefly when I was about 15 or 14, the one in Covent Garden which I think is closing down now because they put up the rent. (Actually I just found out they are moving out to the East End, the one in Talbot Road will always be there I think, if you are ever in London definitely go check it out, the wall of punk 7”s is pretty amazing...) Covent Garden used to be really seedy, I think the Sex Pistols had a squat there even, it was an old flower market that relocated and left a barren mass of squats and dilapedated buildings, then of course, artistically minded business people opened up stores there. And twenty or thirty years later it’s an outdoor mall pretty much, with the same stores that exist on streets in every town in every place in the western world. There’s no room for Rough Trade records anymore I guess. I wonder what they are going to do with the space, turn it into a boutique? Another rare sneaker store? I think about hanging out with the Huggy Bear girls and watching bands play, going and buying Unwound 45s and fanzines from the Slampt Underground. I saw so many bands in that basement, the Beastie Boys played there once, Blood Sausage, Free Kitten, Pavement I think? I even skipped school to see Courtney Love do an acoustic set there, which boggles the mind at this point but it was before I was into punk so... I wonder if Slam City Skates are moving too? I used to get all my skateboards from there, in the time of small wheels, Plan B videos and huge pants that could house 5 at least in each leg.
I got given a bunch of Dischord tapes by an old punk when I worked at Rough Trade, the Rites of Spring one, the Minor Threat one, and I listened to them until they warped. The pictures on the spine of the Rites of Spring tape made me feel so nostalgic for something I knew nothing about. Images of them climbing trees in winter time, maybe after Revolution Summer? Well punk was nostalgia then too. Everything I remember from the Banned in DC book about Rev Summer was about trying to recreate something lost, the end of childhood frenzy, lost teenage freedoms and the need to make something else other than cynical write offs claiming that things would never be as good again... I remember distinctly looking at the photos and wanting something I couldn’t explain, some other existance, some other world that was only available to me when walking along listening to End on End on my walkman. In another place, in another time.
I am writing this whilst sitting in my room listening to the Hul LP. I have not hung out with anyone for a little while, just picked a zit, ate some ice cream, (for future zit upkeep) thought about how I do not like anything Paul Weller has done after the Jam broke up and also thought about a conversation I had with Golnar today about punk and the glass ceiling politics of the eternal dude circle. (which in itself is an eternal conversation! From the Conflict (US) interview in the May MRR through to Riot Grrrl and this afternoon on a lunch break phone call.) I was reading a zine from my 90s emo sxe pos library (the ones that didn’t get recycled) which was one of my favorites, had a great Sam Mcpheeters interview complete with bloody nose pin up and a rad piece about how homoerotic pits are at sxe shows. Can you even imagine some sxe scenester now having the balls to talk about that? I think they would rather dress up like Agnostic Front and watch Boston Beatdown, just do the jock part without the whole complicated questioning societal values part. It made me randomly google the aforementioned sxe zinester to find out what the dude was doing now, and of course he is a graphic designer that does advertisements for companies like Jeep. His webpage references his zine name still. I can’t imagine the transition from writing about the Earth Liberation Front and being queer in sxe to making adverts for companies that are directly responsible for destroying the earth. But I guess this has turned into yet another column about growing old and selling out and how things I still think are important were just youthful indiscretions to most of my generation. I feel like I should be able to just get over this stuff and just get into Death Cab for Cutie and buying three hundred dollar dresses at Anthropologie or whatever it is punk girls do when they grow out of it. It just occupies my brain too much. Everything: the fact that it all makes me feel so melancholic, the fact that it really is just a phase for most, the fact that I still feel strongly about shows and bands and community and the underground and yet also feel really alienated from most punks. It’s confusing and boring and endless.

I went to a great show at Gilman last week, Government Warning, Wasted Time and Look Back and Laugh. Brian and Tobia set up a BBQ outside, a racist skinhead got knocked out with one punch by a weird time travelling quantum leap crusty/bathing ape druid on a mission, Scott informed me that music is much better now than it was in the 90s and told me a story about Brandon from Government Warning busting in on some sorority girl’s party the night before. He started performing a strip tease which all the party girls were into, and assumed was part of the evening’s entertainment until dudes from Warkrime showed up. Wasted Time were fucking incredible, like Pick Your King through the Ginn blender, so much better than the 7”, Government Warning were also phenomenal, I can’t believe how great they are live, and the to top it off Look Back and Laugh killed it. Made all the non sxe record collectors happy with a Youth of Today cover, made me happy because they totally brought it. I would have gotten crucial but I am too old for that type of thing, plsu wtihout Golnar’s presence it’s hard to focus the cruciality needed. It was such a great show, three incredible bands,... It was funny because the entire teenage thrash scene left as soon as Govt Warning finished, missing LBAL to go back to their million dollar Berkeley Hills homes for a hug from mommy? It has been pointed out that LBAL are mostly in my age group (that is to say agreeably matured, like a fine wine or whatever the sxe version of that metaphor would be) and The Kids are mostly interested in seeing musical acts from their own generation rather than aging wizened crones from mine I guess. It’s just bizarre to me coming from a scene where I would go see Huggy Bear play a Camden bar, or DDI play a Brixton squat. I was so psyched on discovering the underground and punk, and DIY and hardcore I would go see Btallion of Saints AND Sensefield AND Bikini Kill irrepective of how close the members of the bands were to the realms of the ancients. I guess me and my friends were always the one group of teenagers at most shows, so maybe the median age for being into punk when I was growing up in London was more college age than it is here? I remember thinking the aforementioned girls from Huggy Bear were REALLY OLD because they were like 24 or something. Also Carl Hard-Cordova told me a story about going to see Samuel or Junction and thinking the singer was as old as a tree because she was like 28 or something. SO maybe age does play a part in your perceptions of music especially if you live in an area like the Bay, where there are so many different types of shows and bands and scenes you can go through yout entire priviledged teenage existance only watching bands that sound exactly like the Decry Suburban Death Camp LP and not feel like you are missing out on anything.
ALSO: Carl pointed out to me that my dismissal of Fucked Up in the column before last could also be applied to my current dream team Sex Vid. This may be true but Sex Vid’s music makes me want to become a fuckin alchemist or you know, destroy society or start a new band or something in a way that Fucked Up never has. I feel like Sex Vid is perfect burned down basement music which is to say the best kind of music, whereas Fucked Up somehow exists in another space in my mind, it seems more professional and normal and palatable. But Sex Vid are about to put out a 12” which will be a new test, because the 7” is the perfect format, so maybe their run of greatness will be crushed by the new and different format. I feel like the tape and the 7” are the way and truth. Who knows! Not me!
Anyways, off the pigs, if you wanna correspond/want to send me Neos bootlegs write c/o mrr.
1-Life Without Buildings LP and Live CD 2-The New Hope comp of weird old Ohio bands from early 80s check out (the 9/1/07 show) for sounds 3-Ian Svenonius interview in the new ANP quarterly 4-Fugazi-In On The Killtaker and the Glen E Friedman Fugazi book5-The introduction of the term ‘freemo’ into my life, it refers to the noise/art school thing, you know post Lightning Bolt/Fort Thunder fan boy music, lots of contact mics, aggressive floor rolling and gaffer tape and pedals. And adds to my theory that basically this scene is full of the people that would have been in roll on the floor emo bands in the 90s. 6-Homostupids still 7-King Tubby presents Roots of Dub LP 8-Joan Didion. For some reason I can’t find a copy of Play as it Lays but I am kind of obsessed with her right now... 9-Coffee in the morning 10-The Brat 10” and the Wolf and the Lamb-it’s almost too cheesy but it is just so transcendent and great.

this one is all over the place

1-I made someone tell me who died in Harry Potter even though I have not read any of the books or watched any of the films and have no intention of doing so. It made no sense to me obviously, as I have no idea who any of the characters are and it ended up just annoying me; why did I care about such a piece of meaningless (to me) information? I think the curse of the age is too much mindless information and ephemera. I am sure many irritating liberal columnists have said this before, but seriously when more people care about who dies in Harry Potter than the death count in Iraq it would seem to indicate a certain moral collapse… End times fer sure!

2-I have been reading two books by Mike Davis that kind of tie in with this um, apocalyptic vision, one is called Planet of Slums, and is about the new supercities built on sewage and out of the discards of capitalism that are emerging as people in the so-called third world move to large industrial cities from rural areas but find they do not have the means or power to fit in with the way those cities work. The other one is a collection of essays edited by him called Evil Paradise: Dreamworlds of NeoLiberalism. The “evil paradises” are free market utopias built on the unspoken reality of slave labor and robber baron slash-and-burn capitalism. These places are created by the super rich in places like Dubai and Orange County, gated communities and private cities, which are kind of like the flip side of the super city coin. The inhabitants of supercities are living in the economic and literal trash created by those living in ‘dreamland,’ where you can only even walk the streets if you are economically viable (ie oil rich/media rich etc.)
In Davis’ hellish vision of Dubai the divide between the Haves and the Have-Not’s seems almost medieval in its brutality and immorality. Huge cartoonish buildings and man-made mega islands built with oil money and the aforementioned slave labor shield the ultra rich from the indignities of having to pay taxes or in some cases serve time in the countries from which they came. Rebecca Shoenkopf’s Orange County is a little less feudal, and makes for a much lighter read though she still, albeit mockingly, covers the disparities between the inland barrios of Santa Ana and the coastal gated communities of Laguna Canyon. The Gated McMansion-residing ladies buy their over-saturated offspring Mercedes convertibles to stave off their baby-bird-like insatiable hunger and empty rage; It reads like an even more soulless Less Than Zero. There are other chapters about faux California-style gated communities in Hong Kong and Cairo and even in Iran’s desert, so perhaps that will be America’s legacy rather than Bush’s promised democracy in the Middle East. I am envisioning the free market as a stream of vomit; constant and unless you have a boat you are stuck swimming in the slop. I can’t explain it really.

3-Summer in San Francisco never quite feels like how I imagine summer to be. The culmination of summers past and the mythologies of the idea of summer as being all freedom and adventure all the time leave grown up summers with a lot to live up to. After school, unless you are a trust fund type that doesn’t have to work (or maybe a crusty?) summer is only really distinguished from the rest of the year by the weather. Well maybe I am being a little harsh. I live in California which only has two seasons really, and SF pretty much doesn’t have summer at all, until fall, depending on the day. Thusly I have decided that summer is just an idea and that I have to make freedom and adventure all the time happen myself. A couple of days ago Jess and Holly and I drove to Stinson beach and watched tourists gamboling in the water oblivious to the sign asserting that there had been great white shark attacks there in less than six feet of water… The perfect way to end yr California vacation! On the way home we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge listening to Rock Bottom and the Spies’ Rich Girl and The Dils’ Sound of the Rain, total mix tape magic, and we got to avoid the zillion dollar bridge toll because there were three of us. It felt totally triumphant somehow and I made a remark along the lines of ‘the punks win for once!’ which triggered a discussion about how neither Jess nor Holly consider themselves to be punk anymore. I actually did not participate in this discussion because I am and will always be a punk.
BUT it also made me think about a conversation I had with Sharon Cheslow about why she plays noise, at a very summery east bay BBQ. She talked about being an older woman in underground music and the dilemmas and conflicts of art and a wider audience and basement shows and art gallery shows and so on and so forth… and the whole DUDE THING; contre le sexisme! It made me wish I had a tape player because I totally have wanted to interview Sharon for this zine for the longest time, about DC punk histories yes but also about growing old and staying true, staying independent and committed to the underground. You know there is a Chalk Circle myspace now? She made it and it enabled her to get back in touch with two of the other members; pretty fucking cool!! Chalk Circle was one of the few harDCore bands with ladies in, although really I guess they are more arty lady punk than harDCore, like say um, the Teen Idles? I am sure Sharon does not consider herself punk anymore, though she still plays her art damage destruction in basements with punk bands and I totally think she’s a punk. Punk is like summer in San Francisco. It’s a possibility, and an idea, an ideology maybe, or just a moment of mix tape transcendence.
Punk is a youth subculture for sure, I know this, but I for one would not consider myself a punk still if I considered punk as only being represented by kids at Gilman or the mall punk’s Blanks 77 backpatches and sugary Mohawk hairstyles. I think that’s one of the problems I have with the hero worship of Japanese bands by kids here; if those bands existed here they would be corny Mohawk studded jacket style rockstars. Underground punk is and will always be DIY and independent culture, the idea that the bands are essentially the same as the audience. Not fifty dollar shows. It’s so weird to me that they are so obsessed with Discharge aesthetically, but not by the values or politics JUST THE MUSIC SOUND AND CLOTHING! How is that punk? Probably a million skinny jeans clad dudes are rolling their eyes in disgust at this paragraph. I know I am definitely NOT an expert on Japanese punk culture, please write me and correct me on my cultural ignorance, don’t be mean though!
4-I went to see Sonic Youth do Daydream Nation. It was like watching a play/being in church; the audience were so reverent and the Sonic Youth were so mock solemn. Kim looked so rad dancing in a mod striped dress against a tie die light show, go Berkeley community theatre! It was kind of dreamy but also kind of wrong! I hate the indie rock crowd, so depressing and easily sated. I like that era of Sonic Youth; scary death valley Manson girls/ Pettibon doom doom dooom time! Bad Moon Rising! A comment on the end of the summer of love… I wanted to see the Melvins perform Lysol tonight SO BADLY! It's weird how the 90s are being reconstructed right now in mainstream ‘indie’ culture; Dinosaur jr, Slint, Melvins, Sonic Youth, though guess it's more late 80s early 90s. The Pitchfork crowd need their reconstructed war re-enactments! I wonder if it's like the baby boomer freak out in the 80s when every movie had baby boomered music; think about it, The Big Chill, The Outsiders, Stand By Me; REVIVALISTS!! That is happening now but with bands performing entire LPs, it's like a play because if you saw the Melvins in 89 or whatever they wouldn't 'do' the whole of Gluey Porch Treatments, or Slint wouldn't 'do' the whole of Spiderland. They would just play a show; it's total theatre constructionisms. Speaking of which Mike Mckee is writing a book about 90s DIY hardcore (91-94) I am sure he is looking for contributions and if you have any check out his myspace, his name on there is 90’s DIY.
5-I was a teenage straight edge warrior! I’m not anymore! But I still hate it that hanging out in bars is most people’s idea of entertainment. BOOOORING.
6-I have mostly been listening to Leonard Cohen because of seeing McCabe and Mrs Miller for the first time, I guess that’s not very punk. I think about punk a lot and am sorry if I talk about the same thing every month!
7-That’s about it! A bunch of random stuff not very coherently discussed!