IT'S A LIVING… BUT IT'S NOT A LIFE #8.2
J Church/Honey Bear Records "News" letter
Moans and Groans - Summer 2000
NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS
Well, by the time you read this, the new album should be out. After
seven and a half months of waiting since it's recording, it's finally
seeing release. It's funny, there's so much build up to a record release.
And then nothing happens. I mean, what could happen? It's like we were
expecting some big explosion or a prize of something. As if we would find
out right away if it was a hit or not. If people liked it or not…
If nothing else, I really like the record. It's funny. It's taken so long
for the record to come out, I've got a whole new perspective on it. It's
already a little old to me. I was so worried a few months ago. I was freaking
out about the different elements added to this record thinking people
wouldn't accept it. Y'know, shock of the new, and all that… But
now I just don't care. Shit, I've already written a few new songs for
the next album… But do let me know what you think of the record.
If you love it or hate it, I'd sorta like to know. Even if you've never
liked a single note of a single J Church moment, let me know. I'm a bit
of a masochist…
FREE STUFF!!! FREE STUFF!!! FREE STUFF!!!
Hey, here's a free compilation CD that we're on. If for some strange
reason, you attended The Warp Tour this year, you've probably already
got one of these. But if you're like me and spent that morning watching
the Giants, you'll want to get this sampler from me. It's called More
RPMs Than Floyd On A Scooter and it's a free sampler from Fat
Wreck Chords. It features songs by us, Snuff, Avail, Bracket, Nerf Herder,
Dance Hall Crashers, Chixdiggit!, Strung Out, Inspection 12, Fabulous
Disaster, and Big In Japan (not the old new wave band). It also comes
with a coupon for two bucks off our new album (it's actually a coupon
for any of the aforementioned band's new records. But we're hoping you
help the cause.). You can get this comp for free by ordering anything
from my mail-order list in the next month or two and mentioning that you
heard about it in my newsletter.
WE GOT RADIO
Yeah, as you may or may not know, Liberty and I have been spending a
lot of our free time constructing a new Honey Bear web site. One of the
fun side projects is a radio station for the site. It's not really J Church
stuff or Honey Bear stuff (maybe later). Right now it's just a bunch of
my favorite songs floating around in cyber space. Check it out if you've
got the time. The site isn't up yet, but you can get to the radio station
by going to Live365.com and searching under Honey Bear Records. It's not
at 100% yet and I hope that the kids aren't offended that it's not entirely
punk. Just a bunch of songs I love. Sorta like if I were to make you a
WE GOT VIDEO
Hey, our pal Sue Chen is doing a video for us. No, it's not your normal
lip-synch type deal. She's doing it more like a short film (it's shot
in Super 8) spliced with footage she took of our last gig at the Bottom
Of The Hill. She's also done a few other short films when she was at school
at NYU. They're all pretty cool and are mostly somewhat connected to J
Church… Hopefully, she'll have them all available to the public
Another compilation is out with one of our songs on it. Ivy
League College is on the debut release for Wynel Records. The
comp features loads of bands almost all of whom I've never heard of. But
that's not always a bad thing. I gave it a quick listen and there was
a nice cross section of emo, pop punk and ska. I'll have a little more
info on it below as I've got a few for sale.
CRINGER? I DON'T EVEN KNOW `ER! (AND WHAT'S ALL THIS ABOUT A VIDEO?)
Some kid did a Cringer video and has been selling it. I don't care.
It doesn't really matter to me one way or the other. But he's going to
send me some copies to compensate. If you're interested in buying one,
get in touch with me. Hey, if it does well, maybe I'll just release it…
I also heard that there was some sort of bootleg Cringer CD out there.
Is there really any need for that? I mean, I don't mind. But who cares?
Either way, if you know anything about Cringer bootlegs (demo or live,
real or CDR) please let me know. I just wanna get a few copies...
On that tangent, I'm trying to find a couple of J Church bootlegs that
are supposed to be floating around. There are a few different videos,
only a couple of which I've seen. I heard that someone in Germany also
did a live LP split with Screeching Weasel. I would definitely like to
see that. I heard that there was also a single of our complete Peel Session.
Again, I don't wanna get anyone busted. I just want some copies for myself.
Is that too much to ask? I mean, I don't even have a tape of our full
A LITTLE INFO ABOUT THIS NEWSLETTER
Okay, I've gotten lots of e-mail from people saying that they had been
sent this newsletter. I think that's so great. I'm very flattered that
people have been doing that. Please feel free to copy and send this to
whoever you want. If you received this newsletter from a friend and would
like to start getting it "regularly" just send me an e-mail
saying "subscribe" and I'll sort it out right away.
THE FILMS OF GRETA SNIDER
I've known Greta Snider for some time now. I remember when I first moved
to San Francisco in '89. Greta was someone that I sort of held in a weird
sort of esteem. It's like when you start high school and you sort of admire
the seniors (until they do something cruel and Welcome-To-The-Dollhouse-like
making you hate high school even more than you hate yourself. But enough
about me…). Greta is super smart and one of the least pretentious
people I know. But before this starts sounding like a eulogy, let me start
talking about her films.
If you had to categorize her films (and that's part of my day job), it's
safe to say that they all fall somewhere between the vaguely broad genres
of experimental and documentary. Each film varies from side to side. But
they all exist in this broad framework. Although may be starting to work
with video, everything I've seen has been 16mm and 8mm (I think). Keep
in mind, they're mostly between 5 and 10 minutes long.
I've seen ten of her eleven films (I think that's all that there are
at the moment) and I dig them all. The only one that's missing from the
list is her "sex" film (and if you have it, she wants it back!).
So here we go…
Futility (1989) Her first film is mostly a monologue
accentuated by a collage of found footage. It starts with the sound of
water dripping and becoming water draining, a metaphor for futility. The
water drips and fills slowly and then is suddenly drained. Over it are
images of an older couple at home interacting (dripping) followed by scenes
of alienation in production and machinery depicted in images of work (draining).
But the metaphor is also representative of the second part of the film
which uses collaged images to emphasize a story of abortion. Finally,
is what she calls a love letter but is more like a romantic Treaty of
Versailles to an unknown "you". The one section where the words
buttress the visual is the second segment where she reads a list of synonyms
for futility while a great image plays. I'm not really sure what it is.
It looks like hands hopelessly failing to fix something. It sort of looks
like re-threading a pipe end or something. I don't know. But it looks
great with it's textures of hand on metal all equalized by the fact that
it's black and white.
Hardcore Home Movie (1989) This movie is so funny.
When I think of being friends with Greta, I sort of think that this movie
captures that spirit more than anything else (including her fanzine).
A montage of punk portraits from a Bad Brains/DRI gig at the farm mixed
with a sort of "man on the street" series of interviews with
the kids about punk and why it's important. It's EXACTLY what you would
expect and it takes no sides. Sort of caustic in both the responses as
well as the intentions of the film. It's so funny without condescension.
It's laughing at you and with you at the same time. Hey, where else can
you see Greta with a mohawk?
Blood Story (1990) Blending both of her earlier
ideas, this film isn't necessarily disturbing in its parts so much as
the way they are juxtaposed against each other. Three simultaneous events
are happening. On the audio is a light-hearted (I'm not being facetious)
discussion with a woman friend about getting her period for the first
time and attitudes towards it in Western culture. The film is subtitled
with a story about seeing a dead body and watching the police deal with
the situation systematically. Finally, there is the visual image which
leaves me with the most questions. Hands knead through a bowl full of
coagulating blood. I thought it was fruit at first (smooshed cranberries
or something). But Greta assures me that it's real blood. Totally gross,
but in a good way.
Mute (1991) This is a really creepy story of
a person's infatuation with a mute girl. Carnal desire and visual stimulation
are interrupted by a sort of existential wondering. Why was she mute?
Not how, but why? Eventually this turns to anger and ultimately to violence.
But the violence becomes reflective and analytical. When she's dead, then
she is truly mute. Without ever saying "God", there is a little
Nietzche running through the story. The speaker can only understand the
"why" when it's by his own design. When he kills the girl, he
then accepts that she is "truly mute". Also in the film is a
sub-titled section that represents at times the victim, though not always
directly responding to the voice. It's another slice of existentialism,
but this time in monologue. On it's own, it would only exist as poetry.
But juxtaposed with the other story, it becomes insightful and also helps
to hear the first story with objectivity, making the voice all the more
Our Gay Brothers (1993) Sort of the second part
of what could be thought of as her sociological study in "alternative
lifestyles" (ha) started with Hardcore Home Movie.
The meat of this film is a series of interviews with several gay men specifically
talking about their sexual experiences with women. Very funny stories
and observations that might upset some people (fingering a girl is described
as putting your finger into "hairy, smelly oatmeal"). But it's
bad taste in good fun like if John Waters made documentaries.
No-Zone (1993) I was just watching this again
and I was wondering if Errol Morris saw this. It's almost like a low budget
Fast, Cheap And Out Of Control. Six separate vignettes
in Greta's epic (it's 20 minutes long). Everything from toxins buried
in the ground to travel supplies for running away to dreams of AIDS to
street skating/bicycle free styling. Two of the most memorable moments,
however, are two of the most understated. In the second segment, a man
talks about what plants growing wild around Oakland are edible and what
medicinal properties they have. The last segment is a guy who works down
in Los Alamos showing the physical waste of no longer needed nuclear technology.
This chapter is titled "The End of History" and it's sweetly
encapsulated by the man describing a huge stone block that he would like
to make into a new Rosetta Stone for the aliens to learn about Los Alamos
after we've blown up the planet.
Flight (1996) I think this might be my favorite
of her films. While it may not be as "entertaining" as her other
films, it's her most direct and personal message. I don't really know
much about film technique, but I guess she hand processed all of this
by exposing the film and not using a camera (an idea originally used by
Man Ray). This silent film starts with black and white distortion twisting
and turning. Eventually, images appear in the texture. Objects, numbers,
faces. It's really scary at first, and I wouldn't recommend watching it
alone at night. Slowly, it evolves into slides and a letter that Greta's
father wrote to her before he died. It becomes a sort of sad message from
beyond. The last bit is a note from him to her. It's moving and unsettling
at the same time.
Portland (1996) Well, I guess this is her most
"accessible" film (for what that's worth). City kids engage
in some train hopping hi-jinx and trouble follows them every step of the
way. It's a really funny story about Greta, Ivy, Iggy and a couple other
people who decide they've sick of Frisco and want to have a little getaway
in Portland. A lot of bad stuff happens to them including being stranded
in the middle of nowhere, all of their stuff locked in an abandoned building
and ultimately jail. That they can laugh about it is amazing enough. Add
to that Theo telling a story (in the way only he can) about his experiences
in Portland at the Jack London Hotel (it's so great, I could never do
it justice). Ultimately, this fun film is a cautionary tale: if you don't
have to leave San Francisco, don't.
Quarry Movie (1999) Though this film is credited
as a collaboration, it's actually a Greta film. The list of collaborators
were basically people under Greta's instruction. In fact, she says she
had to bribe them with beer and donuts to get them to help. Atmospheric
in it's attempt the capture the feel of the quarry without simply documenting
it as a third person. Textures are created by the colors, camera movement
and the quarry itself. The soundtrack is a simple recording of kids diving
into the water that is more ambient than a dialog.
Urine Man (1999) This film was actually made
in the class she taught last year. It turned out pretty great, although,
again, the credits are a little misleading. Even though the box says it
was made by her class, Greta still directed it and did all the editing
(she thinks of her directorial skills as that of an editor and not so
much a cinematographer). Just a straightforward interview with a guy just
known as Urine Man. At first I was pretty overwhelmed by this guy. He
rambles casually from subject to subject. It's conspiracy theories and
rants all the way. He even berates the film crew at one point for not
filming everything he has to say. But you definitely get glimpses of a
guy that is probably really smart. He's just completely demented. Whether
he's crazy or delirious from being homeless, who can tell? But he's applying
some pretty clever theories to really inane subject matter. Here's one:
you don't need to eat. Eating is a sin and it's why Adam and Eve were
cast from the Garden. Society makes you wear clothes but it's to cover
up the fact that if you were naked, you could use photosynthesis like
plants. Hence, you don't have to eat. Okay, you can see where that's crazy
AND you can see where that makes sense.
COAGULA IS A PUNK FANZINE FOR THE ART WORLD
This is going to show up in some form or another in Maximum
Rock N Roll. I thought I'd include this un-abridged version as
a little preview. Also, I've got a little self-interest: Coagula has inspired
me to start carrying fanzines again in my mail-order. Look below for more
information on how to get the latest issue from me…
Mat Gleason, the editor of Coagula, describes his publication best when
he calls it a "punk zine for the art world". I sort of stumbled
upon it when I was killing time at some Market Street bookstore. The orange
cover and bold title glared out at me: Most Art Sucks Five
Years Of Coagula. A quick flip through the book and I was convinced.
A scathing indictment on the Art World establishment full of swagger and
sardonic humor. Take Sniffin' Glue and mix it with MRR's golden years
and lastly add some of the rebellious, corporate baiting, humor of Crass.
Coagula is both a forum for objective art criticism as well as an all
out attack on the establishment. Here's my interview with Mat…
Lance - Okay, basic stuff: How did you get into art and the scene in
LA? Did you go to art school? Can you really be accepted in that scene
without having gone to art school?
Mat - One day some girl took me to a museum, I was in school in the
Midwest in 1982 and she took me to the Chicago art institute, and it was
like "whoa!" I got it, it was sort of like the first time I
heard the Sex Pistols, which I know they sound pretty tame today, but
if you put it into the context of 1978 and Johnny's voice sneering when
everything else is Styx and Santana and Led Zeppelin, it was just like
a whole part of your body waking up, and so it was like that with the
art, It was like my eyeballs woke up.
I was an art major at Cal State L.A, but got kicked out, but you don't
have to go to art school, although it is the best way to meet people with
similar interests. But it isn't the only way, the only path to being a
known artist. It is the best, but also pretty expensive.
Lance - How did you get into punk? What were some of the bands you were
into when you first got into it? Do you follow it anymore?
Mat - Punk appealed to me the minute I read about it, I think it was
actually in the newspaper. I knew there was punk out there, but I didn't
know where to find it. There was a record store near where I lived called
Up Another Octave and they had punk albums, and one day I went in to buy
a kiss album and instead I bought something else, must have been the Pistols
or Ramones, this is like '79, I think, so pardon the Alzheimer's. It was
just that moment of truth. I liked the first wave of L.A. bands and the
first wave of O.C. bands, so that would be like X, Black Flag, the Germs,
Circle Jerks. Fear I probably saw a hundred times. And Social D, Adolescents,
T.S.O.L. It's funny because in art, I tend to like the first wave of artists
in any movement more than the ones who came later. Like I like Manet or
Pollock more than I like Renoir or Sam Francis. I follow punk a bit now.
Of course I follow Down By Law seeing as they named a song after me (Mat
Gleason is God), but with punk today, it seems either you get corporate
America or demo tape hell. But punk is sort of a way of life beyond being
a purchaser of records. The punk philosophies vary wildly, y'know? So
I am more of a freedom and integrity punker than a vegan leftist. I am
sober now, so I guess that makes me straight edge, ha ha ha. That is one
religion I never considered joining but had to to stay alive.
Lance - What's the connection between Coagula and Flipside?
Did you ever actually work for Flipside? Do you still here from Al? He's
probably the nicest guy I met the entire time I lived down there...
Mat I started a TV show on public access in La Mirada, a suburban
pit just like the one every punk comes from, and I wrote a letter to Al
and asked him to review albums on the show. La Mirada is next to Whittier,
so he came down with his wife Hud and Hud's brother Gus and we taped an
interview and he said the one thing that summed up punk for me better
than anything, "Don't sell out, sneak in." I was chiding him,
trying to get him to say that the Go-Go's were selling out because they
were signing with a major label, if you can believe how long ago this
was, and he refused to agree with me. He said that line and I was left
speechless, which is a fucking rarity. I never wrote for Flipside
but I would always by the issues. If I had enough money for one album
and the new Flipside was out, I would by it instead of
the album. No Mag was another great zine at the time.
Al is great, when I do see him, it is always nice, but neither of us go
out to shows much. I managed Al's Bar (a different Al altogether) for
two years and my hearing is shot to shit, I think his is as well. I see
Gus all the time.
Lance - Do you think of Coagula as being in any way
connected with punk? Ethically, aesthetically... Do you think of it as
Mat - Absolutely. It is a punk zine for the art world. Nothing more,
nothing less. Don't sell out, sneak in - all the way to your top, not
theirs, and when they start inviting you to the parties, don't let up
Lance - Coagula is one of the funniest zine I've ever
read in my life. I don't even know what you're talking about half the
time, and I still think it's funny when you really go after someone. What
do you think is the appeal of Coagula to people not entrenched
in the LA art scene? I mean, I'd never even heard of Christopher Knight
or Larry Gagosian before reading your stuff...
Mat - Most people would rather go to a dentist than to an art gallery
opening, because they perceive everyone there as snobby elitists. That
is half true. The people we rake over the coals are the bad guys. Pretty
simple. They are Foghat and Lynyrd Skynyrd and Journey, and I feel like
I am Johnny Rotten screaming "I am an antichrist." It sounds
cliché to say it, but I really feel that way. As a writer, it is
gratifying to have an audience. I like that people who don't know who
the big shots are get a kick out of my writing, that is a very good sign.
I love writing and I enjoy to no end that the commoners are getting a
kick out of the lunacies perpetuated by these stuffy fuckers.
Lance - A lot of the stuff you talk about (shallow trendiness, greedy
bastards, conflicts of interest between different segments of the art
world) come off as being more symptomatic of bigger problems. If you could
even put it in a nutshell, what would you say is the main problem in the
LA art scene? Is there one person that needs to be taken out with extreme
Mat The big problem is the myth that art is a career. I view it
more like being compelled to make art, like a band that has to tour and
play gigs and record, not to make money, although that is not bad, but
they do it because they HAVE to, it is their life. The bigger problems
are all based on careerists grabbing the little crumbs that are there
from the hands of the real artists. George Herms, who is a genius, a great
artist, told me that the only sin was glamour. That made a lot of sense
looking around at the fucking parade.
Lance - Do you think that there is any sort of resistance to the status
quo in the artworld? Or just the occasional voice in the darkness?
Mat - It is lonely at times. Sometimes I go to a gallery opening and
you just see so much fakery and shallowness. But at some punk shows you
get record label hucksters, or gangs, or whatever, or cops breaking up
shit, and you get sick of going out for a while and you either stop going
or you DIY. I opened a gallery in L.A. because I knew the real elitist
pricks would never in a million years deign to come in, and so my opening
receptions are always really great parties, and the artists know they
will not get reviewed by the upper echelon critics. So I don't get any
careerist assholes looking to climb the art world ladder of success. I
end up with what I consider to be great art shows by REAL artists. Art
collectors have been coming, that's weird. But that is the beauty of DIY,
sometimes your thing clicks and sometimes it don't and since there ain't
shit you can do to make it click, just make it yours.
Lance - Do you ever find yourself having to slag off friends who's art
sucks? Have you ever lost pals over a bad review?
Mat I have managed to avoid reviewing shows. What I usually do
for a friend is tell them to find someone to review their art show, because
I am all for real messy democracy, not dogma or ideology. But if someone
cannot get over a bad review, that tells you more about them than they
usually have led on.
Lance - On the other hand, have you ever had trouble with people you
hated coming after you? Have there been any slander suits? I mean, these
people seem pretty pretentious... Back alley beatdowns? Some of these
people seem pretty shady...
Mat The best thing about the art world and critiquing the ass-lickers
is that they are by their very nature cowards. Cowards get lawyers though,
and so I have learned a great technique. The minute you get a letter from
a lawyer, you write two letters: One hand scrawled on wrinkled loose-leaf
like a lunatic, not threatening, just schizo babble about them conspiring
with the Pope and British Intelligence against you. You send that one
to the lawyer who is after you. The second letter you type on letterhead
real professional, you complain in very reserved tones that this lawyer
is harassing you with frivolous and malicious litigation. You send that
letter to the State Bar Association. This works so well, and when I tell
lawyers this trick, they get real huffy, so I know its a keeper. See,
that's punk, it doesn't matter if I listen to Miles Davis or Crass tonight,
if you can stay free by your wits, it doesn't matter what you wear or
listen to, you're a punk. When people threaten me in person I just tell
them to sue me, that I would love to get them in a deposition and question
them about their secret dealings with money and sex and publish every
fucking word they say.
Lance - It seems like if you're a new artist and you haven't sucked
up to this system and gone through Otis Parsons or Cal Arts or one of
these schools, you don't really have a chance of being noticed. Isn't
it possible that something more relevant is going on somewhere else in
the world and the art world is completely oblivious to it? Outsider art
Mat The schools are only good to go in and challenge the fuck
out of people, but then you get kicked out. I've been kicked out of Saint
Paul High, Cerritos College, Fullerton College, two colleges in the Midwest
and Cal State L.A., so I know a tiny bit about challenging institutions
- it cannot successfully be done by one person. The art schools try to
advertise that they are the way to art superstardom. But plenty of artists
don't go to them and still succeed. My favorite is this artist, Sharon
Ryan, she spent four years hanging out at all the local grad schools,
their social events, art openings, got to know everyone and traded studio
visits, and was always polite and asking questions, and now she is a bigger
art star than almost any of the hundreds of graduate students she hung
out with, and they all have student loans to pay back.
It is almost a certainty that the great art of our time is being made
outside of the art world. Hopefully it will make its way into the public
eye before it disintegrates or is sold at a swap meet. That is the real
killer when it comes to art, be it painting, punk, poetry, anything: how
does one get an audience? And even after that hurdle, there is the whole
thing about compromising your art for that audience and a million et ceteras,
but having readership, listeners, viewers, that is the toughest thing.
The art schools promise them but do not, I believe, really deliver that.
The problem with outsider art, it's like the twelve bands you used to
have to sit through before the Dead Kennedys played. I still believe that
is what caused the Wilmington riot, too many bands and their friends thought
they were rock stars and fought the security guards, locked them out at
one point, which was funny until the guards brought the cops back with
them. I was standing on a milk crate that held up the sound board's platform
watching the show and saw the whole fucking thing go down. Outsider art
has a real admirable lawlessness to it, no rules, purity and all, but
you wade through so much crap that the party ends before the good shit
ever happens. You also might get a sapping of your belief that anything
better is gonna come along. If you think you're being fooled by a minimalist
painter or a conceptual artist, think about someone whipping out "innocent"
or "naive" art all day and night. That's a worse con, like when
the metal bands all went grunge, but really just wore different clothes
and cut out the drum and guitar solos.
Lance - If there were five artists that you would want everyone to know
about, who are they and why...
Mat - Living artists that you might have a chance to see, other than
those I show at my gallery, one is Llyn Foulkes. He is an old guy who
was a beatnik artist who makes really intense critiques of corporate America,
especially Disney. He paints so good though, the rich corporate fuckers
by the stuff. Like when the frat boys started listening to Holiday
In Cambodia, it was tragic, but it was a victory in the short
and long term. Long it might make a difference in how they think, short,
it did validate the fucking music. If Llyn was a shitty painter ragging
on Disney, at some point you gotta say "So fucking what."
George Herms, he is brilliant, he makes assemblage, he's part of the beat
tradition as well. The beats were just punks who liked jazz and had less
to be pissed about and more freedom to exploit and enjoy. Kim Dingle,
she makes little girls in easter dresses who just rage and trash everything
in sight. Manuel Ocampo, of course. Diane Gamboa, she is one of the few
people I have ever seen paint characters who are incredibly sexy but terrifying
at the same time, without any illustration cliches at all. Very powerful
Lance - What's the shittiest art you've ever seen?
Mat I saw a painting of Adam and Eve doing it doggie style while
the snake watched. But that one was so awful it stayed with me, so in
a way it was great. The art that is shittiest is the one with the built
in attitude of superiority, one that ridicules part of the audience. Mike
Kelley is the progenitor of that type of art. I stopped buying Sonic Youth
albums after he did one of their covers. Perfect timing, too. They won't
be doing another Daydream Nation or Sister
Lance - Aren't you ever compelled to paint again? I mean, if you're
looking at all this stuff all the time, wouldn't you know best what not
to do? Don't you ever feel like `fuck, I can do something better than
Mat - Coagula is my art. I was always frustrated painting
because I knew what I wanted and could not create it and wouldn't settle
for shit. I am much happier with my writing. I'll write an essay or a
short story and make it perfect. I couldn't do that with art and so I
stopped. Lots of artists waste their lives in the wrong medium. I got
Lance - How hard is it distributing Coagula? Where
do you mostly sell to? It must be hard to get a museum's gift shop to
carry you when they might be under attack any given issue!
Mat - Again, art world people are mostly cowards and avoid confrontation.
The obliviousness is just a shield. We distribute it to anyone who will
take it. It isn't allowed in a lot of galleries, but the people who own
those spaces go to the galleries who carry Coagula and pick up a copy
and read it.
Lance - Is there anyone else out there doing what you're doing? Is there
any other fanzine or magazine that you feel you have any sort of connection
to? Writers even?
Mat No art magazines, that is for sure. I read a punk zine any
chance I get. It is a great art form, definitely inspired me and I feel
connected to them as an art form, although I am not writing about music
at all. Writers I like? Not any art writers, they'd all shoot their mothers
for an invite to the next cocktail party. God, I learned more from the
Circle Jerks singing "Beverly Hills, Century City" than I ever
learned in a fucking school.
Lance - Anything else you wanna tell the kids?
Mat - Avoid cliches, cops and crystal meth. Read Burroughs, Bukowski
and Gerald Locklin. The best bands have at least one girl in them. The
best art tells the truth, or an amazing lie, or both.
There you have it. With any luck, Maximum Rock N Roll
will print the whole thing. If you want to get the latest issue of Coagula
(#46), send me $3.
IN THE J CHURCH READING ROOM
Last Gang In Town: Marcus Gray If you've followed
this, you know that I love the Clash. I've sort of avoided reading this
book as every knows that it's famous for ripping apart the Clash myth
(did anyone ever totally believe it anyway). Hey, I don't mind the myths.
I've lived with them for this long. But when I saw this book on sale at
the Anarchist Book Store for $6, I had to get it. I mean, shit, it is
the Clash. So now I've read this book and I can see what everyone else
has been talking about. All I've got to say is, "so what?".
There is so much nitpicking over minute details, it all just seems ridiculous.
Really, any band can be critiqued and taken apart inch by inch. You're
bound to find problems and inconsistencies. They're just people, for fuck's
sake. But the main problem I had with this book is that I never was totally
convinced of the main Clash crime: being puppets to an evil manager. Every
fact used to buttress that argument could be taken in a number of different
ways. Is it really possible that the band's politics were a total pose?
You have to come to this book feeling one way or the other. If you, like
me, don't believe that, you won't change your mind. So, having said that,
it's a really fun book to read. There's incredible attention to detail
about pre- Clash bands (especially interesting are the Mick Jones bands
before London SS). There are all the Hollywood Babylon-esque stories of
rock-n-roll excess (they weren't the Stones, but they are exactly the
Osmonds either). Every moment of Clash history is documented here and
it's great to see it in one place even it is a weak attempt at discrediting
Steely Dan: Reelin' In The Years: Brian Sweet
Fuck you, I love these guys. If you hate them, there's really no point
in reading this. But keep this in mind, despite their respected place
in the hierarchy of `70s rock, they were one of the few bands that weren't
attacked by the punk rockers who eagerly spit venom (rightfully so) at
bands like Yes, Pink Floyd, the Eagles, etc. The reason is simple, there's
not that big of a target when attacking Steely Dan. As far as image goes,
they were pretty different from their contemporaries. They were known
for any sort of excessive lifestyle. They were intellectuals. They didn't
have any interest in punk for it's music. But they did say it was great
from a sociological standpoint (isn't that the premise of most emo bands?).
In fact, their obsession with studio technique was strangely echoed later
in the post punk period. If you close your eyes, you can almost find similarities
between Aja and Sandinista. It's embracing
sophistication as a means of not dumbing down pop music. Anyway, this
book is for the fans. It's poorly written and bursts at the seams in it's
failed attempts at objectivity. And it's great and really fun to read.
What can I say? You're talking about a band that have made a career out
of avoiding the public eye and anonymity is part of their artistic license.
For the first time that I can think of, all the anecdotes and recording
stories are written down along with a long since forgotten history of
the Steely Dan "band" line-up of the first few records. Besides,
it's written by the guy that is the editor of Metal Leg
which is THE Steely Dan fanzine.
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