IT'S A LIVING… BUT IT'S NOT A LIFE #8.3
The "Official" J Church/Honey Bear Records Newsletter
Summer 2000

 

FIRST AND FOREMOST...

Sorry it's taken so long to get this one together. I really wanted to get the Red Sox / Star Wars article done. So, it took a while. Please (as always) e-mail me your feedback to: honeybearrecords@hotmail.com...

 

IT'S MOVING TIME

Yes, the rumors are true and the rumors are false. I'm moving AND the band is not splitting up. Here's the story: my girlfriend is going to grad school. Unfortunately, she was shunned by the UC system. So we're loading up the truck and moving to Austin!!!. Can you believe it? I can't. Anyway, I'd move to Iceland if that were necessary to stay with her, so it's Texas toast and bar-b-que seitan for me. Don't worry. As soon as she's done, we're heading back to my city by the bay. But with the dot-con bollocks going on in the city these days and the sickness of gentrification clogging up my pores, a break from Frisco is sorta welcome. This cities become too rich for my blood...

What that means for the band is one long ass commute for me. We're still planning to do some US dates and a European tour this year. Next thing you know, it will be recording time again. Besides, we just spent $1,000 sound proofing our studio!!!

Anyway, I'm still keeping my old PO Box in case you sent something there, no sweat. I'll also have a new address in Texas. It's Honey Bear in exile and it's the sign of the times. I mean, it's cheaper to live in Austin and commute to San Francisco. FUCK! Maybe I should amass my guerilla army and come back to reclaim the city. Shit, everyone I know is moving anyway.

But ultimately, the joke is on me. Austin is becoming a huge yuppie shithole. My pal, Travis at Peek-A-Boo Records told me that he got evicted from his digs of some five years. Sounds all too familiar. I guess the saddest thing for me is watching the city I've loved for so long die. Watching San Francisco slowly die of poisoning (isn't Windows just a form of cyber hemlock?) is too much for me to take. I was walking around the city the other day and noticing all the changes. I was listening to I Do, I Do, I Do by Abba on my headset and it all suddenly seemed so absurd. It was all I could do to stop myself from crying as the stupid irony was suddenly more real than I could handle in my fragile mental state.

So, as I've said to so many lovers before you, "FUCK OFF, SAN FRANCISCO. But I'll take you back in a minute if you just ask..."

 

J CHURCH ON THE ROAD

Yup, here comes the touring. So far, this is what we've got planned for sure. West Coast of the US will be in October with Dismemberment Plan. We'll be in Europe in November with The Urchin (from Japan and on Broken Rekids). Sometime after that we'll be in Japan and hopefully South America. I'll give you dates when I get them.

 

J CHURCH IN THE MEDIA

Hey, in the past few months we've had interviews and features in GIANT ROBOT, PUNK PLANET and SLAP. I'm a fucking star!!! Worship me!!! Or don't!!! More to come, allegedly...

 

NEW J CHURCH SINGLE IN ITALY

Our new single on Love Boat should be out soon. It's a three song 7" featuring Leni Riefenstahl's Tinder Box (from One Mississippi) and backed with Closing Time In An Early Town and Harvest (both non-LP tracks. As soon as it's out, you'll be able to get it from me. If not, try Love Boat Records, C.P. 215, 10064 Pinerolo (TO), Italy...

 

CILANTRO STUFF

Well, the new single is gonna be called Sexy Sadie as that's the first song on the record. The other tracks are Karine, Mission Dolores, Worth Killing For, Jazz Butcher On A Work Night and Tricky. Yeah, Sexy Sadie is the Beatles song. I love that song and the Manson mystique is in full effect.

At this point, I've got another singles worth of tracks waiting in the wings. I just don't know who is gonna put it out yet. If you're interested and you have a little label that still does 7"s, let me know.

Once in Texas, I plan to spend a lot of my free time working on stuff for a Cilantro full length. We'll see how that goes…

 

STAR WARS AND THE '75 WORLD SERIES

I recently re-watched Ken Burns' documentary on baseball. If you haven't seen this series, you are nuts. Go rent it now and watch all 18 hours in a row. I've done it and it's awe inspiring.

But what I really wanted to comment on is one of the most important days in world history: October 21st, 1975.

To this day, Game 6 of the '75 World Series is echoed in all that remains good and optimistic in the planet's collective unconscious. Unfortunately, history is written by the winners and like Wounded Knee, most people don't know the story of this game. If you are one of those unfortunates, here's the story…

The Boston Red Sox are more than just a baseball franchise. They are a constant metaphor. Their most successful seasons are like a great performance of Hamlet. It's Greek tragedy and it's Baudelairean despair. I'm almost exclusively a National League fan. But I'll always feel connected with the Red Sox.

Having not won a championship in well over 50 years, the Red Sox found themselves in the 1975 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. Now for me, the Reds represent all that is evil in baseball. In more recent times, they're the franchise owned by the openly racist Marge Schott. But at the time of the '75 World Series, they were the team of evil incarnate: Pete Rose.

Of course, this is only touching on the history that lead up to this battle between good and evil. But for time's sake, let's rush ahead to Game 6. The Reds lead the series at that point, three games to two.

Despite great pitching by Luis Tiant, the Red Sox found themselves down 6-3 in the eighth. With two outs and the series in the ballance, in stepped pinch hitter Bernie Carbo. With two on, even I as a child could tell that he was swinging like minor leaguer. On his second strike, it seemed like his swing was a full 30 seconds after the ball crossed the plate. But like any great legend, he connected with two strikes and put one over the fence. The game was tied and eruption of the crowd still gives me goosebumps when I think of it.

The game would remain a tie until the 12th inning when catcher Carlton Fisk, sort of the Charles Grodin of baseball, took aim and knocked a ball just inches inside the foul post for a home run. It was a win for the Sox and the series was tied.

Now, I loved this team. I've said it before, I'm a true blue National League fan. The National League is like Marvel Comics to me and watching someone like the Cleveland Indians is like reading Superman or some crap. No thanx. The designated hitter is cheating just like the bat computer...

But I love the Red Sox and I especially loved those Red Sox. Who doesn't love watching El Tiante's crazy pitch? Fred Lynn, MVP AND Rookie of the Year? Hello, how many others have done that? Motherfucking Bill Lee? He still gives the best interviews in the history of sports.

So I recently made the connection that my love for that team is like only one other thing I can think of... No, it's not my love for my girlfriend. That's a love only shared by us. No, it's not my love for music, that's a specific desire to communicate.

That's right, it's my love for Star Wars. Yeah, yeah. It's so fucking trendy to talk about Star Wars. Yeah, yeah... "Empire is better dude". Fuck you! Star Wars was first and if only for the element of surprise (who wasn't shocked the first time they saw it?) is the best. End of argument...

So, my love for the '75 Red Sox and Star Wars is a similar love. First of all, it's us against them. It's nothing political and confusing. It's not right wing or left wing. It's us (Red Sox / Rebel Forces) versus them (Reds / The Empire). Secondly, it's all illusion. I mean, none of it's real. It's not like I'll ever play major league baseball and have any genuine connection to the Red Sox. It's not like Star Wars is anything other than a movie (and a huge marketing conspiracy)...

But here's the ultimate realization of all my ponderings of Star Wars and the '75 Red Sox... THEY ARE THE SAME!!! There is no difference between Star Wars and Game Six of the '75 World Series. What most sports fans call the greatest game ever played is identical to what most sci-fi fans call the greatest film ever.

Luis Tiant is certainly Obiwan Kenobi. He stood up to evil and rallied the troups. He was "dead" by the eight inning. But in his death, the Red Sox only became stronger, more powerful than Pete Rose (Vader) could have imagined.

Bernie Carbo and his eighth inning homer? It happened about two thirds of the way through the game and while it was a great release it only left the Fenway faithful waiting for the final battle. His two out home run sailed out of the park like a Millenium Falcon with a rescued Princess.

In the extra innings, there were two threats. Fred Lynn hit a ball down the left field line that was caught followed by an incredible throw and play at the plate. It was Gold Leader's photon torpedoes just missing and hitting the surface (don't you think Lynn kinda looks like Wedge?).

Joe Morgan pounded a pitch deep right. Should have been a home run. But he was robbed by and incredible catch courtesy of Red Sox, Dwight Evins. That set up Carlton Fisk coming to the plate in the 12th just like Luke going down the trench after Han Solo surprises Vader and his cronies just as they are about to shit themselves in celebration.

Hell, even Vader admits, "The Force is strong with this one" not unlike Pete Rose saying to Fisk, "This is some kinda game".

Finally, the pay-off. The ultimate conclusion that seems so un-real that I can't believe that it wasn't a movie. Carlton Fisk hits that second pitch home run. But it wasn't just the home run that was important. He willed it to happen. He wanted it so bad that once he hit it, he unconsiously started gesturing in the direction that he wanted the ball to go. He jumped up and down. Anyone who saw it knew it was total magic. It was the Force. And like the Force, it took the will of every Red Sox fan watching to help get that ball fair.

The first time I saw Star Wars and watching Game 6 of the '75 World Series with my folks: possibly the two greatest moments of my life.

 

IN THE J CHURCH VIEWING ROOM

Fishing With John (Directed by John Lurie, Criterion Collection)

For some reason, the greatest appeal of CDs has been largely ignored. As a vinyl person, even I have to concede that CDs are great value for your money. The fact that you can fit 70 minutes of the high quality sound without any degradation is a KO punch. But most CDs don't really take advantage of this miracle of modern science.

The same can be said about DVDs. There's nothing more disappointing than opening a DVD and finding that there's zero bonus material or just a bunch of lame trailers.

So the Criterion Collection has become the Ryko of film. The highest quality prints of classic films are even further enhanced by bonus material on almost all of their packages. Every possible bit of additional footage, director's cuts, documentaries and, most importantly, director and cast commentaries. There's an amazing consistancy in the quality of their releases. It's a shame that not more execs from the big DVD companies don't take inspiration from the Criterion Collection.

Fishing With John is merely one of many visionary creative hats that John Lurie wears. This incredible Television series verges on the surreal while at the same time is possibly the most unpretentious program to ever be shown on Bravo or the Independent Film Channel. Previously, they had been released as three videos. But Criterion collects them all for one package adding commentary by Lurie as well as a music video for his band, the Lounge Lizards.

Each of the six episodes consist of a fishing trip hosted by John Lurie and features one of his indie film friends. Equal parts talk show parody and fishing show parody, the guests include (in order) Jim Jarmusch, Tom Waits, Matt Dillon, Willem Dafoe and Dennis Hopper. In various locations (everywhere from Maine to Thailand), their attempts at fishing professionalism becomes farce by circumstance and the extremely limited ability of some of the guests. It's irony being used against itself.

Lurie sets the tone for each issue with one of the funniest theme songs ever allowed on National Television. He edits in absurd sound effects (the sounds of school children while on the high seas, the sounds of pigs and cows over footage of seagulls) with brilliantly deadpan narration by Robb Webb. "He just says something and it sounds true" says Lurie. The effect definitely falls into the category of "you had to be there" as it's hilarity is mostly in the straight man delivery.

Quite often, the interaction between these indie hipsters is pretty damned funny as well. It really is funny to hear smart people engaged in completely mundane dialog.

Jarmusch: "So what are the great shark movies?"
Both: "Jaws"
(silence)

The director commentary provided by Lurie is quite intriguing to a fan like me. If you're part of the cult of followers that became addicted to the show either when it was on TV or through the video release, the commentary is worth the time. He's very candid about some of the personality differences of each shoot as well as the difficulty he had with the Japanese company that was funding his travels. But also there are funny incites to the actual production. Things you never would have guessed. For example, during his fishing adventure in Jamaica with Tom Waits, not only was Waits genuinely angry at him, but they couldn't catch any fish. So, like other "real" fishing shows, they fake it with by putting fish on their lines before the cameras are on, dragging them in pretending that they're hooking live fish.

John Lurie may be most known for his band, the Lounge Lizards and his commitment to independence as well as innovaction and creativity. From the band's early days in 1979, he called the band "fake jazz" which has become a term without derogatory intent (largely due to Lurie's talent). Perhaps in the same spirit Fishing With John could be known as "fake documentary". It's fake. But it's equally respectable in it's own right.

 

Back to Article Index