IT'S A LIVING… BUT IT'S NOT A LIFE #12.92
J Church / Honey Bear
Dog Days - Can't Afford No Gun At All

 

SOCIETY IS A CARNIVOROUS FLOWER

People are saying nice things about the record, which is cool. I like the bad reviews too. I think I'd feel really weird if we got mostly good reviews. I don't like most popular music, so if we ever really started to sell a lot of records I guess we would be making crappy music by default. Still, glad a lot of you out there are digging it.

One complaint has been the lack of anything acoustic-like on the record. Promise: the next record for No Idea will have at least one acoustic thing and there are a couple on the Japanese CD coming out…

 

SEISHUN ZANKOKU MONOGATARI

Speaking of the Japanese CD, that's the title. It's from a film by Nagisa Oshima (in the states it's called Cruel Story of Youth) and if you haven't seen it, go find it. Oshima is basically the leader of the Japanese new wave. He's their Godard. There are seven originals and seven covers, many of which will come out in vinyl format here and there. The CD is gonna be on Snuffy Smiles, of course. The 7"s, it looks like a split on Sonic Candy with Minority Blues Band from Japan, a split on Chunksaah with The Plungers from New York and possibly a single on Boss Tunage in England. You can hear some of these songs if you go to the J Church page at MySpace (if you do something that lame…)

TOURING
Not much in the states. Our only shows are a one off here in Austin at the end of September. We'll be playing at Beerland with our dear friends, The Husbands from back in San Francisco.

We're playing Gainesville Fest or whatever it's called. We'll try to set something up on the way there and on the way back.

Otherwise, it's off to Europe for November and December. I don't know the dates exactly. When I know, you'll know.

 

NATALIE HURLEY'S ARMY

This is really just for people I know that are fans of Sports Night. It was one of my favorite TV shows, and I put together a little six-page fanzine about it. If you do want to get a copy, send me a buck or some stamps or something.

 

SPECTACULAR TIMES

Spectacular Times was such a huge, huge influence on me and was a major factor with Cringer and J Church. These simplified Situationist tracks are much more approachable than Debord and even Vaneigem. So, I've started to carry them as part of my mail order. Here are the titles available now:
Spectacular Times 3: The Media $3 ppd.
Spectacular Times 7: Women and the Spectacle $3 ppd.
Spectacular Times 10: Animals $4 ppd.
Spectacular Times 11: More of the Shame $3 ppd.
Spectacular Times 14: Bigger Cages Longer Chains $4 ppd.
In the future, assuming anyone is interested, I hope to carry more anarcho and Situationist titles.

 

TOP TEN

I'm putting together a few Top Ten's for the moment. Just a fun little exercise that is completely subject to change. This first one: Top Ten LPs from the first wave of punk rock.

1. Damned Damned Damned by the Damned
I fucking love this album so much. I used to read about punk rock from England in magazines like Hit Parade and Cream. It was impossible to get these records in Hawaii when they were coming out (unless you were rich or a military brat and usually both). So I would read the interviews and look at the amazing pictures. I finally got a copy of Nevermind the Bollocks on cassette and I remember thinking; this is kinda slow and tame. It sounded like Ted Nugent or something. Then I heard that Damned and it was exactly what I thought punk rock was supposed to sound like. It's raw and fast and it's non-stop. The guitars are blasting but it's not metal. It's far better than metal. I still listen to this record once a week minimum.

2. The Clash by The Clash
I had read so much about the band, I was expecting this to sound just like the Ramones or maybe even the Stones. When I put it on, I was struck by how varied even this raw garage record was. They were already trying reggae along with the fast punk tracks. Mixed in were some very pretty pop tunes not so different from Raspberries or (to my teenage brain) the Byrds. I remember loving Remote Control not knowing that was a faux pas thinking it was like Feeling A Whole Lot Better or something.

3. Marquee Moon by Television
Again, punk was really fantasy worlds for me. It was science fiction, which had been my previous love. Television sounded like what I wanted a New York City band to sound like. It was together, tight but unexplainably fucked up sounding. I could never put my finger on what it was that made this record sound so different from Cheap Trick or Fleetwood Mac or whoever else I listened to before punk. Part of it was the engaging and sort of vague lyrics. Part of it was the strange guitar arrangements that I didn't know where strange at the time. But mostly, there was a weird feeling of disinterest throughout the record. They were just in the studio doing their thing. But, whatever, you know? They knew it was cool and didn't need your approval.

4. Blank Generation by Richard Hell and the Voidoids
A lot of what I said about Marquee Moon applies here as well. I love that Hell casually refers to certain people and places as proper nouns without feeling the need to explain or give context. That makes the songs so much more vivid for me. It's a bit of a Lou Reed trick. It works. Most importantly to me on this record is the guitar playing. Robert Quine's solos are amazing. They seem like chaos but fit perfectly into an overall structure. Some people like to say it was like an Action Painting. Others said it was like Coltrane. I really thought it had a lot to do with Eight Miles High. Anyway, that was how my personal music history was writing itself.

5. Modern Dance by Pere Ubu
Bottom line; the only song Pere Ubu ever NEEDED to record was Non-Alignment Pack. With its detourning of the standard rock progression, they even further intellectualized rock while their Bizarro in the Dead Boys was going the opposite way. I think that song had a deeper affect on me than all of their later (and excellent) music combined.

6. Singles Going Steady by the Buzzcocks
I was late coming to this band because I never really loved the Spiral Scratch EP. When I finally found this record, I realized that they were the power pop originators that I had been longing for. Straight up pop with some of the greatest drumming ever, this collection of singles is flawless. Someday, someone should write a book about how the Buzzcocks and Generation X lead to the Descendents who lead to Crimpshrine who lead to Green Day.

7. Horses by the Patti Smith Group
Even with all the arty inclinations, I found this record to be totally unpretentious. Okay, let's strip it down. I love Patti Smith. Everyone else that Deborah Harry was so hot. But I was in love with Patti Smith. She was more like the fucked up girls I knew in school. I thought she was crazy sexy and her voice is unique and beautiful. While I don't like it as much, I never understood why Radio Ethiopia was so reviled at the time. I think it's equally haunting and smart in many ways and Ask The Angels is a really great rock song.

8. Cut by the Slits
You can say a lot of the same things about Ari Up and the Slits. I used to cut pictures of them and Patti Smith out of all the rock magazines I could get my hands on. It's odd to me that it was so easy to find magazines like Cream, Hit Parader, Song Hits, etc. in Hawaii but you really couldn't find most of the records they were talking about. I knew the Slits hung out with the Clash and I knew they were cool looking. When I finally got to hear them it was Earth shattering. Obviously, there was nothing like it. I've enjoyed everything Ari Up has done since. She seems nuts. But she's probably the only person on this list that's done consistently cool and challenging music.

9. It's Alive by The Ramones
I actually like the first six Ramones records almost equally (Ramones, Leave Home, Rocket To Russia, Road To Ruin, It's Alive and End of the Century). But this one is probably the most representative of what I loved about them. They were so cool looking in Rock N Roll High School I ran out and tried every record store in Honolulu before I found Rocket To Russia. This started my love for this band, which I guess as most of you I hope own at least one of their records, doesn't need explaining. I love the power of this record. I love that they don't stop between songs. As a kid, this was one of my only artifacts as to what a real punk rock show would be like.

10. (I'm) Stranded by the Saints
Like the Damned, the Saints were the most sold, fast, rockin' of the first wave. They had a lot more history than most of the other bands having had incarnations going back several years before when most people like to think of the age of punk ('76 ­ '78). Eternally Yours is just as good and precedes the Rocket From The Crypt sound by over a decade.

Runners up: Inflammable Material by Stiff Little Fingers, The Image Has Cracked by Alternative TV, L.A.M.F. by the Heartbreakers, Crossing the Red Sea by the Adverts, The Crack by the Ruts, Germ Free Adolescents by the X Ray Spex and the debut from The Undertones.

 

IN THE J CHURCH VIEWING ROOM

MORVERN CALLAR (directed by Lynne Ramsay)

I love Samantha Morton. I love that she says what she says, does what she does and ultimately has enough self-confidence to not give a shit about what anyone else thinks. In many ways, she's the new Jennifer Jason Leigh and that's a great thing.

Morvern is a young Scottish girl who comes home one Winter night to find that her boyfriend has killed himself. He's lying naked on the floor where he'll stay for a little while. After going thoroughly through his suicide note, it doesn't seem so outrageous that she not call the police (he's not going anywhere) but instead goes to a raucous Christmas party where she loses herself.

From there she becomes and even more complex and intriguing character. Her sorrow is masked with a disturbing lust for life. Her dead boyfriend was a former writer with one last manuscript that she promptly assigns her name to, gets it published and spends her first royalty check indulging with her best friend, played wonderfully by Kathleen McDermott, in food, drugs and eventually sex as they head off to Spain for some hedonistic fun in the sun. Only when faced with a long empty Spanish road by herself does she finally allow her grief to at all interfere with her joie de vivre.

Morvern Callar is the latest from Lynne Ramsay, director of `99s excellent Ratcatcher. It's rhythm is time-stopping and observational no matter how much activity is happening in the scene. The parties are as contemplative as Morvern alone in the cold apartment with her boyfriend's corpse. Hopefully Samantha Morton will take this and the equally incredible Under The Skin and make more of a meal out of this area of her seemingly endless plate of talent.
(Lion's Gate Films)

MY VOYAGE TO ITALY (directed by Martin Scorsese)

What is it that's so relaxing about Martin Scorsese's voice? I don't know. I've talked to a few different people and we all find his voice to be so comforting. Plus he's smart. I loved his contribution to BFI's 100 Years of Cinema (released in the states as A Personal Journey) and I really love the documentary Martin Scorsese Directs from the American Masters series. I've watched them both over and over.

So now I can add another documentary to that list with My Voyage To Italy. Studying the most important age in film worldwide, Neo Realism, he examines the main players and their major films in a way that is engaging without condescension or over-statistical, boredom. The guy really loves movies and he knows what's important.

His film history is just one of many alternative histories to the one championed by film critics static in their culture and prejudices. In writing about Rossellini, De Sica, Fellini and my hero Antonioni he writes about what he loves and what he sees as important. He even picks films that were seen as disasters financially and critically pointing out how their importance was more profound than such predictable criteria. For example, Rossellini's Voyage To Italy was a critical and financial failure but what championed by the Cahiers Du Cinema writers like Godard and Truffaut.

Scorcese's narration is smart and so loving that from anyone else you would think it pitiful. But in this situation, its inspiring and just great storytelling.

 

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