IT'S A LIVING… BUT IT'S NOT A LIFE #14.4
J Church and Honey Bear Records – May Day is Lei Day
The way you love me is frightening.

 

CRAZY WEATHER

Holy shit! The weather has been crazy the past few days. Thunder, lightening, and crazy winds. There are trees down everywhere in my neighborhood and I've never heard thunder so loud. As I walked down the block today, I couldn't help notice that the sidewalk was littered with small dead birds. It's been a hell of a storm.

 

SEISHUN ZANKOKU MONOGATARI US TOUR 2005 part 1

June 30th – Ft. Worth, TX

Another last minute show and I wonder if we should add this town to Salt Lake City and Boise as places that really will never like us. The kids doing the shows here are real cool. But we can't get people to come out to save our lives. We stayed with Chris and Stacy's pal Jade in her cool digs. Lots of cool artifacts around every corner and a mess on every floor. We were talking about horror movies like The Sentinel and The Changeling and she started to tell a story about how she tells people that the ghost of a little boy lives in her attic and how once in a while you can catch a glimpse of him looking out the window. Of course, it's just a bullshit story she made up to scare people. But as she told it, the lights began to flicker. We both got a little freaked out and decided to talk about nice things for the rest of the night.

JULY 1st – Memphis, TN

Oh, the first J Church US Tour, we played the Antenna Room and it sucked shit. There's been a rumor ever since that I said we would never play Memphis again. That doesn't really sound like something I would say. But I can imagine saying that we would never play the Antenna again… And we didn't.

So now we're rolling through the thunderstorm to headline a big hardcore show. In my dreams, we would play a lot more diverse shows like this. Shit, we've done festivals with Refused, loads of stuff with John Henry West, Econochrist and Spitboy. We had a brilliant show with the Business. We even did a Hardline Festival once. It's always turned out cooler than expect. I like playing with bands that are mining in a totally different area.

Bury The Living may be the best hardcore band in America right now. I don't know who else would come close. They are playing at the peak of their game. The second album is huge and live they are madness. Some of the nicest guys you will ever meet.

Seein' Red are fucking perfect! They were more amazing than the last time I saw them eight years ago. Smart, ferocious – it makes up for a lot of the pain I suffer from having never seen Larm.

The Lorraine is walking distance from the club. Joey walks us over. It's eerie as hell. The whole place is now a museum. Even at 2:00 AM it's lit up perfectly intact from the day MLK was shot. Being a long time politico, I sort of get jaded and bored when people talk about MLK. But not here. It's pretty affecting.

We grab some vegan nachos at some lame frat bar and start the long drive to Chicago.

JULY 2nd – Chicago, IL

Is the Fireside gone or not? I keep getting mixed messages. This show would've been a bit too big for that place. We're on third out of five tonight and it's a nice break. Last night was ridiculous the more I think about it. What the hell strange world is it where WE headline over Seein' Red?

I fucking love playing Chicago. Everyone had their shows they were psyched about and this one was mine. We tear through our set though somewhat delirious from the all night drive followed immediately by lunch at Sultan's. But we make it and it's fun. We get off stage just as Cissy and crew show up. Oh well, we'll be seeing them again soon.

I've loved the Groovie Ghoulies for years and years. I remember seeing them in LA back in the late `80s with Haunted Garage or some other Hollywood monstrosity. Roach was the only one I really knew before this night. She was having some amp problems but smiled through the adversity. They perfectly encapsulate a certain strain of punk rock that I totally respect. It's the theatrics of cool. They've got real style that lives in their music as well as their record covers, shirts and stage look. But it's not just some contrived gimmick to make a buck. I think their longevity alone is proof of that. They really mean it. Have you ever seen Kepi's paintings? They're quite beautiful. I keep kicking myself that I never bought one at the show with the Epoxies. At one point he remarked that this show was great and like the old days. I knew exactly what he meant. The old days for us is like '96 to '98. Those were great years to be doing this kind of music.

Headling were the Methadones. I love these guys. We hadn't seen them since the tour we did together the previous year. They are solidly part of the great Chicago tradition of Naked Raygun, Pegboy, Screeching Weasel, etc. "So Far Away" is my new anthem.

Out of nowhere, Aubrey and Beth (who I don't really know except through scene osmosis) are up from Austin. We hit the all-night Mexican restaurant and inadvertently walk through a gunfight. God, we were tired. Too tired to worry about flying bullets. Too tired to think about it.

 

IN THE J CHURCH VIEWING ROOM

BATTLE IN HEAVEN (dir. by Carlos Reygadas)

Battle In Heaven is easily the most thought-provoking and beautiful films I've seen this year. At the end of this film I felt like I was the target audience absolute. I was moved and thrilled. But the more I know about myself, it seemed obvious that this film was doomed.

There's not much plot to this film (not unlike Reygadas' brilliant Japon) but the plot is less than secondary. It's the story of a man, the degradations he faces in life, the good and bad choices he makes and what he believes could be his redemption. But within that, more and more questions come to mind and like any great film, as much as you are excited by the work, you are challenged and in some ways intimidated.

Especially in America, the collective unconscious has given us all this false self-image of positivism. We believe a lie about ourselves and our potential and what those things mean. So for a US audience to relate to Marcos, the main character and true anti-hero, there would take some self-evaluation that burger eating, video gaming, cell phoners just aren't ready for.

Marcos is an overweight middle-aged man. His life is split between the reality of his poverty and the unreality that his job shows him. As the driver for a Mexican general, his main job is chauffeuring around Ana. The general's daughter, she lives and affluent and privileged life that is juxtaposed by her own which is her secret life working at a high priced brothel. As driver, Marcos is the only one that knows of her double life. His taste of that decadent life, that he can't escape, comes mostly from hanging around the brothel and fucking Ana on occasion. In fact, the only reliable moment of hope in the film is an oddly poetic scene with the two post-coital in bed, the camera focused on their genitals as he slowly loses his erection.

Reygadas isn't afraid to make that the central metaphor of the film. In his life of poverty, Marcos and his wife have kidnapped a baby. But the crime is bungled and the baby dies. The actual crime isn't at all relevant to the film. Rather it's the circumstances it creates where Marcos has to decide what choices can be made in his now accelerated bleak life.

There's been a lot of hoopla about the graphic sex in this film. It's all quite beautiful. All of the actors are non-professional which is great for many reasons. First of all, it gives the film a sort of Jarmusch type of realism that I'm addicted to. But also, the sex scenes are unlike anything you will see in an American film… even films by Larry Clark or Vincent Gallo. All of the sex scenes are amazing looking and, like a lot of the film, very dreamlike.

It's a great film. It might be my film of the year. But it's not for everyone. The sex is graphic. It's not Breillat. Well, maybe a little. But if you can hang, it's an amazing challenge. (Tartan Video)

 

IN THE J CHURCH LISTENING ROOM

JOEL, BILLY - Glass Houses LP

Yeah, this album kinda sucks. In fact, half of it is pretty excruciating. But it's interesting how punk and new wave was affecting the world and even forcing guys like Billy Joel to take sides and put their money where their mouth is.

The hits? Fuck the hits. You May Be Right is some dumb macho lie and Sometimes A Fantasy, uh, it's okay, especially the Oh-Ohs on the chorus. But it's just trying to keep up with the Boss. It's Still Rock N Roll is an odd attempt at tying everything from current music trends to his own career back to Elvis and should live in a special category along with songs like Crazy Little Thing Called Love and Should I Stay Or Should I Go. Don't Ask Me Why was the other hit and it's pretty fucking good. If Billy Joel wasn't so damaged and wasn't so desperate for acceptance, he could have just focused on songs like this and would have been an artist instead of a joke.

The really good songs on this album are two of the non-hits. I Don't Want To Be Alone and Sleeping With The Television On are wordy and smart and up enough to make me think that he must have had a couple of Elvis Costello records if not some Nick Lowe singles. It was a big boat. But they were all in it so why wouldn't they be aware of each other? If it weren't for the ghastly solos (sax and keyboards respectively) I'd say these songs were bona fide classics. But poor production choices leave them diamonds in the rough. It sounds ridiculous, but this album would have made a fucking brilliant EP. (Epic)

 

PITCHFORK - Eucalyptus LP

I love John and Rick. I love these guys. I love their music. Pitchfork is probably my favorite as I've got the most memories tied up with this music. I remember when I first met John. Cringer was down in San Diego playing a big show with Scream and Excel. Pitchfork was the first band on and was still a trio. They were amazing. They were the perfect West Coast response to Rites Of Spring. John was a young kid who took us to the shop nearby so we could by soft drinks. To this day, he's still as excited and enthused about music as the first time I met him. I think this record showcases everything that is great about his guitar playing. It's crazy tuneful while experimental and challenging. I remember watching some interview with Eno where he called Hendrix the first electronic musician, as he was as interested in sounds as he was in notes. I think the same can be said for John. On this record he's carrying the melody on every song while pulling out all the stops in guitar trickery with harmonics, pick scrapes and other pick-up noises. It's fucking an inspiration.

Rick is also on fire with some of his most venomous lyrics. Burn Pigs Burn is a knife in the gut. And he doesn't let up there. Rana is pure poetry and the lyrics perfectly marry the big riff (I swear, it must have been somewhere in Blake's subconscious when he wrote the outro to Chesterfield King). I'm so happy this record is back in print. (Swami)

 

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