Saturday, February 18, 2012

"Not Cement"

"Hi, Jinx! Get it?"
After the sad death of Mike Kelley a couple of weeks ago, I thought about posting something about my favorite movie about the early L.A. punk scene, Raymond Pettibon's Sir Drone (1989). But Papa Jon over at Waitakere Walks speaks for me in his tribute, "Mike and Mike", when he writes "arguably the beginning and end of all films on the early LA punk/Masque era" but doesn't forget Kelley's and Watt's comedic brilliance. I haven't watched it in many, many years (it's not on DVD or YouTube), but not much time passes between times I quote some line from it to my spouse, the only person I know in L.A. who actually knows about this movie.

When we had a working VHS player, I could rent this at Vidiots in Santa Monica. I don't even know if they still have it there.

Kelley said of the film:
In this tape, Mike Watt (of the Minutemen and fIREHOSE fame) and I play two teenage punks trying to start a band in the 1970s. We struggle with various ethical and aesthetic questions raised by this endeavor. The tape was shot in two days. All of the dialogue was read off cue cards. [more]

And those cue cards, sometimes visible on screen, only enhance the comedic effect. Please, dear reader, see this film.

As an added attraction, there's this earlier version of the film, with some of the same jokes, ostensibly filmed by Larry Wessel and starring Jack Brewer and Rich Acostigan (according to a YouTube comment attributed to Mr. Brewer himself):

Doom Documentary

This a recommendation that you watch Such Hawks, Such Hounds (2008). Nice to see a documentary that coherently traces the lineage of hard rock and psychedelia from the early 70s to now, as it comes to us through the prism of early 80s SST. One can forget that Black Flag deeply influenced more than one musical genre, not only hardcore, but doom metal (and noise and artrock-jazz fusion, too, for that matter). Fortunately, this documentary does not gloss over that fact. (See above photo.) Carducci makes a convincing claim that the lameness of mainstream 80s pop-metal coincides with a big switch of the drug of creativity from marijuana to cocaine.

Here's Such Hawks, Such Hounds in its entirety. Bands and musicians profiled include: High on Fire, Earthless, Om, Dead Meadow, Comets on Fire, Pentagram, Sunn O))), and Wino Weinrich.  All of them good:

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sizing Up Ron Paul Again

Previously, I've posted that Ron Paul's views on anti-imperialism and protection of Fourth Amendment freedoms are worthy of support, while his absurd, negative assessment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and his former associations with racist writings done in his name are worthy of condemnation. I argued, in essence, that we can compartmentalize his views so as not to reject what's worthwhile. Whether or not Ron Paul authored the racist bleats and blurps in the newsletter that bore his name, his lax oversight of that newsletter over a period of years shows he is unworthy of being chief executive. Moreover, it shows he acquiesced to the views expressed there. He's tried to publicly distance himself from the newsletter debacle, and many claim Lew Rockwell actually wrote the stuff. But after watching the video below, I am more convinced that Ron Paul either wrote some of it or at least gave a tacit blessing to Rockwell's editorial direction.

Here is video of Congressman Paul in 2003, standing in front of a large Confederate Flag, addressing the Southern Historical Conference in Texas, offering up the typical revisionist history of the Civil War from the Neo-Confederate perspective.* In other words, he argues the old canard--popular in the South to this day--that the war wasn't mainly about slavery but was about competing economic systems and Northern aggression. Note how Congressman Paul says that "Lysander Spooner was a definite abolitionist. He was a Northerner. He was a Yankee...but...."

(via Daily Kos)

To be fair, nowhere does Paul argue that slavery was good and right. But this type of revisionism downplays so strongly the gross inhumanity of the institution of slavery and what it had done to the liberty--I will repeat: LIBERTY!--of the slaves themselves over so many generations, that it becomes indistinguishable from downright Neo-Confederate racism. It is a revisionism that weighs the economic liberty of the slaveowner more than the inalienable rights of the slave. That is unacceptable.

My fellow progressives who support Paul need to seriously reconsider whether his anti-imperialism and anti-war policy statements are actually of a piece with this view that the North was the imperialist "aggressor" against the pro-slavery South. Perhaps we can still compartmentalize, but we need to be conscious of doing that. To paraphrase Emerson, Paul's consistency, which many liberals and progressives praise, is the hobgoblin of his little mind.
*Date and location of this speech not confirmed. Information provided by YouTube uploader.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Decline (and Fall) of Western Civilization

TIME magazine (February 6, 2012) claims that Lana Del Rey named her song and album "Born to Die" in "homage" to Biggie Smalls's Ready to Die. Maybe that's true. Who cares? Her music is still boring. She certainly didn't take her cue from this:

Which "Born to Die" is better?

The answer is clear. For all MDC's didactic political stances, at least they had a clear perspective, and it was against injustice. One of the best live bands I saw in the hardcore days, too. The guy in Del Rey's video does have the Black Flag bars tatted on his hand at about 1:15. I guess she now can claim both Biggie and Flag for street cred. Punk breaks through again and again. So what? Punk rock has become simply a reference, another dollop of pastiche for a musical culture of regurgitation. It has no heft anymore. Western culture is moribund. And I'm in a bad mood. Coffee isn't helping, yet. Am I old enough to be a curmudgeon? It seems so.