A subdivision of ACIDEMIC

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Sweet Sixties Sadness of Parisian Song Sirens

Jane Birkin - as Jane B., with Serge and a dozen suitors (I like to imagine she's singing to ask them all to marry her together in a group wedding). Her awkward, tender gamin attitude and stockings drive me wild. Incomparable! If they're too sunny or teen bopper (like Chantal Goya) I'm not too into them. I like Birkin and Francoise Hardy, and some BB, because they have that gorgeous Gallic mysterieux melancholique.

Here's Jane (above) sounding and looking like her daughter will, and I love how much of a pint-sized gargoyle Serge is, yet he believably gets the hot girls. An inspiration! Switch to Gauloises!

And now our other sweet sad Parisien Siren, Francoise Hardy! Another beauty, perhaps more sad and more haunting!


 If you love her as I do, then this song is probably still your favorite (above). So simple and open for misadventure, yet with that underscoring of being already over before it begins -- perfect for MOONRISE KINGDOM!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Playlist for the last week of Planet Earth

Didn't it rain? It's the last rainy Monday after the last rainy Sunday, and the cold wet wilderness of a new dawn is looming. Maybe nothing will happen, maybe it already has. I'll be in Sedona, AZ, looking for an open vortex I can step into and maybe get whisked magically back to NYC, 'whew' - no place I'd rather be for an apocalypse.

In other words, if you've never faced your own impending death, maybe now's the time. It's good for the soul... as I learned when I had to review Stephen Levine's A Year to Live.  And if you can truly embrace the impermanence of life, and dwell in a place of open-hearted gratitude, then every day is like Xmas day for Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, you're just so grateful and happy to be alive.

So maybe in this mix of sadness and exaltation you can join me on this journey, and then whatever happens this Friday, you'll be ready.  Here's some beginning introductory comments:

And now let the good-byes begin! Lordy! I love this version of the song, and Sister Rosetta sure plays a mean guitar. I dig the stage set-up, like a train station busker writ large upon a rainy track.

Next up is a live in the radio studio version of Smoosh's "The World's Not Bad" -the vocals are a little down in the mix, but this is one of my favorite mopey songs of the past few years and seems to sum up the dying world in a few great lines and moments - the world's not bad - you won't find nothin' here - I felt my body float away out of here.... and of course the girl's youth and innocence makes the drastic changes coming all the more sad and profound. They're more ready to go than most old people still clinging by their fingernails to something they don't even understand.

And of course these guys need no introduction. Just let the deep Icelandic floes of beauty and sadness coast deep past your psychic defenses and explode your heart and mind from the inside out. You'll be glad you did, for only the open hearted and joyously unafraid get taken aloft past the demon dog-guarded gates of paradise.

Lana Del Rey.... I can't help but think she is the dark L.A. angel taking her sweet slow-mo swan dive off the Hollywood sign just for us, just for the last few days of retrospection. See also her videos for "National Anthem," "Born to Die," and "Ride" to get the full moody power of this lady and her found footage editing skills. A fitting eulogy to our country and the vintage clothing conceptuality that lets artists pick the era they want to embody-- even after the planet is ashes she'll still be diving off that cliff back into the eternal amber of those last few minutes before the JFK assassination.

And what better way to sign off than "where it all ends," the Who's mind-blowing highwater mark in rock history, and the final sign off reminder "you are forgiven."

We are all forgiven. Good night, and see you on the other side!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Claire and Angus Sleep No More!

 The new Claire Forlani Dewar's commercial is out, this time it's some weird upper floor empty room with a definite Sleep No More / Macbeth over and undertone. The madwoman in the attic! Are ya thirsty, Angus!

I generally loathe all commercials but these fill me with delight, not only because I used to take full advantage of past Dewar's promotions in the 90s, copious tastings they were, with hot buffet, free Scotch-based drinks, and gift bags stocked with little pints and other cool swag. I'd bring dates and get them drunk for free. They'd think I was crazy, but those little gift pints were great things to remember you stashed on a cold Sunday night back in the cold blue law days when the shakes were upon ye. Hail to the drinkin' man is right! Good for you, Dewar's, going dark and stormy and quite mad where everyone else is chasing aglow camaraderie and rainbow waterfalls, eh Angus? HAhahahahHA

Monday, November 26, 2012

I'm for the National

Who are these guys, anyway? What do we know about them? Can they be trusted? I feel like they can. I would trust them to sit guard while I was passed out under the table, and them still drinking. Their music has that touch of melancholy lived-in sadness... even if you've never toured in a van with your high friends in places, joking to keep from crying from the starkness, sharpening your wits through constant dueling for best top-that quip.

With the National you feel there's no worry about them getting taken in by sexy groupies or destroyed by some new street drug, they've already done the whole demon battle thing and now they just want to make music that's like comfortable pillows of strings and deep resonant casual singing and guitars and deeply entrenched bass and drum that weave like a kaleidoscope of my life, where every word and note fits perfectly together with the times and where you are, like they knew just what you'd be doing when you listened to them.

My god, I was afraid to see these guys as it might diminish my love for them but this video makes me cry and increases it all a thousandfold, thanks and praise vid director Tom Berninger! He captures all the in-between moments here, and they're all perfect for the National's music, that reflective late inning artistic youth life, the passage of our generation gracelessly into the free-form 30s (or worse) where we inherit the world and set it free with a weary boot out into the sunshine.  Thank you thank thank you.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Monday, September 17, 2012

Fallen Space Cowboys: 3 guys who were kicked out of their bands for being too awesome

I wasn't kicked out of my band--I left when I graduated and moved to Seattle, where I wound up in a Hendrix cover band. When I returned east, Max had replaced me (hitherto he'd been one of our two drummers, Allman / Dead-style), so what could I do about it? I'd get up and sing a song here and there, but I was washed up, and out - I was drinking harder than ever. I could barely stand, I was micro-tripping so regularly I forgot what life was like without a little lysergic boost. In short I was a crashing space cowboy, hanging half out his saddle.

But I had some good company. As one of the Mud's original founders I found myself in a roster of titans that for reasons usually involving drugs, booze and insanity, had been kicked out or stumbled out of their now iconic rock groups. There's so many of them! Let it be a cautionary tale as we examine three of my personal favorites-- in reverse order, because hey, these guys couldn't really even count off, one two three:

3. Pig Pen - Grateful Dead

Poor Rod McKernan - Here's a guy who was never that much into acid but was a pure bluesman of the ass pocket a whiskey variety. I forgot where I read this account of Pigpen sneaking out of his parents house through the window to run out to Bob Weir's car to come to practice, tucking his flask of bourbon into his back pocket. Max and i sold Pig Pen tie dyes on tour for awhile... we even had a lyric in one of our later songs "Grieve for / Pig-Pen / not Brent Midland" - you have to know the Dead to understand.

He started a fat son of a bitch who'd kick out the jams and hook up half the crowd with girlfriends playing harmonica and singing on tracks like "Lovelight" and ended up frail and tucked way in the back in front of a set of congas he could barely hit without pain, and no mic.

Legend: He apparently hooked up with Janis Joplin at Moneterey and the pair wound up rolling around in the mud like, as a witness noted, two pigs in the slop  - who's to say if it's true? They were buddies, this is certain. Did you see that backflip Jerry did onstage in West Virginia 87?

2. Brian Jones - Rolling Stones

Poor Brian. If you want to see how cruel Mick and Keith were by the end, just viddy Godard's film of Sympathy for the Devil, AKA One Plus One (Which I discuss here):
...the Stones can be merciless with their own: poor Brian Jones for example is turned off in the mix--only he hears his playing and Mick and Keith smirk at his attempts to participate in the sound mixing, completely oblivious to how bad he's been shined.
That's not to mention Keith stealing his girl, then Mick and Keith stealing his band (he formed the Stones, originally as a Yarbirds-style r&b act)

 Legendary Moment: None come to mind... For me, the pain of a thousand embarrassed hazy drunk all day recollections are contained within his shattered grimace on the cover of Between the Buttons. There were pictures of me looking that torn and frayed in college, and in the late 1990s, struggling to undo my frozen strychnine smile and appear like I wasn't falling apart, hoping maybe just one more hit, one more tab, one more shot, would make it all all right again, like trying to escape a coffin by clawing down to China.

Legacy: Aside from giving them their early raw bad boy blues rock feel when everything was skiffle skiffle skiffle, Jones brought an array of cool instruments to the band's sound, like the sitar, so he gave them the anchor by bringing the original sound and later the psychedelic trimmings in the psychedelic rush following Sgt. Pepper (more on that next) and while they left both more or less behind, Jones' contributions really set them apart from the mainstream, with tunes like Ruby Tuesday showing the world this band was far from a bunch of bluesy skifflers.

1. Syd Barrett - Pink Floyd
My resemblance to Syd in lysergic enthusiasm knows no bounds: We didn't know back in 1987 when we scored a super 8mm film of shrooming in the Syracuse graveyard to Floyd's "The Nile Song" that Syd had shot a college super 8mm shroomin' in the graveyard film with Roger Waters! Like me he was one of the founders of his band, later booted out for being just too nutso, as when he showed up to a show having shaved off his hair and eyebrows! The worst I did was show up shrooming wearing a rasta toilet seat cover and playing a whole set at Sutters' with my mouth hanging wide open, forever captured on video, then leaving my bass on its stand during the drum solo but refusing to turn down the volume on the resulting feedback squall... claiming it was artistry.

Time has been cruel to these decisions.

Legend: My favorite is the mental image of Barrett sunbathing with a whole sheet of blotter in the center of his chest, his sweat slowly soaking up all that crazy LSD-25. What a super shroomer trooper!

Legacy: The Floyd came to prominence during a phase some Brit musicians, like David Bowie, would like to forget, the "Lord of the Rings" era. Tolkien's books were super popular and England was crazy over Celtic folk tinged rock and lyrics about gnomes and Gandalf, Mordor, ladies in white with unicorns, and pagan children playing around the maypole or crawling toward Stonehenge-ish ruins while the snow queen admires her magic rings, etc. Zeppelin's whole fourth album is a stout reflection of that vibe, as is the Britain-only popularity of Fairport Convention, Pentangle, Nick Nick Drake... Tyrannosaurus Rex probably pulled through it with most alchemical purity, inventing glam rock and changing their name to T. Rex. Bowie took the twee element and brought in some Weimar cabaret androgynous decadence and made Hunky Dory. The Pink Floyd, still with Syd, made albums like Piper at the Gates of Dawn filled with weird sound effects and bizarre tales of Emily playing, controls set for sun hearts, bikes with baskets, bells and things that make them look good, Corporal Clegg, and interstellar overdrives.

When Syd left, the weird merry elvin element left with him and the Floyd became a kind of existential jam band, cranking out epic floor-length mood ring-o-d'rosies like "Echoes" (which my band played regularly--more tie-ins!) and wistful reveries like my personal favorite, "Green is the Colour." But Barett's eccentric whimsy survived in their music like memories of dinosaur coloring books (and "Wish you were Here") and in Barrett's own ingenious solo work songs featuring baby lemonades, gigolo aunts, effervescent elephants and Puddle Town Tom (who was the Underground).

Long may all three thunder and slip and slide down the urgent corridors, singing, dosing, drin / king their / wine. Hooooo..... rayy

Friday, September 14, 2012

Salvador Dali meets Disney - DESTINO!

Our Friday surrealist short series continues with this collaboration between Disney and Dali that was begun in the 60s and then took forever to complete for various reasons. Apparently it was finally released as an extra on the DVD for Fantasia 2000! Sure the song is a little Disney-saccharine and the imagery a bit like a Dali best-of reel, but that doesn't mean it won't blow your mind.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Lana Turner Overdive

Michael Frost's Lana Turner on acid series gets it's deluxe 12 minute spotlight. Hold onto your sanity's last straw, read up on the Big Cube and let's go!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Monikaaaa-o-my-DARleeeng - Some great 60s Bollywood moments

The below video is from CARAVAN (1967) - music of course by R.D. Burman and sung by Asha Bhosle... these guys were an unbeatable team, maybe still are. I'm still so turned off by Hollywood's bourgeois embrace of 'Slumdog Millionare'--their little pat willingness to embrace a new setting and style provided it's filmed by a guy with a name like Danny Boyle instead of V.D. Rakeshyamadevanandi, a name I just made up, but you get my point... I hope. I mainly got into it all back in the days when I was a loungecore DJ (c. 1997-9). But that whole scene ended because a) swing dancing took over and suddenly instead of tuxedos and boas it was tacky black fedoras and suspenders over pressed white shirts, and b) The hub of the loungecore scene was Windows on the World on Wednesdays... which if you don't remember was on the tippy top of Tower A (or was it B?) in the World Trade Center.

 And also, I stopped going before then because I could no longer drink.

 Oh Monikaaaaaaaa

Note the chillingly nonchalant male-on-female physical abuse that begins the above number. There's some other disturbing moments elsewhere in CARAVAN, like when a gypsy king starts horsewhipping his wife for burning the dinner--though it turns out our heroine in the film is to blame! Once she confesses, the man stops whipping his wife, but doesn't apologize or anything and the matter is forgotten. Icky, but fascinating in its cruel nonchalance.

Much more cosmopolitan is JEWEL THIEF, also from 1967... this song below is very lyrical and lovely and I'm a sucker for studio-set 'outdoor' moonlit ponds.

Monday, June 25, 2012

They Call Him Dr. John, Known as the Night Tripper

Nowadays you think of Dr. John and you maybe think of a fun-loving fat guy with a beard and beret who sings like he just came down Sesame Street, his great raspy melodic voice a soothing balm to the soul, his piano playing a dazzling, creole courtbullion good times N'awlins style, but once upon a time, Dr. John was known as the Night Tripper, with a satchel of gris-gris in his hand.

And even if you knew nothing of all the hoodoo remedies and herbal potions, his crazy headdresses and Mardi Gras fortune teller tresses moved you like a warm bath ocean. Kicking back in my room in college, the incense making circular wisps along the walls, his "Night Tripper" album would fill my speakers like a secret door in my floor opened up with a magical basement herb shop below, peopled with miniature people dancing in fire and feathers. Now, where are we? Here, of course. This one's for you, Night Tripper! In his way, he and Screamin' Jay Hawkins laid the bedrock for future Americrazy shamen like Tom Waits and George Clinton. Here's a video from that era, or thereabouts, to mind meld with --just watch out for the tiny dancers and black cat hustlers weavin' through your tip toes if you smoke with the medicine man.

  "Where you at, Mule?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Curious Alice (1968)

This weird anti-drug educations short from 1968 was clearly meant to show to schoolchildren to keep them away from drugs, and it's actually pretty good, pretty spot-on in showing the pros and cons; the way certain drugs open you up to new sensations but eventually cut you off from even more.

It's honest about that, at least. Nothing's gained without something being lost - it's freewheeling psychedelic collage style is clearly the result of some artists who 'know' the deal so it's not just some bent load of conjecture like Go Ask Alice or Roger Sterling's experience' in this season of Mad Men. I think if you can see this film and still want to try it afterwards, knowing full well the dangers, then you're ready. Just like everyone who signs up to go whaling on the Pequod should first read The Perfect Storm. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Fashionably Deranged: Best of the 00s.

(culled pith from old pre-meds live journal entries)

from 1/28:

What is worse: To not receive a return text message from the one you love, or to be tortured by the Catholic Inquisition?
To have the most beautiful creature turn their back on you after wooing you with their flowery lies,
or to be drawn and quartered in the public square?

The unrequited love is worse
because it's harder to pinpoint - no one else understands it.

Torture only hurts the body, and your screams are the signal your body exists==

love hurts the soul, and only poetry can give that pain voice,
and poetry takes unbroken fingers
while the heart
can never gauge its fractures,
until its pulled from its rib prison
and held, still pulsing,
before its horrified front-page mirror.

the best thoughts are the ones most easily lost.   -- (They Spoon fed me Ritalin - 1/3/08)

After visiting my 97 year-old grandmother in Chicago - 12/08:

....all through the long visits I felt death pull me like gravity, like time pulls the meat off a chicken bone, like it pulls the planets along behind it as it sucks and roars along, like stringed tin cans on a wedding-cum-funeral car, like Flash Gordon gradually fading into youtube and then all just raw conscious thoughtlessness - a dull roar of white static, in which you may at times think you hear the ocean, or vice versa... all voices that you hear are your own, you realize, in this 2001-Kubrick room of the self, and outside that, the serpent swimming through the blue veins of your aging relations, swimming both towards you and away, towards you and away...

I've been unable to leave the house, no matter where I go.


from "Nobody Feel as Bad as Good as Me" - May 6, 2007

Spring is fall's dark underbelly,
so much shinier,
so much more poisonous,
its dandy pollen separating me from the herd
to the fringe
where the wolves of lonesome wait
for the prey too sneezy
to see them.

I'll be up out of this mountain soon,
once again the stronger for all the climbing
and skin tougher from all the wolf bites,
my steely artistic persona warped from the forge's constant flame,
the God who shapes me as tireless
and dissatisfied
as Picasso
with nothing but sand and sea
for His clumsy canvas.


" Suicide is like peeking at your presents before Xmas..." -- From Too Pissed to be Zen, to Zen to be Pissed 1/5/07)