BIG SHIT ABOUT
been reading the crap out of Richard Meltzer lately. It's
not the first time I've gone through a phase like this,
having pretty much exhausted everything I could get my hands
on by him a few years ago, reading each book or article
once all the way through and then rereading parts of it
over and over again. (Meltzer can be very good on second,
third, fourth, etc. readings, because you have license to
skip the 'frustrating' parts and go straight to all the
insight.) However, before even, say, '97 had rushed
to its close, the rereadings were finally-inevitably-amicably
becoming routine, and I cooled it, a 'zine-y chapbook with
a so-so long essay on golf and some good enough zennish
short poems that I got for $4 in Portland being my only
'relapse' until today's current 'reading the crap out of'
situation, brought on solely by my purchase of A Whore
Just Like The Rest: The Collected Music Writings of Richard
Meltzer, a 591-page book recently published by Da Capo
press. Now I've got lots more to chew on. Lots and lots
- I could write books about the book he just wrote, ya know?
But what I'm focusing on here is his preoccupation with
Heraclitus. The Greek philosopher. Meltzer's a bit of a
fan of this guy, you might say. I had already gleaned this
from my readings of The Aesthetics of Rock, Meltzer's
very first readable/unreadable book (I'll admit that one
I've never read all the way through), in which he references
Heraclitus as well as a few other pre-Socratic philosophers.
He discusses Heraclitus in the new book too, in excerpts
from Aesthetics, and in this fine paragraph on p.
'The last time I thought about it, my favorite
philosopher was Heraclitus. "You can't step in the same
river twice" - I'm sure you know that one. "The way up and
the way down are one and the same." A bunch of fragments,
aphorisms. "Nature loves to hide." One that I've always
got a kick out of, and a shitload of writerly mileage from,
is "Consult thyself," translated also as "I consulted myself."
I don' know Greek, it's oke either way, but meaning what:
"Empiricism starts here"? Spotlight on the subject (before
Western philosophy even had a subject-object split)?'
this new book got me dusting off some of my old Meltzer,
such as his 'novel' The Night (Alone), and a bunch
of computer prints I made of some of his essays that are
on the web. (For awhile this online rock magazine called
Addicted to Noise (http://www.addict.com)
was reprinting Meltzer's columns for the L.A. Weekly and
The San Diego Reader.) One such essay was a great one called
"Another Superficial Piece About 176 Beatnik Books," in
which he writes a sort of casual racounteurish critical
summary of every writer who was ever associated with the
Beats at all, from Kerouac, Burroughs, and Ginsberg at the
top (a few pages each) all the way down to, um, Jack Micheline
and Anne Waldman (a few sentences each). Somewhere in there,
a little towards the latter half of the spectrum, Meltzer
has good things to say about the poet (and ordained Zen
Buddhist monk) Philip Whalen. I know that I have some Whalen
poetry in my house somewhere, so I decide to pull that off
the shelf and dust it off. Let's see, I know he's in The
Beat Reader (ed. Ann Charters, A Penguin Book), and
he's in The New American Poetry (ed. Donald M. Allen,
An Evergreen Original, one of my favorite poetry anthologies
of all time). So I'm looking up his poems and reading 'em
and they're pretty good all right (Meltzer's zen-liner description:
"Reading Philip Whalen may not be as easy as falling off
a log, but it's close."), and of course I can't help but
notice a name from the past that Whalen quotes at least
three or four different times: Heraclitus!
Well, that's neat but it's not exactly surprising; Meltzer
appreciates Whalen, and they both appreciate Heraclitus,
an appreciation they arrived at independently. What IS surprising
is that today I was wandering around downtown Lincoln, going
to my favorite shops which I rarely go to, and at A Novel
Idea bookstore I pick up this book on Italian Futurism for
$2.50. It's a neat little book, published in England in
1986 by the Art Data imprint. It's a small little paperback,
with lots of color reproductions of crazy futurist paintings,
photos of the artists from back in the day, photos of Luigi
Russolo himself playing his noise instruments, and more,
and I'm flipping through it, and I take a look at the introduction,
and right there on page five, is this:
Marinetti's conception of Futurist action
was close to the Nietzschean interpretation of Heraclitus:
"United, we must attack! We must create with absolute
faith in the imperishable richness of the earth! There can
be no nostalgia! No pessimism! There's no turning back!
Boldly, let us advance! Forward, faster, farther, higher!
Let us lyrically renew our joy in being alive!"
there's Heraclitus again, and on a totally different tack
here's Meltzer digging deep for answers from a 'national
soul' to a question that has puzzled and pained me as well:
And what, pray tell, is the Ameri-Christian beef with homosexuality?
it is, bottom line, from their tightassed perspective, prima
facie sexual--the very word conjures up images of sex acts--sperm
flying all over the place--while the fact of Donnie Osmond,
say, as a professed heterosexual evokes nothing.
Read the rest of the rant this is culled from while you
can; it was published by an online
boxing zine! (Be sure to check out the rest, it's a
pretty cool boxing zine!)
"It may be revolting to a lot of people, but at least it's
an alternative to the garbage that's been around for ten
years," he said. " I've had it up to here with Crosby Steals
The Cash. I need another group like that like I need another
dick. I'd rather listen to some young kid in a leather jacket
singing a song like 'I want to eat out my mother' than to
hear some of these insipid guys with their cowboy boots
and embroidered shirts doing 'Six Days On The Road.' I like
Mink DeVille." WHO
Creem Magazine - March 1978 - by Clark Peterson)
"The head getting shaved happened while I was livin
in the hut doin ACID. Me and Divine happened to be in the
mental experimentation phase of our lives. Once we did a
couple of demos with Muggs and we had a couple of Lethal's
demos, all of a sudden we had another record deal. It was
kind of bizarre. I already had the look: I had the
head shaved and the goatee because I was on some kind of
bumy shit. [sic] We took some pictures like that and people
lost their minds, like "Whoa, who the fuck is this guy?
he looks insane." WHO
Irish Pub website) SOURCE
Kerouac in On The Road on the people of Chicago:
"...semi-Eastern, semi-Western..." Thanks Jack, as a onetime
resident of Chicago, I know what you mean! I'd also add,
if I can use your template, that from my experience people
in Ohio, a couple more states East, are 'semi-Eastern, semi-Midwestern.'
heard of "Top 10 of 1998" lists or whatever (how
boring?), or "staff picks," (who cares?), but
here's something that actually matters a damn in this shill-dense
global culture we're all breathing right this 'fucking'
TOP (x) ALBUMS/SONGS OF THE LAST
2-20 YEARS THAT ARE CLEARLY GODHEAD (AND
MAYBE EVEN A LITTLE BIT ABOUT "WHY")
Organs of Admittance Dust and Chimes
second full-length, CD only, after a landmark debut
LP. Both self-released with hand-made covers. After
the LP the CD sounded more 'commercial' of all things,
but a few listens to the CD as ' the CD' and not
'the LP' remedied that. "Blue Sun Chiming"
is a heartrending melodic spaced-out folk song (not
even three minutes long) that will reverberate forEVER
once you've learned to recognize it. Track Nine,
"Journey Through Sankuan Pass," is a tangled
acoustic folk improvisatory ramble that goes for
six or seven welcome minutes. And those are the
only surprises I'm gonna give away.
Roscoe Mitchell Sound
For the entire aleatoric 26-minute title track as
it appears on the CD reissue. Recorded in 1966.
Shit, for the cover too, a glorious black and white
design with a mandala move. The young welterweight
Mitchell is pictured in the center.
Leonard Cohen Songs of Leonard
said. I first heard it on the soundtrack of McCabe
and Mrs. Miller. One of the all-time greatest
LP back covers.
Talk Talk Spirit of Eden
Believe the hype. "Heaven bless
you." "Everybody needs someone to live
by." "Desire..." "I've seen
h****n for myself."
Blue Oyster Cult Blue Oyster Cult
Believe the hype. "By silverfish
imperetrix, whose incorrupted eye / Sees through
the charms of doctors and their wives..." "She's
as beautiful as a foot..." "We're pain,
we're steel, a plot of knives / We're Transmaniacon
MC." And sheez, speaking of mandala-move
LP cover art ...
Angus MacLise The Invasion of
See the name of this magazine.
And the followup, Brain Damage in Oklahoma City,
is just as good. I know MacLise was a poet and a
"shaman" and all that, but the way he
plays those hand drums for 46 minutes straight,
for all I know he might also hold some old Middleweight
Boxing Titles from Syracuse University or something.
(Before he moved down to NYC to be a "shaman."
Just speculating here.)
Various Artists Soundbombing
From Rawkus Records. Hip hop
and rap music that isn't about sloth and villainy,
at least not by default. I'd call it 'intelligent
hip hop' but then everyone would get self-righteous
about how 'pretentious' that is. Better to put it
like Evil D himself does on the album: "This
is goin' out strictly to underground heads. Commercial
niggas could never understand this." Hey man,
I'm just quoting. To paraphrase Q-Tip, Rawkus Records
children (and Eminem)
that are (almost) 100% intelligent. (I'd say they're
scoring at least 93%. Puff Daddy? Snoop? Dre? DMX?
Ruff Ryders? Etc? Etc? 70% and lower.)
Ra and his Solar Arkestra Visits Planet Earth
/ Interstellar Low Ways
It's 'swing era' Sun Ra,
but after a few listens reveals many hidden pockets
of whuh, such as the tortuous extended lead melody
of "Saturn," the slowly drawn out misterioso
landscapes of "Interstellar Low Ways,"
the long a capella arco bass and piano bits that
break up supposed 'novelty song' "Rocket Number
Nine Take Off For The Planet Venus," the slooowww
blues of "Space Loneliness" (and its great
aleatoric 'clickety' sound from some Arkestra member),
or how about the GREAT sound-of-joy electric piano
solo on album opener "Reflections in Blue"?
h*ck with label addresses, if you wanna connect with
any of this shit just go to google.com
and do a search on the band name and title too if
its different (using "__" + "__"
format) . that's honestly your best chance of buying
any of this stuff, it's just not economically feasible
to stock it in most record stores..
just looking at this web page right here
and at a glance I thought "Cut The Cake" by Average
White Band said "Cut The Coke" which makes sense
too, because you know Alan Gorrie and Hamish Stuart and
the boys was doin' some coke at the sessions. You can imagine
them originally writing the song as "Cut The Coke,"
presumably because they were jamming on blue-eyed funk/soul
harmony while gathered around the mirror cutting up lines.
Then they 'toned down the lyrics' for pop radio when it
came time to record. You can imagine it, but I don't think
that's really what happened. I don't think the similarity
between "cut the cake" and "cut the coke"
(only a one-letter difference!) is a coincidence either,
just the rare collision of two parallel lines on the sex/drugs/gusto/song
love it when I stumble on someone's 'homepage.' You know
'homepages' -- it's a genre of web page all unto itself,
made by honest-to-gosh EVERYDAY PEOPLE, who don't have anything
specific to put up except things about themselves, things
like where they live, things they like, what they do, what
they look like -- you could say it's a weird sort of 'meat
(meet) market,' but it's different than that...I don't know,
I just love homepages. Like that guy from Turkey or whatever
who said "I KISS YOU!!!" That was just a homepage.
I've got a few sites linked below that aren't quite that
histrionic but are always just about as revelatory. Homepages
are just about the most honest presentation (because it's
self-presentation) of everyday everyman-rube-genius culture
there are home pages from people like Jim
Loy that are kinda impressive. He says "I
have been called a 'Renaissance person.' I think the correct
expression is 'middle aged'." Jim Loy doesn't seem
to be a rube at-friggin-all. He might, however, be a weirdo,
but I think a lot of non-rubes end up that way.
there's the page at www.tut.com
that offers "Totally Unique Thoughts...because thoughts
become things!" I liked it better the way George Clinton
explained it: "Every thought felt as true/Or allowed
to be accepted as true by your conscious mind/Takes root
in your subconscious/Blossoms sooner or later into an act/And
bears its own fruit/Good thoughts bring forth good fruit/Bullshit
thoughts rot your meat/Think right, and you can fly/The
kingdom of heaven is within/Free your mind, and your ass
is where some folks pulled a big prank on one little pocket
of rube subculture. Visit and participate in that great
90s pastime: observing the patheticness in others. As rewarding
as finding a dozen goofy homepages.
man, tonight I went to have beers and nachos at Lazlo's
Bar and Grill, a surefire hangout for all the beef-eatin'
football-cheerin' Nebraskans, and I was blown away by the
music playing there. It wasn't the usual testosterone-pandering
diet of Def Mariah Leppard, instead it was all the zoned-out
hits from late-night FM radio that I remembered from my
youth: "Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys" by Traffic, "You
Never Give Me Your Money" by the Beatles, "Dreams" by Allman
Brothers (their single most palatable (as in 'tasty') moment
IMHO), "Dirty Work" by Steely Dan, even "Main Street" by
Seger sounded perfectly mellow and dreamy. My date suggested
that maybe they had it set on the "drug rock" channel, and
I wholeheartedly agreed.
only time I drink milk other than when I eat breakfast cereal
is if I'm drinking a White Russian. And that has only happened
about once in the last year. Not that I don't like White
Russians, I think they're delicious. A very tasty way to
catch a buzz. I'm just not a mixed drink person. If I'm
at a bar, I drink beer. If I'm at home, I drink beer, though
I will have an occasional screwdriver. The reason I don't
ever have White Russians is that it necessitates buying
two bottles of liquor, vodka and kahlua, and it's hard enough
for me to spend the ten to twenty bucks or so on one, let
alone two. I buy a bottle of vodka maybe twice a year. In
fact, I've got a bottle of vodka sitting in my house right
now, and it's still over half-full, and it's been there
for about five months. Part of the reason it's still so
full is that it's a fairly rancid kind of cheap vodka, Barton.
But, when the higher quality 'hangover-free' vodkas like
Skyy and Absolut cost about twenty dollars a bottle . .
. it's not so much that I'm a cheapskate, more that I prefer
not to invest in quality alcohol when there are plenty of
inexpensive beers on the market that are a good solid taste,
such as Red Hook, Old Style, Miller High Life, Cortland
Wheat, Leinenkugel's, and the most unfairly neglected beer
of them all, Pabst Blue Ribbon. Even mildly 'upscale' beers
like Sam Adams and Boulevard are a better investment for
me than the Skyy/Absolut/Knob Creek/Maker's Mark/Canadian
Club axis. (Jim Beam is perhaps the only possible exception
to this rule, though it is still a rare occasion, because
drinking whiskey to me is like taking LSD is to some - a
generally gratifying but always challenging experience,
and only to be undertaken when 'in the mood.')
beer right now: Red Hook ESB. Runner-up: Sierra Nevada Pale
Ale. Best "nice price" beer: Pabst Blue Ribbon.
Runner-up: Old Style.
yeah, I noticed that most of my 'inklings' and my
'musings' had something to do with drugs like beer and etc.
All I can say is...everyone likes to get blasted in one
way or another....and if you're gonna get blasted, you've
gotta have a good blastitude about it. Think of it as my
own careful investigation of, you guessed it, Rimbaud's
'derangement of the senses.' Or, like LaMonte Young himself
said in the first issue of Halana magazine: "I
want to say that I think that each drug has to be thought
of as an instrument, a tool that has a very specific purpose,
and to use it properly, you have to be a master of that
particular instrument, and that in the same way that one
person may be able to have a glass of wine with dinner and
get very inspired, and another person can ruin their life
with alcohol, drugs can not really be used by everyone....Yes,
certain drugs can create spiritual states, and certain drugs
can give strength, and certain drugs can give precision,
and certain drugs can give an ability to hear intervals,
and drugs have many different characteristics and psychological
states and physiological results that they can produce,
but they can only do this productively in the hands of somebody
who is really a master of them." Now that's
a good blastitude!
Sonder is a writer who lives in Lincoln, and presumably
does nothing but sit at his computer and listen to records
-- no one knows anyone who has seen him. Don't miss
his dense 'new records' column, So
Much Music, So Much Time as published in Nougat.
Brad also writes a column about the Lincoln music scene