Author Archive for Rob Warmowski

04
Mar
14

It’s Not Pronounced Keev, Senator

http://www.c-span.org/video/?c4486050/pronounced-keev

The above clip shows Sen. Christopher Murphy on the floor of the Senate debating intervention in Ukraine, mispronouncing the name of the capital city of Kiev.

You know, I wouldn’t mention this if it wasn’t the second time I’ve witnessed an elected official cluelessly mangle the simple pronunciation of the same critically important city in Europe. And given that this week’s events have turned Kiev a potential tinderbox for a monumentally ugly war between pro- and anti-Russian Ukrainians (to say nothing of a possible NATO throwdown), don’t you think it’s worth a review of how to pronounce the name of the place?  If for no other reason so that we don’t sound like complete bumpkins when we discuss the handbasket in which we are heading merrily to hell?

This time around, (I’ll mention the other time in a minute) the pronunciation offender is Senator Christopher Murphy (D-CT). A far less reactionary and bloodthirsty type than his predecessor Joe Lieberman, Murphy nonetheless did little today to counter the image of the untraveled dullard the rest of the world fairly projects onto Americans. During Senate debate on intervention, he pretty much announced that he doesn’t get out much:

Senator, the capital of Ukraine is Kiev, which is pronounced exactly how it looks if you’ve actually read or heard Slavic, Ukrainian or Russian names.

It sounds like this: key-EV.  Say it.  It’s easy.

key-EV.

It does not rhyme with “beave” or “Steve”.

Why this name is difficult for our elected officials to master, I cannot imagine, but it is. I first learned how difficult while attending a 2010 event at Chicago’s Chopin Theatre held to showcase potential candidates for Mayor of Chicago.  In attendance was Congressman Danny K. Davis (D-IL). The stentorian-voiced Congressman Davis had considered a run for Mayor for a mere 72 hours — just about long enough to  enjoy the buffet at the event.  In particular, borscht served that night reminded him, he said, of a recent trip to Kiev, a trip he described in loving detail..

Only he didn’t pronounce it key-EV.  He pronounced it kive.  Rhyming with chive or clive.

If you’ve ever heard Danny Davis speak, then you know he has what radio and voiceover professionals call pipes. His voice is a James Earl Jones-caliber vessel of pure gravitas.  You just don’t care what he mispronounces when he uses that voice.

But today might lead to a vote on sending US carriers into the Black Sea or drones to Poland or god knows what else Lindsey Graham is howling for from his plastic army man play table. This is important.  And Chris Murphy’s no Danny Davis.

24
Dec
13

Jon Solomon’s Holiday Marathon Broadcast 25th Anniversary #wprbxmas

l_jonsolomonx600

At around the 23rd hour, fatigue can make you wander into a field.

At 4PM CST, WPRB’s musicologist extraordinaire Jon Solomon will take the mike again…and not let go until a full 25 hours of holiday tunes and stories hit the air right along with a certain Mr. Kringle. It takes industrial-strength merriment and a music library of astonishing depth to pull this marathon off each season — but this year it takes even more. It’s the 25th anniversary of the usually 24-hour Marathon, and that means Jon is devoting an extra 25th hour to the twin foundations of the holiday season: sleep deprivation and nervous exhaustion. Do not miss.

 

20
Dec
13

Twist Again (And Again And Again And Again)

Just in case anybody was laboring under the mistaken belief that rap music invented or was first to lionize the blatant, direct repackaging of musical material, enjoy the following screenshot from my digital music collection in its Duane Eddy section.

The million-selling twang guitarist’s 1962 record “Twistin’ With Duane Eddy”, itself an echo of the 1960 Chubby Checker hit, inspired Duane and his handlers to produce many more market-squeezing twist-themed also-ran tracks, not even all of which are in this collection.  Nonetheless, the long string of lame twists-on-the-twist titles is impressive.

Also funny: whoever assembled the running order must have had a sense of humor, as the theme is brought, at track 11, to an abrupt end, Wil E. Coyote style.

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19
Dec
13

The Jesus Lizard Book: Now Shipping

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Shipping now from Akashic Books: The Jesus Lizard “Book”, a biography of Chicago’s greatest postpunk band, suitable for coffee tables everywhere.  Included is a section I wrote on the band’s early days at a show at the original Behind The Lookingglass space on South Michigan Avenue.  Also included are contributions from Greg Dunlap, Doug McCombs, Steve Albini, Andy Gill, Mike Watt, Bob Nastanovich, Alexander Hacke, Steve Gullick, Rebecca Gates, Hank Williams III, Sasha Frere-Jones, and the incomparable Bernie Bahrmasel.

14
Dec
13

San Andreas Fault Onstage At Redmoon’s Winter Pageant

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Sold Out Opening Night at Redmoon’s 2013 Winter Pageant. Photo: Al Zayed

Last night was opening night for Redmoon Theater’s 2013 Winter Pageant. I wrote the original music for this indescribable show and my surf-noir band San Andreas Fault performs on stage as the proceedings unfold.   Dozens of dancers, improbable and massive machinery, mind-roasting visual spectacle, mythmaking and birds.  Oh man. The birds.

Opening night sold out; only nine shows left over two weekends.

Hats off to my brothers in the Fault, without whose power and commitment none of this music happens. Thymme Jones, John Cwiok and original gangsta Pete Muschong: thank you.

09
Dec
13

Radkey: Romance Dawn

What is it about siblings in rock bands?  There’s something musically cool and unified that I’ve never been able to put my finger on about the work of people who undertake rock music having come from the same parents.  Is it an upbringing steeped in a common record collection and listening habits?  Is it physiological?  Do the tendons and muscles and structures of the limbs or bodies of siblings allow for highly similar attacks/approaches on instruments or for highly similar / complementary mechanical understandings of rhythm?

I don’t know.  But ever since DEVO, I’ve noticed this.  Scott and Ron Asheton in the Stooges, too, plus the Youngs in AC/DC. Heart’s Ann and Nancy Wilson.  The Butler brothers in the Psychedelic Furs. The effect even shows up in not-that-great bands such as those Italian dudes whose names I forget from Stone Temple Pilots.

There’s an unmistakeable unity to the sound, almost as if one consciousness was driving two bodies. All the more remarkable in an era when we’re lucky if any single body gets an entire consciousness to itself.

So now, from the metro St. Louis area comes the pretty great Radkey, three brothers clustered around a flavor of rock that recalls in this reporter the eternal shout-alongs of The Misfits and Naked Raygun. Brought to my attention when guitarist and bandmate in San Andreas Fault Pete Machine passed it along after his bandmate, Scott Lucas (Local H, Married Men) encountered Radkey on the road during a recent Local H tour.   They’ve got that one-voice-many-limbed thing going on.

07
Dec
13

Mouthbreather Bar Misremembers War

History Is Bunk (To Brahs)

Call me a stickler, but when Murphy’s Bleachers in Wrigleyville decided to infamously promote its drink specials on Pearl Harbor Day, it wasn’t the cheap marketing I found galling. If not for cheap marketing, the backward-hatted morons who frequent places like Murphy’s would have no idea what to do with themselves, and everybody needs guidance in a confusing world, especially our dumbest bros.

What irritated me about the sign wasn’t the pimping of the 72nd birthday of our country’s sadly eternal military-industrial complex.  It was the predictably boneheaded bungling of the underlying history itself.

See, brah, you can’t commemorate Pearl Harbor by buying a Kamikaze cocktail.  It’s impossible, for the same reason that you can’t commemorate the 1990 Iraq War by buying a 9/11 t-shirt with a crying eagle on it.

Because there were no Kamikazes — aka suicide pilots — at Pearl Harbor, nor fighting anywhere else in Japan’s military for years following.  Suicide attack is a tactic born of desperation.  On December 7, 1941 the Japanese were anything but desperate.

The Imperial Navy and its aviators, having sunk most of the US Pacific fleet on Dec. 7th were left on Dec 8th as the dominant force in the war in the Pacific.  For six months, the US was unquestionably losing World War 2.  It wasn’t until June, 1942 that the US Navy’s aircraft carriers engaged in the Battle of Midway the same Japanese carriers that so successfully attacked Pearl Harbor.

Midway was the beginning of the end for Japanese ambitions in the Pacific, as three of its aircraft carriers were sunk and most of the pilots and aircraft that won the day at Pearl Harbor were killed.

When your A team is wiped out, you’re left with the B and C teams.  Soon after, Japan lost even those, as US manufacturing power poured ships and planes into the Pacific in the following years, mounting an inexorable island-hopping march toward the Japanese mainland.

It was desperation, years after Pearl Harbor that brought forward the Kamikazes in late 1944.

See, brah, things have dates.  Events occur in order of time. Dumbing history down to high-five-engendering drink specials is no way to go through life.

Here’s a hint, broseph.  Just down the street from Murphy’s, there’s a tavern where you can bet your sandals and fannypack they won’t get these details wrong.  It’s called Nisei Lounge. 

Nisei, you may be surprised to learn, is not the name of a cocktail.  It is the name given to the Japanese-American citizens who, despite having their families rounded up and shipped to concentration camps in remote locations across 18 US states, signed up to fight for the US in WWII.  If you head over there to learn something, good for you.

Just remember: you can’t listen while you’re flapping your Miller Lite-hole. Smarten up and quiet down.

29
Nov
13

On SIRS and San Andreas Fault

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There are two bands that I’ve started and can’t seem to stop.  And things are getting loud.

SIRS

First, there’s SIRS: a Chicago-style noise-rock trio with traces of aggro pop that launched in 2008 with the release of the 7″ single Billy The Kidney on Unicut Records. In 2010, we released the 12″ Boo Hoo EP and performed around Chicago wherever and whenever possible.

In SIRS, I provide words and guitar, both noisy and absurd reflections on the late capitalist era. The team is rounded out by gentlemen/scholars Tony Jones (bass) and Shut Up Andy Kosinski (drums).  There is a Chicago underground tradition of extra-large punk rattle plus high and low verse, a presentation established in the early Reagan era by giants such as The Effigies and Big Black, a shaft that SIRS still burrows.  Which isn’t too surprising since the first Chicago band I started in high school – the Defoliants – was right behind those outfits.

SIRS is next week releasing our third record, High Minors, a 12″ longplayer that features guest appearances by John Haggerty (Naked Raygun, Pegboy) and Thymme Jones (Cheer-Accident, Dead Rider).

Because we exist, we find it useful to prove it every now and then.  And so, SIRS is opening for the great Hugh Cornwell (Stranglers) in Chicago on December 18th 2013 at Reggies.

San Andreas Fault

I started the Fault in 1999 by building  a small digital studio called Trailing Edge in a steel plant on Grand Avenue. The idea then was to work out my obsessions with surf, cowboy chords, classical composition and instrumental musics of the 1960s into a modern band.  The result was a couple of CD singles, TV show and game soundtracks, and the 2003 LP Encantada, plus appearances onstage with guitar instrumental heroes Dick Dale and the late Link Wray.  The Fault wound down in 2005, but was revived in 2012 when I came back together to work with Fault guitarist Pete Machine, going through an eight year backlog of my composition.

Word of this reached the legendary Redmoon Theater and the San Andreas Fault was asked to write the score for the 2013 Winter Pageant, running Dec. 13-22 2013 (10 shows only, two weekends only).  I wrote about 12 pieces for this complete freakout of a show, set in Redmoon’s new 50,000 sq. ft. performance space — and we’re performing it live. Who’s we? Rob Warmowski (guitar) Pete Muschong (guitar) John Cwiok (bass) and Thymme Jones (drums).

The Fault is back online for scoring projects, and is now working with New York director Rebecca Rojer on a 2014 film that will draw on Chicago images that focus on the pernicious role that billionaire philanthropists and their foundations play in the “education reform” debate.

03
Sep
12

A Thought On Labor Day

It being Labor Day, let’s hear a quote about Labor so manifestly true and so radical that it sounds like it came from Occupy.

“Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. “

Sounds like this quote came from Marx or some other bearded madman. Which leftist leader is it? Which egghead socialist, which collectivist, which anti-American rabble rouser?  Scroll down for the answer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s the guy on the five dollar bill.

Abraham Lincoln preferred labor to capital

Abraham Lincoln

Happy Labor Day.

06
Aug
12

Six Reasons You Blew It On The Chick-Fil-A Argument

Mitt Romney saying corporations are people

(Above: Mitt Romney assures us that corporations are people. Not pictured: Millions of liberals agreeing.)

The 1st Ward community that stopped Chick-Fil-A from opening its 1,600th restaurant was 100% right to do so, had the legitimate power to do so, and in no way cost anybody their freedom of speech nor of religion.

Because a business is not a person.

Chicken CEO / bigot Dan Cathy is not Chick-Fil-A. Chick-Fil-A is a legal construct distinct from any person.

I expect libertarians and mainstream national politicians to get this wrong, funded as they are by corporate boardrooms who directly benefit from this now-classic ruse.

But watching so many liberals knee-jerk against the Alderman this week on the basis of “free speech” and “government overstep” has taught me a few things, none of them good news for the average liberal’s state of civic literacy.

I have learned:

  • That a whole lot of people have never seen up close what it looks like when a business asks for permission to open.
  • That it’s news to a whole lot of people that it is no longer 1830 and commercial entities have to ask permission to open in a densely populated area, and that it’s a very good thing that they do.
  • That lots of people apparently believe any community should allow any legal business to open in their backyard because being legal is the only standard that exists, everywhere.  Even though a perfectly legal business can legally kill and sicken its neighbors for decades.
  • That Chick-Fil-A is already in business in Chicago, yet somehow I keep reading over and over about how Chicago banned it.
  • That the right of the 50,000 residents in the 1st Ward to petition their duly elected representative to shape their area’s economic life is called oppression, while opening a 1,600th restaurant over the wishes of the locals is called liberty.
  • Most disturbingly, I’ve learned that lots of people can mistake the sacred and monumental protections a CEO has for the things that he says and believes with some kind of weird magic protection for the things the CEO’s business does, such as occupy land, use access, obtain tax breaks, use city services…and of course, discriminate, exclude, and fund hate groups.

People who I respect have actually fallen hard for this nonsense, countering me by pointing out I wouldn’t support a community blocking of a permit if a business pronounced pro-gay tendencies. To which I reply something I once thought was obvious: If a proposed business had announced it preferred to hire gay people, and had been in court repeatedly because it puts its employees and franchisees through tests to make sure they were gay enough, and had funded psychos who deprogram sexual preference — which is the only set of conditions that matches what Chick-Fil-A does — you’d better believe I would tell my Alderman that such a place and its practices was not welcome in my neighborhood. and that the Alderman would lose my support next election if he didn’t reflect my view.  The central issue is corporate practice, not a CEO’s idiotic, discriminatory views nor LGBT equality per se.

Truly, this is a post-Citizens United world when we can get it this wrong. We laugh at Mitt Romney when he stands on a 18″ hay bale and sneers “corporations are people”, but when we mistake chicken bigots (protected) for their corporations (not protected, and subject to our standards), we have no right to laugh at Romney — we’re loudly agreeing with him.




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Rob’s Bands

Rob Warmowski entry at Chicago Punk Database
1984-89: Defoliants
1991-94: Buzzmuscle
2001-05: San Andreas Fault
2008- : Sirs
2008- : Allende
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