Archive for May, 2003

20
May
03

living in a wiggly world

anyone who knows me knows that i love devo, that their sick brand of robot-rock changed my life at a critical time. while i wish i’d spent more time writing it, i love the band so much i wrote this article about their beginnings and their career, because i had questions, dammit.

close friends also know that in 1999-2000 i came very very close to producing a record of solo work by devo‘s co-founding bassist/singer gerry casale along with early band members bob lewis and peter gregg. this record was proposed to pair gerry and his new material with the mighty drumming of the jesus lizard’s mac mcneilly and to be released on perishable records, the label i was working for at the time. (to make a long story short, we wined and dined mr. casale and short of a great and memorable experience, nothing happened. gerry didn’t believe in the numbers we were proposing (i think he was insulted at how few zeros were on paper) c’est la rock and roll.)

devo’s story is nothing short of amazing and finally a book has been written documenting this saga of outsider art, mass-media commerce, fake science and real experiments. mark mothersbaugh (devo’s mccartney to casale’s lennon) is today one of hollywood’s top score composers along with devo members bob mothersbaugh and bob casale at mutato muzika studios in los angeles, ensuring that the dementia of devo is embedded deeply into mass culture (take a look at the film credits for a brief peek as to how much they’ve already affected you.) get the records and get the book!

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13
May
03

hothouse bummer


on friday may 9th, the chicago police shut down the hothouse during a performance of the cuban group orquesta aragon. the place is losing tens of thousands of dollars while they wait out a court date. the reason? improper amusement license, say the cops. not so, say the managers, who claim to have dotted all i’s and crossed all t’s. “harrassment of the left” cry others, i.e. anyone who saw how the cops broke up the antiwar protest of march 20. orquesta aragon’s performances in the us have reportedly caused some ruckus with anti-castro demonstrators in the past, but if you follow that link you will see cuban musicians and hear some cool non-jazzy dance orchestra (charanga) pieces…and not a single AK-47, five-year plan or red star to be seen.

politically motivated shutdown or sudden hardening of license terms in a post-epitome nightclub disaster chicago? one thing is absolutely certain: the non-profit hothouse, one of our city’s finest rooms, is not owned by anybody related to mayor daley.

12
May
03

fight the spreadsheet

it doesn’t take a genius to notice that the level of diversity in mainstream culture has been plummeting for decades. that’s why anybody with even a shred of taste or the tiniest impatience with being regularly lied to turns away from the slop trough of major-league radio and tv at least some of the time. today’s mainstream radio dial is a howling wasteland of market-researched, demographic-tweaked swill aimed badly at the broadest audience possible. if you don’t believe me, just ask the founder of clear channel, the single most powerful radio and media corporation in the us today, who own over 1,200 radio stations in the us and canada and over 200 concert venues:

If anyone said we were in the radio business, it wouldn’t be someone from our company. We’re not in the business of providing news and information. We’re not in the business of providing well-researched music. We’re simply in the business of selling our customers products. – lowry mays, clearchannel ceo/founder

well, at least the filthy bastards no longer feel the need to put a nice face on it.

when the broadcasting business was born in the 1920s, the us government had this nutty idea that the airwaves were actually owned by the public and that the business of broadcasting had special properties that dictated that it should never be given the same treatment that the oil, steel, telephone, rail and electricity industries were given – that is, we should avoid the steady shrinking of the pool of ownership of stations into a very few powerful monopolies. it would be bad for our country and our method of government. it would be bad for our legitimate culture.

thanks to the us government’s disgraceful pandering to corporate interests over the last fifty years, this reasonable idea is now completely dead. even so, someone very powerful is about to wipe his wing-tips on the corpse.

michael powell, son of us secretary of state colin powell was appointed the head of the federal communications commission based on his special understanding of the delicate relationship between democracy’s health and the state of the mass media, and his vast body of work demonstrating that understanding the fact that he issued from the elite scrotum of colin powell. amazingly, this craven caddy for the corporate golf outing that passes for government protection of our actual, non-commercial culture doesn’t feel that enough is fucking enough already.

on june 2, he plans to lift the last vestiges of those 1920s/1930s restrictions on who can own tv and radio stations, newspapers and cable networks, clearing the way for the total wal-martization of our country’s airwaves. clear channel laying claim to a billion listeners isn’t enough, 1/6 of the world’s population isn’t enough. they need the government to untie their hands?

i want you to get mad. i want you to pound the desk. i want you to use the link below to alert your representatives in congress to this back-door larceny.

http://www.moveon.org/stopthefcc/

i want you to sign this petition because i want enough of our elected representatives to lift their heads up from the coke mirrors and scotch tumblers and strippers’ breasts for long enough to make some kind of noise about this. i want the young mr. powell to step down from “public service” and return to his earlier career as a corporate attorney, crushing lawsuits with deep pockets, like the run-of-the-mill scumbag he is.

props to my strong black brothers mark evans and jeff economy for reminding me about this impending disgrace.

01
May
03

godspeed levitch

it’s been a few weeks since i saw the documantary film the cruise, and i can’t stop thinking about it. i think it’s the best film i’ve seen in a long time.

it concerns an unforgettable new york city tour guide named timothy “speed” levitch, who rides a double-decker bus and every day brings the rubberneckers through not just manhattan, but himself. the journey, or cruise, is everything and i came away from this film absolutely in love with levitch, the film’s director bennet miller, and again with manhattan.

speed, if you ever read this, i want you to know that i too have stared up at the towers of america’s 20th-century fever-dream, microphone in hand, charged with the responsibility to interpret the mass madness to $17.00 ticket-holders. the cowshit surrounding my chicago makes prolific building material, a target-rich environment for pathos, bathos, high drama, low urges and the most unimaginable tensions. i too must speak in explosions to have any hope of portraying this place’s lessons. yet, before you, i am briefly silent in greatest appreciation of your impossible gift.

i hope the movie’s getting you a little tail, too.




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May 2003
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