Thursday, June 30, 2011
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Monday, June 27, 2011
Tuesday, June 28, 7pm (free!) at Word Brooklyn in Greenpoint: reading/signing/discussion/etc. Here's the facebook page.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Phill Niblock (NYC)
GX Jupitter-Larsen / aka The Haters (CA)
Gen Ken Montgomery (NYC)
Damion Romero (CA)
The Rat Bastard Experience (FL)
Yellow Tears (NYC)
Bruce Tovsky (NYC)
Katherine Liberovskaya & Al Margolis (NYC)
David Linton (NYC)
Mike Shiflet (OH)
Crank Sturgeon (ME)
IDM Theftable (ME)
Andrew Coltrane (MI)
Tom Grimley (CA)
Sick Llama (MI)
Dog Lady (MI)
BWT (IL, ex-Is)
Jeff Carey (MD)
Liam Mooney (CA)
Don Haugen (OR)
Twisty Cat (NYC)
Hex Breaker Quartet (NYC)
Kyle Clyde (NYC)
ISA Christ (NYC)
Rust Worship (NYC)
Monday, June 20, 2011
Kicking things off in this installment is our own David Barker...
Our Friday afternoon playlist comes from Jenn Pelly, a Brooklyn-based music writer and recent NYU grad in English and journalism. Her music writing, often about the current BK DIY scene, has appeared on Altered Zones, Thought Catalog, and elsewhere and she maintains the weblog Pelly Twins with her sister Liz, who writes about music for the Boston Phoenix. Jenn is a WNYU alum (though she’ll host the New Afternoon Show through this summer) and is also a veteran of #wny11 and the first run of my Downtown Scenes course last summer. Follow her on Twitter @jennpelly.
NYC folks: here's a rundown of a few events on the schedule.
And because I've got your attention, I'll just throw this song into the mix:
Thursday, June 16, 2011
52 Prince Street
(between Lafayette & Mulberry)
New York City, NY 10012 (map)
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
This morning’s playlist comes from veteran WFMU DJ Trouble, whose show remains on the summer schedule in its current Tuesday morning position, 9 to 12. (Be sure to tune in on June 28, when she’ll host Cyrus and me to talk about our books and NYC music in the 70s.) Trouble’s list, she writes, is “heavy on the art and outer borough essentials that propel nyc…”
This morning’s playlist comes from Daphne Brooks, who teaches in Princeton’s English Department and Center for African American Studies. Her books include Bodies in Dissent: Spectacular Performances of Race and Freedom, 1850-1910 and the 33 1/3 volume on Jeff Buckley’s Grace, which she treats not only as an inroad to the East Village in the 80s and early 90s, but also as a window onto the long history of race and popular music in America. She’s also a teacher and member of the board of directors at the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls.
E-Squared, aka Eric E.
This afternoon’s installment in our NYC playlist marathon comes from Eric E., aka Esquared, long-time denizen of the downtown blogosphere and virtual friend of PWHNY who describes himself as “a gentrified new yorker who’s finally appreciating the past, and slowly appreciating the present, and hopefully the future of nyc.” You can follow him on Tumblr or @cire_e on Twitter.
This afternoon’s playlist comes from Amanda Petrusich, a staff writer for Pitchfork and senior contributing editor for Paste. Her books include It Still Moves: Lost Songs, Lost Highways, and the Search for the Next American Music and Pink Moon (33 1/3 series). Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Spin, the Village Voice, the Onion A.V. Club, the Oxford American, ReadyMade, eMusic.com, MSN.com, and elsewhere. She compiles the weekly pop listings for the Times. She’s currently at work on a book about record collectors, as will probably be plain by her selections below. Follow her on Twitter at @amandapetrusich.
I hope you are enjoying these as much as I am. Bryan and Cyrus assure me there are even more in the pipeline.
Monday, June 13, 2011
Our first list comes from Marvin Taylor, Director of Fales Library and Special Collections at NYU, which hosts an extraordinary collection of material related to New York’s Downtown Scene in the 70s and 80s. Taylor also edited The Downtown Book, which we highly recommend.
Tim B, aka Karateboogaloo
This morning’s list comes from Tim B, proprietor of one of our favorite rock ‘n’ roll ephemera blogs, Stupefaction, a constant source of pleasure. He’s also one of the minds behind The New York Nobody Sings. Follow him on Twitter @karateboogaloo.
This morning’s playlist comes from our friend Caryn Rose, a Brooklyn-based writer and photographer who documents rock-and-roll, baseball and urban life. Her first novel, B-Sides and Broken Hearts, will be released in Summer 2011. Follow her on Twitter: @clr & @metsgrrl.
This morning’s playlist comes from Dave Mandl, WFMU DJ and music editor at The Brooklyn Rail. Follow him on Twitter: @dmandl.
This morning’s list comes from Alex Smith at Flaming Pablum, a Village blog with a 70s-80s East Village soul. He also contributes to The New York that Nobody Sings.
This morning’s list comes from author/musician Nathan Larson, who began his artistic life in the DC hardcore punk scene, playing in bands such as Swiz and eventually serving as lead guitarist in Shudder To Think. He relocated to NYC in 1989. Today he is best known as a film composer, having scored upwards of 30 films, including Boys Don’t Cry, Dirty Pretty Things, and The Woodsman. His debut novel The Dewey Decimal System was released May 2011 on Akashic Press. Nathan lives in Harlem with his wife Nina Persson and their son Nils. Follow him on Twitter at @natoism.
More to come...
"Let’s Talk About Love is less about Celine Dion and more an exploration of taste. Wilson, who is not a Dion fan, sets off to understand why she is so poular. Wilson puts Dion in context and questions whether our artistic preferences are based on innate beauty or social conditioning.
Thursday, June 09, 2011
Monday, June 20
Guest Reader: Bob Needham | Entertainment Director, AnnArbor.com
The Pogues’ “Rum, Sodomy & The Lash” by Jeffery T. Roesgen
WCBN DJ: Sue Dise
Monday, June 27
Guest Reader: Jeff Meyers | Managing Editor, Concentrate Media
Tom Waits' “Swordfishtrombones” by David Smay
WCBN DJ: Saramin
Monday, July 4
Guest Reader: Emlyn Chand, Writer and Book Publicist
Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” by Geoffrey Himes
WCBN DJ: Aaron Smith
Wednesday, June 08, 2011
Friday, June 03, 2011
"I've seen the sharks rub their faces on the cage where the sound is coming from as if to feel it."
They'll be rubbing their faces all over Joe Bonomo's book, next...
Thursday, June 02, 2011
There is also a very cool slideshow of the archival preservation and digitizing process.
Hat tip to author Joe Bonomo for the link.
Wednesday, June 01, 2011
Nick Attfield's incredible book is now available in stores and on the internet!
Please enjoy an excerpt below...
Also, Dave Markey's documentary film 1991:The Year Punk Broke will finally be available on DVD this Fall!
Introduction: Punk Breaks
Ever seen Dave Markey’s documentary film 1991: The Year Punk Broke?
A true classic. Disappointment that it has not yet made it to DVD, fear that it may never. For now, available only in fond memory, and on something you have to rewind.
Markey’s camera chases six American alternative rock bands as, in the dying summer of the title year, they maraud their way through the ancient cities of northwestern Europe. A kind of intoxicated grand tour, its two weeks are condensed for us into 100 minutes of film. Plenty of time to boast some good old-fashioned rock ’n’ roll excess, pushed toward particularly gruesome extremes.
In one memorable moment, Thurston Moore, one of the mop-topped Sonic Youth guitar heroes, and Markey’s tongue-in-cheek narrator, tells a French interviewer about a forthcoming show. “I’m immediately gonna, like, puke on the stage,” he says, “and then douse the puke with lighter fluid, and light it, and then kick it into the audience – this entire field of 100,000 people is going to go up in flames.” And before the last performance, he promises the shattering of the last taboo. “Tonight,” he states in his trademark rhyming sing-song, “I am going to defecate on stage, because I think that is the only way to express the nature of my soul according to rock ’n’ roll: that of waste, and that of especially good taste.”
He doesn’t, but the filmed performances that intersperse the offstage antics often degrade from tight riff and lyric into skittish noise-sludge, a kind of sonic diarrhea. Mid-performance, drumsticks and other objects violate guitar necks, one example only of a catalog of traumas these instruments suffer at Sonic Youth’s hands, before, unstrung, they are put out of their misery, swung high and smashed to pieces on the stage. Kurt Cobain, meanwhile, lurches around like a drunk fighting an invisible enemy, all the while singing in a profoundly unsettling falsetto; in what will become famous scenes from the Reading Festival, he is spun around on Chris Novoselic’s shoulders before diving, brown leather and ripped denim, into the surging crowd, black Strat first. Later, decked in shorts, sweat socks, and what can only be described as some kind of white labcoat, he headbutts a floor amp before attempting to run over the top of the drum kit; the rabble roars its approval. Daddy’s little girl ain’t a girl no more, stress his lyrics over and over, Daddy’s little girl ain’t a girl no more.
Sonic Youth and Nirvana are Markey’s undisputed stars. Blonde-haired, blue-eyed, a curiously conventional beautiful people, they prance around in the sunlight of the film’s opening sequence like pagan children. Their cultural gaucheness in these European surroundings generates much of the film’s wry humor (“What the fuck is a bratwurst? What the fuck is a bockwurst? We can’t tell the difference between a bratwurst, a bockwurst, a currywurst, a liverwurst, a knockwurst – all the wursts”). And Moore’s mock sermonizing tone, made all the more bizarre by the French subtitles that run throughout, comes to them as fluid as mother tongue. “People of the universe,” he screams, from high above a street of perplexed mid-European onlookers, “tonight will be the night that the skies will open, and spray forth the divine hand with pointed finger – and say, ‘Everybody, you are not just a duck! You are human! Go forth and thrash!’”.
Vous n’êtes pas qu’un canard, vous êtes humain! Allez de l’avant et THRASH!!!
And at the margins of these magnificent scenes, there is someone else. We first catch sight of him in crowds: waiting, bored, in the lunch line in Essen, or slumped at a plastic dinner table. Shuffling past the front apron of the stage, or ducking out of shot in the VIP tent. No Aryan wonderkid at all, he wears his dark hair long and straggly, and sports an outsized yellow trucker hat and big reflecto shades, a shirt with a gas pump, a dinner plate, and a bed on the front. He chews constantly: a roadie, surely, or soundman. Someone employed to drive a big van, or lift something heavy, knees improperly bent.
At one point, Kim Gordon – another of the luminous Sonic Youths – interviews this peculiar individual. She is playful, gently cajoles and kid-brothers him. He sounds as bored as he looks, his voice a downturned drawl, releasing only a slow-cooked, stodgy spew of irony at a rate of about ten words a minute. He edges around the same motif as Thurston Moore (“… the other day, some guy lit himself on fire on the common, and no-one even cared …”) and yet this similarity serves only to emphasize the difference between the two. Moore, the grandmaster of improv nonsensical sing-song; this man, a tuneless mutterer, from whom all passion and effort seems to have been burned out, so sarcastic that he reaches beyond sarcasm into a place where, who knows, he might actually be serious.
If only this film weren’t populated by so weird a crew of suddenly invigorated oddities, it would be a surprise when he – J Mascis – and his band – Dinosaur Jr. – appear on the festival stage, in Göttingen or Groningen or wherever. His singing voice might be only slightly less glacial than his spoken one, and his interest in those listening still minimal, but everything else is different. The hat and glasses, for one thing, are now gone, the gas pump shirt replaced by a psychedelic paisley button-down number, oddly ensembled with pristine white trousers, such as one might wear to play cricket, or make cheese.
And the playing is anything but lazy. The song, after all, is fierce as punk, and demands some serious engagement. J, answering the call, and in a direct provocation to his sciatic nerve, folds over his guitar and works it hard, one knee bent, instep inwards, as if he were performing some intensive woodworking procedure. Stepping forward to activate a pedal, he responds to the different effects unleashed as if hit by a right hand, stumbles back, loses his footing. Then head down, he launches into about two minutes of vertiginous solo, leaving it unclear at times if he is playing the guitar, or if the guitar might be playing him – flesh fist hammering metal string, or wooden body yanking sympathetic sinew.
Wherever it comes from, all this virtuosity is caught tight within the framework set out by bass and drums. Where Sonic Youth deliberately smash open their songs, halting the rhythm section to let wild sound bleed out in an unstaunched ooze, J’s band remains completely rigid. The song stays afloat: everything, more or less, keeps to the instruction manual, J’s rig is left entirely intact, and he doesn’t headbutt anything. So if it is excess, then it is also control, good old-fashioned rock ’n’ roll in the most hidebound fashion; perhaps, weirdly, the most controlled few minutes in this crazy film. No bodily fluids are expressed whatsoever.
* * *
For all that J Mascis stands at the margins of Markey’s film, he is also, in a funny way, its most central character. He and his music are, after all, best prepared of any to accept the doublespeak of its title. Because if punk breaks, then punk breaks: if 1991 was the year punk broke – in the sense of broke through to mass ears – then it must also mark the moment at which it broke down, finally coughed up its revolutionary insides and accepted the white handkerchief of the mainstream. Not that J particularly approves of this transaction. It’s just that he and his music don’t much seem to care.
Whereas Thurston Moore’s sensibilities are obviously rattled. “1991 is the year that punk finally breaks through to the mass consciousness of global society,” he laments in the film’s morosest scene, sitting politely next to a croissant, breakfast napkins neatly folded. “Modern punk, as featured in Elle magazine … Mötley Crüe singing ‘Anarchy in the UK’ in a European arena in front of a hundred thousand screaming people … one of the most sickeningly candy-assed versions you’ll ever hear of it … and you read an interview with John Lydon, he just doesn’t give a fuck. To him it’s a larf.” And even when he talks the anarchic talk, it’s empty of commitment – a verbal stunt or riff of language only, the same as the unfulfilled promise of the onstage shit and puke. Surrounded by four gawky German teenagers, he answers his own demand for a manifesto: “I think we should destroy the bogus capitalist process that is destroying youth culture by mass marketing and commercial paranoia-behavior-control, and the first step to doing it is to destroy the record companies, do you not agree?” Well, no: Christian, Jens, and the others cannot agree, since, as he well knows, they clearly have not even the faintest idea of what he is talking about.
When punk breaks, Markey’s film seems to suggest, it is not Sonic Youth that will thrive. They are too much the children of the fifties, the adolescents of post-1968. It will have to be the next alt-rock generation, a decade Sonic Youth’s junior. This includes Nirvana, of course, but they will burn out shortly anyway. And, considerably less reckless, Dinosaur Jr. J’s focus seems to be turned inwards, not outwards; he seems just to do what he does, with no intent to make any particular statement to society. Completely aloof, a total “slacker,” he seems somehow less constrained: free to shrug his shoulders at anything anyone says to him, and, onstage, free to fuse punk abrasiveness with the indulgence of rock much more traditional.
The bottom line is, they love it all. Moore, the manic MC, can’t help but throw out references to J throughout the film. (“Is J Mascis your boyfriend?” he asks two little German girls waiting for a bus). Kim Gordon’s big-sister affection is obvious. And, in an oddly out-of-place, but telling mainstream-rock moment, the crowd sings back to J what has fast become one of his most celebrated lines, the last of a culminatory verse that strikes a particular chord in this world of 1991. It demonstrates its author’s paradoxical position – a central subject of investigation for this book, a condition stuck awkwardly out there somewhere between total alienation and total inclusion:
Sometimes I don’t thrill you
Sometimes I think I’ll kill you
Just don’t let me fuck up will you
’Cos when I need a friend it’s still you
* * *