Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Netflix Procrastination

An interesting (if obvious) observation:

Netflix reveals something about your own behavior you should have noticed by now, something which keeps getting between you and the things you want to accomplish.

If you have Netflix, especially if you stream it to your TV, you tend to gradually accumulate a cache of hundreds of films you think you’ll watch one day. This is a bigger deal than you think.

Take a look at your queue. Why are there so damn many documentaries and dramatic epics collecting virtual dust in there? By now you could draw the cover art to “Dead Man Walking” from memory. Why do you keep passing over it?

Many studies over the years have shown you tend to have time-inconsistent preferences. When asked if you would rather have fruit or cake one week from now, you will usually say fruit. A week later when the slice of German chocolate and the apple are offered, you are statistically more likely to go for the cake.

This is why your Netflix queue is full of great films you keep passing over for “Family Guy.” With Netflix, the choice of what to watch right now and what to watch later is like candy bars versus carrot sticks. When you are planning ahead, your better angels point to the nourishing choices, but in the moment you go for what tastes good.

-David McRaney

This is funny, because while I can absolutely relate to what he's saying, Netflix actually has the opposite effect on me. As the above quote indicates, I have a long list of artsy foreign dramas that I mean to watch. I've had such a list (either on paper or in my head) for decades. But, in the age before Netflix, I never really got around to watching many of them. The truth is, I really DON'T want to watch The Passion of Joan of Arc or Wild Strawberries or whatever. I want to have watched them. So whenever I would go to a video store, they'd always be competing with some horror or exploitation flick, and they would usually lose.

When I signed up for Netflix, this dynamic changed, because now I have a queue. And if I put one of those movies in my queue, they will eventually come up, and I will watch them. So far, this has only failed once: I did send Pandora's Box back without watching it (I was prepared for silent drama, but nobody told me it was two and a half hours long!). OK, there are two films that I keep moving down in my queue: 1900 and Eraserhead (which I haven't seen since high school), the former because it's 6 hours long, the latter because it's just really disturbing. But overall, I get a lot more of these eat-your-vegetables movies watched now that I have Netflix than I did when I just went to the video store. (Another thing I've found helpful is breaking long movies up into miniseries, and watching one hour at a time, the same way you would Mad Men or The Wire. Just this morning I finished the great Taiwanese film Yi Yi, which I had broken into three sittings.) Of course, I don't know how this would work if I switched over to watching films on the Netflix Instant gizmo. Maybe my techilliteracy is working in my favor here.

Songs of the Season, Part 24

Looking out my window at the strange, dark clouds floating over the city, I'm reminded of my favorite Neil Young song, which comes from my favorite Neil Young album, On the Beach. I'm sure I would find that After the Gold Rush, Harvest, and Rust Never Sleeps are all about as good as On the Beach if I were ever to them, but this is the only one I've ever bothered to buy, so it's my favorite.

This song makes me think of that feeling you get when a big storm is moving in. First you feel a cold breeze, then you see those black clouds moving in over the horizon like some kind of army of darkness, and you start to feel this electricity in the air as you hear the distant rumble of thunder. The hair on your neck is practically standing up. I've never experienced this out here, but back east I experienced it plenty of times, and it's one of my favorite meteorological phenomena.

The heavily reverbed Rhodes piano on this track seems an odd fit with the steel guitar and the Nashville sound of everything else, and adds another layer to the image it conjures up, makes me think the coming storm is occurring at sunset so that the clouds all shimmer with a strange orange glow. Maybe this arrangement isn't as odd as it appears. It sounds more familiar than it should. Could you go back and find other examples of 70's country records with heavy electric piano? The Drive-By Truckers used a similar sound on "Check Out Time in Vegas."

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sunday Morning Rant: Alcohol Laws

In my professional life, the freedom sapping policies that bother me most are consequential things like torture, excessive government surveillance, and the other civil liberties issues longtime readers have seen me cover. But in my personal life, it's restrictions related to the sale of alcohol that drive me nuts: Alabama's longtime prohibition on beer with the alcohol content of an average IPA; the baffling law in New York State that prevented my girlfriend and I from sharing a sample of whiskey when we visited a distellery; the fact that prior to a party I threw I couldn't buy alcohol at the Costco in Virginia; the notion that it is illegal for me to go down to a California beach on a Saturday at twilight and sip a cocktail at the water's edge as the sun sets.

-Conor Frieedrsdorf

To which I say A-MEN, BROTHER. He's talking about the law prohibiting taco trucks from selling beer, which actually seems like one of the least-ridiculous alcohol laws out there, at least if you accept the fact that open container laws already exist, but it's still a symptom of the whole silly enterprise. He doesn't even mention some of the weirder ones I've encountered, like in one of the Carolinas (I can't remember which), where bars can't sell mixed drinks, but you can buy a coke and one of those little airplane bottles of Jack Daniels and mix it yourself. In Florida, every grocery store has to have it's own separate liquor store next door, so if you want a bottle of hard stuff, you have to go through the whole check out rigmarole twice. The restrictions on certain alcohol contents of beer mentioned above are particularly stupid in a world in which liquor (or, for that matter, wine) is legal. I lived in Georgia for a long time, so that state's laws really get under my skin. You can't buy alcohol on Sunday, which is not only incredibly inconvenient but seems like a pretty clear violation of the separation of church and state. Some counties are "dry", so you can't buy alcohol at all. I almost have more respect for whatever Footloose-style city council voted that in, instead of putting all these chicken shit regulations on it (of course, all the rich Klansmen on the city council in such places made sure that the county lines are drawn so that the country club is on the other side of the line).

Get this: when I moved to Athens in 1991, they had a very reasonable open container policy. You could be drinking at a bar, and you could pour your beer into a plastic cup and go for a walk downtown. It was nice. It really added to one's enjoyment of the city and its nightlife. But shortly thereafter, the city council passed a stricter open container policy that ended this practice. Now, I'm not saying that there wasn't some problem with public drunkenness or DUI's in that town, but I really doubt these new restrictions did much to reduce those problems. But here's the kicker: the one time when that city really did have a serious problem with public drunkenness and DUI was always game days. When the Georgia Bulldogs (the football team, of course--nobody gave a shit about their champion basketball team, they all wanted to come out and watch their dead-last football team) played, the population of the town doubled for a day, with obnoxious drunks falling down in the streets and the roads clogged with drivers on their way out of town who had spent all day getting as shitfaced as possible. So of course, we wouldn't want the open container policy to interfere with that beloved tradition, so they included a clause saying the law was NOT in effect on game days! The sheer, baffling, outrageous stupidity of this drove me out of my mind!

But that's the thing with all of these laws. They don't actually stop anyone from getting drunk, from getting too drunk, from getting too drunk and acting like an asshole in public, or from driving drunk. They just make life more inconvenient and miserable.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Psychedelicatessen Radio Episode 9: Fuck Your Face With a Knife

Download or stream it here! We had a little too much fun making this one, and I got a little experimental at the end. I actually cut out some great stuff to get it down to about an hour and ten minutes. As it is, you can hear the shocking truth about carnies and dolphin porn, and we nearly come to blows debating the respective merits of chocolate and caramel, and the best way to serve grits.

UPDATED: I re-edited it to correct some errors, so now you have the horse porn section instead of the strangely repeated section on growing old. Link updated.

Chris Schumacher:

Lucy Craig:

And let's put some more Bobbie Oliver into the mix:

And seriously, fuck this purple motherfucker:

Allyson Hannigan Dressed as an Elf!

Happy Holidays, One and All! Well, my Allyson Hannigan crush is not quite as intense as it was a decade ago, but boy does she look cute in that little elf getup on this TV Guide cover from two years ago. And note that appropriately skeptical headline, "Is Jay Leno Ready for Prime Time?" Little did we know!

Apologies if you prefer the brunette, TV Guide put her in the fold. But if you're about Doogey Howser, you gotta love this.

Crazy Horses!

Hey, there are TWO--count 'em!--episodes of the Sonic Safari podcast up right now! One is a special holiday mix, the other is just your basic episode of Sonic Safari, but it's a great one. There's a sort of psychedelic comedy set, and a killer gospel set, and their version of a "rock" set, which has a great Kim Fowley song about doing "the Motorboat," but I'll take this opportunity to talk about the song right after it, possibly the least obscure song they've ever played on the show, as seen below.

This song is so cool. On the one hand, it's shocking how much the song rocks. This is a bubblegum band of Mormon siblings, and they had this total hard rock song that was as heavy as just about anything on the radio at the time. But then you listen to it some more, and something sounds off. I couldn't put my finger on it at first, but then I figured it out. Listen to how he pronounces "horses." Not "hawses," as it should properly be pronounced in the African-American dialect that is standard for rock n roll. He's singing in the Richard-Pryor-doing-a-white-guy voice. Which is actually very cool. How many suburban white kids start rock bands and sing like suburban white kids? This is the authentic voice of the youth of Utah.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Psychedelicatessen Radio Episode 8: Prarie Homo Companion

I've been derelict in posting. Download or stream it here! On this episode, we welcome Tommy Natoli and singing cowboy Robby Ravenwood.

Tommy Natoli:

Robby Ravenwood:

And of course, Bobbie Oliver:

Robby Ravenwood named his two big influences as Tom Lehrer and Dan Hicks. So here's some Tom Lehrer:

And here's Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Spittin' Wicked Randomness, Vol. XXXVI

Some cool shit to share:

Last Man in Blackface: an AMAZING account of the life and career of Pigmeat Markham.

Musical tributes to Billy Beer.

INCREDIBLE pre-LSD Jack Kirby cartoon!

Transcript of UCLA's 20th anniversary reunion for Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.

Graffiti on polar icebergs.

Bill Waterson's Pre-Calvin & Hobbes cartoons from college.

Misheard lyrics (lots of them!) made their way into The Anthology of Rap. When Ice Cube says "your plan against the ghetto backfired," and it gets turned into "you're playing against the ghetto black fly," more has happened than just a simple error in transcription; you've made an important song perplexing and impenetrable—while staking a claim, backed by institutional power and market presence, that your version is canonical.

Choice quotes from Pauline Kael. You can watch her favorite film, Menilmontant, here.

Andrew Sullivan on the Spousal Diaspora. This is a good example of why the libertarian copout of "getting government out of marriage" is not a very good solution.

Let There be Light: John Ford's long-supressed 1945 documentary on shellshock, free to watch on Google Video.

1976: Ebert interviews John D. MacDonald.


Golden Age Robocop!

Victor Banana's soundtrack to Dan Clowes' Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron.

Transylvania is a weird place.

And here come the videos! Kathleen Hannah explains the origin of "Smells Like Teen Spirit":

Reconstructing the music of ancient Sumeria:

Into the Cosmos, animation by Chopsy.

INTO THE COSMOS - Architeq/Chopsy from Chopsy on Vimeo.

Skating in Kabuhl.

SKATEISTAN: TO LIVE AND SKATE KABUL from Diesel New Voices on Vimeo.

Billy Barty's Liberace impression.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Captain Beefheart, 1941-2010

"I don't think I do music. I think I do spells."

- Captain Beefheart

Captain Beefheart, a true American original and visionary of modern music, died this week, so we gotta pour one out for the man.

I bought the Captain's storied masterpiece, Trout Mask Replica, back in 1987. It was an album I loved without liking. You know, I mean I loved the idea that somebody would create something so fucked up and illogical, and would insist that it be a DOUBLE ALBUM. I loved playing it for people to freak them out. I loved taking one of the weirder songs, like "Pena" or "The Old Fart at Play" and putting them on a mixtape between Butthole Surfers and Pussy Galore songs. But it was never really something I would sit down and listen to, certainly not all the way through. Then one day, after I had had the album for close to a decade, I listened to it, and suddenly I heard a completely different album. When I listen to it now, I just hear a really deep, funky blues rock record. That may sound like bullshit, but honestly, Trout Mask and it's follow up Lick My Decals Off, Baby don't even sound that weird anymore. This gives me hope that maybe one day I will be able to wrap my ears around Albert Ayler.

I do wonder how many people get turned off to Beefheart because of Trout Mask. As deserved as I think the praise for Trout Mask, Decals and the Captain's late career triumph Bat Chain Puller are, I bet a lot more people would warm to Beefheart if they started with Safe as Milk, Clear Spot and The Spotlight Kid, relatively conventional albums that filter the Captain's weird visions through relatively conventional blues, soul and garage rock, just as I'm sure that Sonic Youth would have a lot fewer fans if their followers were always trying to win converts with Confusion is Sex rather than Daydream Nation.

The quote at the top of this, by the way, comes from an amazing interview conducted by Lester Bangs, and appearing in the anthology Main Lines, Blood Feasts and Bad Taste. Track it down, it's a great read. Some of my favorite Beefheart moments:

Great rocker from Safe as Milk:

An odd song in the Beefheart catalog, but one of my favorites:

Probably the catchiest song on Trout Mask:

Almost sounding like an Al Green song:

Great train blues:

And maybe my favorite, this a capella tune from Trout Mask. The amazing lyrics are listed below.

a thick cloud caught a piper cub's tail
the match struck blue on a railroad rail
the old puff horse was just pulling through
and a man wore a peg leg forever
i'm on the bum where the hoboes run
...the air breaks with filthy chatter
oh i don't care there's no place there
i don't think it matters
my skin is blazing through
and my clothes in tatters
and the railroad looks
like a 'y' up the hill of ladders
one shoe fell on the gravel
one stick poked down
gray of age fell down on a pair of ears
an eagle shined through my hole watch pocket
a gingham girl baby girl
passed me by in tears
a jack rabbit raised his folded ears
a beautiful sagebrush jack rabbit
and an oriole sang like an orange
his breast full of worms
and his tail clawed the evening like a hammer
his wings took to air like a bomber
and my rain can caught me a cup of water
when i got into town
odd jobs mam and your horse i'll fodder
i'm the roundhouse man
i once was your father
a little up the road a wooden candy stripe barber pole
and above it read a sign: 'painless parker'
licorice twisted around under a fly
and a youngster cocked her eye
god, before me - if i'm not crazy - is my daughter
come little one with your little old dimpled fingers
gimme one and i'll buy you a cherry phosphate
take you down to the foaming brine and water
and show you the wooden tits
on the goddess with the pole out full sail
that tempted away your peg legged father
i was shanghaied by a high hat beaver mustache man
and his pirate friend
i woke up in vomit and beer in a banana bin
and a soft lass with brown skin
bore me seven babies with snapping black eyes
and beautiful ebony skin
and here it is i'm with you my daughter
thirty years away can make a seaman's eyes
a roundhouse man's eyes flow out water
salt water

Psychedelicatessen Holiday Gift Guide

Starting with the idea that books make the best gifts, I and all my interns and assistants here at Psychedelicatessen Headquarters have put together this list of books that would make great gifts to the loved ones in your life. Or to me. First of all, from my friend Dan Whitehead, to any film geek in your life, consider this rundown of the most embarassing roles in shitty movies for pretty much every actor you've ever heard of.

Here's another book I'm itchin' to read. This has gotten kudos from some of the OG riot grrrls as the first serious, comprehensive document of the movement. If you know a music nerd who's already read Please Kill Me, England's Dreamin', Rip it up and Start Again, We Got the Neutron Bomb, American Hardcore, This Band Could Be Your Life and Loser, this should be the next one their reading list.

If that special someone on your list is a lover of inebriation, consider this history of prohibition in the U.S., which turns out to be a much more complex and interesting story than you'd expect (isn't everything?).

This one came out last year, and I've been wanting to get to it, but haven't gotten to it yet. Some of the commenters on Amazon seem to think there's a lot of bullshit in this book, but I'll take a good story over the truth any day.

I want to read all of these books in the next year, but the truth is I just don't have much time to read any more. It took me most of this year to get through one biography of Michael O'Donahue. But hey, if anyone out there wants to buy me a Christmas gift, I sure would like to get this:

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Freedom Force

I had a vague recollection of this Filmation cartoon from my childhood (1978, to be exact). I couldn't really remember much about it, but it was available on DVD, so I stuck it in my Netflix queueueueue, and a year or so later, it arrived in the mail. Freedom Force was apparantly spun off of another cartoon called The Space Sentinals, and also off the Isis live action TV show, which was itself spun off of the Shazam! live action TV show. If I remember correctly, Shazam! had an animated sequence where Captain Marvel talked to the elders (Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles and Mercury), which I think was probably the inspiration for these cartoons, and...hey, are you listening? I'm talking here! Sheesh...

Watching cartoons in the 70's was pretty weird. Like, every year there would be a new Flinstones cartoon, but they'd make some change to the formula, like Pebbles and Bam-Bam would be teenagers and look exaclty like Fred and Daphne from Scooby Doo, and then the next year Fred and Barney would be cops, and they'd have The Schmoo for a sidekick, and so on. You could just imagine the network executives coming up with all these innovations and forcing them on the people making the cartoons. There was a Tarzan cartoon, and then the next year it was repackaged as the Tarzan Power Hour, and each half-hour Tarzan episode was edited down to 10 minutes and stuck in with Batman and Robin or Dr. Shrinker or some shit about a talking dunebuggy, or whatever they were doing that year. Then the next year it was the Tarzan Super 7, which is where Freedom Force existed.

So yeah, Freedom Force is basically a Justice League of mythological heroes, featuring Hercules, Isis (her powers are the same as Storm from X-Men), Merlin, Sinbad and Super Samurai. Super Samurai is the best touch, I think. He's a Japanese kid who can turn into a giant samurai. They couldn't even be bothered to look up a mythological hero from Asia, they just throw Super Samurai in there.

I remember being very excited by this show, because it was really all my favorite things rolled up together. I was obsessed with Saturday morning cartoons, I loved superhero teams, my favorite book was this big, illustrated book of Greek myths that my parents got for me, my favorite movies were the Ray Harryhausen Sinbad movies, and my favorite toys were Shogun Warriors (I didn't really know much about Japanese culture, so that's what I assumed Super Samurai was). Because it was part of an anthology series, each episode is maybe 15 minutes. Not much time to develop plot or character, and the whole cast isn't even put to much use: Sinbad only appears briefly in one episode from the entire run (his goofy sidekick, who you see riding the carpet with him in that frame from the opening credits, actually gets more screentime!).

It really upsets me whenever I see a children's movie or TV show that is obviously based on the idea that kids will watch any crap you put in front of them, but watching this really hammers home that, at least for me, this assumption was completely true. If you put a bunch of superheroes fighting monsters on Saturday mornings in the 70's, I would watch it no matter how awful it was. I mean, I already knew this to be true from going back and watching Superfriends and Spider-Man, but it always stings a little.

One thing that's funny about this is how they always try to shoehorn a little lesson for kids in this show. That guy above, that looks like Barry Gibb with earmuffs? He was the ruler of a magical kingdom of dragon riders, who was having an argument with his brother who was trying to develop airplanes or something (that's his son in the picture below, wearing bellbottoms). So they were having a war to settle it, and Hercules and Isis got them to sit down and work things out, and learn an important lesson about cooperation. I should think that's stupid, but it's actually kinda cool. If only we could get Superman or Oprah to sit the Israelies and Palestinians down and talk about their feelings to each other, maybe they'd decide to work things out too.

Music of the (Blogo)Spheres

Early this year, I wrote a series of retrospective posts on my experience of the decade that just ended, one covering my personal life, one covering movies (from which I've so far spun out the first three installments of what I hope will be a ten part series covering my favorite films of the decade), and one covering music. In the latter, I wrote about the changes in how we experience music, and listed my top 10 albums of the decade. I augmented this with a two part "mixtape" of my favorite songs of the decade (YouTube links only, no mp3's). But I feel like I didn't really get the whole story. The big story of the decade in music was, of course, online file sharing. There are lots of different angles to this, but my favorite development was the rise of the mp3 blog. And so, to that end, I'm going to write a few words on this subject, and leave you with a two-part killer mixtape (actual mp3's this time) of my favorite tunes I copped from the blogosphere over the last decade.

The Napster model of filesharing was great. It allowed me, over the course of about a year or two, to accumulate a few hundred mp3's, mostly of old favorite songs that I had never been able to find and had been hankering to hear for some time. But that's pretty much the extent of where that model can take you. mp3 blogs, on the other hand, make music criticism--or music advocacy, really--come to life, by letting you listen to the songs being discussed. And that's the model of mp3 blogs I like--a couple songs posted, and some very intelligent and personal writing about them. Unfortunately, those blogs seem to be an endangered species nowadays. The more popular model are the ones that post whole albums with no writing, which seems pretty lazy to me (not that I don't make use of their efforts).

So here we go. I've uploaded two sets of mp3's. Each one can fit on an 80-minute CD, if anyone still does that (I do, to listen to in my van). They consist entirely of songs released before 2000, that I had never heard before 2000, and which I got off of other mp3 blogs. They pretty much cover my personal musical fetishes: old blues, early rock n roll, 70's funk, old school punk rock, golden age hip hop, heavy acid rock, plus a few musical oddities. If you scraped out my brain and hooked it up to a speaker, this is pretty much what it would sound like. When possible, I'm including a link back to the original post where I got the song. Most of these songs are out of print, but if you can track them down, by all means put some money in the artist's pockets.

Disc 1

Bow Wow Wow - C30, C60, C90 Go! - Pretty sure I found this song on an early blog called Bubblegum Machine, although I can't find the original post. An appropriate song, thematically, to start this mix with as it's a tribute to an older, analog form of file sharing: taping songs off the radio. Like the digital version, this is something that everyone did, nobody thought was a big deal, and record companies considered "theft." Thus, when you bought an album in the 80's, it would have a sticker with the above logo on it. In high school, within my little group of 5 or so friends, we bought records voraciously, but we'd never buy the same record that another one of us had bought. We'd just tape it. I mean, really, why would you do anything differently? Obviously, there's a bit of ambiguity here--I want the bands I love to make some fucking money--but I love how completely this song embraces the idea of getting music for free. More about Bow Wow Wow here.

The Avengers - We Are the One - I said that these were all songs I had never heard before 2000. Well, I was stretching the truth, because I actually heard this song twice around 1985: first, Redd Kross doing a slowed down "psychedelic" cover of it on one of those Flipside Video Fanzine things, and then the actual record on a mixtape that was played over the P.A. at a Circle Jerks show. I never found out who it was, though, until sometime in the last decade. I can't remember what blog I got this from, but pretty much every punk rock blog has posted it at some point. One of the best punk anthems I've ever heard.

The Red Squares - Transmitter - So much great about this tune, down to the jackhammer sound during the guitar solo. Great beat--I picture the singer doing some kind of hoppy little dance across the stage--and I LOVE that second voice in the chorus growling "Seeeeerious".

Mean Red Spiders - Rejected at the High School Dance - I've written before about how punk records often use shitty production to their advantage. Here's a great example, with everything pushed into the red (in imitation of the Stooges' Raw Power), making it sound like a migraine. Not so much a song as a misogynist tantrum, but such a great punk sound.

Vox Pop - Cab Driver - As Joe indicates in his post, this c. 1980 punk single actually sounds much more like a c. 1989 punk single. Nice and noisy.

Skafish - Disgracing the Family Name - One of the fun things about music writing is the opportunity to insert your own narrative on history. Joe Stumble, on his blog Last Days of Man on Earth, has been assembling (whether he's conscious of it or not) a sort of alternative canon of late 70's-early 80's punk rock, distinguished by a lot of these songs that are somewhere between punk and new wave, whatever either of those terms might actually mean. He also turned me on to the Atomic Shockwaves series of compilations, which I've been slowly going through. This post prompted me to post a Skafish b-side here.

Big Jay McNeely - Just Crazy - There's a lot of great material on Big Jay in Central Avenue Sounds. He was (like all the jazzbos coming out of Watts at the time) classically trained, and according to all who heard him a pretty good bebop player, but when he recorded his first record ("Deacon Hop"), a raunchy r&b instrumental, he cleared all training and technique from his mind and just started wailing. He goes even further out on this one, which sounds almost like Albert Ayler or something.

Myron Lee - Homicide - This is one of the best rockabilly records I've ever heard, not least for that nasty sax.

Ronnie Lee Dawson - Action Packed - Ya hear me? I said ACTION PACKED!

The Surfaris - Bombora! - This surf instrumental rocks so hard that I have a hard time believing it's a vintage 60's tune, and not some 90's surf-punk band like Man...Or Astroman? or, uh, The Bomboras.

The Pleasure Seekers - What a Way to Die - Absolutely brilliant girls-in-the-garage rocker out of Motor City featuring the Quatro sisters. That's Suzi Quatro, and her three sisters, one of whom is Sherilynn Fenn's mama. You can find this on the great comp Friday Night at the Hide Out.

Thee Midniters - Jump, Jive and Harmonize - I never even heard of this East L.A. band until I moved here, but they have a huge following out here. Generally, they seem to be more loved for soul tunes like "Chicano Power" than their killer garage rock like this song and "Whittier Boulevard," but this has got to be one of the hottest rockers of the era.

Marvin Holmes and the Uptights - Ride Your Mule - The next three songs can all be found at the above link. I came upon them all simultaneously when I discovered Soul Sides, one of the original mp3 blogs. I probably have plenty of hard funk songs that are better than this one from the blogosphere, but I like these three tunes together. Listen to how tight the band is, especially in that drum break!

Albert Collins - Do the Sissy - A lot of these songs I lost when my computer crashed, and went back and recovered them from CD-R's I had burned. Thus, I was surprised when I looked this up to find that it was by blues guitarist Albert Collins. A great Meters style funk song, but the polyrhythmic tension is even tighter here than on any Meters record!

The Nite Liters - Afro Strut - The title says it all. Can't you just see Freddie "Boom-Boom" Washington struttin' down the halls of Cooley High in slo-mo while working his blow-out comb?

Jimmy Rogers (?) - Sloppy Drunk - I'm actually not positive that this is Jimmy Rogers (I know there are several versions of this song), but when I searched for the song, I found this rather amazing post on Locust St., which I think is the source. Locust St. was, I've always said, the best mp3 blog out there, and the epitome of what a good mp3 blog should look like: Chris posted an ecclectic array of very obscure songs, with extensive (and very good) writing to give context to the music. This is the kind of thing that should be encouraged, or at least tolerated, by copyright holders, so it's all the more depressing that he had to call it quits. He's now attempting to blog about every song David Bowie ever wrote, recorded or performed.

Charley Jordan - Keep it Clean - The next three songs are all from the pre-war blues blog Honey, Where You Been So Long?, but I can't find the old posts. There are lots of variations of this clever tune, but Charley Jordan seems to be the originator.

Frank Stokes - Chicken You Can Roost Behind the Moon - Completely surreal blues about stealin' chickens.

Elizabeth Cotten - Oh Babe it Ain't No Lie - Man, this is some serious blues. Listen to Cotten's voice, you can hear a lifetime of hardship and misery in it (which probably brings up a lot of questions about a white listener's fetishization of black suffering, but we'll skip that for now).

Small Island Pride - Carnival Celebration - A rare entry into the gangsta calypso genre.

Butterboy - Old Aunt Dinah - A bizarre "eefing" recording that I got from Tofu Hut. Can't find the original post.

The Fendermen - Mule Skinner Blues - More eefin' on some nuts proto-rockabilly.

Ernie Cook - Shut Your Big Fat Mouth - And another great proto-rockabilly tune, with some seriously aggressive lyrics.

Lee Andrews and the Hearts - Girl Around the Corner - Great upbeat doo-wop. This song just tickles me.

The Bosstones - Mopity Mope - This one begins three a threefer of songs with wacky vocals. I was pretty sure I'd gotten this from Reverend Frost's Spread the Good Word blog, but I can't find it. Didn't realize how much that blog is represented here, though.

Claude McLin - Jambo - no idea.

Doc & the Dwellers - Oh Baby! - From the metadata, this one seems to have come from the archives of The Hound's show on WFMU. The Hound currently runs my favorite mp3 blog.

Frank Motley - New Hound Dog - This comes from a comp called Wild and Frantic, which pretty much describes the music contained therein. I don't know anything about this band (although, based on the arrangement, I would venture to guess they're from New Orleans), but this record has pretty much everything I look for in a rock n roll record: growling vocals, chaotic arrangement, insane energy and wailing horns.

Mary Irwin - Bully of the Town - Minstrel shows are a fascinating part of American history. Yes, there was a time in the early 20th century when there were huge hit songs with titles like "All Coons Look Alike to Me" and "N---- Want a Watermelon." My gramma used to sing me (far less offensive) songs she'd heard at minstrel shows. She was from Long Island--minsterlsy was not popular in the South, interestingly enough. Anyway, this is about as fucked up as any recording I've ever heard. Chris describes it better than I could: "May Irwin's 1907 record "Bully of the Town" is minstrelsy at its most surreal. A century on, the track (an enormous hit for Victor Records at the time) seems an obscene absurdity--a middle-aged white woman singing, in a genteel soprano, "I'm a Tennessee nigger" and going on about fetching her razor and cutting down her rival. It would be as if Bette Midler had covered the Geto Boys' "Mind Playin' Tricks On Me.""

Disc 2

Paul Humphrey and the Kool Aid Chemists - Funky L.A. - I consider this the unofficial theme song of our fine city.

Archie Shepp - Attica Blues - I believe this came from Ear Fuzz, can't find the original post. This is just such a "Goddamn!" track. Lester Bangs HATED this album, which pretty much proves he was full of shit.

Randy Holden - Fruit and Icebergs - Blue Cheer's cover of "Summertime Blues" is one of my favorite recordings of all time. Unfortunately, there's really only one other song ("Parchment Farm," I think it was) on Vincebus Eruptum, and nothing in the rest of their discography, that sounds like it. But this solo album from Blue Cheer guitarist Randy Holden (he wasn't even one of the founding members) is pretty much what you'd want from a Blue Cheer record. So blue cheers to ChrisGoesRock, a great full-album blog that keeps getting shut down and reappearing, for making it available.

Gil Evans - There Comes a Time - I listened to this amazing album as I was recovering from gallbladder surgery. This very long track feels like sinking down into a swimming pool, or at least that's the comforting feeling it gave me as I was drifting in and out of consciousness.

The Professionals - Theme from the Godfather - Take the immortal theme from the great gangster epic, add funky drum breaks, psychedelic guitars and spaghetti western horns, and it's almost impossible to believe that this has never been used in a Tarantino movie.

Young Zee - Juice - I like the way you feel the bass thump at the beginning, barely within the range of your ears.

LL Cool J - Crime Stories - Possibly the overall best LL Cool J track I've ever heard, an out-of-print bonus track from the Walk Like a Panther cassette.

Volume 10 - Pistol Grip Pump - Ah, early 90's hip hop. Great Cypress Hill rip-off (with a little ODB thrown in) that I'd never heard before.

J. Walter Negro & the Loose Jointz - Shoot the Pump - One of the great discoveries. Remember the scene in Do the Right Thing where the kids open a fire hydrant and direct the spray with a hollowed-out spraypaint can? Apparently, that practice is called "shooting the pump," and this anthem dedicated to that activity has got to be one of the all time great summer jams, performed by a live band hip hop group c. 1981!

Kid Koala - Drunk Trumpet - I think I got this from Ear Fuzz. Might even be from this century, but it fits nicely in this mix, so I'm including it.

Aesop Rock - Hold the Cup - I love that "dragon waking up" bowed bass sample, but the lyrics are what really set this one apart.

Ray Barretto - Acid Nice, long, funky jam.

Willie Colon and Hector Lavoe - Aguanille
Marius Cutler - Zouk
Larry Harlow - Freak Off - These last few songs all come from Captain's Crate (defunct, replaced by Mixtape Riot), one of my very favorites. I could do a whole mix of stuff I got from there. They specialized in what might be called "tropical funk," a sound that just fits right up my alley. The first two are a sort of funky exotica, the last an outrageous salsa track.

Bonus Track: That ending seems a little abrupt. If I had room, I would add Lee "Scratch" Perry - City Too Hot. Here's the video instead:

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Saturday Morning Rant

Oh hi there, person who reads this blog. Long time no see. Yeah, for the last month or two this blog has basically been used for promoting other projects like the podcast (just recorded another last night!), propped up by YouTube links. Well, having concluded the bulk of the Eagle Rock Comedy Festival Thursday night, I'm pretty much coasting for the rest of the year, which means I have a little time to get out some of the posts that have been piling up inside my head. Some of them are going to be a little long. And I've got another series I'm trying to talk myself out of doing. But let's ease back into it with something short, which I meant to post about when it was actually relevant, but just couldn't find the time: proposed improvements to cigarette warning labels!

What cracks me up about this whole anti-smoking movement is that they've already won! NOBODY SMOKES ANYMORE! It's too expensive, it's not really seen as "cool" anymore, and even if you wanted to, you can't smoke anywhere! The people that still smoke despite all this? Those are some committed motherfuckers. If someone still wants to smoke in this environment, there's nothin' you're gonna be able to do to stop them. Quit wasting your time thinking about them!

I mean, those would be pretty cool if they were placed on the packages surrepticiously by guerilla artists or something, but can you call it "culture jamming" when the government does it?

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Eagle Rock Comedy Festival

The Eagle Rock Comedy Festival is here! Three miles of comedy in L.A.'s biggest little town. 180 comedians at 12 venues over two nights, and it's ALL FREE. Just a huge celebration of comedy, like a Comedy Prom or something. You can see the complete schedule and more information here. Wednesday night at Dave's Chillin' and Grillin', I'll be performing with the StandUp Academy Improv Troupe (we'll be opening the show), and Bobbie is headlining, so that's the one to come see. But let me just add a few words on the great places hosting the comedy.

SWORK - Great coffee! My friendly, neighborhood coffee joint.
Dave's Chillin' and Grillin' - Some of the best sandwiches I've ever had.
Corner Pizza - Honestly, I haven't eaten here, but we were in there today, and the desserts looked really good.
Brownstone Pizza - As close to the real deal NYC stuff as you can get in L.A.
Coffee Table Lounge - Great bar with an extremely strong beer selection
Columbo's - This place has great atmosphere. Very Sinatra-y, like someplace the Sopranos might hang out. They have jazz bands play there most Wednesdays.
Larkin's Joint - Adventurous, gourmet Southern cooking in a beautiful old Craftsman house.
Capri - A good, old school Italian joint. Fun little place.
All-Star Lanes - The bowling alley still has vintage signage. A few years ago, it was a dump inside, but they've renovated and it's a great space. They have bands play there sometimes.
The York - Haven't been to this brewpub, but I hear it has some good food and excellent brews.

So come hungry and ready to laugh next Wednesday and Thursday. All these places are awesome, and they'll be even better with some good comedy going on.

And Sunday night, the big wrap party at the Ice House.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Psychedelicatessen Radio Episode 7: Three Cheers for Thanksgiving! (And Giving Thanks for Cheerleaders!)

Download or stream it here!

On this episode, Chris and Bobbie sit down with Cathy Zukimoto and Diane Kawasaki while digesting our Thanksgiving pie. And just to mix things up, we watch a double feature of 70's cheerleader movies, The Pom-Pom Girls and Revenge of the Cheerleaders.

Cathy Zukimoto:

Diane Kawasaki:

The Pom-Pom Girls:

Revenge of the Cheerleaders:


Bonus Revenge of the Cheerleaders dance scene:

Songs of the Season, Part 23