Monday, March 31, 2008

Another RIP for Resonance Magazine.

It's nice to be remembered. Why did I always feel like we were shouting into nothingness while we were still publishing? Because we were, I suppose. Seems like dying was the best thing for the magazine's reputation ... I guess Andrew knew what he was doing after all.

You can learn more about the demise of print media at the Magazine Death Pool.

Friday, March 28, 2008

They'll be ten bucks and ought to be ready by the time we play at the Rendezvous/Jewelbox Theater on April 16, 2008. Matchbooks and tote bags are next.

The End Times will be in Tacoma this Saturday night, doing whatever it is we do at the Java Jive, the coffepot-shaped dive in the industrial district that used to have drum-playing monkeys on display. That was a long time ago. Now they host shows for the likes of us, the Aurora Roarers, Hardison and Deborah Page. Admission price will be three dollars and music begins at 9:00pm. Are you coming? Yeah, right, I'll hold my breath.

Lori's been gone for two days at a librarian's conference. It was her turn to bring the liquor. Meanwhile, I'm at home alone realizing that I've lost the ability to know when to eat or sleep without her there to prompt me. I can keep the apartment tidy and take care of basic bodily hygiene (showers, shaving, toothbrushing, etc.) but my most profound needs are tied to my wife and the routines we've developed together. Luckily I have plenty of coffee and bourbon in the house, so I can still get to and from work every day. All else is a total loss.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


So just watch this. It's the greatest.

More if you understand at Frenzy of the Visible.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The End Times composition "Days of Plenty" has been selected by Seattle Sound Magazine's website to be Tuesday's "Song of the Day." There's a brief but thoughtful piece about the song as well, written by the SS editor Mark Baumgarten, in which he dubs us "doom-folk." Finally, our own genre.

Friday, March 21, 2008


Classic lineup doing the song "Every Day's A Holiday," live at Ed's Lounge, 1988. Mark Deming sharpens his claws against the threadbare sofa that is basement rock, the surname "Lansing" yet to be earned through years of struggle and determination. "Ladies, you can go home with me tonight, no problem." Back then he was invincible, baby, no one fucked with Deming. That guy had it made.

PS. Found some rare Crime footage on YouTube and posted it on Frenzy of the Visible. The San Quentin stuff is fascinating mostly as history, but there's also a mysterious take of Crime blazing through "Baby You're So Repulsive" that proves how lethal they could be on stage in their prime. Just don't look up any of the recent reunion footage -- please, don't.

Someone is spending a lot of time re-reading and reviewing in detail decades-old copies of Cracked Magazine. Finally, right? I still possess several of the issues covered on that website, plus a couple tattered editions of Crazy ... I was mad for Mad clones when I was a kid, I even preferred them in my pre-pubescence as I found Mad to be a little aggressive for my delicate sensibilities (I was a sensitive child). I once interviewed cartoonist Dan Clowes and couldn't resist grilling him about his brief tenure with Cracked ... he accurately described the mag as being "absolutely unfunny."

Cracked recently relaunched itself as a humor website, but I won't provide the link because, you guessed it, it's "absolutely unfunny." At least they respect tradition.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Every morning I tentatively check Bleeding Skull in hopes of fresh insight into the shadow world of forgotten horror, and it's always exciting to see new titles up for investigation. This round offers Bits & Pieces, an obscure piece indeed that none other than me wrote up for All Movie Guide a handful of years ago. As usual, my pedantic style is no match for their exhuberance, but showing up first still counts for something, right?

Bits and Pieces

A pair of female college students visit a nightclub that features male strippers to take notes for a sociological term paper. After they say goodnight to each other in the parking lot, Tanya (Sheila Lussier) is abducted by a maniac who hauls her back to his basement. Arthur (S.E. Zygmont) is a madman who believes a bewigged mannequin speaks to him with his dead mother's voice, taunting him to kill. He secures Tanya to a workbench, paints garish rosy cheeks on her face with lipstick, then slowly tears her apart. Her dismembered body is found in a dumpster, and Lt. Carter (Brian Burt) recognizes the strange makeup job from other unsolved killings that he's been investigating. He interviews the girl who was out with Tanya the night she died, the distraught Rosie (Suzanna Smith), and despite an emotionally charged first impression, their mutual attraction blossoms into love. Unfortunately, the voice in Arthur's head is whispering that Rosie might be a dangerous witness against him, so he tracks her down on campus, torturing a classmate to learn her name and address. A romantic walk on the seashore for Carter and Rosie leads to lovemaking by his fireplace, while Arthur invades Rosie's home, silences her parents, and waits for her to return.

This routine slasher thriller offers familiar motivation for its villain's gruesome deeds; his mom was a slut who drank too much and sexually humiliated him as a child. Ho hum. Aside from a curious interest in male strippers (there's ample footage of scantily clothed beefcake), Bits and Pieces adds nothing new to a tired formula. The tone is suitably grim, however, and director Leland Thomas dodges a paltry special effects budget for his unsettling murder scenes by keeping the focus on the faces of the killer and victims. Spattered with blood and overcome with emotion, they provide an intensity that rubber prosthetics can never match. It doesn't change the fact that every woman in the film looks exactly the same (blonde, blue eyes, pretty, early twenties), making it hard to keep track of who is getting offed and when. As Arthur, S.E. Zygmont tries to channel Harry Dean Stanton's twitchy authenticity and fails, never nailing down whether psychosis or rage is the root of his character's violence. Also, Arthur seems to have an endless supply of white shirts and skinny black ties that he can just throw out and replace after getting soaked in gore. It certainly isn't his mom keeping up with the laundry, since Arthur apparently murdered her at some point before the narrative begins (frequent flashbacks and nightmare sequences fill us in on Arthur's troubled past). Hardcore slasher film fans should be satisfied with Bits and Pieces, though they'll feel like they've seen it all before. Thomas is not known to have directed another feature, though his lumbering image is captured forever in a brief cameo as the "Large Stranger," and he delivers the film's best line ("Watch where you're going, apple ass!"). FRED BELDIN

More horrible/beautiful children can be found at artist
Matt Borruso's website. Via WFMU.

Monday, March 17, 2008

A weekend of sickness and altered time ... former comrade and eternal brother Ramirez made the scene this past Saturday to perform with his outsider psych-folk outfit Ex-Cocaine and along with bandmate Mike C. stayed with Lori and I while in Seattle. Unfortunately, Ramirez was deathly ill, afflicted with a ravaged respiratory system that had plagued him since Ex-Cocaine's SXSW gigs a few days before. Despite cursing his wretched luck, the bearded wonder was in good spirits and we caught up while relaxing in the plush domain of the "Monstersorri House" (ouch!), a very comfy home on Beacon Hill that holds occasional experimental sound shows in a basement bike repair shop and requests all visitors to remove their shoes at the door -- this made for a very laid-back party, as you can imagine.

Ramirez's rebelling body briefly soothed with bourbon and Thera-Flu, Ex-Cocaine took off on a stumbling, somnambulent journey through thickets and brambles, occasionally emerging into a clearing to witness an epic battle between powerful nations, then back into the safety of the dark woods again ... Mike's electric bongo slapping kept our hero from miring himself too deeply in the bleak fuzz, and the overall effect was of two autistic Desert Storm vets playing Neil Young covers that only exist in their minds. According to Ramrod, gigs have been steadily increasing in intensity as the tour progresses, so my bet is that those who catch Ex-C in San Francisco on Wednesday will witness the apex of their psychic meanderings. Somebody oughta tape that show. Get more info on Ramirez's noisy offerings through Killertree Records.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I blasted the first Led Zeppelin LP on headphones as I walked to the bus stop this morning, a stereotypical grey, windswept rainy Seattle morning, and I was struck by how perfect "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" sounded in conjunction with my surroundings.

"Babe, babe, babe, babe, babe, babe, baby, baby I don't wanna leave you. I ain't jokin' woman, I got to ramble. I can hear it callin' me the way it used to do."

Seeing as how 90% of the lyrics (not to mention riffs) on this LP were stolen wholesale from assorted anonymous and not-so-anonymous bluesers and folkies, I can only assume these brilliant words did not spring from the tiny head of Jimmy Page. Still, it's a haunting piece, particularly with the clouds in your eyes and the rain on your lips. And don't get me started on "How Many More Times" ... no matter when, where or how many times in a row it's played, that monster always sounds like the greatest song ever written, and yet it isn't, not by a long shot -- how the hell did they DO that?

Oh that's right. Satanism. If there's any band that I might believe signed a pact with the devil for success, it's Zeppelin ... bloated, sluggish, insulting, tasteless, slobbering with ham-fisted guitar and saddled with dull-witted earth-bound rhythm, shamelessly pilfered lyrics (entire songs lifted without attribution!) and each succeeding record more pointless than the last. Yet still my spine stiffens within seconds of exposure to that snarling "Communication Breakdown" riff, those first punchy chords of "Good Times Bad Times" or the majestic gallop of "Immigrant Song." I oughta know better than to dig these clods ... yet here I am.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Finally, a medical cure for homosexuality ... and for heterosexuality too, come to think of it.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Been reading Ben Hamper's Rivethead: Tales From The Assembly Line for the thousandth time this week, and stumbled across this vintage 1986 interview on the Today Show. "Let repetition be its own reward. Reject change, reject variety." Right on. The man's a genius, or was during the Reagan Years anyhow ... if he's still kickin' out there and you know where he is, buy him a Budweiser for me.

Lots more Flintoid rebellion can be found here at the Take No Prisoners Archive, which takes its name from the weekly public radio show Hamper hosted throughout the 1980s. This is where I first heard the Dictators, Sweet, Circle Jerks, Television, Dicks, Cramps and dozens more, making me, for better or for worse, the man I am today. Thanks Ben.

Also included in that TNP archive you can find links to the demos of various Flint-area hardcore bands like Dissonance, Guilty Bystanders and Ultraviolence, including to my surprise, El Smasho's debut cassette, which we released in an edition of twenty or thirty before actually pressing some of these songs on our first two 7" records ("Wristrocket" is the lost cut here). We were from East Lansing, but usually got a great reception in Flint, so I'm proud to be remembered. Dig also our ELHC brothers/foils Down while you're at it, and Holy Christ, they've even posted a vintage 1986 Take No Prisoners episode featuring my very first "band" Head Cleaner ... check out "Sell It In Africa" and then imagine me at age 18 wetting my pants when Ben Hamper not only plays us on the air, but ENDORSES our cassette Cleans Both Heads, encouraging one and all to blow three bucks on it at Wyatt Earp's Records. Wow. This is final proof that the internet has run out of obscure bands to dig up and distribute.

Throughout the years I got to meet and hang with Hamper on a handful of occasions, and while I always would lay copies of my latest band's nonsense on him, it was Head Cleaner that he remembered -- nothing else ever made any impression on him. This either calls my hero's taste into question or suggests that my songwriting peaked before hitting legal drinking age with anti-classics like "Beach Blanket Death" and "Blitzkreig Attack." Both notions are harrowing.

***Further investigation proves that Ben Hamper is retired, living in Northern Michgan and doing a radio show called "Soul Possession" on WNMC, spinning obscure funk and soul tunes. There's also this lengthy interview with Hamper and his fellow shoprat/rockfan Jerry Humphrey (another very cool cat I'd like to say hello to -- he set up many Flint shows for El Smasho in the early 90s) where they wax nostalgic about the righteous music scene Michigan enjoyed during the flower power days and the first wave hardcore era.

And for the hell of it, here's El Smasho in 1993 playing live on the Take No Prisoners cable access TV show ... possibly the best document of the band at the tail end of our brief prime. Man, we sure were funny.

Happy anniversary, ladies. One year ago today The End Times played our first show, in our practice space in front of about a dozen or so. It went so well that I considered dismantling the project lest I endure inevitable disappointment ... disappointment was indeed inevitable, but we've had some pleasant highs along with the occasional crushing low. I'll be thanking the kids in private tonight, but publicly I want to thank my wife Lori for not only putting up with my return to the game, but encouraging it, despite the obsessive behavior, financial instability and lonely evenings that ensue. I'm handling things better than I did a decade ago, but the burdens are the same. The rewards? I think I'm better at appreciating them in the moment rather than in retrospect.

For everyone else, come see us at the Java Jive in Tacoma on March 29th, where we'll mount a stage once occupied by the Ventures.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Jason Feinberg
Date: Wed, 05 Mar 2008 19:20:11 -0800
Subject: PRESS RELEASE: Punk Troubadour Tesco Vee Announces The Meatmen's Return

Hey Fred,

Saw a month or two ago you mentioned the Meatmen's upcoming show on
your blog. I'm working with Tesco to help promote the band's return,
there's a ton going on (including a SXSW showcase, a nationwide tour,
reissues of classic CDs, a DVD of rare footage, and a new CD out later
this year).

We've got some free MP3s you can give away on the blog if you'd like,
and the press release below goes into detail about what Tesco and the
band have lined up.



Meatmen Stomp (Live from "We're The Meatmen and You Still Suck" Reissue)

True Grit (Live from "We're The Meatmen and You Still Suck" Reissue)

I Want Drugs (Live, song from "Pope On A Rope" Reissue)

For more meaty info, check out or visit the
band on Myspace at For interviews
or other press requests, email

March 12 - The Double Wide - Dallas, TX
March 14 - SXSW Showcase at Emos Annex - Austin, TX
March 15 - The Conservatory - Oklahoma City, OK
March 16 - The Underground - St Louis, MO
March 22 - Smalls w/Millions Of Brazilians - Hamtramck, MI
May 8 - Jigsaw Saloon - Cleveland, OH
May 10 - Club Hell - Providence, RI
May 11 - The Nutty Irishmen - Bayshore, NY
May 13 - The Ottobar - Baltimore, MD
May 14 - The Oasis - Charleston, SC
May 15 - Vinyl - Atlanta, GA
May 16 - 31st St. Pub - Pittsburgh, PA

EDITOR'S NOTE: The preceding email (along with a windy press release praising Mr. Vermeulen's punk credentials which I excised for brevity) came to me because of this post from a few months back. So this is how the business works now, huh? No wonder I can't make a living as a music journalist. Thanks a lot, democratizing effect of the free exchange of ideas.

I'm no fan of the Meatmen, and even less of a fan of their fans ... anyone who pays full price to see a 50-year old man wear a motorcycle helmet festooned with dildos while celebrating the prejudices and ignorance of adolescence is sadly deluded about what makes truly great rocknroll. We're The Meatmen And You Suck is a fucked classic (I'll never give up my copy), and when you're a lonely, stupid teenager in rural Michigan in the early 80s, songs like "Crippled Children Suck," "One Down, Three To Go" (about the Lennon assasination, natch) and "Tooling For Anus" sound like liberation compared to the safe, sane boredom of classic rock and polite society. But this is a different, far more vulgar age, and the Meatmen's "anti-PC" stance is boring. None of Tesco's follow ups to those early recordings ever sounded good to me (despite a wealth of friends who thought differently) and vulgarity-for-vulgarity's sake lost its luster for me long ago ... GG Allin gets more respect from me simply because he was fucking OBSESSED with spreading hate, it was a lifestyle for him while ol' Tesco was just flogging a schtick to entertain and living the life of a workaday family man at home. That ain't no sin, don't get me wrong, it's just less interesting.

However, I'll definitely hit the show if the Meatmen come through Seattle, and I'm hoping they do, because my old pal and former End Times 1999 drummer Ian Sugierski is manning the tubs for Tesco. He's a great beatkeeper and I can't tell you how happy I am to remember him as a bespectacled 19-year old and then resign that image with the fact that he is now a fucking MEATMAN. Wow. Ian, I implore you to find Doc Dart and drag him out of retirement next ... the world needs a Crucifucks tour far more than a Meatmen tour, believe me. You can do it.

A confession ... my old band El Smasho often covered "I Got A Problem" and it was always a blast to play.