Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Don't Think I've Forgotten

This upcoming documentary on the Cambodian pop music scene of the 1960s (and the horrific tragedies that befell most of the performers once Pol Pot came to power) promises to be quite fascinating. Have you heard this stuff? A combination of garage rock grit, bubblegummy pop and traditional folk melodies makes for intoxicating listening ... there's a certain naive charm that foreign (specifically non-European) rocknroll of the same era possesses, but the Cambodians integrated their own culture into the sound much more successfully than most. The music thrived until 1975, when the Khmer Rouge's genocidal targeting of anything remotely related to the West meant death for anyone with a yen to pick up a guitar.

A handful of Cambodian pop compilations float around the interweb these days, but the granddaddy of them all is Cambodian Rocks , available for free download here on the WFMU blog. I first heard this while living in Detroit (thanks Willy!) and it haunted me from first spin. Years later I found my own copy and it never gets old. Dig the trailer below for a riot of color and sound ...

Friday, July 25, 2008

What? You mean you've never seen Blacula? Oh for ... okay, I guess I gotta do everything for you. Make yourself a drink and sit down. Actually, the sequel Scream, Blacula, Scream is better because Pam Grier is in it, but the original is more than worth your time.

I got a soft spot in my head for Blackenstein as well, only because it's so retarded, but I'd advise you skip Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde ... that one is just silly.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Despite the title, this website probably isn't kosher for your average workplace, if only for tone if not content. So exercise caution ... you are still in danger of being aroused. GRAVE danger!

Saturday, July 19, 2008


I grabbed a couple volumes of this mysterious box set via Egg City Radio this morning, and it's sure starting my weekend off on the right note. A sprawling collection of anonymous shortwave radio broadcasts consisting of coded messages meant for agents of espionage ... droning voices recite strings of numbers and unrelated words in various languages, the inscrutable directives floating in a haze of white noise or bookended by snippets of electro-generated melody. I find it all to be quite beautiful, these broadcasts possess a certain lurch and lilt that soothes me, although I understand that most folks will hue closer to Egg City's assesment of them as "genuinely unnerving."

Fans of Wilco will remember them using a sample from this collection on the title track of their Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album, an action that earned them a lawsuit ... here's a good
Washington Post article on The Conet Numbers Project that addresses that sticky copyright issue, plus the whole story on the man responsible for capturing and cataloging these tracks.

Download The Conet Project for free courtesy of Irdial-Discs. Or you can buy it if you prefer ... they have t-shirts too.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Thursday, July 17, 2008

End Times 1999

Behold the dawn of the End Times ... at the end of the century I ganged up with Jay Millionaire and we somehow got our grizzled 30-something asses kicked by a trio of teenage El Smasho fans. The music came fast and furious (as the casual listener can deduce by clicking the above link), we gigged everywhere in Michigan we could for about three or four months (although strangely not in Flint or Traverse City) until poor manners cracked our generation gap into a gulf that could no longer be bridged. Luckily, we made it into Ghetto Recorders before it all dissolved.

In an effort to document this embryonic stage and establish the End Times as a long-term project in constant flux (a fate I'm pretty much resigned to these days), I've posted these songs on MySpace for lovers of ELHC trivia. Dig them, then dig the modern day version and I think you'll see that straight line I'm drawing in the sand. If not, well, the hell with it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Lori and I have taken to walking before work in the morning, in hopes that this act will become habit and thus provide us with the semblance of an exercise routine. From our home by the Green Lake we walk for about 45 minutes to a spot near the UW campus where I can catch a bus into the heart of the city. It's a much more civilized way to start a day, as opposed to subjecting myself to the horrors of nearby Aurora Avenue and the downtrodden masses clogging the 358 bus ... by walking onto campus I not only get some exercise but I catch one of the 70s, where I always get a seat and nobody is drunker than me.

The check is in the mail, so the End Times will be heading to Egg Studios once again in late August, this time with the Blacktree Singers in tow. With luck we'll have Endless Jim along as well to help manage the session and ensure that no one loses their mind. After these exploratory recordings are complete I'll be able to either grab the concept and start running or quietly shut up about choirs and go back to wishing I had the guts to sing myself. Check back in September for the results, I'm sure they'll be inconclusive ...

My hatred for the telephone resulted in a lost opportunity to hang with our old friends Dave and Sherry (he of the fabled record store Flat Black & Circular, which I wrote about last month). They're somewhere in the Northwest right now, were close to Seattle over the weekend but since I rarely-or-never check our voicemail, Lori and I didn't know about it til too late. I'm so used to the cell phone now that I forget we even have a land line ... technology is a drag.

PS. Speaking of technology, I bought my first Ipod on Sunday. Lori's had a shuffle of her own since winning it through some kind of library raffle, so we've been sharing that one for a couple years, but they're cheap enough now that I wanted my own. I too got the shuffle, since it was the least expensive and I prefer listening song-by-song rather than artist-by-artist anyway. Man, they get smaller all the time ... I swear this one is shrinking before my eyes as I stare at it now. Currently stocked with the following: Judee Sill, Slayer, Rainbow, Captain Beefheart, Motorhead, Germs, Circle Jerks, Black Sabbath, Gories, Damnation of Adam Blessing, Venom, the Bob Seger System, Amboy Dukes, Townes Van Zandt, Down MF and assorted other geniuses.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The End Times
"You've Got Ghosts"
Deming's Porch, MI
July 5, 2007
Filmed by Lori

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Hi everybody. I really am feeling better, honest I am, and here's a photo that proves it. Thanks for listening.

Monday, July 07, 2008

A wasted holiday weekend, wasted by pervasive melancholy that kept me too blue to even enjoy doing nothing. While it's been persisting for weeks, the mood got deep over the past few days, deep enough to drown in. Nothing worked ... not booze, not sleep, not stimulant, not even the love of Lori. All I could do was stare blank-eyed at a television set to wait out the hours, taking no pleasure from the desperate antics before me. We got out a bit, took some long walks and even visited the zoo, but I simply could not shake the darkness. I was able to submerge the worst of it for a couple hours on Sunday during a brief End Times rehearsal and I'm feeling marginally better today, but I still lack for energy and can't summon any enthusiasm or desire for the things I used to want to do.

To relate slightly brighter news, the End Times choir experiment (known officially -- for now -- as "the Blacktree Singers") moves along slowly but surely. Choirmaster Tim Army's arrangements are hitting the right notes, evoking that mid-70s post-hippie folk gospel I remember from Bible camps and my days with Flint Youth Theatre. This is utterly different than any project I've undertaken before, which is exactly the point ... I need a clean slate after so many disappointments, a new approach to reset my mind and allow it to divine a new direction. Never before have I been in a band where the singers are reading their parts off sheet music, it's like a new language, perhaps a new language I can't now nor will ever speak, but the experience can't help but broaden me. Thanks, Tim ... and Tyson, Sally, Mike, Ric, Stephanie and the potential few who have pledged their time for future rehearsals.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

A favorite of mine as a child, Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot. Courtesy of Hulu, which has been entertaining the missus and I for about a month now.

Mark Deming's article on the 1970 Goose Lake International Music Festival (aka the "Michigan Woodstock") makes it to the Metro Times this week. Mr. Lansing talked to members of the Stooges and the Up, plus Mitch Ryder, John Sinclair and other burned-out luminaries of the era to research this story of post-Altamont teen culture.