Wednesday, September 29, 2004

World Class

I don't remember actually exchanging more than four or at five at max words at a time with Fashionable Male, and these decasyllabic convos of ours tally up to something like half a dozen over the past three years. And yet we've had an intricate, complex realtionship with each other in this time that has developed without direct interaction or even exchanging meaningful glances. It's been carried out almost entirely by vibes alone, generated at each other across the bar, using shit-talking to our friends as our vibes-amplifier. It started out as simple contempt, mine for his his painful fashion victimhood and bad hairstyles, his (I'm only guessing here. Vibes carry a rich, layered information stream, but little of it is concrete) for my cultivated languishing-poet vibe and bad hairstyles. I assume he's talked a lot of shit about me. I have about him.
There's one small group of friends that I have that was born from almost entirely from mutually talking shit about him, and when he's not around our conversations are decidedly less animated, more small-talky. The passion just isn't there.
But our bond as enemies has mellowed and matured in the smokehouse we call the bar. We are comfortable with it. I'ts familiar. A couple of weeks ago I was doing drive-bys on different hipster bars, fliering for an upcoming dance party. Fashionable Male was at a fashionable bar, seated in a booth with a couple of my friends. I gave my friends fliers, paused, and set one in front of Fashionable Male. He looked down at it, picked it up, held it in front of his face for a second, then placed it back in the same spot on the table he had picked it up from. But face down. I can tell you, with every bit of drama-club respect I have gained for Fashionable Male, that this man is no ordinary street-level dick. With that one simple move he proved that he is truly worthy of the term World Class Asshole.

Monday, September 27, 2004

The names of things.

I'm doing some internet research for an art project, and in the process I have learned that Asian Black Metal bands are geniuses in the department of naming a band. Insanity Of Slaughter is a personal favorite. Unseen Darkness is a blazing icon of ESL semantic trainwrecks. Burger Kill is beyond amazing.
Our bathroom is stocked with an off-brand toilet paper from the cheapy convenience store down the block (the one that apparently decides the hours that it's open any given day by a roll of a twelve-sided die) called Beyond. For days now I've been pondering what it could possibly be beyond, or where beyond here it is supposed to transport me.

Sunday, September 26, 2004


Operation Taking Care Of Business In The Respect Of Making My Bedroom Look Less Like The Dwelling-Hole Of Someone Who Obviously Has Some Depression Problems went down like a shot of Jim Beam: there was some burning, but now I feel much happier. For the third time since I started living on my own I have a real and actual bed. My last bed met with a rather sordid and ignoble end. This one, for better or worse, appears to have a long life ahead of it. Updates will probably not follow.

The reaction is like for one fraction of a second you want to tear out your eyes and then the eyes of everyone else on the planet.

If you're looking for a moment of frustration in its purest, most absolute form, might I suggest scratching your Disc 1 from Led Zeppelin's How The West Was Won right at the very, very last everyone-all-together-now downbeat right at the very last moment of "Black Dog". Right where the whole 5:41 wraps up and you and the audience in 1972 expect that final closure beat, and instead you get a little digital *scriit-it* and the crowd going shit-crazy over the micro-moment you missed.
You can borrow my copy if you want.

Friday, September 24, 2004


Caught Ssion last night. What used to be your average gay-kid-and-two-girls-in-animal-costumes-singing-along-to-a DVD-of-glamourclash/way-off-Broadway-pop-tunes-with-insane-animated-visuals kind of project has now turned into a full-on rock band. Like Rock And Roll. Cody's in Bob Dylan alcoholic hobo drag doing his best impression of Darby Crash's best Iggy Pop impression, and the statuary backing players blues vamp accordingly. I can't tell yet if it's better than the old Ssion, and I probably never will. I'm also not entirely clear on the current Ssion's statement or joke, but I laughed along a lot anyhow.
Cody's three best moves of the night:
3.) Breaking character from his mock-drunk, pratfalling, antagonistic Rock Singer persona to deliver a sincere and giddy "thank you" to someone who gave him a cigarette.
2a.) Writing a song with a three-minute "Hey Jude"-style "na na na na" outro that goes into a five-minute two-note bass solo that goes into a four-minute "na na na na" reprise.
2b.) Playing this song in front of a sweating, anxious mass waiting all the time less patiently for Gift Of Gab's set.
2c.) Throwing beer at these same people.
1.) Reclaiming Darby Crash as the gay icon he never was.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Sometimes you're just born with it.

You'd figure after something like 10 years of living on our own, that Zach and I could avoid situations like these. Spending the afternoon recovering from last night's overindulgance of drink and this morning's overindulgance of pirogie, neither of us capable of anything more than alternately internetting and sprawling on the couch reading the latest installment of our neighbor's cat's subscription to Maxim. You don't learn this kind of idiocy; you have to be born with it. I'm punishing our stupidity by putting current Maxim covergirl Avril Lavigne (she likes drinking, hates people getting up in her face) on iTunes. Loud. The acoustic version of "Complicated" is our penance.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

A reason.

From Deaf Nicaraguan children create the world's youngest language
The most inspiring thing I've read in forever. No misanthropy in the world is strong enough to stand up to the image of a child making poetic sign language to tell the story of Babar going to the city.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Current playlist:

Metallica Master Of Puppets
Yeah Yeah Yeahs Fever To Tell
Elliott Smith From A Basement On The Hill
The Eternals Out Of Proportion
The Dirty Things Movement Making Noises
Van Morrison TB Sheets
New Black s/t
Vietnam The Concrete's Always Grayer On The Other Side Of The Street
Bob Dylan Bootleg Live In 1975

I used to be called DJ Innocent Bloodshed.

SUN. 9/19/04 (10:00pm)
The Empty Bottle and Muy Romantico present HOTT/NUTTZ featuring:
DJ Yves St. LeRoc
DJ Coco LeRoc
DJ Champagne James
It's actually called HOTT/NUTTZZ, but the double-Z at the end is a little too hard for anyone to comprehend, so we can forgive the inaccuracy.
The basic thing is that it's me and JR and maybe Hopper if she gets back into town in time, and probably Ben Fasman on deck, working up a hot, sweaty vibe of funky white kids getting crunk somewhere between the Dirty South and Madchester.
You should come. I promise rare Sonic Youth and the new Lil' Jon track with the Ozzy sample.

Monday, September 13, 2004

How do you get a job only playing in supergroups?

To Live And Shave In L.A. played downstairs tonight. With-it advertising agencies should take note that, given the amount of high-end AV recording equipment and cutting-edge sneakers present at the show (grungy Andrew W.K. fans clutching disposable cameras and an earnest belief in the transcendent power of The Wolf close to their hearts notwithstanding), attendees of pretentious noise band shows are a lucrative demographic. Personally, I prefer the trashier To Live And Shave In L.A. 2 to the original, but I'm not much of a market share.
Yakuza opened and kept it gully: bad hair, dreadlocks in unexpected facial locations, real evil saxophoning. The closest a metal band has come to truly Lovecraftian mind-fucking in a long time. If you are a metal band and you have candles on stage and you personally carry your candles on and off the stage with your gear yourself, you are guaranteed a place in my heart.
In between sets Zach and I came up with a convincing theory about how The Lost Boys is an allegory for the Doors. Jason Patric = Jim Morrison, Corey Haim = John Densmore, Keifer Sutherland = acid, the Jim Morrison poster = the Snake, the grandpa = dead Indian. Think about it.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

I almost forgot it was twilight.

Every Elliott Smith fan will hear From A Basement On The Hill for the first time under their own circumstances. The album drops two days before the one-year anniversary of his death, and an informal poll shows that solitude and drinking are two popular elements in their plans. I chose headphones + the sidewalks of an interminably autumnal Chicago + an all-day hangover + romantic entanglements gone snarly for mine. I walk around and listen to half the record and I do what I do to every Elliott Smith record since Elliott Smith, which is be disappointed by it.
"I think what people don't allow bands to do is change," Jason Black from Hot Water Music told me in an interview a couple of weeks ago. "I'm not even saying change as a band, but as people." It's a trait I hate to see in myself, but I do. When you have someone whose songs gather meaning with every repeat listen, with every memorizedlyric, you don't want them to change. Sometimes there's someone that makes songs like that, and you love them in a passionate and meaningful way that you usually only see in teenagers latching onto the music that will define them for the next couple of years or the rest of their life. It's because of how much the music means to them, because of its potential to effect the rest of their lives, that teenagers are always the first to yell "Sellout!" at any artist's new album.
So I listen to songs where baroque arrangements and intricate pop sensibility are replaced by guitars that crash and swoon, hooks that swing wild and direct, production ideas that sounded like an artistic indulgence on "Happiness" turned into overall album-spanning concepts. I listen to half the record, then fall in with a bunch of drinkers. I put it on pause.
The next day I wake up and pick up where I left off. I skip track 8, "Ostriches & Chirping", which is actually just a track of ostrich sounds and chirpings, and I get "Twilight". Every Elliott Smith album has the opening song that's overarching and huge and sets the album's tone and theme, and there's the grand closing number, and somewhere in the middle there's the song that's the one that you put on when you come home drunk and alone or suddenly sober and not alone, the one that is your own personal jam, where criticism falls by the wayside and nothing exists but you and him. The Elliott Smith you don't want changed: the sad and confused troubadour talking just to you, telling you that how sad you feel is exactly how sad you should feel, that he's there being torn up and romantic just like you are forever and ever, whenever you need him there to do that for you. The guitar that sounds simpler than it is, the melody that's simpler than it seems, the late-night-phone-call vocals, lyrics that don't fuck around in making tragic mountains out of tiny dramas. Elliott Smith at his most archetypal. Suddenly the record makes sense. I think of people that I've seen drunk and crying in public, the moment that emotion overwhelms sense and they just have to let it out in its rawest and most desperate, scariest form. From A Basement On A Hill sounds, more than any of his albums, like the work of a man that has to, has to, make this music and say these words or else...or else what?
We all know how the story ends. Tragic poet in life, tragic poet in death, knife in the heart, dying in just the exact way that we feared and secretly (even to ourselves) hoped that he would. From A Basement isn't his last gift to us. It isn't the last, belated line to a suicide letter. It's not a closing chapter or a portrait of Icarus just above the waves. "Don't go down," he says in track 4. "Stay with me / baby, stay." If anything it's the scribbled poetry of someone who's risen and sunk again and again, only to find himself finally on solid ground and, as shaky as it is, determined to stay on it for however long he can.
I spend the next couple of days in front of my computer letting the songs sweep me away again and again. There was a man once who invited the twenty or so people that showed up for his concert onto the stage to sit with him. He sat at the bar and smoked Camel Lights with me for hours and showed up the next morning, eager and stunned by the morning sun and ultimately vunerable, at the coffee shop where I worked to get the free breakfast I promised him. "This is not my life." Track 6, "Fond Farewell". "It's just a fond farewell to a friend".

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Back to the valley.

Last weekend I went to the reception for a wedding ceremony held on an island off Michigan's western coast for two of my oldest friends and a small boat's worth of immediates. Their relationship has never been the kind that's decorated with romantic fanciness, so it was as surprising as it was touching to hear them talk about how much in love they are, how neither of them can imagine life without the other. As they stood in front of us, telling each other the reasons that they've spent the past seven years inside this massive love of theirs, even Morgan, who had never met either of them, was close to tears. I know I was. Recalling in the middle of this hugely deep thing the time, five or six years ago, that I walked into the living room of my house to find the man currently acting as MC for the event prone on the floor with a vegetable-oiled carrot up his ass on a dare, almost ruined the moment. But it didn't. About the carrot and ass thing, you have to understand: Kalamazoo's in a valley. Humid air collects there, and so does boredom.