Monday, April 21, 2008

Before the devil knows how to make a convincing drama...

Wow, I hated this movie more than I can even express, but of course, I will try.

To begin with the look of it and the score made it feel like a glorified tv movie from the 1980's. You know the ones - the type that should have starred Charles Durning and Meredith Baxter Bernie. The writer obvioulsy thinks the way to be effectively dramatic is to cram every possible scenario of bad things that could happen to the characters in. It might have been okay if they had just stuck to the robbery. Ugh, I was honestley expecting someone to fly a plane into a school full of bunnies by the end of it.

Hoffman and Ethan Hawke were pretty good with what they had to work with, but unfortunately that wasn't much. Marisa Tomei did nothing but show her tits and Albert Finney needs to be beaten with a hammer for his ineffectiveness in conveying ANYTHING that resembles human emotion not conjured for the camera.

And those stupid segue zooms - it made the focus and camera work look amateurish.


So after watching that stinking piece of tripe I continued to imbibe and smoke and made a b - line for something hard core enough to hammer the smell of shite out of my imagination - Neil Marshal's DOG SOLDIERS is always just what the doctor ordered. Seriously, there's little things about this flick in the set-up that might not jive, but GODDDAMN!!! Take everything great about the intensity of pacing with ALIENS (and there's so much), the set-up and no-way-out of Predator and the Daa-Dah of Jaws but transpose them to the Highlands of Scotland and replace other carnivore predators with the BEST LOOKING, NON CGI werewolves of all time and you get one fucking hell of a good time wrapped up in a movie. This always gets my highest possible recommendation and I've even been known to offer 'money bakc guarantees' to people who buy or rent it.


To cap the night off I watched A PERFECT PLACE. This is a short film that came to my attention via the fact that MIKE PATTON (too many bands to name them all here, but suffice it to say previously and most famously of Faith No More and Currently fucking minds with aural nightmares in Fantomas) composed and performs the entire score for the 25 minute short film written and directed by Derrick Scocchera, previously known for '04's A LOOK INTO THE FORBIDDEN ZONE. Sara ordered this for me right after it came out as Patton's record label IPECAC sells the ST and film in a cozy little package. I've been digging on the soundtrack for weeks but haven't gotten the chance to throw the flick on until now - WOW! Kinda Lynchy in a way, stars Bill Moseley (House of 1000 Corpses, Devils Rejects, TCM 2) and Mark Boone Junior (30 Days of Night, The Grey, John Carpenter's Vampires) as two mooks who have a 140 lb. problem to get rid of. Funny, weird in the right places, good times! I highly recommend everyone support it by following the IPECAC link to the right and ordering a copy of the ST/DVD.



Sunday, April 20, 2008

Duli noted...

Greg Duli is one of a few elite musicians who not only survived beginning a career in the nineties, but also transcended it. Think about it: although it is obviously a generalization that no doubt spews many exceptions, any thing even remotely related to the 'G' word - all that great nineties hard rock that was, for many of us, essentially a natural progression of the aesthetic laid down by Black Sabbath - has become a trapped within a time capsule that in many respects prevents it from assimilating into the vast lexicon of 'classic rock' (thank god).

Duli began public life in the Afghan Whigs. Of course the Whigs have NOTHIING to do with any of that scene, but somehow that big, swooping corporate clusterfuck called 'new alternative' fought to rope everything with a distorted guitar and even moderately pained vocalist into the same basket. The Whigs had a hard rock edge, yet they imaginatively tempered that with healthy doses of Marvin Gaye and early Kenny Rogers as well as their own unique arrangments that utilized everything from slide guitar to boisterous female backups. Still, maybe there was something to the comparisons to some of the guys from Seattle, but probably more Screaming Trees or Mudhoney than other, more well known ones*...

Now, If you listen closely to Duli's records in The Twilight Singers or now his new group The Gutter Twins (with another 90’s breakout, Mark Lanegan from the aforementioned Screaming Trees and currently QOTSA) you’ll hear emotional, sonic and abstract ideological textures that bare a lot of similarities to the Whigs yes, but also to groups like Alice and Chains, thus they possess a unique backwards/forwards in time quality.

Now, I will listen to Layne and the boys until I die, but there is something about any of those great 90’s hard rock bands that occasionally feels dated. BULLSHIT you say! Well, hear me out. I don't mean dated in the way ELP's fledgling synthsizer sounds make them feel dated, or the way ANY soul artist in the 80's sound like a large moustached coke-freak with a bunch of German mics and bad Casio's had there sonic way with them. No, I mean dated as in it sounds like a time other than now. Music does not sound like BADMOTORFINGER now, and if a band released an album that did, they would most likely sound like a stupid novelty act, the same way you can love or hate the Darkness, but they are a novelty by nature of the fact that they are more concerned with sounding like LA hair bands of the 80's than any other aspect of their art (and I use that three-lettered curse word loosely there my friends...)

Nostalgia, wanted or not. Yep. The reason bands like AIC are dated for any late twenties, early thirties year old is because we were there, growing up listening to them. In most cases these bands have all moved on. But so, too, have we. Therefore it is only natural that when I throw on an album like SAP it takes me back so strongly that it’s an emotional investment. This gives it a somewhat dated quality, that and honestly, sometimes a chore just to listen as it can’t be a part time thing – no matter what I’m doing I end up pulling a trance, sitting and staring off into space seeing any number of the miscreants I shared those times with.

So now back to Duli. I’m listening to The Twilight Singers album ‘Powder Burns’ on headphones right now and regardless of the fact that this came out in 2006 it has a similar quality to some of the things we're talking about – only unlike a novelty act Duli and the crew have somehow managed to bring the essence of music at that time, how it sounded and what it meant, into the NOW. They've honored and updated it at the same time. Refreshed.

Duli is a genius, he’s used his three main musical vehicles of the last 20 years to show us his life; what it was, is and could have been. He’s no stranger to the strangely alluring sting of life – not the idea of life but the actual vehicle we etch into the lines of our flesh every minute of every day by sometimes making the right choices and maybe more often making the wrong ones. Greg Duli knows not a one of us here lives forever and such, even the mistakes we make and the corners we paint ourselves into taste awful sweet if you know how to squeeze them for the right juice.

One thing that really fascinates me about Greg Duli is the undercurrent of sophisticated violence that runs through even some of his sweetest songs. Sure, there are tracks like Powder Burns’ ‘I’m Ready’ – a summation of a scene anyone who frequents public houses has witnessed before. Remember walking out of a bar in the city on such and such a date and seeing two guys beating the shit out of each other? Or maybe it was more like one guy taking a full bottle of Heineken to the top of another guy's head - that sickening CRUNCH and the impulse to flee suddenly flooded over by a host of morbid curiosity’s all vying for your full attention:


Duli knows. Afghan Whigs track ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ reads like another all to familiar scene. Someone who burns you on a woman or drugs or both has earned his ass-kicking and your going to be waiting to have him when he’s due to make his score. Drugs, violence, testosterone, yes, but not that caricature bullshit the likes of pantera or rage against the machine stuff down our throats – that stuff is easy to dismiss because it’s not happening to our best friends, our girlfriends or just the people on the other side of the pub window.

But then there’s that sweet, innocent violence. The kind that’s less a fist in the face than it is a thoughtless selfishness that ends up hurting the one you love. See Twilight Singers' 'FORTY DOLLARS' or shit, the WHIGS album 'GENTLEMAN' pretty much in it's entirety.

Greg Duli spent the better part of his career in the Whigs and Twilight Singers and now The Gutter Twins exercising all types of these demons, and its because he’s going through it in front of us that its that much easier and yes, maybe even a little cool that we can go through it in our own lives.


* As fully cognizant adults it is a bane that to talk about this stuff we have to brush the edges of corporate buzz words like the 'G' word or 'alternative', or even that it is still easier to refer to a lot of the music from that period as pertaining to one particular city, but realistically, it would be ridiculous to close our eyes and try to avoid it. I don't like it any more than you do, but face it, that marketing frenzy dug up a bunch of great bands (and some bad ones) and lumped them all under these various umbrellas - we who were sophmores in high school might have been able to smell a phony but good fucking music is good fucking music and we were walled in from all sides. That, and of course yes, it is just easier to talk about this stuff with these terms as vague outlines to condense the verbage - I wouldn't be talking about The Jesus Lizard, Big Black, Urge Overkill, Liz Phair, Smashing Douche bags (well, I just wouldn't be talking about them, and wouldn't Steve Albini just want my blood for mentioning BB in the same parenthetical aside as any of these last couple bands?) without refering to the pre-mature ejaculation that was the 'Chicago-scene' because when I say it that way EVERYBODY, like it or hate it, agree or disagree, knows EXACTLY what I am talking about.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

There were rumors he was into hockey players...

So I had a shite-tastik day of stress stress and more stress and so I'm sitting here getting drunk (but not too drunk cuz I've got another potential one ahead of me tomorrow) and loading stuff into Sara's Ipod.

The Ipod's name is Vlad2 because it's somehow cybernetically related to her favorite stuffed penguin.

Anyway, I've been cycling through a lot of 90's music lately and it's got me thinking. I'm sitting here loading and listening to FUGAZI: STEADY DIET OF NOTHING and END HITS and remembering one of my first 'indie' shows - when indie meant more than being a douche bag with a western style snap shirt, glasses and a willful discovery that you ARE the next band to hit the pages of PASTE (a magazine I'm sorry I subscribed to, even for a cost of a mere $3. Hey PASTE, fuck you). I saw Fugazi on the IN ON THE KILLTAKER tour in what I think was '93. I think Jawbox opened and local Chicagop short-lived wonder TAR followed. Wow. Talk about an eye-opener.

After that Fugazi became an integral part of my growing up with music. I had been a pot-head metal-head for most of my days previous, and this was at a point where I was really being exposed to a lot of new stuff that made a big impression on someone who loved music but only knew how to find new bands via comments in ANTHRAX interviews and SUBCULTURE magazine (if You remember Subculture please leave a comment here about it - Trashin' with Pat Michaels was The Best!!!) Groups like FUGAZI, TAR, NED'S ATOMIC DUSTBIN, MY LIFE WITH THE THRILL KILL KULT, MINISTRY, QUICKSAND, THE CURE, THE FINAL CUT, The RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS, BLACK FLAG and of course, NIN were huge to me - they showed me musical landscapes I had not expected. Metal was my extreme juvy reaction to shit my parents listened to like The Carpenters and Johnny Mathis. Probably just by those two examples alone you can understand why I HAD to go the extreme path of the dirthead in order to begin establishing my own identity. I needed full out blast of the double bass kick drum and 166 BPM palm muting in order to propel me as far from suck ranch as I could go. The groups mentioned above showed me the art of the nuance after SLAYER and that shitty-band-who-once-was-good-and-now sucks-so-bad-they-need-to-make-a-movie-about-their-therapy-sessions-with-old-guitarists had beaten me over the head for several years. These groups literally were an alternative for me and kids like me - a hidden path between the suck that came out of the softening of music during the 70's and the heavy metal machismo that fragged and mutated from the brilliant and more nuanced beginnings of Black Sabbath* (not that there's anything wrong with those mutations).

So yeah, as much as the term has made me cringe for well over a decade now, I remember when the idea of 'alternative' music meant something. To bad since bare naked ladies and kid rock got squeezed into its popular definition, I have had to try to find something different to refer to it on a regualr basis. Maybe simply 'doesn't suck' will suffice. But then, maybe I'm just being nostalgic (drunk achieved!!!) woe is me in the morning.

* In mentioning Black Sabbath I must, for the record of course, stipulate that I only acknowledge Ozzy's years, not der-suckmeister Dio.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Legba says...

Run New Play Always Universally


Jack Parsons and the end of the world...

Do You know who John Whiteside Parsons, better known as 'Jack' was? He was the man who essentially invented the solid state rocket fuel that first enabled one of the United States' rockets to reach the moon. Many who were involved in the research at the time, such as Wernher von Braun, a WWII German rocket scientist who eventually defected to America via infamous Project: Paperclip* and is largely credited with the earliest, groundbreaking accomplishments of NASA give more credit to Parsons than to themselves. Parsons came from wealthy, educated and powerful stock and very quickly became an important man around Cal Tech, where the rocket propulsion system that changed the world originated. What is even less known than Parson's himself is that at the age of 26 Jack was initiated into the colloquially mysterious world of Aleister Crowley's occult organization the Ordo Templi Orientis, or the OTO for short (you know how much us occultists love our initials).

The OTO was formed by some accounts between 1895 and 1901 in Austria by some accounts and Germany in others. Originally built around the structure of the ancient Freemasons (not to be confused with the Stonecutters, who inexplicably once made Steve Guttenberg a star) the organization changed considerably once Crowley became involved. Under Crowley the OTO was realigned around the laws of his self-styled religion, Thelema* and took on a more prolific .

So how did the father of the modern rocket, cornerstone of the NASA that we know today become involved in such esoteric, and by all things american 'diabolical' avenues? Let me attempt to explain to the best of my limited ability.

Parsons was seeking. At the age of thirteen it is written in one of his diaries that he had evoked satan himself. Yeah right, I know (you might also know how some occultists, especially I would imagine anyone trained by Crowley himself, like to exaggerate) that sounds insane, but if you read about that kind of thing these days its suggested what that kind of contact actually is (when its not bat-shit crazy) is essentially locking into and communicating with ENERGY.

Now, I know that sounds like I should be working behind the counter of some place that sells incense and Sylvia Browne books, but really, that's what all the hubbub of magick and secret occult lore boils down to.

It's all scientific.

Arthur C. Clarke (R.I.P.) once said: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" and it works the opposite way as well. So Jack Parsons was manipulating/communicating with all kinds of interesting 'energies'.

Think not? Well he bloody well got us to the moon (I'm sure that seemed like magick to alot of people at the time, so it was - that's the point). He also took part in a particularly infamous ritual, something known as The Babylon Working, whereupon he sought to find a Scarlet Woman to impregnate and bring about a moonchild - someone who could help crack the ether and let in the forces that would expedite the end of the world as we know it.

I know, I know. Backup, right? Now I know that's the kind of shit that may sound crazy, but really, it depends on how you look at things. Sure, I love my life and the world I've constructed for it, the people I populate it with. That I'm attached to, just as most of you are. But beyond that there is a really fucking evil world out there with ALOT of bad, evil shit going on, and these days there are always those sublime moments when watching things go from bad to worse when I'm able to kind of feel past my ego and see that in a lot of ways, the 'world' would be better off if it was ended. I'm not one (as neither was Parson's I'm sure) who believes in traditional, Christian after-life scenarios. I look at the idea of death, although really fucking frightening to the ego-plex, as the achievement of perfection for the soul. Parson's and other occultists are ballsy in that even they value the 'perfection' of the world over their own attachments to living/life and actively seek out ways to make this happen. This was the goal of alchemists and mystics all along. It just depends on how big an ideal they're willing to tackle and how far they are willing to go. Agenda's are ALWAYS at stake.

So Jack Whiteside Parson's agenda was one of enormous task and he spent his life actively pursuing it.

Interesting, no?


I've essentially condensed a much larger topic into a smaller space. I won't write more on it because much already has been (well, maybe not much in comparison to something like WW2, but you know what I mean). Although there is an entire book on this that came out in double ought by John Carter and Robert Anton Wilson, my favorite writing on this topic is Disinformation's Richard Metzger's brief article: THE CRYING OF LIBER 49 in the Disinfo BOOK OF LIES, published in 2003. Great book on the occult, start to finish, all areas of it.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mr. Chuck Palahniuk...

has a new novel set for release May 20th. Here's a link. I heard about this one right about the time RANT (possibly my fav so far, although that's a tough call) and hoped it would would be what I heard.

It is.

I can't fucking wait for this book.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Shawn's UK Adventure Part 11

Monday, feb 4th, 2002

Taking the 100 bus to Edinburgh airport shortly after noon.

I'm sitting next to Joe in the very back of the bus writing this listening intently to 'Manchester Station'. It's a track by another local chicago band called Sour Deluxe. It's fucking brilliant; one of those creations borne of the artists longing for something that was. Big, weeping guitars force the heartfelt testimonials from the singer, a girl named Jamie something-or-other's lungs. Practically holding back my own tears as the bus pulls us ever further out of this city I've grown to love in just five days and the chorus swells up - a sentimental meathook that tears into the part of me that has absorbed this place and it's people; the moods and atmopspheres shown to me and my kin as travelers here. Cheesy but this is one of those moments where the phrase 'The time of my life' begins to echo through me, like Steven Keaton preaching to Alex about going away to college or some other such bullshit. Only difference is this is real. This is the time of my life. Not that there won't be others, but this, this is something else. It occurrs to me that this is what life is all about - this bittersweet feeling of living and leaving. And maybe that's the key. Many of the highest impact moments in my life have been fleeting. Weeks on vacation, friends, lovers, whatever. To have and hold these times, these feelings in our life and then be able to let them go, so they always stay pure. and maybe thats the key to life and to dying. To be able to come to the end of your life and have your memories.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

That same old song...


Wow, I haven't had the tiime to write one'a these here blogs in 2 weeks now. I miss my catharsis. Been busy with script re-editing and treatments and friends from outta town, as they say (they? whose they? THEM! word.)

Okay, let's jump right in.

I understand people who are legitimately behind the political ideals of Barack O'Bama. I don't really think its much more than talk (I know, I know, is it ever? Probably not much different with HC either, but as I'll get into later, that's the deal with American politics, unless you actually run) I don't feel comfortable with O'Bama for several reasons, some are a little more 'Mulder-ish' and these I've outlined here in a previous post. However, another reason is because YES, he is a pretty damn great speaker. So what? I mean, I hear ALOT of people say they are so enamored with him for this reason and to that I have to ask the question:

Why would anyone vote for a politician that's a good speaker without something to show for backing it up?

For many I feel this is indicitive of their grasp of the political arena: Being wooed by someone who's speeches inspire that fuzzy wuzzy warm feeling of national pride and 'Let's make a Change!' sentimentality will conversely make it that much easier to bitch about the fact that alot of what is promised turns out to be just talk later on. But wouldn't a spoonful of insight and self-appraisal go hand in hand with NOT voting for cosmetic reasons? Isn't ignoring the feelings of greatness and looking at more practical, less emotional stimuli before voting a good way to 'nip that in the bud' so to speak? I mean, vote for someone because you agree with what they've done with their life or because you appreciate the outlines for policy and change they have already laid in place, or better yet the track record as a politician that has led them to where they are now, but DO NOT vote for ANYBODY just because they can talk their way into your hearts. This is not just irresponsible but dangerous.

A good presidential candidate will talk well and act on what they say. Well, as of now, all I can say is look at O'Bama's track record - he talked his way into the Senate in my home state and if You ask a lot of folks there, he's done nothing. In fact, when campaigning for that position he was very clear about how he would not neglect duties for the state by leap-frogging into another campaign - made a lot of nice, inspiring speeches on that point - sounded good at the time, but not really what happened, eh?


Now on the other side of the coin, I actually managed to see O'Bama on 'The View' last week. I know, I know, 'what the hell were you doing watching daytime television, let alone an acctress's discussion forum that has become the last bastion of publicity for washed up and rabid faux movie star Whoopi Goldberg? WEll, some of the peeps at work throw it on in the background on break. When my own break overlaps its become something of a 10 AM ritual for us to gather in the break room and watch this nightmare to foster discussion or afford us ammunition to rip into the various 'celebrities' on the show. So imagine our surprise (that evaporated when I took a moment to actually think about it) when instead of someone like Patrick Dempsey or Squib Holler coming out there's ol' Barrack sitting amidst the decaying hollywood social zombies.

Now, I gotta say, I have watched O'Bama speak b4, but I think I was even more impressed with him this time. Really, turn that broadcast tragedy on for five minutes and you'll see the inane slatherings one would have to deal with as a guest, especially one of such high profile and important politic bearing.

I was most impressed with the way O'Bama handled the redundant titterings from whoever that washed up blonde on the show is (a co-worker informed me she had been on survivor and is married to a football player. That's a warranted membership in the cult of celebrity, let me tell you). With a frightening, prescription induced self-esteem coating her heavily mascaraed eyes and her 'yes I'm a tiny blonde starlot with a purse dog and a rabid shopping addiction, but my opinion still matters!' kind of way, she repeatedly asked O'Bama the same question (what do think it was? She's timely, boy-howdy!) never missing a chance to declare herself a Republican and a Christian just to put him in his place. I can still hear her now, 'But your minister, but your minister...'

You know, the whole damn thing with Barack's former minister is just out of line and fucking retarded. I feel like I did when the whole 'Clinton smoked a joint' thing came around (which clinton lost points to me on. I'm sorry, but I simply do not know if someone who claims to be too stupid to know how to smoke a joint should have access to 'The Button') - talk about blowing something up that is just beside the point and really just an exercise in subterfuge. And the fact that Hillary misses no chance to sprinkle salt in this ridiculously festering wound is just bad politics. But then, for the first time here this election I'm reminded why the whole fucking process makes me so sick to begin with. This IS politics in the US because this IS what we the voters respond to. Of course Hillary's going to jump on that because they've both been hitting each other with Mud for weeks now, off and on. I think this is just the first thing to blow up this big with the media and so until now I guess I was able to lie to myself and pretend we were actually having an intelligent, dignified campaign. No such luck, huh?

I'm not defecting sides, but I gotta say, Hilary is just pissing me off. Now, I can never say that I've been 100% behind her or any other candidate in any election (esp presidential) I've participated in, so fallout is, in any system of man, expected. I'm still not voting for Barack, I'm DEFINITELY not voting for 'build a wall to keep the mexicans out' McCain, but being left with a woman that is turning out to be a mud-throwing liar (duck and cover? Please, this is low rent pandering for image that sickens me. Maybe a grown adult politican in this day and age that is too stupid to realize that IT'S 2008 AND YOU ARE ALWAYS ON CAMERA! ALWAYS!!! shouldn't have access to delicate global negotiations or 'The Button' either?) It's not too far from being political equivalent of pandering young men in gym class on Mondays boasing about their Saturday night conquests that turn out, in the end, to be their hand).

Fuck, so I'm disillusioned with all three. 'Help me Jimmy Smits, you're my only hope...'