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What I've been up to lately


Well...there's this interview with the biographer of Ian Dury, whose life is the subject of a new biopic starring Andy Serkis.

Also this music review from the same website.

And my latest column for the official website of Bay Area-based epic fantasy novelist Tad Williams.

Highly recommended: the confounding but braintwisting - and even intermittently hawt, for those so inclined -  indie flick PORNOGRAPHY: A THRILLER, produced by this guy.

More to come...

I am tired of being at the mercy...

...of shiny, happy, brown lipstick wearing, French blue shirted, no count, no talent philistines who have habitually known and enjoyed the carnal knowledge of rats.

...but it does (venting)

Not a good day.  Got on a MUNI bus packed to the gills, and could barely fit in at the front.  Two stops later, I asked the driver if I could get off and try to get on in the back which looked less crowded. He said OK.

Upon doing so, I got into a shoving match with two or three paid-in-full members of the street trash community, got called names including, yes, the F word (not the one that most of such folk use as even a preposition). 

Protest was lost on these hooch-breathed, spoiling for a fight idiots. I got off, and ended up walking home.

Which got me madder and madder, this being at the mercy of such people not even my intellectual equal. But who are probably doing better for themselves than the me with no dayjob, throwing writing at walls, seeing his books sitting on local shelves and going nowhere, having journo assignments sitting in limbo for weeks at this or that website.

It shouldn't have bothered me...

But it does.

Then, earlier this week I happened to pick up a copy of both one of the local free rags, and a wellknown  national music mag, both of which I have attempted to get published by, both featuring a local San Fran scribe, known for his flair for 'transgressive' lit.  What does that term mean anymore, anyway?

 In case you the reader don't know, though, usually 'TRANSGRESSIVE' means someone who went through a shitty childhood scarred by religious and/or physical abuse, went through an IV Drug Hell, cleaned up, and now restricts their antisocial behavior to sex acts involving riding crops and electrical appliances.

Their literary CV involves reflections inspired by combinations of the above, repeated ad inf.

Now, I have no intrinsic problem with this writer one way or another, even like some of their work, and am a big fan of an ezine they founded. 

And the cover story this writer did for the music mag is pretty solid, a first-rate profile, albeit of a third-rate rock group.

So, in my rational mind, I should not be bothered by this, despite sending around my CV and clips to this and all too many other music mags without nary a peep for some time now.

And I know that this is a counterproductive state of mind, keeping me from all that I could be channelling into rising above and beyond and building on my own work.  That he is just one of many people who have no more on the ball than me - and in some cases, far less.

I know it shouldn't bother me...

But it does.

It really.  F#####g.  Does.

Hi there...

...and how's by you?
A new one, enjoy or not...



POEM FOR HAITI RELIEF


Today
greasy rain pisses down
these inclined streets
cascading into the scurrying dissatisfied
San Francisco downtown.

This won’t help the homeless.
This won’t help the helpless.

Everybody hurts now in Haiti
yet bone china bone idol karaoke
won’t help either.

So allow yourselves a brief backpat,
overfed celebrity scum.

Those you attempt to aid
are already far too after-shocked
and numb.

2/4/10
S.F.

A Brief Bit of Update

Hello all:

      Just a quickun to let you know that my debut as music reviewer/scribe/hack for the POPMATTERS entertainment website is now viewable!

      Here 'tis.

      With more surely forthcoming, the USPS willing.

      Also at work on a new chapbook for the Kendra Steiner folk, set to fly in November.  Specifics on the way.

      Birthday next Wednesday the 30th.
 
      And the local SF Litquake Festival roster was announced this week; people I know and know of will be working their show...I didn't make the cut. 

      Bugger, as the Brits say. 

 

The great British post-Punk cultural historian and scribe Jon Savage does it again. A fascinating and inticingly detailed piece about British pop music magazines of the 60's, in London's Guardian paper, out this week.

Me, I've already added titles like RAVE and FABULOUS to my ongoing list of vintage music mags to keep peeled for when trolling Ebay and suchlike.

(And a prize to the first one who can spot the reference in this post title.)

James Luther Dickinson, 1941-2009

As if 2009 hasn't already been a lousy year for musicians, just in the past handful of weeks we've lost Les Paul, Willy DeVille and now, this weekend, the awesomely brilliant Jim Dickinson.

I can count on my hand the people who made rock/pop music history that I genuinely would have loved the chance to sit down and shoot the whatever with for an afternoon. Dickinson was one of them.

As a producer, Jim Dickinson was a sonic architect and alchemist.  Jim could quite possibly spot insincere musical expression in utero.  Dig out any of the records he was behind the board for - Aretha Franklin, Willie Nelson, Alex Chilton with Big Star and solo, Green On Red, Ry Cooder (Jim was invaluable on Cooder movie scores like PARIS, TEXAS), and the Replacements' PLEASED TO MEET ME to name a few - and you'll hear what I mean.

Beyond that, Dickinson was one of the most spirited and infallibly swinging rock and roll/barrelhouse/bordello piano men on the planet. 

Among choice moments would be the Stones' 'Wild Horses', of course - and only because go-to guy Ian Stewart didn't 'do' minor chords! -  but don't ignore these:

- Jim's work during NYC sessions with the Flamin Groovies. The Groovies for one brief moment were the Stones' Stateside doppleganger, at least long enough to produce 1971's classic TEENAGE HEAD. Dickinson's joanna mojo underpin was essential roughage to tracks like their blaze thru Randy Newman's 'Have You Seen My Baby'. Another cover from those sessions, the Who's 'Can't Explain', should also be sought out.

-  Dickinson's instrumental and arranging efforts towards making BIG STAR THIRD/SISTER LOVERS and Chilton's FLIES ON SHERBET sound (in Alex's words) 'really trashy'.  'Kizza Me' and 'Boogie Shoes', respectively from each disc, get the job done and no mistake.

- Even swampier and more atavistic are discs by Chilton compadre Tav Falco's Panther Burns like SUGAR DITCH REVISITED and THE WORLD WE KNEW, with Dickinson right in there working his show.

And certainly Jim had some major input on the overall gestalt and groove found within Dylan's TIME OUT OF MIND, as Bob himself has acknowledged.

Then there's Dickinson's solo albums, including the great bargain bin find from '71, DIXIE FRIED, recently reissued. And the stuff his kids Cody and Luther put out as the North Mississippi All Stars...and, and.

All that said, though, the reason I would have loved to hang with Jim was that he was an astonishing and colorful raconteur, with a photographic memory of his career high and lowlights.  You can read for yourself right here.  And especially here.  

Such sad news calls to mind an old Ray Charles quote about never wanting to be famous, but always wanting to be great.

That he was; so was Jim Dickinson. Goodbye baby and amen.



sad wings of klosterman

 

I don't get it. Does anyone - anyone?? - rate this Chuck Klosterman guy as any kind of a writer?  I would genuinely like to know.

I managed to successfully avoid reading this avidly populist culture vulture, I mean, journo's stuff for some time.

Until two occurrences:

One, being involved in the LITERARY DEATH MATCH in S.F. a few months back and one of the 'judges' saying my writing reminded him of Klosterman.  Okay, I will concede that we were both brought up in sub-sub-rural, back of the boondock-like environs (CK in North Dakota, me in Maryland).  The comparison blessedly ends there. 

Then, I scanned a recent online chat with a fellow poet/scribe pal.  In it he had some positive comments about one of CK's books.  Its title I will not dignify by naming, as the calculating stench of Klosterman's longing to identify with the Classic Rock multitudes, frankly, reeks from the title on.

Don't you just love these guys who make a tidy living defending the indefensible: McDonalds, Guns N Roses, U2, Britney effing Spears for chrissakes?

Guys who put forth the opinion that a band like the Ramones is unworthy of its place within the expanse of pop music, due to not going platinum and being more favored by rock critics than hair metal money-spinners like, wait for it, Ratt.  Horrors!  

Who then turn around and make cute little comments, in footnotes no less, about Geo W being the worst president since Grant.  Really, can this prat be any less lacking in convictions? Besides, who does he think he is, David Foster Wallace?

Sorry, Chuck, as much as I disdain some of the musos you heap scorn on (perhaps deservedly so) need you be reminded that the people who put the bastard in office (twice!) were probably the ones who, in their youth, bought records by Ratt, and Britney, and Billy Joel, all of whom and more are given much ink within your CV? Including those from your own home state you are so goddamned proud of referencing?

'Look at what's on bookstore shelves out there. Look at the idiots who write them and those that buy them. There's lots of idiots'.  So a glancing acquaintance of mine who used to rule the West Coast's answer to SPY Magazine, and has now co-written a history of Bay Area punk, once told me.

I wonder, in the face of heavyweights like these in the literary piranha pond, if it's sometimes even worth carrying the f*&# on. Honestly.

Maybe this is all a bit harsh, and I’m sorry, but the effort spent to read, even consider, Klosterman’s admittedly well-crafted devil’s advocacy ultimately felt like an expense of time never to be relived. 

Best to just leave this hack with literary pretensions/delusions to his intended and evidently enamored audience.

As for me, to paraphrase a far more eloquent pop-culture observer: I think someone should stick a sixer of PBR and an iPod of KISS tunes in the prairie putz’s hands, shove him into a corner and forget about him. 


One: watching JEOPARDY last night, one of my main forms of mental aerobics. It's the Teen Tournament this week, and one of the answers had to do with Miley Cyrus of Hannah Montana infamy. 

None of the teen contestants got it.

Then there's this bit of Punk-era wackiness.

And not only but also, this pairing of a now departed comedic genius and a thoroughly brilliant, punk-pop as it's meant to be, kind of choon.
"You either got it honey or you ain't..."
Makes one want to step up if you're a creative type.  Who, me?