Thursday, October 13, 2005


Back in the "old days" when we underground rock aficionados (and assorted other fruitcakes of varying stripes) were allegedly in the throes of some great "fanzine revival" of sorts (albeit I never saw any special rewards for my own efforts during this period in time...go figure!), I used to peruse as many of the new offerings being made available via this "fanzine circuit" as I could stand. Now I gotta admit that some of these home-made magazines were pretty good reads in their own great amateurish way, but frankly most of these "efforts" (if you can call 'em that!) were strictly grade-z dullsville and in fact a few of 'em were downright abysmal! After being "influenced" by the great, no-holds-barred and definitely NON-PC rants you could see in a variety of now-forgotten fanzines of the past (which I will name as this post proceeds) this new generation of self-publishing that I guess was big enough that even the big mags took notice certainly came off weak, but since people who stapled three pages of their photocopied bile passing as honest appraisals of whatever flavor of the week music act was making waves were sending their wares in exchange for my, er, more professional endeavors, what else could I do but give 'em a read (before throwing the things away, that is???).

Well, since those maybe not-so-halcyon days the fanzine generation has more or less been replaced by the (taa-DAAH!) blog generation, and frankly it ain't no surprise seeing that a good hulking portion of nineties fanzine scene remnants are currently a part of the world-wide blogscene here in the oh-ohs. But what exactly are you getting when you click on your personal PC and go surfing amidst the ever-growing list of these aforementioned blogs out there in "notice me" land anyway? You KNOW what you're in store for when you tune this particular faverave in (mainly no-hold-barred high energy appraisals of ALL things deemed noteworthy with regards to your funfunFUN existence whether it be music, comics, mad obsessions...) but do you really get the same stellar quality in writing and information on alla those OTHER blogs like you get from trustworthy me? Rather than have you dear readers find out the HARD, STONE COLD TRUTH for yourselves, I've decided to peruse what some might call the competition and report to you my findings just so's you all can rest your pretty little heads and not have to fret over wasting your time searching out other rockism-oriented reads in order to help soothe your savage boobies.

AGONY SHORTHAND-Some of you readers may think I have a bee in my bonnet about not only this particular blog, but its "creator" who goes by the moniker Jay Hinman. Well, you readers certainly are astute. Yes, Jay has said some pretty vile, unsubstantiated and downright nasty things about me and egged on his legion of toadies who follow his every butt-drip with regards to spreading some unproven (and never will be!) falsehoods about myself, my tastes and my personal life based on some gross exaggerations I'll be mentioning later on, but somehow I just can't fault the guy. After all, being an "intern" for the flaming drug-hazed socialists at SOUND CHOICE would have a dangerous impact on a young and impressionable brain such as Jay's, and it's pretty obvious that Hinman's stay with this "legendary" OP spinoff has warped him to the point of no return. This might be the reason the man sports what could be called a strange left-leaning libertarianism that seems to mirror the current direction that the folks at REASON magazine has been heading in as of late, which might be one reason that this self-confessed libertarian (myself, that is) is more and more being drawn over to the paleo-conservative philosophizing going on at CHRONICLES (a mag and site tipped off to me by none other'n Russell Desmond of CAN'T BUY A THRILL fame, who even contributed some articles to it back in the late-eighties!), who at least know enough that you don't have to pal around with the ACLU-types and tie-dyed hippies even if you don't care for the current state of governmental concerns.

But Jay's political beliefs (no matter how wobbly) and personal attacks aside, what can I say about his blog anyway? Well, it is a popular one from what I can gather, with other sites linking it up and people from across the sphere leaving more comments than I can find on just about any other blog of note. But after reading a good portion of the thing, I can only mutter a hearty "why???" At times the guy hits it on the head with a few entries that I find not only readable but (believe-it-or-not) informative, but most of the time Jay seems to be rotating in his own orbit somewhere in the alternative/indie solar system, wanking on and on about a variety of acts (as of late: Scratch Acid and the unrepentingly socialist Ex) amongst a slew of others I've written off as watered-down shucks sometime in the late-80s/early-90s when it finally sunk into my bean as to just how yawn-inspiring these bands were when compared with the un-diluted form they allegedly were replacing. OK, that's where Jay comes from and he has every right to rah-rah his amerindie faves just like I have every right to divulge of my undying fandom for the likes of the Velvet Underground and DENIM DELINQUENT fanzine. However, Jay DOESN'T have the right to lambaste me as a "hypocrite" (popular left-wing admonition usually spouted by people who are dictionary definitions of the term) for doing the exact same thing with my faves that he does with his...mainly champion 'em and help egg people onto buying their wares thus boosting their status in some vague realm of an underground market of sorts.

But as far as when Mr. H does break from his norm to write about music that has been playing my soundtrack for a good many years...well, as the flittery Patrick Amory once said, he "lazes out double." A recent review of The Velvet Underground's WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT was not only such a waste of bytes re-re-rehashing points and stabs of esoterica originally presented by much-greater minds the likes of Wayne McGuire back when the thing originally came out, but it also reminded me about just how far this record, which was originally championed by only the most forward-thinking rockist mindsets of the sixties and used as a template for some of the best music to come out of the seventies, has dribbled down to the most twee of musically-inclined lamebrains here in the mid oh-ohs. Not that I would consider Hinman part of that cadre, far from that, but sheesh, reading his gosh-it-all scribing applied to one of my faves (a record which thrilled me to feral heights during my original teenaged listening sessions) makes me want to give WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT a loooooong rest after that damning with faint praise. And face it, a good hefty portion, nay, at least 99% of what does appear on this blog just makes me realize that all of the good and still readable material that popped up in his SUPERDOPE fanzine (oh excuse me...'zine since the term "fanzine" was tres-outre at the time!) wasn't even written by him but by erstwhile contributors Grady Runyan and Jon Behar, the former out of the music scene for all I know and the latter promising his own blog for what now seems like eons. And come to think of it, the fact that Hinman named his blog after a Flesheaters song has totally weaned my off that band with a pickle! Hey Jay, if you REALLY wanna rankle my ire and make sure my pleasurable musical listening days are RUINED for good, just write something positive about all the BLOG TO COMM faves and I'll guarantee you that I'll NEVER listen to or write about another note of music again!!!

But maybe I shouldn't be that hard on the guy even though he seems like the total wuss what with a wife and kid and a job/life straight out of some Peter Bagge comic. Like Fredric Wertham said about even the lowliest crudzine, there may be something of worth in there somewhere, and I'm sure that if you comb through AGONY SHORTHAND's massive archives you might find something an average BLOG TO COMM reader would want to learn about. Of course you'll have to fight your way through hundreds of posts on such lightweights as Mission of Burma and Come mixed in with the obligatory c&w and black music posts which are presented just so's Hinman can come off multicultural and all, but they even found a few good people in Sodom and you just might find a few good reads therein as well.

LEXICON DEVIL-Hoo boy, what else can I say about this living fart personified? Here I go, being so aw-shucks innocent enough as to actually THINK that old Dave here was a true-blue dyed-in-the-wool and whatever other hackneyed cliche you can come up with fan of me and my magazine, sending him mags and tapes while actually honoring his supposedly valued opinions on things both music-related and not, and what does the ol' sphincter go 'n do? None other than write up some big hate-filled screed attacking me and my mag for a slew of modern-day group-sins like racism (yeah, especially with all that racist avant garde jazz coverage I've given over the years), sexism (which makes me wonder what part of the body Dave's wife whips him with) and homophobia (which I never thought was a sin, at least compared with the rampant homophilia that's all the rage these days) but that was long ago. I'm still mad about it, not only because once you get down to it I don't think Dave would be any more of a "man" about these things than I am (though I dunno, since he might come off like that liberal white bunsnitch in some R. Crumb comic who, when being murdered by a gang of blacks, can only mutter "I can understand where you guys are coming from"), but because getting the "Et Tu Brute" treatment from him dragging up old feuds of the past (re. the YOUR FLESH flack which he purposefully misrepresented) and all that crap on his part really stung. And after all that brouhaha, the dil still doesn't get it as to why I was totally unhinged by his betrayal! Dave, since you're always mentioning just how the "fire will never go out" in my mind all I have to retort is...why should it?

But enough fun reminiscences. As for his blog, I gotta say that it's perhaps even more golly-gee than Jay Hinman's, with the usual mix of moderne fluff I saw as the shuck it was long ago mixed with the usual affirmative action picks which do seem suspect because I can never in a million years see such a nimnul as Dave cozying up to the likes of Mary Lou Williams (who he probably discovered only after reading a review of an LP of hers in BLACK TO COMM #25 anyway) other than to look "all-inclusive" or some other modern-day hogwash. However, unlike Hinman's at-times misguided yet perhaps entertaining entries, Dave cannot transcend his fanboy appreciation of whatever music be it punk, heavy metal, artrock etc. coming off much worse than a typical mid-teen just discovering the joy-de-vivre of it all. At least I can find plenty of high-energy jamz in the writings of the more fannish, teenage fanzine scribing of the seventies such as that of Greg Prevost's in the old FUTURE, but Dave's entire style and swagger (if you can call it that) just seems to me like one long misfire being written by some aspiring dweeb down in the Antipodes who wants everybody to like him while the bigtime alternative powers that be're laughing behind poor Dave's back and he don't even know it! Frankly, I'd graduated from that sorry state of "please like me!" around 1991 or so (maybe earlier) when I told more'n a few turdballs out there to take a hike, but I guess Dave is stuck in this sad state of adolescent fandom aspiration and what can we do?

At least the boy isn't posting as much as he used to, though right when I get all excited thinking that Dave has done the most honorable thing he could and hung himself the marsupial either posts a silly retort on some site or enters another useless entry on his blog usually regarding some disc we've heard about for years on end that he swiped from his brother! If Australians were any real sort of he-men they'd capture this great menace to their national pride and treat him with the same care and handling that their forefathers used to give to rabbits. I dunno, but I wouldn't mind a Dave Lang pelt hanging on my wall...howzbout yours???

LUNATIC'S ASYLUM-I was a bit wary of Jack Dee from his associations (read: frequent posting of comments) with the two aforementioned blogs, but since he never said anything nasty 'bout me that I can at least trace (other'n I repeat myself too often...hisssss!) I'll give him a pass this once. Anyway, I wrote up LUNATIC'S ASYLUM in one of my own posts earlier this years and after all these months all I gotta say is...the thing is pretty nice. Good even. You can tell from my exuberance that I really like this one...not only is LUNATIC'S ASYLUM one of the more picturesque blogs extant but Dee's writing and tastes are, as the British would say, spot on. Well, there are a few things (actually, many) Dee rallies round that I dunno if I'd sample inna million years, but I like it when he raves about long-forgotten albums and recent musical discoveries and believe-you-me this computer whiz even includes mp3's for people who are into things like that. Sometimes it seems like years twixt posts, but as Benjamin Franklin said "Good things come to those who wait," or was it Alfred E. Neuman? Either way, this one should win awards for SOMETHING if they ever get around to having Grammys or Emmys or whatever for blogs.

MUSIC CHAMBER-I gotta admit that I like Tim Ellison a lot. It's funny, because I'm not always 100% behind the music that he goes the whole 100 yards for like Klaatu or Franz Ferdinand, and sometimes his musical "jags" can look silly (like when he gets on his progressive rock high horse and does the old Chuck Eddy "It's square and popular so maybe I can get some notice by plugging it over whatever 'hip' stuff is big with the unwashed collegiates out there!" rant), but I like him nonetheless. Sorta like the way I like George W. Bush...I mean, I disagree with both of them a lot (Tim for some of the above musical ramblings and Bush for ignoring a true paleo-conservative/libertarian/anarchist direction this sick nation could've gone in, instead favoring a neo-conservative dribbling that only make him more of a middle-of-the-roadkill than he'll EVER admit or realize), but I kinda get mad when they're both being lambasted, Tim by relatively worthless know-it-alls and Bush by ultra-left chic post-Yohannonesque Stalin-worshippers. I get that way sometimes.

Anyway Tim's MUSIC CHAMBER blog is something that fans of him and his old ROCK MAG fanzoon really could use, though I gotta say that the entire affair needs...something MORE??? Like maybe more reviews and in-depth musings, longer posts and less of these lists which seem to permeate the thing. Many of the non-list posts are too brief as well, consisting of quickie commentary on whatever slice of musical esoterica Tim may whip up for our approval. Of course he'll link up an on-line piece of his for our benefit and I really liked it when he was posting old Richard Meltzer reviews, but frankly a rockism-inclined info-hound like myself wants much more and I gotta say that the Meltzer revisits only make me hungry. Hey Tim, how about more mega-articles, pix, insights on musical beings past and present and maybe even a little more FREQUENCY in the very near future???

THE NEXT BIG THING-Lindsay Hutton's another fave o' mine ever since I've heard all of the rant/rave about his fanzine entitled what else but THE NEXT BIG THING way back in the early days of the eighties. Here was a mag, one of the few in fact that lasted into the eighties which continued that hard-edged gonzoid style/tradition started by the likes of BACK DOOR MAN, DENIM DELINQUENT and FLASH way back in the early/mid seventies, and although Lindsay and I have had our own scrapes and scuffles o'er the years (which I think might have been brought about by personal factors going on in both our lives, though I don't wanna be another Dave Lang and blab a whole lotta misinformation) it ain't like any of us held a grudge against each other. Maybe that's because, in my own corny Pennsylvanian fashion I really dig the man for his down-home and fun-loving ways. I mean, I may rib him about haggis and blood pudding, but he sure seems to take it all in stride!

Anyway Lindsay's blog is one of the tops, with a buncha contributors like Jeroen Vedder and some other guy named Hutton (no relation) in there somewhere joining in the fray, and frankly for a good source of not only the latest in relevant entertainment news (like when some tee-vee star of the past dies---they never interrupt programming for important stuff like that) or maybe even news of a reissue or archival proto-punk dig of worth, you can't beat THE NEXT BIG THING. You may wanna beat some sense into Lindsay especially when he gets on his left-wing anti-American political soapbox, but given he's living in the middle of the People's Republic of Scotland where the peasantry expects grants and monies of all sorts from the ruling class and I understand the homosexuality rates are even higher than those in New York, San Francisco, Denmark and the restrooms at the Canfield Fairgrounds what would YOU figure? Maybe Hutton still cherishes his old-timey punk days and proudly displays his Crass badges and spiky 'do whilst walking down the streets. Maybe not. I really shouldn't pick on the guy, should I??? Heeza nice people.

THE STASH DAUBER-Why did I ever hook up with this guy??? Sure, promises of in-depth reviews with Detroit rock greats and lengthy long-distance calls detailing all sortsa interesting factoids did seem tasty back in 1997, but after all was said and done here all I can say is...whatta puss! If you like reading boring vignettes regarding some pushing-fifty's strictly dungeon life (complete with recipes of wifey's faves and all-too-brief [maybe that should read thankfully-brief] writeups on local musicbiz wannabes) all I can say is GO FOR IT, but really, if this thing had anything to do with the high-energy music its author purports to endorse then you need a microscope to find it. In retrospect I'm glad the guy jettisoned himself outta my mag and my life and may he find a peaceful and fulfilling life ahead of him in the drunk tank of his choice.

Naturally there are a whole slew of rock- (and other)-oriented blogs out there you'll probably wanna know about but I didn't write 'em up since I'm not familiar with 'em despite a looksee or two. (I am familiar with the above ones not only because I want to see what else is going on in this rock world of ours, but I want to see what nasty things are being said about me!) Anyway, these blogs're getting a pass...FOR NOW that is, but really, who knows which way this free-wheeling machine gun of a post will tilt in the coming months? As they used to!


Dave Lang said...

DOn't you tire of demeaning mine and Jay Hinman's Blog? OK, so we're not as cool and cutting edge as you. BIG DEAL. If you spent as much time improving your writing career than dissing people like us, then maybe you'd get as many hits as we do!

Anonymous said...

That above comment was NOT posted by me - the real Dave Lang

Christopher said...

The thought of a phantom Dave Lang is especially troublesome.

Anonymous said...

I actually do like Agony Shorthand and Jay Hinman a great deal, but I do notice that in his reviews of Please Kill Me and We Got The Neutron Bomb/Lexicon Devil he rags on early NY and LA punks in a moralistic fashion for being drug addicts and screwups. He obviously doesn't understand what the whole scene was about in the early days -that was a big part of it. I don't know personally about early SF but that seemed to be quite similar.

BTW, Chris, you realize that your slagging off Hinman is probably the least interesting part of your blog, and really turns off the readers.

Christopher said...

Actually I had no indication that my slaggings were "turning off" readers, at least by the feedback I have been receiving during this past one-and-a-half years of blogging. Anyway, if you read closely you'll see a few pro-slag comments scattered amongst the various responses herein as well so I assume that some readers enjoy the current albeit at-times "negative" tone of this blog. Besides, it's not as if I've been constantly pounding on Hinman, Lang (or even Shimamoto) even though all three certainly deservce a lot more than what they have received at my hands, and believe me I've really had to restrain myself a times with regards to going overboard in expressing my hatred of all three. I guess it's all open as to the reader's own views regarding this ever-continuing rampage, though frankly I would compare what I've been doing to what people like Steve Hesske have done to Fred Mills, and personally I think I come off rather mellow next to the personal attacks that Fred had been receiving thanks to Hesske nigh on two decades back.