Saturday, February 01, 2014

Believe it or not, but I've actually been watching some prime time tee-vee as of late that wasn't a Laurel and Hardy movie on TCM! It's true, and even your humble blogschpieler must admit that I am surprised given how I've become such a tee-vee loather who has avoided most of what the cathode tube has had to offer for well over thirtysome years! It naturally must be something powerful that would draw me to the television set these days other'n a severe weather warning or a NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC special on topless Tahitian maidens tittin' it up in the warm tropical sun, and that something matter of factly just has to be the return of GILLIGAN'S ISLAND to the TV Land schedule! (Undoubtedly spurred on by the recent passing of Russell "Professor" Johnson I would surmise.) And hey, that certainly is a durn surprise given that cable network's penchant for boring first run comedies and exhumations of recent sitcoms that I was watching TV Land to get away from in the first place!

Y'know, after the last big GILLIGAN'S ISLAND syndication putsch in the eighties I thought I would have had enough of that show to last a lifetime, but this latest round of reruns really show just how well crafted and entertaining the series was despite alla that incessant naysaying of highbrows and phony intellectuals world wide. Yeah I know that maybe the show wasn't exactly "highbrow" or something that would have set the Algonquin Round Table all a-flutter, but watching GILLIGAN after eyeballing the "intelligent" sitcoms of the past three decades years is like drinking a nice fresh glass of Koolade after having used toidy water poured down your throat! And dang it if the acting, the look, the stories and the humor just ain't attuned to my suburban slob-styled living patterns that I've fearlessly clung to while everyone else was goin' to their macrame lessons.

Watching this show just doesn't make me bemoan the passing of the industry that would create such a wonderful series in the first place, but the world that made this series such an important part of all of our upbringings either via its original network run or through years of afternoon repeats on our favorite local UHF outlets. Once kids stopped watching programs like this and THE LITTLE RASCALS we were all lost for good, because once that spark of funtime growing up mania got yanked away from children there simply ceased to be children. I haven't seen any lately---what I do see are mini-adults who are vying to be just as narcissistic and neurotic as the grown ups they've been tricked into emulating.

Tuning into GILLIGAN really had the memories come rushing back, and for once they were good 'uns 'stead of all of those depressing childhood travail ones that seem to permeate the inner reaches of my not-so-vacant cranial cavity. Saturday nights being babysat while watching the early episodes. Being scared like anything by those quivering weather balloons. Getting even more mop top rock into my system courtesy the Mosquitoes. And later on---rushing to do my homework no matter how klutzy and shoddy it may be in order to hit the television set once four o'clock rolled around.

I envy people like Don Fellman who gets these new sub-stations in that air much needed and loved programming like THE REAL McCOYS in nightly (don't call him between six and seven especially if the lovely and downright talented Lydia Reed as Hassie is a featured performer 'stead of just another living prop), but it's sure wonderful getting some QUALITY PROGRAMMING into my system after years of craft-less flatulence. Hope the once OK TV Land'll get the message and start cramming their schedules with some old time hotcha sitcoms 'stead of those eighties/nineties/oh-ohs series I do loathe so.
As you might have sussed, the recent passing of Pete Seeger meant about as much to me as the death of Moe Hare. I mean, what did the old-time folkie environmentalist who was, like every other enlightened soul of the twentieth century, suckered into hardcore Stalinism for fun and profit really have to say for me anyhow? However, I gotta admit that, surprisingly enough, Seeger wasn't as much an offensive folk presence as the likes of, say, Joan Baez...before I knew about his apologetic Stalinist history the guy was to me just some folkie who used to pop up on tee-vee a whole lot from SESAME STREET and CAPTAIN KANGAROO to a slew of PBS folk specials that I get the impression were viewed by the ever sagging remnants of the hootenanny generation and nobody else. Given that Seeger had been a member of the Communist Party USA even when it wasn't a seventies chic thing to be one it's a wonder how he would ever be allowed near a television camera let alone be presented as any sort of youth-identifiable role model, but I guess since he was so average looking and folk songs could hardly rally the lumpen proles the way hard rock could Seeger seemed a rather harmless old coot to the TV execs and everyday television viewers all along. And it is hard imagining your Uncle Ed advocating a violent overthrow of the Amerigan Government which is maybe why, once you got down to it, Pete was such an inefficient touter of revolution and equality and all of those other things the old time lefties used to froth all over about.

Yeah I know I should be dancing around the maypole over the fact that Seeger is no more, but I really can't no matter how hard I try to put a little oomph into it. Sure he was a useful idiot for a movement that made the ever-dreaded Nazism look positively wilted (and perhaps a viable "alternative" to some), and the fact that he was "blacklisted" might have impressed the cocktail crowds in NYC but not me, but I did read (courtesy Ronald Radosh) that Seeger had modified his views over the years and considered himself more of a small "c" communist, one that has a "c" that I hope kept shrinking throughout the years. And like I said, the guy really couldn't provoke anybody to become a communist what with the rather simpy music he was writing and recording, and at times for biggie capitalist label Columbia. After all, the whole idea of the folk movement being a catalyst for social change was just another one of those left wing wet dreams where the party bosses envisioned the working classes as a bunch of dolts who would actually be motivated by the campfire sing-a-longs to rise against the capitalist system. In actuality its the guys who write disposable douche commercials who are way more in touch with the populace at large which makes me wonder why the CPUSA didn't take their tips from Massengill rather than SING OUT!.

Seeger may have espoused some extremely dangerous rhetoric (that maybe didn't sound so bad when discussed in close knit college circles but when put into force...whew!), but with the catalog of recordings that he gave us over the course of seventysome years it was pretty plain obvious that he couldn't even rev up a revolt in a pre-school playground! Really, would you feel like tearing down the walls and sticking it to the man after hearing "Where Have All The Flowers Gone"???? Not me, bub!

I guess we didn't really know it then, but the whole worker's paradise schtick really wasn't as sturdy as all of those intellectuals and starry-eyed types wanted to believe it was. In fact it was the closest thing to hell on earth you could come up against, but look at the bright was the intellectual book writers and starry eyed "Abraham Lincoln Brigades" members who were more'n apt to get shot once they outlived their usefulness! Sometimes I wish that the PBS program POV would deal with a subject like that, but then again why break a fortysome-year-old habit?

So much for revolution and class warfare, and for that matter people who think that living in Stalin's Russia was oh-so superior to living in Franco's Spain!

And in some ways it is heartening to know that the son of Seeger's fellow communist folk singing friend Woody (none other'n who else but Arlo) is now not only a member of the republican party, but an avid Ron Paul supporter. That fact ain't gonna make me rush out and buy any of Guthrie's albums (the fact that he is a Paul supporter, NOT republican), but it sure's got me tickled pink thinkin' of just how Paw's takin' it all in wherever he may be in the afterlife!

So for the guy who gave the Byrds "Turn Turn Turn" and little else in the pantheon of high energy (if any) jamz all I gotta say is...hope we don't see the likes of you for quite a long time!  However next to some of the monsters who turned the twentieth century into a mass grave maybe you weren't as evil as your bosses. Perhaps you saw the stupidity of your ways as well once the news finally dribbled out of Europe and Asia and into your comfy confines. And while I'm at it maybe some of the guys you were so dead-set against weren't as bad as we were led to believe or the evil bogeymen you portrayed them as at all. And thankfully your's and Woody's machines didn't kill any fascists because, given your definition of the term I get the feeling many innocent people (and maybe even not-so-innocent myself) would have been lined up against the wall long ago, at least right before you would eventually have been.
Nice splatter of reviews this week if I do say so myself. Not that it's gonna rank up with any of my top posts (I mean, how could I ever hope to reach the lofty standards of my Imants Krumins obituary!) but I find the selection splendid, the writing better'n some of the turds I've been pooping, and in all I'm just about as proud of this 'un as I was of the metal ashtray pounded into the shape of the state of Pennsylvania that I made for arts and crafts. And tomorrow we're going to build a log cabin outta popsicle sticks!

Robert Wyatt- '68 CD-r burn (originally on Cunieform)

It must be old communists week here at BTC what with the death of Mr. Seeger and a review of this platter recorded by none other than unrepentant card carrier himself Robert Wyatt! Here's a relatively new issue of a previously unreleased Wyatt solo album recorded in the United States after the rest of the Soft Machine skedaddled home after their tour with Jimi Hendrix. Yeah, I didn't know it existed either and although most of the songs and themes would eventually re-appear on Soft Machine and Matching Mole albums proper it's interesting to hear these toonz before they mutated into the more familiar versions most progressive rock fanablas already know by heart.

Not surprisingly, the whole thing comes off like spirited outtakes from the debut Soft Machine album that was lurking just around the corner, and I can't imagine any serious seventies import bin hopper being without this one. If you're the type of Anglophile jazz-fusion type of rockster who continues to latch onto each and every Wyatt nuance and pattern of behavior, wheel yourself to the nearest hip Cee-Dee shop and demand a copy immediately!
John Cage-SIXTY-TWO MESOSTICS RE MERCE CUNNINGHAM (Eberhard Blum, voice) 2-CD set (Hat Art)

While sifting through boxes of Cee-Dees in my very own bedroom what should turn up but a sealed copy of this rarity, an early-seventies John Cage composition consisting of ninetysome minutes of silence punctuated by some guy emitting strange epiglottal glugs and syllables vaguely having something to do with the name of Cage's longtime boyfriend Merce Cunningham. Frankly I don't find it as interesting as various fifties/sixties Cage aleatory or not-so compositions that sorta went into spiritual non-direction of "4' 22"", but it sure beats most of the self-conscious and self-indulgent art that came in the wake of Cage's stark vision. To the untrained this might sound like a victim of a botched lobotomy trying to recite Vietnamese beat poetry, and it might just sound that way to you too!
Plastic Crimewave Sound-THE OBLIVION PROGRAMME cassette (no label whatsoever!)

Hey, look what I found in a box of returned tapes I lent out for a special project that's coming your way within the coming months! A cassette by Sir Plastic Crimewave's group known as Plastic Crimewave Sound, and boy do they do the groan drone thing a whole lot better'n the rest of the current crop of crap. Dark deep sounds recorded on seventies low-fi tape reminding me of the kind of psychedelic rave that used to emanate from the local peace and love commune around the time the peace was being broken and the love was mutating into an agitated loathing of each other. Featuring the (re)appearance of one Michael Yonkers on "The Cruel Beyond".  Actually worth the effort to find if you can believe that!
Various Artists-FUZZ, FLAYKES AND SHAKES VOL. 6 CD-R burn (originally on Bacchus Archives)

Another not-so-hot collection of sixties pop bottom scrapings that come off as the exact opposite of all those boffo late-seventies garage band exhumations that seemed oh-so-elusive back during my and your own depression-era wage days. Nothing really recalls that hard-edged sound that seemed contemporary to the new crank that was coming outta garages during the day except the Sons of Adam's "Feathered Fish," and we all heard that one back on PEBBLES VOLUME 2 way back when. I guess that the folks at Bacchus Archives stuck that 'un on in order to raise the rest of the property value in the immediate vicinity. It didn't work.
BOZO AT THE DOG SHOW/Johnny Mercer-MICKEY AND THE BEANSTALK/Paul Wing-ONE STRING FIDDLE CD-r burn (no praise be to Bill Shute!!!!)

Bill's probably teasin' me with this collection of kiddoid 78 rpm story book records knowin' how much I hated that previous Bozo collection he sent. The ol' clown is back (really, I don't know about these guys who always wear make up and walk around in baggy pants and floppy shoes as if John Wayne Gacy wasn't a tipoff) this time at a dog show, and boy does he gab it up with a wide variety of breeds doin' their best to set ethno stereotypes back a good hunnerd years! I was kinda hoping one of the dogs woulda misbehaved on his leg, but legitimate kiddie potty humor was but a good six decades away!

Up next is Johnny Mercer telling the saga of MICKEY AND THE BEANSTALK!!! I mean, can we say putrid or what??? Y'know, Kenneth Anger was right when he told us about just what a vicious, puck-like character Mickey was before he was de-fanged and dressed up like me during an afternoon at the flea market, and I can just see some kid back inna forties being forced to listen to this by his prim 'n proper mother just beggin' to skip out and look at some Tijuana Bibles he found stashed in dad's dresser. At least the Mickey found in them books got into some adventures that put ol' Jack to shame, even if some of 'em did get kinda sicko what with him and Donald getting into some back door tomfoolery that's best not talked about in front of Aunt Flabby.

ONE STRING FIDDLE was a bore. Thought it'd be a nice li'l tale 'bout some country boy with a one-string home made type violin who gets his li'l dog dancin' to the toonz he plays, and it is! Only it's told so boringly that I get the feeling that this was something momzy played for junior in order to get him to take his PM nap while she caught up on her soap operas .No real snap, zip or spark to this 'un at all making me think that being a kid back inna forties and fifties wasn't all DICK TRACY and BUGS BUNNY.

The question does remain whether or not if these records responsible (directly or not) for Abbie Hoffman, Mario Savio and the rest of the fun youth era kids who eventually turned into the rabble rousers and bomb tossers of the sixties??? If so, then all of the magic and spark of pre-relevance mass communication that I've been harboring for years has just gone pftttttt! out the window.
Various Artists-GET ON THE BIGFOOT TWISTIN' TRAIN CD-r (praise be to Bill Shute!!!!)

Nice 'un. here filled with a bevy 'o hefty beat surf instrumentals, monster cash-ins and other funtime sundries. Some fairly familiar works pop up (such as Eddie and the Showmen's "Squad Car" with Dick Dodd on the drums) but it's mostly obscurity time here which certainly does me boss. Even features a spoken word saga by none other'n my fave and his Roky Erickson talking about a bunch of cannibalistic families goin' at each other which really fits in with the spook show Bill had set up for me. Only real bouef here are the inclusions of a couple of more recent craze cash-ins, one having to do with Bigfoot and the other with ET (this being from '82, not '72 as the cover states). Sheesh, I've been trying to ignore this shuck the first time around and here's Bill remindin' me all over a good thirty years later!


John Battles said...

Chris , I found you here , just by chance. It's different from the old days , but you're doing a good job of it. I spoke to Brian McMahon (We're still friends , but, I see him about every three years), there's some interesting developments with him.........

John Battles.

Christopher Stigliano said...

Great hearing from you---so like, what's up?