Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Fortunately a few items of value at least worth mentioning here have made it to my doorstep, and since I live such a shallow and meaningless existence (at least judging from some of the things various naysayers have said about me, and who am I to say otherwise especially in these non-judgemental times?) I thought I'd mention just what goodies I've gotten my grubby mitts on since we last spake in order to boost my own ego a bit. I mean, a self-imposed hermit with no "life" (as in "get a...", pop. 90s hipspeak used by such mental worthies as the late Jack Thompson of SWELLSVILLE fame) like yours truly must use every opportunity to prove to the high and mighty blogschpielers out there that I TOO can strut with all of the self-indulgent decadent smarm so in (underground) vogue these days!

So, sans any further ado, here's a little struttin'!

THE BONNIWELL MUSIC MACHINE TURN ON EUROPE, LIVE ITALY/MUNICH/LONDON 11/04 CD (Uncle Helmet, PO Box 409, Porterville CA 93258 for $12 each inc. s&h in USA, overseas add eight additional smackers for postage and handling. If you wanna use Paypal, send payment via the following email

I had no idea what to expect from this reunion Cee-Dee featuring none other'n noted Music Machine singer Sean Bonniwell leading a whole buncha new members (including one Tim Ellison, a rockscribe of some notoriety) on a European tour from two years back...I mean, who knows what lurks in the minds of men trying to capitalize on their youthful fame and fortune this far down the line, especially those like Bonniwell who have been pretty much outta the limelight and supported by a small yet rabid cartel of over-rambunctious fans and fanzines during the classic era of the "garage band revival" in the early-eighties. Well, if you're worried about Bonniwell going the oldies route and playing crankout hits and misses for flabbed-out aging teenyboppers like one might see at a few other oldies concerts, quitcher frettin' because this take on the Music Machine ain't more sixties fodder for the quick baby-boomer bux at all, and in fact it could only qualify as "nostalgia" if you're the kinda doof who's nostalgic about teenage highschool freakout psychosis!

And since I'm exactly the kinda doof who still has some not-so-friendly flashbacks regarding my own teenage mental breakdowns and general scrambled sense of reality (who only wishes that he had the Music Machine to guide him through such traumatic times even though he did have the Velvets but I guess that wasn't strong enough), let's just say that this Music Machine is just as "relevant" to the situation at hand as it was four decades back, and having the the likes of Bonniwell and company in the present is just as fine as back when they were being pumped into every teenage tee-vee set via WHERE THE ACTION IS back when youthful self-pity/loathing was a healthy and normal lifestyle.

And what's undeniable is that the Music Machine sure influenced a whole passel of acts ever since "Talk Talk" became the teen anthem of '66 (OK, #2 after "Hey Joe")...their "Sado Faena" (hope I got that right) image as Don Waller called it was certainly nodded at by everyone from Blue Oyster Cult to the Stooges, and considering Bonniwell's present-day growl I wouldn't be surprised if Von Lmo himself swiped a few ideas from the guy as well! And to top the icing on the cake, these new Music Machiners, especially talking Jana Caldwell's particularly acidic organ, add a specific dimension of fear to the recordings, which are particularly energetic live shows played for a sparse-yet-appreciative audience who were probably conceived when Bonniwell was hanging up his guitar strap and glove for what he probably thought was the last time ever!

Anyway, this one has "thee" hit "Talk Talk" plus select numbers from both TURN ON and BONNIWELL MUSIC MACHINE and perhaps even BEYOND THE GARAGE (which I never did get and should have received gratis, an insult considering my, er, esteemed standing in this rock scribe/blogger community!), and thankfully no cringefest will be in store for you if you in fact decide to pick this one up for your very own (which you should given you have the smarts to tune into this very blog!). And I have the sneaking suspicion you too will be snuggling up to this live rave a lot more'n you do a few of the garage revival offerings heard o'er the past few decades which I find rotting away at least in my collection, for somehow Bonniwell has managed to make 2006 just as energetic as 1966 was, and for that he should get some sorta special no prize!

THE VELVET UNDERGROUND UNDER REVIEW DVD (Sexy Intellectual, available through Forced Exposure)

I know the world needs another Velvet Underground documentary the same way Dave Lang needs another asshole drilled into him. After all, what more can one say about a group that was "discovered" by Andy Warhol and made some noisy-yet-influential albums before breaking up and influencing a whole generation of rather twee-ish rock bands? Sure you (if you're a teenager just discovering the magickal attack of the band...that is, if there are such kiddos existing out there!) might be interested somewhat, but for old fogies like myself in on the trip for three-plus decades yet another appearance of Robert Christgau in a rock-themed doc. such as this is bound to give one a bad case of rock nausea. I mean, if """""I""""" (rock fan with appreciation stuck in seventies dankness which is where all good music seems to be relegated) were to do a documentary about the Velvet Underground and all they doth wrought I'd certainly concentrate on their more grimy musical being radiating through all those twelve-year-olds who used to tell Lou backstage that they shot up to "Heroin" and formed bands in their image plus spend more than an inordinate amount of time discussing the legend of Wayne McGuire as the only guy who really got it right while the band was still alive. But I guess these documentary guys are more or less going for the easy common denominator which is why they make films and I'm writing on a blog but what else is new. Sometimes I think the situation should be reversed, but for that to happen something drastic must occur akin to the earth spinning off its axis because in NO WAY could I see anything as potentially life-affirming and cleansing as the Velvet Underground tackled with tact and precision, forever to be praised and lionized by total hacks and cling-ons who destroy their image with the faintest and blandest of praise imaginable.

UNDER REVIEW does harbor much of this moderne-day blanditude not only with the presence of turdmonger Christgau himself and (of course) the same Velvets clips we've seen over and over, but even with the presence of the "Dean" (as well as noted Velvets biographer Clinton Heylin, a man whom you know I've had my issues with) I can enjoy this one on a semi-conscious level. The filmmakers managed to get hold of Maureen Tucker (incredibly wrinkly especially for her age and perhaps in the grip of Bell's Palsy) and Doug Yule (still looking rather young) for insightful interviews, with Yule still feeling rather insecure about his role in the band from the looks of it. They also wrangled former Galaxie 500/Luna leader Dean Wareham into giving a little bitta personal info (which is fair enough since he knew Sterling Morrison), plus the owner of the Boston Tea Party during the reign of the Velvets talks about their influence on the Boston of the late-sixties. Naturally we're also inundated with Christgau spouting the same Velvet line he did on the SOUTH BANK special twenny years back, while Heylin reminds me of some bulbous English writer with longish hair whose name escapes me coming off perhaps too snide in that same snobbish English fashion that's made me wanna torture Christopher Hitchens with a vengeance. And for the most part no new ground is covered, the usual spin on the Velvet mystique (how they made the world safe for Blondie) is trotted out for the umpteenth time, and to top it all off there are a few obvious factual errors that I think were thrown in just to make even mildly rabid fans like myself feel superior to it all.

Still, UNDER REVIEW is entertaining enough in its own insipid way and heck I gotta admit that I learned one interesting shard of info (the pirate tattoo on the cover of WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT was NOT that of Billy Linich's but of the hustler/lead player in Warhol's BIKE BOY), but only a pallid Velvet Underground "fan" with a modern-day appreciation of their efforts the likes of J. Neo Marvin will love it. For those in on the energy for quite a long time, it just may come off as a bore.

STREAM (SALMON AND BLOOD) by Stuart Crutchfield and Bill Shute (Kendra Steiner Editions, 8200 Pat Booker Rd. #399, San Antonio TX 78233)

After reading this six-page collaboration between Glasgow-based poet Stuart Crutchfield and San Antonian Bill Shute I hadda take a bath. Not that this book was especially grimy...well, it IS!, but I did have a long day and was feeling rather unclean myself but hey, perhaps this book did have a sorta dank demeanor to it that made me think about my own sanitary nature. The title refers to the dual nature of the streams of thought to be found here (or at least I got that idea eyeballing the Volcanic Tongue writeup, something helpful to an illiterate such as I), one of 'em dealing with Crutchfield presumably returning to his old job at the salmon canning company after a seven-month layoff and the other someone who I hope is not Bill selling plasma in order to make the ends meet. It sorta shifts back and forth (kinda reminded me of some decade-old DC "crisis" saga where various superheros of past and different dimensions would appear in what was reputedly the then and there) between disturbing images of Crutchfield skimming dead birds outta fish tanks with his bare hands, chopping fish heads off and de-gutting the bodies (believe me, I won't be eating fish for a LONG TIME) to the blood of Bill being shipped overseas for hemopheliac Japanese along with presumably some melon-ball-shaped placenta (and please, no Yoko Ono jokes!). Not exactly appetizing, but it's sure gosh-it-all to read something that seems to bark at the bare core of it all like STREAMS does and I'm glad Bill had the smarts to send me one.


Anonymous said...

Hey, Chris.
Thanks for the kind and perceptive review of STREAM. Don't worry--my active plasma-selling period was
back in Denver in the late 70's.
I remember that I would often stop by Wax Trax Records after my visit
to the plasma center and buy a bootleg or two--I can still vividly remember purchasing
Iggy and the Stooges' NIGHT OF THE IGUANA and also The Beatles' SHEA, AT LAST! the same day. I did visit a plasma center about three months ago to make sure that my old
observations were still valid
(unfortunately, they are! very little has changed in that industry in 25 years), but I haven't been reduced to selling my blood plasma again...yet. About the only difference of note is that sellers can now be tracked via computer, meaning that you can no longer get away with going across town and selling MORE plasma
the day after you sold some somewhere else. When I used to sell my plasma regularly, I remember there were guys who sold it daily for days in a row. Believe me, my observations in the book are TAME compared to the reality of the places I used to frequent. Almost EVERYONE there was tripping on some drug or horribly drunk.
I remember some three-hundred-pound good-ole-boy in a lumberjack shirt who had obviously been drinking all night who brought a
Schlitz Tall Boy INTO the waiting room. I chatted with him for awhile as we waited, and at one point he said "excuse me for a second", went to the corner of the room, sat down, unzipped his pants,
and simply urinated all over the floor. After finishing, he announced to all in the room,
"whoa, I've been drinking those tall boys, so I had to take a tall pee." He then pulled up his pants,
came back and took a seat again as if nothing happened. In the ninety minutes I was there, no one cleaned up his mess. Then there were the "technicians" who would go out and smoke pot with the
donors during their "smoke breaks."
No wonder they usually had trouble getting the needle in correctly!!!
I think the industry has cleaned things up a bit since those days.
The one main difference I see now is in the demographics of the donors--while there would be the occasional homeless woman back then, now there are A LOT of mothers with children. Thankfully there are laws requiring you to be 18 or 21 to sell blood plasma--otherwise the plasma centers might be offering the moms a "package deal" for a little extra money where the kids sell plasma too.
Hope you had a good Thanksgiving.
Eric and Kendra say hi. Don't know if I told you, but Eric has been working for about six or eight months in the emergency room of a hospital in downtown Fort Worth, and does he have stories to tell!!!
Best wishes from everyone down here in south Texas. Say hi to your sister for me!!

ps, what an honor to be mentioned in the same breath as Ernie Bushmiller (and his nameless assistants!) in your review of EXACTA BOX. As I write this, I have the old Kitchen Sink Press poster of THE ART OF ERNIE BUSHMILLER'S NANCY staring down at me from the wall above--right next to a movie poster from one of George Nader's german "Jerry Cotton" crime films and autographed photos of Stacy Keach in his Mike Hammer persona and of Lex Barker. Having those masters looking down upon me keeps me honest!

Anonymous said...

Interesting comments, Bill. While one would think that plasma centers would be all over the place in L.A., there are only a very few. I remember selling my plasma once at some place in Van Nuys right by Heads and Highs (a head shop which had been around since the '60s which sold underground comix and posters as well as the usual bongs etc. - I remember getting a poster of the Mothers and of the Barrett era Floyd there- I'm sure it's gone now) and I don't remember knowing of any others. California must regulate that industry really heavily (which wouldn't come as a surprise) - Michael

Anonymous said...

Hey, thanks for the review of Stream! My salmon farming days were during breaks in univeristy semsters, when I would return in order to try and make enough money to get through the next semester. It's a shit job, but it had its moments!
Stuart Crutchfield

Anonymous said...

I went for the profile but this is what I got: just to let you


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