Saturday, November 12, 2011

Like the Big Man in the Sky, this blogger has been known to be slow to anger (although not exactly quick to forgive), but frankly there are times in which even calm, cool and collected """""I""""" am bound, driven to blowing my stack worse'n Mount Vesuvius during a six-point earthquake! Take this particular piece of agitprop on the left that I just happened to come across while strolling about the internet a few days back, and if you think that I would just wanna shrug it off like the good li'l eunuch you all want me to be well, you better have another thought comin'! And yeah, I know that the WWW ain't exactly the most reliable place to dig up factual information and there are half-truths and dribbles being tossed about on it all the time (just check out wikipedia, then try to change something on it you find downright incorrect or even misleading!), but when I happen to chance upon such things as this well, let's just say that this definitely is one no-truth slur that I will not let go of in my typical leave 'em alone and they'll leave you alone kinda mentality that's been my credo for nigh on my entire life! yet another Great Amerigan once sorta said, "If you're runnin' down my candidate, you're walkin' on the fightin' side of me!"

Frankly I dunno how such a distorted (and preying on the fears of people set within a certain frame o' political mindset) piece could even be conceived, but considering some of the downright lies being passed off as undeniable facts o' life all over the place maybe I answered my own question. But this 'un really got my gall not only because of the playin' 'round with facts (which a good portion of the political spectrum has done w/regards to the John Birch Society o'er the years despite calmer claims to the contrary) but because it defames a guy who I consider one of the few if not ONLY truly honest and trustworthy man working in that slut-riddled thing we know as Congress (let alone any of the other branches of govt. which also need a good pruning). A man whose enemies seem to be the most controlling, micromanaging and downright altruistic people to stroll the face of this earth and if you ain't willing to march lockstep with 'em with a nice smile on your face right off of a Cultural Revolution-era Chinese poster well then, better get ready for the blindfold and cigarette because you're gonna need it!

So many bubbles to burst in the above hitjob that I don't know where to start, but duty deems that I must. First off, isn't it time that we all just faced the fact that, despite what all of the enlightened minds at work have been telling us for nigh on fiftysome years, the John Birch Society is not some ultra-drooling barbaric organization that is having a hard time hiding its Nazi-like slip. 'n yeah, I also read the MAD articles and how HELP! used to make light of the Birchers with old Nazi-era photos just like the rest of the sixties cadre of wishy-washy commentators would, and for years I believed the exact same thing about them as Dave Berg. However, after some perhaps not-so thorough investigation my opinions have changed somewhat, at least to the point where I believe that all of the ire directed towards the Birchers by various postwar commentators and satirists was heavily due to the fact that they were anti-communist, and as it has been said for quite a long while it might have been uncool to have been a communist even in the chic confines of lower Manhattan anything goes-ism or press rooms for that matter, but it was way more uncool to be an anti-communist!

But in actuality, the Birchers, despite the innuendo and downright prefabs directed against them, held and continue to hold many political positions that I must admit to finding very admirable. While some might call them "isolationist", I find them to be more in the old paleo-conservative and libertarian mold, concerned about the United States trying to shape the world in its geopolitical image and all of the negative ramifications years of "democracy building" has left us. Face it, the last number of presidents we've been blessed with, including the current Commander-In-Chief, were/are way too concerned about spreading our influence overseas instead of keeping its nose in its own backyard where it pretty much belongs. And although many would find me to be an alarmist in saying so, I truly believe that the way the United States is handling its foreign policy will only lead to more situations the nation will never be able to wiggle their way outta, anti-American ire (and deservedly so) and perhaps even a "war without end" as we battle on in the Middle East trying to get the populace to be nice 'n friendly and maybe sell a few McRibs to 'em in the process. Frankly you didn't see any Birchers coming out solidly for war the way the last few decades of both democratic and republican administrations had, usually to the point of mass destruction of populaces who for some strange reason seem to have it in for us all. Maybe it should be noted that the founder of the John Birch Society, Robert Welch, for all of his hatred of communism, was adamantly against the Vietnam conflict which is more than I can say about the "enlightened" politicos of the early/mid-sixties who didn't know their ass from a hole in the ground when it came to foreign policy.

Secondly, I gotta laugh when I see both Rush Limbaugh and David Duke's names crossed off the above list, as if the John Birch Society would even consider inviting them to speak at their Golden Anniversary celebrations. Both of these gentlemen are strictly off the Birch reservation, and I could assume that the only reason they would have been included on this list was for the purpose of misleading the uninitiated into thinking that these two somehow share the same values and beliefs of the Birchers (but I guess if you've committed one sin against "the people", you've committed 'em all!) . First off, let's deal with Limbaugh who is a standard post-NATIONAL REVIEW conservative who has on at least one occasion lambasted the JBS in the tradition of his spiritual forefather William F. Buckley, a man whose purging of the Birchers and libertarians from the pages of his magazine is perhaps the only positive accolade the guy has received from the Old Time Television/Radio/Print establishment who somehow thought slightly better (but not that much) of him for doing so. Frankly, I can not see the Birchers inviting Limbaugh to speak at any of their functions considering how the two are diametrically opposed on such issues as the use of the military overseas, nor could I see them even considering the possibility of having noted klansman David Duke speak for them. Although airbrushed out of the memories of quite a few commentators over the past five or so decades, the Birchers were anything but racist or even racialist in their opinions. Their wariness of the civil rights movement had more to do with the communist infiltration of these groups and how certain elements were more or less for agitation real equality be damned, and considering the heavily Marxist makeup of many in the movement history did bear the JBS out. But the Birchers as a whole were far from being racists and in fact expelled such highly-visible members as Revilo Oliver and Westbrook "You Stink" Pegler for opinions and actions that most civilized humans would find reprehensible.

So where does this leave Ron Paul? A highly principled man with many opinions that I believe would lead to the betterment of those around us, unlike those usually being spouted off by the republicans who are interested in starting an even newer Cold War with the Middle East and the democrats who are still buried deep in the old sixties liberal mantras to the point where you kinda get the impression that their idea of a good time would be singing "Kumbaya" around a campfire. He's for a constitutional government (an idea which might be considered treasonous nowadays and if so try me and lock me up!), an end to those hideous overseas military excursions which even our "peace" president (whose rings of "bringing all of the troops home" rings about as hollow as Woodrow Wilson's pledge to stay out of World War I) has been fuddy duddy on and drug legalization which should benefit people who need to smoke weed for medicinal purposes or those who just wanna get high, as if any of it is our business unless you're an old maid busybody who likes calling the cops all the time. And what's more, he's for a more localized idea of how your government and life should be run, meaning that perhaps the same standards that would be fine and dandy in Bumhole Iowa wouldn't pass the test in San Francisco, and vice versa for that matter!

Or, as a commentator on a recent TAKI'S TOP DRAWER article said:
There is a reason that Ron Paul supporters tend to stand by the man so strongly, and that reason is: Reason. Paul's platform is not some hodgepodge of conflicting positions aimed at pleasing special interest groups, but a cohesive philosophy of government based on the constitution, economic reality and basic common sense. I came to my own conclusions about government a long time ago, and when I found that Paul's ideas were very similar to my own, I was shocked and highly enthusiastic. In that sense, I am a lot like many Paul supporters: an individual who greatly appreciates a kindred spirit.
Simplistic maybe, but these words pack a whole lot more meaning and vision than anything I could find coming out of the Tea Party as it stands, or the Occupy Movement which as time goes on just seems like a jumbled rehash of old Lower East Side politics being re-lived in hooded jackets 'stead of flannel workshirts.

So to the people who "crafted" the above li'l smear directed towards the Good Doctor, well I gotta congratulate you on your propaganda skills. Not as good as those people who did the ventriloquist dummy head videos on youtube which really played fast 'n furious with the facts, dates and intent, but at least your hearts are in the right place. Also gotta heave hefty congrats to all of those eighties punk rockers (such as the survivors of the DC hardcore scene) who were so anarchist and anti-government back then but now line up to shill for the same state they once loathed, all happy about doing their duty paying taxes and putting down the other p-rock survivors who at least held on to their original vision which now manifests itself in a particularly healthy anarcho-libertarianism.  I gotta give yez all an "A" for the way you played the always-boffo guilt by association card as if being associated with the Birchers in any capacity was something to hang head in shame about, all the while attempting to categorize a person like Paul (who I would not exactly call a "Reagan Republican" like some fact, he's miles ahead of that neo-conservative as far as smashing the state goes!) in with the likes of Limbaugh and Duke. And yeah, I know that the majority of Paulistas, the people who are disaffected by both major parties and see Paul as the real Third Way, could care less about a cheap shot like the one espied above. They know that the guy is perhaps the only honest man to set foot in the Capitol these days, and that although his views on crime and race can, like Pat Buchanan's unfortunately have, be twisted and molded into something that many enlightened types might find "racist" (but are more or less truthful given some of the statistics and future we are facing) he is perhaps the most color-blind representative we've had in years. This typical sniping unfortunately is just more personal reputation destruction, the kind that seems part and parcel to sticking your nose into anything public-minded these days. Even if you dibble your little pinkie into the waters this is what you're bound to expect, usually from the same breed who would shudder at getting the same anal probes they're more'n apt to be handing out to anything they deem against "the revolution" or whatever they're calling it this week. (And for a person who has been called racist amongst other equally damning epithets online I know just what the ramifications are...first hand!)

Take it for what it's worth. Even throw a few grains of salt in if you like. But in the words of the famed philosopher Charles Starkweather "when you pull the chain on a toilet, you can't blame it for flushing", and as far as chain pulling goes the above is enough to yank the entire water closet off the wall! I only wish that I could find this other anti-Paul pixel-placard I once espied, this time from a "conservative" perspective railing against Paul for being an "anti-Semite", but I guess I'll have to save that one for another post.
Whew, bet you thought I'd never end, eh? Well, as the famed French philosopher Pierre Giscard de Fafoofnik once said, "let's cut the crap'n get to the hotcha stuff!!! And, thanks to a well-timed series of orders and ebay purchases, I've been reveling in a whole slew of new items that have been making their way to my front porch! After all, I gotta do more'n just stare at the same ol' ARCHIE comic strip collection (even though I could look at a Bob Montana-delineated Betty and Veronica for hours on end!) while spinnin' rare Les Rallizes Denudes disques dredged up from the nether-regions of my collection, so in order to break up the monotony, here goes...
Rocket From The Tombs-BARFLY CD (Fire)

Brad Kohler really is a guy who can, and with little if any effort at that, have you rollin' 'round on the floor in stitches!  In his last missive to me, the verifiable #1 BLOG TO COMM grouper (he's too mature to be a groupie) actually wrote down, and in Stigliano-ese at that, what he thought my review to this Cee-Dee was going to come off like complete with the usual adjectives, cliches, snide remarks and arf-arf asides that I like to toss into a wide variety of writeups in order to prove what a gonzoid, envelope-pushing scribe I have been these past XXXXX# of years. And it was a good 'un too---accurate to a "T" and so on-target that even I shuddered at the thought that this man could channel my inner thoughts so thoroughly and without me giving him express permission to do so!

I could have printed his parody of a review of this platter for you and just slapped my name on it but as Leo Gorcey might have said, it wouldn't be mythical. Besides, there were a slight number of discrepancies twixt Kohler's concepts of what I think of this digital disque and what I actually do, so in the interest of honesty, truth and all sorta flag-waving stuff here is my down and outright opinion of the new Rocket From The Tombs album, BARFLY (though really, I should print Kohler's pee-take if only to spice this post up a li'l bit!):

It's true that having a Rocket From The Tombs up and running in the teens is probably about as relevant as if I had kept my own fanzine extant into the present day (though for all intent purposes the thing did not have a valid reason to exist past '89 at the latest!), but I will admit it does break up the monotony somewhat. And y'know what, BARFLY is such an upgrade from the reunited Rocket's earlier REDUX spinner which sounded too much like some old chart-topping act reduced to re-recording their old hits a good ten years later. And although a few of the tracks on BARFLY don't quite grasp the kajoobies the way I would have hoped, some of this is rather inspiring even if the former Crocus Behemoth does not sing in his patented bellowing style like he used to ages back (it's more of a high-pitched mewl these days which I in no uncertain terms think benefits the high energy music he is accompanying).

Still, certain tracks have a distinct post-Velvets drone that doesn't offend the way most giddygiddy VU aficionados have these past thirtysome years and although in no way could I confuse the 2011 Rocket with the '74/'75 season variation at least I do see a firm, bared-wire intensity lineage between the two even if it was interrupted by 27 years of inactivity. Nice stuff, but the big surprise for me was the inclusion of a previously unreleased Rocket number from way back when entitled "Maelstrom", a "Brainstorm"-derived ditty which I always believed was a Craig Bell composition even if the entire group gets credit. It also reminds me a whole lot of "Read 'em and Weep" and is so in-sync with the original impetus that I sure would like to hear how it was originally performed, hopefully on the upcoming ten-CD "collected works and improvisations of Rocket From The Tombs" set that I hope will be coming out sometime before we all hit senility.

As far as Brad's version of what I think about this 'un goes well...I don't think I'll be printing it anyway. Brad put a few good lines in that 'un I'm surely gonna wanna "appropriate" for future writeups and all I gotta say's is...I better do my swiping while the swiping is good!

Comus-FIRST UTTERANCE CD (BGO, England); EAST OF SWEDEN CD (Gnostic Dirt, England)

As anyone who's read my scribblings o'er the past few decades can attest to, I will look for anything in a music to latch my hooks into, and with Comus that hook-latching thing was the fact that they evolved outta a folk singing duo who used to perform Velvet Underground covers on the London club scene back in the late-sixties! Good start true, but how does Comus, the full-fledged acoustical rock group that grew out of these humble beginnings, fare themselves? Well, on this FIRST UTTERANCE reissue from the nineties they do sound rather er...cabalistic. Nothing like the at-times frilly and fruity Steeleye Span, nor are they that close to the Fairport Convention scheme of things. Comus seems bred of that late-sixties/early-seventies occult trend that gave us everything from Black Sabbath to all of those groups on the DO WHAT THOU WILT sampler, the same dull thud only with acoustic gear. Sounds like a cross between the Third Ear Band and Tyrannosaurus Rex if Marc Bolan was getting his beanies crushed in by one of Cthulhu's tentacles, or even Donovan falling down an empty elevator shaft and how long have you reg'lar readers longed to hear that???

Lotsa patterpatter bongos and whatever those Indian clunky-sounding things that pop up on Ravi Shankar albums are, along with acoustic guitars and even some droning violin/viola to add to the weird East/West sound of it all. Conjures up feelings of late-sixties English period piece dramas set in the 17th century, perhaps with some occult-esque theme considering the coven-ish tone of the shrieking vocals of Roger Wootton, and although I certainly don't feel like making a steady diet of this stuff I like the way it fits into the entire spookshow atmosphere of the English scene of the day. Even if it is acoustic and aimed towards the same kinda people who press leaves in books and make gravestone rubbings.

Not so surprisingly, I found the group's reunion show at a Swedish music festival, released as EAST OF SWEDEN on the ever-popular Gnostic Dirt label, far most engaging, superior, entertaining and a whole lotta other interesting descriptors that I call pull off with relative ease. Thirtysome years after the fact Comus come off a whole lot more punchier and fact they sound a whole lot younger and if it weren't for the obviously moderne recording techniques which can make even your $25 boom box sound like a four star stereo system of yore I might even have mistook this for some recently-unearthed archival dig up! But it's a recent platter, and surprisingly enough I'd recommend that you'd start with this 'un if you just happen to wanna know what the aging English post-folk mysticos are up to in between incantating at Stonehenge and occupying whatever there is of worth left to occupy in that sad isle that had to ruin their entire reputation by becoming an "Empire" 'stead of just minding their own business like everybody else shoulda all along.
HOT KNIVES CD (Grown Up Wrong, Australia)

Sheesh, I remember when the Hot Knives "Hey Grandma"/"I Hear The Wind Blow" single was one of those $1.00 budget singles one could get from Bomp Mailorder for years one end. That's where I got my copy, and I sure remember that lonely spring of 1991 spinning this 'un over and over again in some perhaps not-so-vain attempt to keep myself from toppling over into one of those endless chasms that take me just about forever to climb outta. Don't know if this record helped rescue me from doing something that some would consider drastic (and others beneficial to the state of the world at large) but let's just say that if I had been stuck playing the X-Tal album during this rather fragile time in my life you wouldn't have any Chris Stigliano to kick around today!

OK, enough of the semi-factual pseudo-autobiographical quap and let's get to the disque at hand! And it's a pretty snazzy (supersnazzy in fact) one featuring an entire LP's worth of tracks from the should-be-seminal San Francisco band Hot Knives. Best known for containing former Flamin' Groovies members Tim Lynch and Danny Mihm, Hot Knives had little if anything to do with the way the Groovies were sounding during their mid-seventies return to their Beatle Boot Roots...naw, they were more in the early pre-hippydippy San Francisco vein long before the shredding feedback gave way to tinkling acoustic guitars and Marin County karma. They sound a lot like the early Groovies, not to mention early Moby Grape and the Vejtables, and in fact if you could claim any kind of "punk" credo for this act it would be the punk rockers of the mid-sixties who were eventually wooshed away by the advent of psychedelia ever-churning into visions of the disease-riddled past the hippies somehow found romantic. 

Brother/sister team  Michael and Debra Houpt actually began doing folk hoots in Pennsylvania as li'l kids, but at least by the mid-seventies they had a good sense of what the early SF sound was all about and did their best to scrunch it into a vision that perhaps wasn't that alien even after years of the city's acquiescence into dull hackdom. The addition of Lynch and Mihm added the same power and might to the Knives that they did on those early Groovies sides, and the results are even mind-blowing for a jaded non-romantic such as I. For once the harmony vocals don't sound like something you woulda heard in a music class that would have transpired in the school that ugly lady in BILLY JACK was runnin', and the powerful backing melds the mid-sixties great pop hopes of the day with the mid-seventies punk credo. Put 'em all together and you get some fantastic tracks such as the "Hey Grandma"/"I Hear The Wind Blow" 45 (which does lose something in the translation from cheap vinyl to pristine digitalis), that other 45 I never could find, and a whole slew of wonders from the Vejtable-packed "Secrets About Me" to even a cover of the Knickerbockers classic "Lies". All points in between are worth checking out as well.

Fantab 'un to have around, esp. if you too get into one of those deep funks that just about anything can help set off. Sound's great, the material's eons ahead of the  pale emote seen these last few decades, and best of all it's cheaper'n a prescription of lexapro. So what's it gonna be...Hot Knives or sharp ones?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Apparently, according to the linear notes for the Sanctuary records 2CD reissue of both Comus albums they used to cover, uh, Heroin and one other Velvet Underground song (I think) at-the-time, ie. late 60s.

Actually, doing a web search right now;

"The UK progressive / psychedelic folk rock band Comus began with the meeting of Roger Wootton and Glenn Goring, both aged 17, at Ravensbourne college of Art in Bromley, Kent in 1967. They both played guitar, and shared a liking for the work of John Renbourn and Bert Jansch (who were forming Pentangle at about this time), and for the Velvet Underground. Glenn and Roger began playing at local folk clubs, (Velvet Underground numbers didn’t go down too well), and on a visit to the local club in Beckenham, the Arts Lab, they become friendly with the organizer, one David Bowie. Glenn and Roger started playing regularly at the Arts Lab, laying the foundation for what would eventually become Comus." (from Which make sense in retrospect, you can hear elements of the long string drone and the Ludlow-era acoustic demos in their sound (along with the strangled Marc Bolan etc. etc.)