"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Friday, June 13, 2003

Adam Little? I don't know him....but this is a big place. In any case, he's not in the email system.
That Prokofiev is James Ehnes - violinist from Brandon, Man. great great great young player.
I have taken up string bass - German bow. Mebbe Rob Clutton can give me some lessons.

np - various artists - Gotta Serve Somebody: The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan

got a copy of the new Steely Dan cd 'Everything Must Go' for review - Dan definitely still stands up!

Thursday, June 12, 2003

I shave about two thirds of my head... God has forever shaved the rest for me.

Music that does not hold up? Hmm. In general I'd say I'm much less willing to listen to aimlessness. I don't mind long solos or space but it's gotta saysomething. I have a hard time with Dead 'tapes', and yes parts of the Allmans at Filmore. But I wonder how much of that is due to the way I listen these days. If I doesed and put on headphones.... who knows. All in all though, with the exception of certain songs, I still like everything I ever have. Just added to it.

Led Zep. I just can't listen without thinking of Spinal Tap. I put on Led Zepelin IV, for the first time in about a decade - Goin' to California? the "punch on the nose/I think I might be sinking" bit? I literaly doubled over with laughter. What a silly band. Odd how thinking of Spinal Tap doesn't change my liking for Kiss or Alice Cooper.

I too have found that some artists I absolutely HATED are now among my favs. Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Meat Loaf, Bach, hell I even like AC/DC now. and what's wrong with the Police Kev? I like 'em more now than I did then.
The last cd I bought that really blew me away was the Benny Goodman 1938 Carnegie Hall Concert - Gene Krupa is a God. That was a couple of years ago though. I'm seriously thinking of going out and picking up this Prokofiev cd I heard a cut from on the radio (violin sonata #2 I think) some guy whose name sounded like Ennes (sp), Freakin' amazing. I'm listening to Body Count now.

Hey Mike, you work at cbc radio? Ever run into a guy called Adam Little? It's been a while but I heard that's where he was working.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

I listen to Slug Bait and the Garden Gnomes, Liz Phair and the Ramones; sometimes a spot of Moorceeba (sorry splet that wrong), NoMeansNo, and Art Blakey. I think I listened to Nirvana last night too, but I may have been dreaming. I listened to Surreastic Pillow for the 1st time in about 11 years a few weeks back, gad my brain was j-e-l-l-o after that. It was great.

I also shaved my head and wear safe sex T-shirts when I lecture. Obviously, I get tenure this year.


Egads, my regards to the good Dr. Roberts. I'm sure its been fifteen years since I've seen him. In fact I think the last time I saw him was at an Altogether Morris or Doug Feaver gig in Hamilton the night before he left to go to teacher's college at U of Western Ont.

my latest book review for the paper......sorry about the length.

Vernon God Little
By DBC Pierre
Published by Faber and Faber

By Kevin Wood
Daily Yomiuri Staff Writer
Acid-tongued author Dorothy Parker once remarked, “If you can’t say anything nice, come sit down next to me."
Judging by the delightfully dark and vicious satire of Vernon God Little, author DBC Pierre ought to pull up a chair.
“Dirty But Clean” Pierre is the pen name of Australian-born British novice author Peter Findlay, who reportedly grew up in Mexico and now lives in Ireland. How much first-hand experience Findlay has had with small town America is an open question, but in Vernon God Little he shows us the face of Martirio, Texas, highlighting every scar, wart, pimple and wrinkle in a way it hasn’t been done since Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio.
Vernon God Little – A 21st Century Comedy in the Presence of Death was a hit with critics in Britain, but the book has not been published in the United States and given the subject matter, it isn’t likely to see print there any time soon.
The book is a darkly comic account of the aftermath of a Columbine-style massacre at a small town high school, told in fluent profanity by Vernon G. Little. The G stands for Gregory, but also for Genius, God, Gonad, Gucci, Godzilla—an ever-changing middle name that is one of several running jokes in the novel.
Vernon, 15, was spared in the massacre by the need to move his bowels while running an errand for his teacher. When he returns to the school, his best friend, long the target of his classmates’ homophobic and racist abuse, is dead by his own hand, having first gunned down his entire class. As the only survivor, Vernon is sure he is about to become the town’s “skate-goat” and the novel opens with him being interrogated by an a swinish and sadistic barbecue-eating sheriff’s deputy who is convinced there must have been a second gunman.
“When the rubbing of her thighs has faded, I crane my nostrils for any vague comfort; a whiff of warm toast, a spearmint breath. But all I whiff, over the sweat and the barbecue sauce, is school—the kind of pulse bullyboys give off when they spot a quiet one, a wordsmith, in a corner. The scent of lumber being cut for a f----- cross.”
As the media descends en masse on the “barbecue sauce capital of America” and the minions of the law get closer to a misleading, but nonetheless damning piece of evidence, Vernon is too embarrassed to reveal his fecal alibi. His mother seems more concerned with materialistic one-upmanship, sleeping with a sleazy reporter and “trolling the town for sympathy” than doing anything to help her son, though she does reassure him in front of the police and press that “Even murderers are loved by their families, you know.” Vernon decides to head for Mexico, only to have every murder in the state tacked onto the list of crimes he’s now wanted for.
Vernon’s eventual capture, trial and incarceration on a death row that has been turned into a “reality TV” series in which viewers vote on which inmate should be executed next, ends happily -- as all comedies should, with Vernon's returns to his small-town life in a world more Jerry Springer than Norman Rockwell.
The cast of characters are named with a flair worthy of Thomas Pynchon: Sheriff Porkorney and his deputy Vaine Gurie, housewife Leona Dunt, journalistic poseur Eulalio ‘Lally’ Ledesma, sensitive teacher Marion Knuckles, high school redneck Lothar ‘Lard-Ass’ Larbey.
The author has managed to capture the profanity-laden vernacular of 15-year-old boys to perfection and voice of Vernon is absolutely authentic. Vernon’s near-miss cultural references to “Princess Debbie, or whoever the princess was who died” and “Ricardo Moltenbomb, or whoever Mom’s favorite was who had the dwarf on Fantasy Island” provide a comic counterpoint of innocence to the to petty maneuverings of the likes of Leona Dunt, an “almost pretty blonde with a honeysuckle voice you know got its polish from rubbing on her last husband’s wallet” who “only shows up when she has at least two things to brag about.”
It would be a mistake to write the book off as simply another tasteless swipe at pop culture. Many doubtless have been offended by the notion of a humorous take on something as horrific as the Colombine massacre and Vernon God Little is a merciless, nasty and at times intentionally offensive piece of work. However, it is also screamingly funny, truer than any of the news coverage of similar events and written with exceptional skill. By turning the satiric razor on such a tragic event, the author manages to provide some insight into how and why such hideous incidents occur. As the collective memory of the real tragedy fades, Vernon God Little is apt to gradually acquire the status of a vulgarian Catcher in the Rye.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Working at CBC Radio, I have access to tens of thousands of CDs through the record library. (Pause) Ohgodilovethisjob. I've been revisiting some of the same things, including the legendary Dr. Sardonicus, which I still love. The Dead is a little more difficult for me these days, as are a few other things. Even better is digging out the old vinyl and playing that, because it sounds better anyway to my ears and induces less listening fatigue (a real occupational hazard in what i do for a living).
By the by, I'm playing with Compton again in Edgar Breau's band....and the guitarist from Teenage Head took my pop music history class a couple of years back. We almost collaborated on a Teenage Head history, but in the end....didn't.

Ah an excellent question from mr. Johnston. The things that stand up and the things that don't are not always what one might expect. I still love the blues stuff on the Alllman bros. Fillmore east album and I think some of the more self indulgent stuff still stands up, like 'whipping post' and mountain jam - though the later is a bit long. Oddly enough stuff I didn't think would stand up like Spirit's The Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus, a psychedelic gem, are just as great now (Animal Zoo still kicks as hard as it did when the fabulous 'winged marsupials' covered it and the rest of the disc still gets me - "You've got a smile that turns me on") Stuff that was very poppy back in the day doesn't fare quite as well - anyone listen to their Police albums lately?- and don't even get me started on the stuff I thought was crap back then that is trying to come back like Duran Duran (although I think there might be a market for a punk cover band that changes the lyrics to be all about the Kennedys and is named Sirhan, Sirhan, but that is a totally different and much more tasteless story) Elvis Costello now ranks as one of the great songwriters for me, whereas back when he was popular I had little time for him aside from his watching the detective album. Ditto the clash - I liked them back in the 80's but they were hardly a favorite. The Beatles, the Stones, Zep and Pink Floyd still stand up, as do the Dead - though I am much more interested in Jerry's acoustic bluegrass stuff these days than yet another 80's bootleg with 'touch of grey' or 'Brown eyed women'.
I'd have to say that the bands I like in high school - largely thanks to being exposed to them by Brent and Clutton and Pentilchuk and Daley and to a large degree later on by Hoffman - are still groups that stand up now. Of course most of them were no longer popular when I got turned onto them (not many Jefferson Airplane fans around my high school in 1984, except for Compton Roberts) What amazes me are the band that were around then that I had no interest in at the time, labelling them New Wave or just plain Lame that I now appreciate like Talking Heads and Elvis Costello and Dead Milkmen.

The next question is what are all of us former sixties rock fans listening to now?

So, having read this my question is: Did they serve Freedom fries to the evacuees or just a heaping helping of crow?

Monday, June 09, 2003

CDs Revisited
I'm sure that I am not alone in buying CD versions of vinyl albums that I one adored. I find this a fascinating experience - there can be as much as a ten or fifteeen year gap between the last time I listened to the vinyl and when I buy the CD. It is very surprising what stands the test of time, and what doesn't.

For example I used to love that Allman Brothers album "At Filmore East" so I bought the CD. The first few blues numbers stand up (Stormy Monday is sublime). However the rest of the album - the improvisational jazz rock bit - is over indulgent nonsense and I can't bear to listen to it.

On the other hand, one of my most prized CDs is Teenage Head's "Frantic City", which to me sounds as fresh and vibrant as the day I first heard it. A tight band, superb guitar playing, and truly original vocals from Frankie Venom...what more could you want.

My question to the Woodshed is what stands the test of time, and what doesn't?


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check the list of words not to use when writing a song according to steely dan