Irving Plaza, NYC, October 31st, 1979. Grimm’s Misfits Auction. Have a happy Halloween, everybody!
Pasteleria Ideal, avenida 16 De Septiembre, Mexico City. Last night, things were hopping at the famous old bakery, where crowds bought sugar skulls, bone-shaped cookies, and pan de muerte ( which means, literally, ” bread of death ” ) in preparation for Mexico’s Dia De Los Muertos celebration. Halloween is becoming fashionable here as well, so there are now sugar pumpkins and black-and-orange streamers.
Jell-O Skull Cake.
Selecting pan de muerte.
Brujita = ” little witch “.
Records are back in a big way, they keep telling us, and it’s true : vinyl shops are not anymore solely the lonely domain of old dudes who spend their days dreamily recounting the Zappa/ Uriah Heep gig they saw in ’74, but of enthusiastic kids looking for scratchy soul 45s, limited edition pressings of European black metal albums, underground noise cassettes. I collect records myself, and although I did largely give in to the idea that CDs were here to stay ( I distinctly remember someone showing me the first compact disc I’d ever seen in 1989, so I think of the CD era as being from ’89 to about 2005, with near-total obsolescence coming around 2008 ), there was always music I wanted to listen to that wasn’t available on any format but vinyl. In fact, one of the very first things I bought myself when White Zombie started to do well was a Technics SL-1200MKII turntable, which cost me something like $399. That was crazy, extravagant money at the time, and I had a real “ Damn! I earned this!! “ feeling about it. I still use that same 1200, and it still makes me happy. Sometimes, before I put a record on, I pick it up. The thing weighs 25 lbs., and I find the weight reassuring.
All of the artists I’ve worked with lately have recorded with the intention, first and foremost, of making records. They want hand-screened matte cardboard covers, and they want heavyweight colored vinyl. They will, of course, offer the tracks for download, but that’s really an afterthought, because, quite frankly, where’s the fun? It’s just .. air, which becomes a tiny, hard-to-find part of your iTunes library, which you will mostly ignore until your hard drive wears out and you lose everything. Have you backed up your mp3 collection recently? I didn’t think so.
I still buy CDs, occasionally, because I like to have a hard copy. The CD itself is trash, a fragile thing that holds the data, but sometimes people put a little thought into the packaging, and the result can be an object worth owning. Usually not, though, and if a disc comes in a jewel case, I throw the case away and put the booklet and CD in a paper envelope, which takes up 1/3 the space and doesn’t have those little plastic teeth that always break. God, I’ve always hated jewel cases. If I think a band can sell CDs ( which depends on the popularity of the artist, but also on the age group of the fans ), I will recommend that they make as short a run as possible ( disc manufacturers are falling all over themselves to stay in business, and making as few as 100 can now be slightly profitable, if you can shift them ) – if they sell, great, and if they don’t, it’s not the end of the world. Still, hearing your band back on a CD, or over the internet, can’t begin to compare with what used to be milestones for musicians : hearing yourself on the radio for the first time, and, especially, dropping the needle on a record that you made.
And now, this : here’s a 45rpm 12″ ( best fidelity! ) from Star & Dagger, which is Sean Yseult’s new band. Side A’s got In My Blood, a track from their forthcoming album, and side B has Stories and S&D’s take on Out Of Focus, the Blue Cheer psycho-blues stomper, both of which were recorded by me. This is a pretty cool item – limited to 500 copies, with a fully illustrated inner sleeve and clear / blood-red vinyl. Some of the discs, like my copy, shown below, have a sort of ” blood pooling on the bathroom floor ” effect, while others will have more of a ” crime scene splatter ” look. You can order a copy from New Orleans’ Last Hurrah records, which is here.
These sessions were hassle-free : a tight band, and lots of guitars, specifically Dava’s 1974 Gibson SG. Also in use are my 1978 Marshall head, Marshall cab ( stock, except I replaced two of the greenbacks with G12-65s .. you’ve heard this cabinet before, on Fu Manchu’s The Action Is Go LP ), and my Big Muff, pot-dated to 1980. I have several of these pedals, including a ” ram’s head ” model, but I refer to this particular one as The Killer Fuckin’ Death Big Muff. Finally, this : on Stories, that’s my loopy, rubber-bandy fuzz solo that fades in around 2:57. They handed me a guitar and said, ” here, play on this “, which I did, not thinking much about it, but as soon as people started to hear the track, I got a lot of comments like, ” This is the first time you and Sean have played together since White Zombie — dude, that’s huge! ”
01. Star & Dagger : Out Of Focus
02. Star & Dagger : Stories
I was in the Okefenokee swamp in south Georgia yesterday, and this is a detail from a diorama depicting a scene in 1832 in which a survivor of an Indian attack stumbles out of the swamp to find a group of soldiers. I love old-style dioramas, museums used to be full of ’em.
Monday, January 9th, 1978, Kingfish Club, Baton Rouge, LA : that’s Johnny Rotten and Huey P. Long in the same photo, which, if you know anything about the history of Louisiana, or really, American politics, is pretty great.
” By the time they got to Baton Rouge, the Sex Pistols found themselves in a rut. How could they top the San Antonio Shoot-Out? They wouldn’t come close tonight.
The audience was comprised mostly of college kids. Although there was still verbal warfare between the audience and the band, the performance at the Kingfish Club was much less assaultive than the show at Randy’s the night before. Sid Vicious even got some play from a female fan during New York.
Most of the audience seemed fairly interested in the Sex Pistols’ music, and EMI even inspired a sing-along. Nonetheless, apathy plagued the band. Steve Jones seemed particularly bored tonight, introducing the songs without a shred of enthusiasm. The put-downs exchanged between Sid and members of the crowd sounded forced. Instead of throwing food and trash, the audience threw money. After getting hit with a handful of coins, Johnny Rotten said, ‘If you’re gonna throw money, throw dollar bills’. During the encores, Sid and Johnny collected over 15 dollars. After the Kingfish show, Steve expressed his frustration by refusing to travel with the band on the tour bus. “
Kusutora Matsuki : Sunlight In The Morning, 1929
Martin Munkácsi : The Sidewalks Of Rio De Janeiro, 1932
Robert Frank : London, 1951
This, from Modcult. This Toto song just came up on my iTunes shuffle and it made me think about how crazy it is that there’s this handful of engineers who’s work has had this huge, incredibly outsized impact on how popular music sounds: Moog, Scholz, whoever wrote the Antares autotune routine, whoever put together the sample set for the Fairlight CMI ( ORCH5 ), Roger Linn, etc. So I was looking up who designed the original Eventide Harmonizer ( fair or not, Toto puts you in the mind of old Eventide hardware ) and I found this on the Eventide webpage about the H910, the original Eventide pitch processor that is on old Bowie tracks, etc:
” Early customers included New York City’s Channel 5 putting an H910 to work, downward pitch shifting the audio portion of ‘I Love Lucy’ reruns that were sped up to squeeze in more commercials. “
Elsewhere on the internet, it says that the idea was that if you sped up the tape, you could edit in a few more commercials, but the audio would end up being all pitched up, so you need to be able to do a pitch-without-time-change to get the dialog and such back to normal human sound. The thing is, how many people saw I Love Lucy when it was originally on? How widespread was this practice? Do we all know Lucy’s madcap pace from these sped-up reruns? Is this the comedy equivalent of a sped-up martial arts sequence? Maybe in the original, Lucy looked like a slacker when she wasn’t able to keep up with the assembly line at the bon-bon factory. How much of its manic energy comes from being replayed sped up?
Wine-Loving Vagabond. ” Two girls with a feminine version of G.I. haircuts, wearing mannish clothes, were brought into court on charges of tampering with and driving off in an automobile to make the rounds of Chicago’s North Side taverns. “
I was a member of the Fiend Club, and these would be from 1982, I think. I still have my badge, posters, 8×10 promo photos, and etc.