I am overjoyed about the new video series, "The Art of Punk," from the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles. The project comes from Bryan Ray Turcotte, author of the fantastic art book Fucked Up + Photocopied and Bo Bushnell (Teenage Teardrop, Kill Your Idols). The first episode is about the icongraphy of Black Flag. Future episodes dig into BB pal Winston Smith's Dead Kennedys artwork and Dave King's Crass logo, which he wrote about earlier this year for Boing Boing. (LA Weekly)
Apropos of yesterday's post about punks in Myanmar, Rene from Nerdcore sez, " German Journalist Alexander Dluzak did a documentary about the Burma punk scene a few months ago, here's the trailer (with English Subs), he also sent me some pretty awesome pics for my blog which you can see here. They also did a successful crowdfunding campaign and the DVD should be out sometime soon.
I love this photo of a punk in Yangon, Myanmar (shown here, a downsized thumbnail -- click through to see the whole pic from EPA in the Telegraph).
An undated ad for a punk store in Newcastle offers batty punk tees for a mere £4.50 -- mid-1980s punk revival?
Jello Biafra and The Guantanamo School Of Medicine's new album, White People and the Damage Done, is an artifact from an alternate reality in which the Dead Kennedys never dissolved in acrimony, and instead kept on gigging and recording, getting tighter and tighter, angrier and angrier, and yet, somehow, never aging. Jello Biafra's lyrics are unmistakably his, but moreso -- more sarcastic, more trenchant, more unapologetically political than ever. His delivery is even more caustic than in the Kennedys' heyday, and the backing band (which is something of an all-star punk act, with alumni from the Rollins band, Digital Underground, Butthole Surfers and more) is hard-driving and heavy and relentless.
There's not a bad track on this one, but the real standout is Shock-U-Py!, an anthem about the Occupy movement, which you can hear after the jump. Don't miss the spoken word break in the middle.
White People and the Damage Done [Amazon MP3]
White People and the Damage Done [Amazon UK MP3]
In a great interview with the Guardian, former Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra talks about Occupy, Obama, his break with the rest of the Kennedys, and his current band, Jello Biafra And The Guantanamo School Of Medicine (whose existence I'd somehow missed!).
It's depressing how conservative people can be despite supposedly belonging to a supposedly alternative subculture.
Any alternative culture that inspires a lot of passion and inspiration is also in danger of being set in its ways, almost from the moment it's born. That even included the Occupy movement in some ways. It was discussed whether or not to participate in the electoral side of the system at all, which I thought was a good idea. Why not run people for offices and knock off some of the tired old corporate puppets in the primaries, like those lovely people in the Tea Party have done with the Republicans? But other people chose not to do that.
You've been involved with the Occupy movement. (2) The initial media storm around it seems to have died down …
I think that anyone who declared that Occupy was a failure was very much mistaken. I knew it would have a ripple effect, like throwing a big piece of concrete into a lake and just watching the waves ripple. In a way, Obama owes Occupy big time for saving his ass in the 2012 election. Occupy brought the issue of inequality and Grand Theft Austerity, as I call it, right to the forefront.
Sean Murphy's Punk Rock Jesus is a rockin' comic about the Second Coming. It opens with a psychotically ruthless show-runner arranging to clone Jesus from DNA salvaged from the Shroud of Turin, implanting a foetus in the womb of a teenaged virgin, all for a reality TV show that starts with auditions for the part of Christ's mother. Gwen, the desperate teen who gets the part, is only one of the many memorable characters who make up the resulting set piece: there's Dr Sarah Epstein, a brilliant geneticist who's been promised funding for a carbon-fixing superalgae if she helps create the clonal Christ; there's Thomas McKael, an IRA soldier turned supergrass turned super-security director, and several others who come to prominence as the story unfolds (including Cola, a genetically engineered tame polar bear).
The story perks along for the first third, as the dismal life of Chris -- as the clone is called -- is run out on the screens of America, and in the high-security compound on an offshore island under constant siege from militant Christian fundamentalists who are torn on the question of whether Chris is the second coming or a mocker. Then there's a turning point where Chris becomes and adolescent and discovers some of the seedier truths about his life and the miserable existence his mother has been forced into all through it.
That's when Punk Rock Jesus is born. To a thudding soundtrack of vintage punk smuggled in on vinyl (CDs would set off the metal detector) Chris gives himself a mohawk, tears his clothes to rags, and surprises his minders by stepping out on stage and declaring himself to be an atheist. In the ensuing chaos, Chris escapes from the network and its evil representatives and makes his way to the drowned TAZ of lower Manhattan where he becomes the front-man for a "the last punk band in the world," the Flak Jackets.
And that's when the story really roars to life, becoming at once sillier and more serious, but avoiding some of the ponderousness of the setup. Serious questions of religion's role in society are raised; rock is bepunkéd; dressing rooms are trashed; the media is expertly dissected. It's a near-perfect rocket-ship ride through some of the best material from comics like DMZ and Transmetropolitan, with a healthy dose of radical atheism and geopolitics thrown in.
It's got pathos, laughs, rage and comeuppances, and awesome punk rock not-giving-a-fuck. What more could you ask for?
MONITOR was a short-lived Los Angeles art punk band that first performed on Halloween 1978. The group was part the experimental transmedia micro-scene of "Associated Skull Bands" like Nervous Gender, Human Hands, BPeople, and Boyd Rice's NON. Through the mail art network, MONITOR connected with DEVO pal Ed Barger who recorded MONITOR's self-titled LP in 1980. Writing for the Los Angeles Reader, Matt Groening (yes, that Matt Groening) said in 1981 that "MONITOR's debut album, a compendium of mutant amplified folk tunes is the best local release I've heard all year." Now, Superior Viaduct records has reissued that LP on CD with additional bonus tracks. Special note: the track "Hair" on the album was actually performed by The Meat Puppets at MONITOR's invitation. MONITOR: s/t CD
Here's Boing Boing pal Jasmina Tesanovic performing "Kepler Aria," with lyrics by Bruce Sterling:
"Kepler Aria," the Belgrade punk rock version, from "Ground Control: An Opera in Space
Mylutin and Bag of Dicks:
vocals: Jasmina Tesanovic
guitar: Milutin Petrovic
bass: Filip Cetkovic
drums: Vladimir Markoski
mixed by Vlatko Dragovic
Kepler Aria lyrics by Bruce Sterling
From Taylor-Ruth's Tumblr, a page from her fifth grade diary. She was unquestionably the most punk fifth grader she knew, and possibly the most punk fifth grader in history. If you're trying to place the chronology here, note that Taylor-Ruth identifies as an Indiana high-school senior (she's also a great cartoonist!).
Tomorrow night, I'll be interviewing Peter Hook, the legendary bassist for Joy Division and New Order, live on stage at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco. Peter has a fascinating new memoir out titled Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division. As I previously posted, it's a well-written, deeply personal, informative, and quite witty story of four young men in Manchester who played their first gig in 1977 and went on to transform post-punk, dance music, and the aesthetics of alternative culture. The free event is fully-reserved, but I'm delighted that the JCCSF will be streaming it live online beginning at 7pm PST. You can watch it here at the JCCSF Arts & Ideas site.
UPDATE: I'm told there will be an overflow room at the event to watch the program via CCTV. It will not be streaming online.
"Punk Voyager" is this week's story on the Escape Pod podcast, and it is fucking amazing. It's Shaenon Garrity story about punks at the twilight of the 1970s who are drunkenly outraged to discover that the Voyager probe has been launched with classical music records for aliens. They build their own Voyager probe out of garbage, razor-blades, beer cans and a surfboard some douchebag left on the beach, filled with all the most important human artifacts that they can find in their van. They forget about it as the 80s roar in, and then the aliens come to Earth and cockpunch Ronald Reagan.
Punk Voyager was built by punks. They made it from beer cans, razors, safety pins, and a surfboard some D-bag had left on the beach. Also plutonium. Where did they get plutonium? Around. Fuck you.
The punks who built Punk Voyager were Johnny Bonesaw, Johnny Razor, Mexican Johnny D-bag, Red Viscera, and some other guys. No, asshole, nobody remembers what other guys. They were Fucking wasted, these punks. They’d been drinking on the San Diego beach all day and night, talking about making a run to Tijuana and then forgetting and punching each other. They’d built a fire on the beach, and all night the fire went up and went down while the punks threw beer cans at the seagulls.
Forget the shit I just said, it wasn’t the punks who did it. They were Fucking punks. The hell they know about astro-engineering? Truth is that Punk Voyager was the strung-out masterpiece of Mexican Johnny D-bag’s girlfriend, Lacuna, who had a doctorate in structural engineering. Before she burned out and ran for the coast, Lacuna was named Alice McGuire and built secret nuclear submarines for a government contractor in Ohio. It sucked. But that was where she got the skills to construct an unmanned deep-space probe. Same principle, right? Keep the radiation in and the water out. Or the vacuum of space, whatever, it’s all the same shit to an engineer.
Fuck that, it wasn’t really Lacuna’s baby. It wasn’t her idea. The idea was Red’s.
“Fucking space,” he said that fateful night. He was lying on his back looking up at space, is why he said it.
“Hell yeah,” said Johnny Bonesaw.
The "Urban Punk" card-deck's up on Kickstarter, starting at $10. I especially like the face-cards -- the gas-mask kills me.
We viewed both the physical cards and traditional designs as a “washed out” concrete wall where the bits of stencil-style graffiti imagery are the energizing and vibrant pop. This imagery also alters the traditional court designs into the punk subcultures. The motto is to break out from the norm, be different, be unique.
Old wig ads have some inherent comedy, sitting at the intersection of fashion, human tissue trafficking, and so forth. But when you throw in enthusiastic descriptions of the "head turning, naturally beautiful" wigs alongside elaborate purple and blue hairstyles, the internal contradictions really start to throw off sparks.
Fugazi, the edits: an entire discography remixed down to one album-length study of rhythm and tension
"This guy named Chris Lawhorn has, with Fugazi's permission, made a full album in which every track combines four or more Fugazi songs into a new song, says Marc.
"Lawhorn focused almost entirely on the instrumental materials," he adds. "I think it's tensile and wonderful, and I interviewed him."
Check out both at disquiet.com.
This Friday at Grant's Tomb in San Francisco, "The Beginning of the End: Ronald Reagan's Legacy," a show of new and classic collage art by Winston Smith, Fast, Cheap & Easy Graphics, Ron Donovan, and Jon-Paul Bail. The event is one-night-only, tomorrow (10/5) from 6pm to 11pm at 50-A Bannam Place (tiny alley off Union Street at Grant in North Beach.) Below, two more of Winston's Reagan pieces from those oh-so-fun 1980s.
A Tokyo fashion designer did a public appearance in New York's Washington Square Park in order to show off his 3' 8.6" mohawk, which has held the Guinness World Record for world's tallest mohawk since 2011. More from the Houston Chronicle
Forty-year-old Kazuhiro Watanabe (kah-zoo-HEE'-roh wah-tah-NAH'-bee) says he's been growing the hair for 15 years. He says to make it stand upright it takes stylists two hours, one can of gel and three cans of hairspray. He says he wanted to grow the mohawk to rebel against the conformity of Japanese society.
(Image: downsized, cropped thumbnail from a picture by Guinness World Records)
We Got Power!: Hardcore Punk Scenes from 1980s Southern California - exclusive photo gallery excerpt
Jello Biafra as the president of the United States in Lovedolls Superstar, occupying an empty office adjacent to SST/Global, 1985. JORDAN SCHWARTZ
We Got Power! is a book of nearly 400 photographs taken for an early-1980s LA hardcore punk zine of the same name. The book includes new essays by Keith Morris of the Circle Jerks, Louiche Mayorga of Suicidal Tendencies, Steve Human of The Vandals, Tony Reflex of The Adolescents, and Henry Rollins, Chuck Dukowski, and Dez Cadena of Black Flag, and more. It also includes the complete color reprints of the We Got Power fanzine from 1981–1983 and beyond.
After the jump, a gallery of photographs from the book (posted with the kind permission of the publisher, Bazillion Points Books).
Read the rest
Argument in the show-trial of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot -- who gave an unlicensed anti-Putin performance in a cathedral and now face harsh, Stalinist justice for daring to point out the spy-emperor's nudity -- has concluded. Pussy Riot member Yekaterina Samutsevich has given a tremendous closing statement, which is a masterful summary of Russian oligarchy:
The fact that Christ the Savior Cathedral had become a significant symbol in the political strategy of our powers that be was already clear to many thinking people when Vladimir Putin’s former [KGB] colleague Kirill Gundyaev took over as head of the Russian Orthodox Church. After this happened, Christ the Savior Cathedral began to be used openly as a flashy setting for the politics of the security services, which are the main source of power [in Russia].
Why did Putin feel the need to exploit the Orthodox religion and its aesthetics? After all, he could have employed his own, far more secular tools of power—for example, national corporations, or his menacing police system, or his own obedient judiciary system. It may be that the tough, failed policies of Putin’s government, the incident with the submarine Kursk, the bombings of civilians in broad daylight, and other unpleasant moments in his political career forced him to ponder the fact that it was high time to resign; otherwise, the citizens of Russia would help him do this. Apparently, it was then that he felt the need for more convincing, transcendental guarantees of his long tenure at the helm. It was here that the need arose to make use of the aesthetics of the Orthodox religion, historically associated with the heyday of Imperial Russia, where power came not from earthly manifestations such as democratic elections and civil society, but from God Himself.
How did he succeed in doing this? After all, we still have a secular state, and shouldn’t any intersection of the religious and political spheres be dealt with severely by our vigilant and critically minded society? Here, apparently, the authorities took advantage of a certain deficit of Orthodox aesthetics in Soviet times, when the Orthodox religion had the aura of a lost history, of something crushed and damaged by the Soviet totalitarian regime, and was thus an opposition culture. The authorities decided to appropriate this historical effect of loss and present their new political project to restore Russia’s lost spiritual values, a project which has little to do with a genuine concern for preservation of Russian Orthodoxy’s history and culture.
It was also fairly logical that the Russian Orthodox Church, which has long had a mystical connection with power, emerged as this project’s principal executor in the media. Moreover, it was also agreed that the Russian Orthodox Church, unlike the Soviet era, when the church opposed, above all, the crudeness of the authorities towards history itself, should also confront all baleful manifestations of contemporary mass culture, with its concept of diversity and tolerance.
Matt Staggs, the host of the Disinfo podcast, says
I interviewed legendary punk icon, world traveler, and lecturer Henry Rollins, Rollins. He is intensely focused on creating a better world and a better America, and much of the conversation is devoted to that, but we also get into the overlap between his music career and his work as a humanitarian, his acting career and a few hilarious stories from the Black Flag days.
Henry Rollins makes an appearance in the Big Think video series, explaining how he came to quit his job at the Haagen Dazs to sing for Black Flag. Jason Gots writes on Big Think:
That was 30 years ago. The years Rollins spent in Black Flag launched his career as a musician, writer, and performer. He seized the opportunity, ran with it, and numerous albums, books, films and tv shows later, he's still running. Rollins says of the Black Flag audition that he "won the lottery." Ok, the timing was lucky. But it was Rollins' energy as part of the DC punk scene (while working those day jobs) that earned him Black Flag's friendship, which got him the guest-spot, which got him the audition. And a less humble, hardworking guy might very well have burned out after a year on tour and ended up at rehab, then back at Haagen Dazs.
Instead, Rollins took calculated risk and decisive action at the right moment, then committed fully to making the most of the life he'd chosen for himself. And instead of resting on his laurels, he's continued to learn, grow, and reinvent himself. That's what makes him heroic. What Kahneman's studies don't tell us is which of those once-aspiring actors worked tirelessly to create, then seize opportunity, nor how many of those failed entrepreneurs picked themselves up and went on to succeed in other bold ventures.
Dan writes, "Monkey Boots: The latest hilarious DIY video from the middle aged British punk band, Punks Not dad. This time dealing with retro footwear and a west side story rumble between punks and fans of Adam and the Ants in 1981. This video is introduced by sitcom legend Peter Bowles From to the manor born, who also provides a Vincent-Price-in-Thriller style voice-over."
The next SF in SF reading series on July 7 is a punk-rock extravaganza: John Shirley and Richard Kadrey, the guys who put the "punk" in cyberpunk, reading together. Kadrey, of course, has reinvented himself as a totally hard-boiled, awesome horror writer with his triumphant Sandman Slim series (I've just read a proof of the next one, and it's killer). Shirley's short story collection was one of the most excitingly mutated books of 2011.
Doors and cash bar open at 6:00PM
Event begins at 7:00PM
Suggested $5 - $10 donation at the door helps support Variety Childrens' Charity of Northern California
Seating is first come, first seated
The Variety Preview Room Theatre
The Hobart Bldg., 1st Floor -- entrance between Quiznos and Citibank
582 Market Street @ 2nd and Montgomery
My friend Sean Bonner just pointed me to a wonderful music history project, put together by Brian Stefans: at lapostpunk.blogspot.com, an MP3 compilation of post-punk and experimental pop music in the Los Angeles area from the mid-seventies through the mid-eighties.
I kind of think of this as a portrait of the city at the time more than a collection of tracks that will change the world (though more than a handful I think are unfairly neglected). I’m wondering if someone like Rhino Records would want to do a Nuggets-type collection from the period? They already have one of Los Angeles from 1965-1968 called Where The Action Is.
Huge, dumb booze producer Diageo orders industry association to give them the prize that had been awarded to small, spunky competitor
BrewDog is a spunky craft brewer in Scotland. Diageo is a titanic owner of booze brands, a kind of Wal*Mart of booze. The British Institute of Innkeeping is their mutual trade association.
Last Sunday, the BII's independent judges awarded BrewDog a prize for Bar Operator of the Year. When Diageo found out -- just ahead of the ceremony -- that a company affiliated with them hadn't won the prize, they threw a tantrum and said that they would cease all sponsorship of BII events unless the prize was given to them.
So BrewDog -- who'd been told in advance that they'd won -- sat at their table at the banquet with jaws on their chests as their competitor's name was read out by the announcer, and representatives from Diageo's chosen bar got up on stage to accept an award whose plaque clearly said "BREWDOG: BAR OPERATOR OF THE YEAR." The farce has turned into a scandal, and Diageo has issued a non-apology of the "mistakes were made" sort.
BrewDog is pissed:
As for Diageo, once you cut through the glam veneer of pseudo corporate responsibility this incident shows them to be a band of dishonest hammerheads and dumb ass corporate freaks. No soul and no morals, with the integrity of a rabid dog and the style of a wart hog.
Perhaps more tellingly it is an unwitting microcosm for just how the beer industry is changing and just how scared and jealous the gimp-like establishment are of the craft beer revolutionaries.
We would advise them to drink some craft beer. To taste the hops and live the dream. It is hard to be a judas goat when you are drinking a Punk IPA.
Walk tall, kick ass and learn to speak craft beer.
Diageo Screw BrewDog (Thanks, Chris!)