Friday, September 16, 2011

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sunday Playlist.

The Ones "Tightrope"

I threw on Staring Down the Barrel this afternoon which is mind-bogglingly good straight through but after hitting The Ones track I stayed there for a while, getting up to start it over a couple-two-tree times1.  This song —listen here—ranks with The Dogs "Slash Your Face" or "Sonic Reducer" in the pantheon of monster riff air guitar jammers.  It loses points on the G45 scale for being a new discovery, thus no legacy, and on the P452 scale for having no pic sleeve, but on music alone it is absolutely one of the best.

"The Third Unheard: Connecticut Hip Hop 1979-1983" compilation (Stones Throw 2004)

I was fascinated to discover this collection of early CT hip hop. I shouldn't be surprised that this scene existed but when the "early hip hop" synapses fire in my mind I think "Bronx"—a specific locale as opposed to "New York" which often means "Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Staten Island, Long Island, Connecticut, Northern Jersey, & Westchester/Putnam/Orange Counties".  But here it is, proof positive that the scene had arms that reached outside of the borough borders.  This collection is centered around New Haven and Bridgeport, many songs touched by Mr. Magic, including the standout "Get Up (And Go To School)" by Magic's nephew Pookie Blow3 .  I will be petitioning The Hall of the Guitar Solo to include Pookie's kazoo solo as it deserves to be admired alongside "Band Aid" and "All Wasted".  In "Rappin' With Mr. Magic" he shouts out a roll call of cities around the state, including some towns that seem hard to imagine a vibrant scene of any sort, let alone graffiti/music (sorry, Ansonia).  Stylistically, the tracks featured here are very similar to their Bronx-born cousins: re-appropriated disco beats looped and rapped over; shout outs and hand claps; "c'mon party people...", "'til the break of dawn", "throw your hands in the air", and more of the cliche-yet-essential call-out lyrics that are, really, perfect.

Cider 1st EP (Non-Commercial Records 1994)

I picked up this spare a while back and wanted to give it one last spin before sending on to its new home.

Gary Glitter "Hello! Hello! I'm Back Again" 7"

A while back I was listening to this album of Post-Regiment demos.  It was mostly B- takes on their A+ songs, but tucked in was a cover of this Gary Glitter song.  After I couldn't get it out of my head for a week I decided to pick up a copy of GG's original.  So good.


1No typo, just thinking about Terre T's in studio interview with Veedee, which is one of the best.
2As I recall, this only existed in old emails unless one of the parties involved spun it out into the real world but was our toying around with the G45 scale to fit punk better...add a slash for pic sleeve, maybe another for early/late for the trend.  Actually, not sure if sleeveless helps or hurts the cause but I suspect that planned sleeve never distributed is a bonus.
3Pookie was apparently of no relation to Kurtis but I believe any confusion on that point was deliberate by PB and/or Magic.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Night!!!

Right now I am:

a) Listening to X! Records "Shiftless Decay" compilation LP. Good record all around, especially on the tracks by Tyvek & Little Claw. Detroit is a curious place...I' don't think I've ever been to the city proper yet, S & I sometimes talk of it as a place to live. It has the right things going for it: cheap real estate = artist used real estate = venues, galleries, interesting happenings. Plenty of cool art and bands, many of whom are showcased on this album. We'd intended a detroit trip this summer but it'll have to be put off until next year.

b) Clearing out my reader. I've been away for most of the last week, out in Southern California. It was a great time: I love the region and couldn't even begin to recite the amount of cool shit we saw/did/etc. But I am behind in all things current, such as email, twitter-reading, blog-reading, so on. Bless the reader for collecting all of what I've missed out on. May I recommend recent posts by Shit-Fi, my man Zach Malfa-Kowalski, the brilliant photographer Sandy Kim (whose book is apparently out of print yet NOT on my bookshelf...please help if you can), oh, many more, but I'm a speed-reader tonight as I try to get caught up so no more recommendations.

c) Eating ice cream out of my baseball helmet.  Yes.  At the ballgames you can buy a helmet full of ice cream and I do.  Tonight the menu is mint-chip which is a sure-fire indication that the Gal is out of town as she'd never approve of my mint-chip choice.  Also, in her honor I've decided to make whipped cream, but I have no concept of what constitutes a "little bit" of vanilla as I obviously used "a lot".  Come home soon, please.

d) Thinking about Blank City, which I saw last night at Jacob Burns Film Center.  We'd initially been scared off by the thought of yet another film about the lower east side glory days, but I was pleased to find that this had a different slant and is focused not on the bands these folks were in, nor on the cable access shows they made, nor the articles they wrote.  I know about all of the above...but I am in the dark on their films, which are featured here.  Super 8 and lo-fi, sometimes narrative, sometimes not but seemingly always of interest.  I cannot tell a lie: I sat through most of the movie wondering what my movie should be.  No decisions have been made but stay tuned and drop a line if you want in.  It'll be HUGE.

e) Listening to Siggy Magic and the Hey-Ho Band on Smash the State V3 (I'm a slow writer...expect 2 or 3 more "listening to..." entries before this is over). Fucking Siggy Magic.  Brilliant.  Oh boy, I need it.  Please...somebody?

f) Still thinking about Blank City.  I love that John Lurie goes on record that he will always hate Basquiat for selling out and making money cool within their scene.  Also, Jarmusch's tale about dragging a sleeping-bagged JMB out of the camera's eye as he slept on the floor while JJ filmed Stranger Than Fiction.

g) Balancing household monies.  I am ahead.

h) Debating what to do tomorrow.  Today I missed out on: the films of Errol Morris at AMMI, Times New Viking in the park, Brown Sugar at the punk house, Psychedelic Horseshit at another punk house, Estrogen Highs in New Haven, the films of Lumet at Walter Reade.  What will I miss out on tomorrow? Psych HS is playing a free show, there are more Errol Morris films, etc but there is so much more cleaning to do at home.

i) Listening to "One Chord Punk Rock Song" by Da Slyme.  Canada's Urinals?  Last track on STS3, next album up is...

j) Listening to degenerates set off fireworks.  I fucking love it when degenerates set off fireworks.  Also, listening to Smash The State V2.  Did I mention that I'm sorting though comp LPs at the moment trying to decide which are keepers and which can go.  It's actually a tough decision as it comes down to a fundamental issue on the reissue comps: is it necessary to keep a comp that bootlegs multiple tracks from other comps but includes cuts otherwise unavailable?  It is the reference library vs. living space question. Usually, I am on the side of living space but with comps it is different.  And then my inner dialogue shifts..."Really, at this point, isn't this all available in shitty MP3 anyway?  Aren't your emotional ties to a vinyl refereance library of obscure punk rock by way of bootleg compilation outdated?"  No decisions have been made, but...

k) Getting tired.  Sick of the blog neglect and plenty more to come here but for now, g'night.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tuesday night.

Always so goddamn busy.  I suppose that's the way it goes.  Now playing: Post Regiment, first LP.  Was listening to an album with their 1988 and 1990 demos earlier and was underwhelmed.  I've got to hear the songs in their proper form, out of infancy and into something memorable.  And so, these Post Regiment albums will get some play tonight.  Unbelievably great stuff.  Up soon: the big game.  Good guys versus bad guys.  Thats how I see it, the rest of the world sees The Worst versus Nearly as Bad.  Go The Worst!  Up a little later: The Best Show on WFMU.  It's the best!1

But tonight is not about tonight.  Here are some places I've been since recently...
Walter De Maria "The New York Earth Room"
I must admit that part of the reason I felt the need to visit the Earth Room was an obligation to the artist and my desire to experience as much of the Earthwork sites as I can.  After becoming entranced by Robert Smithson we made the trek to Spiral Jetty and became obsessed with Smithson, Dia, and all who shared his aesthetic vision.  As such, Lightning Field and de Maria by extension, piqued our interest.  While a trip to New Mexico is inevitable, we decided to visit Earth Room in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan to examine De Maria's vision.  There's not much to it: a Manhattan loft filled with soil.  All livable terrain in an open room is filled with about a yard of soil.  Visitors know, EXACTLY, what they'll see upon entrance; however, the scene is arresting.  One cannot help but sit, mouth agape, at the scenery.

"Under Influence of ESPO" Maysles Cinema

That's ESPO walking down the aisle.  The MAN, Philadelphia turned NYC graffiti legend who was open-minded when the art world came running and made some films while making bona fide gallery art.  During his turn at Maysles, Mr. Powers screened a handful of films ranging from vintage footage of late 60s-early 70s era Philly wall art to camcorder footage of teenybopper ESPO & co. to a mini-doc of the grown up man doing his hometown good by organizing some strategic & awesome wall art around the city.  Truly brilliant and inspiring stuff.

Citizen's Arrest at some giant rock club, Greenpoint, NY

Unreal.  Mind you, I HATE a) band reunions b) rock clubs and c) apathetic crowds...nonetheless, I couldn't ask for more.  CxA was older, out of shape, and presumably as energetic as ever.  Their  jumps were not quite as high as photos circa 1991 would lead you to believe and the in between song dialogue ("Is everybody having a good time tonight?", ad nauseum) was not that of idealistic youth BUT when the music started we may as well have been on Rivington2.  The crowd was clearly there for Tragedy-to the point where I wonder if most have ever heard CxA, but even their potted-plant enthusiasm did not deter.

WTF with Marc Maron: Bell House

Having heard all episodes of this podcast, including a few live events, it is not without experience that I declare this the best of all.  Scharpling, Wyatt Cenac, Kevin Allison, Horatio Sanz, Sam Lypsite...even Ted Leo3.  With Tom baiting Marc and Wyatt comforting him with cupcakes, the lineup was built to feed off of the host.

Storm King Art Center

One of our favorite destinations.  Located up in New Windsor, NY, Storm King is a massive plot of land dotted with some of the best modern sculpture including works by Calder, Serra, and many, many more. It took the better part of the day to explore the grounds and get a feel for the art.  The only downer was the old-timey crowd of snooty donors.

I've been up to more but the Good Guys lost, the Best Show is nearing completion, and my gal is hinting that it's time for bed.  Enough!  Never enough time. I'll leave you with few more photos from Storm King.

1It will be Wednesday night before I actually finish this post. Bear with me.
2No complaints about the lineup, who were brilliant, but did this lineup ever play live during the first go-round?  Leo on guitar, Kahan on vocals, etc.  Perfect execution.
3As much as I hate RUSH, Ted & Marc's a cappella take on 2112 was almost bearable.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A stroll

Last Sunday, Sarah and I went for a walk to the abandoned Kingsbridge Armory.  We missed our bus on the return trip and decided to cut through nearby Woodlawn Cemetery, which we had been meaning to explore anyway.  I had my camera phone with me so I took some pictures.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Running on empty.

Woodlawn, NY— This place is under water, KO'd by the second rainstorm of the week.  The river has overflown and taken over the highway, a beautiful sight that I intend to explore up close in the AM if it has not receded, but a fucking nightmare for my life as a commuter.  The trek to work this morning was bad but coming home was nearly intolerable, sanity saved only by Mordecai, Sandwich, and The Best Show on WFMU.  Sleep has been minimal over the last few days and a curious combination of Peet's coffee, Anchor Steam Beer and a collection of Templars tracks from their splits are what's keeping me going 1  It's sad to think that it was not too long ago that I could pull off a late night followed by a 6AM start without a hitch; alas, it's gotten harder with every new gray hair.  Still, it's worth the pain.

During Wednesday night's benefit for Showpaper at the Old Firehouse2, Sic Alps had some technical issues to deal with.  The process of setting up the backline shared by their tourmates Magic Markers was prolonged when the mixing board that they run their vocals through was fried.  As the smell of burning circuits permeated the air, I quipped that at least we were in the right place to deal with a fire.  Hilarious.

Eventually the Alps abandoned their attempts to fix the mixing board and turned things over to Magik Markers, who had been slated to go on next.  Firmly in the camp of "heard about but never heard", I was curious to see how the Markers held up to their reputation...or whatever bastardized version of their rep has made its way to my old-man ears.  Of course, what played out was not at all what I was expecting.  Instead of a sloppy burst of noise, I was assaulted by one of the tightest rhythm sections I've had the pleasure of witnessing.  Ever.  They were accompanied by a gal on guitar who convincingly played the part of idiot savant.  She fumbled over the guitar as if she had no idea what she was doing.  But that was clearly not the case, as she manhandled her instrument.  Enhanced by a bevy of electronics and pedals, Magik Markers belted out a dichotomy of mess and proficiency, its form defined by the machine-like duo but personality owned by the structured chaotic guitar.  I've been converted.

Back to Sic Alps, a favorite in our household for a dog's age. These guys have added a member, a second guitarist whose role is presumably to enable his counterpart to not play the guitar and concentrate on singing without losing any of the tune.  It's OK by me.  But backing up...  The band lost their mixing board and had to go to Plan B and send their vocals through the house PA.  The soundman was walking them through their check.  "Guitar please."  Strum strum.  So on.  "Kick drum."  The band stood there looking at each other for a moment. After blurting out "Fuck it, let's just go," the drummer leaped onto his stool and immediately launched into an incredible drum solo to kick things off. Keith Moon incredible.  Animal incredible.  A moment of brilliant turmoil which gave way to a robust set.

The Sic Alps accomplish what few others do in combining lush melodies with breakout explosive jams.  They teeter on the edge for a spell and then explode–bodies flail into the microphones, drums assaulted.  Pick up the pieces and set things up enough to do it again for 3 minutes.  Long enough to get in one or two memorable hooks, to leave an impression most folks are incapable of, then a burst of energy before cleaning up and moving onto the next memorable hook.  A fantastic set.

Thursday night we headed out to see Marc Maron at a taping of his WTF podcast. I encountered Maron's show not too long after joining the podcast culture (which was, admittedly, years after the rest of the world jumped in).  With fond recollections of his standup via Comedy Central, I anxiously dove into the series.  It has become more obvious with each successive episode, but Marc's podcast is not standard fare.  He probes deeper, with more introspect, than any of his peers and in the process not only gets his guests to open up but talks about his own life with more honesty than most can muster in therapy.  And we can relate–this set was preceded by a cast of dozens approaching the stage in eucharist-like earnesty to deliver presents3 to the host.  Thank You's for talking about your life with the honesty that we find hard to reflect upon ourselves.

Marc's panel for this taping (the second of two that night) featured the charismatic Sarah Vowell, Chuck Klosterman, Eric Drysdale, Fred Armisen, and Bill Hader.  Hilarity ensued, really.  As first panelist up, and by definition the longest guest on stage, Vowell initiated a lively conversation about the history of Hawaii, then kept up with comically timed comments and yawns during subsequent guests (after various audience members felt the need to chime in with absurdly trivial additions to the conversation, she announced "it feels like we're sitting in a room with the internet").  Hader's tale of Danny McBride's stoned trek in a car service stole the show.  As was told, the real-life Kenny Powers defied his limo driver's order not to smoke marijuana en route.  When confronted, he acknowledged his gaff, accepted his banishment of the service, and made arrangements to meet his pals at Denny's on foot.  Game, set, match.  Kenny Fucking Powers!


1 Sad to say, but the artwork on many of the Templars records is as bad as the music is good.  I need to start collecting these records exclusively as test presses.  Sleeveless by design without the weight of "missing" part of the package.

2 Aka DCTV, a media arts center housed in a historic former fire station. The exterior is ridiculously beautiful and ornate, while the interior resembles a vacant school gym overtaken by invasive student artists (think overhead projectors + paper mache2a). Sadly, no firepoles in sight.

2aSeriously, they could not leave the paper mache 8-sided die alone. Every few minutes someone would readjust the position of this artifact. That it was opaque, and thus barely being projected onto the wall very effectively, did not seem to factor into the equation.

3Oddly enough, the most memorable gift of the night was the most generic: a Whitman's sampler. I think the grandma of boxed candy reminded us all of plastic-covered couches. Which is just funny.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


The first spring training games started up last weekend and I found myself squared with the TV set during lunch easing back into a familiar routine.  The bad guys faced off against the assholes, and, as always, I rooted for the bad guys (it's been that way since I was a kid, blame grandpa and Donny B).  Old familiar faces took to the plate, giving their first go of the year.  Brilliant to watch, even with the fellows giving 50%.  That's part of the excitement, the slow build of camp as we watch the veterans crawl to life and the kids explode out of the gate.

I never did get totally into the swing of things last year as far as The Game was concerned.  Real life stress and distractions loomed over my head with enough weight to keep me from getting too comfortable or carried away with the season.  I did not put in the requisite time at Bill James Online 1, the Fordham Baldies 2 never did recover from their early season slump, plus my team found new ways to piss me off.  It's all forgotten now, and watching live from my living room in NY, was as engrossing as ever.  I had to split to run some errands and when I got back at the tail end of the outing, the field was covered with guys not named Manny wearing 99 on their backs'.  These kids, totally unfamiliar even to me even as a guy who tends to dip into minor league blogs and scouting reports of the young'ns, were going at it full force.

Young kids on the cusp of living out their dreams who will, in all likelihood, end up back at home all too soon and will spend the rest of their lives talking about how close they came.  I'm envious.  One of the cable networks was showing Sugar this winter, which I think tells that story as well as it's been told on film.  The eponymous star is scouted as a teen in the Dominican where he signs and is brought up through the ranks of a big league team.  This is the dream but the story is anything but glorious.  Pulled away from his family and brought to play in small town Iowa, Sugar is boarded with a Bible Belt American family whose allegiances are with God, America, and their local team.  And so he struggles with language and culture, attempts to find comfort with the locals who, despite sharing a love for the sport, are absolute aliens to him.  The intense smiles and Jesus is looming in the back of my mind chit chat of the youth group teens would bewilder even those of us who get the subtleties of the language so it's no surprise that the character misreads some of this as romantic interest.

This is the setting in which the hero is faced with honing his skills, growing from kid player into pro.  The massive uphill on-field battle actually becomes the most familiar thing around.  And in this tale, Sugar cracks.  He had too much working against him to perfect his curve and to adjust to life on the road  away from family.  After dropping out of the league he ends up in New York, working in a wood shop as he had back home, and playing in a pick-up league in the park.  His teammates have similar stories to his.

Sarah and I often spend summertime weekends exploring one park or another and gravitate towards ballgames when we pass them.  Men on the diamond, decked out in uniform, playing as if their salaries were on the line while their families and passers-by like us watch on.  Perhaps many are like Sugar who had a shot once and keep going still, even after life has moved on.  Or like number 94, who hit a two run homer in my team's loss last week and has spent most of the last ten years in Mexico trying work his way into the radar of a big league team.  He was almost the hero in spring training game number 1 and I'm rooting for him to make a mark over the next few weeks but time has a way of running out as players close in on 30.  The sparse spring training crowds fade into 50 of us crowded around the fence in Inwood Hill Park as the men on field carry on exactly as they always have.


1 Subscription required, kids, but worth every cent of the 300 cents/month fee.  I believe there was a note recently that they were planning to open up some of the content from behind the firewall to the public, which'd be swell, but the fee is a mere pittance so subscribe away.
These Baldies, of course, being managed by me via an app and acted out by millionaires on the field, not being managed by Terror and acted out in front of a recruiting office.  If I could find a decent Woodlawn related gang name I'd consider changing for this year, otherwise two stops on the train doesn't make me too much an impostor.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

no title.

There has been radio silence here on the blog lately, but things at Savage Aesthetic World Headquarters have been as hectic as ever.  For instance:
  • Dismantled, a discography of Clevo hardcore that I've compiled and managed over the years has been updated to include the latest batch of records from the scene as well as new images of some earlier variations that I've picked up recently.
  • Terminal Boredom has a new issue up, or mostly up, with some random contributions from me.
  • We have also been rewatching Freaks and Geeks which, while not productive, has been awesome and has cut into time that may have otherwise been spent writing.
  • Mostly I've been digging through records trying to pare down the collection again, a time consuming and fun ritual in which I dedicate weeks every year to seeing what can be lived without and inevitably rediscover some gems in the process.  Some future blog fodder has been found and noted.
I should be back up and running on this here site with some regularity in short order.  In the meantime, dig what the mailman delivered this week.  The Quotas single was purchased sleeveless for 14€ plus post back to the US and paired up with a sleeve within a few hours.  Vertical Slit  — not as cheap but happy to have.  Still need to track down a copy of Slit & Pre-Slit but for now the bootleg will serve as a place keeper.  I should note that it really is a shame that the Forever Lowman blog kicked the bucket as Al Gore invented the internet for content like that.  Regardless, be sure to dig around on FL and Minimum Tillage Farming for plenty of Jim Shepard.  

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Saturday playlist.

"Wormtown '78" compilation (Beast, 1979)

I picked this up as a curiosity; sleeveless stock copies of this notoriously rare compilation have been available over the last year and I suppose I figured I might as well give it a shot.  I had no real expectations—Worcester, Massachusetts was not the type of place, one would think, to incubate a great rock'n'roll scene.  Of course, one would be wrong; it turns out that Worcester is among the population of small and mid-sized American cities with early punk scenes that outshone their metropolis brethren.  The four bands—Crazy Jack & the Heart Attaxs, Blue Moon Band, The Towel, Hooker—on Wormtown '78 share a thuggish bar rock sound with loud, scuzzy guitars that plant this firmly in punk territory.  Sex Pistols and Ramones influence is clear, but this still comes across as meaner, more blue collar.  The Towel, who otherwise have no releases, steal the show for me.  A duo with guitar and vocals only have a sound reminiscent of Mike Rep & the Quotas or Teenage PHD's without the weirdness in the songwriting; these tracks read as earnest if underdeveloped stabs at rock and roll.  In totality, it is a brilliant comp, showcasing a scene with an original sound that was mostly lost in American punk.  Just fantastic stuff.

Protex "Strange Obsessions" LP (Sing Sing, 1980/2010)

When we were out in Los Angeles, we spent a good amount of time at Cinefamily, which was hosting a weekend of screenings in honor of the amazing Destroy All Movies book.  One of the films we caught was Shellshock Rock, a snapshot of Belfast punk circa 1979.  What was so compelling was that it was a portrait of a scene looking to avoid chaos, using punk as a vehicle for light-hearted fun in contrast to the dire politically charged reality of their surroundings.  Perhaps this helps explain the Belfast aesthetic—energetic but extremely melodic, music for a spikey haired sock hop.  This collection of 1979-1980 recordings from Protex, previously only rumored to exist, is exemplary of that sound.  It's not the type of thing that gets many listens by me, but when the mood is right this one'll be tough to beat.  Next dance, anyone?

The Tix s/t 10" (Lunar Lab, 1980)

A friend and I recently found ourselves chatting over a coffee and stuffed french toast breakfast at City Island Diner on a miserable, rainy morning.  He mentioned that he'd recently revisited this Houston record and had been spending a lot of time with it...then was kind enough to point out a copy for sale and recommended that I try it out for myself.  You can see why this release was overlooked among the sea of monster punk gems in Texas.  The band clearly viewed themselves as new wave, but their organ driven sound is much more at home with, say, Desperate Bicycles than Gary Numan.  Pukekos blog has a track up, here, so check it out.

Tyvek "Nothing Fits" LP (In the Red, 2010)

Proof that their endless demo-ing and reworking of songs pays off.  "Nothing Fits" showcases a totally aggressive take on the band.  This one's as raw and angry and as powerful an album as I've heard in a while.  The entire thing builds up to "Blocked" which about halfway through starts kicks into a guitar riff that, although different, kind of reminds me of the second half of Disclose's "Nightmare or Reality".

Estrogen Highs "Friends and Family" LP (Gramery, 2010)

A sleeper candidate for year end top ten lists.  This is a stellar album, leaps and bounds better than the first album both in terms of ambition and execution.  These kids are really hitting on something. See them on tour now.

Public Image Ltd "Public Image" b/w "Cowboy Song" (Virgin, 1978)

I was dismantling a broken photocopier while this was playing.  Classic stuff that makes for great background music for such an activity.   I think I got the damned thing working again (it did take the next album as well...I'm not that fast).

Destruction Unit "Eclipse" LP (Eclipse, 2010)

At first I was sort of put off with the direction that Destruction Unit had taken over the last couple of releases.  His first EP is an all-time favorite and completely aggressive.  It's what I think of when I think of Destruction Unit, so when he started to release music that was more introverted and thoughtful it took me a but to regroup.  I'm there now and can appreciate this new, moody take on Destruction Unit.  Still the same band, just growing up a bit.

Monday, January 3, 2011

movie night.

We had a bit of a lazy weekend, in a sense, for the most part staying indoors working on various projects,  catching up on reading, making the season's last batch of Xmas snacks, and spending plenty of time curled up on the couch watching TV.  The bulk of this was spent watching the brilliant Jeffrey Tambor, first during our own New Years Eve screening of Arrested Development 1, and again during IFC's marathon of the Larry Sanders Show 2.  Somewhere in there, Sarah mentioned having never seen Over The Edge.

Image borrowed from the very cool Subtlety In Excess blog
Unlike Rock and Roll High School, Ladies & Gentlemen the Fabulous Stains, Repo Man, Dudes, and others from the era's canon of teen rebellion films, none of the kids in 1979's Over The Edge identify themselves as punk rockers.  This is not only curious considering it was an exploitation film conceptualized during the earliest wave of punxploitation but also because the film was directed by Jonathan Kaplan, who had a previous credit as a director of Who Killed Bambi? having replaced Russ Meyer for a spell before the film fell apart completely.  But despite that technicality, this is most definitely a punk film 3 —and a well worn VHS copy should be a staple among my peer group 4 .

The characters are largely stereotypes (the stoner, the bad guy cop 5, absentee parents, the mute 6) with very little personality but the people are very real to me.  I knew kids who made pseudo-bombs with firecrackers and matchheads while babysitting themselves  after school, who practiced petty vandalism for fun, who wanted to lock their parents in a PTA meeting and trash the parking lot and I knew the lazy cop whose job was to give these kids a hard time and make them feel subhuman.  That the kids were played by kids (not so much actors) whose lives were probably not far off those of their characters makes this all the more real.  The movie would have been a wreck with any more skill or depth; like the best punk, it works as a punch to the gut, a raw emotional outburst.

Why this is such a classic is that, despite all else, it conveys the feeling of what it's like to be an afterthought, stuck in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do except sit around with others in the same situation.  It nails what it is like being young, unable to articulate your feelings any way other than to just hate your surroundings; not knowing what you want or what a better situation looks like, just knowing that things aren't right, that you want out, and that the only semblance of escape is to lay back on your bed, headphones on, blasting "Surrender".  Only here, the kids do not surrender, they band together and fight back.

Apparently, the "based on a true story" line at the beginning of the film is, sort of, true.  Its authors were inspired by an article in the SF Examiner in the early 70s about packs of rowdy teens, reeking havoc on their town.  With that as the nugget of truth at the center, they beefed up the story with death and explosions.  Though the article itself seems to be MIA on the world wide web, Vice Magazine was apparently able to dig it up as it is quoted in their amazing oral history of the film.

We also caught White Stripes: Under the Great White Northern Lights, which was showing on TV.  The  film documents their extended tour of Canada and their attempts to make it a memorable and unusual journey.  With impromptu free gigs, including a session of "Wheels on the Bus" on a public bus, visitations to schools and Inuit nursing homes, it seems as though they succeeded.  In the middle of the film is an interview session in which Jack is discussing his self imposed limitations—limiting aesthetics to red and white, using old and temperamental gear, performing as  a duo, so on—and how those limitations exist to force creativity, they exist to force him to find a way to work around them to come up with something interesting.  Limitation as a conduit to creativity is something that I think about often and wholeheartedly endorse, and hearing Jack's rant made me appreciate the band  even more than I had before.


I was really hoping to link to here, but the site included a robots.txt preventing from hosting.  Curiously, they did not include this on, a site that I didn't know existed until five minutes ago.

I'm still not sure why they chose to start their airing with season six.  Perhaps it'll make sense to me after I watch the first five seasons.

I'm thinking that there's a case to be made for this non-punk PUNK film genre with Over the Edge, The Warriors, A Clockwork Orange, Dogtown & Z-Boys, and some others.  Proto non-punk PUNK would include Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, Pink Flamingos, George & Mike Kuchar, etc.  Am I getting carried away?

A peer group who has borrowed heavily from the film when conjuring up imagery or themes for their bands: New Granada and The Ritchie Whites borrowing their names, Area 51(among others) sampling dialogue, and the Chinese Millionaires ode "(You're Alright) Richie White".  Remind me what I'm forgetting (I know there's a lot).

Named "Doberman"! No subtlety at all; I love it.

I haven't figured this one out yet, but he sure is a cool kid.