Despite what you may think, this lovely view was not plucked from a travel brochure or photo site, but is the scene outside my window just now. It's a nice, sunny fall day and we've switched up our normal get the hell out of town Thanksgiving plans and have instead opted to spend the week sleeping in, sitting around listening to records, reading and maybe tackle a project or two 1. Tonight is Sandwich Night, a holiday more meaningful than the one tomorrow and S is in the next room preparing. It smells so festive. And now, a random selection from this afternoon's playlist:
So much more fulfilling than American Hardcore or most other pastiche of talking heads styled tales of music scenes past. Towncraft weaves a narrative around Little Rock, AR's punk scene which blossomed sometime in the late 80's. That's no typo, by the way, as there was shockingly no underground music activity in the state before then, as the Discography can attest (putting 'Punk in Arkansas' on about the same timeline as 'punk in Central America').
Little Rock had a small, welcoming community full of kids going out of their way to make something happen. The movie depicts an underground where every kid has a zine and probably a band, all hands are on deck running benefit shows and working towards something great. After a couple of bigger bands left town, those who remained decided they needed to document what they had and worked together to issue a compilation album, "Towncraft". Plenty of time was spent talking to members of Chino Horde and Soophie Nun Squad (which reminded me how much I dig Nate Powell's comics... I've got some catching up to do as he's continued to draw since I picked up my last). (Econochist were mentioned as one of the bands who split town to move to the big city and get "signed" although the use of that term w/r/t Very Small and Ebullition seems a bit loaded).
Interestingly, one of the early punks on the scene was Matt Besser, who would move to Chicago and then New York (now LA) who would go on to found Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, which is very much a DIY enterprise and their philosophies are rooted in the punk scene ideals2 .
The film has a great website which has a ton of info including scans of zines, including one in which Besser unkindly reviews Crucifucks "Wisconsin" (which, as everyone knows, is a fucking fantastic album).
N.O.T.A. "Live at the Crystal Pistol" LP (Prank)
I think this is NOTA's finest moment. Originally released as their demo, this is blistering, raw hardcore captured in peak form. I love the proper NOTA releases that followed, but "Crystal Pistol" has the rage turned up to 11 with the fidelity down around 7 (which is the correct formula for HC). Curiously, the aforementioned Arkansas entry on the Collectorscum discography notes that NOTA guitarist Russell is an Arkansas native so this musical selection was a nice, unintended accompaniment.
John Waters "Role Models" book
I always find it interesting to get a glimpse into the mind of a genius—what turns them on and inspires their creativity. Naturally, I knew this book was going to be a winner before I flipped it open, but Waters did one better. With his essays, he presents a deeply personal autobiography by looking at his role models and how they fit into his life. He avoids the obvious choices and goes with unexpected (Johnny Mathis) and obscure (pornographer of Marines, Bobby Garcia). The book is well researched; Waters tracked down and talked to most of his role models, a process which lead to more questions than answers. He is forced to explore aspects of their lives he'd rather not and reconcile against the what he originally found inspiring.
I've got some new friends.
1 Fixed the drawers on our dresser so they open without a fight, addressed overflow of books by building some new shelving, etc.
2 Saw Chris Rock & Aziz Ansari at Whiplash at UCB on Monday night for free. It was great.