Pastoral Genocide


The Same Old Lines
January 27, 2009, 7:52 am
Filed under: Music | Tags: , , , ,

black-flag-bars1Nuclear Rhyming Dictionary: Seven years, eight years, ten years. Slice it, count it, cut it. Re-arrange it, solder it, build it into whatever you want it to be, however you want it to be. Fuck the police. Fuck the man. Fuck the suburbs, especially if you’re from the suburbs. Anti-parent, anti-pathy. Cross cut the nation, the world. Angst, depression, paranoia. The absurdity of being. I’m about to break down, we’re all about to break down. Ashes and the hereafter, baby. Work harder, dig deeper, become angrier. Do it all yourself; it’s your burden, after all. Become a caricature, a wax and glass statue of what you aren’t. Viacom calls because Viacom always comes calling. Wear it, tag it, spray paint it on the streets of Los Angeles and Philadelphia and Detroit. The cement jungles of America are dotted with the disenfranchised. Now, though, they look different. They’ve got a different cultural vernacular but it’s derived from the same anger. Evolve, devolve, swim or don’t.

What’s there to say? Black Flag was, and remains, a cathartic body. They’re the reason that so much of this exists. The bullshit, the genius, the unmitigated anger, the senseless violence. The brilliant non-conformity that somehow devolved into a co-host status on cable television programs. But, always: there’s a lot to be angry about, never forget that. The cops, the parents, the society that preaches pragmatic solidarity in the form of faith and family. No child gets left behind. Fighting back is sometimes fighting for something, no matter how nebulous or ill-defined that something may be.

Black Flag is better than Minor Threat. They’re better than the Circle Jerks or the Misfits or the Minutemen or Bad Religion. I’ll always – and forever – believe that. I’m unconcerned with what era was or is the best. Give me Morris, give me Cadena, give me Chavo Pederass, give me Rollins (or Dukowski or Roessler or Valverde or Biscuits or et fucking al). Just keep the god-damned chainsaw in Ginn’s hands, for the love of God.

Ron Reyes is a preacher. Can you believe that? He found Jesus lying facedown in the snow and blew warm air into his lungs. I am the truth I am the light. Praise-the-fucking-lord. If you can’t fight ‘em, preach to ‘em. Sometimes, you’ve got to kill the shepherd to save the flock. Say what you want about Henry, but he fought back. And, mostly, he won.

Somewhere, in all of this, we’ve got to talk about ham radios.  The little story that could. Unbelievable. You think Bomp! wishes they hadn’t dropped the ball? But they did. The same story has been told, time and again, but it never gets old and it never loses its meaning. That’s important: the truth, when excavated, stays fresh for an inconveniently long time.

Personally, I’m a family man, I’m a smoking and a drinking man, I’m a drinking and driving man, I’m so heavy, man. I like the jazz riffs and I like the power chords. I like it all, the brassy solos, the pitter-patterned improvisation, the fifty five seconds of raw vitriol that eviscerates reality like a F4 over an ant farm. I like it all.

Polliwog Park: It’s a nice day in the park before some drunk asshole throws a bottle that hits a kid in the head. Then all hell breaks loose and you’ve got punks and kids fighting and yelling and its a whole mess that no one can really make sense of. The PA gets cut for second and then jerks back to life. These kids, man, these fucking kids. Keith Morris on the vocals. Polliwog Park, Manhattan Beach, CA. July 22, 1979. 160 kbps.

Download Black Flag – July 22, 1979, Polliwog Park, Manhattan Beach,CA

North Park Lion’s Club: We’re talking about nearly thirty years ago. Everything’s changed but nothing’s different. We’re still mad, we’re still hopeless. No one sees the light because the darkness smothers everything. Replace one economic downturn with another. Can’t anyone see the real problem is the establishment?   North Park Lion’s Club, San Diego, CA. October 4, 1980. VBR.

Download Black Flag – October 4, 1980, North Park Lion’s Club, San Diego, CA

The Electric Banana: Dez Cadena’s last show as Black Flag’s third vocalist is an innocuous event. Listening to to it in real time, you wonder about the context. Cadena’s voice, by this time, was worn and ragged. Black Flag’s eras began and ended with an abruptness that can only be described as possessing an enviable temerity: they knew when enough was enough. Or, maybe they didn’t. As with most things, it all comes down to perspective.  The Electric Banana, Pittsburgh, PA. July 4, 1981. 320 kpbs.

Download Black Flag – July 4, 1981, the Electric Banana, Pittsburgh, PA.

The Stone: There’s a video of this somewhere. But video is over-rated and impotent. Incorporeality enhances observation in ways that can hardly be described.  This show was released on SST records via cassette tape. Later, it was digitally encoded by Greg Ginn. The Stone (“Live ’84”), San Francisco, CA. August 26, 1984. 320 kpbs.

Download Black Flag – August 26, 1984 (“Live ’84”), the Stone, San Francisco, CA. Pt.1

Download Black Flag – August 26, 1984 (“Live ’84”), the Stone, San Francisco, CA. Pt.2

Markthalle: The crowd seems restless throughout the set. Maybe it’s because they’re European, maybe it’s because English, to them, is an awkward sound, a foreign sound. Maybe it’s because their hands will always be stained with the blood of genocide, something that no amount of economic growth or vulcanized liberalism can change. At one point, Henry says something to the effect of: the only time I feel like I’m an American is when I’m not in my country.  Markthalle, Germany. March 15, 1983. 320 kpbs.

Download Black Flag – March 15, 1983, Markthalle, Germany. Pt. 1

Download Black Flag – March 15 1983, Markthall, Germany. Pt. 2

Desh Begat Temple: Drinking black coffee, black coffee, drinking black coffee, staring at the wall. Black coffee, black coffee, black coffee, staring at the wall. Black coffee, drinking black coffee, drinking black coffee. Desh Begat Temple, Winnipeg, Canada. August 12, 1985. 160 kpbs.

Download Black Flag – August 12, 1985, Desh Begat Temple, Winnipeg, Canada. Pt. 1

Download Black Flag – August 12, 1985, Desh Begat Temple, Winnipeg, Canada. Pt. 2

The Starry Night: Everything sounds better when it’s professionally done. But sounding good and being good are disparate values. I’m not saying anything; I’m just saying. Notably absent? The dips, the pops, the recording flaws. The small things, the good things, the things that make music believable. Released in 1986 by SST Records. The Starry Night, Portland, OR. August 23, 1985. 320 kpbs (Direct .flac conversion; e-mail me if you want the lossless version).

Download Black Flag – August 23, 1985 (“Whose Got the 10.5?”), the Starry Night, Portland OR. Pt. 1

Download Black Flag – August 23, 1985 (“Whose Got the 10.5?”), the Starry Night, Portland OR. Pt. 2

Detroit: The end. Detroit is a great place for endings. The irony, of course, is that Detroit was built on beginnings: the post-war blacks that trudged north, the eastern European and Mediterranean immigrants that came over on crowded, wooden boats, those who believed in the power of their hands and the fiber of their worth. Set against the crumbling gray of globalization, today’s brick and mortar monuments are stark and ghostlike. Kafka called it.  To borrow a line, all our tomorrows end today. I wish it wasn’t this way. I’m glad it ended like this. Detroit, MI. June 27, 1986. 128 kpbs.

Download Black Flag – June 27, 1986 (“The Last Show”), Detroit, MI

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