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


Music Dump

Download Inkwell’s “Discography”

Download the “Food Not Bombs” Compilation

Download Hoover’s “The Lurid Traversal of Route 7”

Download Sunday’s Best’s “Where You Are Now”

Download Three Shades of Dirty’s “Demo”

Download The Lewd’s “American Wino”

Download The Proletariat’s “Soma Holiday”

Will Sheff – Cedar’s, Youngstown Ohio
July 7, 2008, 3:57 pm
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Download Will Sheff, Youngstown OH, 28 Febuary 2008

This recording is a meandering and fantastic gem. The sound quality is close to impeccable. The set list [comprised of Okkeveril River songs, mostly] has that certain sort of quotidian magic. For his part, Sheff twists and turns each song into a crashing force, a tidal wall of emotion and emergent purpose. There is an individual taste of auetership; replication is an impossible and distant idea. As Sheff’s pitch and poise teeters and wavers, often being pushed to an undefined but readily apparent line of demarcation, we understand that this is something remarkable, something important. To me, this set is why we listen to music, why we drive two hours to go to a dirty venue on a Tuesday evening, and why we wake up the next day half-drunk and late for work.

Black Market Baby – Senseless Offerings LP
July 2, 2008, 1:23 am
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Download Black Market Baby’s “Senseless Offerings”

Brian Eno – Ambient 1: Music for Airports.
June 23, 2008, 4:57 am
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Download Brian Eno’s “Ambient 1: Music for Airports.”

30,000 feet in the air. Suspended by technology and – unthinkably – steel and plastic and impenetrable glass. Crane your neck, look down. Through the emulsified strands of wispy cirrus clouds set against a backdrop of unimaginable blue – do you see it? The contours of the earth, the microscopically nondescript rug of green and brown, the checker board patterns of agriculture and history. Dots of towns and places. Places with doctors, preachers, murderers, mechanics. Do you see it? Do you really see it? Your eyes tell you that its unlimited. Your brain tells you its not. The world stretches out lazily before you with intimidating beauty. 30,000 feet in the air, time and sound are meaningless. A ceiling of azure masks the black above. You’re apart from everything. Can you feel it?

Seaweed – Weak. 1992.
June 16, 2008, 10:35 pm
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Download Seaweed’s “Weak.”

The Gods of retropsection don’t kiss and tell. The precipice of seminality and the phenomena of the near miss are separated only slightly. While Jawbreaker and Superchunk are remembered in a bronzed glory, I can’t help but think this album never fully gets its due. Alas, I’m not the arbiter of taste I hope to be, rather a small, sometimes disheveled man with a taste for malnourished reverie.

Little Pictures, Tom Waits, and European Charm.
June 11, 2008, 10:22 pm
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Download John K. Sampsons “Little Pictures.”

Side Projects, omg. There’s something fundamentally interesting about the concept of a “side project.” The implication is, of course, that these projects take a back seat to an artist’s primary work. But if art is anchored to dedication, and dedication is anchored to the time continuum, then what is a side project? A release from the release? A harbinger of a soon-to-be altered future? Drivel? I’m not sure. I’ve always viewed the side-projects of my favorite of my artists to be something along the lines of bonus material: some of it might be wholly spectacular but, mostly, it’s little more than a mish-mash of potential punctuated by intermittent flashes of brilliance.

John K. Sampson’s “Little Pictures” accentuates such thought in remarkable fashion. Released in 1995 by Winnepeg’s G7 Welcoming Committee Records, the EP is composed of songs that Sampson wrote while serving as bass player for the surrealist/leftist/post-modern situationist punk band, Propagandhi. In Sampson’s case, “Little Pictures” served as a predecessor to his cerebral rock musings later popularized by The Weakerthans.

In its totality, “Little Pictures” is neither good nor bad nor mediocre. For everything that it’s not, however, “Little Pictures” contains a peculiar sort of depth, a half-actualized vision that – sometimes frustratingly – never fully emerges. At times, however, Sampson’s lyrics reach stunning heights, such as on the track Maryland Bridge, in which he sternly waxes: “I can be J Edger Hoover and you be JFK/As power hungry egocentrics, we’ll paper fight the night away.” In contrast, tracks such as Sunday Afternoon and Sympathetic Smile ramble and stumble along, searching for purpose without fruition.

Don’t misunderstand me, however: “Little Pictures” is worth listening to. And, for some, re-listening to. While the EP certainly doesn’t have the reach of either Sampson-era Propagandi or The Weakerthans, it does have subtle sense of imprecise self-awareness that flickers endearingly and, at times, meaningfully.

Tom Waits, omg. Individuality is stripped for the sense of collectivism. For better or worse, a collage emerges, a real time visualization of associated elements. Somehow, the product is a touching depiction of sand and water and hectic industry.