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Archive for the ‘Short Story’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: BIDINIBAND-Hillside Festival, Guelph ON (July 26, 2009).

Back in 2003 Rheostatics played the Hillside Festival.  And here it was six years later, the Rheos had broken up and Dave Bidini’s band, Bidiniband were here to play.

And apparently there’s a downpour.

The announcer says, “I’m glad you’re semi dry.  I’ll ask you to stand away from the steel poles–it’s to do with lightning and all that.  We’re going to do a quick delayed sound check”  Dave interrupts, “Nah we’re not.  Can everybody hear your guitar?  Check 1,2.  There we go.  Fuck the weather. let’s rock”

The Bidiniband!

Some of these songs are ones he played solo, so it’s interesting to hear the with a full band.  (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BIDINIBAND-Hillside Festival, Guelph ON (July 26, 2009).

Dave Bidini played some solo shows in 2007 but by 2008 he had cobbled together a band: Bidiniband.  The band includes Dave, Paul Linklater, on lead guitar, former Rheo Don Kerr on drums and Doug Friesen on bass.

I’m not sure when they started playing together, but this is the first live show at Rheostatics Live.  The set list hasn’t changed much since his solo shows, but the songs sound really different with the full band.

Some of Dave’s solo work is about telling real life stories of unsung people.  They

re usually really interesting the first one or two times you hear them, but they kind of lose their power after multiple listens.  So “Zeke Roberts” and “The Land is Wild” (except for the fantastic chorus) wear out their welcome a bit.  But again, it’s a nice change to hear them with the full band.

“Fat” is interesting to hear with other musicians.  The ending isn’t quite as wild as with the band but these guys chant the “everyone’s a robot” with great energy.  After the song Dave says “Good  night everybody” to much laughter.  For the next song he says, “This is basically the same song but with a more ironic joke.  The irony is not in the tuning or lack thereof.”

Someone says, “You guys and your new strings. I haven’t changed my strings in like two years.”  “I thought t would be cool, you know, on a new tour.”

“This Song Ain’t Any Good” has a very different delivery than the folksier style that I’m used to.  He asks the band, “You want to do it sad, what did you mean?” They do the chorus in a kind of repeated downbeat “singalong.”

Thanks to Andy and The Two Minute Miracles for playing tonight.  We’re gonna do another song based in our country: “The Moncton Hellraisers.”  It has a rather country flair to it.

Someone shouts, “Do a hockey song.”  Dave says, “I think you’re out of luck tonight  Oh, no there’s a longer one later tonight….we’re making you wait for it.”

I love the jazzy opening of “Memorial Day.”  But even better is the full band rock of “Terrorize Me Now.”  Who ever in the band is screaming “And then we killed again,” is totally intense.

Dave asks, “Could anyone deliver a water to the stage, or I could put my guitar down…  From off stage: “only whiskey and cold coffee!”  “cold cuts?”

This next song is gonna feature Dog Paul’s on double bass for a song about cannibalism and Canadian rock.  “Desert Island Poem” features the line   “Rheostatics eat their drummer who would cook and season the body?”

Dave once described the song: “Yeah, and that’s sort of a true story in a way. I mean not the cannibalism part. But one time the Rheos were stranded in Drumheller [Alberta] and we were listening to the radio and we heard this story about that plane that crashed in Alaska. And we began to wonder what would happen to us if we never got out of Drumheller.”

For “The List”, the replaced Zack Warner with Sass Jordan (a Canadian singer) which features the line “you say I suck but it’s that suckdom of which I’m proud.”  Some one shouts, “that’s a fucking song that needed to be written.”  Dave says he has one more verse but he can’t remember who its about.

“The Continuing Story of Canadiana and Canadiandy” has a cool slide guitar solo in the middle of the folk.  Dave, “That’s from back in the day where all the Canadian folk singers looked like Jesus.  Those nice sweaters on, a nice beard.”  Mitsou?  “When I think of Canadian folk I think of Mitsou too, ironically.”

Someone in the band proposes the “Top five Canadian folk albums: Summer Side of Life, Old Dan’s Records,”  Dave notes: “That’s two from Gordon Lightfoot are you allowed to pick two from the same artist?” “And The Way I Feel.” Dave: “You’re just doing Gordon Lightfoot.”  “That’s what I’m trying to say, dude. “I’m getting your drift that you like the Gord.”  “Gordon never looked like Jesus did.” “No, he looked more like Bruno Gerussi.”

“Is everybody ready for a long death ballad?  You look like the kind of crowd who would like a long death ballad.”  Someone in the crowd shouts: “kill us, kill us Dave.”

We haven’t performed this song successfully ever life.  “Zeke” sounds better with the guitar sliding up and down and in the middle when there’s a few complex moments  and the band really takes off.  But there’s all kinds of flubs at the end.  Dave says, “you’re too kind.  That was the best first half we’ve done for sure.”

They play “My First Rock Show” at a slower pace.  “A bit of banjo for this, Paul?”  After the swan dive, there’s some crazy feedback and effects manipulation and then Dave starts singing “Happy Jack.”

They finish “Rock Show” and then begin with “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” and then Slade’s “Run Run Away.” (did that song have a chorus?).  And then it shifts to Bidini’s “Pornography.”

“Rock Intro?  Is it a rock intro nigh?” “Progtro.”  Someone says something about YouTube.  Dave says “Whats YouTube. They’re an Irish rock band, right?”  There’s great noisy opening to “The Land is Wild.”  It quiets down but sounds great with the full band.  I like the lead guitar line that runs through the song.  During the slow part, the person who mentioned Gordon Lightfoot sings “Ode to Big Blue” as the song gets bigger and noisier.

It segues into a really fast version of Rheostatics’ “Earth.”  Its rocks.  “Don Kerr on the drums everybody.”  And then a romping “Horses.”  Midway through the song he starts reciting the lines to “Once in a Lifetime” by Talking Heads and then some of “Another Brick in the Wall. Pt 2.”  He also throws n the “facts” portion of Talking Heads’ “Cross-eyed and Painless.”

This all segues into a stomping, guitar-light version of “Life During Wartime.”  Dave starts singing lines from “One Thing Leads to Another” (“one gun leads to another”), “Relax Don’t Do It”  then “When Two Tribes go to war, war is something you can’t ignore.”

As the song ends Dave thanks everyone for coming: “a small but mighty crowd for a small but mighty band.”  Then he introduces the band: Douglas Friesen from Manitoba, Paul Linklater from Manitoba, Dave born and raised in Etobicoke, Ontario.  Donald S. Kerr from Mississauga, Ontario.

As they finish, the crowd is screaming screaming for an encore with one guy even telling him not to put their instruments down.  But there is no encore.

[READ: April 15, 2017] Writing Gordon Lightfoot

The title of this book is unusual–it’s hard to even figure out what it means (until you read the book), but it’s also deceptive.

The title means writing to Gordon Lightfoot.  Bidini is basically writing Lightfoot a series of letters. But it is far more than that.  In fact the scope of the book is really the Mariposa musical festival that took place in Toronto in 1972.  Lightfoot appeared (along with many other folk luminaries).  Interspersed with his documentation oft he festival (he was too young to go so it’s all research) are his letters to Lightfoot.

The reason he is writing letters to Lightfoot in a book is because Bidini believes that Lightfoot won’t speak to him.

His band Rheostatics, recorded a cover of his “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”  It was one of their big songs when they were first starting out.  And then, as a brash young kid, Bidini once said that it was actually based on an old Irish melody and that it really wasn’t Lightfoot’s song anyway.  Yipes.

So, assuming that Lightfoot will never talk to him (I wonder if he actually tried), he decides to write letters.  But the letters aren’t “hi how are you” letters, they are a biography of Lightfoot’s life as written by a fellow musician.  He bases most of his notes on things that were in other biographies and he says he makes a lot of it up too.

So it’s an unusual book in many ways. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PHISH-LivePhish 10.21.95 Pershing Auditorium, Lincoln, NE (2007).

In addition to formal live releases and a series of 20 full show LivePhish releases (which were packaged in some horrible goo and have subsequently been ruined), Phish has also released some shows a but more formally as LivePhish archival “releases.”  I don’t know if there is any specific reason for the release of any of them, but they seem to put out two or so a year.

There’s a pretty thorough review and essay (with photos) by Kevin Shapiro about the show here.  And it provides a lot more context and Phish lore than I can and I’ve quoted some below.

This is another great set from 1995.

It starts with a ripping, quick “Tweezer Reprise,” a great way to begin a set (and the first time they had done so).  It’s followed by a rocking “Chalk Dust Torture” and great version of “Geulah Papyrus.”  Then comes a fantastic 14 minute version of “Reba.”  It’s the first jam of the night and they really explore the song (it doesn’t have the whistle ending).  It moves into “Wilson” which is (as usual) a lot of fun too.  After the “blap boom ” section Trey has some wild noisy effects on his guitar.

That settles down into a jaunty “Cars Trucks Buses” and the typically weird “Kung” which is a 4 minutes and features a drum solo that leads to a great, long version of “The Lizards” (10 minutes).  There’s a piano solo which leads to a pretty “Strange Design.”  Unexpectedly for me, next up is “Acoustic Army,” a four-person acoustic guitar song (see it here).  You can hear Trey shout Let’s do “Good Times” and they launch into great rocking version of the Led Zeppelin song (with a few nods to “Jessica” and “Reeling in the Years.”  I love that you can hear them decide what to play next right on the fly.   “Good Times” sounds perfect including the solo.  They end the set as they began with a reprise of “Tweezer Reprise.”

Set 2 opens with an audience chess move and then seems to start with “David Bowie” but instead its “2001” which segues into “DB.”  Its “only” 17 minutes but there’s lots of parts including a dark part and a fast part with echoed guitars.  There’s a mellow “Lifeboy” that winds up with a really long solo.  “Sparkle” sounds great with some awesome harmonies in the “laughing laughing fall apart” section.

Then comes the 25 minute “YEM.”  It starts with trippy washes of guitars.  There’s a lengthy bass solo with a lot of high notes—somewhat unusual for Mike–and then a long funky keyboard solo that segues back into a funky bass section with some trippy sounds and even a drum solo. The last five minutes is a voice jam that ends with snoring.  It somehow morphs into Fish singing “Purple Rain” (rather poorly) with a (rather great) vacuum solo.

I love this description of these events:

YEM synesthesiastically blends music theory, reggae, funk and trampolines into a psychedelic prog-rock rite of passage that primes the college Being for exactly that for which the composition is aptly named.  Blown away, the lively audience clapped along with a polyrhythmic vocal jam that became a pitch-increasing rotation of sound effects and lights (strobe alert #2) before sinking into a dynamic breathing-snoring exercise.  As the snoring subsided, You Enjoy Myself drifted away on cymbal rolls that allowed Trey to slide behind the drum kit while Fish grabbed his vacuum for Purple Rain.  Upon arriving center-stage, Fish crowned himself with a glow ring that he wore the rest of the show.  It’s a shame the video of this song can’t be released at this time because Fish, looking like a short Jesus or a white Hendrix with his head-ring and running slow motion in place as he guided you to the Purple Rain with an Electrolux solo was a sight to behold.  The crowd was spellbound,

When they return to “Harry Hood” they resume some notes of “Beat it.”  It proves to be a pretty mellow guitar jam, although during the “Thank you Mr. Minor”, section, there’s some nice full-band improvisation.

The crowd erupted as Trey called Suzy Greenberg.  Fish continued the Harry Hood humor into his usual Greenberg commentary, making Trey and Mike laugh as they tore into the last song of the set.

The set ends with “Suzy Greenberg,” more “Beat It” riffs and a Led Zeppelin nod.  “As Suzy drew to a close, Trey threw out one last stanza of Tweezer Reprise as a parting nod to the shared magic of the moment.”

The encore is a rocking version of “Highway to Hell.”

Due to licensing, we can’t present the Highway to Hell video at this time, but like Purple Rain it warrants mention.  There is a combined glow from watching Fish wearing his head-ring, Mike mysteriously sitting down in a chair during the second verse and Trey in Husker red, pumping his fist and singing like a kid in a candy store.  As Highway to Hell drew to a close, the room exploded with lights flashing (strobe alert #5), heads banging and fists pumping in a classic display of arena rock power.

The bonus filler is a 20 minute soundcheck “Dog Log Soundcheck.”  It contains teases of You Enjoy Myself (“Wash Uffitze”) and The Landlady.  The dog log part doesn’t start until way near the end of the song but the beginning is really cool with lots of trippy synths.  As usual, the soundchecks don’t compare to the real show, but as a bonus feature, it’s a nice add.  This one is particularly good.

[READ: November 24, 2016] The Murder of Monty Woolley

Madras Press publishes limited-edition short stories and novella-length booklets and distributes the proceeds to a growing list of non-profit organizations chosen by our authors. For this particular book, proceeds to benefit initiatives to cure and control Cystic Fibrosis like the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

This is very short release, unlike all of the other Madras Press books.

The title page shows a screen shot for Colossal Studios Presents Monty Woolley, Doris Merrick in Alfred Hitchcock’s [fake] Death Wears a Beard. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PHISH-LivePhish 12.01.95 Hersheypark Arnea, Hershey, PA (2006).

Speaking of 12.01.95 (see yesterday’s post), this show is the proper release from the soundchecks for the 11.14.95 disc set.

In addition to formal live releases and a series of 20 full show LivePhish releases (which were packaged in some horrible goo and have subsequently been ruined), Phish has also released some shows a but more formally as LivePhish archival “releases.”  I don’t know if there is any specific reason for the release of any of them, but they seem to out out two or so a year.

There’s a pretty thorough review and essay (with photos) by Kevin Shapiro about the show here.  And it provides a lot more context and Phish lore than I can, but I will quote him below.

The set opens with a fast rollicking version of “Buried Alive” (only 3 minutes long) which segues neatly into an intense “Down with Disease.” The seven minute song ends with Fish playing just high hats for a bit before seguing into “Theme form the Bottom” which is from Billy Breathes out the following year.

When that song ends they play into a fun fast version of “Poor Heart” which segues into “Wolfman’s Brother.”  The staccato ending sequences nicely into a 7 minute “Chalk Dust Torture.”

Then comes the wonderful surprise of “Colonel Forbin’s Ascent.”  As the song segues into “Fly Famous Mockingbird,” Trey takes some time to chat.  He tells the audience a brief history of the planet.  In the time of the ancient Greeks, philosophy, science and religion were all one thing.  Science and religion split off.  The Eastern style stated that everything is one.  Western style focused on matter vs spirit and gave rise to modern concepts of religion.  It seems like he’s getting very serious.  Then he talks about how eastern religious led to cows which led to milk which led to milk chocolate.  Chocolate.   The Mystical Land of Chocolate.  Then he says there is only one place where science religion and philosophy are one thing—Gamehendge.   And then he talks about the Rhombus which can be found in King of Prussia.  Find Wilson Dr.  (Although presumably this gives the truth behind the rhombus).  There’s parts near the end where the song fades in and out in a very cool way.

Then they play a fairly dark version of “Stash” and a rocking version of “Cavern” to end the set.  It’s interesting that “Chalk Dust,” “Stash” and “Cavern” were also on the 11.14.95 set).

Stash followed with a formidable jam that stretched out instrumentally, locking into a dissonant theme that ignited the highest improvisation of the set. The whole band linked up beautifully for this jam, evoking a Dave’s Energy Guide-ish vibe and at points recalling the expectation-smashing heights of the Orlando Stash weeks before. After Stash returned to terra firma, Cavern closed the set, leaving “15 minutes” of recovery and preparation before the even sweeter second set that defined this show.

Set two opens with a chess move from an 11-year-old boy (who is now in his thirties (!!!).  They begin the music with an a capella (doo-wop) version of “Halley s Comet.”  It ends with a cool segue into “Mike’s Song,” a 20 minute jam with a really long piano solo from Page ans a nice end that rumbles into “Weekapaug Groove.”  [Read Shapiro’s eloquent discussion about this transition].  There’s a quiet solo in the middle of the song with a brief clap-along.  But it pulls out of that to get noisy and chaotic by the end.  Things mellow out with “Mango Song” but the crowd erupts for a short (5 minute) fast version of “Wilson.”

Things get a little silly with Fish singing “Suspicious Minds.”  (I just found a video for this—Fish comes out weaving an Elvis Cape and a big glasses.  It ends with a fast “Hold Your Head Up” keyboard romp (with Trey on drums).

When things settle down Fish starts playing the high hats for “David Bowie,” but before the song begins, Trey sings “Catapult.”  And then before the song can begin again, in the trippy intro Trey starts moaning “Chocolate.”  There’s a brief Simpsons riff and a Do’h and then they launch into the song proper (about 2:30 into the song).  There is a long middle with lot so solos and then a fast, tidy ending.

The encore is a romping 7 minute “Suzy Greenberg.” It’s another great show.

Even if it is a bit shorter than the previous one–that personalized chocolate section and the Colonel Forbin’s is pretty great.

[READ: November 25, 2016] Eating Fish Alone/Country Cooking from Central France

I really enjoy Lydia Davis’ stories.  I always find them a little weird since most of the time they feel more like little diary entries rather than stories.  Each narrator seems to be pretty clearly her, and each story seems like a gripe she has about something that happened.

And yet, it is like the best diary entry you’ve ever read.   Most of her stories are a couple of paragraphs long.  I find I don’t really like the longer ones as much, which is kind of ironic given that the short ones seem so short.

So this is a collection of a few of her stories.

“The Mice” is a page and a half about how the mice in their house never go into their kitchen.  Their kitchen is sloppy and full of food–why wouldn’t the mice go there?

“Meat, My Husband” starts with the narrator saying that her husband really loves meat.  His favorite chidhood food was corned beef.  But she, being a healthy person (and perhaps a bit obsessive) hardly makes meat (or uses butter).  But her husband really enjoys a dessert–which he helps to make.

“Happiest Moment” is only one paragraph and is an interesting twist on happiness.

“Kafka Cooks Dinner” is much longer than the others and it gets a little repetitive.  It is told from the point of view of a man looking to make a meal for his dear Milena.  He puzzles over several different options.  He wonders if he should serve the same to her as he did to Felice.

“Eating Fish Alone” is a story all about the neurotic narrator trying to figure out when and what fish she can eat. She says she pretty much only eats it alone because of the smell  But she also a has a list of which fish she can eat–some is safe and others are not.  She often asks the waiters about the fish, even though they don’t know much about the food.  The end sees her eating a marlin steak.

Continuing with the food theme of this book, the other half of the book (flip it) is fully called Country Cooking from Central France Roast Boned Rolled Stuffed Shoulder of Lamb (Farce Double)

This is one of those stories that I never understand why they are written.  Lengthy and very detailed all creating something that is possibly funny, but I’m not sure if it is–making a story out of something that is just a goofy recipe.

It is a 24 page recipe for Farce Double–the specialty of La Tour Lambert.  It is an elaborate (beyond all reason) recipe that might make no sense to a foreigner.

You must marinade the giant lamb parts–in Paris they might use a bidet, you can use a bathtub.  After extensive details you get sentences like: at some previous moment, you will have made the stuffing for the quenelles.

There are clay pots and giant pits and marinating for days and all of that.

The only thing that interrupts the recipe is the song that is sung during a break in the roasting.  This song is about a blacksmith’s son who goes in search of his lost mother.  He finds several women who take care of him, making him believe that each is his mother until she “does for him what mother a never did for her son.”

The feast of farce double is a moment for friendships to be renewed, for enemies to forgive one another, for lovers to embrace.

Serves thirteen.

Uh huh.

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SOUNDTRACK: PHISH-LivePhish 11.14.95 University of Central Florida Arena, Orlando FL (2007).

In addition to formal live releases and a series of 20 full show LivePhish releases (which were packaged in some horrible goo and have subsequently been ruined), Phish has also released some shows a but more formally as LivePhish archival “releases.”  I don’t know if there is any specific reason for the release of any of them, but they seem to out out two or so a year.

Regardless, this show is pretty fantastic.

There’s a pretty thorough review and essay (with photos) by Kevin Shapiro about the show here.  And it provides a lot more context and Phish lore than I can and I’ve quoted some below.

Hoist had come out the previous year but Billy Breathes not for another ten months or so.

The show has a lot of whispered vocals from Trey (especially at the beginnings of songs—they’re audible, sure, but just seem quieter than usual).  The show starts off with a blast of “Chalk Dust Torture” and an extended 10 minute “Foam.”   The whispered vocals are especially noticeable on “Billy Breathes” but once the song really begins there are some great harmonies.

Then for the fifteen minute “Divided Sky,” which sounds amazing, there’s quite a long pause before the main riff starts—teasing the audience a bit.  Trey basically stands there, stock still for almost a minute and a half.

It’s always a treat to hear “Esther” which has a good jam going and so does “Free” (which is technically a new song), although it seems to go a little dark. Then there’s another quiet verse to start “Julius” before it really takes off. All three of those songs were about 9 minutes each.

That all settles down to a quiet almost unplugged bluegrass version of “I’m Blue, I’m Lonesome” [the notes mentioned above indicate: I’m Blue, I’m Lonesome featured a brave mandolin solo by Fish as well as some especially inflected vocals by temporary upright bassist Page].  The set with a great version of “Cavern.”

At the end of the song he talks about the audience chess move that anyone can get involved in.   And then in the beginning of set two, they mention the audience move.

There’s a very extended “Maze” (13 minutes) in which Trey is on fire, and then a fun “Gumbo” that in no way prepares you for what’s to come: the wild frenetic soling in a hugely extended version of “Stash.”  The song segues into other songs (“Manteca” and “Dog Faced Boy”) and back into “Stash” for a total of 40 minutes of jamming.  There’s some crazy feedback and noise in Trey’s solos.  There’s also a percussion slow down with just one note of piano and percussion keeping the song going. The liner notes break it up into three distinct songs: the first part is 15 minutes, then a break into the jazzy instrumental “Manteca” and then back into Stash for a total of 14 minutes and then Trey breaks into a quiet a capella version of “Dog Faced Boy” which segues into the ending solo of Stash which is feedbacky and crazy.  A total of almost 10 minutes.  The notes say:

The improvisational skill and grace demonstrated in this “Stash” set the standard for years to come.  Staccato guitar and clavinet accents began to lead into some incredible jamming with massive, swirling tension as the band weaved in and out of Stash’s theme in a loose, psychedelic approach. Deep rhythmic tribal incantation followed with Trey eventually switching to percussion and grooving into something akin to the ending of “Fee.” This jam continued, melting perfectly into a supercharged version of “Manteca,” played for the first time in a year and sandwiched between segments of Stash

There’s a brief respite with a beautiful, mellow “Strange Design.”  And then the band ramps up again with a 21 minute “You Enjoy Myself.”

Like parts of the show-stopping “Stash” and other versions from this year commonly ranked among the best ever, this “YEM” is amazing, intense and engaging, exploratory and rocking especially when teamed with Chris Kuroda’s phoenix-shaped lighting rig. A brief nod to Led Zeppelin’s “The Immigrant Song” punctuates the jam and the energy in the room and intensity of playing throughout kept the set flying as high as Trey and Mike’s mini-trampoline performance.

There’s also a (fairly mellow) vocal jam at the end, bringing the show proper to a close.

The encore is two songs, “The Wedge” which sounds a little different from the record and a fast and frenetic “Rocky Top.”  It is truly a great show.

The disc is a three CD set and includes two bonus Filler tracks.  There’s a goofy, fun version of “Poor Heart” (from a soundcheck on 11/14/95 and a really silly “Dog Log” (with someone speaking the refrain “to the john” over and over).  That one comes from a show on 12/01/95, which is pretty far away from this show, but is a fun addition.

[READ: November 24, 2016] Fall Out

Madras Press publishes limited-edition short stories and novella-length booklets and distributes the proceeds to a growing list of non-profit organizations chosen by our authors. For this particular book, proceeds to benefit Women for Afghan Women.

This book is divided into four sections.  They could be short stories or they could be parts of a full story.  The pieces do fit together

Conduction
From 1951 to 1962, nuclear bombs were detonated in the Nevada Test site.  Buildings were destroyed, sand was turned to glass.  This story then jumps to Troy, New York in 1953.  Three students were tossing a ball around after a rainfall.  They went into a college building and tested a Geiger counter which showed ratings off the charts on the ball that had been in the puddle.

Night of the Avengers
On a given night, several people saw what looked like an ice cream cone made of light in the sky.   And then a local boy encountered the alien.  This section is actually a film made by director Zweig.  We learn about Zweig’s childhood working on the sets of Metropolis, and his difficulties in getting this low budget film made.  It’s an interesting plot–people blame the aliens for things that are going wrong, but the aliens are not responsible.  So they simply leave rather than taking the abuse.  There is also Dr. Exline, who is making a bio weapon.  He is the one responsible for all the troubles they’ve been having–won’t anyone listen? (more…)

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kelly-linkSOUNDTRACK: THE DUDE OF LIFE & PHISH-Crimes of the Mind (1994).

Crimes of the Mind is the debut album from The Dude of Life, Steve Pollak, a childhood friend of Trey Anastasio and a lyrical contributor to many of Phish’s early songs. Phish is the backing band for the entire album.

The album was recorded in 1991 but wasn’t released until 1994. The Dude of Life performed several of these songs in a live setting with Phish on a number of occasions.

Of all of the “Phish” albums, this is the one I listen to the least.

The main riff of “Chalkdust Torture” was used in the song “Self” on this album.

Dude

“Dahlia” is a kind of sloppy rock song—it certainly has a Phish feel to it, but as soon as the vocals come in, you know it’s going to be different.  Lyrically, however, it sounds a lot like crazy early Phish—a song about a girl who is a little nuts and a really catchy melody.  The song has a weird climax with the sucking Cherry Charms Blow Pops line.

“Family Picture” opens with a watery bass, it has a kind of silly Phish-iness to it—you wouldn’t be surprised if Phish played it but again, although Dude’s voice makes it much sillier.  Once again there’s a fun chorus and a rather silly guitar solo.  “Self” is a wonderfully selfish song (“I don’t care about anyone but myself”).  I also like that he rhymes “bluer” with “sewer.”  Once the song starts rocking, it features the main riff as “Chalkdust Torture” and then it really takes off.

“Crimes of the Mind” is a simple song with a catchy chorus.  “She’s Bitchin’ Again” has a very cool guitar riff and motif, and while the lyrics are funny, the addition of the woman bitchin’ at him is a bit much (especially since her voice is quite unpleasant and isn’t quite singing).  “TV Show” is the first thing that’s close to a ballad.  It starts slowly but after the sound of keyboards building and ramping up, the song kicks into high gear with the chorus of “life is a TV show that should have been canceled long ago.”  “Trials and Tribulations” is a funny/weird romantic song about the Swiss Miss, Captain Crunch and Mr Clean, with a cute melody for the guitar riff.

“Lucy in the Subway” is of course a kind of follow up/piss take on “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”  It sounds nothing like The Beatles’ song, being a simple, rather than psychedelic song, but that befits the tone about a girl down on her luck–she is “with daffodils” if you were wondering about the D).   “Ordinary Day” is the kind of simple song—singing about nothing happening—that makes you wonder how people write them.  “Revolution’s Over” is as close to punk as this line up will get—fast drums, fast tinny guitar and a quick riff.  The middle has some funky weird jam stuff

“King of Nothing” is a slow, almost ponderous song (except that Dude’s voice is more goofy than deep).

Since Pollak contributed much to Phish’s early silliness it’s not surprising that these songs are rather silly too.  But the band plays really well and holds it all together.

[READ: November 14, 2016] Stone Animals

Back in 2014, I ordered all 16 books from Madras Press. believing that I’d been told about a cool gem of a publisher.  And I had been. Unfortunately, after publishing the 16 books they seem to have gone out of business or so. They still have a web presence where you can buy remaining copies of books.  But what a great business idea this is/was

Madras Press publishes limited-edition short stories and novella-length booklets and distributes the proceeds to a growing list of non-profit organizations chosen by our authors.  The format of our books provides readers with the opportunity to experience stories on their own, with no advertisements or miscellaneous stuff surrounding them.

The format is a 5″ x 5″ square books that easily fit into a pocket.

Proceeds from Link’s book go to The Fistula Foundation.

Many of the books from Madras Press have been unusual–some of them downright surreal.  And this book, which finished up series 3, is no exception.

I started to read this when I was on a camping trip–I was tired and exhausted from a long day, and I genuinely thought I was having lack of concentration issues because this story didn’t really seem logical.  When I read it again in the light of day, it still didn’t exactly seem logical, but I was able to follow it a little better.

The story follows a family–husband and wife and two kids.  They are moving from New York City to the suburbs.  The house that they are purchasing has two giant stone rabbits on the front porch.  The children’s don’t want to leave the city exactly but the adults are pleased with the house. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PHISH-The White Tape (1986) (1998).

Phish (also known as The White Tape) is a self-produced album released by the American rock band Phish on cassette in 1986. Often cited as the first Phish “album”, The White Tape was originally a collection of original material that the band used as a demo/sample tape for venues, and was sometimes labelled “Phish”

This release is largely kind of goofy, although there are lots of kernels of songs and indeed songs that are still played today.  As Wikipedia puts it: “The album also contains avant-garde experimental pieces, instrumental passages, electronic noises and studio trickery.

“Alumni Blues” sounds kind of slapdash (at least the lyrics) and demo-y (almost a generic blues) but overall very much like a full song.  There’s some great bass lines and solid guitar.  It’s got some crazy nonsensical percussion and crickets at the end of the song.  “And So to Bed” is a very pretty guitar instrumental with lots of pretty ringing chords (it could be a Led Zeppelin song but clearly isn’t).

“You Enjoy Myself” is a one minute a capella version of the melody of YEM, it’s beautiful and weird at the same time with lots of pitch shifting on the voices.

“AC/DC Bag” is a weird, early song (that doesn’t make much sense outside of the “Gamehendge” story).  This version is very slow and kind of loungey (especially the way Trey sings the chorus).  but al of the main parts are there just like they still are today.  The rather surprising “Fuck Your Face” is a wild guitar solo (reminiscent of something Zappa might do) in 17/4 time signature.  It was done entirely by Mike Gordon (who sounds like he’s 12 years old). It ends with this declaration: “Hi, I’m Bill I was the one who the did the cover art for the Stones’ Sucking in the 70s LP.”

“Divided Sky” is an 1 minute introduction to the song played on acoustic guitar (presumably 12 strings) and xylophone.

  “Slave to the Traffic Light” is an unusual version of the song—it’s less fluid than later versions.  The opening is done on that acoustic guitar again and it’s not instantly recognizable as “Slave.”  But the voices are kind of silly.  Not that the song is serious, but it makes it even less so.

“Aftermath” starts with some crazy noises. It sounds like pure studio trickery until it resolves into a very pretty guitar instrumental.   “Ingest,” meanwhile, is the song of weird effects a weird synth with sampled laughter—pure nonsense (and not credited to anyone).

“NO2″ is more nonsense—credited to Mike–this time keyboard effects making it sound like a dentist’s office.  It’s about 5 minutes of noise—hard to listen to more than once.  However, it ends with 2 minutes of beautiful almost Spanish style acoustic guitar.  It segues into “Fluff’s Travels” which doesn’t really seem to have much to do with the “Fluff’s Travels” that appears on Junta.  This one is 90 seconds of slightly disorienting playing and odd-sounding operatic vocals.

I didn’t realize “Dog Gone Dog” which has since become known as “Dog Log” was quite so old.  It sounds like a live version here–bot too different from later version except for the synth sounds.  “He Ent to the Bog” is an even weirder Mike Gordon piece than the other weird song, with sampled words, crazy noises and then a series of really bad jokes about hamburgers told by an unspecified woman (including a joke that name checks Farah Fawcett-Majors).  And it’s nearly 4 minutes long.

“Run Like an Antelope” is an interesting version—with a jaunty bouncy folkie introduction (much bouncier than the recorded version).  There’s some wild soloing in the middle of the 7 minutes.  The spoken word nonsense is done very quickly.  There’s also cheers from some other album tacked on.

Mike’s last contribution is the bizarre (clearly Mike is the weird one in the band) “Minkin” a jazzy peace that is mostly a spoken word “infomercial” piece about painter Marjorie Minkin (who is Mike’s mother).  It’s much funnier knowing that she is actually Mike’s mom.

“Letter to Jimmy Page” is an electric guitar workout, but it’s only a minute and could be longer.

Only “Alumni Blues”, “AC/DC Bag”, “Slave To The Traffic Light” and “Dog Gone Dog” (a.k.a. “Dog Log”) have the four band members together.  And Trey wrote everything except the few Gordon pieces.

[READ: November 22, 2016] The Man Who Danced with Dolls

Back in 2014, I ordered all 16 books from Madras Press. believing that I’d been told about a cool gem of a publisher.  And I had been. Unfortunately, after publishing the 16 books they seem to have gone out of business or so. They still have a web presence where you can buy remaining copies of books.  But what a great business idea this is/was

Madras Press publishes limited-edition short stories and novella-length booklets and distributes the proceeds to a growing list of non-profit organizations chosen by our authors.  The format of our books provides readers with the opportunity to experience stories on their own, with no advertisements or miscellaneous stuff surrounding them.

For this particular book, proceeds to benefit the New Hanover Humane Society.

The story opens with a man reflecting back on visiting his grandparents.  He is a translator and has become one most likely because his grandfather insisted that he learn German.  Since the boy’s father was more interested in learning French, his grandfather insisted on German.  So he learned fascinating words like

  • gurtmuffel: someone who doesn’t wear their seatbelt and
  • fensterln: for someone to go through a window to make love to their sweetheart while her family doesn’t know anything.

His grandfather developed brain cancer and the first thing that went was his ability to recall these unusual words. (more…)

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