27 April 2007

Speaking of Jeff Beck

I've been a huge Jeff Beck fan since about the age of 12 or so...Hard to believe, probably, but oddly enough, my dad turned me onto him after finding me air guitaring along to Van Halen one evening. "Oddly enough" because my dad was almost exclusively an Outlaw Country kinda guy, ya know? All I know is Jeff Beck, while being fairly famous and well-respected, is still perhaps the most overlooked and underappreciated guitarist I can think of...An utterly amazing player, and a true master of melody...What's perhaps most impressive of all, to me, is that throughout his 40+ year career, he has been constantly evolving and has never been afraid to embrace and experiment with new technologies and the styles those technologies birth...A true seeker, through and through...

Hotcha! Hank

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26 April 2007


When we see a film, we tend to tell our friends it was great, or it was sucktacular.

When we hear a music album, we tend to tell our friends it is great, or it is sucktacular.

Why is that?

Is it because most films we only see once, forever banishing them to our past, while most albums we listen to repeatedly, forever keeping them in our potential future?

I don't know. You probably don't care.



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20 April 2007

Something 4 The Weekend # 34

See if I can remember this correctly...

Autumn 1984, I'm a freshman living in the dorms at the University Of Wisconsin...Sellery Hall...Tower A...7th Floor...Hazeltine House...

Our house motto was "Let's get drunk and wreck shit!", and our mascot was Opus The Penguin, from the Bloom County comic strip, holding a martini glass in one hand and toking on a huge spliff with the other...We even had official t-shirts of the whole sordid affair - a stoned Opus on the front, our rallying cry on the back...

I shit you not, and we woulda been no better than a frat if it weren't for the fact that Hazeltine House was co-ed, and half the girls on our floor were just as depraved as half of us boys...

The drinking age was 18 in Wisconsin back then...I was getting drunk at least 3-4 times a week, and I wasn't alone...And before I begin recounting my trite (or possibly heroic) tale of collegiate drinking, I should also mention that there was a weed dealer up on the ninth floor selling Q's for $15, while over on the fourth floor of Sellery B, there was a dude who sold $3 hits of acid and $10 handfuls of shrooms, though I mostly went over there to smoke weed outta a five foot purple bong known far and wide throughout the six towers of the SE dorms as The Purple People Eater...

But the drinking...Oh my, the drinking...

Thursday night specials in damn near every bar in the city, cuz who actually went to class on Fridays if they were dumb enough to schedule Friday classes to begin with? To be honest, I don't think we actually wrecked shit on our Thursday night pub crawls.

Of course (of course!) Friday night was Miami Vice Night, wherein a dozen or more of us would squeeze into somebody's dorm room with bottles of rum and tequila and whatever else was handy, and get loaded with a groovy little dance party for the hour or two leading up to Miami Vice at 9pm...Now I don't remember if we all liked/loved Miami Vice sincerely or ironically, but I do remember that our main drinking game for this show was called "Tubbs", and every time Tubbs' name was mentioned, everybody had to drink from their old-fashioned glasses, which were called "tubs" in our part of the country, and so you get the joke...After the show, we'd get back to the music and dancing and making out, and some of us would hit the bars to see a band, taking the edge off with a barely illegal puff'n'pass on the walk down to State Street...

Saturday was all about football, which meant the pub crawl down Regent Street to Camp Randall, starting at about 9 in the morning, stupid-cheap bloody marys and screwdrivers all the way along that long, blurry mile...By gametime, many of us were so far gone as to be puking and crying in the stands, and if you survived all the way to the "5th Quarter", well, there were polkas and whatnot, courtesy of the world-reknown Badger marching band...win or lose, and the Badgers usually lost...Then sleep from about 4 to 10, grab a pizza for SNL in the den and then maybe hit the Nitty Gritty for a quick bloody mary or two before bartime...

Sunday was Packers day, of course...A half-barrel in the den, where 30 or 40 of us watched the Packers' lose exactly half their games that season, and there was more puking and crying...
Sooooooooo much half-digested sausage and cheese...

And there ya go - four straight days of drunkenness, more or less...

And since I'm so far into this story now, I might as well reminisce about the rest of a typical week in the autumn of 1984, which was alot of lecture halls and working assorted jobs at the Gordon Commons cafeteria. My favorite job was the Tuesday and Thursday lunch shift, during which I was worked the salad bar solo...During a super quick two-hour shift with no co-worker competition, I'd custom-build salads for an endless stream of co-eds, 300 or more of 'em, and you shouldn't be surprised when I tell you this was the single greatest year of my life for the most obvious reason...I shit you not when I tell you that my little black book from that era is locked away safely, buried behind and under boxes of books in the big closet down in the basement...

But despite all the girls I met while working my Special Salad Magick, that year really came down to two girls in particular - Beth and Vicki.

Beth lived on my floor, and she enjoyed slow, sensual encounters on the floor of her room while a disco ball (actual size!) spun from the ceiling and classical music moaned from the stereo...Being a German farmgirl of some refinement, she had a taste for Brahms and Handel, though she got a bit rougher with the Wagner and Mozart, and had a particular passion for the Das Boot score by Klaus Doldinger, which possibly bordered on a fetish...

Speaking of fetishes, it's Victoria!

"Vicki" lived in a house off-campus, and I didn't meet her at the salad bar either. Vicki also worked at the Gordon Commons, and we shared a Wednesday night dishwashing shift that usually led back to her place and plenty of all the usual kinks...Vicki was a Goth Punk chick, I would say, which was actually a fairly unique thing in 1984..."Victoria" was the Goth side of her...Victoria dressed all in black, with straight black hair, dark eyes and milky skin...Her bedroom was littered with more than 100 candles of all shapes and sizes, and yes, one of her kinks involved hot wax...Victoria's favorite band was Bauhaus, but we shared a deep love for Pink Floyd and the requisite drugs to go with 'em..."Vicki" was the Punk side of her...A libertine who liked leather and steel and had a taste for anarchy and political rebellion. The first thing she ever gave me was a cassette loaded with Stiff Little Fingers songs..."Suspect Device" still kinda makes me stiffen a bit...The bottom line was that Vicki/Victoria was stone cold freak...I'll leave the rest to your imagination and browsing habits, and just say that this was the last year before AIDS entered everybody's consciousness, and for me, it was a very edutaining year...

Anyways, now that sex and drugs and alcohol are outta the way, let's move on to rock'n'roll, which is what this post is really all about, right?

I saw alot of bands back then, including The Replacements...

Which means we're right back to heroic drinking, and the reason I've been rambling about freshman dormlife circa autumn 1984...

The Replacements were bigger and better drunks than me or any of my friends could ever hope to be, and their live shows were sloppy affairs that often ended as outright disasters...Plenty of times the best they could manage were a long series of half-finished covers that played like an hour-long medley of Classic Hits Radio...It was pretty in it's own rock'n'roll way, which I guess just means it was kinda ugly...A forgotten critic of the time likened their live shows to "insect sex rituals", and I'm still not sure what that means, but I have to agree...The Replacements as a live act were the embodiment of guitarist Bob Stinson, I would say - the heaviest drinker of the quartet, the id of the band who preferred the loudfastrules of punk, raw energy with little taste or style...

The Replacements on record, though, were an entirely different thing, and of course singer/songwriter Paul Westerberg was 95% of the reason, simply because he was one of the best two or three rock/pop songwriters of his generation. He was still a lousy drunk in the autumn of1984, but by then he had all but perfected his punk rock chops, and was moving on to conquer classic rock, pop, and even outright balladry. 1984's Let It Be, and 1985's Tim, are undoubtedly two of the best rock albums of that era, that decade, and even of all time...Tim, in particular, is 100% power and beauty from beginning to end, the album on which Westerberg layed all his cards on the table, and wouldn't ya know it, the guy was a full-blown romantic all along...He was a poet, a bard, an honest-to-goodness troubador...Sad, tragic, hopeful while retaining just enough cynicism from his younger days...I won't say Paul Westerberg was a hero of mine, but he was definitely the kind of musician and songwriter I aspired to be. Sadly, I'm a Bob Stinson.

So, considering all this talk of drinking and debauchery, you might think I would stream "Here Comes A Regular" for you this week, but no, that song took on more significance for me a few years later, when I was living in a flat above a diner in downtown Grafton and hanging out at The Hutch, one of those smalltown dive bars with a Pabst sign hanging out front that is full of, ayup, regulars. A bit sad, a bit careless.

No, this week's song is "Answering Machine", from 1984's Let It Be album...

The Replacements: "Answering Machine": 128k mp3

You see, in April of 1985, Victoria and I "broke up" quite suddenly and without warning, even though we weren't exactly "going steady". The sex was great, our general chemistry was great, but one week she didn't show up for our Wednesday night dishwashing shift at the Commons. I found out quickly that she had requested shift changes, and when I went over to her house that night after work, she was either not home, or pretending not to be home. A mutual friend of ours assured me that Victoria was alive and well, but didn't want to see me anymore. I left several messages on her answering machine over the next few days, and finally met up with her at work, where she "didn't want to make a scene" and told me quite succinctly that she didn't want a serious relationship, and even if she did, I wasn't the one...Apparently, I was getting too serious and she was a Gemini who just wanted to fuck in strange and unusual ways.

I dated another Gemini a few years later, and that relationship ended exactly the same way, for exactly the same reasons. In a strange twist of fate, this Gemini, Sweetpea, ended up with my official Hazeltine House t-shirt. Geminis!

"Answering Machine" is a heartbreaking song, but it's Westerberg's performance, his singing, that makes it pure anguish and utter devastation, and elevates it all, the song and recording, to true and absolute greatness. Twenty years later, and this song still makes me well up with tears every time, and every once in awhile, it will make me outright cry like the perpetual teen that I am.

Wouldn't ya know it, underneath all my cynicism and my big ol' Bob Stinson heart, I'm actually a full-blown romantic!

My own sad tragedy, perhaps, is that I'll still never be a Paul Westerberg. Oh sure, I might be able to equal a song like "Dope Smokin' Moron", but "Answering Machine" and two dozen others? Not a chance.

These days, I'm the one who doesn't answer the phone. Paul Westerberg is doing the soundtracks to animated Sony films. Go figure.
Anyways, this week's edition of Something 4 The Weekend goes out to one of my anonymous Hot Poop readers. You know who you are...

Hotcha! Hank

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14 April 2007

My Sideways YouTube Stride

A nifty music video for "They Are Alone In Their Principles" by My Teenage Stride...

Hotcha! Hank

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Something 4 The Weekend # 33

My Teenage Stride are from Brooklyn, and I downloaded their (debut?) album, Ears Like Golden Bats, a couple of weeks ago from eMusic, and I've found myself returning to its pop charms repeatedly since...I keep thinking they sound a bit like REM, if REM were from New Zealand instead of Georgia, but I think that comparison is probably useless to most everyone but me...

The band, and the album, are joyously retro to me, one who usually curses such lack of innovation...The sound lightly touches on so many forgotten bands from the past without dishonoring them. They borrow deftly, and work those gems into well-written songs of their own, making My Teenage Stride one of those rare bands that seems like they've been with us and belonged for a long time...
Shame about the cover, though.

Hotcha! Hank

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11 April 2007

Tori Amos - Raining Blood

Tori Amos covers Slayer, but I don't know if this is the official video...Does it matter?

Hotcha! Hank

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10 April 2007

Something 4 The Wednesday

Laura Nyro was to Carole King as Bjork is to Gwen Stefani. Or something.

Hotcha! Hank

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04 April 2007


April's episode of EVERYTHINGATHON! is up and running at THEE BST, so go now, babycakes, and stream or download to yr heart's content...

This month it's BIGFOOT [HEARTS] MOUNTAINS, and it's not one of the ten best episodes of all-time, but it is another solid hour of something else...Well, it's bigfoot, and two long songs about mountains...I think it lives up to the EVERYTHINGATHON! brand in name and spirit, so there ya go...

Available until May 1st.

Hotcha! Hank

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01 April 2007

Sunday Morning, 6am

From time to time I suffer bouts of insomnia. Usually these bouts last for about a week, and then I'm back to "normal" for a few months. Well, this week has been rather sleepless for me, and I found myself wide awake at 6am this morning, sitting on the couch with a Lester Bangs anthology on my lap, and pretty much nothing but infomercials and religious programming on the television.

So, I found myself actually paying attention to one of the preachers on the cathode teat, and he was rambling on about LUCK being a four letter word (spelled W-O-R-K, btw), and somehow this segued into something about FEAR and the apocalypse, and somewhere in this rant of his, he mentioned the NEW EARTH, and these two words immediately piqued my curiosity, cuz I can usually recognize New Age mumbo jumbo when I hear it...

I did a quick Google search for "new earth", and yes, I found myself staring into the gaping maw of New Age feel-goodery of the kind I must admit I was unfamiliar with. More specifically, I found myself on a website entitled Children of The New Earth...


So, this is the deal, as plainly as I can describe it:

Autistic kids are actually CHILDREN OF THE NEW EARTH or CHILDREN OF NOW. If I was browsing smartly, they're also known as CHILDREN OF LIGHT and CRYSTALLINE KIDS.

Hyperactive and Attention-Deficit Discorder kids are INDIGO CHILDREN or INDIGOS.

CHILDREN OF NOW are characterized as being highly empathetic, old souls who are wise beyond their years. They are extremely sensitive to their environments, prefer solitude and typically have a fear of intimacy. They hate crowds, have a deep love for animals, are traumatized by inhumanity, and are natural healers and peacemakers and typically enjoy a higher spiritual connection to the universe than "normal" children. In other words, they are very special.

INDIGO CHILDREN are characterized as having strong self-esteem, mostly non-conformist, who have heightened creativity and trouble coping with ritual-oriented systems such as school. They develop abstract thinking at a very young age, are highly intelligent, get bored easily, daydream alot, and often have trouble with rage. They are very special.

Of course, more rational minds might say that the Children of Now are the weirdo loners in the classroom, and the Indigo Children are the disruptive, troublemaking bullies, though perhaps these characterizations are a bit too extreme. All I know, as I stated before, is that these kids are usually diagnosed as Autistic and ADD/ADHD, and the New Age philosophies that have been built up around these two generic personality types define these children as very special beings who have simply been misdiagnosed by school psychologists and drugged accordingly.

Now, somebody (okay, it was Karl Marx) once said, religion is the opiate of the masses, so it's safe to say that drugs can take on many forms, which is my way of saying that this INDIGO and CRYSTAL CHILDREN stuff is nothing more or less than a panacea for the parents of children who are loner weirdos or troublemaking weirdos.

Don't get me wrong, autism is real, and I can sympathize, but from my readings this morning, I found that many of the kids in question on these new age websites don't actually suffer from full-blown autism, but are simply shy, self-conscious kids who have trouble interacting socially with other kids, and their parents are unable to cope with these facts. If those parents happen to be of a New Age bent, well, it's not surprising they'd buy into this whole CHILDREN OF NOW foolishness.

Attention-deficit disorder, on the other hand, I'm not too sure about. When I was a kid, it was called "hyperactivity", and it was typically handled with therapy, rather than drugs like Ritalin. But even as a kid, it seemed obvious to me that these kids were nothing more than disruptive bullies who suffered at the hands of bad parenting and a lack of discipline. If those bad parents happen to be of a New Age bent, well, their kid's bad behavior isn't their fault, because their kids are special. They're INDIGO KIDS.

Now, I'm not exactly sure where this rant of mine is supposed to go, or even what it's supposed to mean. I found it interesting that time and again the people who run these websites (and who are typically selling books and magazine subscriptions about INDIGOS and CRYSTALLINE KIDS) are emphatic that their beliefs transcend mere Christianity, and yet the Archangels Michael and Gabriel figure heavily, and like I said at the beginning of this post, this entire excursion of mine began because of a Christian preacher mentioning the NEW EARTH during a televised sermon.

Whether or not there is a real Christian component to this entire NEW EARTH/INDIGO/CRYSTALLINE CHILDREN phenomenon, what is true is that much like Christianity, there is a distinct negation of psychiatry and modern medicine, and once again, we're getting into post-structural philosophies of the Foucault variety. A philosophy that tells us that the individual is essentially a blank slate, an empty vessel, upon which institutions of power attempt to etch their own control. Religion. Medicine. Law. Psychiatry. The Entertainment Industry. To name just a few.

In the end, none of 'em truly care about you or me. They care about our money, and as somebody else once said (alright, PT Barnum), there's a sucker born every minute.

Who are you? Or better yet, who told you who you are? No matter, the sad truth is, you aren't really very special at all. Neither am I. Especially at 6 am on a Sunday morning.


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