ISSUE 13   FALL 2002
page 16 of 16



Three Punk Pseudonyms I Like Right Now
Kenneth Anger, Iggy Stooge, Adny Shernoff.

Giving Earwax Video Store the Gas Face
Okay, I like the café. Good place to sit and get coffee or a cup of soup and pick up the Reader. But man, in a neighborhood that's already notorious for its surly hipster service industry, Earwax Video is the worst. After I moved here, I called 'em up and asked them, "How much do your titles rent for?" That might be a slightly annoying question, I don't know, but even if you asked the Earwax staff a genius question they'd be pissy just because you interrupted them while they were standing at the counter reading a magazine. But I ask him, and what does he say? "Depends." And that was it! I responded, appropriately, "On what?" and then he mumbles the info to me. Can you believe that shit??! A simple response of "$2.50 and $3.50," even at his surliest, would've been much better.
      This was a year ago, but they haven't gotten any better. My friend Bobby Chewb was just up there with Mitch Elsener because they were looking for Strange Brew and the Blockbuster just up the street didn't have it. Mitch hates Earwax, and rather than go anywhere near the simmering hipster in the foam/mesh baseball cap at the counter, he just acted like he was looking at the foreign section while he waited. Chewb went up to the guy and asked, "Do you have Strange Brew ?" and the guy, noting where Mitch was positioned, actually whined back, "Not in foreign!" Can you believe that shit? Chewb should've said, "Oh really, is it not a Canadian film?" but he just said something a little more to the point like, "Oh jeezuz, fuck you."

Quote To Live By
"Keep it real. Represent what? My nuts." -- Kool Keith

Co-Workers Jam!
Right now Tom is playing Abbey Road in the vault, and Elaine is in here with me in shipping, listening to a classic rock radio station on her headphones. Echoing in from the vault is the long infinite coda of "I Want You (She’s So Heavy)," while in here Elaine has got some Led Zeppelin song on her AM/FM walkman, and I can hear Robert Plant in a ghostly far-off way going “baby baby baby baby…” over the endless doomy weighty Beatles arpeggios and it sounds perfect! On another day, Tom in the vault and Elaine in here both had their radio tuned to the same station. The song was Nugent's "Stranglehold," and from the other room I could hear the bassline, and from Elaine's headphones I could hear the guitar solo! Wow, it was like that one Flaming Lips album!

I firmly believe that anyone who claims Eminem isn't talented has not sat down and listened to one of his albums. Actually, I haven't heard his debut or his third album, but his second album, The Marshall Mathers LP, seems specifically designed as a response to such detractors, both in the literally incredible amount of rhyming techniques and skills on display, but also in the actual subject matter, which specifically taunts, rebuts, and threatens its detractors, song after song and usually line after line. Now, I could understand if someone heard this album and still didn't care for it -- the subject matter is FAR over the top and as Eminem himself cautions, you need a strong sense of humor to even begin to let it slide -- but for someone to hear just two or three of these songs and say that Eminem isn't talented, that's like someone looking at the Sears Tower and saying that it isn't very tall. And, enjoy it or not, this is some of the most hardcore confessional songwriting in the pop arena since Bob Dylan. (How many others have even really tried? Neil Young? Anyone else?) For example, In a skit midway through the album his manager chides him: "Do you know why Dre's record was so successful? He's rapping about big-screen TVs, blunts, 40s, and bitches. You're rapping about homosexuals and Vicodin." This bit strikes me as more accurately deprecating than anything ever said by his detractors.

Top 9 Noise Albums I've Ever Heard
1. Whitehouse Birth Death Experience
2. Hanatarash 3 (RRR)
3. Bananafish #11 comp (featuring Macronympha, hosted by Emil Beaulieau)
4. Any one Cock ESP release, especially their videos
5. Sonic Youth Silver Sessions For Jason Knuth
6. Lou Reed Metal Machine Music
7. Crank Sturgeon/Negro split CS (Giardia)
8. Emil Beaulieau For Masami Akita
9. Merzbow Venereology.

After that, there's tons of 'good ones,' but I don't want any of 'em. Even after the Sonic Youth it gets pretty random. The split cassette came with an issue of Muckraker that I bought, which was cool and really all the noise I needed for another year of record-buying. The Emil Beaulieau at #8 is really only in there by default, because it was slightly better than the one Merzbow CD I got around to buying. At one point, before I'd really heard any noise music besides Cage and Stockhausen, I had to see what Merzbow was all about; he was the one who got the most press. It was before I had a computer and knew that you could find a lot of records on the internet, so I tried to special order Merzbow through the decently stocked but unabashedly cheesy record store I worked for. The only one I could get was Venereology. I popped it in, and was dutifully impressed but only listened to it all the way through once before giving it to Jeff Mason. He worked at Cosmic Comics, a store in the same mall as my record store, and he had just given me an incredible classic punk/hardcore mixtape. (Best song beside the Germs: "Bombers" by Tubeway Army.) His initial report on the Merzbow CD was that it was "Awesome!" I agreed but was in no hurry to get it back. In fact, it didn't come up again for a good 6 months, and by that time Jeff had no idea where it was anymore. Which was fine with me. Apparently neither of us really needed much more after that initial rush. That's why Merzbow makes so many different albums, and in fact why noise artists in general make so many albums; because noise is like crack cocaine. Each noise release is like a rock of crack cocaine; it excites but quickly burns itself out and must be replenished if the listeners and/or performers are addicts. What did Merzbow call his original self-owned label? "Lowest Arts & Music." Exactly! Still the best definition of noise music anyone's ever written. The All Music Guide (truly great website, by the way) says this about Merzbow: "There is no need to argue: Merzbow stands as the most important artist in noise music." Most important? Probably, but, as my list above indicates, I certainly wouldn't call him the best.
       The Sonic Youth album may be a 'surprise' choice, but it's just that good. Not because the sounds are anything special -- it's just guitar feedback -- but because the Youth does their best to not let the rush run out, by taking care during post-production. Each track is 4-5 minutes long. I'm sure the originals went on much longer, to the point of redundance and tedium, but the band was generous enough to heavily edit tracks and shuffle them around. The actual mixdown creates tons of nuance, slowly bringing various tracks of feedback in and out of focus/
equalization. Or, as Thurston Moore's liner notes say: '...we recorded the whole thing and a few months later we mixed it down into sections, ultra-processing it to a wholly other "piece" -- in a way, it's my favorite record of ours --'
Well yeah, that's what I'm sayin'......

Department of Random Statistics
That's what some call East St. Louis, Illinois, referring to its high percentage of African American residents. This website has some actual statistics, from which I've compiled the Top 30 Blackest Cities in America. East St. Louis, however, isn't in there, because it only has 41,000 people and said website only had population statistics for cities of 200,000 or more. If you find stats for cities/towns under 200,000 on that site, let me know.

  1. Detroit, MI (75.7% black)
  2. Atlanta, GA (67.1%)
  3. Washington, DC (65.8%)
  4. Birmingham, AL (63.3%)
  5. New Orleans, LA (61.9%)
  6. Baltimore, MD (59.2%)
  7. Newark, NJ (58.5%)
  8. Richmond, VA (55.2%)
  9. Memphis, TN (54.8%)
10. St. Louis, MO (47.5%)
11. Cleveland, OH (46.6%)
12. Oakland, CA (43.9%)
12. Baton Rouge, LA (43.9%)
14. Philadelphia, PA (39.9%)
15. Chicago, IL (39.1%)
15. Norfolk, VA (39.1%)
17. Mobile, AL (38.9%)
18. Cincinnati, OH (37.9%)
19. Charlotte, NC (31.8%)
20. Rochester, NY (31.5%)
21. Buffalo, NY (30.7%)
22. Milwaukee, WI (30.5%)
23. Jersey City, NJ (29.7%)
23. Louisville, KY (29.7%)
25. Kansas City, MO (29.6%)
26. Dallas, TX (29.5%)
27. New York, NY (28.7%)
28. Houston, TX (28.1%)
29. Raleigh, NC (27.6%)
30. Miami, FL (27.4%)

SOURCE: . (Just after putting this together, I read that Gary, Indiana was actually the blackest city in America, but it's population is also under 200,000.)



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