Blastitude 8
       issue 8  june/july 2001
"front page"

 


"Blastitude" is a word coined by Angus MacLise, original drummer of the Velvet Underground and quite possibly the coolest hippie of all time. (cf. track four of his posthumous CD release The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda, released by Siltbreeze/Quakebasket. Click HERE for immediate cf'ing.)
 

(or click on Angus)
 


Blastitude #8.
Well, obviously Blastitude isn't monthly, or even really bi-monthly anymore. I apologize for the delay. All I can say is that this really is "our biggest issue yet," and that things have been crazy around here. Shows, weddings, drunkfests, houseguests...hell, just yesterday I had a barbecue at Blastitude HQ for Harvey Sid Fisher and Cheer-Accident. Other illustrious guests this month have included the lovely human beings in Monotract and Born in East L.A, who swung through Nebraska on a recent three-week tour. Not to mention Trigge Naked, old Lincoln board-stomper and current bassist for arising NYC aggro-funksters Liars, who stayed at my house for three nights, if you call passing out from 8AM-11:30AM each morning "staying" at someone's house. I guess you do. Ted Stevens from Lullaby for the Working Class stayed here for something like 8 straight nights while he was recording an upcoming solo album here in Lincoln. Further complicating things, wife and I are moving to Chicago in about a week-and-a-half. Almost all of my record collection is in boxes right now.

Anyway, the point is, at some point doing an irreverent underground music type zine gets lower and lower on the priority scale, especially when it's not how you're getting paid. I wanted to jump in and see if I could meet a monthly deadline, and I did it for 7 proud issues, but I just can't do it anymore. I get the feeling this won't really bother anyone. Who knows, maybe the writing will be a little less half-baked if I actually put a couple months' care into it. (I'm hoping for writing that's at least 3/4 baked.)

Alright, so onwards and upwards. This is our "reviews extravaganza" issue. The next issue probably won't be out until September 1st. Just being realistic. I'm hoping it will be a little more focused on "interviews" than reviews, but we'll see, as that's kind of new territory for Blastitude. Alright then, below find our letters page and key to moving on through this issue. Thanks for tuning in.

Yours,
Larry "Fuzz-O" Dolman

 

 

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR


Hello,
I agree with your estimate of "Vixens" - it wasn't really meant for anyone (save Joel, of course, and the odd follower of things Spite-ful); strictly odds and sods, errors and sublimations to cruel (or indifferent) fate. Each of its selections evokes a particularly sapid moment... For me, at least! I enjoy bootleg live recordings, especially those within the B- to D+ parameter. Thus, my insistence on using less sophisticated gear. In the studio, of course, it's a rather different story. Contrasts...

Attached please find a photo (snapped today) of the offending producer/moaning frontman and his stereo cassette recorder (both solid, but rather long in tooth).

Yours,
OM


Hi! U better get on soon or my lamb will poop on your SSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHOOOOEEEEEEE-LLLLLAAAAAACCCCCCCCCCCCEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That would not be good or would it? Well if your a peach then when u finish reading this your eyes will be kineenness so u had better stop reading! Well not yet 1st u must eat a leaf boom boom! eat a leaf boom boom wooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooom! Then u must turn into a wolf and eat cheeses with a sock on your head and red pens in your noses. hehehehehe! Then you must bounce well except carolyn cuz she can't! hahahaha! Then u will turn into coolus! And finally( I don't care if that isn't spelled right) you peaches will turn into frogs! HAhahahah HEhehehe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! As you might be able 2 tell I'm the Horrible Caloolaleilayeha! And in case you peaches don't know who the Horrible Caloolaleilayeha I won't tell you anything about me except everything! I send at least 103 emails saying i need mail! Now do u know who I am Sean? Of coarse you do, I am Graceface12( actually all u peaches know that from the top when it says From Graceface12 but oh well) and you should all be getting a few emails tonight! heheheheh! Bye-bye now!

Before dismissing 8 Eyed Spy out of hand, I'd really REALLY recommend getting hold of a copy (a dub from me, for instance) of the 8 Eyed Spy _Live_ cassette on ROIR. The stuff on Hysterie isn't really appropriate to pass judgements on. I've had that 2LP for years also, and haven't listened to the non-Teenage Jesus stuff more than a handful of times. _Live_, on the other hand, is one hell of a beast. Lydia Lunch fan or not (and while I'm not really a huge fan of most of her music/spoken word, I have an enormous crush on her. I'm sure she'd rip me to shreds, both physically and emotionally, but alas...), this is one motherfucker of an album. The live versions of "Diddy Wah Diddy," "Run Through the Jungle" (yep, that one), "Love Split With Blood," "Motor Oil Shanty" and "Sorry For Behaving So Badly"are very crucial.
      
I just ordered all six of those Vibracathedral Orchestra CD-Rs from Eddie Flowers. In the words of the Gram Parsons song, "Oh Lord, what have I done..." Also ordered the new batch (and some old ones) from the Slippy Town CD-R catalog, with intent to profile them for a future issue. Hotcha!  Later, Chris

Hello, Larry.

I just became aware of Blastitude a little while ago, but would nevertheless like to offer a tardy response to your "Big Shit About Meltzer" article. First off, I could, of course, not help but wonder why you felt that your adjunct comment pointing out that my letter to you was not written in a Meltzerian style was necessary. My assumption (and please correct me if I am wrong) was that you found my criticisms of Meltzer to be no fun. I believe in those criticisms, however. I see two main issues that I have with Meltzer's more recent writings. The first is that his general focus is often just to complain about shit. There are some good moments in that "Of Peep Shows and Piano Bars" piece, but I'll tell you, living in San Diego, there were better pieces of that sort in The San Diego Reader (my favorite being "Too Carlsbad for Words," which I guess wasn't about music so that's why it wasn't in the book). A piece like that seemed like a nice development of the Gulcher context, documenting the process of Meltzer going somewhere and doing some random thing. Let's keep in mind, though, the original "post-rock cultural pluralism" context of Gulcher. Those writings were done in a high-spirited, "total awareness freak" context wherein Meltzer was inspired, indeed in a sort of state of blissful awe, at the notion of going out and doing anything at all. By the time of the "F**k My Childhood" piece that's in the new book, notice how this context has become something that he now complains about. The randomness of his exploration of Classical music documented in that piece and others from that time is no longer fun. It makes him feel like an "old geezer," a stamp collector (ironic, really, given that the piece about bottlecap collecting is perhaps my favorite in Gulcher). He compares it to an extra-credit school assignment. By saying that Meltzer is repeating himself, I meant primarily that this writing context has persisted now for thirty years and has outlived his inspiration. The guy is no longer an inspired total awareness freak.

I also do not agree with some of the comments you make about The Aesthetics of Rock. You say that in his old rock writings "the end result doesn't end up making much sense but that's Meltzer's point all along, because how rock works is indescribable." I must ask why one writes about music if it is indescribable. If a thing is indescribable, it would seemingly follow that the thing must have some metaphysical properties. I would argue, however, that music is indeed a thing of the real world (sound waves) that functions semiotically in what I believe to be a number of different ways. You would have to point out to me what it is exactly about music that cannot be described.

Meltzer's partial decision to turn the Aesthetics of Rock project into what you accurately describe as concrete poetry was, in one sense, a merely convenient way out of the real task.

Tim Ellison

P. S. I have a website for MRM now at http://home.earthlink.net/
~timejeanneb

Hi Tim,

Good to hear from you, although I have gone back and read the Meltzer piece and, while my comments were in no small part meant to give you a hello and conspiratorial wink, I do regret what seems to be a strange snideness in my tone. Your writing in MRM has always made me think of Meltzer, hence I said that you write "a hell of a lot like Meltzer," which is certainly not giving the whole story on your talents. The oblique comment about your letter not being written "like Meltzer" unfortunately included you in a criticism that I was (supposed to be) directing at myself: why are some writings I do more indebted to Meltzer than others? In other words, I was a bit interested in the fact that we both can be caught "doing a Meltzer." It was weird for me to refer to it like I did, but then Iím a weird guy and I intend to create a weird zine so it goes with the territory. As for the snideness, I find that to be a side-effect from my pseudo-punk heritage, which is steadily becoming more unwanted and outdated as I strive to age a little more gracefully. In the course of giving my piece some much-needed revision, I feel like I should remove my aside about your letter-writing style, as Iíve always enjoyed your zine and your correspondence.

I think youíre right, my oblique comment was a response to your criticisms; I didnít think they were fun, because I didnít agree with them. Now, just eight months later, Iím more inclined to, due to continued reading of and reflecting on
Whore Just Like The Rest, and to the reinstatement of your opinion. However initially justified Meltzerís crankiness may be, it eventually (especially in "Vinyl Reckoning") reaches a level that could almost be described as pathological. Did you see Christgauís rebuttal in the Village Voice? I read that, and then Meltzerís response somewhere on the web, and it was the first (and still only) time in my life I found myself leaning towards Christgauís take on things. (Even though I still find 90% -- the part where he's not ranting about Christgau and Marcus -- of "Vinyl Reckoning" to be intensely good.)

Either way, I do not feel that "Big Shit About Meltzer," an experiment in describing Meltzer by appropriating his style (including, alas, some of its crankiness), was an entirely successful piece Ė hell, maybe only about 30% successful Ė and your criticisms of it are accurate and appreciated. Good point about sound waves being a thing that exists on the real world and therefore describable Ė however, not being a semiotician, I still think thereís something ineffable, and maybe even metaphysical, about the way certain sound waves add up to music and subsequently effect their various settings. For me, itís the way the same song or piece (or certain group of lyrics and/or sounds within a song or piece) can pass by me unnoticed in one setting, and then change my life in another. Yes, the basic ingredients and context of the piece can always be described, but the feeling created in the mind/soul/spirit of the listener is what I find potentially indescribable. I think that Meltzer ran into the "concrete poetry" dead end because, however valiantly, he tried to describe the FEELING the music causes rather than the music itself. Being a "total awareness freak" (good use of his phrase; it sums up his approach better than my whole essay), he had some success, but (other than
Gulcher, which again was barely about music) not in any real sustained book-length way; after all, heís somewhat of a failed semiotician himself (he didnít finish grad school, anyway). Even as a failed project, Aesthetics of Rock is fun and inspiring, but youíre right, music can be described better. Thanks again for reminding us of "the real task."

From Tim's response:
I actually took a class on semiotics this year. It was more brutally painful than anything, but it at least got me thinking about how music does function semiotically. My basic sense of it is that, at least in western cultures, it generally functions as a symbol of something. I was arguing in the seminar that music often functions as a symbol of space. In other words, it is perceived as a type of space, and when you listen to it, you are in that space. The emotion that you feel, then, is relative to how you conceive of that space. There are a lot of different factors that go into this, but that's the basic premise. I would offer to email you my term paper from that class, but I think it needs some revision. Part of it is on the semiotic functioning of sad music. I argue that it functions symbolically in a different way, representing appearance, disappearance, and (consequently) loss.

I wonder how much of The Aesthetics of Rock is about feelings provoked by music and how much is about the music itself. I think it's actually more of the latter, no?

You're welcome to include any correspondence in Blastitude.

Tim


BLASTITUDE will be published bimonthly from now on.
Letters, recommendations, complaints, submissions: blastitude@hotmail.com
Any music/tapes/books/artifacts/records/documents for consideration should be mailed to Blastitude c/o Tiffany Kowalksi at 3210 West Beach Avenue, Chicago, IL 60651

editor, designer, collater, curator, writer: Larry "Fuzz-O" Dolman
"Inklings and Musings" by BradSonder
"Only Seat in the House" by Christopher Dean Heine
"Koko" by Jack Jackson
Portrait of Brad Sonder by Michael French



BLASTITUDE #8 © 2001
Published by Tiny Press

 

 

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Freedom's just another word for never getting paid. --Gravitar


 

To browse through all issues of Blastitude so far, check out the MASTER LIST. To check out this ish first, you can start by checking out this week's lead story:



Let this funky reviews extravaganza begin!!!!!!!!!!