Losing My Edge

January 24, 2009 at 11:05 pm (Uncategorized)

From 1983 to 1987,  I worked at CFMU-FM, 93.3 McMaster Radio. I started on a show called Three Guys Sitting Around Talking about Records (or was it Music) and then worked (wormed?) my way into my own show. 

For two hours a week (and any fill-ins I could manage), I got to play and comment on music I really liked, and felt everyone should listen to. Yes, I was a snob. I didn’t like the top 40 stuff, so friends of mine would call up and request Duran Duran. It’s more than likely true that anyone who thinks they’re cool, probably isn’t, but still you can have pretensions. It was one of the favourite times in my life. 

In my late 20s, I worked for Concert Productions International in Toronto for two years. It’s a bit differnt from college radio, and you really do see what peopel mean by the music business. Got to see a lot of free shows though. I think my favourite “rock industry weasel” experience was going to Lee’s Palace, not being on the guest list, but being remembered by the door person and let in anyway. BTW, remember when you went to see a show, and there were some jerks sitting near you talking all the way through the show? Rememeber when you wondered why they didn’t seem interested? They didn’t pay to get in.

Glory days, long gone. So a couple of years ago, I couldn’t help but smile when I came across James Murphy and LCD Soundsystem’s ode to the fallen hipster. Then recently, I discovered someone from Wikipedia had transcribed all of the bands mentioned on the song: How many do you have?

 Can, Suicide, Captain Beefheart, Daft Punk, Larry Levan, Beach Boys, Modern Lovers, Niagara, Detroit Techno, Yaz, This Heat, Pere Ubu, Outsiders, Nation of Ulysses, Mars, Trojans, Black Dice,  Todd Terry, The Germs,  Section 25, Althea & Donna, Sexual Harassment, a-ha, Dorothy Ashby, PIL, The Fania All-Stars, The Bar-Kays, The Human League,  The Normal, Lou Reed, Scott Walker, Monks, Joy Division, Lower 48, The Association, Manuel Göttsching, Rammelzee, Sun Ra, Scientists, Royal Trux, 10cc, Eric B. and Rakim, Index, Basic Channel, Soulsonic Force, Juan Atkins, David Axelrod, Electric Prunes, Gil Scott Heron,The Slits, Faust, Mantronix, Pharoah Sanders, the Fire Engines, Swans, Soft Cell, The Sonics

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Dollhouse Omens

January 23, 2009 at 10:34 pm (Uncategorized)

I don’t believe in luck or fate, but still, I wonder if the fact that Joss Whedon’s new TV series Dollhouse is premiering on Friday February 13 is a bad omen. Being on Fox doesn’t help either.

After the success of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spinoff Angel, Whedon chose to write a science-fiction western Firefly. Wildly original, Firefly was set 500 years in the future. The premise was the two most important countries of the twentieth century, the USA and China, had become one, essentially super-corporation/world government with aspects of each (all of the curse words are in Mandarin). We are along in space with no aliens, and from the central planets, the outer worlds were colonized.  Eventually a conflict develops over control and autonomy, then finally a war. Firefly is set sometime after the end of a war. I loved the show from the first, but was a little confused as it seemed to start in the middle. I was right. Fox began by airing the second episode. The 2-hour premiere was the final episode Fox aired. When I heard it would return in the New Year, I feared the worse. It never did. Apparently, Whedon had enough of a fan base to get a movie out of it.

So five years on, comes Dollhouse. Fox seems very keen, and Whedon trusts them, so here we go (the success of Dr. Horribleprobably didn’t hurt). The premise seems familiar enough. Eliza Dushka is Echo, a doll, whose personality is wiped so new memories and new ideas can be imprinted. Echo, however, begins to become self-aware. I’m up for it. The trailers look good, but I really hope that we can start to allow shows to develop before they are cancelled because of low numbers. So listen up Fox!

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Atheist Bus

January 22, 2009 at 11:09 pm (Uncategorized)

In Britian, a number of buses can be seen proclaiming ” There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”  Last week in Southampton, a Christian bus driver refused to board his bus because the ads offended him. And 326 others complained too. (Presumably their right to non-believers of their eventual eternity of agony in the fiery pit is covered under their religious freedoms) The campaign was thought up by Ariane Sherine  in response to a Christian bus campaign launched earlier.

A similar campaign is collecting dollars in Toronto.  Have a look at the Atheist Bus campaign. I’m not certain that such a campaign will change anyone’s mind, but if it makes atheism a topic of conversation, it’s OK with me.

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Music Notes January 2009

January 21, 2009 at 11:34 pm (Uncategorized)

This month’s listings of things of interest in a musical vein.

1. Elastica – Wasn’t that first Elastica album great? Wire meets the Stranglers with cool sexy Justine Frishman fronting the band. Then after so many years came The Menace.  No, no, it’s not a bad album. It might even be a good first album. But after a brilliant  first album, it felt, well, a bit of a let down. Turn instead to the The Radio One Sessions CD. 21 lovely alternative versions including a simply fabulous version of Vaseline. Ah to be young and cool again.

2. And speaking of the Stranglers… The Stranglers were the first bad I ever fell in love with (an odd choice I know). I heard Peaches on Radio 1  when I was about 12, and laughed like mad (even though I had no idea what the title meant – that came later). The first Punk record I bought was Black & White. Then Rattus Novegicusand the rest.  The first issue of the new Musical Express I bought had Hugh Cornwell on the cover, so it seems fitting to mention here that his new album  Hooverdam is available as a free download. I don’t think it’s anywhere near as good as anything he did with the Stranglers, but for free,it’s worth a listen.

3. And speaking of old punks with new albums, the new Wreckless Eric album Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby is quite lovely. And it’s on Stiff Records for the first time in many many years. Thank you whoever put Whole Wide World in that Will Farell movie for making Eric a wealthy man. (Horrible graphics on the website though!)

4. The Kills have recorded an exclusive five song session for I-tunes. Includes a cover of Patsy Cline’s Crazy. Ooh, I love this band. Midnight Boom was one of my favourites last night. Grimey, sloppy, bluesy. Lovely. I’m not sure how I feel about the “exclusive to” concept. I suppose the band get more money that way, but I’ve never liked having to buy from one place; although I bought that Dylan bootleg from Starbucks without a second thought. I’m also not crazy about the digital revolution. The sound is not as good, and it just feels slight when it’s intangible. (Note to self- sure sign of aging here) Anyway, the Kills’ piece is worth picking up.

5. I-tunes DRM. But speaking of I-tunes… Like many I’ve bought from I-tunes. Well, I received an email yesterday telling me that I could upgrade my complete I-tunes library to DRM free (i-tunes plus!) for a few bucks. Hmm, Lemmie see. When I bought some of these songs they were copy protected. They cost the same price as the DRM free songs. Now, you’re offering me the opportunity to buy them again? Erm, shouldn’t  you just give them out? Am I naive?  For years I-tunes tried to restrict file sharing through this format, but it seems as if they’ve now given up. Never forget the second word in the phrase music business.

6.  Last week, I watched La Vie en Rose, the Edith Piaf biography. Simply tremendous. The music soars. It’s not actress Marian Cotillard singing, but her performance as Piaf is spellbinding. Great talent, miserable life. Does great art always have to be tragic?

7. And then last night, I watched Blow up, the Antonioni movie. It’s a very stylish movie that is simultaneously dated, and still very cool and current. The plot revolves around David Hemmings as a David Bailey like photographer in swinging London. While photographing a woman and her boyfriend in a park, the photographer accidentally catches a murder in his lens. The film has a lot to say about the images, and reality and the interaction between the two. What’s also interesting is the club scene which features the Yardbirds. When was the last time you saw Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page on stage? Beck smashes his guitar, which incidentally the Yardbirds did not do. The soundtrack is by Herbie Hancock. Dee-lite stole one of the riffs for Groove is in the Heart.

8.  I’m not There – A lot of people had mixed feelings about the Todd Haynes movie about the lives of Bob Dylan. I liked it. I felt I needed to listen to The Basement Tapes non-stop and re-read Griel Marcus’ book Invisible Republic. There’s a two CD soundtrack of incredible talent too. John Doe, Wilco, Eddie Vedder, Sonic Youth, Tom Verlaine, Los Lobos, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot and more. Like most soundtracks, it doesn’t always work, but a lot of it is very good indeed.

9 Buzzcocks, Buzzcocks, Buzzcocks. EMI has re-issued theie first three albums as double sets with lots of bonus tracks. Sixteen again!

10. Primal Scream – Well, I’ve only been waiting nine years for this. I bought my first Primal Scream record, Exterminator,  around the time my daughter was born.  The news that the band is playing their only Canada in Toronto in March led me to put aside my hatred of Ticketmaster and rush to buy a ticket.  I told a friend and he sniffed, “hmm, which Primal Scream?” Good question. The Scream seem to change on every album. On a first listen, I didn’t care so much for the new one, but time will tell. Primal Scream play the Phoenix on March 24.

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Public Meeting in Toronto on Economic Crisis

January 15, 2009 at 3:43 am (Uncategorized)

Internationalist Perspective will be part of a forum with the International  Bureau for the Revolutionary Party in Toronto on Saturday January 17, 2009. The meeting is titled The Global Economic Crisis: What are the perspectives for workers? It takes place at 7:00 PM at OISE, 252 Bloor Street West Room 2295.

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Public Meeting in Montreal

January 6, 2009 at 11:37 pm (Uncategorized)

Internationalist Perspective will be part of a forum along with the International  Bureau for the Revolutionary Party in Montreal on Saturday January 10, 2008. The meeting is titled The Global Economic Crisis: What are the perspectives for workers? It takes place at 2:30 PM at Centre Jean-Claude Malépart, salle 207 633, rue Ontario Est, Montréal. (Opposite Frontenac métro)

A meeting on the same topic is being held in Toronto on January 17. Location TBA.

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Ron Asheton

January 6, 2009 at 11:33 pm (Uncategorized)

Ron Asheton, the guitarist for the Stooges and Destroy All Monsters, and the inspiration for many to take up that guitar has been found dead in his home. He was 60.  

The first Stooges record I bought was Raw Power, where Asheton had been relegated to bass in favour of James Williamson. Later on I sought out the first two records, The Stooges and Fun House. I’m not a guitar player, so on a certain level, I’m unable to appreciate the man’s work, but as a fan, it’s incredible.  I’m not so fond of The Weirdness, but it’s worth looking for The Live in DetroitDVD.  Paul Trynka’s biography Open Up and Bleed is pretty good too.

Here’s the NME’s obit. http://www.nme.com/news/the-stooges/41900



(stolen from Simon Reynolds Blissblog)

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New Publications/sites

January 2, 2009 at 11:54 pm (Uncategorized)

I received the new issue of the Troploin newsletter today (#6) entitled A contribution to the Critique of Political Autonomy. Troploin is the french review associated withe Gilles Dauve. The text is not on the web site yet .  

Have a look at their site for lots of good things.

Also discovered the site of The Commune. Haven’t had a chance ot really go through it, but some of the topics look  good, and they have reprinted some stuff by the British Solidarity Group.

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Brian Pearce

January 1, 2009 at 10:36 pm (Uncategorized)

I read today that Brian Pearce had died. Actually, he died in November, so I’m quite far behind. Here’s a sympathetic appreciation. Pearce wrote some very interesting articles on communist history in Russia and in the UK.


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