September 19, 2017 at 1:23 am (Uncategorized)

 I saw Waxahatchee in August at Lee’s Palace in Toronto. Fantastic show. The power of their music, from slow songs to all -out rockers was overwhelming. Meant to write a review; didn’t. Then I saw this piece in the New York Times a week or so back. No substitute for seeing the band, but if you can’t, get the record. Out in the Storm is amazing. Even better than Ivy Tripp. 

Washington — For over a decade, Allison and Katie Crutchfield have been making music together, on terms of their own making. As teenagers, the twin sisters formed the cheery, poppy punk outfit the Ackleys, and later the more controlled and lyrically ambitious P.S. Eliot. Beginning around five years ago, they began working on their own projects — the confessional Waxahatchee for Katie, the swaggering, now-defunct Swearin’ for Allison — which elevated them from D.I.Y. stalwarts to indie-rock flagbearers.

This year has seen new music from both Crutchfields, 28: Allison released her solo full-length debut album, Tourist in this Town,” in January and Waxahatchee released its fourth album, Out in the Storm in July. They spoke at the 9:30 Club here, where Waxahatchee — with Allison playing as part of the band — was about to perform the final show of its summer tour. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.

Katie, there are no men in your band and touring crew. Can you talk about why?

KATIE CRUTCHFIELD With the band, it was specifically because of such horrible experiences that I’ve had. When we were younger, there was a kind of thing that men would not get away saying with saying today, like “Oh you tour with girls, it’s gonna be drama, it’s gonna be annoying.” And I feel like in my experience …

ALLISON CRUTCHFIELD The exact opposite. No problems.

KATIE It’s been pure magic. It really has been pretty life-changing. I don’t think I’ll ever go back.

As you’ve grown out of D.I.Y. spaces into bigger rooms, are you facing the same issues?

ALLISON We literally just played this show in Montreal three nights ago where, as soon as we walked out onstage, this man in the front just goes, “You’re hot!” We flipped on him, you know?

KATIE We went out ready to fight.

ALLISON There’s been a few times where I’ve done stuff like that onstage, and it’s always just, like, some old man that works in the venue being like, “Let me give you a piece of advice” and I’m like, “Let me stop you right there.” That’s my favorite thing to do, is to just tell some old man in a venue, like, “No.”

KATIE I will say I think the D.I.Y. scene has definitely become more equitable than it was when we were participating.

You now have an entire generation younger than you. Do you feel a burden of responsibility to look after them?

KATIE I feel like people have come to me a lot for that kind of advice, and I feel really comfortable with that. I feel really good if people seek that in me and Allison. I’ve probably taken, on this tour, five calls from frontwomen in band

ALLISON Fairy godmother.

At our round table, many women spoke about both the emotional labor of being in a band with men, and the emotional labor of being a confessional, sometimes political songwriter, and how that relates to fans who see themselves in you or want something from you.

ALLISON I’m learning that I don’t like to be an open book in the public eye. I’m happy to tell everyone all of my secrets in a song, but I don’t want to talk about them with a stranger.

What about the emotional labor of touring with dudes, of being the only woman in a van with five guys?

KATIE How much time do you have? Often, especially with male camaraderie, there’s this antagonistic vibe of like, “Oh, we’re gonna make fun of the girl.” It’s just this internalized misogyny that makes men sort of combat femininity with humor. Anytime that you’re, “Oh, I need to do my makeup” or you need to do anything that’s feminine at all, it’s sort of just like, “Pfffffft, yeah.”

ALLISON The internalized misogyny is them equating emotional awareness with weakness.

KATIE Like we’re just frivolity or whatever, you know what I mean? That is, I think, one of the hardest things.

Given that both of you guys are out in front, was there still a power dynamic at play like, “Yes you’re the star, but we’re the men?”

ALLISON 100 percent.

KATIE Full on shots fired: Typically the most replaceable member of the band is the worst about that, you know?

ALLISON With Swearin’, something I dealt with a lot was this sort of general uneasiness about the fact that I was getting a lot more attention because I was the frontperson and main songwriter. I felt definitely like I was having to take a step back and really like, check on everyone and make sure everyone was O.K. It made me feel really insecure within the dynamic of the band because I was feeling like I was having to tiptoe around a lot of hurt egos.

Was there dismissiveness about skill as well?

KATIE I think that, with a lot of women friends, that’s a big reason why they want to play music with other women, because they don’t want to be in that position in the band practice where it’s like, “Oh, so-and-so told me to brush up on this or whatever.”

ALLISON It’s definitely a combination of things that are going on when that sort of thing happens. People not being aware of the space that they’re taking up. People not realizing that they’re mansplaining, or being condescending. And also, they’re most likely a little threatened that that space is not being taken up by…



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On the Extreme Margins on the Centennial of the Russian Revolution

September 12, 2017 at 12:32 am (Uncategorized)

New article by Loren Goldner on the the legacy of the Russian Revolution, 100 years later.

On the Extreme Margins on the Centennial of the Russian Revolution

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On this Labour Day

September 4, 2017 at 7:47 pm (Uncategorized)

The last long weekend of the summer. The day to start packing up the cottage. The day before school restarts (in Canada at least). A day to celebrate labour.

In both Canada and the United States, Labour Day has been celebrated as a day of recognition for the struggles and achievements of working people since the 1880s, but it always feels like the milder little brother (or sister) of May Day. Peaceful legal. May Day always seems a little more radical.

So here’s a thought for this year,

All revolutions run into history, yet history is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers of revolution come, thither they return again

— Guy Debord, Pangyeric volume 2



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Music Notes Labour Day Edition, 2017

September 4, 2017 at 7:46 pm (Uncategorized)

OK, the last weeks of August were extremely busy for me, and the monthly music notes post completely slipped my mind.  So, this isn’t the August pitch, but will serve as a (retro) stopgap. Hope to be back on track in September.

1 Dions- “Runaround Sue”

Now who are those people in the audience, and why does he have his uncles in his band?

2. The Spinners – “The Carnival is Over”

Just a beautiful song.


3.  The Exciters- “Tell Him”

A trip to the zoo with the Exciters



4. Squeeze – “Up the Junction”

A stunning kitchen-sink drama in the form of a three minute pop song.

5.  Shonen Knife – “Riding on the Rocket”

Hilariously awful video masks terrific song


6. The Honeycombs – “Have I the Right? ”

Joe Meek classic with Honey Lantree on drums

7. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – “Deena”

Looking totally demonic



8. Gene Chandler – “Duke of Earl”

Nothing can stop…

9. The B-52s – “Give me Back my man”

I love black and white. And this is a great song.


10 Elastica – “Stutter”

In the brief moment they were cool, Elastica were the coolest.


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The Trump Saga part CLXXXVI…

August 15, 2017 at 3:33 pm (Uncategorized)

For a bourgeois politicians, denouncing Nazis, racism etc, ought to be a slam-dunk, especially after  one of them cops a move from ISIS lone wolves and drives a car into a crowd. Guess not.

When people perceive you as “political, ” you get asked questions about politics. And for months, I confidently explained to people how Trump couldn’t win, and as I watched the election results come in, I was hit with a blinding realization, “He’s going to win.”  (Oddly, enough people still ask me for my opinion).

I’m certainly not going to predict the end is nigh, but I do wonder how long can this go on before there is a real breech in the bourgeois norms. (Of, course, I’ve been wrong before)


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Starship Storm Troopers: Michael Moorcock on Authoritarianism in SF

July 28, 2017 at 11:47 am (Uncategorized)

After I posted the Times piece, I remembered this little essay. Too long to repost the entire thing, here’s a link to the essay on authoritarian and fascist themes in science fiction.

Starship Stormtroopers by Michael Moorcock


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Revolutionary Science Fiction?

July 28, 2017 at 11:43 am (Uncategorized)

Now here’s an oddity. I didn’t really think I’d see the New York Times discussing Bogdanov (well worth investigating), J. Posadas (loony Argentine Trot) and Star Trek, but here;s the Article: ‘Make it So’: Star Trek and its Debt to Revolutionary Socialism

I will just point out that the phrase “Make it so’ is from Next Generation with Patrick Stewart, while the picture is of William Shatner from the original series. Nerd!

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Music Notes July 2017

July 28, 2017 at 11:35 am (Uncategorized)

And off we go!

1 The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band

I’ve never been a Beatles fan, but since this record is now enjoying its 50th anniversary, I thought I’d give it a mention. I know everyone says this is the greatest British record of all time, but it doesn’t do it for me. I’ve heard the songs, and while it works better as a single sitting, it doesn’t move me; except “She’s Leaving Home” which still makes me cry. To each his own.

2. The Punk Singer

Sini Anderson’s documentary about Bikini Kill, Le Tigra, Julie Ruin frontwoman Kathleen Hanna. Well worth watching this informative and excited film. Lots of cool footage.

3. 75 Dollar Bill – Wood/Metal/Plastic/Pattern/Rhythm/Rock

An instrumental  duo from New York who sound as if they spent a lot of time listening to Spacemen 3 and desert blues create something marvellous.  My favourite discovery this month.

4. X-Ray Spex – Let’s Submerge: The Anthology

I’m as good as my word. After mentioned their only record last month, I sought the extended version. This has everything from the album along with the singles, but so much more: Demos, Peel sessions, Live at the Roxy, studio demos. It even includes Polly’s pre-Spex debut single (cute, but forgettable), and an entirely unnecessary cover of “Age” which appears on her first solo album.

5. Soft Cell – “Wave Hello Say Goodbye.”

My favourite Soft Cell song recently cropped up in an episode of Aziz Ansari’s Master of None. It’s a perfect pop song, and anything I can add doesn’t do it justice.

6 Blondie –Pollinator 

Hey, a new Blondie album; something to be excited about. Never thought I’d say that. Sure, I have the first three records, but after that, I lose interest. This is a return to that early punky Shangri-Las sound. And it’s pro-bee!

7. Danny Says

If you saw Zelig, you remember he seemed to be at the heart of everything. Always in the background, but always there. Here’s the truth. Danny Fields is Zelig. The Doors, the MC5, the Stooges, The Velvet Underground, the Ramones. So much more. Every cool band, Danny was part of that story. Hell, he’s the one who ruined America for the Beatles by reprinting the “Bigger than Jesus” interview. Fascinating.

8. The Regrettes – “Fox on the Run”

Ah…I really like this cover.


9. The Last Pogo Jumps Again 

The Last Pogo was a film about a punk show at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto featuring many of the big names from the scene. This is a full length documentary (almost 3 hours) about that scene.It’s an astonishing look at what was and what should have been featuring the Diodes, the Demics, the Viletones, the B-Girls, the Ugly and many, many more. Go and find this, then search for the bands. It won’t be easy, but it’s worth it.

10. Pavement “Cut your Hair”

Decided to watch Netflix’s new show Friends from College (basically Friends a few years later, but with infidelity). The Pavement song is the theme. Hadn’t heard it in a while, but now I want to listen to all of those Pavement albums again.

OK then.

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Napoleon..? He’s dynamite.

July 24, 2017 at 5:57 pm (Uncategorized)

We can all recall George Santayana’s aphorism, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” but what about those who don’t seem to understand what history is?

  • Last week in an interview with the New York Times, Trump seemed to think Napoleon and Napoleon III were the same person (I also wonder what “extra-curricular” activities Napoleon was involved in that prevented him from going to Russia)
  • During Black History month, he gave the impression he thought Frederick Douglass was still alive
  • Previously, he asserted that people don’t know that Lincoln was a Republican
  • In an interview, he took credit for the Keynesian phrase “priming the pump”

I could go on, my I’m gripped by a growing terror.

Is Trump operating on dog time in which everything is present tense and for whom history is a vague memory? (My dog is excited when I return to the house after ten minutes or ten days – the reaction is the same) . Certainly, if you can’t remember the past, it makes it easier to lie with such breathless abandon.

It should go without saying that I intend no disrespect to dogs in this post. They are noble beasts.



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The Life and Times of Anarchist Bookfairs

July 24, 2017 at 5:56 pm (Uncategorized)

This time of year is usually pretty busy for me. Normally, this past weekend would have seen the holding of the Toronto Anarchist bookfair. It’s usually a two-day event at the Steelworkers’ Hall downtown and features workshops, literature tables, and free food! I’ve tabled at this events for years, but have helped in a more concrete fashion for the last few years – at the 2015 and 2016 bookfairs, I gave talks on “Libertarian literature” and “The Geography of Freedom.” This year, the event didn’t happen, largely as a result of too few people being involved, on the organizing level (feel free to insert a joke about anarchist organization here if you like) and those that were willing realizing the task was beyond them.  There was some talk of others taking over the event, but it came to naught. I’m not an anarchist, but I share aspects of  the critique (I still identify as a Marxist, but as I grow older I like labels, less and less) sure, there’s plenty I disagree with at the bookfair, but bringing hundreds of people together to discuss radical politics is never a bad thing. Oddly enough, despite the number of Trotskyist and ML groupings in Toronto, there has never seldom been a sustained radical bookfair presence outside of the anarchists (the only exception might be the fair that the International Women’s Day Committee event). But we could probably hazard an entirely accurate guess as to why that is.

Montreal on the other hand has had a flourishing anarchist bookfair for almost two decades. The first bookfair I attended was in 2000, and twice since then, the bookfair has expanded into larger premises. Thousands of people come to its event, and while I’m uncertain as to how it ranks in North America, it’s certainly the larger in Canada. . This year, I went with my son to see(He’s interested in politics and wanted to practice his French – winner, winner, vegan dinner! But to be honest, this year, the bookfair in Montreal seemed smaller, less political. My sales were down from previous years, but that isn’t anything to base a definite conclusion on. However, the table next to me was doing a roaring business in patches with slogans like “Fuck patriarchy” and homemade underwear. A quick wander around the bookfair seemed to have a greater presence of D.I.Y. crafts and posters, and less political stuff than in previous years. Crowds seemed down too. Now, I’ll admit, I was there only for Saturday, so who can say if things were different the next day.

My sense of these things is not to worry about fluctuations in attendance at this events (or even whether people were interested in Proudhon or panties), as it is the broader social struggle which will determine the success of those events . See you next year.


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