Monday, November 30, 2009

What's Beth Ditto listening to?

According to this NY Times Playlist, she's liking Explode Into Colors, who she knows from her hair-cutting days in Olympia, Washington.

Two girls on drums. Be still my heart.

She also loves Lil Wayne, who she says is a genius. Shooter with Robin Thicke is one of her favorite songs of all time.

While growing up, Beth's mom listened to Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath. Her dad listened to Patsy Kline and Kool and the Gang. It's like she grew up inside of a 70s-era version of college radio. In Arkansas. Here's a little Sabbath from 1970.

Switch gears!

She's also fond of The Raincoats.

And has listened to When I Grow Up by Fever Ray on a near-constant basis.

She likes to go out dancing to La Roux, who she says is huge in England.

You go, Beth Ditto.

Thanks Melena Ryzik for the NY Times interview.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Uptones - Not From Here

The Uptones, the Bay Area's premiere ska band, will be releasing some new songs soon. This is good news because Uptones productions are not only danceable but soulful as well.

Case in point: The first time I met members of The Uptones was at the Port Lite bar in a dark, lonesome section of West Oakland. Three of the defunct Uptones had carried on as Stiff Richards and our band was opening for them. I may be fuzzing the details here but two songs into their set, I remember telling someone in my band to come inside and listen because, "These guys are really good." Four songs into their set, I realized they were professional-caliber musicians who happened to be playing on a linoleum floor in a dive where cockroaches roamed the bathrooms and the bartender snarled if you displeased her in any way. And those ways were generally mysterious and unknown to you.

Professionals with soul; they played ska but mixed it up with reggae, punk rock, classic guitar-driven rock and humor. All of this had chops and heart. At the end of the night, they pulled up in a series of tiny automobiles and loaded up and out like they had done it a thousand times before. And so they had. The Uptones began when they were in high school in 1981 and went on to heavily influence a lot of popular ska-pop-punk bands that I won't go into here because none of them are as cool as the Uptones and that's my professional-caliber opinion.

They are re-formed now and you can see them live in places where the bartenders are not quite as surly. But au revoir, Port Lite. Apparently it couldn't last out by the warehouses of Oakland. I miss playing there and also miss Emmett who enthusiastically booked local bands, always wore (non-ironic) trucker hats and played pinball throughout every band's set.

Not From Here from "Skankin' Foolz Unite!"

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Books of North Adams, MA

The Books are two guys, Nick Zammuto and Paul de Jong, who despite multiple moves over the years, are based in North Adams, Massachusetts. They scour thrift stores in search of old videos and recordings, then mix it all together, adding cello and other instrumentation, both formal and experimental.

Which is all very well and good. But my main interest in them comes from North Adams, where Keith grew up (actually in neighboring Clarksburg, up the hill from North Adams). This is a small industrial town in Western Mass.--a part of the Berkshires that was not touristy, but lived in and a bit rugged. Beautiful, but eventually depressed after all the industry closed up shop.

That is until 1999 when MASS MoCA opened, taking over a factory that covers a full city block. This great big building full of art has attracted like-minded business to the area, which is scenic and affordable. The intelligent design choice that the museum made was to leave the factory almost completely intact, down to the industrial-grade bathrooms on the first floor. The exposed brick walls are an exhibit in themselves--tremendously high, chipped, multi-hued and textured. The galleries are massive and the artwork follows that lead.

You can enter some of the rooms and they become your complete environment for the moment. A climbable, life-sized plywood ship; a human digestive system made from ducts and bellows, paintings that could fill up airplane hangars. And best: humor in the form of videos, smaller exhibits and low-key literature in the gift shop. (I got my "Boring Postcards" book there, which is full of boring but amusing postcards.) Also: great live shows. Visit Mass Mocha and bring your lawn chairs.

The Books edit and play found-footage videos at their live shows. You can order Books music on their Bandcamp.

Boston Globe reports in.

Monday, November 23, 2009

My Doppelganger's Uncle

I wrote here not too long ago about my email doppelganger--a born-again real estate agent from Texas who, through circumstances beyond my control, shares my name and email address. I recently received email from her Uncle, who thought he was sending it to her. Oh, I'll let the NSFW cartoon explain it. Somehow it's easier that way.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

She Mob - Prozac

Today's band is She Mob, which happens to be my band, actually. We played together throughout the 90s and beyond. Even though some of us left and new people joined, the core of She Mob remains core-like and occasional shows still happen. Prozac is off our first album, "Cancel the Wedding" (1999).

When I started playing this today, Jackson ran into the room, chanting, "She Mob! She Mob! She Mob!" He then sat in my lap and watched the whole thing. This is a sample of our main fan base, which tended to skew toward aged-12 and under, or age-37 and over. Not much in between. It's a weird demographic but a fun one.

The official She Mob World Wide Web headquarters.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What's On Your Wall? - Michelle Robinson

It's time once again for What's On Your Wall? Today's walls are brought to you by Michelle Robinson, whose daughter attended my son's co-op preschool in Oakland. A couple years ago, Michelle's husband was offered a job in Oregon and they moved up there pretty much sight unseen.

Luckily, we had just visited their new home-town and I was able to assure her that it's a bucolic and splendid place. And so it is. After we moved up north (job-related), the Robinsons traveled to our place for a visit. We had a great day, hiking around waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge. Soon thereafter we returned to California (job-related--see a pattern here?) and never got to see their new home. So I really appreciate finding out what's on Michelle's walls. And I'm planning a visit in the Spring.

No captions. I think the artwork speaks for itself.

More walls:
Captive WW

Monday, November 16, 2009

In the Alley with Lady Gaga

I just watched a new Lady Gaga video and now feel the urge to return to the church and confess my sins for hopefully some kind of salvation. The ultimate question surrounding what we know of Gaga is, "Is she a genius or is she full of it?" I think the fact that this question comes up over and over throughout the World Wide Web gives credence to the fact that no one really knows the answer, probably including Gaga herself, and I guess that's...interesting. Is it necessary? The folks in the music industry think so and they've been seriously hurting for someone to come along and distract us enough to send our money flowing in their direction.

And HERE SHE IS! I give her credit. She's a money maker. She's a costume wearer and she's a catchy songstress of edgy dance material. She's also needlessly creepy and cadges too much from olden-days Madonna and 80s-era club kids. They formed a gang of crazy costumed party-goers cobbled together out of creativity, drug abuse and poverty, which became so excessive it morphed into homicidal maniacism.

She's more like a club kid who hires her gang to be backup dancers and film crew. And that's OK because in today's crazy-wazy world of stratospheric unemployment, it's nice that a group of people can rightfully say, "My boss is Gaga!"

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sebadoh - "Sorry"

I haven't been in much of a writing mood lately. I've been in a reading/watching/listening mood. And so: Sorry. One of my favorite Sebadoh songs. Lou Barlow is such a sensitive and musical person. He could probably use some therapy at times but then his songwriting might suffer. So keep on suffering, Lou. Within reason, of course.

Sebadoh - Sorry from Miss Lisa on Vimeo.

From 1999. Were the 90s that far away in our past? It seems so these days. It was a grittier time somehow, yet we're currently knee-deep in unemployment, war and national angst. Shouldn't our art be reflecting this very gritty reality? Instead it's all glossy and derivative, a la Lady Ga Ga, Beyonce, and god knows what else--I can't be bothered to keep track lately. It's pretty dull, except for Pink--she's gritty and then some, with the singing talent to back it up. Are we trying to overtly cheer ourselves up? Maybe so...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Way We Get By - Trailer

The Way We Get By is the story of troop greeters in Bangor, Maine, who meet the troops on their way to and from Iraq.

But dad, it's SMOKEEEYYY!

Classic commercial that we middle-agers quote from time to time. And it was effective too, because when I started buying up records, I made sure to get a "Best of" Smokey Robinson and the Miracles (and Marvin Gaye while I was at it), which I still have. Because, after all, it is SMOKEEEEYYY.

As seen on The Poop (via Keith--thank you Keith, you humorous fellow).

Monday, November 09, 2009

The John Shiurba Experience - Hey Joe

I missed this annual show due to Halloween exhaustion, but here's a little piece of it. It's not every day that someone can do justice to Jimi Hendrix while Santa Claus plays drums. This shreds.

Live at the 8th Annual Murder Ballads Bash, Starry Plough, Berkeley CA, October 31, 2009. Thanks for this very special heavy-metal moment.
John Shiurba - guitar, vocals
Eli Crews - bass
Suki O'Kane - drums
Val Esway - backing vocals
Sue Hutchinson - backing vocals and MC
Karen Goodman - backing vocals

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Hey, Captive Wild Woman, what's on your Internet?

I have a lot of freelance work to do today and none of it pays, so I don't have time to work on too much here. I just spent the last hour gathering some currently browsed links (filtered by me) for fun and nonprofit. Have a great one, whatever it is.

Fun Cheap SF - San Francisco, fun, yes, but CHEAP? Apparently it's possible on certain days of the month.

150 things to do when you're bored (from Sarah Spy and Lists Galore!)

lines and colors - a blog about drawing, painting, illustration, comics, concept art and other.

Square America - A gallery of vintage snapshots & vernacular photography. Be sure to check out the new animated gallery of found 3D photos: The Bar Mitzvah and Other Tales of Living in Stereo.

Beijing artist, Liu Bolin, camouflages himself in plain sight, using paint and the world around him. Can you find him? (Seen in The Jailbreak - pop, politics & counterculture.)

Wanda Sykes--master of timing and delivery--on gay marriage. (NSFW) Her new talk show premieres this Saturday. Go, Wanda.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Happy Birthday Kathy Griffin. Suck it, Maine.

It's Kathy Griffin day around here! Many happy returns, funny lay-dee. I, like many, first became aware of her rising star from accidentally watching "Suddenly Susan" once in a while, which was embarrassing due to the awful title and the severely pained expressions coming from would-be romantic lead, Judd Nelson. I could not help noticing the tiny, wise-cracking foil to tall, humorless Suddenly Susan. Who is that strange and abrasive woman? I thought. I almost can't take her, yet I cannot turn away. Especially intriguing to me were her perfectly shorn bangs among piles of orange ringlets. It was like I Love Lucy meets your chain-smoking, crazy Aunt Lola from Jersey.

Eventually, she migrated to Seinfeld where, as Sally, she terrorized Jerry in two memorable episodes. She was moving up in the world. Since I didn't have cable until fairly recently, I never saw "My Life on the D-List" until it was out on DVD. And THAT'S when I had my epiphany: This woman is a comic genius and (running to the rooftop to shout), I don't care WHO KNOWS IT!!!

"D-List" is very meta, with an inside view of an outsider looking in. For some people that might be annoying. As in, what is the problem with all these Hollywood people and their V.I.P.-backstage-pass criterias? It all seems very exaggerated and unreal. Yet as someone who has worked as a PA (Peon Asswipe) on numerous film and TV crews, it is MUCH worse than you can possibly imagine. It's crazy, weird, bad, craziness, with occasional flashes of humanity and good humor thrown in. So I appreciate Kathy's take on the whole "enlisting in the fame army" process.

Also, she's not a joke-teller, so a lot of people curl their collective lips and say, "She's not FUNNY." But that's where they're WRONG. Because she's a comedic storyteller--a really good one. Her stories have concise beginnings, middles and ends. She has great timing and the endings are always the most absurd part of her retellings. It's all about the absurdity and her place in the absurd world.

Which is the other reason I like her: she's the court jester to our fame kings and queens. We don't have royalty or multi-gods. We have Brangelina. So I do appreciate her pointing out the big stupidness that exists in that celebrity place of worship. And she always includes her hapless role and desires in the equation; an equal-opportunity offender and holy fool.

Sue Iconolodge's Ode to Kathy Griffin.

Read Griffin's book. It's funny.

And be sure to suck it, Maine. Stop trying to inhibit the legal rights of my friends, you intolerant, old-school bigots. There is no time to waste on these issues, which are simple and straightforward. Take care of your families and let everyone else do the same.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Stereolab - Exploding Head Movie

Can't seem to stop making music videos. Is there an MVA (Music Video's Anonymous) meeting in my area?

My name is Captive Wild Woman and I'm addicted to the Internet Archive. Ever since I read the legal-usage terms of "public domain" the archival filmed and uploaded world is my oyster. I will continue to download and edit footage set to indie rock until somebody stops me, because I can no longer stop myself.

Today's video is from Stereolab's album "Refried Ectoplasm [Switched On Volume 2]" from 1995. It's a collection of singles and b-sides and is probably one of their best albums. I hope it's not too massively (corporately) copyrighted because I really enjoyed putting this Coney Island footage to it. If anyone has a problem with it, just let me know. For your viewing and listening pleasure only. No other uses. What could it be used for? It's only four inches wide.

French Disko from the same album.


Monday, November 02, 2009

Commercialized Candy

Another Halloween has crept by on its little Cat-in-the-Hat feet. Now all we have left are the memories and sandbag-sized amounts of candy. Let's explore the methods of ad men (and women) who've convinced us over the years to stuff our gobs with sweet treats.

The Good & Plenty commercial that got a generation hooked on licorice pastels.

Salvador Dali was crazy for chocolate-generated revenues.

The middle class is inspired by York Peppermint Patty.

The Tootsie Pop fable.

Two great tastes in one candy bar!

New wave Watchamacallit, the ironic, postmodern bar.

The Museum of Pez Memorabilia in Burlingame, California, must fight for their right to display Pez. Currently curator Gary Doss is in a legal battle to save his giant snowman Pez from Austrian-based Pez corporate destruction. Roadside America reports.