Hypermodern International Congress 2175

Remember, it wasn't raining when Noah built the ark.


Jesus & Mary Chain review (Webster Hall 5/21)

image courtesy of the Village Voice, which still blows....

There's always the chance, when you drop $45 for a ticket (plus god knows how much for booze) and spend an hour standing around marveling at the other rubes who allegedly have the same tastes you do, that your favorite band who hasn't performed in almost ten years will quite simply suck. Fact of life - most things suck, and the things that don't usually find a way to start. Lucky for me, this cynical attitude is shared by the infamous Reid brothers of Jesus & Mary Chain.

Fresh off years of anonymous sucking with their solo projects, and a Coachella performance overshadowed by a cameo of former Hollywood jailbait Scarlett Johansen, JMC gave a rounded fan-pleasing performance, peppered with barbs of wit and ear piercing feedback. The "tasty-but-you-might-choke-on-it" mix of pop-rock, noise and angsty lyrics shows not only the prevalence of their style over the last few years but also the lack of substance in those same years that set the Mary Chain apart.

By the time the lights went out it was 10:10 and JMC led off with two from "Automatic" - "Between Planets" and "Head On". As two of the most up-beat, sing-along songs in their oeuvre - they weren't bad openers. Jim Reid did his damnedest to thwart the crowd's enthusiastic nodding and singing by dropping notes and stretching the paces of his refrains. The result was amusing - as if a unique live cut of the songs were playing over the familiar Blanco & Negro cuts. JMC's new song "All Things (Must Pass)" provided a surprising and refreshing update to the "Automatic" phase of their career. More base and drum driven than most Mary Chain songs, "All Things" rings with Jim Reid's whiny twang for the refrain "I hope it doesn't last." It checks in at about a two-minute fuck you to The Strokes and other recent pretenders. In another sense the song is a statement on the JMC reunion - "Each day I wake, it's gonna be my last." Begging for the end and inviting death are hallmarks of the old candy fuzz JMC style and it was a treat to see them update it, while avoiding the lame pitfalls of favorite fan punching bag, the 1998 Sub Pop release "Munki."

With the exception of "Cracking Up" they scrupulously avoided "Munki" to my great delight. Although they remained fan favorites, the songs from "Psychocandy" ("Sidewalking" and "Just Like Honey") fall flat without the early JMC noise assault and the "Darklands" tracks ("April Skies" and the title track) proved likewise underwhelming without the studio note perfection. The exception was Psychocandy's "Never Understand" which crackled with feedback and played well at a slightly increased speed.

As might be expected, the real treats of the live performance were from "Honey's Dead". An extended version of "Teenage Lust" had the sound mixer working overtime to keep Jim and William from redlining. It was dirty, heavy, mean rock n' roll. With "Reverence" as a closer the band gave me pretty much everything I was looking for. Nothing says rock n' roll like a couple hundred young people screaming along "I wanna die!" Their performances signed the "Honey's Dead" aesthetic as the band's core philosophy - sex, death and feedback (not necessarily in that order).

After a spirited (but mannered) curtain call from the crowd, JMC came back with a song that really announced that they're still them. And nothing self-identifies like a cover, especially a hipster-loathing, ultra-short, thrashing, bass and lyrics driven song like The Soft Boys b-side "Vegetable Man." Calling out cool haircuts and poseur styling twenty years before The Dandy Warhols, The Soft Boy's tune positively throbs with violence against triviality and transparency:
"And what I wear/ is what you see/ It must be me / It's what I am / Vegetable Man."
The crowd seemed appropriately clueless. It warms the cockles of my heart that the JMC concert retained the the despair and clever misanthropy that made the band the the heirs of The Velvet Underground and Joy Division. It's enough to give one hope for the sick-of-you-all violence that fueled at least one revival for rock n' roll. Even if it is too late, maybe that's what we wanted to hear. And what better band to tell us it's time to die?


Marketing a Death Sentence

Remind me to burn my imitation-Johnny Spaceman lyrics, lest the cops try to set me up on a heroin charge....



The Usual Suspects

From an AP article that ran today--solid work by the defense department.

through interviews with justice and police officials and detainees and their families, and by using reports from human-rights groups and local news media, The Associated Press was able to track 245 of those formerly held at Guantanamo. The investigation, which spanned 17 countries, found:

- Once the detainees arrived in other countries, 205 of the 245 were either freed without being charged or were cleared of charges related to their detention at Guantanamo. Forty either stand charged with crimes or continue to be detained.

- Only a tiny fraction of transferred detainees have been put on trial. The AP identified 14 trials, in which eight men were acquitted and six are awaiting verdicts. Two of the cases involving acquittals--one in Kuwait and one in Spain--initially resulted in convictions that were overturned on appeal.

- The Afghan government has freed every one of the more than 83 Afghans sent home. Lawmaker Sibghatullah Mujaddedi, the head of Afghanistan's reconciliation commission, said many were innocent and ended up at Guantanamo because of tribal or personal rivalries.

- At least 67 of 70 repatriated Pakistanis are free after spending a year in Adiala Jail. A senior Pakistani Interior Ministry official said investigators determined that most had been "sold" for bounties to U.S. forces by Afghan warlords who invented links between the men and Al Qaeda. "We consider them innocent," said the official, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.

- All 29 detainees who were repatriated to Britain, Spain, Germany, Russia, Australia, Turkey, Denmark, Bahrain and the Maldives were freed, some within hours after being sent home for "continued detention."


Great Chapters in Hating

I used to worry that I spent too much time hating on things, but recently I've taken steps toward accepting and celebrating the hate. With this in mind, here is the first of what I hope will be a "best-of" series with hating as its subject matter.

Gang of Four, "Entertainment!"

One of the best ways to exasperate your peers in American society is to hate on consumerism, which is the ideological foundation of our country. Our forms of self-expression, from punk to gangsta to the girl at my office who wants a $1,000 Gucci bag for Christmas, are so tied to what we buy that only the most priggish haters would devote an entire album to railing on the identification-through-consumption that we enact every day. Of course, that's just what Gang of Four did on "Entertainment!" The album portrays day-to-day life in a Western capitalist democracy as a nonstop purgatory of alienated tension. Best piece of hating: "Love'll get you like a case of anthrax/ And that's something I don't want to catch," from the song "Anthrax."


N.C.A.A. Psyop

Published: December 10, 2006

In March, the University of California at Berkeley men’s basketball team played its final home game against the University of Southern California, whose team was led by its star guard, Gabe Pruitt. Pruitt was in the midst of a terrific year for U.S.C., averaging about 17 points a game, and for Cal, as the U.C. Berkeley team is known, the game was a must-win if it was to get a bid to the N.C.A.A. tournament. Cal needed to figure out a way to keep Pruitt from having another monster outing.

The solution to how to neutralize Pruitt came not from a game plan of X’s and O’s but from military-style psychological operations. In the week leading up to the game, members of Cal’s Rally Committee, who earlier obtained Pruitt’s Instant Messenger screen name, created an I.M. account for a fictional U.C.L.A. coed named Victoria. “Victoria” began flirting with Pruitt, sending him photos of herself (pictures of a very attractive woman that the Cal students had taken off the Internet) and telling him that she and her friends wanted to party with him and his teammates back in L.A. after the game against Cal. Pruitt responded in kind, writing, “You look like you have a very fit body” and “Now I want to c u so bad,” and eventually giving her his phone number and agreeing to get together when he returned from the game.

On game day, when Pruitt went to the foul line for the first time, Cal students began chanting: “Victoria! Victoria!” and reciting Pruitt’s phone number. Pruitt, a 79 percent free-throw shooter on the season, missed both shots and had one of his worst games of the year, shooting 3 for 13 from the field. Cal won the game by 11 points and went on to the N.C.A.A. tournament.

After the loss, Pruitt said of the Psyop tactic: “I’ve never seen anything like that, that big. It’s up there.” He then added, “My dad got a kick out of it, but he kind of told me to be careful.”


Olympic Mascot Death WARZ and the Continued Pussification of Signs and Symbols Under Global Hegemony

The FUWA welcome your interest in Great China Olympic Spectacle of Worldwide People and Gamesmanship competition. Perhaps you would like to pass the time by playing a little solitare?

Well it's about time to get ready to snuggle up to Red China for the 2008 Summer Olympics. The factories around Beijing and other main sites have been turned off and reassigned to less important provinces. Already the incidence of massive peasant uprisings in the West and sandstorm fog are lifting the veil on this wonderful worldwide event, and millions upon millions of prisoner workers turn their eyes proudly toward the olympic mascots - the Fuwa. The Fuwa consist of five "figures" - Bèibei, with a fish design, Jīngjing, with a giant panda and lotus design, Huānhuan, the Olympic Flame, Yingying, with a Tibetan antelope design, Nīni, with a swallow design. Together the five names form the Chinese phrase "Beijing huan ying ni", which means "Beijing welcomes you". Indeed.

But what about other sub-kistchy figures of days gone by?

Who among us could forget Waldi, the Bavarian Dacshund and mascot of the Munich 1972. Representing the key traits of Resistance, Tenacity and Agility - surely we all rememer the inspiring images of Waldi pulling a wounded Israeli hostage toward the Medivac vehicles at the airport.

Or Mitza, the cute Russian Bear of the 1980 Moscow games. In retrospect, Mitza it wasn't personal. We could never boycot that smile...

Or how about Cobi, the "cubist" (?) rendering of a Catalan sheepdog. Surely, he calls to mind the formless snickering pan-sexuality of the beginning of the Clinton era.

And of course the much maligned Izzy, short for Whatizit? Who best exemplefied our American questioning spirit through his ambiguous and unappologetic lampooning of gay mascots everywhere.

Vote for your favorite....


Tesla in Pynchon

a quote

"The same began to happen to me also at your age," Tesla recalled. "When I could find the time to sit still, the images would come. But it's always finding the time isn't it?"
"Sure, always something...Chores, something."
"Tithing," Tesla said, "giving back to the day."

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