I gave Williamsburg what for on Friday. It's well deserved. But that doesn't mean I can't laugh about my own neighborhood. Flicking through the latest copy of the Park Slope Reader, I counted the following ads:
Family photographers specializing in maternity pictures (all using soft-focus images of pregnant women): 4
Massage Therapists: 4
Yoga classes: 3
Holistic Healing Centers: 2
Urban Spas: 2
Feng Shui Experts: 1
Spiritual Development classes: 1
Pilates classes: 1
Homeopathy Center: 1
And my faves:
Tibetan Shamen: 1
Authorized Medicine Men: 1
(Who authorizes medicine men anyway?)
These are only the ads, mind. Featured articles include 'The Holistic Vet' and 'Digging The Dirt: Community Gardens In Park Slope.' Let's just say that the Park Slope Reader knows its audience.
More important features can be found in the neighborhood's two free weekly newspapers. The Park Slope Courier, which I've previously criticized for appearing to have been bought into Bruce Ratner's plans for the Atlantic Yards, gives prominent front page coverage to alternate suggestions for the project. The group Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn has proposed that, for his Nets sports arena and any attendant buildings, Ratner and backers (including Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz) look at the Brooklyn Navy Yards. Advantages, according to Representative Major Owens as summarized by the newspaper:
"The Navy Yard is city owned and would require less public investment
The Navy Yard is in a state Empire Development Zone, which provides tax breaks for businesses
The Navy Yard is 300 acres as compared to 21 acres at the Atlantic Yards and would require no displacement of people
It would also be an excellent place to hold Olympic events, should the city win its bid for the 2012 Olympics
It has room to fit 25,000 parking spaces, and could utilize water transportation on the East River such as water taxi and ferry service."
Brooklyn Papers publisher Ed Weintrob offers another of his front page editorials on the wider issue, under the heading 'Support progress reject The Downtown Plan.' Weintrob is an excellent writer who can state the facts in simple sentences. I particularly like this one, tucked inside parentheses:
"The Nets arena, a tiny part of the Ratner-Downtown steamroller, is a masterful diversion meant to detract attention from the larger plan's specifics."
Those specifics include high-rise apartments, offices and retail space - all in prime real estate at the heart of developing Brooklyn. And it's for those reasons that Ratner won't follow up on the perfectly logical suggestion he move his "arena" to the Navy Yard. Sadly.
Staying in the neighborhood, I will be part of a three-pronged reading at the Park Slope jazz bar-performance space Barbes, 9th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues, on Tuesday May 18, around 7.30pm. The other readers are Amy Sohn, author of Run Catch Kiss, and host Ned Vizzini, author of Be More Chill. I will once again shamelessly plug Hedonism.
Three nights before that, on Saturday May 15, I'll be guest DJing at Tiswas again, at Don Hill's in Manhattan. Featured bands include highly tipped youngsters SUREFIRE and THE GO STATION who, according to the Tiswas web site, "combine influences from mid-90s Manchester to modern day Manhattan." Sounds like we should be in for another good night there.
That may be the last news you get from me this week. As you all know, the web site is a labor of love and I do have a family to feed. That means I have to sometimes get off the grid and write up bigger projects. Hopefully this week I'm going to see one of those projects through to the next stage. In the meantime, for all that the Donate buttons at left appear to be mainly for show, The Pub signed up its 100th member over the weekend.
People come in from all walks of life and for all reasons, and some stop in for a quick chat, decide they don't like the looks they're getting from the regulars lining the bar, and quickly move on. Which is my way of saying I know we don't have 100 people ready to post at any given moment. But still, while I'm away, why don't those of you who have already taken the time to register jump into some of the online discussions? (And why don't more of you take the 2-minute step of stopping in?) Pointman has opened a debate about "great new music." RichGF37 asked for opinions about Rock's Greatest Era. Trackcoach is talking about the 16 Côtes du Rhône Villages. Hulk wrote about the two new Who songs. This virtual pub is a great place for you all to discuss these subjects and others with people from, literally, all over the planet. Make use of it while I'm gone.
Driving into Williamsburg last Thursday (April 22)night to catch a gig at North Six was like watching one of those post-apocalyptic movies where the atomic meltdown has killed everyone but a handful of mutants. In Williamsburg, the Mutants happen to all be dressed as hipsters, but the result is still the same: there's nobody else on the streets. Nobody. Just hipsters. It's like all the normal people have been evaporated. Now, my part of Park Slope is suffering its own invasion of funky white people, but at least when they walk along 5th Avenue they have to make way for Hispanics, Muslims, Afro-Americans, dozens of moms with strollers and countless kids acting the way kids do. That never seems to be the case in Williamsburg; the hipsters there don't socialize with 'other' people. Anyone who's seen Deliverance knows what happens in such circumstances: inbreeding. This may explain why there were still some people (admittedly only a few) at North Six dressing like retards/rejects from that movie, persisting with trucker caps and unkempt beards blissfully ignorant of the fact that the rest of New York long ago realized how, as a fashion statement, this one sucks dick in a very big way.
Now listen. I'm not prejudiced. Some of my best friends are from Williamsburg; I met up with one of them for the gig. Admittedly, he used to live on my block here in the Slope and misses it like crazy but still, he's proof that you can live in Williamsburg and maintain your sanity. But just like some of my best friends are Millwall fans (really!), the exceptions prove the rule. And another thing: enough with the attitude. North Six must be the only venue I've attended in years where other punters whined about their floor space, as if they'd written their name on it and also bought the air space between those two square feet and the stage. They may have not noticed that North Six is a standing venue. (Actually, it also has bleachers at the back, ideal for those who want uninterrupted sight lines.) Besides, that's what happens at gigs: people move around as they head to the bar or see friends or struggle to see more of the show. Believe it or not, at some clubs people on the floor watching bands even dance and mosh. Try telling one of those dudes that they're "crowding your space" and you will get the reaction you deserve.
On the positive tip, the sound system at North Six is superb. Really, truly, crystal clear. It fully justified the journey to another planet. As did the bands, none of whom, I hope, have to live in the neighborhood.
I missed most of INOUK as the gig was a sell-out, there was a line down the block (translation for British readers: there was a queue all the way down the street) and it took the venue a good thirty minutes to get us inside. That was a shame, as Inouk's debut four-track EP Search For The Bees is as enticingly addictive as it frustratingly difficult to pin down. (That's frustrating only for me, the lazy journalist; for the group, it should be a matter of great pride.) Inouk's songs rattle with an enthusiastically edgy urgency, melodies emerging at unpredictable moments, rhythms cascading all over each other like Hot Hot Heat on fire only to suddenly disappear into the ether, leaving sparse instrumentation, Damon McMahon's voice rasping and yelping like a Yorkshire terrier snapping at your heels. Plus, the cover image is that of a band member's dad tripping on acid in a lake somewhere in hippy-era rural America, which is so cool you can't help but love them for it. Sadly, the three minutes I saw didn't help formulate any real kind of idea about the live show. Next time.
Last time I saw AMBULANCE LTD., they opened with their debut album's masterful kick-off instrumental, 'Yoga Means Union', and promptly blew some equipment. By the time it had been repaired, it was clear the band had shot their load. At North Six, the group saved 'Yoga Means Union' for last, which made a lot of sense. Prior to that, aided by the aforementioned crystalline sound system, they ran through their every-era rock set highlights being 'Primitive (The Way I Treat You)', 'Anecdote,' and a cover of the Velvets' 'Ocean' with the calm confidence of a band that knows their music is good enough to do the talking for them.
Marcus Congleton has a delightfully tender voice and an easy-going, unpretentious air about him; Benji Lysaght delivers the electric licks and riffs with a quietly restrained fury; drummer Darren Beckett is a powerhouse. Bass player Matt Dublin imposes somewhat, one of those likeable band members who should nonetheless hold back more; keyboard player Andrew Haskell hammers away at single notes from the sidelines. Concluding with 'Yoga Means Union' provided a proper, extensive climax. And they were smart enough not to try to get it up again i.e., no encores.
In retrospect, it may have made more sense for Ambulance Ltd. to have waited to release their album (reviewed here) until they'd made more of a splash on the live scene especially as they're not driven to sensationalism either on stage or on record. As is, the public is left playing catch-up. Let's trust it all evens out. They're too good to pass through the cracks.
FRENCH KICKS followed this path of greatest resistance themselves, quietly working their way up the New York scene for several years, biding their time while other bands gained (and some lost) their label deals. Along the way, they've shifted from the obvious mod influence of their Young Lawyer EP to something far more cerebral yet twitchily infectious, and vocalist Nick Stumpf has emerged from behind the drum kit to reveal himself as a natural front man. New album Trial Of The Century is the grand culmination of these changes, at once luscious and melodic, like Steely Dan on a good day, yet deliberately unnerving, as with the best of Radiohead.
French Kicks on form: North Six, April 22.
Both times I've seen French Kicks in current form, they've come on frustratingly late at night, but at North Six, they at least kept the set sufficiently short to ensure every one was left wanting more. Stumpf retreats to keyboards occasionally, as does guitarist Josh White, and though there are few songs to jump around to ('Yes I Guess' is the nearest to an exception), there are several to singalong with: 'Don't Thank me' and 'One More Time' from Trial Of The Century are ideally suited to summertime radio; 'Close To Modern' from previous album One Time Bells was well noted for its use of Prince-like falsettos. As with their friends The Walkmen, French Kicks are never going to find it easy to break into the big time; it's a matter of persistence, patience, and performance. But given that both North Six and their recent four-week Mercury Lounge residencies were sell-out gigs, it's evident that the band's hard work has paid off in its home town.
Chantal Claret of Morningwood: Horsing around
Think of The Darkness' shameless hedonism as fronted by The Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Karen O set to primeval punk'n'roll and you have an idea of the gleeful chaos that is the much-vaunted MORNINGWOOD. The group's got pedigree - guitarist Richard Steel was formerly in Spacehog, and bassist Pedro Yanowitz HAILS from The Wallflowers but they're all about 22-year old front woman Chantal Claret. She's big and she doesn't dress to impress, and that makes her songs 'Take Off Your Clothes,' 'New York Girls,' 'One Track Mind' and a number she introduced as 'Don't Get Cum In Your Eyes' all the seedier. And for some, I suppose, sexier.
To their credit, the live show improved as it progressed, suggesting that the trashy rock ethos has some staying power beyond its sensationalism. They ended with the theme song 'Morningwood' not a common British expression, but one well known in the States as a euphemism for a morning erection. It's worth noting as a sign of what happens when you go for shock value like this that the web site morningwood.com has been claimed by a tacky alarm clock company that offers buyers the opportunity to be woken to the sound of women faking orgasms; the New York band's web site is morningwoodrocks.com, where you can hear Chantal sounding much more like the real thing and check out the cover design for their upcoming 12" It's Tits in the process.
It must be the season for former Spacehog members and their sassy female-fronted new New York bands. That group of Leeds expats broke up after three albums, partially because their star was clearly waning, and also because singer Royston Langdon had married into rock royalty via Liv Tyler, opening the inevitably insurmountable rift with his still-broke band members. Clearly, the surviving Spacehogs remain undeterred: while Steel is helping build Morningwood's rep, drummer Jonny Cragg has placed his long-noted drumming skills behind three young New York women as THE TWENTY TWOS, who I caught up with at Piano's on April 29.
Hannah and Jenny
Jonny, Jenny and Terrah
The TWENTY TWOS are fronted by vocalist/guitarist Jenny Christmas, who is unapologetically hot, and no one should have any problem with that, though I am curious as to why she leaves all the song introductions to keyboardist and occasional singer Terrah Schroll. (Shyness? Mystique? Nothing to say?) Hannah Moorhead, meanwhile, rounds out the quartet on bass and harmonies. As with Morningwood, The Twenty Twos are proudly simplistic: their web site bio states that they formed through "a common need for some raw-energy rock-n-roll." (And that's about all it states.) The Runaways are a necessary comparison for a number of reasons, but Christmas' voice has something of Chrissie Hynde's distinct twang and the harmonies echo the better aspects of Blondie; plus, any band that uses a spangly Dan Electro guitar and a Rickenbacker bass clearly has good taste. Highlights included 'Another Day,' 'Every Little Thing' and Terrah's shout-out that "This song goes out to all the fucked-up New York City landlords." Close your eyes during that intro and you could have been back at CB's in its heyday. (I guess.) Tiswas is releasing an EP any day now. We'll see then how The Twenty Twos' pleasing but notably primitive songs translate to tape.
1) If something seems too good to be true, that's probably because it is.
2) If someone says early on in your relationship, "I'm not a flake," that usually means that they are. (Why else would they bring it up if not because they're regularly accused of it?)
I only learned these important life lessons in the last six months. If life truly begins at 40, I have a whole new existence in which to apply them. Those of you still in your 20s and many visitors to this site are that age or younger apply them now.
What is Mod music? The wife was asking last night. She knows I tried to answer the question in my posting on Tuesday, but says she came away only more confused by my statement that at the next Step On, I planned on including the likes of David Holmes, Sabres of Paradise and Lionrock in my mod hour.
I was tempted just to say, It's a British thing: you wouldn't understand. But I spent part of yesterday reading the two features on the mod scene in the Q Who special, each of which focused on the very same question, and which perhaps answered it a little more precisely. And you don't have to be a Brit to suss it out: the piece on sixties mods quoted American writer Dave Marsh correctly noting in his Who bio Before I Get Old that back in the early Sixties, "There was no mod music, just music that mods liked." Back then, that music generally had two criteria: it had to be black, and you had to be able to dance to it.
Ted Kessler's story on the mod revival takes a different tack than the 'Top 10 Mod Revival Tracks' that accompanies it and on which I passed comment Tuesday. The point is made that, once the revival got beyond the initial surge of parkas and scooters and embarrassing singles like 'You Need Wheels,' "the revival bands
. were universally banned from the playlists." DJ Bob Morris is then quoted as saying, "It was about soul, British R&B and jazz. It wasn't about post-punk power pop. It was a shame for those bands, but we didn't want to play it and the audience didn't want to hear it."
As I was explaining to Posie (i.e. the wife), the very term "mod revival" was of itself an oxymoron. A mod was a modernist, someone who was looking forward, staying several steps ahead of the others. In that sense, bands like The Small Faces, The Creation and The Who, could rightly be defined as mods, but the backward-looking 1979-81 revival bands and the brilliant 2-Tone movement that ran concurrently and with far greater success could not. My reason for including people like David Holmes, Andrew Weatherall and Justin Robertson in my notion of 'mod music' is based on how they've always been about staying sharp, looking ahead, understanding black music and refusing to be pigeonholed - the basic backbones of the modernist.
I've always felt similarly about punk. I know I'm not the only Brit (expat or otherwise) who lays claim to be both a lifelong mod AND a lifelong punk, while never having worn a parka or bondage trousers, having never owned a scooter nor stuck a pin through my cheeks. To my mind, each movement was born of a particular period of time, but each provided valuable philosophies to carry for perpetuity. Punk, as far as I saw it, was primarily about refusing to conform, challenging the system, doing your own thing. (And dancing to reggae.) To me that doesnt contradict with the mod ethos of looking sharp, staying one step ahead, and doing your own thing. (And dancing to R&B.) Both of them, ultimately, are a state of mind open to personal interpretation. That's as they should be. Conformity is death.
There are those for whom the rave movement was similarly life-changing. But it was disproportionately populated by hustlers and gangsters. I just spent way too long reading the Breakbeat Science forum in response to the NASA Rewind debacle of April 3. It's incredibly dispiriting to see how fucked up things can be. And it makes it seem as if nothing has changed in New York nightlife in the decade since I was fully immersed. (Though thank God, my old partner and I never fell out over money.) You can scan the forums, beginning with DB's explanation of what happened through to Scotto's rather evasive and delayed response, interjected with various calls by various breakbeat fans to Beat On The Brat (and yes, with a baseball bat: so much for PLUR.) If you don't want to follow through the threads (and you have to be an insider to understand even half the references) then wait till next week's Village Voice, where I believe Tricia Romano will be writing more about this subject. This week, she penned a goodbye to one of the few all-round good teams in the New York dance scene: Brooklyn's very own Halcyon, which shuttered its shop doors two weeks ago after several highly successful years that revolutionized the borough and the concept of a neighborhood store.
I didn't get to attend any of Halcyon's final parties, and I didn't lose sleep over that: I have perfectly fond memories of my multi-media Hedonism performance a few weeks after they opened, of DJing there, of playing live electronic jams there, of checking celebrity DJs like Timo Maas and Ian Pooley, hearing celebrity authors like Jonathan Lethem, of stocking up on 12" singles and dance magazines oh, and munching on tasty vegan muffins and sipping Rioja. Anyway, this story does have a happy ending: two weeks from now, Halcyon will be re-opening as a store in Dumbo (yes, our neighborhoods are formed from silly acronyms( while continuing with long-term plans to open a proper nightclub in Brooklyn in 2005. That not a Nets arena with an accompanying 650-foot skyscraper is the real final step we need to make this borough complete. I have every faith the Halcyon team will make it happen.
Also in the Voice: James Ridgeway, who gets on my nerves when he proselytizes, suggests some perfectly good questions for the 9/11 Commission to ask Bush and Cheney when they meet behind closed doors today. Ridgeway is partisan, but these questions are not. They're mere common sense. And we desperately deserve to know the answers.
Last piece of media watching for the day: The front page of The Guardian web site lists its 10 "most popular articles on Guardian Unlimited, April 14 - 21." Two feed into sexual titillation essentially the same story about the HIV scare in the American porn business and several play into common caricatures of politicians: (e.g., "Their beliefs are bonkers, but they are at the heart of power.") What's fascinating to note is that nine of the ten pieces directly concern the USA and few have more than a passing reference to Britain . (The lone exception is an AP wire, Probe Shows Iraq Nuke Facilities Unguarded.) The Guardian is, of course, a British newspaper. There must be an explanation for the popularity of its pieces about America. I just don't know what. I've been too busy trying to define mod.
Thank God they only come round once a year. Or in this case, every ten years.
Left to right, from top: DJ Lithium with Justin Nicholls of Mojulators fame (and Crazy Legs infamy) at Joeski's birthday bash, Sapphire, Monday night; someone very important in the world of crime fiction (seriously) and author Lauren Henderson at the Black Orchid bookstore's annual Edgar week party, Tuesday; the warm glow of a friendly English pub - The Gate in Park Slope; party people in the house; yours truly, still standing, well, sitting; and the new 30, so they say.
According to the card my mum sent me, Famous People Born in 1964 include: Mike Nolan, Kimberly Russell, Winston Benjamin, Holly Robinson, Chris Kavanagh, John Parrott and Ian Healey. Excuse my language but it is relevant to the next paragraph: who the fuck are they? (She asked the same question, though without the expletive-ridden reference to a Who lyric.)
Let's try some more relevant context for iJamming! readers. According to the blurb on the Dear Boy jacket, "Tony Fletcher
was born in Yorkshire almost the exact week Keith Moon joined the band that would become The Who." I.e., exactly 40 years ago.
Which made the arrival in the mail of the Q Who special an entirely appropriate and welcome birthday present this morning. My six-page piece on Mr. Moon is, as requested, a summary of Dear Boy in 3500 words and those of you who've read the book will probably be more than familiar with my various anecdotes and observations.
Spot the difference: Q for the UK...
...Mojo for the States. God knows why.
So what else is in there? Lots. Fresh interviews with Townshend and Daltrey (this time it's the vocalist's turn to dis Entwistle in death, albeit a little less offensively than did Townshend in Uncut); Richard Barnes on The Detours; Nick Kent on Keith Moon's dalliance with Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page (mostly culled from Dear Boy, though with some fresh quotes from Page); Andy Neill on John Entwistle, the Australian tour of 1968, and Moon's second attempt at a solo album (that's three separate features, you busy boy, Andy); Dear Boy editor Chris Charlesworth on Kit Lambert (Chris told me privately that after attending the launch for The Kids Are Alright DVD last week in London, he was inspired to borrow a busker's guitar at Tottenham Court Road tube and drunkenly blast through 'Substitute' at passing tourists and bleary-eyed commuters; there's a true music fan for you); Paolo Hewitt on the time he connected Pete Townshend with Paul Weller for an interview (the latter at his most anti-American, anti-establishment cantankerous); Matt Kent on The 10 Great Who Gigs (Charlton 1976, where he and I both saw the band for the first time, is among them); and no shortage of wonderful photos and other features. Oh, and Weller penned the forward.
Personally, I'm intrigued by the 15 pages of Mod Stories which runs contemporaneously with the Who's own story throughout the book-like magazine. The feature about the late 70s/early 80s mod revival has particularly piqued my interest and I'll read it properly later on.
By coincidence, we'd already decided that the next Step On Friday May 7 will have a mod flavor, with me playing exclusively 'mod music' from 10-11pm and guest DJ Tim Cook from Headquarters dropping in his own interpretations over the course of the night.
Anyway, Q's 'Top 10 Mod Revival Tracks' might have thrown me if not for the fact that I'd recently unearthed and dug through three patchy This Is Mod compilations released by Cherry Red several years ago. In doing so, I'd been pleasantly surprised by The Circles (cited here for 'Opening Up') and truly embarrassed by Long Tall Shorty's 'England' (the band is cited here for '1970s Boy'). Mod Revival Chart compilers, DJs Dave Edwards and Bob Morris, are wise enough to include the three true revivalist anthems, The Chords' 'Maybe Tomorrow,' Purple Hearts' 'Millions Like Us' and Secret Affair's 'Time For Action' (love the first, like the second, hate the last), and add The Jam's 'Going Underground' for revealing the qualitative gap between the original revivalists and the revivalist copy-cats. I was also thrilled to see 'Plan B' by Dexys Midnight Runners, a single I play out at every opportunity. As Edwards and Morris write, Dexys were "by no means a mod band." But, if, as they then note, "Dexys' stomping debut single was nevertheless a revivalist anthem on its release in 1979," then they can't be talking about 'Plan B'. Dexys debut single was called 'Dance Stance', and it was indeed a revivalist anthem on release (it charted in January 1980); 'Plan B' was not released until 1981. Oh well.
As I often explain to Americans, mod is more than a musical term. It's a state of mind, and as such a constant presence in Britain's major music cultures from 60s rock to 70s northern soul, through elements of punk rock and new wave, and on to the rave generation. That's one reason I know so many British dance DJs who have read Dear Boy because they see themselves as following in the same cultural footsteps. So when I say the next Step On will have a mod focus, expect that to include The Shirelles, Justin Roberston's Lionrock, Jimmy McGriff, David Holmes, Sabres of Paradise, Rotary Connection, David Bowie, The Buzzcocks, Primal Scream, Interpol and Mooney Suzuki as well as The Who, The Jam, The Small Faces, The Chords and Purple Hearts. Should be a good night.
One other welcome delivery this morning: the new Radio 4 album, Stealing Of The Nation. Like the aforementioned Mooney Suzuki's upcoming classic Alive And Amplified, this one is also not out until the summer, and yes I am a lucky boy for getting to hear it so early. Actually, I've been fortunate to hear it in various stages of development; suffice to say, it sounds like they've risen to the occasion. As tomorrow's post will note, the new New York rock scene continues to flourish, proliferate and develop.
I could pretend it's not happening, but it is. And it's a big one, one of those every-ten-year events when both digits turn over. Yes folks, I've finally turned 30! Anyway, I've already seen the morning in in what I consider good style - playing football from 11pm-12am with my 5-a-side over-30s team (yippee! I'm finally old enough to be legit), and having a cracking game on the winning side, scoring a couple of goals in the process. Plus, stopped in to the Mondaze night at Sapphire, New York's best underground house night, where resident DJ Joeski was also celebrating his birthday. Special guests included both Junior and Roger Sanchez (they're not related, are they?) but I called it a night when Junior, struggling to keep the crowd on the floor, played Phil Collins' 'Easy Lover.' I often say at this site that good music is good music is good music; well, bad music is bad music is bad music. We can talk more about that stuff later. I may not post any more on Tuesday as I've got lots going on, not a little of which includes celebrating/commiserating. Anyone who's already seen in the big 3-0 and wants to tell me how great it is can fire right on up. Anyone who's seen the next decade in as well can do likewise!
First MC5, now The Ramones. Da Brudders are the subject of a documentary, End Of The Century, that won acclaim at film festivals over the last year but has, just like MC5: A True Testimonial, been legally restrained from commercial release. Unfortunately, Joey Ramone went into hospital, never again to emerge, the very day the film-makers were set to interview him, and his estate is upset that the singer is under-represented as a result. Plus, the film-makers neglected to secure written release forms from those people they did interview. Oh, and they forgot to secure the music rights. And, um, they still owe various editing houses various six-figure sums of money. Must be a good movie if Bill Werde is urging its release nonetheless. (As a writer, I always like to think that a biography is the ultimate historical document, but when I see movies like From Westway To The World and A True Testimonial, I put my prejudice aside.)
Werde writes that, after "Joey Ramone, the singer, was dumped by his fiancée, Linda, for Johnny [Ramone] in the early 80's, Joey and Johnny did not talk to each other during the 15 more years the Ramones toured until they retired in 1996." Is this true? Indeed, is it possible? I have at hand a copy of Everett True's recent Ramones biography; I'll need to skim through and see if he says as much. Anyone else already know the answer, post it at The Pub.
They never stopped talking: Chris Stein, Joey Ramone, Marky Ramone and Debbie Harry, on Liberty Island, New York, December 1990. Twin Towers in the background. Photo by Neville Wells. More about Joey here.
Talking of books about New York punks, I was reading Making Tracks, The Rise of Blondie, published back at the pinnacle of the group's career and essentially the band's story in Debbie Harry's own words. (Chris Stein provides beautiful photographs, including one of Joey in bed with Debbie - no problems in that relationship! Victor Bockris gets authorship credit somehow.) I was struck by Debbie's sentences about the Britain of 1977: stylistic use of vernacular aside, it's an extraordinarily accurate account of the country back at the peak of punk.
"Detroit-like sensibilities were everywhere toughness, desperation, intense alienation. The place felt like it was ready to blow. The patterns of the American sixties were right there like a time warp. They even had their own little Vietnam War going in Ireland
. The English kids of the seventies got jobs at seventeen if they could [16, actually, but we take her point], and certainly most couldn't afford to go to a university,. Your typical English rock fan works all week, and gets bloody pissed every night with Friday on his mind
They're subject to terrible boredom sitting in their parents houses like prisoners. Fewer TV shows are aired. All they can do is rush down to the pub at eleven a.m., sip a pint of lager as slowly as they can, get completely knackered by noon, and stay that way until the pub closes at three. England is an unbelievably repressed country, but the anguish and violence this repression causes makes the kids more colorful than their less focused American counterparts, who have it much easier."
Credit where credit is due. Arsenal achieved what was long considered unattainable if not physically impossible yesterday, becoming Champions of the English Premier League after going unbeaten through all 34 games of the season (thus far). Whenever other great teams have come close to an unbeaten run like that, they've come undone as the pressure piles on towards the season's conclusion. Arsenal were actually no exception they got knocked out of the Champions League (by Chelsea) and the FA Cup (by Manchester United) in the space of four days earlier this month, ruining their dreams of The Treble. But that shouldn't take away from their statistical triumph in the greatest League of them all. And the fact that they won it playing against their North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur must make it all the sweeter. Just for the sake of setting a new standard, I hope they go the remaining four games without losing. (And of course, I hope Palace go up so we can play against the big boys again next year.)
APR 19-25: 5 Boroughs Rock, The Number 3 Bus, Orbital split, MC5 reform
APR 6-19: British Press Cuttings, More Than Nets, Art Rockers and Brit Packers
MAR 29-APRIL 5: The Rapture/BRMC/Stellastarr* live, The Chinese Beatles, Freddie Adu
MAR 22-28: Singapore Sling live, Kerry on a Snowboard, Pricks on Clits, Eddie Izzard, Who's Two
MAR 15-21: TV On The Radio live, Tracking Terror, Bloomberg's Education Bloc, The Homosexuals,
MAR 8-14: The Undertones live, Winemakers Week, Madrid Bombings, Just In Jest
MAR 1-7: Rhone-gazing, Pop Culture Quiz answers, Who's Hindsight, March Hitlist
FEB 16-29: Lad Lit, American Primaries, New York novels, Candi Staton, the Pop Culture Quiz, World Musics In Context
FEB 9-15: Grammy gripes, Spacemen 3, Replacements, Touching The Void, Moon myths, Voice Jazz & Pop Poll
FEB 2-FEB 8: Suicide Girls in the flesh, Johnny Rotten's a Celebrity...So's Jodie Marsh
JAN 26-FEB 1: Starsailor/Stellastarr*/Ambulance live, Tiswas, Wine Watch, Politics Watch
JAN 19-25: Brooklyn Nets? LCD Soundsystem, Iowa Primary, The Melody, TV On The Radio
JAN 12-18: The Unicorns live, New York w(h)ines, Sex In The City, Curb Your Enthusiasm, S.U.V. Safety, Bands Reunited
JAN 5-11: Tony's Top 10s of 2003, Howard Dean and his credits, Mick Middles and Mark E. Smith, Mick Jones and Don Letts,
DEC 22-JAN 4: Blind Boys of Alabama live, Joe Strummer, Year-End Lists, Finding Nemo, The Return of The King
DEC 15-21: Placebo live, Park Slope, Angels In America, Saddam's capture
DEC 8-14: The Rapture live, Guardian readers change lightbulbs, Keep iJamming! Thriving
DEC 1-7: Cabaret Laws, Ready Brek, Kinky Friedman, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Jonathan Lethem, Julie Burchill, Blizzard running
NOV 17-30: Lost In Music, Lost In Translation, Neil Boland, Political Polls, Press Clips, Australian Whines
NOV 10-16: Ben E. King live, Hedonism readings, A***nal, Charts on Fire
NOV 3-9: Brother Bear, Oneida, P. Diddy, Steve Kember, Guy Fawkes, Iraq, the Marathon
OCT 27-NOV 2: CMJ Music Marathon report, NYC Running Marathon preview, Prey For Rock'n'Roll, Yellow Dog, Gen Wesley Clark, Halloween
OCT 20-26: Television Personalities, defending New York rockers, Bill Drummond Is Read
OCT 6-19: LCD Soundsystem live, Renewable Brooklyn review, Blind Acceptance is a sign...
SEP29-OCT 5: New York w(h)ines parts 1 and 2, Bruce Springsteen at Shea Stadium.
SEP 22-28: Atlantic Antic, Pacifists for War: General Wesley Clark and the Democratic Debate, Danny Tenaglia, Running Wild, Steppenwolf
SEP 15-21: Radio 4/DJ Vadim live, Manhattan Mondaze, Circle of Light, Renewable Brooklyn
SEP 8-14: Central Park Film Festival, Roger (Daltrey) and me, September 11 Revisited, The Raveonettes/Stellastarr* live, Recording Idiots of America,
SEP1-7: Film Festivities, Party Monster, Keith Moon RIP
AUG 25-31: Punk Planet, Carlsonics, Copyright Protection, Cline Zinfandel, BRMC
AUG 18-24: Black Out Blame Game, John Shuttleworth, British Music mags, Greg Palast, The Thrills live.
AUG 11-17: The New York blackout, Restaurant reviews, The Media as Watchdog, What I Bought On My Holidays
AUG 4-10: Step On again, Shaun W. Ryder, Jack magazine, the BBC, the Weather, Detroit Cobras, football and Rock'n'Roll
JULY 28-AUG 3: De La Guarda, The Rapture, Radio 4, Stellastarr*, Jodie Marsh, A Tale of Two Lions, Hedonism launch photos,
JULY 14-27: Manchester Move Memories, Hedonism is Here, Holiday postcard
JULY 7-13: Chuck Jackson live, Step On, Beverley Beat, British Way of Life
JUNE30-JULY6: David Beckham, Geoffrey Armes, Happy Mondays, Step On at Royale
JUNE 23-29: Ceasars/The Realistics live, weddings and anniversaries, Cabaret laws.
JUNE 9-23: Hell W10, The Clash, Big Audio Dynamite, Nada Surf live, Field Day debacle
JUNE 2-8: Six Feet Under - Over, Field Day, Siren Fest, Crouching Tigher Hidden Cigarette
MAY 19-JUNE 1: Ian McCulloch live, New York's financial woes, Six Feet Under, Hedonism, Tommy Guerrero.
MAY 5-18: Live reviews of The Rapture, De La Soul, Carlsonics, Laptop, The Libertines, Echoboy, The Greenhornes; observations on Chris Coco/The Blue Room, The Apple Music Store, Alan Freed, Phil Spector, The Matrix Reloaded, Rare Earth, Tinnitus and Royale!
APRIL 28-MAY 4: Flaming Lips, Madonna, Bill Maher, The Dixie Chicks, the war
APRIL 21-27: Rotary Connection, War(n) Out, Cocaine Talk
APRIL 14-20: Belated London Musings on Death Disco and CPFC.
APRIL 7-13: London Musings: Madness, Inspiral Carpets, the Affair, the Palace, the Jam
MARCH 31-APRIL 6: Music be the spice of life, London Calling: Ten Observations from the Old Country
MARCH 24-30: Six Feet Under, Peaches/Elefant live, MP Frees and Busted Boy Bands
MARCH 17-23: Röyksopp live, Transmission, Worn-Out War Talk
MARCH 10-16: Live reviews: Stratford 4, Flaming Sideburns, Joe Jackson Band, Linkin Park. Why I Oppose The War (For Now).
MARCH 3-9: The Pursuit of Happiness, Weekend Players, U.S. Bombs, Al Farooq, A New Pessimism, Brooklyn Half Marathon
FEBRUARY 24-MARCH2: Orange Park, Ali G-Saddam Hussein-Dan Rather-Bill Maher-Jon Stewart TV reviews, Stellastarr*, James Murphy, The Station nightclub fire, the Grammys
FEBRUARY 17-23: Village Voice Poll, Singles Club, Smoke and Fire
FEBRUARY 3-16: Snug, The Face, Pink, Supergrass live, Keith Moon, Phil Spector, Gore Vidal
JANUARY 27-FEBRUARY 2: Communist Chic, Spiritland, Daddy You're A Hero, Keith Moon, State of the Union, CPFC and more on Iraq
JANUARY 20-26: Divisions of Laura Lee, Burning Brides, Words On War, Child Abuse of a Different Kind, Losing My Edge
JANUARY 13-19: Pete Townshend, Pee Wee Herman, South Park and more Pete Townshend
JANUARY 6-12: Interpol in concert, Tony Fletcher's Top 10 Albums and Singles of 2002, More on Joe Strummer and The Clash, Fever Pitch and Bend It Like Beckham.
DECEMBER 31 2002 -JAN 5 2003: A tribute to Joe Strummer, Radio 4 live on New Year's Eve
2002 MUSINGS ARE LISTED HERE: