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26 August 2011

Snapshots from Denniston Hill: Research & Inspirations

Often the places one’s mind travels while in a certain place are more important than the place itself. What follows are some stray hints at the deliberate researches, happenstance investigations & random (mental) walks I’ve been taking while at Denniston Hill. (There have been random physical walks as well. Those are fun, too.) All of it circles around an unexpected intersection where art, capitalism, community and anarchy make contact.

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29 April 2011

The royal wedding, a true rant

UPDATED APRIL 29, 2011 AT MID-DAY: The rant which follows notwithstanding, I did watch the damn thing. What can I say, Kate Middleton’s dress looked smoking, though the provence of said dress in the studios of Alexander McQueen makes me sad in ways that are hard to explain at this late capitalist moment, as did the elegantly designed advertisement that appeared as I watched the webcast on The Telegraph.

Sublime? Really? Yesterday, I posted my own take on the sublime. This thing just seems like the most perfectly targeted advertising ever. May it live here on the web, in perpetuity, even as larger answers elude us.


Hey people, I hate to piss on someone else’s wedding, and it’s not exactly a cutting edge position to hate on the royals. As my favorite wedding-related Tweet read, “People who don’t care about the royal wedding are so edgy.” So, uh, yeah, the issue here is not that I’ll pretend not to care about the royals. My issue is that the world cares way too much about them — myself included and, hey, the self-regarding royals themselves included too. I can barely stomach the occasional affectation of the minor rock stars (and, sometimes even worse, art & classical world stars) I find myself in contact with; I definitely can’t stomach the affectations I, myself, need to put on to do the job I do within various creative communities.

So, why exactly am I supposed to care about the affectations of a group of people for whom affection seems a point in and of itself?

Without further adieu, a kind of **** you to all things royal from Crass founder Penny Rimbaud, who talks at length here about the death of his friend Wally Hope. Kick back and relax because this sucker takes about 40-minutes, it rambles and digresses, picks-up and slows down, and covers everything from the hippie movement to Stonehenge to the birth of Crass and all the connections therein. Over 25 minutes in Rimbaud complains “We’re under a time sort of confine now.” Dude that’s not even English! And he’s English!

Note: It was filmed by Gavin McInnes, the co-founder of Vice, a dude who admirably got off one culture cash-in train mid-journey to do his own thing. (As McInnes’s Wikipedia entry reads he is “often credited with starting the contemporary hipster movement.” Ahem. We’ll save complaints about that for another blog post.)

Roger all that?

For more on Crass dig into this blog’s archive or, better yet, I’d suggest starting with this article I wrote for LA Weekly in 2008. Or, for a bit of counter-programming, peep this official program from today’s event (aka the longest JPEG ever) after the jump (via The Daily).
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17 August 2010

Crass & Mary Margaret O’Hara de-recluse themselves

In the overmediated age we find ourselves in, I have a kind of kneejerk negative reaction to the entire notion of the recluse. Especially when the semifamous are accused of such behavior, it strikes me less as a desire for obscurity, than an assertion of self-respect, a meek demand for privacy, and/or a slide into a more decent sort of existence. Viz Salinger, admittedly a tad more famous than some of the “obscure” musicians whose work I admire.

In any case, there’s no denying two of my favorite icons of ’80s music have been accused of reclusive behavior. But today I woke up, fired up the internets, and bumped into two fine examples of them speaking loud and clear. So, without further adieu:


One of the great archival photographs that appears alongside the great Crass interview appears above. Another right below.

And here is the Mary Margaret O’Hara interview in its entirety.

If you click on the tags to this post you can find a fair bit more of my internet ramblings about these two folks. And, because I’ll always appeal to prurient interests when given the chance, there’s one last image of Crass — a nudie shot! — after the jump.
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28 March 2009

The Crass Agenda

Music documentaries tend to be fans only affairs because music at its best is not a casual art. You can’t consume it like a good film or a trendy novel and get the whole story.  You must live in it. Shows, t-shirts, flyers on your wall, a haunting strain which helps you sleep at night and makes the morning worth waking up for. It is philosophy delivered whole — sound & image, the record sleeve & the melody which tells its story, yes, but also instruction on how you should live your life when that story is done.

This short excerpt from a British documentary on Crass does a good job of not only delivering the band’s rage, but sharing the context that made them a necessary relief. Most explications of Crass focus on their means (piles of bodies, quasi-military graphics, provocation) and not their intent (a kind of anarchist counterpoint to the oppressions of life under capitalism, the creation of a free space). Whoot here it is:

PS – I’ve always wanted to believe John Lydon wasn’t a total tool. Wait for his appearance toward this end of this video. What can I say; I was wrong.

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4 March 2008

Jeffrey Lewis (Interviewed) & Crass (Covered)

In this week’s print edition of LA Weekly, I contributed a piece about Jeffrey Lewis’s new album 12 Crass Songs, and the phenomenon of young(ish) indie rockers covering 80s era hardcore punk songs. Here is the unexpurgated Q&A.


What are you doing the next few months?
Well I’m doing a bunch of solo dates opening for the Super Furry Animals and Times New Viking and immediately after that I’m doing the west coast with the Mountain Goats, and then I’m doing a bunch of one offs with Kimya Dawson + Mount Eerie, and then a full US tour with Ra Ra Riot and The Cribs. I’ll do whatever I can scrouge up. I’ve worked with whatever I manage to bring up. All this US stuff wraps up in April 4th, and then I’m doing some festival stuff in Belgium starting April 15th. So we have about a week off between now and May.

Is it an interesting time to go out there with Kimya given her recent success?
I’ve played tons of shows with her in various situations. I’ve known her for years so it’s not that strange.

Well you have to acknowledge it seems like a pretty good time for anti-folk again — between Kimya contributing all those songs to the Juno soundtrack, one of the best selling records of this year, and you having a bit of a renaissance of interest with your 12 Crass Songs?
For myself it’s not so much that there’s been a resurgence because…don’t call it a comeback I’ve been here for years.

After the jump, a Teenage Kicks exclusive: Will Jeffrey Lewis’s next covers project be devoted to Public Enemy?
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