Thursday, December 14, 2017

Going out the window and Crimes and Misdemeanors

Crimes and Misdemeanors is by far my favourite Woody Allen film. I find a lot of his films annoying (his early comedies, for the most part) or strainingly pretentious (did it ever get worse than Another Woman?).  There is a vast swath of his cinema that I haven't seen - basically anything since 2005's Match Point, which is basically a tennis-centred remake of Crimes and Misdemeanors, reiterating the theme wholesale ("murder goes unpunished") while altering the plot and characters. I found it boring, if competent, and ultimately totally unnecessary (I could have just watched Crimes and Misdemeanors again!). I didn't mind Celebrity, the previous film of his (from 1998) that I'd watched, or Deconstructing Harry (only seen once, when Charlie Smith introduced it at the Vancity). There are a couple of others - mostly ones he made early in his career. Of his films I have actually seen more than once, and want to see again, there's (in order) Crimes and Misdemeanors, Interiors, Annie Hall, Manhattan, and maybe Hannah and Her Sisters (and that just for Max von Sydow's line about how if Christ were around today and saw what was being done in his name, he'd "never stop throwing up." Best single English-language line of dialogue ever put in Max's mouth!) The Front, about the Hollywood blacklist, is great too, though Allen only acts in that one, along with several actors, like Zero Mostel, who were directly affected by the blacklist. I might consider looking at Husbands and Wives again if it landed in front of me. But given that Woody has directed 48 films now, and I'd only re-visit five or six of them, which I have already seen, and that I have no plans to watch any that I haven't seen, unless someone gets very, very persuasive... I can't say that I'm exactly a fan.

Note that that has nothing to do with the question of whether or not he sexually abused his daughter. (Not his stepdaughter and current partner; he's definitely with her, though whether you consider that abuse or not is sort of open to discussion). With apologies to Dylan Farrow and her siblings, I can't say that I actually know what happened. I am prepared to give credence to the narrative that Mia Farrow cooked up the "child abuse" story as revenge for Woody hooking up with Mia's adopted daughter, to whom he was a father figure for a time - because, you know, I could see how that might REALLY PISS A WOMAN OFF. But maybe that piece has been debunked? I am not sure and don't want to go down the rabbithole; I am pretty much uninterested in Woody Allen ANYHOW, y'know? And, I mean, I still watch Roman Polanski movies, and he's definitely guilty of sexually abusing a child (though the fact that other people have been coming forward to add their  names to the list of people abused by Polanski is upsetting and would probably make me think twice about seeing a new film by him). It does seem to me interesting and possibly telling that both Crimes and Misdemeanors and Match Point deal with characters getting away with a heinous crime, being unpunished. It's also kind of troubling - nevermind Manhattan - to see the child-adult relationship Woody has in Crimes in Misdemeanors, which I'd totally forgotten about. (The child is also related to Woody's character, in the film - and he has an obvious affection for her that he shows to none of the adult women around her). But all of that might be Woody expressing guilt about Soon-Yi, and nothing more.

However, what really struck me about Crimes and Misdemeanors, watching it last night, besides how perfect it is, has to do with the Violent Femmes. See, I had always thought "Out the Window" was referring to Gilles Deleuze, the French philosopher who killed himself by throwing himself out a window in 1995. But the Femmes' song was written BEFORE Deleuze killed himself (the song came out in 1991). And it turns out their lyric - "he said yes to life for all his life til one day he said no" - is actually an almost direct quote from the movie.

For the record, Louis Levy - the philosopher in the film, who chooses to die by going out the window - is a fictional character, played by psychologist Martin S. Bergmann, who died of old age in 2014.

That's it. That's all I really had to say. It's still a pretty good movie - it holds up. Martin Landau is terrific. Some very funny moments, also some very sobering moments, and some great use of classic cinema in the clips where Woody sneaks his niece (and then Mia Farrow, who he hopes to woo) off to see matinees. I'm willing to separate the art from the artist when the movie is this good.

There aren't many others of its stature in Woody's filmography, that I've seen, however.

Newly discovered bev davies photograph!

...and by that, I mean a photo OF Bev, not a photo by her. Taken by Cindy LeGrier. Now is that a Modernette or a Manville in the foreground? From the Modernettes-Rich Hope show previously mentioned below!

Keithmas 2017, part two: the Bad Beats, the Pointed Sticks, the SLIP~ons, Rich Hope and Adrian Mack, and Keithmas co-founder/ organizer John Hewer

Keithmas 2017 is upon us, this Saturday, and I'm finally going to go!

Part one of my Keithmas feature deals with whether people prefer the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band or the Stones' Their Satanic Majesties Request - and of course, it gets contentious. To heck with Tarantino's "you can be a Beatles or an Elvis person, but not both" - I have both Beatles and Elvis records; I think THIS is the contentious false binary to discuss.

But like I say, that's part one.  Here we have more general interviews, with headliner Rich Hope and Adrian Mack, fellow newcomer to Keithmas Nick Jones (of the Pointed Sticks), the SLIP~ons (whose tagline could be "more than just the best fuckin' Replacements cover band you ever heard!"), and organizer and co-founder John Hewer! I asked them all similar questions - favourite Keef moments, favourite Keithmas moments, plans for the Saturday show (at the Rickshaw, and NEARLY SOLD OUT: you might still be able to get tickets at a local record store but there's not much left at the Rickshaw or online, I'm told). Also was curious about the pecking order: with so many bands having to pick Keef-related songs, without duplicating any, what strategies do people use? How is a pecking order established?

1. The Bad Beats (and Adam Payne's Dad!)

But first of all, the Bad Beats. I had interviewed Adam Payne of the Bad Beats, prior to the band's first European tour, a few months ago, without having ever seen them live; they're one of the strong draws for me to Saturday's show (I haven't seen La Chinga live, ever, either!). His Vengeful Hand is a real delight, if you're into vintage garage rock. Payne won't spill what songs his band will be doing on Saturday, which "would be like telling you what you are getting for a Christmas present," but he will say "we aren’t doing anything recorded past 1971."

Payne got into the Stones through his Mom ("I have many memories of being at home in bed and hearing it blasting from the stereo while the adults were partying downstairs.") And better yet, he continues, "my dad (who was a broadcaster) interviewed the Stones at in Ontario in what might have been their first ever interview in Canada, probably 1965. He said they were very nice to him. He still has the tape and I’ve been trying to get him to digitize it!"

Wait a second, there, Adam: your Dad interviewed the Stones in 1965? The year that Bev took her photo of the Stones at Maple Leaf Gardens (discussed in Part One)? I briefly get my hopes up - I love a good, weird coincidence - that Adam's Dad might actually BE the media guy in Bev's photo, but it quickly turns out that a) Adam's Dad is black - no black people in Bev's picture! - AND... he wasn't at the Maple Leaf Gardens at all, but the Ottawa Civic Centre (or was it the YWCA Auditorium? That's how it appears on the ticket. Maybe the venue got changed, or maybe it had more than one name? Hell, I dunno.)

So in an interview first, for me, my conversation with Adam leads me to interview his Dad, Robert Payne, by email. (This is almost as entertaining to me as the time I ended up with Peter Stampfel's ex-wife Antonia because he'd given me the wrong phone number and I'd had to scramble to directory assistance, not finding him, but... hey, there's Antonia! And then there was the time I ended up interacting with inspirational singer and burn victim  Merrill Womach because Nardwuar thought he was dead and I had to fact check the piece to find out, finding no obit, but an active email address for Mr. Womach, who was surprisingly funny, joking in response to my somewhat awkward question - "are you dead?" - that he had died a few years ago. So far, though, no other interview has led to me talking to the parents of the person I was interviewing, unless, as with the New Creation, one of them actually IN the band... Note, all links in the above are to interviews I have done, except for Merrill Womach, which is him singing to other burn victims in a burn ward about how they will be happy again someday).

Anyhow... Robert Payne writes:
Hi Allan,

Great to cyber-meet you.

Your friend Bev was in a different city (Toronto) than I was. While I am now in Toronto - and have been since 1968 - my interview of the Stones took place in Ottawa 1965 - the second stop on the Stones' first ever North American tour. (Montreal was their first stop, then came Ottawa a day later).
I was assigned by CKOY, the Ottawa radio station I then worked for, to interview the Stones. Being a radio guy at the time, I carried a bulky tape recorder. No camera.

So the interview took place in the bowels of the Ottawa Civic Centre (at the time being used mostly as a hockey arena).

As I've told Adam, my most vivid recollection is that while I was chatting with them (the Stones), a voice in the bowels of the auditorium (where the interview was happening), someone (I'm assuming the stage manager) yelled "SHOW TIME."

I being the polite guy I was almost immediately got out of the way, at which point Mick yelled
"Aren't you gonna say goodbye?!!"

Things aren't that nice anymore.


Note: re: the contradictory venue names, Robert adds:

Seems to be named the YMCA centre here, BUT ... I've never known the YMCA to accommodate a band like the Rolling Stones. 
See here. You'll notice it claims the concert took place in the "YMCA Auditorium."  
The only thing that might explain this is that the local arena was named the YMCA Auditorium. 
In my mind, it can't be. Nothing called an auditorium could accommodate such an event, and I swear this was a hockey arena with ice machines in the bowels of it - where I did the interview. 
Granted, it was Ottawa ... but no "auditorium" could possibly accommodate the Stones who, on the previous night, had played the Montreal Forum - also a hockey arena. 
Whatever ... 
(He does further research and apparently the YMCA auditorium was used for hockey games. So there).
2. Nick Jones (Pointed Sticks)

The Pointed Sticks in Japan, 2006: Hey Nick, is that the hat?

Nevermind this one-degree-of-familial-separation stuff: at least one person playing Keithmas this Saturday has plenty of direct contact with the Rolling Stones, that being Nick Jones, singer of the Pointed Sticks, who has one of the most rock'n'roll straight jobs ever, as a tour merchandiser, selling t-shirts and stuff, including for the Rolling Stones. "I was on the road with them for every tour from 1989 Steel Wheels to 2006 Bigger Bang," he writes. "Probably upwards of 300 shows. During that time we grossed hundreds of millions of $ in merchandise sales, I've bought them a few houses. As for direct interaction, mostly with Charlie, as he had the most interest in the swag, but with all of the others as well. Keith actually lent me a hat to wear in Japan on our first gigs back."

How was Keith?

"Very friendly, but almost unintelligible . His guy Tony Russell is kind of an interpreter. He lent me the hat so I could look like a cool rockstar, of course! No photo of the hat" (...unless I just found one in the tour photos from Japan that the Pointed Sticks sent me back in the day - here's another few!).

Allan: So what are your favourite Stones moments on record?

Nick: I was hearing their singles on my transistor radio right from the very start, but the first actual LP I bought was Get Yer Ya Yas out. Still a master class in the art of playing rythmn guitar. I saw Gimme Shelter when it came out at the Totem theatre in North Van, and that also made a huge impression on me. I believe that the studio version of "Gimme Shelter" is the apex of rock and roll recordings. It simply has every element in spades. 

I know we disagree about the cleaned up Exile on Main St, that you like the glorious swampiness of the original while I like it cleaned up, but... Have you tried to listen to the remaster and actually not liked it - or is it a "disagree in principle" kinda thing? 

No, I did hear it. Jaggers' vocals are way too loud. The record was recorded in a swamp, so it should sound that way. I saw that show, btw. June 3rd, 1972 at the PNE Coliseum.

Whoa! (I was four). So what will the Pointed Sticks be doing on Saturday? I assume Stones covers are the order of the day - how are they portioned out? Which band gets which? Have the Stones ever been part of the Sticks set before? 

Ah, the old Sticks and Stones joke... perfect title for our EP of Stones covers. Way back when, in the Cave days, we played "Stupid Girl" and "Ride On Baby," and we recently (2009) played "Out Of Time" in Calgary with Art Bergmann singing it with us. None of those are on the list for Saturday, but the era is correct. There was a group message where all the bands claimed their choices, we got in very, very early, and claimed the ones we wanted. That being said, we picked a couple of pretty obscure songs. Keithmas John said he thought that at least two of our songs had never been attempted at previous Keithmas shows.

Any big news besides the upcoming European tour and the show at the Fox tomorrow? Any special plans for that...? 

The Fox show is going to be a gas. We always make sure that we have a great roster of support acts, and this time is no exception. Vanrays are pretty hard charging soul stylists, members from Swank, Big Top and some other bands, and the Murphy Brothers are legends in the roots/ rockabilly community in Vancouver [Sean Butch Murphy is a veteran of the Nervous Fellas, but I don't know the others]. I have only seen the two bands on video, but both look amazing, and the bill is very diverse. Our European tour, after 40 years, is set to start in Spain in March. We still can't actually believe this is going to happen, but there are 14 dates booked, so I guess it is. So many of our friends have offered their skills as roadies, we'd need three tour buses to hold them all. I'm surprised you haven't put in a bid to be our embedded journalist! We know that the people coming to see us over there will be 99% fans of the original records, so our set at the Fox this Friday is kind of a warm up for that. We've made two LPs and two 45's of new music since 2006, and to keep ourselves interested, we always play a good amount from those records, as well as a few covers. But this year, its gonna be the greatest hits, baby! All your favourites, banged out in inimitable PS style. Oh, and maybe a Polly cover at the end.

Just out of curiosity, are you at all self-conscious that you're going to be performing "The Marching Song," with its lyrics about "Germany in '43," to a German audience? 

I hadn't thought about that, but no. Ok, maybe now you brought it up. Thanks Allan....jeez...

3. The SLIP~ons 

I love the SLIP~ons. I've even shot some video of them! If I could have programmed the opening acts for Slow, a couple of weeks ago, they would have been way up there, along with maybe a resurrected Jolts (no word on which yet, but we miss you, Joey! Come back!). The Slow encore set in particular - including "Pills," which, speaking of Polly, the SLIP~ons did an awesome version of at the Paul Leahy memorial event at the Rickshaw awhile ago - was very much the sort of thing the SLIP~ons excel at, though they throw in more contemporary covers, too (or at least contemporary for guys in their mid-to-late-40s, like, say, the Replacements, a staple of their covers and a band they very much bring to mind when playing live). 

Rob of the SLIP~ons, pictured left, says his favourite Keef moment was "seeing the X-Pensive Winos play on Saturday Night Live in 1988. Best SNL performance - blew my mind!" He is partial to "Take It So Hard" of Keith's solo material, and, Stones-wise, Out of Our Heads, Sticky Fingers, Some Girls, and Tattoo You.  As with Adam Payne above, he's never had a chance to see the Stones live, but says Keith (Keef) "seems like the coolest dude" based on the documentary about him. "I would like to have a  beer with him and talk Fender Teles and amps!"

Brock, meanwhile (pictured center) agrees with Nick Jones, above, about Exile ("I generally prefer murky originals to remasters - overcompression and extreme equalization alter how things were meant to sound, to my ears." 

While the band was pretty socialistic about which songs to do for Keithmas, Brock insisted on "Ruby Tuesday," "as it was the Billboard #1 the year I was born." Publicist Joelle May, Brock's girlfriend, suggested "Tumbling Dice," which Brock thought would be awesome with "Miss Quincy and a couple of big singers" (alas, Miss Quincy is in Australia at present, so she won't be joining them; I am actually not sure if that means they're going to scrap the song, but the SLIP~ons doing Exile-era Stones would be a delight). Rob was wanting to do some '60's stones, so "Last Time" ended up a pick (with Jay Solyom on drums, as regular SLIP~ons drummer Shane is unavailable for Keithmas). But finding out what songs the SLIP~ons are going to do is not going to ruin the surprise at all of HOW they will do them... there's a degree of real rock'n'roll anarchy to their performances that suits the material perfectly. 

And as for zero-degrees-of-separation stories of the Stones, Brock recalls "working beside Charlie's drum riser at BC Place one of the last times they played here. I noticed Charlie's kit had an old Speed King bass drum pedal. The heel plate was flipped over, as they often do on those old pedals, and I thought to myself, "this guy could have any gear in the world, and yet he still has the crappy old Speed King that probably came with the kit in 1965!"

The SLIP~ons have a new album coming out next year ("Way overdue" Rob chimes in) but for merch on Saturday will have shirts and hoodies at Keithmas. Brock adds: "Brian is mixing two songs which we plan to press up some vinyl of as soon as he's done, and Johnny Wildkat masters them." Meantime, see the SLIP~ons live!

4. Rich Hope and his Evil Doers

Rich Hope and Adrian Mack, by Cindy LeGrier, at Richards on Richards, opening for the Modernettes in 2007

I don't have enough hair left for a haircut, so I will never look as cool as Rich Hope's clientele - I just break out the clippers and ask Erika to shave me, when the time comes - but I've enjoyed his fiery blues-rock a ton, so much so that I actually brought my parents out the Railway to see him (in a slightly different permutation, the Blue Rich Rangers) when they were both still alive (I interviewed Rich about that unit here, quite some time ago). He's a kickass showman and a man who refuses to let a crowd slack; he'd be a great teacher, actually, because I bet he would motivate even the shyest, sleepiest students to give their all (especially if he was teaching a class in tappin' your foot, clappin' your hands, and whoopin'). And it's just perfect that Rich has done every single Keithmas to date (eight of 'em) and is closing the show at the Rickshaw on Saturday. I can't think of a better guy, locally, for the job. 

I put the usual questions to Rich and Adrian - have they seen the Stones? Any favourite moments? Anything special planned? And besides arguing with Mack about the merits of Sgt. Pepper's versus Their Satanic Majesties Request - see Part One, wherein I win, because it's my blog - we had the following interaction, with Mack and Rich responding to each other.

Adrian Mack: 
Never seen the Stones. The closest I've come to an encounter is thru Toronto-based musicians who have opened for them or been at rehearsals, but the stories have all been told -- Keith getting into a fist fight with Ronnie over the chords in "Gimme Shelter." Keith wandering around obliviously dropping hundreds of dollars of per diem cash in his wake. And I'm not even sure that I believe them anymore! I used a couple for a GS feature over 10 years ago and received a very mysterious letter from people claiming to be from the organization; it was so confidently scathing and seemingly well-informed that I took it to be the real thing. Maybe it was Nick!
Speaking of: I think both versions of Exile have their merits, actually. But I'll go further than either of you or Nick Jones: I prefer Sticky Fingers
The one track that nobody has ever done at Keithmas, but should have by now: "Mixed Emotions". Oh, and also "Connection", from Out of Their Heads. I'm very proud that we did "Undercover" a few years back. That was incredibly ballsy, and I think we nailed it.
Rich Hope:
I stand by the same stories as Mack - we heard 'em from the same people… 
My whole introduction to open tuning was listening to Keith. 
[Favourite Stones?] Exile. And I like the original on vinyl and the spruced up version if you’re listening to digital. I mean, why not? That’s why it was done.
Nick Jones: 
[He's] wrong, but what the hell. 
Allan: Rich, Adrian, any memorable moments from Keithmases past? 

Adrian Mack:
Most memorable performances for me: the Jolts doing anything, any year; the Prettys about three years ago were magnificent, and they stuck to '60s stuff, which I really appreciated (I think "19th Nervous Breakdown" was in there); La Chinga's "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" from 2016 was insane; Johnny DeCourcey in 2015 (I think), showing up with his underage band and then leaving in a limo -- so good!! The Highway Kind finding the magnificence in "Doom and Gloom" back at the Fairview. Not an easy task, but they fucking did it. Whatever year it was that John Hewer grabbed a guitar and encored with us. I think we did "The Last Time"? It was very touching because his kid Evan (a former Jolt) played bass. I know it was a big moment for John. Maybe 2013? Rich? 
So many Kiethmases. My memory is shattered.
Rich Hope:
Yeah lotta great moments in there. I loved doing Some Girls album last year.

The Johnny De Courcey thing was so good.

 Rich Hope at Keithmas 2016, by Adam PW Smith, not to be reused without permission

5. John Hewer

Allan: I was reading that Keithmas was co-founded by James Hayden - that's Floor Tom Jones to DOA fans, right? (Best DOA drummer since... Dimwit? Card?). Is he still involved - is he playing in any bands? Are you? 

John: James aka Jimmy aka Floor Tom Jones played Keithmas last year as part of Greenback High. He was/is the lead singer/songwriter. They are a great power pop style band but alas are in hiatus of sorts and not performing this year. I am not in any of the bands. My claim to fame is that I played “The Last Time” with Rich Hope at Keithmas V. On that note my son has played six Keithmas’s so we keep it in the family.     

James Hayden with Greenback High, Keithmas 2016, by Adam PW Smith, not to be reused without permission

Have you ever seen the Stones play live? Any favourite Stones or Keef moments? Your own favourite album or period by them?

I have seen them two or three times, but unfortunately it was in their enormo dome phase. Favourite Stones song no question is the 45 of "Jumping Jack Flash." My sister had it when I was a kid and I used to play it on one of those record players with the penny-on-the-stylus self contained units. I defy anyone to write a more perfect rock and roll song than that. that riff, non-sensical lyrics hinting at rebellion and it’s in/out 3/12 minutes. Cannot be topped.

As for period, I fluctuate between ’72 Madison Gardens, Mick Taylor w/Jim Price and Bobby Keys, and the ’78 Some Girls Fort Worth era. Both rock and roll to the bone.

How many bands asked you to play this year? How did you select the final lineup? Are there any bands you haven't seen live before? 

Well we end up with nine bands. We definitely had a bunch of bands that asked that don’t make it for one reason or another. I’m the ultimate arbiter so what i say goes for good or bad. This year I have actually seen all the bands. That is not always the case. Originally we had Dopey’s Robe, a cool '60’s garage/reverb/surf but totally now type band but they dropped out at the last minute. I’d never seen them but I dug their stuff. I always try and get some “younger” bands because I don’t want this to be an oldies/ cover band show. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. This year’s lineup top to bottom is really heavy. Only bummer is the aforementioned lack of “hip” new band(s).

I love that Rich is a constant. He's perfect. Any favourite memories of his performances? (Ever get your hair cut by him? I would, except I don't have any). 

First, yes to the haircut. Yesterday in fact. Rich has become a good friend and I just was getting to know him when we started this eight years ago so that right there is a great memory. Performance-wise I think last year was pretty special. He did all Some Girls-era and it was like he got shot out fo a cannon. Otherwise, probably more favourite, is this, from Keithmas 3, "When the Whip Comes Down." As good as seeing the Stones.

La Chinga also seems perfect for this... they've done it a few times, right? 

As early as Keithmas 1, when it was the Poolhall Gospel. Has really stepped it up this year.

Who or what are the Knast? Have Seattle bands applied before? (Has the Keithmas tradition caught on in Seattle, or anywhere else, or is this still just a Vancouver thing? ...because I could see it spreading...). 

The Knast are the first out of town band we have had. Really good Who/Mod meets Manchester rock band who also love the Stones. I booked them with James a number of years ago when we were doing Fairview Pub shows and have always kept in touch. Their new record is fantastic.

Re: out of town shows, we almost had a Calgary Keithmas a couple of years ago but the guy bailed. Victoria has been looked at and we have support but we are all really busy and it’s a lot of work to put this together and keep it at the level and quality we want. Once people realize how much work it is generally they don’t follow up (not complaining!)

The Slip Ons are an AWESOME inclusion - is it their first year?

Yeah - they played Seger De Mayo this year and killed it so they were an obvious choice.

Is it the Pack AD's first year? (I know it is the Pointed Sticks...).
Yes and Yes, very excited about both. The first ‘punk” singles I bought as a high schooler were the DOA toetag single and "Out of Luck" by the Pointed Sticks and I loved that Pointed Sticks single to death - one of my fav songs from that era.

How do you ensure that people don't duplicate songs? Do people have to submit their picks first? Is there a pecking order as to who gets to choose first? 

It’s a free for all with me as referee if there are duplicates. Once I announce it bands just start picking. The running joke the first couple of year’s was La Chinga had their song choices in like July. I offer suggestions and ideas for some bands and the weird thing is they occasionally actually listen. Which is quite nice on their part.

How many years has Keithmas been at the Rickshaw now? (It was at the Fairview first, then the Electric Owl... has it been the Rickshaw since?). How did you convince Mo to waive the room rental? (Or did he volunteer?). 

Three years at the Fairview, two at the Electric Owl and three at the Rickshaw. Mo is just a really good guy with a good heart. He wants people and bands to be successful. And the fact that I believe we broke the drink sales record that first year, or so I’ve been told, didn’t hurt either.

I gather that there were prizes in the past including some of Keith Richards' pants! Any other acknowledgment from him? Does he know Keithmas exists? 

Re: Keef the closest we have got other than a pair of his pants was an acknowledgment from his Twitter Account last year...which I’m pretty sure he doesn’t monitor

Are there any cool prizes this year? 

There are a lot of great prizes like concert ticket packages, etc., but the best raffle prize is a Rolling Stones Lips logo PiƱata !

100% of Keithmas proceeds go to the Vancouver food bank! Phone your nearest record store to see if they still have tickets, it's almost sold out! Keithmas set times below - doors at 7pm, show at 8pm sharp! 

Merry Keithmas! Part one: bev davies, the Rolling Stones, and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band vs. Their Satanic Majesties' Request

bev davies and I - she likes her name all in lowercase, unless you're just calling her by her first name, Bev - had just been discussing the Rolling Stones a few weeks ago. We're both fans. She had taken earlier photos, but some of her first major pics are from the Stones Toronto show in 1965, at Maple Leaf Gardens (left); she had been following their music for a year or so previously, having been introduced to it on a trip to England, which was also how she learned about the Beatles, before they were a sensation here. The top pic here is from the Stones' Toronto hotel, April 26th, 1965: "I was way too intimidated to go, 'Hey Brian, look up here,' so we have the top of Brian’s head," Bev explains. "And we have Keith’s head, and we have Mick looking at me." (Mick was the one for Bev, apparently). Then the bottom one is from a press conference the night before at Maple Leaf Gardens, in what looks to be some sort of changing room for hockey players. Imagine a brown haired teenage girl snapping these while press mill around busily - and then realize that that same girl (minus the brown) will be taking photos at Keithmas this Saturday. I mean, holy fuck, right?

Vancouver's pretty lucky to have her.

Left: the Rolling Stones by Bev Davies,
not to be reused without permission

Right: Bev Davies in London, 1963

The whole story - including Bev's meeting with Brian Jones, whom she visited along with Brian's lookalike Glynn Bell of Toronto garage group (and one-time all-Stones cover band) the Ugly Ducklings, will appear, a couple of issues from the current one, in Big Takeover magazine (81 has my Art feature part one, 82 will have Art part 2 and maybe a Slow thing, and 83 should have Bev... if things go to plan, which they may not!). As I say, there is some stuff on Bev in the current and probably final issue of BC Musician, print-only, and availalbe for free at selected record stores and venues right now (I've seen copies at the Fox and Neptoon almost always has it. It has a Jim Cummins cover painting, and a photo Bev took inside of Jim painting behind a K-Tels gig at the Cultch!). With BC Musician folding, though - sad, because they were pretty great! - I had to find another English-language home for Bev's story, and Jack at BT jumped at it...

Anyhow, when the Stones came up, we had been discussing the Beatles - whom Bev had also seen in Toronto, but without her camera. And it was interesting to learn that - as I think was the case with Lemmy, too - she liked the early Beatles best, and tuned out post-Rubber Soul. (I go one further in the sequence: my favourite Beatles album is Revolver, but - some fondness for Abbey Road aside, mostly because of "Here Comes the Sun" - there's not many other albums by them I spin, ever; more often than not my go-to Beatles-related album is John and Yoko's Some Time in New York City, which I admit is a bit perverse of me). It was great to bond with her on how overrated Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club band seems. "I just didn’t think it was real,” she said. “I thought, they really want to jump on the bandwagon, don’t they? I thought it was really calculated."

Which is what I have always felt. Nevermind being generally annoyed by the kitschy vaudeville of Paul McCartney - like I would EVER want to put on a side of an album where "When I'm 64" pops up! - there's something insincere about Sgt. Pepper's. I don't care how many drugs they were doing, or how iconic some of the songs on it became, it lacks the spontaneity and surprise and flat-out weirdness that belong to the psychedelic experience: there is just too much mediation, too much "thinking-about" to capture something as immersive and experiential as an acid trip. Some of the best songs on it - Ringo's "With a Little Help From My Friends," not made great until Joe Cocker interpreted it at Woodstock, but still - aren't even remotely trippy. And hell, Lennon wouldn't even admit - EVER -  that "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" was about LSD, while the trippy stuff in "A Day in the Life" seems more like it is coming from a studied avant-garde compositional approach than a stoned jam (with Paul McCartney soft-shoeing his way into that song, too - not being too too "obladi" about it - it is actually my favourite "vaudeville Paul" moments - but still). Hearing Bev kinda dismiss Sgt. Peppers' was one of those great "yeaah!" moments, where someone you respect says something you always thought, but haven't ever talked to anyone about.

The Pointed Sticks, July 2 2016, by bev davies, not to be reused without permission

Nick Jones of the Pointed Sticks - also playing Keithmas this Saturday - is of a similar mind, it turns out. "Sgt Pepper's is among the most overrated LPs ever, and not even in my Beatles top five. I like the early stuff best." (We'll have more from Nick in part two of this, though - since I know he's an opinionated guy - I also asked him if he prefers the stereo or mono version of Their Satanic Majesties' Request - the Stones' "response" to the Beatles, and he says, " Its a psychedelic record. Stereo, obviously." I confess to never having compared the two closely - I know some albums fare REALLY well in mono - I won't listen to the Kinks' The Village Green Preservation Society any other way, now that I've heard it).

So how does Bev feel about the Rolling Stones' Their Satanic Majesties Request? "I liked the idea that that was their answer to Sgt. Peppers. It was sort of more truthful than I thought the Beatles were at the time. People are going to hate me for saying this!"

Not me. I love Their Satanic Majesties Request. I have the original lenticular cover (a mono pressing, too). Anyone wanting to spend a hundred clams on a fun Christmas gift for me, buy me the deluxe reissue. Keith Richards is pretty dismissive about the album (and not so kind to acid, which Brian Jones was into in a major way) in Life, but I love pretty much all of Their Satanic Majesties' Request, can listen to it any day of the week.

What do other people involved in Keithmas think? If you could only pick one, would it be Sgt Pepper's, or Satanic Majesties?

The Rickshaw's Mo Tarmohamed won't commit, even off the record, but we share a big fondness for Revolver, it turns out. "I always thought Revolver was more groundbreaking," he writes, compared to Sgt. Pepper's - which I agree with."'Tomorrow Never Knows' was so different than anything else!"

(Personally, I'd rather Their Satanic Majesties over Revolver, too, but that's a bit apples-and-oranges, so we'll just leave Mo alone).

Rich Hope and His Evil Doers drummer and Straight writer/ movies editor Adrian Mack goes straight to the point, though: "If I was on a desert island, of course it would be Sgt. Pepper's. I'm not crazy."

(Rich Hope and his Evil Doers, Keithmas 2016, photo by Adam PW Smith - not to be reused without permission). 

And neither is Rich Hope - whose unit the Evil Doers has appeared at every Keithmas so far, and who will be present this Saturday, headlining. Rich is an awesome showman and the perfect dude to cover anything Keith Richards-related, so I am stoked to see him in this context (especially hearing that last year he tapped into some '80's Stones tunes, like the under-rated "Under Cover of the Night" - probably the last Stones album I really have paid attention to besides Blue and Lonesome (which is pretty great too). More from Rich in part two, but meantime, he agrees with his longtime collaborator. "I’d actually take Sgt. Pepper's only because its a way better record. I’ve never loved Satanic Majesties - except for 'Citadel.'"

Mack seconds "Citadel," and and remains adamant, no matter what I rant at him about the greatness of "She's a Rainbow" (or "2000 Light Years From Home," or...), about how Sgt. Pepper's reading The Psychedelic Experience and taking notes while Their Satanic Majesties is colouring on the walls with a crayon... I go on and on.  And score at least one point: "'She's a Rainbow' is wonderful, actually, agreed," Mack replies. "But the rest of what you just wrote is basically insane." He here gives a rare Mack emoticon: " :P " (which I believe indicates peeing on someone's colon). "Satanic Majesties isn't 'calculated?' Really?"

Well, okay, okay, the cover is calculated, sure. The decision to DO a psych record is calculated. Even some of the songs have every bit of crafted calculation as Sgt. Pepper's. But the moments I like most - check out "The Lantern" - sure don't feel that way!

As for Sgt. Pepper's, Mack continues: "I think it's an amazing record. Divinely inspired. it's certainly composed and artful, as you say. But I'm still listening, 37 years on from my first encounter. Satanic Majesties? Not so much."

All living members of the Rolling Stones would probably agree with him (though I suspect Bev's friend Anton Newcombe would be in our corner, and Genesis P-Orridge, and bev and I are prolly making the ghost of Brian Jones real happy, too). But I don't want Bev to feel, like, isolated on this point, so I put the question to Keithmas co-founder John Hewer: Sgt. Pepper's or Satanic Majesties?

"It’s much easier than you would think. I have never given two fucks for Sgt Pepper's. Never owned it and never listened to it all the way through. In some ways one of the worst things that could have happened to rock and roll. On the other hand I had the original holographic cover Majesties and for all the shit that record has received I defy another band to come up with 'Citadel,' 'She’s a Rainbow' and '2000 Light Years from home' and have it considered their worst album!"

Now we're talking! Take that, Mack and Hope! Satan for the win!

Part Two of my Keithmas interviews will appear presently, also with more from John Hewer, but meantime, which do you prefer, Sgt. Pepper's or Their Satanic Majesties Request? (And feel free to specify mono or stereo!).

Note: Keithmas 8 tickets are nearly sold out but there were still some at Red Cat yesterday, and maybe at other stores too! Facebook event page here

Bev, Erika and I, plus Art Bergmann, and some other photos

Isn't this a sweet pic? Bev, Erika, and me in the mirror in back at a Vietnamese place on Kingsway (GT something or other). There were others, but alas, they're lost: my fucking phone decided to synch with Google Images, which I'd deleted a bunch of stuff from when I discovered that a billion photos of mine were stored online where I had only wanted them stored on my phone or places I put them (I really, really don't like things being done automatically on my behalf, you know? Nine out of ten times I have to turn it off and undo it - autocorrect, autosuggest, etc. I hadn't even KNOWN my photos were being backed up to Google Images until they wrote me to tell me that my Google Images drive was nearly full and they were going to have to charge me money for more space. What? It took me an hour to figure out how to just clear Google Images, wincing at seeing photos - because I had plenty of Mom's last week in hospital before she died - that I didn't necessarily want to see, which I have already backed up in plenty of places here without Google's help). But though I turned the synch function off during that process, a bunch of photos - quite randomly selected by Google, apparently - suddenly disappeared from my phone when I erased them from the Google Images drive (others, of course, mysteriously appeared, including ones I had deleted from my phone months ago). Sad part is, as with others in this series  - there were about five of them - some are now lost forever. I don't even remember what they were. Just leave my stuff alone, guys! Let me manage my own images!

Anyhow, luckily this one pic, which I quite love, was stored to Facebook. And now I am putting it here, for protection. (Luckily when I deleted stuff from Google Images it didn't take those photos from my social media sites too, or this blog).

I had a bunch of other shots of this rather lovely dumpster, too, in an alley near Main and Broadway, kinda in back of where Aunt Leah's Urban Thrift is, by another thrift store that sells clothing by the pound (!). I put them on Facebook, but fuggit, they'll stay there I guess, until Facebook decides to do something with them.

Erika and I both like owls.

I really have been enjoying hanging out with Bev lately. We have part one of a two-part interview that will remain unfinished in the current (and supposedly final) BC Musician, which you can find around town (Neptoon usually has them, and the Fox had a stack). There is stuff in the works to use the interview that did NOT appear in BC Musician in a future Big Takeover. In the meantime, there's a big Art Bergmann feature I did in the current issue, #81. It's part one of two, and Art is happy with it indeed (though apparently I fucked up in transcribing some stuff; I was dealing with crappy audio, and a couple things I quoted him was saying, like "it's a life thing," are nothing he would say, he tells me. Must have misheard the tape!).

Meantime, here are some photos of me and Tybalt. He almost never reacts to images of himself, when I hold the phone close to him - maybe it's a vision thing - but in this case, the phone was far enough away, when I held it up for a selfie, that he got very curious: hey, look at that tiny cat over there? Who could that be? He stalked forward on the couch, intently staring (in his slightly cockeyed way) into the phone, very interested, and I got this rather priceless series, saying in "human-to-cat" tones, "Who's that? Is that another cat? No, look - it's you! See? It's you!"

A few of these were lost too (the ones I didn't post to Facebook). But you get the idea.

Later that night, I could hear Tybalt barfing - that distinctive wheezing thing he does, followed by the definite sound of a liquid being regurgitated. I was in bed at that point, and Erika was off visiting family for the night. I don't know what she would have done, but I was not about to get out of bed in the middle of the night to try and find the catbarf. I figured it would be easy enough to see once the morning came. But come the day, no catbarf revealed itself. As someone suggested on FB, maybe he ate it again? We never did locate it, but we had a fun, documented chat about it, Tybalt and I. "Did you barf, Tybalt? Where did you barf?"

Anyhow, there's some photos - Bev, Erika, me, an' the cat. Now to do something on Keithmas...

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Some favourite vulgar novelty tunes

So I'm teaching ESL again, and looking for songs with references to the family - to practice family vocabulary (Aunt, Uncle), but also personal pronouns ("my," "your," etc). There are some good ones, but not all of them are level-appropriate. I tried Randy Newman's "My Country," but the humour there is a bit sophisticated for ESL students: Newman follows in the steps of the great Ray Davies, piling on both affection and scorn, making a "my country right or wrong, but mostly wrong" kind of song, mocking America and yet identifying as an American at the same time. I actually tried it, and can't say I got the response I'd hoped (though the pronouns were useful).

Since traditional versus non-traditional families are a topic of conversation, I considered MDC's "My Family is a Little Weird" (rhymes with "Daddy wears a dress and Mommy grows a beard"), but it probably has some bad language in it, and it's a little, uh, fast.

Dar Williams' "The Christians and the Pagans" is a great song, with lots of family vocabulary, lots of pronouns, lots of interesting themes, and - because it is about an unconventional, cross-faith, reconciliatory Christmas dinner, quite seasonally and cross-culturally appropriate, revealing things about the values of our inclusive current society - except the sentiments in the song are so touching that I can't help but weep like a baby when I play it. I am going to use it, but I am making it an optional homework assignment, so the students don't see me cryin': I've directed them to the song, removed the pronouns and family nouns from a transcription of the lyrics, and provided a few multiple choice comprehension questions to boot.  

In the back of my head all along, however, humming rudely, is Mojo Nixon's "Tie My Pecker to My Leg." It's a post-Skid Roper gem, off Mojo's underappreciated Whereabouts Unknown. It has, uh, plenty of family vocabulary. Unfortunately, it's all themed around barnyard incest (with a bit of bestiality and coprophagia thrown in for good measure). And Mojo tends to drop his pronouns, treating family nouns as names ("sister.") It's completely unusable in class, but it gets stuck in my head, and I find myself singing along with it despite myself. My wife hates it when it's been coming up on my playlist, because I'm walking around singing snatches of THIS to myself:
"Tie My Pecker to My Leg," by Mojo Nixon 
Me your momma and some other whore
Floating down the river on a shithouse door
Gonna tie my pecker to my leg, to my leg
Gonna tie my pecker to my leg 
Dad's going steady with a pig in a barn
Grandma's getting down with an ear of corn
Tie my pecker to my leg, to my leg
Gonna tie my pecker to my leg 
Watching mom shave her pussy really gets the kids hard
Grandpa's trying to fuck something in the front yard
Tie my pecker to my leg...
Sister is getting rich on her 900 number
Four dime diddly bop given her best dog a hummer
Tie my pecker to my leg... 
Reddog (Solo) 
Well I'm a big dick daddy and a fuckin' fool
Eleven years old and I went to pussy school
Tie my pecker to my leg... 
Yeah, her asshole is tighter then a steel drum
Hell I'd eat a yard of her shit to watch her cum
Gonna tie my pecker to my leg... 
Ah, Simon (Solo) - put your headphones on boy! 
You only live once, so off with them pants
Hell ain't for sure, it's only a chance
Gonna tie my pecker to my leg... 
Yeah, my gal's so fine, wanna suck her daddy's dick
If you saw my poontang's face, you wouldn't give me no lip
Gonna tie my pecker to my leg... 
Woke up this morning with a case of stinky finger (belch)
Last night I must have been the designated drinker
Gonna tie my pecker to my leg... 
I need a woman, six foot ten
She's gotta be that tall so I could get it all in
Tie my pecker to my leg... 
Everybody solo...!
Yeah, me your momma and some other whore... 
Anyhow, Mojo got me thinking: what are my favourite other rude ditties? The ones so catchy that they get me singing the lyrics for a few days afterwards? Erika sure knows the next one: "Blinded by Turds," as recorded by Oscar Brand, found on more than one of his many "Bawdy" novelty albums. Also not usable in class! (I will use none of this in class. I swear!).

Incidentally, I first heard this song covered live on a DVD by the Meat Puppets (as "Wonderful Song").

"Blinded by Turds" by Oscar Brand 
There was an old lady who lived on Lint Street
Her passage was blocked up from too much to eat
She took stomach pills without reading the box
Before she could strip, turds were flying like rocks. 
Toorala, tooralay
A rolling stone gathers no moss, so they say
Sing along with the birds
It's a wonderful song but it's all about turds. 
She ran to the window, stuck out her ass
Just at that moment a cowhand did pass
He heard the strange noise, so he gazed up on high
A mighty big turd hit him right in the eye. 
Oh he ran to the east and the west
When a further consignment arrived on his chest
He fled to the north and he fled to the south
When a bloody big turd hit him right in the mouth. 
The next time you walk over Flatriver Bridge
Look out for a cowhand asleep on the ridge
His chest bears a placard, whereon are these words:
"Be kind to a cowboy who's blinded by turds."

It's pretty innocent (and hell, it is almost Chaucerian!), and it touches on folk traditions like rugby songs and rude sing-alongs, usually as practiced as a bonding exercise by groups of men - but there's certainly nothing seasonal about it. I bring it up just as a rude song that I'm fond of - but you would figure there would be more vulgar Christmas ditties out there! 

What about my friend David M. (of NO FUN's) "Christmas is a Sad and Lonely Time?" I was singing it to myself all through my wife's office Christmas party last night. But only when no one was in earshot!
"Christmas is a Sad and Lonely Time," by David M. 
Christmas is a sad and lonely time
So you better drink your Christmas wine
Grab a razorblade and chop a line
Of hokey cokey from Peru 
Hire a prostitute and do not pay
Thank her for the complimentary lay
If you're still alive on Boxing Day
Bang a hooker in your room 
(Repeat, but slower - ideal for a listening exercise!)
(Then repeat again!) 
(Alternate verse on The Five Wenceslases)
Christmas is a sad and lonely time
Eat your Oxycontin, you'll be fine
Use them useless tears of salty brine
Come and urinate and poo
Take a dump atop your Christmas tree
Dream about the penitentiary
If the pigs don't come and you're still free
Let's be lights against the gloom
Sad and lonely folks like you and me
Bangin' hookers
(A cranberry-saucy turkey hooker with no dressing at all!)
In your sad and lonely, sad and lonely Christmas room...
Definitely gets in your head. Even Erika was humming it a little last night (which she never does with "Tie My Pecker to My Leg" or "Blinded by Turds." She just rolls her eyes and remembers being single when I get those songs stuck in my head).  I like that it speaks to the experience of being isolated during the Christmas season, too. David has suggested he MIGHT NOT DO a Christmas show this year, but I hope he's just teasing. 

The final favourite vulgar tune of mine is a recent discovery. With apologies to the Dayglo Abortions' "My Shit Stinks" and Ween's "Piss Up a Rope" (and the Fugs' great "Wet Dream"), I think if I was going to pick one other vulgar, funny tune, only recently discovered by me (and as far as I know never officially released, though it does circulate online), it would be Victoria band the Salty Seamen's "I Shit My Pants." It does speak, alas, to what I believe is a universal experience, albeit one seldom discussed in public (which, you know, is kind of a criteria of a great song, one that captures an experience you can identify with, that no one else has ever sung about quite exactly the same way before). I imagine someone with more trouble with incontinence than I have would not find this funny (it is a rare day indeed when I crap myself - often involving stomach flu and an ill-timed fart/ sneeze combination - for which I am truly grateful).

"I Shit My Pants" by the Salty Seamen (NOT the Fugs, as has been mis-stated). 
(Fart sounds)
I overdosed on flakes of bran
And now I couldn't get (fit?) into the can  
I shit my pants
I shit my pants
First the gas, then the pain
Now the spreading chocolate stain
I shit my pants
I shit my pants
I felt a surge down in my bowels
I'll wipe my ass on your brand-new towels
I shit my pants
I shit my pants 
I got constipated so I took Ex-Lax
And blew some crap into my slacks
I shit my pants
I shit my pants 
I shit in my pants
I shit in my pants
I said I shit, I shit right in my pants
I ate some cheese as a last resort
It left a skidmark in my shorts
I shit my pants
I shit my pants 
I'm so embarrassed, everybody knows
I never take in my own clothes
I shit my pants
I shit my pants
I shit my pants
I shit my pants...
The quest for usable family-centered songs continues... meantime I leave these here for whatever vulgar amusement y'all might get out of them. 

Monday, December 04, 2017

God's Own Country at the Vancity Theatre

There's not much I can do to link the default passions of this blog - punk rock and horror movies - to the upcoming film God's Own Country. There is some mention of Bradford - the home of English punk band the New Model Army - so I guess I could try to draw some tenuous parallels between "Green and Grey" and the landscapes of the film (beautiful and lush and expansive, but nonetheless at times quite bleak). But there's no punk rock of any sort in this film, and while there's occasional mention of going to Bradford for a night out, it never actually happens: the characters stray no further from the farm than whatever their rural village is called, which is even more smalltownish than Bradford (the subject, I assume, of another great New Model Army song, "Smalltown England").

Boy I love the New Model Army. I hope they tour this way again... Umm...

...but all the same, I really enjoyed God's Own Country. It tells a very simple story, but there are complex emotions running deep in its characters: primarily a young man who has been fitted with the unwelcome mantle of maintaining his father's sheep-and-cow farm as his Dad's health gets increasingly worse. The kid is filled with a quiet, mostly self-directed hate - for his life, for the burden of the work, for his own loneliness. He gets staggeringly drunk on a pretty regular basis at a pub not too far away; when we first see him, he's puking away the night before in the toilet. Occasionally he has furtive sex with a beautiful local boy, but he wants nothing to do with him besides the odd bit of bum, even though the kid seems friendly enough. Mostly he just works the farm and tries, it seems, to choke down (or drink down) any emotions that might take him away from his unwanted, but unavoidable duties. His father and grandmother don't really say much of anything to thank him, because he's a bit of a bastard most of the time, and he doesn't try to ease up on them either, because for anyone to be kind to anyone would crack the seal on vulnerabilities that could sabotage the whole dysfunctional arrangement.

The cast of the film is great. The main character, Johnny Saxby, is played by Josh O'Connor - an actor I don't know, presumably in one of his first roles, but he does a great job. The whole cast does, with un-faked real farm chores (birthing lambs, or sticking your gloved hand into a cow's vagina to check a calf) and a bit of sheepshit on the ass during an outdoor sex scene to lend authenticity to the performances. The only name I recognized when the credits rolled was that of Gemma Jones, who does a fair bit of work in film and television, but who I needed to look up on Google to see why her name was familiar.

...but even a direct link to Ken Russell's The Devils is not really enough to bring this film into my wheelhouse. Doesn't matter. This is a pretty sincere and moving love story about what happens when a Romanian farmhand comes to the farm and begins a relationship with the main character, at first rooted in sex, but slowly expanding until things get complicated. There is some rather hot, if slightly muddy, sex; there are some emotional hurdles; and there have been comparisons - including in the Vancity Theatre program guide - to Brokeback Mountain, without the cheesy slash fiction aspect. (I love David Ehrenstein's putdowns of that movie, which I valued and believed far less than God's Own Country).

I don't think saying more about God's Own Country will profit readers, but it is emotionally engaging, believable, and intense, and you will find yourself feeling quite a bit for its protagonist, fucked up as he is. It would be unfair to reveal the ending of the film, but I will say that I found myself surprised to be thinking of Five Easy Pieces at a certain point, when some character's emotional walls start to break down. It's a moving film. If you like the country around Yorkshire... if you like stories about young men struggling with their emotions... if you'd like to see a fairly positive an reasonably un-falsified representation of queer romance (or at least sex), this might be a worthy experience, even without any vomiting naked nuns to spice things up. Vancity Theatre showtimes here - I believe it opens Dec. 8th.

Oh, David Ehrenstein in that essay gives a reference to one of the first pieces of queer cinema I ever found myself liking, the Merchant/ Ivory film Maurice... looks like that's coming up at the Vancity too, along with other Merchant/ Ivory films... Hmmm...

Sunday, December 03, 2017


Slow by bev davies, at the Thunderbird Arena in 1986; not to be re-used without permission

Slow in 2017 is better than Slow in 1986.

I am serious. Slow in 1986 were inspired as hell, a great debut, a ferocious burst of youthful energy and a force to be reckoned with, keeping the spirit of punk alive when the best of the first-gen punk survivors were faltering with the possibility of getting on the radio or getting signed to a major label ("if we just make it slightly more approachable..."). I bought their first (and only) single when it first came out, off Grant at Collectors' RPM, and loved it. Against the Glass - which came out just a year after DOA's terminally overproduced record, Let's Wreck the Party, if you want a study in contrasts - was also in my collection from the week of its release, and I maybe have even in owned it in two versions (because, as I recall, there was a slightly different mastering job on the second pressing). I am very glad to have seen them live: it was one of my first-ever punk concerts, Slow opening for the Cramps at the Thunderbird Arena, on a  rare blessed night, where, as a non-driving teen from Maple Ridge, years before there was even BAD bus service back to the 'burbs, I actually managed to get a ride into the city and a place to sleep, with a bunch of anarchists, lesbians, and members of the Animal Slaves at a house off Victoria (I got to meet Rachel Melas and admire her hairy legs while they all sat around a kitchen table making Seussian jokes with rhymes like "I like dykes." I never got to see the Animal Slaves perform but it was pretty fun eavesdropping on that conversation). There were kittens, too, who licked the sweat off me as I tried to sleep on the couch afterwards, which was memorable in a different way.

And I saw someone attempt to pierce her own nose, badly, that night. And saw my only UFO, later on, lying on the grass at the UBC bus loop, watching a meandering dot among the stars that no one else could be made to see  (but it was there!). It's the ephiphenomenon around that night that I remember most clearly. Some of you have heard the story about a big-haired Goth girl who came up to us before the show to chat, and my big-haired Goth female friend commented, "You're so pale, it's disgusting!" - then failed to notice as this newcomer's face fell and she struggled with hurt and distress, until I, seeing this all and understanding, reassured her: "she means she's jealous."

She was so relieved!

Tom Anselmi came up to talk to us somewhere before the show, too, asking us, in the parking lot, if we had seen a guy with a silver (or golden?) beard around, who he had to talk to. I had no idea at the time that he was my age then. but jeez he looked young.At 18, Tom Anselmi was WAYYYY cooler than I was. I was kinda in awe. I didn't say anything to him, though. (He was probably more interested in the girls I was with, anyhow).

For those curious about my first five punk shows, they were: #1: Dead Kennedys with Jim Cummins, House of Commons and the Bill of Rights, at the New York Theatre in 198...5? I think. The Fall of Canada tour, the night the Crucifucks DIDN'T play. Neil S. Emery keeps posting photos of the show, that include audience shots, and there is one guy whose back of the head might actually be mine, except I don't really remember what I looked like back when I had hair. Jim - who I saw take a beer bottle or can to the head and keep playing without, as I recall it, missing a chord - was at the show last night, too.

#2 was some mix-and-match festival of local punk bands where I am pretty sure I saw the Spores and Death Sentence, and definitely saw the Haters, whom I hated, and who now - in their black hoods, with their power tools, making an ungodly noise on the stage - are the only band who stands out even vaguely in my memory. (Danny of the Spores was at the show last night, too, quipping, "I don't even like Slow!" at first, then later recanting). Then there was the Cut-the-Crap-Clash with Phil Smith and Corsage opening (little did I know the backup singers were the Dishrags!), which I think was the first ever show I was at where bev davies was also present and taking photos. I was up in the nosebleeds, though, among those being mocked by Joe from the stage: he said we didn't understand, were mere spectators for not being willing to come down and join the party on the floor, but I had a rare DOA EP with me, my first-ever Triumph of the Ignoroids, with the uncensored cover, which I had scored FOR A MERE TEN BUCKS at D&G Collectors' Records before the show, and was in no way willing to take down into the mosh pit, no matter how much Joe exhorted us. I remembered the mosh pit from the DK's show all too well (I lost my shoe in it and had to retrieve it).

I am not sure if any of the members of the Dishrags or Corsage were at the show on Friday, but I wouldn't be surprised.

And then there was Slow opening for the Cramps, in their bloody nurses' uniforms, with (again, unbeknownst to me) Mary of the Modernettes doing some backup vocals, leggy and sexy and kinda shy off to the side of the stage, with another gal or two, too). I barely remember the Cramps' set, gather that they were in a bad mood, with Lux pissed off by some pig's blood that got onto their equipment, maybe annoyed that the audience was chanting "STRIP!" at him (his previous striptease in Vancouver had been mentioned on the radio earlier that day). I recall reading in Discorder that after the show he smashed some hapless journalist's tape recorder when a question aggravated him. The Cramps who I had THOUGHT I was going to see - the madman-fronted unit I had seen in Urgh! A Music War - were nowhere present that night, and Slow totally upstaged the headliners, doing their classics, plus a cover of "Gimme Shelter," and a song that for years I thought was an ode to masturbation called "Beat the Creature" that Tom now tells me, some thirty years later, was actually "Meet the Preacher," and written about Ken Lester (!). I loved it all, and was more impressed by their anarchy and energy than I was BY THE CRAMPS', which says something -

- but holy fuck, it was a mess! It was one of the first and biggest lessons that I ever got taught that a band live MAY NOT SOUND LIKE THEY DO ON RECORD. Slow live in 1986 (or was it 1985?) sounded kinda like... well, wait a sec, have you  heard their live cover of Nazareth's "Hair of the Dog?" It's hilarious, it WORKS, it is REAL ROCK AND ROLL, by all means ("and Hamm says..."), but it - what's that line from Dylan - "fall[s] apart all over the place?"

Slow, opening for the Cramps, fell apart all over the place. I don't know if they were stoned or drunk, but they were definitely teenagers and relatively new to music. It was real fun, and they deserve every bit of their legendary status, but... 31 years later, these guys are a BAND. These guys can PLAY. These guys have the discipline and confidence and chops that they lacked back then. They may have been legendary in 1986, but they're GREAT in 2017. And if what I heard of their new material on Friday night was any indication, they've also developed and evolved as songwriters over the years, because -

- hold on. I must not disparage Against the Glass (or "I Broke the Circle"). (Though I will ignore "The Night Before").  The problem, though, with those original Slow compositions is that they've been all the Slow the world has HAD, these past thirty years. Even if Slow haven't done them to death - even if they might actually still be fresh and fun for the band to play, which is what it seemed like on Friday - for those of us who have had no other Slow to listen to for 30 years, you know, we kinda KNOW these songs already, eh? They're great - especially "Lookin' for Something Clean" and "Against the Glass" and "Bad Man" and "I Broke the Circle" and... well, I could rank them in order, and all the way down to "Out of the Cold" (the song above "The Night Before") they're all great... but there's still only so long you can listen to even great songs before you have to put away the album before you kill your ability to enjoy it. I don't spin X's More Fun in the New World very much. I don't spin the Clash' London Calling very much, or the Stooges' Fun House. And I don't spin Slow's Against the Glass very much, either (at least it's in good company). Because I don't ever want to find myself going, "yeah, yeah, you have not been the same. We get it."You have to eventually stop listening to an album before you ruin it for yourself, you know?

But hey, what's this "Asphalt Plane" thing about?

Slow Dec 1 2017, by bev davies, not to be reused without permission.

The new Slow songs were AMAZING. Both "Nothing to Use" and "Polaroid Queen" - uploaded to Youtube with great audio, unlike my clips - reminded me more of Copyright's classic "Circle C" album that got kinda shitcanned by Geffen - an album EVERYONE SHOULD BUY IF THEY SEE IT, one of greatest rock albums to come out of Vancouver ever. "Asphalt Plane" sounded a bit darker and more menacing, a bit more like Copyright's The Hidden World, also an unsung local gem, that even some Copyright fans can be heard to disparage occasionally (I never knew why; while there are some weaker tunes on the album, mebbe, like the single "Into the Light," there are also some fuckin' EPIC MONSTER ROCKERS, like the sexy/ horny, and brilliantly anthemic "Mother Nature" - which, I'm just sayin' - could easily be incorporated into a Slow set). Tom, Hamm, and the boys can't help but have learned and grown from their decades in rock. There might still have been some LOOSENESS to what they did on Friday, some CHAOS - and, I mean, who wants to see covers of "No Fun" and "Pills" and "Chinese Rocks" and covers-of-covers like "Brand New Cadillac" and "Somethin' Else" WITHOUT them being loose and chaotic? Loose and chaotic is the whole POINT of those songs. But the looseness and chaos of a seasoned skilled player is still of a different order than the looseness and chaos of an 18 year old dude with his hormones exploding out of his nurse's uniform.

Slow in 2017 is BETTER than Slow in 1986. I cannot WAIT to hear their new album, or new EP, or whatever it may be. I had such a good time at the show that I completely forgave them for starting at 12:30, even though it meant I only got less than four and a half hours sleep before my first day of work at a new job (I got home after 2:30 and was up at 7am). It was great to be standing next to Bev and sharing notes, talking about call-out culture, confessing my own occasional "fuck and run" period to her, having her tell me her own "me, too" story, and debating what to do about artists who have misbehaved. Bev, like me, is a big Roman Polanski fan, and gave what I think is the most intelligent and provocative summation of the whole sorry situation: "Would you rather see a really shitty movie made by a really nice person, or a great movie made by a shitty person?"


Anyhoo, besides Bev, it was nice to see a whole bunch of people I knew, some of whom I said hi to, starting with Jim Cummins, who didn't know that he was on the cover of the new and, I believe, final issue of BC Musician magazine until I gave him a copy (there was a stack of them inside the door). Then there was Danny of the Spores, who had some cool news re: his career as a cinematographer, and whose Lon Chaney Sr. tattoo is apparently all finished (it is super fucking cool and you should ask to see it if you run into him - I'd post a pic but all I have is the unfinished version). There was Al Mader, who wouldn't have been there if I hadn't told him that it was starting late and tickets were available, who could be seen dancin' to the right of the stage (and who you see in his hat in one of my pics below, with Kevin James "Sipreano" Howes - whom I briefly forgot knew me, and almost walked by!). Sipreano  did an insipred deejay set just before Slow took the stage, which morphed at one point from the Nihilist Spasm Band's "No Canada" to Willie Dunn and Jerry Saddleback's "Peruvian Dream," and included the Painted Ship's "She Said Yes" - which Bev didn't recognize, even though she had LIVED with the Painted Ship for a time when she'd just arrived in Vancouver (!). The previous DJ (DJ Paisley EVA?) had done a great job of providing a grrrls' only opening set, with lots of songs I didn't know ("Is this Kathleen Hannah?") and plenty I did (stuff by Nina Hagen or Kim Gordon). Nardwuar was there but I leave Nardwuar alone, since I figure he must surely prefer that. Doug Smith was there. At least one dude from the Tranzmitors was there. I didn't see Dave Bowes, or Adrian Mack, or Mike Usinger, but I gather they were there, some with their wives. Ed Hurrell was there and said hi to me... Gerry Jenn Wilson was there and said hi to Bev, but she doesn't know me... Lotta people out, in any case. There was even a guy with a chihuahua or something.

Who brings chihuahuas to punk shows?

The Orange Kyte had the single most entertaining fan, a young (drunk?) girl who kept shouting variants on "I think you guys are an awesome band!" - which led to the singer responding "I think you're an awesome audience member," at one point. But so much vocal praise seemed a bit uncomfortable for them, since she wouldn't let up. I liked them, tho'. They kinda made me think of what the Jolts would have sounded like if they had been influenced by the Kinks instead of the Ramones.

I miss the Jolts.

Then there was the Prettys, who suffered a little bit from "waiting for Slow to take the stage" fatigue, on my part; they delivered - with three different vocalists, including a charismatic little Lester Bangs-type on lead guitar who jumped around onstage a ton while soloing. I had enjoyed them the last time I saw'm a bit MORE, to be honest, when they cooked up the Smilin' Buddha ahead of the Furies a year or two ago, in a slightly different lineup, but it was gettin' late and I was ready for Slow.

Then Slow came on. Tom had expressive hands, reaching out into the audience in a way that reminded me of that fucking AMAZING Nick Cave show a few years ago at the Vogue. His lower lip curled troublingly downwards as  he sang - a lip filled with menace and disdain - but he managed to roar just fine (one slight voicebreak at the start of "Lookin' for Something Clean" aside - I mean, he really does ROAR on that EP, in a way he never did with Copyright, but he's still got it in him, turns out). Christian was staid and stoic and the best dressed; Ziggy brought the most chaos; Hamm, as always, seemed to be having the most fun, and Terry Russell - whom I don't think I've seen onstage SINCE that 1980's Slow concert, unlike most of the rest of the band - apparently hasn't lost a beat, so to speak (HAS he been drumming all this while? Wasn't he doing podcasts with Hamm for a bit, there? Erika and I won a Dehli-to-Dublin ticket off him once...).

Tom mostly was self-affacing when he gave the odd between-song comment, saying he never knows what to say at such times, but he did comment, "Where were you in 1986?" at one point to the cheering, packed house.

For the record, that was me who shouted "Thunderbird Arena!"

I'll let the photos speak for me for the rest. Though I should add that while the most entertaining rendition of "No Fun" I ever saw in my life was a DOA-led all star jam at the Vancouver Complication gig, with Randy Rampage on lead vocals, Slow do an AMAZING "No Fun" themselves, and both versions were wayyy more entertaining than watching Iggy and the Stooges do the song in Seattle (!), somewhat to my surprise.

All photos above by bev davies; all photos below by Allan MacInnis. Slow goes on at the Fox at 4:30 this afternoon, if you missed them. It's not too late. I am half tempted to go again myself...!