IT'S A LIVING… BUT IT'S NOT A LIFE #9.4
J Church / Honey Bear Newsletter - late Spring '01
NEW MATERIAL AND STUFF
Okay, that comp I was talking about last newsletter… The one with
our song Palm Tree that was an out take from One
Mississippi? It's not out yet. But it's on New Disorder (home
of bands like the Jocks, American Steel and Half Empty) and you can find
`em at www.newdisorder.com.
Another new item coming up soon is our split single with the Japanese
band, Minority Blues Band, on Snuffy Smiles. I'm not totally sure when
it's coming out. But I'll have at least a few for sale here which you'll
wanna keep track of as Yoichi's stuff is all pretty great and often really
hard to find.
Our songs for the split 7" are two that we recorded at WFMU in
New Jersey while on our last tour. The two tracks are covers of People
Are Scared (originally by the Subhumans) and Petrograd
(originally by Cringer). Pretty decent sounding from what I remember.
I don't think I fucked up any of the words…
You can expect the next singles collection to appear in stores sometime
in the middle of August. Titled Meaty, Beaty, Shitty Sounding,
it's about 20 songs all together. I think you will be very pleased when
you see what's on it. It will be on Honey Bear, so you can get it right
Other stuff? Yeah, we've got a CDEP of all new material coming out in
Australia. When I know more details I'll let you know. We've also got
(theoretically) a split EP with the Euro Anarcho band Petrograd. I guess
we had to do a split with them! There's also gonna be another benefit
CD for AK Press. We're giving them a weird little cover we did a while
back of All The Wars by Anthrax (the UK band not the
NYC metal band). Now, assuming that we got the DAT to Paul on time, we
will also be on the new Beat Bedsit compilation CD which is a benefit
for the opening of a @ center over in Brighton. Our song for that is a
weird little Black Flag inspired thing about the death of Albert Ayler
called Asphyxia By Submersion. There are a few other
things in the works. But they're still in their early stages. I'll let
you know more on all these things when I know more. I will say that all
of these projects will have unreleased J Church recordings of songs never
heard before… I just don't know who gets what just yet.
HONEY BEAR RECORDS AND SINGLES CLUB
Okay, on the label side of things, I was sort of hoping to get my shit
together a little quicker with Meaty, Beaty, Shitty Sounding.
But I should have known that it wouldn't happen. So the record is actually
coming out later than I had hoped. That means that the Singles Club isn't
going to get started until the Fall and it's just as well. I haven't got
all the tracks and artwork together. In the mean time, there's still room
to join. So if you or anyone else you know is interested in being part
of the fan club, here's a reminder on what it's all about:
The new singles club is a series of six (maybe seven if I can find a
way to make it financially feasible) 7"s of limited press of 100
copies. The records will feature unreleased material from Cringer (some
really cool stuff from around the time we recorded Cottleston
Pie), J Church (three new songs including Fuck School),
Semiautomatic (Rop of Ropstyle, ex-Rice, ex-Peechees), Cilantro, Tami
(from Japan) and hopefully Princessed. The joining fee is $45 in the states
and $55 world. The price is a reflection of how much it costs to do a
pressing of only 100 records and the new international shipping prices.
I'm trying to make it a little fair for everyone. You can join the singles
club by sending check or money order to my Texas address or you can pay
online through Pay Direct at Yahoo (my account there is through firstname.lastname@example.org).
There's still talk of hopefully doing a CD collection of music from
Flowers In The Dustbin and The Cravats. I've also just proposed something
to Southern about maybe releasing the two Lack Of Knowledge records that
were on Crass on one CD. We shall see. There's also been really loose
talk about a Flux Of Pink Indians "live" CD as their guitarist
has been telling me that he's got a much better recording than their last
live record (which I thought was pretty damned good!). But these are all
much more in the talking phase at the moment. Let's look back on this
list in a year and see what really came out…
RISD BANDS DON'T ROCK
Okay, here's where I'm going to start a fight. We're all friends here,
right? Just stay with me for a moment...
For the longest time, I really didn't care about the new wave of ironic
hardcore by bands like the Locust and then Black Dice and now Total Shutdown.
I didn't and still don't really like those bands. I thought what they
were doing was really silly. But I never thought any of them took themselves
seriously, so I never really cared. Besides, the few people that I've
met from all of those bands are really quite nice. I always figured, "fair
enough, they're nice to me and they probably don't care for J Church either…"
But now it's gone too far. The new wave of totally apathetic / grad
school / poseur hardcore has become too much for me to stand. It all has
to do with them crossing the line and insulting a musical form that I
I subscribe to the avant-garde newsgroup at Yahoo because I love hearing
postings about Bill Dixon, Albert Ayler, Cecil Taylor, etc from people
that worked with them if not from the artists themselves. I've never posted
because I've never felt I've had anything to contribute. It's just a source
of great free information. Avant-garde and free jazz… it's a musical
scene that means something, if for no other reason than history. You're
talking about the reclaiming of a music form specifically for the African-American
community. It was creativity and activism that merged art and politics
as equal footed aspects of "cultural" analysis. The very idea
of going far beyond the rigid order of traditional jazz and music in general
was an abstraction that had direct ramifications on the socio-political
landscape of the late `60s and early `70s. If the music world is a microcosm
of the world at large, then music constructs had to be questioned like
any other one in society… and vice versa. It was counter-culture
and DIY methods that pre-cursed Crass and the anarcho punk movement.
It fucking means something to me.
So when I saw a listing in the avant-garde newsgroup for Black Dice
and Total Shutdown playing a gig in San Francisco, I was fucking pissed
off. These little shits were trying to disguise the fact that they were
just a bunch of punk kids who "outgrew" punk and thought that
they were really clever if they made a bunch of noise (which is the one
aspect of these bands that I do like. But free jazz isn't just what's
on the surface) and called themselves "artists". But these fucks
take all the pretensions and all the posing, all the bullshit that most
people hate so much about the art world and offer no tangible reason to
think that they've done something of character or of cultural significance.
Art is a mirror and these bands reflect nothing. It's a pose.
Avant-garde and free jazz was inherently connected to black power. Just
ask Bill Dixon or anyone from the Art Ensemble of Chicago or Archie Shepp.
What do Black Dice and the bands like them have to do with black power?
Could they ever do something as ideologically radical?
Now, I haven't cared that much about hardcore in some time. There are
still bands out there that I like. But I don't care that much. Still,
it makes me sad to think that bands like Black Dice could in anyway be
the wave of the future. I like to think that they are an insignificant
blip on the map of music history (like J Church, of course). They probably
are. But I worry that they are the shape of things to come. It's a shame
when that kind of cynicism is the only way to combat the un-imaginative
status quo of `90s hardcore. There are still some people in that scene
involved for the politics and "art" of it rather than the empty
slogans and macho poses. Black Dice are, sadly, the logical extent of
Sonic Youth's half ironic interest in hardcore punk. They are the kids
that won't really commit to anything because they would rather laugh at
it. Shit, Black Dice must be doing something because I haven't been worried
about the "state of hardcore" in years.
Hopefully, this will all play itself out. Black Dice aren't gonna survive
in the avant-garde world doing what they're doing. They'll have to change
and that might be a good thing.
IN THE J CHURCH VIEWING ROOM
End Of The Art World video
At little over half an hour, this fascinating film covers a lot of ground
and a lot of heady artists. From Jasper Johns to Andy Warhol to Robert
Rauschenberg to Michael Snot to Roy Lichtenstein, Alexis Krasilovsky (Beale
Street, Exile, Blood, author
and director of the book and film Women Behind the Camera)
manages to create her own unique piece of art by appropriating not only
images but the artists themselves.
Intended as a documentary, the film was conceived as a result of Krasilovsky's
feelings that too many important artists are forgotten or looked over
for any myriad of reasons. Acknowledging that the artist is often just
as responsible as the lack of an understanding audience and media, the
function of this film was to document the artist of the time, the late
But her own artistic leanings betray any strict objective nature of
the documentary. Instead, the film becomes a vibrant collage of images
and soundscapes. Shot in 16mm, the film is as grainy as can be and the
fact that much of the audio doesn't sync up with the pictures only helps
to accentuate both. It's effect is like drastically panning audio channels
on a record… like the Ramones first album.
Often, she captures the artist in its natural (or what they want people
to perceive as natural) habitat. Andy Warhol isn't so much interviewed
so much as shown at one of his openings surrounded by all his followers
and hangers-on. Rauschenberg is shown in his studio working on one of
his thousands of assemblages. Roy Lichtenstein is interviewed in a faux
"talk show" manner that's funny in it's loose deconstruction.
One of the most fascinating moments in the film is the interview with
Jo Baer, a minimalist artist. Interviewed in front of one of her paintings
of a great rectangular shape, she's awkwardly charismatic in her nervousness
in front of the camera. As Krasilovsky continues to provoke her by asking
her why she feels uncomfortable and asking her to repeat herself, Baer
reveals herself in a way that's quite touching. As soon as she begins
talking about art and regains her stride, the interview is over.
Another striking moment, which is also humorous, is the interview with
Joseph Kosuth. When asking him how he feels about art history and how
he communicates through his art, he stands at a bus stop while she films
and asks the questions yelling back and forth on the other side.
The film is short, which probably works to its advantage, as most people
I know have no idea who most of these artists are. I wasn't really sure
of who some of them were and this is stuff I like!
Anyway, here's the monologue that ends the film. I thought it was great.
…We are in a new era in America
Where we have to say "Death To The Pigs"
…And when you begin to talk about
Death To The Pigs
They will take you seriously
And will begin to vamp on you
And you won't be saying that
Unless you truly want to do something
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