IT'S A LIVING… BUT IT'S NOT A LIFE #13.1
J Church/Honey Bear Records -
There's a little bit of springtime in the back of my mind...
Long time no hear? Sorry about that. My girlfriend was out of town and
we had just done a lot of touring at the end of last year. Plus work was
giving me headaches. So I needed to take something of a metaphysical bender.
I didn't leave the house when I didn't need to. I only ate what was around
me. I didn't write or talk to hardly anyone. But I'm back and somewhat
LET THE TRIBE INCREASE
In the midst of my madness, I did get back into writing my book. For
those of you who don't recall, I've been working on a book for the past
several years now documenting the British anarcho-punk bands of the late
`70s and `80s. That means I'm writing about everyone from Crass to Thatcher
on Acid. I've stopped kidding myself that I'm going to get every band.
There were just too many. But I'm at least covering all of the main points
and Sean ex-Rugger Bugger/ex-Wat Tyler is sorting out the complete discographies
for me. In the mean time, Maximum Rock N Roll has been running the chapters
as articles. At the beginning of this year, I polished off Antisect, Dominant
Patri, Anarka and Poppy, Toxic Shock, The Apostles, Faction, Chimp Eats
Banana and Amebix. I'm currently sorting out Stalag 17, Disrupters, Lost
Cherrees and Chumbawamba. I'm still trying to track some folks down, so
any help would be greatly appreciated.
SNUFFY SMILES TITLES
I've got three different CDs from Snuffy Smiles added to my mailorder
catalogue. They're $10 ppd. each if you're interested. They're the latest
from J Church, Minority Blues Band and I Excuse. It's all material exclusive
to these releases. The two Japanese bands are the best thing happening
in non-crust Japanese punk today. Our CD is half new material and half
cover songs from The Fall, Wire, The Cars, Crucifix, Richard Hell, The
Misfits and Snuff.
I've still got some leftover shirts from the past couple of tours. Get
in touch if you're interested. The European Tour shirt is especially nice
with a photo the original graffiti from May '68 that "Society Is
A Carnivorous Flower" is taken from.
We're heading back to Japan in a few weeks. It will be our last time
with Yoichi as he's probably not going to be doing much with Snuffy Smiles
anymore. It's sad. But we'll go out with a bang as part of the tour is
with Hard Skin. Should make my head explode. Here are the dates.
26 Kanagawa, Yokohama Club 24 West w/ Hard Skin
27 Tokyo Red Cloth w/ Hard Skin
28 Sendai Birdland w/ The Urchin, Deeds Not Words
29 Niigata Nile Studio w/ The Urchin, Spraypaint
30 Kyoto Kiyamachi East w/ The Urchin, I Excuse
31 Nagoya Huck Finn w/ The Urchin, Navel
1 Mie Ise Question w/ The Urchin, The Because, Drift Age
2 Matsuyama Jet w/ The Because, Drift Age
3 Tokushima Crowbar w/ The Because, Drift Age
4 Osaka Saomai w/ The Because, Drift Age, I Excuse
5 Tokyo Match Vox w/ The Because, Drift Age, Blotto
2004 "SOCIETY IS A CARNIVOROUS FLOWER" TOUR DIARY
MARCH 29th FT. WORTH (1919 Hempill)
These weird little spaces are everywhere nowadays. Downstairs is where
the kids hang out and goof around and upstairs is where the bands play
in a big open wooden room. I think people lived up there too. I haven't
been to Ft. Worth in years and years. I think the last time I was here
was on our first US tour. What happened to that hippie with the amazing
homemade pita bread? Thought Riot opened tonight. I'd never heard of them.
But they were cool. Really nice guys too. Friendly for a band that I later
found out were sort of a big deal. It was our first night of tour so like
normal we left very, very late. Chris drove like a maniac and we made
it from Austin to Ft. Worth in something like two and a half hours.
MARCH 30th OKLAHOMA CITY (Green Door)
Nobody came out tonight. In fact, we weren't in the ad in the paper. No
flyers. Blah, blah, blah. Hey, I'm sick of hearing bands whine about poor
promotion too. With nobody in the house except the born again Christian
punks who must have been very confused, we turned it up to 11 and blasted
through the Cars' song "Just What I Needed". Probably the only
time we'll ever play that live.
APRIL 1st KANSAS CITY (El Torreon)
This is a pretty nifty little venue. Too big for a band like us, but the
guy running the place was really cool and on the level. J Church and Dysrhythmia
is definitely a strange coupling. But it was cool and I sort of enjoyed
their prog/metal. That might have been the context of being on tour and
needing to hear something other than the two-dozen CDs you brought. Desperately
trying to get some Mexican food as we sped out of town, we ran into the
opening screamo band James Dean Trio. I just assumed they hated us and
what we were doing. That was our experience playing with screamo bands
last time we were in Boston. But they turned out to be pretty nice and
stoked about the whole show.
APRIL 2nd LAWRENCE
I don't remember the name of this little place. But we've been here before.
It's mostly just a little bar with a ton of pinball machines. This is
our first show with the amazing Riverboat Gamblers along with their touring
partners The Wednesday. Everyone was in a rush, so there wasn't much time
to hang out. There's a part of me that wishes we could conquer this part
of the country. So we keep coming back to lukewarm welcomes at best. It's
funny how we really are at the mercy of these towns. Any of the bands
playing tonight could headline in Chicago or New York or San Francisco.
But tonight, all three of us are playing to about 30 kids who don't seem
to be having that good of a time. We just need to try harder.
APRIL 3rd CHICAGO (Fireside Bowl)
Matinees are weird. I don't really like `em. I know that there is this
whole mystique with all-ages, hardcore matinees. I just find them to be
awkward and too well lit. I'm pretty self-conscious and need to hide in
the dark. Plus, we're not a hardcore band and, as people keep reminding
us, we're not really an all-ages band. I find it hard to believe that
people under 21 can't like what we're doing. But I'm old. What do I know?
Met the Methadones for the first time. Thank God they're good. We're
doing most of the rest of the tour with them and it would have been a
bummer if they sucked.
APRIL 4th MINNEAPOLIS (Triple Rock)
Everybody loves this place, so I don't need to tell you about it. Pigged
out and felt like I was in no position to play. Tore through our set at
lightening speed. You've gotta do something to plant your flag when up
against Riverside Gamblers, The Wednesdays and the amazing Sweet J.A.P.
Tonight was all about bands going crazy, breaking guitars, jumping off
ledges. Afterwards, we all headed back to Paddy's Pad for drinks and a
shit talking session.
APRIL 5th DES MOINES (Vaudeville Mews)
The funniest, sloppiest opening band of all time tonight. I don't know
what was going on, but they surely wanted to be raging against whatever
machines they could. With their delivery I'm guessing small toasters and
maybe a bed lamp. Got to finally meet the folks from Spank Zine. It was
fun, but I don't really think we ever need to go back.
APRIL 6th IOWA CITY (Gabe's Oasis)
Oasis from what? We had some time, as there really isn't much to do between
Des Moines and Iowa City so we went and saw "Dawn Of The Dead".
I like Sarah Polley a lot. She should be doing better things. After tonight's
show, I was thinking the same about myself. Of the few kids that were
there, two of them told us that they had a J Church cover band. When they
played at this same venue there were ten times as many people. What the
hell? Aren't we the ultimate J Church cover band?
APRIL 7th MILWAUKEE (Mad Planet)
Another matinee and this time at some sort of goth club. At least this
time the show was good. It's finally feeling like a tour and not so much
like doing sociological research. A bunch of kids rocking. It's not packed.
But it's enough. Great Methadones set tonight. What a great singer Dan
is. Got to chill out with Karoline and Robert after the show. I can't
remember the name of their bar, but the food kicks ass. Lovely house too.
I'd almost want to move there.
APRIL 8th CLEVELAND (Pirates Cove)
I used to love Cleveland. We used to have the best shows here. Everything
has been downhill since the demise of Speak-in Tongues. This show was
fine. There was a bunch of people. It's just not the same. It was just
another club show for us. Back in the old days, it was such a cool city
to hit that we would go out of our way to make it happen. I don't know
if Ohio is interested in us anymore.
APRIL 9th PITTSBURGH (Mr. Robotto)
Back to reality. This is our kind of venue with our kind of people. Rockin'
show better than the last time we made it through here. Hit Me Back and
Suburban Death Machine also rocked. I can't remember, but I think one
of the bands was from Mexico or South America or something. Now I feel
pretty ignorant. Maybe I am becoming a Texan? Mr. Robotto is the quintessential
American DIY venue. I'm not sure how they survive. But they make touring
the East Coast worthwhile. We tried out our Crucifix cover tonight to
APRIL 10th WILKES BARRE (Metropolis)
I've never heard of this town. We spent a big part of the day driving
around rural Pennsylvania with the wrong address looking at scary abandoned
industrial buildings and even scarier white trash residential neighborhoods.
Finally got to the venue that was next door to a burned out building.
Turned out to be a pretty cool little all ages venue. I don't know what
these kids were about. I wound up talking to one kid about Fernando Arrabal,
which kinda blew my mind, as I don't even know much about the guy. I'm
guessing there's some sort of university just out of sight that we're
APRIL 11th NEW YORK (Knitting Factory)
I really like New York and this is one of the only places I like playing.
I know a lot of other people hate it here. The stage is too high as is
the door price. But we've had so many bad experiences with this city,
I don't know if there are any real alternatives for us. Maybe I'm just
caught up in the mystique of it all. Anyway, it's Easter, which I don't
really care about, so it's not really that crowded. The show was filmed
for something. I don't remember what. It's just another thing that I agreed
to that I'll never hear about again.
APRIL 12th PROVIDENCE (The Living Room)
We're getting really good at getting lost. Spent most of the day driving
around suburban Providence. I think this is a metaphor for this whole
tour. We're just a little out of synch. Here we are out on tour promoting
a record that isn't out yet. We are a little unsure of every step. I don't
have any confidence in what is happening. We used to just be able to drive
and know where the venue was, almost instinctively. Now we're getting
lost every other day. The rain isn't
IN THE J CHURCH VIEWING ROOM
DANGER! 50,000 VOLTS! (dir. by Matt Gillbe and Mike
If you're like me, you've got a special place in your heart for Nick
Frost. Aside from being a genuinely kind and friendly guy, he's got some
of the funniest moments in "Spaced" and "Shaun of the Dead".
Giving him his own show was just a matter of time and as host of a somewhat
tongue-in-cheek series of safety documentaries, your fan-dom will know
With actual experts as guests and properly researched facts, the show
comes off somewhere between "Fishing With John" and, and I hate
to use such an obvious Brit reference, the first few "Ali G"
shows. The difference is, you feel that Nick is just being himself. You
can't believe that any of it is scripted and he's genuinely interested
in what his guests have to say. Nothing mean-spirited and condescending
Over this double disc set that covers the entire first season, he explains
to the viewer how to survive everything from a kidnapping to hippo attack
to bat wielding thugs. Interspersed are equally hilarious animated vignettes
dubbed "Too Dangerous To Film" such as "Forest Fire!",
"Avalanche!" and "Lightning". The flash style is funniest
enough just for the artist renditions of Frost.
Two things make this a sure winner. First of all, he uses to determine
what is the most fearsome arachnid is the funniest thing I've seen this
year. Second, the DVD comes with the bonus feature "Danger! 50,000
Zombies!" where Frost re-teams with "Spaced"/"Shaun"
co-star Simon Pegg in the only episode that's a complete spoof. Also,
look for the Easter Egg with the blooper reel.
BRIEF CROSSING (dir. by Catherine Breillat)
ANATOMY OF HELL (dir. by Catherine Breillat)
I've sung the praises of Catherine Breillat before with films like "Romance"
and "Fat Girl". Her post-modern analysis of sex can be distilled
into the basic idea that if all actions are political, then by default
all sex is also political. With that theme, she has scrutinized sexuality
and sexual relationships with a Marxist fervor often losing road weary
observers along the way. Perhaps that is the reason why two of her most
recent films have been so simplified in set and structure.
"Brief Crossing" tells the story of a thirty-something English
woman who meets a teen French boy on a ferry ride across the Channel.
Fraught with sexual tension, Breillat replaces natural flirtation with
barbed and at times confrontational dialog. Like most of her films, you
don't often hear what you expect or want to hear. This puts the focus
on the awkwardness of seduction and in this particular case changes the
roles of many of her early films. The woman is the seducer but using traditionally
Breillat has been banned time and time again for her graphic displays
of sex and this film isn't much different. The lack of fanfare, shot on
location with what feels like natural lighting (a huge part of that is
the amazing cinematography from Eric Gautier of "Irma Vep" fame)
doesn't have the voyeuristic feel of most Hollywood soft porn. It's almost
hyper-voyeuristic as you feel like you're intruding. To further that feeling,
the film captures young actor Gilles Guillain first real sexual encounter.
The blushing on his chest and body are real.
"Anatomy Of Hell" isn't the, uh, light fare of "Brief
Crossing". This time, sexuality and in particular, sexual parts are
a metaphor for existential emptiness. Sartre was an artist and a Marxist
and here Breillat bravely straddles that line.
A gay man saves a woman when he witnesses her slash her wrists in a
nightclub. A challenging and complex conversation follows in what you
can probably start to call Breillatian discourse. Breaking out of the
introductory conversation, the woman drops to her knees giving the man
a blow-job in public. His surprise and his orgasm is where the film really
The two make a business deal. She will pay him to watch her at her most
"unwatchable". This includes displaying for him her splayed
genitalia and having him penetrate her with a finger while she's having
her period. His describes her vagina at "the horror of Nothingness
that is the imprescribable All." That's 21st Century Sartre much
to De Beauvoir's chagrin.
Both films are shot like plays and inevitably could be categorized as
mysteries. These aren't movies that simply ask questions without giving
answers. But instead, it leaves you with many possible answers. The fact
that her movies are constantly attacked and ridiculed by critics and filmgoers
of the most banal taste says she's doing something right. I don't know
that you can actually review films like this, as there really is no context.
They're challenging and often very, very smart and otherwise personal.
As a result, I'm completely drawn to these films without being able to
honestly say I get it. How many Marxists can say they completely understand
I used to complain that movies like Breillat's were wrongly compared
to other recent French films of similar controversy like "Irreversible"
or "Baise-Moi". But with "Anatomy of Hell" there is
a real comparison to be made with the later. World famous porn star Rocco
Siffredi stars in this film and is surprisingly excellent not unlike the
late Karen Lancaume.
(Wellspring Media and Tla Entertainment)
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