IT'S A LIVING
BUT IT'S NOT A LIFE #14.4
J Church and Honey Bear Records May Day is Lei Day
The way you love me is frightening.
Holy shit! The weather has been crazy the past few days. Thunder,
lightening, and crazy winds. There are trees down everywhere in my
neighborhood and I've never heard thunder so loud. As I walked down
the block today, I couldn't help notice that the sidewalk was littered
with small dead birds. It's been a hell of a storm.
SEISHUN ZANKOKU MONOGATARI US TOUR 2005 part 1
June 30th Ft. Worth, TX
Another last minute show and I wonder if we should add this town to Salt
Lake City and Boise as places that really will never like us. The kids
doing the shows here are real cool. But we can't get people to come out
to save our lives. We stayed with Chris and Stacy's pal Jade in her cool
digs. Lots of cool artifacts around every corner and a mess on every floor.
We were talking about horror movies like The Sentinel and The
Changeling and she started to tell a story about how she tells people
that the ghost of a little boy lives in her attic and how once in a while
you can catch a glimpse of him looking out the window. Of course, it's
just a bullshit story she made up to scare people. But as she told it,
the lights began to flicker. We both got a little freaked out and decided
to talk about nice things for the rest of the night.
JULY 1st Memphis, TN
Oh, the first J Church US Tour, we played the Antenna Room and it sucked
shit. There's been a rumor ever since that I said we would never play
Memphis again. That doesn't really sound like something I would say. But
I can imagine saying that we would never play the Antenna again
And we didn't.
So now we're rolling through the thunderstorm to headline a big
hardcore show. In my dreams, we would play a lot more diverse shows
like this. Shit, we've done festivals with Refused, loads of stuff
with John Henry West, Econochrist and Spitboy. We had a brilliant show
with the Business. We even did a Hardline Festival once. It's always
turned out cooler than expect. I like playing with bands that are
mining in a totally different area.
Bury The Living may be the best hardcore band in America right now. I
don't know who else would come close. They are playing at the peak of
their game. The second album is huge and live they are madness. Some
of the nicest guys you will ever meet.
Seein' Red are fucking perfect! They were more amazing than the last
time I saw them eight years ago. Smart, ferocious it makes up for
lot of the pain I suffer from having never seen Larm.
The Lorraine is walking distance from the club. Joey walks us over.
It's eerie as hell. The whole place is now a museum. Even at 2:00 AM
it's lit up perfectly intact from the day MLK was shot. Being a long
time politico, I sort of get jaded and bored when people talk about
MLK. But not here. It's pretty affecting.
We grab some vegan nachos at some lame frat bar and start the long
drive to Chicago.
JULY 2nd Chicago, IL
Is the Fireside gone or not? I keep getting mixed messages. This show
would've been a bit too big for that place. We're on third out of five
tonight and it's a nice break. Last night was ridiculous the more I think
about it. What the hell strange world is it where WE headline over Seein'
I fucking love playing Chicago. Everyone had their shows they were
psyched about and this one was mine. We tear through our set though
somewhat delirious from the all night drive followed immediately by
lunch at Sultan's. But we make it and it's fun. We get off stage just
as Cissy and crew show up. Oh well, we'll be seeing them again soon.
I've loved the Groovie Ghoulies for years and years. I remember seeing
them in LA back in the late `80s with Haunted Garage or some other Hollywood
monstrosity. Roach was the only one I really knew before this night. She
was having some amp problems but smiled through the adversity. They perfectly
encapsulate a certain strain of punk rock that I totally respect. It's
the theatrics of cool. They've got real style that lives in their music
as well as their record covers, shirts and stage look. But it's not just
some contrived gimmick to make a buck. I think their longevity alone is
proof of that. They really mean it. Have you ever seen Kepi's paintings?
They're quite beautiful. I keep kicking myself that I never bought one
at the show with the Epoxies. At one point he remarked that this show
was great and like the old days. I knew exactly what he meant. The old
days for us is like '96 to '98. Those were great years to be doing this
kind of music.
Headling were the Methadones. I love these guys. We hadn't seen them
since the tour we did together the previous year. They are solidly
part of the great Chicago tradition of Naked Raygun, Pegboy,
Screeching Weasel, etc. "So Far Away" is my new anthem.
Out of nowhere, Aubrey and Beth (who I don't really know except through
scene osmosis) are up from Austin. We hit the all-night Mexican restaurant
and inadvertently walk through a gunfight. God, we were tired. Too tired
to worry about flying bullets. Too tired to think about it.
IN THE J CHURCH VIEWING ROOM
BATTLE IN HEAVEN (dir. by Carlos Reygadas)
Battle In Heaven is easily the most thought-provoking and beautiful
films I've seen this year. At the end of this film I felt like I was the
target audience absolute. I was moved and thrilled. But the more I know
about myself, it seemed obvious that this film was doomed.
There's not much plot to this film (not unlike Reygadas' brilliant Japon)
but the plot is less than secondary. It's the story of a man, the degradations
he faces in life, the good and bad choices he makes and what he believes
could be his redemption. But within that, more and more questions come
to mind and like any great film, as much as you are excited by the work,
you are challenged and in some ways intimidated.
Especially in America, the collective unconscious has given us all
this false self-image of positivism. We believe a lie about ourselves
and our potential and what those things mean. So for a US audience to
relate to Marcos, the main character and true anti-hero, there would
take some self-evaluation that burger eating, video gaming, cell
phoners just aren't ready for.
Marcos is an overweight middle-aged man. His life is split between the
reality of his poverty and the unreality that his job shows him. As
the driver for a Mexican general, his main job is chauffeuring around
Ana. The general's daughter, she lives and affluent and privileged
life that is juxtaposed by her own which is her secret life working at
a high priced brothel. As driver, Marcos is the only one that knows of
her double life. His taste of that decadent life, that he can't
escape, comes mostly from hanging around the brothel and fucking Ana
on occasion. In fact, the only reliable moment of hope in the film is
an oddly poetic scene with the two post-coital in bed, the camera
focused on their genitals as he slowly loses his erection.
Reygadas isn't afraid to make that the central metaphor of the film.
In his life of poverty, Marcos and his wife have kidnapped a baby. But
the crime is bungled and the baby dies. The actual crime isn't at all
relevant to the film. Rather it's the circumstances it creates where
Marcos has to decide what choices can be made in his now accelerated
There's been a lot of hoopla about the graphic sex in this film. It's
all quite beautiful. All of the actors are non-professional which is
great for many reasons. First of all, it gives the film a sort of
Jarmusch type of realism that I'm addicted to. But also, the sex
scenes are unlike anything you will see in an American film
films by Larry Clark or Vincent Gallo. All of the sex scenes are
amazing looking and, like a lot of the film, very dreamlike.
It's a great film. It might be my film of the year. But it's not for
everyone. The sex is graphic. It's not Breillat. Well, maybe a little.
But if you can hang, it's an amazing challenge. (Tartan Video)
IN THE J CHURCH LISTENING ROOM
JOEL, BILLY - Glass Houses LP
Yeah, this album kinda sucks. In fact, half of it is pretty excruciating.
But it's interesting how punk and new wave was affecting the world and
even forcing guys like Billy Joel to take sides and put their money where
their mouth is.
The hits? Fuck the hits. You May Be Right is some dumb macho lie
and Sometimes A Fantasy, uh, it's okay, especially the Oh-Ohs on
the chorus. But it's just trying to keep up with the Boss. It's Still
Rock N Roll is an odd attempt at tying everything from current music
trends to his own career back to Elvis and should live in a special category
along with songs like Crazy Little Thing Called Love and Should
I Stay Or Should I Go. Don't Ask Me Why was the other hit and
it's pretty fucking good. If Billy Joel wasn't so damaged and wasn't so
desperate for acceptance, he could have just focused on songs like this
and would have been an artist instead of a joke.
The really good songs on this album are two of the non-hits. I Don't
Want To Be Alone and Sleeping With The Television On are wordy
and smart and up enough to make me think that he must have had a couple
of Elvis Costello records if not some Nick Lowe singles. It was a big
boat. But they were all in it so why wouldn't they be aware of each other?
If it weren't for the ghastly solos (sax and keyboards respectively) I'd
say these songs were bona fide classics. But poor production choices leave
them diamonds in the rough. It sounds ridiculous, but this album would
have made a fucking brilliant EP. (Epic)
PITCHFORK - Eucalyptus LP
I love John and Rick. I love these guys. I love their music. Pitchfork
is probably my favorite as I've got the most memories tied up with this
music. I remember when I first met John. Cringer was down in San Diego
playing a big show with Scream and Excel. Pitchfork was the first band
on and was still a trio. They were amazing. They were the perfect West
Coast response to Rites Of Spring. John was a young kid who took us to
the shop nearby so we could by soft drinks. To this day, he's still as
excited and enthused about music as the first time I met him. I think
this record showcases everything that is great about his guitar playing.
It's crazy tuneful while experimental and challenging. I remember watching
some interview with Eno where he called Hendrix the first electronic musician,
as he was as interested in sounds as he was in notes. I think the same
can be said for John. On this record he's carrying the melody on every
song while pulling out all the stops in guitar trickery with harmonics,
pick scrapes and other pick-up noises. It's fucking an inspiration.
Rick is also on fire with some of his most venomous lyrics. Burn Pigs
Burn is a knife in the gut. And he doesn't let up there. Rana
is pure poetry and the lyrics perfectly marry the big riff (I swear, it
must have been somewhere in Blake's subconscious when he wrote the outro
to Chesterfield King). I'm so happy this record is back in print.
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