Archive for the ‘A band you should know’ Category

Welp, I went ahead and signed up to put in my time and am delighted to find the Obama campaign has impeccable taste. Tonight’s local debate party will be kicked off with music by the world’s most charismatic outlaw who’s sly compassion is as legendary as his high and lonesome zensoaked warble. Jimmie Dale Gilmore is a Saint. This is not hyperbole, but a well-known fact. I can’t find the words and believe me I’ve tried. Anyone familiar with my (cough cough) oeuvre might recall I spent year one in Austin determined to self-destruct in a flamboyant way but what you don’t know is it was Jimmie’s weekly supper gigs at Threadgills that kept me tethered to the planet.

And I didn’t have to pretend I wasn’t hateful, alienated and falling down drunk or the last thing I wanted to do was gather round a picnic table in red-checked oil cloth, pass catfish platters to the homespun hippies sitting next to me and literally rub elbows with women who wear their hair down to their ass in 110 degree weather. Navigating his fan base was not for the squeamish but they are what they are and blessyerheart, we’re not in Kill City anymore.

All this was almost 2 decades ago, a single year that’s now a Texas legend, singing and supper with Jimmie at Threadgills, who saved me on a weekly basis without a single word between us and I know I’m not the only one.

I can’t find any Threadgills footage at youtube but here’s JDG in Norway around the same era doing his single hit Dallas. Heartfelt thanks to the Democrats for putting him on the bill tonight, now I got me some memories and buses to catch.

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It feels good to be blogging again, get this down. I’m spending time here now, and went in on a shrug and a guess but it’s everything I want so let’s just pause and bow our heads for the miracle of work without pay. As a volunteer you choose where to go, what to do, learn at your own pace, you’re in demand by all departments and are treated like a hero. That’s what all work should be like, but since it’s not hooray for service, it’s given me 10 times what I’d have in my life without it.

This is Texas, hell on earth. Here’s the TCRP video describing their services. They fight to uphold the First Amendment, disability rights, battered immigrant wives under the Violence Against Women Act,  they’re all over the Texas Youth Commission, and it all boils down to hope.

I’ve been overwrought because I knew I had to go there but I’m not college, don’t know about law — ask me, what’s a plea, what is disclosure, what is a brief? I don’t know shit. You’d say that’s okay but I can’t get that through my head.  I’m terrified, shakes, humiliation and being ashamed of the humiliation, I’m sorry I’m sorry, head down, obsequious, problems with information processing, how to be, afraid to ask, a willing victim, it’s my whole personality, placating, fear of exposure. You can’t hide that, so what can you do? Bless this mess and watch them wait. I’m safe. Everyone knows that but me, I know they know I’m afraid and are too classy to interfere while I come to my own understanding. I am a rather steep learning curve too.

A word about magic. Twenty years ago while deciding if I would take the job at WOXY or a station outside of Chicago I went to a bookstore and pulled A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man off the shelf and started reading. I near fainted on the spot to see the protagonist’s name is Stephen Daedalus, because I just got off the phone with him, WOXY’s program director! That was his radio identity, I had no idea he took it from a story. I took it as a sign. Nothing like that has happened before or since til last month after taking the job at TCRP I went to the library and picked up a bunch of books. That night while reading Molly Ivin’s last tome I got to read 2 chapters praising Texas Civil Rights Project! It’s a coincidence, I know, everything is random but still somehow connected, isn’t it.

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Doop doop I’m putting together that follow-up post as mentioned, can’t sleep while they’re filming FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS in my backyard and they’ll go til 4 AM again, no sleep and just got home from my 4th day in training and I couldn’t concentrate because of the clip in my head the last 2 days, which happens to be the first one added to Writher, the writhe safely rock-n-roll VODPOD, from which I’ll highlight a video every week, and make like a format. A show. A production, a playground, slightly twee but highly exacting. My task is to get you interested, this is still in my blood, and don’t it make you wanna get right back home. Remember, if you click the video two times it takes you to youtube where you can access the full-screen. Guess I should mention this is probably not safe for work, and that breaks my heart too.

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This is from one of my favorite online essays of all time, at the humanistic psychologist Richard Grossman’s website, Voicelessness and Emotional Survival, which is filled with tools to embiggen understanding:

Many students from around the world have e-mailed me about becoming a therapist.  “What do I need to learn?” they ask. One of the most important tasks of “insight” therapists is to understand and appreciate subtext.   What is subtext?  It is between-the-lines communication that convey powerful messages indirectly.   Subtext affects all relationships, and is especially critical in child-rearing.  Do you have an aptitude for subtext?  Does the concept interest you?  Here’s a simple exercise. Consider the well-known and beloved Robert Frost poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”

After reading that you’ll instantly grasp what this is about:

Amazing lyrics here. I sang along with that song a thousand times missing what now seems obvious to the point of banality. Sometimes it takes an essay to get there.

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All war dead

Jeff & I were on the phone talking about how we’d feel today with the inevitable wingnuts on parade commanding the rest of us to wave the flag and celebrate the troops. Fuck them, said Jeff. Memorial Day is not Veterans Day, this is a day to remember all war dead — children, women, civilians, animals, the innocents, the casualties. This is their only day and their day only. A day to hang your American head in grief for the size and scope of this nation’s militarism, beginning with the Civil war, including our part in it.

That made sense to me.

This song is by X, which reformed for a summer tour. It alone is worth whatever the ticket price, as relevant today as when I was playing it on the radio 25 years ago.

the facts we hate: we’ll never meet walking down the road everybody yelling “hurry up, hurry up!” but i’m waiting for you i must go slow i must not think bad thoughts what is this world coming to? both sides are right but both sides murder i give up why can’t they? i must not think bad thoughts i must not think bad thoughts i must not think bad thoughts. the civil wars and the uncivilized wars conflagrations leap out of every poor furnace the food cooks poorly and everyone goes hungry from then on it’s dog eat dog dog eat body & body eat dog i can’t go down there i can’t understand it i’m a no good coward & an american too a north american that is not a south or a central or a native american o i must not think bad thoughts i must not think bad thoughts i must not think bad thoughts i’m guilty of murder of innocent men innocent women innocent children thousands of them! my planes! my guns! my money! my soldiers! their blood is on my hands it’s all my fault! i must not think bad thoughts i must not think bad thoughts i must not think bad thoughts the facts we hate: you’ll never hear us (i hear the radio it’s finally gonna play new music you know the “british invasion”) but what about the minutemen flesh eaters doa big boys and the black flag? will the last american band to get played on the radio please bring the flag? please bring the flag? glitter-disco-synthesizer night school all this noble savage drum drum drum! astronauts go back in time to hang out with the cave people it’s about time it’s about space it’s about some people in the strangest places woody guthrie sang about b-e-e-t-s not b-e-a-t-s i must not think bad thoughts i must not think bad thoughts i must not think bad not thoughts i must not think bad thoughts i must not think bad thoughts.

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h/t: Dr. Soldz

I remember getting pissy and deleting our last attempt at an open thread, entitled, ironically enough The Kitchen Sink, but I’m fixated on the primary and something’s gotta give. I’ve considered going drastic, quit writing about psychiatry altogether and turn this site into a pathetic imitation of 15 million other netroot blogs, or reserve a single open thread for the denouncing, renouncing, hilarity and linky wonderment to come, and see if that curbs my political jones. Could be I’m entrenched in the election because I refuse to mention it, which is mere neurosis, and a timely tip to seek some balance. So please take this thread as an invitation to comment and drop off links to any remarkable agitprop screeds found cruising the Internets. You may know I am a political junkie but there will be no bloodletting whatever your delusion, and no personal attacks despite unseemly depths of conviction or blasé indifference regarding the political process. Switching between the two appears to be the norm.

Full disclosure — I went with Hillary last week but cried a little afterwards, it was knowing that the first time in my life my vote was actually counted, or so I thought… til I checked Wonkette and found a certain bug in the system: Texas Caucus Results Thwarted By Possibly Transgendered Old People

The Texas Caucus will never be decided, and not because of some Diebold terrorist glitch, either. No, it is because old people don’t know the meaning of “transgendered,” and when caucus officials tried to explain it to them last night due to ballot confusion, the old people cursed them out and refused to give any gender at all.

Over at Vanity Fair, James Walcott says what has to be said, in The Sorrow and the Pity Party:

If only returning to the womb were a viable escape option from Hillary’s taloned deathgrip! Probably such posts are indicative of the low morale pervading Sullivan’s side pocket of the universe, his readers mirroring and amplifying his own downcast, defeated mood in a dispersed pity party. Hillary Clinton’s bounce-back on March 4th had Sullivan drowning his sorrows (“I just had a Jager shot, and hope to get drunk very soon”), and staggering like a ghost through the stricken ruins of his dashed hopes, lashing out at Hillary like Sebastian blaming everything on “mummy” in Brideshead Revisited. Or perhaps Sullivan is closer in the depth of his despair to Sebastian’s lover Kurt, sadly, bitterly contemplating his wounded, pus-ridden foot. For Sullivan, Hillary is the psychic pus that torments him so (she’s not just any old “monster,”she’s a “fratricidal maniac”), Obama the healing, uplifting ointment.

And for the cooler heads, this instant classic has been making the rounds, by HTML Mencken at Sadly, No!

The Cult Thing:

Eh. It’s not the support or supporters I object to, it’s the enthusiasm and the fanatics. For any politician. But especially for such mediocre ones. After all, it’s not as if either Clinton or Obama are exactly FDR incarnate; they are both fairly average “liberal” politicians who are thoroughly schooled in the arts of serial triangulation. They ain’t radical; nor are they idealist; they are simply better than any Republican alternative. They’re good enough for a vote (with or without one’s nose tightly held) but that’s it. It just won’t do to mask this homely reality with fawning, drooling praise of either politician.

As usual the fun is in clicking the links, and sharing your impression or lack thereof, whatever the case may be.

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I’ve been following the Guardian’s safe and predictable top ten reader recommended crazy songlist the last couple weeks; the results are in and I’m not familiar with half the songs yet but am pleased to see Kristen my hero made the list. This is such an important genre and maybe it’s me but I get a tired tragic/comic vibe from the selection, and a (deliberate?) absence of a mad pride sensibility. Some that didn’t but should have made the list include the Jam’s anthemic Don’t Tell Them You’re Sane, Lou Reed’s Kill Your Sons, Devil Doll or In the Time it Takes by X, most anything by Elliott Smith, She Cracked by the Modern Lovers, Time Has Told Me by Nick Drake, Outside this Bar by American Music Club, and Pearl Jam’s cover of Crazy Mary, which still raises the hairs on my arms, here’s the original version by Victoria Williams:


Guardian excerpts:

Crazy, on the other hand, is Syd Barrett, slipping through the looking glass; or David Bowie’s half-brother Terry, whose schizophrenia inspired songs such as Jump They Say; or Daniel Johnston, whose manic depression turns his fans into uneasy voyeurs. Crazy can produce great songwriting, but more often destroys it. Any song that engages with mental illness is to some extent discomfiting, either because it is too flippant or because it is all too real.

Things are going to get heavy, so let’s start light. Annie Ross’s Twisted, later covered by Joni Mitchell and Bette Midler, is a spirited riposte to the head-shrinkers: “My analyst told me that I was right out of my head/ I said dear doctor, I think that it’s you instead.” Californian punks Suicidal Tendencies make the same point with rather less elegance and rather more splenetic guitars. “I’m not crazy! You’re the one who’s crazy!” yelps Mike Muir, crazily.

…Noah “Panda Bear” Lennox and his mother both spent long periods on antidepressants. Take Pills flushes them away (“I don’t want for us to take pills any more”) with music that has a woozy, narcotic allure of its own. Choking intensity wracks Tindersticks’ 4.48 Psychosis, named after the last play Sarah Kane wrote before hanging herself in 1999. 4.48am was when Kane’s manic depression would regularly snap her awake.

Prior to making music, Kevin Coyne was a psychiatric nurse, so he knew better than to treat mental illness lightly. The House On the Hill has the same dishevelled lope as Neil Young’s Tonight’s the Night: the sound of someone coming undone while asking, “Who on earth will ever understand I’m really trying?”

Finally, two examples of unvarnished autobiography. Kristin Hersh wrote The Letter about her bipolar disorder during her Throwing Muses days, then shelved it because it made her feel sick. A decade later, a friend finally persuaded her to record it. A brave decision – it’s distressing to hear, let alone to sing. When Dory Previn was ditched by André for Mia Farrow, she was institutionalised (not for the first time) and wrote songs as therapy. Although Previn’s playful phrasing and country twang sweeten the pill a little, the spoken-word coda is indescribably disturbing. Quick, listen to Twisted again.


1 Twisted Annie Ross
2 Institutionalized Suicidal Tendencies
3 Psychotic Reaction The Count Five
4 Paranoid Black Sabbath The Dickies
5 Mind Playing Tricks on Me The Geto Boys
6 Take Pills Panda Bear
7 4.48 Psychosis Tindersticks
8 House on the Hill Kevin Coyne
9 The Letter Kristin Hersh
10 Mr Whisper Dory Previn

What else is missing? Feel free to add your own.

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