One of the conditions of one of my jobs is that I will be exposed to the “fusion of entertainment and enlightenment” that is Glenn Beck. The job pays well, so I tolerate it.
Mr. Beck recently delivered a sermon/rant protesting the oppression of heterosexual white men in America, during which he mentioned several individuals –heterosexual white males - who have made significant positive contributions to society, but obviously, he could not mention them all. I would like to mention a few heterosexual white males, unnamed by Mr. Beck, who have made the world a better place.
Moondog, aka the Viking of Sixth Avenue. Completely insane experimental composer, blinded by a farm accident which somehow involved a dynamite cap when he was a teenager. Moondog had some brilliant ideas about rhythm: he felt it shouldn’t be so rigid, a concept that this Espresso Shaman independently stumbled onto some years ago. Moondog’s most famous composition is a song titled “ENOUGH ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS”. You can expect a BDSR version of that to hit the Bandcamp in the near future.
Raymond Scott was among the greatest lunatics in the early years of jazz, composing frenetic songs with titles like “Dinner Music For A Pack Of Hungry Cannibals”. He also composed soothing, electronic music for babies and built room-sized “instruments”. Warner Brothers bought the rights to all of his music and used it in Bugs Bunny cartoons. You’ve heard “Powerhouse”.
Father Yod. The Pacific Theatre in World War II was horrific. Islands were battled over repeatedly. It wasn’t unusual for there to be corpses laying around in various states of decay. Everyone who was there was affected by it – including my grandfather – and some couldn’t return to “normal” life afterwards. Father Yod came back from the war, tried to resume his life in New Jersey, but somehow found himself out in California with long hair, a beard, several “spirit wives” and a psychedelic rock band. Huh. Yod gave everybody new names – the “family name” was Aquarius – put out a couple LPs and died in a hang-gliding accident.
Benny Goodman. I’m totally serious. Goodman wasn’t a ground-breaking musician, but he put out a shitload of very good jazz. And he was the first bandleader to appear on stage with a racially mixed combo. Or at least the first one anybody knows about. I’m sure that blacks and whites had played music in front of audiences before, but Goodman did it big and he knew he was taking a chance. It could’ve meant the end of his career, but he went ahead and did it. That deserves some props.
Roky Erickson. Jesus motherfucking Christ, man. Roky has been to the mountains of madness and has returned to tell the tale. I’ve seen some of the alligators and I’ve been up in the attic with that baby ghost, but I can’t begin to convey the reality of insanity like Roky Erickson. Saddhu, saddhu, saddhu.
Angus MacLise. I’ve waxed poetic all over MacLise, but I don’t think I mentioned the fact that he was a heterosexual white male. Also, he was the original percussionist for the Velvet Underground. I’m kinda glad his big ego clashed with Lou Reed’s – if Maclise had stayed with VU, we wouldn’t’ve gotten to hear Mo Tucker’s monobeat. I like monobeat. I use it a lot. Lou Reed was a white male, but he wasn’t entirely heterosexual so he doesn’t make this list. Also, I pretty much can’t stand anything he did after Metal Machine Music. MacLise died of malnutrition in Nepal.
Harry Smith. Of all these, Smith is the one I most identify with. He was an artist, film-maker, musician and all-around nutjob. He was a mystic, a visionary, a hoarder, who spent much of his life in poverty. Of all his accomplishments, the one he is most known for is compiling the Anthology Of American Folk Music, a goddammed eight-album set of the best of traditional American songs fron the 1920’s. The Anthology woke America up to her own heritage, which was in danger of being lost forever, and sparked the Folk Revival of the ‘60’s which yielded a raft of watered-down, bullshit pseudofolk by assholes like the New Riders Of The Purple Sage and the Grateful Dead, but that can’t be blamed on Smith.
At the end of his life, Smith was able to say “I saw my dream come true. I saw the world changed by music.”
Full disclosure: I am also a heterosexual white male. However, I am not at all bothered by the backlash against heterosexual white males that so troubles Mr. Beck. I completely understand how and why women, people of color and non-hets are a bit peeved about the demographic that has only very recently begun to lose the power to keep them segregated, alienated, incarcerated, frustrated, voiceless, choiceless and generally holding the shit end of the stick. I understand because I’ve been involved in the fight against oppression for decades. I may be a man but I’ve never been the Man.
Glenn Beck is the Man. He is the embodiment of the white heterosexual power structure that has clung to wealth and power and forced anyone not like him into ghettos or reservations all through America’s history. Now that those people have started to gain ground in the struggle for freedom and equality, Beck is cashing in on the fear felt by “his” people. Fuck that asshole. Fuck that heterosexual white male piece of shit. Fuck him for being so desperate to stay on top of the social heap and fuck him again for profiting by selling racist, sexist, homophobic justifications to people who are just as heinous as he is.
I’m not gonna quit that job. I like painting houses. I’d rather do it for the fun of doing it, but unfortunately, I live in capitalist America, so I need filthy lucre to live and it does pay well.
So, I haven't posted in a while because I've been busy and because the word program I was using was actually a temporary thing that my mom had on this computer and it ran out or stopped working or some such and I'm trying to figure out how to get another one without, ya know, paying for it.
And I been busy. All good stuff - work, daughter, art, music, snow, good things. I set up a BDSR Bandcamp and put up a bunch of songs. But I haven't been doing this thing, which I don't feel good about because I usually do three or four a month and I feel like I should put something up once in a while at least. So, enjoy some photos of my mom's back yard which she also left on this computer.
Oh yeah, uh, religion is the best thing people ever came up with. I haven't been depressed or dropped acid. I rode my skateboard to the mailbox and back t'other day. I'm reading The Gateless Gate again - it's awesome. My daughter turns five next month! Holy Shite, seems like just yesterday she was in diapers. Not Noise, meditation, look both ways, smell the coffee.
I am not now, nor have I ever been, a ladies' man, rake or playa. Nevertheless, I have had some experience with women and I've encountered a variety of pubic hairstyles. The majority of the females I've known had the standard triangle. Some were shaved, some were thickly furred. I had one long-termer who shaved occasionally for variety and one who was a compulsive hair-plucker, a trichotillomaniac. I never really thought about women's pubic hair much.
A few years back, I was working in a different restaurant and the subject came up in conversation. I don't know how pubic hair came up in conversation. Restaurants are like that. There you are dicing onions and then you're having a conversation with the nineteen-year-old server about pubic hair. A bartender came back to the kitchen and put her two cents in. By the end of the shift, I had learned that bare-down-there had become normal, that natural pubic hair was "disgusting" and that electrolysis of the pubes was a thing people did. I haven't conducted any surveys since then - questioning women regarding their pubic hair seems a mite awkward - but I have no reason to suspect that my former coworkers were anomalies. The women who I'm close enough with to discuss such matters assure me that total defibulation is the norm.
I was watching E. Elias Merhige's Begotten with a female friend, a smart,competent, confident young woman who has many accomplishments to her credit. She found the disturbing imagery disturbing, appropriately, but was especially critical of the female characters' bush. I explained that the woman in the movie represented Mother Nature. She replied that "Mother Nature needs to trim that shit". We've had plenty of discussions about feminist issues - and I've tried to get her to pose naked for cover art with no success - and she knows better, but her "vagina shame" is still there and still strong.
Women's bodies are not their own. Women - in this culture - grow up in the spotlight, constantly examined, critiqued, criticized and dictated to. Entire industries depend on women hating their bodies and being willing to spend billions of dollars "correcting' their "flaws". The body-shaming never ends. Men are subjected to some body-shaming, but that's nothing compared to what women endure. The majority of it is directed at parts of womens' bodies that anyone can see: their faces, legs, hair. A woman doesn't have to be naked for anyone to know how her body is shaped. Pubic hair, conversely, is private, which is why it's even more disturbing that the shaming has gotten there. Sex workers might have professional reasons to shave, but the average woman's pubis is only seen by herself and her lover(s). The fact that total hair removal has become the norm indictates that our culture's degradation of women has reached into their most intimate places. I'm not going to go into labiaplasty or anal bleaching.
Symbolically, women are linked with nature and the Earth. Mother Nature is a mother for a reason. Men are related to society, to laws and organization.Our society has abdicated all authority over nature. We have collectively given our planet to corporations, to do with as they please. Corporations have no symbolic standing because they're too recent. Myth offers no examples of heroes or heroines venturing forth to slay corporations. Myth does provide many stories of individuals fighting evil tyrants who seek total dominion over the land and everyone on it, which I would suggest is what corporations are.
Begotten, by the way, is a phenomenal piece of work. I got my copy from a friend who was really into fucked-up films and went into thinking that's what it was. I figured out what was happening halfway through. If it had ended differently, I would've been pissed, but Merhige got it right. It's brutal, disturbing and 100% spot on. It tells the story exactly right and Mother Nature's pussy is hairy for the right reasons. Kudos, Mr. Merhige.
So I decided to organize a various artists compilation, to be titled My Goddess Has A Crazy Bush. The whole point of the comp is not not not to promote a fetish for hairy pussy. I spent hours searching the web for the right picture to go with this thing, a search which paid off rather delightfully, I might add, but which entailed looking at a lot of images of hairy pussies. Fetishizing pubic hair is just the flip side of fetishizing no pubic hair and not what I'm after. I've gotten some responses from musicians who are really into the fur and I'm totally okay with that, but the end goal is that pubic hair is natural and fine. There's nothing wrong with trimming it if you don't want it curling out of your bathing suit or shaving it if that seems fun, but allowing some massive corporation to shame you into believing that your body, in it's natural state, is disgusting or dirty or unsightly is giving up too much. Our bodies belong to us. We should decide what to do with them and if our prospective sexual partners don't like our pubic 'dos, let 'em find some other lover.
My contact list consists mostly of experimental, noise, weird punk and drone musicians. Most of them are male. I think there is some value in males saying they're happy with women's natural bodies - many women do care what the men in their lives think about their bodies. For us to say "Hey, you don't have to shave to make us happy" is a positive thing, but I'm not trying to organize a sausage party. I've gone pretty far out of my way to throw this thing at female musicians and haven't gotten any responses. I've also sought diverse musical forms and have no reason to think any of the old-time bands I've contacted will be sending tracks. If you know any radical, banjo-pickin' femmes who might like to get in on this, send 'em a link.
Pubic hair is just an example, of course. What this thing is really about is the unnatural and unattainable images women are presented with and told they must conform to. I'm pretty happy to have plenty of hippie chicks in my life who don't shave anything, avoid make-up like the plague and wear comfortable, functional clothes. They listen to terrible music, of course, and none of 'em wanna jam with BDSR, but I'm happy to have 'em around, reminding me of how female human beings actually look. I'll take a hairy hippie chick in jeans and workboots over a made-up college girl anyday.
Relating it back to nature, I'm all for nature. I'm all for the woman/earth symbolism. Women and our planet can look good and fun when gussied up a bit - I like Japanese gardens and I know some punks who rock the Siouxsie Sioux heavy-make-up look pretty hard - but wild, lush and untamed is always preferable.
So, send in your tracks, let your big muff roar and get out to the national forest as soon as you can. Goddess bless.
1976, London, a handful of teenage girls decided to start a band. When I say “teenage”, I mean fourteen to sixteen. A couple had passed through short-lived early punk bands, but none of them really knew how to play their instruments. The only one with any massive natural talent was the lead singer, Ari Up, a German-born spitfire in possession of an amazing voice. The Slits exploded onto the scene, opening for the Clash a year after forming. They were riotous, chaotic and utterly bratty. Drummer Palmolive couldn’t keep a steady beat, so the din pulsed, speeding and slowing according to her irregular patterns. Original guitarist and bassist Kate Korus and Suzy Gutsy were soon replaced by Viv Albertine and Tessa Pollitt. Ari Up had a habit of lifting her dress to show audiences her panties.
There may have been all-girl rock bands before the Slits. The Shaggs were around, but they don’t really count because they were forced to be a band by their father, who had received a message from God or something, and they were never any good. Possibly, some record company scum had put together an all-female group for novelty’s sake, like the Monkees with boobs. Probably there were others that never made it out of the garage. The Slits were, to the best of my knowledge, the first self-starting, all-female band in rock. And they named themselves the Slits. That’s nailing the flag to the mast.
Some live recordings of the early Slits exist, but are hard to come by. They were in The Punk Rock Movie, toured with the Clash again and learned to play. Palmolive left, to be replaced by Budgie, later of Siouxsie and the Banshees, which tightened up the rhythm section. They embraced reggae, landed a record deal and released Cut, which featured the three female members wearing only loincloths and mud on the cover. Neneh Cherry, daughter of jazz great, Don Cherry, added vocals on the album. Budgie would eventually be replaced by Bruce Smith, drummer for the Pop Group, but publicity photos would almost always exclude the boys. (Budgie can be seen far off in the background in one of Cut’s inner photos.) The Slits were willing to have a guy pound skins, but they were female-led and girl-powered. They toured like mad, released a load of singles and another album, Return of the Giant Slits, and broke up in 1982.
Palmolive formed the Raincoats after leaving the Slits. Viv Albertine made films for the BBC and British Film Institute. Ari Up moved to some jungle in Indonesia to live with head-hunters, eventually returning to music with the New Age Steppers. A version of the Slits reappeared in ’05, featuring Ari Up, Tessa Pollitt and Hollie Cook, daughter of Sex Pistol guitarist Steve Cook. Ari Up died of cancer in 2010, aged 48. Her death was announced by John Lydon (aka JohnnyRotten), who was her stepfather, having married her mother back when the Sex Pistols were a going concern.
Everything about the Slits is fucking awesome. They were children when they started, girls, who came out of the gate raucous and defiant, kicking down barriers and not letting anything get in their way, not even their inability to play. They took the sausage-fest of rock by storm, transformed themselves almost overnight into a dancehall/punk assault unit, attacking gender stereotypes and flying in the face of what girls were supposed to be, naked and filthy. They had brass ovaries and when it was time to quit, they quit. They laid the foundation for chicks in punk, creating the look and attitude that would later become Riot Grrrl. Anyone who cares fuckall about feminism should be required to own Cut. Anybody trying to raise up a ferocious little girl should be slipping that one into the player as often as possible.
The Big Drum In The Sky Religion has mostly had male participants. The first performing incarnation featured a couple women, anarchists who were in it more for the opportunity to tell their friends they were in a crazy, noisy improve band than because they actually intended to actually do anything. Italian Ice, my adopted little sister and my daughter’s unofficial goddess-mother, got in pretty early and is still in whenever she’s around. She tends to spend a lot of time in third-world jungles. Puddle Creature played a few shows and was on a couple releases before disappearing into the blighted suburban wasteland that is Northern Virginia. JuJu “Dallas” Sweetlime tore some amazing, fucked up lounge jazz out of a Wurlitzer keyboard and threw down some random vocals until she moved to NYC to mooch cigarettes and blow off hipsters. I managed to coerce C.C. LaLucha into tickling some ivories and reading Revelations in Spanish before we parted ways. Other than those few, and that trannie who was around for a little while at the beginning, it’s been all male.
Guys tend to approach me and ask if they can sit in. Sometimes they stick around for a while. Women don’t seem to be into it. I don’t know why. I’ve tried to recruit females, offered to teach them to play an instrument, usually bass. I’ve pestered and cajoled, but the chicks just don’t wanna. It makes no sense to me. I have always wanted to play music and would have jumped at any chance to be part of a totally free-form, no-need-for-talent, all-improv entity at any point in my life. I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t want to get in BDSR, but I’ve come to accept that some people don’t.
What I really want, of course, is a woman like Ari Up. In the band and in my life. I’m single now and not really looking, but if I could find a single woman, around 40-45, optimally with a decent voice, who wanted to jump into BDSR, take on some of the managerial chores, do some art, make some noise and cuddle up on the sofa to watch The Holy Mountain once in a while, I’d be all over that like ugly on an ape. If she had four-foot dreads, that’d be fine too.
Unfortunately, such a woman is unlikely to show up any time soon. The Slits came out of a specific time, place and social situation. Punk rock blew the structure apart. The dark stars lined up perfectly to create the Slits. If there’s another woman like that anywhere in the universe, she sure as fuck ain’t in Harrisonburg, Virginia. The best I can hope for is to raise up the Spotted Opossum to be that awesome.
Speaking of the Spotted Opossum, she was running full-speed down a hall recently and discovered, the hard way, that her mouth is the exact same distance from the floor as a doorknob. There was some screaming and crying and blood on her jammies, followed by a trip to the E.R. We took her in for oral surgery t’other day, but the doctor was unable to save her big, right front tooth, which was a baby tooth and going to come out in a year or so anyway. So now the grrrl has a big gap in the front which looks pretty cute and tough. As designated Keeper of the Relics, I already have a jar for her teeth. Wasn’t expecting to need it quite this soon. I’m happy to say, she hasn’t slowed down. Knocking out one of her teeth hasn’t dampened her reckless joie de vivre one tiny bit. She continues to be the smart, funny, fearless, pink explosion of wild abandon she’s always been. I’m looking into fiddle lessons, so you can expect her to show up on even more BDSR releases, if she’ll let me record her.
I’m sure the Mommy will expose the girl to smarmy, gutless femmy music. Her friends will doubtlessly get her into whatever godawful boy bands and bubble-gum pop kids are into in a few years. It falls to me to provide my daughter with access to good music. That means Can, the Clash and Acid Mothers Temple, certainly, but she’s a girl and she needs to hear female voices. Elizibeth Cotton is one of her faves right now. She digs the Slits and As Mercenárias. I haven’t played Bikini Kill, Melt Banana, Crass, Babes In Toyland, 7 Year Bitch or AIDS Wolf for her yet – those bands are a little too sonically harsh for her, but I will. I’m looking for some Slant 6, Breeders and Team Dresch, if anybody has it.
I’m also looking for women in the experimental/improve/noise scene. The only band I can think of that was hellishly noisy that had a woman that BDSR has performed with was Blue Sabbath Black Fiji. Guitar As Spacecar had a female shrieker out front, but they played precious little before hanging it up. I’ve heard rumors that there are women in the scene someplace, but I ain’t seen many. If you know of any, please hook me up with contact info.
In the meantime, check out the Slits, support women in rock and under rocks and free Pussy Riot.
Brown Hat the Espresso Shaman
The pun is always intended.