An Optimist on Two Fronts by hedongchenchen


                                              n the late 1960s, a series of British filmmakers arrived
                                              in the United States who all offered new and vivid ways
                                              of looking at America with freshly peeled eyeballs. John
                                          Boorman turned Los Angeles into a Pop-Art, Technicolor
                                          Alphaville in 1967’s Point Blank; Dick Lester (the expatriate
                                          American director who hadn’t been home in 17 years) and
                                          his cameraman Nicolas Roeg fell to earth in acid-laced San
                                          Francisco, whose discontents they depicted (in 1968’s Petulia)
                                          far more bleakly than did the habitués of Haight-Ashbury;
                                         “Swinging London” chronicler and beat-documentarian Peter
                                          Whitehead captured exploding America between the Tet

    An Optimist
                                          Offensive and the early ’68 Primaries in his poetic but hardly-
                                          seen The Fall; Peter Yates transformed the look of the urban
                                          crime thriller a year later in Bullitt; and John Schlesinger

                                          offered a sleazy, misanthropic look at America’s urban flot-
                                          sam in Midnight Cowboy.
                                         None however, produced so searing and angry a denunciation
                                         of the New World as Peter Watkins did with 1971’s faux docu-

    Two Fronts
                                         mentary Punishment Park, with its invocations of political
                                         concentration camps on American soil, police death-squads
                                         executing activists and dissidents, and the media’s inextri-
                                         cable complicity in both. Whereas most of the other newcom-
                                         ers’ visions were welcomed, Watkins’ was rejected out of
                                         hand. Punishment Park played for four days in Manhattan.
                                         PBS said outright that they would never show it. And so it
                                         vanished into a twilight world of occasional campus screen-
                                         ings—usually with Watkins in attendance—before vanishing
                                         utterly for 35 years. Apparently 1971 was the wrong time for
                                         an Englishman to diagnose, however sagely, the discontents
     The little-seen, oft-suppressed     of Vietnam-era America.

     work of dissident filmmaker         Time has either been very kind to his films or very cruel to
                                         us, by making the world so ugly and violent that Punishment
     Peter Watkins                       Park’s recent re-release on DVD has occurred in the most
                                         propitious environment imaginable. Abu Grahib and Guan-
     challenged not just the political   tanamo are fresh; the Patriot Act and the NSA wiretapping
                                         program hang menacingly over us all; war is back with a
     status quo but the form itself.     vengeance, and dissent against said war has metastasized,
                                         along with a profound disgust for the complicity of the corpo-
                                         rate media in all the doings of Dubya. Where critics roundly
     by                                  abused the film—when they were not ignoring it—back in
                                         1971, many are now roused to feel that Peter Watkins’ vindi-
     John Patterson                      cation may be at hand. And with the gradual release by New
                                         Yorker Films of nearly all his major works over the     34

Arthur// July, 2006                                                                                         33
     last year, Watkins can finally be                                                                                                At 48 minutes, The War Game                Park takes elements from the con-       haps more importantly, against the       a revolution to bring it all down.
     reassessed—or assessed for the first                                                                                             was too hot for the BBC, and even          temporary political ether, stretches    media itself, its owners, its place in
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Which brings us to La Commune
     time—on his own terms.                                                                                                           more so for the politicians of the         them to their plausible limits and      the political econonmy, and its for-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  (Paris 1871) which alongside Edvard
                                                                                                                                      time. Using available statistics and       then builds a searing, sun-scorched     mal and cultural shortcomings.
     Watkins seems to have been born                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Munch is probably Watkins’ mas-
                                                                                                                                      government documents, Watkins              drama within that context. It is        In his early work, he merely made
     fully-formed as an artist. He                                                                                                                                                                                                                                terpiece. Six hours long, filmed
                                                                                                                                      showed that Britain, faced with the        1973. The Clampdown on political        the process of filmmaking evident
     studied at Oxford and the Royal                                                                                                                                                                                                                              entirely in swooping SteadiCam
                                                                                                                                      possibility of atomic warfare, had         dissent has already occurred, under     to the viewer, but after his experi-
     Academy of Dramatic Arts, becom-                                                                                                                                                                                                                             takes lasting up to 15 minutes,
                                                                                                                                      settled for the illusion of security in    the draconian terms of the anti-        ence with The War Game, the craven
     ing interested in radical politics and                                                                                                                                                                                                                       it attempts nothing less than a
                                                                                                                                      its aftermath. Watkins illustrated         communist 1950 McCarran Secu-           nature of conventional media
     cinema. His second short film, a full-                                                                                                                                                                                                                       recreation of the revolutionary
                                                                                                                                      the effects of nuclear firestorms,         rity Act. Interned dissidents are       coverage and broadcast institu-
     scale reenactment of the Budapest                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Commune that ruled Paris in the
                                                                                                                                      mocked duck-and-cover safety               transported to the Bare Mountain        tions became one of his overarching
     uprising of 1956, was shot entirely                                                                                                                                                                                                                          aftermath of France’s defeat in the
                                                                                                                                      drills (a child’s eyeballs melt down       National Punishment Park. When          themes. He has since worked to
     on the placid streets of                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Franco-Prussian War. This story is
                                                                                                                                      his face), and finished his highly         guilt is established, defendants        overthrow conventional ideas about
     his hometown of Canterbury. It                                                                                                                                                                                                                               still so incendiary that most French
                                                                                                                                      unnerving polemic with the night-          have a choice: a lengthy prison         running times—his antinuclear
     won him a place at the BBC where                                                                                                                                                                                                                             schools simply do not address it in
                                                                                                                                      marish image of British bobbies            term or Punishment Park. The lat-       epic The Journey (1987) lasted 14
     his first commission, in 1964, was                                                                                                                                                                                                                           history lessons, and Watkins is
                                                                                                                                      interning political protesters and         ter requires a group of prisoners to    hours—and notions of who is quali-
     an adaptation of historian John                                                                                                                                                                                                                              anxious to show how those in pov-
                                                                                                                                      mercy-killing the victims of radia-        cross 50 miles of desert without        fied to make movies—his Strindberg
     Prebble’s revisionist account of the                                                                                                                                                                                                                         erty and deprivation were able, with
                                                                                                                                      tion sickness with a bullet. The           food or water. Survivors can go free;   biopic The Freethinker was writ-
     Battle of Culloden in 1746.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  no outside help, to articulate and
                                                                                                                                      corporation pulled it before broad-        more likely they will die of dehydra-   ten, performed, photographed and         put into practice many of the revo-
     Culloden, which saw the defeat of                                                                                                cast, claiming it was too disturbing       tion or be shot by organized bands      edited by a Swedish high school          lutionary ideals—feminism, equal
     Bonnie Prince Charlie’s invading                                                                                                 for the public. Although it won that       of police, highway patrolmen and        class Watkins was teaching in            pay, popular democracy, free state
     army by King George II’s brother—                                                                                                year’s Best Documentary Oscar              National Guardsmen.                     1994. Subsequent experiences have        (i.e., non-religious) education for
     known ever after as “Butcher Cum-                                                                                                (the closest Watkins ever came             Watkins cuts between the gruel-         only deepened his antipathy toward       all, collectivism, etc.—that would
     berland”—was the last battle fought                                                                                              to mainstream success) The War             ing desert ordeal—think: Survivor       the institutional media, which has       sustain the political Left throughout
     on British soil, between two armies                                                                                              Game was not shown on British TV           with real guns and bloodshed—of         sometimes hobbled his career in TV.      the century to come.
     composed of aristocratic officers                                                                                                for another quarter-century, dur-          the condemned prisoners, and the        After all, if one of the cornerstones
     and feudally indentured English                                                                                                  ing which period it was established        show-trial of the next batch, which     of your aesthetic and political          The result is perhaps the purest
     troops and Scottish clansmen. Wat-                                                                                               that it had in fact been suppressed        is consciously modeled on the           method is an abiding distrust of,        embodiment of Brecht’s theories of
     kins twisted the material by allow-                                                                                              for political reasons, not matters of      proceedings against the Chicago         and contempt for, the very mecha-        Epic Theater ever committed to film
     ing his collective cast of performers                                                                                            taste—just as Watkins had always           Seven. As always, the cast is col-      nisms by which your work will be         (Brecht himself once wrote a play
     to address the camera directly, to                                                                                               claimed. In addition Watkins had           lective, not focused on individuals.    made available for public examina-       called Les Jours de la Commune for
     tell their own bitter stories and even,                                                                                          stood athwart the line separating          All the actors are amateurs, cast       tion, you may soon find that the         his Berliner Ensemble). Deliberately
     on occasion, to reach out and tell        Watkins’ films always fight on                                                         fiction from documentary—it is the         for the proximity of their political    phone stops ringing. It’s a testament    adding the creative anachronism
     the crew to get the fuck out of the                                                                                              necessary place to be for an artist        views to those of their characters:     to Watkins’ stubbornness and             of two TV news teams—one right-
     way. Watkins is narrator, providing       two fronts: against the political                                                      denouncing the latter as merely a          words and opinions are their own.       determination that he ever made          wing (and disconcertingly like
     context, facts and figures, and the       status quo, obviously, but also,                                                       variation on the former—and this           Antiwar activists, feminists and        another film again.                      Fox-News) and another that’s politi-
     future destinies of the participants,                                                                                            only added to the discomfort of the                                                                                         cally engaged with the commu-
     outlining class relations between
                                               and perhaps more importantly,                                                                                                     union organizers play the prisoners.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Watkins addressed the issue in           nards—Watkins puts the innards of
                                                                                                                                      powers that be.                            Right-wingers, cops, and political
     Generals and cannon-fodder. In the        against the media itself, its                                                                                                    “moderates” play the judging panel
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         his most personal and lyrical film,      the filmmaking and newsgathering
                                                                                                                                      A brief and unhappy flirtation                                                     Edvard Munch, a polemical biogra-
     brutal aftermath of the rout, the         owners, its place in the political                                                     with Paramount Pictures produced           and the murderous enforcers of the                                               machinery on full display, and while
     British regulars are seen hacking                                                                                                                                                                                   phy of the pioneering Norwegian          we are never allowed to forget that
                                               econonmy, and its formal and                                                           Privilege (1967), an intermittently        last shreds of the law.
     women and children down on coun-                                                                                                                                                                                    Expressionist, made for Oslo televi-     we’re watching a manufactured,
                                               cultural shortcomings.                                                                 successful satire on rock-n-roll          With this 360-degree environment         sion in 1973 and released to inter-
     try roads and beheading the dead.                                                                                                                                                                                                                            albeit committed polemic, he also
                                                                                                                                      as a means of codifying dissent           in place and the figures within it all   national acclaim in 1975 (naturally,
     Culloden is a no-budget masterpiece                                                                                                                                                                                                                          enables us to feel great anguish
                                                                                                                                      (it features the GI rock band The         set to run and play and suffer and       its backers hated the film and did
     of mocked-up war footage that puts                                                                                                                                                                                                                           when these flawed, but optimistic
                                               previous page                                                                          Monks playing “Onward Chris-              die, Watkins adds his distinctive        whatever they could to stymie its
     Saving Private Ryan’s opening half-                                                                                                                                                                                                                          utopian idealists are finally mas-
                                               top: Film still from Punishment Park, 1971.                                            tian Soldiers”!) before Watkins           pseudo-documentary overlay. All          success). Here was an artist identi-
     hour to shame (in addition to his                                                                                                                                                                                                                            sacred, in their tens of thousands,
                                               right: Peter Watkins on the set of Punishment Park, 1971.                              left England for Scandinavia, his         the major media companies are here       fying totally with his subject: like
     other talents, Watkins is a world-                                                                                                                                                                                                                           by Monarchist troops in a Parisian
                                               THis page                                                                              base for most of the next decade.         to film all proceedings in Punishment    Watkins, Munch refused to coun-
     class director of kinetic action foot-                                                                                                                                                                                                                       park—another Punishment Park.
                                               above and right: Film stills from The War Game, 1965.                                  There he put together The Gladia-         Park. Watkins, as in all his films,      tenance any limit or compromise
     age). Culloden was also made in full      below: Film still from Culloden, 1964.                                                 tors (a/k/a The Peace Game, 1969),        acts as narrator and interviewer,        to his bleak vision, no matter how       Before this happens however, Wat-
     awareness of what was beginning           bottom right: Film still from Edvard Munch, 1974.
                                                                                                                                      perhaps his weakest film, in which        and is always behind the (usually        much insult and false recrimination      kins has also made us feel—through
     to unfold in Vietnam. It pulled no
                                                                                                                                      wars between nations are settled          handheld) camera, eliciting raw          he endured from the artistic estab-      endless discussion, argument,
     political punches, but its ecstatic
                                                                                                                                      by small bands of warriors on an          anger from the prisoners and blithe      lishment of his time. This intense       violence and peacability—the sense
     critical reception was offset by
                                                                                                                                      internationally broadcast TV show.        and arrogant fuck-you-so-whats           sympathy between biographer              that it is possible and desirable to
     angry complaints from right-wing
                                                                                                                                      Privilege never really found an audi-     from their uniformed oppressors          and subject may also explain why         tear the old world down and rebuild
     MPs and military figures.
                                                                                                                                      ence, and The Gladiators was not          (the camera was operated by Joan         Edvard Munch is among the greatest       it anew, according to fresh and
      The fact that Culloden, with its                                                                                                widely shown, though both received        Churchill, who has since worked          portraits ever created of an artist’s    equitable precepts that encompass
      heavy emphasis on political                                                                                                     some respectful reviews.                  extensively with Watkins’ fellow         life and work.                           the dignity and worth of every man
      revisionism, was made for the                                                                                                                                             BBC alumni Nick Broomfield. Cin-                                                  and woman. Such radical ideals
                                                                                                                                      After failing to put together a proj-                                              In the lean years between such
      documentary department of the                                                                                                                                             ematographer Haskell Wexler says                                                  have been eroded and scorned into
                                                                                                                                      ect about the Little Big Horn in Los                                               projects, Watkins has established a
      famously “objective” BBC is indica-                                                                                                                                       he lit the tent scenes for Churchill.)                                            meaninglessness of late, and Wat-
                                                                                                                                      Angeles, Watkins found the backing                                                 parallel persona as a media theorist
      tive of certain tensions inherent in                                                                                                                                      As the ordeal in the sun becomes                                                  kins’ great achievement is to make
                                                                                                                                      for Punishment Park. Filmed in the                                                 at his website (http://www.mnsi.
      Watkins’ approach to drama. His                                                                                                                                           ever more blood-soaked and                                                        them intoxicating once again. And,
                                                                                                                                      Mojave Desert in 1970, under the                                                   net/~pwatkins/), decrying the pre-
      next film, The War Game, was a fake                                                                                                                                       viciously punitive, Watkins’ “objec-                                              to answer Watkins’ critics, that is
                                                                                                                                      wide, black shadow cast by Kent                                                    vailing hierarchical media approach
      documentary, albeit using realistic                                                                                                                                       tivity” steadily dissolves and he is                                              not what pessimists do. It is what
                                                                                                                                      State, the Chicago Seven Con-                                                      he has dubbed the Monoform. He
      scenarios and public information                                                                                                                                          finally reduced to screaming, “Stop                                               optimists strive for.
                                                                                                                                      spiracy Trial, the illegal bombing of                                              condemns the topdown imposition
      about the likely effects of a nuclear                                                                                                                                     it, you fucking bastards!” as, within
                                                                                                                                      Cambodia, and the insidious process                                                of political conclusions, the absence    Somewhere deep in his despair,
      attack on southern England, but was                                                                                                                                       sight of the prisoners’ objective—an
                                                                                                                                      by which the Nixon White House                                                     of any entry-point for the passive,      Peter Watkins, a man who truly
      made within the Plays Department                                                                                                                                          American flag—troops methodi-
                                                                                                                                      sought to arrogate ever more power                                                 excluded spectator, and the reliance     has no home but the struggle, is an
      of the BBC, a cauldron of radical                                                                                                                                         cally beat and massacre the last few
                                                                                                                                      unto itself, the movie showcases as                                                on optimistic, hero-centric narra-       indefatigable optimist. His work
      productivity that David Thompson,                                                                                                                                         remaining prisoners.
                                                                                                                                      well as any of Watkins’ films the                                                  tive forms, as well as the institu-      awaits you. Seize it with both hands,
      with little exaggeration, has dubbed
                                                                                                                                      essential method which has served         No one makes it. (This is A Peter        tional corruption and dishonesty         because it will change you, and
     “the Last Studio” (it also produced
                                                                                                                                      him so well over his career.              Watkins movie.)                          of most state-backed or corporate        it will make you want to change
      pioneering ’60s and ’70s work by
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         media outlets. It is a coherent, com-    everything else.
      Ken Loach, Dennis Potter, Steven                                                                                                Unfolding in a half-speculative, half-    Watkins’ films always fight on two
      Frears and Mike Leigh, among doz-                                                                                               satirical timeframe that one might        fronts: against the political status     pelling and highly persuasive diag-
      ens of other filmmakers).                                                                                                       call “the recent future,” Punishment      quo, obviously, but also, and per-       nosis, but one feels it would require

34                                                                                                         Arthur// July, 2006   Arthur// July, 2006                                                                                                                                                      35
                                                                                  DeLappe, however, chooses to play the game
                                                                               rather differently than most. His virtual warf-

                                                                               ighter—whom he has named “dead-in-iraq”—logs
                                                                               onto America’s Army and simply stands there
                                                                               and does nothing. DeLappe nevertheless takes
                                                                               part in the game in other ways. Drawing from
                                                                               publicly available rosters of US casualties in
                                                                               Iraq, DeLappe types out the names of killed
                                                                               servicemembers into the game’s text message
                                                                               chat window, entering one name per line. For
                                                                               example, during one of DeLappe’s missions of
                                                                               virtual conscientious objection, some fellow
                                                                               America’s Army players saw this appear in their
                                                                               text message scroll as they organized for battle:

                                                                                 [US Army] dead-in-iraq
                                                                                 messaged: JONATHAN LEE
                                                                                 GIFFOR, 20, MARINES, MAR
                                                                                 23, 2003
                                                                                 [US Army] dead-in-iraq
                                                                                 messaged: JOSE ANGEL
                                                                                 GARIBAY, 21, MARINES, MAR
                                                                                 23, 2003
                                                                                 [US Army] dead-in-iraq
                                                                                 messaged: DAVID KEITH
                                                                                 FRIBLEY, 26, MARINES, MAR
                                                                                 23, 2003
                                                                               If his dead-in-iraq character gets killed in battle
                                                                               or is voted off the server by fellow gamers (a
                                                                               procedure typically employed with players who

                                                                               aren’t taking the game seriously and thereby

     How/+++                   ike millions of others around the world,
                               Joseph DeLappe spends multiple hours
                               each week logged into online multiplayer
                                                                               inhibiting others), DeLappe logs back on at
                                                                               another time and continues where he left off. He
                                                                               started this text recitation in March 2006, and

     protest/           games. His current game of choice is America’s
                        Army, the squad-based tactical shooter produced
                                                                               by the middle of May had typed out the names
                                                                               of over 350 war casualties. He’s inputting the
                        and promoted by the real US Army as a tool for         names chronologically, from the first casualty
     is/++++            PR and recruitment efforts. America’s Army has
                        been available for free download from Ameri-
                                                                               onward, and intends to type out a complete
                                                                               naming of the military dead. DeLappe says he
               since July 4, 2002, and in its three-
                                                                               will continue this online memorial until there are
                        plus years of existence has developed a devoted        no more names to memorialize—in other words,
                        global following; if nothing else, it has success-     until the war stops producing American corpses                     language, “spamming chat” and failure to follow

     tHe/++++           fully enhanced the Army’s brand by associating
                        it with something engaging, cutting-edge and
                        youth-friendly. Millions of users who might
                                                                               in uniform (and at the time of writing this
                                                                               article, that means he has more than 2100 names
                                                                                                                                                  the orders of squad leaders; at presstime, no
                                                                                                                                                  administrative authority had yet tried to ban
                                                                               to go). So DeLappe has found his own way to play                   DeLappe by citing any of these infringements.
     (ViDeo)/++++       not otherwise have a personal connection to
                        the American military have found one through
                                                                               America’s Army, creating an experience that owes
                                                                               less to Quake than it does to the Quakers.
                                                                                                                                                  When gaming news-and-reviews site GameSpy
                                                                                                                                                  asked US Army reps for comment on DeLappe’s
                        playing the game: they’ve gone on missions based          A media artist and professor at the Univer-                     project, Public Affairs Specialist Paul Boyce gave
     game/++            on realistic contemporary scenarios, learned to
                        fight together using official Army protocol and
                                                                               sity of Nevada Reno (a town better known for a
                                                                               different kind of gaming), DeLappe displays a
                                                                                                                                                  a somewhat evasive reply: “America’s Army”
                                                                                                                                                  open to virtual participation in an authentic
                        rules of engagement, and even had the chance to
                                                                               small archive of screenshots from his dead-in-                     U.S. Army experience to players throughout the
                        play alongside real US soldiers, who signal their      iraq project on his website, http://www.delappe.                   United States,” he told the reporter. “The Army
                        participation via exclusive insignia worn by their     net. The now-frozen responses from virtual army                    does not limit participation unless there is nega-

     war/+++            online characters. While deadly and chaotic wars
                        in Iraq and Afghanistan fill the headlines and TV
                                                                               men range from confusion to anger. “I think they
                                                                               are the dates of deaths of soldiers,” types one
                                                                                                                                                  tive impact on other players’ experiences. As
                                                                                                                                                  such, unless an individual uses foul or insensi-
                        screens, with reports as intimately gruesome as        player under the name of hk-burritoman#1. “Are                     tive language, or is otherwise ruining gameplay
                        HBO’s Baghdad ER, America’s Army has provided a        those real people?” asks BgRobSmith. “U arent                      for others, the management of America’s Army
                        counter-image of the military that is as idealized     encouraging me to join the service,” messages                      takes no action.”
                        as a textbook, as thrilling as a Hollywood movie,      one Mojo216. Gen.MstrChief (a Halo fan, one                           He sees this ongoing, obsessive online roll-
                        and as addictive as any commercial video game          assumes, slumming it PCside) responds more                         call as digital performance art, a protest, and        that the process of performing dead-in-iraq is in
     by                 around. It is a paradoxical media object, mirroring    aggressively, texting “dead in iraq shut the ****                  a memorial, not unlike the live readings of the        itself meaningful, even if not all of his activity
     Ed Halter          its eponymous nation’s own divided conscious-
                        ness: a game that celebrates realism through a
                                                                               up!” after each casualty’s name. DeLappe’s dead-
                                                                               in-iraq never responds to any of these comments
                                                                                                                                                  names of the dead that have become standard            is visible to other viewers. An important factor,
                                                                                                                                                                                                         he says, is that he manually types in each word,
                                                                                                                                                  antiwar ritual. “It is like street theater,” he told
     illustration by    carefully constructed fantasy that omits more          or outbursts; he just keeps listing names until                    me recently, “or having a soap box in the public       letter by letter, rather than cutting and pasting.
     Geoff McFetridge   than it reveals. In America’s Army, characters don’t
                        end up with brain damage, missing limbs or post-
                                                                               he’s somehow forced to leave.
                                                                                  The decision to boot players is usually done by
                                                                                                                                                  square.” It is also something of a social experi-
                                                                                                                                                  ment. “No matter how radical or innovative these
                                                                                                                                                                                                         “For me this is kind of like writing something
                                                                                                                                                                                                         over and over again on a chalkboard,” says
                        traumatic stress disorder, or have to deal with an     fellow gamers; so far, DeLappe has not dealt with                  games might be,” he says, “they’re very similar,       DeLappe, a Catholic school grad. “I guess I look
                        administration that sent them to a war that most       any higher administrative authority. According                     they’re very controlled.” Since most memorials         at it as a kind of penance.” He reports that he
                        back home don’t support, and then slashed their        to DeLappe, the game’s legally binding end-user                    happen well after the war is over, a curious part      can type in “around 75 or so per sitting taking
                        veteran’s benefits to boot—because none of that        license agreement addresses copyright infringe-                    of the project is to find out what it means to do a    at least two hours before my hands ache” and
                        would be any fun at all, compared to the high-         ment and hacks, but not in-game actions. Within                    memorial as the war is still going on.                 doesn’t have a set schedule of when he logs onto
                        adrenaline, deep-strategy game-time of make-           the game, the stated Code of Conduct forbids                          Like many contemporary artists influenced by        America’s Army to continue the project. “It is
                        believe battle.                                        such things as player harassment, derogatory                       the history of conceptual art, DeLappe believes        a bit depressing to do,” he says, and “not

36                                                                                                                     Arthur// July, 2006   Arthur// July, 2006                                                                                              37
A BrIEf HIstorY of
                                                            something I eagerly anticipate.” And the actions      homoerotic image of a terrorist and counter-terrorist
                                                            of other players unwittingly add other layers of      embraced in a kiss.

                                                            meaning to the performance: by booting him out           Unsurprisingly, dead-in-iraq and Velvet Strike
                                                            of their game, they’re metaphorically denying         drew the ire of many gamers who accused the artists

                                                            death’s reality, policing their digital fantasyland   of ruining their pastime and injecting unnecessary
                                                            Valhalla of eternal warriors from any reminder of     political statements into entertainment. On her
                                                            real-world mortality.                                 website (,
                                                               Using computers to make art is not new for         Schleiner writes that she received a “flood…of some-
America’s Army isn’t the first convergence of video         DeLappe. One of his group of works from the           times hilarious hate mail” in response to Velvet
games and the US military—nor is it likely the last.        late-90s took the form of customized Apple            Strike, and posted some of the best of these “flaming
The very earliest computer games emerged as side-
                                                            mice augmented with nipples, vaginas or               jewels” for her readers. DeLappe likewise reports that
effects of Cold War defense funding; before the ’70s,
                                                            the Unabomber manifesto: a Cronenbergian              “other gamers almost always get furious if you do
the Pentagon was the single largest investor in the
                                                            comment on how enmeshed these bits of plastic         this sort sof thing,” and typically respond by voting
development of American computer technology.
                                                            and circuitry become with our bodies and minds.       him off the server.
MIT hackers brewed the sci-fi shooter Spacewar! on
                                                            He also created a series of abstract motion-             Though DeLappe’s in-game actions are only visible
computers paid for by the Pentagon in the mid-Sixties.
                                                            tracked designs by attaching a pen or brush to his    to about a dozen players at any given time, the dead-
Around the same time, inventor Ralph Baer proposed
                                                            mouse and then playing Quake or Chessmaster           in-iraq concept itself has taken on a life of its own
the first prototypes for Pong while working for a mili-
                                                            2000 with his mouse-marker atop a canvas; here        outside of America’s Army. Once news of dead-in-iraq
tary defense contractor.
                                                            again, the immaterial and material meet, the          hit the blogosphere, DeLappe’s project became an
                                                            former leaving its literal traces on the latter.      object of intense debate on forums like Gamepolitics.
During the age of arcade gaming and the first home             And he has staged “interventions” inside           com and Terra Nova, a blog about virtual worlds.
console systems, representatives of the US Army             synthetic game worlds before. In 2003, he orga-
approached Atari to see if they’d make a training           nized a group to re-enact an episode of Friends
system for the Bradley Armored Infantry Vehicle out         inside of Quake for a performance called “Quake/
of their 3D vector-graphics classic Battlezone in 1980.     Friends,” which attracted attention from both an
Only a few prototypes were built, however. During           art critic for the New York Times and a lawyer
the height of Pac-Man fever, military recruiters sent       for Warner Brothers. Another piece involved
representatives to arcades, hoping to sign up the next      DeLappe “reciting” the full text of the poem
generation of joystick jockeys. By that time, America’s     “Howl” inside the futuristic shooter Elite Force
high-tech military used a number of flight and tank         Voyager Online, typing it out by hand, line by line
simulators for training whose graphics outclassed           (his character’s name in this case was simply
anything available to mere Nintendos.                       “Allen Ginsberg.”). Later versions of this idea
PC gaming came into its own just as the Gulf War            took an overtly political tack. For “War Poets/
brought US troops to Iraq for the first time. The           Medal of Honor,” DeLappe typed verses by World
first-person shooter genre emerged with early PC            War 1 poet Sigfried Sassoon into the instant
titles Wolfenstein 3D and Doom. In the mid ’90s, clever     message window of the World War II game Medal
Marines modified Doom into a boots-on-the-ground            of Honor: Allied Assault. In a three-part series
training device for four-man fire teams. Simply             called “The Great Debate,” DeLappe re-enacted
dubbed Marine Doom the mod removed non-regulation           the 2004 presidential debates between Kerry
weaponry (so long, chainsaw) and replaced alien mon-        and Bush inside of Battlefield Vietnam, Star Wars
sters with generic enemy soldiers. The game saw only        Jedi Knight Outcast and The Sims Online. This last
limited use, but inspired others who saw new ways to        project involved a bit of improvisation as well:
teach warfare to a generation raised on computers           when other players began asking questions to          Many respondents were supportive of his project:
and gaming.                                                 the virtual doppelgangers of Kerry and Bush,          after all, a number of them pointed out, since this
                                                            DeLappe ad-libbed responses in character.             game is funded by American tax dollars, can’t we
In 1996, the National Research Council hosted a                Dead-in-iraq is not the first time an artist       do what we want inside of it? And if DeLappe’s
conference called Modeling and Simulation: Linking          has imported anti-war protest into a military         activity is disruptive, isn’t that was protest
Entertainment and Defense, organized by Michael             game space. “Velvet Strike,” a project by artists     is all about? “On some level it is obnoxious to
Zyda of the Naval Postgraduate School. The goal was         Brody Condon, Joan Leandre and Anne-Marie             break into the game with some very real-world
to explore the potential for collaboration between          Schleiner, brought a more absurd form of              content,” DeLappe says, “but that’s what it’s
the defense sector and the entertainment industry:          political action inside the world of terrorist vs.    about at some level.” Many have complained, he
reps from Pixar, Disney, Paramount and George Lucas’        anti-terrorist game Counter-Strike (a wildly          says, that “‘we come here to escape, so how dare
Industrial Light & Magic rubbed shoulders with offi-        popular free mod for Half-Life whose success,         you bring this stuff into here.’ I understand this,
cers from the Army, Navy, Air Force, National Guard         incidentally, appears to have been an inspiration     but at the same time, I find escaping from what is
and DARPA.                                                  for America’s Army). In 2002, Schleiner began to      going on to be problematic.”
Afterwards, Zyda went on to oversee the genesis             ponder the growing trend towards war-themed              Others criticized the effectiveness of
of America’s Army project, while in 1999 the Army           “realism” in games, exemplified by Counter-           protesting inside a game that would provide
poured $45 million into USC to create the Institute for     Strike as well as the various whack-Osama             audiences of merely a handful at a time: wouldn’t
Creative Technologies, a military-enterainment think-       online mini-games that proliferated after 9-11.       his energy be better spent protesting outside of,
tank that produced, among other projects, Full Spec-        In response, the Velvet Strike team offered up a      say, a real recruitment office, instead America’s
trum Warrior, the first console game created as both        variety of ways to stage actions inside Counter-      Army? (On Gamepolitics, another commentator
a internal training system and a commercial product         Strike, including downloadable “sprays” that          countered this argument, pointing out that, even
(initially for Xbox in 2004).                               enabled players’ characters to shoot posters          though none of them actually saw dead-in-iraq
                                                            onto walls, and “recipes” for acting out pacifist     as it happened, “here we are talking about it…The
Other branches worked with commercial gaming com-           scenarios during games. Schleiner even devel-         way to effectively protest is to capture peoples’
panies as well. The Marines helped produce Destineer’s      oped a “game within a game”—a program that            attention. It’s like marketing, the target changes,
commercial title Close Combat: First to Fight, which also   allows players to shoot a hopscotch diagram           the idea has to be fresh and new.”)
saw use as a trainer, while the Navy had a hand in the      on the battleground floor, adding a subversive           However, questions about whether dead-in-
popular SOCOM: Navy Seals franchise. Even indepenetly       girlie touch to the ammo-laden hypermasculine         iraq or Velvet Strike will attract new converts to
produced military titles like Conflict: Desert Storm or     realm. The proposed recipes skew towards the          the cause or merely preach to the choir are the
Delta Force: Black Hawk Down tout retired generals as       prankish—one suggested that during a battle,          least interesting ones raised by these projects;
design consultants. Currently, the Army is looking into     you should “tell everyone you are martyrs for         they’re probably the most typical critiques of
converting America’s Army into a training device, and       peace, then jump off the tallest structure in         any kind of protest, virtual or otherwise, and
using Full Spectrum Warrior to treat post-traumatic         the level, killing yourselves”—and the original       only extend the win-or-lose logic of games onto
stress disorder.                                            sprays have a geek-punk wit, including a childish     another level. A more significant issue is raised
—Ed Halter                                                  drawing of a pink teddy bear with the slogan          by the very possibility of such activity inside
                                                            “Shoot Love Bubbles” and another with the             these virtual spaces in the first place.     43

38                                                                                                                                                        Arthur// July, 2006   Arthur// July, 2006   39
                                                            There’s a ‘round-the-clock environmental buzz everywhere in
                                                            New Orleans if you’ve got the ears to hear it. It’s a deep, almost
                                                            sub-sonic, earth-drone that’s especially evident during the
                                                            wicked days of summer. It’s in the awesome silence of the
                                                            baking, deserted streets at noontime; it’s in the deafening
                                                            biological volume of the wild, tropical greenery and of bugs
                                                            reproducing insanely; it’s in the groaning of the cracked side-
                                                            walks, ancient houses and crumbling cemeteries; it’s in the          Do you hear a connection
                                                            lysergic-like intoxication produced by the common cocktail of        between the feel of New
                                                            casual drinking crossed with 100 percent humidity and three-         Orleans and the music you
                                                            digit thermometer readings.                                          make?
                                                            October Language, the stunning debut album from New Orleans          Turk: If we were brought up
                                                            drone guitar-duo Belong, is a de facto impressionistic field         elsewhere, our music would
                                                            recording of the ineffable and beautiful noise that permeates        sound very different, I sup-
                                                            the city. Miles away from the jazz, funk and bounce hip-hop          pose. It doesn’t have much
                                                            that defines New Orleans music to the world at large, October        to do with My Bloody Valen-
                                                            Language still manages to be as genius an expression of the soul     tine and Fennesz like some
                                                            of the city as Professor Longhair’s “Tipitina,” Juvenile’s “Back     people say; it has everything
                                                            That Azz Up,” Dr. John’s “ Right Place, Wrong Time” or Irma Thom-    to do with our surroundings
                                                            as’s “Ruler of My Heart.” It’s the sound of sweat, hallucination     and environment.
                                                            and revelation, and every cat who’s made it through a couple         Mike: New Orleans feels…
                                                            of New Orleans summers can dig that.                                 worn. There’s a decay in
                                An orchestra of feedback    Belong is comprised of New Orleans natives Turk Dietrich, 28,        the city. Things that aren’t
                                                                                                                                 obviously beautiful. Dis-
                                                            and Mike Jones, 27. Dietrich—lanky and gregarious, possessor
                                and humidity, courtesy of   of the New Orleans accent that sounds strangely Southern
                                                            and Brooklyn-esque at the same time—is the talker of the two.
                                                                                                                                 sonance. [Laughter] And
                                                                                                                                 distortion and buzz and

                                New Orleans duo Belong      Both came back to New Orleans a few weeks after Hurricane
                                                            Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, and both plan on staying for the
                                                                                                                                 layering sounds. Part of
                                                                                                                                 the city’s visual appeal and
                                                            forseeable future. Both are the type of guys who you want to         character lies in it’s aged
                                                            knock back beers with all night with in a smelly bar, fellas you’d   and worn qualities, from
                                                            want to have on your side in a fight. Having heard snatches of       the degradation and decay
                                                            their brilliant debut scant days before a second trip to his old     that has occurred over
                                                            habitat of New Orleans inside a month [the last being a Mardi        time. Like many we see the
                                                            Gras visit detailed last issue], your correspondent made a few       beauty in this and our music
                                                            phone calls and tracked Belong down to a bustling coffee-            incorporates this seeming
                                by                          house on Magazine Street for a quick talk. Decompressing from        contradiction.
                                Gabe Soria                  a recent U.S. tour with Ariel Pink and preparing to embark on a
                                                            European tour, the band was eager to jaw about video games,
                                                                                                                                 I think that “fuzz” as an

                                illustration by             the peculiar habit of some New Orleans residents of beginning
                                                                                                                                 aesthetic concept is just
                                                                                                                                 coming back.
                                Arik Moonhawk Roper         evenings out at midnight, and plans to attend work parties to
                                                            help Ms. Antoinette K-Doe repair the fire damaged Mother-in-
                                                                                                                                 Turk: It’s probably a subcon-
                                                                                                                                 scious reaction to the clean,
                                                            Law Lounge. We also managed to talk about music a bit...
                                                                                                                                 perfected recordings of now-
                                                                                                                                 adays. Everything’s so rigid
                                                                                                                                 and manicured in ProTools
                                                                                                                                 to sound lifeless. I think a
                                                                                                                                 lot of people are making shit
                                                                                                                                 dirty again. Bringing some
                                                                                                                                 color to the table,     42

40   Arthur// July, 2006   Arthur// July, 2006                                                                                                                   41
                                                                                                                                                                                            Derrick Jensen continued from       Playing Dead continued from
                                                                                                                                                                                            page 30 )...                        page 36 )...

                                                                                      months from now it might have a          thirty in the morning. We’re in the                        What the hell’s wrong              Video games have evolved
                                                                                      more profound effect on me when I        studio. We’re trying to produce                         with the Angels? But if you           to such a point that they
                                                                                      can distance myself more.                and finish tracks. We’re not even                       do believe that a) there’s            are offering possibilities for
                                                                                                                               thinking about a live show. It’s a                      going to be a crash and b)            activities that go beyond
                                                                                      Why would you stay there when
                                                                                                                               totally different mind set than what                    it’s going to be messy and            what we typically conceive
                                                                                      another hurricane season is upon
                                                                                                                               bands would normally do. We have                        c) the current economic               of as traditionally rule-
                                                                                      you? What keeps you in New
                                                                                                                               a nice collection of pre-amps, a ton                    system is dismantling the             bound games: think of it         Arthur Magazine’s Media Imprint
                                                                                      Orleans?                                                                                         ecological infrastructure of          as the exploratory logic of
                                                                                                                               of effects and whatnot. It’s not a
                                                                                      Mike: My family has never lived          four-track. We have nice set-up for a                   the planet, which means the           World of Warcraft or Grand
                                                                                      anywhere else. Our roots in the area     bedroom studio. It’s not Abbey Road,                    longer it takes, the worse            Theft Auto projected back
                                                                                      go way back. My family’s lived here      but it gets the job done.                               things are going to be, what          into a space supposedly
                                                                                      quite a while, some parts for over                                                               that means is what you                reserved for mere combat
                                                                                      a 120 years. As far as the threat of     Do you guys make any of your own                        need to do is to start finding        simulation.                      DVDs
                                                                                      another hurricane, it is not enough      pedals?                                                 out what local plants can be             And large-scale multi-
                                                                                      to make us move. Living in New           Turk: I wish I that engineering savvy,                  used for antibiotics. What            player games have them-          The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda
                                                                                      Orleans, you deal with the possibil-     but I don’t. [Laughter]                                 are local water purifica-             selves seen their share of       a DVD by irA COHeN
                                                                                      ity of a hurricane hitting every year.   So what are you guys going to do                        tion systems you’ll be able           in-game protests. In January
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Celebrated internationally for more than 35 years and
                                                                                                                               next? Is there anybody you’d love                       to use. How are you going             2005, World of Warcraft
                                                                                      Turk: Besides the beautiful archi-                                                                                                                                      recently screened at the Whitney Biennial, Ira Cohen’s
                                                                                                                               to work with in the future? Any                         to build shelters. How will           players staged a massive         1968 film THE INVASION OF THUNDERBOLT PAGODA is
                                                                                      tecture, culture, and food, each of                                                              you pull up parking lots              march of gnomes in order to
                                                                                                                               filmmaker you’d like to work with?                                                                                             finally available as a limited edition director’s cut DVD.
                                                                                      which you could go on about end-                                                                 to make gardens. Learning             call for changes in the abili-
                                                                                      lessly, the people are another reason    Mike: I’ve never given thought to that                                                                                         DVD FeATureS
                                                                                                                                                                                       self-defense and forming              ties of one of the available     B High-quality transfer from the original 16mm film, with
Belong: Turk Dietrich (L) and Mike Jones.                                             to stay.                                 kind of stuff. Here in New Orleans                      committees to deal with               character classes; because         color correction supervised by the director
                                                                                                                               you feel kinda isolated from every-                     the additional violence that          all the protesters logged        B The legendary soundtrack, newly remastered, featur-
                                                                                      What keeps you here, musically?
                                                                                                                               where else, so that even happening                      might (or might not) break            onto the same server, their        ing The Universal Mutant Repertory Company (Loren
                                                                                      Turk: Having lived in Chicago, you       seems like a long shot. But I would                     out. Getting to know your             collective presence caused         Standlee, Ziska Baum, Angus MacLise, Raja Samyana,
                                                                                      can’t get away from the music scene      do a David Gordon Green movie.                          neighbors, both human and             it to crash. After World of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Tony Conrad, Henry Flynt, Hetty MacLise and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 So Much Fire to Roast Human Flesh
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Jackson MacLow)
                                                                                      there. Someone’s talking about their                                                             nonhuman. How’s that for              Warcraft’s parent company
“In New Orleans
                                                                                                                               Turk: I would not turn down Wong-                                                                                              B Two new, never-before-released alternative
                                                                                      music all the time. In New Orleans,      Kar Wai. There’s no way. That’s off                     a start?                              banned a gay-friendly guild        soundtracks to “Invasion” by Sunburned Hand of the               CDs
                                            some texture you know?                    you can mind your business. It’s off                                                                In the end, I think the            from forming inside the            Man and Acid Mothers Temple SWR
you can mind your
                                                                                                                               the top of my dome. If he called us up
                                                                                      the charts. There’s a motivation to                                                              primary measure by which              game, certain players sent       B Director’s Commentary track by Ira Cohen
                                            Why do you think it’s so appealing?                                                and said, “I want y’all to do two pieces                                                                                                                                                          So Much Fire to Roast Human Flesh
                                                                                      the isolation, but you’re not doing it                                                           we will be judged by those            characters to protest at         B “Brain Damage,” a new film directed by Ira Cohen and

 business. You’re                           Turk: I think a lot of people’s ears                                               for the film,” we’d be like, “Yeah! For                                                                                                                                                           a benefit album curated by
                                                                                      to impress anybody. No one cares.        free?”                                                  who come after will be the            in-game weddings, claiming         produced by BASTET created from never-before-seen
                                            like stuff really loud. The depth,                                                                                                         health of the landbase.               the company was unfairly
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                original 16mm outtakes                                           JOSePHiNe FOSTer
                                                                                                                               You must have stacks of tracks
not doing music to                          maybe, that fuzz brings? You can
                                            layer a bunch of noise, something
                                                                                      Mike: There’s no social ladder to
                                                                                      climb. There’s no reason to be cool      ready for a second album.                               Everything else builds from
                                                                                                                                                                                       there. The people who come
                                                                                                                                                                                                                             allowing for displays of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                             heterosexuality but no
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              B 16-page commemorative booklet featuring mylar pho-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                tography and poetry by Ira Cohen and Angus MacLise,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Featuring The Cherry Blossoms, Feathers, Michael
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Hurley, Meg Baird, Andrew Bar, Goatgirl, Devendra

impress anybody,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                and critical texts by Ian Macfadyen and Allan Graubard
                                            that’s aliasing in a track, it can bury   or put on airs. You don’t have to        Turk: Yeah, we have a lot a stuff
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Banhart, Kath Bloom, Charlie Nothing, Diane Cluck,
                                                                                                                                                                                       after aren’t going to give            other orientations. Edward       B An original slideshow of 60 mylar photographs with               John Allingham and Ann Tiley, Josephine Foster, Angels
                                            other elements of the track and it        talk to people about what you do.        that’ll probably never get used. A lot                  a shit as to whether we               Castronova, an economist           soundtrack by Angus MacLise and original poetry by               of Light, Rachel Mason, Pajo, MVEE, Kathleen Baird and
 because no one cares.”                     kinda makes you pay attention, to
                                            work harder as a listener to find the
                                                                                      They don’t care. I don’t know if it’s
                                                                                      an advantage, but I like it. A lot of
                                                                                                                               of hard drive space filled with stuff
                                                                                                                               that I don’t want to go back and
                                                                                                                                                                                       voted Democrat, Republican,
                                                                                                                                                                                       Green, anarchist, or none
                                                                                                                                                                                                                             who studies how culture
                                                                                                                                                                                                                             and money work within
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Ira Cohen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Part ‘Dr. Strange,’ part ‘Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome,’
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Lay All Over It.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 All proceeds from sales of this compilation are being
                                            hook in the track. I think that’s one     people here are content with just        listen to. [Laughter] The next thing                    of the above. They’re not             such virtual worlds, has         [‘The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda’ is] so High ‘60s that        donated to specific counter-recruitment and pacifist
                                            reason why people love bands that         talking about forming a band at a        we’re going to do, we’re going to do                    going to give a shit about            noted on Terra Nova that         you emerge from its 20-minute vision perched full-lotus on         organizations. We hope to assist them in their efforts
                                            are totally fuzzed out and are not …      bar. They’d rather drink and hang        an EP for Very Friendly, which is a                     whether we were pacifists             similar protests have            a cloud of incense, chatting with a white rabbit and smoking       promoting peace and non-militarism in the United
                                            it’s a way to make things less obvi-      out.                                     UK record label. The way I’m look-                      or not pacifists. They’re             occurred inside games like       a banana.... ‘Invasion’ is a languidly opiated costume ball in     States. All of the musicians represented here are US
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              which an assortment of masked and painted bohos, some              citizens. Their voices join with many others across this
                                            ous, I think.                             Turk: I think that over time New         ing at it, it’ll maybe be a warm-up-                    not going to give a shit              Ultima Online, Second Life       sporting outsize elf ears, loll about a candlelit, Mylar-lined     land that freely question and openly oppose war.
                                                                                      Orleans bands haven’t gotten rec-        slash-foreshadowing of the second                       about whether we signed or            and Star Wars Galaxies.          set, blowing soap bubbles and nibbling majoon.”
                                            You start hearing weirder things in                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Available August 1, 2006. $12 US/$14 Can/$17 World
                                                                                      ognized, so when bands form now          album.                                                  didn’t sign online petitions.         With tens of millions of         —J. Hoberman, Village Voice
                                            there.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               postpaid. Order direct from or via
                                                                                      they have low expectations. They                                                                 They’re not going to give             users, Castronova asks,          NTSC format only. Edition of 1000. $29.95 US/$34.95                Revolver Distribution.
                                            Turk: Absolutely. It reminds me of                                                 Will the second album sound a lot                       a shit about how hard we             “will these cultures begin        Can/$39.95 World. Available from and
                                                                                      have their period when they learn
                                            the effect I get from some Glenn                                                   like the first?                                         tried. It’s no good to live in a      to think of themselves in        through Revolver Distribution.                                     STiLL AVAiLABLe
                                                                                      their songs and feel like they’re
                                            Branca stuff—it’s just like really                                                 Mike: I don’t think we have to make                     groovy eco-socialist utopia           terms of statehood?”                                                                                B The Suoni Per Il Popolo Festival Compilation
                                                                                      good, they do a few shows and then
                                            repetitive for awhile, he’s banging                                                a conscious decision. I mean, espe-                     with free love if the planet             Perhaps in the near                                                                              B 2 Million Tongues curated by PLASTIC CRIMEWAVE
                                                                                      they don’t see a light at the end of
                                            on the same chord and then you                                                     cially since we recorded it in 2004.                    is toxified. Those who come           future, we may have to                                                                              B Bread, Beard & Bear’s Prayers curated by ETHAN MILLER
                                                                                      the tunnel so the bands just sort                                                                                                                                                                                                            (Comets On Fire, Howlin Rain)
                                            start to hear different things that                                                                                                        after are going to care about         question the authority of
                                                                                      of fizzle away. As opposed to, say,      Turk: It’s OLD now. When we get                                                                                                                                                                   B Million Tongues curated by PLASTIC CRIMEWAVE
                                            maybe weren’t intended to be there.                                                                                                        whether they can breathe              virtual governments as well
                                                                                      New York. You could play to a hun-       into the studio, we have more gear                                                                                                                                                                B Golden Apples of the Sun curated by
                                                                                                                                                                                       the air, whether they can             as our real ones, as many do
                                            Mike: There are alternate tunings         dred, hundred and fifty kids every       to play with now…                                                                                                                                                                                   DEVENDRA BANHART
                                                                                                                                                                                       drink the water, whether              when discussing the impli-
                                            and the strings are banging against       night. You’re constantly getting this                                                                                                                                                                                                      Each CD is $12 US/$14 Can/$17 World postpaid, or free
                                                                                                                               Mike: New interests.                                    the land can support them.            cations of dead-in-iraq. But
                                            each other…                               feedback on your music. Whereas in                                                                                                                                                                                                         with new subscription to arthur. CDs are available
                                                                                                                                                                                       Everything else comes from            the most powerful aspect
                                                                                      New Orleans…                             Turk: There will definitely be new
                                                                                                                                                                                       that. This seems so obvious
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 from and through Revolver Distribution.
                                             October Language was recorded                                                                                                                                                   of DeLappe’s project is that
                                             before Katrina. Did you feel any dif-                                             things in the mix that you may not                      I’m embarrassed to have to
                                                                                      After a while, here you’re going be                                                                                                    it does not offer any easy
                                                                                                                               think we would do.
                                             ferent about the record after the        seeing the same people.                                                                          say it, but this culture is so        pro- or anti-war message.                                                                           MIMEOS
                                             storm? Were you thinking that it         Turk: Yeah, the same 20 people.          Mike: Get Juvenile on it.                               insane it needs to be said.           He has simply devoted
                                             was, like, some weird relic of some                                                                                                       And it needs to be lived.             himself to reiterating a hard                                                                       In the tradition of the old mimeograph literary scene,
                                                                                      Mike: If they even come.                 Turk: If we could get Juvey on it, we’d                                                                                                                                                           BASTET is now publishing xeroxed monographs. Check
                                             other time or you were you like,                                                                                                                                                reality—these people died
                                            “We’re still going to put this record                                              get him in a slick minute.                                                                                                                                                               for more info.
                                                                                      Turk: Hopefully, people will see what                                                                                                  in Iraq—and does so inside
                                             out. It doesn’t matter.”                 we did. They’ll see that you can do                                                                                                    of a game explicitly created                                                                        B STEVE AYLETT — coming soon
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 B CHARLES POTTS “Consumer Imperialism”
                                            Turk: I can see how maybe people          shit in your house, you can record                                                                                                     to aid Army recruitment
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 B MATTEAH BAIM “The Saddest Joke”
                                            can make that connection, but I           it, you can get a good quality album                                                                                                   efforts. In a way, isn’t he
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 B LEE RANALDO “Sorry Matt”
                                            don’t know if it has a deeper mean-       together and you can push it out                                                                                                       ultimately assisting the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 B BROTHER JT “The Jesus Guitar”
                                            ing than it did before it was done.       there having never played a live                                                                                                       Army’s cause by improving
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 B ABLE BROWN “Birds and other Notes on the
                                            The record still definitely resonates     show and you can get signed. It’s                                                                                                      the quality of new recruits?                                                                          Condition of Humanity”
                                            with me, but having been on tour,         different from 20 years ago. From                                                                                                      After all, let’s be realistic:                                                                      B JESS ROTTER “Paradise”
                                            I’ve heard the record so much that        the day we decided to get together                                                                                                     anyone who is squeamish                                                                             B JAMES FOTOPOULOS “The Watering Hole”
                                            I can’t really be objective about         [in August 2002] we’ve gotten                                                                                                          about dying in Iraq at this
                                            it right now. I’m sure four or five       together twice a week in my house,                                                                                                     point should definitely not
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda
                                                                                      usually around ten o’clock at night                                                                                                    sign up.
                                                                                      and we work until four, five, five

42                                                                                                                                                          Arthur// July, 2006   Arthur// July, 2006                                                                                                                                                                                       43
                                                                                                                                                              majority would be 18–30? But we definitely recruited a lot of           Yeah…?
                                                                                                                                                              new fans off of that acoustic record, an older audience. And
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Well, what are you talking about?
                                                                                                                                                              this record seems to be drawing in a different kind of audience
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      That was my opinion at the time. The whole war thing, and
                                                                                                                                                              as well, so. You know, we’re just trying to continue to expand
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      trying to keep us up to date like… If you remember, back in
                                                                                                                                                              and not have a ceiling over our heads.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      other wars, we didn’t have the opportunity to follow it through
                                                                                                                                                              Right. You guys are still having a good time making music after         the media, and CNN, and the news—live updates and that kind
                                                                                                                                                              all these years?                                                        of thing. And I thought that for the most part you know we
                                                                                                                                                              Of course. We’re musicians, that’s what we do. It may not               were allowed to follow it as best we could through the media
                                                                                                                                                              always be great music, but we love making it! [laughs]                  sources that were feeding us information.
                                                                                                                                                              Cuz music has a power…?                                                 [incredulous] You didn’t think the media was being controlled by
                                                                                                                                                              Mmm hmm. It’s a universal language.                                     the military?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Well, it could be. I don’t know.
                                                                                                                                                              So what you say with it, and what you do with it, has an
                                                                                                                                                              effect…?                                                                You didn’t look into it?
                                                                                                                                                              Of course.                                                              Listen. Are you a fucking government expert?
                                                                                                                                                              Right?                                                                  I’m not telling people to go join the military and then not
                                                                                                                                                              [emphatically] Of course.                                               knowing what the military is doing.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I don’t tell people to go join the military!!
                                                                                                                                                              So I notice you guys have been really involved with promoting
                                                                                                                                                              the military. [1]                                                       You don’t think using your songs—the POWER of your music,
                                                                                                                                                              Well, they actually came to us, believe it or not. Somebody in          which you were talking about—has an effect on the people
                                                                                                                                                              the Navy loves this band, because they used ‘Awake’ for three           that hear it when it goes with the visuals that the best P.R.
                                                                                                                                                              years and then they came to us and re-upped the contract for            people in the world use?
                                                                                                                                                              another three years for ‘Sick of Life.’ So, I don’t know. They          Oh man, are you like one of those guys that agrees with some
                                                                                                                                                              just feel like that music, [laughs] someone in that place thinks        kid that fuckin’ tied a noose around his neck because Judas
                                                                                                                                                              that the music is very motivating for recruit commercials I             Priest lyrics told him to?
                                                                                                                                                              guess. And hey, I’m an American boy so it’s not… I’m proud of it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       You were telling me how powerful your music was, and what
                                                                                                                                                              You’re proud of recruiting your fans into the military?                  age the people are that listen to it, and you must have thought,
                                                                                                                                                              Well, no. [laughs, then playfully] Don’t be turning my fucking          ‘Well the Navy sure thought it was useful,’ so you tell me.
                                                                                                                                                              words around, you!                                                      Hey, listen. The Navy thought…. It’s the same reason why
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      wrestlers work out to the music, and extreme motorcross riders
                                                                                                                                                              Well, tell me what you mean. You said your music is powerful, it’s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      listen to the music and do what they do. It’s ENERGETIC music.
                                                                                                                                                              got an effect, like you said, and you’re letting the military use it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It’s very ATHLETIC. People feel that they get an adrenaline rush
                                                                                                                                                              The military, who are they recruiting? 18-to-30-year-olds, right?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      out of it or whatever, so, it goes with whatever’s an extreme
                                                                                                                                                              I guess… I don’t know what their recruit age is. I know it’s at
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      situation. But I doubt very seriously that a kid is going to join NOTeS
                                                                                                                                                              least 18.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      the Marines or the US Navy because he heard Godsmack as 1. from “Selling War: How the military’s
                                                                                                                                                              Yeah, they do down in the high schools now.                             the underlying bed music in the commercial. They’re gonna go      ad campaign gets inside the heads
                                                                                                                                                              My thing is… Listen, here’s my thing with the military. I’m             and join the Navy because they want to jump out of helicopters    of recruits” by Greg Goldin (March
                                                                                                                                                              not saying our government is perfect. Because I know that we            and fuckin’ shoot people! Or protect the country or whatever      7-13, 2003 LAWeekly): “The Navy’s
                                                                                                                                                              make some mistakes and we do shitty things BUT, BUT. You                it is, and look at the cool infra-red goggles.                    [campaign] theme is ‘Accelerate Your
                                                                                                                                                              wouldn’t have your job, and we wouldn’t have our lives, if we                                                                                           Life,’ which promises ‘adventure,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      You said to MTV, “We’re not a very political band but we’re sup-

                                                                                                                                                              weren’t out there protecting this country so we could lead a free                                                                                       travel, career, patriotism, technology,
                                        odsmack are a popular rock band who             name is Ted Nugent—we saw no reason to turn                                                                                                   portive of the U.S. military and how they approach things.” [2]                 education, honor.’ Set to music from
                                        have sold millions of records in the United     down the opportunity to ask these dudes why                           life. So there’s kind of a ying and a yang to that. Sometimes
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Listen. Someone turned that around. I never said “and how                       the band Godsmack, a voice-over
                                        States over the last eight years. Their         they were doing what they were doing with their                       it’s not always the best choices that we make, or we stick our
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      they approach things.”                                                          intones, “‘If someone wrote a book
                                 fourth album, IV, was released on April 25, 2006.      music. So, on May 1, I spoke with Godsmack singer/                    noses in other people’s shit, but at the same time, we protect                                                                                          about your life, would anyone want
                                 It sold 211,000 copies in its first week in the to     lyricist/producer Sully Erna by telephone.                            this place enough that we’re able to like pursue careers and do         Okay. So that’s a misquote. Or something–                                       to read it?’”
                                 debut at Number One on the Billboard chart.                                                                                  what a lot of people in other countries aren’t able to do. They’re       [interrupting]: Wow, what—                                                   2. From June 19, 2003,
                                                                                        Here, with endnotes, is how the conversation                          kind of picked and they’re chosen to be whatever they become…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      What about this? I’m reading from a Boston Glove review of a                    “Godsmack will return to the States
                                 Several weeks previous, Arthur had been solicited      went:                                                                 I’m, I’m, I’m proud to be an American, I’ll tell you that.                                                                                               for a headlining tour in the fall, which
Arthur asked singer              by Godsmack’s publicist for press coverage. Gods-
                                 mack and Arthur couldn’t be much further apart,        Arthur: Alright let me get the tape rolling here.                     So your country, right or wrong?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      show you did at the Tweeter Center. In front of 13,000 people
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      on May 22, 2003. It said “Godsmack’s ferociously high energy 90-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       like the current outing will offer $10
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       tickets to U.S. soldiers. ‘We’ve always
                                                                                        How you doing?
Sully Erna to explain his        ideologically. Godsmack singer Sully Erna has been
                                 outspoken in support of President Bush, the US         Sully Erna of Godsmack: I’m good!
                                                                                                                                                              Uh, no. Not right or wrong. But I’m proud to be an American. I
                                                                                                                                                              love my country. I’ve seen the depressions and how people live
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      minute set started with video footage of Apache helicopters
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      honing in on a desert target, interspersed with the words ‘We
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       been supportive of our country and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       our president and stuff like that,

pro-war statements and           military and the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
                                 His band has licensed their music to the Navy for
                                                                                        How was the Jimmy Kimmel show on Friday? You
                                                                                        were outside playing, right?
                                                                                                                                                              in other countries and how they’re told what to be, and they
                                                                                                                                                              don’t have the choices that we have. I do love that about our
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      will prevail…Stronger than them all.” [3]
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       whereas a lot of people, I thought,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       lashed out pretty quickly at what we

his No. 1-selling pop-rock       use in recruiting campaigns, and some of their con-
                                 certs in 2003, if press reports were to be believed,
                                                                                        Yeah it’s always cool to do that because it’s so set
                                                                                        up for musicians, you know. Big stage, live crowd.
                                                                                                                                                              country. So, you know… And I actually sympathize with a lot
                                                                                                                                                              of the soliders, and the military in general, that are trained to
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So you’re using military imagery with your music at your
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       did, and I thought the government
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       did everything pretty cleanly and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      concerts?                                                                        publicly as possible,’ Erna explained.
band’s involvement in military   resembled war rallies: jingoism as entertainment
                                 at best, war for profit at worst. Arthur, meanwhile,
                                                                                        It’s not so like indoors with a camera rehearsals.                    go out and protect FOR us, and what they have to go through,
                                                                                                                                                              it’s really kind of shitty in a sense that these young kids have
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      First of all, it was a COMPUTER image, a computer-animated                      ‘We have a lot of respect for the
                                                                                        It’s a lot easier.                                                                                                                            helicopter that didn’t… There was no scene of a desert in there.                 military and stuff like that, and we
recruiting campaigns.            has been firmly anti-war since 2002: we dedicated
                                 an entire issue to the subject in July 2003 (the       Yeah. So you got to be back out in front of
                                                                                                                                                              to go over there and die, sometimes, for something that isn’t
                                                                                                                                                              our fucking problem. And that kind of sucks. So what I have
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It was a helicopter that rose up from the screen and scanned                     just wanted to give them something
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       back for what they did for us, letting
                                                                                        your fans.                                                                                                                                    the audience. It was an EFFECT. And then it shot out missiles
                                 cover featured a photograph of David Cross as a                                                                              to do is at least support them, because they don’t have the                                                                                              us live in a free country and that kind
Then things got stupid.          war-mad soccer mom, framed by the words “Hoo-          Yeah. It was good. It was fun.                                        choice that we do.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      that hit the stage. Because the intro to “Straight Out of Line”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      has the sounds of like, a war thing going on.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       of thing. We’re not a very political
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       band, but we are supportive of the
                                 ray for Empire! USA - #1 With a Bullet!”), and our     What kind of people listen to your music, do                          They don’t have the choice because…?                                                                                                                     U.S. military and how they approach
                                 opposition to the Bush administration’s foreign        you think?                                                                                                                                    [trying to decide if Sully is dissembling or just obtuse] Oh I see. So it’s
                                                                                                                                                              Because they’ve decided to fight for our country.                                                                                                        things.’” Source:
                                 policy and the military’s recruiting strategies has    Ummm… I’ve seen ’em range as young as 8 and as                                                                                                just sort of a concept thing. [pause] Well, you’ve done a lot to
                                 been constant since then—coverlines like “War Pigs     old as 68. [chuckles] So it’s…                                        And they decided to do that because…?                                   help out the guys who are in the military, who are stuck there
                                 in the White House” and “How YOU Can Help Teens                                                                             … [laughs]…                                                              now, whether they chose to be there or they got hoodwinked
                                 Stay Out of the Military” (March, 2004) and “Out,      Well, you’ve seen a lot more of ‘em than I have,                                                                                              into being there. For whatever reason, they’re in the military.
by                               Demons Out! Inside the 1967 Exorcism of the Penta-     and I’m trying to get an idea of what it feels like
                                                                                        when you’re out there—to you, on the stage. Do
                                                                                                                                                              Of your song…?
                                                                                                                                                              Aw, come on. It’s not like that.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And they’re doing their job. You guys did a show for them at
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Camp Pendleton called “Rockin’ the Corps.” And so you’ve been
Jay Babcock                      gon and the Birth of Yippie” (November, 2004) kind
                                 of make that clear.                                    you think there’s a lot of teenagers in the audi-                     Well I have a quote from you here: “We’ve always been support-          doing a lot of benefit shows—
illustration by                  Although the solicitation for an Arthur feature on
                                                                                        ence? A lot of guys in their 20s? Chicks? Is it a dude
                                                                                                                                                              ive of our country and our president, whereas a lot of people I
                                                                                                                                                              thought”—and you said this in 2003, to MTV News, you said—”a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      [interrupting] Well, like I said, Listen you know, there’s a lot
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      of young kids that die for our country, man, and they don’t
Beau Johnson                     Godsmack was kind of puzzling—usually politically
                                 minded mainstream musicians steer clear of con-
                                                                                        I would say, if I had to guess what our age group is,                 lot of people I thought lashed out pretty quickly at what we            have the choice once they’re in there. So I just feel well
                                                                                        it’s probably between …18 and 40. I would have to                     did and I thought the government did everything pretty cleanly          you know whatever we can do to say ‘thank you for           46
                                 tact with the politically active press, unless their   say that’s kind of where we’re at, maybe more,                        and publicly as possible.” [2]

44                                                                                                                                 Arthur// July, 2006   Arthur// July, 2006                                                                                                                                                                                      45
                                                    protecting our country’ is what we try to do. I’m not trying to   Why am I here?!? This is the top country in the world,
                                                    make this a big political issue.                                  my friend!
                                                                                                                      Well, why do you think so? Because it’s PROTECTED.
     3. From          Okay. Have you done anything to prevent people from joining
        ?news,2003,05,0000018118. Steve             the military?                                                     No one is attacking us, my friend. Certainly not Iraq. Every first
        Morse of the Boston Globe reviewed          No.                                                               world nation suffers terrorist attacks. Get used to it.
        Godsmack’s homecoming concert at
                                                                                                                      I am used to it. I don’t have a problem—
        the Tweeter Center on Thursday (May         To maybe educate them as to what’s in store for them?
        22, 2003) before a crowd of 13,000.         I don’t have enough education in the military to educate them     Get used to it.
        “A large part of that crowd—2,000           in anything.                                                      [laughs] Sounds like you do.
        to be exact—were members of the
        military who had bought $10 tickets         Would you let your music be used for anti-military recruiting     You’re the one that’s saying it’s alright to not know about stuff
        in the reserved section on the lawn.        advertisements?                                                   and then to send other people to die in our name.
        Godsmack have taken a pro-military          I don’t know, I ‘d have to see what that was about.               I never said that! Don’t put fuckin’ words in my mouth.
        stance this spring, and they loaned
        their song ‘Awake’ for use in a             But you’d be open to it?                                          I’ve got it on tape, bro.
        Navy recruitment ad. Godsmack’s             We’re open to whatever, as long as it’s not a Maybelline com-     You’ve got in on tape, bro?!?
        ferociously high-energy, 90-minute          mercial.
        show started with video footage of                                                                            Yeah.
        Apache helicopters honing in on a           [laughs] Maybelline’s more offensive than the military…?          You got me saying it’s okay for us to attack other countries?
        desert target, interspersed with the        No. That doesn’t quite go with what we do.
        words, ‘We will prevail … stronger                                                                            I got you on tape saying they’re protecting us by attacking, by
        than them all.’” From          But the military does.                                            going over there and taking out people.
        forum post: “The show was May 23,           Listen. Where are we going with this thing? Is this interview     Listen, don’t fuckin’ turn my words around to make it to what you
        2003. I know, I was there. The video        about the government? This sounds like this is a personal         want it to be! That’s not what I meant and you know that.
        did have a military theme. Besides          attack or whatever.
        the helicopter there was images of                                                                            Okay I’m sorry. Then tell me what you meant.
        fighter jets, stealths, and troops.         Well I’ve never seen such a pro-military band as you guys. [4]    Listen, I’m not gonna get into a political fuckin’ conversation
        Also not only did the words ‘WE WILL        But we’re not! I think [chuckling] you’re making us out to be     with you. This was supposed to be an interview about the band.
        PREVAIL./STRONGER THAN THEM ALL.’           a little bit more. When we’re asked about something, we just      Where is this going?
        appear on the screen so did ‘UNITED         answer the question. We don’t go spend 23 hours out of our
        WE STAND.’” From another godsmack.                                                                            We’re talking about the power of your music and what you’re
                                                    day supporting the military and what they do. We just simply,
        com forum post: “Here is the EXACT                                                                            using it for.
                                                    an opportunity came up, they wanted to use some music for a
        way I saw the show start in 2003:                                                                             What is this for anyway? Who are you working with?
        “[digital video text starts] / [some-       recruit commercial. What are we gonna say, no?
        thing about being in this time] / We,                                                                         I’m working for my own magazine, my friend.
                                                    Yeah. How hard is it to say ‘no’?
        as Americans citizens, need to unite /                                                                        What’s it called?
        Supporting our troops, our country,
                                                    Why would we, though?!?
        our freedom / And, in the end, we will                                                                        [laughing in disbelief] What do you mean, what’s it called? Are you
        prevail and remain…. / Stronger than                                                                          serious?
                                                    [interrupting]: Is it because you don’t feel the same way about
        all!!!! [end digital text] [pictures of a                                                                     Yeah, what’s the magazine called?
                                                    the government that we do, makes you right and us wrong?
        tank, jet fighters, troops jumping out
        of transports & out of helicopters                                                                            It’s called Arthur Magazine. You guys are the ones that set this up.
                                                    Yeah. What do you feel about the government? Tell me what—
        fully armed, another fighter dropping                                                                         Hey I was just told to do press today, man. I got a checklist in
                                                    Aw, that’s crazy, man! That’s just an OPINION.
        bombs, bomb exploding on the                                                                                  front of me, and I don’t have time for a lot of this bullshit.
        ground, more bombs exploding, heli-         I can back my opinion up from here to tomorrow if you would
        copters taking off] [Shannon starts                                                                           Oh yeah?
                                                    like to talk to me all day long.
        drum intro to Straight Out of Line]                                                                           So write whatever the fuck you wanna write, because your
                                                    Well obviously you’ve done a lot of research and you’ve—
        [Helicopter in video shoots missles                                                                           magazine obviously is that popular.
        and pyro explodes on stage like the         [interrupting]: That’s right, because—
                                                                                                                      It’s doing pretty good—
        missles hit there] [song starts]”           —got a different opinion. We don’t know that stuff that you
                                                                                                                      [interrupting]: Yeah I’m sure it is. All 3,000 copies of it— [5]
     4. Erna on MTV News, January 22,               know, so—
        2003: “Unfortunately, there were                                                                              On our own, without any corporate support.
        some really bad things that happened
                                                    [impatient]: Why don’t you do some research before you get in-
        [involving the Middle East], and I think    volved with these sorts of things? You’re talking about young     I wish you the best of—… Why would you waste your time
        if we don’t cut out the cancer while        kids’ lives. You’re talking about kids—                           calling a band like us when you don’t even give a fuck?!?
        it’s still young, then it’s gonna grow to   [yelling] Would you rather not have us be protected so they
                                                                                                                      I certainly do give a fuck. Cuz you know what?
        be this entity that we may not be able      can come and overrun our country?!?
        to defend ourselves against. I applaud                                                                        What is this about?!?
        the government and President Bush           Do you know what a “fool’s errand” is?
                                                                                                                      Because listen, man! You know there’s 2,800 people, my broth-
        for doing what they’re doing, and I         I’m asking you a question!
                                                                                                                      ers and sisters, have died over in Iraq? [6]
        think our military are some of the
        bravest souls, much braver than I           No one is threatening—                                            Yeah…?
        could ever be.”                             Would you rather us not be protected?!?
                                                                                                                      You know 30,000 Iraqi humans WHO NEVER DID SHIT TO US have
     5. Actually, it’s 50,000.                      You know what I’d like, Sully? A Department of Defense, not a     died because of the attacks we’ve made over there? [7]
     6. The correct number of US deaths as          Department of Offense that attacks other countries—sover-         [in disbelief] And that’s Godsmack’s fault?
        of May 1, 2006 was around 2400.             eign nations—who do things in a different way than us, who we
                                                                                                                      Did you know that 78% of women in the military report cases
     7. Although it has been criticized for         have no right to go over and invade and change their govern-
                                                                                                                      of sexual harassment? [8]
        grossly under-reporting civilian            ments. Would we want someone else to do that to us?
                                                                                                                      [sarcastic] And that’s Godsmack’s fault.
        deaths caused by the initial U.S. bomb-     I’m not saying—
        ing campaigns, is                                                                           No, man—
                                                    How hard is that to think about?
        probably the best current source on                                                                           [interrupting, sarcastic]: That has to do with our new record.
        how many Iraqis have been killed dur-       I’m not saying that we were right on every war that we’ve
        ing the invasion and US occupation.         created. I know that we’ve been damn wrong at times about         Okay, let’s talk about your new record.
     8. Source: Department of Defense 1995          stuff—                                                            I can’t believe this. This is [inaud]
        Sexual Harassment Survey (Arlington,                                                                          Let’s talk about that new record, my friend—
                                                    When have we been wrong?
        VA: Defense Manpower Data Center,
                                                    —but they have also been wrong too! I don’t trust someone         Get a life. [hangs up]
        December 1996)
                                                    like fuckin’ Sadaam and Osama to come in here and try to
                                                    [incredulous] When did Sadaam try to come in here and control
                                                    our country?
                                                    Dude, [yelling] WHY DON’T YOU GO LIVE IN IRAQ THEN
                                                    IF YOU HAVE SUCH A PROBLEM WITH AMERICA? Why
                                                    are you here?

46                                                                                                                                                                              Arthur// July, 2006   Arthur// July, 2006
                                                                                                                                                                                                               June, 2006   47

                                                                                                                          Bull Tongue
                                                                                                                 Byron Coley & Thurston Moore

                                                                                                                      Explore the Voids of All Known Undergrounds

                                                                                                        I                                   t
                                                                                                           It’s nice to report that sickness has the
                                                                                                           most goddamned great locked groove
                                                                                                        we’ve heard in years. As good as any of the
                                                                                                        500 locked grooves on RRR’s classic 500
                                                                                                        Locked Grooves omnibus a few years back.
                                                                                                        It’s on the Sought for Slaying LP freshly
                                                                                                                                                          Shit is downright brutal with its amplified
                                                                                                                                                               Also intriguing, in a blackened corpse
                                                                                                                                                          kind of way, is that which is Montreal, Que-
                                                                                                                                                          bec’s akitsa. These dark dream mugs is-
                                                                                                                                                          sued a cassette years back called Soleil Noir
                                                                                                        minted by Hospital Productions (not to be         on a Montreal label (Tour De Garde), which
                                                                                                        confused with the Graveyards cassette on          made many a noir metal enthusiast’s butt-
                                                                                                        American Tapes with the same title which          hole pucker. It’s just been reissued as a pic
                                                                                                        is only available in the Hospital store on        disc on German rotting carcass label, Rag-
                                                                                                        3rd Street NYC). Sickness has a sewer full of     ing Bloodlust. As far as this shit goes, Akitsa
                                                                                                        grey life noise releases and is linked to the     has an endearing capacity to fall into hyp-
                                                                                                        most ferocious and panting of compadres           no-stasis repeato-relentlessness with dead
                                                                                                        in that scene. One dude killing it with gore      simple crunge n’ blunt trauma riffing. The
                                                                                                        stench tabletop and loving it.                    cult of Akitsa is strong enough where Rag-
                                                                                                             Speaking of Hospital records, Pruri-         ing Bloodlust has issued Aube de la Misan-
                                                                                                        ent master and store proprietor, Dominick         thropie, a double LP of demos, comp tracks
                                                                                                        Furnow, has finally opened the amazing            and way limited CDR heaviness, which really
                                                                                                        Hospital store in NYC. Brian from Mouthus         gives you a primer into what seems to be
                                                                                                        has been keeping us up to date with every         Akitsa’s nefarious perception of Quebecois
                                                                                                        nail he pounded into the bins of this base-       nationalism. Go figure, but go get it for true
                                                                                                        ment bordello. It lies below a reggae record      underground hell-sludge goodness.
                                                                                                        joint called Jammyland and not only does it            Chuck Dukowski is a goddamn legend-
                                                                                                        serve up a sweet load of blackness, but it is     ary figure in terms of American under-
                                                                                                        very very neat. It is also the best art gallery   groundism. His work with Black Flag, SST
                                                                                                        in a city which prides itself in such things.     Records, Wurm and whatnot have earned
                                                                                                        Unbeknownst to the art scene in NYC, this         him a permanent place at some kinda spe-
                                                                                                        space has the most absurd and arcane ob-          cial table. Anyway, that’s our take. Chuck’s
                                                                                                        jets de fetishisme we’ve ever encountered.        take is that he has this new band, CD6 (aka
                                                                                                        Beautiful box frames containing such brain        the Chuck Dukowski sextet) and they’ve
                                                                                                        zapping items as Hair Police Mike Connelly’s      now released an actual CD after a couple of
                                                                                                        torn shirt guitar, Dominick’s first broken-
                                                                                                        to-screaming-shit microphones, Emil Beau-
                                                                                                        lieau’s button down sweater! We picked up
                                                                                                        the ash pool first taste of slaughter cas-
                                                                                                        sette on Public Altar, which is Dom’s black
                                                                                                        metal duo with Kris Lapke (dude who plays
                                                                                                        drums on Purient’s Black Vase CD). Dom
                                                                                                        explains Ash Pool as a “black metal sound
                                                                                                        with more of a ritualized abusive/obsessive
                                                                                                        sexual theme of demise vs. the usual satan-

                                                                                                        ic garbage.” We would have to agree defi-
                                                                                                        nitely—pure hell vibe straight to the core
                                                                                                        with no time for comic books.
                                                                                                             Only other metal we’ve let pass through
                                                                                                        the Bull Tongue gate is the weirded-out
                                                                                                        lung slime of Bone awl. Two fucking in-
                                                                                                        sane bastards from Novato, California who               Chuck Dukowski and Lora Norton
                                                                                                        go by the names of He Who Gnashes Teeth
                                                                                                        (vocals, guitars, bass) and He Who Crushes
                                                                                                        Teeth (drums). We haven’t heard their Bog         CDRs. Eat My Life (Nice and Friendly) has a
     subscriptions, back issues & more available at                                                     Bodies/Magnetism of War LP on Goatowa             cool, strange feel. Dukowski buckled when
                                                                                                                                                          we called it hippie music, but it’s got a real
                                                                                                        Rex but if it’s anything like the miserable
                                                                                                        mung heap of their Up to Something tape           free flow, and the graphics (by vocalist, Lora
                                                                                                        or the split tape they did with The Rita (Ca-     Norton—check her site for examples) look
                                                                                                        nadian noise freaks who we wrote about            like Japanese hippie space manga to us. The
     photo by Nicolas Amato •                                                  last issue), then we’ll fly to Novota and         first half of the album is pretty great—loose,
     of Becky Stark •                                                               prostrate ourselves, tongues lagging on           weird rock moves with almost-‘mersh fe-
                                                                                                        hot suburban cement, to get just a taste.         male vocals and aggression hidden in the

48                                                       Arthur// July, 2006   Arthur// July, 2006                                                                                                          49
//////////////////////////                                                                                                                              //////////////////////////
                                               Bull Tongue                                                                                                                                       Bull Tongue

 smoke. The jazz bits that pepper it make me think       tor. Contributors include the immortal val                                                      times, but the overall essence here is like a         New USA label, IDES, has come outta
 of an updated version of the ‘60s band, Womb, or        Webber, and Lauren introduces a series of                                                       somewhat straighter version of the Strap-         the gate with a full steam of face shredding
 something. The latter half of the album is more         Titcat postcards this time as well. So write                                                    ping Fieldhands. They have distinct aural         love. Two cassettes: Nursery by Crib Death
 jazzbo-specific, meaning that it’s a lot less reliant   her today. One of the sharpest U.S. ‘zines to                                                   connections to the New Zealand bands of           and Sexuality Is A Curse by Climax Denial.
 on riff primacy. And when you’ve got somebody           come along lately is O Sirhan O Sirhan. The                                                     the early ‘90s, but they’re not that far from     Crib Death is an ongoing project of Spite
 who plays bass like Dukowski, we’re not sure            debut issue has a sorta lo-fi look, but the                                                     Great Plains either.                              Records label master and Humectant Inter-
 that’s the ultimate best choice. But hey—it’s his       contents are “boobs” as hell. There’s an ex-                                                        Bradley Lastname has been boiling             ruption wizard, Joel St. Germain, and bud,
 band. It’s just nutty to hear “My War” played with-     cellent piece on Henry Flynt’s anti-racist                                                      around in the punk lit underground for a          Anthony Miller. The extraction on display
 out that insane bass barrage. Anyway, it beats the      protests of ’64, a photo essay of Deerhoof                                                      good long while, and various booklets of          here is a gurgled mouth of cum and beer
 shorts offa SWA, and Lora’s images have a real bi-      relaxing, a Devendra Banhart sketch-                                                            his are hidden around here. His two new-          and if you close your eyes you will dig it and
 zarre way of sucking you in.                            book, a long interview (and accompanying                                                        est books are pretty slick looking, however,      know those things which make reality such
      A most exciting music book is The Sound of         CD) by sound artist Jorge Boehringer, and                                                       even if their content is still quite scabbly.     a stone gas. Climax Denial from Milwaukee
 Squirrel Meals: The Work of Lol Coxhill (St. Pauli      even more. Excellent peeks!                                                                     The Squeaky Fromme Gets the Grease and            has been strafing death waves for years and
 Druckerei) by Barbara schwarz. Coxhill’s fan-                The fabulous Memoirs of an Aesthete                                                        What I Learned About Ancient History from         is an entity we never became too acquaint-
 tastic arc as a genius of the soprano saxophone         label out of England has released a fabulous                                                    Marilyn Murray O’Hare’s Rare Coin Collection      ed with. Our bad, as this release is easily a
 (and other brain/mouth/finger hybrids) is dealt         cassette by the fabulous Melanie Delaney                                                        (both, Press of the Third Mind) are enter-        contender for #1 noise jam of the “06. Usu-
 with here in loving detail. There are reprints of       who is part of the fabulous Ashtray Naviga-                                                     tainingly toxic blends of poetry, prose, cut-     ally the sound of a distorted voice from the
 interviews, articles, fliers, photographs, record       tions. We always thought that these days                                                        ups and word games. At times, Lastname            dry humped anus of a rotten crone would
 covers. There’s an exhaustive annotated discog-         AN might be pared down to just founding                                                         comes off as drunken blend of Brion Gysin         be naught but quaint and hopelessly naïve,
 raphy, a chronology, a list of film/TV appearanc-       member Phil Todd, but it seems that Mela-                                                       and Buddy Bradley, but what’s wrong with          but somehow Climax Denial renew whatev-
 es, and just a whole pantload of information and        nie is indeed a primary ingredient of that                                                      that? Nothing.                                    er value this tradition may have warranted
 wonder. Miss this one at yr own peril. Another          outfit’s contempo primo bliss hiss. Add to                                                          Meanwhile, Buddy Bradley’s home team          and proceed to rip headlong into a furnace
 fascinating research document is the S. Bur-            that, the fact that this cassette has Melanie                                                   (Fantagraphics) has been publishing some          of fucking great noisewaste.
 roughs Literary Archive catalogue from the rare         partnered with the ultra-fabulous Bridget                                                       particularly great stuff recently. One of the        Brian Chippendale (of Lightning Bolt)
 book dealer, Ken Lopez. This is a detailed look,        Hayden of Vibracathedral Orchestra and                                                          most beautiful is Jimbo’s Inferno by gary         was kind enough to send along a copy of
 with historical context, about a very important         sweet jesus, you know the unfolding will                                                        panter. This is something of a prequel to         a recent comicbook called Battlestack Ga-
 cache of Burroughs’ letters, manuscripts, record-       envelop and save your rotten tongue. We                                                         Jimbo in Purgatory and is an equally lus-         lacti-crap, which is a lovely exploration of
 ings and paintings that was recently sold. Not ev-      can assure you. The cassette is entitled                                                        cious piece of deluxe hardcover candy. The        Gang Gloom’s attempt to sell well-priced
 eryone’s cup of jiz, but a great thing for fanatics.    Ground Zero Celebration Pessary, it is lov-                                                     work itself is not a text-reliant as that other   and healthful cupcakes to their neighbors
 Lovers of frozen oink should also check out Verk-       ingly spraypainted and it moves forward                                                         book. Actually, it’s a sustained Jimbo story,     (among other things). He also included
 sted #4/Sonic North (Office for Contemporary Art        with frozen sun guitar/amp melt-zone with                                                       more inspired by Dante than writ by him.          the first two CDs by Black pus—Black Pus
 Norway). This issue of the journal is a compendi-       an incendiary ALIVENESS. Nice shit m’lady.                                                      But man, it is a pleasure jumbo! We can nev-      and Black Pus 2 (Diarearama). Ostensibly a
 um of facts and opinions about the state of the              Brother JT is best known for his musi-                                                     er get our fill of this immortal cave-punk’s      solo project, featuring Brian’s drums and
 noise scene in Norway. There’s a good overview          cal madness, but he has long been a writ-                                                       peregrinations. Another sheer stunner is          sax playing, the Black pus disks make me
 and discography, plenty on Rune Grammofon,              er of immense talent as well, although his                                                      victor Moscoso’s Sex, Rock and Optical Il-        think of an exploding cigar version of that
 Lasse Marhaug, Fe-Mail and more.                        work is usually available only in fits and                                                      lusions. Moscoso was both an SF Ballroom          old No Neck side project, Safire. Parts of
     Mouthus have been simply RAMPAGING                  starts. His latest booklet, The Jesus Gui-                                                      poster artist and one the select group of         Black Pus 2 might even get close to a scum-
 from burg to burg, releasing Mouthus and re-            tar, may actually get reprinted by Bastet at                                                    cartoonists who contributed to Zap Com-           metal version of Ornette’s recordings in
 lated jams (such as Canada’s Cousins of Reggae)         some point. Which would be cool, ‘cause                                                         ics. This hardcover collects a huge batch of      Jajouka. Yum! They’re both just squinky,
 on their own Our Mouth CDR imprint. And Im-             this is one of JT’s best. It’s basically an ex-                                                 its – posters, Color Comix, that legendary        chapped-out as hell, and feature wonder-
 portant Records released their The Long Salt CD,        tended essay on his idea of transcendent                                                        bus wraparound, etc. If you like the feel of      ful silkscreened covers. Nate Denver from
 which absolutely kills from start to finish. We be-     guitar playing and drugs and records and                                                        eyeballs melting, you’ll be stuck to this for     Total Shutdown has a swank volume out as
 gan investigating the actuality and whereabouts         a lotta other good stuff. Definitely worth                                                      hours.                                            well. Wait, you’re not a centaur. It’s a lovely
 of Mouthus way back when our first lead came            some squinting. JT has another volume out                                                          As we go to press, a fucking ashtray           load of stories that run 50 words or less, ac-
 from Michael Bernstein, who said his groovy             as well. Nine (Whatisit? Press) is a lovely col-                                                Navigations LP called Dirt Mummies                companied by very stylish illos. Our favorite
 group stroke Double Leopards shared a rehears-          lection of poems about music, Greg Shaw,                                                        And Bloody Amps (Freenoise UK) has just           one is probably about Bolt Thrower meet-
 al space or some such thing with ‘em. As it turns       D.A. Levy and T.L. Kryss. JT has a beautiful                                                    dropped out of God’s ass onto our decks           ing Jesus, but you go ahead and pick your
 out, the Brooklyn community of Double Leps and          way of connecting interior dots, and ob-                                                        and sweet jehovah if it ain’t the tits of sum-    own. This should be out pretty soon from
 Mouthus has continued to expand particularly to         serving his journey is a real pleasure.                                                         mer. Phil Todd goes deep inside the tea-          La Mano 21.
 the UK and particularly to Double Leps’ Marcia               Tom (T.L.) Kryss himself is well-served                                                    room pysche of cold and rain-dead Leeds               Don’t get too many photo books
 Bassett rockin n rollin with Matthew Bower of           by The Search for the Reason Why (Bottom                                                        and really channels the Flevo mama. Churn-        here, but just got a doozy of a collabora-
 Sunroof! under the aegis of Hototogisu. Fol-            Dog Press). This is not exactly the “Collect-                                                   ing narcolicious swirls of harmonic high-         tion called The Wheels Project (Hoover Flag
 low? Anyway what we’re getting at is there’s a          ed Works of Kryss“ we all deserve, but it                                                       ness rip off the static needle cling of your      Press), with the work of Ken richardson,
 new 2LP, Crippled Rosebud Binding with one side         is a great sampling of new and old work,                                                        sweet-head stylus in a please-don’t-stop-         Jasen strickler and andrew M.K. War-
 each from Double Leopards, Mouthus, sun-                both poetry and prose, with a smattering                                                        now-or-never mode. Tasty mung. Recom-             ren. The subject of all the pics is wheeled
 roof! and the 4th side a collab between ‘em all.        of Tom“s rabbit drawings thrown in. It“s a                                                      mended cut: “Greased Whistle.” 200 copies         transport—from slot cars to monster bikes
 Sounds like it could be a lotta pudding to digest       lovely collection “ Kryss“ writing can be as                                                    numbered. Go!                                     to old Cadillacs and onward. The prints
 but this monster goes down juicy. Sunroof!, aug-        “street“ and real and anyone“s, but he also                                                          The latest installment of sean Casey’s       look great, and the organization is good,
 mented by Bassett and Vibracathedral Orches-            possesses a clarity of spirit that allows him                                                   ongoing book-a-month project is Cindi’s Fur       too. Some of the b&w images are so total-
 tra’s Mick Flower, absolutely stuns with a raw          to write about simple beauty without re-                                                        Coat (The Chuckwagon), which has some             ly out-of-time they look like they might’ve
 dimensional take on some tune called Cortez the         sorting to cliché or tired imagery. The smell                                                   excellent poetry about the workplace. May-        showed up in a Robert Frank or Garry Win-
 Killa. The record is on Music Fellowship and is the     and weight and feel of Cleveland (and envi-                                                     be not yr workplace, but you’ll recognize         ogrand book from the early ‘60s. But even
 fifth installment in their triptych series where        rons) permeate the text, but we don“t think                                                     it nonetheless. You should also recognize         the ones that look like they were shot to-
 they pair three distinctive mofos to mess your          you“d wanna have it any other way. Any-                                                         it’s a great day when the newest comic/           morrow have a great vibe—Americans and
 dick around. Don’t sleep, this baby is already out      one serious about reading poetry should                                                         zine/whatsis rolls in from Hello Trudi. The       their wheels. Damn, but they look tickled.
 of print and getting hard to track down.                be reading Kryss. Now.                                                                          new one is called Winter Bender and fea-              Been spinning shawn David McMil-
      One more lovely, oversized, English language            Because of problems with Chuck Cleav-                                                      tures e*rock, Jonathan Thomas and                 len’s Catfish LP a lot lately. McMillen is an
 literary/art magazine has emerged from Eastern          er as a record dealer, I never bothered to                                                      Chase Chivers. We woulda thought there            elusive cog in the Texas kosmiche psyche
 Europe. Blatt, based in Prague, has a bit more          listen to the ass ponys when they were                                                          was some Chambers stuff in here, too, but         improv scene of Charalambides and Ash
 sexual energy than some of its confreres and is         around, even though they recorded for                                                           what do we know? All we can say is that           Castles on the Ghost Coast (of which he
 all the better for it. We are none too conversant       my second or third favorite Northern Ohio                                                       these ‘zines are like a nutty cross between       was a member with Charalambides/Scorc-
 with much of the material presented, but the            record label of the time. Supposedly, they                                                      Pettibon, Gonzales, Childish and we dunno         es/Taurpis Tula’s Heather Leigh Murray).
 prose and poetry and photography and art are all        eventually did some major label stuff and                                                       what else. Great xeroxed art of the most          His participation in the nascent activities
 top flight. The format is goddamn elegant as well.      almost got popular, but that does not                                                           insanely wonderful type. And they just            of that scene is fairly revered, but hard
 And Michael Jackson’s head looks so cute on a           concern us. What we’re playing now is a                                                         keep coming. If you like that sorta thing,        to track (‘though there have been sight-
 deer’s body you might well rethink his whole, uh,       2CD compilation, The Okra Years (Shake It),                                                     we would also commend Drawings (Friends           ings with such outfits as Iron Kite, Rubble
 “situation.” Also, sexy as always is the latest issue   which compiles a selection of their material                                                    and Relatives). The first issue collects art by   and most noticeably with Charalambides’
 of Lauren Naylor’s Pretend I Am Someone Else.           from their days with that esteemed label.                                                       over 20 young bastards, and some of it is         Tom Carter and Brian Smith in The Friday
 Dreams, fantasies, poetry and collages, all collide     As with almost all Okra acts, there is s slight                                                 cruder than Rory Hayes crossed with Den-          Group, who released a cool LP on Beta-Lac-
 in the shadow of Leeds’ largest orgone genera-          rural vibe that pops up amidst the daisies at                                                   nis Tyffuss. Honest!                              tam Ring). Emperor Jones has righteous-

 50                                                                                                         Arthur// July, 2006   Arthur// July, 2006                                                                                                        51
                                                                                         Bull Tongue

                                                  ly stepped up to the plate by curveballing       yondo sound solicitation. They’ve released
                                                  out this McMillan LP, and it’s an excellent      a ton of cool stuff already from Kylie Mi-
                                                  marker in the diaspora of roving Texas out-      noise, Reverse Mouth, Post Blue etc. and
                                                  sider music. Side one is a collection of vary-   have to date made three Phase! fanzines
                                                  ing lassitudes-of-song as ethereal gesture,      which have wicked graphix from Smack Mu-
                                                  while all of side two is a magnificent heat-     sic 7/Blood Stereo’s Karen Constance and
                                                  drenched spirit improv of strings, bells and     a bitchin’ interview with Charlie Ward of
                                                  humidity. A worthwhile sniff of avant-long-      Stomach Ache/RRR (!). Athens is officially
                                                  horn dream-guh.                                  insane. Welcome.
                                                       Not entirely dissimilar is the Since We
                                                  Have Fallen LP by Hush arbors. A solo

                                                                                                                                                      Photo Bill T Miller
                                                  venture by Keith Wood, who you may have
                                                  seen playing sweet ripping guitar on stage
                                                  with Wooden Wand, Sunburned Hand of the
                                                  Man, and Zodiacs (under nom-de-plume
                                                  Ezekiel Blackouts III). Hush Arbors is a must
                                                  for anyone into super contempo sub-stra-
                                                  ta American folk-psyche modernity. This LP
                                                  is a numbered edition of 500 and is pack-
                                                  aged in a gorgeous letterpress window-
                                                  cut sleeve designed by the Blue Barnhouse
                                                  gang in Asheville, NC, and released by Har-
                                                  vest Recordings also from Asheville. The re-
                                                  cordings existed earlier as limited CDR from
                                                  Foxglove but those disappeared fast. Now’s
                                                  the time to jump cuz this baby is the peren-
                                                                                                                   Donna Parker
                                                  nial poobah.
                                                       Mondo Macabro continues to churn
                                                  out a truly screwball selection of exploita-         Great insanity in LP form is provided
                                                  tion DVDs from unexpected sources. Their         by Australian Sean Bailey, who records as
                                                  latest coup is a double feature of Turkish       Lakes. The eponymous Lakes album (Chap-
                                                  films Deathless Devil/Tarkan vs. the Vikings.    ter Music) is a gorgeously crusty slab of
                                                  Deathless features the imortal superhero,        mystery meat. Hard to tell at times if Sean
                                                  Copperhead (actually the son of the origi-       is playing a tipple (ala Ed Askew) or ham-
                                                  nal Copperhead, but you get the idea). It’s a    mering apart a piano or dancing around in
                                                  classic of inexplicable topless spy adventur-    front of primitive sequences or what-the-
                                                  ism and an excellent opportunity to watch        hell? The music has a great, non-generic
                                                  Dr. Satan get his ass kicked in weird style.     no-wavey punk take on homemade elec-
                                                  But Tarkan is the real mindblower here.          tronics and vocals pushed to great limits
                                                  Huns versus Vikings, two dogs (who are           of grit. Incredibly, it includes a cover of the
                                                  supposed to be wolves) named Kurt, top-          Art Bears’ “Song of Investment Capital Over-
                                                  less hijinks up the wazoo, berserk battle        seas.” And it’s a tufted winner!
                                                  scenes, the best moustache EVER, and an               The out of nowhere resurgence of
                                                  octopus that looks like a rubber omelet.         bone snapping harsh noise maestros
                                                  This disk is a real charmer. In a similar vein   Mlehst has given a lot of us heads a new
                                                  is Sweet & Savage by Mark goodall (Head-         reason to kill ourselves. Mlehst were proba-
                                                  press). Subtitled The World Through the          bly the most intensely skin shredding noise
                                                  Shockumentary Film Lens, this is a pretty        cut up sounds-from-satans-dick outfit of
                                                  thorough overview of the genre of films          the ‘90s. We’d relegated them to the mias-
                                                  spawned by Gualitiero Jiacopetti’s Mondo         ma of past putrefaction, but the Belief Re-
                                                  Cane. It feels a little academic at times, but   cordings label has recently issued two LPs
                                                  we guess that’s probably more a function         of Mlehst kill-tunage and they’re both phe-
                                                  of how dumb much exploito reviewing              nomenal. The Mlehst home label pre-Belief
                                                  has seemed since the passing of mags like        was called Bandaged Hand Produce, which
                                                  Shock Express and Pandemonium. Regard-           issued a collection of signpost harshness
                                                  less, it’s a great read with synopses and        back in the day from Telepherique, Runzel-
                                                  critical writing about most of the impor-        stirn & Gurglestock, Brume a.o. The Mlehst
                                                  tant pics. J.G. Ballard on the influence of      dude destroyed all the masters in 2001 (why
                                                  mondo-style cinema on his own work, and          not?) so we thought maybe this was pret-
                                                  pics, too. How can you miss?                     ty much a final sayonara but this ain’t the
                                                       Donna parker has finally released           case. Along with these two hellacious LPs,
                                                  Debutante (Twisted Village), her debut           Mlehst has an 8” lathe coming from Tasma-
                                                  LP and it is superb. Feedback oscillations,      nia’s stench label Cipher Productions, a 7”
                                                  jammed signals, sick battery effects ped-        and LP split with Prurient due from Hospi-
                                                  al malfunction all through the hands, ears       tal, an LP on Nihilist, and a cassette on Spite.
                                                  and heart of Donna Parker, who has been          Dude is back! Totally tits.
                                                  one of the consistent musical highlights              Everyone loves obscure little Japanese
                                                  of the Eastern Seaboard out noise scene.         comic books, do they not? Certainly! And
                                                  Produced by Jessica Rylan (who has a duo         this little Ranshi by Tetsunori Tawaraya
                                                  with Donna Parker called Secret Diary—LP         is a very crazy stew of images. Scatological,
                                                  forthcoming on Ecstatic Peace) this is the       smutty, violent, mystical, ratty and arcane,
                                                  record of the summer, with enough beach          all at the same time, the story seems to be
                                                  blanket noise action to sunburn yr brain         about a quest of some sort. Or maybe it’s
                                                  from beginning to end. It’s that good. New       just about getting out of a rabbit costume.
                                                  Greek freako label Phase! has issued Black       Either way, it’s possessed of a vibe that will
                                                  Black Heart, a 3” CDR of Donna Parker that       make yr teeth fill with indescribable flavors.
                                                  has some gnarly zap-switching pieces plus        Check out his site—it is filled with wild lines
                                                  an actual vocal track titled …This Is Why I      and scents.
                                                  Don’t Sing. phase! records seems to be                Man what is up with Filthy Turd? This
                                                  gearing up for a sweet onslaught of be-          UK phenomenon has released a toiletbowl

52   Arthur// July, 2006   Arthur// July, 2006                                                                                                                              53
                                               Bull Tongue
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        which leans to the Allmans/Dead/Faces side          C: Vetiver’s music evokes all those little phases
      full of tapes the last year or so and they

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        of the highway. And just a few months after         or episodes along a dayhike in the country: the
      are fascinatingly mundane in their gunk ap-                                                                                                                                                                                                       Comets guitarist Ben Chasny’s latest Six Organs     initial entry into the wilderness…the part where
      peal. Our favorites have been the absolute-                                                                                                                                                                                                       of Admittance pan-cultural acid-folk stunner,       you’re making serious headway, alone with your
      ly hideous split releases he has done with                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Sun Awakens.                                    thoughts…the moment when the senses are
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        F: Not to mention Comets pianist/drummer            overwhelmed by the nature stimuli, the dew
      Mutant Ape, particularly the Mutant Turd
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Utrillo’s nuevo Elton John/Bill Fay song project,   and the sap, the sun’s heat and the insects’
      Disco Anale CDR on Turddude’s own Volt-                                                                                          Two guys reason together about some new records                                                                  The Colossal Yes.                                   hum...when you finally you stop for water by a
      age Stress*r label. Monsieur Turd has this to                                                                                                                                                                                                     C: That one 11-minute song on the Colossal Yes      brook, and take a nap in the shade. When Andy
      say about himself: “I am Filthy Turd
I am the                                                                                                                                                                                                     album? Wow… [listening to “Holy Teeth”] But         Cabic sings, “I climbed so high/the sky dropped
      whore of mystery. I like making noise. 

If                         Intelligence                                                                                                                                                                  back to the album at hand. This is total High       down to teach me,” he’s tapping into the natu-
      you want me to make some noise for
                                                                                                                                               Note: C & D is a dialogue presented as a series of record reviews,                                       Rise/Acid Mothers Temple/Kiss destruction           ralist in all of us.
you know where I am. Noise isn’t the
                                                                                                                                                         and intended to be read straight through…                                                      boogie.                                             F: I heard somebody say you could call this kind
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        F: A strange thing about “boogie” is it’s been      of music ‘naturalismo.’
      only thing in my life. I spend a lot of time
                                                                        CONTACTS                                                                                                                                                                        Not Cool for a period about ten times longer        C: I also heard somebody say that the real
      picking up signals from foxes, crows and
      dogs. This month I’ve been thinking about          akitsa:                                                                                                       C                                                             than it was Cool. [standing up from the couch]
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        But it never left my behind!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            reason music originating from the West Coast
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            underground—all the aforementioned bands,
                                                                                                                                   C: We resume not far from where we left off                slithers into a Hawkwind-Ash Ra Tempel-Stereo-
      big girls a lot
. The universe is pointing me in   ash pool:                                                                                                                                                          C: [averting eyes, mumbling] Christ, F. Boogie if   Brightblack Morning Light, etc etc etc—is so
                                                                                                                                   last issue. Only without D, our lovable excitable          lab-Oneida locked groove around the six minute
      the direction of big girls”. You can read full     Blatt:                                                     German, who has vacated the rumble seat to                 mark, then ignite into dueling guitar spirals,            you must but please do it where I don’t have to     beautifully gone right now is because of the
      on live reportage of Filthy Turd (who cre-         Blue Barnouse:                                      return to Der Fatherland to observe the World              then some Von Harmonson echotronix. Plus                  see it. This one [“Sour Smoke”] is like keyboard-
      ates a hideous mud bath mess on stage),                                                                                      Cup. In his place, quaffing D’s beers for this issue       the kind of casual avant garde move that’s so             driven Fela Kuti meets Television. Can a band be
                                                         Bone awl:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        this good?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Photo Jeremiah Garcia/
      Prurient, Jessica Rylan, Emil Beaulieau a.o.                                  only, ladies and gentlemen of the court, may I             natural you almost don’t notice it: the electric
                                                                                                                                   present to you: F.                                         birdsong at end of “Jaybird,” a nice fresh-air            F: Felavision: I wish they had that on the Dish.
      in the latest issue of UK noise skum zine Id-      Bottom Dog press:
                                                         http://members.                               F: Happy to be here, C. Those are big shoes to             breather.                                                 C: Call your cosmic cable company...
      wal Fisher. It comes out of Yorkshire, where                                                                                                                                                                                                      F: To paraphrase Foster’s: Comets on Fire: it’s
                                                         Brother JT:                                             fill.                                                      F: A muscle-relaxer for the brain.
      all the children born and raised in the last                                                                                                                                                                                                      American for rock.
                                                                                                                                   C: Relax. After three beers and the proper audi-           C: For me, this album plugs back into what their
      20 years or so are seemingly deranged, and         Chapter Music:
                                                                                                                                   tory stimulation, your feet will swell to fit.             labelmates Sleater-Kinney did on their most               Vetiver
      infecting the UK landscape with a whole            Brian Chippendale:
                                                                                                                                                                                              recent album: laying sweet waste to the center
      new bungload of power electronics (al-
                                                         PO Box 1361, Providence RI 02901                                          Comets on Fire                                             of Ted Nugent’s mind by power tripping from
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        To Find Me Gone
                                                         The Chuckwagon:                                      Avatar                                                                                                               (diCristina)
      ways the providence of Blighty) and God                                                                                                                                                 the top of the randiest redwoods. This is the
                                                         Cipher:                                 (Sub Pop)                                                  Comets’ answer record, at least in my personal            F: The second album from San Francisco’s hazi-
      bless them all. We can’t recommend this
                                                         Climax Denial:                                                            F: After five seconds of this record, I can                universe.                                                 est, gentlest canyon-folk drifters, Vetiver.
      shit highly enough.                                                                                                                                                                                C: There’s a bucolic feel to this I love.
                                                                                                                                   confidently say: Comets on Fire, you made an               F: I grok that. Fight fire with Fire! Those dark
           Swankest punk tease this time is prob-        Double Leopards:                                                                                              noontide chimes at the beginning of “The                  F: True, but what’s up with the word “bucolic”?
                                                                                                                                   excitable German out of me. Pummely stuff.
      ably The intelligence’s Flight of the Don-         emperor Jones:                                       C: This blasts off from where their last record            Swallow’s Eye,” and the chorus guitars on                 The sound of words should correlate to their
      keys 12” (In the Red). Four skronky gut                                                                                      left off: frequent flyer acid rock mentality,              “Lucifer’s Memory”’s crystal clear: Cosmic           meaning, and there’s something about “bucolic”
      kicks by these Seattle-based zone-bandits.                                                                                   virtuous verses and choruses, oodles of audible            soul rock kills pain dead.                                that always makes me think of a baby with a
                                                         Filthy Turd/voltage stress*r:                                                                                                                                                                  wet, hacking cough.
      They sorta sound like they’re whining as                                poem lyrics, spry jams, and serious assblasting.           C: And it arrives just two months after the
                                                                                                                                   A couple songs are slow burners...                         Howlin’ Rain album. Howlin’ Rain, of course, is the       C: Whereas this music would more likely cure a
      the earth collapses around their extreme-          Freenoise:
                                                                                                                                   F: ...that put the power back in balladry.                 new band spotlighting Comets on Fire singer-              baby of such a cough.                                        Ethan Miller of Comets on Fire
      ly classic sorta West Coast punk-scrubble.         Friends and relatives:                                                                                                                                                                         F: Readers with babies might let us know how                  onstage at Arthurfest, 2005
                                                                                                                                   C: The album-opening epic “Dogwood Rust”                   guitarist Ethan Miller’s songwriterly aspect,
      And hey, who wouldn’t? On the exact op-                                                                                                                                                               it works...
      posite end of the spectrum is the debut            goatowa rex:
      LP by NYC’s apothecary Hymns. Trowel               Harvest records:
      & Era (Locust Media) takes up the new-volk         Headpress:
      promise of their great 7”, adds some dis-          Hello Trudi:
      tinctly Brit-psych tongue-interlocutions,          Hoover Flag press:
      and comes up smelling like very sweet hay.         Hush arbors:
      They really approach all this stuff pretty         Hospital:
      straight-on, but the rockist touches (spo-         ides:
      radic guitar loudness, wide-ass bells, mo-         idwal Fisher:
      mentary pseudo-epic surging) give things           in the red:
      a feel somewhat akin to what later period          La Mano 21:
      Pearls Before Swine LPs might have felt like       Ken Lopez Books:
      with Bill Harkleroad guesting. Very cool.          51 Huntington Rd., Hadley MA 01035
                                                         Locust Media:
                Hospital records                         Memoirs of an aesthete: www.hypnagogia.
                head hellkeeper,               
          Prurient wunderkind and all                    Mlehst:
                around nice boy,                         Mondo Macabro:
           Domenick Furnow, lists his                    Music Fellowship:
                ã                     ã                  Nice and Friendly:
                       TOP TEN                 
                                                         Lora Norton:
      underground Black Metal                            o sirhan o sirhan:
                    Skorcherz                            7 Garden Ave., Stonybrook NY 11790
                                                         office for Contemporary art Norway:
      f	 AKITSA · Goetie (LP)
                                                         Donna parker:
      f	 CLANDESTINE BLAZE · Fist Of The North-
         ern Destroyer (LP)                              phase!:
      f	 BONE AWL · Not For Our Feet (CS)                press of the Third Mind:
      f	 ILDJARN/NIDHOG · Collab (LP)
                                                         pretend i am someone else:
      f	 MGLA · Presence (MCD)                 
      f	 NITBERG · Nitsanger (MCD)                       public altar:
      f	 BLOODHAMMER · Abbedissan                        raging Bloodlust:
         Saatanalliset Houreet (LP)
                                                         st. pauli Druckerei:
      f	 BILISKINIR · Hyperborea (LP)                    Grosse Freiheit 70, D-22767, Hamburg Germany
      f	 SATANIC WARMASTER/GESTAPO 666 ·                 sickness:
         Split (CD)
                                                         Tetsunori Tawaraya:
      f	 COVEN OF THE WORM · 92–96             
      f	 WOODS OF INFINITY · Hedja (CS)                  Tour de garde:
                                                         Twisted village:
                                                         Whatisit? press:
                                                         130 Buttonwood, Bowling Green OH 43402

 54                                                                                                     Arthur// July, 2006   Arthur// July, 2006                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       55
     high potency of the marijuana out here.             C: Blame it on the beard. Zizek’s basically this su-
     C: While I am not stoned at this time, I swear I    per erudite dude who is also a willfully contrary
     just looked out the window and saw a burrito        polemicist commentating on everything under
     fly past.                                           the sun as he goes. As he says, “The duty of
     F: Yeah, that’s Vetiver, working the California     philosophy is to redefine problems, not to solve
     tradition: Flying Burrito Brothers, Neil Young,     them.” Here he is on a tour of colleges...he sees
     the Mac of course, the original Charlatans from     a girl carrying some Evian and remarks, “Water
     San Francisco...                                    in a bottle —it reminds me of socialism.”
     C: And of course the late under-lamented            F: This guy’s great! Reminds me of the biting,
     Beachwood Sparks, whose final EP had some of        death-obsessed comedy of the late great Broth-
     this same swooshy nature euphoria and next-         er Theodore. I believe Zizek speaks as a friend
     afternoon melancholia. Not that this is mimicry.    although he expounds with fiendish fervor.
     Cabic’s songwriting here goes beyond recidivist
     texture gesture. It’s a very subtle, tricky thing
     Vetiver does, mellowing the harsh but resisting
     the corn. They use violins instead of fiddles.
     F: Whoa, this song [“Red Lantern Girls”] is amaz-
     ing! It’s like a horse just trotting along, and
     then alluvasudden, this squalling and sustained
     one-note electric guitar solo [courtesy of guest
     Brad Laner (Medicine/Electric Company guitar-
     ist-composer)] kicks in and the band breaks into
     a gallop.
     C: Vetiver: cures coughs, cleanses palates. Use

     Awesome Color
     Awesome Color
     (Ecstatic Peace/Universal)
     C: Whoa!
     F: Yowza!
     C: These guys get on that train and ride it back
     to Cincinnati 1969! Total Stooges in Iggy’s-Got-
     the-Peanut-Butter-Again mode…
     F: Yeah, but even more than that— Sound of
                                                                          Awesome Color
     Confusion-era Spacemen 3, especially on this
     track “Dinosaur”: that’s the sound of a band re-
     fusing to learn more chords or grooves because      C: Fiendish fervor is right. Zizek is a pre-post-
     they already found the best ones.                   modern man. He was raised in Communist
     C: Concentrating on tone and psychotic drive,       Yugoslavia, but when that all went to bloody
     like all the greats, like our national treasures    hell, he became a Christian atheist.
     The Cramps and Tav Falco and of course              F: I knew I dug this guy. He’s got some zingers,
     the 13th Floor Elevators…Awesome Color              like when he talks about being “up to your shit
     are…uh…awesome.                                     in ideology.”
     C: I’ve got to admit that my inner adolescent       C: Zizek cuts through the tripe. Here he is
     thinks this is the coolest shit possible.           watching an old televised broadcast of Lacan
     F: I hope they’re all under 18, and there better    giving a lecture. Lacan is one of Zizek’s primary
     be some brothers in this band.                      influences, but he is not in awe of Lacan: “I find
     C: This song [“It’s Your Time”] features some       his emphasis and gestures ridiculous.... I’m a
     actual choogle.                                     total enlightenment person, I believe in clear
     C: Which brings us to the question that has         statements.”
     haunted many a rock fan: what, exactly, is          F: Like Zizek says: “I always tell the truth. Not
     the difference between the boogie and the           the whole truth, because one can’t.”
     choogle?                                            C: My favorite part about this film is where
     F: Would that be choogie or boogle?                 Zizek proudly shows us that he keeps his clean
                                                         laundry in the kitchen cupboard.
     Zizek! DVD                                          F: You’ve got that much in common...
     C: Dude, I’m trying to play this DVD, but you
                                                         Beavis and Butthead
     totally messed up my system while reconnect-        The Mike Judge Collection
     ing the TV to the stereo so you could watch the     Volume 2 DVD
     World Cup in surround-sound.                        (Paramount)
     F: I think that D, absent as he is, would’ve        C: Meanwhile, at the other end of the philo-
     approved. Anyways, it was worth it to hear          sophical spectrum...
     the Mexican TV commentators hollering so            F: Beer me!
     sonorously.                                         C: Y’know, there’s so much product that comes
     C: Okay, here we go... This is a documentary        out these days, so many records, DVDs and
     about Slavoj Zizek, the Solvenian philosopher       CDs, but I still feel like there’s a void Beavis &
     who’s known as “a one-person culture-muncher”       Butthead left that remains unfulfilled.
     and “the Elvis of critical theory.”                 F: Hey, Zizek’s doing his best.
     F: He looks more like Klaus Kinski. Or Yakoff       C: Hard to imagine Zizek calling Lacan a “dillhole”
     Smirnoff.                                           though. It would be so cool if they made a new
                                                         Beavis & Butthead movie, like, checking in with
                                                         them ten years later...
                                                         F: In the meantime, creator Mike Judge is put-
                                                         ting out these super-packed DVDs, and it’s amaz-
                                                         ing to watch the classic cartoons uninterrupted
                                                         by erase-your-blemish commercials.
                                                         C: The titles alone are remarkable: “Wet Behind
                                                         The Rears”—“Premature Evacuation”—”Here
                                                         Comes The Bride’s Butt.”
                                                         F: “Bang The Drum Slowly, Dumbass.”
                                                         C: I love when the screen goes dark, right
                                                         before the show starts, and you can only hear
                                                         their immortal “hunh-huh-unh” laughter. Ohmi-
                                                         god, I love this one, where they go in to the plas-
                                                         tic surgeon to get their “thingies” made bigger,
                                                         but [uncontrollable laughter] instead the doctor
                                                         gives them boobs! [falls off the couch]
                                                         F: Settle down, C. How many brownies did you eat?
                      Slavoj Zizek                       C: I dunno. Is the baggie half full or half-empty,

56                                                                                                              Arthur// July, 2006

                                Phi Ta Khon: Ghosts of Isan DVD                      C: I stand in awe of Malinese guitarist Ali          C: And he knew how to bend desert air.                  James Hunter
                                                                                     Farka Toure. His death earlier this year was a
                                Directed by Robert Millis                            tremendous loss: his playing was part John Lee       Tony Allen                                              People Gonna Talk
                                (Sublime Frequencies)                                                                                     Lagos No Shaking                                        (Rounder)
                                                                                     Hooker, part original African dance blues, all
                                F: Feature-length film about a weird three-day       sensationally blazing and lyrical and celebratory,   (Honest Jon’s/Astralwerks)                              F: For a moment here I thought this was a
                                street festival in Thailand, sometimes referred      as well as appropriately contemplative and en-       C: [listening to track 1] Okay, that’s it. I hereby     missing disc from my Charlie Rich box set, and
                                to as “Mardi Gras from Hell.” Whoa. Talk about       trancing, and he was notoriously…well, as they       rescind the dance ban. [gets up from couch] I           this was 1962. But in fact this is new. It’s just
                                awesome colors.                                      say, touched. I never got to see him play live,      gotta close these blinds.                               got that sweet soul something, yet it’s got a
                                C: You see, this is what America should have         because I was very foolish in my younger years.      F: Mr. Tony Allen is, of course, the brilliant          rock’n’roll backbeat, but really he’s singing ex-
                                learned from pre-Katrina New Orleans. All this       And of course now that he’s gone, I finally get      drummer and co-creator with Fela Kuti of the            quisite torch songs. I gotta say, James Hunter, a
                                industrial technology and computer whatsits          to see him…on DVD.                                   Afrobeat sound. They say he played like four            pompadour-sporting white British guy, reminds
                                and the Intervoid is so much unnecessary fuzz.       F: This is a feature-length documentary film         drummers, but that was a long time ago. I think         me of chiefly of Sam Cooke.
                                To coin a paraphrase, what the world needs           made by a French film crew in 1999, apparently,      now he’s up to six.                                     C: The fact that he recorded it at London’s
                                now is less competitive work-laboring and more       around the time that Toure cut back on his           C: [air drumming wildly] If only all the songs          noted bastion of analog purity Toe Rag Studios
                                communal partying.                                   international touring in order to work his farm,     on here were this good. Unfortunately half of           makes sense. Almost nobody does this kind of
                                F: Preferably in blazing demon masks made            not far from Timbuktu. “My main concern here         them feature vocals that are just inappropri-           music in this style. Hunter’s craft is so fine, his
                                from cocount husks.                                  is to grow enough food to be self-sufficient,” he    ately slick singing with banal lyrics that borrow       commitment so total. Listen to “People Gonna
                                C: Yes, decadence on the cheap. Whiskey              says. “Whatever you do in life, you need a full      from Fela’s righteousness but not his wit, bite
                                drinking at dawn and total second-line parades       stomach. When you’re hungry, you can’t think         or joy in metaphor. But when Rolling Dollar
                                featuring guitar-and-flute ragas on flatbed          about anything.”                                     sings, it’s a vintage Afrobeat clinic session that’ll
                                trucks, amps powered by car batteries, people        C: The whole story is just so perfect you keep       make your feet weep.
                                waving hand-painted papier mache phalluses           laughing in disbelief at each new revelation or
                                with strange tips. When the grid crashes, this is    claim—it’s your choice. He talks about being         Eccentric Soul:
                                how I hope we’ll party. Of course we’ll probably     the tenth son (the other nine died), the word        The Big Mack Label
                                have to wait til then. You’d never be able to        “farka” meaning “resistance,” living in a town       (The Numero Group)
                                get a permit for something like this in public in    called “Niafunke” (say it aloud), enduring a         F: Talk all you want about digging in the crates,
                                America, home of the so-called free.                 childhood of near-slavery (“I had to push a 200lb    but first someone’s gotta dig up the crates.
                                F: I like the Sublime Frequencies approach.          barrel of water all by myself”), speaking and        C: And the Numero Group’s Eccentric Soul
                                They stand in awe of this planet’s inhabitants’      singing in three languages but reading none,         reissue series—of which this is the latest—is
                                strange beauty: they bear witness. They just         having a grandmother who could communicate           excavation par excellence.
                                say LOOK, they don’t even try to explain—well,       with nature spirits, and his year-long stay with     F: I’d never heard of the Big Mack label, but
                                not much—what’s going on. Their approach             witchdoctors at age 11. Or when he says, “There      apparently even if you lived in Detroit in the
                                is, This shit is so deep you don’t even have to      are millions of things that can be explained but     late ‘60s and early ‘70s you probably didn’t hear
                                know anything about what it is you’re seeing         some things can never even be mentioned.” And        of it either.
                                to receive some its power. It’s that rich. They’re   there’s the performances, like the one where         C: [Listening to Mae Young’s “The Man Put Sugar
                                busy grokking. They’re feeling fascination.          Toure says, “I have to tell you that tonight is      In My Soul”] Is this CD on the wrong speed?
                                F: They are the real human league.                   different from other nights. It’s true. I’m with     F: Only if you can’t dance that fast. What incred-
                                A Visit to Ali Farka Toure DVD                       the devils tonight.” He’s totally sexy, abandoned,   ible energy. I nominate it as One of the Best
                                                                                     rocking, almost disturbingly unguarded.              Songs Ever.
                                Directed by Marc Huraux                              F: One thing’s for sure: the guy had huge hands      C: Big Mack—more than a burger.                                           James Hunter
                                (Digital Classics)                                   and beautiful clothes.

58   Arthur// July, 2006   Arthur// July, 2006                                                                                                                                                                                                          59
     Talk”—his guitar lick’s so tasty, the roll’s so
                                                                                                       FILM CORNER
     sweet, it captures that swinging moment when

                                                                                                           The Bad Guys
     ska evolved into rock steady but still bore the
     clear influence of American soul records.
     F: I would say Hunter is brown bread to Edwyn
     Collins wry.                                                              The Road to Guantanamo is a thoroughgoing demolition of the lies
     C: One more quip like that and you’re going                         and unlimited incompetence of Powell, Bush and Rumsfeld says John Patterson.
     straight into the pun-ality box.
     F: I’ve been yellow-carded for wordplay.

                    Ramblin’ Jack Elliott

     Ramblin’ Jack Elliott
     I Stand Alone
     F: Original folksinger Jack Elliott is 75 and from
     the sound of things, he’s knocking on heaven’s
     C: What a beautiful, perfect album. The songs
     here sound happy but the words—about
     favorite dogs, old trains, the suckiness of arthri-
     tis—are by turns sad and ruminative. He’s know
     what’s been lost, and he knows the ramble is
     probably nearing its end. But he’s not entirely
     sad about it, which gives the songs—and ban-
     ter—a mischievous tone.
     F: Jack’s just doing the ding-dong-ditch on ol’
     Death, I betcha.

     Loren Connors                                                                                Prisoners await transfer to Guantanamo Bay
     Night Through: Singles and Collected                                            in Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross’ The Road to Guantanamo.
     Works 1976–2004 // 3-CD box
     (Family Vineyard)

     C: Slow chilling weird blues arcs carved by                    e are Americans. We don’t abuse people who are in      make for a thoroughgoing demolition of the lies of Powell,
     a graveyard guitar instrumental master. No
     ghosts, though—just a man before the Big
                                                                    our care.” Thus spake Gen. Colin Powell in reference   Bush and Rumsfeld. American viewers, long accustomed
     Empty.                                                to the United States’ grotesque and immoral confinement         to our child president˙s characterization of Gitmo inmates
     F: Dark, dark, DARK.                                  of “unlawful combatants” at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.             as “bad guys,” may find themselves asking how their own
     C: Definite dark night of the soul stuff.
                                                           Those remarks would have been news to the prisoners who         military could be so fascistic, so cruel and, most dispiriting
     F: It’s gorgeous, but I’m terrified.
                                                           committed suicide there recently, but also to the three         of all, so fucking stupid.
     Charalambides                                         kidnapped and incarcerated young Britons of Pakistani                Named for the West Midlands town where they grew
     A Vintage Burden                                      descent known as the Tipton Three—if they’d had access          up, the three young men flew to Pakistan, the home of
                                                           to news of any sort at Gitmo. It turns out that, having         their parents, to attend the wedding of one of their num-
     C: Almost unbearably beautiful new album
     from this long-running co-ed guitar duo, now          also been deprived of access to lawyers, the Red Cross          ber, but also to enjoy a holiday in their land of origin, in
     apparently based in Texas. [listening to the          or even their own families, the Tipton Three knew as            the aftermath of 9/11. Foolishly, they took a side-trip into
     perfectly titled 20-minute instrumental “Black        little of the outside world for two-and-a-half years as the     Afghanistan, where they were caught up in the US bomb-
     Bed Blues”] A warm breeze on a summer night,
     the windows’ curtain flutters. Outside the tall       outside world knew of the goings-on inside Guantanamo’s         ing of Taliban bases and cities, and then captured in the
     Texan grass sways. You’re sleeping with your girl     gruesome Camp Delta.                                            confused retreat from Kunduz.
     in somebody else’s bed. The sunrise is cloudy,             Not any more. Thanks to co-directors Michael Win-              Accused of consorting with Bin Laden and the Taliban,
     F: Two people underneath the Unnameable
                                                           terbottom (24-Hour Party People, In This World) and Mat         the Three in fact had watertight, easily verified alibis. Two
     Vastness, instead of one. Pure mutual longing.        Whitecross, the Guantanamo genie is forever out of its          of them were—and how hard is it to check this out?—on po-
     C: My recommendation? Give this to someone            bottle. Using interviews with the three men, who were           lice probation in Tipton for petty criminal acts, the other
     you love.
                                                           finally released from Gitmo in March 2004, interspliced         had a full-time job. That wasn’t enough for their captors,
     The Golding Institute Presents                        with harrowingly persuasive recreations of their journey        gut-wrenching proof that American military xenophobia
     Final Relaxation                                      to Guantanamo via Pakistan and Afghanistan, and of their        extends not merely to hated enemies, but also to valued al-
                                                           terrifying experiences in US military custody, The Road To      lies. Unlawful combatants: meet unlimited incompetence.
     C: Informed Arthur readers know that the
     Golding Institute is associated with with notable     Guantanamo constitutes the first corroborated witness                The imagery confronting us in The Road to Guanta-
     non-comedian Neil Hamburger.                          account of America’s Gulag to stand a chance of being           namo suggests that the United States has abandoned its
     F: [reading sleeve] “Your ticket to Death through     widely seen in the United States, whose populace has hith-      sanctimoniously proclaimed fealty to such secular gods
     Hypnotic suggestion.” This should go over well
     with the Doom crowd. Zizek will dig it, and
                                                           erto seemed disturbingly content to snore its way through       as Jefferson, Madison and Hamilton, only to replace them
     maybe Ramblin’ Jack Elliot too!!! [puts CD in         the progressive dismantling of its Constitution.                with Orwell, Kafka and Koestler. Two years of nonstop
     player]                                                    The shattering experiences of Ruhal Ahmed, Asif            torture, interrogation and physical abuse—stress-holds,
     C: Oh dear. I think if you slipped this into
                                                           Iqbal and Shafiq Rusal—which included being abducted by         strobelights, earsplitting death-metal, enforced silence,
     amongst every commuters’ positive reinforce-
     ment self-help tapes, you could really change         Afghanistan˙s Northern Alliance and sold to US Forces as        isolation cells —strongly recall Gestapo or KGB informa-
     some lives.                                           Taliban members (for a cool $10,000-per-head bounty—this        tion-gathering techniques, Room 101, Darkness at Noon.
     F: By “change” I think you mean “end.”                is where our money is going?), solitary confinement, tor-       All that is lacking are electrodes, waterboards and clocks
     C: Give this to someone you don’t love.
                                                           ture, 5–on–1 beatings, hoods, shackles, blinders, sensory       striking 13. And Big Brother? He’s already here. Learn to
                                                           deprivation and being witness to extrajudicial murders—         love Him.

60                                                                                                                                                                          Arthur// July, 2006   Arthur// July, 2006   61
                                                                                                   TRIGGER                                                            Do The Math
                                                                                                                                                                      by Dave Reeves

                                 1 2    3 4                                       4 3 2 1
illustration by Cassandra Chae


                                       B    lackout. Summertime. Popu-
                                            lace accepts that utility compa-
                                       nies have again fried the grid for
                                                                               Sticks” at a Rainbow Family
                                                                               Gathering: if you have a Talking
                                                                               Stick, you get to say something
                                                                                                                      I’ll give you the basic rules right
                                                                                                                                                               tions in an assailant known as a
                                                                                                                                                              “Tennessee Tattoo.”
                                                                                                                        1. All guns are loaded all the        As a liberal you love this weapon
                                       profit. Hours go by. Americans go       and people have to listen, and if
                                                                                                                           time, even when they are not.      because it is tacked together with
                                       without television, SUVs, flash-fried   you don’t have one you have to
                                                                                                                        2. You’ll put your eye out.           duct tape, clears a room faster
                                       food. Coffee runs out. Shortages of     shut the hell up.
                                                                                                                        3. Fried squirrel is delicious.       than Al Gore and, like Karma,
                                       chronic and chronic shortages. Rumor    Here’s a list of “sensitive weapons”                                           it doesn’t kill. Use the valuable
                                       becomes news. Alcohol reserves are      that even a vegetarian could use       A fun thing to do is get a target       shock and awe time to duck out
                                       drunk away and the rabble seethe        in the near future, cribbed in         and put a picture of your least         and run run run. Make your way
                                       in the street, commiserating about      these last precious moments while      favorite politician on it. Practice     to Humboldt, Asheville, Lawrence
                                       how it was this very publication that   this computer still works. I’ve        taking his eyes out from further        or Canada. Travel by night. Moss
                                       printed the recipe for the diabolical   listed them in the order that they     and further away. Try not to blink      grows on the north side of the
                                       bomb that left the assholes standing    should be purchased, so that you       when you pull the trigger!              trees.
                                       but killed their precious machines.     may gradually warm to the idea                    sHoTguN sHeLLs
                                       Emergency personnel stay at home                                                                                       According to a guy who lived in a
                                                                               of being a citizen capable of doing
                                       because, like that great American                                              Okay, now that you’ve purchased         post-E-bomb environment all the
                                                                               what it takes to keep America on
                                       Bob Dylan said, “The cops don’t                                                a toy facsimile of a real gun you’re    time, Thomas Jefferson, “The tree
                                       need you and, man, they expect                                                 not going to feel so funny about        of liberty must be refreshed with
                                       the same.” The National Guard                  BLoW guN/sLiNg sHoT             purchasing a box of shotgun shells.     the blood of patriots and tyrants
                                       is busy on the border, the French                                              These aren’t weapons, they’re just      from time to time.” The liberty
                                                                               No big whup. These aren’t even
                                       Quarter and Iraq. Everyone is a                                                ammunition. Nothing wrong with          tree is looking rough right now
                                                                               weapons. They’re fun! When worse
                                       suspect. “There he is! I saw him                                               that. You can still vote Libertarian.   because all we feed it is this new
                                                                               comes to worst and emergency
                                       reading that Arthur!” the mob yells.                                                                                   blood. Blood is fine like wine and
                                                                               supplies run out, you can shoot        Now let’s return to our scenario:       needs some age and body to come
                                       And then, dear reader, you realize      some apples out of the tree for        A mob is at your door demanding         alive. I’m sure Bush and Cheney
                                       that when the transistors are dead,     food. Added bonus is that when         food and water, not that you have       wouldn’t hesitate to give some blue
                                       the world is run by a lower phylum      the overarmed zealots take power       any. Luckily, you took my good          blood to the liberty tree, if some
                                       of machine: the gun.                    and make the Holy Bible the law,       advice and got an air rifle and a       sharpshooter put a bullet in their
                                                                               getting that “eye for an eye” with     box of shotgun shells. The time
                                       Now I’m not saying you need                                                                                            eye. I’m not saying (in print) that
                                                                               a slingshot will be more sanitary      has come to duct tape a shotgun
                                       to get one, but you can never                                                                                          anybody should shoot the presi-
                                                                               than using your fingers.               shell to the end of your BB gun.
                                       be too careful what with this                                                                                          dent, but good citizen, get a BB
                                                                                                                      Be sure to line the BB’s path from      gun and work on your aim. Soon
                                       Arthur magazine monkeying                             air riFLe
                                                                                                                      the barrel so it hits the firing cap    we may have to provide a clear
                                       around with these new-fangled           Don’t let the word “rifle” fool you.   on the shotgun shell. If you wait
                                       technology bombs. Of course you                                                                                        mandate that these criminals will
                                                                               It’s nothing but a toy which, with     until the last minute, it only takes
                                       are scared of guns because the                                                                                         not be able to misinterpret.
                                                                               a little duct tape, can be modified    a minute.
                                       liberal media constantly portrays       into a directional claymore mine                                               Hanging chads won’t matter when
                                       people misusing these valuable                                                 Once the trigger is pulled, the BB      it’s time to hang George, dear
                                                                               should an emergency situation
                                       tools. The smart hipster won’t let                                             will travel up the barrel and hit       patriot.
                                       crappy television writers’ abuse of                                            the cap. The cap then explodes,
                                       the pistol as a modern day Deus         Your dad should have given you a       sending birdshot flying to poke
                                       Ex Machina divert her from the          BB gun when you were eight, but        little holes in everything for about
                                       path of preparedness. Just think        since he didn’t love you enough        30 feet square in front of you,
                                       of a gun as one of those “Talking       to let you own the gift of freedom,    resulting in the distinctive stria-

                                 62                                                                                                                                                    Arthur// July, 2006   Arthur// July, 2006   63
64   Arthur// July, 2006

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