Thursday, October 29, 2009

Chuck Biscuits, RIP?

Very sad news, just in from The Daily Swarm:

Legendary hard rock drummer Chuck Biscuits, whose lengthy résumé included stints in such flagship underground acts as Black Flag and Social Distortion, died Saturday after a prolonged battle with throat cancer. He was 44… Chuck Biscuits was probably best known to the general populous for his work with Danzig. Beginning in 1988, Chuck played on that group’s first four albums, which are often hailed as Danzig’s best (thanks in no small part to Chuck’s powerful drumming style).

UPDATE: It's unclear whether this is actually true. James Greene Jr., the writer who first reported this, based on emails from someone claiming to be Chuck's wife, says that he has been contacted by family members, who deny it, but in an email to me he said he's still trying to verify it.

The vengeance of the mommy?

Oh, sorry, the vengeance of the mummy. Got it.

Note: That ain’t no ordinary gringo mummy, nor are those luchadoras any ordinary damsels!

(Thanks, Wrong Side of the Art.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

CMJ, MJ, obits

I’m covering CMJ like a chicken with his head tweeted off, including the four-word reviews that in the past people seem to have liked, though I haven’t done in a while.

The reason last night was my first out for CMJ instead of Tuesday: my report today on the Michael Jackson movie.

In other news: Alberto Testa, the Italian lyricist who wrote “Quando Quando Quando,” died on Monday at age 82. (Made famous in the U.S. by Pat Boone, in translation; Connie Francis did it in Italian.)

This follows news of the death of singer Carli Boni a few days ago, at 84. She did a lovely Italian version of “Johnny Guitar.”

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

‘Here Comes Your Man’ stage video, and Pixies news

With visual reference to the original videos of both “Here Comes Your Man” and “Head On,” this plays as the stage backdrop while the Pixies do “Here Comes Your Man” on their current Doolittle tour, which has been going through Europe this month and arrives in the U.S. via Los Angeles in two weeks, with opening acts. “has been attacked by hackers in China,” and apparently as a result, the band has changed its official Twitter account from @pixiesmusic to simply @pixies. UPDATE: Now they say that is unhacked and “running clean as a whistle,” but they’re still on the new Twitter account.

Black Francis is eating fancy sandwiches.

Joey Santiago has ... “hamtrhax”?

Friday, October 16, 2009

narcocracy, n.

1. A body of people responsible for the implementation of drug laws. rare.

1983 National Rev. (Nexis) 29 Apr. 492 The National Research Council report of June 21, 1982 ... was promptly suppressed by the narcocracy because it questions the efficacy of marijuana prohibition and advocates complete decriminalization and the consideration of legalization.

2. An elite or dominant group of people whose wealth derives from the trade in illegal drugs; a government or state dominated by such a group. Cf. narcokleptocracy n.

1985 A. Henman in A. Henman et al. Big Deal v. 141 Informal narcocracy would ... come to mean a political system which ... is governed by a legal and ideological need to appear to be suppressing its principal economic activity, the production of illicit drugs. 1987 Times 18 Dec. 7/5 The temperature has hit 20°C in Palermo this week, causing something of a problem for the wives of the new rich, the ‘narcocracy’, ... itching to wear their fur coats. 1995 Arkansas Democrat-Gaz. (Nexis) 18 July 7b, It’s really disgusting ... A complete sellout to the narcocracy. 2000 Bangkok Post (Nexis) 10 Dec., Colombia, to be blunt, has been known as a narcocracy for a decade.

Copyright © Oxford University Press

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Michael Jackson graphic novel?

MBV tipped me off to this report in Publishers Weekly yesterday about the industry chatter from the Frankfurt Book Fair. Apparently Michael Jackson had been working on a graphic novel called Fated with Gotham Chopra, son of Deepak, and now, according to Publishers Weekly, a Random House imprint is preparing to release it.

The plot sounds eerily, perfectly MJ:

The book, Fated, is about a Jackson-esque pop icon named Gabriel Star whose fame has left him isolated and emotionally cut-off. After a suicidal swan dive from his hotel one night, Star survives only to see his celebrity grow and discover that he’s becoming, per the publisher, “something not quite human.”

I can only hope that Paul Anka had something to do with it.

Another case of Obama imagery ‘plagiarism’?

You remember the whole controversy over Shepard Fairey’s Obama picture. Now there’s another case in which an artist is being accused of stealing editorial imagery without credit.

Noli Novak, one of the artists who creates the distinctive “hedcut” stipple portraits for the Wall Street Journal, has complained on her blog about José-María Cano, a Spanish artist (and musician), who makes large-scale wax paraffin portraits based on the Journal hedcuts, which have earned him, as Novak puts it, “recognition, praise and ka-ching.”

She takes issue with his approach, calling it “a bold case of plagiarism (?)”:

He cuts out portraits from papers, blows them up and painstakingly recreates them in wax paraffin ... dot by dot. He’s flying under the cover of “newspaper clipping” appropriation, but does that apply in this case? I say no way Jose!

Here’s an example of his work. On the left is his Obama picture, from his “Wall Street Journal Wax Museum” series, and on the right is Novak’s original:

And here’s some of that ka-ching, in situ at the Dox Center for Contemporary Art in Prague:

It’s almost exactly the same situation as Fairey: an artist has taken an image from a news source and recontextualized it. In Cano’s case he even clearly revealed its source; by placing the hedcut within columns of type, one could argue, he could be making a more general comment about a public figure’s imprisonment within the narrow bars of the news media. It’s Warhol’s soup cans — nothing new.

Except for two things. First, Cano’s picture — and every one he does has the same schtick — is a careful recreation of a copyrighted image, hardly the abstracted interpretation and “radically different message” that Fairey claimed about his own work.

Second, Novak would have a strong argument for artistic intent. Mannie Garcia, the freelance Associated Press photographer who took the picture that served as Fairey’s source, has said more than once that he captured that shot of Obama simply by shooting in quantity. “I want to avoid calling myself an artistic photographer,” he told Terry Gross. “ ‘Wire guy,’ I am comfortable with that.” But Novak clearly thinks of herself as an artist, even if an artist for hire.

Does she have a case? Better yet, does Rupert Murdoch?

(Via Romenesko.)

UPDATE: Some pretty major Shepard Fairey news, in case you didn’t see it elsewhere:

Shepard Fairey, the artist whose “Hope” poster of Barack Obama became an iconic emblem of the presidential campaign, has admitted that he lied about which photograph from The Associated Press he used as his source, and that he then covered up evidence to substantiate his lie. (NYT)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Flea: ‘I felt profoundly validated to be accepted by Brendan Mullen’

Weird to be mentioning Flea — and to be writing about death — for a second time in two weeks, but today in the LA Times he has a nice remembrance of Brendan Mullen, the LA punk godfather who died on Monday.

Randy Lewis and Chris Morris also wrote respectful obits of Mullen, who co-wrote the oral history We Got the Neutron Bomb.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Johnston clarification: Not really Frogger

Seth Schiesel reviews Hi, How Are You, the new iPhone video game based to some degree on Daniel Johnston iconography. Earlier coverage portrayed it as “a kind of psycho-religious version of Frogger,” but Schiesel sets the record straight:

Frogger is about dodging objects in motion and jumping from one moving platform to another. Hi, How Are You is about tilting the iPhone itself to direct a little cartoonlike figure along pathways suspended in space without falling off. (You can also put your finger on a virtual joystick on the iPhone screen instead of using the motion-sensitive tilt controls.)

So in its game play Hi, How Are You is very similar to Sega’s eight-year-old Super Monkey Ball franchise, a parallel that becomes obvious partway through, when you transition from controlling a bouncing cube with eyes to controlling a rolling ball with eyes.


Monday, October 12, 2009


A day of shocking Michael Jackson news. First, the critics had barely even had time to file their mehs about “This Is It” before Paul Anka came out swinging over being erased from the songwriting credits. The estate acknowledged the mistake — not after two days of fan complaints, mind you, but after the appearance of the word “sue” — and, according to Anka, has vowed to make good.

More significant, though, is the accusation levied by two or three older ladies at a Ninth Avenue coffeeshop this afternoon that Jackson stole the Moonwalk from Curly Stooge. A little googling revealed it to be perhaps not such a crazy idea, though I have yet to see definite proof. For now, this will have to do:

Saturday, October 10, 2009

New York mourns Suzanne Fiol

Suzanne Fiol, who founded Issue Project Room, died this week, and there has been an extraordinary outpouring of affection and support, for both her and Issue. Considering the place that Issue has carved out for itself, it’s hard to believe that it opened only six years ago — and has been in three spaces since then, in two boroughs. (The Stone is only two years younger.)

Zach Baron at the Village Voice, Christopher McIntyre at New Music Box, Glenn Kenny (“Issue was a completely fucking awesome joint”), Matana Roberts (who is artist in residence this fall), Alex Ross, Vice, Edwin Torres (“Suzanne infused her fierce belief in experimental culture as a spark for artists to bring change into the world”), Kurt Gottschalk, the Brooklyn Paper (Lee Ranaldo: “She was a whirlwind of ideas and energy”) and Feast of Music (“Suzanne was equal parts den mother and junkyard dog”) all wrote touchingly about her.

Marty Markowitz, who gave Issue the $1.1 million loan grant that will allow it to renovate and occupy its amazing new space at 110 Livingston Street in Brooklyn, made a statement, and the Daily Swarm collected a wave of Twitter comments.

Fiol died of cancer, and she was disarmingly frank about it. When I interviewed her a few months ago about the Markowitz grant, the first thing she said was: “I have brain cancer, so if I freeze up in the middle of saying something just give me a minute.” She spoke enthusiastically about all the things she wanted to do at the new space, including a library or archive, even though I think it was clear to her and everyone at Issue that her illness was terminal. That was nothing, though. One person I spoke to when writing her obituary said that just a few weeks ago she had taken him out to the Standard Hotel to talk about fundraising and “drank me under the table.”

She got her start in the gallery world, and was an accomplished photographer. Among the shots you may have seen are the cover of Marc Ribot’s 2001 album Saints (left). Marc — who was one of the very first performers at Issue, with his Frantz Casseus project — told me that the ghostly/angelic figure in it is Suzanne’s daughter, Sarah, who I’m told is an artist too.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Kyp Malone on Popcast

Tooting own horn dept.:

This week on Popcast, the Times’s weekly music podcast, we have a visit from Kyp Malone of TV on the Radio, who sat down for a friendly interview and played a song live from his new solo project, Rain Machine. It was pretty cool to watch his voice wake up over the five minutes or so of recording the song, “Free Ride.”

The segment also includes Jon Pareles on Gossip and Ben Ratliff on Fred Hammond. Listen to it here, and subscribe to Popcast here. Rain Machine is on tour now, coming to the Bowery Ballroom on Oct. 24 for CMJ.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Yorke + Flea = Good

My take on Thom Yorke’s still-unnamed new band is online now.