Tuesday, May 27, 2014

DYNAMITE HEMORRHAGE RADIO #38

New show with a stunning array of berserk musical acts from about 1973 to the present - it's Dynamite Hemorrhage Radio #38, and I hope you choose to listen to it. The first track, a newer-than-new, skittering one-minute spastic artpunk jam from Northwest Indiana's CCTV, will have you hooked for another hour - on this you shall mark my words

Other new bands in the mix this time include BATTY, HLEP, EASTLINK, GOOD THROB, PARQUET COURTS and DARK TIMES; I've also got some new reissues/unearthings from The Spies, X__X, Jack Ruby and Dadamah, plus a bunch of library material from the likes of The Minutemen, Clinic, Solger, Half Japanese (pictured), Union Carbide Productions and more. And if for some reason you enjoy this show, you'll find comfort in the fact that there are 37 additional hours of Dynamite Hemorrhage programming that you're free to download as well.

Download Dynamite Hemorrhage Radio #38.
Stream or download Dynamite Hemorrhage Radio #38 on Soundcloud.
Subscribe to the show on iTunes.

Track listing:

CCTV - Mind Control
HLEP - Drunk Cop
OPPOSITE SEX - La Rat
THE MINUTEMEN - Afternoons
CLINIC - IPC Subeditors Dictate Our Youth
THE SPIES - Egyptian Bird Song
PARQUET COURTS - Sunbathing Animal
THE SPITS - Get Our Kicks
THE BEGUILED - Fire Rock (That Nagging Voice)
GOOD THROB - Acid House
X__X - No No
DADAMAH - Violet Stains Red
BATTY - Summoning Call
UNION CARBIDE PRODUCTIONS - Financial Declaration
JACK RUBY - Bored Stiff
1/2 JAPANESE - Hey Laurie
WHITE FENCE - Growing Faith
DARK TIMES - Girl Hate
CRISIS - PC 1984
SOLGER - A Man
HECTOR - Wired Up
EASTLINK - What A Silly Day (Australia Day)

Some past shows:
Dynamite Hemorrhage #37    (playlist)
Dynamite Hemorrhage #36    (playlist)
Dynamite Hemorrhage #35    (playlist)
Dynamite Hemorrhage #34    (playlist)
Dynamite Hemorrhage #33    (playlist)
Dynamite Hemorrhage #32    (playlist)

Monday, May 26, 2014

ON THE ISLA VISTA MURDERS AND OUR MALIGNANT GUN CULTURE

Eighteen months ago, shocked and stunned by the horrific murder of 20 young children by a barrage of semiautomatic gunfire, I wrote an angry piece that felt like common sense to me, effectively positing (as many others have) that we, the American people, have proven through our actions that we can't be trusted to maintain a gun ownership society. It's something that we just love to prove, over and over again, don't we? Yet we're now further from gun sanity than we've ever been, and the mass, indiscriminate murder continues. After Newtown, I swore I wouldn't just blog from the sidelines. I participated in vigils; I repeatedly gave extra money to Sandy Hook Promise and Americans for Responsible Solutions; I started using gun issues as a litmus test in my own voting choices; I even found a glimmer of hope when the president took on the NRA and tried to fight the good fight in late 2012/early 2013.

None of it did a thing. The bloodbaths continue. This weekend I got to experience the continuation of my utter hopelessness as I learned about the 7 murders in Isla Vista, at my alma mater of UC-Santa Barbara. I lived in Isla Vista for three years; the streets where these people were murdered are very well known to me, even the Alpha Phi sorority house that was across the street from one of my residences there in the late 1980s. Many of us who are parents rightly worried/still worry about the psychotic mass murder of our children at elementary school, something I never thought about before Sandy Hook. I never worried about someone walking into a movie theater and gunning down the front row – but it sometimes crosses my mind now. And now I'll add my son going to college in eight years – how bad will this all be by then? Is this just something I need to suck up, and factor in as an altogether possible way that my son, my wife or I might die? Horrifically and randomly, at a mall, at school or at work?

Virginia Tech, Isla Vista, Columbine – there'll always be someone who's overwhelmingly sexually frustrated or socially isolated, and yet without guns, these crimes dramatically lessen in impact and scope. People were stabbed, too – I understand that. I'm not ready to outlaw knives, and I am willing to live with those consequences. Yes, there was a misogyny angle this time, and I think it's great to use that as instructive fodder to help address those malignancies in male culture as well. Other gun crimes don't have misogynistic elements. They all have guns, though.

Jesus, enough with the "mental illness" red herring as well. I'm sick of it. Are there really two common denominators in all of these crimes? Mental illness and easy-attained guns? No, I'll submit that there is always one, and one only: GUNS. "Mental illness", while diagnosable, is in the clinical eye of the beholder. There are mentally ill among us now; because they're not carrying guns that were manufactured for the express purpose of killing people (you hope), they aren't now posing an imminent, lightning-fast lethal threat to you and all of the people standing or sitting near you.

Wait, I already wrote about this the last time I chose to follow one of our many atrocities with a blog post:

"….While I absolutely support rapid breakthroughs and discoveries in the science and practice of treating mental health issues, I reject the "early intervention" red herring that's getting so much play by people desperately looking to change the subject. It doesn't take much to imagine how this desired "early intervention" in the lives of the depressed or troubled plays out in practice, vis-a-vis preventing the next massacre. It's too easy for overzealous mental health professionals, backed by the power of the state, to label a sullen teen or a quiet loner a menace to society, and to curtail their freedom of movement accordingly. Better science and non-coercive treatment, yes. More aggressive labeling and ostracism, no. Is it really too much to ask to simply make it impossible for them to buy a gun? And while we're at it, not let you or me buy one either?"

Anyway, it's not happening. When the Santa Barbara cops knocked on the kid's door and came away saying he was polite, articulate and fine, I'm sure he was. They weren't going to put him in a straightjacket, nor would we have wanted them to. I would, however, have been happy if the kid's freedoms had been abridged a little, and when he went to the gun show or gun store to buy the weapons he ultimately used to slay the sorority sisters, they weren't there – because we'd finally sobered up as a society, and outlawed those gun stores and the gun shows, as well as the manufacture of guns designed to kill people (as opposed to deer and ducks).

I work for a Norwegian company these days. Guess what the #1 question is that I get from my co-workers when I'm in Oslo? "What's the deal with the US and its guns??". I tell them it looks as insane from the inside as it does from without, but that even though a majority of my fellow citizens feel that way as well, everything from feckless politicians to testosterone to a sickening gun culture that feeds upon itself is to blame. 


Meanwhile, the mass death continues! I would say don't lose hope, but I've personally lost hope – and I swore that I wouldn't eighteen months ago. Is there a number that's large enough, even larger than "20 kindergartners and first-graders", before we take even the first step toward a sensible gun policy? What do we need to go through first to make changes – or is this just the new normal, as I'd mentioned, and something that we all now just need to deal with, an accepted reality in daily American life?

Saturday, May 17, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: "THE HARD WAY ON PURPOSE" by David Giffels

Perhaps because I’ve spent all of my adult life in a city, San Francisco, that people are forever coming to, I’ve had a perverse fascination with those places in America that people leave, and even with godforsaken places that only scattered handfuls of people try to make a go of in the first place (Dayton Duncan’s “Miles From Nowhere” being a great example). David Giffels illuminates his lifelong city of Akron, Ohio – a place I’ve personally never set foot in – in a superb set of essay-length reflections and explanations that gets to the root of both his city’s and his own psyche. The city’s, and that of the Rust Belt in general, is one of bootstrapped hard work, loss, and a collective sense of “almost”. We almost got the Browns to Super Bowl. We almost had the best punk/new wave scene in the country in the late 70s (Akron – home of Devo, Tin Huey, the Rubber City Rebels and many others). We almost kept LeBron James from leaving his hometown of Akron and the state of Ohio – and so on.

Through nearly two dozen pieces, Giffels uses various expository devices to try and definitively crack the Akron nut, always with humor and plenty of humility. Childhood memories, ambivalent meditations on “ruin porn”, historical treatises on the company buildings that made Akron “the rubber city”, and a highly skeptical look at Akron’s claim to have invented the hamburger are among the pleasures to be had. Giffels puts his personal stamp on virtually every piece; for instance, the hamburger piece also includes him eating nothing but hamburgers for a week straight. Giffels also threads in much discussion of Akron’s underground music scene in the 80s, which he himself participated in via an unnamed punk band (perhaps someone you or I have even heard of, though I’m too lazy to Google it right now), with an especially funny piece about his friend’s art gallery complex being invaded by “anarchy girls” and industrial-music freaks from Philadelphia for one night only.

His own psyche and relation to the city that nurtured it is displayed in his endless fascination with Akron’s industrial past and his near-messianic desire to preserve and build upon that past – not in the historical documentation sense, though “The Hard Way On Purpose” does include a bit of that. His preservation instincts are actually quite literal – repurposing found bricks from demolished factories to build a pathway, for instance, or in buying the most ruined ornate old Tudor house in the neighborhood, for a song, just to fix it up to its former six-fireplace + servant’s quarters glory. Perhaps it’s a way of attempting to reverse the “decline” narrative that plagues this part of the country - quite deservedly, of course – one brick and one house at a time. Beyond this, of course, is the fact that Giffels is one of the few “born and raised and never left” Akron residents who knows only the Rust Belt era of the town. He stayed where most others didn’t, and it’s quite touching as he lists off the friends made and friends quickly lost in one poignant passage. It connects to the deeper whole of “loss” and of “almost” that pervades this terrific and well-written book about place, and our place within that place.

Monday, May 12, 2014

DYNAMITE HEMORRHAGE RADIO #37

It's another edition of our hour-long series of podcasts/mixtapes/fake radio shows called DYNAMITE HEMORRHAGE RADIO, coming to you for the 37th time since we kicked off this relatively rewarding endeavor late in 2012. I focused this one pretty laser-like on new stuff, both new bands and new reissues. In the former category, we've got stuff from Numb Bats, Good Throb, Advlts, Pang, Trick Mammoth, Constant Mongrel, Thee Oh Sees, Ausmuteants and Fleabite. Whoa. In the latter, I'm playing you things from Jack Ruby, X__X and Dadamah (pictured). Not one half bad.

See if you're buying one hour and 4 minutes of what we're selling - and please try some of the older shows while you're at it as well.

Download Dynamite Hemorrhage Radio #37.
Stream or download Dynamite Hemorrhage Radio #37 via Soundcloud.
Subscribe to the show and get 'em all via iTunes.

Track Listing:

DADAMAH - Absent and Erotic Lives
GOOD THROB - No Taste
ADVLTS - Raw Nerves
FLEABITE - Last Call
AUSMUTEANTS - 15 Frames Per Second
CONSTANT MONGREL - New Shapes
NUMB BATS - Cry Baby
JOHNNY BOY - You Are The Generation That Bought More Shoes and You Get What You Deserve
TRICK MAMMOTH - Doll
HOUSEHOLD - Never After
PANG - Relax
THE KIWI ANIMAL - Making Tracks
JACK RUBY - Hit and Run
MARS - Helen Forsdale
RED TRANSISTOR - Not Bite
THE GIZMOS - Mean Screen
X__X - A
BLACK BUG - Unicorn
THEE OH SEES - Encrypted Bounce 

Past Shows:
Dynamite Hemorrhage #36    (playlist)
Dynamite Hemorrhage #35    (playlist)
Dynamite Hemorrhage #34    (playlist)
Dynamite Hemorrhage #33    (playlist)
Dynamite Hemorrhage #32    (playlist)
Dynamite Hemorrhage #31    (playlist) 
Dynamite Hemorrhage #30    (playlist) 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: "ONCE YOU BREAK A KNUCKLE - STORIES" by D.W. Wilson

I found my way through about three quarters of the stories in D.W. Wilson's new collection "ONCE YOU BREAK A KNUCKLE" before concluding that I pretty much had the rough, blue-collar feel of working-class Western Canada nailed, and called it a rueful day. I'd been on a pretty good hot streak reading and enjoying unfamiliar authors who tackled similar terrain of the lost, the confused and the foregone, all living in misbegotten places far from our urban centers. Daniel Woodrell's "The Outlaw Album" was a good one mining this field for psychological pathos; even better was Jodi Angel's amazing "You Only Get Letters From Jail". Wilson's characters, all male and generally of good heart if not sound mind, work the construction sites and police forces of the Kootenay Valley in British Columbia, rubbing up often against the darker side of humanity: meth addicts, hockey-crazed dolts and troublesome and feisty women in many flavors. It had a lot to speak for it, including the NY Times review that made me buy it in the first place.

That said, I found it to be overwritten, with too many flourished crammed into paragraphs, and a certain grating conversational rhythm that didn't strike me as particularly "real" - a cardinal sin when trying to convey the desperate humanity lurking below the surface in our fellow citizens. At times Wilson descends into "hick" dialect and story-telling mannerisms, which is all well and good, considering his subject matter, but it sometimes seems so ham-handed it makes me want to fly up to Invermere and see if the "puck sluts" and working stiffs of the town could truly actually converse in this manner.

No question that Wilson's got some fine chops - I certainly didn't make it as far as I did in the book just to prove a point. He unwraps these seemingly tough men quite well at times, without having to take them through a crucible of pain or through major life events in order for us to get to some deeper sense of their missed opportunities and regrets. There are also some well-scripted portraits of dead-end towns, where everything fun more or less ends on high school graduation day, and adulthood comes crashing into full force as inelegantly as you can imagine, with quick divorces, unloved children and abandoned jobs in its wake. I see a few things to recommend in bits and spurts - just not in book length, I'm afraid.