Archive for July, 2008

Thom Robb: Klan Blogger

Monday, July 28th, 2008

Today I stumbled across the blog of Knights of the Ku Klux Klan head cheese Thom Robb.

It’s adorable, typos and all. Here are some highlights:

“Barack Obama, if elected, will try to take the bread from our children’s mouths and send it to Africa.”

“I want to thank all of those who have been praying for my recovery from the flu.”

“The repulsive little black kid that stared [sic] in the pro-race-mixing show of the 80‘s, Different Strokes has recently gotten married.”

“The Bible tells us that we should “not follow a multitude to do evil.”

“Surprisingly an awaken[sic] White populous[sic] would not only allow us to regain our racial integrity and survival but would also provide greater safety and a brighter future for Negroes as well.”

“I had written a post on my blog yesterday and as I went to post it I evidently hit the wrong key and it disappeared.”

But then my giggles subsided when I read his celebratory Black History Month address[1]. Caution: dander-raising ahead. Further shudders came from the White Pride Home Schooling website.

Fortunately he doesn’t seem to have many followers on the web, as I notice he gets about as many comments as I do, so I’m assuming his readership to be roughly the same size (10? 15? Feel free to give a show of hands here). His son has an apparently even less popular blog.

Some final amusements, though: the Knights’ website, http://kkk.bz/ was apparently registered by someone who thought they were getting .biz but instead got the top-level domain for Belize[2]. Also, on that site is a story with the headline, “Grizzly Hate Crime Gets NO National Attention.” For a moment I wondered if this was some kind of anti-bear, Stephen Colbert-inspired cross-mammalian hate crime, but I think they just meant “grisly.”

1.) The man’s deft satire is as sharp as a Nerf® basketball and his argument just as firm.
2.) White nationalists, if they in fact exist in Belize, are understandably peeved. Doubly so, since the Knights, as a non-profit organization, don’t qualify as a “biz” anyway.

Do Adjust Your Sets

Monday, July 28th, 2008

We’ve moved! We’re now located at the slightly less verbose address of pointedstick.net/colter rather than pointedstick.net/colter/journal. The last remnants of the Old Republic have been swept away. Adjust your RSS feeds, links and whatnot. My thanks to Heath for his script fu and ill science.

Tidying Up a Bit

Saturday, July 26th, 2008

I’ve done some cleaning, trying to fold in the various pages of my website into WordPress. Note at the top of the right-hand column that there are some new links. I’ve also taken out the old, odd navigation graphics that used to be further down, and the /colter/ address now takes you straight here. My website has officially succumbed to the blogging paradigm. Take a look at those new links, I’ve added some new commentary at the top of each for historical perspective.

I’m not sure what I’ll do with the old photo log. The Dogpatch pictures and many random others are on Flickr now. I guess I’ll just slowly toss the old pics in over time.

And then there’s the matter of the detritus. I have a lot of pages just sitting on the server that I need to delete. Ironically one of them gets the most traffic of any page on pointedstick, thanks to a link from some apparently very popular site in Australia. I need to set up Google AdSense on that page, but I’m lazy.

Greatest Hits

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

I’ve been on Flickr for three years now, and so I thought it might be a good idea to compile a “Best-Of” set. Check it out.

I haven’t been posting many links to pictures, but I have been taking a lot lately. Note the top of the right-hand column which always gives links to most recent six.

The Triumphant Return of Savage Steve Holland

Friday, July 18th, 2008

Savage Steve Holland, director of such classics as “Better Off Dead” and “One Crazy Summer” is returning to the land of motion picture directing with a new feature!

Ratko: The Dictator’s Son

With an All-Oddball Cast Starring:

Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite!
Adam West!
Mr. Belding from Saved by the Bell!
Curtis Armstrong (longtime Holland sidekick from “Better Off Dead” and “One Crazy Summer,” better known as Booger from “Revenge of the Nerds.”)

With the spate of “all that is 80′s is new again” apparently somebody thought it would be a good idea to give Savage Steve money for a movie. I can’t wait.

If you have a lot of free time on your hands, you can watch the entirety of “One Crazy Summer” in 10-minute chunks on youtube:

T-Shirt Nerd Glee

Friday, July 18th, 2008

I like t-shirts. I particularly enjoy wearing obscure t-shirts understood only by a few fellow enthusiasts (Achewood fans, Mike Keneally fans, musicians, etc.). I like wearing them because they’re often conversation starters for otherwise complete strangers. So when I wore my Latyrx shirt to the DJ Shadow/Cut Chemist show yesterday, I was in for a pleasant surprise.

Some background info: Latyrx was a duo comprised of rappers Lateef and Lyrics Born. They made one pretty great album and went their separate ways. I found my t-shirt at a thrift store on Atlantic here in Brooklyn for $2[1]. It didn’t start any conversations at the show, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that Lateef was one of the opening acts as part of a new duo, the Mighty Underdogs, with Gift of Gab from Blackalicious.

I was even more surprised when they did a Latyrx tune, and Lateef said “my man in the Latyrx shirt knows this one.”

1.) Score. Of. The. Year.

On Williamsburg

Sunday, July 13th, 2008

I’ve been meaning to organize my thoughts on this topic for a few weeks now (for anyone reading this that doesn’t already know, yes, I’m back in New York), but I’ve been devoting entirely too much time to playing Scrabble on Facebook with Shelley.

My first venture into Williamsburg was to find some guitar shops[1] I’d read about. I’d heard a great deal about the area as a haven for indie rock hipsters (which is to say, I watched this), and after finding my way around Bedford Street’s book vendors and amazing record store[2], I was actually impressed to find a neighborhood apparently dedicated to things I like. Admittedly my evaluation was surface-level, as I didn’t actually interact with any of the region’s denizens. I did not “make the scene” as the youngsters no longer say.

From the long view, Williamsburg seems to be a rather nifty enclave populated almost entirely by people in clever t-shirts. What’s not to like? Bars full of twentysomethings, a park full of kickball enthusiasts…books, records, guitars. I felt like the Bee Girl at the end of the Blind Melon video.

However, I have a tendency to see the best in any given person or situation. I often miss people’s flaws. Or at least I don’t see anything worth complaining about. It’s entirely likely that the average Williamsburg citizen is as shallow and status-seeking as the Manhattan social climbers of the capital S society set so well documented by Clay Felker’s New York magazine. If that’s the case, then it’s just another flight in the spiral staircase of irony that hipsters invariably construct. In attempting (or at least appearing to attempt) to opt out of fashion by shopping at thrift stores, and to opt out of popular music by listening exclusively to self-consciously unpopular music[3], indie rockers paint themselves into a cultural corner: can any lifestyle founded on obscurism authentically grow? If so, would it not be populated entirely by mutants?

At some point, inauthentic aping is inherent in the growth of any subculture. I’m reminded again of that quotation from Eric Hoffer that says that every cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and degenerates into a racket. Clearly indie rock hipsters have been a business for some time now. You can buy ironic thrift store knockoff t-shirts for $30 at Park Plaza Mall in Little Rock, and CBGB t-shirts at Hot Topic. The racket period has apparently set in now that you can buy those same knockoff shirts at Goodwill in Williamsburg for $2. If irony were gravitational, Williamsburg would be a Black Hole.

Still, the frosted side for the kid in me stops and says, “quit thinking.” Maybe it’s OK to enjoy this cast of Fellini-esque characters in studiously ratty tight jeans. Clearly I’ve joined them to some degree. I like odd t-shirts, Pabst, Chuck Taylors, and I carry an army surplus satchel, but I draw the line at tight jeans, ironic moustaches, stubble and Parliament Lights. I also listen to Winger unironically[4]. Thus I have no credibility in anyone’s eyes, really, but my own. But mine are the only ones that matter to me.

1.) One of which recently sold me my new Les Paul.
2.) Where I bought a great CD of orchestral music from the Seattle World’s Fair.
3.) And becoming insufferable critics of anything on a major label, while promoting an endless series of crummy bands like so many Emperors with No Clothes who become just as disposable as anything Top 40. The constant search for the Next Hippest Band Ever That You’re Not Cool Enough to Know About invariably breeds the same cycle of disposability as the pursuit of the Next Hottest Bland Pop Star. When Vampire Weekend’s 2nd album comes out, will anyone care?
4.) Perhaps the next stop on the Circus of Irony tour is the legitimization of 80′s metal, but I doubt it. Posers built on irony can’t accept posers built on hairspray. They’d have to stop taking themselves seriously to do it.

Localist Winds Down

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

Four years ago, Natalie recommended that I contact her friend TJ about writing for a local free magazine he was starting called Localist. I did, and eventually wound up doing several CD reviews and a couple of features (the Boondogs piece is online, but sadly the Ho-Hum piece isn’t). It was great fun, writing for no reason other than the desire to spread the word on music I love (and to dust off my meager writing skills, long dormant since college). I find it amusing that interviewing those bands for free was probably more fun than interviewing some famous acts for money[1].

Eventually Localist‘s editor ascended to Arkansas Times, and suddenly I was freelancing for them. And getting paid! Not much, of course, but enough to put “freelance writer” on my résumé.

And so now TJ is discontinuing the Localist. He’s a busy guy with other projects. I can’t help but feel, though, that Localist has helped to solidify and galvanize the creative community of Central Arkansas. I know it worked wonders for me. Were it not for Localist, I know I’d have fewer friends and even fewer writing opportunities.

1.) It also made me realize even more that the music industry is not a meritocracy, and that every city probably has national-level talent. The only thing that separates the Boondogs from, say, The New Pornographers, is luck, timing, and a good record label.

Happy Fourth

Friday, July 4th, 2008

America’s birthday might be good time to take stock of the last few years, so here’s a little excerpt from Hunter S. Thompson’s ESPN column from September 12, 2001.

The towers are gone now, reduced to bloody rubble, along with all hopes for Peace in Our Time, in the United States or any other country. Make no mistake about it: We are At War now — with somebody — and we will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives … It will be a Religious War, a sort of Christian Jihad, fueled by religious hatred and led by merciless fanatics on both sides. It will be guerrilla warfare on a global scale, with no front lines and no identifiable enemy.

We are going to punish somebody for this attack, but just who or what will be blown to smithereens for it is hard to say. Maybe Afghanistan, maybe Pakistan or Iraq, or possibly all three at once. Who knows? Not even the Generals in what remains of the Pentagon or the New York papers calling for WAR seem to know who did it or where to look for them.

This is going to be a very expensive war, and Victory is not guaranteed — for anyone, and certainly not for anyone as baffled as George W. Bush. All he knows is that his father started the war a long time ago, and that he, the goofy child-President, has been chosen by Fate and the global Oil industry to finish it Now. He will declare a National Security Emergency and clamp down Hard on Everybody, no matter where they live or why. If the guilty won’t hold up their hands and confess, he and the Generals will ferret them out by force.

The Lesson

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

Music history often bears unlikely fruit from strange seeds. I was amazed to discover recently that some of my favorite modern music – the audio collages of DJ Shadow and others who make albums purely from other albums – are part of a line that can be traced back to the novelty albums of the 1950′s by Buchanan & Goodman[1].

This fact was pointed out to me by underground hip-hop legend Steinski, in his recent interview with The Onion’s AV Club. He says:

“…certainly we’re in a direct line from these guys, from [Bill] Buchanan and [Dickie] Goodman. That would be probably the most obviously direct thing.”

This tripped me out because Dickie Goodman’s records were some of my favorite things to listen to as a kid. He made these odd singles where he’d interview folks and everything they would say would be a cut from a song. He made these records from the 1950s all the way into the 1980s, with my favorite being “Mr. Jaws.”

Despite not having any conventionally released albums, Steinksi’s impact is widespread among DJs and turntablists. His mid-80′s mashups set the stage for producers like Prince Paul to take the art of sampling to a new level. It’s entirely likely that you haven’t heard this cut before, but you’ve heard what has come after it (warning, this thing was mixed loud and is a bit distorted, sadly):

That 1985 track launched dozens of hit records from De La Soul’s Three Feet High and Rising to “Pump Up the Volume” by MARRS to “Bust a Move” by Young MC to “Turn This Mutha Out” by MC Hammer. There’s even a line in there from Dickie Goodman, a nod to his 1956 “Flying Saucer” single.

And so, going into the 1990s and 2000s, guys like DJ Shadow take that same concept and run with it, giving us stuff like this:

1.) In fact, if you want to get deeply granular into the history of hip-hop music, it probably starts with the fast-talking DJ’s of early rock radio. They were the DJs and MCs of rap pre-history.