Yo quiero estar anarchy

Black Sabbath created the first commercial music I ever purchased, a life altering experience. I’ve just heard a tango version of Nativity in Black that has rewired my brain all over again. The neurosurgeon in this case is six-foot, blonde frontwoman Storm Large (described as “a Vargas pin-up girl come to life and shot up with a cocktail of PCP and rabies”) and one of her bands, the Balls.

The sound is, evidently, called “loungecore”, a strange mix of lounge music and metal/industrial sensibility. It boasts a good deal of mash-up work that could only be done by live musicians. You can’t just mash samples of Ministry’s Stigmata and Van Morrison’s Moondance and make it sound anywhere as good as the Balls do. That, and combinations of Abba and Iron Butterfly are what make Hanging With the Balls such a blast.

It seems like all the bands that are turning me on recently are from Portland, for some reason. Might be worth a trip out there.

How to destroy a modern record company

One of the reasons mainstream music has become significantly less interesting in the past decade has been the major label’s embrace of the superstar marketing model. In previous decades, studios expended effort in building “career artists”, bands that would build a fan base who would buy record after record. This has given way to a “pump and dump” strategy, where debut albums are marketed aggressively and milked for a brief period, then the artist is abandoned. Superstar marketing is the pinnacle of this business model, where a single star is massively marketed in every way possible, almost to exclusion of the label’s other acts.

This sells a lot of the superstar’s albums and makes tons of money for the label. For the superstar, there isn’t much evidence that this will lead to strong career. In an analysis of long term successful albums Chris Johnson observes that, in spite of making millions, there is…:

…considerable evidence to suggest that when Britney [Spears] stops being pushed on the market by her record company, sales will fall off a cliff.…There are very few acts post-1990 that can boast platinum certifications more than a year after release.…The promoters will just as happily push Hanson as Bob Dylan, Spice Girls as Aretha Franklin: they are completely agnostic on the quality front.…In effect, the record labels cannot afford to build artist careers anymore. They can only afford to milk the current promotional mechanism.

I think this is fantastic because it suggests a way to hasten the demise of such record companies, which have become relics clinging to outdated methods instead of offering me the products that I want. The strategy to do so lies in the answer to the following question: If, hypothetically, Britney Spears were to vanish in some way (sudden retirement, injury, plane crash, etc.) what would that do to the financials of her label and the company that owns it. If such an event were unexpected, it’s fair to say that Jive Records would need to scramble to survive and would have a fair chance of collapsing. Sony would, unfortunately, fair better, being more diversified, but would take a financial hit as well.

By putting their eggs in one basket, record labels leave themselves open to attacks aimed at destroying the basket that don’t cost very much. All a dedicated group of people would need to is target the major superstars of a label all at once and bring them down with smear campaigns and/or industrial espionage (e.g. stealing and destroying master tracks before they can be published, injecting random signals into a CD production, etc.). Since the media largely no longer check facts, they would be useful accomplices. A clever group could probably do the whole thing without even breaking the law.

Sound of silence

A month ago, I posted a list of song lyrics with a challenge for my readers to identify them. My plan at the time was to post the answers after a month had gone by. In the interim, however, there have been zero responses, which means that some or all of the following are true:

  • I have no readers
  • The list was overly difficult
  • The list was overly long
  • My readers are lazy bastards
  • My readers are apathetic and grumpy

Whatever the reason, I’ve now resolved to never post a solution to the original list, but will leave it up for the intrepid. C’mon, surely you can at least guess one or two! As for the difficulty and length, I also offer the following, alternate list:

  1. I wanna rock and roll all night
  2. I am Iron Man
  3. It’s a small world, after all
  4. Silent night, holy night
  5. Goodness, gracious, great balls of fire

Ripping my CD collection

This has been done before, so it’s not an original idea, but it’s long. Identify the lyrics in the following list (without using a search engine). The only hint you get is that I either own the album containing the lyric, or have performed it live for an audience at some point. Oh, and no band is repeated, though some artists may be. Some of these may be overly easy, others are nearly impossible. Post your guesses.

  1. Impotence. Boomerang. I’ll stab you.
  2. I’m worse at what I do best
  3. Bein’ alone’s a nowhere state of mind
  4. Feel me in your bones
  5. And, every night, I shut my eyes so I don’t have to see the light
  6. But singers and songs will never change it alone
  7. But, I ain’t never punched a tourist
  8. If you can feel what I’m feeling then it’s a musical masterpiece
  9. Although we both lie close together, we feel miles apart inside
  10. There’s just five words to say as you go down
  11. The ashtray’s full and I’m spillin’ my guts
  12. Everything I want the world to be is now coming true, especially for me
  13. No matter the pain, he ought to be unwinceable
  14. I’ve been everything you want to be
  15. Since birth I’ve been cursed with this curse to just curse
  16. She says it’s lack of sex that’s bringing me down
  17. Here I lie, in a lost and lonely part of town, held in time
  18. But many came, to much for Cree
  19. Scabbed knees and rice
  20. Je veux aller au bout de me fantasmes
  21. I know you, little libertine
  22. Your prison is walking through this world all alone
  23. He moves through space with minimum waste
  24. I drip steam like a microphone fiend
  25. My energy’s spent at last and my armor is destroyed
  26. Help me, I’m flaming. I must be a hundred and nine.
  27. It took a rumor to make me wonder
  28. Don’t believe in anything that you can’t break
  29. There’s a dead salmon frozen in a waterfall
  30. I take things off to clear my head
  31. Hey, Mr. Moonlight wont’cha follow me down? I need the company.
  32. Your pride has built a wall
  33. Half my life is in books’ written pages
  34. Dressed for the battle but not fatigued, my hat’s made of metal to avoid debris
  35. Jenata iazdi samotna
  36. Got my pills ’gainst mosquito death
  37. Here come the planes. Please form a straight line.
  38. Mom, please flush it all away
  39. Picture this. Paint a picture. Picture perfect. Paint a perfect picture.
  40. I am losing my mind. My head’s on the floor, for evermore.
  41. Don’t think ’cause I understand, I care
  42. Next to her cheap silicone, I look minimal
  43. No serenade, no fire brigade
  44. His days of asking are all gone
  45. Won’t go to Harlem in ermine and pearls
  46. Reflections in the waves spark my memory
  47. It could be normal but it isn’t quite
  48. Giant, ape-like invaders swim the river to New York
  49. Funny how my memory slips while looking over manuscripts
  50. Two eyes from the east
  51. Who knows? Maybe you were kidnapped, tied-up, taken away, and held for ransom
  52. I’ve felt the coldness of my winter
  53. Cuius latum perforatum aqua fluxit et sanguine
  54. I’m working, but I’m not working for you
  55. When in doubt, I whip it out
  56. Back street hoop star, you’ve got it good
  57. Burns like a red coal carpet, mad bull lost it’s way
  58. Daddy’s got a new .45
  59. Wake in the world with a clear conscience and clean hands
  60. Some people stand like trees, without a word
  61. London, Hamburg, Paris, Rome, Rio, Hong Kong, Tokyo
  62. If I swallow anything evil, put your fingers down my throat
  63. Dorsum nudum fero tui sceleris
  64. Convenience is the enemy
  65. I’ll get home early from work if you say that you love me
  66. To leather, to dildos, to curry vindaloo
  67. You make a move, I’ll make you feel like a human target
  68. He hears the silence howling, catches angels as they fall
  69. Sometimes you tell the day by the bottle that you drink
  70. And when I hurt, hurtin’ runs off my shoulders
  71. Breathe into me and make me real
  72. Put your straitjackets on tonight
  73. Have they lost their heads, or are they just all blind mice? We’ve heard all their stories one too many times.
  74. He’d give up all his comforts and sleep out in the rain
  75. Those not so blessed would be crying out murder
  76. Yes, I believe, but I’d rather not pray
  77. Give me your dollar whores
  78. Wider baby smiling you’ve just made a million
  79. You’re lucky to even know me. You’re lucky to be alive.
  80. Who will stay when the rain is fallin’ and won’t let it fall on you?
  81. Put the needle on the record while the drum beats go like this
  82. They’re borders and boots on top of us, pullin’ knobs on the floor of their toxic metropolis
  83. Night blooms will whisper to me “I’m lonesome as I can be”
  84. I will stand firm in the tempest
  85. Your CIA, you see I ain’t kiddin’
  86. I’m hard, but I’m friendly, baby
  87. I gave you a golden ring to show you my love, you went to stick it in a printed circuit to fix a voltage leak in your collector
  88. My fantasy has turned to madness
  89. I missed the bus and there’ll be hell today
  90. We are watered down and fully grown
  91. I left my body laying somewhere in the sands of time
  92. Please, I want a silver kitchen knife. I feel like taking a life.
  93. Your cotton ain’t rotten, just needs to be picked
  94. Snarling equinox among the rocks will seize you
  95. But the wind blows stronger, cold and long
  96. Like a drifter, I was born to walk alone
  97. You smile as I sip
  98. But look at Epitaph. He wins it by a half.
  99. The roar of guns and cannons almost made me cry
  100. I’m telling you, the tribesmen wouldn’t stand for this, man
  101. When I get through throwing it on you, you gotta come back for more
  102. Tied to machines that make me be
  103. Bought a beat up six string in a secondhand store
  104. This girl was in her working clothes
  105. I don’t like a thing about your sister
  106. A built-in remedy for Kruschev and Kennedy
  107. I got to laugh, ’cause I know I’m gonna die
  108. I know you’ll be a star in somebody else’s sky.
  109. And where are all the gods?
  110. No, I’m not here to harm you; I only want to kill
  111. I had to tell them, baby, you were armed with all you’d need
  112. My favorite weapon is the look in your eyes
  113. …but first, take care of head
  114. It’s not so pretty when it fades away
  115. Run in the shadows. Damn your love. Damn your lies.
  116. The billions shift from side to side
  117. Like staring at the sun, such gorgeous destruction
  118. The doctor came in, stinking of gin, and proceeded to lie on the table
  119. I saw the seven phials open, the plague claimed man and son
  120. He gave his life for tourism
  121. I missed ten million miles of road I should have seen
  122. She obliterated everything she kissed
  123. It’s the same old theme since 1916
  124. The cutout magazines remind me
  125. You’ll be dead before your time is due, I know
  126. We have nothing here except ourselves
  127. The comfort you’ve demanded is now mandatory
  128. The great almighty dollar leaves you lonely, lost and hollow
  129. Give me my freedom, and then you lock me in a tomb
  130. I’m goin’ down in it three times but, Lord, I’m only comin’ up twice
  131. Past eight by tens in shattered frames
  132. In Bengal, to move at all is seldom, if ever, done
  133. Some balls are held for charity, and some for fancy dress
  134. And you, you are a victim of this age
  135. I’m about to ruin the image and the style that you’re used to
  136. Tell me: when did the light die?
  137. The soul I took from you was not even missed
  138. Hey, cool cat, does this apply to you?
  139. Trade in your hours for a handful of dimes
  140. I’m a five foot mirror for adoring himself
  141. Men drinking beer with the foam afloat heard…
  142. All this machinery making modern music can still be open hearted
  143. Later on, they discovered this would make a great way of life for them
  144. …only stupid people are breeding, the cretins cloning and feeding
  145. I’m gonna hurt you if it happens twice
  146. Did you exchange a walk on part in the war for a leading role in a cage?
  147. I could change my life to better suit your mood
  148. I seek to cure what’s deep inside, frightened of this thing that I’ve become
  149. The dusty road that’s ahead will be my board and my bed ’til what I am looking for is found
  150. Keep smiling until then

Necklace question

The film Timerider featured a motorcyclist who accidentally goes back in time to the old west. Being hunky, he naturally beds a local babe and while basking in the afterglow, she asks him about his necklace, which is this misshappen hunk of metal. He informs her that his grandmother stole it from his grandfather and it was passed down to him. Later, in the dramatic finale, the motorcyclist is hanging from a helicopter, dangling a few feet from the babe. She reaches out and takes his necklace, just before the time portal closes and he is returned to his present. So, the big reveal is that the babe is the motorcyclist’s grandmother, implying that he is is own grandfather. Roll credits.

Since seeing this movie when I was 14 or so, my question has always been: who made the necklace?

Looks like I’ll miss my chance to ask those who might know how to resolve such a time paradox, as I’ll not be in Boston this Saturday. Thus, I’ll miss the time-traveller’s convention (of which, there need be only one). Perhaps I can travel back to it someday, necklace and all.

Not your average old boys network

Of the benefits provided by an Ivy League education, exposure to the “old boys network” supposedly tops the list. You join the ranks of powerful, fat, balding white men who smoke cigars in dark, Victorian rooms and do each other favors. Naturally, if it ever really worked like that, it doesn’t anymore. This is not to say that no networking exists, just that the networks built these days are less likely to include CEO’s, senators and the gnomes of Zürich. More often, you’ll find a diverse bunch, scattered world-wide and doing some interesting stuff.

A casual mention of a band I’d never heard of during an internet meander brought this home to me. Being in “random surf” mode, I took a look at the band, named Pink Martini. Their style is a bit difficult to describe, but I’d call it “world lounge”. If “Song of the Black Lizard” and some of their instrumental stuff sounds familiar, you probably heard it on the Sopranos. “Let’s Never Stop Falling in Love” is also now used in a self-promo piece on one of the Starz! channels.

A reading of their bio page revealed the group to be the brainchild of Thomas M. Lauderdale, a name I hadn’t heard in over a decade. I didn’t know him that well. We exchanged maybe a couple of sentences. I knew of him, of course. The Crimson called him the “eternal cheerleader” of the place in which we both lived. That article doesn’t really do him justice, though. In the first place, it lacks the picture that ran with the original article, the close-up of him making out with the statue of John Harvard, compositionally one of the best shots the paper ever published. In the second place, it makes him sound like one of the annoying throng of fabulous men who do outrageous things in a desperate attempt to seem interesting. Thomas wasn’t like that; he really is interesting.

My primary memory of Thomas is during a party he put together for freshman (like me) who would be moving to the house the following term. His events deserved their good reputation. I met him twice that night briefly, once while he wore a tux, then later when he traded it in for a gown. Not your average old boy for sure. I don’t know him well enough to truly consider him part of my “network”, but if I asked him for a favor, I have a feeling he’d probably do it. He seemed like that kind of guy.

Meanwhile, I’m happy to pimp for his band. Check out Pink Martini. “Amado Mio” and “Hang On Little Tomato” are the only things that have been able to break my cycle of listening to a handful of DJ Earworm tracks over and over. Also, if you’re in Boston, check them out when they play with the Pops on May 18-21.