by carl wilson

Eye Spy (or, Lit-Rock Revisited)
(and/or, Thursday Reading Revisited)

ken2.jpg
Literaoke: Poet Ken Babstock, red shirt on right, dances while poet Adam Sol, with microphone, belts out a horrible horrible song (unidentified).

I'd begun to fear that our friends at eye weekly were losing the plot, but the new issue is a banger from stem to stern, so I think the recent thinness was just due to a typical late-winter slump. Take a look:

1. The cover story is an interview with poet Ken Babstock, a Zoilus friend and verse hero, by Zoilus pal and kultcha heroine, Damian Rogers. (A poet herself, of Pontiac Quarterly fame, not to mention that she was Green Day Girl in High Fidelity.) Their dialogue brings us back to the "lit-rock" debatin' days of yore (see links here), with its sidebar of "Babstock Rock Trivia," noting not only that Ken's a former Vancouverite housemate of Dan (Destroyer, note: new website!) Bejar, but the use of Babstock poems by the Deadly Snakes, Rheostatics, Ron Hawkins and Jim Bryson. I love what Ken says about all this, which cuts through a lot of the posturing on all sides, especially the sourpuss defensive no-no-don't-let-those-moron-musicians-touch-the-poetry line (which is really just the mirror image of the don't-let-the-dickless-poets-touch-the-rawk line):

"One of the happiest things in the last few years, since my first two books came out, is finding out how there is a cross-genre interest. I grew up, like every other young person, loving music - pop music, indie rock and whatnot - and finding out that some of these bands that you're listening to are reading poetry is fantastic. It's wonderful because when you start writing poetry, this party line is drummed into you that only other poets, and possibly students, read poetry. And that's just bull.

"... [With] the whole do-it-yourself, post-punk, indie-rock ethic, maybe they see camaraderie in poetry as something that is just sort of a quiet pursuit with no hope of big dollars at the end."

(As the article says, Ken reads from his new book, Airstream Land Yacht, on April 5 with Bill Kennedy (who is also Zoilus's resident Web Roshi), Don McKay and Darren Wershler-Henry, 7:30 pm, $8 at Harbourfront, and at the Anansi Poetry Bash with Lynn Crosbie, Robin Robertson and Sharon Thesen, April 6, 6-9 pm, El Mocambo.)

2. Speaking of Destroyer, and not just to note once more the dawn of the aforesaid new official website!, Michael Barclay offers an alternate perspective on last weekend's show in Toronto. Obviously he's wrong, but he makes a case, which really only differs with me in degree not kind.

3. Wow, a full page devoted to Glissandro 70! Which is certain to be one of the Canadian recordings of the year. I'll write more about it next week, but meanwhile there's Friday's record-release show to get warmed up for, so read the piece. (By the way this one is easier to read online than on paper, because of what the hell is up with that layout.)

glissandro.JPG

4. Torontopia-wise, read the interview with John Lorinc, author of new book The New City, with fresh eyes on the whole Drake-you-whore histrionix on Queen Street West but also a global grasp on urban issues.

5. Denise Benson(oops) Dimitri Nasrallah conducts an intelligent conversation with avant-dumbfuck-sampling priest Jason Forrest aka Donna Summer, at Sneaky Dee's tonight w/ Ninja High School and Knifehandchop. Among other things, he points out the free mp3s available at his label Cock Rock Disco.

6. And Brian Joseph Davis continues his run of can't-miss book columns with a timely perusal de a couple pissed-off-French-cranks' tomes, notably Superhip Jolipunk by Camille de Toledo, the radicalized "reluctant heir" to the Danone yogurt, um, empire? Basically it's an anti-hipster, return-to-Marx (I think) screed, and I'm sceptical of its "Gallic seriousness cranked to 11" but can't helped be tweaked by such claims as that the Situationists "have been transformed into 'another amusement park for the overeducated,' who only managed to create 'a how-to for compromise.' " As BJD sez, "Ouch."

Plus: So as not to play favourites entirely, I will also point you over to Now for Tim Perlich's nice piece on Khonnor (playing tonight at Supermarket): Most interesting fact? Not so much that Khonnor is 17 but that he is considering composing an electronic piece based on handbell choirs. I love handbell choirs. The best bit of music writing in Now this week is Sarah Liss's very fine piece on the Flaming Lips, even though it mainly served to confirm that I don't care much about the Flaming Lips. Now also talks to Jason Forrest, and Sarah talks to Neko Case and offers a psychological thesis about Neko's overuse of reverb, which seems pretty acute, though I had a much bigger beef with the reverb on Blacklisted than on Fox Confessor. I should also have some more on Neko next week. The Art Brut and Centro-Matic pieces did little for me even though I like both those bands.

| Posted by zoilus on Thursday, March 30 at 07:07 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (16)

 

COMMENTS

After reading Sarah Liss's two articles, it confirmed why I think Wayne Coyne seems like he'd be a cool guy to hang out with, and (while she makes some fine music) Neko seems like she'd be a drag to hang out with.

Posted by David on April 3, 2006 01:06 PM

 

 

Carl,

Technically, they would have nothing to say as the Situationist International were but “a few people wandering through a rather brief moment in time” after all and the Situationists could never exist outside that time. But that’s Debord’s version. In all documentation I’ve read, it’s that first era, with artists, psychic geographers and LeFebrvre Marxists getting together and being absolutely loony, that has always stayed with me. Debord, who “expelled” everyone but his own bad self ultimately had his version—which is none at all. A blank screen. A suicide-- of the SI triumph over all others. Which is admirable in a way but hiding a richness of action, experience, and dare I say it, poetry, notably from Vaneigem . Revolution of Everyday Life is a Saturday night riot but I also recommend his hung-over brunch follow-up The Book of Pleasures.

In the end,yes, indeed, fuck Debord. I’d rather be inspired and deluded than depressed.

Posted by Brian on March 31, 2006 06:20 PM

 

 

Is that Veda Hille in the background?

Posted by Dixon on March 31, 2006 03:30 PM

 

 

Isn't T.A.Z. the book where Bey states that one of his ideal Zones is the dinner party? Am I remembering this right? I love a grand banquet, but how is that not totally bourgie? (I've long made peace with my own inner bourgeois.)

Given this, wasn't Alicia Silverstone's speech in "Clueless" about immigration-reform-as-a-dinner-party (the topic was what she called the Hait-eans) an allusion to Hakim Bey?

And given this, isn't ameliorist reform the opposite of miserabilism? Isn't it about re-apportioning servings so that everybody has a comfortable place at the table? Reform as abundance as par-tay? (And, isn't that a preferable rhetoric to the paradoxical term "revolution," which, after all, the word tells us, brings us right back where we started as round and round we spin?)

Gotta read Vaneigem. Thanks for the tip, Brian & Carl.

Skeptical of T.A.Z. as politics; similar to the "inner-directedness" of Deleuzean "lines of flight"; it haunts me that Deleuze killed himself. Politics isn't inner-directed.

Alicia Silverstone's character struck the right balance between inner & outer-directedness. The party is a blast (inner-directed), there's plenty to go around (outer-directed) if we just get those dinner plates back in the kitchen and re-apportion servings so the Hait-eans have enough to eat too. Party!

Posted by john on March 31, 2006 03:24 PM

 

 

also, tim, just fyi, that photo is not from my new camera, though it's certainly in my amateurish style. it's an old shot from the anansi site, from an anansi event i guess. ken is not quite that skinny and young any more! (though he is still young and skinny.)

Posted by zoilus on March 31, 2006 02:07 PM

 

 

Daily life is governed by an economic system in which the production and consumption of insults tends to balance out.

—Raoul Vaneigem


Posted by Brian on March 31, 2006 01:35 PM

 

 

Also, I already - giggling privately to myself - compared Torontopia to a Temporary Autonomous Zone the other week on Graham's blog. Let the Semiotext(e)-nerd Nineties revival begin! I'll show you my polymorphously perverse island micronation economically supported by e-piracy if you'll show me yours!

Posted by zoilus on March 31, 2006 12:34 PM

 

 

Hey Brian - Well, a return to Foucault is kinda refreshing rather than yet another boomerang to Marx, and yes, I gathered the spazziness. Still, I do think the occasional Situ critique is worthwhile: I'm totally with you on Vaneigem, mainly becuz I think the revolution of everyday life is the only revolution in the context of post-industrial democracy and am otherwise a miserable reformist. (Revolutions in non-democratic contexts are a totally different matter, though even those often/mainly end in tears.) But when people says situationist they usually mean Debord rather than Vaneigem, and Debord really is all hat and no saddle. I mean, it's a really great hat. But when you find out where he wants the horse to go and his only answer is, like, worker's councils, there's a kind of farcical splatting sound of anticlimax. "A how-to to compromise" doesn't seem so off-base, and perhaps the trick is how not to find that painful. I suspect all we get is a choice among compromises. But that doesn't make for such colourful rhetoric, damn it all.

I can't help wondering how the situationists would feel seeing this month's student uprising against "precarity." Quite a comeuppance. Though it's quite reasonable to be upset over the precarity of one's economic life, there's something scary-crazy in the current French students' cries for its abolition.

Posted by zoilus on March 31, 2006 12:29 PM

 

 

Oops. de Toledo. The one employee at Eye you're yet to praise is the copy editor, who works hard correcting slobs such as myself.

Posted by Brian on March 31, 2006 12:22 PM

 

 

Hey Carl,

Thanks! To flesh out a couple of things I just couldn’t put into a 250 word general public review:

—De Toro is all about a return to Foucault and I couldn’t quite figure out if he was anti-anti Oedipus. Superhip is a bit of a spazzy book.

—He borrows heavily from Hakim Bey’s T.A.Z. Other than a great start to any 90s revivalism, I heartily recommend it to anyone involved in the politicization/organization of the indie music scene. Bad Bands= the Tong?

—Nothing wrong with a little hero killing but no matter what he says, I still sleep with a copy of Revolution of Everyday Life under my pillow and I don’t think Situationist theory is completely incompatible with a critique of 2006 globalization.

Posted by Brian on March 31, 2006 10:02 AM

 

 

ooops....I will poor another coffee and pay more attention. Ignore my question as I see Ken is getting some good ink this week. (must learn to self edit a little more...sorry)
t

Posted by tim on March 31, 2006 09:32 AM

 

 

Carl, I am glad for your new camera as your photo of "poet dancing.." reminded me that I heard Ken Babstock read not to long ago at the ElMocambo and he told me he had a new book of poetry coming out soon.

Anyone know anymore about that?
tim

Posted by tim posgate on March 31, 2006 09:29 AM

 

 

god i totally agree with the brian jospeph davis praise. i can't wait for summer so i can read some of the books he's pitching, although i read that beo-bohemia review so many times over that i think i can bluff having read it. is it weird that i'm worried the actual books will be less engaging than the reviews?

Posted by mike on March 31, 2006 03:47 AM

 

 

Wow, that *is* a hurtin' line on the Situationists. But since David Letterman has thoroughly recuperated the techniques of detournement (not that there's anything wrong with that) :), I think the yogurt prince is probably onto something.

Posted by john on March 31, 2006 01:25 AM

 

 

Oops, thanks for the correction. To clarify, I meant "thinness" in content/substance rather than page count. It seemed like the copy:ad ratio in the paper had gone down in recent weeks, which I feared was a publisher's decision, and there seemed to be a corresponding dispiritedness to the articles compared to usual - this is all very impressionistic, I'm sure there were exceptions. But this week's issue makes me think that the low energy had more to do with low page count than I realized. Make sense? Although it does seem like you're on a tighter leash in that sense than in the past. But you need not answer that.

Posted by zoilus on March 30, 2006 08:57 PM

 

 

Thanks for the linkage Carl. And as I'm sure you, me and a million other editors could attest, no newspaper is ever thin by choice!

(Oh, and while I've got you: Dimitri Nasrallah was the Jason Forrest interviewer, not Denise Benson).

Posted by stuber on March 30, 2006 08:28 PM

 

 

 

Zoilus by Carl Wilson