by carl wilson

Facts: Some Are Tragic,
Some Tantalizing, Others Trivial

suncity2.jpg
The Sun City Girls in 2003: Charles Gocher, far right. (I think.)

The Sun City Girls' primary non-Bishop brother, Charles Gocher, died on Monday of cancer at age 54, after a three-year struggle that was apparently kept private by Gocher's choice. Gocher began playing drums with Richard and Alan Bishop in 1980 and was the most consistent other Sun City Girl since the avant-shamanistic band's founding in 1981. It's been reported elsewhere, but respects are due.

Pitchfork reports that Joanna Newsom is going to put out an EP featuring her live band with one new song (probably the song fans have been calling Shreddy or Colleen, of which you can hear about 30 badly recorded seconds here) and one track each from Ys and Milk-Eyed Mender. I've never seen the band, which features tambura, accordion, drums, percussion and back-up vocals, but by the accounts and samples I've heard, I'm inclined to prefer the Balkan-influenced arrangements over the album's orchestral versions. It's a shame that the EP's only three songs. However, you can't beat the title: Joanna Newsom and the Ys Street Band - just another sign of the current Second Coming of Springsteenism on the indie side of the street. (Cf., the new Arcade Fire album, the weird failed Springsteenisms of the Killers, the Blankket album, etc.) I am germinating theories about this, but they will have to wait. Oh, in final Newsom news, apparently there's an interview between her and Miranda July in the March issue of Interview magazine. Interview pieces are usually pretty brief (I'm not excited the way I would be if the conversation were in Bomb magazine), but the notion of these two minds meeting still makes me dizzily extra-fond of planet Earth. No links yet, though I'm sure someone will have it scanned and online very soon. Meanwhile: Here is Newsom live with an orchestra in Glasgow, and here she is in an amazing performance of her version of a Robbie Burns song.

Not to get in a Pfork-news-biting loop here, but it's hard not to jawdrop a bit at the idea of Carl Craig remixing southwestern-Ontario's pride, the Junior Boys. Not to mention Kode9, Marsen Jules and others.

And I am unreasonably excited to discover belatedly that John Krasinski (aka Jim on The Office) is directing his own film adaptation of David Foster Wallace's Brief Interviews with Horrible Hideous Men (oops). Several reasons why: It's the first film of any DFW book; it's kind of an unlikely choice (although I suppose it's quite a bit more filmable than Infinite Jest or Broom of the System, which would require epic-style budgets and complicated visual effects); and it demonstrates that Krasinski probably is as smart as he seems from his acting, quite a distance from the sympathetic but kind of adrift everyman he plays. It'll be all the more fun to watch The Office (the only American adaptation of a British TV show to outdo or even equal the original since All in the Family) and be able to say to myself, "Hey, that guy's a David Foster Wallace fan." I wonder what the soundtrack will be like? In Filter magazine in December, Krasinski chatted with The Shins about their mutual admiration. (Skip over Filter's mostly pointless, irritating introduction.)

In even-less-important news, there is now a fan forum on the redesigned Mountain Goats website. Useful information gleaned thus far includes the fact that the new Extra Glenns album does exist in embryonic demo form, awaiting a point where Franklin and John will have time to do the recording; that point, however, does not look likely to come in 2007. I've mentioned that Franklin's new album Civics, with/as the Human Hearts, is as good as, oh, eggplant parmigiana, haven't I? Sample lyric: "You play Revolver, baby/ That's when I start reaching for my culture." If you need to know more than that - and the fact that the same song that contains that line quotes both Life During Wartime and Winter Wonderland - I can't help you.

A less miscellaneous post is soon to come, I promise.

| Posted by zoilus on Wednesday, February 21 at 3:09 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (15)

 

COMMENTS

Wait, wait, wait. Talk of the Boss is always fine, but can we get back to DFW and this supposed film-to-be? "Brief Interviews with Hideous Men" is a book of short stories, many of which have nothing to do with each other or with the through-line concerning hideous men. How is THAT in any way filmable? Can we think about this for a second?

Hats off to Krasinski if it's true. Now I have even more of a crush on him.

Posted by hershey on February 26, 2007 3:40 AM

 

 

How much of a Springsteen fan am I? I'll tell you how much.

In a blog post last night on musicians nicknamed "Little," I never thought of Little Steven!

This gun's for hire.

Posted by john on February 23, 2007 6:29 PM

 

 

Brian, I apologize for my snarkiness.

Ironic that I was zinging you for an over-enthusiastic presentation of humor. Not a happy irony.

I think my knee jerks at accusations of knee-jerkery. Ironic, that, too.

Posted by john on February 22, 2007 7:35 PM

 

 

Wykyd Sceptre will never not be funny. But I wouldn't have liked the Culturecide Springsteen parody even at the time.

> The great thing about knee jerk humour is how it opens up discussion more so than knee jerk seriousness and while sitting in no particular "Bruce" camp (I was born in 1975, after all, it would be unseemly to get emotional about this) I will say that the "Bruce" discussion has always had a surplus of knee jerk seriousness and at least 2 instances on this page alone.

In general I usually come down on the side of the funny, but I'm not sure it "opens up the discussion" more than seriousness does. Often a good zinger can pretty effectively close off the discussion, can't it?

Asking for less seriousness in Springsteen and Springsteen talk seems to me like asking for less avocado in guacamole or something. His earnestness is so central to what he is. (And yes, he does lots of lightweight, comic stuff, which I actually think is really underrated -- on any given day I'd rather listen to, say, "You Can Look But You Better Not Touch" than "Racing in the Street" -- but it's a broad, non-ironic kind of comedy that I think most would agree seems out of step these days.)

Not that earnestness will be to everyone's taste, and it's not always to mine -- I find it goes in cycles. Funnily enough, I'm supposed to be writing something about Springsteen this week, so he's been on my mind.

Word about the videos. No doubt that Uptown Girl is a better one than I'm on Fire. Close your eyes, though, and it swings the other way pretty fast.

Posted by DW. on February 22, 2007 6:01 PM

 

 

Wait, that satire was great comedy?

I've lost track of who's being ironic about what.

I'll take Springsteen over Baudrillard any day of the week. I liked him in "High Fidelity" even more than McLuhan in "Annie Hall." And he's written some great songs, "Dancing in the Dark" among them.

Carl & Brian are right: Bruce's vids, not so good. Although, in retrospect, his stiff, boogie-less dancing is kind of endearing.

Posted by john on February 22, 2007 5:06 PM

 

 

Oh, its tired all right, but so is most great comedy (and cultural theory) no matter the expiration date. Will Wykyd Sceptor (or Baudrillard's Simulations) ever not be funny?

The great thing about knee jerk humour is how it opens up discussion more so than knee jerk seriousness and while sitting in no particular "Bruce" camp (I was born in 1975, after all, it would be unseemly to get emotional about this) I will say that the "Bruce" discussion has always had a surplus of knee jerk seriousness and at least 2 instances on this page alone.

That said, let's get serious and decide finally...

Best fake 1950s video (featuring mechanics and wealthy women) from the 1980s: Billy Joel's “Uptown Girl” or The Boss' “I’m On Fire”?


My vote is for Billy. The Boss has the better song but "Uptown Girl" came first and had an IRONIC, playful, self-awareness (his "mechanic" character begins the video by watching a "Billy Joel" character on MTV) that Bruce has never had.

Posted by Brian on February 22, 2007 4:41 PM

 

 

I'm more or less with DW, although I have to confess to an old-(Frankfurt)-school chuckle at "Can't be the boss, you can't be a boss without a bureaucracy."

But obvs all the stuff about Bruce's working-class authenticity versus rock-star inauthenticity, activism versus entertainment, etc., is a bunch of binary thinking that ain't goin' nowhere.

The MTV line reminds me how Springsteen was an artist whom video really did a disservice - aside from the ones made out of actual live footage, which are obviously great because he's a ridiculously great live performer, the vids for tunes like Dancing in the Dark really detracted from the songs and made Springsteen seem a lot goofier.

Put the video out of your mind and it's such an intense song. "I'm dying for some action/ I'm sick of sitting round here trying to write this book" - no idea what most fans think of that line but it's really hitting home with me!

Posted by zoilus on February 22, 2007 3:53 PM

 

 

> Bruce (sung to the tune of Bruce Springsteen's "Dancin' in the Dark")

Kinda tired, no? It's hard to even begin untangling all the lazy knee-jerk assumptions behind the "satire."

I do remember enjoying Culturecide's "We're an Industrial Band" (to the tune of "We're an American Band") -- "we're coming to your town, we're going to bring you down," "we're a cross between Cyndi Lauper and early SPK," etc.

Posted by DW. on February 22, 2007 3:42 PM

 

 

Maybe my irony is just so detached it's actually gone necrotic and fallen on the floor but what the hay, let's go back to 1987's snarky shoulda-been-a-hit by Culturcide:

Bruce (sung to the tune of Bruce Springsteen's "Dancin' in the Dark")

I get up in the evening, and I record a new LP
I come home in the morning, I go to bed & everyone loves me
I ain't nothin' but tired, man I'm just tired & bored with myself
But I'm a working class hero, and It's supposed to be something that I sell
You can't move the product, you can't move the product without a face
This gun's for hire, even if if we're just dancin' in the dark

Messages keep gettin' clearer, is a cure for my despair
I check my look in the mirror, mabye I just need new clothes to wear
Man I ain't goin' nowhere, I'm just tryin' to fit into a fantasy
There's something happenin' somewhere, but it's not on Mtv
Can't be the boss, you can't be a boss without a bureacracy
That gun's for hire, and it's always pointing at me.

You sit around getting older, listening to Bruce's new LP
Big guitar-ification of our own passivity

'Cause on the streets of this town everybody's giving up the fight
You're hungry for entertainment, so let's play the new Springsteen album tonight
I'm dying for a distraction, I'm sick of sittin' around here with my own mind
I need a rock and roll hero to put my nervous system back in line
You can't be a rock star, you can't be a star without a hit
There's something happenin' somewhere, Bruce Springsteen isn't it.
You can't start a fire, when your hero says there's nothin' to burn
This gun's for hire, even if if we're just dancin' in the dark

Posted by Brian on February 22, 2007 3:27 PM

 

 

neo-Bossism (oops, I mean neo-Springsteen-ism) embodies a very welcome (in my world) reaction against 20 years of detached & "knowing" irony. Which goes along with what D.W. said. (Very much agree about Stakes too. Stakes IS high, but that phrase has been pulverized to a glossy-mag cliche.) I may personally wish for a less stentorian (or more melodically inviting, or more nimble) form of earnestness, but hey, whatever rocks your socks.

Heard the Clash's "Janie Jones" the other day for the first time in forever and thought -- the Springsteens of Punk. "He's in love with rock and roll oh!" Great to hear it.

Posted by john on February 22, 2007 2:49 PM

 

 

Ain't nothing wrong with miscellany.

Here's a video of Krasinski reading from Brief Interviews, at what I'm guessing is some kind of DFW convention.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAinhkyS8fs

I'm tempted to theorize that Springsteen is starting to appeal to the indie kids because his stuff cries "important" (there are things "at stake," to use that awful studio exec phrase) but it doesn't come off as SELF-important. Big can be refreshing in a musical climate that's shy and retiring. (Though the state of the current musical climate is of course endlessly debatable.)

Posted by DW. on February 22, 2007 11:50 AM

 

 

I pity the fool who tries to film Infinite Jest! Best to start small.

Posted by Jamie on February 22, 2007 7:57 AM

 

 

Having seen Joanna's band, I actually preferred the album versions (Van Dyke Parks' arrangements at least hover in the background -- her new band brazenly drowns her out), though I'd really just prefer her solo with the harp. It's enough for me. I'll buy the EP anyway, though.

Posted by saelan on February 22, 2007 3:48 AM

 

 

Oh, duh. I saw that and then forgot to change it! Will do now.

Posted by zoilus on February 21, 2007 9:55 PM

 

 

it's "brief interviews with HIDEOUS men," not "horrible men." sorry to be an obnoxious dfw fact-checker.

Posted by kay on February 21, 2007 8:34 PM

 

 

 

Zoilus by Carl Wilson