Zoilus by Carl Wilson

Archive for November, 2004

Zoilus’s Jolly Dec. Gig Guide

November 30th, 2004


And now, dear Torontopians, Zoilus scrapes out the barrel to find you something other than Christmas-carol recitals and performances of the Messiah to attend in the coming month. Comme d’habitude, it will expand as shows are announced. Zoilus picks are marked with a *, including this week’s Guilty Pleasures dance party, Keren Ann (pictured above), Ted Leo, The Gossip, Nas, Rufus Wainwright, Death From Above, Final Fantasy, Shawn Hewitt, Stars, etc. etc. Catch it on the flip. [...]



Notes on Hip (II)

November 30th, 2004


Some points that didn’t get made in the mad whirl of this weekend’s column: As I said, in John Leland’s Hip: The History, a sound analysis of the wend and way of “hip” through the past few centuries comes to a fishtailing anticlimax when he hits the slippery turf of the present day. Seems as though Leland is at his best filtering through the received wisdom, and has trouble with material that’s not old enough to come predigested.

So he lopes through obvious observations of the ubiquity of the signifiers of the old hip - delayed marriage, loosened social ties, sexual openness, etc etc. - especially in “rebel sell” advertising. Yet of course what was hip in the past nearly always becomes the appropriated common coin in the marketplace of the next generation - that cycle has been fairly consistent for a century. He also notes that the “white nigger” status past white hipsters vied for is now a suburban trope, the “wigger,” equal parts minstrelsy and actual racial realignment.

But he snoozes on the globalization of hip that’s being brought about by a couple of forces - first the huge access to cultural information that the Internet allows, and second actual economic globalization, which is accelerating change, creating a global elite and a global ghetto, those populations repeating the urbanization patterns that western people went through in the 20th century but at hyperspeed and a previously unimagined scale, which is hot with its own cultural piracies and fusions. (See previous posts on “shanty house” and like noize.) I think “hip” is going to have more and more to do with being jacked into that stream of invention and evasion - and to the extent that “hip” is an interesting category at all (and I agree with Leland that, considered as the channel between mainstream and margin, the productive mistranslation of symbol and sound between the two, it’s really interesting), what’s hip in the next half-century will pose a real challenge to the smug alterna-whateverism of the North American indie-activist-small-press-etc-etc hipster that’s thrived the past quarter-century. (Edited to add: Aaron’s observation that crunk and the Nashville Muzik Mafia both hail from “red states” touches the same moving target.)

So here’s the hip replacement: Leland shoulda called his last chapter “When Hips Collide,” (referring both to the aforementioned clash and to doin’ the bump, which is eternally hip), rather than dwelling on trucker caps and other stupid ephemera. In fact, speaking of trucker-hat planet, Leland might even have mentioned Vice magazine’s ongoing, infuriating campaign to make open racism and sexism “hip” again - from a global ghetto perspective, perhaps that will prove sadly prescient.

Given Leland was a hip-hop journalist for years, you’d expect him to do better on these subjects. Then again, he’s also a former editor of Details; from that p.o.v., the book’s a helluva lot sharper than you’d expect.

Further listening: The new Afrika Bambaataa disc shows him still rockin’ the world party with sounds from all over you cannot help but bump to. He’s a million in hip-hop years but he sounds younger than all the bucks. And Peter Margasak (veteran crit from the Chicago Reader) has a new all-terrain-vehicle, a blog called Worldly Disorientation that’s proving to be a good road guide to the whomp of the global ghetto, as well as the world’s politer and less perilous precincts.

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Notes on Hip (I)

November 27th, 2004


What’s up, docs and dockettes? Today’s column, hot off the grill. I know this one’s kinda loony tunes (Mrs. Zoilus tells me it helps to read it twice, but who reads an article twice?). Clarifying footnotes to follow.


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Musical Energy Pellets, Eat ‘Em Up

November 26th, 2004


Kim Cooper and David Smay, who put out the terrific Bubblegum Music Is the Naked Truth! anthology a few years ago, have a new book. For the past dozen years Kim’s been the editrix of Scram magazine (which has a get-lost-for-hours compendium of disc reviews online), which was fighting the forces of snark in music long before The Believer ever thought to do it for books; instead Kim throws herself full-bellyflop-dive-style into enthusing about and championing greatness that might otherwise pass you by. The new tome, Lost In The Grooves, cranks up mission control with essays on everything from King Crimson to Cal Tjader, Swamp Dogg to Pac-Man Fever, by a host of contributors from a Meat Puppet to Rick Moody.

How do I know all this? Because they did an entertaining phone-in on NPR today. Funny thing was the awkward moments when listeners would call in suggesting “lost” albums like Forever Changes or “introducing” Nick Drake, and Cooper and Smay would have to strain not to respond like snooty record-store clerks. (They pulled it off, though.) Other callers managed to stump the authors with paeans to Tin Huey and the Flirts and one managed to make a poignant case for the lost-ness of Smokey Robinson, not forgotten but somehow looked-past.

Photos from this week’s Tin Tin Tin should be up this weekend, by the way, and of course check tomorrow for this weekend’s Overtones column, a bit of a hyperactive romp around John Leland’s Hip: The History, the new Handsome Boy Modelling School, ODBituaries (that link is a must-read, by the way!) and the Kleptones.

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The Rockismford Files, Chpt. CIX

November 23rd, 2004

In the absence of a real post (column deadline, show to do, etc.), here’s some entertaining debatery for those who recognize that last week’s column was an entry in the disorganized sport of writing about rockism without ever mentioning rockism.

And why would one play such a game? Because when you do mention rockism, people go apeshit, and then other people are pushed to play rough.

Or screw all that and go have a fight worth having, between your ears, by listening to dj/Rupture’s amazing post-election mix. (Via Dissensus.) And read Weisblott’s typically on-the-needle reflections on the passing of Toronto rock-era AM-radio royalty, “Shotgun” Tom Rivers.

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A Toast! Cocktails That Wag For Everybody

November 22nd, 2004


First of all: The November gigs list has been updated, with some highlights (including Tin Tin Tin of course) bolded for the rest of the month.

Second, I wouldn’t normally quote PR except in spoof (and the line below about “looking forward to executing within our new team” is a good example why) but this is a passage of note in the Toronto scene. Everything the Arrayfolk say about Allison’s leadership below is true and then some. She’s done fine work that’s widened the interplay between the warped-pop-folk-jazz-improv world Zoilus moves in and the tux-wearing, degree-toting types associated with Arraymusic, she brought Christian Wolff to town etc etc - don’t be a stranger, Allison.

Arraymusic, a champion of experimental and contemporary chamber music in Canada, announces the departure of its artistic director, Allison Cameron, who has resigned from her position effective December 31, 2004. [...]


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Horrified Observations of Horrified Observers

November 20th, 2004

Have you heard about this group Horrified Observers of Pedestrian Entertainment, who are giving people (mostly) old rock albums if they get rid of their Ashlee Simpson discs? In this week’s Overtones, such forces of smug condescension meet the spirit of idiosyncratic eclecticism …. and the wrong side dies. Witness the showdown.



‘Is It Atomic?’ ‘Yes, Sir: VERY Atomic!’

November 19th, 2004


Come on and dress me dress me dress me
In my peek-a-boo blouse
With the lovely inner lining made of Chesapeake mouse
I want my polka-dotted dickie with the crinoline fringe
For I’m going do-mi-do-ing on a do-mi-doe binge!

It’s Tin Tin Tin time again - my monthly “music scene mash-up,” coming up Wednesday Nov. 24 in Toronto. This month it’s all about the Seuss. Did you know it would have been Dr. Seuss’s 100th birthday this year? It’s the Seussentennial! And so for this final T.T.T. of 2004, we have a tribute to Seuss’s only live-action film project, the insane and beautiful musical starring the kid from Lassie - The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T., pictured above. (Warning: That final link is so obsessively devoted it may be hazardous to your sanity.)

The players on this one have been scheming up true evil genius, and we will be screening bits of the new Dr. T DVD throughout the night. The idea was inspired by Dan Goldman’s cover of Because We’re Kids on his latest album, Through a Revolution. Then we found out that there was a musicians’ cult around the movie in this town, with jazzman Jean Martin having recorded several Dr. T tunes. So off we went!

But there’s more to see at this month’s T.T.T. than on Mulberry Street. Read on.

Tin Tin Tin, Wed. Nov. 24 @ the Drake Underground Presents:

* Toronto’s freshest female MC, MASIA ONE, with Alex Lukashevsky’s weirdly wonderful DEEP DARK UNITED

* A tribute to DR SEUSS’s forgotten-classic 1953 live-action musical THE 5,000 FINGERS OF DR. T. with singers JOHN SOUTHWORTH, DAN GOLDMAN and CHRISTINE DUNCAN and THE 5,000 FINGERS BAND (JEAN MARTIN, DON SCOTT and friends)

* When strangers duet: MATT COLLINS (Ninja High School) and NICK “BROWNMAN” ALI (Cruzao, Gruvasylum, MarrÛn Matizado, Nick Ali Quartet) get their Estonian horn drone on with ARVO PART’s “Concerto for Trumpet”

Also featuring the irresistible makeout mixes of the GLOBAL POP CONSPIRACY and the psyche-soiling set design of MARGAUX WILLIAMSON.

Again, that’s Wednesday at the Drake Hotel Underground, 1150 Queen St West (corner of Beaconsfield). Doors 9 PM, Show 10 PM sharp. PWYC, $5 to $10 suggested, all profits go to the artists.

*Please, show up.*

‘Some Men They Take Your Heart Away/ Some Men They Take Your Eyes’

November 17th, 2004


get your mind out of your pants.
generally, I’d try to creep past fashionly boys -
you’re like “hey pumpkin, wanna dance?”
even the boys, girl,
where the ladies are tight,
you fuck like a gayboy, hon,
you ride, ride, ride!

If those lyrics aren’t enough to persuade you Torontoistas to come out to rYAN kAMSTRA’s CD launch tonight, dammit, I don’t know what is.

Maybe the thought that it’s a queer-straight semi-drag Can Can at the Vatikan, Toronto’s tiniest twee-est goth bar?

Maybe some mp3’s, also available on Ryan’s page? Maybe the promise of a stage show by painter-videomaker Margaux Williamson? She promises: “There will be paper bull’s skulls. There will be people in love. There will be a bit (a very small bit) of glitter. There will definitely be tight pants.”

Maybe an all-star dancer cast of Tyler Clark Burke, Sherwin Tija, Matt Crookshank, Lisa Pereira, Ben Phelan, Marlena Zuber, Dan Goldman, Leslie Taylor, Jill Binder, Alex Winfield, Eric Hart, Randy Ray, David Best, Erin O’Hara, Laurie Petrou, Marc Piccinato, Elana McMurty and more?

The fact that Ryan’s a poet, novelist and award-winning pornographer? Or even that I sing back-up on the album, in a choir of non-singers that Ryan put together, kinda the way some film directors cast non-actors?

Don’t argue, just hustle:

i want an army: The November Show
Wednesday November 17, 9 PM
The Vatikan. 1032 Queen Street West. $5

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Ladies and Gentlemen, I Think We Have a Winner…

November 17th, 2004

in the rockism sweepstakes: Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Songs list.

The top-ranked tune is Like a Rollin’ Stone, which is fine - blatantly self-serving, since the title contains the magazine’s name! but better than Hey fucking Jude - but get this: More than 200 out of the 500 songs date to the sixties, including 15 of the top 20. (Nirvana is the only representative of the past decade-and-a-half in that tier.) The Scotsman concludes that therefore, “The list proves that the 60s was really the decade that made music,” rather than, “the list proves that the 60s was really the decade that made Rolling Stone magazine and it’s never gotten over it.”

It turns out (see story linked in the first ‘graph) that “voters were told to focus on ‘the rock ‘n’ roll era’.” That sucks great balls of fire. (Note: not worksafe.) I realize that lists is for suckas. And I realize that in fact, there are as many good folks among boomers as there are in any generation. But sometimes I just can’t wait for them to, well, die.

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