Thursday, December 7, 2023

Sunday, November 12, 2023

where it began


By which I mean the jumble sale 7-inches starting with the Iggy and Geordie singles.. not Dino Lee and definitely not Flying Burrito Bros, an album I have not played since the months after taping (early '85?), when I was quite enamored of it... 

The glam 'n' glitter singles were a shared enthusiasm at the Monitor "office" - particularly the Hello and Glitter tunes. 

At one point there was going to be a whole issue dedicated to glam rock and the mid-70s, but all that came out of it was this piece.  (I did make some notes on The Sweet, Alice Cooper, Gary Glitter etc,  which I found in an old folder recently. These thoughts had later reconstituted themselves quite independently in my brain, often almost word for word, when getting down to S+A three whole decades later).

But who the hell was Dino Lee

I think it was among the very first promos we got sent at Monitor.... I believe Paul Oldfield even reviewed it.   The front three tunes are a bit sub-JB or Joe 'King' Carrasco-y. But "Testing For Love", the fourth track, is worth a listen - really quite peculiar, an 11 minute-long dirgey stomper. Like "Spirit in the Sky" if recorded at the sessions for The Idiot. 

Ah! Here it is, PO on Dino Lee, from Monitor #4 - the same issue as his Gary Glitter epic

Update: actually it "started" quite a bit earlier - the spring of '83 is when I first rediscovered Gary Glitter, going by this letter listing my listening faves of the moment: 

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

different times, part 1083


Well if you think that headline about Bowie is bad, you should see the things that Creem magazine said about glam! One of their nicknames for the movement was Glam-Glitter-Anal Rock. Gary Glitter was described as "the first Anglo-Anal cash-in" in the wake of  Bolan + Bowie's breakthrough. 

Funny thing is that Creem was a vociferous supporter of glitter 'n' glam (c.f. the sniffy disdain of Rolling Stone and the scepticism of most other American critics). This keep-your-back-to-the-wall type comment probably came from a champion of the New York Dolls. 

Thursday, November 2, 2023

smash the spectacle (anti-theatricality historical round-up)

 BritSituationists rail against the business of show

  'In the desperate passivity of a 'groovy' pad, the hell crawls down the walls and across the floor. The silent circle in the candlelight pretends to be absorbed. Without success. The nightmare of consumption consumes the consumer. You don't smoke the hash, the hash smokes you. The record on the box makes sure that nobody sings or dances... And suddenly the whole non-communication, the whole malaise and sense of being lost in the middle of nowhere snaps into focus: the 'underground' is just another range of consumer goods, of articles whose non-participatory consumption follows the same rules in Betsy Coed as in Notting Hill passivity and through passivity, isolation. What is happening? Sweet fuck all is happening. The latest goods and the latest poses are being exhibited, envied, bought and exhibited agaln. As the Situationists have said, IT'S ALL A SHOW. A show that can only go on because everyone pretends to be enjoying it - because everyone thinks that he alone is the total misfit. Conformity is a reign of terror. The Beatles, Zappa, the Crazy World of Arthur Brown. Shit, the lot of it, products like these mark nothing more than the furthest frontiers yet of consumer society. Its most gratuitous, decadent and self-destructive production. Its most snobbish pre-release. And no more than its pre-release. What is today the opium of the rebel will tomorrow be the opium of every normal slob in the street. Reynold's Tobacco Gold. Corporation Ten Congo has already patented every variety of pot. Twenty Acapulco Gold. Ten Congo Brown. They'll be in the vending machines yet, along with the ontology and bubble-gum

From 'Songs of the Black Hand Gang', 'Hapt' 8.

Pop's bereft of cultural and political import.

It's a shame because the three-minute pop song

was such a great way to express discontent.

With the mainstream, it's like we've

gone back to showbusiness again.

It's a pop landscape that exists

 like Dylan and the Beatles never happened 

Damon Albarn

 Blur / Gorillaz / The Good the Bad and the Queen , 2014


 “Movies and Hollywood... have told the biggest, dirtiest lie about

 [America] for the past thirty years...

It’s probably the greatest lie that Mankind’s ever told. “ 


   - Eric Burdon, The Animals 

I asked Pete Towshend of the Who about the promise

of rock — how it ended up playing out.

He was much more negative and, I think,

realistic about that — basically saying

that the promise ended up being abandoned

as soon as there was enough money and stardom. 

 Something that had potential as a social force

 was reduced to entertainment…. 

 It ceased to have meaning beyond itself”

David Marchese interviewing Jann Wenner for New York Times


In 1990s Joni Mitchell was asked to a song with a specific theme for the Alison Anders movie Grace of My Heart - about fictional female songwriter in 60s. It's for a scene in which the lead character has to record a song after the suicide of her boyfriend

Joni recalls, “I said, ‘I can only write one kind of song and one kind of song only, right now: I hate show business. If you want i hate show business, I can give you a lot, but I don’t think I can do this.”

 In the event, she wrote this



But her own favorite song of the 1990s, the only song she thought had anything of substance to it, was this 



What's real can't die

You only get what you give

You're gonna get what you give

Don't give up

Just don't be afraid to leave


Health insurance, rip off lying

FDA, big bankers buying

Fake computer crashes dining

Cloning while they're multiplying

Fashion shoots with Beck and Hanson

Courtney Love and Marilyn Manson

You're all fakes

Run to your mansions

Come around, we'll kick your asses



Kate Bush, dissed - "it's MOR. It's show business. It's dishonest


Siouxsie dissed - "such amoral maskplay"


Eve of punk state of rock union address from Mick Farren 

from Is Rock 'N' Roll Ready For 1976?  New Musical Express, January 3rd, 1976

"In the sixties it was a lot easier for an artist to stay in touch. It was a time when the music was still controlled by mavericks. On the crucial levels of promotion, production — as well as the musicians themselves — control was in the hands of people from the same background and with very similar ideas.

Bill Graham, Andrew Oldham, Derek Taylor, Spector, and even Epstein set patterns in rock administration that made it possible for people like Lennon, Dylan, Jagger or Jim Morrison to still have solid links with the street.

Today, however, things seem to have changed. A corporation mentality has taken over. Admittedly it's a hip corporation philosophy, but it's a corporation philosophy all the same.

Its attitude to music is one of polish, and giving the customers what they want.

It's an attitude that strips away the rough edges. They are concerned with the smooth distribution of product. Words like 'commitment', 'involvement' and 'art' are, to this kind of corporate mind, bad for business. They cause hassles, they could lower profits.

This has given rise to the technique of totally insulating the artist from the real world. The more the musicians are encouraged to remain in their sheltered worlds, the less trouble they cause and the easier they are to handle.

In many ways it's like a rerun of Hollywood in the 'twenties and 'thirties. Like movie stars and top sports heroes before them, musicians are being encouraged to stay inside a private hothouse environment. It's a superheated world where gossip, scandal, drug habits and breakdowns flourish to exotic proportions. It's a luxurious pen in which are kept the prize, money-earning specimens.

It has little to do with any serious reality.

There seems to be a kind of rule emerging that when rock and roll gets wrapped up in too much money, it begins to lose its guts. The kind of insulation that the corporate salesmen wrap around the musician tends to shut him off from the kind of essential street energy that is so vital to the best of rock and roll.

Occasionally we can see an individual break out of the cocoon and recharge himself from this essential energy source. We have just witnessed Dylan doing this. Lennon does it at regular intervals.

Unfortunately, they are part of a very small minority. It is far easier to call room service at the Hyatt House than to get down on the street and check out the action

However, it does seem that too long in the Hyatt House can, in creative terms, turn you figuratively blind. The balls go out of the music, and the original fire is replaced by massive displays of sheer money.

The Rolling Stones tour of the Americas, earlier in the year, was an obvious example of what Charlie Murray called "a dinosaur" in his excellent Little Feat piece a few weeks back.

It may have been a magnificent, exciting circus, but on a logistic level it was a vast, blundering, super extravagant, over-consuming thing. It didn't take the 73 people to get Woody Guthrie on the stage.

In a process of gradual evolution, the Stones had felt forced to augment their own unique energy with spectacles like the vast, illuminated folding stages. In the orgy of presentation the Stones' relevancy (that word again) slowly slipped away.

The band that once talked uncompromisingly about the world they saw around them had turned into a Busby Berkeley spectacular.

So is there no hope at all? Is rock and roll on an unalterable course to a neo-Las Vegas?

It damn sure looks like it.....

"[The Jamaican reggae groups] also seem to be able to hold off the corporation structure. The world of reggae is one of small studios, technical improvisations and for the most part, small struggling labels.

According to the corporation philosophy, this should create frustration and inferior product. In fact, it turns out far more energetic music than anything that comes gift-wrapped out of the high-rise entertainment complexes.

If we take the whole thing a stage further, even the most cursory examination of rock history proves beyond doubt that the most inventive and rigorous periods are those when musicians and producers worked in very similar circumstances as are now prevalent in Jamaica.

The Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Howling Wolf classics that came out of Chess Records; the early Stones' material; Specter's first masterpieces and, to a certain extent, even Blonde on Blonde were produced in unsophisticated studios and on comparatively small budgets.

In this context, a considerable emphasis had to be placed on the musicians becoming absolutely proficient on a live stage before they could be trusted in a studio.

This kind of recording environment makes impossible both manufactured groups of good-looking incompetents and the marathon fifty-eight hour "if-we-go-on-long-enough-we-might-come-up-with-something" philosophy of album-making.

The question that we face at the moment is whether rock and roll can move back to this simpler, more dynamic method of working and hold back from becoming simply an extravagant show-biz spectacle...."



The royal family is a celebrity brand with an immense PR machine behind it. It's just another business, except we pay for it and they profit by it. A neat trick. However, the royal family is England's biggest show business act. They are people who are brought up to a certain way of life, who are given the means to extend their knowledge and to extend their understanding. But they are not given the opportunity to use their minds in connection with it. They are a brilliant metaphor for all that is pretentious, deluded, selfish and insincere about England. They made me finally face the fact that I had to be a rebel in this society - to be an outsider - with all of the penalties this would entail, or else accept the hypocrisy of England and its monarchy.

On golden jubilee day, will those TV cameras, acting as part of some Ridley Scott production and image-making apparatus, eventually burn the Queen out? Maybe the media will top itself and ultimately become responsible for turning the monarchy and its golden jubilee celebration into simply another super-expensive beer commercial for fascism? And include the rest of us as unpaid extras on the most expensive theme park on the planet. This is show business: Paul, Mick and all will no doubt be there for Ma'am.

Malcolm McLaren 2002


Julien Temple

Director Julien Temple told NME in 1980 that punk represented “a form of cultural terrorism. It was a total attack on show business and the way in which show business and people’s leisure time conditions how they think.” 


Sid Vicious, interviewed by Vermorels, on Who Killed Bambi, Russ Meyer, The Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle etc


Q: What sort of films do you yourself like?


SV: I don't like any sort of film. I hate films.


Q: What it is about them that you hate?


SV: Because people have to act parts in them. Play people who they're not, do you know what I mean?  And it's pretence, it's lies, it's just shit. It builds things up to be not what they are. Like if you filmed a day in the life of me, for instance - like a day in the life of a pop star, right - and you saw him going around in a flash car and whacking up smack and doing this and that and the other, and like a day in my life is like getting up at three o'clock, going to the office and hustling ten quid out of Sophie or something and going, and fucking going somewhere and waiting hours to fucking cop some dope, you know what I mean? And like that is the most boring thing on earth. It's as boring as sitting at home and drinking beer or fucking any other shit thing to do, you know what I mean. And like films are about lies, they're about making things look glamorous. And nothing's like glamorous, everything's a load of bullshit. And it makes me sick to think that people will act out parts and, you know, like make it all seem larger than life, just so that some crud out there can get off on some fantasy: that life is wonderful really and one day.... You know when I was like ten years old and when I used to... think that Marc Bolan was great, and I used to think to myself what a wonderful life Marc Bolan must have, just think. And if only I could be like him, gosh, just think of the things he must do. And like I do the things that he done before that stupid bitch crashed his fucking mini for him, or something, and like he probably did exactly the same thing as what I do now; sit in my mummy's front room cos I don't have anywhere to live.... It's fucking full of shit and I hate it all. But there's nothing else to do. It's better than doing nothing at all and it's certainly better than doing something I don't want to do.



John Lydon and his alter-ego Johnny Rotten


from "Holidays in the Sun"


I gotta go over the Wall
I don't understand this thing at all
It's third rate B-Movie show
Cheap dialogue, cheap essential scenery


“I got the name Public Image from a book by that Scottish woman, Muriel Spark, who wrote ‘Prime of Miss Jean Brodie’. When I was in Italy, somebody introduced her writings to me. I checked out some of her other books when I got home. One of them was called ‘The Public Image’. It was all about this actress who was unbearably egotistical. I though, Ha! The Public Image. Limited. Not as a company, but to be limited – not being as ‘out there’ as I was with the Sex Pistols.” - John Lydon

"I love books. I love the texture, the feeling, everything about them. Especially the way the words come alive in my mind. A beautiful turn of phrase can really affect me. It lets my mind wander around inside of somebody else's....  Some books, like where I took the name for Public Image, from Muriel Spark, called The Public Image, it was just a cheap little small book. But it's just, to my mind, a very well-told story about corruption and how industry can rot your brain if you're not careful. It's a good reminder. I got a good sense of grounding from it, and I also got the name for the band. Success! And I don't think that book cost me more than a pound in a junk store." 

from "Public Image"

Hello. Hello. Hello. Hello. Hello. Hello.

Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha.
You never listen to word that I said
You only seen me
For the clothes that I wear
Or did the interest go so much deeper
It must have been
The colour of my hair.

Public image.
What you wanted was never made clear
Behind the image was ignorance and fear
You hide behind his public machine
Still follow the same old scheme.

Public image.
Two sides to every story
Somebody had to stop me
I'm not the same as when I began
I will not be treated as property.

Public image.
Two sides to every story
Somebody had to stop me
I'm not the same as when I began
It's not a game of Monopoly.

Public image.
Public image you got what you wanted
The Public Image belongs to me
It's my entrance
My own creation
My grand finale
My goodbye

Public image.
Public image.



The Clash's Joe Strummer

"(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais" starts by recounting an all-night reggae "showcase" night at the Hammersmith Palais in Shepherd's Bush Road, London headlined by Dillinger, Leroy Smart and Delroy Wilson. Strummer was disillusioned that these performances had been more pop entertainment d than "roots rock rebel", i.e. militant and message-oriented. He scornfully references the Four Tops-like dance routines, the  "encores from stage right". The song also swipes at the flash-in-the-pan fad  for power pop, aka Thamesbeat, groups like The Pleasers - a be-suited throwback to early-Beatleism, when the Fab Four were just smiley variety performers happy to do a turn at the Royal Command Performance. 

Midnight to six man

For the first time from Jamaica

Dillinger and Leroy Smart

Delroy Wilson, your cool operator

Ken Boothe for UK pop reggae

With backing bands sound systems

If they've got anything to say

There's many black ears here to listen

But it was Four Tops all night with encores from stage right 

Charging from the bass knives to the treble

But onstage they ain't got no roots rock rebel


Punk rockers in the UK

They won't notice anyway

They're all too busy fighting

For a good place under the lighting

The new groups are not concerned

With what there is to be learned

They got Burton suits, huh, you think it's funny

Turning rebellion into money

All over people changing their votes

Along with their overcoats

If Adolf Hitler flew in today

They'd send a limousine anyway


Mark Fisher

"Camp centres on play-acting & distanciation: that's why it's the form of postmodern subjectivity par excellence: I don't believe but nevertheless I play along.

"Dysphoria, meanwhile, involves both a disdain for play-acting & an inability to achieve any distance, including oneself."

- via @k_punk_unlife


Okkervil River's "Pop Lie"

"The song's lyrics, like other lyrics from The Stand Ins and its predecessor, The Stage Names are about the misconceptions and deceptions that surround the perceptions of fame... With a barely hidden hint of the bitterness of a disillusioned fan forced to grow up and throw away dreams, yet also with the wearily resigned acceptance of a performer now charged with creating them, Sheff has lived the lie from both sides and implies that we are all participants in it. Some of us tune in more knowingly than others, of course, but most of us are willing, wanting, even begging to believe. And who can blame us for being complicit with the chorus Sheff has crafted here? As the song closes, Sheff names himself the liar, but when presented so perfectly, even this admission of insincerity can only add up to adulation. In fact, everything about this track seems engineered to inspire exactly the sort of devotion it derides. The "Pop Lie" is persistent" - Christel Loar, PopMatters

 "Pop Lie" Okkervil River  

.... Will Sheff's emotional victim King-Lear-played-by-Jonathan-Richman mode can go both ways; here he is simply handing down utter contempt, and it is glorious. It's intriguing that the arrangement is more bubblegummy than you'd expect from their usual hankering after resonance, so it invites consideration as the cultural target, but it's synth pop from 1979–80 that is no particular pied piper threat today—much more something, well, I'd like. I've made more peace with popular content than Will, and I'm surprised at how enthusiastic I am to hear such an articulate denouncement of it. What a joyous emotional tangle this is—betrayal seething, our singer is in a condemning mood, but the invective keeps pointing straight back to the very man on stage with the microphone. One of the most sophisticated pieces of social science in years looks at the pop fandom system, and is utterly horrified: fans carefully select entertainment whose self-serving lie best propitiates their self-serving vanities. In Sheff's unimprovable words, "the man who dreamed up the dream that they wrecked their hearts upon." Half the rhymes in the song are to "-ated," and with that constraint, dig the social architecture set up in the following: "Get completely incorporated/By some couple who consummated/Their first love by the dawn/A falling star wished upon/That fried in the sky and was gone." This isn't just he done her wrong, this is, for one thing, a bunch of people: crowd dynamics. This is, okay, the first couple witnessing the second couple, and getting "incorporated." The fourth wall of the relationship in isolation is broached, and we see the pop lie at work: fame, peer pressure, whatever, mediated the romance, but it is not really a guiding star. It steals what it needs for a third party's music career, or whatever, and then is gone over the horizon. 

- from Scott Miller, Music: What Happened? 


"Pop Lie" lyrics

All sweetly sung and succinctly stated
Words and music he calculated
To make you sing along
With your stereo on,
As you stand in your shorts on your lawn
Get completely incorporated
By some couple who consummated
Their first love by the dawn

A falling star wished upon
That flashed in the sky and was gone
And, mouths wet and blonde hair braided
By the back room the kids all waited
To meet the man in bright green
Who had dreamed up the dream
That they wrecked their hearts upon
He's the liar who lied in his pop song
And you're lying when you sing along
And you're lying when you sing along

So, here's to car seats so cruelly weighted
And here's to faces already faded,
At the end of the day
When they just threw away
The only good thing that they owned,
And now they're pinned down and strangulated
But, at the food court, the float's inflated

And people line up to see
The man who dreamed up the dream
That they wrecked their hearts upon
He's the liar who lied in his pop song
The liar who lied in his pop song,
And you're lying when you sing along
Oh yeah, you're lying when you sing along

Week by week it climbs up and comes on,
And we're feeling all right, though we know it's all wrong
I'm ashamed to admit that I cannot resist what I wish were the truth but is not
And I truly believe we're not strong
And we'll sing until our voices are gone,
And then sink beneath that manicured lawn

This is respectfully dedicated
To the woman who concentrated
All of her love to find
That she had wasted it on
The liar who lied in this song

"a goulash of degeneracy" - glam written off by Grace Lichenstein, fan of flannel-wearing Rousseau-rockers Creedence Clearwater Revival

Alice Cooper? David Bowie? Ugh! And Ugh Again!

By Grace Lichtenstein

September 24, 1972


UGH. Alice Cooper is ugly. His music is ugly. His boa constrictor is ugly. Why, then, is he the hottest rock act around? Because, my pets, ugly is in. Call it freak rock, transvestite rock or decadent rock, the uglies are the latest giggle on the pop music scene. Whether freak rock is just a momentary lapse in the development of popular taste or the harbinger of even greater excess remains to be seen, but the trend can't be ignored.


Alice Cooper's “School's Out” rode at the top of the record charts all summer, while the band drew huge crowds in person on its summer tour. Hard on its (high) heels have come David Bowie, a young Englishman who bears a resemblance to the actress Lee Grant; Queen, a drag group in California; and the New York Dolls, preening each Tuesday night in the Oscar Wilde Room of the Mercer Arts Center.


Actually there is a wide disparity in the styles of the groups. What unites them is their use of standard hard rock music as a framework for kinky lyrics, bizarre costumes, garish makeup, and, most of all, flamboyant stage shows that blend homo‐eroticism, and sado‐masochism into a goulash of degeneracy.


There's nothing particularly new, of course, in rock theatricality. Back in the fifties, Little Richard committed indecent acts onstage with his piano. In the sixties, Jimi Hendrix and Peter Town shend smashed their guitars to pieces as the climax of their acts. A fellow named Arthur Brown used to come on stage dressed as a sultan on the shoul ders of pseudo‐Nubian slaves, if I remember cor rectly. Nor should we forget the late Jim Morrison who, in a rare moment of spontaneity, exposed himself.

These days, a number of major performers have incorporated weirdness into their shows. There's Keith Emerson of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, who hurls knives into his Moog, Rod Stewart, who twirls microphone stands, Elton John, who does gymnas tics atop his piano. A measure of how important theatricality is in today's rock may be seen in what has happened to the Jefferson Airplane. Here is a group that has given us some of the best Ameri can popular music for years, a group that could excite an audience if it played in a sewer. Yet its latest stage show features a topless dancer.

 But with the Airplane, Stewart, John and others, one always senses that the theatricality is an over lay—the music still comes first. With freak rock, freakiness is too often a substitute for strong musical ideas. Give the boys and girls a circus, the thinking seems to be, and they'll forget you're laying down the same tired old chords. Besides, the thinking goes, their critical sensibility is probably so curdled by downers it doesn't even matter.

Perhaps we should blame it on the Stones, since Cooper and the rest seem to have borrowed much from their example. The Stones played wonderful high‐energy music while making androgyny accept able. Now, the outrageousness they only implied has been made explicit by Alice Cooper.

 Alice (the name of the lead singer as well as the group) plays archetypal punk rock—the pimply music the fifties rock and rollers so excelled in, which the Stones brought to fruition in the sixties. Any kid who ever threw up from too many beers at a basement party, any kid who was ever dragged to the dean's office for disrupting a class, any kid who ever dreamed of breaking loose while slinging Big Whoppers in the local Burger King can relate to Alice's songs. Nasty, yes. Juvenile, yes. But they have touched the nerve center of teen‐age malaise.

 “I'm Eighteen,” the group's first hit single, caught the mood perfectly. Alice sang about being a boy and a man, into pills and drugs, with no direction, “… and I like it.” Their latest album, “Schools Out,” mines the same vein much more fully. And it's pretty scary stuff.

 Forget leftist politics, forget all that peace‐love stuff. Alice's classmates are your basic weirdos, the acne‐grease crowd. “Public Animal Number Nine,” as the title of one of the songs goes, is the school troublemaker on his way to the peniten tiary. In “Alma Mater,” a parody love song (“You know it breaks my heart to leave you—Camel back, my high school….”) Alice reminisces about the fun he had dropping a snake down a girl's dress. In the title cut, Alice makes an anthem out of his punkiness:


We got no class


and we got no principles


and we got no innocence…


All the adolescent hatred of school comes pouring out of the song as the band whines in falsetto, “no more pencils, no more books” right into the orgiastic chorus:


School's out for summer


School's out for ever


School's been blown to pieces!


The song ends with the clanging of a school bell that gives way to a Moog synthesized scream. Any questions why it sold a mil lion copies?

 There certainly is no question that Alice's appeal lies in his flat‐out outrageous ness. In his live stage shows, be simply carries his pus laden ideas to their logical conclusion. Why not ring your eyes with black make up and slink like a hairy queen, when homosexuality in the rock world is still at the outer limits of accept ability? Why not wrap a boa constrictor around your neck as you sing—and then kiss it—how wonderfully disgust ing! What could be better for a socko ending than to do a medley of your own “Gutter Cat” song and “The Jets Song” from “West Side Story,” stage a miniature gang fight, then — ecstasy! — hang yourself from a gallows, right there in front 30,000 people!


Alice used to hack a baby doll to pieces in his act. He still fondles his privates when the mood strikes him. There will come a point of diminishing returns, I'm sure, where only something really terrific, like an actual killing, say, will satisfy his fans.

 There are moments at an Alice Cooper concert when that does not seem completely inconceivable. At Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City a few weeks ago, the antics of the crowd were matched in grotesquery by those on the five busloads of rock industry heavies who came along on the cham pagne run from Manhattan. The heavies got so wrecked on Quaaludes and bubbly that by the time one bus reached the Jersey Turnpike a young man had grabbed the driver's microphone and was announcing in Spanish that the bus was being hijacked to Cuba.

 At the stadium itself, boys who looked no older than 12 were cradling fifths of J&B in their arms. In the front rows, wild‐eyed fans swayed un steadily on top of wooden chairs to the music. Every once in a while one would lose his balance, topple into the crowd and set off a domino‐like reaction as other bodies went down too. One British writer was knocked off the stage; dozens of other people came away black and blue.

 At the end of the show, Alice leered out over the crowd and murmured, “You know what? You're crazier than we are!”

 The Dolls merely take Cooper's epicene punkiness one step further. David Johanson, the 20‐year‐old lead singer, pouts prettily in the Mick Jagger mode, strutting around on stage in platform heels. The drummer wears dark red lipstick. The lead guitarist wears satin hot pants and the bassist, jeweled sunglasses. The music is loud and not particularly distin guished but the Oscar Wilde audiences adore it, espe cially the limp gestures by Johanson.

 Even more bizarre than the Dolls is the act that pre cedes it at the Mercer Arts Center, Ruby and the Red necks. Ruby is a campy, vampy shark‐toothed shrieker who manages to make fun of female rock singers and Liza Minnelli cabaret performers at the same time. Some viewers have apparently been entranced by her use of her breasts as maracas; those with prurient interests should be warned that, the night I saw her, her dress kept slip ping off her shoulder to re veal mostly bones.

 All of which leads inevitably to David Bowie, an English singer, songwriter and guitarist. His first New York date this Thursday has been preceded by a mam moth publicity campaign that has built him up to be the first acknowledged bisexual superstar. To judge from his albums, the latest of which is “Ziggy Stardust and the Spider from Mars,” and from photos of his live shows in England (Bowie poised, legs spread wide, in a peek‐a‐boo glittering hot pants suit, orange hair in a Jane Fonda razor cut, plenty of mascara to show off those lovely eyes), Bowie is the ultimate in self‐ conscious decadence. It is as if Alice Cooper's teenage punk had hung around Christopher's End until he finally met an uptown benefactor who bought him some fancy threads and taught him some manners.

 “I'll be a rock ‘n’ rollin’ bitch for you,” Bowie sings in “Moonage Daydream.” Well, not for me, David, but perhaps for lots of others. Bowie already has competition in Britain from the likes of Gary Glitter and cute little Marc Bolan of T. Rex.

 It's not terribly surprising that rock has reached this point; the music itself has become thoroughly self‐conscious after almost two dec ades of growth. The real question is why the high school and college record buying public has taken the Cooper genre to its bosom. Maybe it's out of sheer bore dom. I mean, if, at the age of 18, you've already worked your way through the Kama Sutra and the Physician's Desk Reference, perhaps there's nothing left for you but transvestites and violence.

 Creedence Clearwater, where are you now that we really need you?


George Monbiot and his Actor Index: 

 This might sound strange, but I think we can judge the health of a public culture by what I call the Actor Index. This measures the proportion of featured interviews in the newspapers that are devoted to actors. The higher the proportion, the greater the trouble we’re in

Now I have nothing against actors. But, by definition, we value them for their ability to adopt someone else’s persona and speak someone else’s words. Fetishising actors reveals an obsession with images, rather than with the realities they obscure.

Guy Debord argued that “the spectacle” (the domination of social relationships by images) is used to justify the “dictatorship of modern economic production”. It disguises and supplants the realities of capitalism, changing our perceptions until we become “consumers of illusion”.

I don’t have the stats to support my impression (hello media students). But it seems to me that the proportion of featured interviews devoted to actors, rather than to people whose skill is to speak their own words and do their own deeds, has been rising steadily for decades.

It has now reached the point of absurdity. I'd guess that roughly 60% of big featured interviews are now with actors, rather than with fascinating people in thousands of other walks of life. Something strange is happening, and it astonishes me that so few people seem to notice.

Of course I don’t mistake the media for society. I know that most media organisations have an interest in avoiding what is true and troubling, and directing our minds to the spectacle, disguising the realities of capitalism. But there’s clearly a market for this obsession, so I think it’s fair to see this apparent phenomenon as reflecting public culture, while recognising that this culture is shaped to a large extent by the private interests of the press. 

Debord’s book Society of the Spectacle, published over 50 years ago, was remarkably prescient. I think it describes to a frightening degree the world in which we now live, but which was only beginning to take shape when the book was written.

But how do we know how far we have progressed towards his frightening vision? I would like to propose the Actor Index as a measure of the extent to which we have succumbed to the spectacle, and have become consumers of illusion. In other words, as a measure of our sickness.

As specialists of apparent life, stars serve as superficial objects that people can identify with in order to compensate for the fragmented productive specialisations that they actually live - Debord



Holden Caulfield's in The Catcher in the Rye - 


If there’s one thing I hate, it’s the movies. Don’t even mention them to me.”


"I hate actors. They never act like people. They just think they do...if an actor acts [a part] out, I hardly listen. I keep worrying about whether he's going to do something phony every minute"


"If you do something too good [as a thespian], then, after a while, if you don’t watch it, you start showing off. And then you’re not as good any more."

"I figured that anybody that hates the movies as much as I do, I'd be a phony if I let them stick me in a movie short."


All is phony” - Bob Dylan


Unlike R.E.M.'s previous two albums, Monster incorporated distorted guitar tones, minimal overdubs, and touches of 1970s glam rock. Peter Buck described the album as "a 'rock' record, with the 'rock' in quotation marks." He explained, "That's not what we started out to make, but that's certainly how it turned out to be. There's a nudge, nudge, wink, wink feel to the whole record. Like, it's a rock record, but is it really?"] Mike Mills told Time, "On past albums we had been exploring acoustic instruments, trying to use the piano and mandolin, and we did it about all we wanted to do it. And you come back to the fact that playing loud electric-guitar music is about as fun as music can be." Stipe's vocals were pushed down in the mix.Buck's guitar work on the album was inspired by the tremolo-heavy guitar playing of Glen Johansson of Echobelly, who supported R.E.M. on some of the Monster Tour.The album's music has been described as grunge and alternative rock by critics. The band has called it a "foxy, in-your-face, punk rock, trashed and stupid" record. "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?", "Crush with Eyeliner" and "Circus Envy" have been described as glam rock.


Stipe wrote Monster's lyrics in character; this, according to biographer Dan Buckley, "set the real Stipe at a distance from the mask adopted for each song." The album dealt with the nature of celebrity and "the creepiness of fandom as pathology". Buck called the album a reaction to the band's popularity: "When I read the lyrics I thought, all these guys are totally fucked up. I don't know who they are, because they're not Michael. I would say that this was the only time where he's done characters that are creepy, and I don't know if anyone got that. He was getting out his things by acting out these parts that are not him." The band noted that at the end of certain songs, they left blank choruses (where Mills and Berry would usually sing harmony) so fans could sing along.

"The song 'Let Me In' is me on the phone to Kurt, trying to get him out of the frame of mind he was in," said Stipe. "I wanted him to know he didn't need to pay attention to all this; that he was going to make it through. I know what the next Nirvana record was going to sound like. It was going to be an amazing fucking record, and I'm a little angry at him for killing himself. He and I were going to make a trial run of the album. It was set up. He had a plane ticket. At the last minute he called and said, 'I can't come.'


Huggy Bear / Riot Grrrl aligned band Linus








Although Sister Aimee Semple McPherson condemned theater and film as the devil's workshop, its techniques were co-opted. She became the first woman evangelist to adopt cinematic methods to avoid dreary church services. Serious messages were delivered in a humorous tone. Animals were frequently incorporated. McPherson gave up to 22 sermons a week, including lavish Sunday night services so large that extra trolleys and police were needed to help route the traffic through Echo Park. To finance the Temple and its projects, collections were taken at every meeting.

McPherson employed a small group of artists, electricians, decorators, and carpenters, who built sets for each service. Religious music was played by an orchestra. McPherson also worked on elaborate sacred operas. One production, The Iron Furnace, based on the Exodus story, saw Hollywood actors assist with obtaining costumes.


from Perry Mason, an evangelist character, Sister Alice, transparently based on McPherson


As You Like It,

 Act II, Scene VII 



Jaques to Duke Senior


                        All the world's a stage,

And all the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and their entrances,

And one man in his time plays many parts,

His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,

Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.

Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel

And shining morning face, creeping like snail

Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,

Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad

Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,

Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,

Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,

Seeking the bubble reputation

Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,

In fair round belly with good capon lined,

With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,

Full of wise saws and modern instances;

And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts

Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,

With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;

His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide

For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,

Turning again toward childish treble, pipes

And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,

That ends this strange eventful history,

Is second childishness and mere oblivion,

Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.


Rush - "Limelight" and All the World's A Stage


Living on a lighted stage

Approaches the unreal

For those who think and feel

In touch with some reality beyond the gilded cage

Cast in this unlikely role

Ill-equipped to act

With insufficient tact

One must put up barriers to keep oneself intact

Living in the limelight, the universal dream

For those who wish to seem

Those who wish to be, must put aside the alienation

Get on with the fascination

The real relation, the underlying theme


Living in a fisheye lens

Caught in the camera eye

I have no heart to lie

I can't pretend a stranger is a long-awaited friend


All the world's indeed a stage

We are merely players

Performers and portrayers

Each another's audience outside the gilded cage

Living in the limelight, the universal dream

For those who wish to seem

Those who wish to be, must put aside the alienation

Get on with the fascination

The real relation, the underlying theme

Living in the limelight, the universal dream

For those who wish to seem

Those who wish to be, must put aside the alienation

Get on with the fascination

The real relation, the underlying theme

The real relation

The underlying theme


"bored with the mundane"

  "Boys Keep Swinging"-echoing provocations from Tricky Kid and Martina T-B