Thursday, May 12, 2022

Exordium & Terminus

"For what, he never knew, now man's reign is through. But through eternal night, the twinkling of starlight. So very far away, maybe it's only yesterday."

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

We Can Be Together

We were young, broke, and likely knew in the back of our minds that we were not in it together for the long run. We were both unprepared to raise a child on every level possible, nor did we want a child. After much thought and discussion, we decided that abortion was the only option. It was far from an easy CHOICE for either of us, though ultimately it was my girlfriend's CHOICE to make.

We had to borrow money for the procedure and the entire experience was incredibly tough and emotionally draining, especially dealing with the nutjob Forced Birthers protesting outside of the clinic. I look back with no regrets. It was the right CHOICE for us to not bring an unwanted chid in to this world — and as far as I know, neither does my ex-girlfriend.

When the government dictates women's fundamental right to be in charge of their own bodies and future, it is not the time to stay silent. Donate, vote, and take to the streets to fight back against the growing fascistic Theocracy in any way that you can.

I’s high time for a general strike.

Monday, May 2, 2022

Quarantined In Dub

Another new stunner of an album; up there with the latest from Horace Andy and Spiritualized as the very best of 2022. A must-own for any dedicated dub fanatic, featuring the best and most ridiculous cover-art. Jammy brings the booming bass and strikes again!

Queen Of The Beatniks

Judy Henske
Rest In Peace

Henske never got the due she deserved, even though the fantastic psychedelic album Farewell Aldebaran she recorded with Jerry Yester has gained underground record nerd acclaim over the years. For my money though, it’s these two albums that should be known the world over. Hopefully she’ll gain some much deserved posthumous recognition now that she’s gone.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Today Is Right Here

Horace Andy cut his first record back in 1967 and countless classics in the years since ("Skylarking", "Fever," "See A Man's Face," "Every Tongue Shall Tell," his version of ""Ain't No Sunshine," "Government Land" "Money Money," "Child of the Ghetto," "Love Is The Light,"  and on and on). He released the essential 'Dance Hall Style' LP in 1982, gained much deserved notice outside of reggae via his work with Massive Attack in the 1990s, and now at age 71 has released one of the best albums of year.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Bombing The System!

Fare thee well to Keith Grayson, better known as DJ Kay Slay aka DEZZY DEZ. If you’re of a certain age and grew up in NYC, you know his massive importance in our street culture: graffiti, DJing, mixtapes, publishing... the man rocked it all. Another truly sad loss from Covid, and gone way too young. Rest In Peace.

Photograph by Henry Chalfant

Monday, April 11, 2022

Swing For The Crime

"Locked in a room full of words
I'm a one-eyed midget with a curse
The simpleton who sweetly smiles
At his young lover now beguiled
The sycophantic morons lied
At Romeo, who is the bride, let's ride

Stoned as I walk down the hall
The ad men wait to hear the curse and call
The angels scream in discontent
As to the river they are lent
The actors bow and pay the rent
We cover them in cold cement
Let's swing for the crime
Everyone in double-time

And we hope that you had a good time
Yeah, smile as you sign on the line
Because life on your knees can be fun
Surprised now you're not the only one

Led like a lamb into this gloom
Yeah, Freud is in a back room with his goons
Now they've got new experiments
The metal groans, the limbs are rent
The anti-heroes mock dissent
We market now by mass consent
We swing for the crime
Everyone in double-time

Scream like you'll burst if they cry
Is changed by the words that you learn
But Jack the Ripper is inside
And Moriarty has imbibed
They live, they marry, all the while
We laugh and have them circumcised

And we hope that you had a good time
Yeah, smile as you sign on the line
Because life on your knees can be fun
Are you glad that you're not the only one?"

There's rightfully much praise and ink-spilled over Chris Baily's incredible voice — the perfect combination of punk snottiness, a deep down-under blues ache and longing with a sarcastic, winking bite — but it needs to be noted that the man was also a one of a kind lyricist, up there with the very best. May his memory be a blessing.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Miles Ahead

"If you sacrifice your art because of some woman, or some man, or for some color, or for some wealth, you can't be trusted."

Photograph: Lee Greenfeld

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Busy Being Born

Fare thee well to activist/historian/author Todd Gitlin. I read his book The Sixties: Years Of Hope, Days Of Rage the year it was published (when I was in high school), and to say it was a big inspiration on my way of thinking would be a major understatement. The book made me seek out so much, and helped form my early political outlook. He caught criticim in later years (much of it unwarrented in my mind), but stayed true to his basic ideals which first gained an audience back when he was president of the Students For A Democratic Society. The world lost an important fighter, thinker and chronicler. May his memory be a blessing.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Free Your Mind

"If this nation is to be wise as well as strong, if we are to achieve our destiny, then we need more new ideas for more wise men reading more good books in more public libraries. These libraries should be open to all—except the censor. We must know all the facts and hear all the alternatives and listen to all the criticisms. Let us welcome controversial books and controversial authors. For the Bill Of Rights is the guardian of our security as well as our liberty."

Monday, January 31, 2022

45 Revolutions: Shoot The Pump

It doesn't get much more early '80s NYC than this. Truly funky proto hip hop with a ton of Latin flavor, featuring graffiti writers ALI-1 and COCA 82. Rrecorded and released by none other than the legendary John Hammond (issued in the UK by Island Records).

Monday, January 24, 2022

Don't Feel So Bad

 Don't get me wrong, I generally dig the entire Rodgers & Hammerstein (and Hart) songbook, but find the original film version of "My Favorite Thing" to be aural pablum with truly cringe-inducing lyrics. Coltrane took the song and injected it with otherworldly spirit and soul; while his studio version is gorgeous, he took it even further into the stratosphere live. My favorite version is from 1961 with Eric Dolphy killing it on flute (found in mediocre fidelty on the European Impressions LP), but this version here from a few years later, which I only recently discovered, is fucking sonic perfection on par with the greateast of all American art.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Friday, January 7, 2022

Thursday, December 30, 2021

2021 Reading Run-Down

Vanishing New York by Jeremiah Moss (second read)
The Fire This Time by James Baldwin
Soccer Vs. The State by Gabriel Kuhn
Ragtime by E.L. Doctrow
Peter And The Wolves by Adele Bertei
Like Dreamers by Yossi Klein
What Unites Us by Dan Rather
The Good Lord Bird by James McBride
Football Against The Enemy by Simon Kuper
Playing Bass With Three Hands by Will Carruthers
I Hear Your Voice by Young-Ha Kim
We Fight Fascists: The 43 Group And Their Forgotten Battle For Post-War Britain By Daniel Sonabend
Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem
The Revolutionary Ideas Of Karl Marx by Alex Callinicos
So Many Roads by David Browne
High-Rise by J. G. Ballard. 

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Blue Night

“So much of Didion’s writing is about the formless nature of our lives and the inability of ‘thinking’ to get us anyplace new. The way the days accrue without any inherent purpose, how the possibility for cruelty simmers under our intimate relationships. The gap between our archetypes and reality, the dreamy songs of true love and white dresses juxtaposed with the black eye. … There are no good guys, no heroes, and whatever meaning we find is entirely self-imposed. What to write in the face of that chaos? If trying to think herself out of it didn’t work, what else for Didion to do than pin down the world as she saw it, follow the images that have that internal urgency, what she called a ‘shimmer’? How else to make sense of a world without any intrinsic narrative, no teleological release?” -Emma Cline, Joan Didion's Specific Vision

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Ain't No Half-Steppin'

“[Bed Stuy] is not changing. It’s already completely changed. I’m not a big fan of a lot of that. I feel like they’re erasing history. If you renovate apartments and if you have nicer stores that’s cool. But when you get rid of historic places or things that mean a lot to the people from there I think that’s wrong. I can’t take my kids back and show them certain things because they’re gone.” -Big Daddy Kane

Words: Village Voice interview, 2103
Photograph: Catherine McGann, 1988

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Sunday Routine

“I worked last night slinging drinks to entitled douchebags, getting out of the bar at like 5am, so I woke up feeling like shit at around noon. Made myself a pot of Bustelo, turned on the TV to NY1, zoned out and thought about what I wanted for breakfast. Seeing as I was pretty hungover, I decided on Chinese from the spot up the block with the bulletproof glass. Walking back home I picked up the Daily News and a bottle of Manhattan Special (on Sundays I figure I deserve a treat). Back home to the couch to eat my food out of the carton and read the sports pages. Napped for a while. Woke up, counted my tips, and watched a western on TCM. I skipped lunch, napped some more, and ate what was left of my Chinese for dinner. I read the book I've been trying to finish for six months, showered, and crawled into bed... That's my Sunday Routine™." -bartender Marco Floyd, 47

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Blood On The Streets

We Fight Fascists: The 43 Group And Their Forgotten Battle For Post-War Britain (Verso) is the story of the Jewish World War II veterans (and their allies) who took to the streets to fight the resurgent fascist movement led by Oswald Mosley and others. This is a lovingly researched book (going back to pre-war UK), peppered with fantastic stories of espionage and violent direct action. Still a timely read, and a must for anyone who questions the use of violence against fascist scum. It's also interesting to note how The 43 Group were labeled as "political" (i.e. reds) as a way to tarnish and weaken their public support, when in fact their one unifying trait was being anti-fascist. (Sound familiar?) Also, who knew Vidal Sassoon was a total bad-ass?

Pictured: two original members of The 43 Group

Monday, July 26, 2021

Man Reveals Himself.

Fare thee well to “the father of grass-roots organizing” educator, civil rights activist, and true American hero Bob Moses. May his memory be a blessing and an inspiration. Rest In Peace.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

The Red, Yellow And Purple

Photograph: Ceremony and mural unveiling held today in Warsaw
(Poland) commemorating the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War on
July 17th, 1936, as well as honoring the 13th International Brigade.

Friday, July 9, 2021

Pigeon Cloud

Photograph: Builder Levy, 1987 (from Brooklyneeze)

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

River Deep Mountain High

"To be happy in this world, especially when youth is past, it is necessary to feel oneself not merely an isolated individual whose day will soon be over, but part of the stream of life flowing on from the first germ to the remote and unknown future."

Words: Bertrand Russell from The Conquest of Happiness, 1930

Sunday, July 4, 2021

The People’s Flag

True American patriotism is anti-fascist

Photograph: American volunteers from the Abraham Lincoln Brigade returning to
NYC after fighting in the Spanish Civil War, 1939. Colorized, photographer unknown

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Sound Is In Your City

It’s a massive historical oversight that 1969's Harlem Cultural Festival has never gotten its due... Until now. (The list of performers who played the multi-weekend fest is pretty mind-blowing: Nina Simone, B.B. King, Sly  & The Family Stone, David Ruffin, Mongo Satamaria, Abbey Lincoln, Max Roach, The 5th Dimension, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Stevie Wonder, and Mahalia Jackson, to name a handful.)

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Ecstacy In Slow Motion

Playing The Bass With Three Hands is one of the best new memoirs I’ve read in ages; Will Caruthers is a hell of a storyteller, his voice lifting off the pages and flowing into your mind's eye with crystalline clarity. His tale is dark, laugh out loud  funny, insightful, inspirational, druggy, and brutally honest. It's also nearly impossible to put down.

There’s really no need to be a fan of any of Cartuthers’ bands to enjoy the book — though it’s a must-read for Spacemen 3 fans, if only for the brilliant and hysterical chapter on the Dreamweapon concert, aka “A Night Of Contemporary Sitar Music” — as it’s much more than just a look back at a “career” in music. Anyone who grew up in a go-nowhere town craving escape, be it via chemicals, music or otherwise, will be enthralled, as well as anyone who spent any time working a shit job (there’s one particularly horrifying chapter on that). The book also works as a perfect primer on the grim realities of how commerce corrupts art, and how unglamorous life on the road in a band on a limited budget can be.  

Rating: Three thumbs up.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

No Forgive Action

If you’re of a certain age and grew up in NYC you know the thrill of seeing a fully painted train car pulling into the subway station. There’s nothing else like it. FUTURA 2000 was taking things to another level well before graffiti was in any way respected as true art — or commodified by companies looking for street-cred — rocking this classic top-to-bottom full-car back in 1980. He went on to do stellar work for The Clash and others, and produced the stone-classic Phillies Blunt shirts (with SHARP, if I’m not mistaken). To see a corporation which attempts to portray itself as a “street” brand ripping him off (and writing off his legacy), is disgraceful.

Spread the word: boycott The North Face and all affiliated brands (Vans, Supreme, etc.) until they do the right thing and pay the man. And fuck ‘em, boycott them after that too.

Photograph: Martha Cooper