By Michael E. Miller
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Munzenrieder
By Sabrina Rodriguez
By Michael E. Miller
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Luther Campbell
By Kyle Munzenrieder
The Right to Rock outfit, which tries to fight the type of censorship mentioned above, has good news and bad news. Stores in several states, says RtR's Lee Ballinger, now have alarms that sound whenever a stickered recording is purchased. Several upcoming albums will not include scheduled songs because they deal with police-related topics (the chilling effect made obvious). Some wildman gang called the American Family Association is snapping at the heels who run MTV. In the good news department, Ballinger reports that a number of Americans are organizing to fight this siege on freedom. On October 30 petitions against warning stickers and other forms of censorship will be presented to music-industry powerheads, followed by a demonstration at PMRC headquarters. Write RRC, Box 341305, Los Angeles, CA 90034 or fax 310-841-6059 or call 310-204-0827.
And here on Planet Miami, at least one band is farting in the face of these police-state tactics. Kreamy Lectric Santa, currently recording, has invited poet Lionel Goldbart to guest, and Goldbart says part of his contribution will be to play the role of a policeman on one song.
The WLRN Great Getaway Travel Auction has been postponed until November 7.
A couple of weeks ago I stopped by the New Times office to cop my paycheck so I could afford more Beanee Weenees, and I bumped into Big Jim Larkin (ouch), co-owner of the NT conglom, who had flown in from his Arizona headquarters to pick up some firewood. "Baker, you come in to write something about the hurricane?" Larkin asked. "Which hurricane is that, Big Jim?" I answered. "People wanna know what you think about it," he offered. "Hey, Larkin, give me my freakin' check so I can go get my Beanee Weenees."
What do I think of Andrew? Here's what: A handful of my favorite acts, two of youngblood nature, the others grizzled veterans, have new and wonderful albums out: John Wesley Harding, Too Much Joy, Ramones, Graham Parker, and Tom Waits. Here, Jim, let me break it down for you, the newcomers now, the others another time: John Wesley Harding, Why We Fight: Folk noir that's self-conscious as hell, in an endearing and enduring sort of way. That's Wes's greatest strength: he writes autobiography without mentioning himself. I mean, how self-referential was the title Here Comes the Groom for a stateside, major-label debut? Not very if you listened to that aural movie, which the Los Angeles Times, drifting into hyperbole, dubbed "the first great rock album of the Nineties." As an example of how seriously Wes takes that sort of praise, note that his current press material lists each release with a similar quote beneath it. For Why We Fight the space is blank, except for this: "Your quote here." And while JWH admits to swilling fancy juice drinks (apple/lemon/double ginger being his fave), the guy is as down to earth as x-brand sneakers. Read his book. Recall his South Beachside radio interview.... The Elvis Costello comparisons have now faded, the Dylan links are increasing thanks to masterful lyrical twists (fairly important to folk noir music) such as, "You know if Jesus was a rent boy/Then God was his pimp/The People in Power they squeezed him/Until he went limp/If the new messiah called here/First we'd put him on hold/Get him a deal and a good-looking haircut/We'd make him look less old" from "Get Back Down," or "I was arrested for disturbing the peace/But, hey, I was disturbing the war" from "The Truth," wherein God's weary voice sounds like Richard Gere and "Somebody said, `God's had a bad fall/That's his manager taking his calls.'" Then there's "The Original Miss Jesus," with a woman as "naked as a true apology." Sorry, but Dylan has a lot of catching up to do. (Ouch.) Even the master never conceived a song as melancholy and moving as "Hitler's Tears" (he was "fascist before it was cool"). Then again, who has?
Too Much Joy, Mutiny: Like our man Wes, these snotrockers from Scarsdale, New Yawk, fare so well because they recognize, dismiss, and musically dis that what they are. For a rock band that got arrested after performing 2 Live Crew songs in a SoFlo club and that was threatened with a lawsuit by Bozo the Clown, there is something defining in the fact that their "Clowns" (from Son of Sam I Am) was tagged onto the end of the deliriously dark and funny film Shakes the Clown. It's funny, yeah it's funny, that younger artists are so aware of their true significance in a world spinning pell-mell, in a world where no band really matters and every note matters more than it ever did. Of all the great fodder and infectious rocking out on this album, these lines from "Magic" probably best capture the TMJ ethos: "I have walked down train tracks/drunk at three a.m./It's no great trick, it's not magic/when the trains don't run till six/That's the kind of guy I am/The kind of guy who needs a girl/who hates guys like me." Plus, in "Sorry," they sing "don't know why we fight," taking us full circle squared.
Everyone should have known for months that an Andrew would hit here, especially those agrifolks down in Homestead. From The Old Farmer's Almanac of 1992, page 156: "A possible hurricane crossing southern Florida at the end of August...." Now that's what I call an I Told You So.
Things can get a bit tricky in the communication business when you're surviving in a true jungle -- as John Wesley Harding sings on his new album, "The phone lines are on strike and the doormen are all down" and "And it's snowing at home/And we're incommunicado/'Cos they cut off the phones." I still don't understand how FPL can restore electricity to 536,000 out of 620,000 customers while Southern Bell can't handle the loss of only two percent of its customers. Knowing that phone lines by law are at least 36 inches underground, I feel let down to still not have phone service because the line from my house to the pole snapped during Andrew. (I'm not complaining, I'm just amazed.) Anyway, at least two clubs were listed as "closed" in this paper's "Clubs" section, although both, according to sources, are in fact open. The Brickell Tavern called to say, hey, stop that, we're open and ready for the tired, hungry, and wind-blown. We also hooked up with the Tigertail in the Grove, which is now open after eleven days of darkness. See how easy it can be? If we can't reach you, you can always reach us. Just don't try calling me at home. All clubs, concert promoters, musicians, lunatics, drug dealers: Dial 372-0004. Even if you have no news to report, we'd still like to know you're okay. (To those who did call or who returned my calls: Thanks, hang in there.)
Butthorn of the week: Jesse Jackson for even showing his face around these parts. For once, it's not a racial thing.
The media circus: Keep-your-pants-on headline in the September 6 Miami Herald: "Pumice stone can remove dark leaf stains left on bottom by hurricane." Ouch.
Butthorn of the media circus from a few weeks ago: The Herald's Linda Robertson for suggesting that the UM Hurricanes change their team nickname. Get a grip, people.