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Archive for the ‘Punk’ Category

Grant Hart

Posted by purplemary54 on September 14, 2017

I’ve always been a Bob Mould kind of girl, and he’ll always be my favorite from Husker Du.  But hearing of Grant Hart’s passing today was heartbreaking.  He was Mould’s perfect foil and partner in art.  He was also the kind of drummer I like best: clean and economical, even within the ramshackle chaos that marked much of Husker Du’s oeuvre.  I really should say more, but I don’t know how (Rob Sheffield sure as hell does, though).  This loss makes me so damn sad.  Like the song says, it’s not funny anymore.


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“Love is All Around”

Posted by purplemary54 on January 4, 2017

One of the things I love most about music is that there is a never-ending treasure trove of incredible, wonderful songs to discover.  While watching Jeopardy! today, I discovered this little gem from Husker Du.  It might sound a little familiar to sitcom fans.

Yes, that’s the theme from The Mary Tyler Moore Show performed with fuzzy guitar and whipcrack drums by one of the darling bands of the post-Punk 80s.  Husker Du, for all their rage and raging sound, could be surprisingly gentle and tender.  This is one of the most optimistic songs ever about one of the most optimistic TV heroines ever, played by one of its most wholesomely appealing stars.  But while Bob Mould and company manage to keep that optimism and wholesome appeal intact, they can’t help but add a slight edge of Lou Grant style curmudgeon.  “You got spunk.  I hate spunk.”  There is absolutely nothing about this I don’t love.

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Thoughts on the Brexit

Posted by purplemary54 on July 13, 2016

I’m a couple weeks late on this one, but I had to spend a little time ruminating on the idea that Great Britain is about to go it alone again.  I finally settled on my official opinion:

It’s a really bad idea.

I’m not even going to pretend I fully understand all the economic and political ins and outs of the issue.  I can’t make heads or tails of those things in the U.S. sometimes, so I’m not even going to attempt it on other nations.  But I know that going trying to fly solo in this day and age after being a member of a more or less unified Europe isn’t really smart.  GB is going to have to work twice, maybe three times, as hard to achieve the same results they’ve been getting as a member of the EU.  Yes, they already have working relationships with the most of the countries that they’re going to be dealing with as an independent nation, but you know they’re former EU mates are going to be just the tiniest bit bitter and will probably make things a little tougher on the Brits than they have to be.

While I’ve never fully grasped the concept of all the separate countries of Europe as “unified” in some way, it makes sense.  There’s strength in numbers, and all the smaller countries of Europe working together as one theoretically gives them all a bigger voice and a bigger slice of the pie.  It also just seemed kind of nice.  After decades of war, uniting together made Europe seem even more like a victory against fascism and tyranny.  Years ago, when I told BFF that they were building a WWII memorial in Washington D.C., she commented that “They already have a monument to WWII.  It’s called Europe.”  That’s always stuck with me.  The fact that all these different groups and cultures banded together to save each other from Hitler, et al., said something important about humanity.  They believed in freedom and sovereignty.  They believed in fighting for human rights and equality.  While the EU has always been more a matter of economic convenience, I feel like there was a certain justice to it.  A reaffirmation that the only way to conquer ugliness and hatred was together.  They were united for the same goals, but they retained their individuality and history.

Of course, the European Union has never quite been the kind of Disney-esque “Small World” that existed in my head.  Many of the problems that have always existed with linking more and less successful individual economies were exacerbated by the last great recession.  And the ongoing strife, civil war, and terrorism of the nearby Middle East have spilled into Europe, primarily through refugees from war and ISIS attacks on EU countries.  But to bail on their fellow Europeans like this seems kind of churlish and selfish.

It’s also fearful.  That’s the biggest enemy to unity.  Great Britain has shown just how rattled they are by the complicated problems everyone is facing by running home and hiding in the back of the closet.  They’ve also shown just why these kinds of decisions, just like civil rights issues, should never be put to a popular vote.  Because given the chance, there is always a large portion of any population that will vote against what it is afraid of instead of in favor of what it hopes for.  They let fear (along with its attendants, racism and isolationism) win.  That’s what makes me the most sad about the whole thing.  It’s also what makes this ominous little classic the song that fits the current mood best.

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I’m Angry

Posted by purplemary54 on December 2, 2015

I’m just too pissed off right now.  I don’t want to think about all the damn shooting that’s been going on because our government is too beholden to the NRA and corporate interests to actually do something to stop it.  I don’t want to think about the way lies about Planned Parenthood inflamed a deranged man so badly that he decided to attack a clinic.  I don’t want to think about how close it is to the anniversary of Pearl Harbor or Lennon’s death.  I don’t want to think at all.  I just want to be angry.

All this anger is really harshing the mellow I got while opening my mind to the universe meditating yesterday.  And I don’t particularly want to think about that either.

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“I Can’t Breathe”

Posted by purplemary54 on February 23, 2015

I’m not entirely sure I should be starting the week out on such a dark note.  But this song demands attention.

I was going to make this a Freaky Friday post, but I decided to go with my Oscar picks instead.  (I went 0 for 2, but I’m not upset.  The music that won was good music.)  Really, I was just kind of avoiding exposing myself to this video again.

Pussy Riot’s first song in English is a good one.  They were in New York around the same time as the Eric Garner protests were happening, and they were inspired by that to write the song.  It is an oppressive song about oppression.  The electronic music and insistent drum beat give “I Can’t Breathe” a foreboding, ominous feeling–not surprising, given this band’s own experiences with oppression, censorship, and political imprisonment.  And I like the way fear and defiance balance each other out; they’re going to stand up for themselves even though they’re terrified about what might happen if they do.  That’s highlighted at the end by Richard Hell’s reading of Eric Garner’s final words.

But what makes this song indelible, and to me absolutely horrifying, is the video that features Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina being buried alive.  One of my major phobias is the idea of being buried alive.  It wigs me out beyond belief, and I found this video almost impossible to watch.  I started looking away from the screen as soon as I could see their faces.  It is massively disturbing and just as massively effective.  If you want to make a statement about the way people are being treated by law enforcement, you can’t do much better than this.

I recommend this song.  I suggest watching the video only in a well-lit, well ventilated place.  Outdoors works.  Outdoors, but only if you’re surrounded by concrete and other stuff that can’t be dug up and piled on top of you.

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Isla Vista

Posted by purplemary54 on May 27, 2014

I’m just done.

I know.  I’ve said it before.  Unfortunately, because this country has its head so far up the NRA’s ass we can see their lips move as they lie to us, I’ll probably have to say it again.  Soon.  My guess is, sometime within the next six months.

I’ve been struggling for the last few days to articulate my reaction to the latest shooting rampage by a psychopath.  I’m still not sure how to say what I really feel like I need to say.  This nightmare has again highlighted the need for better mental health care in this country, although I’m not sure how much that would’ve helped in this case.  This monster seemed to be able to pass himself off as relatively normal.  He probably fooled every therapist he ever had.  (I commend his parents for seeing that there was a problem, and trying to get law enforcement’s attention.)  But I can’t shake the idea that somewhere in this messed up kid’s life, someone with the right training and right access could’ve done something to stop him before he got started.

But what we really need is to ban guns.  Right now.  All of them.  Every single fucking weapon needs to be gone.

I don’t care about whatever pathetic excuses the NRA or stupid fucks who own guns are going to try to come up with to justify the fact that this horrific crime was committed with guns that were legally purchased and registered.  I don’t care about the Second Amendment.  Repeal it.  It has long since outlived both its usefulness and our ability to properly interpret what a “well-regulated militia” is.  (FYI, in my mind that means the cops and the standing military, neither of which we had when the Second Amendment was written.)  I just don’t care anymore.  I’m so sick of this, so furious to see more parents burying their babies, that nothing anyone will try to say can change my mind.  My hatred of all guns is now written in stone.

Sorry.  I tried to be articulate, and I came away with more raging.  But I am going to start researching how to get the Second Amendment repealed.  It seems like that might be the only thing we can do to end this horror.

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Posted by purplemary54 on March 17, 2014

Just checking in to honor a couple of passings in the music world.

The first is peripheral.  Mick Jagger’s girlfriend L’Ren Scott was found dead from an apparent suicide in her apartment in New York.  It’s always tragic when someone takes their own life, but even more so when that person is young, talented, and successful.  My heart goes out to her family and friends.

The other passing is of the Stooges’ drummer Scott Asheton.  Asheton–along with his brother Ron, Dave Alexander, and of course, Iggy Pop–helped create some of the most glorious noise in Rock history.  The Stooges were the prototype for Punk, and they were pretty damn awesome.

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“Second Skin”

Posted by purplemary54 on March 5, 2014

The Gits were a great band.  They played hardcore, emotional Punk that didn’t pull any punches.  They were from Ohio, but had relocated to Seattle and considerable success for a band without a major label contract.  They had a sizable following in the city of Grunge, and in the early 90s looked to be getting ready to break through to even more acclaim  But they aren’t very well-known for their music.  The Gits are most famous for what happened to their lead singer, Mia Zapata.

On July 7th, 1993, Mia Zapata was raped and murdered by a stranger as she walked home from a night out.  Her death was senseless and tragic, and it remained unsolved for a decade.  Her friends, family, and bandmates continued to fight for justice until an arrest was made.  Zapata’s killer was arrested and convicted in 2003; he was sentenced to 36 years in prison.  It’s not enough–nothing would be enough, frankly–but as long as he stays locked up, it’ll do.

After her death, some of Mia Zapata’s friends started Home Alive, a non-profit group dedicated to helping teach women to defend themselves.  (The group formally disbanded a few years ago, but volunteers keep the self-defense program alive.)  I guess that’s the real legacy of her beautiful, angry voice.  Her peers, including Joan Jett, Soundgarden, and Nirvana, kept Mia alive by singing and playing to help prevent other women from suffering the same fate.  Jett even joined with the surviving members of the Gits to record Evil Stig (Gits Live backwards).

Today isn’t any kind of anniversary for the band or Zapata.  The Gits just came up on the computer, and I thought y’all should hear them, and Mia’s story, if you haven’t already.  She was talented, and I hate that no one is ever going to know what she could’ve accomplished.

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Freaky Friday: “California Uber Alles”

Posted by purplemary54 on November 22, 2013

Yeah, it’s kind of tacky to post a Dead Kennedys song today.  But I have kind of a demented sense of humor.

Hey.  Don’t pretend you’re shocked.

It’s sort of appropriate, since it’s written about politicians and politics.  The inspiration was Jerry Brown, former and current governor of California, who once had presidential aspirations.  (I registered as a Democrat back in the 90s just so I could vote for Moonbeam in the primaries.)  Of course, the vision of a world controlled by a hippie-fascist with a “suede denim secret police” is just kind of bizarre.  (You should totally read the lyrics.  They’re hysterical.)  Jello Biafra and John Greenway drew a lot of their ugliest imagery from Nazi Germany; the song title harkens back to the old German national anthem.  It’s a freaky juxtaposition to say the least.

Of course, Jello Biafra is a pretty well-known radical, so that makes his weird vision of California politics kind of reasonable.  It’s hard for people who aren’t that liberal to understand why he’d attack an icon of Blue state politics, but I suppose Brown represents everything that’s wrong with more mainstream liberalism.  His last foray into electoral politics was an unsuccessful run to be the Green Party’s presidential nominee in 2000.  What makes Biafra interesting as both an artist and a person is that he seems to be taking the process seriously by participating in it, while simultaneously subverting it by being as outrageous as possible.  He tries to shock people into awareness, to get them to think about the stuff they believe in.  His point seems to be that if you don’t question why you follow a certain path, then you’re not paying attention.

I think that’s a reasonable attitude.  So maybe this is a good song for today.  Question your leaders, question your faith.  Question yourself.  If you don’t like the answers, maybe it’s time for a change.

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“Transgender Dysphoria Blues”

Posted by purplemary54 on November 20, 2013

Awhile back, I commented that there just weren’t that many songs about transgender people.  Maybe that’s because there just haven’t been that many transgender musicians.

That’s changing.

Against Me! is getting to release their new album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues early next year.  Their lead singer, Laura Jane Grace, is a transgender woman.  She used to be Tom Gabel, and although she still sounds like her previous self, Grace’s transition is clearly obvious.  Her vocal style is still a little shouty, but the title track is a good song.  (They got a decent review in the Times for their show at the Troubadour last night.)  Grace’s songwriting has always contained the desire for acceptance that’s so clear in this song.  She is finally able to put the right words to her feelings and fears, but the transition has clearly not changed the band’s style.  They’re the same Punk/Rock band they always were.

That’s the real message of Laura Jane Grace’s transition.  Of any trans person’s transition.  Inside, they’re still the same person they always were.  They’re just finally making the outside match the inside.

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