Break it dooown.

Insofar as my daughter is “hardly ever” allowed to watch tv during the days I take care of her, we have had occasion to run across Yo Gabba Gabba. Is it a show for kids, or is it a show for parents who might at one time have considered themselves ‘cool’ or ‘hip’ and may even still be those things, but for the fact they are parents of children?

Wanna see Biz Markie do a COOL TRICK? Of course you do. Of course you’d prefer it if your kids preferred the Shins to the Wiggles, but how on Earth do you even start a project like that? Like this, I suppose.

Break it to me in French, please, wouldja doc?

An e-mail subject line that is currently quite popular around my workplace, and probably other workplaces as well:

FW:  Human Swine Influenza virus /Virus de la grippe porcine chez les humains

I am struck, not for the first time, by the classiness of the French language, especially in a side-by-side comparison with English. The English is so, “You’re sick, and it comes from pigs,” while en Francais, it’s more like, “In spite of all that’s come to pass, your nurse will be pretty and kind.”

Lester

I loaned Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung to a secretary I know a few years ago. I miss it, but because I am the sort of person who will maintain possession of borrowed items for periods of time that are altogether too long, I’ll not pass judgment on the fact that it’s not yet been returned. By all accounts, Lester was himself a generous man and in that same spirit, I think I’ll just send out the ‘give it back or pass it on’ signals and hope for the best.

Tomorrow is the 27th anniversary of Lester Bangs’ death. Really. You could look it up. There’s lots of reasons to love Lester’s writing. He was an anarchic, contrarian genius, his writing every bit as rock and roll as his subject matter.

No one here is disputing the fact that 27 is a tough anniversary to get worked up about at the best of times, but factor in an economic turndown and an impending pandemic (say it five times, fast!), and seriously, no one could blame you for your day being mostly booked up with other stuff, but do yourself a favour – sandwich a little bit of Lester in between a couple of tasks you’re especially not expecting to enjoy, and see if he doesn’t help you out a little.

If he does, then try taking the next step: call in sick from work tomorrow, drink lots of cough syrup, and let it blurt.

Here’s a link to the second review of Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music that Bangs filed, because you want it.

Were you looking for this? Then you’re in luck.

My good friend and radio co-host, Tom, is a billionaire playboy who is probably the biggest Queen fan on the south side of Edmonton, and he had an internet connection installed right in his brain so he can spend every spare moment locating stuff exactly like this and e-mailing it to me.

Whether you’re talking about arena rock god fashion, accoutrements like the mic stands cut in half, or his total subversion of the notion of the rock and roll frontman as hyperheterosexual he-man, that Freddie Mercury was one innovative guy.

But this – how he predicted the sound of the machines that would one day imitate him – that was the true genius of Freddie Mercury.

Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You

Oh, the heartache. We’ve all experienced it. A perfectly good anniversary of one thing or another that you definitely would have observed in an apt fashion, if only you had gotten a little more lead time to prepare. But you didn’t, so you didn’t. It would have been better if you did. But you didn’t.

As of this date, you’ve got two weeks until the anniversary of Lester Bangs’ death. Get thee to a cold medicine aisle.

I Don’t Know What You’re Talking About

Billy Bob Thornton, freak-a-zoid. Man, anyone who can make me feel the teensiest bit sorry for Jian Ghomeshi must be acting like the worst kind of a shitbag. Times like this, I wish I lived in the alternative reality where Ghomeshi loses all regard for consequences and chases Thornton out of the studio with a golf club.

This Day in Rock History*

On this day in 1974 in Rock History, KISS undertook their ill-fated Destroyer I sessions with an young, virtually unknown foley artist named Laszlo Fiorentino as producer (on his birthday, no less!). The band was looking to make an artistic and commercial impact following the success of Dressed to Kill and Alive, and it so happened that Stanley and Simmons, while taking a working holiday in Rome to flesh out their ideas for the opening sequence — the moments immediately leading up to the spectacular death of a young rock god — that would bind the record together while simultaneously elevating KISS itself to godlike status, had occasion to see two films to which the 20 year old had contributed his sound effect producing skills and decided he was the man with the talent and creativity to help them realize their vision.

Frehley and Criss were less enthusiastic, Frehley largely for the lack of democracy, Criss for that, and his belief that he should be the group’s go-to man, “As pertains to all things percussion.” “Please don’t start with that,” snapped Frehley, who quickly opted to go along with “The Bosses” over taking a stand with “Catdrummer.” 

The sessions collapsed in utter acrimony after only 3 days. On the first day, with the backing of Stanley and Simmons, Fiorentino asked that all instruments initially be removed from the studio to make room for visualization and team building exercises, and “mistakenly” locked the studio door and “misplaced” the key while Frehley and Criss were loading out their gear. By the time the locksmith had the door opened again in the mid-afternoon, the opening sequence’s running time was 23:14, of which five full minutes was a car keys-jingling solo. No guitars. No drums.

On day two, Frehley and Criss arrived at the studio to find themselves confronted with armed guards in possession of photographs of each of them, and strict orders to prevent either of them from entering the building, “By any means necessary, gentlemen.” Criss did manage at one point to convince a telephone operator that he was a rabbi responding to a spiritual emergency, getting her to patch him through to the control booth for just under three minutes, just long enough for him to pitch them ‘Beth’ before they recognized him and disconnected the call.

On day three, good news and bad news for Criss to start the day. The good news, ‘Beth’ would make the album. The bad news: they would use only the version he sang over the telephone; no piano, no strings. He would admit later that he fared better than Frehley, whose apartment was barricaded from the outside, preventing exit until just past noon, but he was sufficiently chagrined at the time to go in with Frehley’s plan, upon his arrival, of “smoking out the rats” with stink bombs placed in the building’s ventilation ducts.

Announcing that he could not work under such strenuous conditions, Fiorentino walked out on the sessions right then and there, boarding the next flight to Italy and vowing never working in rock and roll again.**

You know what happened next: upon his leaving American soil, Stanley and Simmons were released from the foley artist’s psychic grasp, Bob Ezrin was eventually taken on to oversee the Destroyer II sessions (after replacements for Frehley and Criss were secretly auditioned and hired), and the album was a big hit. Especially ‘Beth’.

 

*not really

**he has emerged from his retirement twice: once each to jingle car keys for Swell’s Well? and  on Songs for the Deaf by the Queens of the Stone Age.

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