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a blog by Ann Althouse

Blog or Psychedelic Band? The Test. Yesterday, I was fascinated by the names of old psychedelic bands at the website Fuzz Acid & Flowers, and I think I carried that psychedelic fascination with me this morning when I was reading the blog popularity chart on The Truth Laid Bear. What is it with blog names and 1964-1972 acid rock band names? Starting with The Truth Laid Bear, half of the blog names sound like old acid rock band names. Okay this is a test: old psychedelic band name or present day blog name?

Pinwheels and Orange Peels
Admiral Quixote’s Roundtable
Beatnik Salad
Sainte Anthony’s Fyre
The Marble Phrogg
The Reasons Why
Flagrancy to Reason
Balasubramania’s Mania
$27 Snap on Face

I could go on and on. Feel free to find your own blog names on the acid rock list and acid rock names on the blog list. Hey, everybody, make your own "Blog or Psychedelic Band?" test and post it on your blog!

"Tense, frowning Beethoven-ness" in Madison. Here's a strange and incredibly arty thing happening in Madison of all places, as reported by the NYT:
... Norwegian conceptual artist Leif Inge digitally elongates a recording of [Beethoven's Ninth Symphony] to make it last 24 hours. The piece slows symphonic time so that movement is barely perceptible. What you hear in normal time as a happy Viennese melody lasting 5 or 10 seconds becomes minutes of slowly cascading overtones; a drumroll becomes a nightmarish avalanche. Yet the symphony remains somehow recognizable in spirit if not in form, its frozen strings fraught with tense, frowning Beethoven-ness. ... The slowness eases you into a trance, but the layers of dissonance make the experience slightly uncomfortable.

Mr. Inge created the piece in 2002, and he is now bringing it to America. Tomorrow he will discuss it and play excerpts at Free103point9, a gallery in Brooklyn, and on Friday it will unfold in its full 24-hour glory at the cavernous Theo Kupfer Foundry and Ironworks in Madison, Wis. ...

Theo Kupfer Foundry and Ironworks? Never heard of it, and I've lived in Madison for 20 years. Well, here's an article about it in today's Capital Times:
When John Martens took his first look inside the cavernous industrial building at 149 Waubesa St., he was overwhelmed by its beauty and potential.

"I truly got weak in the knees," said Martens, a local restoration architect.

No mention in that article of "9 Beet Stretch," the glacially paced Beethoven the Times says is playing this Friday.

In which Althouse has a psychedelic flashback. I don't know about you, but sometimes I've tried to remember, what were the shows I saw at the Fillmore East? I remembered some of the bands, but who really were the others? So I was thrilled to find this site, which is trying to list every act and every show.

So who played with The Mothers of Invention in 1969? The date was Feb. 21/22, and the opening acts were Chicago and The Buddy Miles Express. And I went to see Neil Young & Crazy Horse one night in 1970 and the opening acts were The Steve Miller Band and Miles Davis! When did I see The New Riders of the Purple Sage play with The Grateful Dead? 1970? 1971? I can't tell from this, because there are several such shows. When I saw them there was a third act, which played in the middle, that was just Pig Pen and Jerry Garcia on acoustic guitars. It must have been May 15, 1970, because I remember hearing them make a big deal about the upcoming concert with Crosby, Stills & Nash, which caused us to scoff and shake our heads in dismay. Rock and Roll was over and people like them were destroying it! Or was it this night, when "Phil places two bass notes that are just perfect."

Remember when people were all excited about Delaney & Bonnie? And who were Mason & Elliot that they were headliners? (Oh.) Remember when people were crazy for Ten Years After? Remember The Hello People (they played at my high school once)("It's a Monday Kind of Tuesday"... or was it Wednesday?). Remember Elephant Memory? Or am I mixing them up with Crazy Elephants? And who were Cactus? How could they have topped Edgar Winter and Humble Pie some night in 1971? And there's Elton John, late of American Idol, already headlining in 1971 (with Wishbone Ash and Sea Train).

And there's T. Rex in 1971--was it already T. Rex or was it still Tyrannosaurus Rex? (We played their album Unicorn all the time in 1970.) In 1970, you could have seen The Incredible String Band (I knew people who worshipped them!) along with The Stone Monkey Mime Group (good lord! who were they?). And who were Soft White Underbelly, Grootna, and Blodwyn Pig?

Looking for some answers, I ran across Fuzz Acid & Flowers, which is an amazing compilation of info about "U.S. psych and garage music 1964 - 1972," with "band histories/musical analysis on over 5,400 US acts of the era." Great fun browsing just for the psychedelic names. We remember Strawberry Alarm Clock, but there was also Strawberry Tuesday and Strawberry Window. Was there Orange? Of course: Orange Colored Sky, The Orange Groove, and The Orange Wedge. How about "electric"--was that a popular psychedelic word? Here's the official list:
The Electrical Banana
The Electric Company
Electric Firebirds
The Electric Flag
Electric Hair
Electric Junkyard
Electric Love
Electric Piano Playground
The Electric Prunes
The Electric Screwdriver
Electric Toilet
Electric Tomorrow
Electric Train
Electrified People
The Electro Magnetic Flowerseed
The Electronic Concept Orchestra

And I love the places where the same psychedelic idea struck several groups independently:
Stix and Stoned
Stix and Stones
Stix & Stonz

Okay, enough of that. Go make your own discoveries. I've got admissions files and a law review edit and income tax forms ...

Oh, and that previous entry, which looks psychedelic next to this one--it's a Monday kind of Tuesday/It's a Thursday kind of Saturday--is just about the NYT crossword puzzle. ... In case you're inclined to worry about me! Did you finish the Saturday puzzle?

"I remember when rock was young." They probably never play Speedy Gonzales on the radio anymore--it's absurdly politically incorrect by today's standards--but people ought to know that Crocodile Rock completely borrows from Pat Boone's novelty hit. John Stevens is kind of a Pat Boone type, so conceivably that connection led him to choose that song.

And let me point out another the Clay Aiken-Grease/John Stevens-Crocodile Rock similarity: they both conspicuously wore red jackets. And both, previously non-dancers, let loose with some weird dance moves. Judges were equally skeeved by both redheads.

Oh, and what about Speedy Gonzales the cartoon character? Should he be banned?

Music videos. Chris recommends this list of greatest music videos of all time. Does Madonna deserve all this recognition? Yes! And more. I especially like "Open Your Heart," which is number 16 (or as they say in music list talk: which comes in at number 16). Nice to see the old 80s favorites like "You Might Think." I always liked The Cars--they seemed to be keeping something from the 70s alive that was keeping something from the 60s alive that was keeping something from the 50s alive.

High-tech-problem-is-really-a-low-tech-problem... Soylent Green ... Cocteau. My dear return readers will know of my recent travails with my digital camera, which turned out to be one of those high-tech-problem-is-really-a-low-tech-problem problems (a wall switch was involved, a variation on is-it-plugged-in troubleshooting). Another high-tech-problem-is-really-a-low-tech-problem problem happened again today, when Charter Communications set up my cable modem, but the cable guy recoiled in horror at the sight of my wireless device (Airport): "I can't touch that!" He will only hook the cable directly into to the one desktop computer that doesn't have a wireless card and checks it all out and I'm supposed to do the Airport part of the setup myself after he leaves. But oh it's easy, he says, just reconnect the cable to the airport and then run a cable to the desktop. But, no, that in fact does not work, as I eventually figured out. The cable modem will have given an IP address to the desktop, so the Airport won't be able to "pull" an IP address of its own. Solution: unplug the cable modem box and turn it back on with Airport connected. How much time did I throw away before I discovered the old unplug-it-and-replug-it maneuver? Hours. And a life is only made up of hours....

Ah, but okay, I like the wireless, now that it's working, and all the digital cable that got attached seems pretty nice too. I like the "Music Choice" channels, as I sit here writing, using the wireless. I don't usually listen to music, but maybe now I will. One of the channels is called "Light Classical." I can't read that term without thinking of Edward G. Robinson in Soylent Green. Am I the only one? In the unforgettable scene in which Robinson requests Light Classical music in Soylent Green (why am I refraining from spoilers? isn't this the most spoiler-ruined movie in movie history?), what is played is Beethoven's Sixth Symphony.

Once, I drove to San Francisco, then to Las Vegas, then back to Madison. I was visiting family members in those two cities, but I also cared about driving through Death Valley, between SF and LV. Driving, I was listening to The Teaching Company lectures about Beethoven's symphonies along with the symphonies. What was so strange and beautiful was that Death Valley coincided with Beethoven's Sixth Symphony, the un-Death-Valley-like Pastoral. In thinking about music not matching the visuals, I always think about Jean Cocteau's memoir about making Beauty and the Beast, which I could not more highly recommend. Cocteau favored film music that wasn't closely tied to the visuals. Put in the score, and let accident determine what sound went with what visual. The spirit of Cocteau was with me when I loaded up the CD player with Beethoven symphonies and drove across the vast wastelands of the American west.

"Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame, thank you so much--you've been just lovely--a real knock out." That's Prince, at the Hall of Fame show. He gives a great performance--and changes the words to Kiss:
"You don't have to watch Sex and the City to have an attitude."
Oh, but good Lord, the intro is stilted and prolonged. Alicia Keys seems to be auditioning for a movie role, so earnestly emoting her way through the teleprompter script.
"He's the inspiration that generations will return to until the end of time."
I love Prince, but that's just stupid. Keys should have refused to say those idiotic lines. Ah, what the hell. There's always been something incoherent about the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame. And good old Prince is still raving about freedom and spirituality, God bless him.

I hope Tonya TiVoed the adorable Dave Matthews intro for Traffic. ... There really is something wondrous about Mr. Fantasy. And Steve Winwood's voice is wondrously intact.

Art formulas. Should we shake our heads at the production of formulas for art, like "Hit Song Science"?
PolyphonicHMI says the software uses a proprietary algorithm to weigh and analyze more than 20 components of a recording (tempo, rhythm, cadence, etc.) and assign each song a value. The company used that algorithm to analyze 50 years of music released in the United States - album tracks and singles, pop, jazz and classical, totaling 3.5 million tracks - and graphed each song in multiple dimensions to create "the music universe." Plotted, it resembles a picture of a far-away galaxy, millions of song-specks floating in cosmic precision, presenting the illusion of randomness.
Some people do object, thinking art is all about individual imagination, but music is already based on some pretty constraining patterns. Artistic creativity always occurs within some kind of structure, and there is reason to think that a constricting structure enhances artistic creation. Think of the sonnet form or Dogme95. These limitations could be based on philosophical principles or scientific analysis of existing works, like Polti's Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations, or it could be a game of limiting oneself, like the surrealist games. Obviously, these devices can produce bad art too, but so can a blank sheet of paper or an empty canvas. I love these efforts at constraint and limitation. Some of them are good and some aren't. Devising them is itself creative, even if it is also analytical and scientific. Art is not anarchy.

Punks for Bush. The Times notes a trend:
"Punks will tell me, `Punk and capitalism don't go together,' " [22-year-old Nick] Rizzuto said. "I don't understand where they're coming from. The biggest punk scenes are in capitalist countries like the U.S., Canada and Japan. I haven't heard of any new North Korean punk bands coming out. There's no scene in Iran."

That photograph by Richard Perry is the photo of the year for me. I don't even know how to say how much I love that photograph!

The article notes:
Johnny Ramone, the guitarist for the Ramones, has been an outspoken Republican for years, and some skinhead bands have blended the punk aesthetic with their extreme right-wing views.

(Just go ahead and lump Republicans and skinheads together!)

I like this quote from Ian MacKaye (of Fugazi) who "likened the punk aesthetic to furniture":
"Once it's built you can put it into any house," he said. "You can be a lefty and go to Ikea or you can be a right-winger and go to Ikea." Punk, he said, "is a free space where anything can go — a series of actions and reactions, and people rebelling and then rebelling against rebelling."

He's a smart guy.

Courtney Love ... Richard Perle ... Jessica Simpson. It was fun clicking from Letterman to Nightline to Leno and back again last night. Courtney was certainly energized. Simpson was funny, telling the story about meeting the Secretary of the Interior at the White House and saying to her, "You've done a nice job decorating the White House." Perle--I don't know--I just found it amusing that he was the meat in that sandwich.

Courtney Love performed in Madison some years ago (at the Paramount, which no longer exists). She didn't like the sound system and kept complaining about it, in elevating stages, ending with her taking off her top, and also throwing food from a deli tray at the audience. We kept some of the food wrapped up in the freezer for a while, thinking it somewhat historic, but it isn't there any more. Not that I think anyone ate it. In a sandwich.

Anyway, breast-baring is a very old routine for Courtney Love. I'm thinking she feels it's not fair that Janet Jackson got so much attention recently for baring a breast and that she's the one who's entitled to the publicity. Hence the Letterman antics. Personally, I think she knows what she's doing, as opposed to being out of her mind. When she had her on-stage freak out at the Paramount, there was a break in the middle, where supposedly people were trying to get her to come back out on stage, and later she did come back out. But during that break, we stepped outside for some air, and she was out there talking to the management, perfectly rationally, about how to deal with the sound problem. That was maybe a decade ago, so who knows? I still am going to guess that she has chosen a role and is playing a part.

UPDATE: Cka3n doesn't want to believe Courtney Love was just acting, but he perceptively realizes the reason he doesn't want to believe she was is that it's only funny if you think she's out of control. The material wasn't really that good. It wasn't as good as Jessica Simpson's Leno material quoted above, and I think that was scripted, by the way, because it's just too good. Simpson may be dumb, but she's not that dumb, and if she were that dumb, she just wouldn't get lucky enough to say the great lines she's famous for. Simpson has writers. Love is doing her own material, improvising, and she's a terrific actress and she's smart, so it works. She may seem a bit old for the crazy punk girl role, but like (Whatever Happened to) Baby Jane, she can entertainingly play crazy punk girl into extreme old age. And if she survives to extreme old age, that's how you'll know it's all been an act. And of course I hope it is. (Oh, and yeah, I TiVoed it. But here's a recap if you didn't. Recap link courtesy of Gawker.)

ANOTHER UPDATE: Let me explain the Whatever Happened to Baby Jane reference. In that film, Bette Davis plays a character who had been a successful child star, and who, though quite old, continues to trounce about in baby dresses, acting all cute and coy. No longer the little girl, she's become a really interestingly deluded old lady. So Courtney Love can continue in her punk girl role and, as she ages, let it become wild and outrageous in new ways, like Bette Davis's character. And in fact, Love might do well generally to have Bette Davis as a role model. Just play a raving old hag and grow old in style. Nicole and Drew can't do that. Bette didn't have to be the prettiest or the cutest to be the best actress of them all, and neither do you. And, readers, if you haven't seen that film, you really must. And by the way, it's another one of the great things about one of my all time favorite years, 1962.

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