Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Local Live

Hey, this came out in today's Guardian. It's kind of narcissistic to post it here, but whatever. In the words of Al Pacino as Scarface: "Fuck you. How's that?" Thing is, I hated writing this. It was a real struggle, because I couldn't write what I thought I was supposed to write, so I just sent my editor this (plus about 300 words). She liked it, and now I guess I kind of do too. Has our hero come to the end of his rope as a "music journalist"? Dunno. As Elvis Costello said, "writing about music is like dancing about architecture."

And if anyone is actually wasting his or her life reading a fucking blog, how do I get formatting on these fucking things? It says "to use the advanced editor click here" and the link sends me to the same frame, with a link sending me back to the original frame. Is this some sort of anti-Mac trip? Chuck D.: "This is what I mean, an anti-nigger machine." Is it presumptuous to say Mac users are technology's niggers? After all, no one got their panties in a bunch when Sylvia Plath compared her Daddy to

An engine, an engine
Chuffing me off like a Jew.
A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen.

Of course, Daddy trips are more important than computers. Without further detraction:

Local Live

Enemy You
12 Galaxies, Sept. 9

TOO MUCH INFORMATION : having a case of the Kaopectate blues, I arrived at the 12 Galaxies benefit for Meditate and Destroy, a documentary about Dharma Punx author Noah Levine, toward the end of Ghosts of Glory's set. The part I caught was crushing: taut, unrelenting hardcore with almost death metal vocals (not of the Cookie Monster-Napalm Death variety, but a little crunchier than your average punk band).

I was in time, however, to catch a surprise performance by the Poontang Wranglers, who ripped shit up on washboard, acoustic guitar, washtub bass, fiddle, banjo, and ukulele, all the while rocking matching red long johns. A fucking jug band! And a jug band without a jug! How punk rock is that! The crowd – rife with Buddhist punkers, the dharma-drunk, and the old-timey alcohol drunk – was baffled. "All the bands were good," one guy told me. "Except for the cult. What's with the red pajamas? Was that guy playing a broomstick? "

I found a seat at a table of hot women with two-tone hair and waited for Enemy You to come on. Once a week I meditate at Urban Dharma, the group Levine started and led until he moved to New York, and I'll tell you, the amount of good-looking women in that room makes meditation a real feat. No desire, no aversion – this is where the practice meets the road.

"You know a place is rad when they've got O.G. Spider-Man on TV and Phoenix and Tempest," Enemy You vocalist David Jones said as the band got onstage, scoring immediate nerd points for using the word rad and referencing '80s video games. His shirt read, "The Prequels Suck," in an Empire Strikes Back typeface. Sure, they suck, David, but be honest: did you camp out in front of the Coronet for three days dressed like Yoda?

The band launched into "The Only One," which Jones called "a song about S.F." It's a solid hardcore number, and when I say hardcore, I'm thinking early-'80s SoCal (where it started), not New York. It took me a couple songs to come up with early, pre-suck Bad Religion and old Social D. as reference points.

OK, look, I'm having a crisis. At the Urban Dharma sittings, we talk quite a bit about being too judgmental, about clinging too much to our personalities and opinions. To quote the Buddha, "People who have opinions just go around bothering one another."

Were Enemy You good? Yeah, they were. Did they rock my boat? I don't know, man – I've been rockin' in this boat for so long, and I've seen so many bands, I can't discern the horizon line anymore. Which leads me to the question Is it "right speech," in a "Noble Eightfold Path" sense, to spout my opinions? Does it help?

I can set the scene. I can tell you Frank Chu, once named "Protester of the Year" by the Bay Guardian, was present at 12 Galaxies, which, I gather, was named after the top line of his sign. Not to be outdone in terms of sheer ubiquity, Fat Wreck Chords Floyd was up front for Enemy You's set. What does it mean when Floyd is at your show? It probably just means you have a guitar and you're within 100 miles of San Francisco. Does Floyd go to a show every night?

I can talk about women, which I usually do. They sort of inspire my "Horny Eye for the Lonely Guy" moments. About four songs into the show, I started scoping a porcelain-doll brunette in a slip dress with a flower in her hair, only to have Levine squeeze in next to her and get cuddly. Reminds me of the time I saw Bomb at the old new DNA, back in the days when someone as culturally irrelevant as Rob Schneider could be a social kingpin. I was staring at this women for the whole set only to have the show end and realize she was drummer Tony Fag's girlfriend.

But can I really impart what the band was like? I mean, you missed it. You can catch their next set and then tell me if it was worth your five or seven bucks. What am I supposed to say? Workmanlike? They were better than that. At times I wished there was a pit I could have thrown my sickly, dehydrated, rapidly-approaching-middle-age body into, something I currently reserve for yearly Motörhead shows, where I'm guaranteed not to be the only gray-haired fogy slamming about with a walker. But people are way too cool nowadays to start a pit at a nightclub, with the exception of Brianna, who was cooler than too-cool, pogoing about with her orange Mohawk, her shirt Sharpied with "COME HOME NOAH WE MISS YOU." (Duncan Scott Davidson

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