npr redux

This moribund blog pressed into service coincidentally has the perfect entry from May 2004, a reflection on Neighborhood Public Radio. On my way to NYC to their installation at the Whitney Biennial I edited House of Zoka’s 2004 NPR appearance into a one-minute (and change) snapshot o, clearly an improvement, except you don’t hear the performance of The Public Toe Problem by Daniel Popsicle. You don’t need to. Just say it out loud and you can pretty much guess what it sounds like.

2004.05.21 ears

  • the sound of the mysterious michael z softly respirating in that ocean that will not admit me

A CD from Neighborhood Public Radio arrived with the air check of House of Zoka speaking extemporaneously about documentation of the Bay Area’s creative new music scene.

We listened to it while enjoying fresh pieces of rockfish baked veracruz-style in a chipotle salsa, which, as I ate, seemed to be slightly more sophisticated in flavor than I really deserved, yet, there it was, or wasn’t, because I was inhaling it.

Listening to you and your partner talk while you and your partner sit in silence, eating randomly exquisite food, is odd. Then, as you might expect, as we listened to ourselves begin to disagree on some subject, and begin to talk over eachother, we took up the issue from the radio program and began to have the very same disagreement, talking over the talking over. It was like putting the stereo between two mirrors and watching the sound stretch into infinity.

I pulled a bone from my mouth and set it gingerly on the side of the plate.
We’re always careful with the tiny things that could take us out.

2004.03.09 ears

  • back to that fucking lee ranaldo song
    ASK. ME. IF. I. CARE.
  • deerhoof
  • The Mysterious MZ decided to record this and miscalculated what part of the warehouse they would set up in: the low stage in front of us or the big stage we were perched on. The latter. So he jumped down and crossed over to where the, what?, german? french? spanish? drunk? young men were tumbling over eachother in basically dangerous, but polite, abandon. MMZ tells me to stand in front of the mic stand and protect it.

    The whole show with my arms folded over my chest and my jaw set in enforcer position. What a happy way to enjoy Deerhoof!

    The next night at Bottom of the Hill was apparently identical but for a few. The Shan Franshiskans stood expressionless through the entire thing.

    I stayed home and listened to Milk Man, which may be a breakthrough, or the end, I cannot tell:

    3-29 – Glasgow, Scotland – TBA
    3-30 – London, England – Spitz
    3-31 – London, England – XFM session
    4-1 – London, England – Peel session
    4-2 – All Tomorrow’s Parties

2004.03.02 ears

  • if it weren’t for my brother falling off of a horse
  • mouse-clicks as bloody valentine is transferred to the 8600 and tracked
  • david thomas in my head singing “and every day will be a holiday” over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over


peter gabriel is inside a ball

so ends one of my favorite arguments with The Mysterious MZ.

In 1992, or 3, Peter Gabriel had just crested the top of his game, and was about to make that thrilling descent. Cast yer mind back, because we may have all been cresting the top of our game at that time. It’s hazy for me but I think we were all collecting musics of the world as they were presented to us by western artists (or, alternatively, we were watching the original incarnation of Korn in Bakersfield, or nearly throwing out the pj harvey album because it reminded us of patti smith [THANK JEEBUS I DINT]).


I was trying to have breakfast with MZ at The Diggery (which I cannot recommend) and he kept gettting up to use a payphone to call to get tickets to the Peter Gabriel show. It was clear he was doing this for our mutual benefit, but the transaction was bringing me down, the the way Laurie Anderson’s Hansel does to Gretel.

So I was a little needy, yes, what of it?

I feel as prepared today to fight with MZ about this as I was the day it occurred: a classic man-woman war of intention and expectation and assumption and desire. Go. Fill in the blanks.

He got tickets, exquisite fourth-row ones, for which I was dutifully charged my portion. Then the tour was cancelled due to someone important in the band overdosing, I mean, coming down with the flu. The rescheduled show date conflicted with one of our pilgrimages to New York, which I had not lairnt to tolerate as well as I do now. I was happy to cancel the New York trip.

But MZ insisted on giving up the tickets he had annoyed me with on so many many levels, and completing our lil visit to fucking hell.

The guy who bought the tickets went with us to see Peter Gabriel tonight, where I spent the whole evening thinking about

  1. what a difference a decade makes, and
  2. peter gabriel is dressed like a jedi, and
  3. he’s making someone pretend she’s rowing in a stationary boat, and
  4. it’s over for this man, solsbury hill or no solsbury hill
  5. the diehard fans did bring a tear to me one good eye, because
  6. there weren’t enough of them to open the upper decks in the arena

I think I’m going to learn to write like steve.

and i wished it would never end

For about two weeks now I’ve been considering not going to see a live music show in 2003. Instantaneously I realized that in so doing

  • I would turn into just about Everyone Else

except Everyone Else

  • actually goes to the show and talks through the whole fucking thing while I impotently glare at the backs of their heads

But you know what I mean.

I Said No to plenty of shows in 2002, about half of the one’s The Mysterious MZ attended (or was paid to attend). I regret it, now that I’m looking at the list. But had I gone, I would have doubled my aggravation.
Especially as I squished in the aisles for the Tenacious D instore at Amoeba. I hovered over my answer when MZ axed me to go, moving quickly, requiem for a dream stylee over the progression of from innocent pleasure-seeker to eviscerated vacant pawn of addiction. Instead of heroin, my Tenacious D Instore At Amoeba Drug is a cocktail of

  • bridge traffic
  • the inadequacy of parking in shan franshisky
  • the very real (and no less disturbing) fact that I identify with a band that yet again only appeals to men I really don’t want to get to know
  • the transaction, the transaction, the transaction, the transaction, the transaction

I don’t really know what I mean by the transaction except to say that we’re creating and consuming culture according to restricted norms. They rise, admittedly, from practicalities, but the whole stupid business chafes.

So if I stop going, and turn my ear to all the things that I’ve collected, documented, alphabetized, and not listened to since, or, in some cases, ever, I may sidestep that feeling of falling endlessly into a

Pool of Almost Understood What You Meant By That Sound But For All These Distractions Which Admit It You’re Suffering From Too

In other parts of my day, this desire to retreat is characterized by the wish to contract a terminal illness (one more terminal than life itself) and become a Buddhist nun.

But if I quit going to shows, my last show will be some New Year’s Eve unriveting thing (three years of the Melvins — why am I so sick?). According to the inside of the box, the game is over in a final flourish of excellence on someone’s part, not in the mixed drink line at the Arena during Phil & Friends…

…or with Les Claypool attempting to ejikate his listeners

…or with the random playablahblah of Anon Salon

…or with the scene-gone-badsters at the Cow Palace

We love show biz. And if you don’t love show biz, we will destroy you.

Waiting for the murder ballad show to start, I started passing out fake blood capsules so that we could all be indicating signs of internal bleeding, or just give good-natured fight club grins now and again.

Praba understood how to use them: popping two, snapping them hard and kicking her head to the side to start the flow out the corner of her mouth. Sue and Lisa declined to employ the device. I waited with a few in my mouth until the gelatin started to weaken, then spit out the contents. It really was bad tasting. How can anything not bad for you taste quite that bad? It had to be bad for you and no one was telling. I popped another.

Alan had a handful and when I looked over to him to see how he was doing, a three foot thread of drool was coming out of his mouth. It wasn’t even tinted pink. He was just standing on stage, playing bass, and drooling this massive drool.

So, yeah these things work perfectly.

make me wanna shout

I think I can put together a compilation of songs that all anchor around a moment when there’s a unison performance of odd numbers of eighth notes.

Yeah, of course you need an example.

When it happens, I feel like something really important is happening and I jump around and pretend to be part of the unison performance from where I sit or stand. I actually think my lip curls up like…


like Billy Idol’s in White Wedding (granted any Billy Idol song would do).

But would odd-numbers of unison eighth notes qualify as stadium chant fodder?


  1. now only the rhythm track from Queen’s We Are The Champions
  2. slightly imprecise responses to the call and response of Gary Glitter’s Rock and Roll Part II
  3. that dance track with chorused male vocal that makes me think I’m in central europe at some festival with a million or more attendees
  4. oh for fuck’s sake

Baseball players walk to the plate to the strains of their individual theme music, like Shaft walked through his movies. Who is picking this music? The aspiring musician-pro-ballplayer? His overestimating girlfriend?

So I axed MZ what his batter box theme music was and he waved the question off, like, with his hand, I think. I know what mine is, I said, eagerly, aren’t you interested to know? Aren’t you dying to find out? Isn’t it peaking your curiosity?

Fugazi, I said, kinda extra loud in case somebody could overhear me and be even a little more impressed than MZ.

Reclamation, I added.