March 15, 2018

Qs & As

"Caravaggio was a murderer, and maybe even a bad person. But I only want to look at some paintings, not marry the guy..."

I am interviewed by Articulate.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 11:23 PM

March 14, 2018

World Famous in Berkeley: minor secrets of "Surfin' Cows" revealed!!!

"Surfin' Cows" was one of three cow-themed (or rather, cow-named) surfy instrumentals from Jon von's old Boston band the Sacred Cows, brought with him when he headed out to California after college. The others were "Skatin' Cows" (which wound up on the Night Shift album the year following this) and "Hang 4" (get it?) which I don't believe we ever recorded but which we used to play all the time in The Early Years. Sometimes we'd play all three in a row in fact, because Alex the drummer liked playing them and was the guy who started them out, so he'd charge into them serially and there was nothing we could do but play along. I suspect that may have been too much of a good thing all at once for our sparse audiences but it was by no means the only thing we did that was probably too much of a good thing for them.

We, shall we say, "challenged" our audiences in all sorts of ways. Like good, standard-issue "punk rockers" we were offensive inadvertently or on purpose, but mostly somewhere in between the two.

The fact that a song from an early 80s Boston punk band wound up on a little home-made record that people still remember over 30 years later, by a band named after the star of the A-Team that is still playing is about as unlikely as unlikely gets. I knew Jon from KALX radio and from Disorder Records, which was a little mail order record business Jon did as a sort of hobby: he'd put an ad in MRR listing the punk and hardcore records available from Rough Trade, people would send in orders, our buddy Max would pick them up at Rough Trade, and then Jon and Kenny Kaos and I would meet up once a week to pack the orders and drink beers. I had a sort of "band" at the time (which I was calling The Visine Eye, in my head and on the cassette recordings we'd sometimes make) with no ambitions beyond personal, imaginary, momentary glory at occasional "practices" in our drummer's parents' basement in Burlingame. Somehow Jon started coming to these -- I knew he was a member of this "band" when after the second practice he left his amp there.

Soon, somehow, to my not inconsiderable befuddlement, we were playing little shows we arranged ourselves and, a bit later, spending a weekend at the cheapest recording studio we could find and recording what would become this album. That was all Jon's doing. I was just standing there going: "wut?" I guess he'd figured out how to do that stuff in Boston with the Sacred Cows and just did it all again out west.

Result: the record "came out", and we became world famous in Berkeley.

I've got more to say about those early shows and the first recording sessions with Kevin Army, which I've been thinking a lot about recently because I've been trying to organize and inventory the mountain of tapes in my apartment and get a handle on what's there and what's missing. In the process I've come across lots of brain-jogging stuff. But that will have to wait for another "minor secrets" session.

I know nothing at all about the video other than that it was made by bass player Byron's neighbor (along with a similar one for "At Gilman Street" which I will minor secrets presently, Odin willing.) Pretty cool-looking though. And that isn't a bad guitar solo, really, for a guy who had no clue what he was doing.

I'm putting this on the "official and semi-official music videos" list because basically it's as semi-official as things get, so you can check them out here. And while you're at it, go to my youtube channel, subscribe, and like everything.

So, see ya next week on Wotan Wideo Wednesday.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:26 PM

Virtuality Is a Dream

"Virtual media’s greatest strength is also its biggest flaw: you can’t trip over it. Easily stored, easily forgotten." I teased this tweet out into a sort of essay about Show Business, records, music blogs, Platforms, archaeology, and "virtuality."

Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:24 PM

March 07, 2018

Minor Secrets of "What Difference Does It Make?" Revealed!

I did a brief informal poll about which song to "minor secrets of" today, and it was close but this beat "Surfin' Cows" by two votes. "Surfin' Cows" will have to wait for another Wodensdaeg.

So now it's back to Southampton, UK, in the Summer of '92.

I don't think we played this Smiths cover live too often, but it was no surprise to find it on this particular set. I remember it very well, in fact. Our off-kilter, borderline-insane version of this well-known song had preceded us across the Atlantic on the Milk Milk Lemonade album that had come out earlier that year and almost as soon as we arrived at the White Cliffs of Dover, people started shouting its title at us, which I first took as a sincere question (the answer to which, I agree, is none.) Eventually I realized it was a request. This shouting continued throughout the Southampton set till we finally played it at the end.

Well, people love covers, of course. They especially love ironic, or sarcastic, covers, which this wasn't quite, but I can certainly understand why it would be taken that way. There's a further element here, though, in re the reception of this song in Southampton because, as it turns out, Smiths' singer Morrissey was most known to this crowd as (a) a guy who carried daffodils around with him wherever he went; and (b) a guy who always took his shirt off. Well, then that explained the daffodils everybody was waving at us and why people kept asking when I was going to take my shirt off, both of which had been dead baffling till it had been explained after the fact.

It also explains the behavior of the crowd when this song did get played. (Well, it explains it as well as anything could.) When the song began, the guys in the room engaged in the following ritual: they lifted up their shirts and massaged each other’s nipple area while dancing around maniaclly (and their girlfriends looked on with rueful, jaded resignation.) You can see a bit of it at the beginning of the clip, where one of them climbed on the stage and another one just… you know, got to second base with him. Just imagine looking out and seeing a bouncing crowd of a couple of dozen people doing this.

I love it when people get into the spirit of things.

Now as to the song itself, recording it for the album was a pretty weird thing to do. I mentioned that it wasn't "quite" ironic or sarcastic as such a cover might have been, and that's perfectly true. It's a great song that I loved at the time as I do now. As an appropriated anthem of crippling social and emotional reserve with an explosive, unarticulated subtext I can relate to it very strongly and it was deliberately selected to fit the pointedly unarticulated theme of that weird album. However, there's something inherently ironic and off-kilter about a band like us even attempting to do such a thing so that element is there, desired or not. And there are supremely screwy things about that recording, beyond the overall sonic weirdness that makes that album so peculiar, such as the "Crazy Train" riff somehow sneaking into the final chorus. Why on earth? And what difference does it make? Less than zero, I'm sure. We were all but insane in those days, especially me.

One final note: the credits to the MML album, done by Jon von, credit the song to "Frank's brother, Morrissey Smif" and maybe that had something to do with the OTT Morrissey-ish welcome we got in the UK on that tour. I no longer remember the basis for this joke (maybe it was my general air of morose narcissism; or maybe it was just the hair.) But like so many such things, it took on a life of its own to a degree and I still get asked occasionally if there's any truth to it. And: there is none.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 11:42 PM

March 05, 2018

Minor secrets of "Cinthya (with a Y)" revealed!

I used to be a pretty scrupulously youtube-only guy, but, well, there's been some trouble in the relationship (long story, faults on both sides, etc.) and while we're not breaking up, I'm not getting any younger and in the absence of any signal of reciprocal loyalty from them, I've decided to start seeing other platforms, on a trial basis. Youtube is still the best, most reliable and solid way to post and share video, and I will always love it dearly, but the incentives that used to be in place that encouraged exclusivity no longer exist. It's sad, but these things happen.

Facebook, on the other hand, as we all know, is basically a dumpster fire. But just to see what would happen I uploaded a video there recently (the "You You You" one). I just did another one (if it works -- they don't make it easy... -- "Cinthya (with a Y)", just to try to make the MTX Facebook page look a little less ugly and awkward. And so, I suppose, (assuming it actually manages to upload and turns out to be visible) it's as good an occasion as any to add another "minor secrets of" write-up. So here it is, a bonus minor secrets post, as it were.

The bare bones of this song had been kicking around for quite some years before I decided tack them together and incorporate them into King Dork Approximately, the novel. We may even have tried to play some rudimentary version of it at some point back in the 90s -- if so, though, it was never more than a quarter-baked and couldn't have come together anywhere near as well as it did here. Of all the songs we've recorded, this recording and arrangement probably comes closest to the thing I heard in my head before being humblingly brought crashing to earth by the force of reality.

The idea of doing a song about teenage girls' "creative" re-spellings of their own names had been kicking around for many years, and I wrote the character Cinthya into the book King Dork Approximately mainly so I would be spurred finally to finish the song. It's got some good lines, and great rhymes, if I say it myself ("double M" / "trouble them" "double u" / "trouble you") but what really makes it work is the trick of casting it not as lazy ridicule of this cultural phenomenon as it might have been, but rather as a celebration of and apologia for it. That wasn't a feature of the original song, but once I started thinking of it that way everything kind of slid into place. I love it when that happens. Alizabeth or fight!

The review of KDATA referred to this material as "somewhere halfway between the Ramones and AC/DC" and built for Madison Square Garden sized crowds, a context in which it would never be played, which is certainly the case. But we sure do have fun playing it anyway.

I don't do a whole lot of actual guitar solos these days, but it's probably the one I'm most pleased with of the ones I have done.

Anyway, despite what I said at the beginning, my youtube channel is the best place to post and view all this stuff and I'm going to keep building it brick by excavated archival brick, and it would still help me out if you go there and subscribe, share, like, comment, etc.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:25 PM

Minor Secrets the Mr. T Experience Revealed #2

The second aggregation of videos and song write-ups, re-edited with links and pics as before, may be found here. #1 is here.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:20 PM

March 02, 2018

So, you know I'm Polish on my mother's side...

And the Poles really get no respect in this country.

I went into this place and ordered a Polish sausage, and the guy said: "oh, you must be Polish." And I was a little offended at that.

I mean, just because I want a Polish sausage I have to be Polish? What about if I ordered French toast, would you say I must be French? Or if I ordered Italian spaghetti would you say, well this guy's gotta be Italian? Why would you say a thing like that?

And he said, well, for one thing, this is a hardware store.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 07:58 PM

March 01, 2018

John Waters, the Lusty Lady, and Me

[A version of this post that includes the pictures referenced may be viewed here. While this blog limps along and I'm trying to organize a solution for the future, I'm still attempting to register significant posts here so I can keep track of them when that time comes. And who knows, maybe there are still some people who check this blog for the same reason, and if so this post is for you. As I've explained, I probably won't be posting any new images here or linking when I post an image elsewhere (go here if you want to see those, but when there's enough commentary to warrant archiving it, as in the present case, this is the best way I can think to handle it for the time being -- ed.]

THE WAY WE USED TO LOOK LIKE: I know John Waters only slightly, through our mutual friend Ian Brennan. This photo was taken after the three of us had had dinner at the nice Italian family restaurant across the street from the Lusty Lady (can’t recall the name of the restaurant now, nor do I know if it’s still there; the Lusty Lady is, sadly, no longer with us.)

After dinner when we were doing the stand around talking before going our separate ways thing, Ian noticed the two of us standing in front of the nude dancing neon, recognized it would be a good photo, and snapped this shot. (It would be a better story, perhaps, if I said we’d been in the quarter booths at the LL, but that simply was not the case: go ahead and think that if you want, though.)

John Waters is really impressive, just as funny and entertaining in person as in his art, and also a very warm person, and the conversations I’ve had with him have been enthralling, hilarious, and largely unprintable: he wouldn’t stand a chance in our current Age of Intolerance so we’re all lucky he achieved icon status before everyone started twitch hunting everyone else for various kinds of impropriety. As icons go, he’s unassailable, a kind of saint of trash, God bless him.

During the dinner, no fewer than four young ladies came up to our table in awe, each delivering a semi-rehearsed encomium that included an account of her own life and how John Waters and his work had had an impact on it, had made her world a better place. This must happen to this guy all the time, and he knows how to handle it, and that is just to listen and say thanks warmly and graciously. He said it’s “part of the job”, and it is. (That’s what I try to do in those situations too, but I tend to be way more awkward about it.)

Anyway a good time was had by all, with no gradually lowering quarter screen in sight…

p.s. Here he is pretending to read Andromeda Klein. (Which you can get from Sounds Rad, if you want.)

[nb: my schedule calls for a story on Monday and an “old pic or other item from the archives”.. I started typing this as a caption for the pic in its capacity as “old” and “from the archives” and it went long and turned into a sort of story, so I put it here, off schedule. This sticking to the schedule discipline isn’t going so well, is it? — ed.]

Posted by Dr. Frank at 04:16 PM

February 28, 2018

Minor Secrets of "You You You" Revealed!

Every so often I attempt a finger-picking arrangement of one of my old songs. I’m not the greatest picker in the world, and there’s nothing particularly fancy or difficult about the arrangements, but it is really quite a challenge to get through a whole song on video without choking too bad. There are times, on the couch, when it seems like I can play them pretty flawlessly, but I must be kidding myself there because I can never manage to replicate that feat when the laptop is rolling. They’re offered “as is.”

(And here’s a playlist of the ones I’ve done so far.)

“You You You” is a simple enough tune, and quite traditionally structured, but there are just a few counter-intuitive bits that were easier to sing than finger till I got used to them. Not technically difficult, but your fingers keep wanting to go a different way, or mine did at any rate, so it took quite some effort to train them to do it proper, basically months of zombified, semi-autistic playing, over and over.

A lot of people really like this song, I’ve found. It closes the album Revenge Is Sweet and So Are You (replacing, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere) the originally-planned, far grander “I Was Losing You All Along” which we couldn’t finish. When that album came out Ben Weasel sent via email a lengthy, quite heartfelt and detailed, song by song critique of the album, and about this tune it said only that it was a weird way to end the album. Which is true enough.

The track as recorded verges on a lot of arguably contradictory things without ever committing to any of them: minimal, traditional, bouncy, punk-but-not-really, mournful, bubblegum, restrained and over-wrought at the same time. Kevin Army captured a truly great guitar tone on that one, really dark and brittle, and the vocal is stark and rather “intimate.”

(The guitar was an old 1950s Les Paul goldtop, borrowed for the occasion, that had been hilariously refinished and stained so that it matched the previous owner's yacht or the hardwood floors of his faux-Scandinavian lodge in Marin; smart things come in stupid packages, that is to say, some things look stupid and sound great, and I regret not buying it to this day.) I remember Kevin saying to someone at the time that it was the best vocal from me he’d ever recorded. Well, maybe maybe not. Always punching above my weight in that regard, I’m well aware.

As originally conceived, this song was supposed to be much more restrained and quiet, wistful or whatever, more like this arrangement to be honest, at least in “feel.” But that wasn’t a thing we did, or were capable of doing, in 1997. That’s why people like ’97, I know. To the extent that the RIS “You You You” is something special, it’s the result of stumbling on to whatever it was that made it so. It leaves a lot unsaid, which is why ending the album that way turned out to be apt, though it was almost entirely accidental.

I’m still pretty pleased with it as a song (which I sure can’t say about all of them.) That “expects to see” / “more agony than ecstasy” rhyme is a too-trite Cole Porter-ism that is pretty awkward in the context and it makes me wince slightly when I hear or sing it. (Not to mention the fact that it alludes to Michelangelo and invokes Charlton Heston and Rex Harrison.. none of these guys should be intruding into what was meant to be a simple, plaintive elegy to a love affair.)

Anyway, though, back to this version: how about that guitar? A 1949 Martin 0–15, if I’m reading the serial number right. I’m kind of “curating” it for my friend Lawrence, who acquired it back in the ’80s from a student of the great Furry Lewis. Furry may have even owned it previously, or if not, at least he played it. You know how “provenance” is. This is the Furry Lewis guitar. The tone is out of this world, which is what you get from 70-year-old wood christened with the sweat of a delta bluesman.

(Grim Deeds, by the way, on the shirt, is your future favorite band.)

Posted by Dr. Frank at 10:05 PM

Titanic Satanic Panic

Some decades ago there was a society-wide spasm of utter madness in which obviously innocent people were accused of being Satanists, rounded up, and imprisoned by the hundreds. Some of these people still rot in prison to this day, but now there are two fewer of them, courtesy of the work of the Innocence Project.

I hadn't been familiar with this case, but to judge from this twitter thread from an OK attorney, it exhibits many of the standard features (a lurid, implausible theory of "ritual" crime, a bribed jailhouse informant, a corrupt police detective, dubious Satan "expert," and a crooked prosecutor who fought tooth and nail to prevent the DNA test that finally exonerated them and then tried to keep them in prison anyway on a preposterous technicality.)

God bless the Innocence Project, but shame on us.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 07:22 PM

The Dr. Frank Method

According to my phone, the convoluted route I have to take around the neighborhood to avoid all the people I don't want to stop and talk to increases my step count threefold on average. Fitness through social anxiety and misanthropy.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 01:04 AM

February 26, 2018

A Schedule for My Dumb Little Web Presence

So, I've recently started trying to stick to a rough schedule in all my posts to various places, something that makes more sense than my previous randomly-determined model. (e.g. seventeen posts in a row on a night of insomnia, followed by two months of radio silence, followed by a single cat picture, etc.)

The schedule is: Mon.: a story; Tue.: day of rest; Wed.: a video, with commentary; Thu. an old pic or other item "from the archives"; Fri. a cover of my song "Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend" found on the internet (styled "your Friday morning 'Hitler').

The stories go on my Medium account. The video on my Youtube account. And from there they "flow" along with the song commentary, the pics, and the "Hitlers" (as long as they last) and whatever else to all my various places:; twitter/frankportman; twitter/mtxforever; this here old blog (crumbling before our eyes, but still accessible); my Facebook; my band's Facebook; Instagram/drankf (sometimes). And now, F. Portman On Google, which is where I originally typed this.

Beyond the self-discipline for its own sake, I'm doing this to provide people who want to find out about the stuff I'm doing with a more structured, consistent way to find out about it. Because (a) I'm doing a lot of stuff these days, and (b) the social media platforms that are now people's main source of information on things that people like me do seem to hide a lot of stuff these days.

You'd think a riotous world of competing communications vehicles would be a good thing for the sake of spreading such stuff further, but in fact, if they're competing at anything it seems to be trying to outdo each other at hiding things people want to find out about from the people who want to find out about them. It's the opposite of communication. Dis-communication, if you will.

I miss the days when I just had a single blog where I'd post things and anyone who was interested would just know to go there to find out what I was up to. Of course, I could still do that, but it wouldn't work because people don't get information that way anymore and no one would go there. For better or worse (worse, of course, it's always worse when that's the choice) everyone has passively accepted that tidbits be served to them by an aggregate of faceless companies based on secret criteria. It's not a good thing, but it is the way it is. Hell in a handbasket, I tell ya.

Anyway, I'm not saying I think doing this will solve that problem. I'm not an idiot, or at least, not all the way. But at minimum, when people say "how can I find out about the stuff you're doing that I'm not seeing?" I will have a place to send them, and a more or less predictable structure extending to the future in case they ever feel like checking back. I figure it's better than nothing, and maybe it'll help, who knows?

We'll see if I can keep it up!

Posted by Dr. Frank at 09:44 PM

Soul Butcher Meets the Duckhead Buddha

Today's story is one I've told before (e.g. here) but here it is with some embellishments and a couple of photos.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 09:40 PM

February 21, 2018

Minor Secrets of "Coffee, Tea, or Me?" Revealed!

"The kind of girl I dig, some of her was big, but part of her was petite..."

Mikill Wotan!

Here I am doing "Coffee, Tea, or Me?" with the Smugglers at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco on July 26, 2003. As you can see, the front bit is missing, but as it's the sole document (as I must assume) of something that happened only once, that is, me singing this song with the Smugglers it seems worth a post, praise Odin.

This occurred during a week-long Lookout Records festival. We were in the midst of recording Yesterday Rules and took time off to play that show. (I also did a solo set that week at Thee Parkside, leaving the rest of the band to do tracking without me, which felt very weird, though also kind of rock star-y if you know what I mean.) I was a bit pre-occupied with recording stuff on both nights, and remember nothing at all about them except doing this song, but the memory is glorious.

This was one of two of my songs that the Smugglers recorded on the Rosie album. Both date from the Revenge I Sweet - Show Business is My Life era, part of a large batch of songs that included Revenge rejects and also formed the basis of Alcatraz. ("You're My Hostess Cupcake", recorded under the title "Bombay" by the Go-Nuts, was also part of that aggregate.)

As originally conceived, "Coffee, Tea, or Me?" was from the stewardess's point of view,, but then I hit on the idea of going all high-concept on it and making the entire composition from beginning to end a literal Penthouse forum letter and I couldn't resist doing it that way. I love stuff like that, and several of my best/favorite songs are in that category: "Concept of the Soul" (term paper); "Weather Is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful" (postcard); "Jill" (message left on voice mail.)

I'm sure a lot of "young people," if any there be reading this, have no clue what "Dear Penthouse, I am just a regular guy..." is meant to invoke but for people of a certain age the Penthouse Forum loomed fairly large as an icon, as cultural currency. If it is now mysterious and confusing rather than clever, well that's the way these things go, isn't it?

Of course, "Coffee, Tea, or Me?" originally was a 1967 semi-fictional faux-memoir about the swingin' antics of some risqué airline stewardesses. That's another dead reference, probably, but it was also pretty obscure when I wrote the song to be honest. My parents had that book and it made a big impression on me, though I remember very little of it now. The 1973 TV movie starring Karen Valentine feels like it should have had a theme song but as far as I can tell, though it had songs in it, I don't think it did. Anyway, even if it did, I bet mine is better and if there's ever a Coffee, Tea, or Me? "reboot" it'll be here waiting for them. (Not bloody likely, I know.)

Anyway, the Smugglers are one of the greatest rock and roll combos in the history of rock and roll combos, despite being Canadian, and it was a great honor that they did one of my songs, let alone two. I do like my original, quite rudimentary demo of the song, and I may release it in some form one day.

In the meantime, here's what it's like when I do it solo:

And here's the Smuggler's version, from the record:

Here's a bit of the 1973 TV movie to give you the flavor of that:

And here's a girl who wrote another "Coffee, Tea, or Me?" playing it on the internet:

Thanks to the Smugglers, Karen Valentine, semi-fictional faux-memoir sexy stewardesses, Xaviera Hollander, and most especially to Marisa for capturing the event on video and sharing it.
You know, it's funny but I always begin these little write-ups thinking I won't have much to say and I end up typing loads. Praise Odin, share, like, subscribe, etc.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 08:46 PM


The subject is "dirty jokes" through a child's eyes, and it's a story I've told before. But here I am telling it again, so that if everything here disappears it will still be there.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 08:41 PM

February 18, 2018

Blog maintenance

You may have noticed this blog has been ailing and limping along for some time, and a bit more than previously since December 2017.

A lack of allocated disk space, that apparently cannot be increased, has recently prevented me from posting any new images. I can still post text, and links that load resources and previews from other sources, like youtube and twitter. But the front end tends to load incompletely and intermittently and the archives, when their links are visible, are unstable. (They're still there, it's just that searching and accessing them is unreliable.)

It's not a solution to the long term problems, some of which are fundamental and go back many. many years, but I've deleted a bunch of images to clear up enough space to allow the front end and indexing to function a bit better. It seems to have worked, at least a little, as far as I can tell.

When I've deleted an image, I have left a link to the image (e.g. as in this post.) I probably won't be posting new images here unless something big changes, but I may well delete more. Sorry about that, if you care. And if so, it sucks for me too.

The images I would have posted here are currently being posted on social media and on my page. I'm not going to post links to every image here (though in the case of significant things I may.) If you're interested in that kind of thing (saints, whimsical pictures of various kinds, MTX memorabilia) that is the place to go to find them.

Still working on a better solution, but we'll see.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 09:03 PM

February 15, 2018

Minor Secrets of "Love American Style" Revealed!

Gesælig æsc Wodensdaeg to þe!

Gonna shift away from Southampton '92 to Hamburg '92, because it's Valentine's Day and "Love American Style" is an appropriate song for the occasion. Sort of. (LAS was in that Southampton set but the video has lots of glitches during it.) This was just a few days after that Southampton gig, back on the continent, and near the end of the tour if I'm remembering right. It's a rough performance, as they always were, but it does manage to put the song across and it's the best we've got as far as live renditions of it in that era.

To paraphrase something once said in reference to Leppo, the fifth Rutle, the Reeperbahn is one of the naughtiest streets in the world: we couldn't play our instruments but we knew how to have a good time, and in Hamburg, that was more important. I remember that night very fondly, and recall that show as one of the great ones despite what appears in the video to be a distinct too-cool-for-showmanship distance on our part and a sparse, only mildly interested crowd. Well, we were certainly used to those.

The song "Love American Style" was recorded for a 1991 single on Lookout Records, and it is the first recording where I was genuinely satisfied with the way it came out. I think the hot guitar leads way up front were a bit shocking to the tiny, quite conservative, developing "pop punk" crowd, and the cover of the single was controversial in that little world, too. I do think, though I say it myself, that it has held up pretty well nearly thirty years on, as a recording and as a song.

But, it's a pretty weird song. The idea of forming a love song by mashing up and combining bits and pieces of de- and re-contextualized, unexplained bits of ancient pop culture is strange in itself; it was something I liked to do, and it came naturally for better or worse, but this is arguably the first time it really worked. "I will defend your right to cry" (the original theme song of the TV show said "try") is maybe one of the best things of its kind I've ever managed. I doubt further explication would be useful. I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you. Either you get it or you don't, and if you don't you won't.

There are a few other songs from that set that may be worth pulling out and commenting on, but I'm not done with Southampton yet, believe me.

Have a great time on your mandatory dates tonight. Þu eart dust and to duste gewendst.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 03:51 AM

I wrote a thing about fan art...

... and posted it, sharing many examples.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 03:48 AM

February 08, 2018

Minor secrets of "Let's Be Together Tonight" revealed!

Another song (for Odin) from that 1992 show in Southampton.

Rich Levene was there and says his diary indicates there were 60 people at the show, which sounds/looks about right. They really were a wild, exuberant bunch. They shouted incomprehensibly at us throughout the set. It was a good time, as you might be able to tell.

"Let's Be Together Tonight" was our typical show opener in this era (succeeding "What Went Wrong"), written during, but not recorded in, the Milk Milk Lemonade sessions, late '91.

Just before heading to Europe the following summer, we threw together a recording of it along with two other songs for a 7" called Strum und Bang, Live?! to be released by Munster Records in Spain, on the theory that it would be a good idea to have some release in Europe when we went there. That record was presented as "live at the Regal Beagle" -- the Regal Beagle being the bar frequently mentioned on the TV show Three's Company -- but it was actually recorded in a Berkeley 8 track garage studio called Smooth Papa's Greasy Groove Hut, though I'm not sure it had that name yet at the time. (I believe that this and Alex Sergay's Recording Emporium were same place, but the timeline eludes me, and I could well be wrong about that.)

The crowd noise between the songs was taken from KISS Alive II, Blue Oyster Cult's On Your Feet or On Your Knees, the record of JFK's inaugural address, and a jazz record whose title I can no longer recall.
We recorded another version almost as soon as we got back from Europe, in the same room (which had, in the meantime, acquired a 16 track deck -- I think) as a three piece since Jon von had left the band by that time. The Gun Crazy songs were recorded there in those same hurried session, as well as chunks of Our Bodies Ourselves a bit later. This version came out under the title "Together Tonight" on the Gun Crazy 7" and was tacked on to the end of the Our Bodies... CD.

The song itself is a nice little pump-and-pummel pop song, and the slightly clumsy lyrical construction serves to enhance rather than degrade the wistful, pleading, confessional spirit of ingenuous romance-cum-regret-cum-horniness that makes it work. Or so I keep telling myself. I bet I could write the lyrics better now, but I doubt it'd be an improvement. So let's just leave it as it is, shall we?

Praise Odin, share/like/comment/subscribe/follow, bang your face into your laptop till the blood voids your warranty, and check back next week for something new.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 04:58 AM

February 06, 2018

How College Radio, Dr Demento, and Monty Python’s Flying Circus Turned Me into a Punk Rock Antiquarian

New post with pictures and such over at Medium.

One day I'll sort things out here, but till then farming them out and linking is how it must be done.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 02:16 PM