Brick Wahl is a former punk rock drummer turned ex-jazz critic and now just a writer, but then who isn’t. He did a seven year run as a popular columnist at the LA Weekly. A resident of Los Angeles since 1980, he’s lived in Silver Lake since before it was hip. Literary accomplishments include getting drunk with Quincy Jones, getting beaten up by a dozen cops, and being married forever, though not all at the same time.
Been rooting for the San Jose Sharks for a couple of play off rounds now, an odd thing for an L.A. Kings fan, but I figured it’d be cool to have all three California teams as Stanley Cup champions. So I was hoping the Sharks would win this sixth game of the series at home and skate with the Cup in Pittsburgh. Sharks were good too, very good, and Joe Thornton, the geezer with the vast and hideous beard, was a force of nature. But it wasn’t enough, and the Pittsburgh Penguins were the best team, again. Now I can go back to loathing the Sharks this fall like a good Kings fan. In the meantime, I can stop hating the same stupid commercials every game and forget all about hockey all summer.
Now where’s that Slap Shot DVD?
Still, I couldn’t relinquish the hockey season just yet and watched the Pens long victory celebration in the hushed and mostly empty Shark Tank. Most of the Shark fans had already moped out to the parking lot and headed dejectedly home. In the near silence you could hear almost everything the Penguin players said as they took turns skating around the ice with the Stanley Cup, and it occurred to me that this is the only time you will ever hear ‘fucking A’ shouted on television over and over in French, Russian, Finnish, Swedish and assorted central European accents. Finally the cup gets passed on to the assistant coaches, then the equipment managers, the physical therapists, the front office people and on down to the lowliest members of the Pittsburgh Penguins organization. The towel boy nearly topples over when it’s finally his turn with the trophy, but he rights himself, gains his footing, and skates round the ice holding tightly onto the Stanley Cup. He looks fifteen years old and there he is, desperately clinging to a trophy nearly as big as he is, feeling deep down that he had somehow earned that cup too. He’d done his part. He was there with the towels when the players needed them. It wasn’t much, he knew that, but still there he was, spinning around that deeply rutted ice surface for a minute or two with the greatest sports trophy in the world. As he comes round an ESPN reporter is interviewing the great Sydney Crosby. Fucking A, the towel boy yells, unnoticed by anyone on the ice but clearly audible to everyone watching on TV.
I’d totally blanked on the name of the strange only-in-Hollywood real life character who hosted a public access interview show in which he’d interview stars, sometimes famous stars. The interviews could be pretty great, actually. His name was on the tip of my tongue. Jiminy Glick was basically Martin Short’s impression of him in a fat suit. I remember he’d been a child star. His and Dr. Franklin Ruehl’s–who is broadcasting on Facebook–were my favorite public access shows, hand down.
Skip E. Lowe. That was it.
This came up because John Altman and Terry Gibbs were talking about Red Buttons and I remember that Red gave a terrific, revealing interview on that little public access show, which I thought was pretty classy.
I miss the days of public access television. It was endlessly entertaining. I remember for a while we got WOR, the NYC station (well, New Jersey station). I tried watching the NYC public access. It was appalling. Howard Stern was Shakespeare in comparison. LA’s was almost professional in comparison, though you wouldn’t think so until you saw the NYC public access. Back there it was a guy named Vinnie and a couple aging fat strippers talking about masturbation, out here it was all about the movies.
Incidentally, WOR’s local news was all New Jersey. There were always bodies dumped in the river and an angry Teamster named Sal who looked like Chris Christie but without his tailor. And Joe Franklin, who was New York. The show may have been broadcast outta Jersey, but Joe Franklin was New York. He’s hard to explain to Angelenos. One surreal night it was I think was Fay Wray and the 1910 Fruitgum Company. If it was possible to love a band, Joe loved that band. They played Yummy, Yummy, Yummy but to their credit couldn’t remember it, and it spluttered to a dismal end and Joe stood up and applauded them for the effort with complete sincerity. If it’s possible to love a band, he said, he loved the 1910 Fruitgum Company. They thanked him. You are New York, Joe, they said, yes you are. Joe beamed.
Actually I was on the Skip E. Lowe show one night. We were in the audience to see our friends, Oozing Thumb. Somehow Oozing Thumb were on Skip E. Lowe’s show, filmed in a club I can’t recall, somewhere in Hollywood. Skip peered into the beautiful people out there in the dark and saw this enormous hulk of a man. Me. I was big gnarly dude back then, strong as an ox. Skip had the camera pan my way. He asked how tall I was. Six foot five, I said. Skip shivered. He asked my wife if she liked her men big. She rolled her eyes. He giggled. Skip E. Lowe was Hollywood.
So I was reading a press release that’d come my way. Well, skimming it, really, as I’m being flooded with them again, a couple dozen this morning alone, of all varieties. Most are jazz. Some rock. Some world whatever. And one martial industrial.
What the hell is martial industrial?
Wikipedia, of course, had an entry. It explained it all thoroughly. Alas, having not majored in semantics, I could barely understand it:
Laibach were one of the first bands to incorporate military marches in their industrial music and display politically provocative aesthetics. Boyd Rice and Douglas P., the noise and neofolk pioneers, respectively, adopted such attitude at several occasions to its extreme. Allerseelen, either through ritual hymns or alchemical folklore followed in the same vein. Similarly militant but less provocative and more esoteric were the heroic choral outputs of ACTUS. Les Joyaux de la Princesse developed the genre further, offering a particularly mesmerizing style of dark ambient intermingled with historical samples, speeches and interbellum chansons. The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath A Cloud / Der Blutharsch enriched this tradition, adding darkwave medieval melodies to the mix. Finally, In Slaughter Natives and Puissance expanded the genre towards orchestral and neoclassical paths, respectively. Nowadays, the Wagnerian style of Triarii serves as point of reference for most martial industrial acts.
That was clear enough, almost. I remember Laibach, actually. And I know what industrial music is, of course. Don’t quite get how it and neofolk has to do with one another. Industrial music was loud and atonal and mechanical, neofolk is drippy and irritating and all over Silver Lake. They don’t even dress alike. Industrial music fans tend towards all black, while neofolkies look like the cover of a Flying Burrito Brothers album. Not sure what alchemical folklore is. Maybe turning noise into gold. Interbellum chansons I assume is Marlene Dietrich singing La Vie en Rose. And the last time I tried a heroic choral output I hurt myself.
The term ‘Martial’ does not necessarily refer only to military drumming but in general to ominous/dramatic atmospheres and a particular thematology, style, aesthetics and Weltanschauung. Similarly, the term ‘industrial’ does not denote only old-school industrial music, but rather the broad spectrum of post-industrial scene (from neofolk acoustics to harsh noise). Thus, sonically diverse bands like Genocide Organ (power electronics), Oda Relicta (sacral), Stahlwerk 9 (industrial), N.K.V.D (industrial black metal), Die Weisse Rose (darkwave), Axon Neuron/Vagwa (dark ambient), Feindflug (EBM), Gáe Bolg and the Church of Fand (medieval), H.E.R.R. (neoclassical) and Scivias (neofolk) can all be grouped under the umbrella of ‘martial industrial’.
I knew I was in trouble when I had no idea what a thematology is.
Martial industrial bands all around the world, from Venezuela to China have emerged. However, the scene is particularly strong and qualitative in Germany, Hungary, France, Poland and Russia.
Europe, where else. They sure know how to have fun in the old country. And qualitative? That means good, I think. Social science speak. Why you never sit next to a sociologist at a party.
Martial industrial deals not only with history and politics, but meta-history and meta-politics as well. Thus, besides WWI/WWII, Goebbels/De Gaulle speeches, Runic symbols and Iron Guard marches, philosophical themes like Nietzsche’s overman, Spenglerian vision of history, Eliade’s symbolism, Guenonian evaluation of the West and Evolian apoliteia are also the main sources of inspiration. Ain Soph were the first to introduce this esoteric dimension to their heroic/ritual music. Notably, Hungarian scene in particular (ACTUS, Kriegsfall-U, Scivias) is fond of such issues.
Wow. Who knew? So many big words. It certainly sounds entertaining. Especially that apoliteia, a word I had not even the vaguest idea existed. I even briefly considered looking it up, but was scared I might use it sometime. I already caught myself using Weltanschauung. Just once, though. The bartender asked me who won the goddam war anyway and then cut me off.
The apotheosis of Doric elements in Man and Society.
Oh…..now it makes sense. Like West Side Story, or Elvis, or Neil Diamond. I am I said. Cognito ergo sum. Sein oder nicht sein. She wore an itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polkapoliteia.
I have a sneaking suspicion that this was somebody’s term paper. Four years of college and all Daddy got for his money was a Wikipedia entry.
Wow, Morgan Fairchild is selling me a burial plot of Get TV. I mean I haven’t even started using the catheters yet. I’m not actually sure what they’re for. It’s fallen and I can’t get it up? Or is it a prostate thing? Maybe I should change the subject. Or change the channel. Seems like all the channels I watch anymore are full of AARP and catheters and doom. I’d watch a younger television network but all I ever see on there is Kim Kardashian’s ass, and he just can’t seem to shut up.
This is just a Facebook post from 6/27/15,nd while not exactly Pulitzer worthy, for completeness sake I’m posting it here….
Jose Rizo’s Jazz on the Latin Side All Stars and fireworks last nite at the Levitt Pavilion in MacArthur Park…what a perfect Saturday night. Damn those guys are good…Justo Almario going nuts on tenor. Andy Langham getting some room to move on the piano. Smitty Smith his usual bonkers self on the drums. Wonderful band, every time I’ve seen ’em…which is dozens of time by now going waaaaaaaay back. And then the fireworks. Fyl and I loved it. The band are at Hollywood & Highland this Tuesday June 30 from 7-9. That one is free too.
That was our second trip to MacArthur Park in three days since we saw Mexico 68 there on the same stage on Thursday and that was incredible…what a monster grooving band, playing AfroBeat for real. They could have played for hours. Mix of Fela and originals. They have a terrific four saxophone section. Very tight horn arrangements and a lock groove rhythm section, drummer doing the Tony Allen thing. Seung Park took a great tenor sax solo on that last tune, the cat can play. Certainly one of the very best bands in LA. Opening act was a surprise–all the shows we go to and a stoney cumbia band like Buye Pongo are somehow new to me. Dug them a lot too.
And I was tripping on MacArthur Park, man…there was a time when you wouldn’t have been able to have such a splendid scene down there, all was craziness. Killings, gangs, drugs. I knew guys who went down there to die. There was even a police riot. And now it’s one of my favorite venues. Oh yeah, summer in the city, baby. LA has so much free music all summer long it’s heaven.
And I guess the god of fools (well, goddess of fools, if I get a choice) was looking after me tonite. Left the house in Silver Lake at 8:05 and hit a streak of green lights from Temple to Wilshire. Every one a beautiful emerald green. Luck of the Irish. Turned right onto Wilshire and there was a parking space. Looked at the clock. 8:15. We got from Silver Lake to MacArthur Park on a Friday night in ten minutes. It was pleasantly surreal. Or a time portal. Beam me up.
(sometime in 2016)
Began yesterday at the hippest place in town, known only to the cognoscenti, anti-hipsters (or maybe they just have issues) and beautiful European women with no names and security details. Cobraside Records in on that new Melrose, San Fernando Blvd, where LA becomes Glendale and the street signs change color. It’s a wholesale distributor packed full of vinyl and CD, and occasionally live bands out back, and it’s free, and a party, and I sit at my brother’s desk–he’s shipping manager–and move everything around. The Rubber Snake Charmers opened, a jam band with Mario Lalli and whoever else has an ax, and Mario–aka Boomer–began this grooving kraut rock bass line that the drummer line up behind and Vince Meghrouni began a beautifully searching solo on the tenor. This went on for maybe an hour, too briefly, Vince switching to alto, to flute, back to tenor, and the whole thing was never less than what musicologists call groovy when they are really stoned. Remarkable even. Jam bands can fall flat on their faces, or stumble about, or just bore everybody, but these cats were beyond all that and made something that would get airplay on hip underground stations worldwide had it been recorded. Which it was not.
So I replaced the 242 seal in the Fluidmaster 400A and it works fine except that it started whistling then squealing and finally shrieking a high pitched shriek like the monolith on the moon in 2001. Weird. Maybe that’s where Kubrick got the idea. Or was it Arthur C. Clarke. Or maybe HAL, though I can’t imagine a HAL9000 ever using a Fluidmaster. In fact, I don’t even know if they had Fluidmaster in the 1960’s. It’s all very Space Age. They put a man on the moon and a Fluidmaster in the bathroom.
And while the toilet shrieks impressively, it never gets into the Ligeti. That would be too much to ask for.