Friday, June 26, 2009

Never land

I could write something sentimental here about how Michael Jackson was the soundtrack of our collective youth. In particular, Thriller was the soundtrack (along with The Human League's Dare) to my final year at school in 1984 - everyone had the LP and everyone played it at every party or gathering... Whatever came after this for Jackson (and a lot did in the next 25 years) the legacy is the music, which hearing again over the last 24 hours sounds just as vibrant and new as it did all those years ago...

Today Momus reposted something he had written in 2005 about Jackson during his trial. The original version of todays post is here.

Never Land

(First published on Click Opera March 13th, 2005.)

One of the reasons the Michael Jackson trial is so unfortunate is that the world of Either-Or will pass judgment on a creature of Yet-Also. The world of clear, unambiguous categories will pass judgment on someone who flies Peter-Pan-like over the binaries that confine and define the rest of us.

When we look at Michael Jackson, I believe we're looking at the future of our species. Michael is a creature from a future in which we've all become more feminine, more consumerist, more postmodern, more artificial, more self-constructed and self-mediating, more playful, caring and talented than we are today. But it's hard to use those adjectives, because they're Either-Or adjectives and he's from the world of Yet-Also, a world I believe we will all come to live in if we're lucky, a world where there is no more authenticity-by-default-through-brute-necessity and no more "human nature". A world of pure synthesis, pure self-creation.

Jackson is what all humans will become if we develop further in the direction of postmodernism and self-mediation. He is what we'll become if we get both more Wildean and more Nietzschean. He's what we'll become only if we're lucky and avoid a new brutality based on overpopulation and competition for dwindling resources. By attacking Jackson and what he stands for -- the effete, the artificial, the ambiguous -- we make a certain kind of relatively benign future mapped out for ourselves into a Neverland, something forbidden, discredited, derided. When we should be deriding what passes for our normalcy -- war, waste, and the things we do en masse are the things that threaten us -- we end up deriding dandyism and deviance. And Jackson is the ultimate dandy and the ultimate deviant. He can fly across our Either-Or binaries, and never land. It's debateable whether he's the king of pop, but he's undoubtedly the king of Yet-Also.

Consider all the extraordinary ways in which Michael Jackson is Yet-Also. He's black yet also white. He's adult yet also a child. He's male yet also female. He's gay yet also straight. He has children, yet he's also never fucked their mothers. He's wearing a mask, yet he's also showing his real self. He's walking yet also sliding. He's guilty yet also innocent. He's American yet also global. He's sexual yet also sexless. He's immensely rich yet also bankrupt. He's Judy Garland yet also Andy Warhol. He's real yet also synthetic. He's crazy yet also sane, human yet also robot, from the present yet also from the future. He declares his songs heavensent, and yet he also constructs them himself. He's the luckiest man in the world yet the unluckiest. His work is play. He's bad, yet also good. He's blessed yet also cursed. He's alive, but only in theory.

There's one way in which Michael Jackson is not Yet-Also though. He's not famous yet also ordinary. Almost all the other stars in the world, the stars of Either-Or world, anyway, make an exception to Either-Or's categorical thinking in this one instance: given the choice between being either famous or ordinary, they all insist they're both. It's the one instance in which hardline Either-Ors will accept a Yet-Also answer. It's an answer they like because it fills the positions of talent with the representatives of the untalented. It affirms them as they currently are rather than challenging them to become something else. They want affirmation, not aspiration. They don't want their artists and celebrities to embody the values of worlds they don't understand. Ambiguous worlds, future worlds. They want to walk, not moonwalk, and they want their stars to walk too.

And so our creature of Never-Land will be judged by the creatures of Never-Fly. They will almost certainly throw him into jail. Their desire to see him as grounded, categorised and unfree as they themselves are is overwhelming. The grounded, situated, unfree creatures of Either-Or are baying for the clipping of fairy wings. Knives, hatchets and scissors glint in Neverland. There's an assembly of torch-bearing witchfinders. Peter Pan must be ushered back from fiction to reality, from the air to the ground. Back into a race, back into a gender, back into a confined clarity. Assuming he doesn't commit suicide, as he threatens in Martin Bashir's documentary, by jumping from a balcony, Jackson will be ushered away from the fuzzy subtle flicker states of our future, back to the solid states of our past and present. Either-Or will have its triumph over Yet-Also. Yet it will also, unknowingly, "triumph" over its own better future.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

RIP Michael Jackson

Media sites such as TMZ are reporting the death of Michael Jackson. He was rushed to hospital earlier today after suffering cardiac arrest. The legendary 'King of Pop' was 50...

As Keith would say, "they are dropping like flies!"

RIP Farrah Fawcett

The Charlie's Angels actress was 62. She died after a long battle with cancer...

Sky Saxon's death confirmed....

A sign of the times... a death reported on Twitter and confirmed on Facebook:

RIP Sky Saxon

An unconfirmed Tweet from @RedwoodBar reports the death of Sky Saxon, singer of the legendary LA garage rock band The Seeds. Saxon had been hospitalized in Austin, Texas and as of Wednesday afternoon was in critical condition. According to a press release, Saxon's illness was undiagnosed.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Staind removal...

As promised in last years post Brookline and Sinker... here is the full 14 minute version of Christopher Sims excellent short film 'Follow'. The movie stars Brookline's Rob Ray and features music from Godspeed You! Black Emperor's 'Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven'...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bat for Lashes at The El Rey

Hecuba sound German and the singer has a haircut like Ulrike Meinhof but it doesn't surprise me they are art-school hipsters based in LA. They are a strange boy/girl duo who sound like a crap Bat for Lashes...

Bat for Lashes sounded very good (probably better live than on cd) but am I alone in thinking they are (how can I put this) a little boring? Live, the music comes across as a cross between All About Eve and Siouxsie and the Banshees, or a gothic Kate Bush. Everything is kind of slow and even the uptempo numbers (there are few) have no groove. The best songs were 'Horse and I' and 'What's a girl to do' which are tellingly from the first album, although there was a nice stripped down version of 'Daniel'...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

SLR & Brookline at Spiral Park

Saturday I managed to catch a few hours of Josh Cairns book release party at Spiral Park...

Starting the afternoon was the acoustic blues of Parker Macy Blues. I had previously seen Parker at eVocal, and his raspy blues was perfect chill-out music for a hazy Saturday afternoon in this weird 'June gloom' that is more London than Los Angeles. Parker's songs are about whisky, death, sex and politics or any permutation of the above... A fun set...

Parker Macy Blues

Stanleylucasrevolution played a powerful set, which included 'Demolition 45', 'Lost on the way home' and a couple of new songs, including the epic 'Venus de milo' which brilliantly morphs between glitterband stomp and rave classic... Another excellent new song closed the set and featured an accomplished guest appearance by Dana on guitar...


I haven't seen Brookline since last year, and they played a good set featuring some new songs that will hopefully be on their latest recording - due out in a month or two...


Friday, June 12, 2009

Glasvegas at Hollywood Forever...

Hollywood Forever cemetery is an appropriate venue for a band obviously endepted to teenage tragedy songs, Phil Spectre and the Shangri-La's... The cemetery's Masonic Lodge is a tiny venue (no more than 250 capacity) and the intimate setting suited a stripped down Glasvegas - with just James and Rab taking the stage. It would have nice to see the full band in action (especially after the Coachella no-show) but taking risks with the lineup and venue are the type of decisions that make Glasvegas special...

James Allen rotated between acoustic guitar, electric organ and piano with Rab Allen providing his wall of sound guitar textures. The Allen's were joined briefly by Paul Cantelon, who came on to play 'Moonlight sonata' for 'Stabbed'...

Oh my, Hooky book...

Peter Hook's Hacienda 'expose' is allegedly due out in October this year, although his lawyers are apparently not 100% happy quite yet:

By Peter Hook with Claude Flowers


This is the account by Peter Hook of Joy Division and New Order of his involvement in and subsidising of the Hacienda Club in Manchester. As there is a considerable amount of drug-taking and involvement of gangs with resulting violence and a fair degree of professional incompetence in the running of the club, there are obviously potential defamation issues. What one has to consider with defamation is whether the tendency of the words would make third parties think the worse of a person written about as a result of reading them. One working test is whether the man in the street in the complainant's position would like that said about them? One should ask that question separately before going on to consider whether it can be justified or whether it is fair comment or whether there is no likelihood at all of the person in question complaining. If one blurs the two exercises, one may end up simply by making an assumption that a person will not complain only to find that the assumption is erroneous. If therefore it is said of X that they were taking illegal drugs, that is defamatory. The best way of approaching it is to ask oneself how would one deal with a complaint from X ie can one prove that what was said was true and also what are the probabilities of X complaining ie was he a notorious drug-taker? One should bear in mind that the burden of proving the truth a defamatory allegation by admissible evidence rests upon the author and publishers. One also wants to bear in mind the fact that these events all occurred some time ago with the action in the book ending about 1997. Furthermore, it might prove difficult to obtain evidence from third parties on such issues particularly when they happened some time ago. It is better therefore to err on the side of caution. The author is entitled to rely on the defence of fair comment provided that what he writes is a matter of comment rather than an allegation of fact and that the comment is one which a person could honestly hold and which is based on facts which are substantially true (the burden of proving which rests upon the author). It seems to me that the comments made in this book are on occasions quite strongly worded but are none the worse for that and the law clearly accepts that comment can be forthrightly expressed. Actions for libel cannot be brought on behalf of those who are no longer alive. I have been supplied with a list of those who are no longer alive. Although issues of drug taking can engage the law of privacy, it seems to me that if there are grounds for complaint by any third party about what is written, it would be on the grounds of libel and the author would need to be able to prove that what is said is true. The drug-taking described occurred in a public place and for the most part is not concerned with details of addiction which could engage the law of privacy. There do not appear to be copyright issues, although the accountants would have copyright in the published accounts but these relate to many years ago, they would presumably be publically available documents and although they are technically literary works, they have no significant literary value. I suggest therefore that one can take a realistic view of the rights in those reports. There are detailed accounts and lists of Hacienda events. It should be checked that there is no-one who can claim that they have copyright in the compilation or if they do, permission should be obtained from them. Again, I would have thought that a complaint based in copyright would be pretty unlikely.

2 Detailed comments

Page Comment

17 Is it thought that XXXX's sense of humour will extend to this? It might be marginally safer to say "unkindly known…".

32 Though they are not named and it was a long time ago, it might be sensible to change "we got ripped off" to something like "ironically this was also the first time we learnt how outrageous lawyers' bills could be".

33 Check that this story about XXXXX XXXXXXX playing the German national anthem when set against the XXXX story can be proved, but I do not think it should cause a problem. Check also that XXXX imagery was used and it might be sensible to say "XXXXX did not rise to the bait and always used to drive up…".

34 As a general point, saying that illegal drugs were consumed in clubs is potentially defamatory of those running the clubs but this was a long time ago and I imagine it's a bit like saying that people were drinking beer in the pub. Presumably, the author could testify to these things of his own knowledge and I would have thought any complaint is extremely unlikely, but one does need to bear in mind that allegations relating to drugs involve allegations of breaking the criminal law. I imagine that most people would not mind in the least about their misspent youth being described, but some may have become extremely respectable and a little sensitive on the subject. Again I would not have thought there is a problem but it needs to be borne in mind.

39 It appears to be defamatory of XXX XXXXX to suggest that his designs did not meet the fire regulations and it may be sensible to tone this down. There are a number of digs at XXXXX. Check that this can be proved. Bear in mind that he might have some different explanation or say that he was not asked to consider fire regulations or that it was someone else's fault.

45 The implication is that XXXXXXX was responsible for the cards being late. Check that this can be proved. It is not, I would concede, the most serious of allegations particularly when it all happened so long ago, but these are points that are best checked at this stage.

50 Check that XXXXX did use a lot of Nazi stuff. It looks as if it is very much a matter of record.

53 Purely by way of example, I am assuming that when material such as this is set out in the appendix, there is no-one who would come forward and claim that it was their copyright, but check in relation to this and the other matters set out in the other appendices eg the quote from the newsletter (p. 61).

65 Suggesting that XXXXX stole material from the club is defamatory of them. Normally the XXXXX in question are not named nor are identifying features given which would enable people to know who they were, so there should be no problem. It should be borne in mind that it could be very difficult to proof these matters after this distance in time. Could one not remove XXXX's name and the name of the group which would might enable him to be identified and that way one keeps the story while reducing the risk of a complaint. 66 It is defamatory of XX, who is presumably identifiable, to say that he was this incompetent. Might there be something to be said for changing the initials but in doing so it is important to ensure that one does not inadvertently use the initials of someone who could claim that they were identified on the basis that they have been working for the author at the time?

74 Might not MXXX XXXXX object to this? I appreciate the author says he is great friends with XX, but on the other hand he does call him an obnoxious bastard! He knows XX whereas I do not. From a legal point of view, it is defamatory to repeat a story that he breakfasted on speed when it is admitted that it is not in fact true, or at any rate, that XX denies it. He might laugh this off but what if he does not? Did he regularly take speed? I appreciate this may seem a little pompous and unworldly to the author, but I am seeing people from the point of view of them being potential
complainants and I know nothing about their background. What I can tell the author is that if they do complain and do not find the joke funny, we have a distinct problem.

75 We also have a problem potentially with XXXX being called a smack head. Might not she and XXXX also complain about the sexual reference. Again at the risk of sounding pompous, that is a private matter which XXXX could object to and might also claim it was defamatory. XXXX might also say that although she mentioned this to the author in conversation, she would not expect to see it in a book.

76 Check that the smashing to pieces anecdote concerning XXXX can be proved – not the most serious of matters. The road crew would not seem to be easily identifiable but might not XXXXXXXXX XXXXX complain about the shag in the bus reference – something which might be a little difficult to prove if she did complain?

91 I am taking it that all these references to XXX are to XXX XXXXXX who is no longer alive. XXXXXXX now takes herself quite seriously. It seems to be accepted that this story could not be verified. Would XXXX be able to prove that at least in part? Was XXXXXXX regularly paralytic at the time? How could be proved that she was drunk on this occasion?

96 I would suggest removing "which probably means they've ripped us off to shit". Could one not just say "but very expensive"? Check that it can be proved about it "regularly falling down like a guillotine".

105 Check about the drill story.

125 The allegation of fraud is obviously defamatory, but it seems that this is aimed only at XXXX XXXXXX and he is no longer alive. Please check that that is correct and that it is not being suggested that anyone else was involved.

126 I would be inclined to remove "the only one he couldn't get hold of was Will O' the Wisp himself, XXXX XXXXXXX" as that suggests that he was involved in the alleged tax fraud. Is the reference to "thanks XXXXX" a reference to the XXXXXXXXXX as that is a somewhat gratuitous aside suggesting that he was responsible for the fine? I fear that would be difficult to prove and that it is probably better to lose that comment.

140 The implication here seems to be that XXXXXXX XXXXXXXXX was releasing tapes which did not belong to him for his own profit and without authority which would be defamatory. Again I suspect it might be difficult to prove. Subject to the author's comment, it might be sensible to remove the phrase "very mysterious XXXXXXX" which I hope would remove the implication that it was him who sold the tapes without authority, but perhaps I can check in the light of the author's comments. (3 lines from the bottom) could we change "sacked" to "fell out with"?

155 It seems to me that XXXXXXX and XXXX are scarcely identifiable. What is said about XXXX seems pretty mild, but check. Check that XXXX will not complainabout this account of his tripping. (3 lines from the bottom) could we change "sacked" to "fell out with"?

155 It seems to me that XXXXXXX and XXXX are scarcely identifiable. What is said about XXXX seems pretty mild, but check. Check that XXXX will not complain about this account of his tripping.

156 It seems to me that there could well be problems from the XXXXXXX who are described as a complete pain in the arse which is a comment, but allegations that they were pissed the whole time and that they took tons of drugs and behaved like a bunch of animals wrecking the room are allegations of fact which would have to be proved. I would suggest toning the passage down.

157 The suggestion seems to be that XXXX XXX XXXX who presumably is identifiable, was dealing some drugs. That is defamatory and how would that be proved?

160 XXXXXX coke – is the author satisfied he can prove this and/or that XXXXXX would not complain?

163 Would the manager be identifiable?

168 Would XXXX be identifiable? If so, is the author confident he could prove this?

170 How can it be proved that XXXXX was spiking people's drinks?

173 XXXX, I take it, is XXXXXX?

177 Would the sale of poppers be illegal? (XXXXXXX) and likewise her producing speed/Pink Champagne (p. 178). How is that proved?

180 Would XXX complain about the allegation of taking ecstasy – again not the most serious allegation but still nevertheless an illegal drug?

222 It is probably dangerous to suggest that XXXXX took home drugs as part of his payment.

235 Check that it can be established that XXXX XXXXXXX did glorify the use of drugs.

240 How is it proved that XXXX XXXXXXX had underworld links? The only living XXXXXX seems to be XXXXXXX. Check that he had a large number of such convictions – presumably a matter of record.

260 Check that it can be proved that XXXXXXX did break the man's jaw.

263 XXXXXXX and ecstasy – proof?

265 Was it really 14% over base rate? – no wonder it went bust?

266 Line 5 – change "he of course went over budget" to "he went over budget" but check that can be proved. Line 22 – drunken interviews and misconceived outbursts – check that that can be proved.

278 Provided that it can be proved, could we change line 2 to "but xxx xxxxx was to put that right!"

286 xxxxxxx wielding a machete – check that this can be proved but it looks as if this may have been admitted in an interview.

289 Would the security firm not paying VAT be obviously identifiable and how likely would they be to complain? I suspect not very likely, but check.

304 How can the author prove this about the xxxxxxx? Particularly, how is it proved that they wanted a pirate ship built at this cost and that they cost this amount of money? I am not sure one can say literally about six people turned up when it seems from the appendix it was 190. I would suggest changing to something more along the lines of "pitifully few turned up" and I would also suggest taking out "we were pillaged by bloody pirates". May not xxxxxx complain about the reference to his stash?

331 It's a very small distinction but could we change "dirty bastards" to "bastards" (line 25).

344 xxxxxx prison sentence – check.

3. Conclusion

I appreciate that many of the points flagged up may be matters where the author will be satisfied that there is no possibility of the person involved complaining, probably because they are notorious for their drug-taking or whatever. This is perhaps the clash between the world of running a club where hundreds of thousands of people are taking ecstasy and the libel lawyer coming along later and making the point that people could be said to be committing a criminal offence. My aim is to flag up in relation to the living persons the instances where one needs to consider whether the wording should be changed or to check at this stage rather than when a complaint is made whether what is written can be proved. I do not consider the problems relating to this book are great but there are some matters which need review and some phrases which should perhaps prudently be removed. I have taken a view when going though the book as to whether I consider people who are accused of random acts of violence or serious drug-taking are identifiable. If there are any incidents where it is thought that the people might be identifiable or there is in anyone's mind a question as to the passage I would be most grateful if it could be drawn to my attention so that I could reconsider the position.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Momus Story

The excellent Cherry Red TV has just released a recent interview with Nick Currie covering the history of Momus...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Zukie in blue...

Zukie at the park Saturday. Every now and then LA is full of trees with beautiful blue blossom...

The Fuxedos, Killsonic, Quazar & the Bamboozled, and Moxy Phinx at Spaceland

In a night of appalling band names Moxy Phinx (get it?) opened and proceeded to steal the show. An empty stage with a few chairs could hardly prepare you for what was to follow as one of the dancers dramatically strode on and pressed play on a MACbook in the corner... More interpretive dancers arrived on stage along with singer Katrina Lenk (aka Moxy Phinx) who was dressed like an evil Disney Queen. The music was a wonderful blend of classical, subtle electronica and reverb drenched piano, which particularly featured on a brilliant version of The Pretenders 'I go to sleep' - the song elevated to greatness by an emotive vocal over the ghostly piano. The dancers left the stage for a few songs leaving Ms Phinx alone to sing a couple of more upbeat numbers (which reminded me a little of St Vincent or Emiliano Torrini) before returning to dance amongst the audience as the set finished.

Moxy Phinx

Quazar & the Bamboozled are obviously going for that whole Dr John or Captain Beefheart vibe and despite having the look down pat (including top hat!) they have neither the blues of the former or eccentricity of the latter. Stripped of these facets what you basically have is an average version of The Commitments...

Quazar & the Bamboozled

Music and comedy can be uncomfortable bedfellows, particularly when something is not funny and the music sounds (as every musicomedy group does) like a cross between Spinal Tap, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Bat out of Hell... So basically, the hour The Fuxedos (get it?) spent on stage was possibly the worst hour of my life. The singer was sooo desperate to be funny it was excruciating. I was miserable...

The Fuxedos

I wondered earlier in the day whether Spaceland would be the best place to see situationist avante jazz band Killsonic. You take away the situation (for example last weekends Prop 8 march) and put the band in a closed environment and you have a marching band without a march, rebels without a cause - a prep rally for hipsters! I'd like to see them again, on a march with the rubber bullets flying...


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Deer track...

Nice video for The Deer Tracks 'Slow Collision' which was featured in an early episode of Deconstruction....

RIP David Carradine

Carradine was found dead in a hotel room in Thailand. Police have told the BBC that the 72 year old actor was found in a wardrobe with a cord around his neck and other parts of his body. Although he recently achieved cult success in Kill Bill, the prolific actor was best known for his role as Kwai Chang Caine in the iconic 70's TV series Kung Fu...