Day tripping Google blog searching and I found one post by a Portuguese pushing ten – all ten – Barracudas albums. And that made me think even more than the arrays of Soulseek and other apps dispensing thousands of files, the torrents and the tireless rippers and burners. Basically: to paraphrase an ancient George Carlin routine, every Barracudas album delivered to your door in a dump truck.
When I was a teenager – no, not “before you were born”; when you were still in your previous incarnation, more like, cue Donnie-Brasco-voice: “Fuggedaboutit” – everything had to be mailed or, as you say in this country of mine, “posted”. Music and the writing about it could not be taken for granted.
At about fifteen I started writing for a few fanzines. I can’t remember how I found out about them. One was called “Big Star”, from northern
In those days even the mainstream rock writers were something else. CREEM was The Bible, with Bangs, Dave Marsh (who made his pile soon enough working with Springsteen), Ed Ward, Robert “Robot”
Fanzines, though, felt and were different. Sniffin’ Glue was apocryphal, a grimy, bulldogging, belligerent bark at any passing conformity. In its dying days I made a pilgrimage there and Mark P. accepted my proposal for a piece on Generation X that was duly published. I wrote for Ripped and Torn, Tony D’s brilliant anarchist rant; his band of agitprop squatters was formidable and funny. There were dozens of others, stapled and stuck together, crammed with ideas.
Now we have blogs and the mute, piratical testimony of the download demimonde, and it just isn’t the same. Freedom of creativity transformed, however. What the fanzines promised the new world delivers: Everything for nothing, let’s not get physical, download my wife, please. The original zines had something to chafe on, a position. What is the position of a blog, written on no-paper at no-price? Music capitalism will be on its knees soon and that is good, but I miss the definition of the old ways, the city ravines, where there was black and white, not all glyphs. So it’s an old man’s love song to himself. I miss Jeremy.
One of the problems of this post-post-modern world is that everybody knows everything and knows everybody else, too. The pervasive coy, informed, sardonic and sarcastic tone that fills entertainment media from heavy duty horror to kid’s cartoons has homogenised and polluted us, making everything once removed and already old. Nobody talks much about the future, because we’re convinced we’re living in it, Dick Tracy on lie drugs. I don’t like this reality fix: I want my future back (and, yeah, thrown in my woody, fuggedaboutit!) All this today takes me away from me. I’ve found being human very disappointing, and the collapse of what you can hold has made it worse. Fanzines call me back to a time and place that had a time and place. I am not a text, I am a human being, and I’ll live with the disappointment.
I look back because the blizzard of mediocrity that now assails us bores me. Fanzines and vinyl, the solid waste of what-was, and give me cassettes and all good crap, it’s the world I knew. We are sailing sideways into and under a horizon of banded beingness. The original fanzines, that left marks on your fingertips, were the coal face of fandom, where you toiled in the dark hammering at an implacable stupidity: people whose taste was worse than yours. Now there’s room for everybody and I wish they would reintroduce the dress code. I know exactly what I am talking about and here I will see it in print, not limbo. Banality TV seeps into everything, an enfeebling flood. It takes less time and effort to do everything, which I celebrate, but those raw materials become missed or mutant. This is why I honour the fanzine, humble photocopy grunt of the last, lost Ink Age.
ROBERT (ROBOT) HULL was born of a preacherman and a high-school cheerleader in
As a special treat, Robert has sanctioned the use by ‘….that jerk still owes me money’ of the first portion of the book he is working on. “It will probably take me two years to finish since I really can only work 2 hours on it a day,” he says. A part of it follows:
THE SECRET HISTORY OF ROCK ‘N’ ROLL
I HAVE WRITTEN A BOOK, MYSELF, I AM A WRITER, I HAVE WRITTEN A BOOK AND IT'S CALLED—HE GOT WHAT HE WANTED BUT HE LOST WHAT HE HAD! THAT'S IT! SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP! HE GOT WHAT HE WANTED BUT HE LOST WHAT HE HAD! THE STORY OF MY LIFE! CAN YOU DIG IT?—
Little Richard on The Dick Cavett Show as described in the Prologue to Greil Marcus’ Mystery Train
MY DEATH will be a slow one. No one will know that I have died. There will be soft white sheets of sound swirling around my head then. And that is all that I will be hearing. But no one will know what I am hearing because no one will know where I have gone. I will, of course, be in
That is the place that reared me, the brain-damaged obsessive that I am, the place that nurtured my heart with the harmonies of a thousand hillbilly voices swooping through the Mississippi-Arkansas night. I can hear them now in my dreamnightmares, singing of knife-wounds and violent love, lost in a twang-tone of hardship and self-destruction; always tearing up the night as if heaven were a juke-joint traveling on wheels bound for Gloryland.
I can hear them now as my Pontiac slams into the the hulk of the long white Cadillac of the one-armed stripper, speeding like a cheetah through a blinking-red late-night stoplight, not braking but racing with a rockabilly zeal to her whiskey and dark mildewed house away from the torment of the very last Hernando’s Hideaway before Tennessee becomes Mississippi, on the highway that will one day be named Elvis Presley Boulevard. I met her for the first time then, having never seen her before, performing for the men who would pay her five dollars to rub her proud stub, as I hit her white monster car, hit it hard head on, into the traffic, spinning round and round, not yet knowing what curses lay before me.
My death will come, and it will be slow. It will move through me like the river moves through the
I will die in the
Here, I grew, in
The drive-in calmed the plains while the buffalo roamed behind the screens staring in to the bright lights of the automobile. Our pink Mercury station wagon rolled over the bumps, blinding these ancient creatures, parking weekly at night in front of the images reaching toward God. What god, the Indians would ask?
Before I heard music, the gods were Walt Disney, Alfred Hitchcock, and Jerry Lewis. The images of their films projected out into the universe of
What is this peace the boy speaks of, an elderly Indian asks my father, the Christian man who has come, not to save his soul, but to see if his own soul is worth saving, perhaps even to ask forgiveness for not knowing that his faith was there all along as a young boy himself in
I was handed fat, and although cooked, it had the texture of the raw belly of uncooked chicken from the supermarket. To whose flesh did this fat once belong? Served hot on a paper plate with a plastic knife and fork, to eat the rubber mound of skin and ooze was what any preacher’s son would do. Like the Indian standing before him handing him the soggy plate, he had no choice. What flesh was this?
Eat, son, the Indian said calmly. It is all we have. It is the peace of not hearing, I wanted to say. It is so quiet here. Not even the buffalo in the distance make a sound; they tiptoe as they pass, looking for answers, still dazed from the carlights of last night’s drive-in screening. Why is it so quiet? There are no sounds as if music were for something else, not to be listened to, not entertainment, but only ritual, experience, communal gathering, a moment of outburst or revelry.We are here, my father and I, to worship with the Indian, just in case. But what hymns do we sing and where are the instruments that will make the sounds? What does it mean that there is only a ball of fat on a soggy plate that I must eat?
I had come to hear the Indians sing like in the westerns on the big screen blocking the view of the buffalo that had comforted me even more than the Disney lost-animal and nature films. There would be a whoop soon, and hearing that would make the raw flesh all worthwhile.
What does the boy mean, preacher, when he speaks of this peace and silence, the Indian asked, his old face furrowed and determined and confused. I think he’s seen too many movies, Jack, my father said. I like movies, the Indian replied, chuckling as he picked up the ball of slippery round meat and chewed its rubbery texture. I like the Alfred Hitchcock ones especially, he continued, slippery ooze dripping down the side of his mouth. Have you seen many of those out there on the tall screens? We can watch them here from a distance sometime. In silence. You don’t really need the speakers, you know. I don’t let my kids see them, preacher, but I watch them with my wife after supper before bed sometimes, and we understand them. You don’t need the sound to know what’s going on. The picture is enough.
I looked at my plate, and up at my father as the elder passed his movie wisdom to the preacher who had come for a discussion of religious faith and not the pleasantries of culture. I knew my father, and I knew he was somewhere else.
He looked down at me, smiling generously like his own father Noble, and despite the disappointment of the peace and the silence and the quietude, I felt happy and brave. You don’t have to eat that, son, my father said to me, with a kindness I will never forget.
Very few people can see anything horrifying about a meatball unless the meatball is exaggerated all out of proportion. But if the meatball gets too far outside the norm, its tremendous size begins to border on the satirical. Writers as far back as Lucian knew this. In Lucian’s A True History, various vegetable creatures and grotesque monsters threaten the survival of the wandering hero. Lucian may have written the first science-fiction story, so the scholars claim. But, really, the story is not horrifying at all—it’s totally humorous. The question is: Where does horror leave off and humor begin?
Horror films have been been scaring kids shitless since the beginning of cinema itself. It doesn’t take that much to create a monster or an evil human being that will stir a feeling of repugnance. There’s always a movie out that guarantees to make the viewer vomit. We all know the scenes whether we’ve experienced them at the movie or dreamed them: worms devouring testicles, greasy slugs sucking on slithering brains, a gorgeous slut getting her tongue pulled out because she had too much sex, dead babies piled up in a gas chamber.
I’m always kind of considering Night of the Living Dead as a way of seeing everyday life. A little girl stabs her mother and eats her father. The zombies play with intestines, kidneys, and hearts, while nibbling on appetizing tidbits directly into the camera. But the film has always appeared cheap, even upon its initial scandalous release, and most of the visual horrors even then looked fake. As we know, the film triggered something much deeper—the twitching fears that we had already dreamed every night.
The Japanese horror classic The Manster contains a scene in which an eyeball begins appearing on a man’s shoulder, signifying that he’s starting to grow a new head. I can’t watch this scene without cringing and then inspecting my own shoulder to reassure myself that everything is okay, that no eyeball is busting through the skin of my body. And so, the scene in The Manster isn’t horrifying because the man is growing an extra head but because I imagine the same thing is happening to me. Eventually the manster runs rampant through the community towards death in a volcano, but not before more horror invades the film as the half-man, half-creature feels the violent tension of trying to split himself apart---something I practically experience daily.
In my youth, I was in a serious car accident in
Horror is not a cinematic spectacle or gore or a creepy creature from a scummy green swamp—it’s the suspense and expectation of such dark and secret events. It’s not a feeling of nausea or repugnance or the thrill of a carnival ride. Horror is a sick catharsis, and it helps keep me focused.
These stories, tales, and fragments are all passages from my unfinished novel. I guess maybe it’s all a satire on everything from stale academics to pop culture ramblings. The original plot dealt with Matzo and Nameless battling it out for control of the book. They duel in the library. They each publish a literary magazine. They both try to outdo each other in their knowledge of Samuel Beckett.
Matzo writes an opera during his visit to Tooth Fairy Land, and Nameless creates a complicated scenario for a fantastic film about noise that’s sneaky. But there are deejays from Jupiter, and they plant their power into every note head of the score and every letter on the page. In a rash of creativity, Matzo writes a manifesto to the reader and coins a gigantic cliché. Every radio station in
Lindsay Hutton started a fanzine called The Next Big Thing in April 1977. Taking its name and inspiration from the opening cut on The Dictators Go Girl Crazy, the title has since morphed into a blog (www.tnbt.co.uk). Since then, he has written for many fanzines and publications including Mojo and still keeps the ol’ hand in. Now considerably older but in no conspicuous way wiser, Hutton continues to campaign for the music and artists he staunchly believes in.
What has been fanzine's role in rock('n'roll)?
In much the same way as blogs have become a necessary evil with regard to providing a more honest, or even biased opinion. The best fanzines provide an opinion, not just a cut and paste press release or band blurb. In my opinion they shouldn’t devote pages to slagging things. They can criticise to create a perspective but it doesn’t serve anyone to hear bleating about why someone doesn’t like something for no other reason than it doesn’t appeal to an often limited taste. Someone whose opinion I value said to me a long time ago that a zine should concentrate on what they consider to be the good stuff. I can run rings around most whiners but I always tried to make sure the magazine wasn’t poisonous. It’s a pity that the economy doesn’t run to there being more printed zines anymore but it’s relatively impossible without getting into the realms of taking ads. I only ever did that by invitation and limited those to convey information on stuff I knew the readers would be interested in. To cut back to where I started, Fanzines provide a filter and a foundation for acts that are starting out. The thing is that you can go on the ‘net now and actually hear the music for yourself. The written aspect these days should be to direct interested parties to the source. And if possible, get them to purchase the music directly from the artist.
What benefits has being a zine King brought your life?
NBT may not have turned into an empire but the reality is that I’ve built up a global network of like-minded malcontents. I can go to many countries and hang out with these folks and to my mind that is more important than some kind of driven ambition to succeed. I guess the reputation is founded upon honesty and being objectively subjective. The only distinction is between stuff we like and stuff we don’t. It’s pretty humbling to have people say that they really appreciated the mag when it existed in a physical manifestation. Whether that was to do with the way it looked or that they found it entertaining is down to the individual. A lot of work went into it but it didn’t really seem like it at the time. The biggest benefit is definitely the extended family that’s been created. An early triumph was that Burnel idiot from The Stranglers wanting me thrown out of a gig in
2010: Cassettes and fanzines: The Comeback. What you think?
I much prefer cassettes to CD’s. No question about it in terms of a vessel. A mixtape is a much more noble beast than a CD. For a start, you had to compile those things in real time. Not just arranging files in an order. That Thurston Moore book about tapes that came out recently indicates just how cool cassette compilations are. Of course, the education process that it would take to hep kids into thinking cassettes are cool would be a huge uphill struggle. There will always be some of us though who can take solace in having lived through their being a vital force in our sharing of music either with peers or members of the opposite sex. It’s great that people are putting out tape releases in short runs again but perhaps at this point they’re more art objects. I have at least three working cassette decks and literally bings of tapes still. In fact, you’ve spurred me on to go and grab a pile of unmarked, unboxed TDK’s...
Gary Pig Gold actually attempts to explain.
WHY A PIG?? There truly, irrefutably, was nothing good on the radio as I was escaping High School for the very last time circa 1973. Repeat: NOTHING.
So I dug deep into my basement with a clutch of vintage vinyl and launched an imaginary, worldwide daily/nightly radio show. I mean, I just could not fathom having to tie a yellow ribbon when I could simply smash that crocodile rock to “Bits and Pieces.” Strictly monophonically speaking, of course.
What wasn’t quite so imaginary was “Pig Production’s Patented Pop Parade,” a weekly Top Ten tally typed upon my old Royal ribbon monstrosity and mailed to the few friends I still had left hanging around the Toronto suburbs. This, I guess you could say, was a blog …long before Al Gore ever invented the Internets though, I’ll have you all know.
Then my parents threatened to kick me completely up and out of said basement, so I enrolled as a student screenwriter in the nearest post-Secondary educational facility I could find. But, once racks upon musty racks of old “Billboard” magazines were discovered within the research library one AM, I never did make it to too many more classes. So? Back to the basement …and, to keep Mom and sometimes even Dad pacified, a part-time job delivering peoples’ mail. That particular very-early-morning gig actually managed to bankroll three entire, glorious, record-hunting weeks in London during the surprisingly carefree, rain-free Summer of ‘75.
First night in town, I came upon a nifty little band opening for none other than The Troggs in The Nashville Room that sounded, and even acted, much like my own (semi-imaginary) basement combo back home. They were called The 101’ers, and their leader J. Strummer became my bonafide BFF for the next several hours: A kindred rubbery soul if ever there was one. “Go see this place called Let It Rock on the Kings Road and ask for my mate Malcolm,” Joe suggested. “And keep YOUR magazine going too!”
Yessir. Back home in O Canada, and back at the Billboards, it was announced The Who were coming to town after a good too many years off the Canadian concert circuit. Naturally, all my underemployed pals and I immediately lined up in the slush overnight outside some ticket agency’s window – yet despite our loyally ass-drenched perseverance were only able to purchase incredibly crappy, nosebleed-section seats for our big trouble. “Pig Production’s P.P.P.” was then duly expanded to twenty-eight whole pages so that we could “expose” this grave music biz injustice …alongside lotsa old Who article reprints from the cobwebs plus some pretty strange interviews with the band we made up to boot, that is.
My once-trusty Royal having long since bitten dust though, I had to sneak into a friend’s office space long after hours in order to type, cut, and paste – MANUALLY, by the way! – what was to become “Pig Paper # 1.” Running far behind deadline as the sun rose one faithful Toronto morn near concert day however, we were caught red-fingered by my friend’s new boss. But far from being just like the old boss, he said “What are you guys up to? A magazine? What about? The Who? Oh! They’re coming to town next week. Make sure you give me a few copies once they’re done so I can give them to Pete” who, you see, just happened to have attended Art College with my friend’s employer. Saved again! Someone up there likes fanzines!
Disguised as an Official Authorized Two-Colour, One-Dollar Concert Program, our “Who Paper” was sold out in the street whilst Toots and the Maytals played Opening Act inside and, despite vociferous-and-then-some threats by some cad insisting he worked for The Who, The Metropolitan Toronto Police and/or MCA Records (he never was quite sure), we realized we’d made Seventy Big Ones’ PROFIT after we counted all our dollar bills in the local pizza hole right after “My Generation”/”Roadrunner.” Huh!
Of course, when the equally cool Kinks came to Toronto a while later, they got their own “Pig Paper” too …though we had to follow them all the way to Buffalo, New York to hand-deliver R.D. Davies & Co. copies. Then an even louder band, The Ramones, came to town, and when nobody else in the “real” media was at all interested, “The Pig Paper” gave its long-lost brudders-in-arms many a hand-typed column inch in true, hardened heartfelt appreciation.
Meanwhile, some friends-of-friends’-friends who dared live up to their moniker The Viletones started playing right there on Yonge Street in Toronto too, immediately followed by Teenage Head, The Diodes, and enough other delightfully alarming local talents to fill a great big rash of subsequent “Pig” Papers as the months and then years scraped fitfully by.
One band especially caught what was left of my bank account, and so Pig Records was finally launched in June of 1978 with all seven inches of Simply Saucer’s debut 45 RPM. “Single Of The Week!” no less than “Record Mirror” of London proclaimed just a few weeks later, but by then I’d run into Jan and Dean in concert one hot August night and ran off to L.A. as opposed to the U.K… I mean, Jeremy’s grand new Barracudas were already occupying London in the name of Surf City, so I moved all things Pig to even sunnier climes and found starving on Huntington Beach not so terribly cold after all.
Put a band (The Loved Ones) together there, opened for some “Pig Paper” subscribers there (Steve Wynn), made some demos other subscribers (Rodney Bingenheimer) gave prime air-time to, put out some California “Pig” Papers (Jerry Lee Lewis) and made some California Pig Pals (Monkee Mike even!) before heading back to my Home and Native Land to spend the second Reagan administration touring as part of Canada’s Only Officially Authorized Tri-Colour Tribute Concert program, the Endless Summer band.
Then? Took a weekend off in Nashville to record with Pat Boone before producing and relocating to New York City with Teenage Head Dave Rave, signed him to Russia’s Melodiya Records label, started the severely alt. country Ghost Rockets and then another record label and, well…
This Pig is very well into his third decade of proud and quite regular pop-parading publication, albeit primarily all over the www nowadaze. And the moral of this all, I guess, is that no matter how bad things (the radio, the neighborhood, lifestyle-in-general) often can get, why, it’s even easier now than it was in ’73 to head to the basement, grab a keyboard, and start typing your life away! If I’ve managed to get away with it for this long, I’d quite safely say ANYONE can,
Somewhere in the Wilds of the Jersey City Heights, USA, on no less than Bob Dylan’s sixty-eighth birthday.
Ripped and Torn
Jeremy Gluck 06/03/10
Watch this space as Jeremy will be contributing other features to Mudkiss.