Hallowe’en Starts Now
Hello and welcome to yet another edition of the Dr Frank Weakly Reader, in which I have compiled a compilation of the week’s web activities in expanded, edited, and illustrated form so that it may be more easily searched for in future. Also, it’s kind of fun and keeps me to a schedule I find oddly comforting. I try to make it entertaining for the reader as well, though I’m quite aware that hardly anybody reads it. But as you’ll see below (at the MTX Psychic Friends Network link) creating newsletters for nobody to read is something with which I’ve got a bit of experience.
As for “Hallowe’en begins now”: in my world the “Hallowe’en season” begins at the Autumnal Equinox (September 21–23) and ends on All Souls Day, November 2. But it really kicks in as the month of October begins. Practically speaking it means nothing more than a bit of casual spooky focus in random stuff, watching horror movies, reading ghost stories, thinking about witches and the Devil, that sort of thing. It certainly affects what I do on the internet, so get used to seeing lots of that kind of material for the next month.
So, yeah: welcome to Q4 and thank God it’s here. I prefer this time of year to any other, mostly because the air starts feeling cool again (I hate heated air — it boils my brain) and I like the way the light looks. I like a bit of rain, too, you know. And clouds and shade. Other than Christmas, Hallowe’en is really the only holiday I observe with any enthusiasm. I think it’s mostly just relief that the attacks of the Sun have weakened. I spend Spring and Summer in a state of resentful, beaten-down, torpor. I come alive when the Sun subsides. So, Hail Hallowe’en.
Anyway, that’s the introduction done, and now that that’s out of the way, let’s move on to the weak that was, shall we?
— SHOWS: still got some shows coming up, with more to be announced very soon (and I think you’re gonna like ‘em.)
Here’s the current list:
— Saturday October 19: MTX, Sicko, and the Pathogens at the Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th Street (17th @ Missouri) San Francisco, CA 94107. Tix here.
— Song for Odin: the Mr T Experience — “Christine Bactine” live in Hamburg Germany, July 1992. Video on YouTube. “Minor secrets” write-up here. More video of this ilk may be found on my YouTube channel.
— Throwing you back for Thursday with the MTX Psychic Friends Newsletter, April 1994… fake it till you make it, even if you never make it. That’s the way of the world.
— …and your Friday morning “Will You Still Love Me when I Don’t Love You?” from a guy on Soundcloud. “Seemingly,” he says, “there are not many pop punk songs about long term relationships and holding down steady jobs.”
As this is not on YouTube, I can’t add it to my YouTube covers playlist obviously, but if you’d like to hear other such covers found on the internet you can follow that link and find some.
— Underwear: in lieu of a new post this week, I posted this old essay on… underwear and kids’ jokes. When I told this story (pretty much as written, the two versions of the joke one after the other) at a literary banquet at the SF Public Library a few years back, it killed. I mean, it brought the house down, and one lady literally fell out of her chair. Well, standards were pretty low, I suppose, but it was a good time. The key was the deadpan delivery I’m sure.
— “Did they try to ban Are You There, God, It’s Me, Margaret? Well, speech has consequences, Judy. Maybe try writing a less controversial book next time, yeah?”
An Instagram post about a Banned Books Week library promotion featuring Judy Blume’s AYTGIMM (and incidentally, in the comments, my song of the same title) prompted this rumination on censorship and the “speech has consequences” trope from me.
It is quite curious that there is such an institutionally-organized commemoration of resistance to censorship, while there’s simultaneously a thriving — some would say increasingly virulent — culture of censorship and intolerance promoted by some of the very same people and institutions. It’s a contradiction and an irony that is “baked into the cake” as it were. And it looks rather like we’re “privileging” institutionally-approved voices, which is no kind of defense of free speech. I’d prefer to let everything stand, at least everything legal, as a matter of principle and as a practical safeguard against the suppression of unpopular views and people. Ban not, lest ye be banned. I’ve actually spoken about this, casually and idly, with Judy Blume herself and (as should surprise no one) she agreed with me.
Any writer, it seems to me, would be insane to take anything other than an absolute anti-censorship position, though many seem to do so in this topsy-turvy culture of ours. When you start picking and choosing what to ban on the basis of some institutional or personal standard of legitimacy, you’re no longer defending free speech. You’re doing the opposite. Cut it out.
Here’s a song:
— Europe’s Greatest Hits, 2012: Another one of those “memories” from the 2012 Euro Art Tour.
German guy: “Remember when you bomb us? In the forties?”
Italian girl: “I just want to touch the face of the world’s greatest living poet.”
Dutch girl: “Would you like a piece of cheese? Or, a fruit?”
— RAD-005–7 comes to YouTube: continuing the YouTube updating, here’s the Punkemon 7" in YouTube playlist form, with the video in the appropriate place. To wit:
And here’s the video!
OTHER PEOPLES MUSIC
— That Was Mother Nature: Wizard interview with Debbie Harry (and Chris Stein) in the LA Times. She's one of a kind and God bless her.
— "Te splendor et virtus Patris” de Sancto Michaele Archangelo.
— The Fabulous Poodles — “Mirror Star”, in re., sort of, my MTX Psychic Friends Network post. This is a live performance I’d not seen till now:
— Just some saints: King / Saint Wencesla(u)s; St Michael the Archangel; St Jerome with lion (really love the hands and paws); Remigius baptizes Clovis; St. Thérèse de Lisieux in embroidered patch form; Zurbarán’s Francis of Assisi
— Girl at the Purple Taco Truck Got Hella Ass: this graffito was on the wall of the CVS next to Grocery Outlet. It speaks for itself, I suppose, but what makes it even funnier, somehow, is the fact that this purple taco truck is always parked right down the street from the CVS, just a few dozen yards away. Meaning, it’s a directed message, to a certain someone, a courtship “move,” perhaps. I doubt we’ll see any evidence of the subsequent chapters of this story, but I wish them all the best. They seem like nice kids.
IN THE NEWS
— World’s worst sentence: I remember when this clump of words (from Judith Butler) won Philosophy and Literature’s award for the “most stylistically lamentable passage” in scholarly writing in 1999. It popped up on twitter because it’s quoted in that new Madness of Crowds book, I gather.
Twenty years on it’s still the undefeated champ, as far as I know.
— You wanna try that again, harder this time? In other “cancel culture” news, I notice that the reporter who was cancelled for bad tweets people “surfaced” in retaliation for his own surfacing of that philanthropic beer kid’s teenage tweets has come back on twitter and is quoted here lamenting the response to this vituperative tweet-mining as “unearned anger.”
I don’t think going deep background on offensive tweet keywords on the beer kid was appropriate or proper journalism, though I don’t doubt that, as the reporter says, the whole paper and its editorial department were in on the malfeasance. That’s how we live now. I don’t think the reporter should have been fired for his own tweets either. But that’s also how we live now.
That “unearned” though. That is quite clueless, at almost Marie Antoinette-levels. In my write-up (in last week’s Weakly Reader) I supposed that this reporter, at least, might have learned something from the experience. Apparently not.
I put it down to a lack of empathy, or at least a lack of imagination. See how disconcerting it is to have your old “offensive keywords” researched and used against you with the intention of sparking mob rage and targeting your livelihood, family, and friends and generally messing with your world on the basis of trivia? Well, imagine how your own victims might feel when you do that to them, and think twice about doing it, maybe? Do unto others, as the saying goes.
Or, to put it another way: smear not, lest ye be smeared. In a way, it’s similar to the anti-censorship double standard mentioned above: I’m sure this reporter truly believes that his institutional position as a reporter and as a bona fide member of the Woke-ocracy means that the tweet-smearing practice is good and righteous when he does it, and yet reprehensible when his opponents do it right back at him. But like freedom of expression, standards of decency apply to everyone or they apply to no one.
The guy is only 27, his target only 24, I believe. I was just as stupid when I was 27, I’m sure, and it’s a mercy I was in no position for my stupidity to do any real damage. Nowadays, you can do a lot of harm to your fellow man just by typing 160 characters. It’s the weaponization of stupidity, and of trivia. This whole affair, like so many others like it, is needless, useless idiocy, and everybody involved, the aging “kids,” the actual adults, and even the quasi-anonymous rabble should know better.
I’m sure this madness will end, eventually, but I’m less and less certain that it will be any time soon. People enjoy harming and abusing each other far too much to let such an easy, convenient method for doing so go without a struggle. The only way around it is to stop taking the bait, at which point there’ll be no point in setting the trap, and the practice will wither away. I’m not sure we’re smart enough or self-possessed enough, collectively, to manage it, but I live in hope.
— Leninthink: an essay on “the practice behind the theory of Marxism-Leninism” by Gary Saul Morson. Re-quoting this quotable bit here so I can find it again as it is so apt I imagine I may want to quote it at someone sometime:
When a criticism of the true ideology is advanced, or when embarrassing facts come out, everyone learns a particular answer. One neither believes nor disbelieves the answer; one demonstrates one’s loyalty by saying it. It is interesting to be present when the answer is still being rehearsed. Gradually, one acquires a little mental library of such canned answers, and the use of them signals to others in the know that you are one of them.
— Kim Shattuck (1963–2019): I never know what to say in such situations. I posted a picture of her and retreated into respectful silence, as is my custom. She was a good gal, great songwriter and performer, a lot of fun to be around, and one of the most genuinely nice and good-hearted people I’ve ever known. She’ll be missed greatly, of course, but her songs will endure (which is more than you can say for most people’s songs, for what that’s worth — it’s worth quite a lot to me, when I really think about it.) RIP, Kim.
Many people in my internet-o-sphere have posted links to the Elton John / Kiki Dee cover duet I did with her. My old friend and retired punk rock mailman Will called it “one of the greatest punk rock covers of all time” in his post and I appreciate the hyperbole, as always. I shared the story of the recording here, in one of those “minor secrets” posts.
Anyhow here it is again:
I’d forgotten all about it, but Wes reminds me on twitter that she and I actually did perform this song on stage together at least once, at the Troubadour, and he managed to save, and now produces, her lyric sheet for the occasion, which includes her parts only:
Rather poignant in the circs, somehow. I’ll let it stand there.
— Conclusion: that’ll about wrap it up for the Weakly Reader this time around. But for those who’ve managed to make it all the way this far down the page, here’s a pumpkin:
See you next week.