Dr Frank Weakly Reader for 7.12.2019
Theatre of the Absurd Edition
“You do realize,” said David Yow, “that we’ve just set music back several decades if not centuries?”
Oh, I realized it.
Of course, I’m talking about Flipper Unplugged, in which the great, great post-everything band Flipper was enticed into agreeing to play acoustic, live on the air at KALX by our mutual friend (and my former mailman) Last Will. My role in the affair was merely to supply the guitars. I was maybe going to strum along just for the hell of it, but probably not. I wasn’t even sure how you’d strum to a Flipper song. Part of the magic of Flipper is that the guitar doesn’t really play the chords, yet it still sounds grand and earth-shattering and cohesive in its own unique way when you zoom out. How you’d do that on an acoustic guitar was beyond my powers of imagination, and I was pretty interested to see how they’d do it.
So I was planning to wait and see what they wanted from me, and if it was strumming of any kind I’d just follow their lead. It was very likely to be sort of, you know, Theatre of the Absurd, if T. of the A. means what I think it does. But I’d do anything for Will, so there I was.
In the event though, Ted Falconi, the Flipper guitar player, declined to participate, so, well it had to be me. Feeling rather sheepish and silly I strummed some chords, while Flipper drummer Steve dePace played the bongos, Rachel Thoele played her theremin, and Last Will played the saxophone, while Yow quietly recited the lyrics to “The Old Lady Who Swallowed the Fly” over it all. Steve had said “Let’s make it very, very sad.” Well, it is quite a sad song really. I was going for a mournful beatnik poetry kind of feel, and I think the bongos were too.
I couldn’t hear what was in the mix, the vocals or the theremin. I just strummed along to the bongos because, what else could I do, you know?
It didn’t sound like this:
But when the DJ host said, “Ladies and gentlemen, Flipper,” and the next sound heard was a delicate Cmaj7 chord and some bongos… well I could tell that that at least was extremely funny. So I was laughing through the whole thing, even though the punchline was right at the beginning, the joke coming anti-climactically and reverse shaggy-dog-ily afterward. Well, you gotta do Theatre of the Absurd right. Or wrong, if you know what I mean. I’m sure it was just as awful as Yow said, and Falconi was well out of it, but it was still funny enough to be fun.
I’m one of those people who love Flipper and all its works, right or wrong. It was fun hanging out with them.
Here’s an old essay of mine “Guitar with Mittens: a Flipper Anecdote,” reposted in advance of the occasion. And now, well, I guess I have a second Flipper anecdote, don’t I? Plus, I can put it on my punk rock rock CV.
In another Diary-of-a-Madman type item, I ventured out of doors earlier this week, as I almost never do, to see Kepi play at the Octopus. On the way there, I noticed everyone sauntering casually by with their babies and girlfriends and avant-retro facial hair and weird rompers and I said: “look at these people walking around here like they’re not about to get murdered.” Because, you see, it used to be really, really dangerous around here and I haven’t quite got used to the fact that it isn’t quite so dangerous anymore. I’m still jumpy. The least little thing will send me into a terrified, defensive crouch, though it will inevitably turn out to be, like, a piece of trash blowing by in the street. (In this, I am more or less precisely like G. K. Chesterton, my cat.) I haven’t been mugged, per se, in ages now that I think about it. Unless you count the guy who grabbed my pocket knife and tried to stab me with it. But that was before they opened the ugly clothes for hipsters shop. That should have been a giveaway that things were changing. When the frumpy dress like a table cloth appears in the window of the suddenly-there shop called Gingham & Sympathy, the streets are safe. But muscle memory dies hard.
Anyway, Kepi was great as always. I didn’t stay for the rest of the show, which was related to the Burger Boogaloo festival that happened that weekend. Despite being pretty much right down the street from me and despite the fact that it often features bands and people I’m kind of interested in, I never go to it. I don’t like being outside. I hate standing in the sun. And, well, as the song goes, I always feel outnumbered in a crowd. But I could hear it from my apartment. Even from that distance and through walls the Jesus and Mary Chain set sounded pretty boss. I hear it was all smoke and lights and high drama which sounds cool.
That’s about as close to “concert-going” as I tend to get. What if they held a festival and no one came, like it used to say on the bumper stickers on the VW bugs? i.e., everyone stays home and listens to what they can catch of it, or what they imagine they can catch of it, across the road and through the walls in the comfort of his or her or their crumbling hovel? Don’t dream it, be it. Everyone isolated in his own hovel, listening to the distant rumbling. That established, I’d totally go if I were the only one there and there was shade to stand in. Kind of a paradox.
— Sat. Sept. 21 2019: The Mr T Experience with a ton of other bands at the Punk the Burbs Fest 3, Basecamp Pub, Lisle, IL. This is a weekend festival type thing. We’re headlining one of the nights and Tsunami Bomb is doing the other night, like it says on the flier over to the left.
The “burbs” in question are the Chicago suburbs. Tix are available here. And despite what I said above about staying home from festivals… well, it turns out what I said about that must have been wrong, just forget I ever said it. Don’t stay away. Come to this one. Please do. It’ll be fun, probably. It’s inside at least.
In other shows news, we’ve got quite a few things in the works for the end of the year, and will have some new shows to announce soon, so stay tuned.
Till then, though, book your tickets for the ‘burbs. Lisle, that is. Punk rock. Encased meats. See you there.
DEEP IN THE VALLEY OF THE JOLLY GREEN MR T EXPERIENCE LIVES A GUY THEY CALL THE LITTLE GREEN SPROUT…
— Song for Odin: The Mr T Experience — “Supersonic” live in Hamburg, Germany, July 1992. Video on YouTube as always.
— "Our Bodies Our Selves is a flat-chested murder mystery on Channel 11 at 7 pm, Sunday night. It is a Judy Bloom novel your sister is reading for the eighth time. It is a suicide note for your ex-boyfriend. It is unrequited love and burned-out light bulbs…”
From the OBOS one-sheet from Lookout Records, forgotten completely by me till I happened on this picture of it on the internet.
Anyway, thinking about this photo and realizing that ten years isn’t actually quite so long as it used to seem, I typed:
“You know, there we were trying to be a punk rock band ten years after 1977, which seemed, as we were fully aware, absolutely ludicrous at the time. I don’t know if it’s more or less ludicrous 42 years after 1977, but it was a lot closer to the “summer of punk” then than we are now to the ten-years-too-late time depicted in that photo. Obviously. So it goes. Hang on to your ludicrousness, it’s really all you’ve got….”
— From America: a flier from the July 9, 1992 MTX show at the legendary TJ’s in Newport, Wales. This was just the day after that Southampton show that I’ve posted all that video from. I wish someone had documented the TJ’s show, but it was not to be.
— I don’t mind being Morgan Noll on twitter’s guilty pleasure.
— …and, finally, your Friday morning Saturday Night Karaoke, featuring “Ba Ba Ba Ba Ba” and “I Fell for You”:
And on the covers playlist it goes.
I DRINK DR FRANK AND I’M PROUD… I’M PART OF AN ORIGINAL CROWD
— Copyright Follies: in the latest in what looks to be a long-running and on-going series, SONY recently claimed ownership, on YouTube, of the MTX song “What Do You Want?” in the live video from Southampton, UK, 1992. As is usual, it wasn’t till they (SONY) rejected my dispute as invalid that I got to learn what song it was they pretended to think they were claiming. And this time it turns out to be this dance number of the same title, performed by Joy Enriquez and co-written by Beyonce Knowles. And playing them side by side is pretty funny.
But it is also pretty… telling, because it is clear that SONY ATV never actually reviewed my “dispute” as the form letter from YouTube claimed they had. Nobody reviewed it. Had there been any kind of review, it would have revealed that these are clearly two different songs. This is an automated process that automatically rejects disputes and doubles down when challenged, without even considering the merit of any individual case. Moreover, many of these identifications seem, like this one, to be based solely on the title, which is not relevant to copyright, as everybody, including especially those who have designed this scheme and those at YouTube who are effectively abetting it, know full well. This despite the fact that it is claimed to arise from CONTENT_ID, which allegedly compares and matches audio on videos to a database of copyrighted material owned by companies like SONY and Warner Chappell: it’s clearly not a “match” in that sense. The only thing that matches is the title.
A new wrinkle here, since I last checked on it, is that an additional publisher has been surreptitiously added to the complaint against me and my poor little song. That would be Concord Music Publishing, which doesn’t appear to represent Joy Enriquez or Beyonce, but it does, through its affiliate Bicycle Music, administer the catalog of the Connells, a band that also has a song of the title “What Do You Want?”
This also is… not my “What Do You Want?” But it is pretty funny, and indeed rather Theatre of the Absurd, that both SONY ATV and Concord Music Publishing are, it appears, challenging my ownership of my song on the basis of two competing different songs. Surely, it can be one or the other upon which I’m alleged to be infringing. It can’t be both. And aren’t they also, by this spectacularly twisted and legally nonsensical criterion, infringing on each other? I guess once they grab mine they can fight it out over who is the true owner of all the songs titled “What Do You Want?” that there are in the world. (BMI alone lists 486 of them, including mine— better get busy with those claims, guys.) The “claim type” is listed as a “composition claim” but, and not to grind the point all that much further into the ground, it has nothing to do with the composition. No one involved is even listening to the compositions. It’s solely the machine-readable title. Which is ludicrous.
I think companies like SONY and Warner Chappell are abusing the system and knowingly filing false copyright claims, as part of a scorched-earth policy where they try to grab all the intellectual property they can regardless of who owns it, on the assumption that at least some writers and publishers won’t notice or won’t bother to fight them. And they are getting more and more aggressive and audacious in this pursuit. It’s a nuisance, but it is also morally and possibly legally wrong. I believe YouTube should create consequences for this malfeasance to deter it from happening. If they don’t, they all but guarantee it will get even worse.
There’s more in my essay on the topic: YouTube and Its Discontents — The Small-time Songwriter vs. the Corporate Copyright Troll.
Dr Frank vs. Beyonce. Read all about it.
All that said, though it is developing into quite a nuisance, as I say, and despite undesirable ramifications in the greater world of songwriting, copyright, and publishing, for me this is still mostly just amusing.
Now, Lennon-McCartney, I ain’t. But my song’s okay. I’m sure I’d get squashed like a bug if I filed a claim against a Beatles song on the oh so solid basis of my song having the same title and then subsequently rejected all disputes and appeals, having decided that my copyright claim is still valid no matter what they say. Maybe they wouldn’t notice and I’d get all kinds of Beatles money. And if they do notice I’ll just say “never mind” and claim another song, “Hey Jude” or something, and just keep going till I find one that sticks. If SONY can do it why can’t I?
But of course, I can’t. And I wouldn’t. Anyway, I’m sure even SONY wouldn’t try to mess with the Beatles. In this, we are precisely similar.
— Dept. of bons mots: “If I ruled the world, every day would be the first day of Spring, every heart would have a new song to sing, and we’d sing of the joy every morning would bring, and bars that serve ‘craft beers’ would be required to serve at least one lager that actually tastes like lager.”
— I write the songs, I write the songs.
— Gift of the Magi: In which the rock n roll girlfriend does such thoroughly rock n roll stuff that she misses the rock n roll boyfriend’s show entirely.
— Caravaggio Tableaux Vivants: nothing to do with me, but this is a pretty amazing video.
— Dr Frank is alive and well and living in Tokyo ca. 1996: Japan never failed to avoid not being a good time.
— Dr Frank and His Shiny Robot Monkeys, the rehearsal. Just me and the Zatopeks in monkey masks, but there’s a tale therein.
OTHER PEOPLE’S MUSIC
Good morning world: Britney Spears — “I Love Rock ’n’ Roll”; the Bugaloos — “Gna Gna Gna Gna Gna”; Giles, Giles, & Fripp — The Cheerful Insanity of Giles, Giles, & Fripp (full album); and Margo Guryan — “California Shake” (an old favorite song with a groovy new- video I’d never seen before now):
Posted in honor of that big LA earthquake of course. Aren’t my references out of control?
— Behold: I’m glad I found out how provincial you really are; Baby Ruth and Butterfingers fashion wrappers; yet another McGinnis dame; a beach evening; here’s Lucy; a great deal of pleasure…; Harold Chapman, Paris 1963…
… and finally, Hayley Mills is.. Pretty Polly;
IN THE NEWS
— Fulton Sheen has been officially placed on the schedule for beatification and needs, it appears, just one further miracle to qualify for sainthood. You can do it, Uncle Fulty.
— Trouble in the “Marxism community”: it’s the orgies. It’s always the orgies.
— Why are Thomas More and John Fisher venerated as martyrs in the Church of England, whose Reformation is the very same Reformation that chopped their heads off in the first place? I only ask the question. Seems like having your cake and eating it too. Or maybe it’s like OJ vowing to track down the real killers. I’m sure there are legal and philosophical subtleties in there that sort through the paradox. I’m surely not the first person to wonder this, but the definitive answer is not easily google-able by the casual google-er.
—A twitter thread on “wokism” and whether or not it is a religion (it is.)
—Just a girl doing a make-up tutorial when the lipstick application is interrupted by a great big huge earthquake.
— the great João Gilberto died, and posted a picture. His music continues to live in my heart at least.
And that’ll about wrap it up for the Dr Frank Weakly Reader for 7.12.2019, Theatre of the Absurd Edition. But for those who have made it all the way to the bottom of the page, here’s a picture of a sexy archer:
See ya next week.