Dr Frank Weakly Reader for 8.09.2019

Songs about Girls Confusion Pain Remorse Anxiety Despair Cruelty Misery Bitterness — How We Won the Love Song Revolution

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elcome friends to another Dr Frank Weakly Reader, that thing I do where I produce an edited, annotated, illustrated, and expanded collation of the week’s doings in my little corner of the Internet, so it may be found later. It is by no means a perfect system, but it’s better than nothing, and I can’t think of another way to do it.

I know hardly anyone reads the damn thing, I’m not an idiot. This introduction is largely superfluous like the rest of it. I might as well be typing “lorem ipsum” over and over. But there may come a time when I might want to locate and review what I said about X or how I responded to Y, and then, I figure, this may well come in handy. So much of our internet is, practically speaking, non-searchable, but I know at least that Medium.com is. Searchable I mean. Until they kick me off for using the wrong turn of phrase or posting the wrong picture, at which point it will still be searchable, but I won’t be on it anymore. The self-deleting archive: that’s the info-Zeitgeist right there, isn’t it?

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This is the “Songs about Girls” etc. edition because Sounds Radical is doing one of their limited custom pop-up offers reviving, ever so briefly, the old design of that name, denoted a “classic” by some. Here’s the pre-order link. And/or, scroll down for more details.

As for the origin of Songs about Girls: many people who have seen my band live may have noted that I often introduce songs by saying “this is a song about a girl.” I’ve done shows where that sentence is all I’ve said between songs. I’ve said it in Italian, German, Norwegian, French, and Japanese, while in those respective countries, and I even tried to do it in Welsh once, but I mangled it. It has become a kind of ironic catch-phrase, associated with me and the band as closely as any other trope or icon.

I first started doing it to taunt and mock the hardcore bands and audiences we used to play with and for when we first started out. The general feeling among that lot was that love songs, songs about girls, etc. were horribly passé and what previous generations might have called “square.” The cutting edge song topics were limited to, e.g., El Salvador, Reagan, and other vaguely articulated pastiches of poorly understood pseudo-political tropes. They were the future people of tomorrow. And they were building a new world of anarchism and agit-prop tunelessly shouted and played too fast, about the things that really mattered, i.e., Reagan and El Salvador. And I’m not even exaggerating all that much.

There was no room for songs about girls, or for pop songs at all really. And yet, pop songs about girls was the thing I liked and the thing I was trying to do, though admittedly we weren’t doing it all that well yet at the time. So, I used to say “this is a song about a girl” as a kind of act of defiance. And it worked. The response from “the scene” was uncompromisingly hostile.

But for all that, I think it’s safe to say: I won. If you were to make a list of the greatest songs ever written, say the top 50, your list might well include a punk rock tune or two, maybe even more. (Mine would.) But I very much doubt your list would contain any songs about Ronald Reagan. Unless you really want to go for it and include that “Bonzo Goes to Bitburg” song, which is great, and a choice to which I wouldn’t dream of objecting if you really like it that much. But what I’m saying is that generally speaking and to no one’s surprise, the Love Song has stood the test of time, while the Reagan Song has not.

Anyway, after we won the love song revolution and my band and label were more settled and established, the horrors of the 1980s far behind us, the gag continued, having lost a bit of its edge and purpose, but still broadly descriptive of the songs this band tended to play. And I continued to introduce songs that way. It was part of the act.

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So one day, ca. 1996–7, I was in Chris Appelgren’s office at Lookout HQ, brainstorming art ideas, for general purposes, future records, and merch. We were doing our usual meandering free associating, me pacing around the room, Chris at his desk with a notebad and a pencil trying to draw everything I said. But we weren’t really getting anywhere. Then Kepi, who happened to be at Lookout for some unrelated reason at the time, and had heard the back-and-forth of our conversation through the office door-jamb, thrust open the door, stuck only his head through, and said:

“MTX: songs about girls. That’s the shirt.”

He pulled his head right back out and closed the door, but we knew he was right. Chris drew it, then mocked it up on the computer using some font, jumbling the letters and distressing it a little and it was all done in about five minutes. That Kepi knows what he’s doing. A marketing genius as it turns out.

It was our staple design from then on, revived many times, as now once again. We did lots of touring in the mid to late ’90s, and we left many of these shirts in our wake.

As to the rest of the subtitle above, it’s from a Japanese comp. from around the same time that weirdly discogs doesn’t seem to know about:

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Here’s that Sounds Rad pre-order link again. More below.

FRONT BURNER

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— The “Bodega Bay Folk Festival”: Allow me to draw your attention to the “Bodega Bay Folk Festival” on August 31, with me, Kepi, Kevin Seconds, and Dan Janisch. Hey, if you say it’s a Folk Festival, it’s a Folk Festival. And it’s free.

Kepi, Dan, and I did this last year and it was a lot of fun, and this time we’ve got Kevin Seconds on board as well so it should be even more dynamite than how dynamite it was before. Come watch us serenade the highway.

— Shows, Inclusive:

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Adding that to the developing shows list we’ve got:

Saturday August 31: The Bodega Bay Folk Festival, featuring Dr Frank, Kevin Seconds, Dan Janisch, and Kepi. High Tide Comics, 2001 Highway 1, Suite B, Bodega Bay, CA. Noon till 6PM, live music from 3PM. Free, all ages.

Friday September 20: MTX with Kepi and Motorcycle, at The Blue Lamp 1400 Alhambra Blvd Sacramento, CA 95816. Get tickets here.

Saturday September 21: MTX at Punk the Burbs Fest 3, Basecamp Pub, 5750 Lakeside Dr. Lisle, IL 60532. Get tickets here.

Sunday September 22: Dr Frank solo, with the Straight As and Robosapien. Palmer’s Bar 500 Cedar Avenue Minneapolis, MN 55454. Get tickets here. Facebook event page here.

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.

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MTX FOR DUMMIES

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— Rad Pins and such: if you missed out on Sounds Rad’s last “pop up” offering (MTX ’95) you missed out on the most elaborate pin they’ve done yet. And the shirts look pretty sweet, too. They were limited to the pre-ordered items, which are now being shipped, i.e., they’re gone, but….

…as mentioned above, right on the heels of that one comes yet another limited pop-up, the “classic” Songs about Girls design (with a Punkemon-themed parody Lookout logo on the back.) As before, this is a strictly-limited custom order, the twist here being that you can order among six different colors. And there’s a pin too. Pre-ordering is open now and runs till August 16. As always, they’re limited to the number ordered, and when it’s over it’s over.

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If you’re confused about what this shirt looks like, here’s a helpful video.

— “I Love You but You’re Standing on My Foot” at 7800 ft.: has Cydne got a tale for you. And the saga continues here. Small place indeed.

—The Mr T Experience (Disorder): Last Will produces the KALX top 100 playlist for September 1986. That means Everybody’s Entitled to Their Own Opinion, which was on our own vanity label, named after Jon von’s punk rock mail order record service of the previous few years. When all your friends work at a radio station, it’s pretty easy to be #1. Hard luck for Nick Cave.

—The Universe collapses in on itself: worst band bio ever.

— punk rock potpourri: more big words than any English class; Love Is Dead, at every party.

— Song for Odin: the Mr T Experience — “Swallow Everything” live in Toronto, October 1997. Video on YouTube. Lengthy “minor secrets” write-up here. More video of this ilk may be found at my YouTube channel.

And speaking of the Gun Crazy seven inch: here’s Josh’s copy and some background.

And then there’s this:

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“That time I got beat up by Donovan,” says the caption.

…and this one from Brian who posted it in response to the “Swallow Everything” Odin post:

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You can see a few more blast-from-the-past MTX shirt photos in this thread, to throw you back for Thursday or whatever day it is. e.g:

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— and, from me: the “Big Black Bug Tour ‘89” shirt we took with us on the 1989 effort to take our pretend rock band cross-country. Designed by Sergie. This is the only one I have, and I don’t think I’ve seen another. It’s surprisingly intact, missing only some detail in the bugs’ faces. Or, to put it in Adapted Sheldon Scale Numismatic Grading terms: CHOICE VERY GOOD — slightly clearer design-features, with most or possibly all eleven letters of the words BIG BLACK BUG showing...

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— …and your Friday morning Mr T Experience cover band playing the Rock N Roll Camp for Girls benefit show at Uncle Lou’s in Orlando, Florida, Part 3 (of 3.) They’re doing “More than Toast” and “Ba Ba Ba Ba Ba”.

DR FRANK SUPERSTAR

— Here’s my “did you miss while I was gone” message. The suggestion to look on my Medium profile for stuff to read still stands. I’ve been doing it for nearly three years and there’s a lot there, so scroll around. Not that anyone reads anymore. They don’t, I know that, it’s all emojis, gifs and memes, the better to “drag” you with, my dear. Nevertheless, I type.

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— Me and my Argentines: Just a pic of me having afternoon drinks in my hovel with my buddies from Argentina, Diego and Sebs, a few years back. It came up in the memories thing. This was the afternoon of that Screeching Weasel / Queers / MTX show at the Regency Theatre in San Francisco, “pre-gaming” as it were. Usually when I say “good times” I mean it just a bit ironically but not here: good times.

— You know I’m right: punk rock lexicon.

— Dept. of bons mots:

I just can’t grasp the impulse to try to make things you dislike or disagree with disappear. It’s obviously better for that stuff, all data, all information and history concerning everything, to be carefully and meticulously archived and organized for maximum accessibility if only so it can be referenced in your counter-arguments, and so your case against it will be supported by evidence you can cite, and comprehensible to those who don’t already know what you’re talking about. If a library doesn’t contain the bad things, it’s a bad library. But, no one seems to agree. Our society seems to have come to view documentation and data as commemoration, as an honor owed only to the unobjectionable. Weird.

cf., btw, this elaboration of the idea, with a quote from Eco’s Name of the Rose:

It is said that an Oriental caliph one day set fire to the library of a famous and glorious and proud city, and that, as those thousands of volumes were burning, he said that they could and should disappear: either they were repeating what the Koran already said, and therefore they were useless, or else they contradicted that book sacred to the infidels, and therefore they were harmful. The doctors of the church, and we along with them, did not reason in this way. Everything that involves commentary and clarification of Scripture must be preserved, because it enhances the glories of the divine writings; what contradicts must not be destroyed, because only if we preserve it can it be contradicted in its turn by those who can do so and are so charged…

PICTURE BOOK

— Behold: Eusebius of Vercelli; ready to begin (and yeah, it’s the Watchmen); the female animal; a peaceful way to fight conformity

— and finally:

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IN THE NEWS

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— Damien Lovelock: very sad to learn that the singer of the Celibate Rifles died last week. He was one of those huge, multi-faceted personalities that managed to make everything he touched interesting and compelling, and his band was absolute dynamite.

The Celibate Rifles had a big impact on my own little life at an important time.

Quoting myself from a write-up about the Quintessentially Yours compilation e.p. (scroll down):

This band had a big impact on my own band in our formative years, all the way back in 1986. At a time when no real club would allow us within shouting distance they, in the midst a California stop in their years-long, never-ending world tour, strong-armed the Berkeley Square into letting us open for them. (It may surprise people who went to the Berkeley Square to hear this, but this was the height of show business to us, something I never imagined could ever happen. There was a stage. There was a PA. There was a sound guy. I felt very out of place, I have to tell you.) The Celibate Rifles knew about us because they had heard our self-released LP, or rather at least one song off it, “Danny Partridge.” I can still hear them all saying the title in those Australian accents — if you know an Aussie, ask him to say “Danny Partridge” it sounds charming as anything. I was bowled over that anyone from far enough away to have a different accent from mine would have heard one of our songs, but that is what happened.

I worked with and got to know Kent Steadman, the Celibate Rifles guitar player, quite well subsequently, but I never had much personal contact with Damien Lovelock beyond a “hello” here and there. He was a bit older than the others, and tended to stand aloof, an impressive and sometimes rather daunting presence. (Remember that I was a 20 year old kid at the time, and perhaps easily daunted.) I will miss the voice, and the presence, and the band, which was and is one of the all-time greats. RIP, mate.

— Clickbait Politics: out of self-preservation, you might say, I decided to disengage from the daily back and forth of Team Red vs. Team Blue politics a couple of years back. I don’t mean I’ve paid no attention at all to the news. I just mean I stopped following the minutiae of the twitter-driven “news” micro-cycles of who said what bad thing and who said all the other bad things in response — you know, the stuff that everybody goes nuts about and wants to kill each other over till they forget about it completely within 72 hours and move on to the next extremely stupid thing to want to destroy each other over. I don’t “log off” or go off the grid or anything like that. I just let it flow by without taking much notice and try to avoid joining in any episodes of mass psychosis if I can help it.

And the experiment has been a considerable success. I am way calmer, less agitated, and more able to focus on things that are actually important to me rather than the idiotic flow of aggro trivia that used to cloud my vision. It’s a way better way to live, especially because with almost no exceptions, no feature of our Clickbait Politics ever lasts longer than a few days, or ever has any bearing on anything beyond the imperative of its own logic of propagation. Try it, you’ll like it maybe.

There are so many things I’m supposed to care about, that I thought I cared about, that it turns out I don’t actually care about. And that includes who’s running for president at any given time. I’m glad I don’t know most of their names. The more I know about them, the more I tend to dislike them, but since it doesn’t matter too much anyway, I feel I’m well out of it.

However, I did note the exchange between Tulsi Gabbard and Kamala Harris in the second Democratic Party debate. I’ve always seen KH as one of the more odious figures in the California political establishment. She is an emblem of everything I dislike most about our society and state: the “prison industrial complex,” mass incarceration, the corrupt judicial system, prosecutorial malfeasance and abuse of power, the drug war, civil asset forfeiture, over-charging, cruel policing, harsh sentences, etc. And to hear it laid out out so clearly, succinctly, and effectively was gratifying in a way that few such media spectacles have ever managed to touch. Plus, it seems like it worked; some say those few sentences alone have killed Kamala Harris’s candidacy for good. I hope so, she’s awful.

And now, it seems, the “establishment” has launched into a smear campaign against Tulsi Gabbard. I can see why they’re scared of her. She’s rather formidable. I’m sure I disagree with her on a whole lot of things, but I’m with her, or more accurately I suppose, I’m with the spirit and implications of her “sound bite,” on criminal justice reform. She’s talking my language, on this matter anyway. What’s more, she seems to mean it, she does a lot less pandering than your typical candidate, and above all she seems like a real, sensible, serious person. The more you smear her, the more you’ll make me like her, but then, I’m a contrarian that way. I can think of way worse things than her being the president, though, you know, it’s nothing to do with me really, practically speaking.

And that’ll do it for this edition of the Dr Frank Weakly Reader. But for those who have made it this far down the page, here’s a scene from Fellini’s La città delle donne:

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See you next time.

Written by

I am Dr. Frank. I write books and songs. Mtx Forever.

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