Dr Frank Weakly Reader for 8.16.2019

Hello and welcome to another Dr Frank Weakly Reader, my weekly annotated, illustrated, expanded recap of the week’s stuff, stuff that would otherwise disappear and be all but unfindable in future. The social-media-scape provides no index and is effectively unsearchable, so I make my own index. That’s why that.

And it’s the “Talk Backwards” edition this week in honor of this song by the late, great, Steve Goodman, possibly the greatest song ever written, certainly one my favorite songs out of all songs.

I mean, why not, right?

I truly wish he’d lived a little longer so he could have written that many more songs.

And, in conclusion, sort of:


— SHOWS: Here’s what we’ve got so far. More to be announced, so stay tuned.

— 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.

— The Sounds Rad Songs about Girls limited pop-up shirt pre-order period has been extended over the weekend through Monday August 19. It comes with a pin. After that, it’s over, so act now if that’s something you’d like to, you know, act upon. Here’s the link.


— “The Weather Is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful”: MTX vs. Jimmy Buffett. In response to a tweet noting that both “bands” have a song of this title, I spilled some “minor secrets” on my song and did some side-by-side analysis. I like both, but, I must confess, I like mine better.

— New Adventures of the Minor Secrets of the Mr T Experience, broken fly swatter edition. The latest compendium of Songs for Odin™.

— Song for Odin: The Mr T Experience — “Danny Partridge” live at Concert in the Park, Sacramento, CA, June 19, 2015, in honor of Danny Bonaduce’s birthday yesterday. 60 years old. Time flies. Video on Youtube. “Minor secrets” here. More video of this ilk may be found on my YouTube Channel.

— Speaking of which, I noticed that a few internet birthday tributes to Danny B. reference the song (e.g., this twitter post) which is why I said my song had “colonized” Danny Partridge’s birthday, which is obviously an exaggeration because it’s only the internet and that’s going to fade away sooner or later.

— Hey Killer, stay punk…: an old poster on Matthew’s wall.

— an old Baltimore MTX sticker seen in Greenville SC. Weird.

— Chris Imlay of the Hi-Fives notes that the MTX/Hi-Fives tour of Japan was 22 years ago. There are photos at the link.

— Self-confidence makes you seem so out of touch… MTX’s “Self Pity” pops up and sits a bit awkwardly on this playlist of 1999 “pop punk” from the AV Club. The song makes more sense in the context of its deliberately off-message ignore-the-memo album, maybe, but I find I can still stand behind it.

— Whining is the human condition: On the same subject, sort of, a guy on twitter recently posted this:

“You wanna know frfr who didn’t age well? Mr. T Experience and Nerf Herder. The music is fine for pop punk, but the whining my god.”

Later he added: “some of the lyrics from the 90s don’t hold up very well, esp. regarding relationships.”

I’ve seen this sentiment tossed off before a few times, always in reference, specifically, to MTX and Nerf Herder grouped together like that, and it always puzzles me. My sense is that they think that the sort mournful “lost and lonely” love songs in question are at odds with a putative enlightened, better understanding of love affairs and “relationship dynamics” that we are alleged to have now. Being sad and lonely, being heartsick, it seems to be thought, has been superceded; and presumably people don’t, or at least shouldn’t, write songs exploring that experience anymore, no longer having the experience to explore. (Must be nice.)

I’m not equipped or inclined to argue against the sentiment, though I actually think this stuff does “hold up” pretty well, and I disagree with the implication that people are no longer sad and lonely in our supposedly wonderful, angst-free modern world. But I do think this notion that songs ought to match a contemporary twittery ideal of unobjectionable, edifying rhetoric, and that if they don’t match it they don’t “hold up” to be rather fascinating. And a bit crazy. That’s not what I look for in a song. It reduces songs to propaganda, at which point, what’s the point? Just as characters in novels don’t always do nice things or think nice thoughts, narrators of songs don’t always conduct or express themselves with strict, edifying propriety. That’s a feature, not a bug, by my lights. You expect everything a character says to “hold up”? Say goodbye to characters then, my friend.

That said, I don’t actually think “whining” is an accurate and thorough characterization of the “text” of my songs’ narrators, though it is arguably an element, as it is in life, surely. Anyway, I think the love song is safe, and, along with whining, it’s here to stay.

(I typed this out here, and then made it into its own minds post, by the way.)

— … and your Friday morning “Will You Still Love Me When I Don’t Love You?”, from a guy who goes by the name of BassPlaysDave on SoundCloud.

His cover of “Institutionalized Misogyny” was featured in this space a few weeks back.

I can’t add it to my YouTube covers playlist, obviously, but more such covers may be found there nonetheless, should you wish to encounter them.


— Friday night scene. With guitar.

— The Very Model of a Modern Gilbert and Sullivan Parody that Doesn’t Rhyme and Doesn’t Scan: I was underwhelmed by this attempt in McSweeney’s to adapt the famous Pirates of Penzance song as a comment on the millenial generation. Rhyming and scanning are what makes Gilbert’s lyrics worth remembering and indeed parodying and to me there’s nothing very clever about doing it half-assed. It’s pretty hard to do, granted. But that’s why it would have been impressive had it actually been attempted. Here it just seems to claim credit for something it didn’t even try to do.

— Department of bons mots:

Shows these days: you run into dozens of people from your past, but you don’t recognize half of them because they now look like jaunty sea captains.

— Dept. of Recycled yet Still Relevant Anecdotes:

The guy who sold me my first electric guitar gave me 3 pieces of advice. Never go lighter than 10s. Always pay cash. Never ask her age.

That guitar was the one in the pic — an Ibanez Studio, now disappeared somehow:

— Mirror in the bathroom: c’est moi, now, ca. 33 years later. Boy oh boy.

— Throwing you back for Thursday: how I chased away a home invader with a fantasy sword acquired from crazy neighbor’s sidewalk sale. With pic.

— The Who, The MTX, and the Partridge Family: on the Doctor’s fridge.

— “The amount of love that was poured into making this a collector’s item is absolutely cool….” I second that emotion, from a thorough review of the Punkemon 7" from VGM Wax. Punkemon Forever.

— And of course, when the subj. comes up, I must post:


— Good morning world: Gleaming Spiers — “Are You Ready for the Sex Girls”

— Pickin’: Here’s Hiroshi Masuda’s astonishing take on Richard Saslow’s “Ragpickin’”, an arrangement I’ve been trying to learn to play ever since I discovered it on the internet a few years back (and I’m getting close!)

More about that here.


— Behold: Thirst for Love; St. Lawrence; Five of Swords; Guiseppe Bezuolli’s Philomena; Flash Gordon, Massacre in the 22nd Century by Boris; Clare of Assisi from Zefferelli’s Brother Sun, Sister Moon; picnic, anyone?; a fable waiting to be told; a quite striking medieval Danish depiction of the martyrdom of St. Hippolytus; try and guess…; nice shoes; taking the pie out of hippie; chin up; punk pitch

— …and finally:


— A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift illustrated thus:

— Almost as good as this.

— Say what you will about Boris Johnson, but: the man sure knows his Iliad.


— "This is not history; it is a remnant from a bygone era.”

The latest: the San Francisco School Board narrowly reverses itself in the wake of controversy and international attention, voting 4–3 to hide the Washington High School mural rather than paint over it. It’s still a form of iconoclasm and censorship it seems to me, and is still quite misguided, but as long as there’s no literal destruction the wrong can be re-dressed when we have… matured sufficiently as a society, I guess.

This seems like a “split the baby” decision, and it was close. Nevertheless, I am surprised by it, in view of the ideological straitjacket one must wear to be a “good person” in that sort of (post-liberal) climate. To quote myself:

I’m sure these board members are quite capable of … realizing that they are, rather inarguably it seems to me, in the wrong. And I expect they can also grasp a well-remarked irony: that the outlook on American history of the mural’s communist artist and that of the very same board that must decide to destroy it are quite likely in essence identical. None of that matters. What matters is the currently paramount ethic of therapeutic politics that equates ideas to violence and in which certain kinds of rhetoric are averred to do literal physical harm to those who witness them and to their communities. Given this inarguable article of faith, the decision in favor of the therapeutic erasure of art that is deemed offensive is effectively mandatory. What ideology demands, ideologues will do, or they remove themselves from the community of the righteous and join the ranks of the enemy, an unthinkable state of affairs.

I still believe this to be true, but it also seems to be the case that part of being thought of as, and of thinking of oneself as, one of the “good people” still does include some clinging bits of the old fashioned liberal ethos, by which standard censorship and destruction of art and erasure of history are unequivocally the province of villains. In our Bay Area bubble, the erosion of liberalism in favor of its no doubt often well-meaning authoritarian antipode has proceeded at a great pace, as it has done in places like “woke twitter.” But the wider world is still able to see these tendencies for what they are, as the hallmarks of illiberality and intolerance, and the recoil can still be felt. Somewhat to my own surprise as a San Franciscan.

What is socially-rewarded, reputation-enhancing good publicity under the rarefied shadow of San Francisco’s elite institutions and in crusading twitter threads doesn’t necessarily play so well in the great elsewhere. And whether a righteous man, or a school board, ought to or ought not to choose to destroy a work of art of historical importance as a therapeutic gesture of righteous purgation is not as easy or “safe” a call as they seem to have expected. One guy saw the New York Times and wavered. That’s my best guess. The next one could well go the other way.

—Now Heaven knows, anything goes: Anglicans jazz up their cathedrals with a giant helter-skelter in the Norwich Cathedral nave; and a “fairway to heaven,” that is, a miniature golf course, at Rochester, Kent. To attract new customers presumably, but if you don’t believe in the product no amount of gimmickry will fill the gap.

— An update on the Bruce Hay affair… seems these ladies have done it before, several times.

— Wesley Yang on Jeannie Suk Gerson’s challenge to the “sex bureaucracy”:

The sex bureaucracy, in other words, pivoted from punishing sexual violence to imposing a normative vision of ideal sex, to which students are held administratively accountable.

— Shades of Devils of Loudun: screaming schoolgirls in the “mass hysteria capital of the world”.


…and that’ll about do it for the Weakly Reader this week. But for those who’ve managed to make it this far down the page here’s some yxes ed ehcop. OAIC!



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Frank Portman

Frank Portman

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