The Dr Frank Weakly Reader for 01.03.2020 (& 12.27.2019)
Hello friends, and welcome to another Dr Frank Weakly Reader, which covers two weeks’ worth of “content” as we skipped it last week because Christmas. And allow me to wish you a happy new year as well.
But Christmas time is technically still going on, through the Twelfth Night, which is January 5. Which is good for me as I require a bit of extra time to get all the Christmas out of my system and move on to bracing myself for the dread of the coming Spring. I recognize that most people have moved on from Christmas by now, so here’s fair warning that there’s a whole lot of Christmas lingering below, and continuing. And: Merry Christmas to you.
— Mtx forever: this release seems to be more or less on schedule, believe it or not, and we’ll have some announcements coming soon so stay tuned. Should be fun.
THESE ARE THE VOYAGES OF THE STARSHIP MTX
— A very MTX MTX-mas:
— Merry Fucking Christmas: Song for Odin took Wednesday, December 25th off for obvious reasons as mentioned, but blasted this from the past:
“Minor secrets” for that one here.
— Odin XXII: and here’s the twenty-second collation of Songs for Odin.
— The sad story of Our Bodies Our Selves, with a slightly felicitous update. tl;dr: we managed to salvage “More than Toast” alright.
— Battle of the Bands, May 9, 1986: don’t know what this tag was for or why I saved it, but this is from one of the first handful of MTX shows, a “battle of the bands” presented by the Sophomore class of Sequoia High School in Redwood City. We were eligible because Alex was still in high school… our participation was, like most everything we did, almost entirely in the spirit of ridicule and absurdity. The other bands (according to the flier reproduced on the back of the Everybody’s Entitled album) were: HEAD RUSH, RHYTHM & RHYME, MAE DAE, SILENT WARNING, STARGAZER, and VEX. I think we played “Surfin’ Cows,” “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” and possibly “Danny Partridge.” I remember almost nothing else about it, but we didn’t win. And as for the aforementioned R&A, it was indeed ridiculous and absurd, so, mission accomplished there.
— …and your Friday morning “Will You Still Love Me When I Don’t Love You”, from Ukulele Hiro.
DR FRANK FOLLIES
— RIP, Mr Yaglijian: I happened to come across the grave of the guy who used to run the old Original Kaspar’s hot dog stand in north Oakland, and I wrote a thing about it.
— My Oakland: Hot Ass Only
— “I Don’t Know Where Dr Frank Lives” by Vista Blue popped up in one of those timeline memory things. It’s still good. (If you don’t know, this steps of from my song “I Don’t Know Where Dan Treacy Lives” which in turn steps of from Dan Treacy’s song “I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives.” As far as I know, Syd Barrett never wrote a song about knowing or not knowing where somebody or other lived, but there’s still room for someone to do one of these about Vista Blue. Grim Deeds could do it, maybe.
OTHER PEOPLE’S MUSIC
— The Wombles — “Wombling Merry Christmas”: my favoritest Christmas song…
— Never Mind the Baubles (Christmas ’77 with the Sex Pistols): I found this Julian Temple documentary, broadcast by the BBC in 2013, to be unexpectedly engaging and cheery. Watch it next year, or now.
PICTURE BOOK XMAS
— Roman Calendar: Velázquez’s Thomas the Apostle; Bosch’s John the Baptist; St. Þorlák (plus the saga of the holy sausage); Annunciation to the Shepherds; St Stephen and his rocks; John the Evangelist; Holy Innocents by Francois Joseph Navez; Thomas of Canterbury; Madonna con bambino; Maso di Banco’s dragonslaying Saint Pope Sylvester I; Bourguereau’s La Vierge aux lys; Gregory the Theologian; St. Genevieve…
— Christmas Enduring: private first class in the Christmas army; Winter Love; build your classics library; Ann-Margret under your tree; girl with dog; cable car girl; Slim Aarons’ Christmas Swim (1954); a whiskey creche; oh little star of Bethlehem; a date with Santa; post-xmas crash; the evils of drink…
— …and finally this (“I like you” / “you are mistaken”) which our man Klode turned into this:
IN THE NEWS
— Neil Innes died, and here is the obligatory photo. He’s chiefly noted these days for writing the Rutles songs and for his Monty Python work, it seems, and while that is certainly notable and played an outsized role in my formative years, it was through the Bonzo Dog (Doo Dah) Band that his influence was most keenly felt by me. He had a remarkable career and did great, great things.
e.g.: “We Are Normal”
(From which, by the way, the King Dork-i-fied yell-over in “High School Is the Penalty for Transgressions Yet to Be Specified” is derived, though it actually stems from the 1963 Peter Weiss play, The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade, usually known as Marat/Sade: they are normal and they want your freedom…)
— “Was at a cafe reading and this couple on the couch adjacent to me were really cuddling and at one point the woman cooed to her bf ‘you’ve taught me so many words babe’ anyway I’m sick now.”
I honestly can’t see what’s supposed to be wrong with this. Sounds perfectly nice and lovely to me. But the author and a great many people on the twitter where it was posted seem to find it absolutely revolting. Is it the “cuddling,” the vocabulary, the combination of cuddling with appreciation of having learned new words? The word “babe”? No idea, but the merely reading anecdote apparently made a good handful of people literally sick. It’s a funny, intolerant old world.
— Wokeness comes for the Romance Writers of America (but not for David Sedaris): as with so many Good Reads bust-ups, this rather confusing story seems to have as its underlying basis the usual variety of years-long seething resentments among rivals, intra-genre professional competition fashionably politicized, and a whole lot of people with too much time on their hands to devote to investigating, bullying, and tattling on each other, finally erupting into chaos and Lord of the Flies-ism. And as with the “fiber community,” the result appears to have been something like complete destruction. This seems to be a more or less inevitable process that, one imagines, will blast apart each and every online “community” eventually. The destruction happens whether the participants want it or not (though some do seem to want it) and even with the best of will and intentions. Even when the grievances are legitimate, non-trivial, and sincere and everyone’s trying to be constructive and charitable — to the degree that ever happens — the social media dynamic nevertheless seems to preclude any possibility of resolution, accomodation, or reconciliation. No apology is ever good enough, no explanation ever suffices; there’s no “live and let live” box to check. It’s just scorched earth, everyone burning each other’s farm and battering each other to bits.
On the other hand, David Sedaris was, to my considerable astonishment, able to get away with writing this article on our ever-expanding minefield of unsayable terms, and The Guardian was able to get away with publishing it. Any of several of the paragraphs therein would have been enough to launch the customary auto-da-fé against just about anyone in this jumpy age of feigned hyper-sensitivity. I’m glad it didn’t get launched in this case. I liked the essay and I like David Sedaris and want him to keep writing rather than be “cancelled.” Possibly it was just the luck of the draw and those who might have joined the Cancel Sedaris party were busy cancelling somebody else at the time and missed the three-day window and have since moved on to cancelling someone else. But I noticed a comment from somebody who speculated that it was because Sedaris (a) has an older audience and (b) isn’t active on line, and maybe it really is as simple as (b). Something to think about, to… dream about. Seems like a better life all around. Maybe a less online Romance Writers of America might have stood a better chance of surviving its internecine squabbles.
David Sedaris, arguably, doesn’t need to “hustle” like some of us do. On the other hand, after many years of trying, I’m not sure there’s much evidence that dancing backwards begging to get noticed on the internet gets you all that far anyway. Maybe we should all just stop. Have a cup of tea. Listen to some Mozart or the Beatles, teach yourself to play an instrument, read a novel, take up woodworking. Let everyone else’s virtual drama play out, strangle itself, and finally fall away unheeded.
e.g.: Don’t “like” things. Don’t join organizations. Stay away from “communities.” Keep yourself to yourself and your feelings deep inside you, so they’ll always be around. But keep your comments to a minimum: the more you say the worse you sound. The only winning move is not to play. That’s good advice, probably.
Finally, ContraPoints has some apt and interesting things to say about “canceling” here, though I imagine she’ll stay excommunicated. And maybe excommunicated (but too big to fail) isn’t such a bad place to be, at least where the braying mobs of twitter are concerned. Getting that big on the internet without the customary outrage launchpad is still a problem, though, obviously. Seems to be something like an all or nothing deal, nothing being the more attractive option. Hello smallness, my old friend.
And that’ll do it for the Weakly Reader this week, but for those who’ve made it all the way down the page this far, here’s Bouguereau’s Evening Mood:
The past was better. See you next week.