Well now, here we are again, another Dr Frank Weakly Reader, that thing I do wherein I produce an illustrated, edited, and often rather expanded roundup of the week’s activities in the Dr Frank Web so they may be found again should that ever become necessary. A whole lot going on these days but it is largely behind the scenes. I’ll spring it on you as it develops, if and when it develops.
So here we go, the weak that was….
— Mtx forever: it’s alive, as in it has arrived at Sounds Radical HQ:
As of Thursday morning, the limited 180 gram deluxe copies with the custom box etc. are down to the last, final copies (like, in the single digits.) Most likely they’ll be gone by the time you read this, but if you want to give it a shot here’s the link. After this they get lighter and more boxless. More on that situation soon.
— ODIN XXIII: the latest edited, illustrated aggregate.
Contents: “I Don’t Need You Now”; “More than Toast”; “I Wrote a Book about Rock and Roll”; “Dumb Little Band”; “A Song about a Girl Who Went Shopping”; “Ska-nic Reducer”; plus “Thinking of You” and “Love American Style.”
121 entries, 101 songs so far… the full Songs for Odin playlist is here.
— Odds ’n’ Shards: somehow I missed this review of Shards vols 1 & 2 in Madison WI’s Ithsmus:
In some ways, though, getting to meet a band via an odds ’n sods collection is absolutely the perfect way to find out what they are about….
I think there’s something in that. btw, the second pressing of Shards vol 1 is currently available from Sounds Rad; volume 2 is currently out of print but will be repressed imminently, with the goal of everything being in print for the release of Mtx forever. Never too late to catch up!
— Colonization: Every time they broadcast American Ninja 2, I hear about it via the internet. I have colonized that movie.
— … and your Friday morning “…Hitler…”, from a band called Eye Suck on bandcamp. 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.
THE MYSTERIOUS DR FRANK
— That time when Johnny Thunders played my guitar: 30 years ago, my band took our best shot at playing the blues with rock and roll guitar legend Johnny Thunders. Hijinks ensued.
I wrote it up as a sort of personal essay on Talkhouse.
“I find girls very perplexing,” said Lady Coote. “Not romantic, you know. Why, I embroidered some handkerchiefs for Sir Oswald with my own hair when we were engaged.”
“Did you?” said Jimmy. “How marvellous. But I suppose girls haven’t got long enough hair to do that nowadays.”
“That’s true,” admitted Lady Coote. “But, oh, it shows in lots of other ways…”
— Agatha Christie, The Seven Dials Mystery
In addition, the cover art for this 1929 novel (at left) is quite stunning.
— Dept. of bons mots:
Knife nerds: maybe I should have expected it when the fancy little knife shoppe opened in my now-fancy neighborhood, but I was surprised at how similar it was to a snobby record store. Twenty minutes of overheard knife nerd talk, incomprehensible jargon, no genres I recognized the names of, a general feeling of embarrassment and inadequacy. Left empty-handed.
— Song for Odin: Dr Frank — “Who Needs Happiness (I’d Rather Have You)” live in Belgium, 2012.
— Yours truly, at Gilman Street, ca. 1996
— Roman calendar: Sanctae Mariae Sabbato (art by Fouquet); Sexagesina Sunday; Founders of the Servite Order; feast day of Fra Angelico (with a fresco depicting the mocking of Christ, in the Convento di San Marco); Conrad of Piacenza; Coptic martyrs in Libya; Saint Peter the Scribe
— Behold: guns, gals, and cash; there is nothing like a dame; down with pollution; Marylin Monroe with her favorite President (posted on “Presidents Day”); lift up your eyes, hippie girl; Olbinski’s Uverture; Tribesmen of Gor; trapeze artist Sarah Lake; Train ride!; rules for dancers and waitresses; Yoshihiro Tatsuke…
IN THE NEWS
— “The ACLU would not take the Skokie case today”: that’s a quote from Ira Glasser from this interview-article about the collapse of free speech advocacy in today’s ACLU.
The only important question in free-speech cases is: who gets to decide? And the answer for oppressed people is: not you. Never you. Never me. Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, they’re the ones who most often have political power. Why would you want to give them the power to decide who should speak?
The degeneration of the ACLU is truly sad and alarming — for all its flaws, it was the only org of its kind and now that it has abandoned its free speech remit there isn’t anything remotely comparable to replace it with. Dark times.
— BBQ Sauce Gate: some American Dirt talk from journalist Jesse Singal as a guest on the We the Fifth podcast. Worth your while if you’re interested in the subject, plus the banter is amusing and just… non-crazy. It’s shocking how non-crazy is so unusual and worthy of note these days. You’re so used to crazy you don’t quite know it till you hear it, or rather, its absence. I’m struck by how much this donnybrook resembles your standard goodreads pile-on: buncha “interested parties” with a self-perceived financial interest in undermining their self-perceived competition bitterly denouncing a book they haven’t read, joined by a legion of robotic “+1s” who also haven’t read it. But writ large, the largeness being directly proportional to the number of dollars in the reported advance.
And here’s the other point of view, a lengthy catalogue of everything the narrative “gets wrong” in exhaustive detail. Novels getting things wrong is an unavoidable byproduct of fiction, but such criticism isn’t out of order per se — nothing wrong with saying “the book fails because its errors subsume it,” or with ridiculing the novel on that basis. (We’ve all done it, and had fun doing it.) But here it seems to me the catalogue of errors is meant to serve an additional purpose, that of bolstering a different sort of condemnation: not just that the novel in question is poorly executed, but that it has failed to be politically or ideologically useful; or, to use the currently fashionable synonym for this sort of failure, that it is “harmful.” This is why, I suppose, mere criticism of the book is not enough: rather it must be campaigned against.
Granted, the misguided promotional materials touting the book as a Big Important Novel arguably invited scrutiny in this spirit, and it’s not surprising that it came up short. In fact, though, this book appears to be a rather ordinary, low-middlebrow thriller, and expecting it to save and heal the world really does miss the point, at least as far as criticism of low-middlebrow thrillers is concerned. Rosenfield’s comparison is apt: if you are looking for social-therapeutic salvation from a Dan Brown novel, you’re looking in the wrong place. This book clearly isn’t the book that the article’s author would have liked to see. Could a breezy, yet therapeutic, socially helpful, and Bigly Important thriller be written? Maybe, though it sounds rather… tedious. Breezy and Bigly Important are at irresolvable odds, it seems to me.
Anyway, American Dirt still doesn’t sound like quite my cup of tea, but I saw it at a bookshop last weekend, and I admit I was a bit tempted. Because of the controversy, you see, and because I have it on good authority it will go by pretty quickly, and because I don’t expect it to save the world. An ordinary marketing plan without the agitation wouldn’t have come near my radar, make of that what you will, so, er, thanks?
And that’ll wrap it up for the Dr Frank Weakly Reader. Here’s Winona Ryder playing the guitar:
See you next week.