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Wednesday, January 22, 2003

What is it… Detrol?
Bladder control drug.
Anyway, it's the ad with that jingle: "Gotta go gotta go gotta go right now! gotta go gotta go gotta go!" I'm sure many people find this annoying as hell, but I applaud the song. While we're all not beset with bladder control problems, we all know that feeling, and boy oh boy does it suck! So how does one convey the urgency of this universal problem musically?

Here, the composer chose a Gene Krupa / Courageous Cat approach. Frantic tom toms and a bass that walks in place as if it's "holding its own" against that insistent drum boogie. A double tracked female voice delivers the infernal lyric line, not viva voce but confidentially… breathy, suggesting severe tension… that "bottled up and ready to burst" panic that could not come across if the lyrics were delivered too freely. Where "I'm crazy 'bout a Mercury" trades on standard gospel-derived exuberance, this is the sound of a personal emergency of the most private, physical kind and a mental torment nigh unto madness. The voices taunt with a dead-serious undercurrent rare in jingledom. Even the trumpet playing under the narration contributes, blowing a wild jazz line reined in by a mute.

What happens to a whizz deferred?
Well, nothing… it won't be. Seconds tick… the unthinkable looms. It's unbearable. Gotta see a man about a horse… and it's a bucking bronco on jimson weed. We feel terror and acute discomfort. This jingle isn't fucking around. The key is indistinct, but a minor mood prevails.
A minor mode mood that means major business…key of P …sharp.
And still the drumming, the incessant drumming. A "Sing, Sing, Sing" Sing-Sing of the soul ...and the sphincter which nothing in life matters anymore except this NEED.

Payoff: the character depicted in the ad has discovered the product and - unburdened by the call of the floating kidney and all the threat it implies - goes about her business confidently. The jingle shifts to a gentle swing and the singer - as if liberated by the "pause that refreshes" but really just indebted to this drug that lets her hold her water - trills her victory song: "…and I don't hafta go right now!" This time she's not whispering the lyric, she's singing blithely and sweetly but full voiced. The melody, in a major key now, is almost reminiscent of "nya na na na naaa naaaa!" in its primal, childlike satisfaction, but she's not teasing us. She's skipping along, declaring her new freedom as guilelessly as some Holly Golightly of the nether plumbing. She'll go when she wants to, and she'll enjoy it too… but right now the sun is shining and the world is a glad place. Turn on all the faucets… drive over a bumpy road… tell the funniest joke you know… it's all just fine with her and her urethra. She invites us to share her newfound pissless bliss, and how can we resist the offer?

Whether or not we shared that "Urge For Goin" (to quote songster Tom Rush) with her, the jingle sure made us feel as if we did, and her cabaret ease here finds us "relieved" in the deepest sense a jingle for anti incontinence pills can manage to inspire.

Here is one fine, fine example of the jingler's craft. Thanks for your time… gotta go now.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

This is a bite from the web page of Raymond Carney, a scholar who has written books on Frank Capra and other subjects, but who is notable as the main champion of the work Of John Cassavetes, my favorite film director. I highly recommend Carney's writing; he's an original thinker discussing important things. His page is here:
The selected quote is apropos to today's "event" …the release of my album "Uncle," which reminds me of a TS Eliot quote I'll keep to myself rather than risk belaboring the obvious.

John Cassavetes tells the story of his life and work in both books, based on interviews that I and others did with him. Part of the research involved reading the reviews of Cassavetes' films that appeared when they were first released in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. The experience was an eye-opener. To call them negative would be an understatement. Pauline Kael called Faces "dumb, crudely conceived, and badly performed;" Variety jeered at Minnie and Moskowitz as "oppressive," "irritating," "shrill," "numbing," and "indulgent;" John Simon called A Woman Under the Influence "muddle-headed, pretentious, and interminable," and Stanley Kauffmann said it was "utterly without interest or merit."

End of Carney quote.
A long time ago I was sitting in a pub with Tony DeCosa and mentioned that I'd like to find some way of making records that would be analogous to the ways (note that this is plural) Cassavetes used film. Soon I broke up the rock band and began working toward that goal. I've learned that the closer I come to reaching it, the less my work will be accepted or even noticed. This is torture, but what else can I do? I'll never know if the process has been successful or to what degree it is or isn't, since response to my work tends to be a blank stare. In another direction. People derive satisfaction from their work through money earned, prestige accorded or some feeling of personal accomplishment. The first two are permanently out of the question for some reasons I understand and others I never will. The third is rare and transient, but welcome and savored when it happens. But this is what I do, for better or worse, and while I regret the personal damage it continues to cause, I am neither ashamed of it nor apologetic for any of it.

So last night, breaking my promise to avoid such things, I thought: "Well, fuck it, let's see if there's anything online about the album yet" …all I found was the following, from a St. Louis critic named Steve Pick (an admirer of well-known scumbag Robert Christgau):

Sport Murphy, "Uncle," Kill Rock Stars.
Self-indulgent concept album about childhood trauma or something like that. Subject matter as important as the time a bird flew in the house. Music that's intentionally goofy and uninterested in making anybody want to hear it.

Does it mean I've reached my Cassavetes ambition because a prick like Pick dismisses my album so utterly and demeaningly? Of course not. Does it mean he's right? Of course not. In fact it means nothing at all except that some nonentity got paid to give a cursory listen to some of this album and write a squib about it. He deliberately ignores the clearly stated circumstances behind the album, choosing to belittle it as a navel-gazer's whine. "Self-indulgent" is a favorite term of many snide critics, along with "Pretentious." He uses the "...or something like that" device of indicating that my work is probably muddled and surely trivial, but certainly beneath his sage consideration and, by extension, any listener's. This reveals the writer's pretentious self-image: the objective auditor of other people's work, patiently sifting through the chaff for examples of inarguably fine music you and he can agree upon.

He mentions one of the few apparently "silly" tunes as a means of implying that the whole thing is based upon irrelevant events and inane whimsies. Then he extends this to the music, derided as "goofy" and willfully repellent. All this is fine, and my critic-friendly friends (and my critic friends) will sigh that, once again, I'm taking this shit too much to heart. Well, what this suggests is that these friends believe that criticism means nothing. So the work of a critic is meaningless? No, that can't be. Must mean that the work critics evaluate is meaningless. No that can't be, because then, ipso facto, the work of a critic is, again, meaningless. Then all it means is I'm a thin-skinned jerkoff who takes his work too seriously.

NO. Fuck that. I am no fucking idiot; I worked hard on this album during one of the - strike that - THE worst time of my life and the lives of my loved ones. I produced a work of honesty and, I think, beauty with a specific set of creative parameters toward a particular end. I avoided the sort of tribute schtick that would play on 9-11 emotions and prop up an illusion of my own nobiltiy by attaching myself to Pete's courage and ultimate sacrifice. I see where the flaws are, and am positive that listeners of the Steve Pick variety would never notice these even if they bothered to listen and think about my work on its own terms. Assuming they were capable of comprehending an album that defines its own terms as fully and idiosyncratically as Pete and I defined the terms of our own individual lives. My friends and I spent months crafting this album and the result is something I am proud of, despite a few admitted fumbles.

This odious pismire squirted out his response in about 5 minutes or less while skipping through the cd in a noisy office (not supposition, but proven by other reviews where he states this flatly). I choose to view the arrival of this bummer - in the first hours of the day my record is released - as a reminder to keep my guard up against other insults and dismissals to come. It reminds me that I work not merely despite them, but because of the lazy, smug and ugly approach to life they represent. They've come fast and furious my whole life, and one never gets used to them. But I continue to live and work on my own wavelength and I am my own hero. If that seems "self indulgent" to say, then you may not understand what it means to try and live up to the example of the heroes you have, if any. I assume Rayond Carney would not define Cassavetes as his "hero" but in the terms I'm talking about, he is, just as Carney is the hero of Cassavetes' reputation. His writings will continue to enhance understanding of these incredible films as long as they are screened, which will be as long as true art is needed. The work of others, like Kael, will be valued by nobody but film school students - as a practical textbook on how to impress critics - and wannabe critics as a careerists' guide to what kind of blather gets published.

I'll use Pick to firm my own resolve, which means I will make his uselessness useful to me. This is the creative act. Kiss my ass.

Monday, January 20, 2003

(Excepted from an email fwd-fwd-fwd-fwd-ed to me by a friend. Who makes these laws, anyway?)

When in ANNISTON, ALABAMA, be sure not to nail a fish to a wall! A hefty fine awaits fish-nailers in the "Magic City" caught "red-herring-handed!" Ouch! Ha ha ha!

For some reason, the good people of WILSON, NORTH CAROLINA seriously object to anyone wearing an "animal costume, sports mascot outfit or other furred disguise" in any "hospital, clinic or pharmacy" within city limits… best slip over into the next town for your meds, Barney!

Hope I'm not stuck in PROVO, UTAH next time I have an urge to take some target practice at any "dairy item!" It could land me in the hoosegow for weeks! Guess all those "Provo - lone gunmen" have to stick with deli meats!

Careful about "free speech" in CORVALLIS, OREGON! The University there insists - and I quote - "OSU asserts ownership over its name in any form or combination (such as, but not limited to: Oregon State University, OSU, Oregon State) and any other mark, logo, insignia, seal, design, slogan, mascot, service mark, symbol or any combination of these, which refer to or are associated with OSU." OK, fascists, have it your way!

Better think twice about molesting children in MAMMOTH LAKES, CALIFORNIA, where the town burghers frown upon such things! I'll keep that in mind, you fucking bastards!

Burying the body parts of unidentified drifters is not a wise choice in LEBANON, INDIANA! "Severe penalties" are "liable" to apply, according to the hypocritical scum making the laws there! C'mon, just a thigh or two… whaddya say, you Godless cocksuckers? Ha ha!

All the "fine, upstanding" citizens of NEWARK, DELAWARE, WAUSAU, WISCONSIN and KALISPELL MONTANA had better think twice about sending me any more secret psychic messages or tampering with my energy. I swear by all that is holy, mine vengeance will be unspeakable in its wrath.

Take my silence as weakness and you too shall pay, LEWISTON, MAINE! The deceitful intentions behind your smile, O City of Whores, are as visible to me as the symbols of demon-worship and all that is malevolent branded into the purulent flesh of your ill-begotten spawn. I have enough firepower stowed away to wipe you off the map. Oh, and I have maps, too. Lots of maps. And carfare.

And on a related "note," singing on a municipal bus in GLORIETA, NEW MEXICO is a no-win proposition! Keep it in the shower, Pavarotti!

Who makes these KOOKY LAWS, anyway? Ha ha ha!

Before I forget to mention it again, please note that mad visionary Otis Fodder is undertaking a massive, worthy project: 365 mp3s, doled out in daily increments for our delectectimification. Otis is half of The Bran Flakes, who you really ought to get hep to if'n you ain't. I'm proud to have my Chromalox dissertation included in his selections, along with a file of that awe-inducing recording. I think it's the Jan 12 entry, and do check the rest of the archive. Irwin Chusid performs Jacques Brel's "NEXT!" among other delights. Go look and listen:

Today there were 69 messages in the email, of which approx 10 were not spam. Of these, approx 4 were directly to me, as opposed to gig announcements and other batch mail. One of the batch mails came from Jay Spero, who sends an amusing review he found on the "All Music Guide." This website, by the way, calls my label "Kill Rock Star" and has my nickname as "Sporty" instead of the correct "Posh" Murphy. This review is for an album entitled "Transfigured Night" but it's not Schoenberg, it's some ambient type artist I'm unfamiliar with. A grand sentence is here quoted:

The music of Ebeling Hughes is a potent spell against the disheartening mysteries of life by itself providing and framing mystery into an enjoyable, vicarious voyage of healing dosage ready to cure at will from the platform of a five-inch aluminum disc. -- Tom Schulte

Haw haw! And speaking of reviews...
While making the weekend rounds, I stopped by Tower, Borders and Barnes and Noble for to see my review in UNCUT magazine. Each store had the old issue on the racks.That's Long Island for yez, droogies. Oy. Anyway, it's supposed to be the February issue (with the Clash on the cover), not the January issue (with the Who on the cover). I always intend to avoid reading reviews, but this one sounds positive, and the writer was nice enough to send me a heads-up on it. We'll see. It wouldn't hurt to hear someone say something nice about my work.

Saw some edifying TV this weekend:
One creepy-crawly nature show featured a guy who had some parasitic fish swim UP HIS DICK! Guy had a FISH UP HS DICK! Fish just swam up as he was urinating in some South American Rio del Cess and squoze right the fuck up into his dick! Up his dick! A fish! Holy Toledo!
Then there were several hours of "Sports Disasters" favorites are invariably the clips where rodeo guys, bullfighters and Pamplona knuckleheads wind up FUBAR when bulls turn the tables on their stupid motherfucking asses. I also enjoy when skater kids get their joints mashed and their faces scraped off while attempting daredevil maneuvers in public places where they oughtn't be doing such nonsense.

New Nick Cave album "Nocturama" is even more disappointing than "Murder Ballads" (which seems to be his best seller to date... figures).

While on the crapper, I perused an issue of "Elle" which featured one of these 4-foot Lolita singers on the cover. This one is called "Akita" (or "Samoyed" or Borzoi") and is Tommy Mottola's latest product. She looks exactly like Mariah Carey and insists that her career success has been preordained by the gods. The article quotes Gabriel Garcia Marquez as endorsing this songbird's self-proclaimed mystic destiny. What the hell is going on?

One last tidbit... after watching part of some movie about a dead junkie supermodel named "Gia" I did a websearch in order to confirm my suspicion that the short, uninteresting life of this tragic mannekin probably inspired a desperate cult. Hoo boy, did it ever! The message boards are crammed with both teary tributes and angry denunciations of the poor girl, and one included old fashion photos where the website owner CIRCLED HER TRACK MARKS!!!