2008. Amsterdam. I enter an empty bar. It is the dead of winter. It is cold and the streets are deserted. As is the bar. Deserted but for the barkeep. A British man standing behind the counter looking stoic. Early Iron Maiden plays featuring the first singer, Paul Di’Anno.
“My boyfriend left me last night and took all my records. All but Iron Maiden. The early Maiden. With the best singer. Paul Di’Anno. But it’s all right. I can listen to Paul Di’Anno the rest of my life.”
Posted onJune 23, 2015|Comments Off on The ghosts of vinyl past and digital presents
In the old days I would frequent record shops and select albums by their covers. This worked out more often then you would think. I judged them by the cover, front and back.
Things I miss about albums are their smell and their design elements. The smell of new records as well as, and more importantly, the smell of old. Just like books, records have an attractive smell, and the old ones smell the best. Like books you are smelling the slow decomposition of the paper and cardboard, which I am assured has a chemical relationship to vanilla. And, in the case of records, petroleum, I am sure.
Do you know why they call them albums? Because in even earlier days records were thick slabs which played at 78 RPM. The records were nearly as large as later LPs (standing for “long playing” compared to 78s) but each side played only about 3 minutes. These records were often sold in an “album” collection of records, like a photo album; a book of records, a book of sounds. I have seen these things in an antique store with my own eyes.
With later LPs came not just longer plays but better packaging. Inserts, liner notes, creative packaging. The Canadian band The Guess Who released an album in 1973, their tenth, Artificial Paradise. The packaging resembled a sweepstakes mailer, with inserts. The San Francisco punk band Flipper released an album in 1984 (Gone Fishin’) which could be cut apart to make a tour van, and a double live album in 1986 (Public Flipper Limited) which spread out to make a board game.
But the sad truth is I hate flipping over records. And I like the superior search ability and space saving of digital books and records.
So, here are my suggestions from bandcamp, the digital equivalent of ordering records and demos by mail-order from the pages of MaximumRock’n’Roll. Except you can listen to them before sending money. Continue reading →
I have a joke about Gennady Zyuganov, Head of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, but odds are you will never hear it. Even though Gennady Zyuganov is a funny name. To western ears. And this has nothing to do with the podcast. Sort of.
Two pieces, one about Barack Obama telling jokes, one about George W. Bush having a one track mind.
I don’t ordinarily do topical material. The danger being that people will forget things like that the Nobel prize was given out to a man running a war or that the president of the USA hired a male escort to sit in the press gallery and ask questions in briefings, or that a previous candidate for president blamed a hurricane on “the homosexuals, feminists, and the ACLU,” acting in concert to make it rain. Those kind of things get lost in the mist of time. Are washed away with the years. Get drowned in a bathtub of memories.
Posted onMay 1, 2015|Comments Off on Tom Paine for Mayday
The most Revolutionary of the US Founding Fathers, Thomas Paine, a key figure in the US and French Revolution and author of Common Sense (1776), Rights of Man (1791), and The Age of Reason (1807), among others.
Only six mourners came to his funeral, two of whom were black, most likely freedmen. The writer and orator Robert G. Ingersoll wrote:
Thomas Paine had passed the legendary limit of life. One by one most of his old friends and acquaintances had deserted him. Maligned on every side, execrated, shunned and abhorred – his virtues denounced as vices – his services forgotten – his character blackened, he preserved the poise and balance of his soul. He was a victim of the people, but his convictions remained unshaken. He was still a soldier in the army of freedom, and still tried to enlighten and civilize those who were impatiently waiting for his death. Even those who loved their enemies hated him, their friend – the friend of the whole world – with all their hearts. On the 8th of June, 1809, death came – Death, almost his only friend. At his funeral no pomp, no pageantry, no civic procession, no military display. In a carriage, a woman and her son who had lived on the bounty of the dead – on horseback, a Quaker, the humanity of whose heart dominated the creed of his head – and, following on foot, two negroes filled with gratitude – constituted the funeral cortege of Thomas Paine.
After his death, Paine’s body was brought to New Rochelle, but the Quakers would not allow it to be buried in their grave-yard as per his last will, so his remains were buried under a walnut tree on his farm. In 1819, the English agrarian radical journalist William Cobbett, who in 1793 had published a hostile continuation of Francis Oldys (George Chalmer)’s The Life of Thomas Paine, dug up his bones and transported them back to England with the intention to give Paine a heroic reburial on his native soil, but this never came to pass. The bones were still among Cobbett’s effects when he died over twenty years later, but were later lost. There is no confirmed story about what happened to them after that, although throughout the years, various people have claimed to own parts of Paine’s remains, such as his skull and right hand.