The Novel Sound ep 90 Apes, Monkees, and Karaoke Nightmares
Gino Washington – Come Monkey With Me
Lew Williams – Gone Ape Man
The Cramps – Monkey With Your Tail
Sam the Sham & The Pharoahs
Bomboras – Planet of the Apeman!
The Apemen – Invasion of the Apemen
The Space Cossacks – Planet of the Apes
The Kongsmen – Karate Monkey
Baby Huey & the babysitters – Monkey Man
Thee Headcoats – Monkey’s Paw
Frankie Tyler – I Go Ape
Chuck Berry – Too Much Monkey Business
Smokey Joe with the Clyde Leoppard Band – The Signifying Monkey
Thee Vicars – Monkey Mess
The Monkees – Birth of an Accidental Hipster
The Mr. T Experience – Pleasant Valley Sunday
The Monkees – Mommy and Daddy
Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow) – Groovie Ghoulies
The Church – Porpoise Song
Groovie Ghoulies – She Hangs Out
Bad Manners – Randy Scouse Git
The Descendents – Coolidge
Fugazi – Waiting Room
Alternative TV – ATV
Black Flag – TV Party
The Bouncing Souls – These are the Quotes from Our Favorite 80’s Movies
The Undertones – Teenage Kicks
The Rezillos – Mystery Action
The Go-Go’s – La La Land
The Vibrators – Stiff Little Fingers
New York Dolls – Personality Crisis
Ramones – Gimmie Gimmie Shock Treatment
The Circle Jerks – All Wound Up
Dead Kennedy’s – Kill The Poor
Suicidal Tendencies – Institutionalized
Xray Spex – I am a Poseur
Pixies – Letter To Memphis
The Misfits – Skulls
Social Distortion – Don’t Drag Me Down
NOFX – The Idiots Have Taken Over
Cocksparrer – England Belongs to Me
The Clash – London Calling
10 –The Shatner Story
Rollins’ riveting tale (Talk is Cheap vol. IV) reveals a side of Shatner not often seen, but much imagined. During a recording session for Shatner’s Has Been album, Rollins is called in to lay down some vocals. The story involves a house party at Shatner’s and the ease at which producer Ben Folds manages to get Adrian ‘King Crimson’ Belew involved in the project. This story is made better by Rollins’ utter disbelief at the eccentricities of Hollywood and Big Label recording artists. Rollins is typically at his best when he maintains these ‘little fish in a big pond’ anecdotes.
9 – 2.13.61 Publishing
Rollins brought the DIY ethos of the tiny label into the literary world. Sure, some of these books may read more like vanity press thought-pieces and journals, but they do provide a keen insight into the mind of Rollins which other artists (just about all of them) tend to be too guarded to share. The result is that it created, in a pre-blog world, a one-way bond with Rollins and chance for folks to see, perhaps, that they aren’t alone in their anger, loneliness, and confusion. As a kid reading Black Coffee Blues and One from None, I came to understand that we all have our own Voice and not to allow anyone to silence it.
8- Henry as Travis Bickle
In the video for his first post-Black Flag project, ‘Disconnect’, Rollins dons an over-sized army surplus jacket, drives nervously around New York in a Yellow Cab, and twitches violently while pacing like a caged tiger gone mad from being enclosed. As we watch Rollins, as Taxi Driver‘s Travis Bickle, fight to keep it together, he slam walls and carves violent letters into his journal while taunted by an intensely smirking and patronizing black and white close-up of his own screaming face. The video creates a sense of panic and anxiety and, as his neighbors slam on the wall, the viewer can only imagine what occurs when the breaking point is reached.
7 – RuPaul Interview
RuPaul drives Rollins to pick up some art and educate him on love. Rollins candidly discusses the role of celebrity, being a fan, giving it your all no matter what you do, and the soul-searching that comes with being a 50 year old man.
6 – The Henry Rollins Show
In 2006, the Independent Film Channel gave Rollins his own talk show. Each episode featured a loaded rant called ‘Teeing Off’, and ‘Open Letter’ response segment, and guests ranging from Eddie Izzard to Werner Herzog. It also featured bands like Slayer, Ani DiFranco, Billy Bragg, and the Stooges. 42 episodes were not enough.
5 – Johnny Pneumonic
Come for the cyberpunk dystopian future, stay for Rollins as Spider. Honestly, its not a good movie. Not in the least. Except for Rollins. Watching him tell Keanu Reeves to not be an asshole is some great typecasting.
4 – Occupants
“Occupants pairs Rollins’ visceral full-color photographs taken in Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Northern Ireland, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and elsewhere over the last few years—with writings that not only provide context and magnify the impact of the images but also lift them to the level of political commentary. Simply put, this book is a visual testimony of anger, suffering, and resilience that will help its readers realize what is so easy to miss when tragedy and terror become numbing, constant forces—the quieter, stronger forces of healing, solidarity, faith and even joy.” Rollins doesn’t just write journalism here, he pulls the mask off the world and shows the wretched beast lurking underneath.
3 – Rattus Norvegicus
From Black Flag’s 1984 album family Man, this spoken word piece personifies the Norwegian brown rat and allows listeners to empathize with the lil’ plague carrying vermin. As a result of Rollins’ poetry, I managed to astound my 9th grade biology teacher with my dedication to understanding of a creature a lot like us.
2 – GAP advertisement
80’s punks screamed sellout when Rollins appeared in a series of GAP ads. To them, I have two replies:
1) Rollins sang for Black Flag and made a career as a voice-over artist, author, publisher, and being Rollins. What have you done?
2) Did you pay him an equal or greater amount to NOT do it? Where was your checkbook as you were worrying about his integrity and rent?
1 – The Fanatic Book Series
Rollins hosts a radio show for KCRW. Each week he puts out the set list for the show and a series of show notes. For those who kvetch that there ain’t enough good tunes…tune in. It’s an eclectic display of some amazing gems and forgotten favorites. The books in the Fanatic series collect old show lists and provide paragraph-length notes. I recommend using them to make a shit load of mixtapes.
Runner Up: the Pull-quote from Henry and Glenn Forever.
Henry’s reaction to this comic about he and Danzig living as lovers is absolutely the best most succinct reaction possible; “Has Glenn seen this? Trust me, he would not be amused.”
Woody is just Woody. Thousands of people do not know he has any other name. He is just a voice and a guitar. He sings the songs of a people and I suspect that he is, in a way, that people. Harsh voiced and nasal, his guitar hanging like a tire iron on a rusty rim, there is nothing sweet about Woody, and there is nothing sweet about the songs he sings. But there is something more important for those who will listen. There is the will of the people to endure and fight against oppression. I think we call this the American spirit. – John Steinbeck; as quoted in Klein’s Woody Guthrie: A Life
The Grapes of Wrath is one of the most important novels in the last 75 years. Not only has it lived in controversy, but it has spoken to numerous generations of the hardships and defeats of the twentieth century family. Even if it doesn’t speak to you, it certainly spoke for you. GoW brought immediate attention to the thousands afflicted by the Dustbowl, The Depression, and the abuses of Big Business and banks.
Few other novels have spoken to both the educated and the uneducated with the same voice; a voice of compassion and understanding. Steinbeck’s microcosmic tale of the Joads strikes to the heart of anyone with a sense of empathy for the working poor. The word on the street is that Steinbeck wrote The Grapes of Wrath to be understood on several different layers. These layers are a scaffolding of understanding allowing anyone with a fourth grade reading level to pick it up and dig in. He recognized the key to a good message is making sure your audience understands the point.
However, what fascinates me beyond the words and phalanx theory (the idea that we are all one collective soul) is Steinbeck’s legacy of music and protest. It’s my belief, that without The Grape of Wrath, 60’s protest music, the folk revival, punk, and even hip-hop, would not exist. Follow me for a bit, reserve questions until the end, and email any point/counter-points.
After watching the film version of Grapes, Woody Guthrie was compelled (Peter Seeger remembers it as greatly urged) to write a series of Dust Bowl Ballads. Soon after, Woody magnificently condensed the legacy of the Joads into two three-minute tracks. Sparknotes wishes it could be this concise.
Guthrie, of course, was a monumental influence on non-protest singer Bob Dylan (who did his best Guthrie imitations on his eponymous first album) and Dylan even cited Grapes as a favorite novel saying of Steinbeck, “John Steinbeck is great.”
The obvious jump that most then make is to Springsteen’s response to Guthrie’s call with “The Ghost of Tom Joad”. It’s a great track (and well covered by Rage Against the Machine), but it’s not the only answer to The Dust Bowl Ballads; simply the best known.
The Clash’s Joe Strummer went through a college-age phase requesting people call him Woody, after the late folksinger. But it was Steinbeck’s voice of defiance (as set to music by Guthrie and echoed down the line) which helped Strummer find the words to protest and emote. Take for example Strummer’s famous line, “Without people you’re nothing” as a mirror for Preacher Casey’s “Maybe all men got one big soul ever’body’s a part of.” Part of Strummer’s overwhelming appeal was his faith that humanity could improve itself. A hope that somewhere buried under cynicism and anger people would fight for humanity.
Strummer disciple and punk icon Henry Rollins even cites Steinbeck’s importance on his own literary life; “Growing up, I loved great literature. I lived for your Steinbecks and your Hemmingways as a kid, and I read them all again as an adult and got the better version of the story. My comic books were reading things like the The Grapes of Wrath…”
Steinbeck’s words have fed artists and writers continually in the 75 years since The Grapes of Wrath’s initial publication and shows no signs of turning fallow. For as long as there is an artist railing against society, The Grapes of Wrath will be there. Whenever a songwriter speaks out against the faceless bureaucracy of The Man, GoW will be there. Whenever an instrument of art is used to kill fascists, Guthrie and Steinbeck will be there.
And some people won’t understand it. But the music will play for them anyway.
Next week: Part II – Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath
I am sad to say I have only read one and a half Gibson books prior to starting Idoru. I read Neuromancer in college for a communication course and fell in love with Gibson’s dystopian vision of the world. To this day the idea of people becoming ugly in a fight against elective and cosmetic surgery sticks with me and I can’t wait for the first group of people brave enough to go for it (although I have been to Wal-mart it turns out accidental ugliness doesn’t count).
I then read the steampunk classic The Difference Engine which he cowrote with Bruce Sterling. Its a great read although it does drag a bit and for some reason I can not explain reminded me, in parts, of Mikhail Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita (podcast). Call it a stylistic connection or the long intense narrative descriptions it read like a Russin classic.
I did read Johnny Mnemonic after the movie came out, but the films use of Henry Rollins as the sassy doctor overshadowed any attention I could spend on the pages. It is a fun movie in that I think it certainly makes the future a frightening and horrible place.
Apparently, the book is the second in a trilogy, but doesn’t yet seem to require any type of back story. It’s great to be reading Gibson again. I honestly forgot how much I enjoy his style.
I am a BMB sympathizer. I understand that there are serios Anti/Pro feelings out there, but I’ll say it loud, “Bendis and Proud!”. Outside of the current crossover at Marvel (which is too long and frankly does anyone really care about cross-overs any more?), his work is prolific, jam packed with dialogue, and deftly executed. Detractors would have you believe that all of Bendis’ characters sound alike, but hell, everyone Joss Wheedon writes sounds the same, too. Writers have styles and what they do best; Bendis has snark. Besides, his current run on Ultimate Spider-man makes up for any fault in his extensive career.
That said, Torso follows the true exploits of Elliot Ness post-Untouchables but pre-obscurity. Ness and his crew are on the hunt for a serial killer who only leaves behind the severed torsos of his victims. It won an Eisner in 1999.