[Landline] Trippers and rippers
ArthurFest film, Etran de L'air, New Mexican Stargazers, Thick Air, Sunday Funnies, Mati Klarwein, more
Wednesday, April 6, 2022
0. HOUSEKEEPING, OR TEAR DOWN THIS PAYWALL, MR. LANDLINE
This here Landline newsletter has been on Substack for a few months and I’d be a misleader if I didn’t admit some missteps and misgivings about how I’ve done things here and there. Thank you for sticking with me.
Here’s the deal. Landline has about 4,300 subscribers. Around 160 paying subscriptions. Not bad after a few months, but I need more to keep this going, because… well, I know it might not always look or read like the product of hours of effort, but Landline does actually take up a lot of my brainpower (keep in mind: I have a small and often anxious/depressed brain), time and energy. Right now, Landline pays for about one-third of the effort I put into it, and the stress of trying to contort Landline into something more likely to “convert” free subscribers into paying subscribers is unhealthy and contrary to my aim in doing Landline in the first place1.
What to do?
Standard Substack practice is for the creator to offer “extras” to paying subscribers to enhance the ol’ revenue stream. I’ve done this a few times, and it always feels…weird/wrong. I just don’t know what to share with everybody and what to share with the people who’ve put down a few bucks.
So, this is where I’m at: no more paywall, starting with last week’s email. For those who I excluded last week please see item 8 below, where I reprint what was behind that stupid mid-email paywall. (For those who read it last week, go ahead and read it again, haha.)
As for how to make Landline pay for itself… I don’t know! Readers who want this thing to continue — and expand! — can adjust their subscription to “paying” using the handy button below. The cost is $5/month (cheapish!) or $40/year (cheaper!). (I’d like to make the per-month fee lower, but Substack’s system won’t allow it. Irritating!)
Another way to help sustain the humble Landline effort is to treat it like a working busker. If you like what you hear, or simply appreciate the effort, or hope that your support will make the next song easier for the musician to play, please leave a tip of any amount in the PayPal TipJar.
Thank you kindly. I’m sorry to bring all of this stuff up and apologies for any guilt-tripping. I hope I’m not asking too much. And if I am, I’ll just have to try something else. Which is fine! In the meantime, I’m going to work to increase Landline frequency to 6 times/month.
Okay, with that unpleasantness over, onward and outward…
1. A BRIEF UPDATE FROM THE ARTHUR ARCHIVE PROJECT DEPT.
I’ve completed a deal with an archival entity to be named later to have the complete 35-issue run of the old Arthur Magazine scanned in high res, indexed, PDFed and archived for (digital) posterity. Every issue, every over-sized page, every article, every illustration, every ad — the whole kit and caboodle. Hopefully we’ll have it ready for you to access at a reasonable cost by this fall, which will be the 20th anniversary of Arthur’s launch. Your patience is appreciated and will be rewarded.
2. AND NOW A SECOND UPDATE FROM THE ARTHUR ARCHIVE PROJECT DEPT.
Also in the Arthur-stuff-I-get-asked-all-the-time file: the Lance Bangs-directed Spaceland-produced full-length feature film documenting the 2005 two-day ArthurFest at Barnsdall Art Park in Los Angeles is still…sitting over there patiently, awaiting some post-production financing and a solid distribution scheme. Here’s a teaser:
Yoko Ono, Sonic Youth, Sleater-Kinney, The Black Keys, Spoon, Cat Power, Devendra Banhart, Olivia Tremor Control, Comets On Fire, Sunn o))), The Juan MacLean, Merzbow, T-Model Ford (RIP), Young Jazz Giants (featuring Kamasi Washington and Thundercat), Six Organs of Admittance, Brightblack Morning Light, Vetiver, Magik Markers, Jack Rose (RIP), Lavender Diamond, Dos, Circle, Growing, Pole, Sunburned Hand of the Man…they’re all in there, ripping away.
If you’re interested in distributing this babe, get in touch!
And now, some new music…
3. PATRICK GLEESON IS MY CO-PILOT
Present-day transmissions back to Houston from robotic deep space probe launched in 1973, the communicating unit’s advanced A.I. clearly under the programming influence of Herbie Hancock's "Sextant” and Tangerine Dream’s “Atem.” Playful stardrifts for a late night at the planetarium courtesy Mr. Matt LaJoie (Starbirthed, Herbcraft, ML Wah, etc). Hipped to this by Jeff Conklin’s mandatory weekly Trailhead radio program on WVKR. A couple of thick Thick Air cuts are up there now, including the 20-minute title track. Album is out in early June.
4. MEANWHILE BACK ON THE HOME PLANET
Does what it shows on the package: Road tripper electro jams with funky little windshield wiper-speed rhythm tracks, instrumental epics by turns perky, piquant and pretty, perfect for trans-desert glide time. Get in the van, stay in the van. Another Conklin find that I put down cash for. Dude should be on the Landline payroll.
5. YOU WILL DANCE AND YOU WILL LIKE IT
Utterly relentless celebration-time Tuareg rock ‘n’ roll. As this is music from a wedding band, it is indicated that one must take a drink every time there's a cymbal crash. I tried that on my first listen and by the third track, things were going very well indeed. Guitars weave and chime, chants come, chants go, another cymbal crashes and high level trance is achieved. Works at non-wedding occasions as well.
6. TWITTERER OF THE WEEK
Dave Raphael of Awesome Transistor Amplifier Company tweets:
7. AN EXTERMINATING ANGEL NOT A VALKYRIE: MATI KLARWEIN MYSTERY SOLVED
In Landline No. 31, I asked for information on the Mati Klarwein painting used as a cover for a paperback edition of New Worlds No. 6 (1975). A couple people noted that it had also been used as the cover of Maids of Gravity’s 1996 John Cale-produced album, The First Second. But Byron Coley pointed out that the painting had been used as the cover art for another album, 24 years prior: Sunday Funnies' second LP, "Benediction" (Rare Earth, 1972)…
(Sunday Funnies were a pretty great organ-driven psychedelic blue-eyed funk/soul rock band from Michigan, whose two studio albums were produced by Andrew Loog Oldham — not sure how I’ve missed these guys all these years, nor why they remain so obscure. This could be a recovery job for the Bens of Third Man…)
Anyways, Klarwein expert John Coulthart, who I should have consulted first on this, of course had the answer:
The New Worlds cover is 'Exterminating Angel' (1968) which may be found in a larger-than-paperback size in 'Mati Klarwein: Gesammelte Werke 1959-1975' (ISBN: 9783886312054), a German catalog from 1988. Probably the cheapest Klarwein book around just now, I picked up a shrinkwrapped copy a couple of years ago for $25 inc. postage from a German book dealer. As well as many of the major works there's commentary by Mati throughout, although it's all in German so involves more effort than it's usually worth to see what he's saying. This is what he has to say (auto-translated by Google) about the biker painting…2
8. A GOOD BOOK FOR BAD PEOPLE (REDUX)
Barring nuclear war, this October will see the publication of a book, eleven years in the making, that includes (amongst so many other amazing things) a first-person account of being a guitarist with the Cramps in arguably their greatest line-up. What I’m talking about is this memoir, just announced last Thursday:
The promo copy reads:
Kid Congo Powers has been described as a “legendary guitarist and paragon of cool” with “the greatest resume ever of anyone in rock music." That unique imprint on rock history stems from being a member of not one but three beloved, groundbreaking, and influential groups—Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, the Cramps, and last but not least, The Gun Club, the wildly inventive punk-blues band he co-founded.
Some New Kind of Kick begins as an intimate coming of age tale, of a young, queer, Chicano kid, growing up in a suburb east of East LA, in the mid-‘70s, exploring his sexual identity through glam rock. When a devastating personal tragedy crushes his teenage dreams, he finds solace and community through fandom, as founder (‘The Prez’) of the Ramones West Coast fan club, and immerses himself in the delinquent chaos of the early LA punk scene.
A chance encounter with another superfan, in the line outside the Whiskey-A-Go-Go to get into a Pere Ubu concert, changes the course of his life entirely. Jeffrey Lee Pierce, a misfit Chicano punk who runs the Blondie fan club, proposes they form a band. The Gun Club is born. So begins an unlikely transition from adoring fan to lauded performer. In Pierce, he finds brotherhood, a creative voice, and a common cause, but also a shared appetite for self-destruction that threatens to overwhelm them both.
Quirky, droll, and heartfelt, with a pitch-perfect evocation of time and place, and a wealth of richly drawn supporting characters, Some New Kind of Kick is a memoir of personal transformation, addiction and recovery, friendship and belonging, set against the relentless creativity and excess of the ’70s and ’80s underground music scenes.
Gimme gimme, right? I am sure you join me in a state of severe anticipation. The book is out October 18, 2022. Stop salivating, damn the torpedoes and join me in pre-ordering this baby here: https://found.ee/SomeNewKindofKick
More soon, stay sweet,
Erik Davis has also been wrestling with this issue recently, as well as related Substack quandaries. His thinking on the subject in his April 2, 2022 edition of his Burning Shore email was, as usual, clarifying and helpful.
Mati Klarwein on his painting Exterminating Angel, translated by Google:
A hot summer in Mallorca, lots of Sandoz, STP and RSVP, mad activity on the streets and on the rooftops... my oscillating hand reaches out, reaches a thousand miles and smacks the slope of Mount Meru — or, on that level of reality, to the side of the empty butane gas bottle by my bed, and it sounds like a mighty gong is chiming. This sound has the magical power to recombine my scattered atoms, which are in a critical state of fission, into molecular structure, and piece by piece my familiar self...
It was my id hitting the metal to call my ego back to its prosaic cage. It was those sunny days in Deya that I spent with Kathy Kali in a guest house that was a converted pigsty surrounded by almond groves. Now why didn't the atoms coalesce into the shape of a pig, the pig that I really am, or for a change, an Einstein with the looks of Marlon Brando? On the other hand, the odds of turning me into a Hitler by chance would have been there as well, but I wouldn't be any better off with that either—so let's leave it at that.
I stagger out the door into the warm Spanish countryside, and I feel like a Christian martyr being hoisted by helicopter out of an arena of roaring lions when I see that the house next door is still framed where it was yesterday from the hill terraces lined with olive trees, and the Exterminating Angel is still waiting on the tiled roof with the chopper softly purring, ready for me to pose whenever I want to continue painting my picture.
Ten years after this picture was painted, Michael, a French friend, stops by, leafs through a book, discovers the reproduction of the picture and recognizes his motorcycle on it, which he had loaned to Brigitte Bardot to take this poster photo, which I used as a template used for my picture. The spectral colors surrounding the angel are an indication that color is in the eye of the beholder, but Brigitte is like a boulder in my eye. My first encounter with Brigitte 34 years ago: a windy and wet winter evening in St. Tropez, a Christmas party hosted by the Vadim family. As an Israeli country kid, I was dumbfounded by this sweet sixteen mannequin that had just appeared on the cover of Elle.
Like a hot croissant on a cold French morning, cute little thing says to cute little Mati, "And what pictures are you drawing? Do you just draw circles and squares like everyone else?” That's all I can remember. I must have blacked out from sheer shyness. It took me years in the company of those beautiful people to realize that, despite my lack of culture, my nose is as full of snot as theirs. But in a society that worships the left brain and despises the right, I have trouble reaching that level of conspicuous comfort that I sometimes tell myself I'd better try to reach before it's too late hating my LimboGypsy fate, too late for the ultimate luxury of choosing the moment when I "change my cosmic address."
Second encounter with Brigitte: St. Tropez again, sixteen light years later. I was lying on the carpet of the Hotel Luisiane in Paris, moaning, because Kali A. had just left to pull away with the Living Theater; my Girlfriend Sveewa, who lived a few houses down Rue da Seine, was also devastated by a more serious heart story involving a child. By now the Supernova BB, France's number two after Citroën, and Sveewa had become bosom buddies — and so it was that BB invited us both down to her villa in St Tropez to work in of La Madrague washing away our tears with Dom Perignon and drying our cheeks in the heat of its star fame. "Not a bad idea at all," I said to myself.
Also in her environment down there in St. Tropez, where the mistral ruffles the golden fleece of her mane, she is imperia. Her performance is impressive, she stalks you like a panther with magnetic precision, her full lips pursing in the half-pouted, half-ironic, half-confident shadow of a smile. You can literally see the cat's whiskers on this tutti-frutti snout. We drink champagne and dance flamenco and do a lot of other poses in the discotheques that exist in St. Tropez.
This time she wants to know from me, around three o'clock in the morning: "Tell me, Mati, what is this world about? Sometimes I got tired of everything; do you know what this world is about?” I must have said something profound to that, like, “Well, about us, my dear,” or “It's about you asking about it,” or “Ask Marylin, she'll do it say to you." Later, as she sat behind the wheel of her Rolls and we were on our way home...a silent, black-painted UFO, the dim interior lighting creates a cozy atmosphere, and the Pink Floyd sound from the 8-track goes in my back like stereophonic Vaseline, the tires take the nocturnal curves under the pines like velvet paws... then she asks me with tilted head and a suggestive look: Alors, Matee, it pleeze you to be dreeven by Brigitte Bardot through thees beautifool landscape in a Rolls, n'est pas?
I was about to reply, "Thanks for asking — you even managed to make me forget Kali A for ten minutes," but let it go and gave her my enigmatic, take-no-risks smile.
Once again my eyes were bigger than my courage.