Thursday, September 28, 2006

A blog of a profane Canadian broad

Kill the Goat can be found here.

It's funny. The gal has moxie.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Keywords of the Damned

People, people who I guess have lives, jobs, loves, dreams, and rich innerlives, people who ARE WALKING FREE AMONG US, have recently came to this site via the following search terms:

gaping sphincters
penis sock puppets
tv show space garbage
hot girl karena 8th street latina profile
rug burn scar
shane macgowan hallucination
statuary gnomes caca
nasty wrestling bastards skate
curse * labia
lemmy has throat cancer
leroy neiman and little known facts


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Giant Robot Interview

Here’s another interview. It’s Martin Wong, founding editor of Giant Robot , which is probably the best magazine on the Planet, at least the best magazine about Asian and Asian-American pop culture, with a nice side little business on pointless pop trash, vinyl figures, exploitation cinema and pretty art.

Seriously, if you have a decent newsstand near you, see if you can pick up a copy.
(The interview was done for my friend Dave’s webzine, Crackpot Press.)
GREG: First let me get all the embarrassing fanboy gush out of the way so we can move on to more manly things. It’s in the form of a question, so it’s not totally inappropriate.

So, in 12 years you’ve gone from a zine to a freakin’ media empire (a magazine, four storefront galleries, a restaurant and an online store), you have done an amazing job keeping it, well, real. Through a decade of change, you’ve managed to imbue a sense of wonder and guilelessness into every issue. There is no bullshit, no lazy irony, no exploitation, just people talking about interesting stuff they believe in. In other words, it still feels like a zine in very much a good way. How’d you think you’ve kept it that way?

Martin: It’s super important to us that we believe in what we write about. We don’t feel like it’s our responsibility to reflect what’s big or report on things that are trendy. Fuck that! The whole point of having our own mag is to write about what we want. I think readers can tell that we are honestly into the topics of our mag, and not writing articles from press releases or fluffing products from advertisers. By covering a range of stuff—and not just music, toys, art, movies, or whatnot—we not only turn ourselves onto new things every issue, but we lead readers to check out things they blow off otherwise. For example, someone who buys GR for movie-related articles may read something about an artist and get into it. If that reader never reads art mags, the article could be mind blowing! That’s how we feel every issue.

GREG: Your masthead reads “ASIAN POP CULTURE AND BEYOND”. Are you guys on some kind of mission? Do you have a pillow at home with the Twelve Giant Robot Directives sewn into it? Seriously, what sort of responsibilities, if any, do you think you might have to the subject matter you cover? Do you guys have any ambassadorial duties? Do you ever feel protective of your subjects?

Martin: We’re on a mission to document and promote new, neglected, up-and-coming, obscure, and underdog Asian, Asian-American, and hybrid culture. We want readers to know about the stuff that inspires us, and hope it inspires them, too. We are protective, sure, but we are also proud of them and think the world would be better served if it knew about them. The other mission is to get as big as we can without sucking!

GREG: Do you keep the old zines lying around? Do you ever take them out and experience a personal montage sequence, starting at age five when you first saw Ultraman and ending at exactly the moment you found the old zines, stuffed in a shoebox you found in the trunk of the Rolls Royce Silver Shadow you drive now?

Martin: We totally have old copies. I look at them and can hardly believe we crammed so much stuff into each issue. Some of that is because we came out quarterly and didn’t believe in trimming articles. Another factor is that Eric was still doing the design. When Wendy came in, she brought all these new concepts like readability to the table! As for the Silver Shadow, that’s in the shop. I drive a Mazda station wagon. Eric is driving his dad’s old mini-van!

GREG:You see more and more aesthetics from Asian popular culture being appropriated for the US market. Do you see yourself as informing this trend at all, or are you outside of it? Do you ever want to say “I was into those guys since before you were picking your granny’s ass?” And why would you say such an awful thing? Dirty.

Martin: Well, I enjoy the white man’s culture now and then—certain pasty British bands and alcoholic novelists with dysfunctional families. So why can’t others appreciate interesting Asian culture? In the end, I’m all for the evolution and sharing of culture, which builds up to new hybrid manifestations. For example, Guitarwolf is a band that took rock ’n’ roll from America and turned it up to 11. Or a guy like Johnnie To has taken gangster movies and made them beautiful in addition to violence. Then bands or filmmakers from the west take their work and get inspired. Sharing like that is cool. Besides, if we had to rely only on Asian readership, we’d be dead. Most of them have average tastes just like most white, black, brown, or other people.

GREG: Your coverage of art and artists is pretty low key. Not a lick of fancy-pants Art in America theory stuff. What sort of artists end up in Giant Robot, both in the magazine and the galleries?

Martin: To quote Lux Interior from The Cramps, “I don’t know about art but I know what I like.” We can’t really say who’s important or what’s going to last, but we can say what we like. It’s important for us to say why we like things, too, though. That’s one thing that separates us from a vanity publication by some dude jerking off to his rare toys or whatnot.

GREG: Is there much interest in Giant Robot in Asia? Like when you approach folks that live and work in Shanghai, or Hong Kong, or Manila, or Tokyo, how do they respond to the magazine? I know Asia is hugely diverse in culture, so perhaps it’s a crude question, but what the hell, I’m going for it.

Martin: We have fans all over the place, but it’s kind of like here. Average schmoes—Asian or not—just don’t get it. They’re rather read about mainstream crap like what the Friends are up to or what Tom and Katy’s baby burped yesterday. Just like here, we get the arty folks, the punkers, and the geeks. Only fewer, because most don’t read English!

GREG: GIANT ROBOT is at least partially about living in California, isn’t it? It has a California vibe, to be sure, just like the old Thrasher I read as a hairless 7th grader in the early ‘80’s did. How much is your editorial voice is informed by being Californians?

Martin: Well, we are in L.A., and that’s one thing that informs us when it comes to art, music, food, and everything. We can surf in the morning, drive a couple hours, and snowboard at night. Then skateboard when we get home! When I was in college, it seemed like single band that matters comes through town, and now it’s the same way with artists and filmmakers. That helps us put together a mag that’s local, but not incestuous. And, damn, we have the best of every type of food. Not just Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Vietnames, Korean, Thai, Malaysian, Hawaiian, and any other Asian-Pacific cuisine but also Ethiopian, Cuban, and whatever else.

GREG: Your magazine does great travel pieces, covering stuff off the Lonely Planet path. Has there ever been any moments were either of you fellas, or one of your writer got into some deep shit when on the road? Rip-offs, cops, explosive diarrhea, vicious animals, one eyed pimps, etc.

Martin: The sad fact is that I hardly ever travel! If you read the travel pieces they’re usually friends who are on the road for work, play, or whatever. Eric gets out now and then, but the most exotic place I’ve gone lately is San Diego.

GREG: Any major plans (Sixty second Superbowl spots, Giant Robot Days at Magic Mountain, subscriber-only orgies, etc) for Issue Five-Oh?

Martin: Wow, that is coming up soon, isn’t it? I think we should have a Japanese New Year type thing where people line up to get slapped by Senator Inoki.
GREG: Name the three best dishes at GREats, Giant Robot’s restaurant out on Sawtelle Blvd, in West LA, home of The Cabbage Patch (the dance). You have eight seconds (honor system, since we’re on email).

Martin: Tofu Tacos (spicy) – Off the menu, but you can ask if Chef Nelson is there
Curry with Tofu Meatballs – Added to the menu by popular request (of me)
Whatever the special is – I don’t eat meat, but if I did I’d eat nothing but the fish specials. Chances are, Eric’s uncle caught something that was too big for the family to eat!

GREG: Finally, are you Punk Rock or New Wave?

Martin:Well, that’s not for me to judge, but I hope it’s punk rock. New wave styles come and go, but punk rock is for life.


You can check out Martin’s blog here.

Labels: ,

Friday, September 22, 2006

HALF-REMEMBERED REVIEWS... which I, Greg, render opinions on things which I mostly draw a blank on.


TV Show (Sci Fi Comedy)

Year: 1979?

Half-remembered plot points:
Richard Benjamin is the frustrated captain of a space garbage scow, who takes orders from a giant floating head with sort of a big gay moustache. I seem to remember some blond bimbo twins being involved. Then again, they’re were a lot twin blond bimbos on TV back in the day. Was Buck Henry the creator?

Review: I think I liked it, and I have a vague sense that my dad might have liked it to. Or he might have hated it. I don’t remember.


TV Show (Crap live action kid show)

Year: 1979?

Half-remembered plot points:
Some kind of ecological disaster plunges society into a medieval existence, and superstition takes sway across the land. Some scientists have somehow remained all scientific and what not and roam the countryside in a tricked out van, educating about hygiene and the scientific method. I remember the head scientist looking a little like Harry Nilsson and that a chimp was somehow involved.

Review: I think I liked it. It sounds unbelievably stupid now, of course. But I’m pushing 40.


Film (Well, a movie anyway)

Year: ??? ’75?

Half-remembered plot points:
A bunch of bald, pale people who all look like Donald Pleasence live underground live underground and they worship an ICBM. I think the final scene is the Earth floating in space and a narrator intoning: “Earth, the green planet, is dead.” This creeped me out. Don’t recall what the Apes got up to.

Review: I think it really gave me the heebie jeebies. Although I saw it to the end, so I must have liked it somewhat. Curious enough to watch it on late night TV, if I have insomnia and nothing else is on.



Year: Your guess is as good as mine.

Half-remembered plot points:
Rasputin is a zombie with glowing red eyes aboard the Trans-Siberian express. Features Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing!

Review: Based on the fragment I remember, Rasputin clawing his way through the snow with glowing red eyes, it must have been either very creepy or really stupid. I’m guessing stupid. I also suspect it was an Italian production. It has that vibe. Points for the Lee/Cushing pairing.


TV Show

Year: ’77?

Half-remembered plot points:
Robert Conrad stars as Pappy Boyington, a Navy lieutenant who leads a rag-tag Corsair fighter squadron off some godforsaken atoll during WWII. Used a lot of cool WWII stock footage shot from actual fighter cockpits. Pappy Boyington has a pet Bull terrier. Peter Frampton guess starred in an episode, sporting a historically suspect shag cut. Each show started with some scrolling type about something deep about courage or perseverance or some sort of lofty crap, while a military chorus sang “We are poor little lambs/Who have lost their way/Ba-Ba-Baaaaa.” FUCK YES!

Oh, come ON! It’s a goddamn World War II show! How could it not be good? The only way to improve on it would be to somehow get a Nazi u-boat pack over to the South Pacific.

HUNTING LODGE/ “Fire the Tribal Warning Shot” 12”

Vinyl 12” single

Year: 1986

Half-remembered plot points:
Matt Woodruff invited me over to his house and we drank his mom’s schnapps. He put this on the turntable and we listened mutely to a guy grunting “Fire the Tribal Warning Shot” over tribal drums for ten minutes. I puked.

Review: At the time I probably thought is was deep, but now I suspect puking was probably the best response.


5 song EP cassette

Year: 1984

Half-remembered plot point:
Was the first band of original Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Hillel Slovak. Sort of LA New Wave, sort of like that band that sang that song about being on a Mexican radio. Wall of Voodoo?

Review: I played the shit out of one song, an instrumental that sounded like a song a New Wave band would be playing in a New Wave bar on Miami Vice. I think I wouldn’t like it.


Live Show at The Palladium in San Francisco. Or was it The Stone?

Year: 1985

Half-remembered plot point:
An all-ages show in San Francisco. My first or second concert?

Review: The first band with the unremembered name (Secret Affair? That might have been a crappy UK Mod band actually. More about Mod bands below)featured this sort of fey James Brown looking dude and a keyboardist with a unibrow and giant bleached orange fuzzy Jean Beauvoir Mohawk. People threw beer cups at ‘em. The guy with the Mohawk had some kind of attitude problem and nudged me on the way to the bar. I slapped the back of his head.
Don’t remember any of the songs.

The Batteries featured a guy who looked like Keith from the Prodigy as lead singer, and a chubby guitarist who alternately nodded and shook his head in time to the music throughout their set. One song chorus went like this “Radio, radio/Got no soul”. Beyond that, I’m at a loss.

I remember the Uptones being great, and I picked up their EP a couple months later. They were sort of a ska-ish sort of band, with horns and pork pie hats. Now I’d probably hate them.

MODS MAYDAY (Compilation)

Vinyl LP

Year: 1986

Half-remembered plot point:
My friend John was a mod, replete with a parka, Fred Perry everything and a little blue Vespa. Why American suburbanites jumped on an archaic British youth movement is a mystery left to the ages, I’m a afraid. This LP was a loner from John.

Review: Holy shit, did this one suck. Dull music, poorly played and recorded through a burlap bag. A bunch of English people singing about having sex on Vespas, while any asshole knows that English people singing about the death of Bela Lugosi is the shit.



Year: 198?

Half-remembered plot point:
Something about Alien vampires feeding on the orgasm of Heroin addicts, or something. The lead roles, a man and woman, are both played by one person, a woman. I remember when the man uses a urinal in the film, the actress unloads the character’s junk like he’s carrying a bowling ball in his trousers. Stand out scene features a shrill woman who looks like Ricky Lee Jones reciting a poem about a beat box.

Review: Was baffled and pissed off. Probably would just be pissed off at this point. Vaguely remember being disappointed there was no nudity.


Live Show, Loco Ranchero, San Luis Obispo, California

Year: 1993ish

Half-remembered plot point:
I think I had a fight with my girlfriend that night.

Review:Infectious Grooves were hideous. They are actually most of the guys from Suicidal Tendencies playing 3rd P-Funk. Abyssmal.

The Sugarcubes were amazing. Bjork was roaring like a kid in full tantrum mode, and the bassist was wearing a baseball cap that read “Stoned”. Great! I saw Einar in the mens toilet, arranging his hair with a wet comb right before. Also great.


Double Feature, Festival Cinemas, Walnut Creek, California

Year: 1976

Half-remembered plot points:
My first cinema experience was apparently Herbie the Love Bug, but I don’t remember it. This odd pairing is my first memory of sitting in a cinema. The King Kong was the Jessica Lange/Jeff Bridges version. I just remember Kong in the cargo hold of the ship going back to New York and feeling rather bummed for the ape. Too young to appreciate Jessica Lange’s semi-topless scene in the jungle. “Gus” was the story of an Austrian mule that is trained by his teenaged owner to kick soccer balls. Somehow the pair come to America and win the big game for some sadsack Gridiron football team.

Review: I remember the movie theater being dark and loud. King Kong was great, Gus so-so.


TV SHOW (Crap Live Action Kids Show)

Year: 1975?

Half-remembered plot points:
Something about a grade school teacher who finds the fountain of youth and drinks from it, but it only works half the time. Thus, Big John will morph into Little John (the child version of himself), usually at comically inopportune times. One episode involved somebody stealing cookies. The actor that played Big John was a regular on the Golden Girls years later.

Review: The theme song (“Big John! Little John! Something, something SIZE!”) was fucking genius, and I recall this being Saturday morning appointment television. I’m at a loss as to what drove my passion for such a patently retarded premise. Maybe it was because I was six.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, September 18, 2006

Happy New Year!

The year starts for me in September. September has always seemed the most hopeful month for me. It’s still hot, but by sundown you can feel the chill trying to cut through the dust of the day. Summer is going to being its creep back to the agriculture valleys east of the coast, where it’ll hang on until the rains take the whole valley, up to the foothills of the Sierras.

In Northern California, Summer is the dead zone in the year. The grasses turn tow-head white, they crackle when you walk on them and the wheaty heads of fox-tail stick to your socks. The hill give off a glare that gives you a wince for three straight months, and gives you the strange sensation of floating in a cloud of light. Not as pleasant as it sounds.

The poison oak goes waxy and fire-red, and you swear the heat wakes up a sinister sentience in the disgusting plant. It’s lying in wait, plantily, that is, as a sentient plant might. Oily little bastards. The natural disasters are meaner: wild fire and strange oceanic blooms. We learn to (falsely) associate tectonic forces with the windless sterile blanket of summer. Earthquake weather we call it, because it makes us skittish and rabbity. It reminds us that Karma can take us up at any moment.

Dust and pollen coat your car. Cats have loud sex. Summer is four months of feeling obliged to drink watery Mexican beer. Idiots have daytime weddings in July.

In Fall, the ambient moisture picks up and the hills slowly go green again. The winter rains bring a lush green, and the cows come down to the side of the road again (in the places where you might find cows, obviously. In Berkeley, cows are scarce on the ground.) On a drive through Northern Marin county down Sir Francis Drake Boulevard (Drake reportedly got into some mischief with Spanish Galleons off the Marin coast back when people did that sort of thing) during the rains the green goes acid bright, and the tarmac of the road goes blacker and bottomless in contrast. With the crags and the oaks, you’d think you were in Ireland or New Zealand, but the towns all have Spanish names.

Even the autumnal disasters are stories of overabundance: mud slides and flooding, silting over the floor of Central Valley with more nutrient rich loam.

I think one reason my year starts in September is a residual sense of purpose that is left over from school. The term begins, new stuff, new serious, the anticipation of some minor life puzzle solved. Ruby is going through that now, during her first few weeks of Kindergarten. Already her school has had “Talk Like A Pirate Day” and some earnest nature types have brought in a MONKEY and a TREE SLOTH. Live, mind you. (A big day in my elementary school career would one in which two kids have a fistfight or someone steps in dog shit.)

The college students are back, too, as well as football. Football is like the weather for people who don’t have the sense to look out a window: it’s something to talk about in lieu of having something to talk about. There is special edge that my patience is set upon when I am forced to listen to football conversation; guys second guessing coaches, talking about the little sideshow drama in what amounts to an entertainment monopoly.

(It’s like getting really passionate about the internal politics of an insurance company you don’t work for. I don’t get it.)

Fall mean bars become more amenable, Scotch becomes more manageable, the windup to Christmas is coming, that weird rotten leaf/smoke smell comes back, we get skunks in our backyard, and the crap movies have gone out of the theaters.

I dunno. I’m glad it’s fall.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Another review up over at Radar. Also: a deperate plea.

This stuff is kicking my ass.

The Shape of Things to Come: Prophecy and the American Voice

By Greil Marcus
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

At first blush, pop Zarathustra Greil Marcus's latest book, The Shape of Things to Come, looks like something cooked up by a Sarah Lawrence undergrad in an end-of-term panic. According to Marcus, America exists only as a cultural construct coalesced from the words of our national prophets—people like Martin Luther King, Philip Roth, David Lynch, John Dos Passos, Pere Ubu's Dave Thomas, and ... Bill Pullman(!). But while showing us how to unlock the mystery of America by loading up an Amazon shopping cart, Marcus manages a wild-eyed grandeur that out-argues any co-ed essay. Analyzing these prophets' works, from the conflicted professor of The Human Stain to the menacing, eyebrowless dwarf of Lost Highway, Marcus gains insight into the nature of these United States: America doesn't really exist, at least not as other nations exist. Rather, the country is a collection of vanguard ideas, weirdo prophetic narratives that come to life when you and your neighbors invest in them. The book is a rambling mess—but it's a beautiful and seductive one.
—Greg Mills

The desperate plea is this: If anyone out there owns a CD copy of The Screaming Blue Messiah's Gun Shy, could you burn it for me? It's out of print, it's a great CD and I can only find it for a gazillion dollars. So, anyone? Leave a comment in, uh, comments.

Labels: ,

Saturday, September 09, 2006

My first review is up.

I've been a busy bastard, being overwhelmed by the demands of non-blogging and whatnot.
Family things have been beserk -- the wife is working entirely too hard, Ruby started kindergarten, and Owen is getting his tonsils out next week. Too much for a such a shallow doofus such as myself to handle.

My first reviews are up over at the newly launched Radar Online. The books I reviewed are

My Life as a Furry Red Monster: What Being Elmo Has Taught Me About Life, Love, and Laughing Out Loud and Grand Illusion: The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11. Of course the rest of the site is very funny and snarky.

Also, I just produced some kind-of-fucked-up web videos for a large client. I'll try to post them next week. One involves a couple of live beavers, while another involves an elevator being filled with snakes. (A rip off? You decide.)

Labels: ,