Friday, October 19, 2007

When I was a teenager I wanted to be a rock critic, and I had a guidance counselor who was sympathetic. Or at least seemed to want to help. So he first set me up with this publication called Maximum Ink. I was sent cd's by bands called Walt Mink, Humble Gods and lowercase. (Get it?) What I wrote for Walt Mink was something along the lines of "The next time you see Bob Dylan at a coffee shop, kick him in the balls and ask him to sing 'Never To Be Found' by the Meat Puppets and you have the sound of Walt Mink." About Humble Gods I think I made fun of their punk image and how they have a song where the singer says he has to carry a knife because people are out to get him. And I think I made some vague comparison between the singer for lowercase and Lou Barlow (but I think I was actually remembering Jason Lowenstein's voice) and someone's grandma. At some point before or after the magazine actually folded and didn't exist for a while, a person called me and asked me if I wanted to go to Milwaukee to review a band at The Rave, which was the city's 'alternative' venue. I didn't know how to even get to Milwaukee then, so I chickened out. I said something to the effect of 'homework', but I also managed to brag about this underground paper that me and a friend had distributed at school that day. He tried to act interested. In the course of the magazine disappearing and reappearing with a different editorship, I never bothered to get back into it. The reviews were never published either.

On another occasion, my guidance
counseler got the number of magazine based out of Milwaukee called milk. Not to be confused with Milk Magazine online that's edited by the estimable Larry Sawyer out of Chicago. milk was run by some guys, and one of them I think now writes about music for the Onion. I called the office and of course I was very nervous. The outgoing message was "This is milk, blah blah..." It was literally an outgoing message that trailed off at the end. Looking back it's pretty funny. But in the state I was in, I did not react well. I actually launched into an obnoxious sarcastic rant about the fact that they had an answering machine. I seem to recall the phrase "really blasting off into 1980s guys!", and then at some point stopping myself or realizing what I'd done or something. My incoming message ended with me actually enquiring maybe they would want me to review records for them or something, and leaving my name and number. I never heard back.

There was controversy earlier in my high school tenure over a record review of Jon Spencer Blue Explosion, where I said the f word several times and made some allusion about getting pissed at someone for standing up in front of my seat at a porno theater. The school paper advisor and the editor were both pretty liberal and they allowed the f word and everything else. And they allowed the f word and the allusions to rape I put in a couple 'creative' pieces. This all got mention on The Mark Belling Show. He's a local conservative talk guy here in Milwaukee. And
Slinger is a conservative place so you can imagine that enough parents were listening. And there was moral outrage. The paper's advisor and editor decided to make the next issue largely about this incident and the larger free speech issues at hand. And those were free speech issues because the paper would slowly become more and more subject to censorship under succeeding advisors. But my good friend at the time (hey there!) published an editorial called Jello Biafra The Oblivious Criminal, which ended as a diatribe about my taste in music. He compared it to a hobo walking into an opulent buffet and picking out one little crumb and praising that crumb as the best thing on the buffet. Jello Biafra was the name I published the creative pieces under. I guess they were sort of prose poems about my idea of some harsh reality elsewhere, but I didn't really know who Jello Biafra was. I just picked his name out of some magazine because I liked it. If you had handed me a Dead Kennedys tape I probably would've loved it. I was called into the principal's office and at some point after we agreed that I was going to clean up my act, he asked me what I was going to review next. I said I was writing a review of The Velvet Underground & Nico. He said, "The Velvet Underground? No one knows about them anymore do they?"

1 comment:

JimK said...

ha...fun history.
The Velvet Underground is an
obsession for 88.9 WERS in Boston
(Emerson College)...every few months.
They like to break new bands, but
Velvet is an eternal cult there.
I heard a country style cover of
Nico the other day on an AC station!
(it sukt a bit).
All these cool
lost bands though....The Strawbs,
Ultravox, etc..
I don't have a Buzzcocks album yet.
I did get to a Slits concert back
in the day. And Lena!