July 6, 2004

Reflect what you are, in case you don't know

* Boston Phoenix on Continuum Books’ 33 1/3 series. [via book slut] excerpt:

"Personal history is also the lifeblood of Joe Harvard’s approach to The Velvet Underground and Nico. The Velvets are one of the quintessential New York bands, but the Fort Apache Studio founder’s book is amusingly Boston-centric — from off-subject anecdotes (Alpo from the Real Kids caught crabs after stealing New York Dolls drummer Arthur 'Killer' Kane’s pants!) to excerpts from Harvard’s interviews with Jonathan Richman (confirmed: there would be no Modern Lovers if there had been no Velvet Underground) to Harvard’s remembrances of listening to Lou Reed singles on the juke at Jean’s Coffee Shoppe, 'our local hamburger-cum-bookie joint' in Eastie.

"It’s long been a cliché that VU were criminally under-appreciated in their lifetime but that everyone who saw them play went out and formed a band. Harvard does spend some time bolstering those truisms, but he also offers unusual vignettes, as when he depicts John Cale ("One Badass Classical Dude") arriving at NYC’s Pickwick Studios to meet Lou Reed and discovering that Reed’s teen-trash anthem 'The Ostrich' used an open-tuned drone similar to what Cale had been working on with Iannis Xenakis and LaMonte Young — "a shock akin to finding a monkey tuning his viola." The book also sparkles when Harvard lets his imagination explode on the page. He likens 'Heroin' to the mystical poetry of Jalal ad-Din Rumi. In 'European Son,' he hears 'someone flushing glass down a metal toilet' and 'rockabilly rhythms from the foothills of Mars' and 'a football chant for warrior droids of the future.'

"Referring to Sterling Morrison’s recollection of the band’s first-ever gig, Harvard writes that 'I’d pay good money to see any band these days that could provoke ‘a mighty howl of outrage and bewilderment’ just by playing their two best songs.' Then he reminds us that the VU’s debut actually got radio airplay in the Hub. 'As a native East Bostonian, it makes me proud that Boston was one place that recognized how great the Velvets were — in their own time.'"

St. Barbie, 1994, by Mark Ryden. [via Bad Horse]

* "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." - President Dwight D. Eisenhower, April 16, 1953 [via
wood s lot]


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