Well this is certainly the weirdest thing I've seen all day. I mean, I'd heard about the reunion, or rather, the reunions. I knew Greg Ginn was back with Ron Reyes and was calling it Black Flag and was planning on doing a huge tour playing new music (you really should read this incredible story in Vice, if you haven't yet). And I knew that Keith Morris, Chuck Dukowski, Bill Stevenson, Dez Cadena and Stephen Egerton from The Descendents had started a band called Flag and were planning a tour, playing the hits.
I don't even really know what to think about it, to be quite honest. It's really making me feel weird, stirring up a lot of conflicting thoughts and emotions and residual teenage angst. I never saw Black Flag back when, being about nine years old when they broke up. But I endured years of hearing about the legendary Fayetteville show from older friends who'd been there (and a couple who I think were BS-ing me, as they would have been about 11 or 12 at the time).
The whole thing is just totally bizarre, and while I want to dismiss it all out of hand as a bald cash-grab, a small part of me can't help but feel excited. A few years ago, I reviewed a Misfits concert for the Times. It was pretty cheesy, as expected, but also weird, because Dez Cadena was playing guitar and Robo was on drums, which meant the band was 2/3 Black Flag and 1/3 Misfits. I'd been sitting there, dispassionately observing the show. But when they tore into "Jealous Again" and "Rise Above," some vestigial lizard-brain part of me took over and I jumped out of my seat and started screaming along.
Hell, I've been sitting here typing this and listening to "My War" and it still gives me goosebumps. Over the last 20 years or so, I've had long and impassioned arguments with good friends about who was the best singer and what was the best album (and whether "The First Four Years" counts as an album, which, yes it totally does!) and the merits of their later material and on and on.
I don't know really how to feel about this. But I'm pretty sure I know where I'm going to be on June 22.
LITTLE ROCK TOUCHDOWN CLUB: JOHN L. SMITH
11 a.m. Embassy Suites. $10-$25.
We've all heard the phrase "throw in the towel" before. But have you ever actually heard someone throw in the towel? Do you want to know what it sounds like? The towel, heavy with the sweat of an exasperated, exhausted fanbase, lands with a barely audible "whump," a sound similar to the soft thud of the ashes of a million dreams being dumped onto a cold, hard floor.
Seriously, if he didn't know what to say after the absolute flattening that was the Alabama game, what's he going to say here? I don't have a crystal ball to consult, but I'll go out on a limb and say that if the Hogs don't beat Rutgers on Saturday, he might just want to show up with an actual towel to throw in, which would communicate far more than we've heard from him thus far.
UPDATE: Uh, yeah. Let's see, since this original item went to press last week, John L. Smith has been hammered for his advocacy of smiling, we've learned that he has debts of $25.7 million and that his younger brother died last week, with Smith attending the funeral in Idaho on Wednesday and being back in Fayetteville that same evening.
Man. Now I feel like kind of a jerk for being all mad at him. Sure, it's disappointing that the Hogs are floundering. And it seems plausible that they could go 1-11 or 2-10 for the season and be in the rebuilding wilderness for the next couple-three years, even if Jeff Long knocks it out of the park with a great HC hire. But it's just football.
"It," in this case being the use of the Twisted Sister classic "We're Not Gonna Take It" by GOP VP candidate Paul Ryan.
The band's frontman Dee Snider denounced Ryan's use of the tune thusly:
It was brought to the attention of the management today that Paul Ryan has been using tour client Dee Snider's composition "We're Not Gonna Take It" in his political campaign to become the Vice President of The United States of America. Dee does not support Paul Ryan. Accordingly, Dee has released this statement to Benjy Sarlin, campaign reporter for TPM in Washington, DC:
I emphatically denounce Paul Ryan's use of my song "Were Not Gonna Take It" as recorded by my band Twisted Sister. There is almost nothing on which I agree with Paul Ryan, except perhaps the use of the P90X.
As noted by MTV News, Ryan's "playlist just keeps getting shorter and shorter."
While the use of "We're Not Gonna Take It" by a political campaign is a no-brainer — it's catchy, everyone knows it, it's vaguely anti-authoritarian yet nonthreatening — Ryan's other musical favorites included a true head-scratcher. Ryan cited the highly political, truly anti-authoritarian rap/hardcore act Rage Against the Machine as being one of his favorite bands, which, what? Does he understand what words mean?
The band's guitarist, Tom Morello, made very plain his disgust with Ryan in a Rolling Stone column last week:
You see, the super rich must rationalize having more than they could ever spend while millions of children in the U.S. go to bed hungry every night. So, when they look themselves in the mirror, they convince themselves that "Those people are undeserving. They're . . . lesser." Some of these guys on the extreme right are more cynical than Paul Ryan, but he seems to really believe in this stuff. This unbridled rage against those who have the least is a cornerstone of the Romney-Ryan ticket.
Don't jam this one too loud in the office, it's got some cussin' in it.
The thing Chappelle's talking about at the end of the video apparently has something to do with this.
Uh, holy crap! Dave Chappelle is coming to Robinson Center Music Hall June 13!?! Hot damn!
Tickets are $64 and are on sale now.
Man, what type of world are we living in when a handsome young singer can't pack up his guit-box and head to the beach to lay a couple-three heartfelt pop tunes on a small crowd of admirers without the cops showing up and dumping all over the good vibes? I suppose it's the type of world we are all currently living in, even those of us who are Kris Allen, Arkansas's American Idol.
You see, Kris had the notion to head down to the pier in Santa Monica last night to perform for free, because that's how he does things because he's a good dude like that. He tweeted about it: "How bout the peir in Santa Monica? 8 pm. You...me...couple tunes...ocean breeze...birds pooping on us. It's gonna be great."
So right in the middle of a song, some beach cop showed up and stopped him and told him he had to have a permit. And then Kris, being a dude of exceedingly even temperament and good nature, tried to shake this cop's hand as a gesture of good will. And then the cop said, "I'm not shaking your hand. I don't shake hands with anybody" like he's just so tough and uncompromising in his role as a tough, uncompromising peacekeeper that he can't even touch the hand of some ragamuffin pier urchin. And get this: the cop was wearing shorts. Shorts! And he's gonna tell Kris Allen how it's gonna be!?! Kris Allen, who's just trying to have a nice little low-key get-together at the beach!?! Gimme a break!
And then Kris follows up the ridiculous incident with these tweets: "Thanks to everyone that came out. Had a good time. And to the people that just stopped...thanks for stopping. Btw I didn't mean any disrespect to other street performers out there. I respect them so much for what they do."
See? A perfect gentleman. Kris could teach that beach cop a thing or two about manners and how you should treat people.
Remember back in 2003 when Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines said something critical of George W. Bush and then seemingly everyone in the whole country music scene got their feelings really hurt over it and went bonkers and burned their albums and several of their shows were cancelled because how dare they criticize the President of the United States in a Time of War, and on Foreign Soil no less? A musician? Making political statements? Uh, the nerve!
I wonder if there will be a similar firestorm of condemnation for ol' Ted Nugent, who in the last few days has offered these bons mots about Barack Obama and pretty much all other Democrats:
* If Obama is reelected, Nugent said he will be "either dead or in jail by this time next year."
* The Obama administration are coyotes, and "if the coyote's in your living room, pissing on your couch, it's not the coyote's fault. It's your fault for not shooting him."
* This November, Nugent and his ilk "need to ride into that battlefield and chop [Democrats'] heads off in November. Any questions?"
* He's being persecuted, apparently. He told conservative radio host Dana Loesch "I'm a black Jew at a Nazi Klan rally."
Now the Secret Service doesn't always look kindly on threats to the President's life, and as such they'll be having a little sit-down with The Nuge, according to Business Insider.
It doesn't sound like Uncle Ted is sweating it too much, because as he told Loesch, "the Secret Service are my buddies. They work for me. I pay their salaries." Which some of them at least have been using for questionable purposes.
But alas, proving that most blowhards are also cowards, The Nuge told Mike Huckabee "I'm a non-violent guy, I don't threaten. I wouldn't waste my time threatening, I've never threatened anyone's life in my life. I will not threaten anyone's life. I certainly wouldn't threaten the life of the president, or anybody in public office, or anybody anywhere."
So I wonder what he meant when he said he'd be dead or in jail if Obama is reelected?
Of course, this is hardly the first time Nugent has suffered public verbal diarrhea. Here are some of his other observations, compiled by the New York Daily News:
On immigrants: "We should put razor wire around our borders and give the finger to any piece of shit who wants to come here." And also: "Foreigners are assholes; foreigners are scum. I don't like 'em; I don't want 'em in this country; I don't want 'em selling me doughnuts; I don't want 'em pumping my gas; I don't want 'em downwind of my life."
On Hillary Clinton: "This bitch is nothing but a two-bit whore for Fidel Castro."
On the Middle East: "We want to go to Saudi Arabia, man, and see if we can't get a four iron and knock people's laundry off the top of their heads. Wear laundry on your head and die, is the basic theme of the Damn Yankees [his former band]."
Here's a video of him telling Obama to suck on his machine gun. "Obama, he's a piece of shit, and I told him to suck on my machine gun. Let's hear it for him," Nugent says, gesticulating with his guns. "I was in New York, I said, 'Hey Hillary, you might wanna ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch!'"
All this had me wondering whether his comments might have any bearing on his upcoming show scheduled for Fayetteville's Arkansas Music Pavilion on June 10. I haven't heard about any cancellations of his concerts. No radio stations that I know of have stopped playing his songs or organized rallies to burn his CDs.
I inquired with the Walton Arts Center to find out if they had any concerns about being associated with someone like Nugent.
Through a spokeswoman, the WAC issued this statement:
As an entertainment presenter, we take into account our wide and diverse audiences when booking shows. We provide a broad spectrum of entertainment that appeals to many different types of audiences.
Cancellations can occur for a variety of reasons, such as weather, sales or scheduling issues. There is no policy for booking or cancellation based on political opinion. We evaluate each act on a case-by-case basis and work with the performer and their management to make the best decision.
So what do you think? Is Ted a real threat, someone who might snap and do something violent? Is he simply exercising his First Amendment rights to free speech and everyone should just relax, because hey man, he's just an entertainer? Or is he simply a washed-up, flaccid, has-been butt rocker who says outlandish things because he knows that a) it gets him lots of attention and b) nothing else he's capable of will?
OK, admittedly there is no Arkansas entertainment connection to this post, but Axl Rose's letter laying out, in great detail, for your elucidation, so that there's no further questions about reunions, so that we can all just move past the past and get on with things, about why he's declining to join his former bandmates at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony is so ramblingly awesome that I just had to post it here.
"The only reason, at this point, under the circumstances, in my opinion whether under the guise of 'for the fans' or whatever justification of the moment, for anyone to continue to ask, suggest or demand a reunion are misguided attempts to distract from our efforts with our current lineup of myself, Dizzy Reed, Tommy Stinson, Frank Ferrer, Richard Fortus, Chris Pitman, Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal and DJ Ashba," Rose wrote.
"So let sleeping dogs lie or lying dogs sleep or whatever. Time to move on. People get divorced. Life doesn't owe you your own personal happy ending especially at another's, or in this case several others', expense."
Got that? Cool.
Also: Oh yeah, I guess I forgot, but Tommy Stinson is in Guns N' Roses.
The rest of the letter is after the jump.
2012 OZARK UFO CONFERENCE
8 a.m. Best Western Inn of the Ozarks. $90.
Scoff all you like, all you scoffers and skeptics and naysayers and demanders of peer-reviewed studies. But you cannot deny this fundamental truth: It’s way more fun to believe in aliens and past lives and ESP and ancient Mayan calendar predictions than it is to lumber stiffly through existence insisting that the Official Version of reality is the only one that’s real.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “But why should I believe in something for which there is no physical evidence?” To which I would say: “People do it all the time. It’s called religion. And astrology. And Powerball. And anyway, aren’t I reading your thoughts? DUN-DA-DUN-DUNNNN!” But I realize that’s not gonna cut it for most folks. Therefore I submit for your consideration the 2012 Ozark UFO Conference in – where else? – Eureka Springs.
This three-day examination of all things extraterrestrial, extrasensory or otherwise extraordinary features a bevy of experts delivering lectures such as “UFOs: Myths, Conspiracies and Realities,” “The E.T. Agenda: Why Don’t They Land on the White House Lawn?” and “The Choice: Using Conscious Thought and Physics of the Mind to Reshape the World.” The conference opens with an introduction to the art of dowsing by Dowser Dan.
In all seriousness though, hanging out in Eureka Springs and drinking with a bunch of UFO experts? Yes, I want to believe.
Jesco White— a.k.a. "The Dancing Outlaw" — will bring his tap-dancin', Elvis-worshippin', notoriety-havin' self to Revolution May 19.
Now, if you don't know who Jesco is, chances are you didn't spend your salad days huddled around a tiny TV set in some dorm room or firetrap rental house watching grainy videotapes like "Faces of Death" or "The Dancing Outlaw," a clip from which you can now conveniently watch from the comfort of wherever courtesy of the internet. For example, here's Jesco on the rich subject of huffing solvents:
So I guess a lot of people are excited about this whole "Hunger Games" flick that hits theaters tomorrow. Near as I can tell, it's an adaptation of a book, a sort of young adult lit version of "The Running Man," in which tweens and teen-agers must fight to the death against one another for the entertainment of the corrupt masses in a dystopian nightmare world where everyone has a weird pre-Civil War/Roman Empire-era type of name. "Caesar Flickerman" and "Claudius Templesmith" and "Haymitch Abernathy" and so forth.
Alongside Donald Sutherland, Jennifer Lawrence (of "Winter's Bone" renown), Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Elizabeth Banks and, uh, Lenny Kravitz, the film stars Jonesboro native Wes Bentley.
Bentley plays Seneca Crane, who's some sort of bad guy with a beard that's become pretty popular. So popular, in fact, that it has its own Facebook page. While I think that's a little much, I must admit: it's a pretty wicked looking beard.
Bentley recently acknowledged Seneca Crane's Beard's popularity, noting that he himself doesn't have a Facebook fan page.
So that's cool. Maybe Seneca Crane's Beard could return the favor and put in a good word for Bentley while it's out partying with high-powered Hollywood execs. Like, it could be all, "You know, I worked really closely with this Bentley guy and I gotta say, he's a good dude. Sure, he had some issues, but he's on solid footing now. Listen, I know Franco's all over 'Blood Meridian' and he's got Luke Perry mixed up in it somehow, but I could really see Wes as The Kid. You know? He could do that mute, grizzled, mud-and-blood-caked, dragged-all-over-hell-and-back thing in his sleep. How about it?'"
Poliça is a newish outfit made up of folks from Gayngs. It's woozy, drug-warped synth-funk mixed with stuttering drum patterns and art-rock tendencies, all reverbed to infinity and coated with thick, heavily Auto-Tuned vocals from Channy Leaneagh. The Internet keeps describing Poliça with the term "R&B," though if this band plays R&B, it's R&B tailor-made for a night of doing keybumps of Plutonian Nyborg with the cool kids in the bathroom of the hippest bar on planet Zorffneb 9 in the year X47-K.
Replace "R&B" in that equation with "spaghetti western trance dub?" and now we're talking Marijuana Deathsquads, which also performs at this show. Remember "Brownout in Lagos," the opening track from the mighty Oneida's 2009 masterpiece "Rated O?" No? Well, anyway, Marijuana Deathsquads reminds me a bit of a spazzier take on that song, only stretched out into ultra-stoned time-warp tunnel taffy.
OK, now replace "spaghetti western trance dub?" with "hardcore" and you're getting close to opening act Total Fucking Blood. All of this music makes for an alien and disorienting experience, but you'll probably come out the other side OK.
This 18-and-older show will be one of the weirdest nights to come to town in a good minute or so, so don't snooze on it, weirdoes.
I know we're a day late and $0.50 short, but here it is anyway. From the "How in the Hell Did We Miss This?" files comes "Andytown Christmas," from Brother Andy & His Big Damn Mouth. It's sure to be a Yuletide classic for years to come. I know my mother-in-law loved it. Kidding.
Not recommended for: the workplace, squares, prudes and people whose favorite pastime is getting offended.
Totally recommended for: everybody else.
FAIR TO MIDLAND
7:15 p.m. Downtown Music Hall. $11 adv., $13 d.o.s.
Sometimes you encounter something that many people seem to dig but that, for whatever reason, you simply cannot comprehend in any way. This is the case for me with the Dallas band Fair to Midland. I can't even make a value judgment about this band because I'm so thoroughly dumbfounded by every single thing about them.
Among the things about Fair to Midland that I do not understand: first, the name — a pun on the term "fair to middling." Whether this band is amazing or awful I cannot say, even — no, scratch that — especially after listening to several of their songs. But whichever it is, it is nowhere near the middle of the quality spectrum. This band is playing either the most incredible, mind-blowing, game-changing shit ever, or the worst, most incalculably terrible songs ever even imagined. And I absolutely cannot tell which one it is, though I'm leaning slightly toward the former after checking out the band's "Violitionist Sessions" on Bandcamp.
If I had to guess, I'd say they were just being cheeky with their name choice, and that they're actually well aware that their bewildering and potent synthesis of Rush, Tool, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Van der Graaf Generator, Tim Buckley, System of a Down, Bob Dylan circa the Rolling Thunder Revue and probably like 47 other bands is in no way typical or "middling." This seems like the most likely scenario.
Also, um, Evanescence will be playing at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo on Sunday, because of course they are. Also slated to play the Nobel concert is Janelle Monae, who will play Verizon Arena in March, opening for the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
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