Category Archives: Culture

NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL||ALBERT HALL||17/5/14

Saturday’s sunshine has seen a mower Holocaust wrought on many a lawn. These outdoor carpet-barbers spent the good weather making their immediate outdoors looking good for the inevitable deluge next weekend, and I suppose the bees still made honey in 1945. On the top deck of this bus there’s a several-headed Cerberean man-boy in Jacamo clothing, his alcohol deafened heads vocally overcompensate, amplifying their laughter to an inner-ear blasting level for the rest of us, making this comparatively brisk trip through the Curry Mile feel like a marathon.

“FUCK OFF!”

One of the heads pokes out of the window slit and shouts at what he believes to be Iranian and Iraqi flags.

“SLING IT…FREE DENMARK!”

“…and you can stick your oil up your arse, an’ all!”

“Indians are okay, it’s their neighbours that are the knobheads, innit, eh?”

(Reticence from the rest of his heads.)

‘Look at it, I just hate that they’ve made it their gaff.’ it says, before making plans to come back. Yes, the racists are returning to Rusholme later on for “a Ruby Murray”.

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(Chief UKIPPER: Nigel Farage)

Nigel Farage’s bulbous eyes watch all this on his underwater crystal ball as he re-hydrates in an attempt to counter this midsummer in May, and in readiness for his upcoming assault on Europe. His fish lipped, upside-down clown mouth tautens into that delighted/gag-reflex combination of a laugh he has.

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(A young Russell is schooled by a man doing anything it takes to inherit a fortune)

Meanwhile, Revolutionary-Jester Russell Brand feels a tingling sensation in his winkle, something markedly different from the chlamydial tickle to which he’s become accustomed. No, this urethral twinge seems to herald something of colossal import as the political philosophy he was schooled in by Richard Pryor in ‘Brewster’sMillions’, later spouted-out of his well-practised mouth looks to be yielding unexpected results as credulous good men prepare to do nothing.

“It Can’t Happen Here.”

“…But then they buried her alive on evening, 1945…”

I’m thinking about Godwin’s Law in the Albert Hall. You know, that old “internet adage that is derived from one of the earliest bits of Usenet wisdoms, which goes “if you mention Adolf Hitler or Nazis you’ve automatically ended whatever discussion you were taking part in.” I’m thinking about how, ironically, God-win will see Devil-Prevail, and possibly be responsible for the next rise of fascism, or at least result in everyone being too cool to object or protest. The atmosphere inside isn’t quite as I had anticipated; rather than the clamour that surrounded the announcement of the tour there’s a sense of expectance and entitlement rather than jittery disbelief of what is about to transpire, which admittedly flakes away somewhat for unbridled adulation as the band take the stage.

Jeff Mangum looks like he just this morning crawled out of the self-imposed-exile-from-the-public-eye that characterised him in the early 2000s, his lengthy grey facial hair far out-stripping the many checked-shirted competitors in attendance. Mangum slowly walks across the stage strumming the introduction to ‘King of Carrot Flowers Part 1’, and the band file-in behind.

‘…Part 2’ comes banjo-crawling over an impression of a cornfield, the audience break into a communal declaration of love for the undiluted idea of Christ, and two-dimensional hand-painted cardboard cut-out plants and flowers rise behind the band and out the pipes of the now ornamental wall-organ that makes up the back of the stage their inseminating stamens also sprouting out of the bells of the muted trumpet and French Horn, snaking their way up toward the sunlight dying behind the stained glass, and the Singing Saw’s ascending, whistling pitch of the impending ‘…Part 3’ propels us “Up and Over…” into the stratosphere. When it ends, burning up on re-entry they launch straight into the galloping ‘Holland 1945’.

Mangum presses his hands together as though to pray, bouncing them off his heart and out towards the audience with a humble shake of his grateful head, and gets respite from the ‘Aeroplane…’ by landing ‘On Avery Island’ for ’A Baby For Pree’ and ‘Gardenhead’, hushing the majority of us up for a few minutes. Julian Koster acts as the band’s mouthpiece, and speaks, dresses and behaves like a 15 year old, beautifully so, and after Mangum has sung himself into a potential heart attack during ‘Two Headed Boy’ and excused himself from the stage to exorcise the tightness in his chest, Koster regales us with half a joke about a man who has half an orange for a head. When Mangum abruptly returns Koster promises us “the other half later on”, which we never get, making this unforthcoming “other half” of a Two Headed joke a sort of a punchline in itself.

Our alternative Albert Hall repetitively combusts with imaginary confetti like the Last Night of the Indie Rock Proms, climaxing with the ineffable majestygasm of ‘(Untitled)’ and shudders and sighs through the laconic crescendo of ‘Two Headed Boy Part 2’ and ‘Engine’. Unlike their contemporaries’ re-treads of former glories, Neutral Milk Hotel in 2014 are still as incandescent a conduit for beauty as they were when they called it a day. They visibly and audibly enthuse at this music that has transcends adulation, criticism and even its creators, almost as much as we do.

I walk toward home through the Tuxedoed Lizards smoking E-Cigs outside the Midland and wonder if I’ll be unlucky enough to get on the bus ferrying the Curry Mile Hydra, my synapses still crackling with a Louisianan crackpot’s Anne Frank wank fantasy.

Please take a vote away from a racist today.

Setlist

The King of Carrot Flowers, Part One

The King of Carrot Flowers, Parts Two & Three

Holland, 1945

A Baby for Pree

Gardenhead

Everything Is

Two-Headed Boy

The Fool

In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

Naomi

Ferris Wheel on Fire

Oh Comely

Song Against Sex

Ruby Bulbs

Snow Song, Part One

(Encore)

Ghost

[untitled]

Two-Headed Boy, Part Two

Engine

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‘Children of God: Lost and Found’

“In the late 1960s, minister David Berg evangelized hippies and surfers in Huntington Beach, California. The middle-aged preacher, born in 1919, found young people receptive to his unusual message blending fundamentalist Christianity with liberal sexual ethics. As Berg’s followers grew, Berg dubbed them the “Children of God” in 1968. The name was changed to “Family of Love” in 1978 and later to its present “Family International,” often called “The Family” or TF…

…In 1974, Berg introduced a controversial conversion method called “Flirty Fishing” or “FFing.” Writer Stephen A. Kent observed that Berg advocated, “COG members practice recruitment and resource acquisition through sexual activities.” Berg urged females to become “hookers for Jesus.”…

…Some of Berg’s most alarming teachings appeared to condone pedophilia and incest. Mo Letters from the 1970s discuss a babysitter who masturbated and fellated Berg when he was only three years old. Berg asserted her actions did not do him “any harm.”…

Karen Zerby gave birth to a “Jesus Baby” in 1975. The product of FFing and stepson of David Berg was named David Moses Zerby. Later, his name was legally changed to Richard Peter Smith and still later to Richard Rodriguez. As a child, he was nicknamed “Davidito.”

Berg and Zerby believed Rick was a “divine prince,” destined to take over the ministry. Raised without hypocritical “System” sexual inhibitions, he would grow into a mighty religious leader.

In 1982, the Family International published a book entitled The Story of Davidito. It purports to be the story of his early childhood as told by one of his nannies. That nanny, Sara, writes that she hopes the rearing of Davidito will begin a “Childcare Revolution” and exclaims, “Thank You Jesus! A new example was set before us.” She writes that she and other nannies fellated Davidito to “clean” his penis. He was also allowed to watch adults having sex. Sara writes that readers learning about “Davidito’s sexy experiences” should “prayerfully” learn from them and “follow the Lord’s leadings.” The book is heavily illustrated with photographs, some of which show the boy and an adult woman cuddling, both naked

The Family came under renewed scrutiny in 2005 when Berg’s stepson Ricky Rodriguez murdered a member and then killed himself.”

The Sunday Song Poem #9 ‘Feeling Beside Myself’ Buddy Raye

Despite the papal canonisation today (broadcast in 3D to select cinemas and News channels, anyone catch that, did they have that swinging, incense lantern flying out atcha?), I feel like I should eschew the subject since I kind of already did the Holy Song Poem last Sunday. Not only that, but try as I might I couldn’t find a Song Poem for a Pope, which I find hard to believe having encountered a fair few about Richard Nixon, Elvis, Christopher Columbus, and Sexploitation actors turned male midwives. So instead I decided to just go straight for the crazy, literally in today’s case. – See more at: http://joup.co/sunday-song-poem-9-feeling-beside-buddy-raye/#sthash.UjekUZsG.dpuf

Transcript of Michael Stipe’s Nirvana Induction Speech at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Good evening. I’m Michael Stipe and I’m here to induct Nirvana into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

When an artist offers an idea, a perspective, it helps us all to see who we are. And it wakes up, and it pushes us forward towards our collective and individual potential. It makes us—each of us—able to see who we are more clearly. It’s progression and progressive movement. It’s the future staring us down in the present and saying, “C’mon, let’s get on with it. Here we are. Now.”

I embrace the use of the word “artist” rather than “musician” because the band Nirvana were artists in every sense of the word. It is the highest calling for an artist, as well as the greatest possible privilege to capture a moment, to find the zeitgeist, to expose our struggles, our aspirations, our desires. To embrace and define a period of time. That is my definition of an artist.

Nirvana captured lightning in a bottle. And now, per the dictionary—off the Internet—in defining “lightning in a bottle” as, “Capturing something powerful and elusive, and then being able to hold it and show it to the world.”

Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl were Nirvana. The legacy and the power of their defining moment has become, for us, indelible. Like my band, R.E.M., Nirvana came from a most unlikely place. Not a cultural city-center like London, San Francisco, Los Angeles, or even New York—or Brooklyn—but from Aberdeen, Washington in the Pacific Northwest, a largely blue-collar town just outside of Seattle.

Krist Novoselic said Nirvana came out of the American hardcore scene of the 1980’s—this was a true underground. It was punk rock, where the many bands or musical styles were eclectic. We were a product of a community of youth looking for a connection away from the mainstream. The community built structures outside of the corporate, governmental sphere, independent, and decentralized. Media connected through the copy machine, a decade before the Internet, as we know it, came to be. This was social networking with a face.

Dave Grohl said, “We were drop-outs, making minimum wage, listening to vinyl, emulating our heroes—Ian MacKaye, Little Richard—getting high, sleeping in vans, never expecting the world to notice.”

Solo artists almost have it easier than bands—bands are not easy. You find yourself in a group of people who rub each other the wrong way, and exactly the right way. And you have chemistry, zeitgeist, lightning in a bottle and a collective voice to help pinpoint a moment, to help understand what it is that we’re going through. You see this is about community and pushing ourselves. Nirvana tapped into a voice that was yearning to be heard.

Keep in mind the times: this was the late 80’s, early 90’s. America, the idea of a hopeful, democratic country, had been practically dismantled by Iran-Contra, by AIDS, by the Reagan/Bush Sr. administrations.

But with their music, their attitude, their voice, by acknowledging the political machinations of petty, but broad-reaching, political arguments, movements and positions that had held us culturally back, Nirvana blasted through all that with crystalline, nuclear rage and fury. Nirvana were kicking against the system, bringing complete disdain for the music industry, and their definition of corporate, mainstream America, to show a sweet and beautiful—but fed-up—fury, coupled with howling vulnerability.

Lyrically exposing our frailty, our frustrations, our shortcomings. Singing of retreat and acceptance over triumphs of an outsider community with such immense possibility, stymied or ignored, but not held down or held back by the stupidity and political pettiness of the times. They spoke truth, and a lot of people listened.

They picked up the mantle in that particular battle, but they were singular, and loud, and melodic, and deeply original. And that voice. That voice. Kurt, we miss you. I miss you.

Nirvana defined a moment, a movement for outsiders: for the fags, for the fat girls, for the broken toys, the shy nerds, the Goth kids from Tennessee and Kentucky, for the rockers and the awkward, for the fed-up, the too-smart kids and the bullied. We were a community, a generation—in Nirvana’s case, several generations—in the echo chamber of that collective howl, and Allen Ginsberg would have been very proud, here.

That moment and that voice reverberated into music and film, politics, a worldview, poetry, fashion, art, spiritualism, the beginning of the Internet, and so many fields in so many ways in our lives. This is not just pop music—this is something much greater than that.

These are a few artists who rub each other the wrong way, and exactly the right way, at the right time: Nirvana.