Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Birth of the 45rpm Record

Benatar's Birthday.
Hell is for Children

They cry in the dark, so you can't see their tears
They hide in the light, so you can't see their fears
Forgive and forget, all the while
Love and pain become one and the same
In the eyes of a wounded child
Because Hell
Hell Is For Children
And you know that their little lives can become such a mess
Hell Is For Children
And you shouldn't have to pay for your love with your bones and your flesh

It's all so confusing, this brutal abusing
They blacken your eyes, and then apologize
Be daddy's good girl, and don't tell mommy a thing
Be a good little boy, and you'll get a new toy
Tell grandma you fell off the swing

Because Hell
Hell Is For Children
And you know that their little lives can become such a mess
Hell Is For Children
And you shouldn't have to pay for your love with your bones and your flesh

No, Hell Is For Children

Hell is for Hell
Hell is for Hell
Hell Is For Children

Hell is for Hell
Hell is for Hell
Hell Is For Children

Hell is for Hell
Hell is for Hell
Hell Is For Children

Hell Is For Children
Hell Is For Children

Queen v Fritz Lang
Metropolis 1927

Get your passport updated!
London, 15 Feb 2009

Thursday, January 08, 2009


Happy-fucking-birthday, Elvis!
Here's how it's done!

Make no mistake:
I'd rather be ...

This Day in History|1974
Loch Ness Monster Photographed!

Three Words: Sinead. Troy. Live.

News of the World|1977

Moon|12th House



Voices: David Bowie, Elvis Presley, and journalist Charles Osgood (yes, he counts! He is a voice as important and distinct as singers.)

A "silenced" voice on this date, who has probably produced more "work" on humanity and the universe is Stephen Hawkings.

So in some manner, this 4sum of gentlemen are all related on two levels this day: not only is the birthday of each, your individual voices were not only your gift but your "talent" from some planetary alignment?

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Caribou 1974

In June Elton John signed what was reported to be the most lucrative contract ever negotiated by a recording artist. MCA, the record company involved, commemorated the event with full page ads in both The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. The latter paper followed up with a story headlining Elton as "The $8 Million Man," eight million being the sum thought to be guaranteed John as royalties on his next half-dozen albums.

The magnitude of the deal was obviously inspired by the great success of Elton's previous albums. Virtually all have sold one million units, an achievement which would enable him, if he wished, to coast laxly through the next few years; but there is nothing to indicate that anyone expects him to be resting on his laurels. On the contrary, everything about the contract's announcement suggests that both parties are looking forward to even greater things from Elton John: the flowering of his art, as it were.

In effect he and his writing partner, Bernie Taupin, have been given their heads to follow whatever direction they choose. It is a luxurious imprimatur on top of the one already accorded by giant sales, and it must seem to them an ultimate declaration that what they have been doing has been "right," that by following their instincts they can do no wrong.

What John and Taupin have excelled at is the assembling of commercial sounds. Their recorded creations have been carefully constructed pop artifacts, the end product of controlled experiments in which element is added to element, a process more akin to making objects than to making music. Whatever's trendy is sure to catch their attention and find its way into their mix. They take pride in being on top of things, in writing the first astronaut single, in fashioning the definitive nostalgia hook, in marketing the timely eulogy to Marilyn. Elton John makes records in the same manner as he puts together his wardrobe and choreographs his concerts. Often what he mistakes for style is simply next month's bad taste, but discrimination does not really concern him. It needn't matter if something's grotesque; what's important is that it's new. Elton is an impresario of stance, a maestro who has presented a series of attractive aural surfaces. The trouble with surface is that it wears thin.

Caribou is not wearying in the same way as would be an album whose makers were bored with their work. Caribou is dispiriting because it "logically" extends Elton's weak strengths and strong weaknesses, the superficial powers that have taken him so far. The thin roots that kept him in touch with an organically nourishing topsoil have been sundered and at last he's on his own, fulfilling his weird hybrid nature in a self-designed hothouse where nothing but lurid display is valued.

Nearly every song on Caribou suffers from a blithe lack of focus, an almost arrogant disregard of the need to establish context or purpose. It's as if Elton and his band are so convinced of their own inherent inspiration they no longer feel the need to establish coherent moods. Shifting from sentimental to heavy to mocking, they not only fail to touch all bases but undercut what credence they might possibly have achieved.

From the first track the album displays a strange overkill which simultaneously introduces many production elements and then buries them under one another. The opener, "The Bitch Is Back," is the slickest and strongest cut on Caribou, but it lacks real punch. The combined forces of Clydie & Sherlie & Jessie & Dusty and the Tower Of Power horn section fail to get this putdown-celebration of a certain sort of social pariah-piranha off the ground. And from there, it's all downhill.

"Pinky" is a love song set to a jerky syncopated melody, an ungainly tune that easily wins its battle against the words.

"Grimsby," with tripping tempo and ricky-tik riffs, may or may not be a comic song, but the overall feel is flaccid.

"Dixie Lily," a tribute to a riverboat sung by a citizen of the swamps, achieves a level of cultural assimilation comparable to that reached by "Bobbies on bicycles two by two."

"Solar Prestige a Gammon," an Italianate nonsense song, demonstrates the stiffness which plagues Elton even in his humor.

"You're So Static," a sort of revamped "Honky Tonk Women," wanders between facetiousness and heavy metal.

"I've Seen the Saucers," someone's wistful wish to be taken away from mundanity deus ex machina, is made irrelevant by last-minute, out-of-context science fiction sounds meant to be taken seriously.

The overlong "Stinker" convincingly proves Elton John is not a soul singer.

The centerpiece fiasco, however, is the melodramatic seven-and-a-half-minute finale, "Ticking," which fails not through musical ambiguity but from an appalling combination of simplemindedness, over-reaching and opportunism in the material itself. All alone at the piano (with a synthesizer adding tension), Elton "simply" unfolds this maudlin tale of a young man from a repressive background who goes berserk in a New York bar and shoots 14 people. Victim of society and a Catholic upbringing, he is a reluctant psychopath ("Promising to hurt no one, providing they were still") and when at last the fellow snaps and starts shooting, it is "with tear-filled eyes." The killings are dispensed with in half a phrase, their only apparent significance to set into motion the vindictive forces which for some reason are determined to exterminate this peculiar hero. In the presence of "the media machine" the understood murderer is cut down while surrendering, and he poetically expires in one-stanza slow-motion "on the vengeance of the law." Only in America. Queens, no less.

This selection ends, as do nearly half of the album's ten tracks, in an extended and pretentious synthesized drone. Each use of this device underscores not the intended emotion but, instead, the aridity of what has been, for one reason or another, a startlingly empty experience.

Illustration|Ian Beck
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road 1973

I've Seen the Saucers|1973

Tune in, wouldn't it be something
Rumours spreading into panic
I've seen movements in the clearing
Someone sent you something satanic

I have to leave you, radar's calling
Outside somebody landed
Crazy wavelengths leave you helpless
Oh don't forget me I'm so stranded

I wouldn't fool you but I've seen the saucers
So many times I'm almost in tune
Watching them flying in formation
Thinking how I could be so immune

I've seen them I've been there with them
I can tell you all you want to know
Something touched me and I was only sleeping
Wouldn't you, wouldn't you like to go

Stars climbing into their planets
Systems won, controlled from birth
Empty living on this highway
Can you see me mother earth

It's so endless whirling onwards
Wonder what's cooking at home tonight
Maybe if I promise not to say a word
They can get me back before the morning lightxk

"Dear John"
Elton John

I got home today
Took a look around
Trying to find that girl of mine
She could not be found

All her things were gone
She just left a note
It don't take no mastermind
To figure what she wrote

And she said dear John I'm moving on
By this time I'm gonna be long gone
Dear John c'est la vie
Dear John so long
You've seen the last of me

I don't want her back
I won't even try
This time ain't just au revoir
This time it's goodbye

We could not go on
Living like we were
I was just about to write
A Dear John note to her

I was gonna say
Dear John I'm moving on
By this time I'm gonna be long gone
Dear John c'est la vie
Dear John so long
You've seen the last of me

"Dear John..."

Do you want me? Should I leave?

I'll remember it
And Dublin in a rainstorm
And sitting in the long grass in summer
Keeping warm
I'll remember it
Every restless night
We were so young then
We thought that everything
We could possibly do was right
Then we moved
Stolen from our very eyes
And I wondered where you went to
Tell me when did the light die
You will rise
You'll return
The phoenix from the flame
You will learn
You will rise
You'll return
Being what you are
There is no other Troy
For you to burn
And I never meant to hurt you
I swear I didn't mean
Those things I said
I never meant to do that to you
Next time I'll keep my hands to myself instead
Oh, does she love you
What do you want to do?
Does she need you like I do?
Do you love her?
Is she good for you?
Does she hold you like I do?
Do you want me?
Should I leave?
I know you're always telling me
That you love me
Just sometimes I wonder
If I should believe
Oh, I love you
God, I love you
I'd kill a dragon for you
I'll die
But I will rise
And I will return
The Phoenix from the flame
I have learned
I will rise
And you'll see me return
Being what I am
There is no other Troy
For me to burn
And you should've left the light on
You should've left the light on
Then I wouldn't have tried
And you'd never have known
And I wouldn't have pulled you tighter
No I wouldn't have pulled you close
I wouldn't have screamed
No I can't let you go
And the door wasn't closed
No I wouldn't have pulled you to me
No I wouldn't have kissed your face

You wouldn't have begged me to hold you
If we hadn't been there in the first place

Ah but I know you wanted me to be there oh oh
Every look that you threw told me so
But you should've left the light on
You should've left the light on
And the flames burned away
But you're still spitting fire
Make no difference what you say
You're still a liar
You're still a liar
You're still a lawyer

Vault|October 1979


That's Newhouse in the background, mid-left. That's a Canadian Winter Olympic (lens cap is on) black model of the Canon AE-1, and yes, you do see three black plastic film canisters taped to the camera strap.

And that is me.

Photograph © Betsy D.C.

Obama Gothic 2008

Mercury in the 8th thru early March

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Stop the presses: Oprah's Weight.

Right. There's nothing of substance going on in the world that CNN and Larry King have to pull together all the Queen's horses and all the Queen's men who keep Oprah from, well, banality.

Troops won't get Purple Heart
for PTSD

By Mike Mount
CNN Senior Pentagon Producer

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Purple Heart medal, awarded to service members who have been physically wounded in combat, will not be given for a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder, a Pentagon statement said.

Soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder will not receive the Purple Heart, the Pentagon says.

The decision, which was made in early November but just made public this week, came after months of deliberations sparked by a question on the topic posed to Defense Secretary Robert Gates during a Pentagon briefing in May.

"PTSD is an anxiety disorder caused by witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event; it is not a wound intentionally caused by the enemy from an 'outside force or agent' but is a secondary effect caused by witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event," the statement continued.

The Defense Department statement noted that historically, Purple Heart designations are awarded for bodily injuries from "an outside force or agent," which is considered an objective standard. It also cited other Purple Heart award criteria and 76 years of precedent as other factors in deciding when to bestow the honor. The medal has never been awarded for psychological conditions, it said.

Currently, the department explained, PTSD is not diagnosed "as objectively or routinely" as would be required for the award.

The Pentagon did leave the door open to awarding the medal to those with combat-related PTSD in the future, saying, "advancements in medical science may support future re-evaluation."

Monday, January 05, 2009

The Definition of Edge.

Bryan Singer.


You won't wake up happy.

And that's if you can get to sleep in the first place, without the aid of psychopharmaceuticals.


That's red?

Well, it's not exactly red but it's
almost, maybe, in the same family.

The same family? They're not even
distant cousins already.

It's a red. Not a red red, but a

Red? You're telling me this is a

Yeah. I'm telling. It's a red.

Then what's orange? If this is a
red I want to know what's orange.

Get the razorblades out...

Sunday, January 04, 2009