twiggy girls (1977)

The 1960s – Two teenagers take fate into their own hands and become the ultimate fashion victims in this existential folie a deux starring Donna Modrowski and Michael Onesko. Story by Michael Onesko, original score by Mark Winner, directed by Dan Winner, voiceover by Linda Snelton, assisted by Germain Modrowski, Karen Winner and Connie Karabatsos. Shown at The Women’s Film Forum of Chicago, 1977.

lamenting the friend zone, or: the “nice guy” approach to perpetrating sexist bullshit

“If you don’t care enough about someone to enjoy their company and respect their decisions when sex is off the table, then that person is right not to sleep with you, because enjoying someone’s company and respecting their decisions is pretty much how sex gets on the table to start with.”

shattersnipe: malcontent & rainbows

Everyone’s heard of friendzoning – even if they don’t know the word, they sure as hell know the concept. It’s what happens time and again to unfortunate Nice Guys who, despite being nothing but sugar and spice to the girls they love, are nonetheless denied the sexual relationships they so obviously deserve and are instead treated like platonic equals – a terrible, unfair fate spawned by the dark side of feminism.

And if you thought even part of that statement was correct, Imma stop you right there.

To borrow the succinct, nail-head-hitting phraseology of one hexjackal*:

Friendzoning is bullshit because girls are not machines that you put Kindness Coins into until sex falls out.

Dear Hypothetical Interlocutor whose hackles just bristled with the unfairness of that statement; who thinks that girls can be in the Friend Zone, too, and that therefore this point is both invalid and reverse-sexist into…

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sons of kemet – beware/inner babylon

Hailing from the shadowy world of the London post-jazz scene, the incandescent Sons of Kemet are saxist/clarinetist Shabaka Hutchings, tuba virtuoso Oren Marshall, and the stunning double-drums team of Tom Skinner and Seb Rochford, powering a mix of dancefloor hooks and New Orleans street music with the percussive intricacy of west African drum music, a dose of Caribbean dub, and free jazz.

on a “deaf safari” with felix laband

Watch Felix Laband’s brilliant set at the 2015 Cape Town Electronic Music Festival on 8 February (click the hyperlink – the darn embed function doesn’t seem to work properly on WordPress).

Felix opens this particular “Deaf Safari” with a dodgy old recording (that I think I actually gave him!), of Marais and Miranda entertaining a frightfully colonial white 1950s audience with their “knowledge” of “Hottentot” and “Zooloo” linguistics. With a subversive stammer, it segues into an hour-long journey of cut-up sounds and visuals.

Laband displays fluent familiarity with and yet alienation from spectacular capitalist consumer tropes. The oversaturated bricolage of radio preachers, politicians, porn, pulp cinema, big game and exoticised cultural representations is absurd and defaced: eyeless, toothless, festering with skulls. Sound and visuals work in counterpoint: horny assemblages dripping blood and infection; a snatch of Cat Power’s languid “Satisfaction”. His work foregrounds our mindless addiction to and manipulation by these fragments bouncing off the walls onto one another, their banality dismembered, dislocated, demented, discordant, decaying.

A voice in Queen’s English: “I was wondering what it is that you don’t want to remember so badly… To put it another way, what are you trying to forget?”

The response, implied in the guitar run sampled from Nico’s “These Days”: “Please don’t confront me with my failures… I had not forgotten them.”

Felix forces us to examine ourselves honestly. This I love most deeply about what he does: he will not allow us to forget, nor feign ignorance. There are naive melodies, but there is no innocence, no deafness nor blindness. We are taken through his cabinet of jabbering apparitions, racist, patriarchal horror haunting every suburban corner, lullabies, toyi-toyi chants… The valley of the shadow of death… We are not tourists. This is our own back yard. We stare the nightmares down, bopping in slo-mo. The voices persist, demand acknowledgement until they dissolve. It’s a kind of exorcism.

And beyond that, always, despite all the schizophrenic folly and sadness, hope and jubilation live on in the unfinished refrains of blues ghosts captured long ago on wax… Vera Hall, Stack O’Lee, prisoners and murderers alike now free… and there is space to breathe, place to be here now, without judgement… we are bathed in grace and exquisite melody.  This is strong muti for South Africans’ sickness.

deaf safari

Collage: Felix Laband

I can’t wait for his new album, and I highly recommend that you see him live if you get the chance: he’s on form like never before and it’s a profound trip.

P.S. Read Sean O’Toole’s great interview piece for Mahala on Felix’s return (his new album, Deaf Safari, is set for release next month, after an almost decade-long gestation).

arundhati roy on living well


Photo: Jean-Baptiste Labrune, 2010

“The only dream worth having is to dream that you will live while you are alive, and die only when you are dead. To love, to be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and vulgar disparity of the life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.”

― Arundhati Roy

shut up and bleed

Teenage Jesus and the Jerks/ Beirut Slump – Shut Up and Bleed (Atavistic, 2008)

Review of this compilation by Jordan N. Mamone from Dusted:

Forget what you may already know about Lydia Lunch. Ignore her vitriolic spoken-word performances; her bellicosely feminist writing; her vampy S&M fashion sense; her associations with renegade alpha males Nick Cave and Jim “Foetus” Thirlwell; her orgasmic moans on Sonic Youth’s “Death Valley ’69”; her erotically grizzly romps in the campy-creepy films of Richard Kern; her futile sparring with idiot comedian Joe Rogan. Purge from your mind her queen-size intellect and ego. Erase the subsequent mass-market co-opting of her prescient obsessions: serial murderers, Southern Gothic literature, rape, insanity, proto-Riot Grrl solidarity, buckets of black eyeliner (hardly shocking stuff today, but terra incognita when Lunch was loudly and proudly milking them in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s).

From a purely musical perspective, it’s the woman’s first two bands, the violently minimalist Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, and the monstrously damaged Beirut Slump, that are her most important accomplishments. And to appreciate them properly, it’s necessary to sever them from their creator’s reputation and to listen to them on their own terms. As a handy compendium of both groups’ slim discographies plus previously unreleased live goods, the excellently titled Shut Up and Bleed allows you to do just that.

Rewind to 1976: An alienated 16-year-old girl named Lydia Koch runs away to Manhattan from Rochester, N.Y. Months later, she stumbles upon a quartet called Mars, whose cataclysm of amateurish dissonance, art-world conceptualism, and primitive rock physicality borrows punk’s urgent thrust while negating the whole equation. Journalists will label this style “no wave.” Smitten, the youngster swoons over the rumpus, which she then personalizes to suit her particular strain of jailbait hostility. Christened Lydia Lunch, she steers Teenage Jesus through 10-minute sets comprised of minute-long songs that pivot around her screeching, electric slide guitar and deviant percussionist Bradley Field’s stiff, staccato thuds on a single snare and cymbal. Their rudimentary, machine-gun approach is undeniably provocative. Who could resist a lascivious high-school vixen yelping about boredom and torture, flanked by a pair of addled weirdos-turned-trained monkeys? In 1978, superstar producer Brian Eno gives Teenage Jesus a coveted slot on the landmark, scene-baptizing No New York LP.

Three decades elapse: Thurston Moore and Byron Coley are nicely summarizing downtown’s sordid past in their luxurious No Wave photography book, which might as well be a love letter to Ms. Lunch. In June 2008, the Jerks herald the tome’s publication and play their sole gig since 1979. The context of this one-shot semi-reunion is quite bizarre: a fleeting, self-destructive epoch re-examined as revered fodder for galleries and coffee-table editions. But onstage at the Knitting Factory, the trio – with its former bassist Jim Sclavunos on drums, and Moore filling in on bass – sounds invigoratingly strident, brusque and, dare it be said, entertaining. Lunch, who’s pushing 50, sticks her tongue out, curses the audience, and barks the lyrics to “Baby Doll” and “Orphans” in a hoarse, jaded snarl that has deepened considerably from perpetual wear and tear. Looser and less aloof than they were in their prime (check the clip from Lydia’s career-spanning Video Hysterie: 1978-2006 DVD on Atavistic), the Jerks still decimate the majority of noise-crud that currently pollutes the local club circuit. This means you, No Fun Fest.

teenage jesus

And so it’s no surprise that the material collected on Shut Up and Bleed stands as tall as Yao Ming in platform shoes. Time has eroded much of the initial inaccessibility of barbed stomps such as “Crown of Thorns,” leaving behind a deliciously nihilistic, psycho-cheerleader cha-cha. Lunch is a criminally underrated instrumentalist: Heed the drill-bit whinnies that scar “Red Alert” and the ascending, jet-engine whoosh of “Freud in Flop.” Substantially improving on the 1995 Teenage Jesus retrospective Everything, the new CD affixes decent, if scruffy, archival bonuses (but omits a killer take of “Race Mixing”) and wisely restores many, if not all the tunes to their original aural luster. (Thirlwell had frustratingly “reprocessed” the Jerks’ master tapes in the 1980s, adding gobs of strength-sapping reverb.)

Interspersed throughout the track listing are the complete recorded works of Beirut Slump, an obscure quintet that lurked in the shadows during Teenage Jesus’s final phases. For this unruly combo, Lunch steps aside to concentrate on her trebly, nightmare-surf strumming and assigns the vocals to Bobby “Berkowitz” Swope, a migrant from Florida’s Eckerd College who sings like a nauseous, homosexual Frankenstein menacing you with an ice pick. Vivienne Dick’s B-movie organ disfigures the Doors into a bad-acid freak show; Sclavunos and bassist Liz Swope’s sluggish tempos anticipate the cruel plod of early Swans. Whereas the Jerks’ momentous blurts now come across as abusively catchy, Slump’s frazzled “Staircase” and utterly revulsed “See Pretty” continue to pry open some ghastly portal to hell. A wealth of perverse pleasure awaits anyone brazen enough to peer in and gawk.

Teenage Jesus And The Jerks:
Lydia Lunch, guitar, vocals
Gordon Stevenson, bass
Bradley Field, drums
Kawashima Akiyoshi “Reck”, bass (Tracks 4, 5, 15, 26, 28)

Beirut Slump:
Bobby ‘Berkowitz’ Swope, violin, vocals
Lydia Lunch, guitar, vocals
Vivienne Dick, organ
Liz Swope, bass
Jim Sclavunos, drums

life does not die. art does not die. joburg will not die. a tribute to the life of lesley perkes @LesPersonas

Life does not die. From Lesley's 'The Troyeville Bedtime Story' Tumblr.

Life does not die. From Lesley’s ‘The Troyeville Bedtime Story’ Tumblr.

Lesley Perkes, Joburg’s and Art’s fiercest warrior, has left Troyeville. In the only way she ever would.

But life does not die. Art does not die. And Lesley’s art and life certainly never will. And Joburg never will; because Lesley would never let it. All we can do is continue her work, her energy, her passion, her life, her chutzpah.

When I messaged her after hearing about the cancer and told her I was devastated, she responded: “Don’t be devastated. I’m going to be fine.” Her strength, humour, indefatigable idealistic realism and feistiness implore us to respond to this in the same spirit.

Sleep well, Lesley. You are the Troyeville Bedtime Story, and we will read you like all good oral traditions to generations to come.

Much love to you, Les,
to Chili, Marta, Sonja, the sisters, the Joburg family

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 09.12.27


Pink brain blues

Sarah Ditum

Blue brain, pink brain – a graphic from My Life: I am Leo Blue brain, pink brain – a graphic from My Life: I Am Leo

My girl is eight years old. She is clever and kind and tall and strong and funny and stubborn and beautiful – well of course I think all of these things, because she’s my daughter and I love her. “Am I girly-girl or a tomboy?” she asks sometimes, and I can never tell from the way she asks which of them she wants to be: she knows that to be a girly-girl is to belong (she has learned from experience that getting “girly” right will be rewarded and protect her from certain kinds of sanction), but she knows too that “boy” things are laudable and tomboyishness has a cachet that girliness does not. Anyway, the answer is always the same: “You’re you, darling. Whatever you like is right for you.” With her long treacle-coloured hair and…

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debbie pryor – sometimes the day

Sometimes the day
just caves in on you
like you were porous
made of sand

you woke
steady as rock
you showered
you dressed
you stared off into the distance
whilst the coffee sipped your sleepiness

you dropped the kids
at school
you weaved from this lane
to that
hoping to escape
the modern day slow moving
tragedy of traffic

but you were forced to sit
in your luxurious alcove
where your miserly wits look out
at the others
in theirs
the place where eyes

and then I saw him
I don’t know him well
but i do know
that his baby died
long before he was five

and there he was
sitting like all others
obedient in their lanes
abiding by the rules
of another day

nobody would know by looking
what he has had taken away

So the day caves in on you
like you were made of dust
because no amount of tears
or empathy
can fill some holes
in those around us.

matthew 6: 22 – 34

The Lamp of the Body

22“The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light. 23But if your eye is evil, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

24“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You can’t serve both God and Mammon.

Do Not Worry

25Therefore, I tell you, don’t be anxious for your life: what you will eat, or what you will drink; nor yet for your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26See the birds of the sky, that they don’t sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns. Your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you of much more value than they?27“Which of you, by being anxious, can add one moment to his lifespan? 28Why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They don’t toil, neither do they spin, 29yet I tell you that even Solomon in all his glory was not dressed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today exists, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, won’t he much more clothe you, you of little faith? 31“Therefore don’t be anxious, saying, ‘What will we eat?’, ‘What will we drink?’ or, ‘With what will we be clothed?’ 32For the Gentiles seek after all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33But seek first God’s Kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well.

34Therefore don’t be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Each day’s own evil is sufficient.”

a year since phillip seymour hoffman’s death: addiction & #againststigma

It’s been a year, on the 5th February, that Phillip Seymour Hoffman and a friend of mine succumbed to addiction. A reminder of the continuous fight #againststigma

Here is the piece I wrote a year ago, more pertinent with each passing day:

And here is the call to action to join the fight #againststigma. Please join me.

terribly real

-- Emilie Autumn, "The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls".

— Emilie Autumn, “The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls”.

“Studies show:
Intelligent girls are more depressed
Because they know
What the world is really like
Don’t think for a beat it makes it better
When you sit her down and tell her
Everything’s gonna be all right
She knows in society she either is
A devil or an angel with no in-between
She speaks in the third person
So she can forget that she’s me.”