Monday, February 27, 2012

Lolita Bar (with David Friedman), W’burg (with Eddie Vedder), and talking pictures

•It’s OK to wax nostalgic about silent films (and give The Artist Oscars), but Dan Greenberg notes that musicians, frightened (like typical little sissy labor union members) by the advent of talkies eight decades ago, tried to kill movies with sound in the crib – out of fear that theatres would no longer need live musicians.  Behold the Smithsonian’s look back at the (ironically sci-fi-like) propaganda deployed against the robotic menace of recorded music!

They feared the day would come when there were no musicians at all and music was made by machines.  In short – they knew the score!  (Ha!  Get it?)

•And if all that seems like irrelevant, ancient history, Kevin Walsh points out that Golden Earring was founded (in the Hague) fifty-one years ago.  That’s right, the band that did “Radar Love” and “Twilight Zone” not so terribly long ago has existed for over half a century (one year longer than the notoriously-old Rolling Stones).

•But exactly one week from now, we look to the future – with DAVID FRIEDMAN! 

Yes, the famed anarcho-capitalist economist (son of Milton, father of Patri) will give a talk (hosted by me) on the subject “Global Warming and Other Good Things in Our Future.”  Join us and a bevvy of libertarian and anarchist wisdom-seekers – not to mention ordinary folk in search of hope: LOLITA BAR (basement level, 266 Broome St. at the corner of Allen St., one block south of Delancey St. on the Lower East Side), Monday, March 5 (9pm).  One week!

•Of course, the plan is to start a whole new (unrelated) series of bar talks/events in Williamsburg shortly – and as a reminder that spending time there is liable to make me feel old, I recently had the blissful yet disconcerting experience of discovering that DuMont Burger on Bedford Ave. serves a (real!) bacon and bourbon milkshake (you read that right). 

That’s the bliss part – but what was disconcerting was asking the hip young bartender the name of the singer we could hear playing, to which she responded, clearly unfamiliar with the name: “Eddie Vee-der??”

Despite aging a decade or two on the spot, I survived to track down the song online.  Turns out Vedder’s memories of songs like Indio’s catchy “Hard Sun” from two decades ago must be as positive as my own, since he recently did this cover version.  Makes sense: not only are the two acts from the same era, the song has a Vedder-like plodding quality – but I love it. 

•There was a brief period – during which I was lucky enough to be in the vicinity of the radio station WBRU near Brown – when “cutting edge” was the tentative term for all the grungey, postpunk, etc. stuff percolating just outside the mainstream in between New Wave and the later grunge explosion.  Lots of wonderful stuff vanished down that less-easily-branded memory hole, if I do say so myself. 

The aforementioned 1988 Indio song is forever batched in my mind, for instance, close to House of Freaks’ catchy “Sun Gone Down” (1989).  Sadly, the singing half of the band, Bryan Harvey, was murdered along with his wife and two daughters in 2006, with the killers later caught, one executed and one sentenced to life in prison.

Far goofier but batched with them in my mind nonetheless is That Petrol Emotion’s “Hey Venus” (1990).  And there are thousands more where those came from.  But maybe tomorrow some Williamsburg songs are in order.

•A fine musician in her own right, Jessica Eisenberg informs me of this other Williamsburg establishment, which might also be a suitable venue for bacon and bourbon shakes, at least given the name.  Maybe going there would be a good way to compensate for my failure to get tickets to Kraftwerk, ja?  No, that would be sick and wrong. 

And as a lecture I heard at NYU about a decade ago noted, Germany’s New Wave music probably dealt more maturely and thoughtfully with the threat of the police state than any other nation’s New Wave music.  For what that’s worth.  

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