Saturday, June 30, 2007


3 nights ago, Calvin Johnson and Julie Doiron played at First Amendment (silkscreen/ design/ all sorts of awesome stuff place here in minneapolis).
they arrived at my house promptly, quietly, and EARLY (by rock tour standards); A. they loaded all their own shit into the house, and proceeded to unpack all of THEIR OWN FOOD. A+. amazing. Calvin then regaled me/ us with tales about NW rock (including stories about Greg Sage, which is, obviously, a current mild obsession of mine), and how to bring tens of thousands of cd's to the dump A+ / B- (as the second part made me sad).
with an incredible minimum of fuss, Julie took the couch (with the dog), and Calvin went and slept in the van (because he apparently has an aversion to dogs, and because after all these years, he is STILL PUNK.) A+. woke up early, made their own food, folded the sheets i'd given them, and Calvin sort of remembered how to play "Ponytail", so he showed me that; but the point is, when they left, the house was AS IF THEY HAD NEVER BEEN THERE; like that Zen "don't leave a ripple in the pond" thing that i can never remember right. Calvin even put away the salt and pepper, and cleaned toast crumbs off the counter.

all you touring rockers out there take note: THAT'S how you DO IT.

all in all, a spectacular performance: A+.

ok, actually i missed the show itself (Calvin does sing in the shower, loudly, so i caught that and it was pretty good...) but if it was anywhere as good as their houseguest manners, i totally missed out.

no but really; Calvin is an old pal (and, let's be frank, a total pinetop-- but in a good way.) and it's always great to see him (i hadn't met Julie Doiron before, but she was real nice too). but beyond that, i've started thinking in recent years that...Calvin's the real deal. not that he ever WASN'T (in fact--and this is something that really truly surprises me-- those Beat Happening records not only hold up incredibly well, as opposed to a lot of stuff from that era that i THOUGHT was fantastic at the time but now sort of mildly suck, they actually GET BETTER as time rolls on. put on Jamboree or Black Candy and see for yourself.), just that...things move and change, so does the world. and that's fine, but Calvin knows what he is, and what he does, and he has never stopped. and me, i find it all pretty awesome.
i mean, the last part of this tour (which he is doing BY TRAIN), Calvin is playing, you know; Minot ND. and Kalispell MT. no rock clubs, not even any AMPLIFIERS. he just goes into a room, people are there (sometimes a lot, sometimes not so many), and he's got his guitar and he sings his songs. la la la. no microphone, no nothing.
aside from the fact that this just takes a lot of balls, it' always, PUNK.
and Calvin's "punk" was never the mohawk/ crusty kind, it was always...weirder. he does 2-week acoustic tours of small towns in Oregon.
indie-rock or "punk" or whatever you call it is now as standardized as anything else; it's just a different "sound" than, say, adult alternative (but often not MUCH different). they play the same clubs, they sign with the same labels, etc etc. what Calvin does is, and never has been, that.
it's the honest- to -god REAL DEAL: the real "punk", which, to me, is that just because "the way things work" happens to be a semi- stupid, crass, and dehumanizing bunch of nonsense, that don't mean it's the only way. it just means you try to figure out a better way. and the dichotomy here (i learned that word by looking it up in the dictionary) is that it's no big deal and the biggest deal in the world at the same time. it's not wearing a Crass shirt and having a stupid haircut and beating your chest with righteous indignation, it's just getting on with what YOU do.
regardless of if it's cool or hip according to this weeks' barometer, or that it's "unmarketable" and economically stupid, or that it flies in the face of what you're "supposed" to do (i mean, you're supposed to play ROCK CLUBS, you know?). you just do your damn thing, and the innumerable people who will tell you you shouldn't can...go ride a bike (or fuck themselves, depending). i really don't know what "punk" is anymore, and i'm not sure i ever did, but i know that...sometimes little stuff is important.
the first time i heard Beat Happening, i HATED it. all i could think is "this is RETARDED. i HATE this."
and boy was i wrong. 20 years later, here we are.

hm. i actually did not mean to write that much.
ah well. go buy a record from K, or go see Calvin play. it'll be fun.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

MOCCA 2007

pushing aside all the other stuff i've been meaning to blog about but havn't yet ( i was informed by someone at the Sammy The Mouse release show--which you missed and it was a blast, thank you very much-- that he ACTUALLY READS this blog, which was wildly encouraging to me as far as keeping this thing going...) is the fact that this past weekend i attended MOCCA 2007 in new york city.
it was my 2nd time at this event, and i'll be damned if i dindn't take a total bath, $-wise: last year sucessfully cleared table and plane fare and made a couple hundred bucks on top of that, this year felt like i couldn't GIVE the damn books away. very strange.

as always with these kinds of things, though, saw some old pals ( such as the always great Mark Burrier, with whom i shared a table) and met some nice folks (such as Everett and Giaoia from the old-school fanzine Mineshaft, which you should check out). it wasn't a total bust.

also did signings for my new Sammy The Mouse book ( which Fantagraphics sold out of, thanks very much...). pictured here is me with nice fellow/ comedic genius Michael Kupperman (if you havn't seen the work Michael drew for the recent Satuday Night Live/ TV Funhouse clip "Big-Boobed Einstien", you need to check it out on youtube or whatever that thing is...pretty damn funny) of Snake N' Bacon/ Tales Designed to Thrizzle fame at the Fantagraphics signing table.

notice that he is signing things and i am not.

2nd day was with cartoonist/ writer Paul Karasik who put together the astounding new collection of Fletcher Hanks' comic work "I Shall Destroy All Civilized Planets!". holy crap is it great.
and, for those of you wondering, Jason Miles' "Dead Ringer" was NOT completed in time for MOCCA. why? because it wasn't ready yet.
when will it be ready?
(...all together now) WHEN IT IS DONE.

remember that i love you all,