Friday, September 27, 2013

The Rooster King

Jay  Hopler's poem The Rooster King seems at first like a paean to the good sport of chicken righting, but one detects an increasing exaggeration of the terms until a certain falseness of claim is exposed. In the early lines, one is attracted to the cocksure bravado of Hopler's language and quickly appreciates the parody of athletic boasting and promotion that has long made professional sports just a much a matter of running one's mouth as it is with the combined assets of agility, speed, instinct, and determination. One might imagine this as an old forties Warner Brothers barnyard cartoon featuring a caricature of Muhammad Ali strutting around in the background amid the rain barrels and the hens while a Don King lookalike flaps his wings (if not his gums) about the legend and good graces of his man rooster, The Rooster King.Hopler seems to have absorbed his Ring Lardner and Damon Runyon, as well as the more recent waxing about boxers by the late Norman Mailer and Joyce Carole Oates, as his writing has a high, cultivated lift to it's boasting, the myth-making that wants to convert something that is merely a few suppressed coughs from being mere thuggery and criminal enterprise into a tale of heroism, reaching the implied conclusion that some poor, hapless soul--or rooster--has had their character in the fires of tribulation and has made their brute aggression and ability to ignore pain into an art.

Like a cut throat and doesn't

………………………………….............Bleed. And when he bleeds,
He bleeds whiskey—Fighting Cock: 103-proof Kentucky Straight
Bourbon—the light of the world.
The light of the world:

Ruined. Magnificent; ferocious, gorgeous—
So what? You think he's afraid of fire? He wasn't born; he was forged.
He's the napalm love letter, the sweetheart
Carpet bomb, the 1967 Pontiac

With a straight-6, single-barrel
Boot in the face. No ram unto
The shackle, this bantam assassin, his death-red hackles flaring like a funeral pyre.

He's the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Wound 'round with barbed wire, the crucified
Christ tattooed on the back of a contract killer.
It's argued that the poem is a play on the sufferings of Jesus, but Hopler's intentions are grittier, I think. The pain and suffering of Christ on the cross is a plausible scenario, but Hopler intended a narrower reference, I think. The gospel accounts of his death are not all that reliable as an accurate historical record, with the elaborations of his story purposefully elevating the tale to sanctified mythology that demands that we regard Christ as a man of destiny fated with enacting an absurdly convoluted Plan to make humankind worthy of God's love. All things considered, I suspect the actual Jesus had as much choice as anyone else had when confronted with a situation as to flee from danger or face his accusers. The boxing analogy is apter, I think, and even a gladiator comparison is a closer fit to the level of metaphor Hopler is successfully attempting. Roosters, being animals with only instinct to push their actions, have no choice but to battle; boxers, the poor men who try to make a living with their fists in some vague hope of achieving, have no choice but to battle because brawn was their only resource. What I read Hopler as doing is deconstructing the layers of heroic mythic association on the idea of brutal spectacle being somehow honorable and necessary for the social and political cohesion of the populace by applying the meme to an absurd example, a battling rooster. For all the fanfare the pitchman can muster, it never eludes us, not for a second, that what he's extolling is a bloody, awful event. The attempt to graft a grand narrative to the cockfighting exposes the lie of battling skill and that more often than not the results are determined not with skill or guile or flashes of pugnacious brilliance, but rather with raw, unforgiving, unyielding. He who is bigger, stronger, faster wins the fracas.

Hopler does a sweet balancing act here between heaping on the hyperbole and maintaining a straight face as he ramps the praise and the qualifications meant to soften the audience's perception of the frenzied, gouging agony before them. Each stab, peck, talon rip and snap is valorized, connected by association to great battles, hero's funerals, the spirit of invention that forges raw steel into classic automobiles; the declarations become precarious and unsustainable if questioned an iota. One only turns up the volume of the pitchman's incantation and seeks to enter into the illusion that the banal bit of fatal sport betting is a History in the Making. Hopler understands it seems, the vanity the pitchman is speaking to. The rhetoric, though, isn't for the nominally honored Rooster King, nor does it have anything to do with the skills or extraordinary qualities the toastmaster makes claim for; rather, the tale-telling and accumulating myth-making are for the audience's sake, a sales pitch voiced in such a way that it dually obscures the meanness of the activity and creates the illusion that the creature is there, prepared for combat, by some manner of free choice. It's a rhetorical zone that is impermeable to logic, and it is banter that is kept up without pause, to concoct a dramatic narrative over the bare facts of the situation--that these birds, and the analogous boxers they're standing in for, have no choice in whether they fight or not. Whether through the repetitive causation of murderous behavior modification, or the grim forces of economic survival, the fighting, the killing has nothing to do with glory, legend or principles: the goal is for one of the combatants to not ring the arena alive.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The sky is falling again!

Mary Beth Williams of Salon is fretting about fashions based on gangsta rap imagery are being marketed to white people. People at Salon like to  sweat the chump change that comes our way.

At this late date I doubt that it's required that a soft-boiled culture critic inform white people that they are not "straight outta Compton." It seems that the issue of wiggerism , the appropriation  of hip hop style by white teens in an effort to gather unto themselves a vestige of an elusive and ephemeral "hipness" and unearned street cred has been made discussed and mocked incessantly; it is a dead issue, I think.

There is a long, long, long history of  white America stealing the art and culture of black America, a problematic dynamic that reveals the underlying disorder of racism that the diminishing ruling class cannot let go of , but as well has energized and continues to energize popular culture to the degree that a certain kind of bi-cultural transcendence happens, in the art that results if not in the righteous reconciliation of the races. 

This issue, though, has less to do with racism than it does with the exploitation of a marketable style;  surely no one who has witnessed hip hop/rap/rhythm and blues venture from the margins of alternative culture, the street level experimentalist of urban life and enter the mainstream in full embrace of the corporations and consumes cannot b be shocked or offended, really, by the fact that the symbols of black  art wind up on fashion designs aimed for a privileged white audience, a demographic with money to spend on the latest pricy artifact of what used to be provocative.

 It's not about race or racism , it's about buying into an image that is manufactured and arranged to attract the naive, the gullible, the young, the willfully stupid. It's about getting paid. That's all.

Proud of being a hipster: One bearded, indie-rock-loving, contrarian-article-writing man’s story.

Proud of being a hipster: One bearded, indie-rock-loving, contrarian-article-writing man’s story.:

Writer Luke O'Neill  has authored a thoroughly pointless patch of self-regard for Slate declaring himself a hipster and defending the word and the stance against the general derision it gets from a mass-culture that has reached the saturation point with all things hip, whether  people, places or things. Norman Mailer's essay on Hip. "The White Negro", had the benefit of being stylishly lugubrious ; it was an essay written enough that intellectuals and pop-culture junkies are still debating , in some fashion, ideas that would have been dismissed in  heartbeat had they been presented by a lesser talent.

 Mailer brought gravitas to the concept of hip,  linked it to existentialism and zen, defined the zeitgeist which gave birth to it, started a conversation that remains vital. Mailer might have been a jerk and wrong headed, but he could argue his foolishness brilliantly. O'Neill , in effect, is defending his right to be a consumer, a customer at what is left of the Counter Culture, and he defends his right to take on the attitude his material preferences suggest they have. While I do believe there are genuinely hip folks in the world--the reader is left to define what they're idea of Hip needs to be, and what set of habits are  required to be a hipster--those I regard in that vague category seem unaware that they , in fact, the embodiment of something genuine , whether it's talent or personality. O'Neill's selling point attempts to make an irritating manner into a presence that suggests authority, a perverse sense of being superior:

" The single most defining trait of hipsters is our allegiance to irony, we're told. And it's true, because I don't even know if I believe any of the stuff I just wrote. It seemed like it might sound cool at the time and I thought by sharing it people would notice me and I'd end up feeling, albeit briefly, less lonely. If that's not hipster, then I don't know what is."
This underscores my contempt for the faux-hip running amuck and aimless , without purpose or intent in the culture, no intent other than to consume and indulge.  The "allegiance to irony"  is a further debasement of a venerable modernist literary device and is usurped to justify a  generation's inability to commit to solid principles and ethical conduct, or even create coherent values by which their doings do more for the community than earn a profit for the corporations  and they banks  earning  interest plus on purchases consumer hipsters make so they may  decorate their flimsy, contrived alternative.  O'Neill is not yet aware of the chain that shackles to the wall of the cave he lives in.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Franzen is right about Twitter

Hush up, Franzen! Don’t blame Twitter for shallowness -

 The article goes on at length to make an obvious point that should only take a paragraph or two to explain, that nearly every communication technology has had harsh critics who concocted various scenarios of the end of all that is decent and civil. It does not, though, offer up credible suggestions how Twitter has improved anything; the evidence, anecdotal, perhaps, it it has allowed more people to indulge in their worst behaviors. The social sphere, such as it is, has become a more crowded, more vulgar, ruder place for introducing cell phones and texting. Franzen, hardly one of my favorite writers--he is an incessant worrywart whose prose is elongated neuroses with pretensions to elegance--but on this matter, he and other critics are right. The comedian Louis CK by referring to a credible, recent past, before cell phones and instant messaging when civilized people learned to how to be alone--millions of us made our way through the day is, at various times, along with our thoughts, sans distractions. We may not have liked the alone time, but there was a sense of being able to talk to people directly when you needed to, using social skills that reflected a social personality, or lack of it. We are pulverized by the fear of being alone for even a few minutes--we have to check our status updates; we have to make some kind of noise that others can hear, we have to rattle the proverbial tin cup against the bars of our own under interior prisons. You could handily shift from a silent, interior existence to one that was fully engaged in the public eye without worrying if you will cause a car wreck in the transition. The pathetic fact of our urban existence is that none of us can escape the sense that the real world has been turned into a voicemail --talking to people is frustrating because everyone is on the phone and we must wait our turn and , when our turn arrives at last, we rush our sentences; we compress our points; we speak in semi-literate half thoughts because we sense the dread phone will ring again and cut off the conversation before anything useful, either socially or psychically, gets said at all.  True, true, the technology isn't going away, and that it is a matter of getting used to a new way for the culture to communicate its collective expression, sublime, middle brow or moronic, but that is not a good thing and yes, future devices, codes, and technology will make these protests seem shrill and silly. That does not undermine the criticism, though; the coarsening of how we treat one another continues. What we do is what any person would do who is too lazy to fix a hole in their living room wall--after a while, you get used to it being there and after a while longer to convince yourself it was an ethical, aesthetical, philosophical choice you made. It's a mind fuck, is what it is. It's merely settling for a degraded quality of life.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Iron Man 3

Iron Man 3 was a clogged up, fidgety, ejaculating bit of huffing that more or less reflects director Shane Black's film work so far, the principle examples being the homicidal idiocy that was (and remains) Lethal Weapon, as we the  painfully self-aware, winking-at-the-audience faux noir effort Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Black seems to content on being a hip Michael Bay, or an idiot's version of Quentin Tarantino. 
Tellingly, lead actor Robert Downey Jr seems distracted through out the affair, listless even; fitting for a movie about a super hero who depends on what is essentially a robot suit to fight improbable villains and moronically conceived threats to the world (or at least New York City, given that this is a Marvel property), Downey clicks into default selection of mannerisms, vocal inflections and registers and spastic body language. To be sure, the action sequences and the special effects are nicely rendered and deployed, but this leads us into the realm of "so what", by which I mean that it is harder to admire films for technical competence in genre required scenes--in this case, further destruction of urban landscape. All the sequences look good , the way motel room "looks good" or elevator music "sounds pretty". 
For the rest, Iron Man 3 managed to be nerve-rattling erratic and tedious at the same time, as in someone suggested, it seems, that they try for some of that Chris Nolan "darkness" the worked effectively in his Dark Knight trilogy; we have a Tony Stark who appears beset by Billionaire's Angst, the worst kind you can get, where in he seems to realize that nothing he can build or spend money on will give him peace of mind or happiness. Interestingly, one of Iron Man's most problematic villains, The Mandarin, is the looming threat in this movie as Stark/ Iron Man tries to quip his way out of his encroaching depression; created in the early Sixties, the Mandarin is a villain that collects all the stereotypes of nasty, slant-eyed Asian geniuses who have plans to enslave the West. 
In the film he is portrayed by Ben Kingsly, the Asian characteristics are smoothed out of his appearance--you really cannot tell what nationality, religion or culture the movie Mandarin represents--and align him vaguely with Bin Ladin and other terrorists who have historically complicated death wishes for The West. At this point we might have had an interesting, complicated villain to contend with, an evil man who's nastiness has a nuanced rationale. This didn't happen. In keeping with a movie that keeps your attention jerking from action scenes that are as senseless as Battle Bots being played with by meth heads in steel storage container and scenes that are dime store pathos, lugubrious and reeking like a man who's waited to long to take a bathroom break, the true nature and meaning of the Mandarin is revealed in a way that tells you that time and money were getting tight as a carnie's lips wrapped around a Marlboro 100.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Bitch slapping talent

 I agree that talent that does not "risk" something in the expression --the poet, above all else to be interesting and intriguing to an inquiring reader, must have the nerve to risk failure and have, as well, a casual attitude to the possibility that he or she might wind up being embarrassed--gives us mere professionalism. But too often the creed is risk for its own sake with a contemptuous dismissal of the idea of "talent" as being a cruel hoax perpetrated by a long-running gang of conservative, homophobic, racist, anti-woman punks; I understand and generally agree with the critique, but somewhere along the lines what used to be considered "risk-taking" turned into another gathering of stylistics which has woefully influenced a couple of generations of writers. I seem to remember that genuine risk taker, whether Burroughs, Artaud, Beckett, Joyce, Ginsberg, Stein, Joyce, had solid foundations in tradition; they had a knowledge of what they were transgressing, taking apart and reassembling. 

They had that thing one calls "an ear" for the language they loved enough to master as writers and loved enough to goad it to forms that sharpened our collective wits with it in mind to see the world in new ways and so change it to something closer to the truth. Criticism, of course, judges how well these writers and others succeed or lapse eventually of their careers. History is not always kind: Kerouac was tone deaf, puffed up and pretentious in his rants, Ginsberg when from being genuinely inspired by visions and the legacy of Blake and Whitman and the Bible and became, in time, a mere self-chronicler, while Burrough's perversions, distortions, realignments, and genre-jumping fictions remain lively, fresh, funny and sinister, the definition of the Edge so many of us want to flirt with. 

The point is that talent and risk, ie, experimentation, need to be reconnected in a meaningful way that can, perhaps, spare us from another generation of too -easily published poets who seem little more than children banging on pianos that have had the keys removed.I would agree with the general assessment of the risk/talent dynamic, but I would venture further and argue that we need to skeptical of anyone's say-so and disdain any set of world-shrinking absolutes. Cultural pontiffs--choice phrase, Ace--often enough start off as punks and wind up giving us revised histories of their salad day heroes by arguing at length that the music, the novels, the plays and the poetry they liked in college and early professional life didn't try to smash rules, break forms or set fire to the palace, but rather tried to return art and aesthetics to principles that have been dormant, abandoned, forgotten. Eloquent apologies for one's formative taste, though, does not constitute a defense of the starker, more brittle frameworks that have dissolved like so much sugar in the guise of avant guard impulse; I am all for risk taking and rule breaking, but even the nastiest, least comprehensible bodies of work created by suitably sociopathic experimenters there are things that catch your ear, your eye, your fancy as you read what's in front of you, there are measures of genius that find that one thing in experience, that issue that no one had engaged, that combination of forms, ideas and attitude that had yet to be combined that strikes you a get level as real genius. 

I think these elements are genetic, organic, a hard to phrase dimension of human experience that transcends, easily, the problematics of social construction and canon makes. This is why I tend to support subjective or heroic criticism--the critic less a tastemaker than as someone who gathers their responses knee-jerk and reasoned both and conducts an inquiry to his own first-person criteria as to what constitutes failure or success in a frame, in a line, in a string of musical notes.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge, reviewed. - Slate Magazine

Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge, reviewed. - Slate Magazine:

'This is of great interest, as The Other Most Important American Novelist, Thomas Pynchon, has added his comic paranoid spin to the 9-11 attack. Bleeding Edge, reviewed by  Slate writer Troy Patterson in a a prose style that is ,well , ejaculative, sounds like a dense, comic masterpiece in a minor key. Powerful historical forces interest Pynchon greatly, but no more than does small things that get caught  up in the galvanizing events of change.

Patterson's best phrase about Pynchon's fiction-- V, Gravity's Rainbow, Crying of Lot 49,--is the presentation of history as farce; while Invisible Forces and conspiracies unconscious of their own existence gather, mingle , galvanize and alter the fates of nation, Pynchon concentrates on the regular Joes and Jessicas in the streets, in the cafes, at their workaday jobs, trying to make do and contend with their own comparatively picayune disasters and passions. Whatever grand , destructive, epoch changing things that take place outside the doors of where they live or work are merely the contents of a weather report--rain, snow, earthquake, V2 raid or terrorist attack, everyone adapts their plans and coping techniques and continues as they need to, as they must. 

Don DeLillo,  the writer who shares with Pynchon my Most Important American Novelist assignation, wrote his 9-11 novel, Fallen Man, which seemed, sorry to say, a bit tired; the mixture of odd, random elements from the culture , as translated by television and internet, contrasted , continually against a cast of emotionally neutered characters trying to reconstruct their sense of  autonomy following the horrible events, does not convey the implied irony DeLillo has a master at . 

Loss as been a larger part of DeLillo's writing, the center of his magnificent poetic style, but following the sustained genius of  his masterpiece Underworld--the secret history of the second half of the American Century-- the further extrapolation of the subject on an event of such horrific violence that what is inexpressible eludes DeLillo, who is usually a man who can create a sense of  moods that otherwise defy language to  contain their essence.

 Short as it is, Fallen Man plodded with heavy feet. Pynchon, from the sound of Patterson's review, makes it sound as if the reclusive author contained and converted the energy  of  the hysterical response and decided to laugh, the joke being that despite the blows to our lives, our cities, our metaphysics of order and purpose and our rational attempts to reconcile horror against Grand Designs and Great Agendas, life, being life, goes on, it goes on. Pynchon finds the fact that the smartest among us don't get this and the activities we create in response to disaster is , at heart, a comedy. I look forward to reading this.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Are Andy Warhol's 15 minutes over? |

Are Andy Warhol's 15 minutes over? | Art and design | 

The idea that Pop Art was, in fact, Capitalist Folk Art, a form natural in its development as artists, naive in the most intelligent way, intuitively understood that the iconography and discarded wreckage was a form of art. French critics and habitual theorists have witlessly obfuscated this point, to the point that the actual no longer exists, and now there are only unceasing replications of a vague idea of historical imagery and design. I always preferred Walter Benjamin's essay 'Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction", as I think the same ideas are explored earlier in the age, with a cheery optimism and mystical poetics that is hard to resist.Benjamin was romantic enough to believe that art was a good thing for the individual and for the culture as a whole. He was convinced that the mass-reproduction of art images was necessary for a beneficial, if violent transition. Art revealed to the many empowers those multitudes to dream of possibilities and the methods of fomenting the change.

Benjamin believed that art's principal function was to produce joy, which one could consider to be a heightened sense of awareness. Warhol reflected this, though he wasn't a polemicist or an activist. He was an artist who liked things from pop culture and things that are thrown away. He was interested in how factory goods looked when they were tattered and torn around the edges. He was in love with the imperfection of the much circulated meme as it went from one copier to the next. While Warhol's art did make me aware of how much economy, finances, and manufactured consent shaped my tastes, one wonders at Warhol's refusal to lecture, to say what he thought, and to say what he thought. He was a serene Buddha who gave us a mirror of our consumption who revealed, without rant or rhetoric, what's consuming us.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Wood Allen's "Interiors" and critical revisionism

Woody Allen’s Interiors: Revisiting Allen’s first Ingmar Bergman-inspired drama. - Slate Magazine:

Woody Allen's new film "Blue Jasmine" has been getting some of the best notices  for the director's late-areer efforts, a fact that justifies, perhaps, a reexamination of some of his other less fondly remembered, less discussed films. Allen, more than any American film maker, deserves a retrospective. Slate has argued that Interiors, his first straight on drama , no comedy, and a stylistic tribute to his hero Ingmar Bergman, actually rises above its reputation as a stiff and shallow presentation of depressed , well read white folks and is , indeed, a serious, inspired drama. Reading the article convinced that there are indeed nuanced themes that course through the decades of films Allen has written and directed since the  60s, and that growth from being an inspired slap stick comic with a library card to a more verbal, nuanced, cerebral film maker leads inevitably to a film like" Interiors".

 Still, I don't think it's anything near Allen's best work. In this case, the general consensus I read among long time Allen fans is correct, that the movie is a paceless, stationary    bore. The irony is that Woody Allen has done inspired parodies of other film directors through out his professional life and his mitigated his penchant  for genre tributes with a Burlesque crudeness,a low wit , that kept him from taking himself so seriously. At the end of the day it could be said that "Interiors" succeeds in being Allen's parody masterpiece,  mimicry and mockery  so dead on target that you mistake it for being the real article; it would more credible to argue that Allen's real intention with this film was comedy of the most subtle and perverse type, that which imitates the pervading , saddening stylistics of Bergman's  movie introspection to an obsessive degree, producing an effect of unreality, a critical distance that prevents the audience from engaging characters who really comprehend the psychology that motivates the shuffling movement.

This leaves the audience in a bewildering state of nagging "what the hell?", wondering if they should laugh or be moved by what they've seen. The joke , of course, would be the theories film goers would construct to make sense of the time they spent in the dark, growing listless, watching actors stare past one another. Even if this were the case, I prefer the simpler explanation: "Interiors"  was an important  transitional film for Allen to make, but that does not remove the fact that is a dull  transition that fortunately led to better work to follow.

Monday, August 26, 2013


 (What I should make clear is that I am not a practicing Christian , have the mind of an agnostic, and haven't much faith in theologies that pretend they have knowledge of what the end of history is like. I do appreciate the poetry of The Rapture concept, though, and meant only to create a "what-if" scenario, such as what would be like if this event occured in one of the many neighborhoods John Cheever might have attended cocktail and wife swapping parties at.I'm agnostic toward religion, not God. I've done my seeking and have found what I've needed. Needed today, to be even clearer.
A usefully spiritual life is a day-at-a-time thing, and this day, this morning I'll seek guidance for the day yet to come. Plainly, I don't think God is much concerned with getting the lot of us into Heaven as He is living good, useful , creative and and kind lives in this life, on this planet. If God is all wise and all knowing, He hasn't the time nor patience to set up our existence like it were a Game Show. -tb)


The mailman drops his parcels and
falls to his knees in the middle of the street
as a light comes through the clouds and
makes the commotions of the city radiate
gold tones like the frozen poses
of ancient photographs
found under the stairs of every parent’s house
that aging children have to close.
You see the mailman on his knees and wonder
why he’s praying, hardly aware of the increase in light
or the music that blares all the big band music of
trumpets and saxophones that disguise the grind of
passing cars, it’s such a shame that religious fanatics
are hired to deliver the mail, you think, so much depends
on what comes through the System, envelopes full of
what’s owed and what’s not covered by any plan
that can be written down; you run the water in the sink,
 you wonder where did the clouds go? 
There is no rain anywhere,
says the radio announcer,
and the light is tremendous all over the globe,
there is not a dark corner
 in any corner or nook on the earth,
And then the radio gives out to static, and the TV
releases itself to snow, the music in the street is very loud
and swinging hard to the left and the right and then right down the
middle as all the notes scurry brilliantly through the hedges
and up the driveways, into the homes with each reed instrument
improvising disembodied melodies that form their own sheet music,
That is a very loud set of speakers in that passing car, you think.
and the radio announcer cuts through the music and says something you
hear as that millions of people all over the world have just vanished in
plain site under bright light and big bang music, gone in a wisp and puff of smoke,
You look at your watch and note that it’s time for lunch,
the clouds have fallen over the city again, the sky darkens,
the shapes of the neighborhood take on their deep hues again, saddened
with history, dense in dumb witness to what never ends,
You stop, look out the window; you turn off the water you ran,
in the middle of the street, by itself, flat on the cement,
The mailman’s bag and his clothes,
topped by his hat,  kissed by a cool breeze.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Wow--Moby Grape
Their first album, Moby Grape, is on generally considered one of the best albums done by a Sixties American band, and with good reason, but I've got a soft spot for their sophomore effort, the much-maligned Wow. It certainly deserved some critical slamming sit received when it was released in 1968, as the band and producer had a batch of solid songs they wanted to gussy up, festoon and otherwise psychedelicize in the trend of over-produced pop wrought by Pet Sounds and Sgt.Pepper. Large parts were literally unlistenable--at the time of release, the band killed the "news-tolgia" fad of the period that not only had one song written and performed in the 20's style but which also required the poor stoner to get up and change the album speed from 33 and 1/3 to 78 rpm. The results were not amusing. Some songs come out unscathed, though, as with "Motorcycle Irene", "Murder in My Heart for the "Judge","Can't Be So Bad". At heart a good band gone bad from drugs, ego, and mental illness, but what they had, briefly, was terrific talent. Jerry Miller was one of the best blues guitarist of the period, bittersweet, and fluid in ways Mike Bloomfield never quite realized, Bob Mosely was a natural blues belter, and Skip Spence was an American Syd Barrett, fried before his time. Needless to say, I'm burning a disc of the best tracks and jettisoning the artsy remainders, which are unsustainable and hopelessly junked up with effects.