Thursday, April 06, 2006

Doc Me Gently on The Celluloid Scene

I don't really mind checking out films now and then, in fact I helped contribute to the $70 million raked in at the boxoffice during Ice Age II sequel debut last weekend. Hey , I have a 7 year old niece... what else was I gonna take her too?

Basic Instinct II ?

But if it comes down to it, my real love is documentaries...

Docs like those that fill programming time on my fave satellite channels like FSTV, The Documentary Channel and The Sundance Channel's special Monday blocks of Doc Day. Yesterday I tuned the ol' DVR into the Sundance Channel, and I fattened the hard drive up with 2 1/2 hours of "The Corporation" plus a stirring and artistic glance upon the life of the Chilean socialist politician deposed in a Nixon era coup d'tat "Salvador Allende". Later I also checked out the great and largely unheralded "Overnight", a portrait of an egotistical brat bartender named Troy Duffy who was put on the cover of USA Today & Variety when his first screenplay caught the attention of Miramax in 1997. His big mouth soon got him in pre-production trouble, and his future was collapsing faster than his mouth could keep his whacked out wheels spinning. Truly an amazing cautionary tale, with tons of candid footage captured over a 5 year period that puts the shallow goals of most "reality" TV to shame. The documentary producers actually cut off contact with the blustery gun toting and disturbed Duffy to finish their film according to an article in LA's Citybeat (the last indie weekly in So Cal).

Two new schizo music relaed docs I'd like to catch include You're Gonna Miss Me, a Roky Erickson doc and The Devil and Daniel Johnston directed by Jeff Feuerzeig.

The folks behind the long running Other Cinema series at SF's Artist Television Access started a DVD releasing arm awhile ago, and man they've got some good stuff for those who like truly independent cinema and docs. Not only did they back the distribution of unique stuff from longtime series curator Craig Baldwin, but they've expanded the repetoire to assist other filmmakers reach a wider audience.

The latest is a film ( out this month on DVD) that intertwines America's fascination with psychedelics and the Internet with America's most maligned misanthrope, that disgruntled dropout known as Ted Kaczynski, aka The Unabomber...

The Net : The Unabomber, LSD, and The Internet -
preview Quicktime clip w/ David Gelernter

plus some music from the Das Netz soundtrack

Catched him (MP3)
Reflexion 8 (MP3)
Unabomber (MP3)

"This exquisitely crafted inquiry into the rationale of this mythic
figure situates him within a late 20th Century web of technology – a
system that he grew to oppose. A marvelously subversive approach to the
history of the Internet, this insightful documentary combines
speculative travelogue and investigative journalism to trace
contrasting countercultural responses to the cybernetic revolution."

"Circling through themes of utopianism, anarchism, terrorism, CIA, LSD, Tim Leary, Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, THE NET exposes a hidden
matrix of revolutionary advances, coincidences, and conspiracies."

or as essayist David Cox writes :
"The Net revisits very, very familiar ground for those historians and media archaeologists like myself who have a vested interest in keeping the story “clean,” in which the good guys (artists, philosophers like Leary, Brand, Weiner, Fuller) are on one side and the bad guys (the evil CIA, the US Military, project MK Ultra et al) are on the other. Das Netz reveals that the truth could easily be that the two sides of the art-freak/CIA coin are really not so easily separated after all. Like the complementary opposites of the yin/yang, there's a piece of the dark side in the light, and vice versa."

more of David Cox's in depth & serious look is posted at the Other Cinema site

Baldwin , the mad scientist who started the Other Cinema series is no slouch in the filmmaking dept, with his works confronting the miasmas of modern life via found footage collages and cut up techniques set aginst Baldwin's clever and oft comedic takes on conspiracies, corporate & political agendas and the hidden meanings in myopic modern mythology. My faves being'Tribulation 99: Alien Anomalies Under America' (1991) ,'O No Coronado!' ( 1992) and Sonic Outlaws ( 1995) which covered the legal travails of Negativland.

In other film related news... Billionaire NBA team owner & new media magnate Mark Cuban is warring with Comcast Cable Corp, and a local Bay Area filmmaker is caught in the crossfire. Read about the drama surrounding Caveh Zahedi's new flick "I Am A Sex Addict", which has been pulled from it's Landmark Cinema run in Berkeley due to Cuban's feud with Comcast & IFC. The outspoken founder of is angry that Comcast cable won't carry his HD channel programming, and is set on blocking Caveh's flick from exposure in his Landmark theaters as a bartering chip.

In other cinematic legal scene news related to documentaries:

Steve Buscemi has filed a lawsuit against a Ft. Lauderdale based film distributor who basically went belly up and destroyed the viability of his documentary co-production on NY's late & not quite legendary lower East Side ne'er do'ell Rockets Redglare.


speaking of fave ne'er do'ells & troubled junkies

My pal Parker is helping put together a night at Annie's Social Club this Friday in a tribute to Jeffrey Lee Pierce and The Gun Club. Mr. Eric Moffat, a nice guy with a questionable affectation for skanky junkie punk rocker worship, is organizing the musical assault on the stage. Moffat has done this type of thing before, and he's no doubt enlisted some suspicious types and luminaries to mine Mr. Lee-Pierce's back catalog. Amongst them I gather is my friend & part-time superstar Chuck Prophet, who has no doubt had occasion to know Mr. Pierce during their debauched daze of yore. Although Prophet lives, and is actually quite robust and healthy for an aging rocker dude, not so Mr. Pierce ( R.I.P since March 31st 1996)

If yer not familiar with the work of Jeffrey Lee and The Gun Club and their prodigious output on various labels throughout the have missed out a bit my friend. Pierce the consummate white boy rapscallion infatuated with the lonesome blues arose out of the sprawl of late 70's LA wasteland to create the "Fire of Love". He mixed the sputtering amateur night spirit of early punk with the timeworn imagery of the blues and it's connotations of mystery, inebriation, magick and sexual prowess with religious iconography, and good ol Hendrix inspired rock n roll.

I can still recall the first time I heard the band banging out Sex Beat in th early eighties, and the songs nasty personality & force still reels me over to this day. I totally recommend getting any of the early pre-1984 stuff in yer hot little hands if you want to hear a raw, rockin band ahead of it's time, dead set on destroying & saving rock & roll.

However, as time wore on, the Gun Club output didn't seem to retain that initial spark, and I mostly lost interest...

Needless to say Pierce himself did not fare well over time either, and within ten years of my discovering his music, he had become a bloated casualty of hepatitis C, HIV, cirrhosis, all no doubt brought on by his personal indulgences into needle freakiness and yukky stuff like that. I'd almost compare him to a west coast version of Johnny Thunders, except Pierce seemed to lack the sense of humor that kept Johnny rolling through the darkness. Perhaps Jeffrey starting believing his own mystic bullshit, or was just smarter than every one else. Either way... these things seldom end pretty...

For those interested in some Jeffrey inspired caterwauling, I will start with the obvious choices and add a few others as they occur or appear to me...

here's a very early sample of what young Mr. Pierce and his pal Kid Congo Powers were up to when they formed Creeping Ritual, a band name later rejected when Jeffrey's roommate Keith Morris of the Circle Jerks / Black Flag suggested a better moniker. Supposedly their early influences included War, Marty Robbins, as well as numerous old Rockabilly & Blues records Jeffrey reviewed for the Slash fanzine.

The Gun Club - Devil In The Woods

Slash records has the definitive 1981 era Gun Club tracks, released via Chris D's side imprint Ruby...and the best known from that prime era might be Sex Beat... all these below are produced by Chris D of The Flesheaters, and feature Ward Dotson on fierce slide geetar as Mr. Kid Congo Powers had already been stolen by The Cramps ...

The Gun Club - Sex Beat

but here's track from that same two day LP recording session where Jeffrey fires up his Baptist Preacher alter-ego

The Gun Club - Preaching The Blues

and aw heck , here are some more from the "Fire Of Love" release

Gun Club - Promise Me

Gun Club - For the Love of Ivy

Gun Club - Black Train

By 1982, Jeffrey had ended the brief association with indie Slash records, and released some things on Chris Stein of Blondie's label "Animal"... a younger, more innocent Pierce had been head of the Blondie Fan Club in LA, and was excited to put out the album "Miami", with major label distribution via the then hot Chrysalis. The songs were still dirty & bluesy, creating a harrowing atmosphere amidsts Pierce's growing derangement, but not the commercial breakthrough the label was counting on.

The Gun Club - Like Calling Up Thunder

The Gun Club - Carry Home

The Gun Club - Brother And Sister

the old Jody Reynolds composed title track for the last LP appears mysteriously on 'Miami', here's a live version...

Gun Club - Fire Of Love ( live version)

By 1984, the band released an EP called The Death Party

Gun Club - House on Highland Ave

After various lineup shifts had plagued the egomaniacal and difficult to work with Pierce, Kid Congo returned to the fold. While live bootlegs and unofficial demo recordings began circulating due to old band members vengeful attempst at recompensation for lost wages, Jeffrey & Kid Congo went to work, They followed up with a final attempt on Animal called "The Las Vegas Story" in 1984. While better received in Europe, in teenage America, the demographic that buys the majority of the records were unaware of bluesy and introspective dementia spouted by Pierce or his darkside compatriots mining similar turf like Nick Cave & The Cramps. "College Rock" like REM, Smithereens and whatever dance music was on MTV were more the rage, and The Gun Club were doomed to nothing more than underground status stateside. When The Gun Club came home to LA after their tour, Kid Congo recalls them playing to an almost empty club with 50 people, mostly friends present in the music industry capital of the US. After a period of exhaustion and frustration, Kid Congo left the Gun Club again to eventually settle in London, and later Berlin.

Pierce attempted to turn himself into a marketable commodity as a solo act, releasing Wildweed, an album on the French import only Statik label in 1985. The re-issue of this record 20 years later on Sympathy For The Record Industry supposedly even has a Flipper cover in the bonus tracks.

Jeffrey Lee Pierce - Love And Desperation

Jeffrey continued with a solo band, but pasted together a new Gun Club lineup as Kid Congo resurfaced after stints recording in Berlin with Die Haut, Einstruzende Neubaten and the Bad Seeds. It was discovered at a Ramones gig that that Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins was a fan and they began recording together with Robin as producer.

Jeffrey managed to get the resulting studio effort released in 1987 as "Mother Juno", and it was perhaps the bands last shot at success. Despite drawing well in big American cities, it was only released as another French Import only. This no doubt was among the reasons the band never broke out in the US, as the records were harder to find and more expensive than Jeffrey's beloved heroin. Bad omens abounded, like a big festival show cancelled due to riot in Greece, and more trouble including Jeffrey's increasing Cirrhosis of the liver dogging him since the 'Miami' era.

Sex Beat circa 1986 at Vera in Holland.
Gun Club - Sex Beat ( Live 1986)

With accompaniest Kid Congo growing sick of Jeffrey's depressing decline into ruin, he began playing more with more lucrative rival act Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. Kid Congo was entering a period of attempting to clean up, and quit booze, while Jeffrey was more or less pill popping, becoming unreasonable and drifted in a downward spiral during this period.

They continued to convene, and put out recordings in Europe mostly, like this bonus live cut from a soporific 1991 release, one of the band's final efforts before Kid Congo just drifted away and Jeffrey's health sunk ever deeper into darkness.

The Gun Club - Yellow Eyes (live)

Eventually Jeffrey returned to LA as his relationship with his bassist & lover Romi ended, and he was was deported from England. He began hanging out at The Viper Room, which was just up the street from his mothers house. At some point people cajoled Kid Congo Powers into joining Jeffrey onstage again and they decided to play a few one off shows, including one at The Viper Room and a benefit for a musician friend dying of Aids.

The Gun Club played their final show in December of 1995, and for one night only in SF this week, you can at least hear some of the music in a live setting, and possibly experience the sound that still makes them mighty memorable & even vital to this day...

Here's Mr. Parker Gibbs invite to you to attend:

As we all know, tributes usually suck major ass, unless they are tributes to hair metal bands, because, quite frankly, how can you fuck up something
that's already beyond retarded? This tribute, however, offers to be
memorable because of the talent involved and the love these people have for
one of this generation's most unheralded bands.

Jeffrey Lee pierce died ten years ago in a hot air ballooning accident over
the NAPA valley after leaving a corporate fund raiser for PETA. His balloon
was never found. Or he died alone and penniless after kidney failure from
hepatitis C. I can't really remember. All I know is I saw him at the I-Beam
back in the day (probably top five shows EVER) and it's shame that he is

Friday will be a celebration of the man, his band, and some of the best
talent in SF (see flier; I'm really not into giving any personal shout outs
for many reasons). There will be drink specials (order the Jack On Fire!, or
the Sex on the Beat!) and I'm pretty sure that there will be wine and hot
air balloon safety demonstrations. I'll be drunk. Audra will be mad. And
there is bound to be nudity.

Hope to see you all there, and if not, then come to the show and have the
balls to tell me to my face why you wouldn't want to attend.


The band have finally had many of their prime early works re-released by Long Gone John's Sympathy For The Record Industry imprint... which perhaps you should indeed check out...

The Gun Club - Ghost On The Highway

and here's one from a Kid Congo solo release

Kid Congo - You Hang The Moon For Me

Some Jeffrey Lee Pierce tribute and/or cover tracks

Enon - Sex Beat
Rykarda Parasol - She's Like Heroin To Me
Blondie - Under The Gun
Mark Lanegan - Carry Home

psst...Looks like Jeffrey Lee's former pardner Kid Congo Powers had a recent pre-SXSWparty with a Gun Club tribute in NYC last month.

hey, a great repository of Gun Club info is The Gun Club .net

also if you are a Nick Cave/Kid Congo / Gun Club fan, then you have no reason not to check out New York Night Train's in depth multi part oral history with Kid

and here's a few more things to keep us all busy, like that cool dude Enki , the Mongolian Beermaker and my friend Mike Dingle, who have got a special art opening happening on Thursday Night at The South of Market Cultural Center.

I'll let Enki tell ya in his native language... check the websites listed below for more info...

Sain baitsgaana uu?

Ih Mongol Uls baiguulagdsanii 800 jiliin oid zoriulan San Francisco
hotiin SomArts Gallery-d garah "Mongoliin Ih Guren" uran zurgiin
uzesgelengiin neeltiin ajillagaand ta buhniig hureltsen irehiig urij
baina. Ug uzesgelend Mongoliin shildeg 50 garui zuraachiin 100 orchim uran
buteel oroltsoj baigaa bogood Mongoloos zuraach D. Erdenebileg, Ga.
Monkhtsetseg, Ch. Khurelbaatar nar urigdan irj oroltsoh bolno.

Neeltiin uyeer Mongoliin Ih Gurenii tuhai erdemten professor D. Tumen guai
tovch taniltsuulga yaria hiij, hoomii, morin huuriin besreg toglolt bolno.

Neelt: 4 sariin 6 nii Purev garigiin 17:30-19:30 tsagiin hoorond

Hayag: SomArts Gallery, 934 Brannan Str, San Francisco, CA

Uzesgelengiin ajillah huvaary: April 6-27, 2006.
2-7 pm, Tuesday- Friday
1-5 pm, Saturday


amongst other happenings in the california zone ... my long lost silly pal Slater is coming through town with her band The Pretty Flowers... I'm not sure if she rocks a mean tambourine, yodels orgastically or what but here are some MP3'z to satiate yer curiosity and the days they'll be rolling through the Pacific Coastal zones...

tourdates below for the Pretty Flowers, the kings and queens of Tardcore, on their West Coast tour

4/8 Lava Lounge, Los Angeles
4/9 Knitting Factory, Los Angeles
4/11 Studio Z, San Francisco
4/12 Thee Parkside, San Francisco
4/16 Ash Street Saloon, Portland
4/17 IWW Hall, Portland
4/19 Funhouse, Seattle
4/21 Seattle Drum School, Seattle

Pretty Flowers - Knife Fight

Pretty Flowers - Little Bitch

Also my pals in the L.A based angsty poppy sugar punker band Underwater City People have been touring again throughout the southwestern & midwestern U.S zonas... So check em out if ya get a chance... they make a heroic return to Hollywood in May , but here's their tourdates until then & stop by their evil Underwater MySpace page and get informed....

Apr 7 2006 6:00P
Cesspool Castle-ALL AGES!!! Joplin, MO

Apr 8 2006 8:00P
The Boobie Trap-ALL AGES!!! Topeka, KS

Apr 9 2006 7:00P
The Bali Satay House Ames, IA

Apr 10 2006 9:00P
High-Noon Saloon Madison, WI

Apr 12 2006 8:00P
Punk Rock Wed at Club Underground Minneapolis, MN

Apr 13 2006 8:00P
The Riverwest Commons Milwaukee, WI

Apr 14 2006 6:00P
Live on the air KDHX with Tim Rakel St. Louis, MO

Apr 14 2006 8:00P
Lemmons St. Louis, MO

Apr 15 2006 8:00P
The Corral Room Madison, WI

Apr 16 2006 8:00P
Live on the radio Council Bluffs, IA

Apr 16 2006 10:00P
Ted and Wally's Ice Cream Shop-ALL AGES!!! Omaha, NE

Apr 17 2006 8:00P
O'Leaver's Omaha, NE

Apr 18 2006 10:00P
The Starlight-ALL AGES!!! Fort Collins, CO

Apr 19 2006 7:00P
Bico's-ALL AGES!!! Kearney, NE

Apr 20 2006 8:00P
15th Street Tavern Denver, CO

Apr 21 2006 7:00P
Club NVO-ALL AGES!!! Logan, UT

Apr 22 2006 8:00P
Jive-n-Java. ALL AGES!!! Fallon, NV


Homecoming Gig
May 5 2006

First Friday @ The Key Club-ALL AGES
Los Angeles, CA


pssst...Here's some bonus Mp3 action for all you complete post trollers

word is...another one bites the dust,

and it appears this time, 1960's British teen idol Gene Pitney has suddenly died while on a tour in England.

Gene Pitney - I Wanna Love My Life Away

I'll post some more Gene tracks, and bit more about him, when I have time to go home & bust 'em out...

Meantime, I gotta go... enjoy what ya got y'all


Maxim de Winter said...

What a fantastical, epical post. I'd loved the Gun Club early on but tired of the junkie degradation around about Wildweed and never really revisited the music - I'd even forgotten I'd ever owned the Death Party EP, wonder where it is now, "Come to the death party you ain't got nothin' to lose!" soundtracked many a teenage cider debauch. Beautiful to hear all this stuff again and if I was in the same hemisphere I'd be at the show.

Anonymous said...

Just an awesome retrospective post. Saw the Gun Club in Boston by accident eons ago and was blown away by their energy and delivery. Thanks for the memories.

Andrea said...

Nice post, but please don't hotlink to tracks directly. If you like what we do please link to the post itself!

m said...

Hey Andrea - Sorry if you don't want to be "hotlinked", but leaving some dead guy's music sitting out there posted on yer "world wide web" server & accessible via numerous search engines and whatnot does potentially expose the file to the curious...and possibly even lawyers and RIAA meddlers.

I don't feel like I need to apologize for finding "your" Gun Club mp3, but I certainly meant no harm... and hope none was inferred.

I generally as a rule, don't post the tracks I point to here... just share what I find with the hundreds of others that stop by each day.

If any of y'all want to know what Andrea's all about & whatnot, she does indeed have a very fine web site chock full of mp3z at the url...