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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Boyz II Men..ABC..BBD..The East Coast Family...aka your not Jawbreaker, and I'm telling everyone

"You've made the same mistake again."
-not only sung by Blake Schwarzenbach in the Jawbreaker song "Split", but also foreshadowing 
your future experience when you buy another Jets to Brazil record.


Dance Hall Mourners by Miqual Corley 2002
Typewriter/ pastel / magazine clippings on paper...Done in dedication to the late 90's.


Let me start this off that I am a long time Jawbreaker fan, and a fellow pegged pant leg wearing and poetically inclined member of the Blake Schwarzenbach army for life.  That out of the way though, let's dig at a 15 year old scab because, quite honestly, I can.   Thanks to a combination of the interwebz and riding the dole while medically smoking your CA tax dollars away while waiting for a trip to the Mayo Clinic where they ship us people with with lifetime medical mysteries like me, I now have way too much time on my hands to do this stuff. So I'll just say it. Jets to Brazil sucked.  Completely.  Total shit.  Post-collegiate sweater emo.  For those who don't know, Jets to Brazil was the late 90's super group combining members of Jawbreaker and Texas is the Reason.


Jets to Brazil on stage at the Empty Bottle in Chicago on 11/14/1998 during a tender moment in the set where Blake comes front and center and tries to swoon the khakis off of the English Majors in the crowd.


Supposedly they were a powerhouse combination of Jawbreaker's classic Blake Schwarzenbach vocal and lyrical sound paired with Texas is the Reason's.... well... um...what did the Texas is the Reason side of the band bring to the table?  Shared experience with failed major label dabblings maybe?   Some height differential in band member stature?  Basically we got Jawbreaker Light.  I tended to think of the equation being a bit more like this:


Enjoy yourselves a delicious, safe Jade Tree / Revelation sandwich now that you graduated and are looking for a little less punk, but were too young yet for Sunday mornings partying with the NYT and the Sea and Cake.

Now maybe my perspective was a bit distorted back then due to my propensity to go through the large plastic gallon jugs of 10-High Whiskey at a pace on par with the rest of my manic, speedy, overindulgent self.  And more importantly, I also jumped out of the punk and hardcore game rather quickly and into the post-rock explorings that in the late 90's, quite often led white boys like me with teenage saxophone experience (and many who didn't) to believe we were in fact free jazz musicians akin to the Albert Ayler's of our time, but somehow coming at it with our drunk punk ways.  It didn't help that Reckless Records in Chicago in the summer of 1998 had the CD re-releases of basically the entire catalogue of original ESP Disk records selling for like $5 a disc.  So in a summer off from Kinko's and living off a combination of leftover student loan money from the spring, and frequent punk record sell-backs to Reckless, I'd swap out for a few records for an ESP cd or two, and spend then spend the rest of the cash on whiskey.  And La Pasadita. Because if you're going to quit being a vegetarian, you might as well go big and do it right at La Pasadita.  And then continue to do it night after night until your roommates begin calling you "Fatz".  The rest of the time was spent exploring the intersection point of those free jazz dreams and whiskey nightmares.  This is the 1998 album I recorded with my long time friend and co-conspirator from our days exploiting hobo symbols and women with our Mid-90's Midwestern Emo Brand record label and BBQ sauce company called (click here at own risk).  Our band together at the time was called Satan from the Spaceship.  And sometimes we wore helmets when we recorded to keep our heads from exploding.  




But don't get me wrong. I loved Jawbreaker like the rest of them. If not for a canceled trip to Wisconsin where the tattoo age laws were different then in Illinois' in the early 1990's, I'd be sporting a Jawbreaker tattoo today. You know, the same one quite a few of you out there have too.  
The Schwarzenbach Family Crest
And if we're going there, without other planned trips up to the liberal land of Madison either getting canceled, or not having enough time on the ones we did make it on, I would probably be sporting a tattoo of the stick figure soldier logo from the local Chicago band The Fighters, and a tattoo of one of the graphics from the Downcast LP also. Don't get me wrong, either would have had good personal attachment as a tattoo should. Paul from the Fighters was one of my roommates in my first failed attempt at Chicago apartment cohabitation, and unbeknown to many people, has a hidden talent for boxing out to get the tough rebound. And being a Downcast fan, it was cool as hell to have Jara touring around with Still Life for most of the dates I was out with on the road with them as a stow-away in their van for the end of their tour in the summer of '94. But graphically neither tattoo would have stood the test of time.  Luckily I avoided the lesson learned by most people: don't trust your choices for band tattoos be driven out of youthful exuberance or your young self's design aesthetic. Or in that case.....vegan idealism:


And you thought it was hard enough keeping your high OK Cupid batting average up with the Rollins Band sun tattoo you have.  Imagine how hard it is trying to woo the American Apparel off of a self-absorbed 20-something Internet dating hookup if you're this guy.  Although the shaved eyebrows aren't exactly the deal sealers either.


That being said, I stand behind my decisions to get the Still Life and the Smog tattoos I have 100%.  The Still Life tattoo was my first tattoo and I got it after the aforementioned 1994 summer Still Life adventure.  I'll go into that further in a future blog post, but leave it to say, I spent my late high school years touring children's hospitals, medical clinics, having to do things like swallow barium and even piss in bottles all day several times, 2 runs at the Mayo Clinic, home bound for part of my senior year, being told I had a range of things from brain tumors to digestive tumors and then a "we're clueless good luck in life" ending, and sick through some of the most pivotal social growth periods in one's life.  So heading out for a few weeks in a van on a hardcore tour, selling zines for a few bucks to get food and seeing Still Life play night after night like I did was quite the freedom story beyond what many of you others had in that same situation that summer.  So the Still Life tattoo was a given.   


Tattoo 1994....Skin blemish 2012.
Plus I got that tattoo basically for free with the money I won playing scratch off lottery tickets while bored at work.  For a short time, I worked at a White Hen Pantry convenience store in the Chicago suburbs while rocking my era-specific badly dyed black hair, overuse of Murray's pomade, studded white leather belt, and all while spending the night denying old alcoholics their fix due to our our policy of ID'ing absolutely everyone.  In reaction to me cock-blocking his oral fixation attached to long neck liquor bottles and denying him his drink, one of the drunkards even accused me of my hair being a wig, and took a yank at my "nothing-like-Svenonious-no-matter-how-I-tried" head-mop.  I gave it a good shot at trying to appear to be a member of the Nation of UlysseSan Diego.... but I was just too Midwest to pull it off.  But I would play the scratch off tickets during down times at work and in between drags off of the new to the 90's technology called the Marlboro Medium, because you could almost always at least strike even with the free ticket and single dollar winners canceling out the money you would owe for tickets.  And if you got a high value winning ticket, just pull the ticket price out of the winnings.  No money invested.  And a Still Life tattoo on my arm.  The Smog tattoo has a lot less personal attachment.  But graphically the Wild Love image is amazing, and the chest placement goes without saying.  And I can't deny that it hasn't become a bit of indie girl fishing bait over the years.  I can not lie.  Luckily living in San Francisco and it's maritime culture, my sleeves are normally covering the Still Life tattoo, and I don't normally expose my chest while in line at Four Barrel for a single-drip coffee that supposedly is supposed to have "hints of cherry in the after".   So I avoid getting eye raped for the tattoos now that my increasing age has cycled my younger day tastes back to the forefront of the "popular-lame-now ironically popular again" recycling of cult culture that takes place amongst succeeding generations.   


"I Burn Deep" by Miqual Corley - 2001. Portion torn down from the living art installation piece / drunkalogue my bedroom walls in the Kedzie & Palmer apartment I shared with Bort became. Existence of the Smog tattoo shown, as well as confirmation that my manscaping routines are in fact a newer part of my lifestyle. (Click here to better see the text element from above)

But back to the whole Jawbreaker topic as this convoluted blog post is mostly a very overdone attempt to talk about myself and wrap some other crap around posting some Jawbreaker related content online. For those who remember, the MRR classified section back in the 90's enabled you to feed your desire to see live performances of bands show through the handful of video traders that would make custom compilation VHS tapes for you based on your selections from the list of shows they had for sale.  Basically Pre-Youtube era show video searching and watching but with a buffer time not measured in how shitty Comcast is in your neighborhood, but by how long it took the punk rocker behind the catalogue to make you the tape, and then for the US Postal Service to do their job. I still have the VHS tape I sent away for with copies of two of the better Jawbreaker shows in the Chicago area.  Tape doesn't function so well due to a layer of dog puke crusted upon it, but still usable.  This one here is from Jawbreaker playing at McGregors in the Chicago suburbs on 8/23/92. This was dying throat era Blake, and by the end of the show, it had completely gone to shit and he couldn't sing.  Blake starts the show off perfectly though..... "Hi were from California...and we're here to help you":
Chesterfield King - Live - 8/23/92 @ McGregor's - Elmhurst, IL

This next video is from the show at Isabelle's Grand Finale - Chicago Illinois on 5/22/1993.  Jawbreaker was in town recording 24 Hour Revenge Therapy and played this show after they were done recording. The recipe for a perfect punk show.  Youthful exuberance + overpacked club + sweltering heat + sweat dripping off the walls + Jawbreaker primed from repeatedly playing the songs in the recording sessions.  Minus of the show.  VML Security douche bags.  Not surprising as later in the year this would be ground zero for said Mr. Joey Vindicative and his scene policing gun waving antics.

Do You Still Hate Me - Live 5/22/93 @ Isabelle's Grand Finale - Chicago Illinois




In a similar vein to the VHS tape traders, there also were the audio tape traders, many times not only with copies of the audio of live shows, but sometimes other things such as demo recordings and such.  I found one of those tapes recently containing these Jawbreaker demo songs from 2-3-1998.  Split and Rich versions are really good.  The tape also contained the Unfun demos, and on the flipside of the tape, a Crimpshrine demo and a Fugazi demo.  Those might have to go up online sometime soon too. 











 And a couple of final nuggets of JB material for you.....


I have to admit I always kind of liked their cover of "Pretty Persuasion" on the 1992 REM tribute album Surprise you Pig.  The Jawbox cover of "Low" on that record is pretty solid, and I'm sure you've all I'm sure overheard the J Church track at this point. 
Jawbreaker - Pretty Persuasion (REM cover)


Here's a cover of Split as done by the Western Chicago Suburbs Jawbreaker-ites Friction. Or as they're known to the species called the Midwestern Guitar Emo Male...the pre-Braid band. Originally released on the 2x7" compilation "How the Midwest was Won" 1993 split release by  Subfusc / Kiss of Winter Records featuring  Cap'n Jazz, Friction, 8-Bark, and Sunspring.  I had the joy of attending a double taping of the Jerry Springer Show with Scott Snot and a friend that ended with him trying to get us to pay him to fuck his leftover burrito.  
Friction - Split (Jawbreaker cover)


And as a recovering depressed drunk white boy writer...er....alcoholic....I'd be remiss if we didn't end this one the right way.
Jawbreaker - Kiss The Bottle

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sanders vs. Sanders: A Kmart Debutante Face-Off



 "Head in the clouds while still wearing the blue collar shoes 
my father gave me....from football to free jazz and everything 
in between"

That is the motto of this blog, and it's time to really put that into action because it's everything that I am really about.  I was the guy with the dyed black hair and studded white leather belt getting insane looks when showing up at sports bars in Chicago to watch the Steeler's games.  And I was the guy that was smirked upon by the other so called open-minded creative type people for liking sports and football specifically (and while we're on that topic, all of you art rock haters back then who suddenly recently became soccer fans because it's now so fucking hip to watch soccer can lick my taint).  I was at the last Indian Summer show at  924 Gilman Street on August 12th, 1994 to witness the decedent emo dance party that broke out on stage, and I was at the last Pittsburgh Steelers game ever to be played in Three Rivers Stadium on December 16, 2000, as well as the first regular season NFL game ever to be played the next year when Heinz Field opened up, but more on that later.  In the same year in 1996,  I saw the Chicago World Premier of the Steve Reich / Beryl Korot collaborative video/live musical performance piece "The Cave, and I climbed up a Chicago El train tower to drunkenly celebrate another Chicago Bulls NBA Championship.  I've been rock-star drunk at the Chicago Symphony, and was peeking at a TV for another Bulls score while at a Bedhead show.  And it all makes sense to me.  "From football to free jazz and everything in between."

Original set list from the final Indian Summer show
 8/12/1994 - 924 Gilman Street, Berkeley, CA



The Kmart Debutante at the first ever regular season NFL game to be played 
at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on October 7, 2001.  

In typical fashion at the time, the Steelers beat the Bengal's in a Kordell Stewart mediocrity dump won on the back of Jerome Bettis and the foot of Kris Brown like they all were.  Speaking of Jerome Bettis, this one here goes out to all my hometown Chicago brethren.  The first regular season game there was actually slated for September 16th against the Cleveland Browns, but that game was canceled due to the events of September 11th.  They hate us for our Millionaire's club, open-air gladiator stadiums funded on the backs of the working taxpayers. Wasn't that the reason why?  No disrespect meant towards the pillars of sports families the Rooney's, but we keep it real over here.  It was also the game where on the big screen before the game, as well as TV screens  across America, Cowboy Bush announced he was about to bankrupt the United States of America and sentence it's young men and women to a life of PTSD and stumps.  And the crowd went nuts.
Back to the task at hand though, in the exploration of my dichotomous life and the overlap of art and sport, I bring you the first in the series of "Kmart Debutante" Face-Offs", where the heavy hitters of each category will face off to decide an ultimate winner.  For the first installment, we have to go big and toss the pigskin and the mic to two of the greatest "Sanders" of each side:  Pharoah Sanders vs. Barry Sanders:



All right, this one appears to be too close to call, we're going to have to turn to the tape here and see who the winner is:


"Preview" -  Jazz Composers Orchestra 
featuring Pharoah Sanders (1968)

Barry Sanders in-action

Let's take a look at one of the judges scorecards and see if we can gauge where they might be leaning on this one:

"Atmosphere Burning" by Miqual Corley - 1997.
This is a writing piece I did after seeing the 1997 Pharoah Sanders
performance at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago mentioned above.
The Kmart Debutante might be conceptual, but I'm also Americana as fuck.  I grew up in the Laundromat part of society, cut my teeth in my teen years at the Arby's Roast Beef Emporium, and in my adult life I love to watch in fascination and disbelief when bold, over-the-top moves that up the ante in the great slow genocide program called the fast food industry are brought to market.  For the winner here, I've got to "Double-Down" on this and go in a whole different direction.  In the 1st ever Kmart Debutante Face Off:  Sanders vs Sanders, the winner is...........

The Colonel discusses proper smoking techniques for his 
"secret blend of herbs and spices" with Alice Cooper.