September 22, 2017

Each is a collector’s item in its own way—not because of any special artistic quality, but because each captures on a canvas, suspended in time and space, a frozen moment of a nightmare


In my personal universe, the observed Hallowe'en season traditionally begins on 9/22 (the day after my birthday) and extends through All Souls Day (11/2.) That's just the way we do it around here. This year's project is to watch Night Gallery in entirety. Starting now, this means we have to watch 98 episodes in 42 days, 2 1/3 per day. I think we can do it.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:18 PM

September 20, 2017

Guitar on Parade


I'm currently kind of "curating" this old Martin ('49 O-15 if I'm reading the serial number etc. right). Needs a bit of maintenance and set-up but it's really satisfying to play even as is. I've been playing it non stop and it has already "sparked" a couple of new songs, so, guitar success.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 05:17 PM

September 11, 2017

Shilling is My Business


"Shipped in an unbelievably cool custom shipping box for this release based on the original King Dork Approximately design created by legendary graphic designer, Frank Kozik."

The album is on discogs, which somehow makes it seem more real. (Matrix # is wrong though: it's RAD-002-1; *-2 is the CD.)

Anyhow, even if you missed out on the initial limited gold pressing, you can still get the "vanilla" black vinyl version, or the CD, or the "balbum" (download with book.) It's work mail ordering it from Sounds Radical for the box alone, as well as for the combo packages and other stuff. I think of the box as an important part of the release in fact, but there will no doubt come a time when they are no longer available, so act now.

Go here for KDATA;

and here for other stuff.

Okay, that's about enough shilling for now, though I'm sure I will shill again. Shilling is my business, and shilling is, well just, you know, okay.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 05:42 PM

August 11, 2017



-- Today is (finally!) the official release date of the LP and CD of King Dork Approximately the Album. (I know that way back we said there were no plans to do a CD of this release, and there weren't any originally, but plans change and this one did -- long story.)

-- The limited edition 180 gram gold vinyl "dibs" pressing is now SOLD OUT. They should be going out to their purchasers this month (and thanks.)

-- The "vanilla" black vinyl version, and the CD, is available everywhere, like via Amazon, Interpunk, or (theoretically at least) at your local record store, if you've still got one. You can also get it directly from Sounds Rad, which is a good idea because they have some packages and bundles and are also running a discount promotion thru the weekend. Details and links below.

-- As of now these are the ways to acquire KDATA: (a) vinyl LP; (b) CD; (c) direct digital purchase via Amazon / iTunes / etc.; (d) free download of AAC digital version with the book. (I've been asked several times about whether the book download version will be de-activated now or at some future time, and the answer, or at least the plan, is no: the plan is, it's forever. Keep buying the "balbum" you crazy kids!)

-- Here are buy links for KDATA from Sounds Rad:

vinyl LP (black), $15

vinyl LP (black) bundled with shirt, poster, sticker, & pin, $25

CD, $10.

CD, packaged with shirt, poster, pin, & sticker, $20.

The "More than Complete Package", which includes the LP, CD, book, poster, pin, & sticker, $50.

-- also, if you buy any of this stuff and enter KINGDORK at checkout you'll get 10% off any other items on the Sounds Rad site. This is good thru the weekend, so it's a good time to stock up if stocking up is your bag.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 05:09 PM

August 10, 2017

My Dad's Lenny Bruce


Watching this great documentary on free speech and comedy. It's free on Amazon Prime at the moment.

Lenny Bruce's story plays a big role. They say (and it's hard to disagree) that Lenny Bruce wouldn't stand a chance on college campuses today. (Nor, I daresay, at google, or at KPFA, or Warped Tour, or... what have you.)

Anyway, it inspired me to dig out this book, which I haven't read since I was a kid. This is my dad's copy, which I still have. (I mean, obviously.) It only just occurred to me now how weird and cool it was that he had one just laying around for twelve-year-old me to pick up, and how much I owe to them both.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 09:27 PM

Clear Error


Posted by Dr. Frank at 03:22 AM

August 08, 2017

MTX w/Kepi, Philly and NYC November 10-11


So yeah, like it says, we're bringing the MTX machine to Philly and NYC w/ Kepi in November. A good time will be had.

11/10- Philadelphia, PA at Kung Fu Necktie
11/11- Brooklyn, NY at Saint Vitus

Tix on sale on Friday, 10AM. Gonna sell out quick I bet, so get on it!

(I'm also playing solo at Jughead's place with Vapid and Even in Blackouts in Chicago on August 19/20, btw. I believe there are still a few tickets left for the Sunday. If you're interested in that go here.)

Posted by Dr. Frank at 04:39 PM

July 09, 2017

Designated Survivor


This is a mid-70s SG Standard that I hardly ever play because it currently lives at my friend Jen's house. Because there are just too many damn guitars in my tiny apartment, plus I think she plays it sometimes. Also, if the worst should happen, and North Oakland should sink into the mud, fall into the sea, or get smitten in some other way, destroying my place and all the guitars in it, there will be one guitar left to carry on. The Designated Survivor. (But if Berkeley also goes, we're screwed.)

In fact I haven't laid eyes on it in years but last night we were drinking bourbon and I started feeling maudlin and sentimental enough to want to visit it, so she lugged it out. I took a picture, just to remember. And that brings the situation up to date.

This wasn't the main guitar for very long, probably for only a few months in '90 or '91. I loved the sound but it was awkward and neck-heavy and once I acquired the white Junior it basically just got retired. But it is the Love American Style / Milk Milk Lemonade guitar, which I get asked about quite often. (For anyone curious, the set-up there was this SG, a Mesa Boogie Mark IV head, and... dunno about the cabinet.)

Also, J's husband has a fantastic but under-maintained Martin from the 30s that I drunkenly played the whole night -- I couldn't stop. Despite the crusty strings and high action, it's the sweetest sounding thing, a thing I love and want to marry. Old wood, man. Gotta get me one (he says, knowing he'll never have the wherewithal to do so, if wherewithal is the word I want.)

Posted by Dr. Frank at 03:46 PM

July 08, 2017

Dumb Little Band

Fantastico cover by my Italian friends:

Posted by Dr. Frank at 03:22 PM

July 07, 2017

Now that You Are Gone

Posted by Dr. Frank at 03:17 PM

July 04, 2017

Sure I'll do 'em

Posted by Dr. Frank at 08:23 PM

July 03, 2017

Three Chords, No Brain, One Shirt


So, the tl;dr of this is: if you're not going to be in Italy for the Dr. Frank shows in July, you can still get the shirt via Sounds Rad. Details are below, but you can sign up here: (Also: ladies' sizes/style available on this one, by popular demand.)

I'm playing a couple of shows in Bergamo, Italy this month: Friday July 14 at the Punk Rock Raduno Festival, performing as the Dr. Frank Electric MTX Euro Special (basically me doing MTX songs backed up by the great punk/garage rock and roll band Lone Wolf); and before that (July 12) at a kind of pre-show book event at Parco Goisis, where I'll play acoustic and "present" the book King Dork Approximately (along with Eric Davidson of New Bomb Turks, who also has a book to present.)

Now, I don't know how it is for you, but these days I can't seem to do anything at all without commemorating it in T-shirt form. It just sort of happens, and it's happening now. We're doing a shirt for the festival as you can see, a one-off limited design with the MTX logo that says "this is a song about a girl" in Italian.

When I shared the image, quite a few people over here (that is, outside of Italy) expressed interest in it, so Sounds Rad decided to do a very limited run of them, just as way for non-Italians to participate in the fun. It's $20 and comes with a sticker and a pin. It is being offered first come, first served only to people on the Sounds Rad mailing list. On Wednesday, Sound Rad will send an email with a purchase link. First fifty people to click get 'em. Otherwise, you'll have to travel to Bergamo. Or just ascetically do without. Them's your options.

If you've ever bought anything from Sounds Rad, or if you've downloaded King Dork Approximately from the book's download page, or if you've signed up at the MTX merch table, you're on the list already. If not, you can sign up here.

Do it!? Ciao!




Posted by Dr. Frank at 03:31 PM

June 16, 2017

I Wanna Hole Your Ham

Morning read: all the Beatles songs ranked.

Ranking shmanking, I don't really care about that, but unlike whoever wrote that Rolling Stones list a ways back, Bill Wyman (not *that* BW) has interesting things to say in the capsule reviews of each song. (And basically he's just a better writer.) I found it fun rather than irritating (which I can say about few enough things in this life.) He is more indulgent of John's excesses than he is of Paul's, which is a kind of personality type in a way, one that used to be a bit more common I think, and it's probable that your meter is calibrated differently than his. His #1 is entirely predictable, not that I disagree with it. About a third of these could be #1 to the degree that it matters. (It'd be "I Want to Hold Your Hand" for me, probably, just because.) I think he really underestimates "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party," which is a John highlight for me.

p.s. in re., Bill Wyman, the critic: Bill Wyman, the Rolling Stones bass player, once had his lawyers send a demand to Bill Wyman the critic that he cease and desist using his own name because it was the same as Bill Wyman the bass player's stage name: . It doesn't seem as if that went anywhere, but if I were Bill Wyman I'd have framed that letter or something.

p.p.s., in re IWTHYH: once upon a drunken uber ride the driver asked us what music we wanted him to play. "Beatles" my girlfriend slurred. We had to spell it for him (he genuinely seemed never to have heard of this group) so he could enter it in his app. He asked what our favorite song was. "I Wanna Hole Your Ham" I managed to burble. Somehow he found the correct track. Halfway through it, the guy said, "you know, boss, this is some pretty good shit." I don't think he was putting us on. The Power of Music.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 04:59 PM

June 01, 2017

The Confusion and the Glory


Like so many of the things we've done over the years, the "Mr T Experience? Nein Danke!" shirt design was a bit of a misfire. A parody of a seemingly ubiquitous anti-nuclear power campaign logo, it seemed funny, slightly mischievous, maybe even almost clever. Once we'd printed them up, though, it soon became apparent that we'd misjudged our audience (or something.) As Aaron succinctly put it: "nobody gets it." (Which was something of a de facto MTX motto. They should put in on my tombstone, really.) Turned out the original wasn't quite as ubiquitous as we'd imagined.

Nevertheless, we persevered in trying to unload them, one by one, to a bemused public. Years and years later, we succeeded in doing so, and turned our attention to other things nobody was going to get. When the band caught a sort of "second wind" in the mid-90s, however, we started to get lots of people coming up at shows and asking if we had any of those "nine dank" shirts. They still didn't get it, generally speaking, but somehow that misfire had become popular as its own discrete thing, completely separate from the thing it was a parody of. Weird phenomenon. So we made more and scattered approximately one zillion of them around the USA and the world. It was one of the more popular designs we'd ever done.

But that was long, long ago. Sounds Radical is doing a limited re-issue of it now. You don't have to get it to get it, just do it now: orders are open through June 12. Celebrate the confusion and the glory.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 08:58 PM

May 16, 2017

Dashiell Hammett, Agatha Christie, Judy Blume, and Van Halen

I've been re-reading The Maltese Falcon (the same Vintage paperback edition I read as a teenager, as it happens.)

I noticed a minor, slightly screwy detail that bothered me a whole lot more (I'm sure) than it would bother most people. (I have reason to believe, after years of complaining about this sort of thing, that I may be the only person who cares about it, in fact.)

In Chapter Seven, Sam Spade tells Brigid O'Shaughnessey an anecdote about a real estate agent in Tacoma, Washington, a digression that has become known as the "Flitcraft Parable." The reason it's in there at all has been a matter of much debate over the years, but that's not what bothered me. What bothered me is that, in the text I was reading, Spade says the events took place in 1942, with his own participation in the tale beginning in 1947.

Now, as a teenager I may not have known (or cared) that The Maltese Falcon was originally serialized in the Black Mask in 1929, and published as a stand-alone book the following year. But now I am well aware of it, and seeing these dates was jarring. The question nagged at me: why the hell does Dashiell Hammett, in 1929, have his character tell an anecdote that takes place in 1942?

Well, he didn't, of course. Somewhere along the editorial line, some benighted editor decided it would be a good idea to "update" the text. (Just to make sure I wasn't missing something, I acquired a facsimile printing of the first edition -- the actual first edition costs thousands of dollars - and in it, the anecdote dates to 1922 and 1927, as I guessed it must.) I suspect this change was a misguided attempt to make the text seem "contemporary," less old-timey to its 1972 paperback-buying audience. It's a stupid edit, for a whole lot of reasons. (a) making a book contemporary and up-to-date is by definition a losing battle -- it's out of date the day after it's published anyway; (b) no one is fooled by such alterations into thinking that an internationally famous classic of modern American literature was written yesterday, nor should they be; (c) far from helping the reader in any way, it sows confusion, and in fact if you're a weird semi-autistic type like me it sows actual anxiety; and (d) and most importantly, it is fundamentally dishonest and inaccurate, even if it does serve some legitimate purpose (which, as far as I can tell, it doesn’t.)

But the worst part of it is, there's no way of knowing what has happened to the text and why, or whether anything has happened to it at all. As I said above, I've complained about this before, to the sound of crickets and rolling eyes. Here I am reading an Agatha Christie novel where original dialog referring to W. Somerset Maugham's The Moon and Sixpence was changed to read "a life of the painter Gaugin", a similarly stupid edit that confuses far more than it clears up. They updated the "menstrual technology" in later editions of Are You There God, It's Me Margaret? Sometimes, with these edits, you can see their point (Dr. Doolittle and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory); sometimes you can see the point but it still seems like a bad idea (Huckleberry Finn) or an unintentionally comical one (The N-Word of the Narcissus.) Sometimes, it is outright nefarious: in the eighties, the estate of James Joyce, in what can only be described as an act of literary vandalism, tried to alter the text of Ulysses in what appears to have been an attempt to justify re-starting the copyright clock. And the text of A Separate Peace has evidently (see the first comment to this post on Lark's Vomit") been edited in some school editions to exclude homoerotic intimations, which is just... how was there a book left after that, in the end?

Evidently, this sort of thing goes on all the time, but since there's never an indication that the alterations have been made, there's no way of knowing the extent of it. You just stumble on little examples it here and there when you happen to notice something that seems weird enough to investigate. And hope for the best. And, all the more so I suppose in this day of electronic everything, unless you have a physical first edition, you can't be absolutely certain that you're reading the actual text as published.

But really, everyone is saying, I know: what's the big deal? It's just a couple of dates, and, big picture, so what?

So of course, my thoughts turn to Van Halen.

When I was a kid, the rock band Van Halen was notorious for their outrageous contract rider, which famously insisted that there be no brown M&Ms anywhere in the venue. This was seen as the epitome of Marie Antoinette-level rock star excess, abuse, and entitlement. People who hated Van Halen were quick to mention it as an indictment of their pettiness, their vapidity, their general out-of-touchness. What's the problem with a few brown M&Ms, ya jerks? I never hated Van Halen, particularly, but I admit I saw it that way too. But there was method to the madness, and I'll let David Lee Roth explain:

If they're not following the M&M part of the contract, what else aren't they following? The presence of brown M&Ms was a warning sign that something else could be awry. You don't want the stage to fall down.

And that's how I see the dates 1942 and 1947 in my paperback edition of The Maltese Falcon: as brown M&Ms, basically. In effect, the publisher has (for an unspecified but almost certainly stupid reason) violated the contract, in which they were obligated to present the actual text of the novel as written by the author and originally published, read, and criticized by the public. And while a brown M&M or two may be nothing to get worked up over, the question remains: what else has been altered, left out, elided, bowdlerized? Probably not much, but then again, who knows? There’s no way to check. There is homoerotic content in The Maltese Falcon, after all, and some of it’s not very polite. If they can do it to A Separate Peace, they can do it to anything. Our culture seems to get more censorious by the day, and there's no reason to assume that books are safe. Did I mention I'm semi-autistic and paranoid? No? Well, yeah, I'm also paranoid.

As I've said before, I'd love it if the full editorial history of a given book were made available somewhere, as standard practice, so there would be a way to know what changes have been made, when, and (even better) why. That would dispense with my complaint. I just want a way to know. It could be part of the copyright information at the front of a book, or could be available in an online database. Of course, as my eminently practical girlfriend pointed out, that's an "app" that would have about twelve users. It's not going to happen. So, my reading habit, at least as far as best practices are concerned, just got a whole lot more expensive. It's first editions from here on out. I don't want the stage to fall down, you see.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 08:48 PM

May 03, 2017

Shards Vol. 1 and 2, pins


The Shards 1+2 pins are in and they are cool. Sounds Rad is sending them out to those who've already ordered the digital albums.

New orders get them too, while supplies last. They're limited though.

Order here.

Notes: Volume 1; Volume 2.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 11:58 PM



Dork Gallery here.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 04:00 PM

April 27, 2017

Paul Berman, the New Left, Free Speech, Facebook, Nazis, Suicide Girls, and Me Elizabeth

Morning read.

I dug up this old, much re-read Paul Berman article because of a discussion on Facebook, and instantly got sucked into it again. It's something close to the Platonic ideal of the cultural-political-historical critical essay and it basically knocked me sideways when I first read it in the New Republic sixteen years ago (and in many ways I'm still sideways.) It was later expanded into a book called Power and the Idealists that is well worth your time, if you're at all interested in this stuff, by which I mean our political-cultural milieu, past and present.

It's worth reading for its own sake on on its own topic, but it's also quite strikingly relevant today, as much of the contemporary campus-fueled disagreements about free speech and "social justice" have their roots in the New Left experience he explores.


This aroused a dread, finally, that pointed to the terrors of the past.

It was a fear, in sum, that in World War II, fascism, and more specifically Nazism, had not been defeated after all—a fear that Nazism, by mutating, had continued to thrive into the 1950s and 1960s and onward, always in new disguises. It was a fear that Nazism had grown into a modern system of industrial rationality geared to irrational goals—a Nazism of racial superstitions committing the same massacres as in the past, a Nazism declaiming a language of democracy and freedom that had no more human content than the old-fashioned rhetoric of Lebensraum and Aryan superiority. And so the New Left in its youthful anxiety found its way to an old and mostly expired panic from its parents' generation, and bent over it, and fanned the dead embers, and breathed on them, and watched aghast as the ancient flames leaped up anew.

Much more where that came from. As usual, I'm having trouble resisting quoting it all (and it's long.)

I will add only that, believe it or not, I was approached by Berman's publicist or editor a ways back proposing that I interview him for Suicide Girls, where I was a blogger. He said he'd had a hard time explaining SG to him (didn't we all) but said he described it as a kind of Playboy of the modern era. I was intimidated by the prospect but did some work researching his writing and began to formulate questions, but I was fired by SG before it ever had a chance to happen. If it had, well that would have been something wouldn't it? Hard to imagine those comments.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 05:13 PM

April 26, 2017



Dork Gallery.


Posted by Dr. Frank at 10:03 PM

April 21, 2017

Free Speech Speechifying

I posted this on the Facebook thing:

When a public university incorporates the "rioters' veto" into its de facto policy on doling out selective permission to speak on campus, it amounts to viewpoint discrimination that seems impossible to square with the 1st Amendment, it seems to me. Lawyers, tell me how that's wrong.

The ensuing discussion was extensive, interesting, funny, frustrating, and ultimately pointless of course, but I'm leaving a link to it here in case I ever want to find it and look at it again.

Here's the coda:

Yesterday's discussion of the law and public universities and the 1st Amendment was extensive, interesting, funny, frustrating (and ultimately pointless, of course, like everything). I enjoyed it. Leaving aside the law, and fair or not, the sentiment expressed in the headline of this editorial is the "messaging" that has won. The university and the folks who want to make the world a better place by shutting down speakers and beating up their audience have already lost big in the PR war. And among other takeaways, universities should prepare themselves for pressure to de-fund education. (Which I don't agree with, needless to say, I hope.) They need to get their act together but I doubt they will or even can.
The headline in question is from the NY Post and it reads: If US Campuses Can't Protect Free Speech, They Need New Management.
Posted by Dr. Frank at 02:20 PM