November 30, 2017

What the Locket Left Behind


Posted by Dr. Frank at 11:57 PM


Since Lauberdemont’s time, evil has made some progress. Under Communist dictators, those who come to trial before a People’s Court invariably confess the crimes of which they have been accused—confess them even when they are imaginary. In the past, confession was by no means invariable. Even under torture, even at the stake, Grandier protested his innocence. And Grandier’s case was by no means unique. Many persons, women no less than men, went through similar experiences with the same indomitable constancy. Our ancestors invented the rack and the iron maiden, the boot and the water torture; but in the subtler arts of breaking the will and reducing the human being to subhumanity they still had much to learn...

For the totalitarians of our more enlightened century there is no soul and no Creator; there is merely a lump of physiological raw material moulded by conditioned reflexes and social pressures into what, by courtesy, is still called a human being. This product of the man-made environment is without intrinsic significance and possesses no rights of self-determination. It exists for Society and must conform to the Collective Will. In practice, of course, Society is nothing but the national State, and as a matter of brute fact, the Collective Will is merely the dictator’s will-to-power, sometimes mitigated, sometimes distorted to the verge of lunacy, by some pseudo-scientific theory of what, in the gorgeous future, will be good for an actuarial abstraction labeled ‘Humanity.’ Individuals are defined as the products and the instruments of Society. From this it follows that the political bosses, who claim to represent Society, are justified in committing any conceivable atrocity against such persons as they may choose to call Society’s enemies. Physical extermination by shooting (or, more profitably, by overwork in a slave labour camp) is not enough. It is a matter of observable fact that men and women are not the mere creatures of Society. But official theory proclaims that they are. Therefore it becomes necessary to depersonalize the ‘enemies of Society’ in order to transform the official lie into truth. For those who know the trick, this reduction of the human to the subhuman, of the free individual to the obedient automaton, is a relatively simple matter. The personality of man is far less monolithic than the theologians were compelled by their dogmas to assume. The soul is not the same as the Spirit, but is merely associated with it. In itself, and until it consciously chooses to make way for the Spirit, it is no more than a rather loosely tied bundle of not very stable psychological elements. This composite entity can quite easily be disintegrated by anyone ruthless enough to wish to try and skillful enough to do the job in the right way.

--Aldous Huxley, The Devils of Loudun

Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:58 PM

She's Coming (Over Tonight)

This video is from a November '98 show at Seattle's RKCNDY, via Amy Yambor who used to work there and who handed me a DVD transfer of it when we played NYC a couple weeks ago. Pretty good set, pretty fun show. I'll probably post more of it, and maybe even the whole shebang eventually, but in furtherance of the unofficial song-commentary thing I've been doing, I thought I'd start here.

Silly though it may be, I've always considered this to be one of my best, most effective songs. Unlike many of the tunes on the Revenge Is Sweet... album the recording came out pretty much as I'd intended. An assistant engineer at the session commented that it was the most hard rockin' bubblegum she'd ever heard, and while I've probably heard of things that'd have made her head spin I took that as a great sign. It was what was intended. And the song does exactly what it's supposed to do.

The bridge "everyone makes fun of me / they do it right in front of me / they don't think someone shy like me / could get a girl like that to like a guy like me" is one of my favorite lines I ever came up with.

Posted to my dumb little youtube channel. Head over there and subscribe -- I plan on posting a lot more stuff in future. Cheers.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 03:28 AM

St. Saturninus

Image of St. Saturninus being dragged by the bull deleted, viewable here.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 02:23 AM

November 29, 2017

Smash It

Posted by Dr. Frank at 02:34 AM

November 27, 2017

Giggle Water

Image deleted, viewable here.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 11:30 PM

Minor Secrets of "...and I Will Be with You" Revealed!

I've always liked this unassuming little song, but I'm a bit surprised at how popular it is. (Maybe it's because of the nutty video?)

The recording, as with many songs on Revenge Is Sweet but possibly most of all, feels quite "unfinished" to me. I'd had some pretty grandiose arrangement ideas that never got a chance to happen because we just ran out of time and money. A vestige of the thwarted plan can still be noted: I went so far as to rent a baritone sax, meant to "bump" with the bass on the choruses and the main figure -- just the foundation of something meant to be bigger, you understand. The track wasn't used, but Kevin allowed one of the "badump badump badump" sax figures to pop up (in the spirit of ridicule, I've always half-suspected.) We did however, spend many, many hours on the drum sound, particularly the kick drum, which Kevin created by placing a mic forty feet away and turning the hallway at Toast Recorders into a big reverb: that worked.

Of course I am not unaware that our public, such as it was, would have (and did) prefer the "unfinished" version. The people have spoken, the bastards. Such is life.

As for the video, well it is what it is. It was as chaotic behind the scenes as in front of them, and there was a whole lot of drama (including, I swear to God, one of the dancers storming off mid-shoot yelling "I am NOT background!") Another thing I remember is that the basic melodic line of the song "Naomi" came to me during this incident, for whatever reason. The best part of it is the Hanna-Barbera style animations, which are pretty darn authentic.

American Ninja II, everybody. American Ninja II.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:37 PM

St. James Intercisus

Image of the martyrdom of St. James Intercisus deleted, viewable here.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 04:40 PM


Before there was Peter Frampton, there was Pete Drake:

Posted by Dr. Frank at 04:37 PM

November 25, 2017

St. Catherine of Alexandria

Image of St. Catherine of Alexandria deleted, viewable here.

... an engel ne com,
wið feorliche afluhte
fleoninde aduneward,
and draf þerto dun riht
as a þunres dune;
and duste hit a swuch dunt,
þæt hit bigon to clateren
al and to cleuen,
to bresten and to breken,
as tah hit were bruchel gleas,
baðe treo and te irn;
and ruten forð, wið swuche rune,
þe stucchen of baðe,
bimong ham as ha stoden
and seten þer abuten,
þæt ter weren i-sleine
of þæt awariede folc
fowr þusend fulle.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 07:52 PM

At the top of every twitter feed as well

And Montaigne concludes with one of those golden sentences which deserve to be inscribed over the altar of every church, above the bench of every magistrate, on the walls of every lecture hall, every senate and parliament, every government office and council chamber. “After all,” (write the words in neon, write in letters as tall as a man!) “after all, it is rating one’s conjectures at a very high price to roast a man alive on the strength of them."
-- Aldous Huxley, The Devils of Loudun

Posted by Dr. Frank at 07:00 PM

November 23, 2017

Clemens Romanus

Image deleted, viewable here.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 03:16 PM

November 22, 2017


Partisan loyalty is socially disastrous; but for individuals it can be richly rewarding-- more rewarding, in many ways, than even concupiscence or avarice. Whoremongers and money-grubbers find it hard to feel very proud of their activities. But partisanship is a complex passion which permits those who indulge in it to make the best of both worlds. Because they do these things for the sake of a group which is, by definition, good and even sacred, they can admire themselves and loathe their neighbours, they can seek power and money, can enjoy the pleasures of aggression and cruelty, not merely without feeling guilty, but with a positive glow of conscious virtue. Loyalty to their group transforms these pleasant vices into acts of heroism. Partisans are aware of themselves, not as sinners or criminals, but as altruists and idealists. And with certain qualifications this is in fact what they are. The only trouble is that their altruism is merely egotism at one remove, and that the ideal, for which they are ready in many cases to lay down their lives, is nothing but the rationalization of corporate interests and party passions.
--Aldous Huxley, The Devils of Loudun
Posted by Dr. Frank at 04:37 PM

While the instruments were playing profane music, Cecilia sang rather to God in her heart.

Image of Burne-Jones's Cecilia in stained glass deleted, viewable here.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 03:24 PM

I Fell for You

Sometimes a song will come to you almost fully-formed in an instant and it just clicks, and that was pretty much sort of the case with this one. (Though because I'm weird, that only meant agonizing over the lyrics of a couple of lines for ages and ages and chipping at it ad nauseam before it was truly "done.") There is one clunky/awkward line in the last verse that I'd probably change to "'I've got a lot to learn" if I were to go back in time. That aside, it all works, the conceit, the lyrics, the structure, the development, all the melodic, harmonic, and conceptual counterpoints. Some of my best writing, though I say it myself, and the recording has some great energy, too. I used to talk about wishing I could "harness the horses and drive 'em" a little better, and this was a pretty good attempt.

The crazy, cartoonish vid was done by a guy named Gary Smithson and I don't know what to say about it other than I think my original concept was meant to have a lot more "falling." The filming was done in an afternoon at a big shared-tenancy Haight Street Victorian and some of the residents returned before we were done, none too pleased. In the ensuing negotiations, this girl said, "okay where's the singer, I gotta talk to the singer." I sheepishly stumbled up and explained that, you know, it's just this, like, dumb little band. She said, "well, no wonder you're not famous, with an attitude like that. You gotta believe in yourself." We were both right. Then there was an awkward hug, like there always is.

Anyhow, it is what it is, a song is a song, and love is kind of a mysterious game where once you get hurt you start believing more even more...

Posted by Dr. Frank at 03:13 PM



Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:00 AM

November 20, 2017

Everything else is our oyster

I've written a bit about this song qua song recently (when I posted the solo guitar version.) I've always thought the video, by my old pal Jennifer Kaufman, transcended the song and turned it into a sort of work of art. The house the band tries to set up in at the end is the family home of Dallas and John Denery (of Sweet Baby Jesus and Hi-Fives.) There was also a bit that was filmed but never used that had significant words from the lyrics spelled out in a Scrabble game.

It was played on MTV's 120 Minutes exactly once, if I'm not mistaken, not enough to make anyone rich and/or famous. Pretty weird that a band like mine ever got on TV in any form, though, to be honest. After this broadcast happened, I had many people message me along the lines of, "I hate to tell you this but MTV played your video.. those bastards. I can only imagine how upset you must be." Like they snuck into our house where we kept the videos and stole them and played one just the once against our will. Maybe I shook my fist and said "why you" or something. (People still say this sometimes, in fact. Punk rock people are weird. Of course, we made it hoping no one would ever see it. That's been the game plan all along and it has usually worked like a charm.)

I have been asked what the song "means." And why the "lyrics are so good but the chorus is so stupid." If you have to ask...

Posted by Dr. Frank at 11:55 PM

Quick sale

So last night I posted about discovering a stack of Big Black Bugs 10"s I didn't know I had and got a few orders from folks who wanted them. (And thanks!) As long as I'm boxing stuff up to send out, I figured I might as well mention what I've got in case anyone else is interested.

Just message me and tell me what you want and we'll go from there. Planning to do this mailing tomorrow so do it before the day's out if you can. Whatever's left, I'll bring to the shows in Chicago and STL (if I remember to bring it!)


Big Black Bugs 10 (Lookout): $15
Making Things with Light LP (Lookout): $20
Night Shift LP (Lookout): $20
Tapin' Up My Heart/My Stupid Life 7" (Lookout): $8
Andromeda Klein 7" (Jealous Butcher): $8
Dr. Frank w/Bye Bye Blackbirds 7" (Good Land): $8

Assorted CDs too, and while we're at it, I also have all three books

Let me know.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 03:28 PM

High School Is...

The basic verse melody had been kicking around in my head literally for decades till finally getting used for this KDATA song; the A part of the verse is meant to evoke a sort of "school song", while the B part is a pseudo Gilbert & Sullivan esque "patter song" thing; the bridge is intended as a country-rock-by-way-of-Preservation-era-Kinks world of its own. Came out great.

The vid was done as a short film by our own Jonathan London.

We'll have each other -- all they've got is them...

Posted by Dr. Frank at 01:30 PM

November 18, 2017

Be how you want to stay

The bare bones of this song had been kicking around for quite some years before I decided tack them together and incorporate them into King Dork Approximately, the novel. We may even have tried to play some rudimentary version of it at some point back in the 90s -- if so, though, it was never more than a quarter-baked and couldn't have come together anywhere near as well as it did here. Of all the songs we've recorded, this recording and arrangement probably comes closest to the thing I heard in my head before being humblingly brought crashing to earth by the force of reality.

The brilliant vid is by Augstus Rachels.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 11:08 PM

King Dork Approximately

The latest resurrection of the Mtx began with this song/book. Was meant to be only a one-off digital single, turned into shows, and a "balbum", and we were suddenly a band again.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 04:25 PM

Mtx forever


For whatever reason I started up an new MTX twitter account:

Small and no doubt destined to remain so, but I am going to be posting stuff there till I get tired of it, so if that's the kind of thing you're interested in, you know where to go.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 04:19 PM

November 15, 2017


Dibs are closed, for real ordering has begun (purple vinyl, shirt, pin, sticker, cool box, etc).

(digital here.)

Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:55 PM

November 07, 2017

Page 73

Mable Syndrome noticed this in a library book:


Posted by Dr. Frank at 02:16 PM

November 06, 2017

PUNKEMON (up)dates


Hey 'monheads.

Here's a PUNKEMON update:

We are nearing the PUNKEMON release and here are the important dates:

-- Thursday November 9th - Saturday November 11th: a number of the super limited pink copies will be available at the MTX shows in Philadelphia and NYC. While supplies last, and assuming they actually arrive -- they're being rushed from the pressing plant to Philly... it's like the Wild West in vinyl production these days: you never know whether the Wells Fargo Wagon will make it to Carson City.)

-- Monday November 13: "dibs" link goes live. Everyone who has signed up for dibs will be able to place their orders through a special email link, and a small number of randomly selected dibs orders will receive a limited pink copy instead of the standard purple. (Good luck!) Plus, Sounds Rad says: "as a thank you for all dibs orders, we will be offering a coupon code for 20% off all items in the Sounds Rad web-store (excluding Punkemon, duh). The coupon code will be sent when with the link to order Punkemon on 10/13." Stock up on stuff!

-- Tuesday, Novermber 14: general ordering from Sounds Radical goes live. PUNKEMON takes over the world. Our lives will never be the same.

Here's where to go to sign up for "dibs" if you haven't already.

Here's The Punkemon Story.

See you in Philly, those of you who will be there to be seen.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 11:06 PM

I Love You, Daddy

You can already see the gathering outrage storm twitch hunt in the offing, but this looks like the greatest Woody Allen movie you've never seen and if you tell me to be mad at it it it's just going to make me want to see it more.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 08:08 PM

Against Solidarity

It sounds a little weird, I know, but squinting past all the gender politics stuff that is in the foreground, this piece by Emily Fox Gordon on "a writer's detachment" and the concomitant disinclination to join up with movements and align with ideologies is a bit like looking in a mirror for me. A beautiful, thought-provoking essay.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 03:07 PM

Léonard of Noblac

Image of Léonard of Noblac deleted, viewable here.

"The story is told that Léonard was a 5th century devout who lived in the town of Nobiliac and that he wished to emulate the sanctity of Saint Remi, who was granted the right to release all prisoners when the king came to Reims. Clovis granted the request, that he would release every captive that Léonard visited. Soon, the miracles started accumulating; any prisoner, invoking his name, was freed from his chains and went free with nobody daring to oppose the release. The prisoner was required to go to Nobiliac and present the chains to his patron and many of them remained with him as fellow devouts."

Posted by Dr. Frank at 02:44 PM

November 05, 2017

Elizabeth with Mary

Image deleted, viewable here.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 03:28 PM

November 02, 2017

St. Hubertus and the Hart


(Can't bring myself to delete this one, it's just too beautiful.)

Posted by Dr. Frank at 11:54 PM