April 19, 2018

The Curse of Halford

Revisited here.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 05:57 PM

Minor Secrets of "At Gilman Street" Revealed

Gesælig Wodensdaeg to ēow, once again. Minor secrets! "At Gilman Street"! Reveal'd!!!

Today's video is the second of two music videos made by Byron's neighbor (that's literally all I know about him, and it); the other one, for "Surfin' Cows", I posted a few weeks back. They're basically short films with a montage of images vaguely related to the song-as-soundtrack, and are kind of like historical documents unto themselves.

This version of the song is from the Rough Trade Big Black Bugs ep, and it must have been put together sometime in 1989. I like the non-sequitur (or are they?) images best (that Greco-Roman statue head that is the current thumbnail and coincides with the Isocracy name-drop never fails to amuse me) but the Gilman footage is genuine as is, the general scuffed-up, chaotic, grainy, what-the-hell-are-we-doing spirt of the whole thing. That urinal, for example.

I started writing the song, rather idly, before the club opened, during those endless planning meetings. At the time it seemed pretty doubtful that it would get much beyond the meeting stage, but Berkeley people love their meetings and that's usually reason enough to have them. I brought my schoolwork to them and was mostly pretty distracted but every now and again I'd look up and notice what was going on: hippies yelling "point of order" at each other, our Dear Leader making everyone vote till they came up with the result he wanted, routine denunciations of Bill Graham Presents, the Judean People's Front, and the military-industrial complex, earnest guys on the "Security Council" renouncing their right to impose their will on other sentient beings... basically, it was just like every other Berkeley community meeting since at least 1968, I'd guess. Vive la revolution. Death to the fascist insect that preys on the life of the people. I am Tania. Then it was back to homework for me, I'm afraid.

Anyway, as many have had occasion to point out recently (quoting my notes to MTX Shards, vol. 2) it is perhaps just a bit of a shame that I of all people was the guy who happened to write the “Gilman anthem.” It could have been a lot more sycophantic and triumphalist and mythopoeic in other hands. Sorry about that, Punk History.

When I noticed people start to mythologize it and Shining-City-on-a-Hill-ize it, I had the notion of writing a follow-up song called "Yo Jerusalem" but it never quite came together. And fair enough, really. I'm glad it was there. We had some good times there (and down the street at Picante.) It's a club, it's a place, it's a thing, innit?

(Putting this on the "official and semiofficial music videos" playlist, because it is at least semi-official, considering. And I think that list may now be complete, till we come up with more.)

Posted by Dr. Frank at 05:43 PM

April 13, 2018

I Hate Rock and Roll, so Put Another Dime in the Jukebox Baby

Professor Josh Blackman was heckled by protesters at CUNY.

'A student shouted out “Fuck the law.” This comment stunned me. I replied, “Fuck the law? That’s a very odd thing. You are all in law school...'
If any of these kids pass the bar and want to practice law in New York, they're going to have to swear an oath that runs rather contrary to that sentiment, which I"m sure they'll do just fine, as I doubt they really mean it. It's still pretty funny, though.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 12:24 AM

April 11, 2018

Minor Secrets of "Cingular Wireless (Worse than Hitler)" Revealed!!!

It's Woden's day, and the sched calls for video so... "Cingular Wireless (Worse than Hitler)" - what a song. It was never officially recorded or released, but it proved weirdly popular when I played it solo and remains one of the most requested songs. The live version included on The Way It Sounds Like was recorded during an author appearance at Moe's Books in Berkeley. (This video, taken by Marisa, is of a different Moe's "show" I believe -- there is video of the Moe's show that is on the tape, but this song seems to have been cut off. Thank God for Marisa anyhow.)

Cingular Wireless is a now-defunct cell phone company, and the conceit of the song is more or less what really happened: I had a lengthy dispute with them over a mysterious charge that appeared on my bill and I felt they were being unreasonable. The dispute stretched over several calls and many weeks, and in the midst of it, I informed the customer service rep that I was in fact an internationally famous singer-songwriter, that I was writing a song about this experience, and that how that song came out was pretty much up to her. Singer-songwriter blackmail, basically, a tactic with a long history in the protest-song tradition.

She chose the way of pain, the song "Cingular Wireless (Worse than Hitler)" emerged, and the company went out of business, in that order. (Actually it got absorbed by AT&T and the charge disappeared just as mysteriously as it had appeared. There are no coincidences.)

And yes, I actually did sing it to her over the phone: she hung up during the bridge.

When I play it, I always introduce it with a lengthy, shaggy dog style story along the lines above, which Marisa's video doesn't include. It's tolerably amusing. If you'd like to hear a version of it, you can get the Sounds Rad cassette RAD-007-3 Dr Frank - The Way It Sounds Like, or request it at a show. I'll probably do it, because you know, why not?

A ways back I was a guest at some English classes at Berkeley High (I just showed up with my guitar and talked about King Dork.) After I'd played a song or two, one of the kids raised his hand and said "are all your songs about Hitler?" Well, no, they're not, obviously, but that was the first time I'd realized that there was indeed a two-song Hitler sub-theme in my oeuvre, if oeuvre means what I think it does, and that if I wasn't careful I could get a reputation as some kind of "Hitler guy." This concern proved well-founded when, a couple of weeks later on my way to the Berkeley Post Office, I passed a scrum of kids on lunch break and one of them said "hey it's that guy with the book and the guitar and the Hitler stuff, that was hella tight." Lesson learned. (Tight is good, right?)

Putting this on the "official and semi-official music videos" list, because it's all I've got for this release, which is semi-official enough in my book.

(Final note: I'm told -- and I've noticed from past post behavior -- that the word "Hitler" anywhere in any post automatically triggers an algorithmic daemon that de-prioritizes, hides, shadow-bans, or otherwise abuses the content. In fact, it is possible that this whole thing may never get seen by anyone. Well, in this situation, it can't be helped. But you can help by sharing, liking, subscribing and commenting. If you like jokes that are funny, that is. If you don't just, you know, stay there. At ease.)

Praise Odin and head over to Sounds Rad for the cassette and/or a whole mess of other Dr Frank and MTX stuff. Till next time.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 11:04 PM

April 09, 2018

Dr Frank - The Way It Sounds Like


Risking the image upload because it's a new thing... Available Wednesday 4/11. All details are here.

UPDATE: orders are live now. Here's the link for cassette, player, shirt, pin, sticker, and... ?

Posted by Dr. Frank at 09:38 PM

Aw, nuts

Despite my intention to cross post everything here as they come up, I let things slide a bit over the past week. Sorry. So by way of catching up quickly, I'm going to post links here.

-- Minor Secrets of the Mr. T Experience Aggregated (#3).

-- Minor Secrets of Merry Fucking Christmas Revealed.

-- Updated show list.

-- The Week in Dr. Frank (a link digest on Google.)

Will try to do better... at least until the blog problem is solved.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 09:21 PM