TS5Q: DJ Lance Rock

Posted: May 2nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: The List of 100 | Tags: , | Comments Off

When this silliness began a year ago, my original dream list contained people that I knew, people that I knew would never talk to me (if I could even get word to them), and people that somewhat knew but had no real reason to chime in on a random interview project. DJ Lance Rock fell into the last category, more or less. He’s a friend of friends and he’s a St. Louisan and he’s a good egg, according to all. He’s also a successful entertainer these days, so there was no guarantee of this one ever happening.

Over the past year, though, he visited his hometown a few different times and I ran into him on more than one occasion. The project was discussed each time, to the point where I was certain that every trip back to St. Louis for him contained a tiny black cloud, this little bit of worry that I’d pop out of the bushes and ask if he’d had time to work out the answers to TS5Q. While I never popped outta the bushes, literally, I’m pretty sure I provided at least a few “ayie!” moments. If so, sorry, dude.

But the star of “Yo Gabba Gabba!” came through. And we chalk up one more member of The List of 100. Who won’t have to stress running into me any more.

Thanks for making my year, sir. Seriously. We end on a high note, for real.

One. Which of the seven deadliest sins make for the best art?
Lust or Envy. Desire in a positive or negative way is usually a motivational force.

Two. For what are you going to need a little more evidence?
I recently watched the entire series of Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos,” so I’m going to say extraterrestrial life. Simply because the odds of a life form that could or would want to make contact with us, and for us to be able to communicate with them are so great that it seems extremely unlikely.

Three. For personal creativity (or productivity), are you better served by contentment or restlessness?
Restlessness. If I’m content, I tend to get a little complacent. Whereas when I’m restless, ideas come to me constantly

Four. Likeliest occurrence within your lifetime: true peace, total war, or the arrival of spacemen/spacewomen?
I don’t think it’s likely that any of these events will occur during my lifetime.

Five-d: For you, this is the book, play, recording, painting, poem, scripture or (item X) that made all the difference.
I have been influenced by so many amazing books, records, films, art and experiences, I can’t pick just one, since they have all contributed to my being. However, I am going to say “The Simpsons.” It has so many layers of appeal. It’s awesome satire, has some of the sharpest writing of any show on television, and has so many divergent cultural references. I mean what other show has referenced or included James Brown, The Ramones, Gore Vidal and Judge Judy?


TS5Q: The Angel

Posted: January 4th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: The List of 100 | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

Those of us who value music go through phases. Maybe it’s a month of listening to nothing but barbershop quartets, or a few weeks hunkered down with Tuvan throat singing, or even a couple days of unironic rifling through those old K Records singles. Whatever. We’re not here to judge.

For a bit, I wanted to hear nothing outside the electronic and during that cycle I found an album by The Angel, “No Gravity.” It fit perfectly into the stylish, urban, sophisticated stuff that was playing in the cool STL clubs of the moment, alongside like Thievery Corporation, Andrea Parker, Neotropic and the like. After dropping some real coin on all kinds of import alt-singles, ten-inches, white labels and the like, I gradually cycled back ’round to rock, but I still treasure my “No Gravity” CD and have picked up on a few other The Angel projects over time, like 60 Channels‘ “Covert Movements.”

The LA-producer’s dealing with a full plate these days, according to her site, which details her work scoring films and television, remixing and running a label/publishing house.

Thanks to Kevin Herlihy at Supa Crucial Recordings for working with me, for no small amount of time, on this one.

One. Which of the seven deadliest sins make for the best art?
Since I never think about things in terms of sin, I actually had to research the list.  Lust is the only sin that I perceive to have the kind of impact on a person that would lead them to create something exceptional, i.e. “best art”.  Equating lust metaphorically with passion gives a real sense of purpose and focus to one’s creativity.   Lust, or hunger, or craving to create something, can move anyone into that superlative “art” arena. According to Wiki, “Pope Gregory’s revision of the list subsumed Despair into Acedia,” though, in my books, “Despair” would also qualify as a powerful propellant to making great art.

Two. For what are you going to need a little more evidence?
That blood is thicker than mud.

Three. For personal creativity (or productivity), are you better served by contentment or restlessness?
Contentment serves me way better than restlessness. Restlessness is it’s own form of distraction, like the natural enemy of creativity and productivity.  In fact, the only time I really get restless is when I’m in a situation that actually prevents me from being creative or productive.

Four. Likeliest occurrence within your lifetime: true peace, total war, or the arrival of spacemen/spacewomen?
I’m no raging pessimist, but if I have to choose one of these three, it would sadly be total war.

Five-a: You lost it as a child and you want it back.
The feeling of a year being a really long time.

Five-d: For you, this is the book, play, recording, painting, poem, scripture or (item X) that made all the difference.
A simple line from “Blade Runner”: “I want more life…”

(Let’s dial it back a decade for this cut, “Destiny Complete,” featuring Mystic:)


TS5Q No-No: Penelope Spheeris

Posted: November 11th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: The List of 100 | Tags: , , , | Comments Off

As the only person in my general age bracket to have never seen “Wayne’s World,” it may’ve been audacious to expect a positive response from longtime documentary, feature and music video director Penelope Spheeris. But you gotta have dreams. And if Spheeris had only lensed “The Decline of Western Civilization,” and nothing else, she would’ve been a sure, first-ballot pick for TS5Q.

But it’s not to be.

There’s something good that can come of the rejection letter, which hits upon all the chords you could possibly pack into a few, choice sentences. This is something I can actually use in writing classes, as it deftly never says “no.”

Wrote Ms. Spheeris’ assistant, “I work with Penelope. She thought your questions were fascinating, and she wishes she had the time to answer them properly. At the moment, she’s under a tremendous time crunch finishing her latest film, Balls to the Wall, and would not have time to do them justice. Thank you very much for your request, and best of luck with your project.”

Complimentary to the idea. Short, but not curt. Citation of industry pressures as reason to decline. This note is good at what it does. Very, very good. And I mean that.

Also very good is that I dipped into the director’s website and learned that she’s not only worked with Keel, but with George Benson, which makes me oddly happy.


TS5Q: David Greenberger

Posted: June 2nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: The List of 100 | Tags: , | 3 Comments »

If zines have meant anything to you over time, it’s possible you remember the first time a zine hit your mailbox, or jumped off the shelf of an indie bookstore. For me, it was a little novelty called “Surge,” which came to me via the USPS, a weeks after stuffing a few dollars into a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Finding “Surge” in the back pages and tiny type of “The Nation”‘s classifieds, I was hooked and not only wanted to self-publish, I wanted to share. To call it a transformative experience, well… yeah, let’s call it just that.

In the next wave of zines to hit home for me was a gentle, clever, funny, suddenly-everywhere zine called “Duplex Planet,” produced by David Greenberger. His story’s been told many times, in many places, but the short summary is that he interviewed the residents of a nursing home, on various, simple and sundry topics. And the answers they provided were an amazing glimpse into the human soul. Sure, some of the answers were lively simply because the old folks answering the questions were making kooky comments about pop culture, but Greenberger’s kind approach and deft editing always ensured that you were laughing with the subjects, rather than at them.

Over the years I’d collect a few more “Planet”‘s, here and there. I’d buy a best-of compilation, which got claimed in The Great Basement Flood of Whatever Year that Was. And I plan on securing a lot of 50, for only $35!, available here.

His multi-media work’s been a huge influence, so what an honor it is to have David Greenberger answer TS5Q:

One. Which of the seven deadliest sins make for the best art?
Curiosity and confusion. Oh wait – those aren’t sins, thankfully.

Two. For what are you going to need a little more evidence?

That the Titanic hit an iceberg.

Three. For personal creativity (or productivity), are you better served by contentment or restlessness?

Contentment.

Four. Likeliest occurrence within your lifetime: true peace, total war, or the arrival of spacemen/spacewomen?
None of the three. Chimpanzees will learn to take dogs for walks, and clean up after them.

Five. Select/discuss any one of the following options.
Five-a: You lost it as a child and you want it back.

I was no longer a child, probably was 21 or so and living in Boston, but I lost a scarf that my grandmother, Goldene Greenberger, had made. She didn’t make it for me, but for my father who, having moved out of winter’s hold, no longer needed it. It had a feel, weave and color unlike any other scarf I’ve ever had. As happens with the extra, detachable winter garb, it must have gotten left somewhere or got dropped. My searches the day after were unsuccessful.

Five-d: For you, this is the book, play, recording, painting, poem, scripture or (item X) that made all the difference.
Painting: “Speedboat’s Wake” by Milton Avery
Recording
: “The Forrest” by Robert Wyatt
Book: “Eunoia” by Christian Bok


TS5Q: Zia McCabe

Posted: May 25th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: The List of 100 | Tags: , | 2 Comments »

Music fans are notoriously time-specific, dating their love of acts to specific moments in time. Usually, the subtext to this is that Fan X knew the music of Band Y well before the general public caught on. (We are hip! Yay for us!) Sometimes we even get the details right, though the emotions behind the stories are ultimately more important.

For me, the discovery of The Dandy Warhols came right at the time of their move from independent Tim/Kerr Records to the major label Capitol. While I don’t remember the year, I saw them under a tent at South by Southwest at the band’s buzzingest, about-to-break moment and (if memory’s not failing me) I purchased a square, picture disc of the single “Ride” at that show. To this day, it’s probably the single coolest-piece of vinyl my collection, an amazing piece of wax featuring art design that’s as sharp as the song, itself, a slice of pure, shoegazing perfection.

Why this group isn’t mega is beyond me. They have great songs, proven by an extensive back catalog. They’re photo- and telegenic. They have a fine, in-the-pocket live show. They’ve been featured in a fine documentary, “Dig!” In short, they’ve got “It.” And they’ve got Zia McCabe, which might be the key to the whole operation. She sends us the extended dance mix version of TS5Q below.

One. Which of the seven deadliest sins make for the best art?
I’m not sure but all the great artists are guilty of at least one as none of the great artists ever seem well balanced.

Two. For what are you going to need a little more evidence?
2007

Three. For personal creativity (or productivity), are you better served by contentment or restlessness?
Restlessness for sure.

Four. Likeliest occurrence within your lifetime: true peace, total war, or the arrival of spacemen/spacewomen?

I will spend my life striving for inner peace and hopefully be aware of the moments that I achieve it, I can’t imagine total war and I like to believe spacemen and women have been here for quite some time.

Five. Select/discuss any one of the following options.
Five-a: You lost it as a child and you want it back.

I really do feel like this a lot. I lived in a fairie land of happiness and contentment until I turned 12 and then it slowly started to chip away to be replaced by restlessness and doubt (though I still consider myself happier than the average human, it’s not the same)

Five-b: You are concerned about your food and its origins.
Yes of course, it’s terribly shocking for me to see how many people still just don’t give a damn what they’re eating or where it came from.

Five-c: These are your generation’s greatest successes.
Hmm, I think that’s for the next generation to answer.

Five-d: For you, this is the book, play, recording, painting, poem, scripture or (item X) that made all the difference.
Oh jeeze, Maxfield Parish, Beatles-White Album, Pink Floyd- Dark Side of the Moon, Willie Nelson-All, Rolling Stones-Through the Past Darkly, Exile on Main St., Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Ray Bradbury, Grabriel Garcia Marquez, LSD, Marijuana, Harold and Maude, Easy Rider

Five-e: Do you have a question for me? (What is it?)

Hmm, I can’t think of anything. I hope your satisfied with my answers.


TS5Q No-No: Louis Black

Posted: May 7th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: The List of 100 | Tags: , | Comments Off

In the early-to-mid 1990s, there was a good chance that if I wasn’t around the crib, I was just across town at Cicero’s Basement Bar. If I spent three nights a week there, the bulk of the rest of my evenings were split between Mississippi Nights, Bernard’s, the Red Sea, Kennedy’s, the Wabash Triangle, the Gargoyle, and other, choice music venues. At the time, I had an excuse for that kind of bar-holding-upping: I worked as a music columnist for the local free-kly, Riverfront Times. When you’re punching the time clock during your mid-20s, you never realize how good you got it. And I had it pretty good, holding a plum job in a town with a pretty good music scene.

Whatever degree of self-awareness I had towards my good fortune, I’d have dropped everything to go to work for either the Austin Chronicle or South by Southwest. And working for the RFT’s spin-off of SXSW, the Midwest Regional Music Festival, allowed me multiple opportunities to visit the Republic of Austin.

As a stone-cold devotee of the film “Slacker,” I couldn’t help but be further pulled into the Austin vortex and as I eventually figured it out, Louis Black was at the center of it all. He was the editor of the Chronicle, one of the coolest alternative papers in the country, headquartered in one of the coolest cities in America. He was a founding member of the Austin Film Society, which helped nurture the talents of Richard Linklater, his associated crew, and many other filmmakers. He was intimately involved in SXSW. And, hell, he even had a speaking role in Linklater’s “Slacker,” a fact, to my mind, moves you into the ranks of Gods.

I sent Louis Black the TS5Q yesterday and heard back today. “Not my cup of tea,” was the heart of the concise message, “I wouldn’t know how to answer them.”

It’s cool. This site’s an experiment. There’s no guarantee on hearing from anyone, or getting back anything exact. But having spent my 20s quietly hoping for a call from Louis Black, I can appreciate the quick-turnaround “no thanks.”

We await what message is coming next, maybe watching “Slacker” for 15th time. Just because.