More Paris Hilton Madness!

19 06 2007

Today is the ARC is annexing the adjacent space so we have some friends over helping us prepare four our BIG SUMMER SALE (I encourage anyone in NYC reading this to clink on the link and learn more). One of the folks lending a hand in the expansion is our friend BeBop. (Some context: BeBop was arguably the most important person on the 80s post punk scene. Why? Because he was the doorman at all the hip clubs when they were hip. In the 80s, if you wanted to get into a club and didn’t know BeBop, you weren’t getting into the club. Period.) He didn’t know about our blog, so I explained it to him. As I was telling him about the post in which I suggested Cher could be a good role model for Paris after she gets out of jail, he said “yea, but Marianne Faithfull would be a better.” BeBop, you are correct, so here we go.

Marianne Faithfull would be a good role model for Paris because she did it all before Paris did. Her mother was a Baronness. She had the famous boyfriends (Mick Jagger, anyone?), she had the drug problems, she dealt with the anorexia – all kinds of tragedy, but she’s managed to make it through. Should we be surprised that in 1985 she had an album called Rich Girl Blues (do I hear Paris Hilton In-Tha-Klub remix on the horizon?). Plus, they kind of look alike. Here is the photo spread from the back of the soundtrack for the 1968 film Girl on a Motorcycle:


Here’s Paris, from around the net:

Paris, if you’re looking for her, Marianne is currently living in Paris (the city, not you).

Yes, It’s Perfunctory Now.

19 06 2007

On father’s day, a singer named John Ogrodowczyk sang “God Bless America” during the seventh inning stretch at the Red Sox game at Fenway. Normally I change the channel during this little bit of baseball “tradition” because I feel like it was an arbitrary and fairly poor choice of songs, but I quite liked John “O’s” performance. He has a good voice and better IMHO that that Ronan Tynan guy. But, when it was over, my dad turned to me and said something like “wouldn’t it be great if they played Kate Smith’s version at Fenway? I mean, for the kitsch value?”


I don’t know how many of you have ever seen Kate Smith, but this is what she looks like:

…and this is what she sounds like, singing “God Bless America” before the 1974 Stanley Cup:

So, um, yeah. “Kitschy!” And I suppose it would be kind of kitschy and fun..if a) I hadn’t grown in the last few years to dislike this song, and b) if Kate Smith wasn’t the version they always always played at Yankee Stadium. It was a little hard to break it to him, but I told him. So yeah, they CAN’T do Kate Smith’s version at Fenway. Sorry, dad. (Although who knows, they probably do her version at Fenway too…living in New York it’s not like I’m getting to Fenway that much.)

As much as I’m not one for this whole “God Bless America” thing at baseball games, I really REALLY don’t like Kate Smith’s version. It simply doesn’t speak to me. And, as it stands, I’ve never been alone on this. By now, I suppose just about everyone knows that Woody Guthrie hated the popularity of Kate Smith’s version of “God Bless America” (“unrealistic and complacent“) and wrote a patriotic tune in reply called “God Blessed America for Me” which became the widely known “This Land is Your Land” in later drafts. I suppose too, that most everyone also knows the melody Guthrie used was that of a widely known Protestant religious song called “When the World’s on Fire” which the Carter Family once recorded in 1930, quite some time before TLIYL. Given this background, I find the song’s genesis a fascinating complex of religious and patriotic ideas that map well onto the history of America’s musical development in the twentieth century.

Take, on the other hand, “God Bless America.” Although he wrote it in 1918, Irving Berlin introduced it in 1938 for Kate Smith to sing on Armistice Day, a holiday to commemorate the end of World War I on which people take two minutes of silence as a sign of respect for those who died in the War. It became immediate hit, its popularity mushrooming from its inclusion in the 1943 patriotic war film This is the Army (a film, incidentally, in which later President Ronald Regan had a small role).   It too is a fascinating complex of ideas (with a little commercialism sprinkled in) that map well onto the history of America’s musical development in the twentieth century.  (By the way, in a neat Guthrie-esque twist, GBA’s melody was said to have been in part borrowed from a early twentieth century Jewish novelty song called “When Mose With His Nose Leads the Band.” Have a listen by clicking the link and tell me what you think in comments.)

What’s striking to me in this is the contrast here; that the new “tradition” (and let’s be honest, it’s not a good tradition) of singing the relatively complacent “God Bless America” at baseball games only started when we went into a new war, not as we were coming out of one, while “This Land is Your Land,” a song written to criticize complacent patriotism gets no notice. A song written to memorialize a war’s end is now being used to inspire support for a new one while the song by the guy with a sign affixed to his guitar that read “this machine kills fascists” (which could easily be rewritten as “this machine kills terrorists”) is overlooked. It sort of makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? (By the way, given its association as a “leftist national anthem,” how weird is it that George H.W. Bush used “This Land” in 1988 as his campaign song?)

What a bold move it would be for someone to play “This Land is Your Land” instead of “God Bless America” at a baseball game. Wow, how I wish it would happen. Theo?

I suppose all this is REALLY just a long way of asking when can we quit with the “God Bless America” business and get back to only singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” in the seventh? I’d like that quite a bit. Maybe we can even do the longer original version, too, the one that includes the verses in which the song’s female protagonist would rather have her beau take her to a baseball game (so she could tell the umpire he was wrong) than to a show? Yeah, that’d be cool. And retro, which is cool too.


[For those out there interested in a somewhat more in-depth look at these two songs, Dr. Adelaida Reyes did a very nice comparative analysis of them and their role in ideas about American identity in her book Music in America (pp. 42-8).]


Another great donation.

14 06 2007


Today the ARChive received an incredibly generous donation from a fellow whose marriage was in jeopardy—his wife told him to get rid of his records, or to get rid of her. With that ultimatum, he packed up more than 30 or so years of record collection into more than 40 boxes and called the ARChive.

Damned Pork Dukes

We have not had a chance to go through the LPs quite yet, but the 45s are very fine–mostly some swell punk and new wave records from the late seventies and early eighties. Included are the French-only 7” issue of The Cramps’ Smell of Female (commemorating a spring ’84 tour of Europe), The Adverts’ “One Chord Wonder” (one of my favorite records) on Stiff, a Joy Division flexi-disc (“Incubation”/”Komakino”), “Bend and Flush” by The Pork Dukes (including an insert advertising for a T-shirt), “Stretcher Case Baby” by The Damned (originally issued as a free first anniversary gift), a German pressing of “Train in Vain” by The Clash (with a picture sleeve I’ve never seen before), “Cheree”/“Ghost Rider” by Suicide (on Red Star),

Suicide The Clash

nearly every single by The Sex Pistols (missing the A&M single, of course) and a complete collection of singles by The Jam, original UK seventies and eighties issues.

Adverts / Jam

Although many of these are already in the ARChive, it will be nice to know that we have second copies of them. Also, the ARChive is happy to help with marital problems.

–Phast Phreddie Patterson

Ice Cream Wars

14 06 2007

Today, Boing Boing did a little bit on the Ice Cream Patent Wars of the 1930s and linked to two articles by Jefferson Moak entitled The Frozen Sucker War: Good Humor v. Popsicle (click here for links to part one and part two; it’s a wonderful article).  It’s got some neat-o pictures in it, but maybe none are as cool as the vintage photo of the Good Humor truck:

Very cool!  You can almost hear the bells.  What I really like about the piece is that it adds historical depth to the Good Humor story I touched upon in my article about ice cream truck music.

DOG DAZE O’SUMMER record + cd sale!

14 06 2007


FOLKS! It’s that time of the year for the big DOG DAZE O’SUMMER record + cd sale!

Our sale raises money to help fund the ARChive. It begins Saturday, JUNE 23 and lasts until Sunday, JULY 1 and runs from 11 am to 6 pm everyday. The sale is held at our ground floor office at 54 White Street, 3 short blocks south of Canal, between Broadway & Church in TriBeCa. To get there, you can take the 1 train to Franklin, or any train to Canal.

Remember, admission is free and we’ll have over 20,000 items for sale. Our selection of collectible LPs are priced below (sometimes well below) book value. Hundreds of CDs are priced at $1 to $5 each. Cassettes $1.00 ea./ 12 for $10. Just released NEW & HOT CDs are $5 – $10. MOST LPS $1 + FULL BOXES of 125 LP, sealed are $5 CDs are NEW donations from record companies, NOT used, returns or defects!Come early and often, too, because we’ll add new items daily.

Regulars to the sale know that we generally have lots of pop and rock recordings (the “just in this week” category includes things like the Searchers’s BBC Sessions, the Sex Pistols There is No Future, the Fall’s Dragnet, Shreikback’s The Y Records Years, a ton of Shuggie Otis from Luaka Bop, Loverboy’s Get Lucky album), but this year we will also have a great blues selection and some amazing jazz as well, including several copies of The Complete Argo/Mercury Art Farmer/Benny Golson/Jazztet box set from Mosaic records – that’s seven CDs of hard bop madness for the jazz aficionados among you, priced to move.

We also have TONS of Laserdisc movies @ $3 each • Film Soundtrack & Broadway LPs + CDs – MOST for a BUCK • Signed records • 100s of sealed/unopened LPs (Aretha, Troggs, Smiths) • BEATLES and more BEATLES LPs • African, Reggae & world-music releases (lots from Luaka Bop) • Classical LPs $1 or LESS each! • Vintage punk, new wave & classic rock LPs • Shelves of music books • videos • some 7″ singles Sealed BOXES of 125 LPs @ $5 each!!! Pop, Soundtracks or Classical – usually sell for $1 per LP = NOW $5 a BOX

We even have stuff for the dis-en-vinyled among you – our Astroturf Yardsale includes lots of 50s kitchen stuff, vintage clothing and more!!!

Almost forget about the cocktail party! Members are welcome to attend the pre-sale cocktail party on JUNE 21 from 6-9. In addition to light refreshment, members get first dibs on all the good stuff (such are the benefits of membership). If you (yes, you) are interested in becoming a paid-in-full member of the ARChive, call 212-226-6967 for details.

As many of you know, we’re a not-for-profit music library with over 2 million sound recordings – America’s (nay, the WORLD’S) largest and BEST popular music collection. Our Board includes Davis Bowie, Jellybean Benitez, David Bowie, Jonathan Demme, Ellie Greenwich, Jerry Leiber, Edward P. Murphy, Youssou N’Dour, Lou Reed, Keith Richards, Nile Rodgers, Todd Rundgren, Fred Schneider, Martin Scorsese, Paul Simon, Mike Stoller + Jerry Wexler.

The Buddha Box is Back!

13 06 2007

Readers will doubtlessly remember B.George’s post a little while back about the Buddha Box. Well, when B.George finally returned from Singapore, a demonstration was in order. Turns out, his box has 18 loops of nirvana-seeking awesomeness. It runs either on three AA batteries or, on an AC adapter, which is made for American outlets, leading me to believe that it was made for the American market and that if I look around the neighborhood I’ll find a store that sells them.

Diana, our faithful volunteer (who has her own blog), remembered the Buddha Box too. She hipped us to FM3, a Beijing-based group that not only knows about the Buddha box, but has customized it and made it the basis for their hustle.

There’s quite a bit online about FM3, including an interview, a little piece on their Buddha Box in the New York Times, and, of course, a MySpace page with sound samples.

This stuff is great. If anyone out there comes other stuff like this, post it in comments. We’d love to know.


Boris Vian, instrumentiste

12 06 2007


I first heard about Boris Vian (3/10/1920 – 6/23/1959) in James Campbell’s Paris Interzone, heralded in the punk-friendly chapter head, “We will spit on Boris Vian.” Interzone describes literary post-war Paris seen from the perspective of Black American expats and the porn publishers who embraced their writings. “J’irai cracher sur vos tombes” (I Shall Spit On Your Graves) was Vian’s novel of a black passing for white, who vengefully fucks white women and eventually murders two sisters.

Vian identified enough with the outsiderness of the black man that James Baldwin, in The Devil Finds Work, says; “What informs Vian’s book, however, is not sexual fantasy, but rage and pain: that rage and pain which Vian (almost alone) was able to hear in the black American musicians, in the bars, dives, and cellars, of the Paris of those years… Vian would have known something of this from Faulkner, and from Richard Wright, and from Chester Himes, but he heard it in the music, and, indeed, he saw it in the streets.”

As the hipster concierge of postwar Paris, Vian welcomed the many visiting American musicians, artists and writers who were reshaping the city. He played trumpet and cut records in a formal Dixieland style a la Bix Beiderbecke, championing jazz and writing criticism for the magazines Le Jazz Hot and Paris Jazz. As factions squared off in the 50s, Vain acted as mediator between trad and bebop tribes. He wrote 10 novels, his best, L’Écume des Jours, the most infamous, Graves. Graves was France’s best seller of 1947, helped by being banned, and the sheer “luck” of being found at a grisly murder site, the scene in the book underlined and copied by the killer. Jours, from 1946 went from utter neglect in its time to one of Frances best selling works of the 20th century. He was Raymond Chandler’s French translator, and wrote regularly for the Sartre- de Beauvoir magazine, Les Temps Moderne. He collaborated with Darius Milhaud on the opera Fiesta, authored among his 400 or so songs a hit pop hit, “Le déserteur,” an anti war song of the Indochina era that enjoyed numerous covers and a resurgence during the Algerian occupation. Serge Gainsbourge cites a stage performance as inspiration to launch a songwriting career.

The single above is workmanlike. Nice sleeve. For me, the musical touchstones are literary. In his novel, Les Bâtisseurs d’Empire ou le Schmurz (1959), Vain uses sound to disrupt the complacency of a middle-class family’s new apartment. A short story from the Holiday issue of Jazz Hot (1948) daringly, inappropriately, outrageously, pits Nazis against Commies in a mock dialectic, the politics replaced by the querelle de bebop. This is not The Producers, with its distance to temper the conceit. One can only wonder at the response to the Goebbels-Vain debate that begins with “Heil Gillespie.” There is also a short story I am searching for that features a mechanical piano that mixes cocktails. I can imagine it in a carpeted hotel bar in Cap Ferret, next to JK Huysman’s organ.

Vain’s world is equal parts jazz et Jarry. He did much too much too well, and in a breathless flurry of overproduction in his short life, perhaps nothing great. That is to say, I am in awe.

B. George – written somewhere of the north China coast….

Best case scenario for an Ethnomusicologist.

11 06 2007

Yea, so what if Xeni Jardin got there first. I’m loving it, so it goes up here, too.

New ARChive Uniforms!

11 06 2007


In Singapore they are offerings to the dead. Here in NYC they’re a fashion statement. Bob brought all the kids sacrificial paper shirts. Mine is an example of a very rare imprint; Ralph Lauren’s Pollo. Tastes great with arroz y frijoles negros.

– Jonny

Mento, Calypso, The Beat, Oh My!

10 06 2007

This month’s issue of The Beat arrived today. Although it’s special because it’s the “25th Annual Bob Marley and the Wailers Collectors Edition,” it has particular meaning for me because it includes two obituaries I wrote about friends who have recently passed: mento singer Alerth Bedasse (lead singer of the 1950s group, the Chin’s Calypso Sextet) and Stanley Beckford, the reggae-mento singer well known throughout Jamaica both for his bawdy 1970s hits and for his Festival Song Contest successes. (These articles appear on pages 63-4 of The Beat; the article about Alerth was originally published in the Jamaica Observer.)

The Beat included a couple photos in the piece, but here are a couple more that don’t appear there. The first is of Stanley rehearsing with the Blue Glaze Mento Band. Stanley’s the one on the far right in a baseball cap

The next is one of Alerth from when we first met in person. The photo was taken at his house and, as you might have guessed, I took the picture while he was singing.

(I took both of these photos and “borrowed” them from my own rarely updated website.)

Shifting gears from Jamaica to Trinidad (and it is a shift because I’m of the opinion that mento and calypso have little to do with one another, in general), I’ve been listening to an amazing box set of Trinidadian calypsos from the Bear Family company called West Indian Rhythm.


This set is unbelievable. Its 10 beautifully remastered CDs feature almost every single recording Decca Records made in Trinidad between 1938 and 1940 (talk about complete…it’s missing only one record – an acetate – because there is no extant copy). On this set are not just calypsos, no no; it includes recordings of non-calypso topical songs, of dance bands, of Shango and Shouter Baptist hymns, of carnival chants, and of stick-fighter songs. It is really something to hear.

It’s something to read as well. Included in the box is a glossy, meticulously researched hardcover book of liner notes with essays from Don Hill, Hollis “Chalkdust” Liverpool, John Cowley, Lise Winder, Dick Spottswood, Denis Malins-Smith and Richard Noblett (a name that should be familiar to those interested in recordings of Caribbean music). If only every reissue came with a book so well done….

My point is this: were there ever a collection of Trinidadian calypso music to be considered a “must have,” this is it. If you love calypso and can afford to (I have to warn, it’s kind of pricey), there is ABSOLUTELY no way you will be disappointed. Click here for more info.

(An aside: anthropologist Don Hill hipped me to this set, a gesture for which I’ll be eternally grateful. Don is the consummate calypso scholar; his expertise in this area is well documented, and he’s got the seminal book to prove it.)

I should also add that for those interested in calypso, clicking here will take you to a great online exhibit that compliments this set of recordings. Some of the same people responsible for this great set of CDs were involved in that website’s production; on it, there’s lots of goodies to see, so have a look and enjoy.



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