Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The King of Cloves

Well, it has finally come to pass- thanks to Obama and the Congressional minions, it is now illegal to sell clove cigarettes in the United States. Smoke 'em if you got 'em...and I've got a few... for now. I've been smoking clove cigarettes ever since I went to Bali eight years ago, and have been a long-time smoker way before then. I don't even remember what brand I smoked prior to cloves (also known as Kreteks, in the Indonesian), and I can't, I WON'T go back to regular cigarettes. To me, they don't taste very good, and for me, it's definitely a matter of taste.

Even though I knew this ridiculous legislation was inevitable, I kept postponing stockpiling a large purchase of the now-banned product figuring I could wait until a couple of weeks before the ban deadline (Sept. 22nd) and still have a sizble amount of smokes before the product disappeared. I got a shocking wake-up call when the place I buy from in Pennsylvania decided to remove clove cigarettes from inventory a couple of weeks early, leaving me virtually cloveless. Panic ensued- I bought up all the clove cigarettes I could find locally, whatever brand I could find. (My preferred brand is Djarum, the Vanilla, or Gold, as you see in the photo.) I looked into online sources for purchase, but the ones from Indonesia (where clove kretek cigarettes are manufactured) didn't seem so reliable. Sure they were cheaper, but they take a long time to get delivered and I could see them being confiscated in customs. That would be a LOT of money up in smoke. Eventually, I found a domestic source, and also enlisted a friend from the South to purchase for me whatever he can find. With any luck, I will satsfied until the first snowfall. It's going to be an ugly winter though.

Back to the whole legislative aspect of banning cloves (and other flavored cigarettes) ...what the hell were these clowns thinking? The rationale is suposed to be discouraging young people from smoking, as if clove and flavored cigarettes are THE gateway to developing a smoking habit. That's just plain ludicrous. Teenagers smoke the most heavily advertised brands- Marlboro, Camel and Newport. After that, it's the generics and a few other name brands like Parliment, Kool, Doral and Virginia Slims. Cloves and other flavored cigarettes hardly factor in at all, and just aren't easy to find. Also, they're a bit more expensive than your average cigarette. In fact, the only kids who smoke clove cigarettes are usually Goth kids, and the percentage is fairly low. The brand of choice is Djarum Black, a pretty strong cigarette. Personally, I can't smoke more than one occassionally, and it is not my kretek of choice. Considering that 99% of clove cigarettes are manufactured in Indonesia, and cloves account for the largest percent of the flavored cigarette market outside of menthol, the part of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act that bans them is a direct embargo on Indonesian cigarette exports.

Under the FSPTCA, methol cigarettes are NOT banned. Why? Because the American tobacoo industry has too big a stake in them. Set up the little guy to take the fall, that's what it amounts to. Clove cigarettes account for only .09% of all cigarettes sold in the U.S. Less then a tenth of a percent! So does this look like an effective move in curbing teen smoking? Obviously not. It's just symptomatic of the empty-gesture ineffective legislation that has become a hallmark of the American political system.

Whether Barack Obama still smokes cigarettes or not is a still a bone of contention among some people. I think as recently as June he's admitted to puffing a few. As for his brand, no one knows for sure. Most seem to think it's Marlboro. I'm pretty sure it's not cloves. If he was a clove addict, he might not have been so quick to support banning them. Maybe he'd just have them imported under the radar. I'll bet Clinton found a way to get his hands on a good Cuban cigar now and then. Obama is classified as an ex-smoker, and I'm sure he'll keep it that way in the media. I think he's a closet smoker; only his wife and the Secret Service may know for sure. Still, the legislation is a bit hypoctitical from that perpective. Ex-smokers are notoriously the worst in their zeal against smokers.

So guberment has taken away my kreteks, or will, when I run out of them. Serves you right, you say. Time to quit. Well maybe, but it's forced cessation, not on my own terms. I think if some (tobacco) cigarettes are illegal, they all should be. If the people in government are so anxious to prohibit individual lifestyle choices (and they are), then pull the rug all the way out. Cigarette smokers have been made the pariahs of society; you can't smoke in restaurants, bars, public buildings, airplanes, movie theaters or any numer of other places. I remember a time when you could light up anywhere. Those days are gone, gone gone. That's fine, I'm not going to argue ETS with anyone. I'm not going to even defend smoking at all, but I believe I have the right to make up my own mind if and when I want to quit.

Just remember though, that banning clove cigarettes is ineffectual as a preventative measure to teen smoking and just pisses people like me off. And it won't stop here. Cap & Trade, Health Care, Bank and Corporate Bailouts and so many other situations where legislation will miss the mark, screw the little guy and allow the Corporatocracy to reap the rewards is the modus operandi of how things work in this country now. You can count on it, unless you're willing to do something about it.

For now, I may be "The King of Cloves," one of the few with the last remaining supply of those tasty cigarettes. But my days are numbered. When they run out, I guess I join the ranks of the ex-smokers. I can guarantee I won't be intolerent of smokers as most ex-smokers are. I respect your freedom of choice. I only wish mine was respected as well.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

What I Didn't Do on My Summer Vacation/Summer Music

Here it is, Labor Day weekend, the summer swirling to a gurgling finish as the last droplets of good weather are sucked down the drain by the inevitable seasonality of the region I live in. What didn't I do on my summer vacation? WHAT vacation, I ask. By conventional definition, I didn't do anything. I worked, sort of, albeit leisurely and without a whole lot of enthusiasm. Vacation by definition is "to vacate" implying one is leaving something, a job, a building, whatever in order to be somewhere else, do something else...usually for set period of time allotted by an employer or, if you're self-employed like me, whatever and whenever you can afford to get away.

This year, there has been no money to spend on the sort of vacation that allows one to get away to sunny climes, idling on beaches, sipping cool, tall alcoholic beverages, visiting interesting places, doing cool things. And that's really a shame because the weather around here has SUCKED big-time for the most part- rainy, cold (or at least very cool for summer) making it the most non-summer I've experienced in years. So enough bitching about summer. It's over. Autumn is moving in and soon there will be a yard full of leaves to rake and dispose of. Maybe I'll get nostalgic and wistful this Fall. I could use a change of perspective.

Not having done a blog post since the middle of June, I pondered what topic might be worth diving into to wave farewell to the season of sun. Business surely isn't it; the sales climate for me has been as depressing as this summer's weather. Economy? Well, surely you know where that's at by now, and regardless of the pundits' call for the end of the "Recession", the real world indicates otherwise. This is just the beginning in my estimation, and you ain't seen
nothin' yet. Politics? Politics is a sucker's game; it's rigged and rotten. A speech given by an idiot full of sound and fury...signifying nothing. Sure, I went to a Town Hall Meeting to listen to my Congressman (Eric Massa) take questions (mostly on the ineffective Health Care Bill), but in the end, even HE said it wouldn't pass. There is no doubt we could use some positive change, but too many elected Representatives are bought and paid for by the Corporatocracy, and the only change you're going to get is the "spare change" thrown to the sidewalk for the populace like 'Cash for Clunkers' and Government stimulus rebate checks. And don't get me started on the Oba-man's "Education Speech". It's been botched in the handling and compromised my the media and Administration before it's even been given. Here's a lesson plan for ya- have every school kid write a paper on what Obama promised in his campaign vs. what he's delivered. What's he done right? What has he done wrong? What would YOU do if you were the President of the United States to make the country more prosperous, efficient, and harmonious, without resorting to fascism. You might find some surprisingly good answers among young minds.

Okay, business, the economy and politics are off the table as far topics I'd care to write about without getting apoplexy. What's left? Sex, drugs, rock 'n roll? Sex- finally getting some but need a whole lot more. That's always a touchy topic for me anyway. I suppose I might be inclined to be more open about it if I wasn't married...but as I am, I'll hold my tongue on that topic. Keeps me out of trouble. Drugs? Once again, touchy subject, at least on a personal level. Unless I'm in Amsterdam where there is some level of legal
tolerance, personal anecdotes and experiences are off the table. Besides, I don't have a sweet dealer like on 'Weeds', so there is nothing happening there....unless you count salvia, but that, my friend, is a topic for another discussion. So that leaves 'rock 'n roll'.

Okay, I'll sub-out music in general for the rock 'n roll tag. I can't ever just listen to one genre anyway. At least here I've made some interesting discoveries (with the help of friends, acquaintances and other sources) this summer...some new, some revisited, and some just weird and out of the blue. As a musician, music-seller, music-reviewer and just someone who loves hearing eclectic music, I have strong desire to always seek out
something new. With the proliferation of music outlets on the Internet, there is no lack of availability of cool music. With MySpace, ReverbNation, YouTube and a slew of other places out there you can find a gamut of music ranging from the ridiculous to the sublime. There are only things that you haven't heard or don't know about yet. So let me tell you about some of my recent finds.

First, there is a project called The Division, and the CD called "Mantras". The Division is a solo project by Matthew Schultz of Lab Report and Pigface. Schultz is noted for his weird "Anti Tank Guitar" instrument, but it is the profundity of world instruments used on "Mantras" that makes this album a standout. I discovered it in the last batch of
CDs I reviewed for Chain D.L.K., and it was really the best in the bunch. Conceptually, "Mantras" is supposed to be about Ritual Magick (not something unfamiliar to me) but the music is a pastiche of exotic Middle Eastern motifs, intoxicating rhythms and sweeping ambiences that will blow you away. Highly recommended. Make sure you have your hookah at hand and your girl is dressed in a Princess Leia slave girl outfit, or at least a belly dancing costume.

Next up is
Bat For Lashes. They were introduced to me by way of a friend who sent me the same link of the Letterman show performance you just saw if you clicked on their name. I don't care for every song they do, but the Letterman performance was pretty good. A little Bjork-ish, a bit like Kate Bush, a does of the 80's. You don't find a lot of new artists sounding like this these days. Along the same lines is Sol Seppy, and her "Slo Fuzz" song is worth a listen- very psych/shoegazer influenced. Speaking of shoegazer bands, got me to thinking, how come you don't hear new bands doing that kind of music anymore, and whatever happened to Lush, the premier female-fronted Brit shoegazer (if you don't count the Cocteau Twins). Well, Lush expired in 1966 when flame-topped lead singer/guitarist Miki Berenyi decided to go full-time into the publishing business. Little did I know (or hear) that Emma Anderson, Miki's counterpart vocalist/guitarist in Lush had put her own group together called Sing-Sing with a gal by the name of Lisa O'Neill. Okay, so this wasn't Lush revived, but they managed to squeeze out a couple of pretty good albums when I wasn't looking and disband too before I even heard them. In the world of pop music, you just can't get enough good stuff like this, so I'll take what I can get, even after the fact.

ISB, who I've rambled about enough in another post were also on my playlist this summer due to receiving a 9 CD bootleg compilation called "God's Holiday, Part 2." It's mostly their later stuff when the band was in decline, and probably only interesting to a "String-Bean" like me, but there are some cool gems amidst the clunkers and too many versions of "Black Jack Davy". Finding a copy of this massive set would be a daunting task for most anyway.

So what else have we got? My friend in Florida made me copies of albums I didn't have on CD- Eno's "Another Green World"; the first
UK album (prog-rock supergroup, Bruford, Holdsworth, Jobson, Wetton); John Foxx's "Metamatic"; Kraftwerk's "Ralf and Florian" and the Supreme Beings of Leisure (first album). But this is more nostalgia than anything new, and if you like eclectic and/or electronic music, you probably already own them, or should.

Let's delve into the
DIY category briefly, and an artist who came to my attention via Internet sell-mart Bonanzle, and a visit to my little corner there, Windhamearl's Black Lodge. Out of the Blue I get a request to review the music of someone who calls himself Modartist. In order to formally do a music review (for Chain D.L.K., the only site I formally review for) I need a copy of the product (usually CD) and the music needs to fall somewhere in Chain D.L.K.'s area of genres- Goth, Industrial,Electronic, Ambient, Synth-pop, Experimental, Avant-garde, etc. Since the music of Eric Scott Bloom (Modartist) doesn't fall into the aforementioned genres, I couldn't do a formal review, but that doesn't stop me from telling you about it here. My initial exposure to Modartist was a track called "Real Bad Acid Trip". It's Bob Dylan on windowpane positively cruising down 4th Street. Plenty of psychedelic influence and Pynchonesque lyrics. "Nature of the Beast" is a pretty cool track too. He does sound a bit too much like the rolling stone that followed Bob home on these tracks but further exposure to some of his other songs shows that he's attempted to expand his horizons. I heard hints of Blue Oyster Cult(lite), the Who, Mott the Hoople, Bowie, and a style of music that was predominant in the 70's. I think this guy should get out and tour. Who else is doing this kind of music but the has-beens, and do you really want to pay to see a bunch of overweight, saggy-jowled once-weres crank out the same stale stuff that dominated the radio for so many years? I don't. As for Modartist, I don't think everything he does is great, but there are enough good nuggets amidst the heap that it's worth your while digging into. ESB is a visual artist too, but I'll let you make up your own mind about that.

So what's left? My friend Rob sends me a ton of links, and I think I'm still trying to catch up on a lot of them. Wounded Violets is sort of an odd and interesting duo; experimental dark folk collaboration of a
Parisian chanteuse and a musician dud from Colorado. Kind of Current 93 meets Mazzy Star. Probably too weird for most, but worth a listen for the adventurous. This kind of stuff is most prone to attracting a cult following, especially if you have a number of limited releases that are nearly impossible to find, and expensive when you can find them. I don't think that's the case with Wounded Violets, but it does appear to be the case with In Gowan Ring. Rob also did the legwork on their music and I wasn't initially impressed with their latest musical offerings. Reminded me of Edward KaSpel's lesser solo efforts with a hint of Chad & Jeremy. I think they'd make a competent Renaissance Faire band. However, in digging back through their catalogue, I found them to be much more musically adventurous and interesting on their older material, which of course, is difficult to find. There Oregonians have been touring Europe most of the summer, so they must have something going for them.

real music of summer though, has emanated from the ice cream truck that tours the neighborhood. We must have the only ice cream truck that plays a variety of tunes ranging from "Old MacDonald" to "Swan Lake". (Most seem to play the same annoying song over and over again.) Christmas songs too. What's up with that???

As for me, creatively I've spent what little time I can scrape together working on a piece of music with the working title of
"I'd Walk a Camel for a Mile", something radically different than what I've previously done in my Serious Black project. The track has a Middle-Eastern flavor with mostly genre-appropriate instrumentation. So far, it's nearly 15 minutes long and instrumental. That though, is bound to change as I have some vocal ideas floating around in my head and the repetition spanning 15 minutes seems not as good an idea as it was when first started. It's just a sketch anyway, and if Rob and I can find a way to collaborate long distance on it (he's a ways away in Montreal), it may tun out to be something quite special. But I wouldn't hold my breath; I'm a computer recording Luddite, stuck by choice (and $$) and the world of hardware/outboard gear that nearly everyone regards as passé.

So that's it for the blog post. I encourage everyone to go out and listen to something new today. Yes, even buy something new. If you're stuck for ideas, please feel free to visit
Windhamearl's Black Lodge . I've got a lot of great stuff just sitting there doing nothing, and to be honest, I could use the money.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Managing the Malaise

It seems like everything I'm doing or not doing lately hinges on my level of inspiration. On one hand, this is a pretty cool way to operate. On the other, it can be extremely unproductive when not inspired. As I'm not trading dollars for hours, and the only boss I really have to please is myself (and my wife, who enlists me for household tasks that simply MUST be done) I can often while away the hours preoccupied with endeavors of little real substance or accomplishment. Somehow I justify that anything worth doing must come from and inspired perspective and not from self-reproach of "what must be done". Since this winter past, little inspiration has been forthcoming. This motivation constipation, or 'the malaise' as I call it has infected my creativity, income and general happiness to some degree. Yeah, there's no one to blame but myself for this but still I feel it's better than doing things you don't want to do when you don't want to do them. I know that in the past, pushing myself to work when I wasn't motivated did not produce significantly better results, especially on the creative end of things. Then again, being uninspired to step beyond the bounds of the hum-drum sometimes requires a catalyst. Such a catalyst took form by the recent renewal of acquaintanceship with a dear old friend.

My friend, who I will refer to as Bob, posted a comment on my blog that was like getting a wake-up call with a silken feather. I was tickled pink! It had been 20 years since our last contact with each other, and my previous (although admittedly half-hearted) attempts to track him down in the interim were met with no success. Being ever the wanderer, I though he had moved to some distant country and and become enmeshed in a foreign culture and lifestyle. Not so distant though was he I soon found out, after now having a way to contact him, and all at once it seemed like old times again.

Our friendship really began at the beginning of our senior year of high school, and although we had known each other a few years prior, I ended up attending a Catholic HS, largely at the whim of my parents, who (Mistakenly) thought it would be an advantage to getting into a better college. Meanwhile, Bob soldiered on in public school, having a blast, no doubt. In my junior year, I knew that my ideas were turning too radical for the stricture, scripture and structure of the Jesus-driven educational system. I wanted to grow my hair long, wear flowered shirts and bell-bottom pants. I wanted a girlfriend who wore miniskirts instead of a frumpy uniform, I wanted to smoke pot, take L.S.D., spew forth my radical philosophy, make music and hang out with the 'hippies'. None of this was happening in the cloistered world of the parochial school. So I finally rebelled, my folks relented and I spent my last, and best year even in public high school.

From the first day he wandered into my basement playing a flute back then, Bob and I became fast friends. He introduced me to J. R. R. Tolkien, and I introduced him to the Incredible String Band. (Only the latter would end up being "literally".) Our love of eclectic and exotic music was the glue that cemented our friendship and actually forged a vehicle for mutual creativity. At the time, there was no more eclectic and exotic ensemble in pop music at large than the Incredible String Band. The ISB have been described as a psychedelic folk band by those who know little or could care less about their music; they are no easy outfit to pigeon-hole, and most attempts fail to do justice. From their Scottish/Celtic roots, the instrumentation and form reaches into Asian, Afghan, Moroccan, Indian (India), Tibetan, and even American Blues and Rock. It was "World Music" of a sort before the term as such was even coined. Yes, for a period of time their lyrics may have seemed psychedelic, but their songs carried tales mythic import, and bespoke of wisdom well beyond anything else being done in the rock/pop genre at the time. Cryptic, yet seductive and inviting.

"O second self, o gate of the soft mystery
I'll love you if you'll love me;
O guide me
with the gold of Gabriel's wing
Grant me the tongue
That all the earth does sing-
Vibrating light, forever one the sun
The book of life is open to us
There'll be no secrets left between us..." - Three Is A Green Crown, Robin Williamson

And yet, they were often very whimsical too. That was a big part of their unique charm, which did not carry over very well into the decidedly non-whimsical '70's, at least as far as the critics and the general record-buying public were concerned. But I digress too much. Suffice it to say that the ISB was the core influence of the musical collaboration (along with other folky acoustic oddities like Dr. Strangely Strange, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Forest, etc.), the not-so-incredible string band, that Bob and I embarked on which we eventually named Pilgrim Quiggle. As such a collaboration, it was founded on inspiration rather than perspiration, or any illusions of working toward a goal of fame, critical or public acclaim, or even monetary compensation for our efforts. Unlike previous 'band' efforts (on my part at least), we never had any set rehearsal schedule, disciplined practices, or truly public performances. We got together and improvised when we felt like it, played for our small circle of friends, and had a jolly good time of it.

Bob had no formal musical training. I had some, which helped a bit with the structure, but was only enough to get by. Bob was good at percussion; he had a natural ability for rhythm and a knack to be able to pick up unusual instruments and make them sound interesting. My guitar and mandolin formed the base, while Bob dabbled in various hand drums and bongos, whistle, flute, jew's harp, ocarina, shakuhachi, bowed gimbri (primitive Moroccan string instrument), shenai, or chanter (Indian reed instrument), castanets, finger cymbals and whatever else he could get his hands on to make interesting sounds. Eventually, a sitar even crept into the mix, but I could not wrap my head around it and gain enough skill to make a good go of it, so I sold it to another friend.

We actually did write enough songs in our own ramshackle fashion that were nearly an album's worth of material but we had no Joe Boyd (ISB producer) to take us into a legitimate studio and refine our sound. Even if we did, I'm sure we would have come off as Incredible Wannabes and would have quickly sold our way into the cut-out bin had any record label been foolish enough to sponsor our 'act'. Had we gotten serious, stuck with it and gained some discipline, who knows? We might have gotten good enough to at least play Renaissance Festivals, and would have been prouder of it than the Free-Credit-Report.com band guys.

The important thing here though is INSPIRATION. It is what fueled our little collaboration in spite of its deficiencies. We might occasionally play an ISB song, or a T-Rex song but the overwhelming majority of our material was original, and often bizarre, but it had a magical and whimsical quality to it. Hearing some of those songs now, as ambivalent as the listening experience can be, I hear glimmerings of brilliance amidst the averageness of amateurism. We had a lot of fun, and I'm sure we both learned something about inspiration and creativity along the way.

Our association continued into college where we were roomates. Perhaps that was a mistake, as familiarity tends to breed contempt, and our lifestyles were not necessarily compatible in the long run, or the small room. Although we saw each other occasionally over the years following, with the exception of the DNA Theatre project (another coll-abort-ive effort we experimented with), there was little in the way of co-conspiratorial creative efforts between us. I had gone the way of rock musician, being involved with one band or another. Bob would pop us as an actor in a play, a musician in a gamelan orchestra, a juggler, and likely a whole lot of other roles I don't know anything about. When I finally moved away from our local area, we lost touch. For 20 years. Until he looked me up again.

That contact was both nostalgic and inspirational. I discovered that his interest in eclectic music had not dissipated but expanded. He's collected more exotic instruments, and learned how to play the fiddle. Through our correspondence I've had sort of an awakening and renaissance of ideas that I've been meaning to put into practice, but never could seem to get the motivation to realize. Now, a bit of synergy from afar has wakened a desire in me to attempt to truly syncretize my influences. Possibly, the answer to the malaise, which is where this post all began. I know it won't happen overnight, and Bob and I may never get the opportunity to collaborate on another Pilgrim Quiggle, or any such musical squiggle, but the seeds have been sown.

"...You know what you could be.
Tell me my friend,
Why you worry all the time
What you should be..." -You Know What You Could Be, Mike Heron

Sunday, May 24, 2009

It's all about ME and you and US

This post is spurred on by Bill Maher's most recent Real Time HBO show, in which the guests were female rapper M.I.A., former IMF chief economist Simon Johnson, Nobel Peace Prize winner and 'Banker to the poor' Mohammad Yunus, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Newsweek magazine editor, Jon Meacham. When the "easy target" Bush administration was in power, Maher was a formidible political satirist. His barbs were usually well-place and right on, although he often overlooked the deeper issues in favor of the popular ones. It has become clear that in the presence of the Obama administration, Maher is comedy first, political issues second (or maybe even third), passing up few opportunities to cheap-shot the easy targets, which include religion, the American public at large, and his audience in part.

That much was clear from the get-go, during his interview with Tamil Sri Lankan female visual and rap music artist M.I.A. , when Bill made stupid remarks about Maya's (M.I.A.) pregnant condition during the Grammys, gave an impromptu geography lesson for the dumb American public on Sri Lanka's location, and incorrectly assumed the conflict in Sri Lanka between the Tamal minority and the Sinhalese majority was a religious (Hinduism vs. Buddhism) one. I'm not religious, but I've noticed that Maher won't pass up an opportunity to crucify religion any chance he gets. (He would have made a great Roman Centurion in Jerusalem back in 33 A.D.) The conflict is not religion-based, but rather ethnic and majority-over minority based, the hegemony of the Sinhalese over the Tamil and the Tamil's refusal to docilely accept their role as second class citizens. MI.A.'s purpose for being on the show was to enlighten the American public on the truth of the situation since recent the end of the civil war and defeat of the rebel Tamil Tigers in that country. The Sinhalese oppression now goes unchecked, and rather than make issue of that, Bill chose to make fun of MI.A.'s British accent and even blame the Brits for spawning the conflict.

So with that bit of embarrassment out of the way, Maher moved on to the panel- Simon Johnson, Mohammad Yunus and Jon Meacham. Bill lobbed the initial topic, a nice & easy one that posed the question- "It looks like things are getting better but economically speaking, are we out of the woods now?" Johnson swung and connected limply on a pitch he should have been able to hit out of the park by saying that there has been some recovery as "No drama Obama" pulled the banks away from falling off the edge of the cliff, but for the "real economy" (the general public), things still look a bit shakey. Simon, Simon, Simon....what the hell are you doing? Following Maher's lead dumbing-down the economic situation for the Joe 3-pack public? Jeez, you wouldn't ever say anthing so shallow and simplisitc in your Baseline Scenario blog, so why would you boil all the water out of the pan on a highly rated TV show? You know that the Banksters have been sucking up all the goodies out of Obama & Tiny Tim's Santa bag they can, you know the market is being manipulated, and you know that the Gen Public is fucked with a capital "F". At least you could have strongly pointed out where the guv'ment was going wrong, and how Obama's wuss handling of the Banksters and his lack of forward planning was just hastening the inevitable doomsday scenario.

Maher, in one of his rare moments of brilliance, used something Johnson said about "Banana Republics" to make comment on the infectious avarice of the financial sector, and the American public at large, equating unfettered markets with the religion of material greed. (Gotta get that religious snipe in.) Smiling Buddha Mohammad Yunus said that the economic crisis was actually an opportunity for real positive change in the financial sector, and that it was overlooked in favor of the status quo, and failed to be capitalized on. He said "We have selfishness in us and we have selflessness in us...but the way the economic market is designed... it's all about selfishness, and I have no chance about looking out for anybody else." Maher follows up with a comment about how there are no plans for redesigning the financial system, and Obama is still giving money way to the corrupt Wall Street executives he went to Harvard with. Meacham (P.J. O'Rourke light) finally got a comment in about the economic and social disparity of the United States today, citing how the Great Depression brought the nation together as one enabling social and economic change, while now it's all rhetoric and business as usual.

There rest of the show was consumed with Cheney vs. Obama on the terrorist issue, and Maher's favorite pincushion, religion. Now I'm no religious supporter, but gee Bill, give it a rest already. How about some constructive economic solutions? How about what needs to be done to make things better for Americans who are losing their jobs, their meager savings, their freedoms and being forced to eat Genetically Mutated Organisms? Out of all his "New Rules", the only one worthy of mentioning was his last- Stop thinking that electing a Superhero is going to be the answer to our problems. Rather than zeroing in on he puts it, "Chocolate Jesus" (Obama), he turned his attention to California and Schwarzenegger. Saying that it was impossible for the Gubenator to solve California's problems because it's "illeagal" to govern in this state. Maher said "We only govern by ballot initiatives, and there are only two types of those - things I like, and don't raise my taxes. We votes YES on gain and NO on pain. This is why America's founders established a representative democracy, because they knew if the average joe had the chance, he'd vote for a fantasy world with no taxes, free beer and vagina trees." A little broad-based humor, but in essence, Maher's right. The pressure exerted by special interest groups and "political correctness" has fostered the oiling of the squeaky wheel over what makes common sense, and is really in the public good.

This brings us back to the first part of the topic title - All about ME, or perhaps even the collective "WE". The WE being those that can exert the most power and influence over legislation, who gets the breaks, who gets the money, and who gets the shaft. It seems as though it will always be the ME/WE minority that gets the two former boons, while the bane of the shaft falls on the collective "you" majority. Like a good feudal lord, the Prez throws bones to his hounds like the "Credit Card Bill of Rights" which bans retroactive interest rate increases and minimum payment time disclosure among other things, but fails to cap outrageous and usurious interest rates at a percent that's reasonable. He says he's going to close Gitmo, but can't deliver on an exit strategy. He finger-wags at the Wall Street culprits that caused the financial debacle, but does nothing to punish the wrongdoers. And those are only a few issues. Pretty unbelievable for change we're supposed to believe in.

So it seems as though it's still all about ME, only the "ME" here isn't you or I. It's them. The people with the power and the gold still making the rules to serve the people with the power and the gold to make the rules. It doesn't take an IMF economist to know that the robber-barons of Wall Street, Goldman Sachs is manipulating the stock market to their advantage, and yet nothing gets done about it. Gee, could that have anything to do with former T-Sec Hanky-Panky's and current T-Sec Tiny Tim's relationship with GS cronies?

It's time we stopped thinking about ME, and started thinking about US. Instead of focusing on the big score, beating down the competition and amassing as much personal gain at any cost to our ethics and values, we need to develop a mindset that will benefit the majority of the people in this country over our own individual little island worlds. The gap between the HAVES and the HAVE-NOTS is widening; people who lose their jobs and homes now are finding that it sucks to be on the other side of the chasm. What happens when if the dollar truly tanks? (And don't think that it isn't a possibility, because a large part of this nation's economic stability depends on who buys our debt, and other countries ain't buying like they used to.) Maybe then they'll realize we're all in this together, or if you have the biggest guns, you can still get your own way.

As Simon Johnson pointed out in his "What I Didn't Get To Say on Bill Maher Last Night" post on The Baseline Scenario, Mohammad Yunus's idea of the "Social Business" model over a "Strictly-for-Profit" business model is something that needs to be addressed NOW, before it becomes too late. In a country you're doing business in, there has to be a certain social responsibity, otherwise the propensity to suck the citizens dry becomes too great. Whether it's Big Oil, the Pharmaceutical Industry, Insurance, Banking, Tech, etc., whatever, the idea of taking huge amounts of money in profits and not contributing socially (and I don't mean charitable tax write-offs, scholarship funds and grants stamped with the corporate logo) is repugnant. How can a mega-business justify its right to exist in a community, when it has allowed that community to go bankrupt by manipulating the tax laws to not pay its fair share? How can you have a gainfully employed America if you keep shipping jobs overseas for a few tax breaks? How can you have a healthy America if your business pollutes the environment, genetically alters the food supply with unknown and potentially disastrous consequences or drive health care costs through the roof? How can you have a wealthy America when you rig the casino games of Wall Street with under the table financial mechanisms no one understands, that enrich YOU rather than any sucker investors bold or stupid enough to play you game of chance? How can you have a future for America when you keep the wheels of energy stuck in the muck and mire of fossil fuels with cost-prohibitive roadblocks and aggressive lobbying?

It's time we stated thinking about US, the collective "us", and begin to change the mindset about what it all means to co-exist harmoniously in this country, on this planet together. Anyone can be the harbinger of a doomsday scenario (just check the best seller's list) , but it takes courage and forward thinking to become part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Maybe we need an even worse plight to make us al pull together. I'm not suggesting socialism, but I AM advocating social consciousness. Yeah, you can be a naysayer and trumpet the glory of unfettered free-market capitalism. So how's that been working for you of late? All I'm saying is that it's time to employ a little common sense, get off the high horse and do what's right for US as a whole, not what you think is right for just your little world. Because if you're only out for 'ME', you're going to find out soon enough just how small your own little world really is.

Monday, April 13, 2009

That Which Must Not Be Named...Yet

Man, it's been a long time since I've done a blog post. Too long, I guess. Truth be told, I have been busy, and I guess that's the point of this post- what I've been busy with. But to explain that, I have to explain the post title. "That Which Must Not Be Named.." has nothing to do with a Harry Potter adversary, nor a story by H.P. Lovecraft, but rather an online auction site which isn't online yet that I've been sworn to secrecy about. In order to explain that, I guess we have to take it back a little further.

I had been selling on eBay for about five years by 2005 when I was contacted by someone who asked me if I'd be interested in peddling some of their merchandise. To make a long story short, I agreed and over the years have sold some very interesting and lucrative stuff for them. In fact, as time went by, I was selling A LOT of their stuff, even more than my own. Things seemed to be tooling along fine, until eBay turned to shit about a year or more ago. Even the really good stuff wasn't selling like it used to. To make matters worse, eBay turned into FEEBAY, and every listing was becoming a losing proposition in some way or other. I became discouraged and disgusted listing anything with eBay. Yeah, it might sell quickly better than elsewhere but I was getting garage sale prices on things that were way beyond any garage sales.

I told the guy I was selling for that I was becoming disenchanted with eBay, and I was thinking of throwing in the towel there. (That's about the time I discovered Bonanzle.) He told me to hang on, he was working on something. Meanwhile, I opened up a Bonanzle store, and since it didn't cost me anything to list my stuff there I really had nothing to loose but the time. I decided to get back into selling merchandise I really liked (CDs & records) with the Bonanzle setup, and with a somewhat dark theme to the booth. But selling on Bonanzle is a whole different deal than eBay auctions- much easier to list but harder to sell. Even with the promotional tools they have in place, you really need to work your butt off promotion-wise to make any money there. In the beginning, I did. I really did, and some of my efforts paid off. But in the long run, it's not enough to live on, at least for me.

So let's get back to the guy I had been selling for, who I'll call "Mr. X" in the spirit of his desire for anonymity and secrecy, at least for now. Mr. X decides that he's going to build an online auction site, something that although small-scale, will be better than eBay in numerous ways. Mr. X has some GREAT collectible merchandise in the antiquarian book, vintage magazine, ephemera, photographic and art print categories. Mr. X also has good business savvy, and even though I still don't know a whole lot about him even after our nearly four year business relationship, but I don't think he'd be "sinking it all" into this auction site if he wasn't confident that it was going to make a LOT of money.

Yeah, I have to admit I was skeptical when I first heard about it. Compete with eBay? NO WAY DUDE! That's a recipe for disaster...or at least for a lot of wasted time and money. But, as Mr. X pointed out to me, the big mistake that wannabe eBay competitors make is trying to cover a lot of categories of merchandise and trying to be too big. It's the niche markets that are the key. Smaller is better. Still, with this economic downturn (who am I kidding? It's not a downturn, it;'s a mudslide) I personally don't think that it's a good time to be sinking your life savings into a new online enterprise. But hey, it ain't MY money. It IS however, my time, and that's where I get back to what I've been doing lately, and why I haven't been much with the tweeting, message- boarding, music-making, or even blog posts.

SOooooo...for lack of better option, I've decided to trust that Mr. X's auction site will become a fruitful enterprise (soon I hope) and have been doing merchandise pre-listings so that the site will have some great stuff when it opens. Just some of the things I've been working with - Mark Twain First Editions; 1853 Mississippi- Pacific Railroad Surveys; George Cruikshank 'Comic Almanacs from the mid 1800's; 1864 Travel to the Holy Land; 1829 Edgar Allen Poe Poetry & Reviews; Etchings of Rembrandt; 1798 Duties of the Female Sex; A. A. Milne (Winnie the Pooh author) First Editions; 1885 Elizabeth Custer's 'Boots & Saddles'; 'The Jazz Singer' Al Jolson Photoplay edition 1927; 'Wind In the Willows' 1st Tasha Tudor Illustrated; 1930's Havana Cuba Travel Brochures; 1969 Avant-Garde Art Magazine with Picasso Erotic Gravures; 1854 Patent Report with Smith & Wesson Volcanic Pistol and Isaac Singer's Sewing Machine in it; a Stereoview from the 1920's with 4 guys in a vintage Cadillac who would years later become top General Motors executives; a 1949 French art magazine with Victor Vasarely "OP Art" lithographs in it; signed rare David Levine caricature book; 1793 History of King Charles by Voltaire; 1916 Witchcraft in Salem Village; 1799 Settlement of Genesee Country w/ engravings; 1832 Six Months in the West Indies by Coleridge; 1836 Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper; 1810 Life & Actions of Napoleon Bonaparte, and so many, many more. Some of these are worth a LOT of money.

So here I am with all this great stuff just waiting for this auction site to open (and yeah, I can't even hint at the name of it, under pain of betrayal) , adding more all the time, yet not making any money in the meanwhile. Maybe I'm an idiot to put my hope and trust in the designs and machinations of someone I don't know all that well but have done alright by in the past. Maybe I'm just too skeptical for my own good. It's hard to have faith in a new (somewhat risky) business enterprise after all I've been through with the Wall Street debacles and the stock market casino where Goldman Sachs and J. P. Morgan, et al. fix the tables with their derivative-loaded dice, their rigged roulette wheels of rewardless risk, and credit default swap card games of wealth destruction.

Still, Mr. X assures me has a method for driving the right kind of traffic to this auction site quickly, and hasn't told me that I'll have to be doing any promotion on it. Whenever the subject is broached, the response is, "Don't worry. I've got it covered." Well, I hope so. I really do. I hope that it isn't long that I can come back here and post that the site is open for business and we're doing fabulous. In the meanwhile, all I can do is keep a positive attitude, work on doing constructive things and hope I get some good news from somewhere. Maybe when the weather gets warmer. Maybe when I finally get inspired enough to get back into my music studio again...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

We got BOTH kinds of Music..Goth AND Industrial

We got BOTH kinds of music...Country AND Western... so the old joke goes. Although they're not that far apart, Country music evolved out of Appalachian folk, or hillbilly music and Western music evolved out of cowboy songs and Western Swing. Add to the mixed genre Bluegrass and Gospel and you get pretty much most of the elements of Country/Western

If there ever was a genre of music that is the polar opposite of Country/Western it would have to be Goth/Industrial. Like C&W, Goth/Industrial is a mixed genre that evolved over time adding elements of other compatible musical forms. Like C&W, G&I is somewhat removed now from what it was back 25 or so years ago. In fact, 30 years ago neither the Goth nor Industrial music genres technically even existed, although there were groups and artists that preceded both and paved the way for them.

In order to understand the evolution, there needs to be definition of what makes 'Goth' goth and 'Industrial' industrial. Goth music is dark in tone, has elements of horror, morbidity or moroseness and is often melodramatic. Industrial music evolved out of the avant-garde musique concrete but stylistically couples jarring sounds to cadent rhythms. Or at least that's the basic elements of the genres. Owing to its somber nature, Goth music is good for moping. Owing to its rhythmic impetus, Industrial music is good for dancing. There were crossovers however, even before the genres came into their own way back in the 1980's.

Likely the first 'Goth' bands before there was even such a genre were Alice Cooper and Black Sabbath. Both were rather dark, tackled maudlin themes (nightmares, suicide, murder, witchcraft, demonism, the occult, insanity, etc.) and were vilified by televangelists. Both owe their concept to horror movies. Alice Cooper was 'glam-goth' where Black Sabbath was more your dressed in black leather sort of goth. And then there was KISS, which was just rock n' roll with a 'makeup goth' veneer. These certainly weren't the only dark bands in the pre-Goth period, but most of the others never achieved any critical or commercial success, so you probably aren't aware of their existence.

In the early 70's, I was in a band called Leviathan (no relation to any known band by that name) that described itself as a Gothic Rock Orchestra. Our original music was a dark form of progressive rock, not dissimilar to the more tenebrous aspects of bands like Pink Floyd, King Crimson and Van der Graaf Generator. Some of what we did would be considered 'Goth' by today's standards. Then there was Otto Von Ruggins. He was the first REAL Goth I ever met. In fact, the first time I ever saw him, he was wearing a velvet frock coat. (Now THAT'S a Goth!) Von Ruggins became part of the mid-70's New York 'No-Wave' scene which was the short-lived genre that was partially responsible for spawning Industrial music. Although artists like Lydia Lunch, James Chance and The Contortions, Theoretical Girls, Swans, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks and others you may have peripherally heard of are credited with defining the No Wave genre, Von Ruggins and his band
music. and Kongress were the closest thing to Goth-Industrial there was at the time. Kongress often used the trappings of the occult in their shows and to advertise them. They also had (for a period of time) 'mad magician' Geoff (Jeff) Crozier as their lead singer. Their music was a combination of avant-garde industrial rock and minimal synth with gothic theatrics. Very cutting-edge stuff for the time, but of course, you never heard of 'em. Another 2 man minimal-synth group called Suicide (Alan Vega & Martin Rev) was another No-Wave band that had a very Industrial music sound.

The bands most often credited with the spawning of Goth-rock out of the post-punk music scene are Bauhaus, The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Sisters of Mercy and Southern Death Cult. Like any music subculture, the scene has to start someplace, and for Goth it was The Batcave in London, though local (Elder) Goths elsewhere would probably argue that it was THEIR club that really started Goth music. Like any good music genre with a full head of steam, the fashion that defined it changed from the ripped jeans, T-shirts and leather jackets of punkdom to an all-black clothing concept that grew more fetishistic as the genre progressed. Some fashion statements like piercings, tattoos and bizarrely coloured hair

Funny that the founders of Goth now cringe at the label. There were plenty of bands to follow that were more than willing to revel in their gothiness. The Mission (U.K.), Alien Sex Fiend, Sex Gang Children, Christian Death, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Fields of the Nephilim, Inkubus Sukkubus, Kommunity FK, Skeletal Family, Xmal Deutschland and a slew of others jumped on the Goth-rock bandwagon. And of course, these band begot other Goth bands in the 1990's which we'll get to in a bit.

But what of Industrial? The acknowledged founders of Industrial music came from the Industrial Records label (mid-late 70's) founded by Throbbing Gristle. Early composer/performer Monte Cazazza is credited with coining the Industrial music genre name, but like OVR and Kongress, his contributions to the genre are largely forgotten and his defining early recordings nearly impossible to come by. Other early Industrial music artists included Test Dept., Boyd Rice (NON), Clock DVA, SPK, Whitehouse, Einstürzende Neubauten, Esplendor Geométrico, Severed Heads, and Laibach. The music was often defined by noise, harsh dissonant tones, mechanical beats, repetitive tape loops or sound samples and shouted, distorted vocals. It was meant to be a reaction to the de-humanizing of society, which in its most artistic, non-commercial form at least made a statement. Themes were often fatalistic, fascistic and transgressive - painting scenarios of doom and a dystopian society, alienation, the tyranny of technology and shock tactics. While Goth music embraced Stoker's Dracula
remain to this day. vampire, Industrial music embraced Shelley's Frankenstein monster. Just like a Universal horror movie (not to mention The Munsters), it was only natural that the two would eventually come together.

Some bands that weren't really considered Gothic at the onset of the genre but were later embraced by Goths included the Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, Clan of Xymox, This Mortal Coil (all from the 4A.D. label at the time), Depeche Mode, And Also The Trees, The Cranes, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, Gary Numan, The Cramps, Swans (including Jarboe & Gira side-projects), and undoubtedly many others that I've left out. The broader 'Alternative' umbrella included bands that were in the 'Shoegazer', 'Neoclassical', 'Indie', 'Synthpop', 'Death Rock', 'Psychobilly', 'Post Punk' and other sub-genres.

The change in Industrial music came about with the birth of
EBM (Electronic Body Music), a term first coined by German minimal synth band Kraftwerk. A solid 4/4 drum machine beat, and a synthesizer-driven sound made EBM ideally suitable for the dance floor. A few early EBM bands were Front 242, Nitzer Ebb, Klinik, X Marks the Pedwalk, Die Form, Die Krupps, and Leæther Strip. Industrial music was becoming more accessible by virtue of its dancability, and the common ground it would share with Gothic music was to be found in the 'Goth clubs'. The Batcave spawned many Goth-Industrial clubs (or at least, Goth-Industrial nights at larger venues where there wasn't enough of a scene to support it all the time) throughout the world. DJs played not only what the scenesters wanted to hear, but also what would get them up on the floor to DANCE. This is where Goth & Industrial became intertwined as a hybrid genre, much like Country/Western. And as they did, fashion became more extreme (leather, latex, PVC, Victorian dress, platform boots, corsets, fishnetstriped stockings, duster coats, bondage pants, hair extensions, etc.) and creative. Record labels like Cleopatra, Projekt, Zoth-Ommog, 21st Circuitry and Metropolis were quick to sign on an ever-growing and evolving stable of Goth-Industrial bands. New sub-genres such as Electro-Industrial with bands including Frontline Assembly, Das Ich, Skinny Puppy, Haujobb, Wumpscut and others; Aggrotech bands like Hocico, Funker Vogt, Suicide Commando; guitar-infused Industrial rock like KMFDM, Ministry, Stabbing Westward, 16 Volt, Pigface, Chemlab, Godflesh and others; and the uncategorizable- Coil, Controlled Bleeding, Legendary Pink Dots, Oneiroid Psychosis, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, Shinjuku Thief, Sleep Chamber and many more.

So too was Goth music expanding, or at least the sub-genres of music Goths were listening to. Etherial, Neo-Folk, Neoclassical, Medieval, Gothabilly, Electro-Goth, Gothic Metal, Darkwave, Horror-Goth and more. Some of the bands that came about in this next wave of Gothic groups were Astrovamps, Attrition, The Prophetess, Mephisto Walz, Chandeen, Lycia, Black Tape For A Blue Girl, The Marionettes, Love Is Colder Than Death, Ordo Equitum Solis, Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio, The Shroud, Love Like Blood, Qntal, Current 93, Sol Invictus, The Wake, Sunshine Blind, Faith & the Muse, Death In June, Lacrimosa, My Dying Bride, Nosferatu, Cradle of Filth, London After Midnight, Miranda Sex Garden, Mors Syphilitica, Type O Negative and many more.

The proliferation of so many new bands made sub-genres became nearly impossible to keep track of. As the demand for this type of music increased, many indie record stores specializing in it also sprang up too. So did print publications like Propaganda, Outburn, Carpe Noctem, Industrial Nation, Music From the Empty Quarter, Side-Line and numerous other
and small "indies" dedicated to the Goth-Industrial music genre, fashion and lifestyle. (More recently, Gothic Beauty in the U.S., Meltdown in the U.K. have carried the torch while others have either gone to an online format, or have just gone out of business. I don't know much about the non-English zines. I've seen them but that's about it.)

The Anne Rice Vampire Chronicle novels also contributed to the popularity of the Gothic subculture and her Vampire Lestat Fan Club in New Orleans held annual Halloween parties that attracted Goths from around the globe. There was also a television series in the 1990's called Forever Knight about an 800 year old vampire police detective had a large cult following. (One of its notable haunt was a Toronto Goth Club called The Raven, which was actually based on a real Toronto Goth club called Sanctuary Vampire Sex Bar. The Buffy The Vampire Slayer TV show also helped keep interest going. But perhaps one of the most widespread de-facto contributors to the Goth subculture was the fantasy roleplaying game, Vampire: The Masquerade.
With the Goth-Industrial genre expanding at such a rapid pace, it was inevitable that some artists associated with the genre would break out big. Nine Inch Nails was the first.
Evanescence was next. Then there was Marilyn Manson. As far as I'm concerned, none of these three are truly Goth-Industrial acts, but somehow they always end up being lumped into the genre. At least NIN's early stuff was worthy of being associated with Industrial (and still gets a lot of play at the Goth clubs). As for the other two, I guess it's a matter of taste, or the lack of it.

One other act that had crossover popularity with the scene was Enigma. Their use of Gregorian chants and atmospheric world music over a dance beat certainly had Goth club appeal. On a similar track, Bill Leeb and Rhys Fulber of Frontline Assembly had a side-project called Delirium that incorporated atmospheric elements similar to Enigma. They would eventually eclipse Enigma (artisitcally but not commercially) in their 1994 album, 'Semantic Spaces'. They also had projects under the names of Intermix and
Synaesthesia that explored similar territory. Delirium eventally went on to be wore of a Pop-Worldbeat sort of thing as it shed its Goth-Industrial attributes.

Many other acts that developed during the late 90's and finally came into popularity in the 21st century further blurred the genres and seemed to add new ones as well. With the development and popularity of the Internet as a musical resource, the floodgates were open and host of band and artists came pouring through- Apoptygma Berserk, The Azoic, Battery, Battery Cage, Collide, The Cruxshadows, Stone 588, C-Tec, Claire Voyant,
Cubanate, Crocodile Shop, Covenant, Mindless Faith, Mindless Self Indulgence, Hanzel und Gretyl, VNV Nation, Assemblage 23, In Strict Confidence, Icon of Coil, Velvet Acid Christ, Combichrist, Decoded Feedback, Machine in the Garden, The Last Dance, The Birthday Massacre, The Razor Skyline, Kiss The Blade, Dead Voices On Air, Imperative Reaction, Project Pitchfork, Gridlock, Black Lung, Snog, The Newlydeads, My Chemical Romance, My Ruin, The 69 Eyes, Paralysed Age, Switchblade Symphony, Razed in Black, Hate Dept., Xorcist, Spahn Ranch, Electric Hellfire Club, Download, Killing Miranda, H.I.M., Second Skin, Lights of Euphoria, Mira, L'Ame Imortelle, Beborn Beton, Written In Ashes, Unto Ashes, Rhea's Obsession, The Genitorturers, Women of Sodom and so many many more.

And still, there are projects out there like Anders Manga, James D. Stark, Lamia Cross, Luna in Caelo, Mind Confusion, Ophelia's Garden, Psychophile, Pulcher Femina, Serious Black, Synthetic Dream Foundation, that are either self-produced with no label or on small labels that get little to no promotion in spite of how good they are. Undoubtedly there are many, many others. You may even have your own project in the genre that hasn't gotten its due. (If you do, you might want to contact me.)

The whole point of this post is to say, that over the years, the Goth-Industrial genre at large has grown HUGE. With so many off-shoots and so much variety, and so many artists still active in it it, it is far from dead. Sure, some labels dealing in this type of music have gone out of business. Sure, a lot of bands have broken up and their albums and CDs have gone out of print. That's what a place like Windhamearl's Black Lodge is for- not as some museum of dark faddery, but a place where you can find a lot of the aforementioned artists at a fair and reasonable price. (Hey, nobody's got

Regardless of what your preconceptions may be about the genre, remember this- as weird, macabre and menacing as the music may sound to you, as
deviant, decadent and outlandish some of its devotees dress, you're more likely to find intelligent conversation with those that listen to Goth-Industrial music, and less likely to get your ass kicked at a Goth-Industrial Club than you are at a Country/Western bar. So the next time somebody trots out that old joke, "We got BOTH kinds of music here..." be sure to add quickly "Oh, you mean Goth AND Industrial!"

NOTE: I'm sure there are many worthy bands and artists of note in the genre I've failed to mention here. (Hey, this ain't Wikipedia.) I didn't even touch on Dark Ambient music, but that deserves a post of it's own at some future date. Stay tuned...