Johnny Rotten doing butter commercials: still Punk after all these years

Discussion boards across the UK are a’splodin’ and some Very Serious punk fans are up in arms over the sainted Johnny Rotten’s decision to do a series of commercials for Country Life Butter. Like this one.

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Punk saved music. Can it save journalism?

Frank Balsinger aka Fr. AnathemaDr. Denny at Scholars and Rogues, a reputable voice for authentic journalism, occasionally shares insights into the industry that the Fourth Estate has become. As a non-authentic journalist/authentic non-journalist (circle one), I read his articles and am struck with a near-Gothic melancholy. The news on the state of the art reads like an elegy for a dying bride. I can almost hear the plaintive rain pattering on the windowpanes, see the water running down the glass in waves against a backdrop of weeping willows. What I do hear, figuratively, are bells, tolling. But for whom are they tolling?

At first glance, it’s easy to see that the bells are tolling for the news industry as many of us grew up with it. Some of us can actually remember going to quaint little metal boxes and stuffing nickels in one slot, dimes in another, to extract, on the honor system, one copy of the newspaper. Continue reading

Dr. Sammy's Best CDs of 2011, pt 2: the Gold LPs

I mentioned that 2011 was a great year for music in part 1, right? Well, the sheer number of Gold LPs (awarded for outstanding merit) should serve to illustrate the point a bit. So let’s get to it.

First, let me disqualify a CD.

Paul Lewis: Bag Of Rain
If my objectivity is clouded by close personal relationships, it’s absolutely obliterated by great self-interest. And since I was fortunate enough to contribute lyrics for two of the tracks on Bag of Rain, I’m not even going to pretend that I’m being critical. I can say, however, that Paul is an outstanding tunesmith and an even better singer – I’ve been saying he has one of the best voices in the business since the first time I saw him perform in the late 1980s. These qualities have only improved with time. “Platform of Our Lives,” for instance, displays a rare emotional vulnerability, and Paul the singer understands when to coat a tune in velvet and when to stomp the accelerator. Continue reading

Nota Bene #123: Behold the Chickenosaurus

“There ought to be limits to freedom.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #117: Wake Up!

“Hollywood is so crooked that Mafia gangsters are entirely outclassed and don’t stand a chance. People in Hollywood are smarter. They have more sophisticated knowledge of money and deals and how to steal legally rather than illegally.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #112: GOOOLLLLLLLL

“Freedom of any kind is the worst for creativity.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #107: Zzzzzzzzzzzzz

“I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.” Who said it? Continue reading

The Best CDs of 2009: the Album of the Year, and the Band of the Decade

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Nota Bene #99: Heed the Peace Gnome

“You just pick up a chord, go twang, and you’ve got music.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #94: Bear Vs. Ninja

“Overture, curtain, lights Continue reading

Tournament of Rock – Legends: the Beach Boys pod

It was a back and forth affair between the icons of punk and the tragic legends of Southern Rock. In the end, The Sex Pistols put on a final surge to defeat Lynyrd Skynyrd. The Results: #10 The Sex Pistols 48%; Lynyrd Skynyrd 36%; Little Feat 9%; Supergrass 3%; Judas Priest 3%; Alice in Chains 0%.

S&R’s contest to name the greatest band of all time shifts now to the Hollywood Bowl Region, where one of the single most popular and influential artists in history puts his legacy on the line against a pod that represents perhaps more critical acclaim than any other in the tournament. Yes, folks, this is a thinking fan’s dream pod. Continue reading

Tournament of Rock – Legends: the Sex Pistols pod

Results: In our latest match-up we saw an upset that perhaps wasn’t such an upset, especially once voters took into account the full history of Fleetwood Mac instead of just the better-known ’70s popular successes. In the end, Mac picked up a little momentum at the end and nipped The Byrds in one of our closest contests to date. The numbers: Fleetwood Mac 34%; #7 The Byrds 31%; The Velvet Underground 13%; XTC 13%; INXS 9%; The Guess Who 0%. Fleetwood Mac advances to the Great 48.

We now step over to the Budokan region, where our search for the greatest band of all time gets a little eclectic. Continue reading

Columbine and the power of symbols

columbine-hillPart three of a series.

In the days following the murders at Columbine High School I visited the school and the grounds of Clement Park. Those walks produced this piece, which was originally published ten years ago today.

We have learned a great deal about the  events that took place at Columbine since  this essay was written (for instance, we now know that the  “Cassie Said Yes” story never actually happened,  and we also know that the whole “Trenchcoat Mafia”  thing was also a media-propagated fiction). But it seemed to me that going back  and revising to account for new information would damage the  fabric of what I wrote in late April and early May of 1999.  I have therefore elected to leave the factual inaccuracies  in place. I do, however, note the spots containing errors with an asterisk (*). and provide as thorough and accurate  a picture as we are ever likely to have of the shootings and  the aftermath, and I recommend them highly.


Sunday, May 2, 1999

It won’t stop raining, and nobody seems to care. Continue reading

TunesDay: The best CDs of 2008, pt. 1 – the Gold LPs

Most years are pretty good for music if you know where to look, and 2008 was no exception. It’s a shame that you have to search so hard, of course – once upon a time all you needed to keep track of what was good in the world of music was a radio. These days it requires a little effort, though, and while I lost count a long time ago, I probably sampled a few hundred CDs in the last 365. Thank the gods for the Internet and a growing network of friends who make sure to let me know whenever they hear something worthy, huh?

This is part one of three. The Platinum LP Awards will be along soon, and that will be followed by the CD of the Year post. So here we go with last year’s Gold Awards for Very Good CDs. These are in alphabetical order, more or less. Band Web sites link to the band name, and if the CD is available via eMusic, that links to the CD title. If you want to purchase from eMusic, click on the link in the right column for a really good deal (as in lots of free downloads).

The 2008 Gold LPs Continue reading