Green Begone!

Those who have been visiting my website(s) since way way back in the day may recall that from about 1995 until I shutdown the main index page of the site a year or so ago, all of the articles and pages had dark brown text on a green background. For short stuff, that worked fine, but I realized at some point that as I was posting longer articles here, I was frying the retinas of my readers: you would pore through, say, The Worst Rock Band Ever page for 20 minutes, and then when you looked up from the screen, the entire world would be pink as your rods and cones tried to adjust from staring at the green-ness for so long.

Now that there are a manageable number of public pages on this website (basically everything in the sidebar to the left, and that’s it), I finally went through them all and removed the remaining vestiges of green. Everything is now in crisp, clear black and white, in nice, large, easy to read Verdana font. At least I think it is. If you find any green, or broken links, or weirdly formatted pages, let me know.

I also appear to have been re-indexed by Google, so the changes I made to the .htaccess file seem to have done the trick. I still get hit by an amazing array of amazingly repugnant sites, but at least most of them are getting “403 Forbidden” or “404 Error” messages when they try to link to me. Not like they care, I guess, since they aren’t really linking to me, they’re just trying to fill up my referal log. Still . . . it makes me feel better to tell them “No!”

I have adjusted the frontpage of this site to keep seven blog posts up in real time. I am not yet going to re-open the archive files, since they seemed to be the things that were sucking in the most referrer bots. If you want something that used to be here and isn’t linked at left, I still have it all. Just let me know.

One Final HSR Post

I name-dropped the entire band except one person in my prior posts: bassist Chris MacLachlan, who left somewhere in the transition from Human Sexual Response to Zulus. (He doesn’t play on Down on the Floor, but he has songwriting credits on about half of the songs, so I assume he was still around in their early days). He deserves a shout out too, though, since so many of the HSR songs are completely anchored by bass lines: guitarist Rich Gilbert added splashes of color and washes of sound on top of things, but many of the band’s most memorable instrumental melodies were often delivered by the low four-string guitar. So hats off to him too for his impressive work on those two great HSR records.

Human Sexual Response

Okay, I can’t wait for you to send me your digital copies of the Human Sexual Response albums for Christmas. I’m using my handy-dandy tape-to-digital converter to convert my old cassette copy of their records into CD format so I can listen to it in my car. These are now second generation copies from the original vinyl, but man oh man do they still sound good to me . . . no amount of tape hiss and vinyl popping can make these songs sounds bad. I’m listening to “Pound” from In A Roman Mood as I type. It was the lead single/EP from that album (although “Land of the Glass Pinecones” was the song radio picked up instead), and it’s a pummeling little rock song with great bass and drum work, tribalesque style. It leads into the verbose and magnificent and borderline scary “Public Alley 909,” and then to other things. Man, I love(d) this band. I can’t believe that there’s not a market for their stuff on CD.

Women of Spam (Slight Reprise): Tanitha Rushing

“I’d love to meet you,”
writes Tanitha Rushing,
sending me snaps of
herself in the buff,
doing things I can’t
imagine would feel good;
I don’t reply because
I’ve seen enough.

The Back Story: I couldn’t resist when I saw that name and the subject line in my bulk mail folder this morning.

On the Stereo

One of my alltime favorite bands was Human Sexual Response, an early ’80s Boston-bred seven piece with four vocalists singing in front of a tight and creative three-piece instrumental base. If they’re remembered these days, it’s usually for the somewhat atypical single “Jackie Onassis” (as in “I wanna be Jackie Onassis, I wanna wear a pair of dark sunglasses” fame). Living in nearby Rhode Island at the time of their creative peak, I used to hear that song along with “Land of the Glass Pinecones” and “What Does Sex Mean to Me?” regularly on the radio, and I saw the band live at Harpo’s in Newport sometime in spring of 1981. I was actually amazed to find a very good live clip of the band online recently, performing one of their best songs, “Andy Fell,” here, if you want an idea of what they were all about. (I really like the words to “Andy Fell,” I should note . . . a really poignant, powerful and literate take about how a student’s death impacts a campus community, even though no one paid attention to the student until he died).

HSR issued two albums, Fig. 14 and In A Roman Mood. The first was re-issued on CD, only once to the best of my knowlege, but is exceedingly hard to find (and expensive when you do). The second has never seen a CD release as far as I know. I have In A Roman Mood on vinyl, and both records on cassette . . . but would love a digital recording of either/both of them (so if you have one, please let me know!) While critics generally seemed to love the group’s debut, Roman Mood for some reason put them (and the fans) off, and the group splintered fairly soon thereafter. (Personally, I actually like the second record better than the first).

When HSR split, singer Larry Bangor and the instrumental trio continued working together under a changing series of names, finally (after getting a new bassists) settling on The Zulus, who issued one album in 1988, the Bob Mould (of Husker Du) produced Down on the Floor. After that, drummer Malcolm Travis went on to play in Sugar with Mould, while guitarist Rich Gilbert became something of a Boston scene/studio legend, later founding Concussion Ensemble with Zulus bassist Rich Cortese. Two of HSR’s other original singers (Dini Lamot and Windle Davis) live in and are active in the arts community in nearby (to me) Hudson, New York. I’ve read that the fourth HSR singer, Casey Cameron (who sang lead on “Jackie Onassis”) works in the tech/computer industry these days, although I can’t confirm that authoritatively. Of Larry Bangor, I can find no trace, post-Zulus.

Why am I writing about this now? Well, first because I’m always on the hunt for a cheap digital copy of HSR’s music . . . but also because I actually just got the Zulus CD this week, and am loving it. I don’t really know why I hadn’t gotten it before. Probably worried about it not living up to my standards/expectations based on the original HSR albums. But it’s different enough to not merit direct comparison, while there are certainly HSR similarities enough to make me nod and smile in appreciation. I really like Larry Bangor’s voice, although I know that’s not a universally held opinion. But it’s my opinion, so there. And Rich Gilbert is a fantastic guitarist, and the Zulus rhythm section is (or was) crunchy and punchy. A good listen over all, with some strong, catchy songs . . . although it’s now making me want clean copies of the HSR records even more than usual.

So help a brother out. Send me those CDs for Christmas. Please.

Still Here

The jet lag lasted until about Wednesday. The cold still lingers (isn’t that obligatory when you pack a few hundred people into an airplane for six hours?). But for the most part the physical toll of the whirlwind trip is past, and we’re just savoring the memories. And they really are fine memories. Next trips: Asheville, North Carolina, to spend Christmas with family, then Aruba in April. After a couple of cold and grey destinations, not to mention the usual Upstate New York winters, I think we will be ready for beachy sun by then.

I’m down to two more events in this semester before wrapping up my seventh full semester of programs at the C+CC. It’s been a good semester, and next spring promises, I think, to be the best one I’ve programmed yet: after four years, I know what works here, and I know what doesn’t. Most of the spring season is dedicated to three discrete blocks, the third incarnation of the Loop Sanctuary series (curated by Sara Ayers), the Lenten Speaker series, and the Spring Music Residency with Brian Melick, Eric Marczak and their guests. We will also welcome back Deni Bonet and have another evening of Armenian Arts and Culture. Plus the usual Lenten/Holy Week celebrations and the other background things we do all the time. (If you want to mark your calendar up now, the complete schedule is here).

Today Sara and I will be reviewing submittals for the multimedia film festival to be presented as part of Loop Sanctuary III. Should be an enjoyable process. My winter newsletter and Christmas Liturgy books are done, earlier than we’ve ever finished them before . . . which means relatively smooth sailing until the arrival of the dreaded C+CC Giant Tree. My back and hands ache in expectation.

Let’s see . . . what else is of interest? Oh! My favorite local band, The Wasted, got a great story on the cover of Metroland this week. It’s here if you’d like to read it (NOTE: Very Strong Language Warning! You Have Been Warned! This means you, Mom!) Their fantastic last album, We Are Already in Hell, is also available for download online here. Dark stuff, but delivered with fantastic energy and talent.

Okay. I suppose I’ve procrastinated enough this morning. On with the work day . . .