PRINT November 1996


Thurston Moore’s Real Life Rock

Thurston Moore is a member of the band Sonic Youth.

  1. SAMO

    A-Space, Broome St., NYC late ’70s. Schnabel’s 3 biopic had me on the DMD (displaced memory daze) for days. Being the same age as basquiat i remember bumming round soho working those same shitty tin-ceiling-scraping-painting gallery jobs. I was the teenage guitarist in a band called the coachmen which basically consisted of ex-rhode-island-school-of-design students. We’d play t-head television feelies velvets inna heavy heavy loftstyle, most consistently at arleen schloss’ a-space. Some nights it’d be packed w/artists checking out whatever muzic, per4mance, film etc. was on and some nights it’d be like five, ten people floating around. It was on one of these latter nights that i saw this trio calling itself SAMO, which was obviously the musical extension of whoever it was tagging that everywhere-you-looked SAMO graffitti. The trio was a guy from konk (downtown hipster/funksters) on trumpet, another guy on percussion, and SAMO (jean-michel basquiat) playing what seemed to be very jerryrigged analog electronix. They were fantastic and sublimely OUT playing off-the-cuff improvisatory jams and i’ve always wondered if any of it ever got recorded. Jean-Michel later produced and did the cover art for an experimental hip-hop 12" by ramelzee vs. k-rob called beat bop which was a complete influence on the then-teenage beastie boys and he was also involved with some band called grey (never saw ’em). The film had a scene with the hero playing some inconsequential guitar noise with a funk-style band at the mudd club. I’m not sure how accurate that is but that a-space gig sticks in my mind as a heavy moment. Soho was so different then—smaller, darker, quieter. I never knew jean michel—he was just some kid in the same neighborhood hanging at the same clubs. I remember aligning myself with those who were antipainting in the soho ’80s and when basquiat became a super-famous painter i hadn’t a clue and didn’t give a shit. The years went by and at the end he’d sometimes kinda float into todd’s xerox shop in little italy where i worked and smile and say hi and be kinda spaced and some gallery lady would help him xerox something and drag him out by the hand. It was only a few years back that i went to a retrospective (of sorts) of his paintings and notebooks and was completely amazed at the beauty of his art.


    Osaka, Japan. Outside this bar on a tiny street in the late-night section of Osaka hangs a neon sign that reads BAR NOISE. You walk up one flight and slip into a room the size of a checker taxi-cab and you’re instantly greeted by blaring indigenous industrial noise courtesy of such Japanese luminaries as merzbow, masonna, hijo kaidan, solmania, aube a.o; the bar sells tapes of local underground noise musicians and they’re all astounding. You’re invited to grab any of the hanging appliances and whatsits to create aural chaos. A monitor plays videos of in-house performances by clientele wearing specially prepared noise helmets and neon light-bulb guitars that scream. When in Osaka check it out.


    His response to the review of Arthur Doyle’s CD The Songwriter (Ecstatic Peace Records) in Tuba Frenzy, which basically reads as follows: “the first specific evidence I’ve heard which suggests that totally ’freed’ musicians must grapple w/ the exigencies of sonoric content the way that drunks (like Merv, that construction helmet fucker in front of CB’s) must grapple with the hungover remembrance of propositions.” Now to openly gonzo-damage the legacy of the much-loved Merv is probably inexcusable and, along w/ the passing of Jonathan The Dog, telling, in how CBGB was never quite the same years since. But to relate that to the ’free jazz musician" (east coast variant, mind you) smacks of rural marsh-gas genius/warpage. The butter & sugar corn is definitely sweeter in Massachusetts lemme tell you.


    These two were my first real heroes of late ’70s downtown nyc. As the 1st wave of patti/television subsided, art-school fuck-ups were heading into town with spilt-media-punk-nihil energy. Glenn was abuzzz w/ the cosmic significance of vito acconci’s glorification installation Seedbed (did he cum? how many times?). Video was a nothing dream and only dan graham could bodysnatch it. Loft gigs were either “come fuck with me” or “i love you let’s create a humm blinding headstorm naked.” Glenn licked his guitar fuzzing out of shit-hot amp ON FILM (theatre of sexed ghosts (in/deed!)) setting himself apart as sublimely furious. I found the no wave wave on and it was pretty past-and-post ono. Pat Place was (and IS as IS glenn) incredibly boy-delectable. She learned slide guitar watching lydia lunch who taught herself. I decided to stalk these people and pray for their sounding soulz.


    In battle, a woman called me a record collector. Kim G had a show at white columns in which early ’80s artists displayed record covers. She was my favorite artist (instantly). Everyone created personal LP artifacts. I went to the rat cage and bought the 1st jodie foster’s army 7“ (hardcore, day one) and pinned it up. Kim seemed to like that move and we got married. With no money i somehow would collect records—i would sell shit (books and records) on st. mark’s place, buy cigarettes, onions, and peanut butter for dinner and a 7” from 99. Record collecting is a state between worship and wonder.


    Peel Session CD (Strange Fruit import). “Who are the mystery girls?” is a distinctly new york question when posed by new york dolls’ david jo dressed in glam knowing full well that to truly expose rock ’n’ roll romance he had to get lost in femininity. It’s years down the road since the riot grrrl was first proposed as a way to bring down the MAN (mainstream asshole nervecenter). Top-seeded bikini kill won by allowing evolvement to change their minds and art (both being the real contemporary deal) instead of relying on sacred cow political poot. As does sleater-kinney (nè heavens to betsy) and the wild searching daughter/hearts allison-molly-erin who had a band called bratmobile (allison + erin still PLAY together in the different yet quite incredible cold cold hearts—molly’s in the peechees and runs a record label). Performance is politically essential to rock ’n’ roll w/ these very serious people. Kathleen mentioned she dreamed a performance piece of and for women entitled “You Got To Fight For Your Right To Be Arty” where women reclaim and embrace performance art as their medium in an industry born of female aesthetics yet governed by geeks. Bratmobile played their final gig at threadwaxing space in nyc a couple of years ago, breaking up on stage while allowing anarchist dykes to take the mike and berate and smack the very confounded club owner as well as any geek wanting to DEBATE the girls-only ’zine-lit and it became a happening. I can only say thanx for the masterpiece. The bratmobile studio records that exist are hep in their own right but i dig this rare peel session CD best. It has em all out alive + frantik in a very punked + telling way and “Make Me Miss America” (w/ attendant photo inside) is beautiful + heroic.


    The best record labels in the world are those that have sprung up in the last five years or so completely mysterious and open-ended and run by twenty-somethings (but not always). Dealing w/ music as anything that’s striking as sound-collective inspired/fertilized by pure child/adult/child wonder of such obscure genres as free-jazz, new music composition, krautrock, french chanteuse pop, japanese noise, uk + euro industro-noise, lo-fi bedroom pop experiments, german softcore porn soundtrax, rustic folk plainspeak, uk psyche/folk genius, no wave, uk/euro free-improv, prepunkregional pocket scenes, postrock, ambient/illbient/drone dj culture, ’80s underground noise rock, minimalist/experimental hip-hop and the sonic hurricanes whipping thru their very souls. These labels can only afford to press a few hundred cassettes, 7"s, LPs or, if they’re particularly ambitious, CDs. There are fanzines that deal primarily with this sub-subculture. The artists garnering the most excitement from this scene are from all over the world: ashtray navigations, tranquil, blowhole, to live and shave in I.a., dogliveroil, evil moisture, fuzzhead, cock esp, negro, tea culture, wham-o, wrong, wooden cunt, witcyst, coits, rake, target shoppers, prick decay, bone cure, coffee, noggin, crank sturgeon, crude, harry pussy, lost in translation, k. salvatore, kostas d’lary, msbr, inca eyeball, the ah club, furniture huschle, pie, bingo trappers, pork queen, irving klaw trio, crayon skidder, ceramic hobs, the finland subterraund, emil hagstrom, bruiser, corey, das ludicroix, incapacitants, incoming stains, kf 36, and millions more. The labels releasing this stuff are union pole, trackshun, sweet baboo, shrimper, p tapes, oska, malpractice, gritty kitty, giardia, fusetron, face like a smacked arse, eldest son, e.f. tapes, animist, dirtlove, destroy all music, corpus hermeticum, chocolate monk, catsup plate, cakehole, bobby j., betley welcomes careful drivers, apraxia, anomalous, and scads others. Instead of me giving you addresses for these labels your best bet is to get yr hands on some of the fanzines that promote this music as they tend to publish label addresses. One of the most celebrated ’zines of this culture (some of the best, most radical music is from new zealand) is called opprobrium) (pob 3913/ christchurch n.z.)—and for sure check out the aforementioned ’zine Tuba Frenzy (pob 373/chapel hill, nc 27514 usa).

  8. SOHO

    Two shows at the season’s starting gate that nail the once & future kingdom skware-on-the-hed are: 1st) jeffrey deitch project’s exhibition on the retail-ization of the hood where yokel artists install work inside select STORM 2nd) and better, is the fucked show at american fine arts by AC2K (the artist formerly known as art club 2000)—a catalogue of interviews w/ local gallery owners discussing the current trend of soho galleries pulling up stakes + movin on up to chelsea where agnes don’t b (tho I’d guess that’s hardly the reason). A large photo of the interviewed gallery owners, an incredible facsimile of the scharf shack, the drawing center window boxes, an early basquiat wall-graffiti piece pulled out of a construction dumpster ($50,000) and so much more, all presented in a cigarette-smoking-intelligentsia way. This really has nothing to do w/ supermodelz and by god it fucking works.

  9. D.A. LEVY’S yucanhaveyrfukincitybak

    The late d.a. levy, poet laureate of the midwest mung-bulge, has had one good anthology printed thus far & this is it. Although zen concrete ain’t bad.

  10. PAOLO SOLERI: Arcology: City in the Image of Man (MIT Press, 1969).

    This title never struck me as funny before, but i just started thinking about how Bob Crane got offed in the same Arizona city where Soleri crafted his wind-chimes & I got a weird feeling, y’know? Is Soleri still around? What’s his trip? Who “did” Bob Crane?