Jonathan Richman vs. Steve Bannon...Er, Colonel Klink
Collage by Tex Kerschen
“I love people, I love life, I love to be alive. I will never grow old. We are all brothers and sisters in one big family. We all have the power of (at least) a flaming Nova Star within us. We are all full of beauty waiting to burst out. It is forever springtime.”
Who's that prancing in the shadows, obscured by the misdirected bright lights? No, not Steve Bannon, that alcoholic death-drive incarnate, seeking glory in his all-in attempt to bring about the world's end within his own lifetime. Steve Bannon, remarkable in that he’s a bona fide super-creep and one of the only semi-competent actors among the cabal of white-collar looters and bottom-feeders that make up our newly sworn-in executive branch, thought by many to be the current acting president of the USA, sees himself like this: “Darkness is good. Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power.” But, happily, so far at least, despite their grandiose sense of self and their xenophobic vision and near total-control of all three branches of government, they have revealed themselves to be more like the bumbling Nazis of Hogan’s Heroes.
Inevitably, when the transcripts are somehow dug up from the back-end of whatever easy-hack encryption is currently in use in the White House, whether it’s Snapchat or Twitter DM or whatever, and published half a century from now, the rats, with the smug, knowing way of evolved, post-nuclear rats, will have a field day discussing quotes like this, and wondering why the Bunker 45 staff chose pseudonyms like Klink, Schultz and Burkhalter:
Colonel Klink: “Of course, you want me to handle it with my usual Klink efficiency, General.”
General der Infantrie Albert Burkhalter: "No, this time I want it done right.”
Except, no one's really laughing. Just like Hogan's Heroes, it's not that funny, and just like Hogan's Heroes, it's all in really bad taste. The past month has already been a hard four years for most, and a nightmare for some.
Tacitus tells us that the Roman Emperor Nero, crowned through mysterious misdeeds and given to nearly every kind of vice and savagery, was at heart just another mediocre aspiring singer and poet, a sociopathic narcissist who only wanted to be loved. Our reigning president pro tem, wearing the crown of absolute power like a gouty Napoleon, is likewise a mediocrity wrapped around a psychological abyss. But times have changed, and here it behooves us to be clear in our distinctions: Our Imperator Americana, big explosive daddy of the 140-character jungle, has shown no proclivities for music or poetry; he’s more of a self-styled TV celebrity who plays a business tycoon onscreen. Vive la différence!
Anyhow, who is that dancing and bobbing in the shadows?
Continental Club, February 21
It’s Jonathan Richman, who, along with Tommy Larkins (the other member of his one-man band), is coming around once again to mend your heart and loosen your chi. At one time he looked ready to become the human bridge over that babbling brook between the Velvet Underground and New York punk. The Modern Lovers wrote short, quick ditties about teenage living, hippies and cool cars, like "Roadrunner," covered by Johnny Rotten and the Sex Pistols. The thing was, Jonathan Richman was more Llorca than Lou Reed, and he was no one’s patsy. He eschewed the loud life, the drugged life, the pallid New York life of the never-ending '70s, and he’s been mapping out a strange personal path through good humor and healthy living ever since, writing unforgettable and unlikely hits about romance, romantic encounters and romantic places, such as “I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar,” “Pablo Picasso” and “Give Paris One More Chance,” and zooming around the world bringing his art to the people. In every way possible, except legislatively, it’s not unfair to consider him a one-stop antidote to Trump TV and the Trump Reich.
And here, to be brief, is the rest of this weekend’s trashy lineup.
Friday, at Rice University’s Matchbox Gallery, out-sounds aficionado Hayden Right presents a series of crypto-alphabetic artworks with music from Robert Pearson and John Kennedy.
Later Friday night, Walters Downtown presents a showdown between Detroit garage-punk minimalists Tyvek and Michigan troubadour Fred Thomas, joined by the charming Rose Ette and the charming The Hammer Party.
At the same time, Friday night, Civic TV hosts modern harp player Mary Lattimore, with support from the ubiquitous Barry Elkanick’s Chalk, as well as Rosali.
I myself may be electing to demonstrate the latest in dad romps, thumb pops and left-footery, as well as a few questionably plotted social dances at the long-running, well-loved A Fistful of Soul monthly shindig at the Continental Club.
Friday and Saturday, Distant Worker hustle their trashed-out dubs and conspiratorial concatenations back-to-back at AvantGarden.
Friday night’s show, “Zoning Out Over a Bowl of Ice Cream,” is a benefit to help raise funds for an anonymous local music-afficionado’s expensive cancer treatments.
Saturday night’s show is Common Sense, an electronic confab for freaks and the freaks who love them, also starring Acid Jeep, Secret Sands, Funeral Parlor, An Oblique Offering, DJ Guyot, DJ Milo Tech and with hypnotic trance-inducing videos from Ebblo & Sppank.
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