Sooner or later we must come to accept that George W Bush is a born dancer as well as a painter. The former president is a Cancer, astrologically speaking, and Cancers are drawn to the arts. It’s not uncommon to find bundled artistic talents within Cancers, although often at the expense of good horse sense. Consider some of Mr Bush’s birthday mates — musicians 50 Cent and Don Walsh of Rusted Shut, painter Frida Kahlo, and thespians Sylvester Stallone, Burt Ward and Jennifer Saunders.
The former president’s early career as a cheerleader was no fluke; this is the sign of a man that was born to dance. If only someone could have just pulled some strings to get him into HSPVA rather than the White House. Imagine some of the little spoonerisms we might have avoided, as well as the incredible, unthinkable cost to human life and property that could have been spared us all.
Just as George W Bush looks to be about a fifth of the way into realizing one of his thwarted dreams, I’m about a fifth of the way to the end of Jakob Arjouni’s Idiots, a collection of stories about semi-successful, self-obsessed cretins who are given one chance to improve their lives, courtesy of fairy attendants. In each case, their options are limited — no wishes for money, health, immortality or love. As we all come to learn, whether from fables or from direct experience, granted wishes are often subject to pretty harsh ironic conditions. It is suggested quite plainly to each character that no matter their desires or their case history, in any case they would be best off asking for a dishwasher. To ask anything else may just lead to more heartache.
What a week that week that just was, was. I don't have any magic agents on hand to grant my wishes, but I do have a dishwasher, albeit a noisy one that doesn't clean the dishes very well.
Anyhow, I'm of the ilk that is more inclined to drown my sorrow and my outrage in loud music. To be clear, I've also drowned a lot of my happiness in loud music too. As the Magic 8 ball for the coming week in music looks a little milky, here's an account of times past. I'm going to restrict myself to accounts of music, you can relive your current events reel via Russia Today or whatever news oracle you consult.
BILL CONVERSE, MIGUEL FLACO, PLEASURE 2, FASHIONWEEK, VILLA1N, PFAFFENBERG
Walters Downtown, July 7
If you are as fond of the rave-massacre scene in An American Werewolf In Paris as I am, then you already know how this ended. There was dancing and a whiff of violence. Modular synthesizing whiz-gent Pfaffenberg DJed between sets.V1LLA1N assumed the stage cloaked in strobe lights and a cloak, performing a well-modulated set of incantatory spoken word and metal machine music. The set lasted about eight or nine minutes long, an ideal length for the cultivation of mystique, observing as it does the eternal truth that brevity is the soul of wit. This was Fashionweek's first show, and it ran a little longer than eight minutes and was definitely overlit, as first shows can be, but the straight lines of hard beatwork were well carved out of the eternal block. You won't hear about Pleasure 2 from me, because that is my group and my mother raised me better than that, except that from on a stage we physically tower over regular-sized people, from a tall ladder even moreso. Miguel Flaco, on the other hand, set up on the floor. He has a smooth touch, with a lot of nuance and polished corners, and if we could set a little dog-eared metatag by his name that says "One to Watch" we would certainly do so. Bill Converse was the attraction of the night. His techno mediations are assisted by a fair share of funky pizazz and old-timey rave dynamics, and he got the otherwise girdled in marble feet of audience up on their twinkle toes and dancing.
THE WIGGINS, MUZAK JOHN
Notsuoh, July 8
Since a careful reader will by now have noted that I go on and on about the delights wrought by both The Wiggins and Muzak John, and that both are widely considered feathers in the cap on the statue of Sam Houston that smiles down on the merry souls at Hermann Park, I will simply add to this that I brought a friend visiting from the Czech Republic to this one, and he too was delighted.
ROUGH SLEEPERS, RUSTED SHUT
Notsuoh, July 11
Perhaps it isn't entirely healthy to haunt the same haunt so often over a short weekend, but nothing about a Rusted Shut concert suggests or encourages health. Nonetheless, the debut performance by Rough Sleepers, a band comprised of 66 percent of the late lamented Balaclavas, brought a hammer down on the whole pallid house. Rough Sleepers also get a coveted "Ones to Watch" metatag, as well as a Chrome or Killing Joke emoji, whensoever either of those get uploaded to the matrix. Rusted Shut were in as good spirits as I've seen them since the halcyon days of the early 2000s, all in fine beatnik fettle, accompanied by Ralf Armin on saxophone as well as the silent strains of an unplayed accordion.
I loved the NWA movie. It was formulaic and willfully incomplete, and it got my blood stirring. Perhaps there is a special place in hell for all the weedy white boys who went around reciting the first NWA record word for word; if so, I suspect that place is also called Houston. Certainly, it was hot the day I picked up a cassette copy of Straight Outta Compton off the street on my walk home from high school. I wore that tape out. Even now, decades later, perambulating the arcades of PlazAmericas mall, you will see NWA's sentiments echoed, mimicked, and slightly corrupted all over shirts, hats and stickers, in our case, "Straight Outta Houston."
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