Saturday, May 10, 2008

One Hundred Project : Frank

What is on your stereo at the moment?

Dig Lazarus Dig by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

4 records that changed your life. Why?

The Birthday Party: Prayers On Fire

I grew up in a very remote area called the Black Forest in southern Germany, in a village of only 400 inhabitants. Life was very idyllic and growing up being surrounded by nature is something I'll always be thankful for but there was little of cultural interest for a teenage boy.. I was a big fan of Swiss radio DJ Francois Muerner who had a show called "Sounds" Tuesday nights between 10 and 11 pm. I had grown up listening to my fathers' Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin records and good old Francois opened my ears to a whole new dimension of music that was out there. Unfortunatelly, I was only able to tune in on his station in very clear weather. I think I was 14 years old when I heard "Zoo Music Girl" while sitting on the window still at night overlooking the nearby valley and listening to this assault of a song. Still to this day, this album along with their second LP Junkyard remain favorites of mine for their raw brutality that still, in some weird way is kind of funky.

Vampyros Lesbos "sexadelic dance party"

The re-release with tracks from two LPs by Manfred Hübler & Siegfried Schwab that were used by Spanish Sexploitation film director Jesus Franco for his movies "Vampyros Lesbos", "She Killed In Extasy" and "The Devil Came From Akasava". I helped on the release of this record myself and did the promotional parties for it. I traveled around Germany with a gang of Go Go Girls, a custom made, chrome plated Go Go Cage and some crates full of Sexploitation soundtracks, French 60's Pop and Hammond Organ Funk. In 1996, I moved the whole concept to NYC where I kept doing the weekly "Vampyros Lesbos Party" for 4 years and even branched out to Philly for a monthly event.

Mickey & The Soul Generation "get down brother"/"how good is good"

This was the first really expensive record that I bought. It cost me $400 and has since more than doubled in its price. This is one of the holy grails of rare US Funk 45s. I was still in NYC and fed most of my party's proceeds towards a growing collection of Funk and Soul 45s. I made an effort to find the rawest, most unpolished and most engaging tunes of the genre and this record shows both extremes of the genre: "how good is good" is a fast, storming monster that ignites a dance floor and has people who've heard it before yell with anticipation as soon as they hear the intro. "get down brother" on the flip is one of the heaviest songs ever recorded. The drums sound as if they could tear down a building and the whole thing has such a momentum, it really is slow but it's unstoppable. Buying more and more expensive records was also my own personal method to battle a growing coke habit. It worked, now I have a nice and timeless collection of obscure Funk 45s and still breathe through two separate nostrils.

Pax Nicholas & The Nettey Family: Na Teef

This was the first African record that I found. I bought it at Smith's Records in Philadelphia. A store that had remained untouched by other collectors for decades solely because of the dangerous neighborhood it was locacted in and because of the slightly creepy owner Stan who didn't really like the company of white people. To my luck his racial prejudice didn't extend to Europeans so I was the first Funk collector to have access to his unbelievable storage room upstairs. On a later visit, I explained to him that my wife was offered a job at the German embassy in Conakry, Guinea and that I might move with her to Africa for a couple of years. Stan said "hey, good for you... let me see, I think I have a bunch of African records around here somewhere..." he took me to his office where one entire wall was lined by LP shelves and he pulled out a bunch of releases on the Nigerian Tabansi label.

I bought the entire lot of maybe two dozen because the covers looked so intriguing. Closer inspection at home revealed that only one record contained funky material but this one was a true winner. The four tracks sound undeniably a bit of Fela but have a whole individual, trippy feel to them. I found out that this record was so rare that no-one else had ever heard about it. My curiosity about African records was sparked and while I was before worried about how I would keep myself busy living in Guinea for three years, now I knew that I would just travel around and look up more records like this one. On an interesting side-note: I found out that Pax Nicholas is now living in Berlin and I arranged for his record to be re-released in the near future.

What are you looking forward to?

As interesting, enlightening (I normally never use this ugly word) and rewarding the past three years of travels were. It's also been challenging and a mentaly as well as physically abrasive. It is also strange to constantly stand out like a sore thumb wherever you go. Traveling in Africa can be very comforting and alienating at the same time and your mind gets bombarded with unexpected and unimaginable impressions pretty much without a pause. I'm really looking forward to finding a nice home in NYC and take our three adopted African street dogs on a walk without having to worry about them snagging up a dead rat, a mumified frog or even less appealing things, dead or alive. I'm also very looking forward to meet up with all my old friends. And I'm looking forward to playing all these African Funk records for a dancing crowd!

What couldn’t you live without? Why?

My wife. Because she gives me all the comfort and direction that I need. I'd be lost without her.

Most memorable gig?

Hmmm... let me think...I guess it would have been this crazy club in Bremen. I forgot the name, it was some 12 or 13 years ago but I played records from 11:00PM until 9:00 AM and finished off a 1.5 Liter bottle of vodka in the process.

Who/what are your influences?

I don't really have any influences as DJs are concerned. I'm not really what most people would call a DJ anyways. I don't mix, I don't match beats, I don't scratch, I just play one record after the other. I've always loved music and been going to see bands play but I never really went to clubs, mainly because I didn't like the sort of music that was played there. I do have some friends who are into Hip Hop and therefore, I've seen some DJs with amazing skills though like Cashmoney or this group called the X-ecutioners. I don't know much about DJ-ing in this sense but I have a lot of respect for it. Me on the other hand, I'm just a collector who likes to share the music he likes. I'm a human jukebox.

What is the best and worst thing about the city that you live in?

The best thing about Conakry is a live club called "Forchette Magique" where they have this amazing Mandingo live and every Wednesday. Some of the best African Jazz you could wish for.

The worst thing is that it's being rated as the second-filthiest city on the African continent.

Given the accelerated pace of modern culture, what are we due a revival in?

I'm pretty much detached from the pace of modern culture. I haven't had television reception for over 6 years, reaching back three years before we moved to Africa and even here we could have TV but I destroyed the socket when moving in. TV is too addictive and too much of a waste of time. We do have a plasma screen and video projector though to watch movies on DVD. As far as records go, I think that the best music has already been recorded. I still buy 2 or 3 new CDs a year, mostly by bands that I grew up with who still do interesting things or groups like the Dapkings. I wouldn't call them a "revival" band. They're keeping good music alive. Other than that, I'm busy listening to the old stuff I'm digging up. There has been such a long period of time now where nothing of any cultural significance has happened as far as music goes, for me it's all a waste of time. I make an effort to never listen to the radio either. When in the Western world, I always choose to walk if a cab driver refuses to turn off the radio. Having to listen to music I don't like to me is aural molestation.

Hero? Why?

I don't have a specific hero. There are many people who have done things that I would call heroic. Like Serge Gainsbourg for example or of course Fela Kuti. Dennis Hopper has made some daring and heroic movies (I'm refering to those he both directed AND starred in). Sam Peckingpah. Alexandro Jodorowski is a hero. The MC5 were heros... I don't have one single personal hero, I have heros for different genres, different days or moods.

Is there anything else that you feel that we should know?

Western relief work in Africa is a complete lie. All African countries are incredibly rich in resources and most are very fertile. What happens in most cases is that a corrupt and unfit government holds its people hostage, sells off the country's resources for pocket change in under-the-table transaction with Western and Eastern companies, incorporations, amalgamations and governments. All sub-saharan African countries could be well off if thier businesses would be conducted with at least a bit of honesty and basic ability. Why does nobody know this? Because all Westerners who come here are business men who profit from these conditions, politicians who aid them and a few tourists who can't or don't want to see what's really happening. Did I miss mentioning relief workers? No I put these togther with the business men. Relief work is not a business? Think again!

Frank runs Voodoo Funk and unlike most collectors who use eBay, GEMM, Discogs and local digging spots to get their fix, he upped sticks and moved to Conkary, West Guinea to find those rarer than rare funk 7"s and 12"s and along the way got an education that wasn't just limited to music. I wrote a post on him a few days ago and you can read it here.

Frank - Afro Shop


00:00 Orlando Julius - psychedelic afro shop
05:55 Fela Ransome Kuti - beautiful dancer
12:50 Orch. Anassoua Jazz de Parakou - norou
15:47 De Frank & his Professionals - psychedelic man
22:08 Pat Thomas & Marijata - we are coming home
28:00 Christiana Essien - my kind of man
31:55 African Bros Int. Band - hold your lover tight
41:40 Les As Du Golfe - tsi ma le to
47:20 The Creation - noble kings
53:02 Jeff Tagoe & the Vis-A-Vis - abifao
55:55 Antoine Dougbe & Poly Rythmo - honton soukpo gnon

Download it here.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Plugs - That Number

Plugs are a new band to me. Apparently one of the members of Does It Offend You, Yeah?, which is a great name for a band but I couldn't honestly tell you what they sound like. That Number is just the right side of dance rock for me and has more than a hint of the balearics to it, the crap rap down the middle being the proof in the pudding. Having said that I think it is absolutely brilliant and can see this going down really well just about anywhere that it is played. It's the type of record that I could see outshining a lot of records on a Kitsune compilation as well as going down a treat at Aficionado and how many records can you honestly say could do that? Every time I hear this I get a bit excited, download and enjoy.

Plugs - That Number

They even have a snazzy little video to go with it.

Apparently they're destined for big things, so keep an eye on them.

James Pants interview

Spokane, Washington resident James Pants is unbelievably difficult to pigeon-hole - Is he new wave? Is he disco? Is he boogie? Is he electro? Is he hip hop? Truth is, he isn’t any of those, James’ music exists in those utterly unique little pockets of magic that join all those genres together. He quite proudly proclaims his music to be, “the sound of really cheap equipment, listening to a lot of records, and goofing off," and if records like ‘We’re Through’, ‘KA$H’ and his rather brilliant version of Adonis’ ‘Rocking Down The House’ are anything to go by then you can be sure that Stones Throw have unearthed an artist that will always have fresh ideas and who isn’t afraid of throwing out a few twists and turns along the way all while being incredibly original. His new album ‘Welcome’ drops on May 27th and it doesn’t matter where your musical allegiances lie, there will be something on the record that will excite you, and when was the last time we could honestly say that about an artist? I, for one, am very excited for what the future holds for James and I’ve already made space on my record shelves for his future releases.

Read the interview here.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

FMB - Vote Obama

He just won North Carolina and narrowly lost Indiana. Looking good at this point.

One Hundred Project : Brendon P

What is on your stereo at the moment?

Ha Ha, nothing at the moment, but I was listening to 2 CD's this afternoon for memories sake while cleaning out the pad and rummaging through my mail...The League Unlimited Orchestra's "Love And Dancing" and A compilation called Funky Nassau The Compass Point Story 1980-1986.

3 records that changed your life. Why?

Stevie Wonder - As
Lyrically, I was always amazed by the fact that a blind man could have such a vision of unconditional love and write and sing about it so sincerely and fluently. It still touches a special place in my heart each time I hear or play it. And his musicianship on it is first rate!

Manuel Gotsching - E2E4
For a 1981 piece of electronic music, it was way ahead of it's time. Can't say if that or Iron Butterfly's "In A Gadda Da Vida" was one of the longest records I've ever know or written for that matter, but it fell right up there with Kraftwerk's "Trans Europe Express" and weaned me into electronica in a big way.

Deep Purple - Machine Head LP
I was late listening to this, but when I was 5 years old and a really destructive kid when visiting my relatives at Christmas time, my cousin Charles found that one way to keep me quiet and in one place, was to place me in front of his stereo, plug in the headphones and let me listen to music. It was the first record I remember listening to, and my first lesson on how to operate a turntable. I couldn't get enough after and no more glassware and vases got broken after. Charles still tells everyone to this day, that he started me on the road to djing, and he may be right, too.

What are you looking forward to?

Just trying to be happy and find peace of mind with each passing day. And discovering new and mind blowing bits of music. Hopefully I'll produce some someday.

What couldn’t you live without? Why?

Integrity, music, my parents and God's guidance in my life.

Most memorable gig?

Too many that come to mind. Tough to single out one really.

Who/what are your influences?

My parents form a very large influence on my life actually. At work, my fellow residents, Tony and DjB as well for their own honesty and integrity and belief in what they do. Artistically and musically at the moment, it's probably Carl Craig, Christian Prommer, Martin Buttrich, Dominik Eulberg, Dennis Ferrer....and anyone who has made a positive impact on me musically and spiritually in some small or significant way.

What is the best and worst thing about the city that you live in?

Oh it's a relatively safe place, with a very low crime rate. And it's a progressive and affluent country as well. The people here live comfortably and there's little unemployment or homeless people living in the streets. However, the same factors can also be it's undoing too, at times, as the people here tend to take that for granted sometimes. Not totally their fault as they have so much financial burden these days with the cost of living going up, and pressure to be "successful" the way societal norms dictate them to be. There's also less people these days who are open-minded about accepting different styles of music in their life. Partly because they are influenced too much by commercial radio, MTV and other mainstream influences. There is sadly also a general apathy towards anything that's not hyped up as "fashionable", too long or "undigestable" to them. We can run around in circles about this in conversations, but I think it will have to take a great deal of effort, education and funding to start this rolling again and it will take a great deal of time too.

Given the accelerated pace of modern culture, what are we due a revival in?

Wow, that's a tough question. The Indie thing is running rampant these days. So many kids are into that pseudo-indie-electro sound that everything's starting to sound the same. I see the cycle eventually coming back to house, but not for a while here yet. I had this weird theory that House and Techno has it's best years in the 8, 9 and 0 region numerically. It started in 1988, grew in 1989 and was the big thing in 1990. It had it's time again in 1998, 99 and 2000. Maybe the 1, 2 and 3's are always it's pensive and more tentative numbers because everyone jumps on the bandwagon and tries to copy or mutate it and then it all goes astray allowing pop to creep back into the fray, but it's 2008 now, and there are some really kicking house and techno records coming out. I could be wrong though, about the numbers theory. Let's just see what the recycling bin throws up.

Hero? Why?

My parents honestly. I know it's a boring answer, but they're the only people in the world I trust to give me an honest answer and challenge me to be happy rather than "successful".

Is there anything else that you feel that we should know?

I also cook, rather well actually...ha ha.

Brendon Perera is no rookie to Singapore's clubbing scene, Brendon's DJ career spans two decades. A trip to Paradise Garage back in '84 weaned him into the New York club culture, and into the music that was to become the house music that we hear today. Crossing vast musical backgrounds over his years as a DJ, he continued to acquire a keen ear and passion for dance music. "There's just so much to share with dance music, as it combines all the key elements of music; the funk, soul and jazz that I grew up with, plus today's technology".

Besides his previous residencies in other local clubs, he has also taken his sets to other clubs around the globe. Forays into production have also bore fruit with his contributions to the soundtrack of the locally produced motion picture - A Sharp Pencil. And as the resident DJ in both the Zouk main room and now in it's sister club Velvet Underground where he anchors the Saturday nights with his educated blend of soul, deep house and disco that has added to the already warm vibe of the room.

To listen to Brendon's mixes visit his DJ page here.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

It's Frank Calling...

Self-styled vinyl archeologist Frank is based in Conakry in West Guinea and used to run Soul Explosion in Berlin as well as played host to Vampyros Lesbos in New York City. The man clearly knows his onions when it comes to rare and hard to find funk and soul records. He has recently retired from DJing and seems to spend his time solely looking for African Funk records, which from experience is far easier said than done. He runs his blog Voodoo Funk and describes it as, "This blog is about my travels and experiences in a region that despite being plagued by civil wars corrupt governments and other diseases has so much more to offer. Maybe this site will inspire some of You to just go and buy a plane ticket and come to see where we all came from. You might find things more valuable than the rarest records and sometimes you won't even have to dig through dusty boxes to find them."

His latest entry on the blog is a real eye-opener to the dedication and perseverance required to search for records the world over.

As every seasoned digger knows, the path that hopefully will lead us to a particularly desirable record can often be lined with very strange people. Why should Africa be any different? Please note that the following story is an exception and should mean nothing compared to the helpfulness and friendliness I have encountered during the past two years of my stay here in West Africa.

Earlier this month, I received a call from one of my buyers in Cotonou that he found two clean copies of one of my most wanted records. I spontaneously bought a plane ticket and arrived in Cotonou last Friday morning. After two hours of sleep, I jumped on the back of my man's moped and we dove into traffic. First stop was a cool and shady backyard, I had to fight not falling asleep as soon as I sat down in one of the broken plastic chairs. After a while, a young woman arrived with a stack full of records. Unfortunately, they were all in horrible condition, the sleeves were almost completely rotten away and the remaining vinyl was scratched up by layers of sand that had settled between them. We left and I asked my man where the records were that he had told me about. I had promised him a rather large amount for them so it seemed a bit strange why he would hold back like this and not present them to me as soon as he saw me. He answered something that I couldn't hear over the loud traffic around us as were passing the big roundabout at Cotonou's "Etoile Rouge" a big, circular place covered with green cobble stones with a large red star in it's center, a reminder of the country's communist area that looks a bit like a giant commercial ad for Heineken Beer.

We headed outside of the city and after about half an hour, we entered a labyrinth of small sandy roads. My man almost crashlanded our asses into a big heap of garbage as the back wheel kept swerving wildly on the sandy ground as he raced towards his house which was located on a backyard together with four or five other small one story buildings. We entered his home and one of his neighbors came in and joined us as we sat down around a big wooden table. My man turned on the television and some horrid desktop generated electro pop began blaring out of the speaker, the soundtrack for some slightly amusing video of muscular men with bleached beards posing in front of a blue screen background of expensive sports cars. I asked for the records again and he explained that some guy from Lagos had showed up at his house with both copies, asking for 50.000 FCFA ($120) each which he of course couldn't pay so the seller had left again for Nigeria with the records. Obviously a bullshit story. I had told my man that I would pay him that exact amount if he could find this record for me, thinking back now, it's pretty clear to me that he came up with this little tale to scam me into giving him money to buy two nonexisting records. I should have just acted like I believed him and said "okay, never mind, I don't really need the record anyway" but right then, my judgment was clouded by emotion and lack of sleep.

I asked my man why he had told me on the phone that he had the records in his possession while obviously this wasn't the case. This was when my man got upset and started shouting why I would doubt his honesty, going on and on about how he was a reputable businessman and such. I felt bewildered, tried to calm him down and to make him understand how this would be disappointing news for me as I had just spent money on a plane and hotel mainly to get these two records. He got even more upset and I mentioned that perhaps I should better just leave when his neighbor began to intervene, asking me to stay and discuss things. I started feeling more and more weirded out and also began trying to figure out why the hell he would take me all the way out of town to his house to tell me that the records I had come for didn't exist. And why was his neighbor in here with us? My host was getting louder and louder. All I could think of was that it was really getting time to leave this place.

The room was very small, the table took up most of the space, the men were on it's other side, both of them standing by now, while I was still sitting on my chair directly behind the front door. I was dead tired and didn't know if I should just feel confused or if there was reason to feel threatened? Having learned my lesson on my last visit that in doubt, it's better to be a chicken than to put yourself into harms way, I just slid from my chair and was out the door in one fluid move. I ran for the gate without looking back, out on the sandy path and just kept walking back towards where we had come from. Noone seemed to come after me but there were other things to worry about: How the fuck should I find my way back into town? There were tin roof shacks to each side of the small road, they all looked pretty much the same and there was nothing really that I could use for orientation. It was the middle of the day and I didn't feel any direct danger but still I didn't want to look too obviously lost.

Of course, everybody was already staring at me anyway, trying to figure out what I was doing there so I just kept walking like I knew where I was going. Somehow I managed to find a wider road that was used by a few motor bikes and after a while, I saw a Zemidjan, one of Cotonou's army of moped taxis who's drivers all wear bright yellow shirts with their license number painted on the back. "Zemidjan" is in the local language Fon and means "take me away fast" and take me away fast he did. Minutes later, I sat at a bar, drinking an ice cold Beninoise beer, waiting for my other buyer Chakirou who I had just called with the bartenders cell phone. Chakirou and I spent the rest of the weekend cruising around Cotonou and Porto Novo unearthing stacks and stacks of records. After only three days of digging, I took the plane back to Conakry with two heavy suitcases full of vinyl. My neighbor picked me up from the airport and told me that while I was gone, underpaid and unhappy soldiers had taken to the streets of Conakry, shooting and looting at will. Last night was quiet though and today was also uneventful. Hopefully, things will be resolved and I won't have to once more grab the dogs and flee to Sierra Leone.

I get the impression that he has packed up sticks and is moving to NYC for good but not without finding the time to make this movie that hopefully will be out soon.

Also, when you have time check the mixes on his blog, they're ridiculously good.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Artists for Obama

I won't harp on too long about this but this is just to let you know that Shepard Fairey has done another poster for the Barack Obama campaign. This time he has focused on Change as previously he had worked on Progress as seen below.

Change is available to purchase from here. As Shepard states, "I wanted to make an art piece of Barack Obama because I thought an iconic portrait of him could symbolize and amplify the importance of his mission. I believe Obama will guide this country to a future where everyone can thrive and I should support him vigorously for the sake of my two young daughters. I have made art opposing the Iraq war for several years, and making art of Obama, who opposed the war from the start, is like making art for peace. I know I have an audience of young art fans and I’m delighted if I can encourage them to see the merits of Barack Obama.”

Below is the letter that Shepard received from Barack Obama a few weeks ago.

You can also buy the t-shirt from Urban Outfitters should you choose to.

Here are the new images that have emerged in recent weeks. On the left you have the Munk One piece and on the right you have work the Sam Flores piece.

Here is the press release.

In an ongoing effort to secure Democratic hopeful Barack Obama's presidential bid, The 008 and Upper Playground have collaborated with Sam Flores and Munk One to create two new limited screenprints of each artist's portrait of Obama. The Sam Flores and Munk One posters are part of an ongoing series of artist collaborations in support of Barack Obama's presidential campaign.

The Sam Flores and Munk One limited screenprints are now available for purchase online through Upper Playground. Both posters will be signed and numbered by the artists and are made at a limited quantity of 200, with each retailing for $200. Each poster is a pre-sale item and will not ship until April 21, 2008. All proceeds from the sales of each design from Sam Flores and Munk One Obama posters will go directly to creating more campaign T-shirts, posters and stickers by other artists in support of Obama's bid for President. Currently, the Munk One design is being used in bus shelter and billboard advertisements throughout Philadelphia prior to the primary in Pennsylvania on April 22, 2008. Upper Playground recently endorsed Obama's campaign by creating posters featuring artwork from The Date Farmers and Mac, as well as printing T-shirts with Shepard Fairey's Obama poster graphics to help support the campaign. The 008, Sam Flores, Munk One and Upper Playground would like to thank everyone who continues their support of the Barack Obama campaign.

Also, here is the HVW8 contribution.

I still have a few Progress stickers here and I am prepared to send them out to wherever you may be should want one.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

One Hundred Project : Ed Skoog

What is on your stereo at the moment?

"Shake Some Action," by the Flamin' Groovies.

3 records that changed your life. Why?

"Paul's Boutique," The Beastie Boys and "Fear of a Black Planet," Public Enemy, from my freshman year in college, because it was my freshman year in college. It was one of the last albums able to sort through the full record bin for samples before the law stepped in and ruined sampling.

"Another View," Velvet Underground, bought at World Records on 6th Street in Topeka, because it was my introduction to music not on V100, and although it's not one of the great VU albums, it still told me important things about oblivion & liberty.

A cassette of Bill Monroe standards bought at some megamart on the way back to Manhattan, KS from seeing Urge Overkill in Lawrence, KS. Those were strange days, and among the strange things in the world, Bill Monroe's ragged and out-of-time mandolin is one of them.

What are you looking forward to?

Moving back to civilization and being around record stores and live music again. I'm looking forward to hearing whatever is onstage at the Tractor Tavern in Ballard. I'm also looking forward to going back to New Orleans this summer and hearing what's playing from cars driving slowly down my street in the Hollygrove.

What couldn't you live without? Why?

My banjo. I keep in the pick case six rocks I found on the Konza prairie, a piece of bark from Richard Hugo's grave, and some shards of mammoth ivory I traded a dulcimer for.

Most memorable gig?

In music, playing with Mike West and Myshkin at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, one hot afternoon in 2000.

In poetry, reading with Thurston Moore and John Hodgman and Kelly Link at the VFW Hall in Hadley, Massachusetts last January.

Who/what are your influences?

Alfred Hitchcock and Eddie Floyd.

What is the best and worst thing about the city that you live in?

Nobody's here, and the fishing's not great. No new bookstores, no good bars, and the movie theater only shows one movie at a time, the same one for weeks. The best thing is that an hour away, in Temecula, there's a small record store with a very expensive cardboard box of California psychedelic records of the 60s and 70s.

Given the accelerated pace of modern culture, what are we due a revival in?

Ragged string band music, of course. Probably vaudeville.

Hero? Why?

My grand-uncle E.E. Haley of Ottawa Kansas, because he died driving home from work at ninety-five years old. Next door to his office in Ottawa was an old music store, with a collection of exotic instruments in the window and throughout the store. Sitars, tablas, all dusty and unplayed.

Ed Skoog's first book of poems, *Mister Skylight*, will be published by Copper Canyon in 2009. His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Paris Review, Poetry, Threepenny Review, Naked Punch (UK) and elsewhere.

Ed also suffers through life up here in Idyllwild with the rest of us except he gets to teach creative writing by day and take his two dogs for long scenic walks by night and occasionally he turns his soundsystem up to 11 and blasts out choice cuts from his small but perfectly formed record collection. He also contributes to the Ward Six blog where you can read some of his poetry, opinions and musings including this one. He isn't afraid of battling in a poetry-off, which he did with aplomb a few weeks ago at one of the many readings that he has organized up here at the academy. He'll be sorely missed when he moves onto pastures new in a few weeks.

I particularly like this poem of Ed's.

Like Night Catching Jackrabbits in Its Barbed Wire

It's my thirty-fifth birthday and some old friends
are visiting. We drive up to Pioneertown's
one bar and (separate) bowling alley
where the singer who calls herself Cat Power
has left her scoresheet on the wall.
We bowl better in her glow and original
pinks and greens of 1951 the alley's saved.
Back in our civilian footwear we walk
sand to Pappy and Harriet's Pioneer Palace
and drink our beers, play Quiddler with a fresh
deck as the band begins its roadhouse fight songs.

A marine with shaved head and band aid
on his nose plops down and steals my wife's beer.
She snatches it back, looks to me, my words
forming in my hand. The soldier's buddy
apologizes, says he's just returned
from the sandbox that afternoon, forty Iraq weeks
and they're getting him drunk. An officer,
my age, in slacks and button down, leans in
from the table behind, says he's watching,
not to worry. I've been here before, in dark
on a side road of my little town beside the army base.

I remember how beating felt, how good
in cold to smile at ways they beat me.
I'd always been hungry to be touched, and bread
they fed me was sweet. All things that happen bad
are soft to lay down on later. Once comfort
I hoped for was gone, what was sharp and bitter
was my mother. That was first Gulf War.
Back in the roadhouse we finish our game,
the bar closes, our wives go back to motel
and we still thirsty drive into town twenty miles
through summer's forest fire to Joshua Tree

Saloon, downroad from where Gram Parsons
died twice in 1974, overdosing on heroin.
The first time, his hooker expertly shoved
a cube from the ice bucket up his ass,
brought him back to life, yet he knew enough
of life to shoot up again an hour later,
when she stepped out for a cheeseburger.
It's hard to save your own life, to take
such extreme measures alone. The woman
at the saloon, heavy with heavy curls
collects drinks and asks are you a marine?

as I bruise past to the bar's blue ATM,
and I do feel underwater, undersea
five thousand feet above its level.
And when I wake from my drowning,
outside motel window the mountains
are still deciding what gown to wear.
Quail know the story. Between bushes
they sing it. A hawk listens from the arm
the Joshua tree waves with. My wife pours
orange juice into a green glass on kitchenette
beside black crumbs of birthday cake.

As an added bonus, I've decided to give you one of Ed's favourite albums in full.

Download Beastie Boys Paul's Boutique here.