Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Mariko Tamaki and I met thorough our fantastic Minx editor Shelly Bond at the Toronto Women in Comic's Symposium. We knew we were old friends the minute we met. She is a true renaissance women who does art, performance art, writes books, teaches and is a champion of pretty much every arty cool thing in the world. She burst onto the comics scene with the book Skim and then wrote Emiko Superstar (which I nominated for a Cybil and it won!)
She is the Queen of the underground and alternative. And while I suck at doing crafts, Mariko doesn't and so she wisely gives us a list that can help us all to do art immediately.
Behold Mariko's top ten list! Crafting!
punk craft essentials:
Black/pink acrylic wool
The Knit Pro Web App - turn any image into a pattern you can knit
Spray Paint - one can at a time will typically do ya
*will also function as weapons
Monday, March 9, 2009
Chris Pramas and I are old friends. We didn't start out that way, we started out as acquaintances. You know, someone you just see around campus and nod to. We met when I was 17 and we lived in the same residence hall at NYU. We moved from nodding to saying hello and small talking after I ran into him at an Adolescents show. In retrospect, I should have hung out with him more at Hayden Hall because he and his friends were always playing D&D all night and that would have been super fun. But I wasn't that cool.
When I left NYU I figured I'd never see him again, but I did, randomly on a trip to Europe and then again when I was in my band Nerdy Girl and I played at ABC NO RIO. After that, we just kept popping up in each others lives and so I feel that we moved into life long friend mode. I can safely say that he is one of the most punk people that I know. Now he runs Green Ronin Publishing. I have Torches and Pitchforks, and the Blue Rose manual, so I'm ready to play at my house any time. But one day I am totally going to go over to his house for a feast and a fine evening of games night!
Behold, Chris Pramas' punk list!
Man, doing it in 10 songs is tough, but here goes.
Iggy and the Stooges, "Search and Destroy"
The Ramones, "Teenage Lobotomy"
The Clash, "1977"
The Avengers, "American in Me"
Crass, "Banned from the Roxy"
Bad Brains, "Big Takeover"
The Dicks, "Hate the Police"
Husker Du, "Turn on the News"
Mission of Burma, "That's How I Escaped My Certain Fate"
The Wipers, "Youth of America"
Well, that goes to about 1982 anyway. :)
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Sara Ryan not only writes awesome YA books (Empress of the World, The Rules for Hearts) she also writes comics and makes mini comics (click, flytrap and me and edith head) and is a YA Librarian to boot. She's always got the best haircut, she always notices street art in her hood, and she is always a great person to have dinner with.
Behold Sara's list of people. Which I adore. Because we've all had people in our lives who we knew marched to a different drum.
Three Punks and a Lady
I was shy about doing a list because I never thought of myself as punk in high school. I did put anarchy symbols on my mismatched Chuck Taylors, but musically, I was more of a nerd. (You could have asked me, then, for my top ten filk songs. Or Dr. Demento picks.)
I knew punks when I saw them, though. Here are three:
B.: Wrote "Die P.C." on the street in lighter fluid and set it aflame. (P.C. was code for "Popular Crowd.") The lighter fluid came straight from his parents' barbecue. He turned up on Facebook; now he's a lawyer.
W.: Wore the biggest, stompiest black steel-toed boots. Did sound. Was loud. Now promotes biodiesel.
C.: A cheerleader. One day she went from varsity jacket to studded leather, feathered bangs to mohawk spikes, blue eyeshadow to black eyeliner. Don't know what happened to her. Wish I did.
So yeah, I didn't think of myself as punk, though I admired the fashion. One night, though, I was up especially late and something strange came on TV:
They call her experimental and avant-garde and New Wave, not punk, but that song hit my brain the way I think punk hit others: rewiring circuits, expanding what was possible.
Friday, March 6, 2009
Jill Murray is my friend. She is a Canadian YA author who wrote the B-girl book Break on Through (which I loved like I love my fave dance movies. It's so good!) She's also the genius behind Y-eh, a Canadian YA Community blog. She's a kind soul, plays a mean game of Carcassone, and can bake vegan cupcakes like nobody's business.
She's brilliantly come up with a top ten classical punk list.
Of Punk, Cecil says "It is an alternative spirit that is outside of the box. It is freedom and bucking the trend. It is rock and roll when it was born. Or crazy post modern music. It is asking questions. And paying attention."
Since I wrote Break On Through, a book about breakdance, you might expect me to focus on old school funk or at least punk funk. But Beige is a YA book, and in my own YA era, I was an intense classical music nerd.
Therefore, in celebration of all that is Punk and Classical, here is my top ten list of great classical punks, as I remember them from high school.
You can check the whole list as an iMix
1- Bach was never a rebel, but Canadian pianist and Bach obsédée Glenn Gould was. Eccentric, disheveled and, ultimately, reclusive, he made a legend of himself by playing Bach’s meticulously structured pieces to the beat of his own smashed metronome. Many of his recordings are way lo-fi; listen closely and you can hear not only coughing and chair shuffling, but even Gould himself humming along.
Track: The Well-Tempered Clavichordier, Book I, BWV 847: Prelude No. 2 in C Minor, from the Film "CD 318" 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), Glenn Gould, Johann Sebastian Bach
2- Mozart was the original music pirate, far deadlier than Napster. Armed with perfect pitch and photographic memory, he went into a church, listened just once to piece of sacred music that was forbidden to copy or reproduce, went home and wrote the whole thing out by hand, directly from memory. Then he partied too hard and died tragically young, while working on what Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus tried to argue was essentially his own Requiem. Here it is in all its tragic glory.
Track: Requiem in D Minor, K. 626: 1. Introitus: Requiem, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chorus, Sir Neville Marriner & Sylvia McNair, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
3- Pianos in Mozart’s time were delicate tinkly things. Then Beethoven came along. Deaf and ragey, he used to play them so hard the legs would break off. It’s thanks to him that modern pianos are the steel-reinforced affairs they are today. To that end: the movement of the moonlight sonata you’ll never hear on a relaxation CD. Presto Agitato, indeed!
Track: Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 27, No. 2, "Moonlight": III. Presto Agitato, Louis Lortie, Ludwig van Beethoven
4- Overreaching Chopin was into body modifaction. Forget tats and gauges; Chopin reportedly slept with corks between his fingers in an attempt to stretch them. Some of his fingerings are almost impossible to reach if you have ladyhands. He also introduced the concept of the artist interpreting the tempo and mood of a piece, so its not necessary to go all Glenn Gould on Chopin’s ass. He wants you to play it like that. Here’s a sonata you will no doubt recognize as your favourite funeral march.
Track: Sonata No. 2, Op. 35, in B-Flat Minor, Marche Funèbre: Lento, Evgeny Kissin, Frédéric Chopin
5- Tchaikovsky was SO EMO. The poor St-Pertersburgian was gay in a pre-Harvey Milk time and place when you Just. Weren’t. So he was repressed and depressed and spent a lot of time in the country trying to get over himself. Even other moody composers would note Tchaicovsky’s extreme melancholy. Just listen to The Nutcracker. It’s everybody’s favourite Christmas Cheer ballet, but deep down, I suspect it’s the darker, more minor currents of the score that not only serve Hoffman’s twisted original tale, but keep this classic pressed deep into our tortured little psyches, to be dragged out with grandma’s moth-eaten heirloom ornaments year after year. Listen to this pas de deux. Can you hear the yearning? It’s pretty much all *I* can hear, but maybe that says more about me than Piotr Ilyich.
Track: The Nutcracker, Op.71: No. 14a Pas De Deux: Intrada, Orchestra of the Kirov Opera, St. Petersburg & Valery Gergiev, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
6- Paganini: throat cancer, syphillis, mercury poisoning, multiple disinterment, Devil’s Music. ‘Nuff said? The man was all about solo virtuosity to the point where no orchestra ever got to hear the real point of the exercise— the violin solo— until opening night. So he was basically like that tempermental lead guitarist no one can work with but you can’t fire him because people keep paying to see him and besides, he draws out all the hot chicks you’re afraid to talk to. Here’s a “Caprice”— which is classical music speak for “a little piece of nothing I dashed off, like, dude, these things just come to me in the shower, on the can, wherever.”
Track: 24 Caprices for Violin, Op.1: No.5 in A Minor, Ruggiero Ricci, Niccolo Paganini
7- Mahler was a late-Romantic composer, but not nearly late enough for the Viennese, who never got used to him in his own time. Known for his indiscriminate minglings, he wrote what he felt and blurred genres to fit his broody purposes (like putting singing in symphonies. TOTALLY uncouth). Constantly on the run from dissatisfied orchestra boards, (the late romantic version of starting a bar brawl and then skipping town) he reportedly said. "I am thrice homeless, as a native of Bohemia in Austria, as an Austrian among Germans, and as a Jew throughout the world. Everywhere an intruder, never welcomed." Here’s Symphony #5 in C-sharp minor— notable because contrarian Mahler even disagreed with the key signature for his own symphony. (He didn’t think it should have one.)
Track: Symphony No. 5 in C Sharp Minor, Part III: 4. Adagietto: Sehr langsam, Maurice Abravanel & Utah Symphony Orchestra, Gustav Mahler
Then there are the early 20th century Russian/Soviet composers. When you’ve been labouring under a decadent monarchy for centuries, you don’t usually turn to anarchy as a first alternative for the people. A whole crop of new nationalist composers out of Moscow devoted their music to revolutionary dissonance and bigging-up the proletariat. They nevertheless constantly ran afoul of their various emerging governments even as they rose to international stardom.
8- Don’t go looking for the world in bloom and love in the air in Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. It’s about ritual sacrifice.
Track: The Rite of Spring: XIV. Sacrificial Dance (The Chosen One), Kirov Orchestra & Valery Gergiev, Igor Stravinsky
9- Prokofiev’s ballet score for Romeo & Juliet— a classic today— was, in its time, so noisy and avant-garde that the prima-ballerina Galina Ulanova at first refused to perform it.
Track: Romeo and Juliet, Op.64: Montagues and Capulets, Berliner Philharmoniker & Claudio Abbado, Sergei Prokofiev
10-“Degenerate modernist” Shostakovich kind of split the difference between Stravinsky and Prokofiev, producing a more moderate balance between extremes. Nonetheless he had ongoing problems with the government, which banned his music twice in the 30s and 40s.
Track: Suite from the Opera "Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District", Op.29 (a): III. Allegretto, Russian Philharmonic Orchestra & Thomas Sanderlin, Dmitri Shostakovich
* * * *
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
The Secret Headquarters in Silverlake, CA is not only one of my fave comic book shops in the world, it's also my local comic book store. Inside it is gorgeous. There are wood shelves that make it look kind of like a haberdashery, or Bruce Wayne's secret library. They also hold original art shows there. I bought myself a little Johnny Ryan drawing a couple of years ago.
I can always trust them to guide me to some interesting reading and the two David's are super fun to talk to.
So today, for your David P gives us a top ten essential punk comics for your reading pleasure.
Okay here's a list from me. Alphabetical order, and by no means the "ten most essential punk" really...
1) Calvin & Hobbes (Bill Watterson did what he wanted all the way through to the end.)
2) Cerebus (One story, 300 issues, totally self-published and promoted.)
3) Dark Knight Returns (Don't deny it.)
4) EC Comics (Anything before the hearings.)
5) Lost Girls (FTW)
6) Lynda Barry (A cartoonist doing what she wants.)
7) NON (Jordan Crane's self-published anthology of stuff he likes/liked.)
8) Robert Crumb (Especially before he started to release sketchbooks.)
9) Will Eisner (He was consistently on the forefront of everything comics. Dropsie Ave. is in my top 5, easily.)
10) Yoshihiro Tatsumi ("Created" a whole style of cartooning in Japan.)
Friday, February 27, 2009
Carolyn Kellogg, who is also known at times as Pinky, has a killer sense of style (you should see her apartment), organizes a swell literary doo (the last one was at the HMS Bounty for the LADWP), has a proufound knowledge of LA History and all things noir (I swear she can quote Dashiell Hammet). Also, her hair is bright red.
We first met on the telephone when she was interviewing me when she was a music journalist and I was moving through the world in the capacity of my former life as an indie rocker. (the band was Cecil Seaskull /Nerdy Girl. Music available on iTunes/emusic)
I knew we were kindred right then because our interview lasted two hours! When Carolyn moved back from NYC to the great LA and we became fast friends in real life and have been ever since. We've both moved from mostly music into more literary careers, but you can still find us out at the occasional punk / rock show together.
She currently handles blog duties at the great LA Times Jacket Copy Lit Blog as well as doing book reviews for them. She's also working on her first novel.
Behold Carolyn Kellogg's annotated top ten essential punk songs!
Congratulations on the paperback release! Chalk that one up in the win column.Thanks for asking! Here's my very personal list. Like Douglas Wolk, I'm including YouTube
10. Space Oddity - David Bowie
Raised on a diet of crappy soft rock radio, my high school years were
a period of musical terror and discovery. Had Bowie recorded decades
earlier? Yes. Was his individuality -- musically, personally -- a
revelation? Yes and yes.
9. Working for the Clampdown - The Clash
When I first heard The Clash, I thought they were dissonant, abrasive
and scary. But I couldn't stop singing them at my horrid job in the
8. True Men Don't Kill Coyotes - the Red Hot Chili Peppers
As a was wee high school sophomore, I camped out in the local record
store to watch MTV; it was the only place in town with cable. I saw
this video once, and thought the band was not just unlistenable, but
insane. And I never forgot it.
7. Dirty Water - the Standells
Every band that came to my New Hampshire school played "Dirty Water."
I didn't know it was by the Standells, or that their 60s amateur
sixties garage rock was a punk progenitor. I just knew I got real
sweaty when I danced to it.
6. Rock Lobster - the B52s
Before the B52s became a neutered pop radio novelty act, they were a
bizarro ensemble from a small town in Georgia. They didn't know what
rules they were breaking when they wrote the overly-long,
strangely-trilling, kooky-break-in-the-middle Rock Lobster. And I
danced like mad to it too.
5. Oh Bondage Up Yours - X-Ray Spex
I moved to LA for college and became a semi-regular at a dingy noodle
shop called the Atomic Cafe in Little Tokyo. The owner's daughter had
stuck punk posters up over the stains in the ceiling and stocked the
jukebox with punk 45s. This one was, it was said, impossibly rare. I
played it every time.
4. Garbageman - The Cramps
My freshman year I had this thing with this guy, and over the summer
he sent me tapes. I listened to them again and again, and because they
were tapes I couldn't skip over songs that sounded harsh and
abrasive.And soon the Cramps sounded exactly perfect.
3. Freddie's Dead - Fishbone
By my sophomore year of college (aka my first year as a dropout) I was
going to shows, and I saw a lot of Fishbone. Manic madness, a brass
section, hard metalish guitar and funk and (less fortuitously) ska,
Fishbone pioneered a genre too schizophrenic for anyone to follow.
2. Los Angeles - X
I also saw a lot of X, the least-google-able band name ever. I saw
them play their last show ever before they called it quits, then I saw
their first reunion show. Like their on-again-off-again bandness, X's
sound was always splitting apart, male and female vocals gorgeously
discordant, with rockabilly roots like the Cramps and the wildness of
that X-Ray Spex single.
1. Thelonious Monster
Try, in this video is not my favorite Thelonious Monster song; Union
Street or Walk on Water might be, but neither is on YouTube. This was
the problem with Thelonious Monster -- known for having a wall of
sound (and too many guitarists to count), the energy and chaos of
their live shows was never adequately recorded. People would tell you
that it was singer Bob Forrest's drug-enhanced unpredictability that
kept the band back, but with better, maybe more insane sound
engineers, they would have had much more of a shot. At least this
video, with its poor audio transfer, captures some of the band's mad
Monday, February 23, 2009
What can I say about Libba Bray? That she's awesome? check. That she's brilliant? check. That she's a great writer? check. You know her from her amazing Gemma Doyle series. (love!) But she also has an awesome book that includes string theory and a garden gnome coming out called Going Bovine. And she has an amazing story in the Geektastic anthology I co-edited with Holly Black. She's a playwright. She's got the heart and humor of a BBC television series. She know how to do the timewarp. And she speaks the language of punk fluently.
Behold her list!
Hey Cec Balls,
Wow. This was tough. How do you define punk? Is it the snarl of Johnny Rotten or the in-your-face politics of Henry Rollins? Is it the art-house punk of Television or the verging-on-goth of early The Damned? Do I leave off Suicidal Tendencies, The Minutemen, Husker Du, and Wire? Very, very tough. But I did my best to choose songs I absolutely love, even if it means foregoing some others I also love.
So. In celebration of the most excellent BEIGE, here is my list of eleven fave punk songs. (Because this goes up to eleven.)
Everything the Clash ever recorded ☺
Anarchy in the U.K.
I Wanna Be Your Dog/Iggy Pop
Sheena Is a Punk Rocker/The Ramones
Blank Generation/Richard Hell
Neat, Neat, Neat/The Damned (My favorite Damned song is “In Dulce Decorum” but that’s really from their goth phase, not punk)
California Uber Alles/Dead Kennedys
A tie: Why Can’t I Touch It? What Do I Get?/Buzzcocks (Although “Oh Shit” runs a close third)
See No Evil/Television