"First, I'd get the picador."
"The listener becomes not just a collaborator with the singer, he becomes the keeper of the song, seizing possession of it from the singer; the listener knows hearing the song more than the singer can claim singing it."
"He told me that when I wrote 'my' music, it wouldn't be my music as music belonged to the world and couldn't be owned."
"...music communicates to us emotionally through systematic violations of expectations."
"After 28 years next month us in dos are sincerely looking for a man who can relate our insane little band to the most ignorant of what we're doing in hopes they become either a listener and/or gig-goer."
Well, apologies to Strother Martin (and his scrotum-pinchin' delivery) but what we got here is ABILITY to communicate. For 28 years now this two-bass unit has hatched us a missive an average of roughly once every seven years or so, shaming cicadas. It is watt's longest-running collaboration, this thing with Kira, & what we get is this dual low-end dialog with which we can do what we will. I just realized-- they could be making bourbon. So, y'know, treat it as such. You can pretty much craft your own buzz, respect the flow, and for fuck sakes indulge responsibly. We got thirteen tracks here, writing credits distributed fairly evenly-- watt's even sharing credit on a couple with Thalia Ferreira, the lady who supplies the sweet vocal on 'Walking The Cow', watt's contribution to that Daniel Johnston cover album 'I Killed The Monster'. Speaking of sweet vocals, there's a couple from Kira here, per usual, one a Selena cover in Spanish. What stones, eh? I adore her vocals, there's an endearing bull's-eye wobbliness about them, like watching your daughter toss aside the trainer wheels and head hellbent downhill through a field of poppies to her ultimate destination with panache to spare. The nice thing about dos albums is there's this dialog pretty much solely between two basses that flows where it will; there's a description in a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel (might as well borrow from one of the best, no?) of two people "sleeping together like old dogs" or something like that-- that's what some of these tunes invoke for me, anyway-- a couple basses that turn around in a circle three times before they settle in and... just be. In this... whatever it is.
I 'spose I could blow it out my ass some more (jesus, I was just reading the collected Get Your War On and at one point David Rees says something like "they've been blowing it out their asses for so long I bet their cushions are deaf." That's sheer poetry, no?) or at least with some specificity as to this here dos y dos album, but I honest-to-god think it insults the intelligence of somebody who shows up here and wants to be spoon-fed-- if you're new to watt and Kira and dos and what they do, don't wait for the spoon, let them inspire you to whop up your own damn spoon, a big one, hop in backward, grab the handle and launch your ass into... it. And get a big-ass bunch of it. You in particular are blazing through the universe right now at a hojillion miles per hour. Get some. It is going away.
I am lazy so I do what I always do when watt sends me something; I don't really trust myself to windbag solo and miss the boat in the process so I always take it to my favorite neighborhood loadie-off-the-grid Bullshit, and his recovering titty-dancer partner Nobody.
Nobody is working on a mixed media thing called 'When Mordecai Richler Met Bill Lee' when I show up and she is pissed because she has to pick up their girls from band practice. Bullshit is working on what he calls "a provocative new play called Eat My Hillbilly that is a cross between Desire Caught by the Tail by Picasso and Deliverance." Nobody has twin girls and Bullshit has a daughter and the ladies have formed many bands over the years, sometimes only the three of them and sometimes with others. When I say over the years it isn't many; they started this at about age thirteen and they are all at or about sixteen-- come to think of it, it has been a long time, since they all got their various axes before they hit double digits and started practicing in earnest immediately and gigging out by twelve or thirteen. We used to give them input about band names when they asked, but quit a long time ago. They don't really need help. I think when we gave up was when they insisted on calling one of their first bands Genesis 6:4. We explained the obvious (and numerous) reasons this could be a problem and were immediately scorned and sneered at until we gave up. Nobody told them to go the fuck ahead. They stuck with it for awhile, and it wasn't until about a year later that we found out a furious nun unplugged them in the middle of Sister Ray, which apparently had a drum solo that night-- they'd been playing a Friday after school dance at a Catholic school (they're home-schooled themselves; surprise!) and were genuinely upset until one of their music teachers told them they would be neighborhood heroes, which they were, so they stuck with the name until all the things we told them would happen happened, so they changed it to The Friends Of Charly Gordon followed by Squirrel Jerky and then Shaming The Orphanage, Hell On Belts, and the cryptic LWDAFTA, after the punchline of an old joke Bullshit used to tell. I think there were other ones: Kangaroo Thief, Monkeys On Strike, Cupid's Gym, Nuns With Guns, Kleptoparasite, Where'd You Hide The Body, Molt Or Die; stuff like that. Let's face it, there's a lot of really bad band names out there and it was a shame these got wasted in the inevitable people shuffle; maybe they can be recycled. Most of the problem was personnel and the usual skirmishes over airplane glue, streamers, a hermit crab, lacquer thinner, rides on Tuesdays, free day at the zoo, being felt up by dentists... the normal stuff. People came and went, but it always seemed to come back to Bullshit's daughter Ella on drums and Nobody's girls Amparo on guitar and Tilda on a Hammond B-3. You can get her to work a bass with much pleading; us old fucks stay out of it. Sometimes they have a girlfriend on bass whose fairly normal name I always forget; that's the lineup I like best.
They're now called Run Ruthie or possibly Run, Ruthie with a comma. Punctuation is important and I'll explain eventually. Run, Ruthie is a bitch-- that is what it says on some of their clothes and at least one of their tattoos-- and I have to tell you I agree and am damn proud of it-- I'm the one who hipped them to the Tony Williams Lifetime, which they took to immediately. OK, 'Turn It Over' by the Tony Williams Lifetime-- that was all they needed to understand you really could move mountains given a big and weird enough lever and a place to stand. And some big amps. Then I sold them on the idea of funk in the middle of that glorious jazz fuzak mayhem and they gave it a shot and are currently blowing the doors off a little club with an all ages policy; John McLaughlin meets Eddie Hazel and butts move and minds are blown and some beer is sold; now they're working in some more of the George Clinton library between 'Right On' and 'Vuelta Abajo'-- 'Quickie', and 'Do Fries Go With That Shake'-- Amparo is scary good-- sometimes she sounds like a pissed-off 440 volt wasps' nest. There have been some, well, let's call them scouts contemplating poaching her away from Run, Ruthie until at least a couple things happen: they find out how old she is. They meet Nobody and Bullshit. Or Amparo finds out some crotch leech is trying to break up Run, Ruthie-- or all of the above. It is fun to watch, and I didn't know a ferret could make so many appeasing hand gestures or shrug in more ways than a vintage Fiat mechanic.
OK, punctuation: Amparo's legal name is Ampersand. Well, the symbol for it. Her birth certificate says her name is "&". Amparo is her nickname. I have asked Nobody repeatedly to tell me how it went the day she blasted that one past everybody and she always promises "around the holidays" with THAT LOOK and then doesn't. The last time she drank, which isn't often, she promised to tell me on my birthday but with the look, so we'll see. Tilda's legal name is Tilde, so you see where this is going-- I've also seen the ~ on her birth certificate myself. It's gonna be one fucker of a birthday, maybe. Bullshit's daughter Ella had another name early on, but after he hooked up with Nobody he changed her name legally to Ellipse; either he wasn't as scary as Nobody or as persistent, but it says "Ellipse" on her birth certificate and not just three dots. Soon they will all have driver's licenses; oh hell yes!
So there was a really long and loud band meeting about whether or not it was Run Ruthie or Run, Ruthie and after a long fight over whether or not it was more fascist or less fascist to put the comma in or leave it out because, after all, etc. etc. it was officially Run, Ruthie. So far. But I guess it'll stick 'cause they're starting to get a pretty serious following. Nodody's twins just turned sixteen and Bullshit's Ella is a few months behind. I can't remember the bass player's name. There's a fuckin' confession in the middle of a dos review, no? Now I remember: it changes depending on what nickname inspired by punctuation she chooses.
Nobody has on turquoise goggles and she has a torch in a vise and she is heating pennies held in one pair of pliers and then twisting them with another until they're shaped kind of like Pringles and then she throws them at a sheet of plywood covered with something that looks like cookie dough, which she tells me will eventually harden-- this she'll cover with black primer and use as a base for whatever ends up as the finished product known as "When Mordecai Richler Met Bill Lee". She calls watt von Schwarmerei, schwarmerei meaning "to swarm with enthusiasm", according to her. Nicknames are driving me crazy.
NOBODY: So you finally get von Schwarmerei's dos thing here in time for me to leave.
ME: Have Spote get them.
NOBODY: I'd have more faith in Wile E. Coyote catching his avian foil. I got, what, the 17-track 'Uno Con Dos' and the 17-track 'Justamente Tres', which incorporates all the vinyl, give or take. I don't imagine there'll be a GIG in my vicinity in my lifetime? So if, like, somebody sees a dos gig in their vicinity they should treat it like a leap year birthday squared. I like Kira's voice too, by the way. How many times can you Spote Pike your own offspring? That'll be his autobiography: My Life As A Verb.
Ok, Spote Pike-- I think Bullshit came up with Spote somewhere in the wilds of Louisiana where the general populace doesn't know what kind of work they're out of and turned him into a roadie before he had a chance to kill himself because the army rejected him because his head was too big; it wouldn't go into the biggest helmet they had. Now Spote functions as de-facto minder for Run, Ruthie. From the time he was ten he talked about walking the twelve miles to the nearest induction center on his sixteenth birthday (he got a proxy "parent" of christ knows what provenance to sign off on him) and joining up-- he saw himself working his way up from raw grunt to maybe at least a two-star general who points his index finger and canals get dug and bridges get the fuck built and jets scream overhead-- and they take one look at him at the induction center and come back with the biggest helmet the army issues and it isn't even close-- they tell a tearful Spote there is no such thing as a custom made helmet or a custom made anything else in the U.S. Army for that matter, and since even if there was such a thing as a shoehorn for heads it still wouldn't work. Spote is in tears and hears the word hydrocephalic and its variations for the first time, which a rather insensitive recruiter translates for him as "waterhead", which he has heard, since all the town bullies starting with his own family have been calling him that for years-- now in one crushing, life-altering, heartbreaking moment he gets it and it all comes crashing in on him, like a hotshot highschool fullback blowing out both knees at the homecoming game in front of the whole city.
OK: Maybe you're expecting some horseshit macho-guy story about how Spote was the big scary motherfucker who man-handled pad bosses for the helpless girlies and showed them what's what and got paid and quackquackquack but so far nothing like that has ever really happened. Most people are cowards, pad bosses included, and though Spote might or might not be able to kick his own ass or somebody else's, he doesn't have to because he's big and most people are cowards; rinse, repeat. Here's the closest it ever came to that: one time this asshole says his car got broken into and the money for the bands got stolen and all he has left to pay three bands is the money he promised Run, Ruthie so can they take less, y'understand? Spote Pike is at the top of the stairs and mutters 'Lyin'-ass motherfucker' which the fat-ass pad boss hears and goes all butch and hollers "WHAT WAS THAT?" and comes up the stairs at Spote two at a time and because he's such a cheap fuck and does his own half-ass carpentry and there's about six hundred pounds of meat on the stairs they don't break but the whole goddamn flight of stairs pulls out from the wall and they both go ass over tincan and end up with Spote on top of the pad boss on the greenroom floor-- the first guy to the doorway almost does a header onto the floor but manages to grab a broken-off piece of railing-- he sees Spote laying on top of the pad boss's face with his pants down past his ass-crack from when the pad boss panicked and grabbed onto his front pockets when they fell. Spote is scared shitless because the pad boss cracked his head a good one, with Spote's crotch on top, but he can hear him wheezing so he rolls off, finds an envelope on him with just enough money in it for Run, Ruthie, hauls his pants and himself up and out and wishes the other two bands good luck. That's the best I can do for a macho-guy story...
NOBODY: They got dogs barking there on that thing.
BULLSHIT: Is there any goddamn way we can actually talk about the music? *FUCK!
NOBODY: This is ALL about the music.
*(Note from Uncle Ray: From this point on, whenever Bullshit or I holler FUCK! It is because Nobody has thrown, with deadly accuracy, an orange-hot penny at one or both of us).
BULLSHIT: Y'know, Bill Evans had that album where he double-tracked & called it 'Conversations With Myself.'
NOBODY: Which is about exactly nothing here. This is a conversation between watt and Kira. That's two people. With basses.
ME: You didn't tell me you had all the dos stuff.
NOBODY: And you didn't ask. I used to titty-dance to the Minutemen.
ME: Now you're fucking with me.
NOBODY: We had a DJ. I made him play 'The Anchor' about twenty times in a row. Then we both got fired.
ME: Come again?
NOBODY: Well, that was the upshot. The owner complained to the DJ and when I came to the rescue the owner got in my face and then the DJ clocked the owner and we both got fired but I found out later two of the regulars were actually paying attention and bought 'Double Nickels' so there you go. Then I got a gig at another place and met the spastic fuckwit over there on the couch.
I can tell you're wondering how Bullshit met Nobody so here it is: when Nobody was a titty dancer (at the next nightmare place, I guess) Bullshit came in one night to fix the swamp cooler and in the process burned the place to the ground, something the owner had been praying would happen without him committing another felony as he was up to his yang in debt and woe and general stupidity. He bought a racehorse with the settlement and was heartbroken to find out he couldn't change its name to Jewish Lightning for at least a couple reasons-- one was because you're stuck with the name the horse has when you buy it, and the other was assholes can't give asshole names. Well, you have to be a rich enough asshole to own the breeders. (Hey, but big ups to the guy who snuck through One Eyed Romeo and honorable mention to Bates Motel, just because). Anyway, the dumbfuck ex-tittypad owner was stuck with a horse named Cleetus Amigo. It ran like something named Cleetus Amigo and since he was too goddamn stupid to lay off his own horse, after about a year they found him dead in an injection-mold factory he'd purchased in Mexico that made plastic buckets. Who knows how the fuck anybody winds up with the life they have, but Bullshit wound up with Nobody and somehow Nobody and Bullshit have begat Run, Ruthie. Nobody likes to fuck with Bullshit about his track record with suspicious happenstances at "entertainment-type" establishments, which irritates him no end, or seems to until they both shift to this shared cryptic laugh. Apparently Bullshit managed to (according to Nobody) "accidentally fix a swamp cooler" at a famous barge-restaurant on a famous river, only to be stiffed on the bill-- he worked cash-only and when the pinhead in charge insisted he had only the authority to cut Mr. Bullshit a check, an ugly scene ensued, Bullshit left unpaid, and a half hour later one of the restaurant's non-tourist patrons noticed they were now seeing a different backdrop than usual; in fact they were about a half-mile from their regular location and apparently drifting laconically nowhere in particular. Some took it in stride; a few wept. Phone calls were made and assurances were given that all would eventually be well. Barges came to the rescue. According to what Bullshit heard later some patrons improvised lines and hooks made from table cloths and utensils and did pretty good: "I heard a couple from Mingo Junction, Ohio formed some hooks from bent fork tines and strung them with corn and some swirly pasta and knotted up some good lines outta stripped table cloths and were taking some pretty good catfish in the four-to-five-pound range. The shaky sons of bitches in the kitchen refused to have anything to do with them-- wouldn't clean 'em, dress 'em, nothing-- not even a fuckin' ice-filled doggie-bag. Some of the whiners got on the TV news when all those assholes showed up, but not a chance in hell you were gonna see the happy anglers."
"Despite his selective history and dubious theories he was a man of such integrity that even when he was wrong, he was right."
ME: OK, 'dos y dos' here-- this is my fault-- we like it? The tune with dogs on it is called 'Number Eight.' One of Kira's sweet vocals is on a thing she wrote with watt's sister Melinda called 'Make Her Mine.' I'm diggin' it.
BULLSHIT: Well hell yes. We're always gonna wind up in the same trick bag when you try to tell somebody about something they could go out and buy for the price of two or three drinks--
NOBODY: He has a conversion chart.
BULLSHIT: Take your little snub-nose scissors or whatever you got over there-- FUCK!
ME: OK look, two basses talking for 28 years here. You know? So I'm hearing, y'know, maybe a picnic basket on the shore and the world in all its glorious collisions passing by--
BULLSHIT: Oh, googoogoo. The trouble with you, Uncle Ray, is Blue Cheer was your Stooges.
ME: Is there a conductor on this fucking train wreck? What did you bring back from the pharmacy this first of the month and can I drive, too? Can I toot the horn? Yank the air brakes?
NOBODY: Wait, what he just said, is this true?
ME: Well, yeah.
At this point Spote Pike does indeed come in with most of Run, Ruthie, having developed a kind of self-preservation-based Cajun ESP inspired largely by a healthy and heartfelt fear of Nobody and the certainty that he'll never be able to do anything right for her. The bass player, I think she's Comma or something this week, wants to remount on her bass the salad-shooter that they modified to shoot tampons into the crowd with the velocity of a paintball gun. The theme seems to be fuck pad bosses and this litigious society of sue-happy Nazis. I didn't know the word litigious until I was in my forties and I think I learned it from Car Talk. At this point everything turned into a cluster-fuck (and you thought it already had-- shame on you).
Have I mentioned that Run, Ruthie has what Bullshit calls a "web void"? They pretty much can't be found there, except for a few inevitable fleeting mentions by fans, which is discouraged in the long run and eventually understood and respected. And so on. It was Bullshit's idea; he somehow convinced them of the rightness of this and then winked at me (with all three of his eyes) and said "nature abhors a vacuum, you know?" What in the fuck is in those little yellow vials? And why doesn't he share more often?
OK, so the tape breaks down at this point and becomes absolutely unintelligible. Then at some point I tried to give the band members advice about people and scenes (and the room was littered with deaf cushions) and it went something like this:
It doesn't matter what clique or supposed scene you are in or how you'd care to pronounce that clique word, those people are eventually going to be assholes too. If you own Spindizzys or fly radio-controlled airplanes or float radio-controlled boats or groom monkeys on the weekend or re-enact the fucking-ass Boer War on alternate Sundays or work in a super fucking ass cool record shop or book store or health food whanger-ganger-wingding-- you are going to be fucked over by some wrong number with your and their best interests at heart and they are still going to have their ass on sideways-- they used to call them mooks and maybe they still do. And here it is: most people are still mooks and you don't want them near you. One of the smartest cats who ever wrote novels opened part of his site up to a bbs and in no time at all it became a laundromat and/or general meeting place for people with subscriptions to Scientific American to get into pissing matches WITH and HATE each other just like the biggest dirtbag fuckwits you can find at your neighborhood ginmill; newcomers shunned and dicked with, bullies yard-dogging, feuds started, grudges held, sides taken, unfortunate cat whose site it is shunned like Thidwick The Big-Hearted Moose from that Dr. Seuss book when he suggested nicely on his own site that maybe the general population could unfuck themselves just half an ass. Look, I told them, These are people and this is what they do and you are going to have to survive this and them somehow and it never stops. And so of course they looked at me like a fucking wrong number and went on about whatever mistakes they were about to make with people they should never trust in this lifetime, but fuck it, I did what I could. And then there's the distinct possibility they already know all this. They will throw down and they will throw up and via con dios.
I found notes I made on the back of an obsolete prescription pad the next day. It said:
"HERE'S HOW I ALWAYS FELT ABOUT MUSIC 'SCENES': PEOPLE ARGUING ABOUT WHAT TO WEAR TO A TORNADO-- YOU WANT A DRESS CODE FOR AN EARTHQUAKE? FUCK YOU-- I NEVER WANTED TO MEET ANY OF YOU AND I LEFT AFTER THE LAST NOTE."
At another point we revisited the web void pros and cons and I worried about long-haul what-ifs-- like I just found, at last, some footage of my late and dear friend, the singer Ella Ruth Piggee on youtube-- it's from 1986 and she's not with the best band she was ever with, but there she is, man-- she looked and carried herself like royalty and she could make you laugh until you pissed your pants-- she's still the best singer I ever saw and she had a dresser drawer full of business cards from every half- or full- ass music business doink who ever saw her and slobbered all over her and themselves. A diva in the purest sense of the word. She explained to one cat why she wouldn't make a record: "You make a record and then you have to make another one and it has to be better than that one. Fuck that." God, I miss her every day.
Hey, here's lagniappe for you (I love that word): if you look up Ella Ruth Piggee the footage is from the Catamaran in San Diego and at one end of the stage you see that white post? I saw Iggy Pop run straight up it to the ceiling. You would think it can't be done but there you go.
(Spote and the ladies leave and something like order ensues).
Nobody: OK, so full circle-- Blue Cheer was your Stooges?
ME: Can we goddamn not do this? I wanna return to a provocative statement Bullshit made the other night. He said, and I quote, "Pregnancy is the Black Lung Disease of titty dancers." FUCK!
BULLSHIT: I want to officially retract that. It's gravity. FUCK!
BULLSHIT: (continues) ...anyway, did you know there was such a violent rupture of the continuim on 9/11 I know a guy who swore he saw Jimi Hendrix ride a buffalo up out of the subway; they're building those motherfucking towers higher than the old ones, in case next time the goblins' aim ain't what it was, I guess. Somebody suggested they turn those sixteen ground zero acres into a damn refuge and bring back buffalo to Manhattan-- Jimi was always ahead of the curve with his ear to the zeitgeist-- I wish I coulda been there when that buffalo jumped the turnstile with him aboard; I'll bet he looked good doin' it, too.
NOBODY: I hate the first ten days or so of every month. I found some great quotes in the recipe file, though--
ME: Great place for 'em. FUCK!
BULLSHIT: At least she can't poison us with FUCK!
NOBODY: Shut up and use this one:
"Most men, when faced with the option, choose to trample land that has been already heavily trampled."
NOBODY: (continues) ...just to try and reel this shit back in a bit, Raymo, we're on the same page here re: you put a creation out there and it's outta your hands and the dig-ee, gig-goer, or whoever if you will-- they're gonna take it and craft whatever wrench their psyche craves--
ME: Big roger that-- I was at a Sensational Alex Harvey Band gig and they're doin' The Hot City Symphony and they get to the Man In The Jar part and when Alex starts hollerin' "smashin' the glass, he's smashin' the glass! He wanna get out! The man in the jar!" this cat in a trench coat who's been standin' over by the side of the stage by himself goes absolutely rapturously haywire, he's in full dervish mode, wavin' his arms, spinnin', ravin', kickin', dancin' in absolute ecstacy-- that was his fuckin' KINK and his alone and he got it off, you know?
NOBODY: Indeed I do.
BULLSHIT: Hey, here's another one in with the damn recipes! I think I know why this one's in here-- FUCK!
NOBODY: Back. Couch. Now.
BULLSHIT: Here the damn thing is:
"Look, everybody, it's Eddie Fisher. He just married Liz Taylor. That's like flagging down the Super Chief with a Zippo."
ME: Give me that. And YOU: Put the pliers the fuck down. YOU MISSED! Here's a good one:
Well, there you go. When I left Nobody was hollering something about Betty Rubble's bumble bee-powered vibrator. I don't know if Bullshit's gonna wind up playing Eddie Fisher to some future mad goner's Richard Burton, but if such a person turns up they're gonna have to deal with a cat who believes with all his heart he burned his nipples off on Arthur Brown's gas-powered headgear. Not to mention Nobody. All aboard.
"In fact, somewhere in Texas, someone is opening and enjoying a Hamm's beer every three seconds."
from Seven American Deaths and Disasters, compiled by Kenneth Goldsmith:
"If that son of a bitch is still around, I wanna meet him."
mike watt (bass) + kira (bass/singing)
this page created 05 nov 13