So here is the annual tradition, my cooking of 떡국 (Dduk gook) for the New Year. This year’s version had an angus brisket instead of a flank steak, and it was boiled for two hours to make the broth extra flavorful. It came out very well, so I’m hoping that it brings me lots of prosperity this year. It better, or else I’ll kiss these fucking Korean traditions off.
A lot of old farts around my age (and even some younger than me!) keep bitching about how shitty music is, how Gen Z is ruining music. If the only music you listen to is pop music, then yes. It’s crap. But pop music has always been mostly crap. Pop music is design to be loved by the masses, so of course there will be nothing revolutionary or profound about it.
But there has been some good music to come out this year. Here are some of the things that I’ve kept in rotation that came out this year:
Petrol Girls – Baby. If there is anything as exhilarating as “Baby, I Had an Abortion”, I don’t know what is. Angry feminist post-hardcore from the UK and Austria, this is a perfect soundtrack to the post-Roe dystopia we find ourselves in. Long live the riot grrl!
Chat Pile – God’s Country. Sludgy guitars and heavy lyrics from Oklahoma City. To quote their Bandcamp page: There’s a sick irony to how a country that extols rhetoric of individual freedom, in the same gasp, has no problem commodifying human life as if it were meat to feed the insatiable hunger of capitalism. If this is American nihilism taken to its absolute zenith, then God’s Country… is the aural embodiment of such a concept.
Diamanda Galás – Broken Gargoyles. Fuck. Just fuck. Here Diamanda features words from German poet Georg Heym who wrote about the horrific state of people institutionalized with yellow fever. Their delirium, the treatment they suffered and the isolation in early 20th century Germany just feels appropriate after the last couple of years, huh? This is just two tracks, each clocking around 20 minutes, and they are pure horror.
Rhys Fulber – Collapsing Empires. Is this industrial? Ambient? Trance? Whatever it is is quite mesmerizing, soundscapes that you lose yourself in. It’s definitely not as harsh as everything listed above, and it’s certainly not Front Line Assembly. It is good in its own right and shows how amazing Rhys’s ear is.
As for older things, I’ve been listening to a lot of Nine Inch Nails, particularly The Downward Spiral and The Fragile. But one thing that I couldn’t get enough while I was in Europe a few weeks ago was Hole’s compilation My Body, The Hand Grenade. Not only does it have early songs like “Turpentine”, “Retard Girl” and “Dicknail”, but it also has “Old Age” which always fucking brings me to tears:
Maybe because I’m not sure if Courtney wrote this or Kurt did since Nirvana also has a version of this song. But I prefer Hole’s version.
Also on the comp are several songs from their MTV Unplugged session including their cover of “He Hit Me (It Felt like a Kiss)” written for the Crystals by Carole King. There is something about Courtney’s voice, command and dramatics that make these early Hole songs so captivating still all these years later.
I made a concerted effort to read this year, and it’s been interesting. The definite highlight was finally finishing William Gaddis’s JR which was a borderline-absurdist masterpiece in a critique of postwar capitalism and conformist culture. I had attempted this book for decades and finally got through the pages of mostly unattributed dialogue.
The most haunting book I read was Adam Lehrer’s Communions, an exercise in exploring the final days of various artists who died of opiate addiction. Each chapter focuses on a different artist, and it’s hard to decipher whether it is speculative fiction, a biography, art criticism or whatever. In the end it doesn’t matter because it is written so compellingly you just fall into the narrative and take it wherever it leads you.
The strangest book was by far Ivan Boris’s My Week without Gérard, a drug-laced detective mystery about a reporter who is searching for a vanished superstar French philosopher in Paris. Coffin sex, tons of different drugs, shitty magazine editors, Surrealism, mind control, secret societies and conspiracy theories. Imagine if Foucault’s Pendulum took more acid, hated everyone and just didn’t give a fuck. There is a reason why “Ivan Boris” is a pen name.
The book that angered me the most was Al Burian’s No Apocalypse because of sheer jealousy. I’ve always loved how he wrote through his Burn Collector zines and columns in the dearly departed Punk Planet magazine. I mean sure, he made some great music with Milemarker, but his sharp observations always made me jealous.
Everything else was pretty okay. They kept me entertained enough.
I hope in the next year to be a better reader. I do have some ambitions and hopefully will get through them. One of the things I hope to do is to read more subversive literature because fuck these right-wing Nazis who want to ban books, demonize drag queens who just want to help with children’s literacy and just be an obstacle to kids who want to escape their oppression of ignorance and parochial repression.
In high school I knew that reading could be subversive hence reading stuff like Aleister Crowley’s Diary of a Drug Fiend and other decidedly non-curricular books. But never once did I think I would be stopped from reading those things because I thought that adults were so clueless as to only see the act of reading and the nerdiness involved in that and not so much as to what I was reading. If anyone tried to get between me and my books then, I would have fought tooth and nail. Ah, the days when I had energy for that shit.
I guess this picture is telling me that I need to play my records more so that my record player isn’t a source of bewildered curiosity by my cats. I recently got my copy of Frontline Assembly’s Tactical Neural Implant limited edition blue clear vinyl and wanted to play it. Bubbas was very interested in this.
I wanted to get out to Smorgasbord LA today since it was the last one of the year. Despite trying to recruit some people to come with me, I ended up just going by myself. Which I guess was ok since I did get some Xmas presents.
I can’t believe it’s almost the end of the year. Work has been pretty shit, but it’s been my first year with my babies. I don’t have any plans these next few weeks, so I guess it’s more decompression from Europe.
It’s funny how things are framed. It looks like the Republicans are going to win a slim majority in the House from the Democrats, and the narrative is that the Republicans were eviscerated. I guess being a midterm election with a relatively unpopular President, the opposition party should come away as the big winners. I just thought it was funny that even though the Dems lost the House, they were seen as the big winners of the election.
Locally it looks like Karen Bass will be the new mayor, so it will be status quo. The county will have a new sheriff, but ACAB, right? I don’t know. As you saw in my last post, none of this gets me optimistic. Whatever.
We don’t get any time off before the 2024 presidential elections thanks to the fucking Cheeto announcing that he’s running again. Fuck us. Ugh.
On a totally different topic, I’ve been making artindeepkoma.com into a place for my photos. You can also click on “Pictures” on the header menu to see it. See? Pretty! I’ll be leaving for Europe next week, so I’ll be putting up some pretty photos on that site. I guess I’m trying to get away from social media.
I just don’t know what the hell is going on anymore. There is one party that has become so blatantly fascist in their rhetoric that it even makes asshole clench when I think of them taking power. Then there is the other party that wants to say that they are fighting for the people but still take their marching orders from the multi-billion dollar corporations.
Just watch. Come January we will have a senator from Ohio who wrote a book about the plight for poor white folks but was funded by the ultimate venture-capitalist supervillain from Silicon Valley. We will have a senator from Georgia who doesn’t have any comprehensible thoughts but does know how to spread his seed. We will have congresspeople, governors and state officials from all over who believe in the most far-flung nuttiest conspiracies that make Robert Anton Wilson chortle from his grave.
So you see why I stocked up on alcohol not only to prepare for election night and the new era of batshit crazy conspiracy-laden fascism that will surely come. Maybe my upcoming European vacation at the end of the month will truly be a search for a new home?
This past Friday and Saturday brought the Susbtance 2022 festival to the Los Angeles Theater a convenient two blocks from my apartment. A two-night gathering of different nostalgia acts like the Jesus and Mary Chain, the Chameleons, Miss Kittin and the Hacker and Clock Dva mixed in with current goth/industrial/darkwave/weirdo acts like Kanga, Youth Code, Linea Aspera and Kaelan Mikla on three different stages.
These were the first shows I’ve been to since the pandemic, and hence, since I moved to Downtown. And it was for shit like this that I moved here, to be able to just stroll over to the venue, get wasted and then crawl back home safely. Okay, so the getting wasted part didn’t really happen. Neither did the crawling really. But it was nice to be able to just stroll right back home at 2 am and not have to worry about driving amongst the drunks, or paying for parking, or whatever.
One thing that Sara Taylor of Youth Code said during their set on Sunday was how great it was to see folks come out and support these bands and the scene. And it wasn’t just old fucks like me who used to go to Perversion, Das Bunker and all the other goth nights back in the 90s heyday. There were tons of kids and other age-appropriate folks dancing to the old groups like Jesus and Mary Chain (AND singing along to “Head On” as well!!!) while dancing their asses off to all the more current acts like MVTANT, Lustsickpuppy and Light Asylum. It was also cool to see that while the scene historically has mostly been a white and Latin scene, I saw more black folks than I expected which filled my heart. The more voices we have in the scene, the better.
I really do hope this festival turned a profit just so that it will continue. It was great to be absorbed by the music and letting it wash over me. I really do like these newer musicians and excited to see what they come up with in the future.
Originally published in 1998 in Japan and first translated by Stephen Snyder in 2013, Yoko Ogawa’s Revenge: Eleven Dark Tales is a collection of 11 short stories that are linked together in curious ways. The stories range from whimsical to outright dark and teach us that we should never fuck with women. As much as men want to belittle them, women have the capacity to fuck you up right. Well, not fucking you upright, but I’m sure they can do that as well. As a platinum gay, I’m not quite sure about the mechanics.
As great as it was reading this, whenever I read translated material I always have something gnawing at me in the back of my mind: Is this really how the author intended that sentence to read? When I hear people talk about what a great translation a certain publication is, I wonder how they know. Unless you are fluent in the original language, how do you know if this is a great translation? I hear YouTubers say this a lot, and I just wonder if they’re just echoing from a press release or what they hear other people saying.
I don’t know how true to the original this translation is, but it was a quick fun read. Perfect for this Halloween season.
Yesterday the LA Times reported on a recording made a year ago that found LA City Council president Nury Martinez, fellow councilmembers Gil Cedillo and Kevin De Leon and LA County Federation of Labor president Ron Herrera making fun of and using racist comments targeting fellow city councilmembers Mike Bonin (and his adopted son), Nithya Raman, Marqueece Harris-Dawson, the Oaxacan community and the black community. LAist has a good non-paywall writeup of everything that is involved.
Well, guess who is a constituent of Kevin De Leon? And guess who wrote an angry email telling him to resign? I already have a low view of the city council as a whole with their impeccable handling of the homeless crisis. But anyhow, here is the quick note I sent off to his office:
As one of your constituents in Downtown LA, I was shocked to hear your voice on those recordings the LA Times reported about yesterday. While my esteem of the council is already very low especially with the way the council has handled the homeless crisis in the city, this in-fighting that only serves the very powerful few just furthered sank my opinion of the council. And with you as a part of this conversation, I do call on you to resign for the sake of the city.
It’s easy to make councilwoman Nury Martinez the scapegoat here since she spat the majority of the venom that was exposed on the recording. However beyond the racism and the epithets uttered, the blatant power hungry motives that surfaced show that all involved are not interested in making the city a better place to live. I mean, I’m not so naive as to not think there are ambitions of power, but for it to be so blatant is quite sickening.
You can apologize, ask us to judge you on future actions like councilwoman Martinez did, however you broke the trust. I don’t trust you to make the decisions to make the city better and specifically to make Downtown LA a better place to live and do business.
As your constituent and my representative on the city council, I ask you to resign.
That’s it. We’ll see what happens. We have elections for five of the districts coming up, and Cedillo already lost his primary and is on his way out. But you know what? FTP.