Entries tagged with “Steve Wynn” from this Public Address 1.0


When rock was caffeinated.

I do believe I could give Kiri a run for her money regarding the “most caffeinated blogger” award. It’s miracle stuff as far as I’m concerned. If you listen to some, they claim that caffeine fueled the industrial revolution. Before the introduction of coffee and tea into England, people just couldn’t stay awake for those long factory hours. However, a snip in a review of an old favorite record of mine triggered an odd chain of thought.

Stav Sherez wrote a compelling paean to the legacy of the Dream Syndicate’s first album:

Though their reference points were obvious, the Dream Syndicate created a sound quite unlike anything that came before them, or indeed, after. This is where American rock music reinvented itself from the decaffeinated wastelands of AOR, where it blowtorched the recent past and made way for a future that was to include Grunge, Post Rock and alt.country. Quite simply some of the most wildly exciting music ever made.
Decaffeinated wastelands? I really like that image a lot. When people talk about the 80s as if nothing beyond MTV happened, it makes me sick. There was more. In 1982, I was not only caffeinated, I was fueled by even more outrageous stimulants. So were a lot of people. One side effect of the non-caffeine variety stimulants is that they make you thirsty, so by 1985 the Dream Syndicate were spread out and sprawling drunks. But not in 1982, the frantic energy of that record is hard to match.

But the caffeine reference reminded me of a pilgrimage that Rex and I made to the Music Machine in North Hollywood in 1985 to see Danny and Dusty (Steve Wynn of the Dream Syndicate and Dan Stuart of Green on Red) with an exciting opening band called Thin White Rope. Danny and Dusty were drunk, but Guy Kyser, standing at the edge of this photo, was caffeinated. Their show was pure sculptured feedback, building Spanish caves in the long cavernous hall. It was one of those shows I still think about today.

Maybe it was the caffeine. Maybe that’s what made this era in rock so great to me. I’ve never been one for atmospheric music. I want music to make my eyes bug out.

I found an old interview which covers the problem of information overload nicely:

MONDO 2000: Do you think the overload of information makes it harder to find oneself?

Guy Kyser: No, you can find yourself more easily. But it's a lot harder to get someone else to pay attention once you do. Everyone's already overloaded


Between classes

I turned on the TV. The Waltons were on. I remember really hating that show growing up, though my mom loved it. I found out later that my Dad hates Ralph Waite. Maybe I got the "I hate the Waltons" gene. It only took about thirty seconds to hear: "Girls who say gosh, golly, and darn will wind up sleeping alone in a barn." While I may admit the truth of this statement, I really prefer girls who say "Holy Shit!" and "Damn" myself.

Speaking of "Holy Shit!," there's been a big discussion on the Nassr-L list about the nature of the "Pleasure Dome" in Coleridge's Kubla Khan, regarding whether it is a dome floating in mid-air, unsupported, or if it is meant to be a bedouin tent. One of the scholars on the list pointed to new archeological findings in the summer issue of National Geographic. They've found some glass, thought to be part of that dome. Cool stuff, I wish there was more information online somewhere. Personally, I think the tent hypothesis is pretty lame.

Concerning the damned, Ron Asheton of the Stooges has a great interview at Perfect Sound Forever. Also, according to Rolling Stone several important Sonic Youth records are going to be remastered and rereleased. Damn, now I'll have to buy them again.

Also recently unearthed, is a rave review of my favorite album of 2001, Steve Wynn's Here Come the Miracles. I wish Steve Wynn wasn't such a secret to most people. He builds some mighty fine pleasure domes himself.

Morning class went pretty well, but though I prepared what I thought was enough material for a class and a half, I got through it all pretty thoroughly with five minutes to spare. I've got to work on this. I don't want them to get into the habit of leaving early. This time though, I gave them the Mary MacLane excerpt and an article from the New York Times. I bet the dictionaries will have to come out for the Times article. And this is a good thing. I thought since Mary MacLane makes the outrageous claim of being a genius, it might be fun to figure out what people think genius really is.

Very Xmas


My ex-wife stopped by this afternoon. I haven’t seen her in several months, and she’s looking good. She doesn’t really look pregnant. She stopped by to ask if I’d help her move into a new apartment, a two bedroom. She’s hoping that she can extricate herself from the father of her child soon. He’s a nice enough guy, but a kid, who doesn’t really “get” her. It's sort of weird. She's eight years younger than me, and he's about seven years younger than her, but I think age is a mental thing.

She gave me a present. I haven’t opened it. All I had to give were some Steve Wynn CDs, but I suspect that I’ll get her a present in January. I tend to hibernate during the Christmas season, and make up for it later. I hate fighting the crowds. I asked her to read the opening to Laughter in the Dark. I could tell that she was intrigued as I was. She borrowed it.

She’s afraid the baby will be a Pisces. She said that she’d had to deal with too many of them in her life.

We watched some videos, and I felt horrible because I’d just woken up. But it was nice to see that she’s doing well. I decided it was time to shave off the three days worth of fuzz on my face.

Now, its time to have a pizza.

Syndicated Dreams

Number 9 in an ongoing series

I don't know why I didn't mention it before, but the folks over at the Steve Wynn Syndicated Dreams list have put up the latest volume of live stuff as MP3s. I didn't bother with them, because I knew that the CDs would be in my hands soon enough.

What a great show this time around. Steve Wynn and the Miracle Three perform the entire Days of Wine and Roses album live, in order. While I miss Karl Precoda, it's a pretty admirable effort. And one of the encores is a song mentioned here a few days ago, Some Kind of Itch. So, if you'd like to check it out, here's your chance. I'm not sure how long these things will remain online, and if you feel the desire it's an easy matter to sign up for the tree and get goodies like this in your mailbox.

Great stuff, I think, but then I'm biased. I've been a Steve Wynn fan since Days of Wine and Roses was new.

Some Kind of Itch

Ideas at steak.

I was listening to the follow-up program to HBO’s Band of Brothers and a couple of things stood out. One of the original Easy Company guys said that when he got back from WWII, he took a course in ornamental horticulture. “It wasn’t worth that much, but I met a lot of nice people.” I think that’s what “art therapy” is really all about. Finding people you can talk to, about issues that may not contain much in the way of “meaning” but contain worlds of feeling.

Thinking about the Platonic “art is an imitation of an imitation” kind of thing, it seems to me that at its least, art is a representation. A re-presentation of the world right back at us, which forces us to deal with it more deeply the second time around. But it can be more than that. It creates something that has not existed in nature; it presents it with a force that was not present before. That’s what drives us forward, in a time that the positively medieval notion of a “quest for knowledge” falls short. When justice is gone / there’s always force.

Another moment in the program was the commander who talked of receiving an unfired gun from a surrendering German officer. He was proud of the fact that to this day, he has never fired this weapon. There was underneath it the hope that wars would not be fought, if only people would choose not to fire their weapons.

Got a reaction for my essay The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Destruction today. The teacher wrote:

Bravo — a tour de force! Very impressive work.
I don’t think I’d go that far, myself. I’d like to do some more work on it. I think she was just impressed that she was presented with a 13 page essay that didn't bore her to tears. It's hard for me not to think of it as a "work o fart".

Went out to a steakhouse for dinner. One of the waiters decided to sit down and talk to me, and it made it sort of difficult to eat. But it was fun nonetheless. He was an ex-longhair, impressed with my hair. Why is that always such a topic of conversation? When you have long hair, people always assume that you do drugs. The conversation quickly turned to the prison system:

“If I get arrested and have to go to jail, I hope they just kill me instead.”

“ I mean, I’m not a criminal, I just smoke a little dope when I get the chance. If they send me to jail, I’d be afraid of being turned into a criminal.”
I gave a condensation of Foucault’s Discipline and Punish (the steakhouse waiter version), and generally had a great time discussing addiction and the penal system. I like talking to people, no matter how weird the topic.

It’s going to be weird to read Wound to the class on Wednesday. I hope I can do it with a bit of composure, but it was a difficult piece to deal with. When I got into my car today, the Steve Wynn tape I was listening to rolled around to a song that I hadn’t thought of when I wrote the piece, but I’m sure it was there rolling around in my mind somewhere.

oh those were better days
those were better days
we were sure that there had to be better days
no I'm not sure
some kinda itch

oh it all gets done anyway
but I read my life story twenty times today
still it's some kinda itch

Some Kind of Itch

I must be clear about it though: I don’t write fiction. I really was bitten by mosquitoes as described. Thank you Luke for linking to it. My site traffic doubles when he mentions me, and I hope that people weren't too disappointed by my all too frequent introspection. The fez must have a hypnotic effect; people actually do what Luke asks!

Days of wine and research


A short course in how my mind works.

I've been a little depressed (who hasn't lately) and I'd started digging through my inbox, reading some articles about something other than Afghanistan. I noted a couple of them earlier. For the first time in a while, I felt like having a drink. I bought some beer, and started drinking as I watched a great Channel 4 documentary called Behind the Veil, getting really down. I checked the guide, and I noticed that Days of Wine and Roses was playing on Turner Classic Movies right then.

Alcohol, movies about alcoholics, strange coincidence, huh?

Dylan, Love and Theft + Steve Wynn


There's been a lot of people buzzing about the new Dylan album Love and Theft

I bought it yesterday at a warehouse store. I looked at it at Barnes and Noble, but ON SALE for $14.99, marked down from $18.99? CDNow had it for $13.99, but there's shipping... Oh well. Sam's Club was $13.49. Why all the worrying about price? Because every time people trumpet something this much, I'm usually disappointed. I just didn't want to invest in it all THAT much.

Don't get me wrong, I love Dylan. It's playing away in the background; I got to track nine before I found anything that hit me at all. Up to that point, I felt like I was listening to movie background music. Pleasant enough, but hardly earth-shattering. Maybe it's because I'm quite fondly attached to Time Out of Mind and when people started saying that the new record made it seem forgettable, well... I don't think so. That record was a real high water mark for my love of Dylan; this one, I'll have to spin a few more times before saying something more specific. It's just hard to get over the shock of giving money to a corporate monster. I like to wait until they drop their prices back to earth; the only things I like to rush to buy are the independent label shoestring-budget things. Who the fuck do these people think they are kidding with their pricing structure?

I'd much rather plug Here Come the Miracles by Steve Wynn, or the new reissue of Days and Wine and Roses by the Dream Syndicate, but I haven't bought the reissue yet. It's long overdue. If I didn't have the turntable obscured by so many CDs right now, I'd drag out my vinyl for another listen. Days of Wine and Roses changed my life. So far, Love and Theft doesn't even merit a slight ripple.

Everybody says I don't care
Well I don't care!
I'm just trying to remember
The days of wine and roses

Buried in the back pages, there have been a few good Steve Wynn articles lately: Miracle Worker and Dream On. I'm a little scared of the reissue, because they say that it is "brighter," but I know I'll buy it anyway. This 1982 album is such a landmark in my consciousness. I haven't trumpeted Here Come the Miracles as loudly as other folks, though I love it. I suppose it's because I have found such a steady growth in Wynn's output; it's not a case of revolution, just evolution of a long-slaving songwriter. I wish people would look at Dylan that way, rather than touting each new one like it's a new tablet from god. 'We don't need no stinking tablets!'



I was asked to read my response to "In the Kitchen" outloud. I did it under duress. I know that the distinctions I made about it were far outside the scope of a mixed class of grads/undergrads. I was flattered though, by the comment that if the teacher didn't know better she'd swear that I stole it from somewhere. So maybe I'm fitting into this discourse community?

A black male writer was cut from the syllabus in favor of yet another female writer. The teacher expressed concern that her sylabus was skewed in favor of black writers in this section. I didn't have the heart to tell her that this now makes the male contingent of writers less than 10 percent of the class. I really don't care, I'll read anything. But I learn more from people who write perhaps a bit closer to my experience.

People I wish I could write like:
  • John Doe
  • Paul Westerberg
  • Steve Wynn
  • Roy Harper
  • Guy Kyser
Why are all my favorite writers musicians?