And with a simple trip to Amoeba records in Berkeley, CA, I became the proud owner of the final A Frames record, 333, which is three albums (!) of demos, unreleased stuff, singles and EPs, and all sorts of good stuff. Since this is the A Frames, it's all good stuff. Then I accidently left it behind in the house I was staying at, and Sarah's mother mailed it to me but then I wasn't home to pick it up and the USPS dude didn't leave a note so it was returned to her, so I had to download this fucking album illegally and listen to it until I finally made it back to CA to retrieve my records and take them on their third trip across the continental divide.

Anyway this is amazing and all the songs are the best. I saw these guys play at the Cake Shop a few months ago and it was the best. The A Frames were the best! You wanna argue with that? Well then I'll tell you directly: they were the best, you schmuck. Now they aren't really together anymore. So someone else needs to step up and assume the mantle of righteousness. I don't know who that's gonna be but they had better get it together already. I don't have the rest of my life to wait for another band to like as much as I like these guys.

Anyway this triple record is probably the best final, you know, final thing or whatever that there could possibly be for this band. I came back and threw this thing on the turntable and turned it up and listened to it go "JANG JANG JANG" for three sides, then I made this spaghetti and watched part of this Alice Cooper DVD, then I went back to listening to the other three sides. (As an aside, that Alice Cooper DVD had like a lot more interpretive dance than I'd really counted on. It was like some weird community theater production.)

You can order this amazing audio codex by going to SS Records, the fine people putting this thing out. Put this shit on and study it, because it's the foremost codex of the 00s. This is at least as important to us guys as the Code of Hammurabi was to the ancient Babylonians.


And there is Audio

Today I went to a record sale at the Archive of Contemporary Music and made a killing. Yeah, a KILLING, Dear Reader. I got so many good records, you wouldn't even know.

These records make me feel vaguely better about everything.



The best American movie ever made is Don Coscarelli's Phantasm. It asks important philosophical questions, such as how one deals with the knowledge one's deceased parents have been stolen from their tomb, placed into armored cannisters, and shrunk down to dwarf size because they are forced into indentured servitude on a barren desert planet with higher gravity than ours.

Also, it features chrome spheres with spikes that drill into people's heads, and an undertaker who is very frightening because he's always weirdly taller than anyone else in the room. There is no way to be able to predict the direction the movie is taking because I'm fairly sure that the script was being written in parallel with the actual shooting. I've seen it hundreds of times and it's always different, and I am always surprised by the outcome of the film.

What most people don't know is, Don Coscarelli also made the best music video in the history of the world. It is for Ronnie James Dio's song "Last in Line." It's about how "we're" the last in line. What does that mean? Well, it seems to mean that everyone who is last in line has metal shit coming out of their head for starters I guess.

Why is there a weird space tentacle? What was in the package that guy was delivering? Who needed it delivered? Or was is just a ruse to lure messengers into this place where they're the last in line? Why is the drummer a cave man? Whose side is Dio on? Etcetera.

Thinking about Phantasm and this weird music video made me revisit heavy metal. It seemed like it was time, since I've never really been the hugest fan of metal, Dear Reader, and as a genre it might be my biggest musical blindspot. I'm sick of not knowing about stuff, even if I don't like the stuff I'm ignorant about. So I got some metal, and have recently been listening to the Ukrainian black metal band Drudkh.

A favorite Sunday afternoon activity is to load some Drudkh on the iPod, get some Caribbean food from one of the numerous takeout joints in the neighborhood, and try to think about the future. I can barely see into the future at all anymore. This is embarrassing, really—I'm used to being able to see around corners and detect the tidal movements of the invisible world. Now my senses have been blunted, and I feel helpless.

Really, the thing I'm most worried about is the chance that my powers of perception will recede like an outgoing tide, dropping below the level of the present, and I won't know what the meaning of anything is anymore.


March of the Hierophants

Dear Reader, I hope that you have your thinking cap on, because we have to figure this shit out together. So sit back in your weird ‘70s egg chair, pour yourself a vodka and blood orange spritzer thing, take a bite out of a 7 grain toast with raspberry jam on it, and check the creases in your slacks because now it’s time to get down to business.

I started this online publication when I was living in Budapest, trying to figure out what the shit I was doing, and when I wrote stuff for The Little Black Egg, I was reaching out across the ocean, nay, across the world, trying to connect to fellow bad-smelling nerds all over the place who might be vibrating at the same wavelength. Now that I’ve been back in New York, my zone of operation, it’s a different story. We here at The Little Black Egg find that we’re shrinking backwards, being inexorably drawn away from The Little Black Egg and into the void.

Thusly, Dear Reader, we here at The Little Black Egg are marshaling our forces, unleashing our hounds, sounding the trumpet, and throwing the severed body parts of the Egyptian god Set into the sun. It’s time to annihilate the outer cosmos where the Elder Gods lurk; to smash the Skriker, portent of evil, ancient and damaged, in the face with brass knuckles; to heave a copy of Rafael Sabatini’s Captain Blood at a scurrying cockroach; and to generally get it together.

We've always hated solitude.

The Utter Failure Which Was Responsible For Recent Radio Silence
Most recently, I tried and failed to put together an article about three awesome Jewish/Guido rock bands from NY: ManOwar, The Dicators, and Twisted Sister. The idea being that these groups sort of represented the Jungian take on the ages of man. Early in life, during The Dictators phase, man is turned inward, concerned with simply satisfying base desires, selfish, really. Then, as an adult, man turns outwards into the world (the ManOwar stage), conquering life and showing no mercy. This is the stage when life is lived. Then, man turns inwards again, Twisted Sister-style, in a garish adult pantomime of youth, trying to once again address the needs of one’s Self.

Working on this article was like dropping quarters into a fucked pinball machine that’s permanently on TILT. I couldn't finish it. That article was dead as dead.

I struggle with my failures. I crawled around on the floor, moaning and frothing.

Slightly Less Anonymous
Just so it’s clear, I am not a very cool guy, you know? This can be surmised from the fact that I have a blog, in the first place. But I am the kind of guy who eats toast and peruses the Chicago Manual of Style whilst listening to (but not watching) a DVD of The Fly with Jeff Goldblum. (Fuckin’ Brudlefly, amiright?!) I go to the grocery store and think to myself, “do I have what it takes to invent an awesome sandwich?” I drink seltzer a lot, alone. In the dark.

When I go see music, 9 times out of 10 I do so by myself, hanging out in the back, shifting from foot to foot on account of the fact that I can’t stand still ever. What tempts a man to lurk in the corner of a dank shithole, watching a bunch of jerks feeding back onstage? The answer can be traced, I guess, to early isolation, and several fortuitous events that shaped my early childhood:

  1. My brother Scott making me a Beatles mixtape
  2. My brother Scott making a second mixtape with songs like “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron” and “Quinn the Eskimo” on it
  3. My parents buying me Heartland Music’s “Fun Rock” 4 LP set after weeks of agonized begging on my part
  4. Finding my brother Scott’s fucked up, zillionth generation tape of The Rolling Stones’ “Get Your Ya-Yas Out”
  5. Discovering the Beach Boys
  6. Seeing my cousin Wayne, who was a punk
My cousin Wayne was a punk rocker from Long Island in the mid-80s. He saw the Circle Jerks, the DKs, the Ramones, Marginal Man, all that stuff. Just seeing my cousin was totally off the hook for me as a kid. It was like seeing a superhero—he looked like a cross between Wattie from the Exploited and Lord Humongous from Mad Max: The Road Warrior. Orange mohawk, leather jacket with studs, fingerless leather gloves, chains, engineer boots, the whole thing. He looked like an extra from Death Wish 3 Nowadays, he and his wife Jen (another former punkeroo) have an awesome kid and live the high life in the country where they are visited by loads of cool friends and farm chickens and drink cocktails and live a very solid life.

I Was a Teenage Viscount
Here’s the other thing to understand: I grew up in a very, very small town, pre-Internet, where mountains blocked most outside radio reception, pre-satellite TV, a town so small that no cable companies would run a line to it because it wouldn’t be profitable enough, not even if everyone in town subscribed. It used to be hard to acquire media, is what I'm saying. I hungered for RNR and punk rock, but I had little exposure to it. I used to put stickers on my face, like those star stickers that teachers put on test papers. I’d put these stars all over my face and I’d tell everyone in the grocery store I was a punk rocker and that I knew how to breakdance. Then I’d spend my allowance on a Charleston Chew and pretend to fight off ninjas with it. I was one of the weirdest, dorkiest little kids in this dairy farming community.

It wasn’t until I was older, a social retard wearing weird blue slacks and buying LPs, that I figured out which way was up, and finally actually heard punk rock, which didn’t disappoint. Actually, some of it really did disappoint, especially some of the goofier British stuff.

Still, each album acquired made me feel that I was ascending to an elevated realm of greater perspective, a perch from when I could see the history of the world more clearly, like the member of a royal court.

Allies in the Final Conflict
Dear Reader, I ask you—who among has not had close friends who give them important shit to listen to? Me, I have a couple. First off, there’s my wife, who I pretended to like jazz for, and then actually ended up liking jazz—a proposition that initially seemed unphysiologically fucking impossible. Then I got my friend Matty, my friend Tom, some other people, and most recently, my friend Nate. The people you know are windows into other dimensions.

Nate (I won’t use his last name) is the main dude of a jazz combo called The Nathan Clevenger Group. They are a really good band. Everyone in the band are titans of music. Imagine the Founding Fathers descending from Mount Olympus with tentacle arms gripping inky quills, preparing to legislate. Actually, that's a little off. It's more like this: have you ever gotten a foreign film that maybe you weren’t sure about, but then it ripped your face off, and it was the coolest thing you ever saw, and it somehow synthesized straight-up literary frumpiness with avant-gardeness and unexpected twists and you were at the edge of your seat the whole time but then, afterwards, you couldn’t find anyone else who had ever heard of it? That’s pretty much what their music is like.

Anyway, it was my birthday recently, and Nate gave me a gift certificate to Amoeba Recrods in the Bay Area. This was really cool, since I am poor (hey, anyone need a freelance writer/editor/copy editor?), and I haven’t been able to buy records in a long while.

So’s I had this gift certificate and I bought a clean copy of Billion Dollar Babies by Alice Cooper and 333 by the A Frames, my favorite ever band (in the last 10 years). I am still aglow from Nate’s act of kindness. So much of my music time is spent turned towards magazines and music blogs, trying to peer through the general blur and discern where the music is that will keep me from dematerializing. To be given this music as a gift is miraculous.

And Scene
One of the reasons that The Little Black Egg isn't all full of music reviews is because I’m not a scientist, and I can’t analyze anything objectively. I hurtle through life, an itchy bundle of anxious flesh, happy for the few moments where the world seems even vaguely human. I don't understand anything. The greatest illuminations were passed to me by others, fragments of sound and information that brought the world into focus.

It's hard for me to see clearly because I stand so close to everything. I have hope for us in the future, though, Dear Reader. I really do. Together, we have the technology.


The Drummer Has a Rubik's Cube For a Head

And the band's name is just a question mark. Like the dude who fronts the Mysterians.


Siberian Hunchback Punk

Оргазм Нострадамуса were from Siberia, and they sounded like what I always imagined crust punk ought to sound like. I grabbed all their albums from Puke Skywalker. From Puke:

Tragically, the band's mission was cut short in 2003, with the murder of its guitarist Arkhip (again, details are spotty, though there are claims "he was poisoned by unknown envious skinhead-person") and the death of Ugol some months later by a combination of alcohol, pills, and choking on his own vomit.

I'm thinking about learning Russian just to understand the lyrics, that's how much I like this band. In fact, I'm pretty sure that if I could understand the lyrics to this song, I'd appreciate Richard III even more than I do right now.


The Magyar Scott Walker?

Máté Péter brings the pathos.


The Space Monster Never Sleeps

In this amazing photograph, Neil Young looks like a space monster.

Guerilla Radio

Dear Reader, if you are at all a fan of the writings found in this fine publication, you are no doubt wondering: “Rick, why in the world haven’t you yet reviewed any books about punk rock from the former Yugoslavia? You seem to like music from there so much, and are always boring people to tears with little anecdotes and facts you’ve learned about the people who made it, so why don’t you etcetera?”

Etcetera indeed, Dear Reader.

Although we here at the Little Black Egg don’t like to actually review things, we are happy to strenuously recommend that our readers purchase a particular product. And for those of you who have felt the pull of Balkan rock music but have been unable to find out any information on any of the bands short of that which appears on blogs, wiki entries, or indescipherable online translations of articles in Serbian and Croatian, I would like to recommend that you pick up Guerrilla Radio: Rock’n’Roll Radio and Serbia’s Underground Resistance by Matthew Collin.

Now, Guerilla Radio isn’t a book on punk rock from the former Yugoslavia, because that book doesn’t exist in English. This is better. Collin’s book examines B92, the Belgrade radio station that was the voice of anti-Milosevic Serbia in the 1990s. It’s totally fascinating, and if you’ve got any interest in YU-Rock, or radio stations, or music, or the Balkans at all, you ought to get a copy. I think I got mine from Amazon for like $1.50 or something unfair and insane like that.

As someone with a keen if amateur interest in this part of the world, I was surprised how little I actually knew about B92 and the resistance it fostered. The huge anti-war, anti-Milosevic movement that rose up in Serbia didn’t exactly have a huge amount of ink spilled about it the Western press. Huge demonstrations that took place against Milosevic occurred in Belgrade, and B92 was a key component of setting the stage for people to feel free to voice their discontent.

Amidst state run media organs, B92 basically stood alone as the de facto voice against the regime. It was shut down, its people threatened, and its offices ransacked. The Milosevic regime thought that this tiny radio station posed a threat to their power over the country. They were right. Huge street protests against the government enveloped Belgrade, ultimately causing the Serbian army to send tanks into the streets of the city to disperse the protestors.

Collin uses B92 as the lens through which to focus the reader’s attention on the events at this time. This book is succinct rather than exhaustive, which works to its advantage. Collin reported from Belgrade in the mid-nineties, and a lot of the material in this book comes from first-hand interviews conducted with the people who were a part of the events described. I’m no expert, but I haven’t read a better book about this period of time in Serbia’s history. Guerrilla Radio avoids sensationalism and hyperbole completely; instead, it’s a very human, very compassionate look at a handful of extraordinarily brave radio misfits who became, well, heroes.

We here at The Little Black Egg suggest you acquire a copy immediately.


Šarlo Akrobata

Šarlo Akrobata were a Belgrade-based Novi Val band active in the early 1980s. They only had one album (Bistriji ili tuplji čovek biva kad...) and it's unbelievable. I'd cut off my hands for a copy of that on vinyl.

Here is some hilarious video goodness from them that washed up on the You Tubes:



Hard to know what to say about these guys except, you know, when you gots it you gots it.


Hail Satan

Satan Panonski!


Goodbye 400 Years of Culture

It’s been a dry time here re: the word production of we here at The Little Black Egg, but a totally super-exciting time in our actual lives. Now, there may be some seething pedants amongst my Dear Readers who are cocking their heads and waving their fingers all in my face and saying “Rick, shouldn’t your entire life center around word production? And if so, doesn’t this mean that your life is therefore all the poorer, since you’re not producing any words for The Little Black Egg?”

To you pedants, I say this: my life is none the poorer—it is your life, shitface, which is the poorer for my absence." And for this, I apologize. I am returned to you now, Dear Reader: the sun rises once again over this blighted land, so you can turn your eyes towards the truth and light.

Now, I didn’t have any of those year-end lists or anything like that, because I never really know what exactly is happening in time and space. We here at The Little Black Egg can’t be keeping abreast of everything in the world. Instead, with the New Year, I would like to mention something that I will be leaving behind. As the trees grow bare, as flowers wither, as eczema forms in the cold, I will steadfastly turn my back on this thing and walk away.

Now, saying arrivederci to something is never easy. For instance, it took years before I could make myself stop buying $1 exotica albums. I just no longer have the capacity to house these goddamn things. Like many people, I have been known to part with a buck for a record with some weird looking white dude shaking maracas with a parrot on his shoulder and foxy ladies reclining on flowers with title that says like “Tropical Organ Moods.” You know what though? Owning those records does not pay off. What happens is, you become this graying dude drinking beer alone, listening to a record of the Cincinnati Lutheran Ramblers play “Stardust” on steel guitar, and feeling sad about yourself. Those are the wages of lounge, my friend. At the end of the day, it’s best to stop trying to squeeze enjoyment out of things that you don’t like.

The thing that I’m turning my back on this year, is the opera. Now, you may be saying, “Jesus H., mister, we didn’t come to this here internet publication to read about the opera. If we wanted to read about the opera, we’d—wait, we’d never want to do that.” And I say to you, “listen pal, you’ll eat what you’re given and you’ll like it.

Now, let’s begin at the beginning. For some time, my better half had a job with the Great Big Opera here in NYC. This job allowed her to get extremely discounted opera tickets. Therefore, we here at The Little Black Egg would attend the opera a whole lot. Often enough that some people had the mistaken impression that we were “opera buffs.”

There are many things I enjoyed about the opera, to tell you the truth. For instance, I liked having a seat right up front, so’s I could walk by all the fancy opera patrons and mutter under my breath: “Sorry you have such horrible seats, you revolting peasants.” Then I’d go sit up front with the agéd creatures who looked like dried apricots in evening finery and try to hear the music over the sound of them snuffling, dozing, and in one instance, listening to the Yankees game on what had to be the oldest goddamn walkman I ever saw, seriously, it was like the size of a carton of milk, and instead of headphones he had this flesh-colored ear plug thing.

Now, listen, I know opera is highly unpopular with a large swath of the population, but you know, it was kind of interesting. Like many people who latched on to le punk rock in my youth, I was accustomed to existing in a very small Musical Comfort Zone. So when I finally decided to branch out and explore the teeming wilds of audioville, it was like being dropped into enemy territory with no compass, survival knowledge, tools, etc. However, it did build my character and make me strong like bull. So I bravely started listening to all sorts of boring, go-nowhere musical things that I hated for years until my brain gave up and began grudgingly liking it. And after many years of striving, I learned to like weird, atonal operas like Wozzeck and Lulu. Then, before you know it, I’m having conversations with opera people.

Despite having seen dozens of these things, I really didn’t know doodly about opera. In fact, I don’t know anything, at all, about music. I had gotten in too deep, and developed a terror of the Lincoln Center creatures who hovered around during intermission. The joke had gone too far

Or had it? Maybe the joke had not gone far enough. Maybe if I’d put my nose to the grindstone and really done the homework, I could be walking in two worlds. Sometimes I’d be sitting around, listening to the kind of stuff I do now (i.e., audio of three Polish dudes whacking on metal in 1982 that was recorded on a wobbly dictaphone and sourced from a tenth-generation tape), and other times I’d be dressed all natty in a three piece suit, sipping a glass of shitty white wine while I held forth on why Luigiani Fotzabini was an inferior tenor compared to Francesco Fettucini.

That would be good, right? Old ladies and assorted waspy-looking old palsied dudes would cluster around me. They'd hanging on my every word while, half-concealed behind a pillar, New Yorker critic Alex Ross would surreptitiously record every word I wrote, like some creepy Salieri-type feller. He would have espied me in the orchestra seats and followed me out, hoping to soak up my nuggets of expertise. So there he'd be, furiously scribbling in his notebook as he snatched my insights from the air and retooled them for an awesome New Yorker article (with lots of umlauts over words like “reëxamine" and "coöperate"). I will catch a glimpse of Alex Ross’ loafer poking out from behind the pillar, and I will smile quietly to myself, because you know, I’m not desirous of the limelight.

Then, right, there will be the sound of chimes—the ushers signaling everyone back to their seats—and I will blend in with the seething mass of evening wear-bedecked Skeksis as they hobble back into the orchestra sections. There, enjoying the sonic advantages of row L, I will look at the wood veneer of the opera house (made from a single rosewood tree, should you be wondering) and think, oh opera house wood veneer, thanks to Alex Ross recording my intermission chatter with his fancy Marantz recorder thing, and then utilizing it in an article that will be read by the smartest of the smarties, my thoughts on this opera will echo through space and time long after its final notes have reverberated through your wood-grainy woodness. Then the chandeliers would rise towards the ceiling, the Skeksis would cease their chatter, and I would half-close my eyes as I soaked up the first mercurial notes of the 4.5 hour act as they wafted through the room, alighting on my ear like velveteen butterflies of the dawn.

That would be pretty nice, wouldn't it? Velveteen butterflies of the dawn and all. I'm serious about that! It would be nice, but unfortunately, it didn't work out that way. Now that I don’t have a ticket hookup anymore, though, I find that I don’t think about opera whatsoever, not even a little bit. However, once in a while I think about What Could Have Been. The last opera I went to, I was sitting about six rows behind Alex Ross. (I didn’t know it was him until a musician friend of mine pointed him out.) A whole bunch of people talked to Alex Ross between acts.

The opera was about Oppenheimer and the first nuclear bomb—I thought it stunk and was ridiculous. Alex Ross gave it a really good review in the New Yorker. During intermission, I spent $5 on a coffee because I felt like I was going to fall asleep, and drank it while everyone I was with analyzed what they were seeing and hearing. I just never got it. I guess it’s like how you can lead a horse to water but you can’t etcetera. Cold comfort.

For a while there, I really wanted to have this stuff figured out. I was like a guy looking at a map of a strange, impossible continent, and dreaming about exploring it; but when I got there, I was just lost and desperate to leave. Today, when I want ornate, overwrought Italian music, I’ll listen to proggy horror movie soundtracks. Thusly I turn my back on opera in 2010; not as a hero, but as a failure. Arrivederci.