Archive for August, 2009


Letters to the Editor

August 14, 2009
Our art department honed their skills publishing the company newsletter, which was distributed alternate Tuesdays in the breakroom

Our art department honed their skills publishing the company newsletter, which was distributed alternate Tuesdays in the breakroom

In our endless efforts to collect as much useless information as possible, our research team at Fancy Plans has compiled the letters to the editor from nearly 300 major newspapers (including AP, those litigious motherfuckers). After several days of sifting data and making shit up, the final tallies rolled in.

We now present you with the most common topics for letters to the editor, listed in order from most common to least common. There’s no need to thank us. Your slightly drunken smiles are all the payment our abused interns need.

Questioning periodical’s political leanings
Abortion rights (against)
Abortion rights (for)
Low voter turnout
Gun control (for)
Gun control (against)
Gun control (undecided)
Gay marriage (against)
Gay marriage (for)
Gay marriage announcements

Taxes (too high)
Taxes (too low – gasoline)
Taxes (too low – cigarettes)
Taxes (too low – porn)
Taxes (drunken rambling about the price of cigarettes and porn)
Taxes (pro-Tea Party)
Taxes (anti-Tea Party)
Taxes (Biggest and Best State evar!) 

How the old days were better
Reckless driving (teens)
Reckless driving (elderly)
Calls for a four-way intersection to be installed directly in front of writer’s house
Why did the library stop “renting” videotapes?

City councilman baiting 

Oil prices too high
Oil prices too low (Al Gore; Prius dealers only)
Why ethanol is a waste of money
Why ethanol is the best thing since overpriced produce

"It was such a beautiful day, too. It's a shame more people didn't turn out to support whoever the hell this is at whatever the hell this event was..."

"It was such a beautiful day, too. It's a shame more people didn't turn out to support whoever the hell this is at whatever the hell this event was..."

Congratulations for all involved at poorly-attended local event
Complaints about low turnout at poorly-attended local event
Why “X” needs more public money for “Y”
Why property taxes need to be raised
Public school suxx
Public school roxx
Public school = free babysitting!

Complaints about public’s ignorance of obscure nationality-specific quasi-holiday
Inappropriate language in PG movie
Inappropriate language at local baseball game
Inappropriate language at Denny’s

Conspiracy theories (birth certificate)
Conspiracy theories (Sept. 11)
Conspiracy theories (Billy Mays + Freemasons + U.N. + Grand Theft Auto IV = Four Horseman of the Apocalypse)
Conspiracy theories (My two apartment neighbors are stealing my paper, alternating days)

Astroturf grab bag

Church attendance (too low)
Church attendance (too high – c’mon folks, chip in. The folding chairs won’t pay for themselves.)
Utility bills (too high)
Utility bills (conspiracy theory crossovers)
Utility infielder (Mark Bellhorn)

Disagreements about Top 50 Songs of the New Millennium (misdirected from Spin magazine?)
Griping about lack of support for piss poor local team
Unruly zoo animals
Lists of platitudes
Drunken tirades
Inexplicable defenses of Liz Taylor; Diana Ross

Medicare Plan B not covering brand name medication, 14K Gold MedicAlert bracelets, Enzyte
Medicare Plan B not covering jack shit, apparently
I’m sorry. Could you speak up? I’m a little hard of hearing.

The bad service the writer got at local business no one gives a shit about
Not enough handicapped parking spaces at local business no one gives a shit about
Owner of local business that no one gives a shit about defending lack of parking spaces, jackass employees and begging people to please, please, please start giving a shit

Concern about lack of coverage given to issue near and dear to only the writer
Irritable letter displaying the writer’s false sense of entitlement
Pointlessly bitchy letter in response to large number of recent pointlessly bitchy letters
Wandering, pointless letters about cats, landscaping issues, Mad Dog 20/20, etc.
Letter from Mom (put in wrong envelope)

Well written, thought-provoking letters



Condé Nast Publication’s 2009 Magazine Lineup

August 13, 2009

There are many who have stated that print media is dying. Well, it is, but let’s not let that spoil its last breaths. CondéNast, pusher of fine magazines everywhere has spent the last several years perfecting its lineup, trying to pinpoint exact demographics in hopes of a sale. How exact? See for yourself.

The adult bookstore hadn't been the same since Rudy Giuliani took over

The adult bookstore hadn't been the same since Rudy Giuliani took over

Ostentatious Bullshit Monthly (also includes four yearly specialty issues: Cigar Smoking Asshole, Third Wives’ Gazette; Bugatti Waiting List and Platinum: the Gold Standard)

1,001 Olestra Recipes

Hustler, Jr.

Celebrity Convict Personals

Aztek Enthusiast

Grit High Society

Plaything (a TS/TV offshoot of Playboy, Inc.)

Games Special Edition: Global Thermonuclear War

The Packrat Post (published 4-6 times daily)

Impromptu Fly Swatter Tabloid (featuring tapered pages, lower center of gravity than competing tabloids)

Narcissiste! (printed on reflective Mylar)

1,001 Cleopatra Compilations

Kiplinger’s Guide to Failed Magazines

Fad Diet Enthusiast (a division of O Publications)

1,001 Crochet Projects (Sweater ideas for everyone: From your dachshund to your Real Doll)

Women’s Cycling Monthly (Missing an issue? Contact your physician.)

AARP Swimsuit Issue

Paul Mitchell’s Haircut 100

Roadside Graffittist

Rape Allegation Weekly (a division of NFL Publications)

101 Home Remedies (contains about 50% disclaimers; 30% Merck ads)

Phrenology Today


Mailbag (Nothing but Letters to the Editor!)

American Philatelist (It’s stamp collecting, perverts.)

Conde Nast Annual Corrections and Retractions Issue (2009 issue features over 400 pages of blown calls, sketchy research and half-assed reporting)

HAM Radio Enthusiast (This issue dedicated to all three of you.)

Thrilling Private Eye Stories! (Specializing in divorce, insurance fraud)

Have You Seen Me? (Public awareness magazine brought to you by the US Dairy Council and Concerned Citizens of America: Got kids?)

Dateless Wonder Personals (Thousands of weekly reasons why some people should be single.)

The American Journal of Creationism (Now with 70% more rhetoric; 40% less research!)

Flute World (Tablatures for Jethro Tull and… um… hmmm…. Zamfir!)

4-Color Printing Errors (Or could be the latest issue of Wired. Looks like the CMYK offset may be intentional? Wired it is!)

The American Journal of Serious American Journalism (Subscriptions by invitation only, you filthy bloggers!)

GQ Ads-Only Year End Spectacular (Smells fantastic!)

World’s Best Soylent Green Recipes (A division of People.)

Them Magazine (We’ve been against US Magazine since day one.)



Assoc. Escort Holdings ’09 10-Q Highlights

August 11, 2009
Rufus prepares himself for Take Your Daughter to Word Day

Rufus prepares himself for Take Your Daughter to Work Day

A selection of key information from Associated Escort Holdings, LLC’s filing for the 2009 fiscal years. All notes by Rufus “Pimp Daddy” Kane, owner and CEO.


The following is a discussion of our financial condition and results of operation for the period January 2009 – July 2009. This discussion will include various forward-looking statements about our industry, demand for services and projected results. They include statements regarding our expectations and strategies regarding the future. The words “believe,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “better have,” “will be gettin’ mine,” “schemin,” etc. are intended to identify these forward-looking statements (“how it’s gonna be”).

We are a city leader in the world’s oldest profession, providing 24-hour service to three of five New York City boroughs. In February, we acquired a 20% stake in Skip Tracee’s Bail Bonds, a joint-venture that should allow a maximum amount of cash (“coming and going”) and limit our employee’s (“bitches'”) down time. We also have a 4% stake in Greyhound Bus Lines, as a show of gratitude for the incredible amount of potential employees they provide us with.

In the ordinary course of our business, we are exposed to earnings and cash flow volatility resulting from changes in general economic forces, massive fluctuations in earnings due to irregularities in convention scheduling, “bitches” not having my money and general police corruption. Other potential risks are discussed below in “Risk Factors (Pimpin’ ain’t Easy)”.

Despite near-constant demand for our services (“half-and-half”) and a steady influx of Midwestern girls looking to “make it big,” pimping still remains a difficult venture. Some of the many debilitating factors are listed below:

Employee Burnout
Due to the hectic work schedule, highly physical job demands and undue pressure from law enforcement and city officials (“street hassle”), we have experienced an 18% drop in total number of “bitches” who “better have my money.”

One area of concern is our current lack of a retirement plan for our employees. As of now, retirement plans are addressed with the proprietor (Lucas “Pimp Daddy” Kane) informing the workers that they may not quit (“laying down the pimp hand”).

Although threats of physical violence have proven effective in the past, we have found that our customers and competitors are often willing to carry out our threats with little to no warning (“beaten us to the punch”).

Sorry, ladies: Pimpin' (big, medium or small) is not EOE-compliant

Sorry, ladies: Pimpin' (big, medium or small) is not EOE-compliant

Decreasing Levels of Naiveté
As PSA’s, new reports and the grapevine (“gossipin’ bitches”) continue to expose Midwestern ladies to the negative aspects of our business, we have noticed a sharp drop in the number of starry-eyed teenagers arriving in New York City to become actresses, singers or state senators.

We may be forced to turn to our own city for new employees, which may prove difficult as these New York City bitches has seen it all, and are often running their own criminal ventures (“game”).

Workplace Injuries:
In addition to the high number of contusions, broken bones and trunk stuffing suffered by our employees, repetitive stress injuries are now affecting the proprietors of fine hooking businesses in the form of “pimp hand,” a debilitating illness that decreases the effectiveness of a well-placed backhand (“sho nuff”).

Without an effective “pimp hand” in place, our stable of employees (“hospitality workers”) may soon fall into a permanent state of “gettin’ uppity” or “mouthy.” Our competitors may use this state of fucked-upness to make their move (“aw hell nah”). It also negatively impacts our profitability as our employees (“hostesses”) is kickin’ back less and less and using more vacation time.

To sum up: bitches do indeed still “have my money,” only less of it and at longer intervals. (“Shit’s unacceptable.”)

Negative Portrayal in Popular Culture
As movies, tv shows and after-school specials, etc. (in addition to the issues listed above, under “Decreasing Levels of Naivete”) continue to portray our business (“pimpin’ ho’s”) as one full of immoral, violent reprobates (“evil fuckers”), our continued success as a business entity cannot be guaranteed.

We have banded together with other “escort service managers” to form an anti-defamation group (PIMP – “Pimps Is Merely People”). We are proactively laying down our “pimp hand” (or alternate hand, if current “pimp hand” has not received clearance for return to duty via doctor’s note) to clear our names. We are focused on addressing several issues including:

  • Pimping not being easy
  • These Cadillacs, furs, hat feathers and grills won’t pay for themselves
  • Neither do the incredibly ostentatious decorative canes
  • We just tryin’ to get ours
  • Who else is gonna get you laid, no questions asked?
  • We want Times Square back
  • When it comes to vehicles, we always buy American
  • Where my money at, bitch?



Enjoy the Violence

August 10, 2009

Music and violence go way back. Back past the latest GNR riot. Past random shootings on the Jay-Z tour. Past Woodstock ’99. Past Altamont. Historians point to a 1783 riot in Salzburg, when a young Mozart left the stage after only two sonatas, citing “ruling class dabbling” and a general artistic malaise. 

Some music is dying to be identified with violence. Loud, angry men playing loud, angry guitars, making aggressive noises like cornered animals. Other hide it behind 808 beats and posturing, spitting out rhythmic chants of misogyny and brutality.

Some subvert the expectations entirely. The Happy Mondays hid lazy threats under shuffling club beats. Magazine dripped menace over some angular guitar and icy keyboard work. And god help you if you run into Momus. Severely fucked in the head and hides his mean streak under a harpsichord of all things.

This quick tribute is to those great movie scenes which subvert the expected with their juxtaposition of music and flatout violence. We’re all familiar with the techno-tracked club scene or car chase, the intrusion of a lusty saxophone during the love scene or the vicious beatdown featuring the latest thug anthem or Linkin Park-esque howling.

Here are some of my favorite music/violence scenes which turn the tables on these tired cliches:

Layer Cake
A simple request to borrow some money turns horribly wrong, as old memories come to the surface and unleash themselves as a vicious beating using available restaurant furniture and a coffee pot. Some backstory leads up to this point (which you won’t see in this clip) but the scene is still amazingly jarring in context.

Soundtracked by Duran Duran’s comeback hit Ordinary World, which slants, tumbles and breaks off sporadically as if synched to beating victim’s consciousness.

In a spectacularly violent movie with a spectacularly great soundtrack, how do you pick just one? (Ed. – Arbitrarily.) Should it be the haunting strains of the Stranglers’ Golden Brown, hovering over Tommy like the angel of death after Gorgeous George goes down in the middle of the pikey camp?

Or Massive Attack’s Angel presiding over the torched pikey camp?

Or will it be Oasis’ Fucking in the Bushes playing backup to super slo-mo camerawork and audacious sound editing, bringing to life one of the best fight scenes ever captured on film?

Fight Club
Why not? As a lifelong Pixies fan, seeing this scene unfold for the first time was the simultaneous feeling of everything being both right and wrong in the world. Another one of those movies that you started dragging people out to see, just for the vicarious thrill of seeing it again for the first time. The acoustic guitar, the drums, Black Francis casually discussing his own sanity while onscreen a man with a gunshot wound in his face embraces the girlfriend he had all along as the world collapses around them.

Pulp Fiction
The unexpected anal rape scene (aren’t the all? I mean, unless you’re watching Oz or Deliverance) brought to you in full saxophoned glory by the Revels with Commanche.

This isn’t about that particular insane juxtaposition of violation and jubilation. This is about what it could have been.

Quentin “Fucking” Tarantino originally wanted to use the Knack’s My Sharona for this scene, because it had a “great butt-fucking beat.” However, the rights holders apparently felt it would be better if it soundtracked “someone dancing around a convenience store with a can of Pringles.” Hence, Revels for Quentin; the Knack for Reality Bites.

That movie pissed me off so much. The only sympathetic character (Ben Stiller) was shit on constantly by slacker lifetime award nominee Ethan Hawke and every other character in the film simply because he has a job. Sure, he’s misguided in his whole monorail scheme, but Jesus Christ, it’s fucking public transportation. It don’t get more PC than that.

As a budding fiscal conservative, I found the slackers’ general listlessness to be a complete turnoff and granting them some sort of “sticking it to the man by doing absolutely fucking nothing” wisdom is as disingenuous as granting every native person in every movie since 1980 “pious martyr” status.

Honorable mentions:
Scorsese’s work on Goodfellas, with nearly every piece of music significant, including some choice Rolling Stones cuts and Donovan providing the soundtrack to one (of several) brutal beatings.

I also would hate to leave out another Tarantino flick, Reservoir Dogs, with Stealer’s Wheel providing some earcutting and rugcutting music for Mr. Blond and his less-fortunate acquaintance. However, this remixed ending scene does it one better:



Heavy Rotation Vol. 10

August 9, 2009

Quick and dirty Heavy Rotation. Just the way Martha Stewart likes it.

She also likes the previous versions, because they’re all good (things).


LFO – Tied Up
Most definitely not that boy band of recent years, but an electronic music pioneer who name comes from the abbreviation for Low Frequency Oscillation. Known for their proto-techno production and homemade equipment, LFO hits hard and fast with this track and an accompanying video that looks like a Tool B-reel.



Lowbrows – Linda Is Tonight
Don’t know much about them, but they’re out of Japan. With this track, they ask you to peel yourself off the wall, stop stroking your chin, and dance your fucking ass off. Pounding beats, some vocal distortion and fuzzed-up bass bring the party to your… monitor, I suppose.



Secret Machines – Atomic Heel
I’m pretty sure I’ve featured this band before, but who has time to run a 30-second search? Anyway, the Secret Machines have found themselves lumped into both the space rock and prog rock categories. While they do occasionally try these tags on (usually to good effect), this track rolls by in a succinct 3:48, avoiding any of the excesses of “space” and “prog” and just getting straight to the rock. The video ain’t bad either.



The Cars – Double Life
The Cars made about a hundred great tracks, most of which we are sick of thanks to the cyclical nature of radio playlists. This track never made it big, but it is just as great as any one of their other chart-toppers. After a listen or two, you’ll be able to fire this title into any 80’s music discussion with the phrase, “Sure, their hits are good, but some of their best work remains undiscovered.” Declare yourself the winner and go have another drink. You’ve earned it!



Tommy Sparks – I’m a Rope (Yuksek Remix)
Catchy, fun, summery, bubbly and downright awesome. Take everything good about pop, subtract the crap, amp up the bass and drums and sprinkle lightly with some good-natured cynicism.

All files in one Swiss-Army-Knife of a zip file (click to open in a new window):
Heavy Rotation Vol. 10


[All music posted on Fancy Plans… is kick ass and too awesome to be contained. All music is also posted temporarily and, due to it’s high level of ass-kicking, should not be distributed without a prescription and care should be taken while operating heavy equipment or dancing around the living room (clothing optional, but do remember that the blinds are open/kids are still awake).
Should you wish to have your brilliant artistic statement forced back into confinement, please email me at Feel free to leave a comment, as that will probably be noticed sooner.
By all means, if you like what you hear (and you will), please support the totally rocking artist(s) by purchasing some music or heading out to see them live.]

My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies

August 8, 2009
Mr. Richards would like to point out that he is British

Mr. Richards would like to point out that he is British

Someone once said “Rock stars ain’t what they used to be.” His name is Alan and he said it much more eloquently and verbosely.

What’s even more pathetic is that these geritol fueled geezers still rock harder than today’s delicate and sensitive prefab pop stars. The cry of the musician is no longer “1, 2, 3, 4” but “Dear Diary.” They’re so busy eating tofu, saving rain forests and hanging with politicians that they’ve forgotten the number one rock star rule. You are a god, so act like one! And make sure the god you model yourself after is cruel and vain. You know, like Zeus, or the Buddha…

It’s true. The demystifying of rock and roll continues, especially in the mainstream. There are no dangerous rock stars out there. Everything is too clean and media-friendly. Your average rock star these days is no more threatening than a Hot Topic employee. When the best story we have is Amy Winehouse stumbling around the stage or Scott Stapp drunkenly harassing other celebrities, it’s time for a true revolution.

As anyone should know by now, being a rock star was never supposed to be about lifetime employment. You were supposed to live fast and hard because your career was on the burnout tipping point perpetually.

Tastes would change. You could chart with a couple of singles. Your band members would OD, quit, get married, get divorces, get back with the band, get hospitalized, go to rehab, throw shit out of hotel windows, etc.

Now it’s the RIAA and ASCAP trying to secure perpetual residuals and copyright extensions. It’s instant legacy acts and music safe enough for your parents to appreciate. It’s reality show appearances and career retrospectives. It’s vegan menus and bottled water on the tour riders.

I remember when a band coming to town meant locking up your daughters and medicine cabinets. When shows ended with fistfights in the mosh pit or riots in the parking lot.

Fall Out Boy: Suitable for ages 3 and up

Fall Out Boy: Suitable for ages 3 and up

What do we have now? Holy fuck, Fallout Boy is coming to town! Better lock up… the front door, I guess. Make sure the stove is off as well. We’ll probably be gone a good three hours. Family trip to the arena! I may cut loose and have a Heineken or two while waiting for the kids to exit.

In the worlds of Frank Booth: “Fuck that shit.”

My heroes used drugs. They fucked with the establishment. They turned the world on its ear, at least temporarily. They set fires and snorted blow of groupies’ asses. They did it up right.

Smack has been the drug of choice for fine musicians everywhere, dating back to the early days of jazz. It wouldn’t seem to be a very creative drug, what with all the passing out and vomiting, but you can’t argue with the results.

The Velvet Underground
Influenced every band that has ever came after them. If not directly, then they influenced the band that influenced this band. Hell, they even wrote a track named Heroin, which may have been a restrained 7 minutes on the album, but became an epic in concert.

Skinny Puppy
Canada’s industrial pride and joy. They used enough smack that each member spent some time in rehab. Dwayne R. Goettel’s OD was a key part of their 1993 breakup. Evidently such an inseparable aspect of their music that fans openly speculated as to the amount of “suck” a sober Nivek Ogre would bring to their next album. Skinny Puppy was an ugly band, and their drug of choice brought that out, resulting in some of the most nihilistic and apocalyptic industrial music of the last 20 years.

It goes without saying that any supergroup containing members of Ministry, Skinny Puppy, KMFDM, the Jesus Lizard and Front 242 would be heavily influenced by their substance abuse. Their collective music was dubbed “heroin rock,” a brutal spin on the psychedelia of “acid rock.” Experimental, nasty and confrontational, Pigface gloried in their crowdsourced noise machine, releasing the beautifully artless live album, Welcome to Mexico, Asshole recorded in Tijuana.

Happy Mondays
For the most part a cheerful “baggy” dance-rock group, whose club-friendly beats and twisted lyrics epitomized the ’90s Madchester scene, Shaun Ryder and his cohorts trafficked in nearly every drug imaginable. Particularly partial to heroin (“Kentucky Fried Chicken” in the band’s internal parlance), the band made no effort to hide its nasty habit(s), with Shaun Ryder lazily threatening to “lie down beside you/fill you full of junk” in Hallelujah.

The band soon took a sizable chunk of their label’s money to record an album in Jamaica, where they discovered crack. The advance was blown through quickly and Shaun Ryder returned to the label offices, holding his own demo tapes hostage. Another injection of cash freed the master tapes and the band was back in business. Before wrapping up the sessions, Ryder stepped out for some “KFC” and never returned.

Nothing subtle about this...

Nothing subtle about this...

Jason Pierce’s combination of drone, space rock and gospel is one of the cultural touchstones of British music. After the acrimonious split of Spacemen 3 (slogan: Taking Drugs To Make Music To Take Drugs To), Pierce took his ideas and addictions and set about crafting some on the finest paeans to drug use ever recorded (and distributed as mini-disc pop-out “pills” in the case of Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating in Space).

The heroin references are everywhere. From Cop Shoot Cop (there’s a hole in my arm where the money goes) to I Think I’m In Love (warm as the junk running down my spine), the references are everywhere. Pierce likes to play ambiguous in interviews, leaving the lyrics open to “translation.” But he named his daughter “Poppy” for chrissakes.

This is by no means a comprehensive list. There are others, some of which are less notable, in my opinion.

Red Hot Chili Peppers
Under the Bridge finally made Kiedis’ shirtless torso and “heavy feelings” relevant. Flea got shot in the foot during a bit part in Point Break. They had their moment and are shifting into legacy mode. I think they lack the last bit of push they’ll need to be remembered any more fondly than their contemporaries (RuPaul, Right Said Fred) 30 years down the road.

Smashing Pumpkins
Touring keyboardist Jonathon Melvoin and drug buddy Jimmy Chamberlin both OD in a hotel room. Chamberlin lives but leaves the band. Somehow I get the mental image of Billy Corgan attending to Melvoin funeral just to make sure everybody knew how much he disapproved of the drug use.

That’s the drugs. The bad behavior is gone as well. What we get now is faux “rock star” moments at the MTV VMAs and red carpet posturing. With the exception of the thug life intertwined in hip hop, everyone is out there pretending to live like a badass but most likely spends nights at home writing in their diary, updating their LiveJournal and smoking cloves with the windows open.

It used to be the shit to be a rock star. Ego on, brain off. Strut, fuck, get paid. Look ridiculously good while 10% sober and 90% hungover.

Early days of the Black Crowes:
Chris Robinson is in a convenience store. A fan recognized him and says something like, “OMG! Chris Robinson from the Black Crowes!” Her friend says, “Who?” Chris Robinson says, “Maybe if you’d stop stuffing twinkies into your face you might learn a little something.” Apocryphal? Maybe. Reported as fact in a Spin interview. If it’s not true, it should be.

Jane’s Addiction:
Perry Farrell says he got head from some guy just to “see what it felt like.” Perry figures since it’s a guy it should be good. After all, men should know. But the guy went at it “like eating corn of the cob.” Rock star living? A solid yes. Let’s hear Chris Carrabba tell a story like that.

Jarvis Cocker interrupts Michael Jackson’s Christ-like posing and child wrangling during a performance at the Brit Awards. Cocker waves his bottom in Jackson’s general direction. Assault charges are filed and dropped. Melody Maker suggests instant knighthood. Always standing up for what you believe in, no matter how inappropriate? Hell. Yes.

Rolling Stones:
The ultimate legacy act, now entertaining millions of parents and grandparents every year, used to have the swagger. They used to frighten people. Ed Sullivan makes them change their lyrics. For the love of god, their haircuts used to be more upsetting. How about this choice lyric (from Stray Cat Blues): “I can see that you’re fifteen years old/But I don’t want your ID.” Statutory rape, ladies and gentleman. That’s how the Stones Roll.

Voted most misleading title of 1984

Voted most misleading title of 1984

The Cure:
A legacy act in their own right. Robert Smith earns the derisive nicknames of “Mad Bob” and “Fat Bob” during the Pornography recording. Loaded to the gills with every drug imaginable, the Cure (mainly Smith as usual) release a nightmarish album awash in suicidal lyrics and tape manipulations. Smith also briefly splits the band and cites label pressure, although I doubt they indicated that he should do more drugs and be more weird. “It doesn’t matter if we all die,” indeed.

Case two: Shiver and Shake, from 1987’s Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me. Robert Smith invites the object of his hatred (band member Lol Tolhurst) into the studio for a private rendition of this song. Smith makes him stand front and center while he belts out the pointed lyrics:

You’re a waste of time
You’re a babbling face
You’re three sick holes that run like sores
You’re a fucking waste…

Rock star 1, former rock star 0.

So what happened? Who can we pin the blame on? Can “society” take one more for the team? Is it the homogenization of radio that began at the tail end of grunge? Is it just something cyclical?

It used to be when a band like Metallica went on tour, they left behind a wake of destroyed venues, massive bar tabs and paternity suits. Now they travel with a full orchestra and a sweater-clad therapist. I would assume they stay up late into the night, talking things out and carefully itemizing their tax deductions.

I can only assume that music has “matured,” pop fluffery notwithstanding. We’ve got adolescence on life support. Rock and roll operating under a living will. Take it back. Support those who know it’s just for today. Rock and roll is dead. Let’s make the wake a blast.



Lou Dobbs: Shitty Employee

August 6, 2009
A general note:
I am in the process of quitting smoking. I was prepared for the withdrawal symptoms of restlessness and homicidal urges. What caught me completely unaware was the sluggishness. My brain only feels about half awake most of the time. The rest of the time it only thinks of cigarettes.
My brain apparently needs 15-20 solid hits of nicotine a day to get all of the synapses firing. I’m trying to power thru it, but I think my writing may be a bit off.
You may pick up on this. Feel free to say so in the comment box. Something like, “CLT was more clever/insightful/of an asshole when he was still smoking.” I won’t go back to smoking, if for no other reason than I’d rather not crowdsource my addictions. But I feel your pain.
I felt the same way back in the mid-90’s when I heard one of my favorite bands (Skinny Puppy) has kicked their collective smack habit. I thought, “Jesus, the new album is going to suck.” (It did.)
Without further ado, some smoke-free words about Lou Dobbs, CNN, journalism and capitalism.
Lou Dobbs rests on his laurels; touches self

Lou Dobbs rests on his laurels; touches self

Lots of general cacophony over at CNN and around the news arena as Lou Dobbs continues to patronize the “birthers,” a fringe group whole sole purpose in life is to prove that our President was not born in the U.S.

When I use the word “patronize,” I obviously don’t mean like I patronize Nickelback fans. This would be more like I patronize X Record Store because they make it a point to never, ever stock any Nickelback.

Lou Dobbs, 30 years in the cable news business, seems to have reached that point that nearly every employee does late in their career: the “fuck ’em, I’ll do it my way” stage. Most people with a lifetime of experience in one field seem to reach this point eventually. (Government employees reach this state of maturity in as little as 90 days.) As the world around them continues to change, they become a drag on the company, throwing their seniority around and generally behaving like entitled jackasses.

I’ve run into it in the retail field. Times are tight. Budgets are being cut. People are being cross-trained to help out wherever needed. But not the legacy acts. Those who have been with the company for years have decided that they only need to do the same job they’ve always done, and because of their seniority, should be allowed to put in less effort.

CNN is a company. A private cable channel that happens to broadcast news. Should they be held to a different standard than TNT, USA or Spike? They’ve set themselves up to a higher standard by their selected field, but it doesn’t mean they’re immune to market forces. Failing shows get cut out of the schedule all the time.

Should Dobbs be immune? He’s lost 15% of his viewers in the last year. His “birther” horse-corpse beating was labelled as “dead” by his boss. But he refuses to change. He feels entitled to handle it his way. Instead of helping out his struggling network, he’d rather bring it down from the inside with his misplaced superiority.

"Yellow Tie Night" down 38% in the 25-40 demographic

"Yellow Tie Night" down 38% in the 25-40 demographic

CNN certainly isn’t helping their case. They’ve turned into the worst kind of H.R. rep: the ineffectual busybody. They claim to support him. They try to block critical ads. They need to man up and cut the fucker loose. They’re a few bad moments away from third place behind FOX and MSNBC.

Companies with amazing reputations and the best intentions make these moves when times are tough, from Zappos selling to Amazon or Google dropping the free hot coffee and sensual massages at headquarters.

If he wants to do it his way, he can start punching his own timeclock. FOX says they want him. Let him go. He’ll fit right in with the overexcitable paranoiacs who are all about presenting the “FAIR” and “BALANCED” viewpoint.

I have no sympathy for Dobbs, whose urge to continue slumming it on the “high road” is becoming an embarrassment for everyone around him. I can hardly sympathize with CNN either, because of their unwillingness to make the correct decision. If Lou manages to hold onto his position, it will only encourage others like him to push as many buttons as they can. He’ll just stick around, making the rest of the team uncomfortable with his outdated jokes and weak bladder.

This kind of dustup is just another nail in journalism’s coffin. Newspaper and magazines are folding. TV news is having a hard time gaining viewers. Blogs and independent websites will fill in this gap without the baggage of having to be profitable. The world is quickly learning that you don’t need a degree to report the news.

All of the news networks act like they only want to bring you the best news from only the most qualified anchors, but they’d staff it with feces-hurling monkeys critiquing the latest “Girls Gone Wild” video if they thought they’d get a permanent net gain in viewers.

Let me just make something perfectly clear: I could give a fuck if Dobbs talks to “birthers” all day long or does nothing but show Hawaiian Tropic Bikini Contests. I honestly do not care if his integrity is unassailable and he’s got God in his hip pocket. Run your business like you mean it, CNN. His ratings are dying. Cut him loose.



Heavy Rotation Vol. 9

August 2, 2009

Easy. Easy like Sunday morning.

Oh, good morning, kids. I was just about to changes shoes and sweaters for no apparent reason. It’s a nice day out. A nice day to head down to the railroad tracks and heckle the king.

It may be quite a walk today. My neighborhood is in mid-gentrification and they’re pushing out pensioners like myself along with the ne’er-do-wells to far out suburbs. I’m not bitter. It just means I have to walk a little further. And dodge a few more bullets.

On the way, we’ll collect my monthly check if the neighborhood roughnecks haven’t already turned it into malt liquor. Let’s take some travelling music along, shall we? That’s right. A little song or two to put a bounce in our step and a sock full of nickels in our hip pocket…

[Previous versions available here: Heavy Rotation Archives]


Happy Mondays – Cuntry Disco
After 15 long and presumably sober years, the Happy Mondays are fookin’ back. And they’ve brought their questionable sense of humor with them. That is not a typo. Great track about doing a variety of things outside someone’s bedroom window, with a little steel guitar thrown in for cuntry fans. A little something for Ramblin’ Rooster as well, with some bookending “Cock-a-doodle-doo’s” belted out in Ryder’s inimitable Mancunian drawl.



Trans Am – Televison Eyes
The space rock side of this trio comes to the fore in this track, which features some nicely robotic vocals and some synth work that seems to incorporate a little melody from Telstar. Not to repeat myself, but a dangerously underrated band, whose body of work is truly a pleasure to experience.



Zero Le Creche – Last Year’s Wife
I got ahold of this goth track on an extremely shitty goth comp that was issued by the mysterious ZZZ Records. Apparently a pretty tough band to track down, what with only one release. Not so much goth like dark, but actually more along the lines of early New Order and Echo & the Bunnymen. Melancholy at its finest.



Justice – Planisphere Pt. I (MMMatthias Mix)
Now, we will head to the club. I have, to this point, mainly spared you from my repetitive beats fascination. Consider yourselves unspared. German producer MMMatthias takes the already bombastic beats and synths of French House producers Justice and trims away anything vaguely resembling restraint. Clocking in at a little more that 4 minutes, it’s a tad short for club play, but the intensity probably wouldn’t stand up to further stretching.



Rekid – Next Stop Chicago
Radio Slave’s alter alter ego (Matt Edwards to his mum) kicks out a damn near minimal track, only without all that minimal bullshit. While I seem to be verging on oxymoron here, let me explain. Rather than clicky nothingness, the synthwork and vocal samples lend it a dark propulsion that wouldn’t feel out of place in a bassbin or in a long drive through the dark.

All mp3s in one lumbering zip file (link opens in new window):
Heavy Rotation Vol. 9


[All music posted on Fancy Plans… is kick ass and too awesome to be contained. All music is also posted temporarily and, due to it’s high level of ass-kicking, should not be distributed without a prescription and care should be taken while operating heavy equipment or dancing around the living room (clothing optional, but do remember that the blinds are open/kids are still awake).
Should you wish to have your brilliant artistic statement forced back into confinement, please email me at Feel free to leave a comment, as that will probably be noticed sooner.
By all means, if you like what you hear (and you will), please support the totally rocking artist(s) by purchasing some music or heading out to see them live.]

Fancy Plans Guide to Rock and Roll Vol. 8

August 1, 2009

And now, a series that needs no introduction…

I honestly don't see how anybody could poke fun at this.

I honestly don't see how anybody could poke fun at this.

Vampire Weekend
The next big thing, according to everybody everywhere, Vampire Weekend are the refinement of all the most pretentious parts of hipster touchstones, such as: Paul Simon, the Talking Heads and hippie apparel store background music. As this indie world music band began its meteoric rise to stardom, they became increasingly unbearable. Now safely coasting on its laurels, Vampire Weekend is primed for its slide into “legacy act,” a restful state of listlessness, no doubt hurried along by its incessant public fellation by mainstream tastemakers such as Rolling Stone, Spin and Pitchfork. (Yeah, don’t kid yourselves.)

No doubt the release of a new album will only encourage the mass fellatio, allowing them to pass Obama in the number of times they’ve heard “Use me like a filthy congressman.” Unless they make a Goo Goo Dolls-esque leap into power balladry or discover how hard it is for someone to say “poly-rhythmic” withtheir mouth full, Vampire Weekend should continue to raid Paul Simon’s record collection and liquor cabinet for years to come.

I think we all preferred them back in the day, when David Lowery was still an integral member and they performed under the name “Vampire Can Mating Oven.”

Another fine selection from the "Malcolm McLaren Collection of Arrestable Art"

Another fine selection from the "Malcolm McLaren Collection of Arrestable Art"

Bow Wow Wow
Another one of Malcom McLaren’s projects (after holstering his Sex Pistols) which allowed him to take nude photos of his underage lead singer and file it under Art, Album. (If it’s an album cover, it’s beyond reproach, apparently.) Their biggest hit was I Want Candy, which made a mockery of sex offender laws with its open baiting of cargo van owners everywhere.

Fortunately (mostly for Malcolm) this was done in a more permissible time before our teenagers’ incessant sexting made child pornographers out of many unsuspecting parents. Many people were able to pick up the album without having to mail order it in a plain brown wrapper or register with the county after opening it.

Karen Carpenter, in happier times

Karen Carpenter, in happier times

The Carpenters
Breaking into the soft rock scene with their hit single Close to You(well, not “breaking” really; they actually knocked first and politely asked if it would be ok to come in and play a couple of their songs, if that was “cool” with everybody), the Carpenters began an impressive run of hit singles and skipped meals.

Never content to rest on their laurels (out of concern for the laurels, poor things!), the Carpenters continued boldly into the future with both hands grasping wildly at the past. They toured tirelessly, entertaining thousands of politely seated concert-goers nationwide.

The endless touring and soft rocking began to take its toll. During the Carpenter’s 1982 Rock You Like a Pleasant Breeze tour, Karen Carpenter frequently found herself pinned underneath her shadow on the stage, due to unexpected lighting changes.

She collapsed in her parents’ home after an attempt to close the screen door and was rushed to the hospital. On February 4, 1983, Karen Carpenter was declared dead when an intern mistakenly allowed her to turn sideways, at which point she vanished completely.

A panoramic shot featuring 1/4 of Chicago's touring band

A panoramic shot featuring 1/4 of Chicago's touring band

Despite popular opinion, Chicago was not named after the city. The Chicago Chamber of Commerce often places unsolicited calls to Wikipedia to make sure that this is being made perfectly clear.

They are actually named after their favorite mode of transportation, the Chicago bus line, which had the vehicles large enough to carry their entire bloated band, which at times swelled to over 1,200 members. Plus, they actually came from nearby suburb Vernon Hills, so their claim to Chicago’s name and street-tough history was about as legitimate as Vanilla Ice’s claim of being raised on the mean streets of Miami.

Setting out to be the “worst band in rock and roll” by ensuring an unhealthy ratio of non-rock instruments, Chicago worked the bar circuit for years before their recorded debut in 1969. Chicago-area bar owners breathed a sigh of relief as booking the massive band often meant they had reached capacity before any paying fans even had the chance to get in the door.

Being the “worst band in rock and roll” took a heavy toll on the band and extensive touring often found various members on the disabled list and Peter “Et” Cetera scouting the local talent for a replacement “5th Trombonist” or “Backup Vocalist #8 – Verbs Only.”

But as all proud “rock” bands do, they kept on keepin’ on. Ceteradid all he could to retain the “worst” title by his dalliance with Amy “Whore of Babylon” Grant and his refusal to use anything more than a mixture of Roman numerals and “real” numbers to name their albums. (Exception: Hot Streets, which was their XIIth album.)

The “worst” remained the best at being the worst, running virtually unopposed for several years until Jefferson Starship wrested the title away from them with the release of We Built This City (On Suck). Chicago (the “rock” band, not the city – thanks, City of Chicago Chamber of Commerce) was never the same again. Cetera left the group, claiming that he had “done all the damage he could.”

So who is the current holder of the “worst” title in rock today? With so many front-runners, it’s hard to pick one. (Nickelback.)


Not to be confused with Digg! which contains no artistic merit whatsoever

Brian Jonestown Massacre/Dandy Warhols
Two bands whose fate is forever intertwined thanks to Ondi Timoner’s rockumentary Dig! and his follow-up, Holes, which went down a much more commercial path by straying from the original subject matters (much like Dandy Warhols themselves.)

Originally BFFs, both bands had the same original ambition: to have a really clever band name. The Brian Jonestown Massacre combined Brian Jones (whose deathkicked off a 30-year period where you couldn’t step out the door without tripping over a cooling rock star corpse) with the Kool Aid guzzling hi-jinks of the Jonestown Massacre (which kicked off a still-ongoing trend where you can’t step out the door without tripping over a cooling religious fanatic’s corpse).

The Dandy Warholswent in a much more upbeat direction withtheir band name, combining Dandy with the name of Portland’s famous Warhol’s Dinner Theatre, whose “fine dining” and “outrageous antics” are not for the weak of heart. Or stomach. On the other hand, the Soup of the Day is pretty consistent.

The BJM, with their antagonistic name, and the Dandy Warhols, with their inadvertent play on artist Andy Warhol’s name originally presented a united front as the revolution of music. They also both claimed the Velvet Underground as an influence, which put them in the exclusive group of every fucking band ever. At least the BJM followed through on it.

The Dandy Warhols, however, soon realized that they were operating several levels above their pay grade and began to tentatively return the embrace of the mainstream. Once it was clear that the feeling was mutual, the Warhols threw caution (and credibility) to the wind and proposed on the spot to their many suitors. Tragically, most of these suitors operated on the “use ’em and lose ’em” policy, cutting the Warhols an alimony check before leaving them alone, jealous and stoned. (Hello, Secret Machines!)

The Dandy Warhols did have the good fortune and lack of self-respect to be picked up immediately on the rebound, starting the vicious circle over and over again. Their mom keeps hoping they’ll finally find Mr. Right, but has sort of resigned herself to fielding late-night phone calls and making emergency Ben & Jerry’s runs.

The BJM went in a different direction. They wanted nothing less than a full-on music revolution. Their first step was to form antagonistic relationships with label after label. A&R men and label execs were treated to Ike and Tina Turner-type dustups and subjected to long lists of demands, like “full creative control,” “studio selection” and “a hoverbus for tours.”

Another point of contention was the pay scale: BJM frontman Anton Newcombe argued, unsuccessfully, that they should be making more as every band member was a “multi-instrumentalist.” The execs frequently mooted this point by stating (yet again) that their “royalties were based on record sales, not on number of instruments played.” They further pointed out that “all the talent and artistic integrity in the world won’t sell any records, and unless your name is Prince, we honestly could give a shit how many instruments you play.”

As the Warhol’s success increased, BJM began to complain that their former friends had sold them out. Astute observers reputed this by pointing out that:

a.) the Warhols sold themselves out; and
b.) the world does not revolve around BJM; that’s called “projection.”

BJM went on to make a metric shitload of records, flying bitterly and jadedly under the radar. The Dandy Warhols continued to splash around the in main stream, being fairly successful and losing their right to be described using interesting adjectives.

The lesson to be learned from this tale: Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe in. Don’t expect to get paid for it, though. And: If you must whore yourself out, at least get paid well for it. Because an amateur whore is just a slut.

You may be asking “All else being equal, which one is the band for me?” The answer is: Go with whichever band name appeals to you more. You’ll probably be right.


Previous episodes here: the RockNRoll Archives