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J. Palumbrah: Cat Circus Enthusiast and Flaming Lips + Oneida in NYC tonight! July 26, 2010
Blood is back and I know some of you freaks are gonna eat this right up... Cats!? in a Circus?!?! OMG SO CUTE, RIGHT!? I'm not hating, and I'm not an animal hater (if you gifted me with a little piglet I would likely marry you)(hint), but I can't get down with felines. It's partly that I'm allergic and partly how much my Gram loved cat torture and how much I loved her.
How lucky are we to have our #1 Brah! Correspondent, the lovely and witty J. Palumbrah, reporting live (from a few weeks ago, that's what "live" means at Brah!) from the Cat Circus? So lucky! I know! Tell us about it, J!
(Editor's Note: this photo cracks me up so much)
A year or two ago I stumbled upon a poster hanging in the window of a small theater that made me cry tears of pure ecstasy. It was a variation of this poster. I blinked several times, thinking it must be a hallucination. But no, a cat sitting at a drum kit was still staring back at me with cold, complacent eyes; another slinky and sulky stood on hind legs, paw clutching a mini-guitar; a third pounding the keys with a cocked head. I stood there gaping with a stupid grin on my face for a good 5 minutes taking in every detail, committing it to memory. My brain went into the vault and started playing the lyrics of a song my third grade class wrote in 2002 entitled “Afro-cat”:
“He looks kind of crazy/with his mini-guitar/ he crashed here from space/ in car wash without the car. “
The verse rang prophetic. Maybe every moment of my life since 2002 was leading up to this mysterious revelation. I heard the gospel. It didn’t take long for me to become a believer.
There is a reason why you don’t often hear the words “cat” and “circus” paired together-- A good reason. Cats more often than not display a “go fuck yourself” attitude towards human commands. Unlike dogs, cats don’t accidentally dribble pee on the floor out of sheer unbridled excitement to see you. No, cats will sooner take a shit on your bed every time the litter box isn’t clean before they will come when you call. Yep. Cats have ‘TUDE and a lot of it. Which is why I respect them. The ‘TUDE speaks to their intelligence . . . but not their obedience. The promise of “Trained Cats” that the poster touted seemed too much an oxymoron to buy into, so I was buckling my seat belt for a train wreck . . ..
It is hard to determine which entertained me more: watching cats perform tricks or watching a middle-aged woman in a cat suit pleading with cats to perform tricks-- all the while making self-depreciating jokes in between tuna bribes:
“ . . .And this is why I’m single”
“Before the cat circus, I trained rats. I became known around Chicago as the Rat Lady. That didn’t get me any dates either.”
“If you ever want a lesson on self-humiliation, start a cat circus.”
The performance becomes so awkward that I find myself blushing, but the awkwardness of the show is its charm. The tension and release would be lost if the cats were obedient professionals gliding on skateboards and jumping through hoops and playing drums without first stopping to lick their balls or give a 2 minute long blank stare, or run into the audience and hide under the bleachers.
The true comedy is tragedy in this case. Its imperfection becomes its perfection.
(J. Palumbrah with groundhog friend)
I am a believer. An apostle. A groupie. A benefactor. An addict. A voyeur. A cat lady. Call it what you will, but I have attended Samantha Martin’s Amazing Acro-Cat Circus no less than 6 times. I’ve tipped the cat named Tuna well over 20% when she rings her bell to support the Rock-Cats band. I have bought a magnet of Buggles rolling on a basketball. I’ve gotten the paw-graphs of every member of the Rock Cats. I have held a groundhog in a top hat after the show (the groundhog rides a little red corvette at the beginning of the show as means of introduction, kind of an M.C. of sorts). It’s official: I have patroned more cat theater than human theater since moving to Chicago 7 years ago. Humoring my mother’s request, I did once take my parents to see the critically acclaimed musical, Wicked. My dad’s drowsy grunt after the performance: “Well, it was better than Cats.”
Had he seen the ACRO-Cats . . . .well. . . he might have felt differently.
Pure magic at only $12 a pop. Meow.
Thank you so much, Palumbrah! And before anyone goes calling PETA on me the "cat torture" I referenced above wasn't all that bad... Gram would speed up any time she encountered a cat in the street, but I don't remember her ever making contact.
If you're in NYC tonight you should try to get into this amazing show, Flaming Lips + Oneida at the Central Park Summerstage. It looks like this show is sold out but I know you can figure out a way in, yes? I have faith in you... just don't get arrested... and don't drop my name if you do get arrested as you may find that NYC cops may know me better than would do you any good.
My insane schedule (I googled 'insane schedule' and this is what I got, lame) is not easing up but I think I've gotten better at managing it, either way I'm going to be better about getting stuff up here, I promise. You have my sincerest apologies insofar as my recent lack of posting.. as far as the content of that which I post... not sorry.
Stay cool, Brahs and Sahs, hope you all survived the HEAT WAVE!
Everything you ever wanted to know about MAN FOREVER June 24, 2010
(Man Forever in Toronto: photo by Sarah Lipstate)
Greetings, friends.... it's your old pal, Blood. Sorry I've not been around lately, but as they say, good things come to those who wait. And Patience is a Virtue! So my blog neglect has made you all better people! You're welcome!
Having finally witnessed the aural tidal wave known as Man Forever, I was so pleased to put together this post. I'm still a little tongue-tied over it, and anyone who knows me can tell you that it's not often that I struggle for words (come to think of it, total strangers can tell you that too). A few of us watched some video footage last night and were transported right back to the "zone" we were in when we saw it live... and no, we weren't (that) wasted.
If you haven't already snapped up one of the 250 copies of the album (released this past Tuesday!) you should DO IT NOW. Perhaps this incredible NYT article can convince you if you find yourself teetering on the proverbial fence.
If you haven't yet witnessed Man Forever, the next show is June 25th at the Issue Project Room in Brooklyn, and upcoming shows are scheduled throughout the summer in Portland, ME and North Adams and Allston, MA, details of which can be found here.
And here is a Punkcast video of the MF show at Monster Island on June 11th, the show that kicked off their recent tour. I hadn't known about it until today, it's sweet, as is the Punkcast website, lots to check out there!
The upload process has been difficult (flickr - what is your problem?) but I've finally gotten all the photos up that I took at the Pgh show... you can peep them here if you're so inclined. I've given you plenty to work with here, go check out Man Forever at your earliest opportunity! Happy Summer!
Diana Goes to Prison! June 1, 2010
Hello loveys, Bloody Powers reporting for duty... I hope everyone had as fantastic a summer kickoff/memorial day weekend as I did. It was so good I wasn't even mad about coming in to work today. First time for everything!
Today's post comes from a new Brah! contributor, Diana Kinscherf. At least I think this is her first piece... I could be wrong on that (and it'll be the first time for that too... haha hmmm), and if I am please tell me and I'll call myself out here. Anyway, this stupid phone won't stop ringing so I'm going to hand it over to Diana, read what she wrote, do it now!
A Prison Story
A warm, sunny day in June, 2005, and the newly-arrived Roky Erickson anthology is blasting in Kim's Video, whilst I pondered better prospects than a $6 an hour off the books job behind the counter. As I was ringing someone up for another one of our popular yet dubious DJ mix CDs, something akin to a SWAT team busted in, shouting "This is a raid!" flashing some very official-looking badges. Another one of Mr. Kim's pranks? Apparently not. These raiders proceeded to round up everyone behind the counter and in the back room while shooing customers out of the store. Just then, as if on cue, the very last track ended with the store in total silence, Kim's employees with their hands up behind their heads. The first to get cuffed was a manager I did not care for (I believe the feeling was mutual) and as I snickered at this, a cop walked up beside me and said, "Step up against the wall ma'am". Oh shit.
Riding in the back of a police van is not a pleasant experience. Hands cuffed behind my back in my seat, I could only stare at the drivers behind us through the window with a look of forlorn bafflement. After booking us, I got to make that one phone call. Being nineteen and living with my grandmother at the time, I decided that phoning her would make the most sense. "Hi, I kind of got arrested; it wasn't my fault", followed by the reply on the other end, "Where are you? Get home right now!" I sat in a holding cell for quite some time (by myself, as the other four involved were not of my gender and were separated from me) and as the night approached, back into the van we went. Central Booking, here we come!
We were received in central booking with yet another body search (this one much more violating than the first two) with cops and other prison personnel ridiculing my outfit, which consisted of psychedelic paisley tights, miniskirt and ruffled shirt. I was then brought into an office where I lied my way through a series of questions (Do you drink alcohol? Do yo use street drugs?) and was brought into The Pen.
The Pen subsisted of about twenty to thirty some-odd women (or people who had convinced the guards that they were women) in a metal-bar laden unconditioned area (this is mid-June, remember?) teeming with filth and roaches. I was lucky to have missed dinner. The first inhabitant I had struck up conversation with was a schoolteacher who had been taken in for speeding; (I only floored it once!) Slightly disturbing was the skeezy lump of bruised and scabbed flesh on the floor, whom I will refer to as The Junkie, who only awoke at intervals to request several tampons that she never seemed to put to use.
After a sleepless night, in came the breakfast cart. Warm milk, stale bread, and a sandwich meat of indeterminable origin were served up. I gave mine to The Junkie, who put it with her tampons and promptly fell asleep on the whole mess; lacking any real teeth, I was guessing that was her only option. A heavyset Hispanic woman mumbled about going to Rikers for good this time. Another had been picked up by the po-po and had given them a fake name, which happened to have a warrant out on it, all the while a large gender-ambiguous form lay snoring on the bench and so on...
Day two, and my new "family" and I were moved to a smaller, even sweatier pen for reasons that will remain unclear to me to this day. Before relinquishing hope, I reached outside the bars for the payphone to call Kim's collect to see what Mr. Kim was going to do about all of this. Brad, one of the other managers there picked up the phone; "Hey, Diana! What are you still doing in there? Everyone else got out yesterday!" I don't remember what else he had told me after that - what the fuck was I still doing in here? Why haven't I yet tasted sweet, sweet freedom again? Life in The Pen had just gotten even drearier; there was no light at the end of the tunnel and they had removed The Junkie at her brutally repetitive requests.
As the hours moved on, more and more of my "family" was being released, and here I was, still behind bars. Most of the people I came in with were gone by now. Finally, a guard called my name and told me my mother had come to get me. I sat in a court room, watching people being sentenced, some just fined, and others released. After over two days of not eating, drinking, or not using the bathroom, I wasn't really sure of where I was or why. Then the final verdict came: The arrest was to be expunged from my record. Or so they say...
Mr. Kim gets away with having his employees imprisoned and receives no reprimands whatsoever. Bootleg DVDs and other items of questionable legality are sold in a massive Kim's sidewalk sale. Diana Kinscherf walks away a better, well-formed person with an inspiring story to tell!
Thank you for sharing your story, Diana! It reminds me of the Saturday afternoon I spent in the NY Criminal Courthouse a few years ago, but that's a different post altogether. Hell, that should probably be its own blog but I don't have any more "free" time.
The Man Forever tour, once a small dot on the distant horizon, draws ever nearer... check the link for a show near you. Now I'm going to go discuss details of this weekend's golf outing with my brother.. I'm still waiting for some of you to email me and say "I love golf! I never tell anyone but I do!! Let's play!!" I've decided to cross my fingers over it rather than hold my breath cause that just seems dangerous.
Brahject 8: White Hills + Man Forever updates May 25, 2010
Hello, freaks... it's Blood. White Hills makes great albums, they not only sound good but they look good. Consistently. My favorite one once flew off the roof of my bass player's car, in traffic, in nyc. Our frontman, a car behind us, leapt out into said traffic to rescue it for me. He thought that his heroic measures would win him possession of said record. He thought wrong!
Please do not think that I'm the type to leave precious gifts laying in the gutter. Or on cars to be catapulted into the gutter. It was gross negligence on my part. It was either "leave Bill's cymbals in the street" OR "put my record in the car". I make bad decisions A LOT.
Will my Editor-in-Chief be mad that I posted that pic? Only time will tell... but it's existence affords me a seamless shift from that pertaining to White Hills to this pertaining to Man Forever. Check out Man Forever's myspace for tour dates, it's coming up soon! I hear that the greatest cassette tape producer/distributor Party Store Music is working on a Man Forever tape RIGHT NOW. Which means you'll be able to pick up a tape AND an album when you go to the show (you see what I did there?). Noveller and Inferior Amps will also be along for the ride. I, personally, can't wait!
Thanks to Zach for the pics and White Hills for joining the guys in the studio. Are you starting to wonder when in the world you'll be able to hear all these Brahjects? I mean, we're totally going to wait til you don't care at all to make them available, I'm just curious.
Since I'm a fan of giving my friends presents I'm going to share with you a jam by Pittsburgh's Working Poor. They played last weekend for the first time in a loooong time, they were missing a drummer and a vocalist, and they slayed anyway.
If you can find their stuff, check it out. There's a reason why Pittsburgh people are so elitist about music... it's that we've been spoiled for a really long time.
Check back for updates, news, lame jokes, too much "sports talk", the occasional record release, etc. We're not your favorite blog for nothing!
Brahject 7: Audrey Chen + Sightings in the NYer May 17, 2010
Hello, friends, it's Blood. Sorry for the lack of posting, it's not you, it's me. Ever go through a period of being spread so thin that you're totally maintaining but you know that at any time a situation, a muttered phrase, even a simple glance, could spin you into the panic attack of the century? That's kind of how I've been rolling for a while now. I assure you, it's very attractive.
I know that I'm a fan of Zach's Brahject photography overall, but I think he really knocked it out of the park with Audrey here.
Did you pick up the Sightings record like I told you? Did you go out to catch them on tour? I sure hope you don't ignore me, it'll be your loss but I hate to see you hurt yourself so I'm doing what I can to prevent it. Here is a New Yorker article about noise music featuring Sightings' bassist Richard Hoffman and guitarist/vocalist Mark Morgan. Read it now!
Our sick collective of contributors are working on several projects AS WE SPEAK and when they get their work to me I will post it here for you. See how smoothly things go when everyone works together? World leaders should take a tip from Brah Records, no?
If you are in NYC and have a few hours to kill at MoMA, please go see the Marina Abramovic exhibit. If you're curious as to what art moves Bloody P. the most (I know you're not but let's pretend) you should go see this show. I will talk about with you for hours afterwards if you like, I promise.
As far as The Good The Bad and The Weird, I am a film novice and thought it was pretty good; the filmmaking veteran I was with was less than pleased... that one is your call.
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Hey everyone – so this piece has been brewing almost as long as the follow up to The Enchanter Persuaded. . .this is Kid talking. I read this review by the great Rick Moody and realized he was as addicted to rock biographies as I. So I decided, what the f’ – I would write to him and take his pulse on music bios. What follows is our reconstituted email exchange with our recommendations sprinkled in... Read on!