ISSN 1551-8086
return to home search for a contributing writer

seach for poems by title

archive of previous issues submissions information mailing list online store links to other interesting sites contact us  
   poets list
   Francisco Dominguez & Aire Celeste Norell
   Marie Lecrivain & Angel Uriel Perales
   Sheikha A.
   Steve Abee
   L. Ward Abel
   Carl Abt
   Han Adcock
   Elizabeth Addis
   Aderemi Adegbite
   Adeolu Emmanuel Adesanya
   Neil Aitken
   M.I Akande
   Shahd Al-Shemmari
   Lynn Albanese
   Nicole Alexander
   Gwyndyn Alexander
   Scott Alexander
   Alaina Renee Alexander
   Inalegwu Omapada Alifa
   Maureen Alsop
   Rafael Alvarado
   Steven Alvarez
   Keiko Amano
   Veronica An
   Amy Anderson
   Kristine Anderson
   G.D. Anderson
   Zack Anderson
   Lori Anderson-Moseman
   Grace Andreacchi
   Renae Andruse
   Arlene Ang
   Roger Angle
   Stephen Anstay
   Azure Antoinette
   Theresa Antonia
   Aurora Antonovic
   Maria A Arana
   Carlye Archibeque
   Joseph Armstead
   Feral Artist
   Baron James Ashanti
   Charlene M. Ashendorf
    Askew
   Gregory Austin
   Shawn Aveningo
   maeghanne ayers
   Goodness Lanre Ayoola
   John-Patrick Ayson
   Jim Babwe
   Sophie Bachard
   Vasile Baghiu
   Bridget Bagne
   song-hue bahk
   Michael Baker
   Prerna Bakshi
   Anna Balint
   David Banuelos
   Jared Barbick
   J. Mae Barizo
   Peter Barlow
   Matthew A. Barraza
   James Barros
   Jeni Bate
   Jonathan Beale
   Richard Beban
   Gary Beck
   Gary Beck
   Lytton Bell
   Hakim Bellamy
   Michele Beller
   Laura Bellotti
   Stefanie Bennett
   Hayley Berariu
   Kevin Berger
   Lawrence Berger
   Mike Berger, Ph.D.
   Tom Berman
   luis cuauhtemoc berriozabal
   Catherine Berry
   Nick Bertelson
    Besskepp
   Mary Rose Betten
   Cheryl Beychok
   Gwendolyn Beyer
   François Biajoux
   Heitham Black
   Jarvis Black
   Beau Blue
   Rose Mary Boehm
   Bonnie Bolling
   Julie Bolt
   Lek Borja
   Cristogianni Borsella
   Gerald Bosacker
   Amanda Boschetto
   Wendy Bourke
   Jack G. Bowman
   Jennifer Bradpiece
   Bob Bradshaw
   Marcielle Brandler
   Peter Branson
   Sumiko Braun
   Adam Bresson
   Quiana Briggs
   Jack Bristow
   paulo brito
   Alan Britt
   Michelle Brodeur
   Lynne Bronstein
   Charles Brooks
   Jason Sanford Brown
   zoey brown
   Leah Brown
   Deborah Edler Brown
   Adam Levon Brown
   Bob Browning
   Sir Mark Bruback
   MC Bruce
   Jeffrey Bryant
   Kate Buckley
   Robin M. Buehler
   Ron Burch
   Graham Burchell
   Maria Rose Burgio
   Betsy Burke
   Matt Burns
   Richard Burrill
   Zachary C. Bush
   Tony Bush
   Elissa Calvin
   Joseph Camhi
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Dana Campbell
   Velene Campbell
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Neil Campbell
   Luis Campos
   Janine Canan
   Lyn Cannaday
   Pasquale Capacosa
   Joey Capone
   Hélène Cardona
   Britton Laine Carducci
   D.J. Carlile
   Julia Carlson
   Alicia Carpenter
   Jonathan Carr
   Patricia Carragon
   Oscar Carrasco
   Jared Carter
   Michael Aaron Casares
   John Casey
   Lisa Castro
   Rachael Kelechi Caulker
   Nika Cavat
   Michael Caylo-Baradi
   Steve Ceniceros
   Michael Ceraolo
    Cerise
   Robert Cesaretti
   Cheryl Chambers
   Lita-Luise Chappell
   Shibani Chattopadhyay
   Lisa Cheby
   Beth Cheng
   Ralph-Michael Chiaia
   Juhi Chowdhury
   David Christensen
   Darice Clark
   Terry Clark
   Phil Clark
   Terry Clark
   Charles Claymore
   Jeanette Clough
   Kim Cochran
   Ed Coet
   Tobi Cogswell
   Megan Coker
   Bruce Colbert
   Merrill Cole
   Karen E. Cole
   Christopher Coleman
   Larry Colker
   Beverly M. Collins
   Christiane Conésa-Bostock
   David Concepcion
   Christiane Conesa-Bostock
   Brendan Connell
   Alice Constantine
   Jack Cooper
   Flavia Cosma
   Rachel Coventry
   R. Paul Craig
   David Cravens
   William Crawford
   Natalie Crick
   Rosemarie Crisafi
   Carla Criscuolo
   Chris Crittenden
   Benjamin Crowley
   Susan Culver
   Joe Cyr
   Jim D Babwe
   Morgaine d'Abney
   Karen Corcoran Dabkowski
   Daniel Daian
    Dalton
   Catherine Daly
   Iris Dan
   Marie Lecrivain & Daniel Gallik
   Dan Danila
   Michelle Daugherty
   Piper Davenport
   Kathrine David
   Gareth Davies
   Holly Day
   Frank De Canio
   Gregory De Feo
   Steve De France
   J de Salvo
   J. de Salvo
   kumari de Silva
   Pijush Kanti Deb
   Shalla DeGuzman
   JD DeHart
   Diane Dehler
   Aurelius Demarco
   Darren C Demaree
   Gloria Derge
   Chris Derrico
   Lea Deschenes
   Maurice Devitt
   Theo Diamantis
   Mike Dias
   Martin Dickinson
   Edward J DiMaio
   Mark Dixon
   Peggy Dobreer
   Rosemarie Dombrowski
   Francisco J. Dominguez
   Linsly Donnelly
   Lisa Helene Donovan
   Kevin Doran
   Marvin Louis Dorsey
   John Dorsey
   Marvin Dorsey
   Laura A. Lionello & Douglas Richardson
   Doug Draime
   Donelle Dreese
   Dale Duke
   Jawanza Dumisani
   Henri Dumolet
   Max Dunbar
   t. joseph dunn
   Robin Wyatt Dunn
   Tyler Dupuis
    Durenda
   Walter Durk
   Douglas Dvorkin
   Ron Dvorkin
   Amitabh Vikram Dwivedi
   Alfie Ebojo aka alfie numeric
   Elisabeth Adwin Edwards
   Sabrina Edwards
   Patricia J. Edwards
   Miguel Eichelberger
   John Elison
   Julian Ellis
   Neil Ellman
   K. Eltinaé
   R.M. Engelhardt
   Margarita Engle
   Jon Epstein
   Sufi Erter
   Eli Eshaghian
   Michael Estabrook
   Alexis Rhone Fancher
   Richard Fein
   John Feins
   Emily Fernandez
   Melissa Fischer
   W.S. Fisher
   Jamie Asae FitzGerald
   Amelia Fleetwood
   Jake Fleshner
   John Jay Flicker
   David Flynn
   Arthur Charles Ford
   Liz Fortini
   Sesshu Foster
   Heather Fowler
   Clint Frakes
   Sarah Francois
   Amélie Frank
   Amelie Frank
   Alex M. Frankel
   Allie Frazier
   E.L. Freifeld
   M. Frias Frias-May
   Suzanne Frost
   Delia J. Fry
   Elliott Gabay
   Steven Gabriel
   Timothy Gager
   Daniel Gallik
   J Gamble
   Ishmael Garay
   Jerry Garcia
   Daniel Garcia-Black
   Gabriella Garofalo
   Vince Garofalo
   Yvonne Garrett
   Nelson Gary
   Donna Gebron
   Ulrike Gerbig
   Janice Gero
   Ursula T. Gibson
   Rebecca Gimblett
   Tony Gloeggler
   Steve Goldman
   Vesna Goldsworthy
   Melanie Gonzalez
   Jeffrey Graessley
   Allison Grayhurst
   Jeff Green
   Timothy Green
   Jeanie Greensfelder
   Rhoda Greenstone
   Amos Greig
   John Greiner
   John Grey
   Summer Griffiths
   Danielle Grilli
   Brian Grillo
   John Grochalski
   Wendy Grosskopf
   Andrew Grossman
   Ro Gunetilleke
   Kenneth Gurney
   John R. Guthrie
   Debashish Haar
   Erik Haber
   Hedy Habra
   Tresha Faye Haefner
   Matthias Hagedorn
   James Hall
   Tom Hamilton
   David Harrington
   William Harris
   Matt Harris
   Dawnell Harrison
   J. Alana Hauenschild
   Kari J. Hayes
   KJ Hays
   Ann L. Healey
   Jessica Healy
   Eloise Klein Healy
   Jim Heavily
   Dan Hedges
   Paul Hellweg
   Samantha Henderson
   Jack Henry
   David Herrle
   JD Heskin
   Kenneth Hickey
   Jerry Hicks
   Marvin R Hiemstra
   Ed Higgins
   Carlos Hiraldo
   Sherri Hoffman
   Guy Hogan
   Ali Hosseiny
   Dave Houston
   Eric Howard
   Nate Howard
   David Howard
   Bryon D. Howell
   A J Huffman
   Hunter Lee Hughes
   Roger Humes
   Trista Hurley-Waxali
   Elizabeth Iannaci
   Thea Iberall
   Armine Iknadossian
   Gedda Ilves
   Alegria Imperial
   Victor D. Infante
   Victor Infante
   Augustus Invictus
   Susan Irvine
   Alexandra Isacson
   Natalie Itzhaki
   Amber Jacob
   Scott Jacobson
   Larry Jaffe
   Sonika Jaggi
   Emmanuel Jakpa
   Matthew James
   Andrea Janov
   T.A. Jennings
   Ivan Jenson
   Dani Jimenez
   Alex Johnson
   Michael Lee Johnson
   Lois P. Jones
   Tao Jones
   Strider Marcus Jones
   Georgia Jones-Davis
   Jasmin Jordan
   Quentin Josephy
   Liu Jue
   Ruth Juris
   Gene Justice
   Gary Justice
   Pete Justus
   Mikel K
   Scott C. Kaestner
   Sheema Kalbasi
   Peycho Kanev
   Rachel Kann
   Jay Kantor
   Paula Sfier Kattan
   Russ Kazmierczak
   James Keane
   Gretchen Keer
   Aaron Keller
   Collin Kelley
   Kamuran Kelly
   Raud Kennedy
   Bernard Kennedy
   Kathleen Kenny
   Stephen Kerr
   Hari Bhajan Khalsa
   Just Kibbe
   Jerome Kiel
   lalo kikiriki
   Franklin Lafayette King
   Robert S King
   Ashley King
   Sofia Kioroglou
   Rusty Kjarvik
   Kenny Klein
   LeAnne Kline
   Julia Knobloch
   Deborah P Kolodji
   Tracy Koretsky
   Edith Kornfeld
   George Korolog
   Dimitris P. Kraniotis
   Thomas KrÀmer
   Mark Krewatch
   Chris Krueger
   Amanda Krut
   Gerard Kuc
   Christopher Kuhn
   Donna Kuhn
   Len Kuntz
   Craig Kurtz
   Tammy Ho Lai-Ming
   Daniel Lambert
   Anthony Langford
   Donald Langosy
   Ray Lanthier
   Phillip Larrea
   Phillip Larrea
   Wolf Larsen
   Kasandra Larsen
   Ethan Latham
   Lisa LaTourette
   Marie Lecrivain & Laura A. Lionello
   Marianne LaValle-Vincent
   Kevin Lavey
   Judith A. Lawrence
   Eric Lawson
   Richard Leach
   Anne Lecrivain
   Marie Lecrivain
   Noah Lederman
   Pete Lee
   Kevin Patrick Lee
   Emma Lee
   N.M. Leepsa
   Alexandra Leggat
   Laura LeHew
   Gary Lehmann
   Sharmagne Leland-St. John
   Kevin LeMaster
   Michal Lemberger
   Kim Leng
   Roland Lesterin
   Tiffany Lettieri
   P.A. Levy
   Martin Lewis
   Cheyenne Lewis
   Anthony Liccione
   Cynthia Linville
   Laura Lionello
   Zachary Locklin
   Jessica Lopez
   Harold Lorin
   Tess. Lotta
   B.D. Love
   Adam Lowis
   Ron Lucas
   Andrew Lundwall
   Rick Lupert
   Suzan Lustig
   Radomir Luza
   Stosh Machek
   John MacKenna
   Sarah Maclay
   Stefanie Maclin
    Magdalena
   Gary Maggio
   Holly Magill
   Anthony Magistrale
   Marieta Maglas
   Suvi Mahonen
   Donal Mahoney
   Robert Maiolo
   Kelly Ann Malone
   Michael Malota
   Shahé Mankerian
   Angela Consolo Mankiewicz
   Chris Mansell
   H.E. Mantel
   April-May March
   Rick Marlatt
   John Marshall
   Agnes Marton
   Francis Masat
   Hyatt Mason
   Lee Mason
   Anthony Mason
   Johnny Masuda
   Mira N. Mataric
   Ellyn Maybe
   Michelle Mazzetti
   Mary L. Mazzocco
   Ted Mc Carthy
   Austin McCarron
   Terry McCarty
   Paul McConnell
   Brendan McCormack
   Deborah McCreath-Akbar
   Catfish McDaris
   Bray McDonald
   Karen J McDonnell
   Matt McGee
   Allen McGill
   Afric McGlinchey
   Terance James McGunigle
   Cat Angelique McIntire
   David McIntire
   david mclean
   Isobel McQueen
   Fernando Meisenhaulter
    Mephistopheles
   Corey Mesler
   Melissa Michaels
    Mike the Poet
   Robert John Miller
   Scott Miller
   Richard Lee Miller
   Hany Haggag Abdl Mobdy
   Richard Modiano
   William Mohr
   Sonnet Mondal
   Jason Monios
   Leslie Monsour
   Amanda Montei
   Patrick Mooney
   Carl Moore
   Greggory Moore
    Albert Lee Moran
   A.J. Morelli
   Christopher Mulrooney
   Frank Mundo
   Barbara-Marie Mundt
   Augusto Munoz
   Mark Murphy
   Craig Murray
   Kristine Ong Muslim
   JL Nathan
   Nimah Nawwab
   Leslie Maryann Neal
   Jason Neese
   Raghab Nepal
   Robbi Nester
   Mindy Nettifee
   Martina Reisz Newberry
   Beth Escott Newcomer
   Peter Nezafati
   Scott Nichols
   keith niles
   Dave Nordling
   Aire Celeste Norell
   Steve Norwood
   Laura Nye
   Toti O'Brien
   Charlotte O'Brien
   Suzanne O'Connell
   Katie O'Loughlin
   Peter O'Niell
   Tom O'Reilly
   Akor Emmanuel Oche
   A.J. Odasso
   Rita Odeh
   Kirsten Ogden
   Daniel Olivas
   Maurice Oliver
   Marc Olmstead
   Philip ONeil
   Nzingah Oniwosan
   Chika Onyenezi
   Sergio Ortiz
   David Ishaya Osu
   Scott Thomas Outlar
   Holly Painter
   Lizbeth Palma
   Heather Palmer
   Greg Patrick
   Miss Natalie Patterson
   David E. Patton
   Tim Peeler
   Steve Pelcman
   Angel Perales
   Alice Pero
   Angela J. Perry
   Helen Peterson
   Brenda Petrakos
   Adam Phillips
   James G Piatt
   Rebecca Pierce
   Gareth Pike
   James Pinkerton
   Rob Plath
   Kushal Poddar
   Contributors to poeticdiversity
   Meg Pokrass
   Traian Pop Traian
   Bethany W Pope
   Wayne E. Popelka
   Elisha Porot
   Adrian Potter
   Ren Powell
   Frank Praeger
   Kristena Prater
   Luke Prater
   Shannon Prince
   Stephany Prodromides
   Hattie Quinn
   Octavio Quintanilla
   Beverly J. Raffaele
    Raindog
   Catherine Rajca
   Steve Ramirez
   Mauricio Alejandro Ramos
   Vishnu Rao
   Ingrid Rattay
   James Rauff
   Kasey Ray
   Bili Redd
   Brian Redfern
   Marie Rennard
   Luivette Resto
   E.W. Richardson
   John Richmond
   Francisca Ricinski-Marienfeld
   Lillian Ridgeway
   Kevin Ridgeway
   Dee Rimbaud
   Elijiah Rios
   Cat Risinger
   Ariel Robello
   Ebi Robert
   John D Robinson
   Paula Rodriguez
   Nydia Rojas
   Daniel Romo
   Emily Rose
   Rina Rose
   Diana Rosen
   Poet-broker Rosenthal
   Alison Ross
   James Robert Rudolph
   Walter Ruhlmann
   Gina MarySol Ruiz
   Cody Rukasin
   Cody Rukasin
   Ashley Rumery
   David W. Rushing
   Maryann Russo
   Sonya Sabanac
   Howard Sage
   Russell Salamon
   April Salzano
   Bryan Sanders
   Lisa Marie Sandoval
   Cecile Sarruf
    Sasparella
   Ethan Sassouni
   John Saunders
   Lorraine Sautner
   Rati Saxena
   Iftekhar Sayeed
   Frances Schiavina
   Kim Schroeder
   Carol Schwalberg
   Peter Schwartz
   Sondra L. Scott
   Ken Scott
   David Scriven
   Justin Scupine
   LB Sedlacek
   Lisa Segal
   Anthony Seidman
   Anthony Seidman
   Oleg Semonov
   Sanjeev Sethi
   John W Sexton
   Jack Allen Shafer
   Dahn Shaulis
   Tom Sheehan
   Jake Sheff
   Steve Shickman
   Nancy Shiffrin
   June Shiitake
   Ferrari Silverpowder
   Rishan Singh
   Durlabh Singh
   Kalpna Singh-Chitnis
   Bobbi SInha-Morey
   Apryl Skies
   Knute Skinner
   Sam Skow
   Ratpack Slim
   Lee Sloca
   Carol Smallwood
   Danielle Smith
   Clinton Smith
    smzang
   Kate Soto
   Ghetto Speare
   Jeanne Marie Spicuzza
   Richard Spuler
   Matina Stamatakis
   Jan Steckel
   Julia Stein
   Eric Steineger
   Carl Stillwell
   Bruce Stirling
   Alex Stolis
   Karr Stratynberg
   Kevin Stricke-9
   Keith Stump
   Daniel Suffian
   Annette Sugden
   J. C. Sullivan
   Mani Suri
   John Duncan Talbird
   John Talbird
   Sister Taxi Hopscotch
   Barbara A. Taylor
   Jonathan Taylor
   Mark Taylor
   Allen Taylor
   Paul Kareem Tayyar
   Alene Terzian
    The Unarmed Man
   A. Thiagarajan
   G. Murray Thomas
   Lynne Thompson
   David Thornbrugh
   Kari Thune
   Sarah Thursday
   Ilona Timoszuk
   Tim Tipton
    TJungle
   Chrys Tobey
    tolbert
   Imani Tolliver
   A. TOMIC
   Anthony Torchia
   Mary Torregrossa
   Zev Torres
   Evan Traiger
   Davide Trame
   Tri Tran
   Ryan Tranquilla
   Alain Marcel Treadaway
   Pedro Trevino-Ramirez
   Ben Trigg
   Paul Tristram
   Maja Trochimczyk
    Troy
   The TruthHearse
   Tatiana Tulskaya
   Yelena and Roman Tunkel
   John Turi
   Danny Uebbing
   Amy Upham
   Amy Uyematsu
   Philomena van Rijswijk
   Gene van Troyer
   Wanda Vanhoy Smith
   Brenda Varda
   Luis Rubio Vargas
   Carmen Vega
   Ms. Veronica
   Papa Vic
   Clee Villasor
   Ajise Vincent
   Curran D. Vinson
   Jason Visconti
   Anca Vlasopolos
   Daniela Voicu
   Claire Walker
   toren wallace
   r.k. wallace
   Evan Walsh
   Sharieff Walters
   John Wariner
   Deborah L Warner
   Christopher Watkins
   Brian Watson
   Lafayette Wattles
   Charlie Weber
   Ellen Webre
   Justin Weiler
   Viola Weinberg
   Florence Weinberger
   Desmond Weindorf
   Cindy Weinstein
   Denise R. Weuve
   Rev. Dave Wheeler
   Megwynn White
   Kelley White
   Leigh White
   J.T. Whitehead
   John Sibley Williams
   Claire Williams
   Patrick Williamson
   Martin Willitts, Jr
   Robert D. Wilson
   Amye Wilson
   Jessica Wilson
   Alicia Winski
   Tyler Joseph Wiseman
   Joseph Wistren
   Wayne Wolfson
   Terry Wolverton
   Nina Womack
   Seth Woolf
   Kirby Wright
   Gianna Wurzl
   Abigail Wyatt
   John Yamrus
   MÌesser Yeniay
   Julie Yi
   Gregory T. Young
   Britney Young
   Omar ZahZah
   Mariano Zaro
   Michael Zeltser
    
   home
   poems
   archive
   submissions
   events
   calendar
   message board
   store
   links
   contact
   
G. Murray Thomas
November 2016
   

 

Fringes

    1. Not On the Radio

    Sometime in the late 90s my car radio died. First, it ate a cassette tape (yes, I still listened to cassettes), wouldn't play it, and wouldn't give it back. Then it quit completely. So I went for five years or so with silence in the car. And since the only time I listened to the radio was in the car, I missed a good chunk of "current hit music."
    Not that I missed it much. By then, I had stopped caring about what was new and exciting; most of it sounded neither to my ears. It wasn't interesting to me. Even before the radio died, when I was driving all over L.A. delivering magazines, I would just skim the dial, stopping for anything that held my attention, then moving on. So I listened to a very random mix, everything from rock to hip-hop to country to mariachi to (at least once) Asian reggae. But for music I truly enjoyed, I already had to look elsewhere, to the fringes, to the far left of the dial, or off the dial entirely.
    Okay, I will confess that there was one popular group in these years which really grabbed my attention. Garbage. They were Blondie for the 90s. To me, they had the same appeal catchy tunes; Phil Spector style vocals over hard, punkish rock; a sneering yet sexy attitude, and lead singer. I heard their first album and I was hooked. In love even.
    I saw Garbage in 2002, touring in support of their third album, Beautiful. I enjoyed that album, it contained some great songs such as "Cup of Coffee" and "Silence is Golden". Still, I found it flawed, as much for its organization as its material. There seemed to be no logical order to the songs; it really drove home the idea that people no longer listened to albums all the way through, they just picked the songs they liked. So why waste time on sequencing?
    Similarly, I enjoyed the show, but wasn't as excited as I had hoped. I was curious to see how they would translate their studio recordings, which seemed to rely a lot on studio wizardry, into live performance. They did quite well, using primarily just guitar, without disrupting the orignal arrangements very much.
    My disappointment started with the song selection; they didn't play many of my favorite songs. Of course, this often happens at concerts because my faves are often obscure deep cuts. But, to be honest, I was also disappointed by Shirley Manson. Put bluntly, she wasn't sexy enough. She had switched from her trademark red hair to bleached blond, and she wore baggy white pants instead of the hoped for mini-skirt. She looked more like she was ready for the gym than a rock concert. And her attitude came off as more straight forward aggressive than aggressively seductive. But the audience, heavily geared towards college-age women, loved her.
    The other artists I really got into in these years (late 90s into the new millennium) rarely, if ever, got played on the radio. Primary were Sonic Youth, Ween, and Nels Cline.
    It is a bit surprising that I got into Sonic Youth so late, considering my love for noise and guitar. Further, Sonic Youth came out of the No Wave scene I had followed during my last year of college. Perhaps if I had not moved to Idaho, where I had no way to follow what was happening in the New York lofts and warehouses, I would have been a Sonic Youth fan from the very beginning.
    In any event, in 1996 my roommate Ian loaned me Washing Machine. It was an excellent introduction to their musical mayhem. Their most commercial album, it was released in the wake of Nirvana's success, and much of it felt like a blatant attempt to get on the radio. In fact, an edited version of "Diamond Sea" got some airplay on alternative stations. Edited because the full song is 20 minutes long. It starts with five minutes of absolutely gorgeous music (the part that became the single) and then descends into 15 minutes of pure feedback a practical joke on unsuspecting new listeners.
    I fell in love. I'll admit the catchier aspects of the album helped, but I enjoyed the rougher parts as well. I also liked the way the album (to my ears, at least) paid tribute to their influences. The title track evoked Patti Smith; "Little Trouble Girl" directly referenced The Shangri-Las (Close... very, very close...); "No Queen Blues" seemed inspired by 60s garage rock; and other songs seemed to pay tribute to Pink Floyd and the Velvet Underground. Or maybe all that was my imagining, my hearing my favorite bands in the music.
    Furthermore, at times it was a spoken word album. "Skip Tracer", "Little Trouble Girl", "Saucer-Like", "Panty Lines", and the title track all included spoken word sections. In fact, Sonic Youth had often included spoken word pieces on the albums, usually by Lee Renaldo and/or Kim Gordon. Their following album, A Thousand Leaves, included a long tribute to Allen Ginsberg. I even reviewed both albums (together) as spoken word for Next...
    Still, when I saw Sonic Youth (in 2003, many years after I got hooked), it was all about the guitar. They hardly played anything I recognized that night, but I didn't care. I wanted wave after wave of guitar and feedback washing over me, and that's what I got.
    I was introduced to Ween by Lob, a good friend, musician, and fellow poet. We spent a very stoned afternoon listening to them, as he played selected cuts from their first four albums (GodWeenSatan: The Oneness, The Pod, Pure Guava, and Chocolate and Cheese). In that condition, their twisted music and humor really appealed to me. A stand-out cut was "Buenos Tardes Amigo", off Chocolate and Cheese, but I loved enough of it to quickly buy Pure Guava.
    How to explain Ween? Ween started out as two childhood friends playing around with singing over tape and primitive rhythm machines. Over time they graduated to real instruments, eventually adding other musicians to become a full band. They developed a talent for writing and perfoming in almost every rock music style in existence (and some of their own creation). After seeing them live, in 1999, I attempted to explain them, writing,
[Ween] are a couple of audiophiles who are really into sounds, whether it is a guitar tone, a vocal effect, or a whole musical style. When they hear a good one, they have to figure out how to recreate it... [and then] they build a song around it."
    They put on a great show, three hours covering nearly every style imaginable. They also demonstrated their musicianship; they (and their band) played excellently, especially on an extended jam on "Voodoo Lady." They left me completely impressed with their showmanship.
    Queens of the Stone Age opened for them. Honestly, I thought they played decent hard rock, but otherwise didn't make much of an impression on me.
    I first saw Nels Cline playing guitar with Mike Watt at the Holiday Fun-Raiser I described in my previous column (a show which included Henry Rollins, Flea, Phranc, and the hostesses, The Ringling Sisters). In that context, he played primarily straight ahead hard rock guitar. A notable moment for me was their cover of Blue Oyster Cult's "The Red and the Black". Cline held his own against my memories of Buck Dharma.
    The next time I saw him was a different affair entirely. It took place at The Smell, a tiny all-ages punk club in downtown L.A. Actually, "club" is a bit of a misnomer. The Smell was a small, unadorned room with concrete floors and brick walls, and nowhere to sit. But it put on a variety of interesting shows.
    That night Cline did everything imaginable to get sound out of his guitar, except play it. He hit the guitar, bent the neck, utilized feedback, rubbed the strings with a kitchen whisk, and employed a number of other techniques to create soundscapes which were, in fact, quite interesting and entrancing. For most of the show, he was accompanied by a bassist, who used similar techniques on his instrument. It was a fascinating show.
    Also on the bill was a band called Mechakucha. On record they sounded like an updated Larks Tongues in Aspic era King Crimson; live they too veered far into noise rock territory.
    A few years later I saw Cline perform with SoCal supergroup Banyan. In addition to Cline, the version of Banyan I saw included Steve Perkins (Jane's Addiction) on drums, Mike Watt (Minutemen, fIREHOSE) on bass, and Willie Waldman (Snoop Dogg's band) on trumpet. They played hard rock like it was free form jazz. Very loose and improvisational, but also rocking, shredding, blowing the audience away with energy and ferocity. At times I reached moments of musical transcendence during that show.
    Finally, I saw him back up singer Carla Bozulich at All Tomorrow's Parties, a huge music festival at the Queen Mary in Long Beach in November 2003 (an event which deserves its own chapter). Here he demonstrated his versatility by alternating between country licks and pure noise, as the songs demanded.
    Cline's solo records usually get classified as jazz, but they rarely sound like any notion of jazz which I have. I guess it's because they are generally instrumental, experimental, and based on improvisation. But I believe his music really transcends genre. My taste was moving towards this sort of music. In 2000 I wrote a column on what I called "Post-Genre Music", for the Orange County punk zine Skratch. Here is some of it:

    The very best [CDs} transcend genre altogether. They're just music, drawing on numerous influences, but in the end just playing whatever sounds right at the moment. I call this post-genre music.

    There are two basic forms of post-genre music. One takes the various elements of different genres, and mixes them up, refuses to be boxed in by them. The prime example of this type of music today is Beck. His music is a gumbo of styles (hip-hop, soul, folk, etc.), blended into a coherent whole, where each flavor still retains its presence. But in this style, the various genres still show up, if only as identifiable ingredients in the stew. It may cross and blend genres, but it does not transcend them.
    There is also pure post-genre music, music that simply ignores the notions and conventions of genre. I recently attended a show by the band Critters Buggin'. I have heard them labelled as a "noise" band, but what they played wasn't noise, or jazz, or anything in particular. It was just music, music without boundaries, without labels. Five people on stage, playing together, playing whatever sounded right for the moment. Just playing.

    2. I Become a Critic, Again

    Ah, Skratch Magazine. I was back writing music reviews. Once I folded Next... it was very easy to transition to writing reviews for other magazines. After all, I wrote plenty of reviews for Next..., some of them even of music. I had made plenty of connections, and editors actually jumped at the idea of having me write for them. At least I could deliver a story on time. I primarily wrote for Skratch, Panik, (I guess 'k's were big back then), and, online, The Independent Reviews Site, and occasionally other publications. I wrote CD reviews, book reviews, show reviews, and, here and there, interviews and opinion pieces. Most of these publications were pretty easy going; they had to be considering they paid in CDs and show passes. Skratch, however, would send me ten CDs and want reviews in ten days. Luckily they printed mainly one paragraph reviews.
    Reviewing did introduce me to a ton of new music. And every now and then, some of it was good. (A quick note on reviewing: the hardest CDs to review were the mediocre ones. I wouldn't have anything to say about them. The easiest ones, often, were the terrible ones.) Actually a fair number had at least one or two good songs. And there were a fair number of CDs I enjoyed all the way through, including the aforementioned Mechakucha and Critters Buggin'. More important, there were a small handful of bands I became a huge fan of, where one CD made me search for more by that band, and I loved all of them.
    The first couple I discovered while I was still publishing Next... Kanary (again with the 'k's) were passing out CDs outside a Zine Fest Converence. When I played it, a number of the tracks were straight spoken word. So I reviewed it and became a fan. Although they were a local L.A. band, I didn't get to see them until several years later when they opened for Dee Dee Ramone in a small bar in Marina del Rey. With solid songwriting, strong rock'n'roll chops, and a powerful vocalist in Leslie Knauer, they were worth the wait. (Dee Dee put in a strong set himself, mostly old Ramones tunes.)
    I also got a copy of the Walkabouts' Setting the Woods on Fire while publishing Next..., along with a phone call from their publicists encouraging me to attend their gig that night. Unluckily, I had a poetry commitment for that evening, and so missed what would be my only chance to see the band, which I soon came to love. Also, although they had very literate songwriting, I really couldn't find an excuse to review the CD.
    I describe The Walkabouts as what X might have sounded like if they had been Neil Young fans instead of Doors fans. They had the same mix of punky rockers and country flourishes. Based in Seattle, they released a couple of albums on Sub Pop, but never achieved much U.S. success. Eventually they moved to Europe, and continued to record on various European labels, finding a much larger audience there. Their European recordings did take a mellower turn, into spacey folk rock. Luckily, over the years I have been able to find several of their CDs in various used record stores.
    As I mentioned, Skratch would send me ten CDs at a time. This sometimes presented logistical challenges for reviewing them all. Once, out of frustration, I threw a bunch in my CD player, and hit shuffle. Every so often a song caught my ear. When I took them out, I realized all the songs I had liked came from the same CD, Eclipse and Debris by Donovan's Brain. A delicious cross between Pink Floyd and the Cure, the CD was pure ear candy to me. Because of their sound, I assumed they were British, but when I found them later on MySpace (!), they turned out to be from Bozeman, Montana. I ordered a couple more CDs from them, which I definitely liked, though not at much as Eclipse and Debris.
    Finally, Lindsay Smith, a songwriter from Georgia, blew me away with her first CD, Tales From the Fruitbat Vat. Sensitive songwriting and philosophical musings tied to sweetheart melodies made for repetitive spins. Particularly powerful for me were songs grappling with the distance between the message of Christianity and the religion. Her second CD, Were You Prom Queen?, although still solid and fun, didn't quite have the same charm.
    But even more than encountering these artists, reviewing CDs showed me that there was a lot of great, new music being produced. That the radio only skimmed the surface of what was available, what was being performed and recorded. It reaffirmed my faith in the overall state of music in the U.S. It was obvious that, independent of the "hits", there was a vast quantity of interesting, exciting, and original music being produced in our country.

copyright 2016 G. Murray Thomas