April 8th, 2007

The Good Life

Anyone who grew up in the DC area in the late 70s/early 80s, who listened to WHFS in its heyday, will remember the Urban Verbs, a band that was a big part of the local punk/new wave scene, along with bands like the Insect Surfers, Tru Fax and the Insaniacs, the Slickee Boys, and the brilliant Tiny Desk Unit -- wow, a lot of free music to download on this last site, by Bob Boilen, TDU's synth player and now NPR host!  In fact, I just downloaded their new album, Sputnick Fell on my Birthday, released in Feb. 2007!!  I'm so psyched! 

Anyway, before I left on my recent trip to the frigid south (Delaware), I downloaded the first Urban Verbs album, entitled, appropriately enough, Urban Verbs.  Since then, I've been playing it obsessively.  I think I like it even better now than I did when it came out in 1980.  The delivery of the singer, Roddy Frantz, is reminiscent of David Byrne in Talking Heads and More Songs about Buildings and Food, and this may even have contributed to their failure to break any bigger than they did, but Frantz (yes, he's related to Chris Frantz of the Heads) is no mere Byrne imitator, and the guitarist, Robert Goldstein, and the synth player, Robin Rose, are really up to some amazing, if artsy, stuff -- danceable and spacy at once.  Goldstein, by some cosmic coinkydink, is also now at NPR -- he's the music librarian.

But are they all Republicans?  That I don't know -- and don't want to know!

  • pgdf

Sixties Novels, Part 1.5

Because this thread will have many parts, and comments won't get carried along from one post to another, I thought I'd break out the comments on Part 1 as a separate post, which can later be more easily accessed in the archives.

Joyce Scrivner, aka "serendipoz," brings up Richard Farina's I'VE BEEN DOWN SO LONG IT LOOKS LIKE UP TO ME (1966). That's one I had in mind to cover. But she also mentions the smoove sexy stylings of the inescapable and awesomely surnamed Robert Rimmer, he of THE HARRAD EXPERIMENT (1967). Quintessentailly Sixties!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Rimmer

Mention of Rimmer and his ilk, whom I always think were inspired as much as Lou Reed by the non-fiction book THE VELVET UNDERGROUND (1963)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Velvet_Underground_%28book%29

always brings to my mind the COFFEE, TEA OR ME? (1967) series, ostensibly by two randy stews, Trudy Baker and Rachel Jones, but in reality ghostwritten by Donald Bain:

http://tinyurl.com/24qrh8

These books, which were probably as much fiction as non-, won't be covered here. For a time, there were dozens of imitators, and every single one had to have art by Bill Wenzel, who had done the illos for COFFEE, TEA OR ME?

http://www.amazon.com/Pin-Up-Art-Bill-Wenzel/dp/1560976586

"Spacecrab" mentions BE NOT CONTENT (1970) by William Craddock. I've never lucked into a copy of this, but do have the same author's TWILIGHT CANDELABRA. Coming up, spacecrab!

Al Zorra cites a great scene from a Leonard Cohen novel. Both of LC's early novels are in the queue.

"Gilmoure" speaks of Chester Anderson's THE BUTTERFLY KID, famously part of a spacey trilogy-by-three-hands:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chester_Anderson

I won't really delve into this well-known series, but it's a primo part of the canon.

And John Crowley, aka "crowleycrow," brings up Gurney Norman's DIVINE RIGHT'S TRIP (1972), which I will talk a bit about. Messr. Crowley tantalizes with an allusion to his personal involvement with the writer.

I should also mention that there were several presses of the era that practically define Sixties novels. Among others:

Grove Press: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grove_press

Olympia Press: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olympia_press

Arguably, New Directions, though it was older: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Directions

And, finally, Essex House: http://tinyurl.com/2hgqsr