Volume Four: 18 April 1997

Technical Information

This section of my page is really turning into the obituary section, with my preamble on the Heaven's Gate thing in the last volume of the news and my own reflections on the passing of Tony Williams in Volume Two. With that in mind, having just recovered from the loss on Tony Williams (and Townes VanZant before him), I wanted to touch briefly on three other people who've recently left this mortal coil.

Though I've always been more in tune with the writings of Jack Kerouac, the passing of Allen Ginsburg remains one that saddens me. As strange as the straightedge that I am morning the loss of a Beat surely seems, it isn't often that we're given the opportunity to witness, read, and hear the voice of someone who understands the way language sounds, and the impact that sound has as Allen Ginsburg. He was certainly a number of things, good and bad, but the earnestness with which he attacked the world with the word was inspiring.

On still another planet, Lauro Nyro had a tremendous impact on a few wide-ranging tributaries of the Great Musical River. That Peter, Paul, and Mary and Earth, Wind, and Fire could both achieve success via songs she penned is a testament to a somewhat amazing phenomenon. Her ability to cross urban and rural folk musics was amazing, nothing short of Dvorak-like, effecting an end with a radically different, fresh sound that had significant to a wide range of fans. A great many of the female singer-songwriters that have emerged since -- Maria McKee, Rickie Lee Jones, Suzanne Vega -- have benefitted tremendously from her legacy.

Still yet another radically different story belongs to Jack Kent Cooke. His story is the classic American Dream yarn, one that made him respected by a great many people for his perseverance and native intelligence and reviled as a paragon of corporate America -- a rich man who'd been disconnected from his roots. On a personal level, I'm indebted to the man on the basis of his swing through LA, owning my beloved Los Angeles Lakers and Kings during the 70's and building the Great Western Forum, where I've seen a number of events, including my first Rush show.

I'm also mourning a death of a different sort -- the breakup of Soundgarden. Among the very oldest of the Grunge bands (whatever the hell "Grunge" actually means), Soundgarden really was a trailblazing band, playing a style of music that plucked from the MC5, King Crimson, and Black Flag, all while playing music as heavy as any this side of Black Sabbath. Their style, a sort of Progressive Crossover sound, was one always infused with a high level of musicianship and intelligence. "Slaves and Bulldozers," my own favorite of the tunes that comprise the Soundgarden canon, is a model of power and passion, and an artistic high point of this decade. As arguably the one band that best combined the elements of detached cynicism, witty humor, and unfettered rage, Soundgarden's music spoke to much of the spectrum that is the current musical landscape. More information on the band's history and their breakup can be found on the official band site, as well as Seth Perlman's unoffical site.

In better, happier news, I'm strongly recommending Chasing Amy, the latest View Askew release. Kevin Smith never ceases to be amazing, and his latest, while a very different movie than Clerks and the oft-slandered (wrongly, in my opinion) Mallrats, is equally strong. Roger Ebert seems to like it, in any event. The View Askew site has a bunch of links to reviews available online, both good and bad. What all of the reviews I've seen to date seem to be missing is that the movie makes a radical right-turn midstream, from a Kevin Smith offering you might expect into an entirely different movie. With all that in mind, I'm calling this movie a better one than any I've seen in a long time.

Site update: I do apologize to anyone who's interested in anything I've promised and not presented yet. Two things I am presenting anew as of today are a list of currently used Internet extensions and a list of visiting nations to this site. Understanding that the latter of the two is particularly self-indulgent, I'm hoping that the former is of some use to someone.

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