For us Americans, Raymond Queneau’s name comes …

For us Americans, Raymond Queneau’s name comes up between other writers. Georges Perec, Georges Bataille, Andre Breton, Michel Leiris, and so forth. He is also for the causal reader a hard writer to get a clear picture of his writing. In an essence he was the shadow writer of the 20th Century.

The first book I read of Queneau’s was “Exercises in Style,” which in one way serves as a writing manual while at the same time it is a witty a charming piece of fiction. The thing is with Queneau’s writing is that you get a duality – that I think is important in his work.

One of his masterpieces (I tend to like everything by an author I admire) is “Hundred Thousand Billion Poems.” It is a work that is never in place, it consistently moves. I think poetry should be written in air instead on rock. Or a book that looks like one of those changeable head/bodies/legs books.

Queneau’s most beloved book is probably “Zazie n the Metro.” Written n colloquial French instead of academic French, Zazie was considered to be a work from a rebel. But a charming rebel. The book is charming with regards of Zazie investigating Paris via the Metro system. A great city novel.

For the Boris Vian obsessive I strongly recommend a book Queneau wrote under another name Sally Mara. Like Vian’s ‘Vernon Sullivan’ Queneau wrote a noir thriller called “We Always Treat Women Too Well.” In many ways it is the sister or brother to Vian/Sullivan’s “I Spit on Your Graves.

Fried Decadence

“Let me tell you about the very rich,” F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote. “They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different.” 

The very rich are also different because they can afford to spend $4.00 for a regular order of fries at Pommes Frites in Manhattan’s East Village. Six and a quarter will get you an unbelievably large helping and, if you’re hosting a small party, you can order a double for $7.50.

                                                                          

Now, I’m not very rich (or even rich), but I partake of Pommes Frites where the fries aren’t French, they’re Belgian whenever possible. Two nights ago, I circled the block numerous times, each time more desperately, in search of a parking space. Parking, alas, is the only thing missing from Pommes Frites’ menu. Last night, however, thanks to [info]nydeborah graciously offering to remain in the double-parked car while I hurried into the restaurant as deep as a sidewalk is long, and about as wide, too I got my fry fix. 

About the menu: fries. That’s it. Just fries and more than two dozen gourmet dipping sauces. For a boy from Salt Lake City, the home of fry sauce, this is heaven on earth. I recommend the roasted garlic mayo. 

Like all things truly decadent, the desire to gorge yourself with these long, lithe pieces of potato is quickly satisfied; but that doesn’t stop you from wanting more, eating more. And by the time you’re finished, a slightly dirty feeling supplants the one of satisfaction, and you drop your head into your greasy hands, stomach so full it aches. But, ending this post with a quote by the same author with whom it began, “Sometimes it is harder to deprive oneself of a pain than of a pleasure.”

Anton Barbeau

                     

 Anton Barbeau has been Sacramento's resident pop genius since the late '80s, and there just seems to be no stopping him some 20 years into his prolific career. Anton has been blessed with that rare gift for being able to compose melodies that sound like they’ve always been with us. If songs like “Octagon,” “Leave It With Me, I’m Always Gentle,” and “Creepy Tray” don’t end up lodged in your brain after a few spins, then catchy Beatlesque pop clearly isn’t your cup of tea. I get the feeling that even a few of Anton’s heroes like Paul McCartney and Andy Partridge would be singing along with those and many others should they be lucky enough to encounter them at some point during their lives. Granted, an unfiltered talent like Anton’s should be expected to be a little erratic at times. It’s surprising how a musician who can be so crafty at writing such perfectly enjoyable songs can rarely put together an album without tacking on a meandering track at the end. His live performances tend to ramble on as well with stream-of-consciousness monologues that don’t always connect with his audiences, but catch him on a good night with the right crowd and you’re sure to have a few good laughs while keeping your toes tapping along to his tunes. Any of the following CDs listed below will guarantee a pretty good time, although The Horse’s Tongue is currently out of print, and The Golden Boot was haphazardly thrown together rather than given the special attention deserving of the tracks contained within. A Splendid Tray, which features “The Banana Song” (Anton’s personal favorite and a highlight of his live shows), would be a good place to start.

The Horse's Tongue  (1993)

Waterbugs and Beetles  (1995/2006)

Antology V.1  (1999)

A Splendid Tray  (1999)

17th Century Fuzzbox Blues  (2000)

The Golden Boot: Antology V.2  (2001)

Will Ant for Frond  (2002; Limited Edition) 

King of Missouri  (2003/2005)

Guladong  (2003)

What If It Works?  (2006; w/The Loud Family)

In the Village of the Apple Sun  (2006)

Drug Free  (2006)

The Automatic Door  (2007)

Running Without Scissors  (2009; cassette) 

Plastic Guitar  (2009)

Bag of Kittens  (2009; This is credited to Allyson Seconds, but Anton wrote and produced the whole album as well as provided intstrumental and vocal support, so I consider this to be part of his catalog as well.)

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You can find Anton Barbeau's A Splendid Tray for sale here.

Introducing Litter and Leech !

Direct from the quite-legendarily Unsound Home CD Series, in the above-grand tradition of the magnificent Mungo Jerry, with all the semi-fi glory of the more Scoop-sublime Pete Townshend, and harkening straight back to those distant daze when People Were Fair And Had Sky In Their Hair comes my old media and genre-hopping pal Lord Litter alongside his lifelong right-hand guitarzan Lefty Leech. 

Now together these two raving folkabillies, armed with a mere twelve strings strung up two acoustics between them (plus the odd dash of keys ‘n’ beat here and then there), slap-happily produce a rhythmic revue as wholly unhinged as it is simply unplugged.  And not surprising at all, is it, with just one look at their choice of source material – Marriott/Lane, the Young Springfield, Edmunds and Cash and even John and Paul – decisively proving L & L are more than extremely out on the right channel throughout this bold new socio-musical mission of theirs.

So if you have ever for one moment wondered exactly what those silvery Beatles might sound like if they were still today playing Sunday matinees at the Kaiserkeller or Star Club, Introducing Litter and Leech is the closest any of us may ever truly get to revisiting then recreating, as these two surely have, the rockin’ way the roll used to be …before it became content to wear stars on its brow, that is.

Introduce yourself today then, I say.  Being sure to tell ‘em Gary the Pig sentcha, of course.      
 

 

Rita Lee’s Hoje

I am ashamed to admit I have been sitting on this record for months, then when I finally decided to take a listen, my shame exploded on Sunset Boulevard, above the 405 near the Getty Center.

Os Mutantes is such a polarizing band: Most people I know that have heard them either fall madly in love or snicker at the oddity of crazy psychedelia sung/wailed in portugese. Admittedly, at first I liked them because they were odd and seemingly obscure. Nothing gives you more cred as a fledgling indie-rocker in Athens, GA than peppering your conversation with a declaration of the unhinged brilliance of Mutantes by Os Mutantes, even though you don’t understand a word and not completely sure that what you are hearing are "songs." I mean, My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless is one thing, but this is just…nuts. When the second track, "Nao Va Se Perder Por Ai (You’re Not Going to Lose Yourself Out There)" is announced by that crazy cackle/bird call noise from what I always assumed was Rita Lee, you just think this whole record is inpenetrable Brazilian abstraction…until that kick-ass fuzz bass brings the song into a psych-country stomp that I have tried to imitate more that once and failed each time. I once tried to drop Mutantes on my Alabamian 2nd cousin and his redneck buddy who were visiting the big city for the first time. I got them high and convinced them that Kid A is the greatest record ever made (it’s not), convinced them that Emitt Rhodes was robbed by Paul McCartney and Badfinger and will one day get his just recognition (he was and will, by God…). And now, having these bumpkins believing I was their own personal Lester Bangs, I dropped Mutantes on them with much pomp and ceremony. They laughed uncontrollably for at least 5 solid minutes…which is a long time to be laughing…even when you are stoned. Pearls to swine, indeed. That was quite a few years back and I think time has healed that wound. After my cousin learned that I could NOT get him a record deal for his band just because I lived on Hollywood blvd, that emails and phone calls stopped coming, much to the relief of my wife. Can’t blame the kids for having the dream.

So let’s fast forward to last week when I slipped Hoje é o Primero Dia do Resto de Sua Vida into the CD player on my way home from work. First of all look at the cover:

Kombucha Wonder Drink-hipness people!