Friday, June 6, 2014

Lawrence of Arabia

June 4 marked the 25th anniversary of China's violent suppression of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations, and sure enough pictures appeared all over people's fakebook pages to remind us if we did not remember. It reminded me that 25 years ago I had a job at the Charles Cinema in Boston, where I worked with a spicy mix of local high school and college kids. Two of my co-workers were Vietnamese from Brighton High who hooted and snorted when they heard about Chinese people being killed. It was still many years before I would go live in Vietnam and realize the deep animosity the Vietnamese have for China, but this naively unexpected response was an excellent introduction.

By the way, did you know that less than one year prior to the Tiananmen Square massacre, as it is called, government suppression of demonstrators in Burma resulted in the deaths of an estimated 3,000 people? That government is also still in power.

Anyway, the movie theater where I worked in 1989. These are the only pictures (taken from a blog called ghostlife) I could find on the entire internet, and they don't do it justice, but there you go. I didn't have a camera of my own until a year later and at the time I never wanted to photograph this sticky, stinky, neglected theater where I got paid $5/hr to loaf around.

On March 17, 1989, the 70mm 6-track dolby restored print of "Lawrence of Arabia" opened at the Charles. We were the only theater in the northeast to be showing it, as I recall, although it's hard to imagine it not showing in New York. It sold out every weekend for three months, with moviegoers coming from as far away as Montreal (an 8-hour drive) to see it. Yes, I'm sure they bought tickets in advance, but I don't remember how. I worked the concession stand mostly, or cleaned up the spilled popcorn and cups in between shows.

Everything about this film was epic (a word that is tattered and overused these days): the all-star early 1960s cast, the massive battle scenes with hundreds of extras, the larger-than-life Panavision cinematography, but most of all, the score. Maurice Jarre's overture begins long before the film itself, signaling the audience that it is time to stop lingering in the lobby and go find their seats. If you only see this film on video, you are missing its tremendous grandeur, but if you have a shitty sound system that fails to convey the soundtrack as it was intended, you just shouldn't bother at all.

A result of working nights at the Charles during Lawrence of Arabia's three or four-month total run is that even now, anytime I hear the music I see the movie in my head. When you work at a movie theater, you have a fair amount of time to peek in- officially, to keep a benevolent eye on your audience- and watch parts of the show, so I would do this whenever I got the chance. The first scene of Lawrence of Arabia I ever saw is the one I watched the most.

Even if you don't know the scenes leading up to this, you can't help but find it thrilling. It is the music which elevates this scene from being pretty cool to stupendous.

The leadup is essentially this: English officer Lawrence has assembled a group of bedouin guerrillas to attack the Turks at the port of Aqaba, but the tactics involve crossing one of the worst deserts on the Arabian peninsula, the Nefud. The bedouins with Lawrence know how dangerous this is and call him crazy; with the kind of naive arrogance you'd expect from a colonialist, Lawrence insists that crossing the Nefud is possible and convinces the group to follow him.

With amazing luck, they succeed by crossing at night, but at dawn they realize one man is missing. Lawrence insists on going back for him under the blazing sun even as the rest of the men tell him he will die trying, and this will be the end of his little war. But he proves them wrong here too, and the scene shows him meeting one of his servants, who has been waiting for him, as he emerges from the desert with the man, Gasim, who is still alive.

Next post: some more babbling about Bobby Kennedy's assassination and the book Slaughterhouse Five, or more likely, me bitching about how cold it is since I only post like every six months these days. It's warm now. It's June.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

JAKS - Hollywood Blood Capsules

There's very little information on Ann Arbor's 1990s "math-rock" band JAKS, and that's a big fat shame. I don't know a lot about them besides that their name was the first initials of each member's first name

Read this blog from 2011.

We have a CD at the radio station that collects much of Jaks' recorded output. It is called Hollywood Blood Capsules.

Wicked high quality no really 320 limited time only.
1. Dumbwaiter
2. Black Paper
3. Cock of the Walk
4. The Conversation Lags
5. Mudd
6. Chimneys
7. Spider
8. Pismire
9. Merrily the Gore
10. Master P
11. Shake

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Amendment: THE GRIND is still on the radio IN KALAMAZOO!

Remember how we said we were bringing back the Grind? No you don't.

Anyway, our old friend, the show's creator, got on the faeboob and said this:

"So... not to split hairs... but The Grind has never stopped being a show. It went on a brief hiatus after I left WCBN and the other DJs stopped doing it. I picked it back up a few years back and it lives on as a weekly program on WIDR fm in Kalamazoo and Core of Destruction Radio streaming worldwide.

Super excited to have the metal show live on at WCBN but please consider calling the show something else as The Grind is not dead!!!"

So never mind!

The show will be called THE SEIZURE EXPERIMENT.

Boy have we had a lot of fun on the WCBN internal listserv discussing this name change AFTER the name had already been changed.


The Seizure Experiment has a dumblr so do not come here looking for archives.

Friday, January 10, 2014


Several events converged to result in the return of THE GRIND to WCBN.

The late-night DJ who followed the one-hour metal show "Odin's Dance Party" vanished in mid-December, necessitating either his replacement or the extension of the one-hour metal slot to three. It was too late to bother adding a new DJ- the schedule change was only a couple weeks away- so we opted for a longer metal show.

Brandok and I covered the first of these three-hour bonanzas and had ourselves a ball. I then polled WCBN staff to see if there was enough DJ interest in doing three-hour metal shows for a whole semester. There was, with the added comments that some of them also wanted to play punk, hardcore, and other loud music. Some of them referenced a long-gone show called THE GRIND, which was such a show. So without further ado...

I recently sent the following announcement to the staff of WCBN:

Poll results indicate that a 3-hour metal/thrash/hardcore/noise show would be warmly received and hosted by enough of you for me to go ahead and make it so.

Some of you may remember a show called "The Grind" which aired Friday nights 10pm-midnight. It started as a metal/thrash/hardcore/noise show that eventually morphed into pretty straight gore-death metal type stuff (just search the old playlists and you'll see.)

So, the Odin's Dance Party name will be retired and we'll be resurrecting THE GRIND.

How you interpret what a metal/thrash/hardcore/noise show would sound like is pretty much up to you; if you're interested in joining a rotation for this show (which will most likely be midnight-3am on Saturday nights/Sunday mornings) please check off Odin's Dance Party on your slotpref.

If you have already turned in your slotpref, email me and Brandok saying you want to join the rotation.

So I'm delighted to announce to you, our listener and sole reader of my blog, that THE GRIND is back and will air Saturday nights midnight-3am with multiple rotating and possibly tag-teaming hosts.

You are so welcome.


Friday, January 3, 2014

Happy 2014! Sex us up, new year.

I could make a best of 2013 list but I don't bother, no I don't bother. I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I--I-I-I-I--I-I-I-I-IYIYIYIYIYIYIYIYII don't bother! Name that tune.

Handily, though, I started dating almost everything I played in the WCBN playlist back in February, so you can at least see ALL the 2013 releases I played on the show from February on. It's magical. Just click on the magical link. You know, if it ever loads.