Fred Cole, Pt. Two: Wowsers and YIKES!

Continuing the process of trying to hear everything Cole recorded. To start at the start, I knew The Lollipop Shoppe’s “You Must Be a Witch” from the original Nuggets collection but for many years I did not know, out of raw ignorance, that this was Cole’s first band (only album came out in ’68 when he was 20). Then, since I never even saw a single copy of it, I smoothed over my curiosity by assuming (like the dummy I was) that Just Colour suffered from the usual Nuggets Curse (that is, aside from the one marvelous track, the album was either too derivative or outright bleh). I got the definitive 2008 reissue on Rev-Ola and wowsers was I wrong — one of the best garage-classic-containing LPs I’ve heard and a Rilly Weird. Piece of Work. “Underground Railroad,” “Who’ll Read the Will,” “Don’t Close the Door on Me” and the last track, “Sin” show Cole’s angry, morbid/supernatural and proto-punk attitude in place already. Only [small] defect: the two unreleased Bonus Tracks are weak. The sort of simpering stuff you were afraid the whole album would be like.

The YIKES is that on what I believe is the Pierced Arrows final album, Descending Shadows, the songwriting and performing remain intact, but Cole’s voice sounds wracked and ravaged. Not surprised this was the end. Still, perfect final song for a free spirit who flew his own way decade after decade: “Coming Down to Earth.”

Rot in Hell: Uncle Charlie

I have, surprise, two positive notes about the end of this psycho:

He has come to be viewed, not as a transgressive antihero or the depraved underside of all rebellion, but as a freaky product of freaky times.

Unlike what a lot of people feared, he’s become a smaller and smaller footnote to the story of the Beatles. Not least because their work remains undiminished.

R.I.P.: Fred Cole

Lifelong incarnation of “indie spirit rock and roll.” I discovered him and Toody when they were playing a Pierced Arrows album at Rockin’ Rudy’s in Missoula and I asked “who in the hell is this dandy item?” It was some early version of Straight To the Heart that doesn’t look like the one you can get now. Loved it, but sat around in ignorance until I read this definitive presentation by Bob Xgau. The double-CD is clearly where to begin, but I wanna snatch up anything I can find by Fred and Toody.

Reflections on Second Life

Interesting update on, yes, quite faded “platform reality.” I stayed away from it not least because it was another way to avoid doing work and because the avatars seemed like such banal caricatures of real persons. And the idea had been around for a long time. I mean, Second Life is almost exactly what was imagined in “The Machine Stops.”

Funny Ha-Ha or Funny Pervert?

As I noted recently, comics after Jonathan Winters are off my screen. [Male ones, anyway, I know, if anything, even less about female stand-ups, but don’t have the same specific objections to them.] Nobody’s ever accused me of being humorless, so I don’t feel bad about this outlook at all. What surprises me is how much reinforcement my attitude has gotten over the years. I thought The Sophisticates was a huge indictment of all the stand-up society. When I first moved to Boston in the late ’70s, comedy clubs were undergoing quite the boom. So I went to a show, I don’t remember who. I found the atmosphere relentlessly icky. Making members of the audience uncomfortable and encouraging those who were yukking it up to look down on them was a clear component of the act. It was a divisive collective experience the opposite of what I enjoyed about music performances. The final conclusion I came to is that far too many comedians are like what I consider the utter worst kind of fiction writer — those who create feuds and disasters in their own life to use as raw material.

The Disney Menace

Aw. c’mon — menace is over the top innit? I donno — when we visited Anaheim recently I thought it had the weirdest company-town vibe imaginable. Felt like you had to wear a Mouseketeer hat to live there. Non-Disney places felt like escape havens. Now it turns out Disney is doing something really, really shitty — banning LA Times critics from advance screenings because the paper is reporting on the freaky conquest of the town by the company. The only pleasure I take from any of this is that the shivery feeling I had out there was based in reality.

 

UPDATE: the ban is lifted after backlash that any non-arrogant non-bonehead could have seen coming.