Monday, March 30, 2009

The Little Veal Cutlet That Couldn't

It's not exactly music related, but it's close. Maybe I should attach a Vegan Reich or Raid download. Everyone is reviewing music for the North Coast Journal these days. I figured a book review would increase my chance of getting a couple more reviews in before summer. Makes a great gift.

The Little Veal Cutlet That Couldn't
By Ryan Forsythe and Cassie Hart

It seems to me being a vegetarian requires possession of a good sense of humor. The decision to stray from the meat-and-potato traditions of my family certainly exposed me to more than my fair share of ribbing and ridicule, and I don't think I would have handled those ordeals so well if I didn't go through them with a smile. Perhaps this explains how The Little Veal Cutlet that Couldn't so easily drew me in.

Written by Redwood Hostel manager Ryan Forsythe and poignantly illustrated by Cassie Hart, the book seems a children's tale in appearance, script and rhyme. However, parents and buyers beware, for as Forsythe himself notes, "it's a children's book that's decidedly not for children." In fact, the tragic tale of the sad fate of Betsy the cow and her son Jake (spoiler alert: both become dinner) deals with issues -- factory farming, exploitation and greed -- not easily digested by many parents or, for that matter, this country's population in general.

The strength of the book is found in its ironic treatment of morals and themes originally presented in Watty Piper's popular The Little Engine that Could. And in targeting this classic, Forsythe and Hart join fine company, as both Shel Silverstein and Lemony Snickett have alluded to the trials of Piper's tireless train. What distinguishes this effort is Forsythe's ability to stand the lauded tale completely on its head and do so with timely and urgent relevance. Whereas Little Engine's resounding mantra of "I-think-I-can-I-think-I-can" is indicative of the self-determination prescribed by the American Dream, little Jake's investment in the same belief ultimately leads to his unfortunate end and reflects the lived realities of a society mired in disillusion, corruption and shattered dreams.

For some the dark humor presented in the book will seem obnoxious and a bit self-indulgent. I would like to propose, however, that this humor has universal appeal and potentially serves as a point from which dialog around issues of vegetarianism and animal welfare can begin. Clearly, with only about 3 percent of citizens in this country embracing vegetarianism, the years of moral, ethical and (more recently) intellectual appeals have fallen short of proponents' utopian goals. Maybe it's humor, as morbid as it can sometimes appear, that provides a common ground for different sides to come together, not only to share a laugh but to also engage in productive conversations about environment, sustainability and fair business practices.

After all, if we are to put any stock in the vision of this country's new leadership, realizing and redefining the American Dream begins with thinking we can.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Episode Five: All Keyed Up

Whew. Finally back on track! Thanks to everyone who stuck with the HFRA during our relocation and thanks to everyone checking out the new episode. This week's theme is all about the keyboards: Hammonds, Moogs, pianos, synthesizers, and all the rest. Here's the lineup:

Salem Mass- "Witch Burning" Harmonia- "Watussi" Current 93- "The Nylon Lion Attacks as Kingdom" Heldon- "ICS Machinque" Black Mountain- "Evil Ways" Barney Wilen- "Dear Professor Leary" Atilla- "California Flash" The Ghost- "When You're Dead" The Monks- "Monk Time" Goblin- "Profondo Rosso" Tim Blake- "Midnight" Walter Carlos- "Switched on Bach" Zombi- "Spirit Warrior" Farflung- "R-Complex" Jane- "Daytime" Egg- "Fugue in D Minor" The Vertigo Swirl- "Welcome to my Carnival" John Cale & Terry Reilly- "Church of Anthrax" Les Maledictus Sound- "Radio Pirate Program"

I think it's a pretty good balance of both new and old material. Atilla features a young Billy Joel on fuzzed-out organ and is totally worth checking out. I'm seeking ideas for a new episode theme. Suggestions are welcome.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Photo Show

Hey all. If you're in the Humboldt area on Friday, April 10th, Sarah Spears and I will be presenting some of our photo work in Arcata at the grand opening celebration for Missing Link Records. Sarah has been showing her work for some years now, but this is my first attempt to show off some photos. In other words, I'm pretty nervous.

Your support for both the store and us would be greatly appreciated. It's all part of Arcata's monthly Arts! Alive event that features local artists and musicians presenting and performing in dozens of downtown businesses from 6-9PM.

Back on the Air!!!

The Humboldt Free Radio Alliance is back on the air! That's 99.9 FM in the Arcata, CA area. Thanks to a generous new landlord and lots of hard working pirates, regular programming is returning to normal. The afternoon newscasts will be down for a couple of more weeks as an Internet connection is still needed, but the Tuesday through Sunday shows are getting back in action immediately. Psych Out! podcasts will start again this coming Thursday.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Future is Unwritten Fest

Announcing this Spring’s The Future is Unwritten Lineup
Chapters 5, 6, and 7 to be held March 20, 21, and 22, 2009

HUMBOLDT COUNTY, CA – Along with the promises of spring also arrives the latest installment of The Future is Unwritten, Humboldt County’s quickly expanding psych-rock festival. Intended by the organizers to be held on the weekend of each seasonal equinox, the fest is heading into its third season of its inaugural year. Past installments of the festival, which have included acts such as Nebula, Mammatus, and White Manna, have been quite successful, allowing organizers to continue their endeavor and broaden their scope, both musically and geographically, of psychedelic and psychedelic-influenced artists.

The March schedule features bands familiar to the local scene, including Arcata’s The Little Still Not Big Enough and Nipplepotamus. And like last fall’s festival weekend, organizers looked up and down the West Coast to attract music and welcome Portland’s Plants, Seattle’s Wah Wah Exit Wound, Olympia’s Nudity, and Los Angeles’s Farflung to the fold. Also performing over the course of the weekend will be Germany’s Samsara Blues Experiment, the festival’s first international recruit.

Details of the shows are as follows:

Chapter Five of this year's festival will be written Friday, March 20 at Big Pete's Pizzeria on G Street in Arcata with local indie-psych-poppers The Little Still not Big Enough and the psych-folk sounds of Plants starting off the weekend with a special all ages performance. The Little Still not Big Enough has been impressing audiences of late and are said to be planning some “psych-fest surprises.” Plants, who are known “to explore delicate acid-folk terrain,” will certainly be bringing a welcome laid-back and dreamy atmosphere to an otherwise rocking festival. Organizers maintain that making live music accessible to listeners of all ages is important to the fest's continued success and to Humboldt's music scene in general. Big Pete's vested interest in providing live music for all of his patrons is appreciated. Those over 21 need not despair, for beer will still be served with proper identification. Pizza will be available to all. The door will be $5, with music starting shortly after 10pm.

Chapter Six
of the festival will take place Saturday, March 21 at the Alibi in Arcata with Nipplepotamus and Wah Wah Exit Wound. Nipplepotamus hails from right here in Arcata, and while their indie-punk sound may not necessarily reveal anything overtly psychedelic, their experimental side certainly does. The band’s live performance has received a great deal of local attention that is about to spring them out of Humboldt County. Wah Wah Exit Wound, whose wandering, trippy, psych-influenced prog will highlight the evening, are making a welcome return to Arcata and will certainly wish to channel the good vibes left behind from their previous performances. The group is on the verge of releasing a new album, one that may be ready in time for the show. Cover for this show will be $5. It is a 21+ event, with doors opening at 10:30pm and music starting shortly after 11pm.

Chapter Seven
brings the festival to Aunty Mo's in Eureka on Sunday, March 22 and will feature Samsara Blues Experiment, Nudity, and Farflung. Samsara Blues Experiment hail from Berlin, Germany and is the festival’s first international recruit. Initially contacted on a whim late last year by festival organizers, the band has found themselves set up with their first West Coast tour. Thanks to an aggressive free demo download Samsara offered through their MySpace page, the band is receiving some well-deserved international attention. Their stoned-out mystical jamming will certainly please psych fans of all types. Nudity are no strangers to the local scene, as they have recently passed through the area a number of times with their kraut-inspired psychedelia. Bass player Jon "Quitty" Quittner is familiar with the local music scene, as he was once a member of former Humboldt punkers Brents TV. Topping off the evening is Farflung, veterans of the United States space rock scene (if such a scene even exists). Farflung’s supersonic Hawkwind-like attack is clearly a sound ripe for the stage and makes this evening a must-see event. The band’s 2008 album A Wound in Eternity made several “best of” lists last year. The show is a 21+ affair and will be $7. Doors open at 9pm with bands beginning at 10pm.

Festival organizers intend to present one chapter of The Future is Unwritten again in June of 2009 and will set right to work on putting together a massive weekend of shows for October’s autumnal equinox. If you need more information about The Future is Unwritten, please contact You can also visit them here.

Humboldt Free Radio Alliance Off Air

The Humboldt Free Radio Alliance (99.9 FM in Arcata, California) is indefinitely off the air right now. There was a fire in the house in which the studio was located, leaving both the tenants and the station looking for new homes. The tenants, although emotionally turmoiled, are fine, as are station members present at the time of the blaze. The HFRA is working hard to find a new broadcast spot and hopes to be back on the air within a couple of weeks. If you feel that you can spare a few dollars to help the HFRA right its course, follow this link.

Thanks to all local supporters, as well as those who have been following the station via podcasts. Pirate radio will be back!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Episode Four: In Three or Less

This week's episode is made up of songs clocking in at three minutes or less, thus the episode title. Here's the playlist:

Chocolate Watchband- "Let's Talk About Girls"
The Monks- "Higgle-Dy Piggle-Dy"
Brothers Unlimited- "What We Need is Harmony"
Black Merda- "Cynthy Ruth (alt take)"
Sonics- "The Witch"
Dennis Coffey-"Big City Funk"
White Hills- "Coming for You"
Amon Duul II "Chewing Gum Telegram"
Pink Floyd- "See Emily Play"
Goblin- "Death Dies"
The Invaders- "Look a Py Py"
The Barbarians- "Are you a Boy or are you a Girl?"
MC5- "Kick out the Jams"
Nazz- "Open my Eyes"
The Shadows of Night- "Oh Yeah"
Comets on Fire- "Holy Teeth"
Wellwater Conspiracy- "Shel Talmy"
Chubby Checker- "Ballad of Jimi"
The Pretty Things- "Oh Baby Doll"
Captain Beefheart- "Abba Zabba"
Strawberry Alarm Clock- "Nightmare of Percussion"
The Leaves- "Hey Joe"
The Hombres- "Let it Out"
The Velvet Underground- "Sunday Morning"
The Electric Prunes- "Hideaway"
Randy California- "Walkin the Dog"
Fields- "Take you Home"
Sir Lord Baltimore- "Ain't got Hung on You"
Hawkwind- "Motorhead"
Fifty Foot Hose- "Red the Sign Post"
Socrates Drank the Conium- "Lovesick Kids Blues"
Thirteenth Floor Elevators- "You're Gonna Miss Me"
The Seeds- "Pushing too Hard"
The Gestures- "Run, Run, Run"
Comus- "In the Lost Queen's Eyes"
Charlie and Esdor- "Kan Du Hitta En Vag"