Monday, October 09, 2006

The Underthings debut.

Finally Andy, Kris and Sam from the Spitoons decided to debut the new version of their band last Friday, September 6th. The Spittoons were great because they're all seasoned players and the nicest bunch of goofballs you'll ever meet. They played only covers but with a super fun spirit and just the right amount of finnesse. They began in the quintessential 60's garage band paradigm - playing hits - the early repertoire included Tossin' and Turnin' next to numbers by The Who, The Kinks and (slightly anachronistic with the rest of the material) The Ramones, etc. Apparently years of listening to CBS Oldies rubbed off on 'em. As gigs became more frequent song selections became more obscure. They added one of my all time favorites, Shake a Tail Feather by the Five Dutones as well as The Who's Circles - although thank goodness their version was based on Fleur De Ly's superior arrangement and performance. Now they've added Brett Wilder on bass, Sam has switched to second guitar and they're doing 95% originals under the moniker The Underthings . Brett was in The Vacant Lot but I know him mostly from when he worked at the junk store on 9th st which is now the home of Academy Records. At one point the junk store, I can't remember the name of the colorful character who owned it but I recall him smoking cigars and being married to the singer of the Trick Babies at the time - anyway, he had bought a whole mess of video cassettes from some Chinese guy. It was junk heaven for me because, while they were litterally beat up and some of them dirt encrusted, these cassettes contained obscure kung fu films: Enter the Fat Dragon, Mantis Fists and Tiger Claws of Shaolin , Roving Swordsman, and so forth. And he was selling them for a dollar a pop. I often bought them from Brett who was always super nice, friendly and fun to talk to. Low and behold some eleven years later Brett resurfaces in front of me on stage next to Andy, Kris and Sam...The show was at Cakeshop. It's a nice cozy basement space underneath a hipster cafe and an ever diminishing record store in the rear. The downstairs bar is beer, wine & sake only. I saw Dave the Spazz and Victoria, we talked a bit 'bout the upcoming Norton anniversary on his radio show, then I made a bee line for some inexpensive sake (turns out they serve the standard yet reliable Ozeki). I’m sippin sake, standing at the end of the bar, near the stage, when an attractive young woman taps me on the shoulder. I thought she wanted me to move because I was in her view path but then I realized it was J.K. saying hi. J.K. plays with Kris in the brilliantly retarded garage punk outfit The Plungers, one of the best bands in town (led by the brilliantly retarded Masayo). I down my carafe of sake and the Underthings take the stage with such laid back ease, then break into their first number. Genius – it’s power pop with just enough edge to keep it in garage territory. To be continued...

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Shogun Assassin DVD

For over a year now I've been writing on film for Brooklyn Rail , a local arts monthly. So far I've written on such topics as Pinky Violence , Spaghetti Westerns , Film Noir , and Asian Films . Below is an excerpt from my Shogun Assassin DVD review that's current at the time of this blog post:

Shogun Assassin (AnimEigo)
In 1980 a couple of enterprising American filmmakers purchased rights to the first two films of the excessively violent Lone Wolf and Cub samurai series—a chronicle of a shogun’s executioner who, framed by his megalomaniacal boss, is on the run with his infant son in a baby cart equipped with secret weapons. The filmmakers, David Weisman (director of the Edie Sedgwick vehicle Ciao Manhattan) and Robert Houston, edited together all the super-violent parts (dismemberments, decapitations, naked female ninja, etc.), rewrote the script around their new edit, and brought in a then unknown Sandra Bernhard to dub all the female parts (for a flat $200 fee), plus Mark Lindsay from Paul Revere and the Raiders to provide the soundtrack. The poster and logo designer’s son did a voiceover as the kid, adding narration to hold together the patchwork story. The result, Shogun Assassin, was a big cult hit for Roger Corman’s New World and is an ultimate example of violent, mind-bending movie-making, a postmodern artifact that foretold the future of exploitation and world cinema...

That's me seizing the photo op with director Isshin Inudo.

Hi. I'm just getting my feet wet in the blog pool here. Let this photo serve as my profile identification for the time being. I'm looking to post lots of info on indie films, exploitation movies, obscure rock and soul music and so forth. Please bear with me while i get this up to speed.