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Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


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   Curious Digit at the Tokyo Rose in Charlottesville, Virginia
Friday, February 21 1997

Insightful thing to say today: I may be a backstabbing gossip but many of my subtle social behaviours seem to be geared specifically toward forging unity among disparate groups of my friends and acquaintances.

The chatting lst night in Sam 'n' Ellas left me pondering some things about the nature of social groups. Is Sam 'n' Ellas a social group? It seems to be one. It's more to me now than just blixa. Like a physical place, the actual people present depend upon the time of day, with a much more mature, intellectual and poetic crowd at night than during the day. During the night, we talk about graphic design, art, philosophy and interesting events and issues in our lives, while during the day it's more or less just people trying to out-punk one another by name-dropping obscure bands. I've come to know the individuals of the night crowd, while I only know a few of the day people. And I find myself relating to blixa almost exactly as I used to in real life, only without quite the restraint I used to excercise. I'm more myself around blixa than I felt safe to be with blixa in the room.

Another issue of social groups and my interactions with them is being brought to a head by my interactions with, on the one hand, my housemates (who I like and respect and am puzzled by) and, on the other hand, the goths (who I also like and respect and am puzzled by). I find myself being drawn more heavily towards the goths just now. This puzzles me, since it is difficult to imagine how they can possibly offer me as much, at this stage in my life, as my housemates can. It just seems that, despite the obvious pose of their gothdom, the goths are more "for-real" in a way. In their tragic and failed lives I see more honesty. I also see more permanence. I have this insecurity that keeps me wondering if any of my housemates would bother to cross the street to talk to me if they didn't live with me.

I awoke at 12:30pm and went with Elizabeth to Plan 9 to get Curious Digit tickets. They're playing tonight at the Tokyo Rose, see. While there, I bought three used CDs: Pantera's Great Southern Trendkill (1996) and Ministry's The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste (1989) for $6 each, and Dead Can Dance's Into the Labyrinth (1993) for $8. Three CDs is not a usual number to purchase in one day. But you know, I didn't want someone else to snap these up. They were all scores to use the common vernacular. You'll note that two of these CDs have a distinctly goth flavour (Ministry and DCD). That must be the result of pro-goth alignment of the stars in my life this time of year, since I've been continuously looking for both Ministry and DCD since I began buying CDs in the Fall. It's the only goth music (aside from Joy Division, which I also seek) that I really know. I like a little of the less poppy Cure, but I can't see myself buying a CD. By the way, I hate Siouxsie and the Banshees.

My appreciation for the three bands whose CDs I bought today comes from three entirely different sources. I first heard Ministry in Oberlin in Jeff Brecko's dorm room in 1991 and thought they were pretty good, though at the time the machine-like monotony of their sound was a little strange for me. But subsequently, I found myself liking all the Ministry I heard. I would venture to say that Metallica gets most of the credit for preparing me for an appreciation of Ministry. Pantera, on the other hand, was introduced to me by my redneck friend, Josh Furr in 1990. I liked Pantera immediately since I was a big fan of Metallica at the time, and the two bands sound similar. Finally, my first Charlottesville friend, John Zawacki, introduced me to Dead Can Dance in the fall of 1994, to the very album I bought today. I recall being amazed to hear a "pop band" borrowing so much from Arabic Music. In the end, Dead Can Dance has proven to be my most reliable source of non-cheesy Arabesque music (if you are a fan of my musings, you know I have bought real Arabic pop in the recent past and been sorely disappointed both times). Comments about the CDs bought today:

  • Some of the songs on Into the Labyrinth have the sublimely understated beautiful quality of undiscovered Christmas songs, as "Silent Night" must have struck us when we were children and the whole world was new.
    DCD's Into the Labyrinth has a recurring Arabesque sound, but it also veers through Celtic, sub-Saharan African and Indian musics, all without the failings attending other "world music" projects (such as those by Peter Gabriel and Paul Simon). There isn't the somewhat patronizing attitude or even parasitism evident in Simon's Graceland, for example. Instead it seems as though DCD's music was created fresh and new, as if in a dream, through the weird filters and juxtapositions that occur in the irrational mind. It's a strange hybrid that is greater than the sum of its parts. By the way, housemate Elizabeth and most of the goths do not like the songs sung by DCD's male vocalist, Brendan Perry. I suppose they take him to sound like a Las Vegas lounge singer. I disagree. I think his sound contributes perfectly to the songs he sings. I was perhaps prepared for his slow and sad anthems by my intense love for early Moody Blues and Pink Floyd when I was a young teenager. All of us: Elizabeth, the goths and I, think that Lisa Gerrard, the female vocalist, is a wonderful original creature. She can sing the songs of our dreams like no one else. Some of the songs on Into the Labyrinth have the sublimely understated beautiful quality of undiscovered Christmas songs, as "Silent Night" must have struck us when we were children and the whole world was new.

  • Ministry's The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste still retains some of an 80s quality to it. Parts of it remind me of PiL. Listen to track 4: "Cannibal Song"; it's beautiful and dark, right down to the samples of the caws of bluejays, and could pass for a PiL song. A few bands benefit enormously from their 80s sensibilities, and Ministry is one of them. I prefer this CD to Filth Pig, my other Ministry CD.

  • For some reason I received two copies of the same Pantera disc, Great Southern Trendkill with today's purchase. There were both together in one box. One disc is coloured differently than the other. I figure I can keep one copy at Comet so I can always have some heavy fucking metal wherever I am. It's a good album, and lacks all evidence of the cheese from Pantera's early days. Pantera is one of the few bands that has somehow managed to stay current in all phases of metal.

After some work at Cocke Hall, I rode my bike to the Downtown Mall and drank coffee in the Mudhouse. A French girl who could speak essentially no English was having a drama getting her cigarette lit out in the front. I tried to be of assistance with marginal luck. I was just getting her name straight when her American friends dragged her away. Housemate John had appeared on the scene by this point.

I bought a 750 mL bottle of vodka at the Main Street ABC Store and went back to my house via Wertland Street.

As I passed the little store on 10th near the Wertland Corner, one of a group of three afro-adolescents shouted something obnoxious at me. So I told them to fuck off. All three of them came charging at me, but I quickly outdistanced them as I climbed the hill up Wertland. They shouted to me something to the effect that I was a wimp for not standing and fighting them...all three of them! I went around the block and made it home the back way, trembling a bit from the experience. Later, John, Ches and Ansley were walking on Wertland when one of these young hoodlums ran up and punched John in the eye, ran away, hurled a bottle, and began shouting tough talk in fluid but unintelligible Ebonics. In the subconscious of these misguided youths they must really believe that the intents, memories and thoughts dwelling in the mind of one white man must dwell in the minds of all white men. It's similar to the proven psycho-developmental phenomenon in which young children believe that all people in the world are thinking what they are thinking. But ignorant of what had happened to me, such focused venom was all a big puzzle to John. And Ches couldn't help himself, he'd begun to laugh. Meanwhile I was careful to keep off the Dynashack porch as the little fucks walked by. The air had become hot in anticipation of a downpour. It felt like summer time.

A man should have the right to travel the streets of his city in safety.
Soon police cars, paddy wagons and even officers on foot were crawling all over the east end of Wertland, apparently to crack down on the teenage miscreants whose mammas didn't raise 'em right. I kept mum about my role in aggravating the conditions that brought all of this about. I didn't feel like discussing it. A man should have the right to travel the streets of his city in safety.

My goth friends: Theresa, Monster Boy and Cecelia the Brazilian Girl, all showed up quite suddenly, along with Charlottesville personality Seth Aleka and a friend he shares with housemate Andrew: Ian; recently freed from prison in the Carolinas after having served months of sentence on a drug charge. The goth kids told me that the priceless video shot during the fairly drunken pre-violence phase of my birthday had mysteriously "vanished" and that Persad was looking for it so it could be destroyed. This was depressing news. Elizabeth and other housemates (but not Steve) came and hung out with me and the goths, and for awhile two bowls of pot were passed around; one with goth weed and the other with housemate weed. It amounted to a ritual of peace between the two factions of my social life.

I was playing Dead Can Dance when the goths arrived, and since they share a liking for DCD with Elizabeth, there was a certain amount common ground available for exploration.

But I could only be so goth tonight. I had a Curious Digit ticket in my pocket. And Curious Digit might be lots of things: sad, atonal, cool, even kind of emo (they wear spectacles). But they are certainly not gothic. So as quickly as they'd arrived, suddenly the goths all vanished, led away by the lightening fast decision making of Theresa. Cecelia turned back for a moment, having forgotten what I was to do tonight, but then she too had vanished into the warm February night.

After much drinking and even more deliberation, my housemates, friends of the house and I all set out for the Tokyo Rose for an evening of atonal music. I rode in tall blond Katherine's DeGood's car, with Deeohji the Alsatian, Will. Steve drove, sometimes little like a maniac. But nothing like Jesse.

The first band was a nice little folksy bluegrass outfit. Not what I came for, but there it was. The turnout picked up some when Drunk, a Richmond band, played. They had conventional rock and roll instruments along with an accordion or a trombone. I really rather liked Drunk. They played slow melancholy tunes in arbitrary fucked-up keys. It was beautiful. I kept thinking though that they reminded me of the Grateful Dead. I'm not a fan of the Dead and never was, and I'm sure Drunk would be insulted to be compared to that most hippie of bands. But still, the music had much of that Grateful Dead quality, with none of the cliché but with more of a darker underlying "energy." I had an idea that if there ever is going to be a revival of the Dead as a "cool band" it will be bands like Drunk that will bring it about.

Tad the well-known Charlottesville personality was one of many weirdoes present at the Tokyo Rose. Unfortunately, I was one of the few people he knew there and I had to constantly keep track of where he was in order to avoid having to have an endless boring conversation with him. But Tad is easy to track in a big room; he sticks up above the rest with his long wavy hair fluffing off his half-bald head. As is usual with Tad though, he did provide me with valuable information. It seems he'd just been with the goths and seen the videotape of the drunken part of my birthday over at Seth Alecka's apartment (above Little John's on the Corner). Either the goths had been lying when they told me the videotape had been lost, or else it had just been found. The possibilities attending this news left me feeling uneasy.

In my drunkeness I entertained an erotic fantasy of taking advantage of her situation
Erin the Wahoo with an Eyebrow Thing was there, eyebrow thing and all. I haven't seen her in a long time. She was rather friendly and complained to me about some guy who's been dicking her around. Ho hum, some things never change. In my drunkeness I entertained an erotic fantasy of selfishly taking advantage of her situation, but despite my crippled mind, I did nothing so foolish.

I had actually become rather shy, reserved, a little paranoid and even depressed. I was sipping vodka from a smuggled-in jar, but drunkeness did not help me. I felt kind of lonely; I missed my Big Fun crowd and the out-of-control goth kids. You need Big Funsters to hang with you when you're at the Tokyo Rose. Maybe my emotional state also resulted in part from Drunk's sad tunes. Curious Digit definitely did not help my FEELINGS. They tended to play fairly slowly and sadly. Still, their choices of notes were so unexpected and perfectly engineered that they were fascinating to listen to. They really made a mistake though when they opened with a Rolling Stones cover. I kept hearing that song as a strong influence in all the subsequent songs they played, and it took away from the experience. Another thing that sucked was the arrogance of some of the audience members, who, get this, sat in front of the stage while others stood around them. Some fools sat there for the whole show, all three bands. It was an embarrassment. My housemates and I did what we could to wall the squatters off from the stage by forming a row of standing people directly in front of the stage. But still the squatters persisted. I spilled a little beer on them and through bits of paper cups on them while Elizabeth dropped a cigarette on them "accidentally." I even popped a cup explosively by stomping it next to a couple of squatters arrogantly nuzzling each other whilst sitting on their asses near the ideal center of the audience. Nothing made the squatters budge until Curious Digit's show ended. But everyone stood for the two encores...

Katherine DeGood seemed to be sharing in my melancholy; that makes me think that the music contributed to the enui. It could have been worse; Deeohji spent the entire show out in the car.

My conclusion after my last two Tokyo Rose experiences is that the place is no fun when you're not trashed, when you aren't attended by all your out-of-control friends, and when you don't sneak in. Sadly, it also seems that my housemates are not ones to accompany to shows of this sort.

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