Will This Work for Deadheads, Too?
What's more fun than picking on boy bands? Hippies, of course! When someone going by the user name "Youneedmorecowbell" listed a bar of Dial soap for bid on eBay in protest to the smelly crowds of fans that bands like Phish attract, he/she probably didn't expect to receive the amount of attention that their listing ended up with. Or perhaps they did. Listed under the title "Of interest to Phish phans...Dial Soap," after six hours the innocuous looking bar of soap had received almost 1,200 hits, and after the auction ended on August 27 it had received over 34,000.
The description went, in part: "This is soap. Many Phish fans know this, but many don't. Use it to take away that nasty BO that all the patchouli in the world can't hide. I can't go to shows anymore simply because many of the phans smell so bad. It is OK to be a fan, but shower every once in a while. Bathe in a stream. Make the shows more tolerable for the clean, non-smelly people. The bar of soap is Dial Anti-Bacterial. It is not in mint condition, but it is new and fully functional. $2 shipping or $3.85 if you need priority."
As evidenced by the numbers the auction gathered, Youneedmorecowbell's listing spread quickly across the Internet and was posted everywhere from industry bulletin boards to jam band mailing lists. While there were some knee-jerk replies to the listing by fans of the band decrying Youneedmorecowbell's sense of humor (it's called "irony" folks), most got the joke, with one person writing, "Will this work for Deadheads, too?"
The winning bid after tens of thousands viewed the item: $10.50.
Speaking of cowbell (which we weren't, really), we here at eP are fairly certain that Youneedmorecowbell's moniker came from this skit on Saturday Night Live. God bless Christopher Walken, Patron Saint of the Cowbell.
TSOL Frontman Running for Governor
Someone else known for their keen sense of irony, Jack Grisham -- vocalist for eP old school faves True Sounds of Liberty -- announced in late July in a move intended to not be ironic that he was running for Governor of California as an independent in the October 7 recall election that would decide if incumbent Gray Davis would remain in power and, if not, who would replace him. "The fact that I play music has nothing to do with this. I'm willing to give that all up to take this job. This really matters, it's not a joke."
A laborer by day when not singing for the seminal Orange County punk band, Grisham wants to center his campaign on health care reform and community volunteerism. "I just got tired of seeing people hurt. [...] I got three sisters who are teachers, two brothers who are police officers, a bunch of friends who are labor workers, dock workers. I work with undocumented alien immigrants all the time and I got tired seeing what they go through and no one caring. And they put this new budget out and the first thing they slash is health care and the first thing they start screwing is the people. [...] Since the end of 1988, I've lost 80-something friends to drugs and alcohol abuse. I've been arrested. When was the last time a politician spent the night in jail? All jails create are more animals."
As the vast majority of working musicians are uninsured, Grisham knows first hand what he's campaigning for and is certain to have a reasonably sensible approach to dealing with related issues. As for his ability to tackle the state's $38 billion deficit (which landed Gray Davis in the gallows to begin with), that remains to be seen. But considering that Arnold Schwarzenegger's approach to the problem is to only make less-than-witty Terminator one-liners about knocking heads together, Grisham couldn't do much worse no matter what his methods might be. G'luck, Jack!
Jacko Opens Neverland
In other California budgetary news, Michael Jackson announced that he would open his Neverland theme-park-slash-home to the public for one day on September 13 for the low, low price of $5,000 a ticket. 250 lucky fuckers will be able to enjoy the property's zoo, amusement park, arcade and movie theater. Jackson says he plans to donate $1000 from each ticket to charity, implying -- without specifically stating -- that the other $4000 per ticket would go to another "charity": his pocket. The move is seen by many as a means for Jackson to sell Neverland, which he is having difficulty maintaining, and to help offset the costs of recent court cases Jackson has been involved in. No word if Jackson will be appearing in his Spiderman outfit and offering limo rides to Taco Bell for take out.
Ted Nugent Sues Michigan City
It's been a long damn time since Ted "KooKoo for Cocoa Puffs" Nugent has made the news, leaving it up to Jacko to fill in for the Motor City Rocker (which he's done an admirable job of). But the Nuge is back in the form of a lawsuit against the city of Muskegon, Michigan, who pulled the plug on a Nugent concert scheduled for June 30 after Nugent made some less-than-stellar racial comments during a guest appearance on Detroit's WWBR radio station (a station where Nugent also hosts his own program), where he used the words "g--ks" and "n-----s" while trying to make a statement that words such as those shouldn't offend people, citing Richard Pryor's use of the latter term as part of Pryor's comedy routine.
In a statement Nugent said, "In a world of political correctness, there is no more reputation-destroying term than racist. And the alleged statements falsely attributed to me could not have been more inaccurate or misleading, completely counter to what I stand for." In the lawsuit Nugent claims that the June 30 cancellation because of accusations of racism has damaged his reputation and career, and named in the suit are, among others, Muskegon Mayor Stephen Warmington, City Manager Bryon Mazade, and Meridian Entertainment.
Hey, Ted. First: you have no career. Look where the fuck you've been playing the last 20 years. Second: Leave those jokes to Richard Pryor or Chris Rock, m'kay? You're not black, you're not a comedian, you're by no means a socio-political barometer of the current state of racial affairs, and you're only funny when you have a guitar strapped on and an Indian headdress on your noggin'... only because you look like an ass. And then, only from a distance. A very long distance. Didn't your hubbub about banning Canada teach you anything? Thanks, buddy.
DKs Invite Biafra to Play
In yet other amazingly stupid news, the remaining members of the Dead Kennedys (alternately billing themselves as the DKs) invited former singer Jello Biafra (Eric Boucher) to rejoin the band for an August performance in Los Angeles to celebrate the Dead Kennedys' 25th anniversary. "We are absolutely serious in asking Jello to rejoin the band on our anniversary," said bassist Klaus Flouride (Geoffrey Lyall). "We'd love it, and I think the fans would love it, if we could just bury the hatchet."
"This isn't about nostalgia," furthered guitarist East Bay Ray (Ray Pepperell). "Maybe we could settle our differences and play together while we are all still able to do so."
And Biafra's response? "What's the matter, not enough Hot Topic bozo teens flocking to stuff cash in their bikinis? Are they having that much trouble selling tickets to a bar that holds less than 600 people? [...] If they really want to, 'bury the hatchet,' why won't they stop suing me? They have been dragging me through court for almost six years now, and have refused attempts to compromise and settle."
For those not in the know, Flouride, East Bay Ray and drummer DH Peligro (Darren Henley) sued Biafra several years ago for not promoting the band's back catalog, and for failing to pay back-royalties. Biafra ended up losing the initial case when a jury voted to award damages against him in excess of $200,000, and the legal circus continues.
Last year Flouride, Ray and Peligro enlisted Brandon Cruz as a vocalist and toured as the DKs (with rumor having it that they used promotion materials containing Biafra's image), playing classic Dead Kennedys songs to spotty reviews and even fewer people. Cruz recently quit the band and was replaced by Jeff Penalty. "I feel sorry for anyone duped into paying top dollar for a ticket because they heard, 'I might be there,'" said Biafra. "But I hardly think I'm 'letting fans down' by refusing to be part of a nostalgia scam."
Singapore Names Orchid after Ricky Martin
And in other spotty news, the Singapore Board of Tourism announced that they have named a yellow orchid (speckled with crimson spots) after Ricky Martin. "Hello, sexy. How are you?" said Martin to the flower during the naming ceremony at Singapore's Botanical Gardens. "You're supposed to talk to your plants, right?"
It was announced shortly thereafter that another sign of the apocalypse had been officially sighted.
Know Your Beatles
Further proving the effectiveness of the war on terrorism, six Brazilian nationals were kicked out of the UK and sent packing back home by British immigration officials after they failed an impromptu quiz on Beatles trivia. Wha...? You see, the six were part of a larger group of 72 Brazilians traveling to the Mathew Street Festival in Liverpool (a festival which celebrates all things Fab Four) when Portuguese-speaking immigration authorities at Heathrow airport decided to toss a couple of questions at them to test their mop top acumen.
Sadly, the six could not tell authorities who Yoko Ono was, mistakenly thought Ringo Starr was dead (hey, who doesn't?), and struggled with the names of various songs. "The way we were all treated was ridiculous and upsetting," said Fabiana Carvalho, one of the trip organizers. "The six people not allowed into the country were young students and working people. I know their parents. They were tourists, not illegal immigrants. They could not speak English and were nervous, tired and stressed. The men at the airport just looked at our faces and decided we should not be in the country."
"They played songs and asked us to name them," Carvalho furthered. "They actually made people sing Beatles songs. Some of the young people don't know that much about the Beatles. They are here to see the Brazilian bands and to travel."
Failing the impromptu quiz, immigration authorities barred the six from entering the country and promptly sent them back home, a 5,700 mile journey. "Anyone trying to enter the country must satisfy officers that they meet immigration rules," said a spokeswoman for UK's Home Office. "We can't discuss individual cases but anyone trying to enter the country must satisfy officers that they meet immigration rules. If they say they are here for a particular event, officers will check this is really the case."
And that, dear readers, is how we're winning the war on terrorism: one Beatles song at a time.
Great White Escape Charges
As the criminal investigation continues into the nightclub fire at the Station club in West Warick, Rhode Island, defense attorneys have hinted that '80s hair metal band Great White will most likely not be held liable for the inferno which killed 100 people, and was caused by the use of the band's pyrotechnics. Even though the criminal proceedings of the grand jury are secret, attorneys say it appears that while frontman Jack Russell approved the use of the pyrotechnics, he was not responsible for setting them up or igniting them. "I don't believe the facts will establish the necessary recklessness or criminal intent to support an indictment," said Neil Philbin, Russell's attorney.
With proceedings wrapping up in September and indictments most likely to be handed down in October, it does appear, however, that Great White's road manager, Daniel Biechele, and Station owners Jeffrey and Michael Derderian will be indicted on involuntary manslaughter charges as a result of negligence shown by the fact that the Derderian brothers used flammable foam insulation for soundproofing the stage. [When the pyro was lit up, it ignited the highly flammable foam insulation, instantly causing a massive fire that left little time for the over-capacity crowd to safely exit.] Jeffrey Derderian's attorney claims his client is innocent. "I don't think the evidence is there to support a criminal charge. I'm not sure [that is] a criminal matter. That might be a civil matter with the distributor of the foam. But I don't think using foam is criminal."
Biechele's negligence is a result of him shooting off the pyrotechnics without having the required permits from both the West Warick Fire Department and the state fire marshal.
Ticketmaster Sued for Anti-Trust Violations
Nu-hippie favorites String Cheese Incident, along with its ticketing company, SCI Ticketing, filed lawsuit in a US Federal Court in Denver, Colorado, against Ticketmaster, claiming the ticketing ogre has monopolized the industry and unfairly prevents fair competition for ticket sales, among other charges. Owned by String Cheese Incident and the band's management company, Madison House Inc., SCI Ticketing claims that they have "literally hit the wall in terms of being able to sell tickets directly to fans because of Ticketmaster's anti-competitive practices," according to attorney Neil Glazer. "Our client has carved out a truly unique and successful way to do business. Unfortunately, they simply cannot compete because Ticketmaster is restricting the supply of concert tickets."
The antitrust violations alleged in the suit include Ticketmaster monopolizing, or attempting to monopolize, the market for ticket sales, as well as entering into agreements with promoters and venues to restrain competitive trade -- claims that violate the Sherman Antitrust Act.
While Earpollution doesn't particularly care for the music of String Cheese Incident (many of whose fans are the same ones in desperate need of the bar of Dial soap mentioned previously), we unequivocally support their actions against Ticketmaster and hope that justice prevails in their favor -- a judgment that would benefit us all.
University Starts Student Run Label
Philadelphia's Drexel University has started its own student-run label, called MAD Dragon Records, as part of the University's music industry program. Students pursuing a Music Industry degree from the University's College of Media Arts (where the an acronym "MAD" comes from) will meet course requirements by working at the label, which will handle everything from A&R, marketing, recording, production, and distribution. Musicians who record for MAD Dragon -- also students -- will see royalties from sales, performances, and licensing.
Funded by $250,000 from the University, Drexel's music program is only three years old and has grown from eight students to over 150. All the best to the program's current and future students. May you teach us all.
Rest in Peace Wesley Willis
Rest in peace Wesley Willis, who died in Chicago on August 21st as the result of heart failure. Willis was diagnosed in 2000 as having Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia, and on June 2nd had undergone emergency surgery to stop internal bleeding thought to be related to his leukemia. A diagnosed schizophrenic standing at six-foot-six and weighing 350 pounds, Willis used art and music to help quiet the demons in his head. His recording output was prodigious, releasing more than 50 albums, with a new Greatest Hits due out on Alternative Tentacles this fall. Willis also sold detailed drawings of Chicago street scenes done in felt-tip marker.
He was a well known fixture in the music scene probably best known for his habit of affectionately head-butting friends and fellow musicians. Those who knew Willis or were familiar with his music will testify to the energy, power, love, fear and naked emotional sincerity of his art. Whenever I would get down and felt beaten up by life, I could always throw on a Willis song like "Termites Ate My House Up" and instantly be cheered by his off-kilter voice and unabashed sincerity for making the obvious meaningful, and the every day sublime.
Jello Biafra summed up Willis best in a recent eulogy: "Wesley will go down as one of the most unique songwriters and entertainment personalities in history. His music, lyrics, drawings, insight and the way he put them together are like no one else. Ever. There will never be another. As I got to know Wes, what really struck me was his sheer will power, his unrelenting drive to succeed and over come his horrifically poor background, child abuse, racism, chronic schizophrenia and obesity among other things. He was the most courageous person I have ever known. Yet through it all he had such a deep, all-encompassing love of life. Little things, big things. He loved bus rides. He loved watching trains. He loved writing songs about how much he loved his friends. He loved traveling to new towns so he could head butt new friends. Is there any band he saw that escaped being in their own song about how much he loved their show? He was so warm, so sweet, so giving. He could be a handful when he came to visit; but as soon as he left, we'd miss him immediately."
Willis was 40.
Rock over London.
Rock on Chicago.
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