Saturday, June 12, 2010

DON’T YOU MISS THE 20TH CENTURY? (Saturday Special)

It’s been a hard week and I’m attempting to rest up a bit, but here are a couple of fun items that showed up in the last day or so. And also one that’s kinda serious.

"Published during the time of U.S. participation in the Korean War, Junior Books’ Atomic War! Speculated on the possibilities of World War III. Despite the series’ stated purpose to warn against the horrors of atomic warfare, it did just the opposite. In its stories, U.S. forces employing tactical and strategic nuclear weapons triumphed repeatedly over the Communists.” According to Scott Shaw at Oddball Comics: “This is one of many comics that reflected our national paranoia during the Cold War of the 1950s and early 1960s. The cover depicts the atomic destruction of Manhattan (note the crumbling Empire State and Chrysler Buildings.) Here's a quote from the issue's first story, "Sneak Attack." "Look upon the pictures of our giant cities hundred of years in the building, smashed by the atom-bomb, and say: this shall not come to pass! More than ever today, only a strong America can prevent this from becoming a reality!" (Lifted from )
Tune in tomorrow for another Atomic War! cover.

Click here for Chrissie

The secret word is Fallout


From the journal Psychiatry Research

"He presented impulsivity and difficulty controlling his anger and alternated between idealisation and devaluation (of his Jedi mentors). Permanently afraid of losing his wife, he made frantic efforts to avoid her abandonment and went as far as betraying his former Jedi companions. He also experienced two dissociative episodes secondary to stressful events. One occurred after his mother's death, when he exterminated a whole tribe of Tuskan people, while the other one took place just after he turned to the dark side. He slaughtered all the Jedi younglings before voicing paranoid thoughts concerning his former mentor and his wife. Finally, the films depicted his quest to find himself, and his uncertainties about who he was. Turning to the dark side and changing his name could be interpreted as a sign of identity disturbance." 

Click here for Eddie Izzard


Click here for the Flaming Groovies
Click here for the Stones

SPACE OPERA (While on the subject of Ol’ Darth)


Click here (or wait until Monday if you don’t want to be plunged into depression.)

Friday, June 11, 2010


Drug Abuse Resistance Education better know as D.A.R.E.. I used to see the fucking bumper stickers everywhere, but having little or no contact with school age kids, I didn’t know just how insidious its thought police tactics really were until I lifted this story from

“It must have been in 1987 or so. I was in 2nd grade. the D.A.R.E. officer was paying our class an educational visit. The officer told us of all the evils of drugs, especially marijuana. Weed seemed to be the main focus of the the officer's attention. He was using an overhead projector when he showed us various types of paraphernalia. "If you see a pipe like this, or a clear baggy with this green plant in it, it's marijuana," the officer told us. "If you've seen this before, you should let me know right away so I can make sure no one gets in any trouble," we were told. Then came the next slide, a photo of a marijuana plant. The officer explained to the classroom full of seven year olds, that this was a pesky weed. In fact, usually it just grows wild, with most people never realizing that this highly illegal plant is growing on their property. He asked us if any of us recognized the plant. One boy did, Daniel. When pressed, though, Danny seemed to regret piping up. The cop told him "If you have one of these plants, I need to know so that we can get it out of there before anyone gets in trouble. If there's one in your yard, and you tell us, we'll just remove it and no one will be in any trouble, but if we find it on our own, everyone goes to jail." That's when Danny told the officer about the plants like that in his back yard. That was the last time I ever saw Daniel. A few days later I overheard my parents discussing how his parents had been arrested for growing pot. Now I am 30. I have a son about to turn 10. We have had the "D.A.R.E. talk." Basically, this is the talk explaining to him that what Daddy does at home is Daddy's business, never tell anyone. Now, usually the cops shoot for the 7-8 year old kids so they can get the info before the parents have had time to properly educate their kids about police deception. Teach your kids that the D.A.R.E. officer is not their friend, and that he will lie to you. Tell them this story, like I did. "Don't be a Daniel," I told my son.”

Click here for Uncle Bill

Click here for Uncle Frank

The secret word is Snitch


Sure you would. Just click here.

“This piece explores the 'photocopy effect', where upon repeated copies the object begin to accumulate the idiosyncrasies of the medium doing the copying. Full words: I am sitting in a room different from the one you are in now. I am recording the sound of my speaking voice as well as the image of myself, and I am going to upload it to YouTube, rip it from YouTube, and upload it again and again, until the original characteristics of both my voice and my image are destroyed. What you will see and hear, then, are the artifacts inherent in the video codec of both YouTube and the mp4 format I convert it to on my computer. I regard this activity not so much as a demonstration of a digital fact, but more as a way to eliminate all human qualities my speech and image might have.”

This is, of course, also a fairly precise analog of why we get old and die.

Click here for the Dead


Thursday, June 10, 2010


Here at Doc40 we are militantly pro-science, but there are times when science really doesn’t help and causes us to sigh and demand of the vacant air, “How the fuck did they get the funding for that nonsense?” A recent example was when a journal called Archives of Sexual Behavior ran a report called “Evidence to Suggest that Copulatory Vocalizations in Women Are Not a Reflexive Consequence of Orgasm.” As you will see from the following excerpt, the combo of language and sexism manages to do the impossible and make the whole idea of orgasm grimly depressing.

“The current studies were conducted in order to investigate the phenomenon of copulatory vocalizations and their relationship to orgasm in women. Data were collected from 71 sexually active heterosexual women (M age = 21.68 years +/- .52) recruited from the local community through opportunity sampling. The studies revealed that orgasm was most frequently reported by women following self-manipulation of the clitoris, manipulation by the partner, oral sex delivered to the woman by a man, and least frequently during vaginal penetration. More detailed examination of responses during intercourse revealed that, while female orgasms were most commonly experienced during foreplay, copulatory vocalizations were reported to be made most often before and simultaneously with male ejaculation. These data together clearly demonstrate a dissociation of the timing of women experiencing orgasm and making copulatory vocalizations and indicate that there is at least an element of these responses that are under conscious control, providing women with an opportunity to manipulate male behavior to their advantage.”

I am now so fucking old that my memories of being manipulated by vocalized female orgasm are kinda hazy (and were probably hazy back then too.) Fortunately Annalee Newitz takes this dour nonsense apart. Click here.

Click here for Buddy

Click here for Frankie

The secret word is Yes!


Back in the 20th century I wrote a novel called The Feelies in which virtual reality was presented as a fascist-groove-trap, Darwin-eugenic thing in that those who opted for reality survived and those who immersed themselves in a virtual sensory fantasy died. (After about three months.) Thus, when folks started telling me about Second Life and suggesting I try it, my misgivings were such that I never bothered. Then, this morning, our good friend Some Girl sent me a link to a story in The LA Times about artists doing shows on Second Life, and that really perked my interest, especially the added postscript, “I have to admit, I would love to see how a Mick Farren gig would go down in cyberspace. the avatars alone would rival the Star Wars cantina, methinks.”
A few years ago Andy Colquhoun and I did a live webcast one of our dog-poet guitar and poetry shows. This involved showing up at the club called Spaceland in LA shortly after noon and performing to an empty room for a webcam that relayed our images to an event in the UK, where it was nine in the evening and the audience was waiting. Strange but interesting, and strange but interesting has always been both attractive and one of the names of the game.
Unfortunately the story in The LA Times was so badly written that it gave no real insight into what a Second Life performance might involve. Any worthwhile reporter would have participated in Second Life and described the entire experience. (Hell, I would have – gleefully.) Thus I am researching the possibilities. I figure it must be possible to something more creative than the pitiful stereotypes depicted above. I don’t know if it will come to anything, but investigation is good for the brain. You can click here for the lame story from the Times, and I’d welcome all suggestions, information, thoughts, and offers of help.

Click here for a poor dog-poet


Lois Frozdick didn’t know the power of kryptonite and, even after she’d brought down Superman, she didn’t care much either.


Click here for Public Enemy

Wednesday, June 09, 2010


The Gulf oil crisis is so doomsday vast that it can seem impossible for an individual to do anything useful, but there are ways. One is to help a single species at a time. In this case, the loggerhead turtle.

“Loggerhead sea turtles were in trouble before the Gulf oil spill disaster. The number of female loggerheads nesting on Florida beaches – one of the most important habitats for the species – has declined by 50 percent in the past decade. Scientists and government officials have sounded the alarm about what this could mean for the future of the ancient sea mariners. The National Marine Fisheries Service is now proposing to upgrade protection for loggerheads from threatened to endangered under the Endangered Species Act. These turtles need our help even more now. The world’s second-largest loggerhead nesting area is on the beaches of the southeastern United States, the vast majority of which includes Florida’s central Atlantic beaches. This area is expected to be threatened by the horrific oil slick, depending on how much of the slick gets picked up by the Loop Current -- a powerful ocean current that could bring the slick around the southern reaches of the state, through the sensitive coral reef and mangrove areas of the Everglades and the Keys, and then into the Gulf Stream and up the east coast of Florida. The spill could not have happened at a worse time: loggerheads and other sea turtles -- as well as many shorebirds -- are in the peak of their nesting seasons right now. Oil is extremely toxic to loggerheads and other species. Exposure can cause skin loss, poisoning, drowning and death… which is exactly why we need every available tool to help save the lives of individual loggerheads and save this species from extinction.” Click here to help.

Click here for The Beatles

The secret word is Lobby


These reproductions of vintage Marvel blacklight posters cost $899 each (no shit!) from a company called Penny Candy (559-226-1397), but at least we can post them on Doc40 for free.


No, no, she didn’t want off-shore drilling. It was the evil environmentalists that caused the horror in the Gulf…

“With [environmentalists'] nonsensical efforts to lock up safer drilling areas, all you're doing is outsourcing energy development, which makes us more controlled by foreign countries, less safe, and less prosperous on a dirtier planet. Your hypocrisy is showing. You're not preventing environmental hazards; you're outsourcing them and making drilling more dangerous. Extreme deep water drilling is not the preferred choice to meet our country's energy needs, but your protests and lawsuits and lies about onshore and shallow water drilling have locked up safer areas. It's catching up with you. The tragic, unprecedented deep water Gulf oil spill proves it.” (Our pal Bernard sent the quote.)

Click here for The Who

Click here for BP feline disinformation

Click here for Marianne


Click here for Spike Jones. (I suspect the spacesuit is the one worn by Lou Costello in the 1953 movie Abbott & Costello Go To Mars.) Clip from our pal Munz

Tuesday, June 08, 2010


Every Monday morning I receive an email from Rock’s Back Pages that lists their new posts and promotes what they want to promote. Since most of my music writing has long been part of their excellent archive, I was surprised to see something new of mine on yesterday’s list, and even more surprised that it was a review of Bob Dylan’s Blonde On Blonde written for the NME in 1976. 1976? What the fuck was I doing reviewing a ten year-old album? Things could get pretty weird around that paper back them, but this was kinda singular. A tenth anniversary appraisal? I couldn’t even remember writing it. But then I checked the issue date and all was explained. It was December 25th – a Christmas issue when editors struggle to fill pages while nothing is going on except drunkenness and shopping. So here’s this odd blast from the 20th century. It’s a little longer than the usual Doc 40 post, but what the hell. Enjoy.

"IT'S AN almost impossible opening sentence. There can't be anyone reading this who needs to be introduced to this record. It is certainly Bob Dylan's finest hour, and there are less than a handful of other works that can seriously challenge it for the title of the greatest rock album of all time. (And it was also, of course, the first serious rock music double-album.) Shortly after the idea of this project came up, a bunch of us were sitting in the pub. All kinds of ideas were thrown about. Pieces of information were laid out on the table. Theories flowed almost as fast as the beer.
Did anyone know that the mono mix was appreciably different? Did Dylan sit up nights in the Chelsea Hotel writing the songs, or was the rumour true that he cobbled it together right there in the CBS studios in Nashville? What was the man's drug consumption at the time?
The speculation and the technical secrets only led to one single ultimate question. Where was Bob Dylan's head at when he put down these tracks? We all know now that that is the question, and we also know it just isn't going to be answered. For ten years there have been books, articles, pamphlets, mimeographed broadsheets, wall graffiti and a million conversations worrying at the question like terriers round a rat.
One of the main problems about approaching Blonde On Blonde after all this time is the temptation to take the whole thing far too reverently. It's become entwined with the experience of so many of us, all the trips, the jagged late nights, the girls, the friends, that it's almost impossible to separate the music from the decade of one's own stacked-up responses. The only profit that could possibly come from the whole exercise would be to pin down what the initial impact was. I looked up some of the contemporary reviews and comments. There was a lot of verbiage about "a contemporary poet", how Dylan "knew", how he was "telling it like it is".The one thing they said nothing about was the music.
This kind of loose talk still goes on today. (Of course, the clich├ęs are new.) It comes trippingly from the pen. Shit, I've done it myself, more times than I care to remember. If Dylan was really "telling it like it is", we'd all know exactly what he was talking about. We wouldn't have been sifting through his symbolism, the rare interviews and even his garbage in the vain attempt to find his particular Rosebud. If we all knew, there wouldn't be any Michael Gray or A. J. Weberman, and everyone could put a precise definition on "The ladies that treat me kindly/and furnish me with tape."
So, if it's not the language that grabs you, maybe it's just the sound that gets you.
Could it be that Blonde On Blonde was one of those records like 'Heartbreak Hotel', 'Cathy's Clown' or 'Tracks Of My Tears' that bypassed the mind and got directly to the hairs on the back of your neck?
Well, Kooper's organ was oft copied, and the combination of guitars, harmonica and keyboard had a definite impact. In things like 'One Of Us Must Know' the ponderously, ascending cathedral chords do, at times, grab me by the gut in non-verbal uplift.
o, for that matter, do some deodorant commercials. If all of Dylan was in his voice and sound, we'd be treating Self Portrait with the same reverence. It ain't just the noise. There's a whole lot more to it than that. When Blonde On Blonde came, out, a lot of us had been with Dylan for some time. It wasn't anything radical and new.
We'd been sticked and carroted progressively into it. We'd followed an observant protest singer away from the externals of society and down a corridor of increasingly unresolved movie images. They had that real dreamlike quality (as opposed to Dali or Hollywood dream sequences) in which things understood gradually become confusing. The dream gave glimpses of heaven, right next door to the hints of nightmare. In a way, Blonde On Blonde was in the pits. It was the deepest shaft rock and roll had ever sunk in its journey to the centre of the psyche. Either consciously or unconsciously, Dylan performed a neat trick. He gave the illusion that through the time space of the double-album, he was finally stripping down his head, turning himself inside out so that we could actually see into the mind of this individual who had been throwing up such tantalising, familiar images.
We bought ourselves a ticket and sat down in the front row. While we watched like geeks, the whole thing was switched on us. We weren't watching Bob Dylan's interior movie. We were seeing a series of distorting mirrors. While trying to puzzle our way through the symbolism we were, in fact, being led through previously uncharted, often suppressed and frequently twisted passages of our own brains.
All Dylan gave us were some complex cat's cradles, uncompromising structural diagrams of the way relationships operate. (Although a lot of people tag Dylan as a social commentator, the great majority of his songs are about personal relationships, not those of society. This holds true for all the songs on Blonde On Blonde. They're love songs, if you like.) We took these relationship sketches and busily fitted them into our own frames of reference. I guess that was where all the trouble started. You've probably noticed how dope fiends claim he's singing about dope, homosexuals tell you they're gay love songs and women know for sure that they're all about women. I even met a paranoid once who claimed that 'Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands' contained the truth about the Kennedy assassination. Everyone fits Dylan into his own framework. Why exactly I'm not sure. Certainly the operation involves a certain amount of self-perception that wasn't quite the rage.
Maybe the response to Dylan at that time, both violent hostility and psychotic adulation, was the audience attempting to come to terms with some of the things they'd stumbled across in their own minds.
So Blonde On Blonde was a giant therapy group?
I had a feeling when this started that it might wind up far fetched. I really did try to keep it on the rails. But...
Anyhow, now I've come to this point we come to another version of the Big Question.
Was Dylan, the therapist, Machiavelli messing with our heads or just an unwilling catalyst? As I said earlier, that's the one we don't get an answer to.
Blonde On Blonde is a mnemonic for Bob."

The secret word is Infinity

Click here for Bob
Click here for more Bob
Click here for even more Bob
Click here for Syd

Martin Sharp, circa 1967


Back to its doomed birds and unmitigated corporate bastardry. The fight never seems to end.

Click here for Gaga

Monday, June 07, 2010


Barack Obama has advocated three dubious energy solutions. Most recently it was off-shore oil drilling, and we’re still seeing how that one turned out. Before drilling it was clean coal and nuclear. The nuclear really jarred with me at the time, quite undoing my initial delight that we actually had a president that could pronounce the word. Obama declared the modern nuclear power plant was safe, and the old Monty Burns models were a thing of the past. Unfortunately it’s starting to emerge that nuclear power regulation is as much of a corrupt clusterfuck as oil.

“Much like Captain Renault in Casablanca, the White House is suddenly shocked, shocked to find that oil rigs can explode, destroying ecosystems and livelihoods. The Obama administration has backed away from its offshore oil expansion policy in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe as the long-term environmental and economical consequences unfold in the Gulf States. Headlines are clamoring for the criminal investigations of BP, TransOcean, Halliburton and ultimately, the federal regulator, Mineral Management Services (MMS). Rather paradoxically, President Obama is using the oil spill to call for more nuclear power. Yet, with the exception of a handful of insightful political cartoonists, the obvious parallel between the regulatory delinquency of MMS and that of its nuclear equivalent - the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) - and the potential for an equally catastrophic accident in the nuclear sector, has not been drawn. As with the MMS debacle, the NRC is gambling with inevitable disaster with the same spin of the wheel of misfortune and with potentially even higher stakes. Investigations have already revealed that MMS had become too friendly and compliant toward the industry it was supposed to regulate. This hands-off approach proved to be a formula for inevitable disaster. Similarly, the NRC consistently puts the financial motives of the nuclear industry it is supposed to regulate ahead of public safety. In instance after instance, the NRC has chosen not to enforce its own regulations even in the face of repeated reactor safety violations, risking a serious reactor accident while leaving often high-risk safety problems to linger unresolved for decades.” (Click here for the rest)

Click here for Janis

The secret word is Strontium


…let’s ponder a bit of dangerous science.

“This is because the uranium is not enriched. A nuclear bomb fueled by uranium releases energy through fission, the breaking apart of an atom. When a neutron hits the nucleus of a uranium atom, the atom breaks apart. The resulting pieces weigh slightly less than the original whole; that weight having been turned into huge amounts of energy. Here's the key – each split nucleus has to release at least two neutrons of its own. They hit other nuclei and start two more reactions, and those atoms release more neutrons and start more reactions. The result is either a steady hum of energy or a big boom, depending on how you work it. Let's face it. If it were that simple, nuclear bombs would have been invented long ago. If there's one thing the internet proves, it's that people will never stop looking for flashy ways to hurt themselves and others. The reason why everything, from the pyramids to the Eiffel Tower aren't reduced to little particles of dust wafting around the upper atmosphere is only very, very rare isotopes of uranium break apart easily enough and give off enough neutrons to sustain a nuclear reaction. The most common uranium isotope is uranium-238, with ninety-two protons and 146 neutrons. It doesn't sustain a reaction. Uranium-235, with 143 neutrons, is the money isotope.” (Click here for more)

Click here for the greatest Boots Randolph tenor solo of all time.


(The image came from Valerie. We’re thinking of you, gal.)


Ricky Frozdick became a master of disguise in the days when he was stalking Mick Jagger.


Click here for percussion hilarity (Sent by Munz)

Sunday, June 06, 2010


The piece of wedding cake had been sent by the bride. It arrived in a silver box. “Yum”, I though, “Coffee and cake.” I made myself the coffee, I placed the cake on a plate, but then, as I was about to spear it with a fork, it suddenly transformed into a malevolently hostile robot that would have attacked me if I had not beaten it immobile with my favorite Elvis Presley coffee cup. (Image supplied by Faux Smoke)

Click here for Eileen Barton

The secret word is Decepticon


The observation of the local urban wildlife has long been a fascination and I even wrote a story about it in the now defunct LA CityBeat that, in turn, actually got me hired on at the LA Times as an occasional op-ed columnist. (But then I was dropped for my shameless leftwing bias.) In my street alone, we have possums, raccoons, scary tree rats, and one time, in the dead of night, a pair of coyotes loped by like two Viet Cong during Tet. Over in Laurel Canyon you can add deer, bobcats, and hawks. Indeed, at one July 4th barbeque, I saw a hawk alight on a tree branch with a snake struggling in its beak. The other guests paid it little mind, but, as a classicist, I though it a dire omen for America. (You be the judge.)For some years now, the crows have owned my street, running off the doves and blue jays, and even demanding tribute from the squirrels. They would squire it in the dawn, eyeing the prtevious night's beer cans as possible tools, and shooting me looks as I watched from my balcony that clearly said, “If I had an opposable thumb, human motherfucker, your species would be toast.” But lately the crows have somehow lost their absolutist sway. As if it was some grim episode of The Sopranos, their power has waned. The doves are back, the humming birds work the provided feeder, and the squirrels have grown bold. The crows haven’t departed but their sass has diminished, and I’m unsure of what it might mean.

(Drawing by the late and still lamented Edward Barker)

Click here for Steeleye Span


BUT IT’S THE WEEKEND, AND I CAN PUT MY FEET UP (Like the little lion last Friday)