Category: Stuff I like.

Is it a Crime to Entertain America?

rocketboy

I have received a lot of grief from both the press and public this week after my son, Raptor, stole a prototype mini jet pack I invented and flew it over 30 miles till it crash-landed in a corn field.  The media storm was immense and the entire country was glued to their televisions as firefighters and emergency workers followed the jet pack to its crashing site.  And when the wreckage uncovered that it wasn’t Raptor on that jet pack but instead was an animatronic model of Raptor, (another one of my inventions) I suddenly became Public Enemy #1.

But Raptor was safe and sound at home.  If I was truly the monster you’re making me out to be, I would have allowed three-year-old Raptor to fly the perfectly-sized mini jet pack to his death, (and believe me, he begged!)  Nay, I spent months making the jet pack remote controlled, and spent thousands of dollars making a life-like double of Raptor.  But Raptor’s safety isn’t in America’s interest, is it?

My passion has always been to reflect my version of my life to the masses, a passion that got me on MTV’s The Real World at the age of 21.  But when I was kicked off the show for faking a heart attack, my opportunity was cut short.  After the novel I wrote,  [Censored]’s a Faggot’s Pussy, failed to garner any media attention, (Salman Rushdie was exceptionally popular at the time) I decided it was in my best interest to give up my dreams and start a family.  Thus started what I like to call my Suburban Hell years.

After months of trying to figure out a career choice, I settled on Inventor.  I would spend my hours in the basement with my many contraptions while my wife Sue would work her three waitressing jobs, (she’s not pretty enough to be a stripper and too cheap to buy the surgery.)

After two years of intensive tinkering, I came up with my masterpiece:  the cellphone answering machine.  Imagine:  you’re in the bathroom, occupied, and you hear your cellphone ringing in the kitchen.  What if one of your children is in trouble or the president is calling?  You’ll never know… until now.  With my device, which can be plugged into the bottom of any Nokia 3315 produced in 2001, up to thirty seconds (minus the personalized greeting) can be recorded by the caller after 3 rings.  However, the major cellphone carriers refused to stock my product because of its size (only the size of two medium suitcases, thank you) and the fact that it only worked a third of the time (studies I conducted proved that 2/3 of phone calls are of little import.  It’s called time saving, ever heard of it?)  They also cited something called “Voicemail”, which sounds suspiciously similar to my invention and I have since hired a lawyer to look into it.

The production cost of the cellphone answering machine prototype put me into crushing debt.  So, as any resilient American does in tough times, I maxed out my credit cards in order to hatch a scheme to make me famous.  When I launched the remote control jet pack with a model of my youngest son strapped to it, I knew I was on to something good.  And after I finally got the girl on the line at 9-11 to believe my story, it wasn’t long before the television news cameras came bursting through my door.  I felt a surge of testosterone run through my body.  I was ON!

The lights came on and the cameras were rolling, and I acted as if I wasn’t floating on a cloud with a screaming erection.  No, I put on a quivering lip and held my wife in my arm for support.  We were a team, intent on retrieving our son (who was sitting patiently in the attic with a box of animal crackers and a new Lego set.)  My fame rocket was flying over Pennsylvania, and teams of emergency vehicles and media trucks drove in hot pursuit, speculating, worrying and making me a household name.

When the news finally broke that Raptor was safe and sound and the emergency workers were chasing a robot, I wasn’t immediately labeled a hero, or even a genius inventor.  I wasn’t given a quirky inventor version of John and Kate Plus 8, or even the opportunity to argue with my wife on national television.   No, the gruff, barely high-school educated arms of the law shoved me into a police car.  I’m not sure what the charges will be, but no doubt they will be unfair.  Dear reader, though you may have felt scorn and disgust when the national media put on their spin machine to label me a demon, I ask:  Is it a crime to entertain America? While that total dweeb John Gosselin gets to ride jet skis and jam trashy women, I get to rot in prison.  If that’s justice, call me unjustified.

Rearing Your Tween

rearingpostersmall

REARING YOUR TWEEN
@ Sugar City Art Space

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 4
7:00 pm
FREE

Raising a child is like sculpting with clay. You can either sculpt a masterpiece worth a trillion dollars, or you can make a top-heavy monstrosity that will probably explode in the kiln.  Your child is most malleable in their “tween” years, from age 10 to 13.

These years are incredibly challenging for both parent and tween alike.  From dealing with bullies to the disgusting changes going on in their bodies, the trials and tribulations of owning a tween may make it seem hardly worth the trouble.

Luckily, artist Tom Van Deusen is here to help.  With the aid of an elaborate PowerPoint presentation and a jazzy soundtrack, he will give advice that is darkly humorous, if not potentially damaging.  So quit trying to find a foster parent for your tween on CraigsList and clear September 4, 2009 on your calendar, because you do not want to miss this life-changing event.

[NOTE:  Parents are not recommended to follow any of Tom Van Deusen’s advice, and if they do, Tom Van Deusen can not be held responsible for any subsequent arrests.  Also, Rearing Your Tween is not recommended for anyone under the age of 13, as Tom Van Deusen plans to use the “F” word a few times.  Tastefully, of course.]

This is the last performance by artist Tom Van Deusen in Buffalo, NY, made possible by Sugar City and funded by their Sunday Soup grant.

Opened with Performances by:
Pat Neveu
Matthew Baker Thompson

Please invite as many people as you can.  This will be a splendid show, and a fine adieu from Tom before he moves to Seattle.  Barhopping and merriment to follow.

A Quick Lesson from Dr. Krautrock

yetiAmon Düül II is one of the best bands to emerge from the late 60’s, despite having one of the worst names imaginable.  They made some of the most bizarre, original and exciting music of their time, and were remarkably prescient of bands that would come some 30 years later.  But their catalogue is insanely confusing and has more misses than hits, so I decided to put together a guide for curious music snobs.

Amon Düül began as a crazy hippy commune in Germany, banging different instruments for 12 hours at a time.  The commune included women, children and what I’m sure was a giant cauldron of LSD.  Someone had channeled their inner-spirit to flip on some recording equipment, which spawned Amon Düül’s first album Psychedelic Underground.  The album basically sounds like a bunch of hippies chanting and playing what sounds like Fat Albert’s Junkyard Gang if someone reconstructed it outside of the cartoon world.  If that sounds appealing to you, then by all means, put your bong down and pick this one up.  But soon some of the more musical members of the commune said “Look, I may be tripping face right now, but we could probably do better than this.”  and broke off to make their own music.

They decided to call themselves Amon Düül II, because heaven forbid you give up such a memorable and easily pronounced name.  Rolls right off the tongue.  And surely it wouldn’t make their discography difficult to research.

They debuted with Phallus Dei, which is latin for God’s Penis.  The only thing more epic than that title is the music within, which careens from said hippy clattering to spooky space rock to rhythmic bongo explosions.  The whole thing is pretty frightening. The 20 minute title track switches motifs about a dozen times, and when the nonsense vocals finally come barging in, a climax of weirdness is hit that makes Zappa’s oddest moments sound like the Jonas Brothers.  Not that the Jonas Brothers aren’t the weirdest fucking thing on the planet, but you get my drift.

Apparently God’s Penis wasn’t exemplary enough of the hugeness of their trip, so they expanded to a double LP format for their next album YetiYeti is one of the most amazing albums I have ever heard, and they were such a tight band they were able to make the entire second disc improvisational.  It winds, it grinds, and the album hits its apex with a track called Eye-Shaking King.  Just give this thing a listen:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-9wlxVIcvE

Jesus Christ.  That was from 1970, and is about a trillion times heavier than anything from its time.  Hell, I’d be hard up to find stuff even now that’s that heavy, let alone scary.  And what is going on with those vocals?  It sounds like an angry demon singing into a saxophone or something.  Can you imagine the guy who penned that song?  Or the band meeting where he presented it?  “Look, guys, this is what needs to go on the record.  It is what the world needs.  I only wrote the first half down, we’ll figure out something for the second half when we finish performing the first half.  Just trust me.”

One year later, Amon Düül II came out with another double LP, Tanz der Lemminge which translates into Dance of the Lemmings.  Apparently their bad trip was cooling down a bit, because the album doesn’t have the same frightening heights as Yeti.  Not that it isn’t as weird, it’s a little stranger if anything, but there’s nothing on it that compares to Eye-Shaking King or Archangels Thunderbird.  A little more aimless, but no less interesting.

No, they were saving the boring shit for a few albums.  After the incredible album Wolf City, they saw where the 70’s were going musically worldwide, which is straight down the fucking toilet.  If Styx could make pointless prog rock exercises, then doggunnit, Germany will follow suit.  And they kept farting along through the 80’s, with most of the core members putting down their instruments, wiping off their facepaint and finding something else to do.

The remaining members made it remarkably easy for the record buying public to avoid their shitty new albums.  The early Amon Düül II albums have awesome album artwork.  Check out the cover to Wolf City:

wolfcity

Or Yeti:

yeti

Colorful, timeless and totally without precedent.  They look like Animal Collective records.  When the new Amon Duul II took the reins they decided to put out records that look like this:

hijack

And this:

almostalive

They may as well have called the album Mildewy Record Your Dad Bought Back in the Late 70’s Because it Only Cost Twenty-Five Cents. These albums had a much wider distribution, so they’re much easier to find, but trust me, they’re as bad as they look.  And usually when you do find them they’re in terrible shape, because the waste-cases that actually owned and listened to them never kept the record in its sleeve so it’s clotted with 20 year old dust and marijuana stems.

The CD reissues are terrific for the most part.  They have the original artwork, colorful cardboard gatefolds, and even have CD’s that look like the original vinyl LP’s.  The booklets that are included give you neat photos of the band and some of the most poorly translated liner notes I have ever seen.  Every single one I’ve read refer to the accompanying album as a “masterpiece”, so the word loses a little bit of its weight.

Oh, and what’s this?  Bonus tracks?  YES!  Sheesh, Phallus Dei’s bonus tracks are as long the album itself!  But don’t be fooled, dear reader, because whoever made these bonus tracks are NOT the Amon Düül II of that time.  Whoever it is that recorded these things sounds like they made them with free music software on a late 90’s eMachine, and have no qualms with dragging the cursor so that they’re over 10 minutes long.  So don’t be afraid to erase them from your iTunes if you’re looking to save hard drive space or are afraid of them coming on in a shuffle at a party, making you look like the lamest person in the universe.

THIS universe

vortex

The Best Show on WFMU

scharplingThe Best Show on WFMU is my favorite radio program.

If you haven’t heard it, check out their archive @ WFMU.org/bs.  There’s a fervent following to the show, with good reason.  Most of the show is taken up by monologues from Scharpling, but about once an episode, Jon Wurster from the Mountain Goats calls in as one (or more) of his characters from the fictional town of New Bridge, NJ.  The results are about as funny as audio can be, going in directions that are unexpected and original.  Listen to an example of a Scharpling and Wurster call HERE.

The show can be daunting to newcomers, being 3 hours long once a week (for 10 years) but now’s as good a point to jump in as any other.  There’s even a new podcast with “Best Of’s” to listen to.

The best way to listen, however, is live on Tuesday nights at 8:00 PM.  You can call in, but make sure you have something to say.  Tom has a short attention span for idiocy.

Also be sure to check out the Friends of Tom community @ friendsoftom.com.

If you already listen, WFMU is having its yearly fundraiser, so pony-up @ WFMU.org.

Copyright Tom Van Deusen 2014.