Daron: Happy New Year everyone. This month went by really fast.
ctan: No kidding. For a while I thought maybe we’d get to Christmas 1989 right around when Christmas 2014 happened. But no.
Daron: We would have if Cray and I got along better and if Remo didn’t have a hurt paw. But I guess nothing’s ever that easy. In today’s liner note, some music to go along with the Japan travelogue, curious site stats, lesbian Russian punks, what else?
ctan: I should explain what’s coming up with Ziggy’s Diary.
Daron: Do that first.
ctan: Okay. I’ve owed you all a Ziggy background story for a while, ever since the voting months ago, and I’ve also wanted to give you a glimpse of what’s been going on with him since he left the country. So what you’ll be reading is his trip diary. Sometimes he writes about what’s happening in the present day, sometimes about his past, sometimes both. Because Zig makes a lot of short entries, I’m going to post four a week – – every day Monday-Thursday – – unless we go over the usual $50 bonus threshold, in which case I’ll add one Friday, too. Daron will take a short break until Ziggy’s posts are through.
Daron: I’ll be in the Bahamas. Drinking heavily.
Daron: I know. I shouldn’t even joke about that. What date is that going to start?
ctan: That depends how long it takes you to get to Australia.
ctan: The artwork for the Ziggy section is a combination of two photographs. The one of the man mediating is copyright © Bowie15 at Dreamstime, while the handwriting is © Roman Pavlik.
Daron: Is it a total coincidence that the guy who took that photo uses “Bowie15” as his photography name?
ctan: Yes, it is. Meanwhile, Ziggy’s Diary will be bringing us up to, or very close to, a huge milestone. The 500th post!
Daron: Meanwhile aren’t we about to hit the 1000th tag on the site?
ctan: We just hit 999, yeah. Here’s a breakdown of the most often used ones:
115 Ziggy (plus 17 “ziggy ziggy ziggy”)
37 Bart (plus 8 “bart is a rock”)
37 Los Angeles (plus 10 “Hollywood”)
30 Christian (plus 5 “chris”)
29 New York City (plus 5 “nyc”, 11 “still in new york city”)
20 music biz
15 San Francisco
10 New Orleans
10 New Jersey
8 Allston (and 10 Boston)
6 stupid stupid stupid
5 Madison Wisconsin
Daron: I really used stupid stupid stupid 6 times?
ctan: Are you surprised at how many, or how few?
ctan: Speaking of David Bowie, did you see the column by Trent Reznor about the new Bowie album? It’s on Hollywood Reporter.
Daron: No, I missed that! Interesting. “What I thought was conservative production now feels forward-thinking. Like any great album, it’s revealed itself to be something that wasn’t what I initially thought.. … [Bowie has] been a consistent reference point as somebody who is uncompromising. He has found an audience yet challenges that audience and continues moving forward in a fearless way.” I agree. At first I was like, oh, that’s a nice song, that’s a nice ditty… and then I realized I had put the album on repeat five or six times.
ctan: I feel like usually I have to hear and album five times minimum before I “get” it. This one was the opposite for me. From the very first listen to “The Next Day” I felt like I had heard it a million times. But I wanted to hear it a million times more. He’s never the same twice, which is part of his definition, but it felt familiar somehow.
Daron: Speaking of artists who challenge the world, I had to bring this up. Lesbian punk band trying to change the world—how could I not bring it up? Pussy Riot have been freed?
ctan: Yeah! Sounds like they went through hell in Putin’s gulag, though. Forced gynecological exams every day? (See: The Guardian. And the authorities basically snuck Masha out of jail in the middle of the night and left her at a train station with no money, nothing. Meanwhile her family and supporters were camped outside the gates of the prison waiting for her to be released. To put it mildly, that’s a dick move.
Daron: I… can’t even imagine. Way to make me feel like a pampered, overprivileged jerk. Oh, the documentary about them is nominated for an Oscar, too. See: New York Times. Trailer below.
ctan: From punk in Russia, I bring you heavy metal in Botswana. See: Messynessychic. “In Sub-Saharan Africa, the art of dressing like you’ve just stepped out of a Metallica concert is still very much alive. South African photographer Franck Marshall found the unlikely subculture in the Republic of Botswana, taking their heavy metal style of dress very seriously.”
Daron: This is the part that makes me blink: “While the renegades incorporate that aggressive side of metal into their look, “there’s a strong sense of camaraderie amongst them,” says Marshall, “They’ve got a very strong bond and friendship with each other.” Seen as role models in society and often followed by a trail of young children in awe, they’re seen as protectors of the community with a strong awareness of social responsibility.”
ctan: That’s the thing, though. That’s a lot like the bikers in the U.S. who protect abused kids. Bikers Against Child Abuse. I cried reading this article about the chapter in Arizona: AZ Republic.
Daron: If anyone ever needed to understand the value of nonconformity, maybe that’s it right there.
ctan: Speaking of nonconformists, Colin’s story has been the most visited post since it was posted. I think that means people are reading it more than once. It definitely means that the post attracts the most spam comments. For whatever reason it also attracts the funniest. One of them literally says “Thanks for sharіng your thoughts on debt management.” And another one: “Verу descriptive post, I liked that a lot. Will there be a part 2?” Ha! Very descriptive indeed.
Daron: Another great one was promoting “Luxurious natural leather iPad lawsuits.”
ctan: Must be something about certain key words used in it. SEO LOL. My favorite is this one, which must be machine generated somehow: “Minimal kittens and cats is available in Couple of years of these Pet cats because of the Is the reason Stewart, Hamster Scuff A fever and nausea while Ted Nugent, Lots of Lovecats with the Conquered both Terrific created for Moggies with the help of Tug.” It must be a mashup of two things, or something!
Daron: So you know I love mashups when they’re done well. If you don’t know these two songs, take a listen first:
Fall Out Boy “My Songs Know What You Did in The Dark”:
Imagine Dragons “Radioactive”
Now check out this mashup of the two on Soundcloud:
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/112965139″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
ctan: I like it. I liked “Radioactive” to begin with. There’s a whole lot of “anthemic” going on these days in indie rock.
Daron: Yeah. Can’t say I mind. Okay, now it’s time for today’s amazing, unerappreciated guitarist. Today I have Billy McLaughlin, who plays “hammer style.” But you don’t really realize what that means if you haven’t see it done:
ctan: I think the people most people associate with that style is jazz player Stanley Jordan.
Daron: From Plainfield, New Jersey, I might add.
ctan: Okay, but wait, I just Googled Billy McLaughlin and holy shit, did you see what happened to him? He used to play hammer-style, but with his left hand like usual. But a neurological disorder called dystonia robbed him of the use of this left hand for playing… and he spent SIX YEARS re-training himself to play with the OTHER HAND. Video here: CBS News.
Daron: That… Wow. Again, I feel like I’m spoiled in comparison. My RSI isn’t nearly so bad. When I end up having to play all night to finish a soundtrack or something… I can just shove it in a hot bucket of epsom salts.
ctan: Quit comparing yourself to others. Internalized homophobia isn’t a piece of cake, and neither is being told by your record company that no one wants to hear your songs.
Daron: Yeah, yeah. I know. Okay, let’s wrap this up with some songs for my travelogue. Here are some of my recent world music faves:
Two brothers, two shamisens. The shamisen is the banjo-like instrument I played in the shop on Guitar Street. First this one that is just a duet between them:
ctan: Are you sure they’re Japanese and not Korean?
Daron: I have no idea. I admit to being out of my depth when it comes to any kind of Asian pop culture. For example, I really cannot explain the following video. You just have to watch it to believe it, a NSFW gameshow called Orgasm Wars:
ctan: That is really like something I’d invent for a story.
Daron: I know. Okay two last songs featuring twangy stringed instruments that are not the guitar:
Khalgi Stomp by Transglobal Underground
Beauty Beats by Beats Antique (song takes a minute to get going)
And one rendition of “Hare Krishna” — this one done by Jai Uttal, to give you an idea what the call and response chant of this kind is like. This one is a bit Westernized, but the idea is the same.