Friday, April 07, 2017

Podcasting About

Somewhere lies a forgotten shoe-box holding a 1980 photo of Yours Truly, at 15 years of age. He is decked out in his edgiest New Wave finery, standing before his father's well-ordered workshop, and wielding a cheap bass guitar. All set to be a rock star.
Just like my hero, Jerry Casale -- only Mennonite! And right-handed.
I couldn't see my way through to buying an amp for it, however, and the thrill of quietly buzzing along to "Turn Me Loose" in my tiny bedroom only carried me so far in this new enthusiasm. Four months after its purchase, I sold the bass to some other young up-and-comer. His hair was longer — his odds of making something of the instrument just that much better.

"There but for the grace of God..." I was too pious a teen to contemplate playing in an actual rock band. Had I truly caught the fire I would have taken a stab at being in a Christian rock band, a fate that would surely have concluded in catastrophe — there is no disillusionment so bitter as befalls those toiling within the Christian Rock scene.

As with the book beneath the bed, I enjoy dipping into stories from that scene at that particular time for vicarious thrills. This week The Christian Humanists introduced me to LSU's The Grape Prophet, released in 1992. Band leader Mike Knott evidently launched his career in an already profound state of disillusionment, after watching a bunch of Holy Roller carnies known as "The Kansas City Prophets" woo members of his Bible study into their ebullient fold. Knott dropped in on the Prophets to see what the fuss was about, and was so viscerally repulsed by what he witnessed he quickly left and laid down the material that became The Grape Prophet.

By now it goes without saying the Prophets and their bunch got derailed by the usual sexual shenanigans, a pratfall Knott seems to have intuited early on.
Holy Roller S&M: making the explicit implicit.
The Grape Prophet is a trippy little concept album that is catchy, and (not surprisingly) squirm-inducing — but also (surprisingly) funny and fun. Stylistically it owes a little too much to Jane's Addiction for me to be an outright fan, but I enjoyed the discussion of its merits among Los humanistas cristianos and will likely give The Grape Prophet another few spins before moving it to deeper digital archives.
Right next to the Ark of the Covenant.
Not that the archives on my Infernal Device aren't deep and dusty enough — 41 days worth of music, and probably a half-year worth of podcasts. So far as the music is concerned, I've listened to all of it at least once. The podcasts, on the other hand . . .
If only podcasts kept me as warm as paper.
I finally got around to this 2014 interview with Karl Ove Knausgård, by Eleanor Wachtel.

2014 seemed to be the year when all the people who talk about such things were talking about Knausgård. That basically meant a singular shift away from Houllebecq — whom Knausgård was tasked to review.

"What prevents me from reading Houellebecq," confesses Knausgård, "is a kind of envy — not that I begrudge [him] success, but by reading the books I would be reminded of how excellent a work of art can be, and of how far beneath that level my own work is. Such a reminder, which can be crushing . . . (etc, etc)"

Perhaps you're getting some idea of what "prevented" me from reading Knausgård? Throw in a wordy swoon from the Toronto Globe & Mail's Ian Brown (whose own impulse toward self-conscious bloviation scarcely needs a nudge) and I had, I thought, good reason for keeping my distance. A one-hour interview, on the other hand, might be a different matter. So I kept the file handy.

Nearly four years later, Knausgård has won me over. What can I say? A pinch of bleak and frank self-loathing (so European!) flexes considerable charm on the dyspeptic mid-life reader. I might even pick up volume 1 in my next visit to BMV.

And who knows? Mebbe these six volumes will be fodder for Phil Christman and some other engaging and informed so-and-so to bat around — we can only hope. If you want to hear what today's young hep-cats think of William Gass and Claire-Louise Bennett you will do no better than to tune in to Mr. Christman's new podcast.

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