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A night of very, very loud things. Lisa and I went to the NW Film Center's screening of "Screaming Men," a documentary about Mieskuoro Huutajat, the "men's shouting choir" from Finland--30 or 40 men in suits and rubber ties who scream the lyrics to national anthems, trade agreements, etc. in unison. They're a magnificent parody of masculinity--the group's director is a harsh disciplinarian for no particular reason (or pretends to be), they march in lockstep, they're dressed to slice, they scream so hard they're covered in sweat, but you can tell that most of them are basically just nervous geeky guys. The documentary plays the "look, they're making fun of fascism!" subtext up a little too far, but it was still sort of hysterical to see them in action.

From there, we headed over to the Meow Meow (a converted warehouse in a middle-of-nowhere industrial block that reminded Lisa a little of the meat-packing district in the West Village) to see Blöödhag at the Everyone Reads show. Turned out that the band had been stuck behind a 75-car pileup on I-5, but another band had volunteered to play and buy some time for them. They were called Ass (not to be confused with Brian Turner's mighty former band Äss), they were crusty hardcore kids from the Midwest, and, uh... "this song is also an antiwar song about how much the whole Iraq thing sucks!" "this song is called '21,' and it's about how it sucks not to be able to get into shows that aren't all ages!" "this song is about how the educational system totally locks you into prescribed traditional gender roles!" All pretty much followed by Cookie Monster vocals. I kept waiting for the song about how much Ronald Reagan sucks.

But Blöödhag did eventually show up to rock the house. For the uninitiated, they're a high-impact metal band from Seattle, all of whose songs are about and named after science fiction authors (they introduce each one with a brief lesson about his or her life and accomplishments before going into the shred/Cookie Monster bit). Their slogan is "The Sooner You Go Deaf, the More Time You'll Have to Read"; their hefty singer throws SF paperbacks into the audience as they perform, or rather wipes his brow, armpits, etc. with inner pages of SF paperbacks and then throws them into the audience. The crowd was about 80% crusty kids, 20% amused librarians; this being an event to promote everyone in Portland reading Fahrenheit 451, most of the hurled paperbacks were that. (When they took requests, I yelled for "Joannna Russ"--who knows if they've even written one for her--but I think they ended up doing "Isaac Asimov" instead.) After the show, I bought one of their T-shirts: this one. I always wanted a Mötörhead shirt anyway.

Oh, also: my first piece in The Nation appeared today!

5 Comments

geeta said:

dude, the nation piece rules!! go you!!

i dig the meow meow...do they still have atari games you can play for free while you are waiting for bands to start? more venues in NYC should implement that feature.

Josh Lukin said:

I'm pretty confident I saw a Russ song on their website a few months back . . . I guess it might have been Tiptree.

Josh Lukin said:

. . . hey! I think you're the Douglas Wolk who used to be part of Jon Fergenson's rap group at the Center for the Academic Advancement of Talented Youth! If so, I've owed you a letter for sixteen years . . . sorry for the delay.

James said:

Portland has to promote F451? I know it's an anti-censorship book (and not a very good one, as far as I'm concerned), but they couldn't promote a (far) superior Bradbury novel such as -Something Wicked This Way Comes- or -Dandelion Wine-?

I think the appeal of F451 to literacy/library types stems from the fact that it isn't really a critique of censorship (read Orwell for that) than it is a huge, not-well-thought-out polemic against television and movies replacing books as the dominant form of human entertainment (assuming you believe the written word ever held such a place -- obviously, Bradbury does).
The idea of books ever being outlawed was probably ridiculous when Bradbury wrote the novel; in the age of the Internet and computerized presses running 24/7 to support the corporate book industry makes it laughable now. ('course, like I said, I think Bradbury was ranting against television, not censorship, anyway...)

aileen said:

You just had me busting a gut over "cookie monster vocals." brilliant!

also, there is a very short documentary (less than 20 min) out there somewhere about Bloodhag, which may or may not have ever made it onto the Sundance channel. It's pretty awesome, but I imagine the live show is way better.

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This page contains a single entry by Douglas published on January 31, 2004 12:53 AM.

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