Put Up Or Shut Up
Let me let you in on a little secret: Zippy (like all critics) despises himself. Deep down inside, he knows he's a failure, with no talent and even less ambition to follow his true dream: that of being a rock 'n' roller or at least a famous novelist. Most days, he can barely get off out the couch or turn off the TV, let alone manage to do any of the things it would take to fulfill his dream. It's wretched. Every day he gets up around 1 a.m., spends 15 minutes hacking up phlegm in the bathroom. Then he makes a cup of coffee (spiked with whiskey on particularly bad days), flips on the TV, and begins smoking his way through the afternoon, thinking about all the different ways he sucks. It's a rough life. And of course, such self-loathing is impossible to maintain for extended periods: drink enough or think enough, and it's bound to be transferred on to some other poor schlep. Which is why criticism is such a great outlet. You can ridicule and dismiss things, and get paid for it!
Zippy was quite prepared to hate Boogeymen's Sister Blue. The cover pictures a sexy blonde woman looking forlorn, her head bent down over her chest, the straps of her white dress flop down over her shoulders. She stands in a grass field that must suggest Americana. Above her, some ugly clouds are brewing. Could something dark and foreboding be around the corner? On the back cover, you see the Boogeymen (who do not, despite their long hair, look terribly scarythey seem like nice boys) standing around in the same field (or at least very nearby), some of them trying to look introspective, while others laughing and talking as though this is what they do: go hang out in fields for fun, and at first glance, they nearly pull it off.
Zippy had not been looking forward to reviewing this plastic disk. He had a really bad feeling about it. For weeks, he couldn't even bring himself to listen to it. But his editor nagged him. To deal with the task at hand, he went out and got a six-pack of Labatts Blue, which reminds him of home (yes, it's time the truth be told: Zippy is Canadian.) He drank the beer down in 37 minutesall of it. But even the beer wasn't enough for him to handle the Boogeymen disc straight. No, he needed something else. In his fancy dancy CD changer he also inserted Miles Davis and Bill Laswell's Panthalassa; the Mekon's Fear and Whiskey; James Brown's Sex Machine, Bruce Springsteen's Darkness on the Edge of Town; and Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. Just a few milestones to measure it against: a smattering of discs that even Zippy in all his vile bileness could not muster any complaints against. Great music for him has to be evocative, and reaching. It has to take you someplace new and challenge your preconceived notions. He hit the random button and jumped back. Everything was great. Zippy danced alone in his dusty apartment; his cat ran for cover. Until he realized he hadn't put in the Boogeymen disc. So he threw out the Springsteen CD, and with great trepidation, replaced it with Sister Blue. Turns out, it's the greatest disc ever made. Who knew? Well, no, that's a lie. But it's not bad. Listen to it when you're blue. It will make you happy. It is white boogie-woogie music for the '90s. Imagine all the lesser members of Little Feat and the Allman Brothers and the Doobie Brothers getting together to play credible rock versions of Professor Longhair songs (which no longer sound like Professor Longhair, but never mind). Maybe. Zippy can't really remember. He thinks he liked it though. It didn't make him angry. Nor did it change his lifebut heck, people can handle only so much radical change. He particularly liked "Call My Name"the opening acoustic guitar is quite beautiful, and the chorus of, Just call my name, and I'll be there/ If you want my love, just call my name, works even though I swear I've heard this somewhere before. "Ain't Gonna Work" could become Zippy's anthem. "Tell Me Why" almost made him cry, but Zippy does that a lot when he's completely wasted. "Jagerman" has a damn fine bouncy beat that begs to be danced to, but you know it would be better stoned out of your mind hearing it live while pretty hippie women in those long skirts and cute guys with ponytails and goatees do the hippie dance (what else would they do?) around you at 1:30 in the morning at some bar and you start to think that maybe you'll get lucky tonight and wake up in the morning cuddled against a female's side or feel a goatee scratching your chest, but deep in your heart you don't really care if you take anyone home or not because the moment is enough, and you start to wonder if maybe these hippies aren't all that bad, maybe you've got them all wrong, maybe you could even become one yourself. But of course, the next morning, you feel like hell, and you hate yourself again, and you hate the world, and you particularly hate that damn band, how could you have thought that stuff was good, but you're such a damn ingrate because I mean like they made you happy for a little while and in Zippy's pathetic, miserable, self-loathing alcoholic world that isn't such a bad thing, now, is it? Is it?
Turn That Racket Down!
Just what is an appropriate noise limit for Knoxville? As noted two weeks ago in Metro Pulse (Citybeat, Vol. 9, No. 33), that question has been raised by some clubs on the Cumberland Avenue Strip, who find the level of 80 dB (in commercial districts before midnight) too strict. To give readers an idea of how much noise things make, Zippy has been hitting the streets with his trusty Radio Shack sound level meter. To be in violation, you must break 80 dB (or 75 dB after midnight) from the property line. However, there are several exceptions to the law. Here's what the Zipster uncovered:
* The K-JAM free music festival in the World's Fair amphitheater: 100 dB (measured from the top rows of).
* A woodchipper mulching tree branches in the World's Fair Park: 84 dB (measured from the Clinch Avenue bridge, about 100 feet away).
* A country band playing in Market Square at lunch hour Tuesday (a city sponsored event): 84 dB (measured 50 feet away).
* A street preacher on the corner of Market and Union Tuesday lunch: 82 dB (measured from across the street).
* A band playing at the Historic Fort Sanders Neighborhood Association festival Saturday night: 82 dB (from about 100 feet away).
* Caterpillar wrecker demolishing a house on Laurel Avenue in the Fort Monday: 84 dB (from across the street).
Zippy "Cry for help" McDuff