Chambo's Internet Activity Pages for February 5, 2010

On the Liberation of Spores


• MYCELIUM ON THE RUN, EATIN: The Spore Liberation Front is here to show us how the study of mushrooms can help us all have more meaningful lives, aid in subverting “capitalist economic structures”, and prepare us for the coming “mycelial revolution” in human existence. The SLF makes amazing films (see the above embedded video) and ‘zines, such as the first issue of Radical Mycology, available for download here, or you can buy a hard copy at Little Black Cart. [MycoRant]

• MUSHROOM-FRIENDLY MUSIC, PART 1:
We always look forward to year-end/decade-end lists from niche publications like The Wire and When You Awake, as they’re usually full of way-out tunes that have slipped beneath our radar. One such genre-specific list that’s most definitely worth checking out comes from the techno nerds at Resident Advisor, in the form of their Top 100 Albums of the ’00s. It’s not all good — we would advise you to avoid anything that includes the term “nu-jazz”, for example — but the RA dudes get lots of credit for putting us on to the organic techno melodies of Trentemøller’s The Last Resort, the cavernous dub of Rhythm & Sound and reminding us to dig out Drexciya’s various Detroit-born dystopian “aqua-funk” menageries. [Resident Advisor]

• MUSHROOM-FRIENDLY MUSIC, PART 2: We know everybody’s already been checking Greg Davis’ amazing Crystal Vibrations blog for the freshest in retro-New Age jammers, but did you know Davis just started another blog to help everybody keep up with the most lifted of Indian ragas? It’s called Raga Vibrations, of course. We recommend starting with Brij Bhushan Kabra’s Indian Slide Guitar, and going from there. [Raga Vibrations]

• SNOWY SKY ISLANDS: The Davis Mountains of Far West Texas are a kind of ecosystem known as a “sky island,” a term that only hints at the beautiful escape they offer from the high desert grasslands that surround their rocky heights. Hike up to a good vantage point and the concept becomes all the more apparent, as one stands in a foot of snow amidst tree branches sagging with clusters of ice, looking out over arid plains thousands of feet below, dry and dusty under the same sunshine. We’ve been paying visits to our friends at the Davis Mountains Preserve, and documenting any number of lichens and bryophytes encrusted in snow and ice. More photos at Chambo’s photography blog, Into the Green.

Chambo’s Internet Activity Pages for August 28, 2009

Picture 110

• ACCIDENTAL GUNFIRE AND UNEXPECTED NUDITY: Doug Fine is a journalist who lives on a remote solar-powered ranch somewhere outside of Silver City, New Mexico. The founding of said ranch is chronicled in his sometimes corny but ultimately pretty fascinating book, Farewell, My Subaru. In the years since, Fine has remained almost entirely off-the-grid, save for the digital connectivity by which he maintains his career as a writer, as well as his blog: Dispatches from The Funky Butte Ranch. This has led him to consider how well he would do in a real grid-crash and the ensuing collapse of mainstream civilization that might soon follow in an essay called “In The Year 2049: Would I Survive A Worst-Case Scenario?” How would he mine the perimeter of his compound? Who would make his shoes? It’s especially entertaining to compare the responses of his city-dwelling pals who are all like “you’re nuts everything’s gonna be fine” and his fellow ranchers who are like “that’s a good idea about the mines.” [Dispatches from the Funky Butte Ranch]

• DO YOU EVER PLAN ON EATING OUT IN LOS ANGELES? Pulitzer-Prize winning food critic Jonathan Gold’s “99 Essential LA Restaurants” is a delightful read even if you don’t plan on dining out in Southern California anytime soon: It’s a journey from the obscure meats of Vietnamese strip mall joints to the finest haute cuisine, and as such it’s one of the best impressionistic portraits of what makes Los Angeles such a strange, delicious town. He’s known to compare tacos and noodles to different varieties of cocaine, he follows Spanish-language media in order to keep up with Mexican-American chefs and says things like this about a Korean spot out in Torrance:

We are as jingoistic about fried chicken as the next guy, and we’ve been to dives in Louisiana where the chicken was so good it made a roomful of testosterone-crazed roustabouts weep like your mother’s bridge club that time Steel Magnolias came on TV. But Korean fried chicken really is an evolutionary leap forward — steeped in a cabinet full of spices, saturated with garlic, double-fried to a shattering, thin-skinned snap dramatic enough to wake a sleeping baby in an adjoining room.

The new edition is available this week — this is gonna be the first time we pick up a hard copy of the LA Weekly since, well, Gold’s list from last year — and you can also read it online. [LA Weekly]

• ON BECOMING ONE MORE HORSE’S ASS: After 12 weird years of living in Los Angeles, California, I’m moving to Marfa, Texas early next week. Fitting that the sky above my house in Atwater Village is dominated by a massive plume of smoke rising from a forest fire in the San Gabriel Mountains; it always feels good to commence an exodus under a rain of ash. Chambo’s Internet Activity Pages shall resume upon activation of Arthur’s Marfa Station. [Bobby Bare – “One More Horse’s Ass”]

• SPEAKING OF MARFA: Yacht recorded their most recent album, See Mystery Lights, down there in West Texas. They’re giving away copies of the instrumental version over at the Free Music Archive and I am going to be playing it all weekend — along with lots and lots of Doug Sahm — while I load the moving truck. [Free Music Archive]

Headneck Bonanza: Doug Sahm live in 1972 with Leon Russell and the Dead

Garcia and Sahm onstage in Austin
Sir Doug and Jerry Garcia, onstage in Austin. Photo: Steve Hopson


Our celebration of recently departed hippie-country music pioneer John “Marmaduke” Dawson of the New Riders of the Purple Sage’s legacy started a conversation about the history of “headneck” music: tunes beloved in equal measure to cowboys, hippies, bikers and all varieties of stoner hicks, country heads and longhaired rednecks.

Beyond the New Riders and the Dead, the consensus seems to be that Commander Cody, Asleep at the Wheel and Doug Sahm (in his many incarnations, from dusty Texas boogie, accordion-flecked Tex-Mex and sun-dappled Mill Valley country) represent some of the pinnacles of this rowdy sound. After a bit of digging around in the Google crates, we found one of the holy grails of headneck history over at The Adios Lounge: a bootleg recording of an impromptu 1972 Doug Sahm, Leon Russell, Jerry Garcia and Friends show at the Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin, Texas.

On Thanksgiving weekend in 1972 the Dead were in Austin, on tour of course, and they joined Sir Doug and country-time piano genius Leon Russell — you know his rollicking keys from session work with The Byrds, The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan, his oft-covered song “Superstar”; and you really should seek out the riches of his 1971 solo album, Leon Russell and the Shelter People, as the psych-out cover art is just the beginning — on stage for a couple hours of once-in-a-lifetime country grooves.

doug sahm with spliff
Genuine Texas groover Sahm with spliff and brew


At our request, Lance — the gracious proprietor of The Adios Lounge — has re-upped the whole two-and-a-half hour jam session full of songs from Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson, Robert Johnson, Bob Dylan and Hank Williams, among many others. It’s a soundboard recording (A-/A for the tapers out there) full of Garcia’s lush pedal steel, Phil Lesh’s noodly bass, and fiddle duties handled by Marty Mary Egan and Thirteenth Floor Elevator (!?) Benny Thurman. Vocals are traded between Sahm, Garcia, Russell and what sounds like a room full of rowdy Texan headnecks having the time of their lives. “Holy shit” is right.

This is music for hot afternoons, sitting shirtless in the sun, chasing shots of green dragon with econo-brews and popping off at the empties with your “blaster of choice.” Many thanks to Lance for the re-post. Click here to go download yourself a copy.

Now who’s got the hook up on some vintage Commander Cody bootlegs? And “muchas Garcias” once again to longtime Arthur compadre Michael Simmons for initiating my search for this music.

Also: BONUS HEADNECK JAM after the jump …

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Dread Zeppelins: Letter from West Texas

Q: Where does the Border Patrol’s “drug blimp” go at night?
A: It sleeps in a field outside of Marfa, Texas.

dsc_0005
The Marfa aerostat, aloft in daylight


The so-called “drug blimp” is actually a tethered aerostat — a white helium balloon as big or larger than the portly tire-company-maintained dirigibles that flock to parades and sporting events — operated by the U.S. Air Force, which makes the data it collects available to NORAD and the U.S. Border Patrol. It is by far the most tangible of the lazy clouds floating through the skies of the southern region of Far West Texas, its onboard radar system keeping an eye out for drug smugglers flying or driving loads of cocaine and or marijuana over from the deserts of Northern Mexico. It’s unmanned and controlled from the ground, attached via a tether cable to some kind of rail system. Similar aerostat sites can be found in the Bahamas, Arizona, and broadcasting decadent episodes of “Nanny 911” or whatever via TV Marti into Communist Cuba from Cudjoe Key, Florida. Or at least that’s what the Air Force has to say about it.


The Marfa aerostat, grounded at 2:45am


I came across it moored, at about 3am, in a blazing circle of orange halide security lamps on my way from Los Angeles to visit friends in Marfa and Terlingua. I stopped and started snapping away with my camera, but kept getting that “willies” feeling that goes along with standing on a windy, deserted Texas road in the middle of the night, taking pictures of a government surveillance aircraft that chases narcotraficantes around.


Pinto Canyon Road, West Texas, by moonlight


The Marfa aerostat is part of Far West Texas’ complex system of border monitoring technology that includes triggers on rural routes that insure government agents will be checking up on late night back road cruisers. Or so I was warned by two local joint-passing bros when I inquired as to where my friend Sasha and I might catch a glimpse of the Marfa Lights, or at least document the West Texas hills in the light of the full moon. They pointed us down Pinto Canyon Road, but told us to expect company. No Border Patrol 4x4s were waiting for us though (nor were the mysterious Marfa Lights); there were only a few wary horses on hand to monitor our activity.

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DAILY MAGPIE – March 13th through 15th, PSYCH FEST II in AUSTIN, TX


Wooden Shjips
Black Angels
A Place to Bury Strangers
Dead Meadow
The Warlocks
Sky Sunlight Saxon (singer of legendary 60s garage band The Seeds)
Indian Jewelry
The Strange Boys
Golden Animals
and many others…

Come on the 13th to see Austin’s cult psychedelic heroes The Golden Dawn (childhood friends of Roky Erickson) as they perform their 1968 album “Power Plant” from start to finish.

Date & Time: March 13th, 14th and 15th (Go here to see a full schedule and show times)
Venue: RADIO ROOM (AUSTIN, TX)
Location: 508 E. 6th St. / Austin, Texas 78701
Cost: $15 for one day (All ages!)