Hospitality lived up to their name, for the record, when I paid a visit to their Red Hook apartment. A day after the release of their second record, Trouble, things were decidedly low key in the apartment shared by vocalist Amber Papini and percussionist Nathan Mitchel. When I arrived, there was no indication that the band had only just released a new record, only food on the stove and some quiet before the touring storm.
@1 week ago
We exchanged some words about Glenn Gould and Keith Jarrett, both in-studio hummers, as I untangle a mess of cables. I off-handedly make a comment about a copy of Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung sitting nearby with a bookmark nestled halfway through. Mitchel answers that he’s attempting to get into the mind of a critic in the wake of the album’s release. “You’re not a critic, are you?” He asks. I’m not sure how to answer.
I enjoyed the conversation, though I did feel myself falling back on stock music journalist questions, from time to time, as Papini and Mitchel passed the mic back and forth. It wasn’t so much out of habit as a genuine interest in the goings-on of a band the week of their sophomore release. By outward appearances, things appear mostly the same in their lives, but the buzz generated by the release of the band’s self-titled debut in 2012 has certainly amped up expectations for the record’s followup.
“It’s impossible for me to tell a story from Point A to Point B,” Rodney Anonymous explains off-handedly, toward the top of our interview. “I take a lot of detours.” You’ll figure that out soon enough, of course. The Dead Milkman’s mind and mouth move just about as quickly as you’d expect from the guy who wrote “Stuart.” Thirty years after forming the band, the frontman has yet to slow down, even in the face of the compressed disc he severely aggravated leaping off a stack of amps at a recent show.
@3 weeks ago with 3 notes
His taste in music has also refused to stay still (off-handedly jabbing his bandmates for their love of Wilco), with an outright refusal to listening to anything old, save, perhaps for the occasional Clash song. No one’s made of stone, after all. With that in mind, I probably should have seen it coming when he suggested we mean at a spot just off of Philadelphia’s South Street called Digitalferret.
The store is, it seems, the city’s foremost goth and industrial music store. When I arrive at around 9 on a Saturday night, the back half of the store is monopolized by a crowded table just settling in to a round of Magic the Gathering. Several employees kindly ask if they can help me when it’s pretty clear I’m not there for the card game. I spot Rodney rifling through a row of records. The scene’s proven a major influence on his more recent work, like Burn Witch Burn and 25 Cromwell Street — an despite the fact that he openly admits he’s in the place frequently, there’s always more to be found.
The shopping can wait, however. We pick up and head off to a tea place just around the corner, to talk about losing a friend and bandmate, Ronald Reagan and the miserable final years of the Milkmen’s first incarnation.
Even Karen Green’s office is a thing to behold, littered with stacks of old Robert Crumb floppies and The Whole Earth Catalog and behind those stacks, a box containing a homemade Elf Quest costume. There’s a wall of comics, of course, and various framed and signed scraps of art dedicated to the librarian, a theme that dominates all but one wall dedicated to ancient manuscripts and medieval art. In the hands of anyone else, such space might be cause to call the authorities or some reality, borderline schizophrenic hoarding. But for Green, it’s a career.
The Columbia librarian is a collector, a detective of sorts, tasked with traveling the country to sift through boxes and attend comics conventions in search of missing pieces in the ivy league college’s ever-growing sequential archives. A visit to her columbia.edu page reveals an entirely different set of passions. In fact, on first visit, you might suspect you’ve stumbled on the site of an altogether different Karen Green — it’s a common name, after all. But in amongst all of the antiquities is a single, small link simply title “comics.”
When Green first suggested the comics library, the university’s collection was virtually non-existent, a predictable trio of titles: Maus, Persepolis and Joe Sacco’s Palestine. Now it’s a thing to behold, rows and rows devoted to bound copies of sequential art from all over the world, with a strong focus on the US’s vibrant alternative comics scene.
It’s strange to realize, staring at the walls of books that more than 20 years after Maus won the Pulitzer, the notion of comics as legitimate academic pursuit still feels like an alien notion, but in an era in which it sits proudly on the shelf next to ancient manuscripts in the library of a hallowed university, it’s hard not to feel that such legitimacy isn’t such an impossible notion after all.
@1 month ago with 8 notes
#karen green #columbia #comics
It’s not too often I’m able to embrace in old ska indulges, so my old pal Dan Potthast was naturally at the top of my list of interview subjects when paying a visit to my old college town of Santa Cruz. When we arrived at the MU330 singer’s place, we got a two for one, with Mike “Bruce Lee” (he of Skankin Pickle, The Chinkees and Asian Man Records fame) seated on his living room couch. It’s a relatively brief conversation, certainly, particularly for RiYL’s first-ever two-person interview — we caught the duo right before they headed out to Slow Gherkin’s annual bro’s giving feast. Suffice it to say, it was one, big ska love fest.
@1 month ago
#dan potthast #mu330 #skankin pickle #chinkees #asian man records #bruce lee band
Hard to believe, but I’m pretty sure what you’re about to listen to is the longest conversation I’ve ever had with Mark Frauenfelder. We travel in several of the same circles and have interviewed on another multiple times — heck, I’ve even been writing for Boing Boing on a regular basis for a couple of years now (not to mention, of course, that this very show is a part of that site’s podcast network). But busy schedules have made such casual luxuries a near impossibility — among our many shared traits is a near compulsion for taking on new projects. Thankfully, however, Engadget’s twice-yearly Expand conference found us in the same room on the same coast at the same time.
The result is a 40 minute discussion about shared passions, like podcasting and the lost art of print. Frauenfelder’s also good person to chat up should you ever find yourself having an existential crisis about your self-appointed role as an online content creator. It’s a job that seemingly everyone does in some form or other, these days, but with the signal increasingly drowned out by digital noise, it continues to be a vital aspect of internet culture. And for nearly 20 years, no one has done the job better than Boing Boing, the site Fraunfelder founded with wife Carla Sinclair in 1995 as the digital counterpart to the popular zine of the same name.
Frauenfelder also serves as the editor-in-chief of Make Magazine, the passion for maker culture that has manifest itself as his 2010 book Made By Hand, a colony of honeybees and countless cigar box guitars. As for his other careers and hobbies, well, they’re much too numerous to attempt to list here. The best you can hope for is whatever ground you can manage to cover on the rare occasion that he’s got 40 or so minutes to spare.
@2 months ago
#mark frauenfelder #boing boing