Taxi's Articles

Disco For Cynics

Image result for music of the spheres
2016 – and what a year – don’t know whether to laugh or cry – some good, a lot of bad for the world – and we’re still in the belly of the tailspin.

But so what?!  Sticks and stones!  Perceived as fucked up, the world was always forever thus.

Today is the last day of the year and tomorrow will be no different.  It’s a little vacuous therefore to blow whistles and bells at midnight.  For me at least.  Rationalist.  Big cynic here.  And I’m inviting cynics of all sizes to get away from the din in the den of fools and join me for a moment or two of sheer cynicism and beauty.

No violins and no Kleenex allowed – no razor blades, no hope, no delusional change allowed –  just pure unadulterated poker-faced cynicism pontificating in a rose garden.  But why even use laden prose to describe the shocking life gripping us all when a simple song or two will do?

Ladies and gentlemen, I welcome you thus to my New Year’s Eve Disco For Cynics (with a dash of comedy and bitters).










*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *


*Feel free to add your own cynic’s song list in the comment section.  I may add more myself… and in the meantime, I’m wishing all you jubilant melancholics out there good health, safety, and sanity in 2017!  Now smile your cynical smile and fasten your seat belts – here comes the very bumpy 2017 that we all expect.



      • RudyM says:

        Wow, I never thought of her in connection with this, but now that you mention it, I know what you mean. I have to confess I never got too far with her, but whatever she was trying to do was fascinating.

      • RudyM says:

        Maybe both cynical and nihilistic in this case. I think it expresses cynicism about certain kinds of leader-follower relationships, cult/political/whatever (with references to Manson). Albeit, P-Orridge always seems a little too ambivlent about that sort of thing. Also, the whole album is one of my favorites from the early industrial milieu.

    • RudyM says:

      Since that didn't embed (I thought I had fixed that problem), it's Laura Marling's "Gurdjieff's Daughter," my favorite song from last year as far as I can remember.

    • seanmcbride says:

      I heard several X live gigs, including their first performance in Manhattan, at which Robert Christgau and Debbie Harry were in attendance. Great band.

      • RudyM says:

        I had to settle for hearing them on the radio in junior high in the early 80s. (I did see a solo Exene show some years later, but it was pretty sad all around.)

      • Taxi says:

        I find the band X overrated – what a bore! Their long-time manager is an old friend of mine and he tried hard to change my view and failed. And Excene reckoning herself a major generational poet is really off-putting. Venice Beach city has one of Excene’s stupid poems emblazoned on a public shower wall, surf side. This only brings down the standard of American poetry, imho.

      • seanmcbride says:


        I like X — for instance:

        X – Los Angeles

        But I think there are many bands of much greater importance (for instance, Pixies).

        Regarding rock and politics — Hillary Clinton is your boring grammy — bland, lecturing, oppressive, tired, infirm — Donald Trump is all rock and roll:

        +American as apple pie
        +bad boy
        +dark side
        +eruption of the id
        +heavy metal
        +Hunter Thompsonesque
        +keeping it real
        +punk attitude
        +rude boy
        +smashing idols
        +teetering on the edge
        +trashing hotel rooms

        It's no wonder he struck a powerful chord in American culture.


    • RudyM says:

      Brain-Computer interface. What could possibly go wrong?

      I will be like a character in a science fiction novel: Do you see that old codger over there? He doesn't have a brain implant! Can you believe there are still people around who never got their brains chipped?

  1. RudyM says:

    Maybe both cynical and nihilistic in this case.

    It's Throbbing Gristle, so unsurprisingly it has Burroughs and Manson references in it.

    But I think reading between the lines and in context of other things I know about TG, it's sort of proposing that different types of relationships–from the romantic, to the master/follower, to the political dictator/strongman/etc.–can all partake of the same authoritarian power structure. And of course, the religious or otherwise cultish can and often does overlap with sexual and political control.

    (Although, the "they try to eat us" part just seems like a bit of silliness if you ask me.)

    Ah. . . not sure I should have set myself up to talk about this. Every time I talk about music I tend to out myself, since I have a fairly peculiar mix of favorites in music.

    • Taxi says:

      Never really explored the depths of TG – I thank you for you insights on their material – I’ll keep it in mind next time I get a chance to listen to TG.

      Being an eclectic listener of music does not make one ‘peculiar’. You’ll be surprised how many humans share your song list.

  2. RudyM says:

    Wait, I missed the anti-X posts. I don't think X is overrated at all. Again, I am focusing on those first three albums, with a good chunk of the fourth, and occasional okay tracks after that. X has an amazingly tight and effective rhythm section. When I was a teenager I didn't realize how much they were indebted to rockabilly and early rock in general, but they are one of the most successful bands to combine that with punk elements (the most successful, in my opinion). To me, those first three albums rock and roll as irresistibly as the best early Beatles songs. At least in the up-tempo tracks, there is a constant movement to the songs that I find very winning. Also, while I am not into "Exene is a poet" stuff either, I do think X's songs toss out some great evocative lines (which is more than enough to keep me satisfied with lyrics, which I don't judge by the standards of poetry anyway). This is one of my favorite political songs (and the way they combine serious political concerns with their own relatively trivial complaints about radio programming actually has some appeal to me, though I can see how it could be a turnoff):

    X and the Avengers were my favorite punk bands in my mid-teens and I don't think anyone can change my mind about X at least.

    OK, gotta go do some work. Ad hoc meeting with someone in a few.

    • seanmcbride says:


      I share your appreciation of X and their punk rock/rockabilly fusion — but it's telling that they didn't inspire and set in motion a torrent of bands who further developed their style — unlike, say, Pixies, The Wipers and Nirvana, who did.

      Btw, I was in the back room at X's first Manhattan gig, and John Doe and Exene were having a bit of a spat. I got the impression that she was a self-indulgent drama queen who was barely able to keep it together — but she did manage to drag herself to the stage in turn in a good performance.

      I was especially impressed by Billy Zoom's guitar work.

      A band I still listen to now on a regular basis: Brian Jonestown Massacre.


    • RudyM says:


      I guess in objective terms of cultural impact, you may be right. Grunge didn't matter much to me, and it had more long-term influence on chart rock than I would have preferred; so it may be difficult for me to give credit where credit is due.

      I'm being self-indulgently subjective about it.

      On the other hand, I still think much of X's music was so catchy they "deserved" to be more popular than they were. If they had come a bit later, they might have been more successful.

      Exene as self-indulgent drama queen is entirely believable.

    • Taxi says:

      If we’re talking punk-rockabilly-pop fusion, the iconic Annabella Lwin from Bow Wow Wow is by far more interesting, melodic and entertaining than Excene and her drab band. Annabella Lwin was the essential inspiration behind Gwen Stephanie, Excene, and a bunch of other girl-fronted bands up-to-date:

      But really, the most ‘unique’ angst-ridden performer of that time (probably ever!) was Wendy O Williams (R.I.P.):

      • RudyM says:

        I think we will have to agree to disagree on X. I was never especially into Bow Wow Wow or Wendy O Williams! It's not about Exene in isolation, it's about how her voice intertwines with John Doe's, at least a lot of the time.

        I knew someone from Fresno who was involved in a marginal way (in a band, but a very abortive one) in the San Francisco punk scene. He was pretty down on X. On the other hand, when my ex-friend from Simi Valley and I used to run into an impasse about what music to play next, we usually ended up putting on X.


  3. RudyM says:

    Listened to this today in the car today. I had been thinking of posting this when this thread started, and I enjoyed it enough today that I am throwing it into the thread. After all, you did start this as a music thread. Now, will it or won't it embed?

  4. RudyM says:

    I think a lot of cult leaders and gurus are essentially rogue "social scientists." P-Orridge seemed fascinated by that, but I think he has a rather large dose of that in himself as well, and he has said as much, reading between the lines anyway. Plus he ran his own cult for a while (Thee Temple of Psychic Youth).

    It makes sense that the CIA and other intelligence agencies get involved with cult leaders and so forth, since it's an ideal way to carry out unethical, rogue social science research. I suspect that if it were looked at closely, the proliferation of cults/new religious movements/whatever you want to call them in the late 60s and 70s was driven in large part by intel basic research needs. Just some thoughts. I don't have any detailed arguments in defense of these guesses.

    • RudyM says:

      Not that psychiatrist and psychologists haven't often been all too willing to go along with bizarre CIA experiments, but I think it's probably more difficult to do laboratory group psychology (mini- society) experiments on a large scale. Might attract too much attention. Helping to get cult leaders up and running makes it more discrete.

      This is probably all boringly obvious.

  5. RudyM says:

    "E am interested in thee extension and investigation ov culture, ov mythologies, personal symbol systems, thus E chose to always work with a group ov Individuals. Our works are poor traits that interconnect. Whatever E do, am involved in, help thee expression ov, is, in a real way, a poor trait ov myself, and a poor trait of every Individual member ov thee group ov Individuals who collaborated with me on that particular work/action also. Yet there is a mystery involved. They create every part ov them dierctly, they are the sum total ov all who participate. There is a chain ov command, rather than a fragmentation ov specific responsibility, and it seems in coum way linked with certain examples of collective criminality. Perhaps it explains why E feel more akin to a cultural Charles Manson than I often care, or dare, to admit in public."–P-Orridge, from "NOTES FROM A MAGICKAL  DIARY 1967-87"

    (If I'm not careful, I am going to end up conjuring up Rowan Berkeley in the comments section!)

    I don't even really like the fact that I'm talking about this (but my mind keeps returning to it), since P-Orridge is way too close to the dark side, though probably more harmless since his boob job.

  6. RudyM says:

    I was just thinking about what Diamanda Galas had to say about Manson. Something along the lines of: in Greece they would have just taken him to the town square and castrated him. (Maybe she added "stone him" as well.) And I just saw that she has returned to recording music. She'd be caring for her mother. I like some of what she has to say here. I always think "good for you" when I see artists putting other important things–like their loved ones–ahead of their art. Women are generally better about that than men (if that's not too much of an understatement).

  7. RudyM says:

    p.s. to Rudy – what are you doing to get the vid embeds to work?

    I have no idea. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I think whether or not you add text (and if so, before or after) might make a difference but I'm not even clear on that.


Leave a Reply