"Since the First World War Americans have been leading a double life, and our history has moved on two rivers, one visible, the other underground; there has been the history of politics which is concrete, factual, practical and unbelievably dull; and there is a subterranean river of untapped, ferocious, lonely and romantic desires, that concentration of ecstasy and violence which is the dream life of the nation."

Norman Mailer
"The whole work of healing Tellus depends on nursing that little spark, on incarnating that ghost, which is still alive in every people, and different in each. When Logres really dominates Britain, when the goddess Reason, the divine clearness, is really enthroned in France, when the order of Heaven is really followed in China--why then it will be spring."

"This new history of yours," said McPhee, "is a wee bit lacking in documents."

C.S. Lewis

Synchronicities this week

  • June 24 Midsummer/St. John’s Day
  • June 24, 1947 The first flying saucers are sighted over Mount Rainier by pilot Ken Arnold.
  • June 24, 1542 St. John of the Cross, Spanish Carmelite mystic and poet, is born.
  • June 24, 1938 500 ton meteorite lands near Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.
  • June 24, 1717 First Free Masons' grand lodge founded in London.
  • June 24, 1374 A sudden outbreak of St. John's Dance causes people in the streets of Aachen, Germany, to experience hallucinations and begin to jump and twitch uncontrollably until they collapse from exhaustion.
  • June 24, 1314 Battle of Bannockburn; Scotland regains independence from England.
  • June 24, 843 Vikings destroy Nantes.
  • June 23 Midsummer’s Eve
  • June 23, 1972 Nixon & Haldeman agree to use CIA to cover up Watergate.
  • June 23, 1942 Germany's latest fighter, a Focke-Wulf FW190 is captured intact when it mistakenly lands at RAF Pembrey in Wales.
  • June 23, 1888 Frederick Douglass is 1st African-American nominated for president.
  • June 23, 1848 Workers’ insurrection in Paris.
  • June 23, 1713 The French residents of Acadia are given one year to declare allegiance to Britain or leave Nova Scotia, Canada. They choose the latter, migrate to Louisiana, and become Cajuns.
  • June 21 Summer Solstice (11:28 a.m.).
  • June 21, 1964 Three civil rights workers-Michael H. Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James E. Chaney-are kidnapped and murdered by the Klan in Mississippi .
  • June 21, 1948 The 33 1/3 RPM LP record is introduced by Columbia Records.
  • June 21, 1944 Ray Davies of the Kinks born in London.
  • June 21, 1916 Mexican troops beat US expeditionary force under Gen Pershing.
  • June 21, 1877 The Molly Maguires, ten Irish immigrant labor activists, are hanged in Pennsylvania prisons.
  • June 20, 1947 Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, gangster, the “man who invented Las Vegas,” shot dead in Beverly Hills, Cal.
  • June 20, 1909 Errol Flynn, greatest of the swashbucklers, born in Hobart, Tasmania.
  • June 20, 1944 Congress charters Central Intelligence Agency.
  • June 20, 1943 Detroit race riot kills 35.
  • June 20, 1893 - Lizzie Borden acquitted in murder of parents in New Bedford Mass.
  • June 20, 1871 Ku Klux Klan trials began in federal court in Oxford Miss.
  • June 20, 1837 Queen Victoria at 18 ascends British throne ; rules for 63 years ending in 1901.
  • June 20, 1756 146 British soldiers imprisoned in the "Black Hole of Calcutta." Most die.
  • June 20, 1631 The Irish village of Baltimore is attacked by Algerian pirates.
  • June 20, 1214 The University of Oxford receives its charter.
  • June 20, 451 Germans & Romans beat Attila the Hun at Catalarinische Fields.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

You Don't Want to Tell Your Children You Missed Scott Miller

It's a rather tired critical commonplace to say that a
band is "shamefully underrated" or "shamefully ignored," or some other words to the effect that there is a wide gulf between the critic's estimation of the band, and the general, music-buying public's. It's been said so often now that it doesn't carry much weight. But if it's shameful you want, I'll give you shameful. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Scott Miller, one of the great rock and roll talents of our epoch, and a man who could never quit his day job.

Back in the 80s at UC-Davis, Scott, a native Californian, drew together a band that he called Game Theory, with a peripatetic lineup, though each version stayed together long enough to learn Scott's groove. Game Theory began to attract an audience of college kids and local skaters. They were beginning to hear something ecstatic crackling through cheap amps. It was the sound of a kid who'd been working out in his head (and on his guitar) since early childhood how the Beatles made magic with two guitars, bass and drums, thought he saw the answer in Alex Chilton and Big Star, and absorbed a lot of sophisticated songwriting and production tips from Todd Rundgren and Bryan Ferry. There were other things you cold hear, too, hints of bright pacific sand and surf and a cloud of Jefferson Airplane fog-bound San Francisco melancholy.

It was always too easy for music biz folks and music geeks, hung up on categories as they often are, to associate Game Theory with power pop, or "quirky pop," or New Wave. But paying closer attention, you heard and felt that Scott Miller and Game Theory were the Platonic ideal of power pop. Having fully interiorized the lessons of the 60's, he was free, deliciously free to explore zones of lofty, stratospheric melody, tossing off heartbreaking melodies, finger-popping hooks with manic prolificity. As for the power part of the equation, Game Theory were always a rock and roll band first--the melodies and hooks a sweet counterpoint to the tense, compressed frenzy of the band's rave-ups. As a lead guitarist, Scott was always a combination of balls and invention. (His break on "Jimmy Still Comes Around" with The Loud Family, a later Scott aggregation, sounds like what Pete Townsend might be doing if he'd just turned twenty.) Game Theory got signed to a record label, put out a string of records to good critical notices, and started building a little national cult, a promise of bigger things in those heady days of college radio.

Part 2 Tomorrow

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