Category Archives: The Placeholder Salutes

Winnipeg Writes a Letter to Conan O’Brien

As some of you may be aware, late night troubadour Conan O’Brien has been getting handed the shitty end of many sticks lately. In solidarity, the cast and audience of Comedy Loser, one of my favourite regular shows in the city, banded together to write him a letter.

You know the old saying about how if you put a thousand monkeys in a room with a thousand typewriters that eventually they will write Shakespeare? Well, I think this video is a shining example of that theory being put to the test. Regardless, it’s from the heart, and proof that all of Winnipeg stands behind our beloved CoCo. 

Ryan McMahon hosted it. I taped it. A crowd of over 120 is responsible for it.

Go Team Conan.

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The Placeholder Salutes – Marshall Ledbetter

Word Count – 950

Anyone who’s first sentence of their wikipedia article describes them as a “psychedelics enthusiast” is salute worthy in our books.

On June 14th, 1991, Marshall Ledbetter Jr. broke into the Florida state capitol building in Tallahassee. He barricaded himself inside the office of Wayne Todd, the Sergeant At Arms of the Florida Senate. Once inside, he made a number of phone calls to the local police, explaining the situation, and demanding that “society wake up and stop being automaton clones of one another”. A standoff situation ensued, as police were unaware if Ledbetter was armed or had taken hostages.

When asked what his demands were, Ledbetter faxed a note detailing his demands to local rock radio station Gulf 104…

Notable inclusions on the list were…

– 1 Gumby’s 20 incher veggie pizza with extra jalapenos

– 1 case of Asahi Dry

– 1 carton of Lucky Strikes (filtered)

– 1 CNN news crew (within an hour)

– 666 Dunkin Donuts for my fine friends in the Tallahassee Police Department, Florida State University Police Department, and the Leon County Sheriff’s Office

– $100 worth of Chinese Food

As his demands were being processed and analyzed by police, snipers and SWAT team members formed a phalanx around the capitol building. While on the phone with the police, Ledbetter also demanded that he be put on the phone and allowed to speak with Timothy Leary, Lemmy Kilmister, Ice Cube, and Jello Biafra.

The standoff ended peacefully after several hours of negotiation between Ledbetter and local police. He calmly walked out of the building wearing nothing but a Jimi Hendrix t-shirt and his underwear, holding a bottle of Jack Daniels and smoking a cigar. He was arrested on B&E charges, and forced to undergo psychiatric counselling. There were no hostages in the building, and he was completely unarmed the entire time.

Marshall Ledbetter died in 2003, which is a shame, because the world has always had a dangerous shortage of people like him. Any jackass with dreadlocks and a heightened sense of moral turpitude can chain himself to a tree and talk about how the man is keeping him down, but Ledbetter was the kind of revolutionary that spoke to a way more universal pandemic. That being the horrible internal oppression that man foists upon himself, keeping him from being the glorious bastard he knows he very well could be. All of us have dreamed at one point or another of doing exactly what he did, but he has thus far been the only one crazy, brilliant, and stupid enough to do it.

Jello Biafra himself became a huge fan of the man, and was very humbled to hear that he was one of the four people Ledbetter demanded to speak to. While he never personally met Ledbetter, he was quoted as saying…

“I have spoken with him. He was lucky to get out of there alive. If it had happened now, I’m sure they would have just gone in there and blown the place up, or just done it in Waco-style. He was institutionalized, and now he’s back out again walking the straight and narrow. But he sends me some odd anecdotes in the mail now and then. He was somebody who had had enough of the injustice in our world and chose to do something about it in very colourful fashion. I’ve been a long time fan of creative crime. The best part about this one is, it made a statement, it was a work of art, and not a single person got hurt.”

Years went by after that incident in 1991, and Ledbetter was never able to fully explain why he did what he did or what his exact motivations were. All he knew was he was pissed off, thought society needed a swift kick in the ass, and wanted to bring some whimsy to the idea of political protesting. He got peoples attention, and did so without killing anyone or writing a horrible whiny acoustic Ani Difranco-esque protest song.

I would never dare call him a hippie, but if caring about the state of the world and doing something about it makes you one, then Marshall Ledbetter was the greatest hippie to walk the face of the earth. For his legacy of dynamic confusion and clever disobedience, we at The Placeholder salute Marshall Ledbetter. Climb The Highest Mountain, and Punch The Face Of God.

And now, for your listening pleasure, we present ‘The Ballad Of Marshall Ledbetter’, performed by Jello Biafra’s metal side project, Lard.

Download song from the Alternative Tentacles site.

lyrics:

Six-hundred, sixty-six Dunkin’ Donuts
A twenty inch veggie pizza from Gumby’s
Extra jalapenos on the side
And a case of Asahi Dry

I wish to speak with Timothy Leary
Lemmy, jello, and Ice Cube Too
Carton of Lucky’s with filters
And bring a CNN news crew

Talahasse, Florida
Four AM, June 14, ’91
Capitol Building’s occupied
Broke the glass, walked right inside

Wouldn’t be advisable to enter
You don’t know the number of hostiles
Of if anyone’s got guns
Or if there’s hostages

I just want to speak my mind
More for you than just one sound bite

Mushroom Cop and Info Man have something to say
This whole world is disturbing me
I wanna cut a rap record each month
And mail my little pinkie to George Bush

Agh, agh
Where are my friends
Where are you
Where are you
I can’t believe it’s come to this

Sharpshooters on surrounding roofs
Traffic blocked off by SWAT troops
Evacuate the people inside
Pretend we’re CNN, say Leary’s died

I just want to speak my mind
More for you than just one sound bite

Twelve forty five, he emerged unharmed
J.D. in one hand, in the other, cigars
Hendrix t-shirt and his underwear on
Guess what, he never had no gun

I only broadcast my freakout to the world
I was a prisoner for twenty two years
When I broke through that door, I was free
Not to mention pretty damn lucky

Nowadays, boy, you’d just get shot

The Placeholder Salutes – Mojo Nixon’s Public Service Announcements

Word Count – 600

In times of great uncertainty and confusion, we at The Placeholder often search for a voice of reason and clarity to show us the way. When that does not work, we turn to Mojo Nixon.

Mojo Nixon, for the unenlightened, is the devil. The good kind of devil. The one who drinks whiskey, blows shit up, and screams at odd intervals just to make sure you’re paying attention. A rockabilly madman with a penchant for saying all the wrong things at exactly the right times, Mojo made a name for himself in the 80s by penning a number of instant classics, such as ‘Elvis is Everywhere’, ‘Jesus At McDonalds’, and ‘Debbie Gibson is Pregnant With My Two-Headed Lovechild’. He’s still alive and kicking, cranking out new material and hosting his own political radio show, lovingly titled ‘Lyin’ Cocksuckers’. You can find more in depth write-ups on his sonic escapades and amazing adventures here and here, but today, we are going to focus on a very specific portion of Mojo lore, that being the short period in history when a guy like him was actually allowed to talk on national television.

As some people may recall, when MTV first started up it used to have musicians on it. In those days, they would put anyone on the air who took the time to make a video and pay the postage to send it to them. The one glaring omission, for a while there anyway, was our man Mojo. Distraught at being overlooked by the MTV bigwigs, he penned a little ditty about Martha Quinn, one of their many fresh faced bubbly VJs at the time, in hopes of getting their attention. Shockingly, ‘Stuffin’ Martha’s Muffin’ did indeed get their attention, and the network gave Mojo the opportunity to record a series of commercial ‘bumpers’ for the network. These commercials have thankfully found their way to youtube, and now belong to the ages.

Regardless of the nostalgia factor of remembering a time when MTV would actually roll the dice with what they put on the air every now and then, these videos serve as a reminder that passion and insanity are often just the same guy in a different shirt. From clip to clip, Mojo is like a hopped up preacher testifying to his own private religion. He is not yelling to get peoples attention, but because yelling feels good and is way more fun than just talking. Ranting about America, theme parks, revolution, alcohol, Elvis, and just about everything else, Mojo puts having no perspective into perspective. A glorious affirmation of not-give-a-fuckery that we could all aspire to. If the world is pissing you off, piss on the world. Such is the gospel of Mojo Nixon, and for that, we at The Placeholder salute him and these PSAs. Climb The Highest Mountain, and Punch The Face Of God.

For those of you interested in getting a heaping helping of Mojo Nixon’s music into your lives, amazon.com is running a special promotion on all his albums. They are all available to download… FOR FUCKING FREE. That’s right, complete your Mojo Nixography in one fell swoop. Mojo himself has gone on record saying he endorses bootlegging of his live shows and albums, so don’t feel guilty hoarding the man’s work like the freeloader we all know you are. For those of you in Canada and elsewhere who can’t download things of amazon, you can grab it all in three giant chunks…

here

here

and here.

(a special thanks to noochnooch for upping those)

The Placeholder Salutes – Bob Log III

Word Count – 1230

“And then there’s this guy named Bob Log, you ever heard of him? He’s this little kid — nobody even knows how old he is — wears a motorcycle helmet and he has a microphone inside of it and he puts the glass over the front so you can’t see his face, and plays slide guitar. It’s just the loudest strangest stuff you’ve ever heard. You don’t understand one word he’s saying. I like people who glue macaroni on to a piece of cardboard and paint it gold. That’s what I aspire to basically.” – Tom Waits

He wears a motorcycle helmet and sings about how awesome he is. He plays super charged delta blues and wants your boob in his scotch. He’s dressed in a onesie and offers free rides on his knee. His sound is raw, primal, and ugly. He is the absolute opposite of everything modern pop music is, has been, and wants to be. Yet, he wields the power to make the whole world dance.

His name is Bob Log III, and he is your new hero.

(nsfw, watch it before youtube finds out there are tits in it.)

Hailing from Tucson Arizona, Mr. The Third was once the singing and slinging half of Doo Rag, a duo that paired him with friend and junk band troubadour Thermos Malling. The frantic guitar and distorted vocals of Log, coupled with the smashing and crashing of the improvised percussion section made Doo Rag a beloved sideshow attraction in their heyday. A fallout with Thermos mid-way into a tour opening for Ween forced Bob to adapt quickly to the sudden loss of fifty percent of his band. Like all decisions born of desperation, it would be this sudden foray into one man band-dom that would eventually lead Log into finding his true voice. Luckily for the rest of us, that voice speaks through a crash helmet with a phone glued to it.

Since that day, Log has toured relentlessly, leaving long trails of dropped jaws in his wake. Mastering the art of slide guitar is no easy accomplishment, but it is a man with little to no cognitive sense of his own limitations that ups the ante as high as he did for himself. The helmet was created to aid Log with hands free singing capabilities, though very often it is almost impossible to understand what the hell he is singing. At his feet are a kick drum, a modified inverted crash cymbal, and a foot controlled drum machine. A complicated set up that works only in the presence of a true professional. Surely, he could have done something easier. Something a little more refined. Something a tad less outlandish. He could have just learned to lean into the mic and sing like a normal person. There are plenty of drummers and bass players out there who would kill to be in a band with him. Nobody really knows why a man chooses to do things alone the hard way, but maybe it is because some people find it way more honest to go completely insane all by themselves.

Musically, his sound is much like a malfunctioning robotic organ grinder playing party music for a pack of dizzy and horny strippers and rodeo clowns. Combine the self aggrandizement of James Brown, the slide guitar of Mississippi Fred McDowell, the fuzz of an early Cramps record, and the good natured old fashioned smuttiness of a Tijuana Bible, and you have a fair estimation of his oeuvre. Four albums into his colourful career and still going strong, his songs about breasts, himself, and all things in between are as timeless today as they were the day they were written. His albums (School Bus, Trike, Log Bomb, and his newest release from this year, My Shit is Perfect), are not likely to be found in your local record shop, but they are also not likely to be taken out of your regular rotation once purchasing them. His infectious good times in this age of homogenized boredom are needed to maintain a healthy aural diet. The Placeholder recommends at least one hot Bob Log III injection every week, in order to ensure regularity and potency.

Bob’s infamous live show is truly a sight to behold, as his brand of sonic joyful malevolence is best viewed live and in person. Adding to the fury of his playing are his beloved audience participation exercises. He invites two women to sit on his knees while he plays his chart topping love song “I Want Your Shit On My Leg”. He climbs into a single person dingy and rafts the crowd while playing the aptly titled “Make ’em Say Wow”. Most notoriously, he presents a scotch on the rocks to the crowd, politely requesting a willing female in the crowd to dip their boob in his drink. The drink, and the act, have been immortalized by what many have called his magnum opus, “Boob Scotch”. All the antics aside, a Bob Log III show is one man, one guitar, and the party he and that guitar bring with them everywhere they go. Those going in looking to stand against the wall and look aloof will quickly find themselves dancing, screaming, and sticking their various extremities in crevices all around the room. This is the promise of a Bob Log III show.

Some studio wizard releases an album where every song is auto-tuned to the point where it may as well not have been recorded by humans anymore. Punk rock, and the very idea of punk rock, is so strict in most circles that it is anything but the soundtrack of rebellion. Humour in music is ostracized for its inability to sexually arouse teenagers. Blunt sexual talk in music is condemned for being unsuitable for children. Nobody wants to look like they are trying hard to please people. Everyone wants to make it look easy, and to have actually doing it be even easier. Flashy is considered bad taste in an age where the mediocre can get rich by simply being humble. In a climate like this, Bob Log III is the antidote to the mainstream. He fits no mold, and is not welcomed in open arms by any distinct faction of the grand music landscape. Hipsters hate fun, so they’re out. Blues purists may question the get-up and pre-programmed beats. Bob Log III exists to please no group and fill no category, yet his existence is undeniable, and his defiance is paramount.

When asked in an interview if he considers what he does to be a ‘novelty act’, Log responded by commenting that the label itself is something to be embraced rather than reviled.

“Maybe it is, but what rock and roll isn’t? I like the ridiculous shit, like Bo Diddley and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. I don’t know about serious rock and roll, I don’t know what the hell that is. Rock and roll is about making people dance and go ‘wooo!’, and that’s what Screamin’ Jay did, that’s what Bo Diddley did, and that’s what I’m trying to do, along with having the coolest guitar you’ve ever heard in your fucking life.”

Amen, brother Log. And with that, we at The Placeholder saulte you. Climb the Highest Mountain, and Punch the Face of God.

For tour dates, interviews, and more videos, including another boob filled not safe for work one, check out Bob’s site, www.boblog111.com

The Placeholder Salutes – I’ve Been To A MARVELOUS PARTY!

Word Count – 330
 
Alright store owners, you can all stop now. The sport of retail naming has officially reached its zenith.
 

 

Glory, I tell you. God damn glory.

I personally can’t think of any better way to name your business than a six word sentence describing in the first person past tense what service it provided once. Top that off with an all-caps closer and a completely unsuperfluous exclamation point, and you’ve just hammered the last nail in the coffin of any and all of your customers’ reservations. All that is left to do after such a brilliant marketing move is wait for the doors to burst open and welcome the rushing hoards of customers crying and violently throwing money at your head.

I hope and pray that other business take note of IBTAMP’s innovation and quickly follow suit, making all of our shopping excursions just as refined and uncumbersome. Might I suggest…

I’ve received a STYLISH HAIRCUT!

I’ve seen many ADORABLE ANIMALS!

I’ve eaten a SPECTACULAR MUFFIN!

I’ve fished with SUPERIOR BAIT!

I’ve had my teeth PROFESSIONALLY CLEANED!

I’ve purchased QUALITY PORNOGRAPHY!

I’ve experienced a THOROUGH DOUCHING!

Can’t you just hear the jaunty and debonair voices of a Noel Coward or a Frasier Crane reverberating in your head as you say those names? I know I do, and I’m sure that is exactly what these fine banquet accoutrement proprietors intended with their moniker.

Our pointy elastic chin-strapped hats are off to you, good sirs. Climb The Highest Mountain, And Punch The Face Of God.

When in Chicago, be sure to visit them for all your marvellous party needs. They’ve all been to at least one, or else they would not have gotten jobs there. A special thank you also goes out to yellowcardigan on twitter for bringing this to my attention. If we ever party together, now that I am aware of your connections, I expect at the very least for it to be somewhat astounding.

The Placeholder Salutes – Raymond Scott and Powerhouse

Word Count – 850

Don’t you think its about time you showed some appreciation for the man who wrote the soundtrack to your entire childhood?

Raymond Scott never scored a single Looney Tunes cartoon in his life. It was the wise acquisition of his music by Warner Brothers that would forever bind him to its bevy of colourful, unkillable characters. Scott was more content to create music for its own sake rather than cater it to the antics of an anthropomorphic cross dressing rabbit. His compositions, left in the skilled and able hands of Looney Tunes musical director Carl Stalling, would be reused and interweaved into dozens of popular golden age cartoons. As all this was going on, Scott continued to compose and create, paying little mind to the fact that his music was being drilled into the heads of children all across the world, and would continue to be for generations to come.

Scott’s music has been running through your head all day and you probably didn’t even know it. You’ve had dreams that he was responsible for. You’ve watched strangers walking, working, moving and playing while his compositions played in your head as their unknown accompaniment. His most pervasive and engrossing song was undoubtedly Powerhouse, a three minute salute to mental frenzy, featuring two distinct yet equally engrossing segments. The first, a fast paced running theme, usually invoking images of speeding cars or out of control mass transit vehicles (in my mind, anyway). The second, and probably the better known of the two, is the victory march of the industrial era. The simple jazzy riff that is the sound of all things coming together in a mechanically maniacal fashion. Simultaneously sinister, jubilant, and whimsical, Powerhouse can currently be heard playing on loop inside the head of every productive malcontent on the planet.

The term ‘brainwashing’ often gets a bad rap, and is seldom used in a positive sense. It is not very likely that you could convince people that having their brains anesthetized by an intoxicating piece of music is a good thing. Even though this was not the intent of Warner Brothers, Stalling, and certainly not Scott, that was exactly what happened with Powerhouse. Hum a few bars of any part of the song, and watch as all those around you smile and nod in recognition.

A skilled artists’ endurance is all about audience remembrance. You see it, you hear it, and if it did its job, you will remember it. Decades before advertising firms fought desperately to find the way into the minds of young people, Powerhouse was already settling in for a long stay. While certainly no accident, the pervasive use of the song aided its rise to prominence greatly. However, its catchy hooks were not created by studio wizards, and its repetition was not ushered in by black hearted marketing gurus. Scott, either by chance or wilful desire, was able to find an empty spot in our minds that Powerhouse was meant to occupy. There is a hole in our heads that we fill with the sights and sounds that please us the most, and that give us the most energy. We will often dip into that hole for those little remembered nuggets at the oddest moments, and are never angered or displeased when they suddenly come upon us. Powerhouse is not alone in this category. A special spot in all our heads is likely reserved for this, this, and most certainly this. To assume that getting a song stuck in your head immediately makes said song bad is underestimating the power of the skilled song and dance man.

Powerhouse is the soundtrack to the productive abstract mind. A mind that thinks of things that move and crash and turn and burn and jump and grind and fall. It is not a song for the relaxed or pacified. It begs for visualization, for physical manifestation. The many cartoons it has been featured in are obvious examples of such creation, but the fertile brain sewn with the seeds of Powerhouse can still provide beautiful and unspeakable visions that dare to be usurped. If your child is acting up in school, before turning to ritalin, turn to Powerhouse and hand the kid some crayons. Tell him to go nuts, and say it like you mean it.

For the indelible skid marks it has left on our brains, we at The Placeholder salute Raymond Scott and Powerhouse. Climb The Highest Mountain, Punch The Face Of God.

For more Powerhouse goodness, see the Steroid Maximus garage band version of destruction, maybe my favourite cover of the song to date. Not on youtube, sadly, but it you can preview and buy it here at track 13. Also, the Soul Coughing song Bus to Beelzebub uses the song as its backbeat. Told you it was synonymous with demonic public transportation.