Shamelessly Punting: A Ranking of Things That Turn 25 This Year

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that I just did this. Well, nothing’s happening, so I guess i’m doing it again. Next week is the Nebulas, that’s very exciting. Expect to see at least one more of these, no less! I can only be baffled by the existence of weird records so often, you know. 

Jeff Smith, Bone #1: Out From Boneville

Neil Gaiman, Sandman: The Kindly Ones

Mr. Show with Bob and David

Welcome to the Dollhouse

Palace Music – Viva Last Blues

Babe

NewsRadio

Geraldine Fibbers – Lost Somewhere Between the Earth and My Home

Charles Burns, Black Hole

Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist

Radiohead – The Bends

The Maxx (the tv show. The comic is from 1993, and would be #1 on any of these lists ever, because it’s probably my favorite thing to ever exist ever. The show was good though.)

Friday

PJ Harvey – To Bring You My Love

James Loewen, Lies My Teacher Told Me

Sonic Youth – Washing Machine

Toy Story

Bjork – Post

Twelve Monkeys

Hum – You’d Prefer an Astronaut

Stuck Rubber Baby

Swans – The Great Annihilator

Seven

Pulp – Different Class

The Drew Carey Show

Mike Watt – Ball-Hog or Tugboat

Star Trek: Voyager

A Considered Look at Every Inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Part 19

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a place that I find, as an institution, vexing. The actual, physical hall of fame – the pyramidal building on the lake in Cleveland – is pretty cool, but it is spoken and thought of often as an intangible – as a sort of arbitrating body on the worthiness of the body of rock musicians. My thought, for many years upon surveying lists 1  and the like was to think that they have about a fifty percent success rate for getting it anything like right.

But what if it doesn’t? Previously I listened to and considered each of the best-selling albums of all time, and learned that they were considerably more of a mixed bag than I had thought 2 So what if the inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are the same sort of deal?

And so it’s time to dive in and take a look at what the nominees and their enshrinement actually are.

Click the links for Part 1,Part 2Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17 and Part 18 of this series.

NOTE: Because the list of songs at the end makes the list of nominees twice as long as it is in traditional years, these last few entries in this series will only cover one year each. This is also convenient, as there are still no damn awards shows, so….

2019

The Cure

WHO THEY ARE: Post-punk’s cuddliest goths

WHY THEY’RE HERE: As shoo-in candidates become more rarely inducted, it’s nice to see a band get in that was extremely popular, hugely influential, and artistically viable for a very long time. The cure inspired countless bands, had a bunch of hits, and made a bunch of great records, and continue to do so even now.

AND…?: Oh, I love the Cure very much.

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: Yes

Def Leppard

WHO THEY ARE: The most popular of the NWOBHM bands, if I’m being charitable. 

WHY THEY’Re HERE: they sold a tonne of records, and they really pioneered a sound (with producer Mutt Lange) that took over the radio for a long time in the eighties. So they were “influential” in that sense, to be sure. The problem is that basically everything they did that other bands did after them is largely made of things that I’d request be left out of my rock records, and their “influence” was directly contributing to a lot of terrible music. It’s hard to hold a band responsible for the things that came after them 3, but when it’s the band’s whole mien that is copied and used to make terrible music, then it seems a little bit more warranted. 

AND…?: Def Leppard were awful. Even the handful of songs they’ve made that aren’t outright nausea-inducing are, at best, forgettable radio dreck. 

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: No

Janet Jackson

WHO SHE IS: The most famous of the Jackson sisters, and the second most famous Jackson

WHY SHE’S HERE: Well, rolling back the usual boulder of “this isn’t, by any available definition, rock and roll music” and forgetting about it once more 4, Janet Jackson was, within her milieu, tremendously influential. She made interesting records that managed to sell well despite often being weird as hell, especially considering she could have just coasted on her name (which many of her siblings did).

AND…?: You know, Janet Jackson’s music isn’t for me, but I’m glad as heck that it’s in the world, and I don’t begrudge anyone that loves it.

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: Sure

Stevie Nicks
WHO SHE IS: One of the singers for Fleetwood Mac. 

WHY SHE’S HERE: Her solo career yielded a bunch of hits. People go ape-banana-nuts crazy for Stevie Nicks, and that’s something. She’s another of those people that has this huge, deeply-dedicated fanbase that I can’t really put my finger on. Generally speaking (and it’s the case here) I assume that rabid devotion has to do with something I don’t understand, and am willing to accept that there’s more going on in her music than I am able to credit and that, therefore, she is a worthwhile and influential figure.

AND…?: I don’t get it at all, but, again, am willing to allow for the judgment of people to whom this music means a great deal, and defer, in this particular estimation, my own judgment for theirs.

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: Probably, but I can’t explain it at all. 

Radiohead

WHO THEY ARE: The most recent RRHOF inductees to form, certainly. 

WHY THEY’RE HERE: They were very popular, and extremely well-regarded. They managed, during their high point, to take their music to some really interesting and innovative places, and with it, take their audience to their furthest corners. I’m not sure what their cross-generational appeal is beyond their handful of hits, but for Rock People roughly my age, they’re pretty much a godhead. 

AND…?: well, at their best they were, anyway. They’ve continued to make albums that are fine, but their high water mark (The Bends/OK Computer/Kid A/Amnesiac) is one of the best four-album stretches ever made by anyone, and if they don’t live up to that, well, almost nobody does. 

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: Yes

Roxy Music

WHO THEY ARE: The best glam band that ever was, primarily because their music dressed like glam rock, but behaved functionally as punk-inflected prog.

WHY THEY’RE HERE: You know, I’m generally kind of surprised that they’re here, but it’s for all the usual reasons. They made a tonne of cool records, they sold a bunch of copies of them, they launched a bunch of bands. Bryan Ferry really made an archetype out of his sleazy lounge-act onstage persona, and while I’m not sure how much of Brian Eno’s influence contributed to their position as inductees given that he’s not represented anywhere else here, I’m going to go ahead and cite his incredible synth/electronics work in the context of this band as a major source of the joy in their music.

AND…?: I like them a lot, especially the Eno records (Roxy Music and For Your Pleasure), although they were always pretty good.

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: Yes

The Zombies

WHO THEY ARE: The last of the British Invasion bands to be inducted. I mean, I’m comfortable going out on that limb, and I guess the surviving members of Herman’s Hermits can laugh at me if I’m wrong.

WHY THEY’RE HERE: They were tremendously influential and well-regarded, even if they didn’t have as many hits as other BI bands. They also followed the general BI model of having some hits and then moving on into making great, horizon-expanding records afterward. They created a blueprint for a sort of pastoral, non-aggressive art-rock (along with the Kinks, although the Zombies were more musically accomplished and, for lack of a better term, “fancier” sounding) that influenced lots of bands, albeit very few that became particularly famous.

AND…?: I love The Zombies beyond reason, especially Odyssey and Oracle, and while it’s true that their reasons are a little flimsier than some other BI bands, the fact that they were so goddamned good makes up some ground.

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: Yes.

The Chantels – “Maybe”

WHAT IT IS: It’s probably the first “Girl Group” song, although calling something the first is tricky.

WHY IT’S HERE: The RRHOF has a real thing with fifties vocal groups, and an opportunity to induct songs independent of artists is an opportunity to get some more of them in here. So here we are. 

AND…?: I guess it being first gives it some claim on the spot, but I’m not sure that I agree that that’s enough to get it in there. It’s not a particularly good song.

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: Not really

The Champs – “Tequila”

WHAT IT IS: The song that Pee Wee dances too in the biker bar

WHY IT’S HERE: Because everybody knows it, and everybody loves Pee Wee

AND…?: It’s fun, I guess, and I suppose there’s a lot to say about the presence of novelty songs in rock and roll, especially early rock and roll, but there are lots of much-better instrumentals that could have taken this spot.

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: No, but I’d never stop anyone from listening to it. It’s a lot of fun.

Barrett Strong – “Money (That’s What I Want)”

WHAT IT IS: It’s been a hit for a bunch of people (including the Beatles), but the original is a real one-of-a-kind, involving Barrett Strong jamming on the piano and, if the folks involved are to be believed, two random strangers that wandered into the studio and were lost to antiquity.

WHY IT’S HERE: It’s a terrific song that’s been a hit a bunch of times, and probably the best example of the early, wild and woolly R&B days of early Motown. The recording itself might not be influential as such, but it’s certainly aspirationally – a song that sounds like this is the sort of thing one could spend a long time chasing.

AND…?: I love this song, and it’s a good example of a song that should be in despite the performer not belonging himself as a performer (Barrett Strong could be inducted as a songwriter, but not really as a performer)

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: Yes

The Isley Brothers – “Twist and Shout”

WHAT IT IS: Oh come on, you know “Twist and Shout”

WHY IT’S HERE: for many of the same reason as “Money”, honestly. It’s a song everyone knows that’s been a hit a bunch of times, including for The Beatles.

AND…?: This is an interesting one, because the Isley Brothers themselves were inducted (rightfully) in 1992 5, and they’re still here, which seems to imply that induction for a song is separate from induction as an artist. We’ll see if that bears out any further, and also it probably opens the door for a bunch of Beatles songs or Bob Dylan songs or whatever. 

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: Absolutely

The Shangri-Las – “Leader of the Pack”

WHAT IT IS: A much better girl-group song than “Maybe”

WHY IT’S HERE: It’s the best teen-tragedy song (dude bites it on a motorcycle), and, while it didn’t invent the “Be My Baby” drumbeat 6, it’s definitely an early entrant in its appropriation.

AND…?: On an early tour, the drummer for the Zombies would “play” the motorcycle engine by…starting a motorcycle backstage. Reports that the original was achieved by driving a motorcycle through the studio were found to be greatly exaggerated.

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: Yes

The Shadows of Knight – “Gloria”

WHAT IT IS: The uh…worst version of one of the greatest songs of all time.

WHY IT’S HERE: Well, it’s still one of the greatest songs of all time, but I’m utterly at a loss to explain why the Shadows of Knight version is the one that’s here. It should be Them’s version, which is both the original and better than this version in every single way.

AND…?: No seriously. Are the Shadows of Knight blackmailing someone? What the hell?

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: Not in this form, no. 


  1. also the centerpiece of the museum itself, for those that have never been there, is a very long video encapsulating each inducted class, with clips of performances by most of them and things like that, and is generally a pretty cool thing to behold. 
  2. although they did, as you can read here and going back from there, skew toward “pretty bad” 
  3. the above blurb in praise of The Cure, for example, doesn’t hold them responsible for every band that sounds like The Cure, a set of bands that is, almost to a one, pretty terrible. 
  4. I mean, we’re nineteen installments into this thing, I think it’s time to consider the battle officially lost. 
  5.  by Little Richard, may he rest in peace 
  6.  it goes “dum. dumdum. DAH. dum. dumdum. DAH.” and once you hear it you’ll find it everywhere. My favorite deployment of it is in the Jesus and Mary Chain song “Just Like Honey” 

Who the Fuck Listens to This (I guess): Danzig – Danzig Sings Elvis

So, Danzig finally made the Elvis covers album he’s been working on forever, and, as it happens, there’s still nothing else happening to blog about, so here we are, confronting it. 

To be fair, this might be the rare album that got through anyway. I’ve relaxed the criteria for WTFLTT for the last couple of months 1, but generally, it has to be a truly baffling listening experience. I’ve mentioned it before, but this seems like as good a time as any to sort of re-pilot what it is that I’m doing here. 

It’s not really about the album being bad (although, as a general rule, the WTFLTT canddiates are pretty bad), or even about the album being made for bad, dumb reasons (lots of albums are made for bad, dumb reasons, and they have fans). In order for me to consider it here, I have to be literally unable to imagine an audience for it, sort of.

I say sort of because there’s an obvious answer – anyone with a fanbase will, presumably, have that fanbase listen to whatever it is they’re making 2. So the question in the title has a sort of invisible parenthetical of “outside a big fan of this person”. Hell, I’ll jump ahead and say that even if I weren’t doing this, I might have given Danzig’s Elvis covers album a spin anyway, out of nothing more than curiosity, although see the conclusion for more along these lines. 

No, in order to reach the lofty heights of me listening to it just to figure out who would listen to it, it has to be not just inessential, not just unlikely, but baffling. Covers albums usually fall into this category – they come up here more  than any other category of album 3, and single-artist covers albums are even moreso, although there aren’t as many of them floating around. They tend to be a late-career stab at some kind of relevancy – the unspoken mission statement appears to be “you aren’t listening to my music, but what if it was the music of someone else, who you might like more.”

Although that’s not entirely what’s happening here. As with many things, Danzig is an exception. While much of Danzig’s music is ridiculous, and many of its fans are pointedly into the fact that it’s ridiculous, it generally appears to be the case that Glenn himself is presenting his vision straight-up, it’s just that that vision happens to include being like a blues-metal version of Lux Interior 4

That said, ridiculous or not, Glenn Danzig (the namesake and lone permanent member of the band Danzig) has worked extremely hard, doing much of the lifting involved in his career themselves – the early Misfits records are self-released, and while he had a measure of mainstream success from his Rick Ruben-abetted solo records, he doesn’t seem to be particularly fussed about having put the albums since then out in smaller, less-supported means. That extends even to this record 5, which was recorded piecemeal in between other sessions. His touring guitar player, Tommy Vincent is the guitar player on the whole record, but Glenn plays bass and drums on all but one song (“Fever” has drums by his former drummer, Joey Castillo of all people), and, of course, sings them all. 

There’s no arguing, then, that this isn’t something that means a lot to the man himself – he worked hard to record a bunch of his favorite songs by his favorite singer. Interviews and the like have revealed him to be a very serious Elvis fan, and he eschews most of the biggest hits in favor of some catalog cuts, and on cannot doubt either his passion, his seriousness or his genuine attempt to pay tribute to a dude that he likes.

That answers why he made it, anyway. Now, who the fuck would listen to it? The tracklist is one thing – I knew a couple of these songs, but I’m something less than an extremely casual Elvis fan 6, so it’s not exactly an enticement. That leaves one sort of reconstructing the performances as one hears the Danzig versions – or at least, it left me doing that, imagining what the Elvis version would sound like as I was hearing the cover. 

The instrumentation helps this along – it’s all clearly built to be very “period-accurate,” I guess. One can imagine that it’s what Glenn hears in his head when he remembers these songs, anyway. The arrangements are clearly tweaked to suit the fact that it’s a Danzig record, and, at first blush, they’re refreshingly minimal. There’s a guitar, a bass, a drum set, and the occasional piano. It’s washed over with a distracting reverb situation, theoretically to ape the sound of the fifties recordings. That’s what’s with the quote marks on “period-accurate” – they didn’t have whole-track digital reverb in the fifties, and also it sounds weird the longer it goes on. It’s clearly intentional however, as it’s smeared all over every track. 

Except the vocals. And now I have to talk about the vocals. I don’t want to talk about the vocals, but the vocals are what really elevate this to truly baffling levels. Look, Glenn Danzig is being genuine here. He loves Elvis. He’s singing his favorite Elvis songs. And he’s singing them badly, and that sort of is the fulcrum of the problem with this record. 

Single-artist covers albums are best suited to songwriters – a singer can get into the catalog and arrange the things that the person wrote in a way that brings to light the effect that the writer had on the person doing the covering. Covering a bunch of songs by a singer who largely didn’t write his material means showing off the influence that the singer had on the coverer as a singer. And we know what influence Elvis had on Glenn Danzig as a singer – we can hear it in all of Danzig’s songs. It’s right there. So this is a weird decision, but it’s made even weirder by the intractable nature of the human body. 

That would be one thing, but there’s also the inexplicable decision to leave the vocals out of the “dunk everything in a big bucket of reverb” approach to the production. Danzig’s best work is as a band, and the decision to leave the vocals floating over the top of it, making it sound something like a karaoke version of these songs, rather than mixed into the songs itself, really draws attention to the differences between the two singers. And whatever else one might want to say about Glenn Danzig, nobody deserves to be compared to young Elvis as a singer. It means that even if some of the material could be engaging, it takes some real effort to get through the wall put up by the offputting sound of it.

There are high points. The opening “Is it So Strange” is pretty good for all that, and by being the first song it introduces the elements of the record, and therefore gains some traction for the novelty of the experience. “Love Me” is the most effective of the ballad-y-er songs, although the “all dirge all the time” approach does wear by the end of the record. “When it Rains it Really Pours” benefits the most from the arrangement, and the vocal is pretty good, so it’s almost worth hearing again. That doesn’t stop it all amounting, in the end, to some thin gruel. It’s disappointing to hear something with this kind of passion and drive amount to so little.

There’s so much behind it, and it’s weird enough in its idea, that the question (as mentioned above) of “who the fuck listens to this?” is a pretty easy one to answer – anyone’s who’s curious and into it for the weirdness factor. But the real question, as it sometimes is, is “who the fuck would listen to this a second time?” I don’t have the answer to that one, to be honest. I can’t imagine sitting through it all again. 


  1. because, again, there’s nothing else going on that’s within the penumbra of the site, and it’s fun to be mad about something that isn’t, you know [gestures vaguely at literally everything], which is pretty well out of everyone’s control in the first place 
  2. the last record I did for this feature was Jeremy Renner’s, and that dude had enough people to populate an app, so clearly there’s someone out there that his music exists to serve the needs of 
  3. previous entrants in the cover-album situation include the Lemonheads (who, to prove my earlier point, I went and saw perform live on the tour for their covers album), Morrissey and Third Eye Blind 
  4. Or, you know, “Evil Elvis,” a nickname that has been mentioned in seemingly every piece written about this album. Which is fair, it’s an Elvis covers album. 
  5. released on the passionate, if not-my-thing, indie Cleopatra records, who must be thrilled to have Danzig. 
  6. meaning that I like Elvis just fine, but very rarely put him on for pleasure and can’t remember the last time I listened to his music with any kind of depth or even particular attention 

The Best Records of April 2020

Fiona Apple – Fetch the Bolt Cutters (I’m only human, after all)

Moor Jewelry – True Opera (The other Moor Jewelry stuff is great, but it turns out, with the benefit of hindsight, that it isn’t as good as the blown-up live-band hard-rock thing they’re doing here)

Pink Siifu – NEGRO (A fantastic noise-rap album, that actually goes to significantly more places than other fantastic noise-rap albums)

Midwife – Forever (This is an excellent sort-of shoegaze album. As immediate as it is delicate)

KeiyaA – Forever, Ya Girl (I dunno. Good month to have “forever” in your album title, I guess. This is great weird R&B, in the manner that I am most like to approve of wildly)

How to Feel About A Bunch of “Upcoming” Superhero Entertainments, Part 2

So last week I tackled the movies that were in whatever state, and this week I’m here to round up whatever tv shows I can find information about. 

Again, there is no reason to assume we’ll ever be released from the hell in which we currently reside, but it’s fun to pretend, so let’s just go ahead and make-believe that all of this is definitely going to happen! 

Justice League Dark

WHAT IT IS: The comic is a sort of cosmic-horror-themed take on the justice league, featuring John Constantine, Zatanna, and several superheroes I don’t know as much about. JJ Abrams is producing it for the new HBO Max service. 

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Well, it could be visually interesting, given the comic, and the HBO Max setting could mean that it isn’t as constrained as it would otherwise be. Plus, JJ Abrams shows start strong, so there might be a couple of good seasons.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: It’s stupid. And the other time they tried to bring Constantine to televisions it was stupid. And also JJ Abrams shows inevitably fly apart.

Stargirl

WHAT IT IS: A show about a girl who finds a magic staff thing and becomes mega-powerful. It takes place in Georgia. That’s fun.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: DC stuff has a much better track record on television, so if it’s more like the CW shows than the movies it might be fine. 

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: I don’t actually know much about DC Universe, where this is meant to be released, so I don’t know much about its production history or aesthetic or whatever. But since I have no strong feelings about any of it one way or the other, I have no real reason to waffle, particularly. 

FreakAngels

WHAT IT IS: Crunchyroll is developing Warren Ellis’s erstwhile webcomic into an anime series

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: It was a pretty wild webcomic, and it would probably translate pretty well into animation.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: I dunno, it’s probably going to be fine. I don’t watch a tonne of anime, and I don’t have Crunchyroll, so I’m unlikely to see much of it, but that doesn’t really matter in terms of how good it will be. 

WandaVision

WHAT IT IS: The post-Endgame adventures of Vision and Scarlet Witch

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Well, it’s been marketed as a comedy, which could be fun. They’ve cast Kathryn Hahn as the “nosy neighbor,” which is pretty good. Also Kat Dennings is playing her character from the Thor movies, which ties it more closely in with those, which is probably a good idea 1

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Does Paul Bettany do comedy? Also, it probably won’t have anything to do with Tom King’s incredible, character-redefining run on the book, which isn’t itself a liability, but is a little bit disappointing. It’ll probably be fine

Helstrom

WHAT IT IS: Hoo boy. This is a series based on Hellstorm, who was another grimdark nineties character. He’s the son of Satan 2. Sigh.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Well, it could have a worthwhile visual identity I guess. God knows Lucifer turned out better than it should have.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: It was developed for Hulu outside of the Disney stable, so it’s a bit more of a wild card than some of the other Marvel stuff. That and the book, you know, sucks real bad. 

Spidey and His Amazing Friends

WHAT IT IS: It’s about Spider-Man, here acting in concert with his friends. I’m told they’re amazing. This is actually very close to the title of one of the craziest Marvel related properties, the early-eighties Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, which birthed Firestar into the world 3. This is meant to be a show explicitly for kids, and is airing on Disney Junior, where animated Marvel shows tend to reside. 

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Because Spider-Man is having a real moment, and it’s been going on for some time. Also: Spider-Man is awesome. 

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: I mean, the Spider-Bubble could pop, I suppose. Also, it’s a kid-focused show, so that adds some uncertainty, but I’m sure it’ll be fine. Everything is fine.

Loki

WHAT IT IS: Loki’s adventures in time travel with his handy dandy tesseract.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Leaving aside that everyone loves Tom Hiddleston, and putting more of him in the world can only be a good thing, I’m going to go out on a prognosticatorial limb and say that this is probably instrumental to setting the world on the right track to Phase 4 after all the timey-wimey shenanigans in the last couple of Avengers movies. Whatever “the right track” might be. But even if not, Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is a damn delight, and I’ll happily watch whatever it turns out to be.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: We don’t really know much about how these Disney+ miniseries are going to work, so it could all be really bad. Plus, it’s a miniseries that contributes to continuity, and that makes it feel a little bit like homework. 

What If…?

WHAT IT IS:An animated series based on the wacky comic series of the same name, which asks lore-based questions like “What if the Punisher had killed Spider-Man” or “What if Wolverine was a Vampire?” 4. More recently it has sort of mutated (sorry) into mini-runs based around major plotlines (generally whatever the huge crossover event that is happening that year). 

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: It could be a lot of fun – the book usually was – and in examining the way things go differently could be an interesting look at the way these stories are told (as the book was at its best, although not nearly as often)

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: The book could get pretty history-dense, and required a firm working knowledge of how the original stories went to really get everything out of. That seems like it would hamper a cartoon somewhat, but it probably won’t be an issue. 

Y the Last Man

WHAT IT IS: Yorrick and his monkey are the only males that survive the death of every other male animal on Earth. It is not actually a superhero show! But I’m including it anyway because it’s rather superhero-adjacent. I mean, Hellstorm isn’t a superhero either, so I’m obviously playing pretty slippery with the rules. 

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: it’s a very good comic with a beginning, middle and, most importantly, an end. Since most genre shows have a real “no end in sight” problem, this might actually reduce the amount of dumb wheel-spinning. 

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: It could ignore the end, I suppose, but this kind of comic (the action-oriented science-fiction comic that reads like a superhero book without a superhero in it) tends to do pretty well on television, so I don’t worry about it too much. 

Green Lantern

WHAT IT IS: More Green Lantern, this time from the Arrowverse guy (Greg Berlanti), and for HBO Max

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Greg Berlanti (the Arrowverse guy) has a good track record for getting DC shows to work on tv. And people do still love Green Lantern.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: the usual “we don’t know how this is going to work because it’s the first thing like it on its platform” questions are here, although HBO in its non-Max form had some good luck with Watchmen. I’m sure it’ll be fine

She-Hulk

WHAT IT IS: She-Hulk was the Hulk’s cousin who received a bit o’ Hulk when she also received a blood transfusion. She’s a lawyer, and unlike Bruce Banner, she’s always in full control, and exists permanently in the human-hulk hybrid that Hulk currently exists as in the MCU

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Especially under John Byrne, She-Hulk is fucking awesome. I don’t know much about this series, but if it takes its cues from Byrne, then I’ll be very excited.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Nope. She-Hulk is fucking awesome. Bring it on. 

Moon Knight

WHAT IT IS: At its best, Moon Knight was like a semi-parody of Batman. At its worst (in the nineties), Moon Knight was Marvel Batman. 

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Because when it’s been funny (which is recently), it’s been very good, and, again, I’m here for basically any funny superhero stuff.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Moon Knight has been a lot of things, and the writing has gone to a lot of places, and some of them are bad

Ms. Marvel

WHAT IT IS: New Jersey’s finest, Ms. Marvel is a terrific character with visually-interesting stretchy-powers. 

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: G. Willow Wilson recently ended a run on Ms. Marvel that was, and I’m not exaggerating here, one of the absolute-best runs on any superhero comic ever, so if the show takes anything from that, it would be worthwhile 5

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: eh. If it’s Kamala Khan (and it is), then it’ll probably be pretty good. Not much to waffle about with this little information happening.

Hawkeye

WHAT IT IS: It’s hard to say. It’s probably the story of Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton passing the torch to a younger, lady-type Hawkeye, which also happened in the comics not that long ago.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: I suppose it could finally do well with a character that the MCU didn’t have many ideas for, it’s not like it’s impossible. For all that Jeremy Renner is an….interesting public figure, he’s a pretty good actor, and could do well here.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Leaving aside that at his very best, Hawkeye is kind of a dumb character 6, there’s also the fact that he’s been in the MCU for a decade and hasn’t picked up any traction on his own. 

MODOK

WHAT IT IS: The Mobile Organism Designed Only for Killing, this was another show that was set to be a part of the Hulu-wing of the MCU, and may still be, who knows? But it’s a cartoon, and it’s supposed to be funny.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: The voice cast is bonkers-great: Patton Oswalt as MODOK, Ben Schwartz and Melissa Fumero as his kids, Jon Daly and Sam Richardson as his henchmen, Beck Bennet as his boss, Wendi McClendon-Covey as his work rival. For that alone, I feel like some excitement is warranted.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: As previously mentioned, we don’t know much about the development and/or deployment of the Hulu shows, so it could be just about anything. And stacked voice casts haven’t always yielded great results. 

Astro City

WHAT IT IS: Kurt Busiek’s masterpiece, this is a set of completely-original characters that sort of provides a mirror to DC comics 7, and is an incredible piece of superhero storytelling.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Honestly, it might be fine. It could take a tone like the CW series, or even the Rogen/Goldberg stuff, and it’d probably be good, although the latter might be too dark. The real excitement here would be if the release of this series touched off a set of easily-available, comprehensive reprintings of a book that spanned several publishers and different starts and stops. That would be much cooler than any tv show could be, because reading them all in their current state is difficult.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: It’s a tough one, tonally. It does a lot with the superhero story, but a lot of what it does isn’t really conducive to television storytelling, so it could be easy to fail to capture the magic, and make something that just looks like other tv shows with the serial numbers filed off. That’s why I’m more hopeful about the tv show tie-in reprints that don’t yet exist but should. 

American Jesus

WHAT IT IS: A surprisingly-accurately-titled piece of Mark Millar weirdness, about Jesus having to come to America to battle the Antichrist.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED:  Millar’s comics work is pretty niche-oriented: he seems to be a pretty all-or-nothing proposition, but it’s usually (Kick-Ass, the Kingsmen movies, and, in its roundabout way, Old Man Logan) been adapted pretty well.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: The book isn’t as good as its log line, and all of those aforementioned successful adaptations are movies, not tv shows. 

Concrete

WHAT IT IS: The story of a travel writer who gets stuck in an alien body that’s made of something that is like, but not actually, concrete. 

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Concrete is one of my favorite comics ever. It’s an adventure story that isn’t weird and problematic, which is very nice, and it deals with some big, emotionally-moving questions, without losing its sense of fun or adventure. This is another one where I sort of hope that the making of the tv show causes another widespread reissue (the last one was the Dark Horse collections over a decade ago, as far as I’m aware)

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: The things that make it so amazing are how grounded it really is – there are major plot lines about local politics, and once he makes a movie, but like, as part of the crew, to name two examples – which means that it rarely has anything big or attention-grabbing going on beyond the initial visual effectiveness. Also the book deals pretty frankly with the sexual needs of a dude without a human body or, in fact, any discernible genitalia (although all that also comes into play), which I can’t imagine being handled well by a television production team. So it’s all waffles, but man, is it a great book. 

Invincible

WHAT IT IS: An animated-for-adults adaptation of the best long-running Robert Kirkman comic.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Invincible is great, crowd-pleasing and should be pretty easy to adapt well. It has a very impressive voice cast, including Walking Dead MVP Steven Yeung, and general MVP of Earth Mark Hamil. No reason not to be pretty excited about this one.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Nope. I’m excited. Hope it goes as long as The Walking Dead. Hell, twice as long. 

Lobo
WHAT IT IS: It started out a DC-universe parody of nineties grimdark hyperviolence, then forgot that it was a parody and was just left with being grimdark hyperviolence.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: If it’s a parody, it might work, given that we’ve recently moved through yet another hyperviolent grimdark period, especially in DC-based visual entertainment.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: It was never that good of a parody, and it’s not liable to actually be one if it actually happens. 

RASL

WHAT IT IS: Jeff Smith’s (see below) story of a time-travelling art thief.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: RASL is very cool, and has a very exciting, twisty plot that could very easily lend itself to the kind of expansion that television series often necessitate.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Tesla-worship is a problem, and he figures heavily in the backstory.

Bone

WHAT IT IS: Jeff Smith’s masterpiece, and another of the very greatest comics ever written. It’s not really a superhero thing, but I’m including it here because there’s plenty of super stuff and plenty of hero stuff, and also because it’s the damn best.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: I’m telling you, it’s the best.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Primarily because it’s been in one form of development or another for a million years, and that makes it seem significantly unlikely to actually happen. But if it does happen, it’ll be awesome, because Jeff Smith retained the rights and has approval over the thing, and has been very careful about who gets to adapt it. 

Usagi Yojimbo

WHAT IT IS: Stan Sakai’s story of a samurai rabbit. It’s also not a superhero comic, but falls into the same general category as Bone (or, for that matter, Concrete)

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Usagi is another nigh-perfect comic, that took funny animals and pasted it directly over samurai stories, which is visually great, to say the very least. It was funny, action-packed and deeply moving in ways that would survive just about any transfer to another medium.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: I’m guessing that it’s as robust as it is because of the combination of all the elements in their exact proportions, and if any of that gets messed with, it may lose some of its charm. 

Witchblade

WHAT IT IS: A pornographic nineties-exxxtreme comic about a magic sword and heaving bosoms.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Well, if you’re the sort of person for whom heaving bosoms and magic swords sounds like a selling point, then you might be in luck. 

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: It’s being produced by NBC for god-knows-what platform, so the bosoms are liable to be broadcast-level. While I’m not interested in this property no matter what, and am certainly not decrying there not being a vaguely-pornographic boobs-n-swords show in the world, I also think that the boobs part is pretty hamstrung by the developer, which means it’s going to have to rely mainly on its plot, which is awful.

Sandman

WHAT IT IS: It’s a television adaptation of the grand dame of non-superhero comics, although again, I’m putting it here because there’s lots of super and lots of hero.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Sandman is a highly-visual property that’s very close to a lot of people’s hearts, so one can imagine that there is likely to be every single pain taken to make sure that this works out to the liking of the fans, at least in the beginning. One of the things about the high-value prestige adaptation that’s been interesting to watch unfold is that they generally start out well – few people had complaints about the first couple of seasons of GoT, for example, same with The Walking Dead – and then drift to being pretty bad once they’ve taken on their own momentum outside of the property thus adapted. So the beginning should be fine.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: The storytelling is inside-out and counter-intuitive, even though it’s extremely effective. Plus, it won’t be the beginning of it forever, so it’ll probably eventually devolve. While it does have an overarching story, a lot of the world and stuff is filled out in digressive side-stories, and that might not survive the process either. Lastly, I’m burying the part of my waffles that’s a spoiler in this footnote, don’t read it if you don’t already know how it ends/don’t care if you know how it ends 8

Sin City

WHAT IT IS: Frank Miller’s last non-brainworms work, and also the last one glued on at the end here in the “not actually superhero stuff” category. 

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: 50% of the film adaptations that came from Sin City were awesome, so the odds aren’t terrible.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: I’m pretty sure Robert Rodriguez made a movie out of all the adaptable stuff in the series in the first place, so it’s pretty well doomed. 


  1. Also, Kat Dennings was among the best parts of the first two Thor movies 
  2.  Actually, the book always had a “Marvel does Vertigo” sort of vibe to it, so in addition to being a very, very stupid idea, it also always felt weird and off-kilter. Not the good kind of weird or off-kilter though. 
  3. and also featured Wolverine, except he was, for reasons that are baffling and inscrutable, Australian. Pyro also appeared in the series and he was not Australian. Who knows? 
  4. There was also an issue in the seventies asking what if Jane Foster had found Thor’s hammer, which is, I think, the only time the premise of What If simply became the main continuity for one of the books it was questioning.  
  5. I will admit to not being fully caught up on Ms. Marvel. There’s only so many hours in the day. 
  6.  Matt Fraction did pretty well by him, but that’s about it, really 
  7.  this is kind of an oversimplification, and it’s not one-to-one, but I’m trying to keep this brief. 
  8. emblematic of my concerns for the way the storytelling might not survive is the fact that Morpheus is killed by the actual literal Furies for the crime of murdering his son. That’s a very strange prospect to people that aren’t familiar with the role of the Furies in Ancient Greek storytelling (especially theatre), and would probably be the first thing to go.  

How to Feel About A Bunch of “Upcoming” Superhero Entertainments, Part 1

So every year I rundown the major superhero crossover entertainments that are on the horizon. The problem this year is that I have no idea where the horizon is, or how any of this could possibly be “on” it – everything is up in the air, and there’s a good chance that a lot of these are moved around, changed drastically, and never made at all. Nevertheless, even if this all ends up so much dust in a post-snap future, it’ll still be a fun thing to have been wrong about, so why not pretend like they’re all just going to happen? 

Also Marvel still hasn’t revealed much about their post-Endgame slate, so the Marvel movies we’re getting are the few that are announced, and then there are some more we don’t know about.

New Mutants

WHAT IT IS: A cursed movie! It was supposed to come out in spring of 2018, and then it got moved to take over (I think) the spot vacated by Gambit, and then it got moved again (to April of 2020) when Disney bought out Fox. It’s now off the schedule entirely, because who knows when a movie is going to come out ever again? It’s in this spot because this was to be when it opened, in the beforetimes, and it seems like it ought to be memorialized. The little movie that never actually did. 

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Well, you should have been excited because it was a straight-up horror movie using x-characters

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Even before it was pulled entirely, it was still a bad sign that two different studios felt no qualms about punting it so far down from release date to release date – that lack of confidence doesn’t always mean that a movie is going to be bad, but it sure does mean that nobody that’s in charge of it is excited about it. 

Black Widow

WHAT IT IS: An origin story for a superhero who is, in the current MCU cointinuity, dead.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Black Widow is an interesting character who has not been done very well by, and a solo movie is a pretty solid opportunity to set that straight, and a give a character a lot of people love a fitting tribute.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Again, nobody has done very well with Black Widow so far, so while the early materials seem promising, there’s every chance that this could just get messed up again. 

Wonder Woman 1984

WHAT IT IS: The sequel to the only good modern-era DC movie

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Because all the same people are coming back, and the first one was good right up until the end 1

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: I’m not waffling particularly, although there’s always the chance this could get caught up in the same problems – which seem to be administrative/bureaucratic – as other DCU movies.

Morbius

WHAT IT IS: One of Marvel’s weirdest (and, frankly, dumbest) holdovers of the grimdark nineties, Morbius is “The Living Vampire,” a guy who turned himself into a vampire to cure a disease and then became a tortured antihero.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: uh….well, this is one of Sony’s spider-verse movies, so maybe they’ll build out something interesting into it. 

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: The original book was very badly dated, and wasn’t ever that compelling. Add to that the fact that Jared “worst ever recorded performance in a superhero movie” Leto is playing the titular character, and I’m pretty sure I can just ignore this one.

Venom 2

WHAT IT IS: a sequel to Venom, a movie with problems

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: I was hard on Venom at first, but there are things about it that have sort of grown on me over time, and it stuck with me enough to give it a second watch, and I sort of enjoyed its scrappy energy. So maybe adding Woody Harrelson will help, and it’ll come out well.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Carnage is, like Morbius, a pretty dumb nineties holdover, created when Venom stopped being a villain in order to be “Venom, but, like, eXXXtreme”. I don’t have high expectations of anything that the character figures into.

Eternals

WHAT IT IS: I think it’s officially the beginning of the next part of the MCU, which is nice. 

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: The Eternals was the kind of cosmic marvel weirdness that I loved in the nineties, and the fact that it takes place in space brings it in line with Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain Marvel, which are both currently-operating franchises that I also love.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Angelina Jolie sure is a wild card. Also, and I have to acknowledge that this hasn’t really been much of a problem with the MCU so far, there isn’t much by way of memorable, easily-filmable storylines involving the Eternals, so it’s hard to guess where the movie goes. I’m not that worried about that, though. 

Shang-Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings

WHAT IT IS: Hands-down the most obscure Marvel title yet to be adapted to film

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Well, it looks like it’s going to be a full-on wuxia movie, which is great. Tony Leung is amazing, and he’s playing what has been explicitly said to be a version of The Mandarin 2, which is worth the price of admission in and of itself.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Well, it’s pretty new ground for the MCU, but it should be fine. The guy from Hard Boiled is playing a terrorist with magic rings! That’s awesome! 

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

WHAT IT IS: The second Doctor Strange movie, and Sam Raimi’s return to superhero movies!

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: The first Doctor Strange was very good. Sam Raimi’s superhero movies are great. This is exciting.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Well, Sam Raimi occasionally makes movies that are less than great, but I don’t know, I think it’s worth being excited about this one.

The Batman

WHAT IT IS: It’s another Batman movie, and it already has something of a trouble history, mainly regarding the now non-involvement of Ben Affleck, who was set to be the writer/director/star, and now is none of those things, having been replaced by Matt Reeves (writer/director) and Robert Pattinson (star).

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: People sure do like Batman movies! Matt Reeves has a pretty good track record, so that’s probably fine. He did great work with some unlikely source material in the most recent Planet of the Apes movies 3. I like Robert Pattinson generally, and think he has the goods to at least play Bruce Wayne 4. The rest of the cast is full of people that I like – Colin Farrell as the penguin, Paul Dano as the Riddler, Andy Serkis as Alfred, Jeffrey Wright as Commissioner Gordon, Peter Sarsgaard as a DA – and it’ll be interesting to see how that all comes together.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: While I like many of the actors involved, that’s also a pretty potentially-wacky list of villains (rounded out by Catwoman), and a lot of moving parts. An ensemble story can be a good way to do Batman, but also: I don’t much care for Batman even when it’s done as well as it can be done, with very, very rare exceptions, so I’m waffling because it’s Batman. 

Spider-Man 3

WHAT IT IS: The conclusion to the Tom Holland Spider Man movies. This one also had that weird moment a year or so ago, when Sony decided to stop playing nice with Disney and pulled the rights to make the movie, before last-minute negotiations made it so that they can make one more Spider Man movie.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: The cliffhanger at the end of Far From Home was pretty incredible. Tom Holland is a great Peter Parker generally, and his movies have been first-rate. The rumor that it’ll include Kraven is almost too deliriously awesome to be true, but I’m happy to reprint it here in case The Secret works and we can all get what we want. 

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: It’ll be good. It would take something pretty unexpected to tank this one, I should think. Although, given the history of third Spider-Man movies that had no reason to turn out badly, we all might want to gird our loins. 

The Suicide Squad

WHAT IT IS: James Gunn’s sequel to the David Ayer nonsense-film of a few years ago. Everyone has been pretty tight-lipped about all this, although it appears to have all the James Gunn regulars in it – David Dastmalchian, Steve Agee, Michael Rooker, Nathan Fillion, Sean Gunn – although nobody seems to know what most of them are doing. I mean, one of them (David Dastmalchian) is playing Polka-Dot man, which is kind of mind-blowing.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: James Gunn hasn’t made a bad movie in his career, and while all of his movies have some problems (and problematic elements), they’ve all been thoroughly entertaining, and often pretty fulfilling.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Well, the first movie was very bad, and it’s not like the comic series is much better. I’m hopeful that Gunn can overcome the dumb source material, and have plenty of faith in him doing so, but there’s a lot to get out from under with this one. 

Thor: Love and Thunder

WHAT IT IS: Taika Watiti’s second Thor movie, and the fourth Thor movie overall. This one’s taking place after The Eternals, and might give us some of that sweet sweet cosmic action they appear to be leaning into. 

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Waititi’s first Thor movie was one of the best superhero movies ever made, the cast is wonderful, the title is wonderful, and every sign points to this movie being a goddamned delight. In further news of deeply unsubstantiated rumors, we do know for sure that Natalie Portman is coming back, but the scuttlebutt is that she might take on the hammer, as Jane Foster did in Jason Aaron’s recent The Mighty Thor. That would be incredible. 

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: this all sounds amazing. All of it. So maybe it’s too good to be true? I mean, it isn’t, but I guess if I have to waffle, that’s how I’d waffle. 

Black Adam

WHAT IT IS: a secondary Shazam character’s going to get a movie, starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: I mean, who doesn’t love The Rock?

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: I mean, who does love Black Adam 5

Shazam 2

WHAT IT IS: The sequel to another posisbly-good DCU movie (I haven’t seen it)

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: The first Shazam was lighter in tone, which seems to have helped, and funny superhero movies are generally better than not-funny superhero movies

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: I mean, I’m so fatigued by the DCU house style that I haven’t bothered to watch it, so obviously I’m not counting the days until this one comes out or whatever. 

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 2

WHAT IT IS: The sequel to my favorite superhero movie of all time, this is the animated one about Miles Morales.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: The first one was a perfect movie, and the same people are making the sequel

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: I suppose there’s nowhere for it to go but down after reaching such great heights, but I’m not waffling, I’m genuinely excited for this movie to exist.

Black Panther 2
WHAT IT IS: Another sequel, this one to an also-great movie

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Because Black Panther could have been pretty bad, and instead turned out to be one of the few genuinely-great superhero movies, so it’s in good hands.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Well, it probably won’t have Michael B. Jordan in it, which is very sad. 

The Flash

WHAT IT IS: A movie starring one of the few bright spots of the Justice League movie

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Because Ezra Miller was pretty good in a movie where they gave him very little to work with. Plus there’s tonnes of interesting storylines and stuff that they could draw from, or at least, tonnes that fans like. I’m not an expert in The Flash.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Well, Ezra Miller just had a gross couple of weeks in the news, but that may not have anything to do with the movie. Also, it’s still a DC movie so it still comes with all that. Plus, being good in a terrible movie could just mean I graded him on a curve, and it might not be the case that he bears up under the weight of leading the movie. 

Aquaman 2

WHAT IT IS: The sequel to one of the dumbest DCU movies, even if it isn’t exactly the worst.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Well, Jason Momoa is still pretty good. The first one had its moments – Nicole Kidman showing up to be weird will make just about anything at least a little better, and those scary-ass shark-people from The Trench were great – and if they can lean a little more in the “dumb and gonzo” direction they’ll probably come up winners.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: I mean, once again only brushing past “problematic leading characters” to mention that the presence of Amber Heard isn’t likely to make a bunch of people precisely happy, there’s also the fact that, while Aquaman was kind of fun to watch, it was also pretty bad, and glued together in a weird, dumb way. It was also way too long, which is a problem that only seems to be continuing as more of these movies get made. 

Batgirl

WHAT IT IS: It is hard, with a lot of these DC movies that are based on huge characters that everyone knows, to say anything other than “A movie about Batgirl.” Nevertheless, here we are.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: People like Batgirl. So there’s that. Oh, also, for whatever small comfort it may provide, it will not be directed by Joss Whedon. So that’s nice. 

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: It’s hard to have much feeling about this, positive or negative, so I guess it’s just all waffles for all reasons all the way down. 

Green Lantern Corps

WHAT IT IS: Another stab at making a Green Lantern movie. This one was set to come out, with a release date and everything, and reassurances that it was definitely happening and that DC still cared about it, but it really never materialized.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Green Lantern is, as a property, seemingly ripe for the kind of special-effects-heavy big budget stuff that superhero movies are made of. There’s a lot of classic storylines and stuff to be adapted, and it was supposed to include Guy Gardner, John Stewart and Kyle Rayner in addition to Hal Jordan. That’s cool, I suppose. 

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Well, again, nobody seems to be standing behind it, and also DC movies tend to be awful, and also also the first time they tried to make a Green Lantern movie it was nigh-unwatchable. 

The Trench

WHAT IT IS: A full-movie version of the absolute-coolest part of Aquaman

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Because, again, the Trench sequence was the best part of Aquaman. I mean, that’s not saying much, but it was much better than the rest of the movie.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: I mean, it was cool for a few minutes in the middle of a very long movie, I’m not sure that blowing it out to full-length is going to help it. 

Gotham City Sirens

WHAT IT IS: Another Harley Quinn girl-group movie, this one would team her up with Poison Ivy and Catwoman. It’s almost certainly never going to happen.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Well, it’s almost certainly never going to happen, it’s fine to make up whatever pie-in-the-sky cool version of it you might want. I’m going to pretend it was basically a live-action version of a few Batman TAS episodes, myself. That’s probably the best-case scenario here.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: well, because it’s almost certainly not going to happen. And if it did happen, it won’t be a live-action version of a few Batman TAS episodes. 


  1. and it’s unlikely to change – superhero movies still tend toward the “huge cg villain spectacular” as an end-boss type situation, and it’s still kind of dumb, but I think it’s probably baked into the form at this point. 
  2.  who appeared in Iron Man 3, and, ew. 
  3. which were way better than I expected them to be, and I expected to like them in the first place 
  4. I will say, however, that almost everyone that’s played Batman has either been good at Bruce Wayne or good at Batman, and no one has been good at both. 
  5. I mean, other than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who’s been trying to get this made forever 

Who the Fuck Listens to This: Jeremy Renner – The Medicine

So there still aren’t any awards shows. That’s something. I mean, maybe there will never be awards shows and this will just devolve into a “yelling about stupid albums” blog. That would be something 1. But anyway, Jeremy Renner’s got The Medicine, so I guess I’m going to pontificate about who might take a dose. 

When I started this piece, I thought it would be a lot like the other WTFLTT pieces – a weird look at an album that I absolutely couldn’t fathom. On its face, it’s the sort of thing that, if I had anything else to write about, I wouldn’t even think twice about – a vanity project that no one was asking for, at the end of a string of vanity singles 2. Aside from its preposterous title 3, I probably would have just chuckled and moved on. 

But aye and begorrah, nothing else is happening, so I decided to look it up, and it turns out that the life of Jeremy Lee Renner is some weird, wild stuff.

The first thing to be addressed is also the ugliest. For some time now, he’s been involved in a pretty brutal custody battle over his daughter, with his ex-wife claiming that he openly does drugs in front of her, parades his sex partners in front of her and talks of murder/suicide and other such drug-addled maniacal behavior. For his part, he contends that actually it’s his ex-wife that is the drug-addled maniac, and also that her sculptures are too scary. He’s decided that since there’s a global pandemic, it’s also time for him to worry about his potential work-shortage, and requested (almost immediately) that his child support payments be reduced. 

Now obviously all of this is in the accusations-only stage, so it’s only my human judgment (admittedly coming from a not-there, not-entirely-informed position) that this, coupled with the remainder of his behavior, makes me think he’s probably not got his cheese all the way on his cracker. Whether you believe any of it or not, however, the fact is that this is all very public, and very ugly, and at least plausible enough that his deep-pocketed employer considered terminating his employment as a result of it. So one could see why it might be necessary to do a bunch of stuff to distract people from it, and to adjust the public perception. It’s also not much of a stretch to see that if he’s worried about his income, there might be some even more drastic measures to be taken. 

Especially since his app closed down.

I did not intend to talk about the app when it all happened (a couple of years ago up to about a year ago), because it’s been done. If you don’t click that link, or just want a brief primer, here it is anyway. Jeremy Renner started an app to give his fans a place to be Jeremy Renner fans on the internet, away from people who might not be Jeremy Renner fans. It was surprisingly controversial, and people were generally befuddled, although it did cause some people (and, by extension, me) a degree of amusement.The upshot for our purposes here is that it enabled people, for a few dollars a month plus popularity-granting additional purposes, to sort of interact with Jeremy Renner, or at least to interact with people who were also interested in trying to sort of interact with Jeremy Renner. 

The app, then, was its own curiosity. It came from a company called EscapeX, which makes single-celebrity apps for all sorts of people. The idea is that these people can then more closely-control the content they post and the way that people interact with it. It seems to be geared pretty intuitively toward, say, Amber Rose or Abigail Ratchford 4, who used to operate heavily in sponsored posts on Instagram, and who risked having their content removed from, say, Instagram for various nudity-related reasons. In this way the app operates in a sort of middle-space between Patreon (where people are paid monthly for whatever content they’re creating) and OnlyFans (where people pay to look at boobs or whatever). There are others – Enrique Iglesias, the estate of Bob Marley, a bunch of Bollywood folks – where the use case is a little bit harder for me to parse, but Jeremy Renner fits right in there, and it seems like a pretty obvious way to make a little extra money, and also to round up one’s fans. I mean, it’s not like his Amazon store thing 5 is raking in the dough.

It seems pretty easy, though, to connect some dots all the way from hugely-controversial, potentially-job-damaging controversy, to an almost-certainly-job-affecting pandemic, through an attempt to massage his public image. Having failed at doing so, he soldiered on anyway with his second side-hustle: making music. Presumably, this music would be for the same Renner stans that were willing to pony up to buy fake stars so that their not-instagram comments would be brought closer to the eyeballs of their favorite movie superhero.

The music thing is a long time coming, though. His own website calls attention to the number of times that he has sung in movies, as well as noting that he plays instruments, and has done so for a period of time. The press release for his app also noted that he plays instruments 6, which leads me the rest of the way to believing that, obviously, the app was meant to generate a walled-garden of fans to whom he could efficiently market the album. Clearly it’s been on his mind.

And, really, he’s been building up to this for years. There was, of course, the series of execrable commercials for Jeep that included his music. The aforelinked website features a handful of performances on stage with Steel Panther (!!!) and INXS (???), and he’s been releasing singles at a pretty-steady clip. I first became aware of his sideline with his cover of “House of the Rising Sun,” and then again with the truly-baffling “Heaven Don’t Have a Name”, originally a collaboration (or rather a song on which Jeremy Renner is the feature) with Sam Feldt. He went on to re-record it in his more-straightforward country-flavored 7, Imagine-Dragons-y style. Still no answer to the question of why the name of heaven wouldn’t be….heaven, though.

This brings us (unbelievably) up to our current topic of discussion: The Medicine. Heralded by an instagram post in which Mr. Renner lets us know that he’s “always found music to be one of the few things that unite people in a pure way,” and that “common ground can be hard to find in today’s world.” Also hard to find in today’s world: medicine. You know, effective medication for the pandemic that’s currently ending lives? You know, the actual disease of the type you might cure with medicine? Gosh. Anyway, he concludes that “music has remained a constant for me. To feel deeply, to dance fervently, and live together is more present now than ever,” and I probably don’t have to tell you that living together is also some bizarrely tone-deaf wording. So already we’re starting on the wrong foot, here, is what I’m saying.

The runner here is that Jeremy Lee Renner is rather…imprecise with his words. The shark, the accomplishments, the lack of a name for a thing that he just named two words ago, all this business about the title: this dude has a relationship with words that is very different from mine. And so it comes to pass that I am forced once again to mention someone’s lyrics. 

Look, I don’t like lyrics. Almost every time I know the lyrics to something, it makes me like the thing less. Occasionally a turn of phrase or something will stick around in my memory, but that’s pretty rare. Generally I just notice how weird and clunky sung phrases tend to be and it takes me out of enjoying the rest of the music. This is a long way of saying that my thing with lyrics is a thing of memory, not of attention. It is the case that I know the words to seven songs, and one of them is Daft Punk’s “Around the World”, but it is also the case that I notice the lyrics – just like I notice the chords or the drum patterns or whatever else, so I have a general gist of things, even when I don’t know the specific words that are communicating said gist. The syllables enter my head, is what I’m saying.

The syllables of this record are cursed syllables. They have entered my head, and they made me angry. The title track starts off strong, by telling us that we have to feed our sins with the medicine, which is one of those lines that sounds like it’s very dumb, but when you look into it, you find that it’s actually very very dumb. “Best Part of Me” features the absolutely confuddling “I’ll make that line into a sign”, which, near as I can tell, either refers to the previous line of the song (which is “you’ll always be my number one”) or…..nothing. In any event, maybe the sign is for the benefit of the shark? “Ghosts and Roses” opens with “I fell from grace to the ground” and pretty much never rises from that nadir, until he sings the title, and then you remember that those two things are not a natural pairing and what the fuck. I’m not going to type out any of the lyrics to “Every Woman,” but 1) it’s not a Chaka Khan cover and 2) you’re free to look them up yourself, but they are cursed. Like, all of them. I will say that I’m allowing myself some joy that  the line “you’re the queen of my throne,” from the album-closing “Main Attraction” makes it sound like his best gal’s been doin’ some poopin’. 8

Unfortunately for my sanity, not to mention my ears, the lyrics are so noticeable partly because they’re pretty much the only thing on the record one could use to gain traction. I mentioned Imagine Dragons earlier, and so does every other reviewer, because, really, that’s what it sounds like. The title track is clearly the “hit” – it’s got the most polish on it, and it seems to be meant to stand out. The second track, one of the other of the three “rockers”, is bland, but not as aggressively bad as the rest of the record. Following it are three largely-interchangeable, head-cloggingly bad ballads, where Jeremy Renner begins to sound more and more like Bret Michaels 9 with each passing wheeze. After it makes sure that it’s choked any life or momentum out of the experience, it finishes with a…well, a “bang” isn’t the right word, but it’s louder, in the form of the intensely dumb, but fast-paced “Main Attraction”. And then, twenty-eight or so minutes after it started, it’s over. 

And so we have the question: who the fuck listens to this? I don’t know. I guess the existence, however briefly, of an app that was full of his fans means they’re out there, but the fact that it wasn’t cost-effective to keep it open because of the non-fans probably means they aren’t really out there. I guess there are some good-natured Renner stans who want some bland, overworked, highly-derivative rock-like music-product, but I can’t imagine why, or how they aren’t getting that particular need met elsewhere.


  1. that would, in fact, make it much more like the thing it started out as 
  2. see below. Also, is there anything funnier than a footnote that says “keep reading”? I posit the following: there is not. That’s why I do it all the time. 
  3. which is more a fault of timing than anything else – it’s the 100000000th thing titled The Medicine, after all 
  4. both of whom have EscapeX apps, these aren’t just random names here. 
  5. the highlight of which is the picture where, due to the need for an advertising photograph to show both the product and the celebrity endorsing it, the guy who plays Hawkeye is made to look like he doesn’t know how to shoot at a target, which is located behind him. What a wild thing! 
  6. it states that he is an “accomplished” singer and pianist, but does not note what those “accomplishments” are. Maybe I’ll ask the shark when I find it. Provided it’s not dying in Nevada. 
  7. well, that’s “flavored” like lacroix is flavored, not like a liqueur is flavored 
  8. additionally some googling tells me that the line in “Never Sorry” that sounds like “is olives cursed” is actually either “is all of cursed” (which is ungrammatical) or “is our love cursed” and now I’m also aware that the lyrics-posting community can’t fucking agree on Jeremy Renner lyrics and oh my god what are we all doing. Anyway, olives aren’t cursed, neither is anyone’s love, but these fucking lyrics are. 
  9. who is, himself, currently stuffed into a banana costume wednesday nights on Fox, you mark my words. YOU MARK THEM. 

A Considered Look at Every Inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Part 18

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a place that I find, as an institution, vexing. The actual, physical hall of fame – the pyramidal building on the lake in Cleveland – is pretty cool, but it is spoken and thought of often as an intangible – as a sort of arbitrating body on the worthiness of the body of rock musicians. My thought, for many years upon surveying lists 1  and the like was to think that they have about a fifty percent success rate for getting it anything like right.

But what if it doesn’t? Previously I listened to and considered each of the best-selling albums of all time, and learned that they were considerably more of a mixed bag than I had thought 2. So what if the inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are the same sort of deal? 

And so it’s time to dive in and take a look at what the nominees and their enshrinement actually are.

Click the links for Part 1,Part 2Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16 and Part 17 of this series.

NOTE: Because the list of songs at the end makes the list of nimnees twice as long as it is in traditional years, these last few entries in this series will only cover one year each. This is also conveninent, as there are stil no damn awards shows, so….

2018

Bon Jovi

WHO THEY ARE: They are definitely the foremost rock band concerned about the reputation of love. Better not give it a bad name, they’ll shoot you down in a blaze of glory 3.

WHY THEY’RE HERE: it’s pretty much just record sales, right? They’ve had giant hits in a bunch of different decades, which is something, I guess, and Jon Bon Jovi campaigned for it pretty hard, so maybe it was a favor? I genuinely have no idea, I can’t imagine how this decision was made.

AND…?: eh. Not my bag. I dunno.

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: Nah

The Cars

WHO THEY ARE: A synth-assisted power-pop band from Boston

WHY THEY’RE HERE: They had a bunch of hits, their records sounded great, they conducted themselves with integrity, Ric Ocasek produced a bunch of records that people like 4, their first couple of records are rock-solid, and they carried on forever.

AND…?: You know, we’re in an interesting spot in this writeup where the inductees have started to include bands that I’ve written about every rocktober when the nominees are announced, so I have written about the Cars vis-a-vis the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame something like seventeen squillion times. So if this seems rather cursory, that’s why. I quite like their first two records.

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: Yes

Dire Straits

WHO THEY ARE: The sultans of swing! The walkers of life! The wanters of MTV 5

WHY THEY’RE HERE: They have one of the best-selling records of all time, and several major radio hits, including an early example of a music video that people remember/care about. They were an interesting band at the outset, built around a really interesting guitar player, and they made some pretty good records before they got tired of existing 6, and they carried on afterwards.

AND…?: I like their first couple of records, and I will point out that at their actual induction is hands-down the weirdest, most cursory (there’s that word again!) one of the bunch, and is kind of funny, in its way.

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: Eh, sure.

The Moody Blues

WHO THEY ARE: An early prog rock band

WHY THEY’RE HERE: The Hall of Fame’s weird, glancing relationship with prog continues apace, I guess. They were sort of proto-prog, being primarily concerned with fusing rock music with classical music 7, and in the process of doing so, creating music that didn’t really rock, but was super-bombastic and huge. In conclusion, they provided the worst parts of prog rock, and should probably be shunned. But they were a huge influence, and they were popular, and there’s a certain type of music dork that goes nuts for them, especially Days of Future Passed.

AND…?: You know, I don’t actually dislike them as much as that paragraph may seem to imply, I mostly just don’t like any band that’s come along that sounds particularly like them. They were fine. They were no Procol Harum, that’s for sure.

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: I reckon so.

Nina Simone
WHO SHE IS: One of the most unique, incredible singers and songwriters of all time.

WHY SHE’S HERE: Because it’s almost impossible to hear her music and not be influenced by it. It’s ridiculous that it took them this long to get Nina Simone in here.

AND…?: I love Nina Simone, and really, it should have happened sooner. Of course, she should also be inducted as an early influence, but they don’t really do those anymore, so this is fine and appropriate.

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: Without a doubt

Sister Rosetta Tharpe

WHO SHE IS: An early guitar player

WHY SHE’S HERE: For the same reasons as Nina Simone, with the same opprobrium

AND…?: I don’t listen to Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s music as often as I do Nina Simone’s, but there’s no question that it’s great and influential.

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: Yes

Jackie Brentson and His Delta Cats – Rocket “88”

WHAT IT IS: According to Nick Tosches 7, the first rock and roll song ever recorded

WHY IT’S HERE: It was first, and it’s also an early example of “fuzz” guitar tone – Willie Kizart’s guitar amp broke, and they shoved a bunch of newspaper in to keep the cone in place, which created the distorted sound you hear here. He liked it enough that it stayed, and the rest, as they say, is history.

AND…?: Oh, and it’s actually Ike Turner and his Kings of Rhythm. Jackie Brenston was his saxophone player.

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: It sure is. 

Link Wray – “Rumble”

WHAT IT IS: An early cultural usage of the term “Rumble,” it’s an instrumental meant to evoke the titular gang-fight.

WHY IT’S HERE: Sonically, it’s built around bar chords, and uses feedback as a compositional element. It also rocks balls.

AND…?: It’s the only instrumental to be banned from American radio! That’s bonkers! 

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: Yeppers

Chubby Checker – “The Twist”

WHAT IT IS: The leading hit by a guy who, for a brief period, made hits

WHY IT’S HERE: Because it was a big ol’ hit that everyone knows. It’s pretty clearly early rock and roll, and it inspired a dance.

AND…?: I’m waffling back and forth pretty hard on this one. On the one hand, it inspired a dance and was clearly very important. On the other hand, it sucks.

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: Begrudgingly

The Kingsmen – “Louie Louie”

WHAT IT IS: Oh come on man you know “Louie Louie”

WHY IT’S HERE: Everybody knows it, anybody can learn to play it in five minutes, the words are gibberish nonsense, and it rocks. It’s basically the first perfect rock song. The recording of it was a mess – the singer had just gotten braces, and is yelling into a microphone hanging from the ceiling while the rest of the band plays live in the room. It has a huge, noticeable flub when the singer comes in way early on the third verse, and it generally just sounds like a messy riot. 

AND…?: I have a great deal of love for “Louie Louie,” and am happy to listen to pretty much any recorded version of it. The Kingsmen aren’t going to be inducted themselves, so I’ll use this opportunity to point out that their keyboard player, Don Gallucci, produced the Stooges’ Fun House, which is the greatest rock and roll album ever made. That’s not germane here, but it’s worth knowing anyway.

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: Yes 

Procol Harum – “A White Shade of Pale”

WHAT IT IS: Procol Harum’s lone giant hit

WHY IT’S HERE: This is a real left-field choice. I mean, it’s a great song, and it sounds great, but this is the first crop of singles to be inducted. 

AND…?: well, earlier I said that the Moody Blues were no Procol Harum, and I fucking meant it

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: I guess? Kind of? Probably not really? 

Steppenwolf – “Born to Be Wild”

WHAT IT IS: A staple of the radio, and movie soundtracks, and genreally of signifying “rockin’”

WHY IT’S HERE: It’s the quintessential “song that’s bigger and more important than the band”. There are other Steppenwolf hits, and I’m sure there are people that like Steppenwolf as a band or whatever, but if you had to ask what they gave the world, you’d probably just put up “Born to be Wild” and that would be that.

AND…?: true story, Steppenwolf was the first band I officially came out in favor of introducing an “induct the singles” policy for, several years ago in one of my rocktober writeups

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: Sure


  1. also the centerpiece of the museum itself, for those that have never been there, is a very long video encapsulating each inducted class, with clips of performances by most of them and things like that, and is generally a pretty cool thing to behold.  
  2. although they did, as you can read here and going back from there, skew toward “pretty bad” 
  3. yes, yes, that’s Jon Bon Jovi solo but my Bon Jovi material is pretty thin on the ground over here. 
  4. that’s not a point in The Cars’ favor, necessarily, but I feel it’s worth noting 
  5. YES, YES I KNOW, THAT WAS STING, QUIT BEING PEDANTIC 
  6. as written previously in the link back there, the “got tired of existing” period also is the period where they made Brothers in Arms 
  7. among others, but I’m pretty sure he’s the first one to say it, or at least the most prominent among what I’ve read 

Who the Fuck Listens to This: Morrissey – I Am Not a Dog on a Chain

Turns out Covid-19 making everyone stay in the house and also cancelling all the awards shows means I have to work a little harder to find some content, you know what I mean? So here’s another who the fuck listens to this, albeit one that maybe doesn’t have as strong a reason to exist as some other ones, mostly because what the hell else am I going to do? Also, Morrissey sucks and being mad at him helps me in these trying times. 

So ten months ago, Morrissey released a terrible covers album. It was truly inessential, and had no reason to exist. That did not stop it, however, from selling moderately well and, somehow, being received as anything other than flaming turd from an unrepentant turd. That’s right, a turd who makes his own turds and then sets those turds on fire. 

In the time since, much of his activity to which I’ve been exposed has been his feud with the Guardian – they take issue with his politics, and he takes issue with their issue. His argument seems to be mainly that they’re taking him out of context and/or making it all up, even though prominently supporting the execrable Britain First! party is a pretty unambiguous situation 1. Perhaps most interestingly, the Guardian tried to get ahold of some of the people who had guest spots on the terrible covers records, and only found one, but she was pretty upset to find out about his politics, and seems to regret the situation. No word yet on if Morrissey is going to have t-shirts printed up to express his displeasure at her. He probably won’t be signing copies of her records to sell for exorbitant amounts of money, though. 

That said, his fans seemed to enjoy it (a proposition that I find baffling, as one could surmise from the fact that I’m writing another of these things about his continued public existence), and he’s doubled-down on his general wankery by writing a bunch more songs and unleashing them on an undeserving public.

He’s made the completely baffling decision to keep working with Joe Chicarelli, who has produced his last several records, aka the ones that nobody has any particular affection for 2. He got Motown semi-legend Thelma Houston to not only sing on the record, but also to declare publicly that she doesn’t think he’s a racist, which is exactly the sort of “I have a black friend!’ tokenism that’s, frankly, pretty common among racists. 

Chiarelli, speaking to NME, declared this “his boldest and most adventurous album yet,” and, well, it’s true that it is different from his other records, at least sonically. Mostly it’s different in that the sounds of the record are completely bonkers. It opens with some weird dance-ish beat-type things, and develops a really irritating through-line of terrible, often cheap-sounding synths. I’m not going to spend much time talking about the lyrics (to this or to anything else), except to mention the bomb-throwing, suicide-encouraging opening track, but they seem pretty dumb. 

The point here, though, is that it no longer matters what the music is – he could’ve made pretty much anything, and the thing that’s important would still be his identity as an “iconoclast” 3, or some sort of unique presence – as if becoming a closeminded old crank when you’re rich and devoid of inspiration was some kind of new ground he was plowing. 

The reviews bear it out – this is a record that people are happy about for identity reasons – it’s summed up pretty well by a metacritic user who says that it’s “hated by liberal Nazi’s for having an opinion and believing in free speech Morrisey makes another fantastic album”, or more charitably, by the avclub, who forgive his reactionary posturing by saying “Morrissey has always existed outside the mainstream, but his positions seem rooted in true belief rather than a desire to remain relevant.” He may be awful, but at least he’s unique and he means it, in other words.

So that’s the answer to the question: the people the fuck that listen to this are the sort of people who will listen to anything that reinforces their viewpoint, and are happy to have a spokesperson. Whoever those people are can have this terrible garbage record, but that’s not the only thing going on here for your correspondent.

See, a couple of weeks ago, an actual iconoclastic weirdo from Manchester who actually lived their own life by damning the torpedoes, damning themselves, and damning their public image died. Genesis P. Orridge was a whole lot of things, and they’re things that Morrissey is talked about being.

I know that it’s a dumb hipster game to say “this less-famous thing is a better version of this famous thing”, but it’s almost impossible not to consider her in the wake of this Morrissey kerfuffle. 

Genesis P. Orridge was a hugely difficult person to get one’s head around. It takes an extreme person to make extreme art, oftentimes, and they were definitely that. So let’s start with the bad: Gen made a lot of their bones by playing in Nazi and other fascist imagery, and it is true that if you scratch an “ironic” fascist, you pretty much only scrape off the irony. They also did some downright terrible things to her former partner (in music, in life and in uh….cult) Cosey Fanny Tutti, as revealed in the latter’s recent autobiography. Even aside from those specific accusations, they were known for a long time to be at best an unsavory dickhead, who manipulated a lot of people and put them in harm’s way for their own amusement/gratification.

The other end of their personality was their total commitment to using the human body as their final artistic statement – they and their late partner, Lady Jaye, underwent surgeries and recreational drug use and all sorts of other endeavors to become one person, in the name of existing as “the pandrogyne”. Until their dying day, they kept this up, identifying as “pangendered”, and creating an utterly unique means of expressing their gender identity in the world. This was a significant influence on a bunch of other people whose understanding of their own gender identity wasn’t served by the much-different gender understanding of the general public a couple of decades ago 4

Their music seems almost an afterthought, and some of it kind of was. Psychic TV (and all the affiliated versions thereof) worked in pretty straightforward drug-induced psychedelic stuff. Some of it is fine, most of it is pretty forgettable. They popped up on records as a feature here and there, and most of that is also not really worth talking about. In this sense, they also serve as a useful parry to the Morrissey thing – it’s not even like I’m comparing Morrissey to someone who’s musical output was appreciably less-declined 5

Comparing the two at their most influential, however, makes it seem like a ridiculous endeavor – Throbbing Gristle’s first few albums were so good that they not only created a genre (industrial), but provided the firm backbone for another one (power electronics, largely as practiced by their protegees in Whitehouse), and influenced dozens of other ones – anywhere music is loud, abstract and aggressive, you probably don’t have to dig too hard to spot a Throbbing Gristle influence in there. 

So I’ll not compare them that far. I’ll just note that if you’re looking for someone with dodgy, hateful politics and some real attitudes toward weird appropriation and stupid, provocative, often-reactionary opinions, you could go with Stephen Patrick Morrissey and his awful, cheap-sounding music, or you could go with the much-more provocative, much-more thought-provoking, much-more genuinely original and out-there and difficult work of Genesis P. Orridge. Then you can still own the libs, but you don’t have to encourage this walking pile of mediocre sighs to keep going.

Plus, Orridge is dead, so they’re not getting any of your money at this point, and you can support the people they left behind. It’s win-win, really. 


  1. He also appeared to defend Kevin Spacey, although that might actually have been taken out of context. 
  2. he has also made the less-baffling decision to continue working with his longtime guitar player Boz Boorer, who is, for all that, a good player. I would assume that his continued voluntary association with Morrissey means he’s probably a less-than-ideal person, but given that Joey and Johnny Ramone were in a band together for decades, it’s possible that a creative partnership can overcome significant political differences. 
  3. when really, he’s barely more than a garden-variety contrariast. 
  4. I mean, it’s not like most people go to any particular pains to understand it now, but it does seem more common for there to be non-nazi affiliated examples. That doesn’t diminish how out in front of all this Genesis was.  
  5. I like the best Psychic TV stuff more than just about any Morrissey, but the worst of it is worse than, say, You Are the Quarry or “Suedehead” or a handful of Smiths songs.   

The Best Records of March 2020

US Girls – Heavy Light (the holder of weird-art-pop’s current hottest hot streak continues, this time experimenting with adding a whole lot more vocals, and succeeding wildly)

Dogleg – Melee (they’re from Detroit, they make their records at home, and they write extremely physical hard rock about video games. I’m pretty sure they’d have had my attention even if their music wasn’t this effective, but it damn sure is)

Kassa Overall – I Think I’m Good (I mean, I’m pretty sure everyone thinks he’s good, you know?) 

Princess Nokia – Everything is Beautiful/Everything Sucks (technically these were released as two different albums, but they’re basically two sides of the same album, as the title states. What they lose in consistency they more than make up for in the highest of high points)

Mint Mile – Ambertron (by contrast, Tim Midyett is pretty much the patron saint of consistency, and this is another in a long [long, long] streak of excellent records by a guy who’s only ever been in great bands [Silkworm, Bottomless Pit]) 1


  1. shout out to embedded parentheses, and also to Ein Heit, who were probably not actually great