From The Archive
Patrick Foster
No. 5  December 1993

Sweet Portable You

  

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Selections

Palace Brothers, There Is No One What Will Take Care of You (Drag City)

The most sincere heart-split to come out from this land in many a day, friends, layed out in a sprung-free style that brings to mind a holy mingling of the Carters and Blind Joe Death. A gnarled ball of shitweed smokes in the ashtray, a rocker creaks on the porch, guns are stacked neatly in a glass cabinet against the wall. One is entitled to have their own personal theories; I’ll keep mind sewn up for the time being. The sun shines as it always has …

Comprised of essential elements and swirled by ancient, time-honed mountain melodies strained out in the city sewer, the Palace Brothers contain unshifting elements on which the rest of their components base themselves and flow from: a casually strummed guitar, a lone, high voice, a history of desire and flesh. Everywhere is the smell of cold upturned earth.

The un-sayable thing is what returns you to the opening track, “Idle Hands Are the Devils Playthings,” and keeps you halted in a parallel place until the stylus picks up on the final number, “O Paul,” which rings in your mind all encompassingly until you somehow wash it free. And wash is the right term, too, what the band aims at. The film this record lays out to all within speaker range is the equivalent to a stew made from the underside of moss trees, three years of woodsmoke and Fanny O’Connor’s peacock feather tossed in for color.

Ever felt really bad? This is the new hole filling century beating depression companion. You can strap yourself underneath the bed with the heat on full blast, breathing in the dust and neglect from your carpet and set up the hi-fi on constant return. Three days later you can emerge with the knowledge that you have, for the first time in a long time (maybe years) have had yourself in a good think.

And I’m forgetting why this record is so important to you, or will be, and that is cause you deeply love real country music. You know of what I speak, right? The lost, gone back on the slum heart-split from which some part of this undoubtedly came from. Merle Travis, Rose Maddux, Roy Acuff, Jimmy Rodgers. All heroes of ours. We like to listen to these. We don’t like to be disturbed. We understand what does and doesn’t cause someone to do the unspeakable thing. We listen Palace Brother …

—Patrick Foster

Trumans Water, Spasm Smash XXXOXOX Ox and Ass (Elemental)

This is the ball game as we know it in the nineties…quick, brash, sloppily-good at the right time. Resulted from the boring is this short attention spasm buffet of jaw droppings … resisting control and appearing unpliable, but, in fact, probably just the opposite…they are moving from my left to the right, dressed in the home uniforms, red jerseys with the plastic white pants, helmets gleaming in the sun.

Who’s gonna name this, this that seems to be becoming a mini-genre. Most of the ’80s breeds, assorted sects, and passable tribes were left unchristened (thank god). I hope they call it something fashionable, not something that makes people cringe when they hear the word. C’mon admit it, you grovel when you hear the word disco, but you never turn it off the oldies station when K.C. or Maurice, Barry, and Goofy start singin’. You leave it on and sing it like it was yesterday, just like the rest of us.

TW is pretty scary, I think they must use sheet music but who could read that fast. They pull from everything and distribute the eggs evenly. Never spread too thin & never giving the complete nod. You know the list of models, forerunners and prototypes … Minutemen, Tar Babies, Agitpop, Phantom Tollbooth, Half Jap, and the usual comparisons to that usually compared to group. And of course not far from later cousins Polvo, TFUL (a whole lotta TFUL goin on) and the Grifters. But come on, that doesn’t clue you in at all. These groups only faintly sound like TW or maybe TW has completely ripped them off. They don’t want to sound like anybody but end up sounding like everyone just a little. This review (huh?) could never be so easy or so hard, you really could talk about anything in any order and still never be as close or as far from the mark. The mark is here and here … and definitely there, there, and there. You can flip it over after hearing it once and not be entirely sure this is what you heard the first time. And that is good.

—The Walking Dude

Didjits, Little Miss Carriage (Touch and Go)

Comparable to a kleptic, I’d say, not really knowing it was stealin or putting any value in the theft-object itself. Just enough for the high and neverknowin’ it was damaging someone or sumpin else, these here are not deliberate enough to be kleptis erectus more like just constantly thinking and dreamin of doin’ thievin’. They ought cover Dolphy or maybe they did or write a song like the Pet Stoop Boy just make everybodie lose their pantsies, big plans and whose to know or say whether their fulfillup or no.

I have this monster and he’s in a cage thinking abouts the minute he gets free … he’s going to this, this, and this. And he’s going to keep doing it and never stop cause he knows its snowball-esque. But that thinkin and sceemin keeps him a going … this cage time is a purging and the real beastness will arise after purgeging. Sip another brew my darling.

—The Walking Dude

The Meices, Greatest Bible Stories Ever Told (Empty)

Oh God, man, I’m gonna be in so much trouble when I get home, of course assuming that this pulsating piece of corporal goddess ever returns my nape and body to that paint-chipped, suburban, ranch-style biosphere. My hermetically-sealed nest of fourteen years. At least it will be fourteen years this Saturday, ceremony beginning promptly at two o’clock. Mother assumes this frees her from lunch-serving responsibilities, but I know they will just arrive hungrier instead. I will have spent the morning sculpting a sanitary smile upon my face, wiping the opinions from my mind, preparing myself for their asinine questions and insipid reflections upon their own perverse adolescences. I will open the presents which in reality they are giving to themselves. Piece of shit trinkets I cannot even imagine a use for. But I will smile, mumble, and gaze just above their heads, knowing that my mother is beaming from the worn, overstuffed chair where she will undoubtedly be perched.

I will, however, give them this: they were smart enough to refrain from asking me what I really want.

I plan to tell them as my first foot-fall fills the foyer. I practice it here in this humming machine, racing twin insect-antennae arms into the searing wind, drawing it into my lungs. It tastes and smells like pleasure exhaled, a sigh escaping a stranger’s soft, dry lips. I tip my head back and let it fly, hurling towards the sun. My eyes become slits, treetops blue the edges of my vision. The skin of my face stretched taut and primal.

Her head turns slightly in my direction, releasing a laugh which never reaches my ear, and I feel this rust-eaten beast called freedom surge forward with newfound grace and speed.

—Young Goodman Sweaterback

Bailter Space, Robot World (Matador)

The air conditioner made a lot of noise, but the cool yellow recycled wind wheezing into our compartment was a little warmer that what we could get from outside the car. We let it run over the phasing FM mono beat, anyway, absent-mindedly ignored by our concentration and sensorily subsumed under the howl of our velocity.

As we couldn’t see very far ahead in the darkhaze, we barrelled on in silence. We denied unnecessary movement to tense tendons, knowing that if we allowed ourselves to relax our momentum would lose its balance, that if our focus slipped from our improbable goal we would miss.

And in this way we fled invisible.

We weren’t unique to make this kind of run. In fact, our escape was practically the reenactment of a fairy tale, but that even abetted our bid for freedom. We flushed out the TV fables of Bonnie and Clyde, Thelma and Louise, and Easy Rider with hopes for a better ending.

—Ian Christe

Sweet Portable You, one of the best-written fanzines in America, is edited by Pat Foster of Wingtip Sloat.

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Further Reading

 November 6

As the old refrain goes, at Gothamist and DNAinfo the union made us strong---not Joe Ricketts, not his money, not his decisions and certainly not his “direction.”

 August 3

I was wandering in a smoldering landscape, knowing that nothing could be done. The decisions had been made.