Archive for May, 2016

Reflections On The 2016 Memorial Day Weekend On The National Mall

Posted in Leica M, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 29, 2016 by johnbuckley100

Rolling Thunder 2016-13

Every year, we go down to the National Mall over the Memorial Day weekend.  It’s a fitting, and moving, visit to make, and a pretty amazing opportunity to capture a wide spectrum of humanity and emotions as thousands of veterans arrive, often on Harleys, and visit the Vietnam Memorial.

Rolling Thunder 2016-10

African Americans and rural whites come to the Memorial to reflect on loved ones lost.  In fact, as we were there yesterday, the woman on the left below was saying to her friend that she comes here every year to mourn her father, but that even though he had to die in Vietnam, she wouldn’t want him to have lived if it meant someone else’s father had to die.

Rolling Thunder 2016-9

It’s not all mournful though.  The motorcyclists come in force for their Rolling Thunder ride, which takes place today, in fact, and more on that in a moment.

Rolling Thunder Sunday batch MorotcycleRolling Thunder 2016-3Rolling Thunder 2016-4It is, in its own way — and in recognition that this is a summer ritual, a three-day holiday weekend that kicks off summer — festive.  People come to eat and see their friends and there is commerce on the edge of the Mall.  As of course there is.  ‘Murica.

Rolling Thunder 2016-14

Rolling Thunder 2016-15

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But what makes this event each year so meaningful is the essential apolitical nature of people coming to Washington, motivated by a desire to celebrate their participation in our nation’s wars, by the desire to shine the light on POWs and MIAs. Rolling Thunder Sunday batch Morotcycle-2

Which is why we found ourselves yesterday — and honestly, today — so disturbed by the notion that Donald Trump plans on coming to the Mall today to hold a rally with the Rolling Thunder riders.  Forget for just a moment the notion of this proto-fascist on the National Mall, mere yards from the White House literally, and figuratively, revving up the crowd of Harley riders.  No matter what he says, he will have spoiled what is essential about this weekend, here, each year.  Which is the essential poignancy of those reflecting on a sacrifice he dodged, and the reminder of the consequences of those who would recklessly send young American men and women off to war.

Rolling Thunder Sunday batchRolling Thunder Sunday batch Morotcycle-3

Rolling Thunder 2016-12All images Leica M-240 and 50mm Noctilux.  To follow John Buckley on Twitter: @johnbuckley100.  On Instagram: tulip_frenzy.

Before The Thunder Gets Rolling

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on May 28, 2016 by johnbuckley100

Rolling Thunder 1

Hundreds, maybe thousands of motorcycles already gathering at the National Mall in advance of tomorrow’s annual Rolling Thunder commemoration of POWs and the MIA in Vietnam.  Mixed emotions this year with the news that Trump, a draft-dodging bloviator, is speaking to the crowd.  Wonder which way this guy will go.

Leica M, 50mm Noctilux, ND filter. Wide Open, ISO 200

Capsula’s “Santa Rosa”Is A Time Capsule Of Punk Rock Excellence

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on May 28, 2016 by johnbuckley100


Consider the case of Capsula, the Argentine exiles who now use Bilbao as their base for contra-European conquest, and who Tulip Frenzy once declared was the Greatest Rock’n’Roll Band in the World.  With three albums already recorded in Buenos Aires, and in Spanish, they leapt to our attention in 2006 with what still remains one of the 21st Century’s single greatest platters of tuneful punk rock, Song And Circuits.  Five English-language albums later — one of them live, another a note-for-note rendition of Ziggy Stardust — in late April they released Santa Rosa, their best album in a decade.  And yet — when Tulip Frenzy writes about certain of our favorite bands, there is always an “and yet” — the only way we found out about it is because we follow their Twitter feed.

The world of art is cruel, good novelists going unpublished, photographers like Vivian Mayer having their work discovered even as they lay dying, her death as much caused by poverty and neglect as blunt-force trauma.  Our mind went to these depths because we heard Santa Rosa the same week Radiohead’s unquestionably gorgeous, if not grammatically titled A Moon Shaped Pool was released, and while the entire internet groaned from the peak-load strain of global downloading of that masterpiece, we think few others were probably as excited as we were to download this one.

For those who really want to learn about why Capsula is, in our estimation, as important a band as Radiohead, you can link here for full-on rhapsodic overkill.  Now seriously, do.  Or if you want just the capsule description of Capsula, try this one for size:

Capsula take all of the excitement of Under The Big Black Sun-era X, add to it a rockabilly twang showcasing how incredibly this ace trio swings, run it through the psychedelic soundboard of simpatico producers like Bowie’s Tony Visconti (2013’s Solar Secrets) or ex-Richard Hell and the Voidoids ace guitarist Ivan Julian (2009’s Rising Mountains), and out comes music that thrillingly plies a narrow line of punk rock skirting the coral along a pirate coast.

Santa Rosa is their best album since Song And Circuits because the songwriting is so exciting, because Martin Guevara plays guitar and sings with the revolutionary fervor of his father Che*, because Coni Duchess is a royally great bass player and singer, and because Ignacio Guantxe plays drums with the manic force of a Nadal backhand. We think it’s the first album they’ve produced since they moved to Spain that features both English and Spanish singing.  We know that on songs like “Santa Rosa” and “Moving Mutant,” everything we hold dear in the world is expressed with melodic thunder.

As rock’n’roll fanatics, the team at Tulip Frenzy have long grown used to the two-city split between the successful and the great, with the former not always the latter, and too often the latter not the former.  Why did the Police go on to earn fortunes when the Fleshtones, the band that each night on that 1980 tour blew them off the stage, are household names only among a special breed?  When our son was very young, and his sense of what bands had achieved immortal status was based on what his parents played in the car, he was stunned to learn that the Ramones weren’t actually as big as the Beatles.  Of course they should have been, but ponder that too long and you’ll go crazy.

Here’s an idea instead: just download the two Capsula songs mentioned above, then the whole of Santa Rosa, and then just keep downloading ’til collectively we make ’em bigger than Radiohead.

*Not his father.  Though, hmm, both Guevara’s hail from B.A.


The D.C. Funk Parade Is A Reason To Live In The Nation’s Capital

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on May 8, 2016 by johnbuckley100

Funk Parade 2016-4

Lord knows, Washington, D.C. has its problems.  But for an afternoon in May each year, they are all forgotten as the U Street corridor, from the newly gleaming, insta-neighborhood of North Shaw to the once-again de facto center of the city — 14th Street — becomes a carnival mixing young and old, African Americans and everyone else, straights and gays, families and singles.  And that doesn’t even include the Funk Parade itself, which goes from the Howard Theater to Ben’s Chili Bowl.  Just a few hours after the President gave the commencement address at Howard, and just a few hours before the Washington Capitals stayed alive by beating the Penguins at the Verizon Center, the city came together, as it does each year, in a reminder of why it’s great to live in cities, and not just cities per se, but the Nation’s Capital.  Here are some photos that should give you a flavor of what the day was like.  All images taken with a Leica Monochrom (type-246) and 50mm APO-Summicron-Asph.

Funk Parade 2016-7Funk Parade 2016-6Funk Parade 2016 Supplement-6Funk Parade 2016 SupplementFunk Parade 2016 Supplement-4Funk Parade 2016-3Funk Parade 2016-5Funk Parade 2016-2Funk Parade 2016 Supplement-5Funk Parade 2016 Supplement-2Funk Parade 2016-9Funk Parade 2016-8Funk Parade 2016

The Best Day Of The Year To Live In D.C. (#DCFunkParade)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on May 7, 2016 by johnbuckley100

Funk Parade 2016

An Evening With The Brian Jonestown Massacre At D.C.’s 9:30 Club

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on May 6, 2016 by johnbuckley100
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On their 2016 tour of these United States, The Brian Jonestown Massacre are doing something they mostly avoided the last time we saw them — they are playing songs from Anton Newcombe’s fairly astonishing recent creative output, and going deep into the back catalogue.  It is as if Methadrone and Mini Album Thingy Wingy were recorded by the same band in the same year, not by largely different bands more than 20 years apart.

We’d largely forgotten “Never Ever,” which kicked off the set, but if ever you wanted to steep yourself like a mushroom tea bag in the Velvets’ Factory sound, yeah, good place to begin.  And what a thrill it was to hear them play “Goodbye (Butterfly)” or “Pish,” which rank among our favorite recent BJM songs, capturing all the magic of this greatest working band which, not that long ago, may have seemed like their best work was behind them.

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For the initiated, this was a marvelous show, occasionally crystalizing with shimmering layers of guitar, the emollience of the organ, Daniel Allaire kicking the drum kit no matter what else was going on.  And there was a lot going on.  Anton was as cranky as we’ve ever seen him, twice chiding Ryan Van Kriedt for playing acoustic guitar (on “Anemone” and “Prozac vs. Heroin”), even though in the latter case, Van Kriedt politely informed the mercurial bandleader that he’d actually told him to play it.  (“I don’t care, there’s a hole in the middle of the song when you play it.”)  Hey, at least he didn’t stab him, like he allegedly did Frankie Teardrop during the 2009 tour.

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Hearing the band line up with Anton, Ryan, and Ricky Maymi each playing 12-string guitars was a treat, a sonic treat.  Over the course of their long existence, BJM have grafted their own take on the Velvet Underground’s guitar sound atop Cure-era Power Pop, while somehow harkening to a Summer of Love psychedelic dynamic.  When you hear Anton sing and play guitar on a fairly new song, “Days, Weeks and Moths” from 2014’s Revelation, it brings to mind Blind Faith, or maybe Traffic, but nevertheless a band right on the back end of the ’60s.  And yet it is completely contemporary, if you’re an oddball like me who thinks psychedelic rock’n’roll is contemporary.

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There were moments when even Joel Gion grew a little frustrated with Anton’s temper.  But let’s cut the genius some slack.  Since quitting drugs and alcohol, since moving to Berlin and becoming a father, Anton has produced some of the greatest music of his career, which no one, circa 2005, would have predicted.  There were moments during last night’s near three-hour set that were magical, less like seeing a band perform than being inside the rehearsal studio when lightning was captured in a bottle.  Anton promised not one, but two new albums this year.  We can’t wait to hear ’em.



The Marigold Frenzy

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on May 1, 2016 by johnbuckley100

Azalea Frenzy 2016 Marigold

Wire’s “Nocturnal Koreans”: A Band As Relevant Today As They Were In ’77

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on May 1, 2016 by johnbuckley100


If you had told me in 1981 when I was asked to review Wire’s nominally posthumous Document And Eyewitness that 35 years on not only would Wire still be releasing records, they would continue to be one of my favorite contemporary bands, I would have said you were crazy.  But here comes Nocturnal Koreans, an eight-song mini-album recorded at the same time as last year’s gorgeous Wire, which we called one of 2015’s best albums, and even at a moment when there are fine new albums by Brian Eno, Parquet Courts, Woods, and PJ Harvey, among others, we can’t listen to anything else.

Over at NPR, Bob Boilen is clever but not entirely correct to analogize that Nocturnal Koreans is to Wire as 1978’s Chairs Missing was to 1977’s revolutionary Pink Flag.  To begin with, these two new records emerged from the same recording sessions, with the the songs on Nocturnal Koreans served up as a different approach to the moment, not an example of the giant leap in ambition and sophistication apparent between Wire’s first and second records.

No band in history ever showed as much growth between its first and second records, not the Beatles, not the Clash, no one.  Those first three Wire albums witnessed punk progenitors becoming one of the most tasteful, thrilling art-rock band of all times.  (It’s possible the only similar growth pattern, come to think of it, was Eno going from Here Come The Warm Jets to Another Green World — an album that had a profound affect on Wire’s third record, 154.)

Nocturnal Koreans finds Wire slightly less wired than they were on Wire, which while motorik in tempo, played up the warmth of Colin Newman’s voice, the melody of their prettiest songs, minus the cockney and chaos of their most raucous work.  These two albums go together, and the whole reveals that the most revelatory, and in many ways, ambitious of the British punk bands, 3/4ths intact 41 years and 15 records on from their founding, is still greater than 99 percent of the bands out there — not to mention the sum of the parts.


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