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Riff Raff 

Wednesday, Mar 12 1997
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Stick It to the Man The world keeps getting better for the band whose name cannot be spoken. Last week, bicoastal slo-fiers Fuck watched the ink dry on a four-album deal with Matador Records. The label will release the band's third full-length, Pardon My French, late this summer. Guitarist/singer Timmy Prudhomme says the contract allows for total creative freedom, and the label will even permit the band to press their signature self-packaged records to sell on tour. But what about money? "I've got 20 bucks in my pocket," said Prudhomme last week. But is the Matador ante enough for the band to quit day jobs? "I don't have a day job," said Prudhomme. According to the guitarist, Fuck will release an independent 7-inch next week, tour the East Coast briefly in late spring, jump over to Europe to tour and record with the BBC's legendary John Peel this summer, and then return for a full U.S. tour in the fall. Prudhomme said he was pleased with the signing, but guitarist/drummer/singer Kyle Statham captured the band's excite-ment more clearly. "I've got two words for you," said the blushing Statham. "Poo-poo undies." (J.S.)

Touchy, Touchy Apparently, horror rocker Marilyn Manson has been trolling 'round our fair city in search of dastardly fun. You might wonder where such a person as Manson would find his particular brand of entertainment. Club Jesus? The Power Exchange? Bondage A Go-Go? The Top of the Mark doesn't immediately spring to mind, but that is where he was most recently spotted by 31-year-old educator John Bass. Realizing his rare opportunity, Bass managed to ask the one question that has been haunting all of us since the performer's sudden rise to stardom: "How does it feel to be the Frankie Goes to Hollywood of the '90s?" Bass, who claims to be a Manson fan, says that he was a bit disappointed by the ghoulish singer's reaction. "He just stared at me kind of blankly, like he was trying to figure out what I was saying, then he wandered off toward the hors d'oeuvres table." While the response was less than sensational, Bass does assure us that Manson's peculiar odor more than made up for it. (S.T.)

Scene Making Tired of trying to break through the hierarchical politics of the scene, 23-year-old bassist Morgan Guberman is setting up an improvised music/performance space, to be called the "Yellow Room," in the basement of the East Oakland Victorian where he lives. "The purpose of this place," says Guberman, "is to grow the music," and to combat what he sees as "a lack of diversity" in the booking policies of the few other venues that regularly feature cutting-edge jazz. The recent termination of the "Dark Circle Lounge" at Hotel Utah has left the creative music community with only three weekly outlets: two in S.F. (Radio Valencia Cafe, Venue 9) and one in the East Bay (Beanbender's). Combined with a fledgling series at the Luggage Store, which kicked off last week (sponsored by Damon Smith's Something Else Productions), Guberman's expected Tuesday and Thursday night showcases will provide much-needed opportunities, especially for non-veteran players. The bassist-turned-entrepreneur is soliciting donations for paint and construction materials. Call (510) 261-6916 for details. (J.D.P.)

Bailing Buckets Joining a spate of high-profile San Francisco band breakups, the Buckets recently dissolved into five separate side projects. Ringleader Earl Butter says fiddler and live centerpiece Wanda Taters (aka Carrie Bradley) wanted to focus on her own band, 100 Watt Smile, and the Breeders, who she's worked with in the past. Even though a dozen members have come and gone since the Buckets relocated to S.F. in 1991, Butter and Taters always remained at the core. Butter, who will retain the "Buckets" name, says he couldn't simply replace the fiddler, so he suggested that the other members pursue outside projects. "I needed to get to a place where it was scary," says Butter. "Creatively, you have to be standing on the edge of a cliff before you can make anything good happen." (J.S.)

The Young and the X-less In a unique excerpting agreement with Harper Edge books, Riff Raff will, over the next few weeks, grace the reading public with preview material from the forthcoming novel Ecstasy Club, by Douglas Rushkoff. The author, renowned for his "Gen-X" consultant services to various corporations, and for gathering fees up to $7,500 per hour for his trouble, has produced a book -- how does the jacket copy put it? -- "destined to be a cult classic." We open with a scene where the protagonists, founders of a raver-cum-squatter cult, are spreading the word about their next party. Enjoy! (M.B.)

"PF" is all [the fliers] said, in puffy 3-D letters with surfaces like concrete on 3" square glossy cardstock. Not even a map-point. Just the date, 11.4.95. It was only two weeks away, but Duncan loved the way the numbers added up to 20, which, in numerology, becomes a 2. He was thinking of the PF like a biosphere. Pre-Fab. The second world creation, planned consciously by humans. Us. Maybe a second life for the SF rave scene, too. Post-Francisco. No more saints.

Brooks didn't use any of these explanations, though. He made up his own. Brooks had become the best and most respected club promoter in the city (which in itself should have been enough to make me question the whole scene). He could look people over and guess their affiliations instantly. Then, somehow, he managed to come up with a name for the party that fit what they would want to do. He told the jungle kids that the letters stood for Planet Forest. Black kids he all told it was Pumping Funk. Obvious SF Art students got "Pomo Factory" and seventies-retro kids got "PF Flyers." He told some Beavis-types it was Party Farty, and explained to the Goths it was Pandora's Fox. Gay guys weren't even told a name. Brooks just glanced at them and smiled like they should know what it meant already. No one asked.

Caco-Phony The Cacophony Society -- that "randomly gathered network of free spirits and urban Japanese beetles united to corrupt the foliage and fruits of mainstream society" -- announced plans for the third annual Urban Iditarod in the March issue of the Cacophony newsletter, Rough Draft. Inspired by the whopping dog-sled race held in Alaska every year, Iditarod '97 promised a wild race with a city flair: sleds in the form of shopping carts; dogs in the shape of sweaty humans wearing floppy ears; and watering stops that looked suspiciously like neighborhood bars. It sounded pure Cacophony, even with the mention of previous coverage by CNN, NPR, and the Anchorage Daily News (Cacophonists are usually adverse to mainstream press). By 11:15 on Saturday morning, the meeting site -- the parking lot behind the Cadillac Bar & Grill -- was bustling with nearly 120 noisy, two-legged doggies. Everything seemed as it should be until I spotted the limo -- a white stretch job complete with an ill-at-ease driver in a cummerbund, several Gap-styled folk sipping champagne from plastic cups, and an "organizer" who was videotaping "their" team. Something was wrong. Then, I noticed a film crew from the syndicated TV show Strange Universe (Cacophony organizer Tundra Tommy was being interviewed by a man with perfectly bad hair) and several other very professional photographers. Despite the presence of silly hats and blackened noses, panic began to set in. I scanned the dogs, spotting only four die-hard Cacophonists. The rest of the teams were comprised of young collegiate types with well-toned bodies and good skin. Some of them were doing stretches -- an activity that a true Cacophonist would only do in jest while swilling Jack Daniel's. Nick and Terra, a middle-aged pair who have been attending Cacophony events for nearly 10 years, arrived on the scene guzzling coffee and wiping the sleep from their eyes. It took them but a second to surmise the situation. "This is just a bunch of yuppie scum," announced Nick in disgust. "I bet they get a sponsorship next year." Moments later, a team with a large red cart bearing the words "Redrum! Shoot It and Mix It" offered a reddish shot of liquor to a nearby Dalmatian. Nick mumbled something about fraternity parties and one of the surrounding "dogs" launched into a chipper warm-up song. All of his fellow dogs -- every last one -- fell in for calisthenics. A few even knew the words. Oh! How the deviant have fallen. (S.T.)

Body Count According to Crowd Management Strategies' Fifth Annual Rock Concert Safety Survey, six of the 10 people who died at concerts and festivals in '96 were teen-agers, and five of these, or 83 percent, were female. That might sound like small potatoes to you -- nowadays bodies must be heaped hundreds-deep in great geysers of blood before becoming noticeable -- but how about the 3,604 injuries and roughly $856,000 in property damage? Crowd Management Strategies, a "crowd safety consulting firm" (in their words), and an estimable enclave of muckraking (in ours), put three California shows on their annual roundup of safety violators, including a free Metallica performance at Tower Records in San Jose last summer. There, CMS reports that 10,000 overexcited young'uns crammed into a parking lot, drank, and occasionally fought; the CHP shut down two freeway offramps and had paramedics and fire engines on standby. The city of San Jose billed Tower Records for $7,000 in emergency public safety services. Riff Raff commends CMS for its vigilance, even if it is run by a bunch of squares. (M.B.)

Riff Raff riffraff: Robert Arriaga (R.A.), Michael Batty (M.B.), Johnny DiPaola (J.D.P.), Jeff Stark (J.S.), Silke Tudor (S.T.), and Bill Wyman (B.W.). Send Bay Area music news, band stories, or petty gripes to mbatty@sfweekly.com, or mail it to Riff Raff, c/o SF Weekly. No flack, please.

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Jeff Stark

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Silke Tudor

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Bill Wyman

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Michael Batty

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Johnny DiPaola

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Robert Arriaga

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