Riff Raff

Are You Sure, Keith? Our quote of the week comes from a communique released by the self-hyping Marginal Prophets, the local hip-hop outfit that tries to turn every show into a news item. The Prophets contacted us at least a half-dozen times last week to say that the administration at a Marin high school canceled the group's scheduled performance because they didn't approve of the Prophets' promotional poster -- you know, that green jobbie that depicts the two rappers as cartoon characters begging on a filthy street corner amid a tableaux of syringes, bottles, and a condom. Here's cartoonist and rapper

Keith Knight's quoted response to the authorities: "The items in question (with the exception of my penis) are shown as garbage, street refuse." (J.S.)

Juicy Fruit In the late '70s, being an S.F. punk meant you could do just about whatever you wanted, as long as it wasn't conventional. You could be anything -- even a psychotic pineapple. Quintessential late-'70s Berkeley band Psychotic Pineapple, champions of the Rather Ripped Records scene, turned punk songs into cartoon pop, but became as famous for mascot Pyno Man as for their music. The band played with punk groups like the Dils, the Avengers, and Crime, but called it quits after their guitarist, Henricus Holtman, suffered a brain aneurysm back in 1981. Since then, PP have regrouped only for a few special shows. (Two notable performances include a 1986 gig at the KALX studios and a sold-out night at Slim's in '93.) On Nov. 29, the original Psychotic Pineapple -- Alexi Karlinski, Henricus Holtman, and John and David Seabury -- will bring the spirit of the late-'70s punk scene into the pretty unpunk Transmission Theater. Keyboardist Karlinski says the band got thinking about performing again because David Seabury is trying to resurrect Pyno Man -- that fruit gone bad -- and write him into a television cartoon project. Seabury wants to transform the band's catalog of songs into episodic cartoons that would put the one-time mascot in a league with Ren & Stimpy or that little fat kid on South Park. Says Karlinski: "It's always been about Pyno Man; the pineapple is the real star." (R.A.)

Free Radicals A joke from the Internet: Two atoms collide on the street. One says to the other, "Are you all right?" "No, I lost an electron," the other answers. "Are you sure?" "Yeah, I'm positive." Speaking of chemistry and other science lessons that Riff Raff skipped in high school, the Molecules, the Bay Area avant-punk band, play their last show ever Tuesday, Dec. 2, at the Paradise. Eight years ago, New Jersey/New York guitarist Ron Anderson left the Manhattan experimental music scene for the lower-profile Bay Area. Then, as now, Anderson found plenty of quality musicians to play with and enough small venues to keep a culture incubating here. He started the Molecules with drummer Thomas Scandura and recorded Steel Toe in 1991. Four more CDs followed, along with lineup changes (the most recent incarnation has Eskimo John Shiurba on bass). Live, the band often uses improvisation and furiously quick changes to jar audiences. On record, the Molecules reminded reviewers of the Minutemen playing like John Zorn, or Napalm Death sitting in with Captain Beefheart. The Molecules and Anderson's solo records only got stranger as the latter learned more as a musician and a producer. While recording, he developed what he calls "anti-production," or using taping and editing techniques to make the music sound uglier, smaller, bad. For the past two or three years, Anderson has planned on getting out of the San Francisco scene. "As far as the U.S., it could be one of the best places to play, but it is a bad time. It's a cyclical thing." Anderson says musicians here can't find larger audiences because the national press ignores S.F., and only a few small labels release adventurous music. After one last show and a few more months to complete outstanding recording projects and say goodbye, he's calling the Molecules quits and moving across the Atlantic. "Right now Europe is the only place that I've got paid decent money. Just to get paid and appreciated is a big thing." The 38-year-old is planning on checking out the squat scene in Switzerland and lying low for a year to chart his next step. "I'm not sure if I'm going to stay in rock -- I might go even more toward dada: editing tape, noise, free improvisation," he says. "I don't know if I like this idea of middle-aged rockers. Besides, rock music also has this pretension of making money. I'm not really interested in that, just making a living." Sure? Positive. (J.S.)

Never Mind the Music Check out the packaging of San Francisco-based Bhoss' debut CD, Trust Me, moody pop rock laced with Deonne Kahler's PJ Harvey-esque vocals. The CD is sandwiched between 12 coasters of three-ply watermarked watercolor paper (uh, the good stuff), with letterpressed pictures and designs, song lyrics, and five-color liner notes. Each paper disc corresponds to one song. On one side are the lyrics. The other side of the coaster has an illustration that corresponds to its respective track. And the whole thing is fixed together with a shiny 3/8-inch bolt. Assembled with the obsessive detail of a graphic design student's final project, the innovative, environmentally friendly, and outrageously expensive packaging is the work of a well- established local designer, Jennifer Sterling, who has owned her own award-winning design firm for two years in San Francisco. "I've wanted to do some work in the music business for a while, but R.E.M. just doesn't call," she explains. Instead, she hooked up with Bhoss to help the band create a CD package that screams "listen to me" -- unlike the tired ol' plastic jewel case. Sterling says her idea was to design a package that made our Silicon Valley-CD-saturated eyes and ears perk up and say, "Huh? What's this?" Considering the attention Sterling has garnered for Bhoss' CD package -- American Center for Design's top 100, American Institute of Graphic Arts awards, and a large spread in this year's Communication Arts design annual -- maybe Michael Stipe will be calling her soon. (Kelly Silbernagel)

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