Misc. Reviews

If it's kinda, sorta music-related, we'll review it. This week: Team Ouch!

Back in April, we here at SF Weekly informed you about the existence of this new "indie label" by the name of Ouch!, which is owned -- believe it or not -- by McNeil Consumer & Specialty Pharmaceuticals: a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. I, like previous Weekly writers, made this discovery when I flipped over my free copy of the Ouch! release Songs of Hurt and Healing (a handsomely packaged split CD featuring gentle, innocuous indie-pop by the groups American Analog Set and White Magic) and read the phrase "Brought to You by Tylenol Acetaminophen."

Since then it has come to our attention that "Team Ouch!" also publishes zines like Special Delivery (created by the graffiti artist Stephen Powers), which is a chronicle of the day-to-day life of a New York bike messenger "living in a 3D world of signs." According to the Ouch! Web site, these advertisements -- I mean, zines -- are "created by artists to explore the concept of pain. ...We glue the zines [and discs] into magazines and give them away at our events."

I received my free disc inside the March issue of Arthur magazine -- the one with our local Six Organs of Admittance on the cover. Over the past year, this Arthur rag has become the chief arbiter of and mouthpiece for the growing retro-hippie, indie-psychedelic scene (aka free folk, aka "New Weird America," aka hipster-cokehead-dilettantes-obnoxiously-growing-beards-and-dabbling-in-mysticism).

Now this is where the story gets juicy. If you scan the contributors page on the Ouch! Web site, you learn that Johnson & Johnson has hired the services of writers and illustrators whose work has appeared in such underground and specialty publications as Vice, Dazed and Confused, Tokion, Hustler, and Thrasher. In fact, the publisher of the aforementioned Arthur, Laris Kreslins, is also an Ouch! contributor. Finally, Kreslins once published an essay of mine in his other periodical, Sound Collector.

So then, as you can plainly see, in the America of 2005 there is little, if any, difference between our corporate-funded mainstream kultur and our obviously pseudo-alternatives to it. We ALL are nothing more than subsidiaries of some monolithic pharmaceutical company. We ALL belong to Team Ouch! Is there any hope of ever weaning ourselves off these fucking meds?

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