Monster Zeroed After growing to Godzilla-like stature in the S.F. thrash-funk scene, MCM & the Monster have decided to call it quits. "The decision to break up stems from a collective realization that it's time to give it a rest before it completely played itself out, and [from] bassist Butthouse's burning desire to start a porno Taoist temple in the East Bay," says frontman Miles Orkin (MCM). It's almost a natural progression for the members, considering that they are already involved with other local music projects. DJ Disk, the Monster's turntable master, has been a member of the Invisible Skratch Picklz since their inception, and is also contributing his scratch-soaked sound to the second incarnation of Giant Robot. Butthouse has formed a new local band, Ben Wah, who are currently working on freaky, choppy, hourlong songs that will run the gamut of musical styles. Guitarist Louie has been throwing around the idea of starting a hardcore polka band. For his part, Orkin says he's going to South America to climb the first mountain he sees. You still have one last chance to jump with MCM & the Monster along with opening bands Giant Robot 2 and the Invisible Skratch Picklz at Slim's on Thursday, April 17. Rumor has it that original drummer Brain and original DJ Pause will join them for the farewell. (R.A.)
Name That Tune "They have climbed the highest mountains, but the four school buddies from Dublin, Ireland, who call themselves U2 still haven't found what they're looking for." (From a review of the new U2 album, Pop, by Elysa Gardner in the April issue of Request.)
Civil Disobedience? Local record label Alternative Tentacles has apparently been reamed in court again. (Remember the whole Frankenchrist fiasco?) Seems U.S. District Judge Herbert J. Hutton entered a default judgment on March 26 against the record label; its owner, Jello Biafra; and the Crucifucks, in favor of the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police and Police Sgt. John Whalen. The AT band lifted an image from a 1985 police-friendly poster for album art on its 1992 release Our Will Be Done; the Police Department contended that the use was defamatory. The picture in question was a staged photo of Whalen lying next to his car in a pool of fake blood, done to dramatize the dangers of police work. "Default judgment" basically means that AT didn't show up for trial; the record label says it wasn't properly notified of the case. Biafra and AT have already filed a motion to set aside the judgment. And good thing, too, since a federal magistrate recommended that $2.2 million be split between Whalen and the FOP. Will the judgment stick? The cops sued Borders Books, too, for selling the record, but the company, which did bother to show up in court, got off. "Various forms of defamation couldn't be proven," says Richard F. Stott, AT's lawyer. "No one could identify the officer or police force from the picture." Stott says he found it difficult to believe that the same judge who found no merit to the claims against Borders would uphold the stiff penalty. The whole case certainly seems silly, and the scale of the damages seems awfully draconian -- particularly since the album sold something like 1,200 copies. It appears far more likely that the Crucifucks' appropriation of the album art was the result of design-on-the-cheap than deliberate satire of the Philly PD. Not that we'd be able to prove it in court or anything. (M.B.)
Tree Sapped Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan, in town for a pair of shows at Slim's on March 27 and 28, ended up in the clink after two cops arrested him in the midst of what they thought was a Tenderloin drug deal. According to the police report, two members of SFPD's Tenderloin Task Force spotted Lanegan, 32, and Robert Miles, 52, sitting on a brick ledge at the northeast corner of Boeddeker Park at 9:15 a.m. on Thursday, March 27. (The park at Eddy and Jones, three blocks from the Phoenix Hotel where Lanegan and the band were staying, is a known hub for drug deals in the Tenderloin.) There, the two police officers watched Lanegan fork over cash to Miles for "an off-white rock." The report says the officers approached the two men, at which time Lanegan "dropped the off-white rock onto the brick ledge, clear and free from any debris." The officers confiscated the rock, as well as a syringe and a clear glass pipe from Miles' pocket before arresting both men and booking them for felony possession and two paraphernalia misdemeanors at the Hall of Justice. Arresting Officer Joseph Fischer said all details about the incident were contained in the police report. "At this point I don't think I can respond to any questions. It was a pretty normal arrest." Hours later, tour management paid $350 to spring Lanegan, who left jail around 4 p.m. The singer made it to both shows, but at least one person in the audience said Lanegan was vacant in mind, if not body. Teenage Kicks fanzine Editor Michelle C. Astro saw both shows and said Lanegan looked like "Jim Morrison right before he died," Grizzly Adams beard and all: "His voice was there; it was great. But he wasn't." Lanegan lasted through both sets, but left the band to finish three encore songs after he sang just one. On April 2, the District Attorney's Office announced it was dropping all charges against Lanegan. "We couldn't prove in court that [the cocainelike substance] was his because it wasn't in his possession," says DA spokesperson John Shanley. "He got lucky in a lot of ways." Neither Epic, the band's label, nor Q Prime, the band's management, would comment about the incident. (J.S.)
Room for Jello On another Biafra note: If you were at the Chameleon last Saturday you might have rubbed your eyes and thought it was the '80s again. The band Jumbo Shrimp, featuring ex-Dead Kennedys Klaus Flouride and East Bay Ray, performed a solid mixture of surfed-out originals and covers for half the night. Then, just after Flouride announced that there was a rock star in the audience, Jello Biafra joined them onstage for an unplanned and speedy rendition of "Too Drunk to Fuck." It wasn't quite a reunion (due to the absence of drummer P.H. Peligro), but it was the first time that the three of them had shared a stage in close to eight years. (R.A.)
The Young and the X-less, Part 4 Once again, an excerpt from Gen-X consultant Douglas Rushkoff's forthcoming novel, Ecstasy Club. Here, the protagonists of the story "destined to be a cult classic" learn an uneasy lesson. (M.B.)
"But the criminalization of countercultural rituals has a much more devious purpose," I said, remembering what I could from the Renn A Sanz record jackets.
"Yes it does," Renn finished for me. He didn't need me to prove myself at the expense of his rhetorical tour de force. "By making the activities of your enemy group illegal, you make the group into criminals, vulnerable to attack."
"Surely they won't arrest everyone who pierces their skin," Duncan interrupted, his common sense getting the better of him.
"Surely they won't," said Renn, imitating Duncan's school-boy accent, "they'll just arrest anyone they want to."
He gave us time to absorb his message. If the governing body can turn their entire population into outlaws, then they can arrest anyone they want to, whenever they want to, for whatever reasons they may have. Even with all the E in our brains, the thought made us queasy.
"You do not own your own skin," Renn said. "They do. The real question for you, then, is who is they?"
"The cops," Henry said.
"The government?" Brooks guessed.
"No one. There's no one really out there," Lauren said. "They're just a projection of our fears."
"But can you be sure of that, my darlings? This is psychic warfare. It has a long and proud history. The Babylonians, the Crusades, Jack the Ripper, the MI6, the CIA, Aleister Crowley, the British Empire, Cosmotology. There's lots of thems out there. And inside you right now. Among you. You say you want a revolution, baby? Well, you know. If you're going to disengage from the dominant social set, you had better figure out who 'them' is."
It was the best and worst advice we were ever given.
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 email@example.com, or mail it to Riff Raff, c/o SF Weekly. No flack, please.