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Riff Raff 

Wednesday, Mar 31 1999
To the Utility Poles! Drifting onto Riff Raff's desk last week was a letter with the return address of "Flyer Poster's Union #1313." Inside was proof of something we'd been expecting for a while: a band putting up fliers to protest fliers being taken down. In response to Rick Thurber, head of the Community Clean-Up Project and enemy of all who dare to publicly announce their band gigs or lost kittens, the Slow Poisoners and Dryspell have announced their April 1 concert at the Tip Top with the flier you see here (and if Thurber has his way, it's the only place you'll see it).

Slow Poisoners guitarist and singer Andrew Goldfarb, who considers fliers a "pure folk art" and "free source of visual entertainment," is working, along with the Ad-Hoc Committee to Defend Free Speech in San Francisco, to protest Thurber's antics. Apart from City Hall, Goldfarb is pondering other methods to throw a monkey wrench in the Clean-Up Project's activities -- thinking outside the switch box, as it were. Just as a f'rinstance, he wondered, what would Thurber do if Goldfarb started attaching $1 bills to utility poles?

At any rate, on April 6, the Board of Supervisors meets to consider Supervisor Barbara Kaufman's proposed legislation that would force anybody wanting to post a flier to receive approval from the City (and in some cases pay fees). According to Ad-Hoc Committee volunteer Peter Doty, the ACLU's been called in as the battle engages further. We'll, um, post more as we hear it. (Mark Athitakis)

Next Week: Marilyn Manson Gets a Hug VH1's sardonic new show Rock Candy premiered March 8. By far the most entertaining segment was "Bands in Crisis," featuring a group-therapy session with former San Francisco anti-heroes the Brian Jonestown Massacre.

Monitored by Dr. Lou Cox, Ph.D., a psychotherapist specializing in rock band therapy, the session began with BJM defining their roles within the group. Slack-jawed guitarist Jeff Davies half-jokingly realized he's the "mother" while singer/guitarist Anton Newcombe is the dysfunctional father figure -- confirming what fans have suspected for some time now.

Interspersed with live concert footage of the band playing their retro wall-of-sound were video clips of Anton hurling equipment and verbal abuse on tour. Band members admitted it's not easy dealing with someone who screams "Idiot!" at you half the time. Tambourine player Joel Gion was caught on tape coping with an Anton tantrum by chanting a mantra that many musicians might consider adopting: "I don't care. I don't care. I don't care."

Deadpanning, reporter Jim Gaffigan wondered if the group was "teetering on the brink of total emotional meltdown," then treated everyone to popsicles after their bout of "rigorous self-reflection." The solemn Gaffigan noted that over 40 previous members have quit the band in frustration over Anton's relentless abuse. "Of any band that I know of, we certainly could use that Dr. Cox," chirped Charles Mehling, current bass player and master of understatement. That's apparently at odds with what Gion told the Weekly about a year-and-a-half ago, to wit: "We don't need therapy. It's all about the music and turning people on." (Lisa McElroy)

What, No Dr. Demento? We're Crying Real Tears Around Here We're hurt. Really hurt. Reissue label Rhino Records has decided that San Francisco won't be one of the cities included in its third annual Rhino Musical Aptitude Test (RMAT). Last June, about 200 music geeks descended on the parking lot of the Fisherman's Wharf Tower Records to subject themselves to 300-odd questions about pop arcana, all proctored by novelty song DJ Dr. Demento. This time around, however, the public tests will occur solely in Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, and Dallas (as well as on the Internet). "We try to experiment with different cities each year," says a Rhino spokesperson. "The RMAT will return to San Francisco next year if the weeknight date is a success in the other cities."

Not that we're fans of Dr. Demento, you understand, but the RMAT's disappearance this year does lower the city's kitsch quotient a bit. Anyhow, this year's proctor in L.A. is Alice Cooper, so here's hoping the next time the RMAT hits town there'll be an even better washed-up pop-music fixture around to test us. (M.A.)

Oops Our story about Gingko Press' punk rock flier collection Fucked Up and Photocopied ("True Tales of Punk Rock Entrepreneurship," Riff Raff, March 17) incorrectly named David Lopes as the owner of the imprint. He is an associate editor. We apologize for the error. (M.A.)

Send Bay Area music news, band stories, or petty gripes to, or mail it to Riff Raff, c/o SF Weekly.

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Mark Athitakis


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