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Ethical Laundry Riff Raff isn't always snotty; sometimes we just sit around and ponder big ethical questions. Here's what we've been chewing on recently. Last week the San Francisco Bay Guardian published a live review of a local band called the Lomaxes. The byline read Lorn Ditfeld. As it turns out, Lorn is listed in the Bay Guardian masthead under the title music/national account executive, even though his last name is spelled there with a double T. The Lomaxes are managed by Brooke D. Wilson, who by day works as Polygram's West Coast marketing director. Now we would think that Dittfeld's title means that he sells music advertising. And, we'd think that Wilson buys music advertising in newspapers like the Bay Guardian. So like we said, we sit around and think about ethics and stuff and we were thinking that this situation really seemed like a conflict of interest. But then we thought we should really talk to the parties involved and see what they had to say. Wilson said that she does book ads in the Guardian, but that she has no professional contact with Dittfeld. We couldn't reach Dittfeld, so we called Bay Guardian Executive Editor Tim Redmond to ask him if there was foul play. Redmond agreed that there might be a problem if Dittfeld dealt with music advertisers, but assured us that Dittfeld hadn't been doing that since February. What about that title in the masthead? "That's a mistake," said Redmond. (Oh.) "I don't see the immediate conflict," he said. "It is something that we should look at." We agreed. The singer of the Lomaxes, Seven Harkey, said that he didn't have a lot of complaints about the review, even though he thought it was "a little vague." Harkey did say that his manager of two years knew Dittfeld personally, but he wasn't sure if the two had talked. Wilson, for her part, assured us there was "nothing subversive or sneaky" about the review. OK, so say they didn't talk, and that Dittfeld doesn't sell music ads anymore. It still seems kind of weird. Confused about the whole thing, Riff Raff decided to go back and look through that pile of the mail that Guardian Editor Bruce Brugmann sends us on a semiregular basis. We found the Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics, a clean and precise document that the Guardian generally adheres to, and this rule: "Journalists should: Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived." "Whew," we thought, "that's pretty straightforward." But then we gasped; the code didn't say a word about people who sell advertising. (J.S.)

Lip Service The Flaming Lips want to dissect your brain with sound. Local boy John Murray wants to help out his favorite band. On Sunday, Nov. 2, at 4:30 p.m. at the Bottom of the Hill Murray's throwing a free listening party for the new four-CD Lips record, Zaireeka. The party will be Lipless, but it still looks good for two reasons. First, Murray (who plays bass in local band Hugh) is a fan -- totally removed from the Warner Bros. publicity machine: You won't have little street-level corporate ladder climbers scrambling around with advertising and silly cassette singles. Second, the Bottom of the Hill might be your only chance to hear Zaireeka played right. See, the new Lips record is an experimental musical event; to listen to it you're supposed to have four synchronized CD players and eight speakers. The effect of noises that play off one another from speaker to speaker should be something like a living room version of head Lip Wayne Coyne's parking-lot experiments, in which a grand noise is created out of dozens of car sound systems playing simultaneously. At an experiment Riff Raff witnessed earlier this year the result was a collectively experienced garage orchestra, a wonderful and disorienting cacophony of multiple source noises bouncing off concrete and zigzagging across the lot. ("March of the Rotting Vegetables" is a lot experiment that shows up on the record.) The Bottom of the Hill doesn't exactly have a vast, echoey chamber, but eight speakers of Zaireeka should be big enough all on its own. (J.S.)

Goth Hop Scratch-master DJs (turntablists) have jumped into just about every style of music, yet a few genres remain understandably left alone. That's why the Trocadero's Oct. 30 matchup of all-around dope turntablist DJ Quest and local goth rockers Switchblade Symphony seems so unthinkable. Will Quest cut up hip-hop tracks or old Christian Death? Will Switchblade's goth Barbies swagger and mug like hip-hoppers? Will full-makeup goths start sportin' (black) Adidas and oversize basketball jerseys (No. 666)? Nah. Riff Raff knows how Quest is gonna pull it off: He'll simply spin the records backward. (R.A.)

By the Number As the annual Burning Man festival in the Black Rock Desert blooms into the most creative environment in the United States, San Francisco continues to reap the yearlong artistic harvest. There are so many weekly weird events -- from Seemen to art cars to rampaging Santas to Chicken John's weekly game show at Cell -- that no self-respecting oddball can keep track of it all. Attendance at most of the events comes from word-of-mouth and occasional e-mail missives, but videographer and ad hoc publicist Scott Beale, coordinator Danielle Engleman, Candace Locklear, and Philip Bonham wanted to make sure that the computerless and those without active day-planners could always get the tip. Together, they conceived a voice-mail messaging system that provides constantly updated events information about the stranger goings-on in town. Of course, no one could figure out a name for it -- how to encapsulate a car-smashing and whitesploitation movies and all-night dancing with interactive art? "Let's make it cryptic and mysterious," said Beale. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Number. In the interest of avoiding the who's-on-first routine altogether, the Number's number is 289-6666. Call the Number and you get a revolving cast of characters ("pseudo-celebrities," says Beale) who introduce the line, offer nightlife options, and perform odd little speeches, skits, or songs (two weeks ago some freak made guttural noises to "I Got You Babe"). (J.S.)

Riff Raff riffraff: Robert Arriaga (R.A.), Johnny DiPaola (J.D.P.), Karl D. Esturbense (K.D.E.), Jeff Stark (J.S.), Silke Tudor (S.T.), Heather Wisner (H.W.), and Bill Wyman (B.W.). 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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