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Wednesday, Mar 27 1996
Hacks and Flacks
The deepest insight to be gleaned from Thomas Pynchon's latest piece of writing turns out to be his observation that Boris Pickett's "Monster Mash" was "not necessarily the Birth of Rap." Finally, that's been cleared up. Allegedly, the reclusive author of classics like V and Gravity's Rainbow has given up fiction in favor of a higher, much more lucrative calling: that of pop music scribe. A few years ago, Pynchon emerged from under his rock to write the liner notes for a Spike Jones retrospective. That move made sense, given the novelist's penchant for dressing his prose in loud checkered sport coats and goosing it with the literary equivalent of kazoos and pennywhistles. Now, however, comes a stranger Pynchon sighting -- his sleeve notes for Nobody's Cool (Spinart), the sophomore release of a perfectly mediocre NYC rock band called Lotion. For this gig, the mysteriously slothful Pynchon simply strung together a laundry list of junk culture (The Love Boat, The Jetsons, Snapple, the Apocalypse) in the space of a typical dust-jacket blurb. "Rock and roll remains one of the last honorable callings," he blusters drolly, "and a working band is a miracle of everyday life." Well, amen to all that. The good news is that those who say they've finished Pynchon's latest won't be lying.

Rewriting History
You may have a hard time finding Wise Intelligent's new solo album, Killing U ... for Fun: Several major retailers refused to carry it, citing the potentially offensive cover -- a 1911 photo of a group of whites grinning as a black man is being burned on a stake. In response, Wise's label, Contract Records, is planning to replace it with a photo of the rapper, who is best known as a founding member of Poor Righteous Teachers. Contract President Ed "Lucky" Toptani says he was "very disappointed" by the reaction, adding that what's "probably more disappointing is that it's a historical photo. [Censoring] it is basically denying black history. People want to deny that this ever existed or that it's still going on." Compared to many staged album covers out there in any musical genre, the graphic level is almost tame. "The image is not so bad," Toptani agrees. "It's what it represents." Wise Intelligent says the photo formed the crux of the entire concept behind the record. "It's saying that [black people] are not the original killers ... we were taught how to do the things we do. It's saying, don't blame hip hop for all the violence that's going on in the inner city." He performs Sunday, March 31, at 330 Ritch in S.F.

The Backdoor Man
In town to lay down some vocals at Russian Hill Studios, Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum stopped in at the Boomerang to have a few beers last Friday and ended up forming an impromptu band with a couple of locals. Woof!, as Pirner dubbed them, borrowed Decal's instruments and put together spotty renditions of "Wild Thing" and "I Wanna Be Your Dog," as well as an original that didn't make it on the last Soul Asylum album. Said one disgruntled patron, "I came up to watch the X-Files on the big screen and instead I get this Pirner character caterwauling during all the most suspenseful scenes." Undaunted and under threat of a "triple dare" from Boomerang booker Michael James, Pirner agreed to return the following Monday, when he borrowed a guitar from Blew Willie and played a short solo set of original material before joining Preacher Boy in the slaughter of Willie Dixon's classic "Backdoor Man." Pirner said farewell last Tuesday and headed off to New Orleans where he will be working on a Big Star tribute album.

By James Sullivan, Eric Arnold, Silke Tudor


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