Kick Out The Jams


I know ‘Kick Out The Jams’ is a song – and indeed, an album – by the MC5, a call to arms, a proselytising of the youth-, counter- and sub-culture to rise up against ‘The Man’. But I didn’t always.

Initially, I knew it as a lyric from a David Bowie song called ‘Cygnet Committee’ – an epic saga of a song that lives at the end of side one of the album Space Oddity. Now I realise it’s kind of a reply to ‘Kick Out The Jams’ – painting a bleak image of the kind of cult that follows an out-of-control messianic figure advocating slogans such as:

Kick Out The Jams
Kick Out Your Mother
Cut Up Your Friend
Screw Up Your Brother or He'll Get You In the End.

And even though I didn’t recognise the reference to MC5, there were other references and influences close to Bowie’s own heart. For example, when

the love machine lumbers through desolation rows

it's easy to assume it's lumbering through streets not unlike the one Dylan speaks of in his own epic song, ‘Desolation Row’, that closes his 1965 album Highway 61 Revisited. That Bowie was a big Dylan fan is evident in his tribute ‘Song for Bob Dylan’ on the album Hunky Dory:

Oh, hear this Robert Zimmerman
I wrote a song for you
About a strange young man
called Dylan
With a voice like sand and glue.

Of course, Bowie went on to record Dylan’s ‘Maggie’s Farm’ at the end of the ’80s with Tin Machine. (The Dylan song, from 1965’s Bringing It All Back Home, had massive ironic overtones in England during the ’80s while Margaret Thatcher was still Prime Minister.)

The line 

Love is all we need

offers an obvious Beatles reference. Turns out Bowie was one of the many acts that Apple Records failed to sign in the late-’60s, despite his auditioning more than once. Bowie’s interaction with the Beatles continue throughout his career. There’s a cute story of Paul McCartney running into him in the street around about the same time as his pitch to Apple, Bowie carrying a life-size cut-out of McCartney as he appeared in the animated Yellow Submarine. Bowie of course covered ‘Across The Universe’ on the album Young Americans in the mid-’70s, the same album that contained his collaborative effort with John Lennon, the song ‘Fame’. On Bowie’s last official original release, Reality, he covers a song George Harrison wrote called ‘Try Some, Buy Some’.

If ‘Cygnet Committee’ didn’t seem to be so obvious a reply to ‘Kick Out The Jams’, I would cite the reference as a nice little tribute also. I don’t know that Bowie was a particular fan of the MC5, but he was fond of other Detroit-based punks, like Iggy Pop and the Stooges.

But as I say, at the time I didn’t realise the line ‘Kick out the jams’ had any life beyond the Bowie song. Now I’m kind of surprised I didn’t see – or imagine – some sort of link between the line in the Bowie song, and a line in a Beatles song: the John Lennon-penned ‘Come Together’ refers to ‘toe jam football’. Toe jam is the gunk that accumulates between dirty toes; kicking a football may lead to jamming your toes; neither of them amounts to ‘kicking out the jams’. But ‘Come Together’ seems, like ‘Cygnet Committee’, to be another ‘answer’ song to ‘Kick Out The Jams’, albeit a much more peaceful one. Recall that although Lennon identified, to a degree, with revolutionaries, he was never quite sure if, when the time came to lay it on the line, he wanted to be counted ‘in’ or ‘out’. His ambivalence is outlined in the different versions of the song ‘Revolution’.

The most interesting version of ‘Kick Out The Jams’ I ever heard was so unexpected…

Back in 1995 the angelic-voiced Jeff Buckley appeared out of nowhere charming the world. He visited Australia on a promotional tour, and, serving at the time as the music reviewer for an independent newsweekly called The Sydney CityHub, I managed to blag my way into his gig at the Phoenician Club. That venue, originally situated on Broadway, is long gone, but I still remember that day well: the venue crammed well beyond capacity, me surrounded by a heck of a lot of chicks making out (who knew that was his demographic? Well, the chicks did, probably.)

Everyone was in thrall to Buckley’s softc*ck shtick as he woo’d them with those gorgeously wussy ballads like ‘Grace‘, ‘So Real‘ and ‘Hallelujah’. But he won me over when he returned for his encore, because he hit the stage with guns blazing as he led with his version of ‘Kick Out The Jams’. You can hear him do it on the expanded Legacy Edition of the album Grace, but here he is delivering it live at Sin-è:



When I got to write about Super Detox Foot Patches for my job at JigoCity Australia, ‘Kick Out The Jams’ was the obvious cool reference to drop. Since the product is about jettisoning the toxins and stuff that jam you up via the feet, you are more-or-less kicking ’em out – so it’s the perfect call-to-arms. Or, in this case, call-to-feet.

A buddy pointed out that she leaves detoxing to her liver – politely telling me that, as far as she’s concerned, this product appears a bit dodgy. I’m not interested in engaging on that level – but when I do have a liver cleansing product to write copy about, I know that my starting point will be ‘Liver Let Die’.

Although, judging by the product image, it looks more like a case of ‘Kick Out The Teabags’!



Predictions for 2012

PrestonPig Colour

As regular readers know, there are periods during which you’d read more regularly than I update, and those periods tend to coincide with full time work. Lately, the full time work has also involved maintaining a blog. Makes sense to me to update this by pointing to that.

Most recently, I wrote up a list of Predictions for 2012. It covers Arts and Entertainment (including the so-called ‘vulgar arts’), Politics, Science, Astrology… (By ‘covers’, I mean, ‘I might have the odd gag regarding’.)

Here’s an example: my prediction regarding Reality TV in 2012 (hence Alex E Clark‘s brilliant caricature of Matt Preston as a Suckling Pig, above):

Big Brother is returning in 2012. That’s great. You know what would be even better? If they ramped it up. Here’s the Reality TV format that would nail the ratings: The Biggest Celebrity MasterChef Brother. Biggest Loser-type people – including Matt Preston – are trapped in the Big Brother household, kitted out with an impressive industrial kitchen and  nothing to eat except each other. Last one standing wins.

You’d tune into that. For the recipes, of course. And imagine how big a seller the book of the series would be. Top that, 2013 Reality TV!

Pretty good prediction, huh! If you liked it, go ahead, read more…

2012 Pirelli Calendar

The 2012 Pirelli Calendar has been published, and Fashionista has provided a preview citing Italian Vanity Fair’s  preview of “the classiest pin-up girlie calendar ever”. 

In much the same way that voicing a character on an episode of The Simpsons and appearing in Woody Allen films were once measures of having ‘made it’, the Pirelli Calendar bestows prestige upon the women depicted therein. And the photographer who captured them. The calendar itself cannot be purchased – rather, it is a gift given to valued business associates and other VIPs. This year the women got their kit off for former model Mario Sorrenti. This is his photo of Saskia de Brauw. Saski-de-Brauw-Pirelli2-e1323198418956If you want to see it in its full glory (read: I’m too chickensh*t to risk litigation),visit the Pirelli website. Or Saskia â€™s. (Or the website of anyone who is less chickensh*t or has a better standing with Pirelli.) 

Meanwhile, if  you’re interested in cool calendars of beautiful babes, can I recommend the 2012 Women Lifesavers Calendar. It features the work of Joshua Rablin, it’s a fundraiser for the Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation and various surf lifesaving clubs. One of the models is Ali Glenny who is such an absolute glamour, I wouldn’t be surprised if she winds up in a Pirelli calendar down the track.

As it happens, JigoCity is doing a deal on the 2012 Women Lifesavers Calendar for the next little while…

Josh Rablin's portrait of Ali Glenny


Having a Ball at Work. Or:
It's a Business doing Pleasure with you



More astute return visitors to this blog will be aware that I must be gainful employed.

By 'more astute return visitors', I really mean 'return visitors'; the astute visitors are the ones who keep coming back to read stuff. As opposed to ignorant American school kids, for example, who land here trying to research the Lou Diamond Phillips film Stand and Deliver by googling 'themes in stand and deliver' and, since neither my blog nor I can help them with their homework, end up commenting that we both "blow".

By 'gainfully employed' I mean someone's paying me to be a literate nerd, for a change. So I tend to spend my writing-and-ruminating time for them. At the moment it's a company called JigoCity - basically, one of the multitude of daily deal coupon companies you haven't heard of.

I've made a point of not turning my personal blog into a way of directing traffic to the website of my day job. For lots of reasons. Not because I'm not some corporate shill - I'll always sell out to the... well, to whomever's buying. But the point is, my blog is for venting spleen, for being passionate, for writing because I enjoy it. Or, for writing I'm no necessarily enjoying, but feel compelled to write because, for whatever reason, I have no choice but write.

And then JigoCity went and did a deal for discounted Burlesque Ball tickets. I'm torn. I want to write about this. But am I just flogging my day job after hours? Because as a blogger (a proper old school blogger, not some microblogging daytripper who thinks a status update on Facebook or Twitter actually constitutes a 'blog') I'm compelled to link to relevant sites when I mention them.

So I'll compromise: I'll write what I have to say about burlesque. I'll link to the JigoCity deals. But I'll write this blog at work, when there are more pressing duties I am neglecting. Understand that I am currently goofing off while I type. I am not selling out, I am stickin' it to The Man. (If I were Rik Mayall, I'd follow with 'Wev-o-lyooooo-shun!')

To prove I'm not selling out, I've got a title that's not SEO'd. And I've got a long pre-amble that'll discourage people who don't like to read. It's not just about quick sales on my blog. (God knows - I've taken my time getting around to not-quite-selling-out!)

But here's the thing:

I don't get burlesque.

I want to. I try to. I like women. I like their girly bits.

I like their girly bits in sexy clothes.

I like their girly bits out of sexy clothes.

I like the sexy transition from within sexy clothes to without sexy clothes.

But when I see burlesque I usually end up exasperated: "Get 'em out, keep 'em put away, whatever; just make up your mind and do it!"

I don't know why I feel that way. I grew up in an age when full frontal nudity was a novelty you'd stumble upon unexpectedly in a foreign film. On SBS. When it was still called 'Channel Oh'. (Or 0/28.)

A time when all pornography from the newsagent was softcore erotica - except for the racey 'black label'... which was also softcore erotica, but sometimes with two people posing instead of one.

A time when - to [probably mis]quote The IT Crowd - even online, "pre-broadband speeds" meant "you'd be up all night and see, like, eight women..."

Surely my response should be the 'seen it, heard it, or refuse to see it because I've heard too many parodies of it' Gen Y kids with no time for burlesque.

But then friends who [claim to] have seen it 'done properly' tell me the problem is, I've only ever seen it done badly. I, too, need to see it 'done properly'.

They recommend I see the Burlesque Ball, put together by the Bijou Group. They, apparently, 'do it properly'.

And here I am, currently working for JigoCity, [one of] the [multitude of] daily deal website[s that you've never heard of], and they're doing half-price tickets to the Burlesque Ball performances around Australia.

So of course, I was busy they were playing my local, the Enmore, in Newtown. And I can't get to their show at The Tivoli Theatre, Brisbane on November 4. Or the one at The Palace, Melbourne, November 11. Or the final one, at Fremantle Town Hall on November 13.

If ever I was gonna see it 'done properly', this'd be the way: each show featuring "International sensual sensation" Catherine D'Lish headlining, with a cast that includes Vancouver's Melody Mangler, Imogen Kelly from Sydney (pictured top of this post) and Lola the Vamp from Melbourne.

Oh well. Maybe next time. For me, the jury's still out regarding burlesque. I did enjoy checking out the pretty, strippy chicks for work, though. And for pleasure, of course.

The The