Tuesday, December 12, 2017

My Favourite New Band!

The most humbling intellectual experience in modern life may be being unable to figure what something is called even with the might of Google behind you. Last night Dame Zelda and I watched a programme about how Laibach, sort of Slovenia’s answer to Gang of Four, Kraftwerk, and Devo, in 2015 became the first Western rock band to perform in North Korea. Our favourite moment was when the poor Korean guy charged with keeping Laibach from corruptingt his countrymen objected to lead singer Milan’s headgear on the basis of its evoking Nazism. I have been hearing about, and seeing photographs of, Nazis all my life, and watched the BBC’s coverage of the Charlottesville brouhaha, and have never seen a single Nazi wearing such headgear. But when I asked Google, with the utmost deference, to help me figure out what said headgear is called, it mocked me cruelly. A search for “French Foreign Legion headgear” took me to a page depicting legionnaires in kepis — visored caps with flat circular tops, of the sort commonly associated with Chuck de Gaulle. I didn’t think searching for “hat that looks like Slade’s Dave Hill’s hair” would stand a greater chance of success, and so, to console myself, reminisced about my brief romance with a sexy Australian woman with whom I failed to become romantically entangled a few months after the collapse of my first marriage.

I was living ln San Francisco’s Lower Nob Hill at the time, just across from what was then Cala Foods. The California Street cable car’s distinctive clanging would wake me in the morning. I would ride the cable car both to work in the Financial District, and then back after a long, demoralising day of processing the words of lawyers in the business of defending Chevron Oil against the Sierra Club and other environmental plaintiffs. One afternoon, instead of dashing up to my little studio apartment and grieving about not having seen my little girl in days and being employed by a big fascist law firm in the business of defending Chevron Oil against the Sierra Club and other environmental plaintiffs, I went into Cala to buy some zucchini. In the produce section, I espied a very presentable young woman contemplating broccoli. I hadn’t yet lost my looks at that point, and suavely wondered aloud, “Why don’t you let me take you away from all this?”

She smiled and said, “What, you’ve got something against broccoli?” I thought that quite wonderful, and that I might be in love. She agreed to come over for dinner later. Her name was Kepi. Antipodeans are so weird. 

We quickly discovered that we couldn’t stand each other, to the point at which we didn’t even agree that we would remain friends. I later surmised that she was homeless, and avoided sleeping rough, as the Brits say, by allowing herself to be picked up by a succession of local gentlemen, and, in my case, cads. We would see each other in the ‘hood and pretend we hadn’t seen each other at all. 

This was never supposed to be about Kepi, though. but about Laibach, whose name I at first hoped derived from that famous Republican politician who said that the best idea for a woman being raped was to lie back and enjoy it, though he almost certainly said lay, and not lie. As I write this, Laibach may be my favourite band. Their music is martial and anthemic, and In the one song we viewers of the documentary about their North Korean adventure saw them perform, there was much wonderful mass whistling that reminded me pleasantly of Peter Gabriels’ “Games Without Frontiers” and The Scorpions’ “Winds of Change”. Milan’s voice is half Cookie Monster, as re-imagined by the iconic vocalists of death metal, and half Froggie the Gremlin. 

All that said, I will not profess to love Laibach more than I do The Lucky Cupids, the kings of Slovenian rockabilly.

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