Monday, November 29, 2010

We're putting the band back together.

- Though I have a long history of being in fake bands, I've never been in a band-band.  I mean, except the school band -- I was a saxophone! -- but that was more of a social group, at least for me.  It's how I found my first high school D&D group, how I discovered the hill on Market Street, and how I got to kiss girls in high school (holy smokes -- that's true!).

- However!  My pal Adrian was always musically inclined, and it was together that we discovered the KLF, aka the JAMs, aka the Justified Ancients of MuMu, aka the Timelords -- and later 2K, the K Foundation, Disco 2000, etc.  They were a band with a mythology, and that was something I could get behind.  They were samplers and dance musickers, and though that's not the music of my kid-bones, it was something I could get behind for the sake of fun and late night conversation.

- Legend has it Adrian found a cassette tape on the side of a Kentucky road.  It was the single for the KLF's "What Time Is Love?," a 90s dance anthem that demands to see you sweat, takes you on the path of what they call a MuMu, and perhaps most importantly, never stutters when asking you to pass the mic.  It also samples the MC-5's "Kick Out the Jams," and drops code names like King Boy D.  It's still a catchy song, and it came with its own symbol -- a pyramid blaster, being a pyramid with a boombox affixed to it.  It was mysterious, it was on MTV once or twice, and not many people in the US paid it much mind, which made it attractive to Adrian and me.

- What blew our minds -- or at least mine -- was a few years later, in high school, when I followed my conspiracy muse to the Illuminatus! Trilogy, by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson.  I was nerdy enough to be into the idea of global conspiracies, secret symbols, and imposter George Washingtons -- but the book also mentions the Justified Ancients of MuMu, and even claims that the MC-5's "Kick Out the Jams" was a literal in-your-face to a group of rebels that had been ejected from the Illuminati years ago.  Suddenly things like "This is what KLF is about" and "Don't Take 5, Take What You Want," and "Last Train to Trancentral" -- they weren't just funny phrases, they were codes we had a key to.

- (Not that we worried ourselves over whether it was real or not -- it was fun.  And fun always tops real.)

- We had a period of t-shirt making in high school, and Adrian crafted his own KLF tee.  It had the word JAMS on the back, and the pyramid blaster on the front.  He once told me the story of one of his early days at Thriftway, stocking something in the non-grocery aisle, and he was wearing his JAMs shirt under his white button-up work shirt.  But you could still see the logo through his button-up -- our own little way of fighting The Man -- and he was approached by a stranger.  The stranger told him he knew what he was doing, what he was about, and if he knew what was good for him, he would knock it off.  We didn't know WHAT the guy actually meant, but we assumed it was an agent of the Illuminati, taking Adrian to task for displaying his allegiance to agents of chaos.

- (Sure, the Illuminati rule the world -- but the Justified Ancients of MuMu count Tammy Wynette and Whitney Houston as members.  Which club would you rather be a part of?)

- The KLF's not active anymore, at least not that I can tell.  They published a book called The Manual about how to study the pop charts and score a #1 hit single, which they did, with "Doctorin' the Tardis," which sampled the Gary Glitter Rock n' Roll song, Doctor Who, and was a very successful #1 pop song in the UK.  They made a lot of money from it and, so the legend goes, went on to burn all that money as part of another art project called The K Foundation Burn A Million Quid... 

- (I saw an interview with Stephen Colbert once -- I think it was on The View, which is a show that I love -- in which he said that he plays a character on his show called Stephen Colbert, and sometimes the real Stephen agrees with the point of view of the character Stephen, and sometimes not, and he honestly doesn't care when his audience can tell the difference.)

- ... and Bill Drummond has put out a book on his own called 45 that's one of my very favorite examples of someone working out how they think by writing it down.  I wish Bill Drummond had a blog.  He probably does, except it's a secret one.  I hate secret blogs.  I want to know where they all are.

- (Looking up Bill Drummond's Facebook page, I found this:  "In the middle of a tour, Drummond announced he was popping out to get some glue - and never returned."  I assume he returned somewhere, eventually, but who knows?  Maybe he's wandering still, just a man and his glue.)

- I took a detour and found that I haven't even broached the subject of the 'Nati Crew, in which I prove myself a liar and reveal that I was, in fact, once in a band.  But I'll let this one be what it is, and return to the Crew in the near future. 

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