Six Flags Magic Mountain : Six Shags, Magic Fountain (of cash)

July 1, 2008

Its not like me to seek thrills and excitement outside of my own creative playground of Invisible where one of the most exciting high speed thrill rides was the journey back from Home Depot to see if the black bumpy pieces of plastic were actually the right size for the new Damage Manual cd cover.

Anyway, I find myself involved in a two for one special, heading up to Six Flags with my eldest son Ian and my two sisters in law………it’s a great day for it as a threat of rain keeps a lot of people away. We arrive at our location and I comment that the car park looks run down almost like the employee car park…it is – the attendant laughs – we are the 160th car that day to arrive there, scratching our heads, apparently GPS is responsible for this little glitch.

Anyway, the first shock is the Batman ride ……..

“After cresting the ten story lift hill, the ride begins with a 87-foot twisting dive into a seven story tall vertical loop, followed by a zero gravity one-of-a-kind heartline spin and a second 68-foot vertical loop. Riders then proceed at full throttle through several twisting turns, a few quick dips and two more corkscrew inversions sending your feet for the sky, before the brake run. With speeds up to 50 mph!’

there is NO LINE! Fucking awesome, but, no line at the guillotine isn’t really a good thing is it? No line at the vasectomy clinic – errrr, hang on. There NEEEDS to be a period of SWEATS…..a period of jitters, horrifying fore shadowing of horrible events to come…… I don’t have any time to get ready for the turmoil …(like next time I go thanks to an expose of someone being decapitated by this very machine in another park………) BUT, I am not allowed time to catch my breath before I am hanging upside down……NOW, here is an awesome scam, absolutely awesome……….someone said….”lets make these rides turn people upside down, you know, just like we used to do to the kids on the playground……” all manner of change is thrown, scattered and smothered all over the ground, id’s, hats, glasses and keys……so, aswell as this dropped stuff BONANZA…….some GENIUS came up with the idea of the massive necessary – ness of LOCKERS…….maaaaaan, $1 a go…….and, there needs to be lockers next to each ride, so that you can get your stuff out – because without your stuff – you’d have nothing to put into the next set of lockers……SHAG#1

SHAG#2, the souveneir coke (or any kind of pop) cup. $16 shag a fucking delic maaaan. And, shag#3 you cant take this on the fucking upside down ride can you. So you need to put it in a lockerrrrrrrrr $1, kerrrrching.

Shag#4 the go-karts cost $7.50 a piece……………now, there aren’t many people around, so, a few of the park employees are trying to hoopla it up a bit for the benefit of the families who have saved up a while for this……ones that are pushing the limits of their budgette – they get a stamp out at lunchtime and sit in the car park with a big bunch of sandwiches…….so you know its close to theee edge.
There is a climbing wall….an additional $5. Except the computer that takes the money is down. I ask the guy, the Sherpa Tensing of SFMM to just take my $5 and do some bars and gates thing. He is not allowed and might lose his job if things don’t tally………..well, if he cant make things not tally in the best possible way to make sure all of this new cash stays in his pocket then fuck him, BUT, it is not allowed……..don’t you think the thing that should not be allowed is Dads having a bad time with their sons???? YES, make people have a good time, cattle-prod those fuckers.

I ask him to have his supervisor call me when they arrive so we can have a nice chat about this. They don’t. at least, not while I had my phone, I was on a ride at one point and my phone was in a locker.
When we return an hour later, the computer is still down but the supervisor tells the guy to take my money, I have a $20 – he says he can’t take it, he needs exact change…….(see definition of JOBSWORTH) I am just about to thermo nuclear the hell out of his ass – when his supervisor comps the experience. Good save dude, Good employment of your latitude attitude. And great avoidance of some splat-itude.

Wandering around earlier, one of the staff gave us a coupon, 2 free go’s on a game in the arcade….except the computers are down….of course they are, but, don’t let me and my family interrupt your text message from who, the guy in the fucking caspar outfit???

While waiting for the climbing wall, I start talking to another dad – dads do this kind of stuff – he tells me that he had arrived BANG at 10am – determined to get as much value for their ticket price as possible ….SHAG#5 – the park opens at 10am, the rides open at 11am……..mmmmm, what to do in that hour, well, guess what, everything else is open, every POSSIBLE place you can spend $ is open and ready for ya!……that’s a shagging dude, that’s fucking nasty.,…….trading on anticipation and excitement……xmas morning has been postponed for 60 minutes…….
Shag #6 is easy, the fucking Dark Knight ride just plain SUCKS ass…..and, that’s from the guy who at the beginning was complaining because I wasn’t ready for Batman – I didn’t sign up for astronaut training dude – just throw me around a bit. Up and down like……..not this tumble dryer shit.

Dark Knight is basically an attempt at space mountain by some people with less imagination than the Walt Disney Corporation…..its not dark enough in there – I can see the tracks so I know where we are going – something that really makes Space Mountain as cool as it is……….this doesn’t have it at all…….an arrow points one way – so I KNOW we are going in the other…..there is a small drop but really, the wildest moment is when I am completely blinded by a large flash…….wow, I think (like an idiot,)this is where it gets really hairy as fuck No it isn’t, that was the flash for the $12,50 a pop photograph and thankfully the end of this pitiful experience.

SHAG #6 7 and 8
At one point I see a guy on stilts ask a punter (a paying customer) the time! Are you fucking kidding me! This is supposed to be timeless isn’t it?? The decapitation should have happened after the punter asked “why, do you want to go home??” and then the guy on stilts fucking nodded. Dis – gus – ting.
I wish the woman with the stilts and faerie wings would have gone home early, just a minute or so before she came dancing towards us, if there were lyrics to the non-descript song she was flamingo-ing to – sorry that’s phlemingoing to – it would have been ‘look at me dancing, I get paid extra to dance on these stilts, in my gossamer wings and my convers high tops that you can see because the fabric has revealed the basically sheet-rocking stilts that you yourself could buy at home depot. The fabric and the stilts and the gossamer wings all nearly disguise the fact that I can dance, but not quite. And, without anything more being revealed – we have seen all too much of this horrible corporate-ness.

Shagging # A MILLION
Comcast present the automatic go to the head of the line remote control…I guess like the guy in Click kind of thing – I think that this cost $40 per person per day ON TOP of the 59 bucks already spent. Level one of this (because yes, we’re all about the ticket dynamics ever since we learned about it in marketing class) basically, this is a glorified version of ‘your potato soup in a bread bowl is ready’ at Panera… don’t actually save any time at all – BUT – you can go and do something else while you would have been waiting – NOW, I wonder what that activity might be? A $7.50 chicken sandwich>> perhaps…….and, I wonder if these little Comcast remote thingys are allowed on the rides…mmm. Better put it in a locker……..

Check out the radio links for some radio interviews, come see me at the seminar out in the burbs

July 6th – NPR’s All Things Considered

Tour:Smart Seminar
Saturday, July 12th 10am – 6pm
R.A.W. Studio, Lake In The Hills, IL
$50 Advance Ticket – includes a copy of Tour:Smart

See ya



invisible is 20 today

June 18, 2008

So, it turns out, without any great big hoo haa, that today is in fact the 20th anniversary of the existence of invisible records ………20 years ago was the first party, self promoted, open bar mess of a thing with a bunch of bands that weren’t just on the first awesome vinyl album in a shopping bag – they also invested bits and pieces of their money in it too – nothing big – but HUGE really – just small positive motions that make things happen instead of not. We had a meeting at my old loft space on Sanford Street in New Brunswick NJ and at some point – we pooled some cash, enough for us to press the first album. The first announcement – a manifesto? If you like said it all – ‘a group of artists tired of having their music watered down or hyped up’……instead of ‘shopping’demo tapes – we all just did it.

William Tucker had a band called Cleft Palate – I kept hearing their amazing track Brain Squeeze on the college radio stations WRSU (Rutgers university) . WPRB (Princeton) and Trenton’s WTSR…it turned out that he was producing a couple of up and comer bands too – 15 (maaaan they were fucking awesome) and Leather Studded Diaphragm – a band featuring Eric Gladstone – a soon to be journalist and singer of the amazingly ironic or was it just very very hopeful song “get your hands off my cock’ The Spy Gods are on there along with a band I just guested with a few months ago and was in many many ways a pre-curser to Pigface – Lunar Bear Ensemble – formed by John Richey and Bear Graham – they invited me to join their free flowing jamminess – it was terrific and delightful and much more important to me than its slot in between PiL and Killing Joke suggests. We later recorded a full album with Robert Musso in NYC. My chaotic alter ego band Brian Brain have a track on there too along with other projects of mine (and Rick Kerr) The Bizarr Sex Trio and The Voodoo Death Beat – a track where I ask the then president Mr Ronald Regan if he wanted to dance with me………

It was punk as fuck, DIY or die. I screen printed shopping bags as needed – then realized I could screen print a shirt with the same screen too. So I’m in some Killing Joke photos wearing those. It turned out by wonderful accident (and isn’t this all that all the good stuff really is?) that when the 12” album in a shopping bag was put into the racks alongside the other records – the handles of the bag stuck out – an open invitiation for someone to come in and grab it! And, marvelously, the bag made the record fit so snuggly in most racks that it made it difficult to put back in – sometimes prompting a $10 purchase to avoid another 30 minutes of embarasing shoving, grunting and re-folding in the middle of the super hip stores that stocked it. I was on the phone selling direct to Newbury Comics in Boston– when they had one or two stores, Atomic in Milwaukee, The Princeton Record Exchange, Music In A Different Kitchen NJ– all places where the store owners were happy to talk for a while…..wondering what the fuck was going on.

Despite the sceptisism of the Roxy Bar (across the street from the much more frequented Melody Mar where Matt Pinfield would spin Pil as soon (as soon as fucking soon) as I walked in the door). My idea to have an open bar (that means FREE drinks) for an hour really FRIGHTENED them……the place was packed – fucking packed – does anyone have any photos from that night??? I was so drunk that I spent $100 of my own money at the launch of my own label where my band was performing!!! I think the same thing pretty much happened to everyione else too.

A few weeks later I promoted a show for Steve Albini’s Rapeman – what a fantastic band – I made extra special posters…….and ended up among the 10 strong audience, with my head as close to Rey Washams snare drum as I could without losing an eye. And then a trip to the cash machine and my first lesson in being a promoter…….you have to take the hits with grace………I paid the band, and gave them some, best described as, bizarre t-shirts featuring mickey mouse, soccer balls and the word FUCK all over them……..they graciously accepted them and probably threw them away as soon as they were a safe distance away, keeping one or two in the back of the van for the next oil change.

It was so nice to talk with the guys at D-22 in Beijing recently. Then, nicely interviewed by Xi from Snapline they explain the beginning of D-22 very simply– they just got tired of going to other bars and pointing out what was wrong. Wanting to create a new club not just to have it exist – but to make sure that they stopped standing on the side lines and critisising – that, I think, was more offensive to their sense of punk rock entrepreneurial just fucking do it spirit to be complainers.

Do-ers do! Dildo’s don’t.

Well, that’s it. No real huge revelations really, just confirmation of lots of the things that have always been around here. Thanks for sticking around while I reminisce. To all of those who have made it possible – and that is very clearly way more people than just me – thankyou. And, I cannot let this moment pass without mentioning William Tucker, three or four years or so before moving to Chicago and getting involved in the scene here – he was simply setting fire to the scene in New Jersey, his band Cleft Palate – just a two piece, changed radically for each performance – my first wife Leila took someone to see them at a bar – only to find the show she had described and expected to see replaced by William and Chris Chang wearing huge afro wigs and seran wrap….something was, I think, set on fire..something was smashed……. Too many talkers and not enough doers – although, it must be said, sometimes William did too much – in every sense of the word. There are some absolutely amazing moments, public, private, aural, visual and whatever else that have occurred with the label over the years, what I would treasure most is the knowledge that its very existence gave you the confidence to do it yourself – better.

What you can’t see – wont hurt you……………

Peace love and respect

Martin Atkins

Chicago Illannoys