Precedence: bulk
Subject: Chalkhills Digest #6-95

          Chalkhills Digest, Volume 6, Number 95

                    Monday, 1 May 2000


                  record store question
                    Mummer a Bummer ?
               Don't you just *hate* that?
         Re: Vonnegut vs. Heller on Pay Per View
              Society For The Defense of GO2
                       My one wish
                      What is rush?
                  The ugly on this list
                 Questions & Observations
     Re: Nap Gap Yap Yap etc. and Pay Attention class
                   Once apon a time...
                  Children, Children...
                   Ow! Dunks! My wrist!
                  The Meaning of Life...


    To UNSUBSCRIBE from the Chalkhills mailing list, send a message to
    <> with the following command:


    For all other administrative issues, send a message to:


    Please remember to send your Chalkhills postings to:


    World Wide Web: <>

    The views expressed herein are those of the individual authors.

    Chalkhills is compiled with Digest 3.7b (John Relph <>).

I'm under a flourescent light.


Date: Sat, 29 Apr 2000 17:19:18 -0700
From: Herne <>
Subject: record store question
Message-ID: <>

Anybody out there in Chalkhills-land that know any cool record stores in
the Tampa Bay area?  I'm going to be nearby next week and would like to
know if there's any places to check out.  Please email me off-list by
Tuesday morning.


KL aka Herne


Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2000 11:49:32 +0900
From: "John Boudreau" <>
Subject: Mummer a Bummer ?
Message-ID: <005901bfb256$d28c39c0$655791d2@johnboud>

Greetings from The Sushiman ,

Vinyl Mummer spinning as I write ... Coming after two of the best XTC
albums - Black Sea and English Settlement - a disappointment . I still love
the singles " Wonderland " and " Great Fire " ;  both of which I purchased
before buying the LP . The rest of SIDE 1 also just about as good as XTC
gets .  For me , the problem with Mummer is SIDE 2 ; my least favorite SIDE
of any XTC album bar none . If I never heard it again I wouldn't miss it ,
sorry to say .



Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2000 08:34:23 -0400
From: "Todd and Jennifer Bernhardt" <>
Subject: Don't you just *hate* that?
Message-ID: <>


Radiosinmotion said:

> To me, what I consider heavy metal (you know some people consider XTC punk
> still?) is Poison, Def Leopard and all the other played out groups of the
> 80's.

Hair bands. *Not* Metal bands.

> I hate
> Disco, I hate Country,  I hate Opera,  I hate Gospel and I hate
> Church type
> music (non gospel). Big deal!  I am sure you hate some of the
> music I listen too.  It just does not matter that much does it?

"The more you love music, the more music you love."



Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2000 08:15:38 -0500
From: "Christopher R. Coolidge" <>
Subject: Re: Vonnegut vs. Heller on Pay Per View
Message-ID: <l03130301b531dd26d009@[]>

>>Catch-22 was the book that opened my eyes to how weak crap like Vonnegut
>>really was (now there's annoying for you).
>Weak? Crap? Them's fightin' words, pal! "Slaughterhouse 5" is easily the
>equal of "Catch 22" - and I'll remind you, Ed, that Kurt actually went
>through the experiences on which the book is based. (Was Heller in the Air
>Force? I really don't know - I'm not knocking him - I just can't remember)

  As someone who enjoys both authors, I can't resist jumping into this
debate. Joseph Heller wrote one great book in his lifetime, and that was
Catch 22. One of the great classics of 20th century American literature and
howlingly funny to boot. The movie didn't do it justice. I did enjoy
Something Happened, though I'm probably the only person in the whole world
who read it before Catch 22(I read both in high school in the late 70's,
but I happened to get to Something Happened first). When you accept that
it's a very different book than Catch 22 you can enjoy it on a different
level. It's not as funny, but the characters are very well drawn, and it's
more a snapshot of a tortured and dysfunctional family unit in the 70's. I
even enjoyed it when I reread it last year. Heller even put out a sequel to
Catch 22 a couple of years ago, which I've read; it's not the masterpiece
Catch 22 was and wasn't intended to be, but it does pick up on a few of the
characters in the mid-90's when they're all old men looking back on their
lives. Yosarrian is again one of the central characters, and Milo
Minderbinder has gone from chocolate covered cotton to being one of the
most successful businessmen in the country by scamming people the same way
he always has. The chaplain pops up towards the end in a subplot that turns
out very important to the story. The plot is a bit hard to follow, and it's
not the great piece of work its predecessor was, but it is worth reading.
  Vonnegut is one of those few novelists I'll read anything by. Not all of
his work is great- I found Player Piano boring, and his most recent novel
Timepiece was his dodgiest effort in quite a while. Far better was another
of his more recent novels Hocus Pocus. Anyone who thinks Vonnegut is crap,
pick that one up, you may change your mind, it's a quite absorbing piece of
storytelling with very little of the pseudo-avant-garde digressions of,
say, Breakfast Of Champions(which I enjoy despite its tendency to wander
from the story; Timepiece returns to that annoying tendency, except it
doesn't have much plot to wander from). Also check Slapstick, which is
another more straightforward piece of storytelling, though a rather unusual
story it is. It was even made into a movie sometime in the 80's, with Jerry
Lewis in the starring role. It was under a different title, though, I
forget what. I remember him promoting it on Letterman, and when it came out
it went straight to video, just like all other movies of Vonnegut's books,
except Slaughterhouse Five.

Christopher R. Coolidge

Homepage at

"A Great law protects me from the government. The Bill of rights has
10 GREAT laws.  A Good law protects me from you.  Laws against murder,
theft, assault and the like are good laws.  A Poor law attempts to
protect me from myself."  - Unknown


Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2000 02:38:35 -0700
From: "Drew MacDonald" <>
Subject: Bluetones
Message-ID: <001201bfb287$db0489a0$>

Chris Browning mentioned:
> also the new bluetones album is likened to "mummer" of all things. have
> heard the first single off this, "keep the home fires burning" and very
> nice it is with it's hovis horn section - but anything like mummer? not
> really...still might be worth investigating...

Does anybody know if this Bluetones record will have a US release? What's
the title? And what is a "hovis horn section?"

who loves Mummer AND Nonsuch


Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2000 07:49:53 -0500
From: "Christopher R. Coolidge" <>
Subject: Society For The Defense of GO2
Message-ID: <l03130300b531d8c4c881@[]>

>> Well, I'll be the (maybe lone) dissenting voice on this one then.
>> I've said
>> it before, and I'll say it again, IMO there is something to
>> 'love' in every
>> XTC album and these two are no exceptions. Add the rose-tinted nostalgic
>> hue of distance, and the fact that punk was 'my generation', and I see no
>> reason to dislike anything much on either album (and yes, I even like 'My
>> Weapon')
>Don't worry, you're not alone. White Music is what hooked me to this band,
>and the Society for the Defense of Go2 is lurking out there somewhere. (Show

  Probably the same woman I saw walking into KSV Communications with an LP
copy of GO2 under her arm a couple of years ago.(probably to show her boss
the ALBUM COVER.) Personally I enjoy it more than White Music, I'll
probably get White Music in some form one of these days(it's the only XTC
album I don't actually own)but when I heard it on a friend's stereo
sometime in the early 80's it didn't set me on fire(so to speak), though
"This Is Pop" and "Statue Of Liberty" sounded like good jumpy late 70's
post-punk songs. The cover of "All Along The Watchtower" I found grating,
and may have been the deciding factor in my giving the album a miss. I may
give it another chance though. I actually enjoyed the 3D EP a lot
more(which I do have).
  As for GO2, I don't listen to it much, but when I make an XTC mix tape, I
make sure to include "Mechanik Dancing" or "Battery Brides" which a friend
of mine in college even used as the soundtrack for a dance performance she
was in. Works real well for experimental modern dance. There's no such
thing as a bad XTC album, it's just some are more flawed than others. Like
most great songwriters, Andy has put out his share of dodgy stuff; just
what it is is a matter of opinion. As for Colin, he has the misfortune of
being a good songwriter in a band with a great one, like John Entwhistle
and Dave Davies.

Christopher R. Coolidge

Homepage at

"A Great law protects me from the government. The Bill of rights has
10 GREAT laws.  A Good law protects me from you.  Laws against murder,
theft, assault and the like are good laws.  A Poor law attempts to
protect me from myself."  - Unknown


Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2000 09:36:53 EDT
Subject: My one wish
Message-ID: <>

Hatfields & McCoys,
   My one wish in life is to see XTC play one more show. Then everyone from
Chalkhills can show up and while Andy is singing "Stupidly Happy" ,there
would be an all out brawl on the floor. Watch  where you swing that
  Making a fist.........
    XTC?....  Yeah!  That head-boppin' band!!...  I admit to occasionally
bopping to XTC, but there's more to their music than the tempo!!!  If that
was true, I would have quit on them after Terry C. left!!  BOLLOCKS!!!

 Bollocks? You better be in England because theres nothing worse than someone
in the U.S. using english phrases, you stupid git. HA HA!  And besides ,I
could make a box set of XTC songs  where the tempo dominates. I also put on
the headphones and  listen to the same song over & over just to disect it
instrument by instrument but I'm just a simple folk from out here in the
sticks and if  makes me want to move & groove, I'm movin & groovin. Squeel
  I be done.    Roger
 p.s . "TROUT! OUT!" is my all time favorite sign off.


Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2000 12:12:29 EDT
Subject: What is rush?
Message-ID: <>

In a message dated 4/30/00 2:49:54 AM US Eastern Standard Time,
<> writes:

> <<Whats Rush?>>
>  You don't want to know, believe me.

Rush is a progressive-rock band that was very popular in the late-70s,
early-80s.  They had hits like "Tom Sawyer" "New World Man" and "Spirit of
Radio" and they're a DAMN GOOD BAND, no matter what anyone says.

- - -
Reverend Jody L. Barnes
"May the baby Jesus shut your mouth and open your mind." - Don Vliet
"Being disabled has never really interested me very much.  It's very serious,
like plumbing is serious, but I'm also not interested in plumbing." - Robert
Wyatt (paraplegic)


Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2000 13:12:54 -0400
From: "Cheryl" <>
Subject: The ugly on this list
Message-ID: <000f01bfb2c7$80913820$>


>Am I the only person who loves Mummer around here?
Certainly not.  :)
It took me awhile to really like this album.  The delicate nature  just
didn't appeal at first, but on subsequent listens I found a lot to love
about this album.
What really brought me around were the soaring vocals on "Love On A
Farmboy's Wages".  It made my heart flutter and it was all down hill from
there. :)

Jane Spencer-Davis thus wrote:
>Might I speak for let's say the majority of the 'Chalkhills Chicks' (and we
>are a lusty lot) that the preference would be for a Mr. Partridge tripping
>and falling into the featherbed rather than a Mr. Sumner...
I second that emotion!  I mean notion!  : )

From: "vee tube" :
(Snipped for space)
>   Anybody want to guess how long these newbies will hang
>    out here? How many will never know about the 'Dukes"
>                          Why?
>   Because all they'll see is a bunch of Stupid!Monkey! FUCKS!
>Pissing all over each other! What a great way to find XTC fans!
>         I think all I'm trying to say is...
>    "Can't we all just,get along? little doggies?"
I think your point is a good one...I just think it strange how you put it.
Personally, and of course this is just my opinion, calling people foul names
doesn't quite embody the spirit of peace.  I'm not trying to judge you.  I
liked your point, it has made me think.  I just think using the same tactics
you are trying to call an end for is destructive to your point.

That's what seems to be lacking in these pages of late, civility and respect
for humanity.  When I first joined the list back in '96, I was impressed
with the amount of thoughtful, intelligent posts and the spirit of community
that seemed to reside here.  I'm not trying to glorify the "good ole days"
because there were mean and ugly posts flying about but it didn't seem as
much nor as much name calling.
Everyone is very passionate about XTC in this digest and arguments seem to
be unavoidable but is it necessary to be down right mean and ugly to our
fellow listers?

Sometimes I have had that....horrible, fascinated feeling like when I catch
a glimpse of  The Jerry Springer Show.  I read these comments and laugh, but
then feel saddened and sick by the slimy-ness of it all.  It's the only way
I can describe it.  I've always thought the type of people who like XTC were
rather intelligent and friendly folks but you would never see that with the
posts that fly through here.

Sorry to get on my soapbox here.  Just wanted to express my thoughts of
late.  It's been bothering me and I just wanted to add my two cents in.

>> Point Three - XTC are a heavy metal band and one day I will prove
>>it. Seriously.
Why?  Why label them?  XTC transcends labels in my opinion.   They are too
good for that.

Take care everyone,


Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2000 08:56:17 -0700
From: "John Keel" <>
Subject: Questions & Observations
Message-ID: <002a01bfb2bc$9febf4e0$>

Hi kids!

First, I want to know - especially from you fans in the UK - if there is
anything XTC related that is readily available over the pond that we can't
here in the States?  I have a friend who's heading over to London on
Wednesday and will bring me anything I want back, but I don't know if
there's anything for her to bring.  Please e-mail me off list if you have
any suggestions.  Thanks!

I love that the L.A. area fans are responding positively to my idea of a
gathering.  Let's stay on this and see what we can work up.  Maybe someone
with a website can post photos that we can give the rest of the world a link
to in order for them to see our soiree'.

My suggestion to Molly on having fans send in their own mixes for listening
parties showed my total ignorance of the process being a relative newbie of
Chalkhills and never having actually participated in a listening party
before.  Sorry for the confusion.

One note to an older post from Deborah Brown re: if my initial response to
"Wasp Star" had changed since I posted my review.  Like I said, it basically
hasn't but I find myself almost wishing I hadn't given my review - or at
least such a lengthy (sorry about that) one.  In some ways I agree with the
observation that for some people it's like hearing all about how great a
movie is and then getting your expectations up and being let down by the
actual experience.  I think most true fans will be delighted, but I can
understand why some people don't want to hear too much about it.  Plus, by
the time the album actually does come out, I miss some of the excitement of
the true release of buying and hearing it the first time along with the
majority of people.  Please know that I'm NOT complaining since I realize
how incredibly lucky I was to receive my advance copy, it's just an

Oh, and to finally wrap this up, I have to put in my agreement regarding the
book "A Confederacy of Dunces" - one of the top five favorite books I have
ever read.  A true masterpiece.

Thanks for listening!!


"Your heart is the big box of paints and others, the canvas we're dealt."
Andy Partridge  "Wrapped in Grey"


Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2000 12:49:31 -0700
From: Herne <>
Subject: Re: Nap Gap Yap Yap etc. and Pay Attention class
Message-ID: <>

Regarding Dunks and Mr. Sherwood's responses to my Napster post...
Please note that I am fully aware of the negatives of Napster.  I chose
not to dwell on them in my post as I felt they had been covered here
already.  I did mention  the legit concern regarding Napster being for
profit vs. non-profit.     I do believe that Napster being "for profit"
is questionable because it is cashing in and not paying for it.  If that
was not clear, apologies from me.  Basically I agree with what both of
you said.  You're both right.   Upon further reflection, I must agree
there are lots of things wrong with Napster that probably outweigh the
cool things about it.

My real point was I have a hard time swallowing the concept that the
trading or borrowing of music is inheritly evil.   And when a group of
people like Chalkhills protest such a concept I've just got to express
some disbelief.

So while I agree with most criticisms of Napster I must protest this one
nugget from Mr. Harrison...

"Justifying theft of intellectual property because the originator of the
property is beholden to a record company is hideously selfish: You dislike
the business practices of the entertainment industry, so....Fuck Andy
Partridge? TVT demands 15 bucks for Wasp Star, so....Fuck Andy Partridge?
Tower Records is a bricks-and-mortar behemoth, so...Fuck Andy Partridge?

Something so inconvenient as property rights stands between me and
immediate free gratification, so...".

Come on!  Everyone here, including you unless I'm mistaken, have been
listening to the freaking demos for years.  I've waited until three
weeks before the album comes out so now I'm condemned?  Did I not say I
was going to delete anything I downloaded?     I've heard them.  I have
now deleted them.  Napster's not getting anything from me.  Now perhaps
I can achieve moral perfection in the black and white world that
everyone here seems to live in.  Where everyone is a moral pillar who
wouldn't DREAM of hearing an unreleased track.  HA!  (Shall I bother to
put the smiley face here to indicate I'm kidding?  No ground breaking
sarcasm or irony here).

And I  refuse to be accused of stealing from Andy Partridge.   Hell I'm
BEGGING to give Andy and TVT  my money.  Where are the cd's, the hats,
the t-shirts,  the videos, the CONCERTS???   It can't all be Virgin's
fault.  Bring on the stuff!  Here's all my credit cards.  Sell me XTC
stuff!!!  How much begging and pleading do I have to do?  I don't want
to look in the shadows for XTC stuff.   Sell stuff to me for f*** sake!

If collecting non-commercially available items aka "collectibles" is
theft then why does the industry tacitly support and encourage it?
Making limited edition items that are supposedly not for public
consumption.   Someone's writing those press releases where industry
officials express phony shock and dismay over the fact that movie
posters are stolen from bus stops or that their recording artist's
promos are worth money on the net.   They want to have it both ways and
so they try unsuccessfully to walk a fine line in a grey area.  Then
they have the audacity to blame fans for the demand they create.  Dr.
Dre even wants to sue college students who use Napster   It's

At any rate, I stand by my opinion that trading or making tapes or mp3s
of music is not inheritly wrong if you're not selling them.   Trading's
not going to destroy the music business especially since the same
companies make all the hardware that makes it possible anyway.   If it
hasn't by now, it never will.    I don't care if you can create perfect
digital copies.  The quality of the copies is not the issue.   They are
still intangible until they are put on to a disc or some other sale-able
medium.  People aren't going to fill up their house with main frames to
hold music.  I know I'm not.  I, like most people,  want something to
hold and own.  Something official and real.  Something which must be
manufactured.  And eventually those places which manufacture and
distribute/sell pirated copies are discovered and stopped, no matter
what third world rock they hide under.  Real piracy, as practiced by
many in that arena, is the true problem.  More money should be spent
going after the people who sell 25 cent Mariah Carey bootlegs in
Thailand as opposed to college students who think it might be fun to
have "The Chronic" on their computer.

In general, why the entertainment industry is so obsessed with the
internet is beyond me.   At best the net is a marketing tool.  Net
profits are all virtually non-existent.  CDNOW is supposedly headed
toward ruin.  And Amazon is still in the red.  A recent survey someone
in the industry quoted  to me said people list shopping as 53rd on the
list of what people use the net for.  53rd!  Frankly I'd rather go to
Tower, a place I like by the way, cause it's in the real world.  I'm a
fan of the bricks and morter.

I believe the true enemy of the artists is not imaginary lost sales from
hardcore collectors or bored netsurfers with nothing better to do than
kill time downloading music they likely already own.  It is, of course,
the record companies that are the number one  "Screw artists patrol".
Where execs regularly charge personal mail and expenses against
projects.  Where they loan money to themselves to pay for videos and
charge imaginary interest that leaves hundreds of millions of dollars in
profit looking like a loss on paper.

And was it not the RIAA that snuck the "work for hire" thing into the
copyright law...essentially screwing all artists out of their rights to
regain control of their work.   That's an issue that makes the Napster
thing look like what it really is....a tempest in a teapot.

Hey, maybe I'm wrong about all this.  I may think my intellectual
observations are valid but maybe I'm all wrong.  Frankly I don't know
why I'm thinking about this stuff.  I think I need to get out of the
house more!   Let's move on shall we?   I'm getting a headache.

Perhaps I'll leave the final words on the subject to Rapper Chuck D who
recently said in Billboard Magazine  that Napster is "a catlayst to
bringing the era of lazy artists to an end.  In the future an artist is
going to have to look  at the whole picture of the music business and
pursue other avenues of making money from their music.  Whether it be
things like touring, selling merchandise... and not just hoping that the
labels and publishing companies will take care of them.(sic)The
domination they(the labels) have over artists is over."


KL aka Herne

p.s.:  A paraphrased quote from an anonymous Interscope rep...

"Napster is no big deal.  It's a minor nuisance.  We all laugh at the
artists who jump out of their Cadillacs with their gold chains whining
about being robbed by Napster.   It's a joke.     It's not hurting us.
CD unit costs are like 67 cents each so we make tons on the mark-up."


Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2000 18:27:21 -0400
From: "Cheryl" <>
Subject: Once apon a time...
Message-ID: <000901bfb2f3$416e2dc0$>

Hello yet again,

I was watching a snippet of VH1 while waiting for my laundry to launder and
they were having a story tellers marathon and I wishfully thought, "Oh
wouldn't it be Brilliant if XTC were to do a story tellers stint!"  If you
could pick the set list of songs what would you pick?

I would love to hear and hear about:

I'd Like That
Mermaid Smile
Harvest Festival
Frivolous Tonight
Miniature Sun
Anything off of Wasp Star!

I do have Song Stories, but reading about it is never quite as good as
hearing it from the horses mouth.

Take care,


Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2000 19:00:09 -0400
From: "Diamond" <>
Subject: Children, Children...
Message-ID: <>

>I don't know if anyone's mentioned this, but don't you think that, based on
>the James & the Giant Peach stuff, that Andy could put out a killer kid's
>record?  (Don't laugh!  It's big biz!)  Those of you who are family
>oriented ought to try those songs on their toddlers and see!

It is a big biz, as is evident that THey Might Be Giants are making a
Childrens CD. I've heard a bunch of the songs, and, actually, they really
just sound like normal TMBG songs... songs like Robot Parade and Clown Town
are actually quite scary, and I would probably freak if I heard these when I
was little, but they're trying to get their foot in another door, and I
think it should turn out well... This way, they'll get all of their fans to
buy it, AND can start brain-washing the little  ones, so that once they're
in their teens, they'll be avid Giantheads. Good thinkin, I think.

Oh, the album is called "NO!" and it will be out next fall (Probably)

Kevin Diamond
"No one in the world ever get's what they want, and that is beautiful.
Everybody dies frustrated and sad, and that is beautiful"
           -John Linnell (of They Might Be Giants) / "Don't Let's Start"


Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2000 19:48:50 -0700
From: Ed Kedzierski <>
Subject: Ow! Dunks! My wrist!
Message-ID: <>

Well, back in 6-93, Dunks took me to task for belittling Vonnegut and, while
a good part of this post consists of me backing down, there's just one
Dunks said:
>So ... Ed fancies himself a literary critic, huh?
No, of course not. You had a lot of valid points, but that opening remark...
Really. I was just speaking as a lifelong voracious reader, who happens to
have an opinion or two. Those were obviously just flip remarks, more "cheeky
typing" than anything, and weren't meant as any kind of in-depth analysis.
You might say that that's no excuse, but I clearly wasn't submitting a
thesis here. It was the "unreadable" crack that got me going in the first
place, and as Catch-22 was something I read and enjoyed while in high school
(and didn't consider unreadable, at an age when I would supposedly have more
difficulty getting into something), I just spat out the first name whose
work bored me at the same age. That's where the Steinbeck crack came from.

You also said:
		Weak? Crap? Them's fightin' words, pal! "Slaughterhouse 5"
is easily the equal of "Catch 22" - and I'll remind you, Ed, that Kurt
actually went through the experiences on which the book is based. (Was
Heller in the Air Force? I really don't know - I'm not knocking him - I just
can't remember)
(Groan) What, a real fight? But... I've got this bad leg...
But seriously, how much can you really use the degree to which a book is
based on true experiences to determine whether it's "better" than another?
True, you may find it interesting, it may illuminate aspects of the novel to
learn their origin and inspiration, but in terms of "better" or "worse"...
it's just a biographical trivia tidbit. (Which doesn't stop me from going on
about the origins of "Empire of the Sun" when trying to sell people on
Ballard, but still...)

Vonnegut was also a high school thing for me, and I went through a period of
liking his stuff quite a lot. Early books like "God Bless You, Mr.
Rosewater", "Cat's Cradle" "Sirens of Titan", and yes, "Slaughterhouse 5"
are ones which I still remember fondly. However... I have to draw the line
at "Breakfast of Champions" (and a slightly blurrier line at "Slapstick").
There's that whole late 70s period of his that just becomes too coy and
cute, with the little catchphrases ("So it goes" "Hi ho") and magic marker
drawings of assholes, etc. I basically just OD'ed on his stuff at an early
age, and maybe it's unfair for me to dismiss him outright because of that.
Actually, this is all stuff that I haven't read in about twenty years. For
all I know, Catch-22 could very well suffer in comparison with my memory of
it, but it's a pretty strong memory, so probably not. Unreadable it
definitely isn't. And you're absolutely right about Hellers' other novels; I
made a few attempts, which usually resulted in sleep.
And yes, citing the catchphrase value of the title was cheap, and I probably
shouldn't have used it. I do still feel that very few very famous books
(ones that non-readers can name) are particularly funny, which is really all
I meant. I just have this bee in my bonnet about the way that the so-called
"serious" (as opposed to the humourous, not as opposed to the frivolous or
thoughtless) has held a stranglehold on legitimacy.
Anyways, this may have come out less apologetic than I intended (what seems
less sincere than an apology riddled with defensive clarifications?), but,
well I do acknowledge that I was speaking (typing) without really thinking
very carefully.
I noticed that you didn't lift a finger to defend Tom Robbins, though.
You may well be right about the whole "Andy & fiction" thing, but I'd still
like to hear his answer.
And I do have a copy of "Confederacy of Dunces" in my "to read" pile -
perhaps I should move it closer to the top.

And then some,
Ed K.


Date: Mon, 01 May 2000 00:16:33 -0500
From: JH3 <>
Subject: The Meaning of Life...
Message-ID: <010901bfb32c$6bb01ce0$>

>>...the song that I ABSOLUTELY refuse to listen to (no matter how
>>much time I've got on my hands!) is 'Life Is Good In the Greenhouse'.
>>Give that one a spin tonight and tell me it's the worst song XTC has
>>EVER released.
>NOT - I love this song.  I don't know what it means but it's catchy as

Indeed, it *is* catchy as hell; it would have to be, seeing as how it's
on the World's Greatest Album Ever. But what does "Life Is Good In
the Greenhouse" actually *mean*, you ask?

On a fairly basic level, it *could* be interpreted as a conventional anti-
love song - the "you" being referred to would be the singer's girlfriend or
whatever, and he's now far better off having left her and retreated into
a vegetative state, a state that men often retreat into after a painful
breakup. Yeah, sure, whatever. You forget that these are XTC lyrics...

So let's look a little deeper than that. The key thing is that if you're
a plant, a greenhouse is a place where you're *insulated* from the
Outside World. (You can't hear what's going on in it, for instance.)
Andy has always been a guy who values privacy and seclusion, despite
leading a public existence and having a fanatical following, right?

I think he's actually saying that he *envies* the plant, sitting in a nice
warm greenhouse, insulated fom all the goings-on outside; he sees
those goings-on as nothing more than a stress factor, an impingement
on his freedom to "grow" - whereas most of us would see the plant as
being anything *but* free, trapped there in a clay pot it's entire life.

In my opinion, this song is a cry for help, the expression of a deeply-
felt pain over being forced to exist outside of the warm and safe
confines of a greenhouse-like existence. I see it as the first indication
of what was later to become Andy's crippling anxiety about public
performance and interaction. It's especially telling that the greenhouse/
plant analogy is used as opposed to, say, the bed/sleeper analogy or
the ever-present ministry/mole analogy. Andy knows even at this early
stage in his career that he has a public persona, and that due to his
immense musical talents people are going to be paying attention to
almost everything he does; so a greenhouse would seem like an ideal
place for him, where he wouldn't necessarily have to do anything, but
people could easily observe him and see what and how he was doing,
and yet always be physically (and by extension, emotionally and
psychologically) separated from him by that ever-present layer
of insulating glass.

Then again, maybe it's all a big joke. Who cares? Just buy the
album and get on with it, I always say.

From: K D <>:
>So, can I call, once again, on the Go 2 Society (or
>whatever the secret closet Go 2 fan club was called)
>to come forth and stand up for early XTC!?

AFAIK, the lack of an official name (or official-anything-else)
is one of the defining aspects of the so-called "society". The
album can defend itself; after all, it *is* IMO the finest album
ever recorded, by anyone. And the fact that the album is underrated,
not only by other XTC fans but even by Andy Partridge himself, is
just another reason to like it, as far as I'm concerned. After all,
if we only liked things that *weren't* underrated, at least by the
general public, then XTC probably wouldn't be our favorite band,
would they?

I know, I know, I should speak only for myself. Whatever.

John "470% more postings than usual" Hedges
(Thanks for the plug, vee tube!)


End of Chalkhills Digest #6-95

Go back to the previous page.