Tonic Closes; I Cry Into My Glass of Gin

It's hard to spend any time on Manhattan's Lower East Side without hearing about the ravages of gentrification. In what has become the city's most well-known and bitterly ironic vicious cycle, venues for unorthodox music and art move into cheap neighborhoods where they can afford the rent... only to unwittingly raise the property values and, after a few years, be priced out of these very same neighborhoods by khaki-wearing, SUV-driving yuppies. The past few years have been particularly brutal, with CBGB's closing on Halloween '06 and Sin-e shuttering its space only a few days ago. Now comes word that Tonic will be the next victim. I had considered excerpting the message below, but its refreshing frankness and insightful observations about the politics of policing bear unedited reproduction:

Dear Musicians, Fans and Friends:

After more than 9 years as a home for avant-garde, creative, and experimental music, Tonic will reluctantly close its doors on Friday, April 13th, 2007. We simply can no longer afford the rent and all of the other costs associated with doing business on the Lower East Side.

The neighborhood around us has been increasingly consumed by "luxury condominiums", boutique hotels and glass towers, all making the value of our salvaged space worth more then our business could ever realistically support. We have also been repeatedly harassed by the city's Quality of Life Task Force which resulted in the debilitating closing of the ))sub((tonic lounge in January. Coincidentally, this campaign began as our immediate neighbor, the Blue Condominium building - a symbol of the new Lower East Side - prepared to open its doors.

As a business, we take responsibility for mistakes made along the way. If profit had been our chief motivation we could have changed our programming to something more mainstream and financially lucrative. Instead we were more committed to a certain type of music and loyal to the community that supported us. As a result, we've always just survived but never really prospered. It is, however, unfortunate that it is so difficult for small businesses to operate in this city and that a chain store that can afford a high rent is more desirable than a place like Tonic that has a different kind of value.

While this is certainly the end of Tonic at 107 Norfolk Street, we remain committed to what Tonic represents and plan to try again in some form as soon as possible. In the interim, Tonic will make efforts to present new music in existing venues such as the Abron's Arts Center located just a few blocks away.

We invite you to join us as often as you can over our remaining days to help us celebrate Tonic and more importantly the amazing artists, our unwavering staff, and the nurturing community that made Tonic possible. It's because of you that we've stayed open as long as we have. Thank you!

Sincerely, Melissa and John

Obviously, Tonic has been a hugely important place, a small, intimate venue that dared to book adventurous, exciting acts, both new and established. Here's hoping that the owners find a new place (come to Brooklyn, guys!) to carry on the tradition. And come out to support these guys during their stellar farewell shows, featuring the likes of Ikue Mori, Erik Friedlander, White Magic, Yuka Honda, and Sean Lennon. A new "Tonic Presents" series as Abron's Arts Center also looks promising, with an opening show from Jandek April 14.

While I'm at it, I might as well break the news, much as it turns my stomach, that the Knitting Factory may be next.

Melt-Banana to Release New Album, CO2s

Melt-Banana, best known for calling global warming the "greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people," are set to release some CO2s on an upcoming tour. The band will begin proudly releasing emissions in Japan, with four dates that they insist will contribute tremendously to greenhouse gases. Then they'll hop on a plane, estimated to release 300,000 tons of CO2 emissions, for an energy-wasting U.S. tour. Driving around in a rented GM Hummer, with commensurate high fuel consumption, Melt-Banana will take their inefficient live show to 17 cities (with many more planned), "bumping hybrid vehicles into oncoming traffic and taking the long, ‘scenic' routes in order to ensure the ice caps melt a little faster."

The tour is in support of Melt-Banana's ninth album, Bambi's Dilemma, an album that scathingly critiques global warming and its supporters. It was recorded in a 100-year-old home, in which they washed all their clothes in hot water, took really long, steaming showers, opened the windows with the old heater constantly running, and replaced every compact fluorescent light bulb with regular, 120-watt bulbs. In order to consume more energy, the band is releasing the album on their own A-Zap Records, which has taken several energy-consuming measures -- leaving electronic devices on, not planting trees around the building, slightly deflating the tires on all A-Zap vehicles, buying products with a lot of packaging -- to ensure that the earth gets a little warmer for everyone. As they best put it, "If you hate winter weather, it is in your best interest to consume more energy."

The band expects to release a combined 12 million tons of CO2s by the end of the year. Bambi's Dilemma is set for release this month.

$ XBXRX

The Sea And Cake Tour America; All Hail John McCrea!

It is my personal belief that The Sea and Cake are one of the most talented and influential bands of the mid-'90s and beyond. Their use of different styles to form an alternate cohesion has taught dozens of other bands the benefits of experimentation and synthesis. From their very first album, Motorcade of Generosity, the band threw out the rulebooks and made 13 songs of lite FM splendor. The disarming intro, "Comanche," storms into music history with its opening lines: "You need to straighten your posture and suck in your gut / You need to pull back your shoulders and tighten your butt."

From there, the band took off on quite a journey. Little did they know that with their second album, Fashion Nugget, they would be unleashing a hit song that would become the anthem of three or four months in 1996: "The Distance." The Sea and Cake also showed off their quirky sense of humor with an irreverent cover of Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" that sent the public into a slight murmur.

Yes, they have consistently delivered the goods, album after album, but since 2004, it's been nothing but a painful silence. Well people, it's time to gear up for another scorcher paired with a national tour! I couldn't be more excited about their new LP, Everybody, scheduled for release on May 8 via Thrill Jockey.

Hold on hold on, Thrill Jockey? I don't see this info on Wikipedia. There's just something about a B-sides collection and a live album. What's the deal? Ohhhh, The Sea and Cake? Shit... never heard of them.

Everybody tracklist:

* The Zincs

$ Loney, Dear

Suits Indicted in Outpatient Facility Scam Including CBS Radio EVP Brian Ongaro; Tries to Blame Bad Business Decisions on Losing Howard Stern to Sirius Satellite

I swear this was one of those stories I thought would be cool to write. Then I realized it was about as cool as "Bazooka Joe Raps." We are normally much more prompt in reporting crooks getting their comeuppance, but it still gives us a lot of pleasure to report that a federal grand jury in Phoenix has handed down a 33-count indictment against nine people, including Dallas-based CBS Radio executive vice president Brian Ongaro. Ongaro snagged about $750,000 for his part in an elaborate scheme that involved getting people to invest in CORF Licensing Services (CLS), which issued licenses to investors establishing outpatient rehabilitation and massage therapy centers. The charges are for conspiracy, mail fraud, and money laundering. Our three faves. Don't executives go to business schools primarily to be well-versed in hiding funds gained illegally? Isn't it safer to just go with anonymously calling the elderly to ask them for their credit card and social security numbers?

I know what you're thinking: "This TMT douche won't be able to explain it as concisely as a FBI Special Agent in Charge could," right? FBISAiC John Lewis outlines the grift for us simpletons!

"The defendants' scheme to defraud was ongoing, and took in 40 million dollars. They solicited new licensees through ads, the internet, seminars, statements, and use of paid referrals, knowingly and intentionally misrepresenting the quality of their company, CLS's services, by understating the costs and risks associated with establishing a CORF, including patient activity, potential income and profit." He mentioned "the internet" in there somewhere. So this is basically like The Net?

Being the professional journalist that I am, I asked CBS affiliate KOCK's morning show host DJ Danny "the Panda" Anderson for a comment. He shook his head and said, "Gahd dammit! When are those high-rollin' galouts gonna wake up and stop their crazy shenanigans? Can't e'ryone just have fun and drink some Busch and look at girls in bikinis for kicks? Wait until my partner "Rollplaying Ron" here's about this one, hyuk, hyuk... "

"Digger" McQuade, one half of the KSTD's "Digger" McQuade & The Amateur Erotic Fanfic Cover Illustrator Morning Drive-Time Bonanza, had this to say: "Well, I don’t know what Freddy Fleaballs [he means FBI Special Agent Lewis] was talking about, but sakes alive man! We still haven't got a 'caller to holler' for tickets to the "Nephews of Blue-Collar Comedians" Boatcruise we're puttin' on down at the lake [Sanderson's Quarry]!"

The only thing left to ask is, "Why is this getting written about in TMT's news section?" Well, it does have a tangential music/radio connection. You also got to read a story with the word "galouts" in it. And it's fun to hear about sleazebags getting their just desserts, isn't it? You know, that actually wasn't so painful to sit through and write. Maybe if I was wrong about this story, I'm wrong about the new-fangled Bazooka Joe comics too?

"I'm Bazooka Joe and I'm

extra cool

while I'm in or out of school.

My girlfriend Zena thinks

I'm fine

I dig her, too! So glad

she's mine!"

"I like to play a trick or joke

and jive some unsuspecting

folk!

It's good to laugh,

so be our guest.

Join the Bazooka

blow-out fest!"

Nope. That's still garbage.

Crispy Christian Tea Time! The Robot Ate Me LIVE!

I'd rather move on with the world and quit living in the past. Last Friday night, I had this brilliant idea to try to contact the man behind The Robot Ate Me, Ryland Bouchard, and see how he felt about playing TMT's fake fest this summer. Would he be pissed at us or in tears over the hoax? Who knows? But one thing is for sure: My plan fell through. Although I would still hope that Bouchard got a kick out of the whole thing, TRAM (is that an official abbreviation?) will be touring like a motherfucker this summer. The TMT staff would love to make it to a show to apologize and fraternize, but unfortunately for the rest of our lives, we will be bombarded with many pestilential class-action lawsuits. Looks like the robot ate us this time around.

Nonetheless, I strongly encourage everyone to support Bouchard and his twisted-but-pleasing way of bringing forth music to masses of ears. Still riding off the success of Good World, Bouchard will be touring all of this good land called America. I'll admit Bouchard's lo-fi "splendorific" music has inspired me over the years. If I'm ever frustrated with living in the United States, I always have my own personal musical creations that take me to a whole other place. That's exactly what Bouchard does for me. I'm on cloud 15. I know some people are like, "Well, if you don't like America then you can get the fuck out!" Folks, that is simply not true. I abhor our freedom when we use it to make pointless YouTube videos with Mentos and Diet Coke, but I couldn't leave if I tried. Living in the United States for some is just like going to Wal-Mart. Nobody wants to be at Wal-Mart, but they always end up there anyway.

My point is that The Robot Ate Me is as American as vaginal irrigation, thus sparking the imaginations of creative little boys all over. So do as Emceegreg tells you to, and go see TRAM. I know what's cool, and you're not cool if you don't listen to me. There will be many sick beats and good times had. What more could you ask for?

Bicentennial Man was a bad robot movie; tourdates:

Next Week On Battles!

Scene: The Battles family home. Ian, the dad, is trying to read his paper, but he's having trouble -- his kids, John and Dave, are fighting!

John: Quit it!

Dave: Quit it!

John: Quit it!

Dave: Quit it!

Ian: Why don't ya both quit it! [Laughter. John and Dave both look at Ian with big puppy dog eyes.]

Ian: Aw, I can't stay mad at you two! [They climb into his lap. Just then, Tyondai walks in with the groceries. Applause.]

Tyondai: Hi honey, I'm home!

John and Dave: Mom!! [They climb off their dad and leap at Tyondai. Ian mugs at the camera, as if to say: What's a guy to do?]

Tyondai: Honey, I was thinking... Seeing as we're releasing a new album and everything, why don't we extend that tour? Just a little bit?

Ian: Didn't we tour last year? [Laughter]

Tyondai: Oh, yes, but there are soooo many places I want to see in Europe! Places with romance! Adventure! Places like Bielefeld! Sheffield! Birmingham! [Laughter]

Ian: I don't know... It all sounds expensive.

Tyondai: Would a bottle of your favorite cooking sherry help change your mind? [He pulls a bottle, wrapped in brown paper, out of his grocery bag. Ian's face lights up.]

Ian: Oh, all right then.

John and Dave: Hooray! A tour! A tour!

Tyondai: I love you, darling.

Ian: I love you, too. [They kiss.] Just let me get my shoes. [He puts them on.] Alright, who put shaving foam in my shoes? [Uproarious laughter. John and Dave look innocent. Ian mugs at the camera, as if to say: What's a guy to do?]

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