Local Legend P Michael’s Doppelganger Spotted Eating Thai Food in Hyde Park
Sourced photograph by Julia Dratel
30MHz: Thai 55, 1607 E 55th St, Chicago, IL. I’m squished into their sub-basement, into hiding. There’s a mattress, a sewing kit. Faux chicken feathers all stuck around with stinking yellow stains. The mark of Dionne Warwick Gacy, mayb one of her old haunts. I’ve choked her old lair with strings of scalding fluorescents because I am naïve and wounded, like the invisible narrator whose biding shut-in’s conceit I cribbed.
Generic XFINITY WiFi reaches here miraculously. These stolen credentials still work. My weathered Dell laptop beckons to a fledgling homebrew Kiwi computer in New Zealand. There’s a pun in there somewhere. The distant machine feeds me SDR broadcast through a browser window, anything between 100Hz and 30MHz in theory. I click on the button that increases the receiver frequency by 100Hz. Somehow, with each click, I savvy what seems to be different timepoints in the same conversation. The callsign and topics are alien. But I know the speakers’ names?
P. Charredtongue is an independent avant-pornographer, a practitioner of voodoo and everything else that hurts you only if you believe in it. Charredtongue certainly bears some relation to P. Michael, the mastermind behind ONO, Chicago’s favorite gospel noisefuck. Despite my best research, the relationship’s nature is wholly inscrutable.
pt Bell is in the “Afropunk” prog-rock act Blacker Face. Will history absolve them?
30MHz + 100Hz: IMPLANT
P. Charredtongue: Kathy was in Ono for a long time in the 80’s. She stayed down in Markham, deejayed at Victoria’s Lounge off the expressway.
pt Bell: Victoria’s was still there when I was a kid. I wasn’t supposed to go there, but I remember it.
P: Kathy also worked at the 7/11 nearby.
pt: It was a White Hen.
P: Yeah. Had this boyfriend I called Frozen Foods. One night, he was back there in the frozen food aisle. She was back behind one of those ice cream doors. She reached up, grabbed him, said “where’s my money, motherfucker? The baby needs food.” That’s why I can’t take anything seriously, probably why I can’t name an innovative band from Chicago. I’m ruined. There is no future. Chicago doesn’t lift its artists.
pt: Except with a one-off grant here or there. No morale, too segregated for a local “this band could be your life” affair maybe? Do it your damn self, like Chance. Have rich, politically connected parents and get into marketing. Mayor Daley loves Chance though. Sam Cooke had sex appeal I guess, that works everywhere.
P: Us Chicago artists just go and get big everywhere else. Kanye isn’t Chicago famous, he’s just famous, thanks to Jay-Z in New York.
pt: Oh, Dayton’s a weird one. They got Brainiac, Kim Deal, all them. They seem Dayton famous, but also international cult famous.
P: They don’t know better in Dayton. But yeah, they won’t have bands in the future. You’ll have your own music piped into your own head… The future is the metal in your mind.
30MHz + 100Hz: HAILING ON ALL FREQUENCIES
pt: You know Radiant Devices?
P: Yeah. We played with them and Xiu Xiu. It’s hard to say if they’re futuristic. But they’re interesting.
pt: Future and past at once? Fyodor told me that one of his influences was Einsturzende Neubauten.
P: They make it more palatable. Mojdeh’s got a beautiful voice.
pt: Late Depeche Mode, Master and Servant. But it’s modern… Definitely one of the few bands here doing something new. Glitter Moneyyy’s doing something old and new, too. But it’s something old that’s important, almost lost. Teaching people to be nasty again.
30MHz + 300Hz: CONSEQUENCE OF AUTOMATION
pt: Valentine’s massacre, rapidfire. Michael Gira’s writing? Nick Cave’s?
P: Laughable. Algorithmic. Both have a formula. Just do it yourself. With Gira, you can just say “I’m being disemboweled, crucified. They push splinters between my toes. They pour money on me.”
pt: Kim Gordon’s paintings?
P: Some bullshit to get money.
pt: Purposefully? Accidentally?
P: I don’t know. Maybe they’re not naïve. But they’re hot. Their art has no expression. “I’ll sit and focus on the multimedia approach of large letters. I thought ‘if I could talk about the exploitation of women, via large letters.’”
pt: “If I can make the letter big enough.”
P: “It’s like a vagina. It’s all encompassing. It’s where we came from.” You have to be sincerely hot so they’ll believe you.
pt: Harley Foos directs our music videos. Before creative, their job was making people hot. Helped artists fancy up grant applications.
P: They going to make you hot?
pt: Yeah, soon.
Outside the decameter band. I flip to 30MHZ + 400Hz: Somehow, I can hear the conversation coming from the restaurant above, as well as through these speakers. Gossip about Dionne Warwick Gacy. Haven’t heard of her? You must not’ve heard of P Charredtongue either. Poor you. Dionne’ll nab you next. She’s back on the prowl, chasing down us lithe little lilywhite inverts. Sewing us wretched little sluts to our mattresses by the cutoffs, doing us a song and dance. She always releases us, but there’s no remedy for the sight of that filthy chicken suit. From the way P, N, and pt are talking, real low and close suddenly, it’s almost like they just saw her walk in the joint. Has she come to reclaim this pit? The basement door’s opening is unmistakable, a signature that can’t be forged (not even by machine), writ in the air. I already know my fate, let’s see when else is on.
30Mhz + 500Hz: DISLOGISTICS
P: Drag City is so sad. All that nostalgia. How long can you do that?
pt: I guess it’s comfy. Like Futurama, with the heads… The future is indentured to our favorite things past. Do you know Wolf Eyes?
P: Wolf Eyes stopped by the compound, did some tracks for the next album. Wolf Eyes, Malci, Rahim Salaam, Algiers. Was trying to get Moor Mother on it. We’ll be on hers. Johnny from Wolf Eyes is on it. He plays sax, he plays the flute.
pt: Yeah, he’s got the handmade instruments. Y’all’s sax player?
P: Shannon. She’s on there too. She was the original sax player in ONO, back in the 80’s. Al wouldn’t let her be in Ministry. She was helping him produce the first Ministry album, she taught him synthesizers. When she finished, he gave her no credit. He “gave her to ONO as a gift.” She was happy, she was tired of his shit. “I’d rather be with y’all anyway. He’s trying to be nice. Y’all are being nasty.” She used to visit Haiti. Did her thesis on voodoo. We had the bones painted on the congas, TV sets that were rewired to the PA, tapes. She scared people with her sax. Our music was scary.
pt: Still fucking scary