Local interest

by Ted on April 16, 2004

The local alt weekly, the Houston Press, can be hit or miss, but it’s a good week. Worth reading:

* The cover story on Islamica News, a Muslim Onion-style spoof website that’s not bad. Headlines include “Halal Butcher Loses Finger, Hopes No One Notices“, “Muslims Form New Bloc Vote Organization: ‘Get Backstabbed 2004“, and “Man Blames Everything on Jews“.

* Music writer John Lomax tells the story of Nirvana’s three Houston shows. It includes this anecdote:

“The day after the Houston gig, the band was supposed to play an electric in-store at Waterloo in Austin, but the Waterloo staff spaced and forgot to get amps. Someone in the audience furnished Cobain with an acoustic guitar, which he destroyed at the end of the show.”

My affection for Kurt Cobain just went way, way down. I don’t care if you’re Jimi Hendrix, you don’t smash a fan’s guitar.

* Finally, there’s an eerie story about one of Spalding Gray’s worst performances.

UPDATE: In comments, Basharov says that he attended the Spalding Gray show described in the article, and tells his story.



drew 04.16.04 at 8:07 am

That Spalding Gray story was one of the more depressing things I’ve read this week.

I think I’m going to close my eyes, sing Mary Had A Little Lamb until I forget it altogether, and go rent Monster In A Box to wash out the foul taste in my mouth.


Keith M Ellis 04.16.04 at 9:31 am

Yes, I had the same reaction. That was terribly depressing. Poor man.

It also reminded me of why I wouldn’t live anywhere else in Texas but Austin. Houston is the fourth largest city in the US. You’d think a crowd come to see Spalding Gray could handle a little Bush criticism. Apparently not.


Tom Scudder 04.16.04 at 12:32 pm

Unlike the Onion, the Islamica articles actually have funny stuff past the headline.


Elaine Supkis 04.16.04 at 5:36 pm

Gray was obviously brain damaged. And his family didn’t help him by persauding him to stop working.

Seems like many of the people in Texas are brain damaged, too. Worse than he. They won’t all commit suicide, they just go around killing people in Iraq.


nolo 04.16.04 at 7:36 pm

That just made me cry.


Basharov 04.16.04 at 7:44 pm

I was at the Spalding Gray concert and the Houston Press article badly garbled what happened. It was one of the interviewees (namely me) who brought up the Iraqi War, and the hostility and anger of the audience was directed at me, not Spalding, who hardly mentioned the war until this third interview. Penner, the author of the article, is flat wrong when he says the hostility started during Spalding’s monologue. It started when I condemned the war and compared it to Dresden, and it was inflamed when I asked Spalding (in response to his question, “What do you think of the war?”) if Rumsfeld was a “psychopath or a sociopath, and did it make any difference?” Spalding did nothing to trigger the hatred of the audience, but it is true that he was stunned by it, and that for the rest of the performance he could hardly keep up a conversation. But for Penner to say he “watched Spalding die” is quite the hyperbole — and doesn’t comport with what actually happened at the concert.


Bruce 04.16.04 at 8:36 pm

Speaking of brain damage, elaine, you seem to be a prime example.


mon 04.16.04 at 8:55 pm

“I don’t care if you’re Jimi Hendrix, you don’t smash a fan’s guitar.”

Well. To put it the other way round: I don’t care if you’re a Nirvana fan, you just don’t lend your guitar to a band who’s been smashing guitars at every other show. You’re just asking for it.

I bet the owner of that guitar never actually complained. It’s not like an acoustic guitar is worth a lot anyway. It was worth a lot more smashed by the soon-to-be-dead Cobain, surely.

So, the rockstar actually did the fan a favour, first by smashing the guitar, then by killing himself so as to achieve perpetual legendary status, thereby lending the guitar remains even more value.

See how different things look with a bit of change of perspective?


Basharov 04.16.04 at 10:43 pm

If you’re interested in more details about my experience at the Spalding Gray concert, keep an eye on the letters page of the Press and the L.A. Weekly (which also published Penner’s article). I’ve sent long letters to both to set the record straight, though whether they’ll bother to print them or not I don’t know.


RSN 04.17.04 at 9:14 am

Basharov: oh, so it was you who killed Spalding Gray.


Keith M Ellis 04.17.04 at 11:39 am

rsn: that’s callous, even cruel, but also, sorta funny.


Basharov 04.19.04 at 3:03 pm

I think he killed himself, but we’ll never know why. All I can do is set the record straight. Penner must have been in the men’s room for most of the performance.

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