"http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> THE ASHTONES
Reviewed by Ban Tasers
"Coming events cast their shadows forward."

"How does it become a man to behave towards the American government today? I answer, that he cannot, without disgrace, be associated with it."
(-Henry David Thoreau)

"Powerlessness and silence go together. We...should use our privileged positions not as a shelter from the world's reality, but as a platform from which to speak. A voice is a gift. It should be cherished and used."
(-Margaret Atwood)

"There is no act too small, no act too bold. The history of social change is the history of millions of actions, small and large, coming together at points in history and creating a power that [nothing] cannot suppress."
(- Howard Zinn)

"All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent..."
(- Thomas Jefferson)
Man, way back, in the Nineteen-Hatey's, all my older hippie friends used to moan and moan about the death of soul in popular entertainment, insisting that Costello was "no Dylan", and that Boy George, Chrissie Hynde, Adam Ant, Prince, and Dexy's Midnite Runners would never measure up to their baby-boomer, sixties icons. In the nineties, I was certain that music had hit rock-bottom, with all that unlistenable, pretentious, richkid, indie shit, and awful, awful, phony grunge. I was wrong. It got much worse. These so-called stars of today, ought to be referred to as mere "distracters", cos they've got nothing goin', whatsoever, aside from being in the employ of the Pentagon's corporate media empire, to distract the public from the atrocities being committed by the corporations, military, private armies, banksters, and sold-out by the Supreme Court, for-hire, federal government...the B.P. disasters, the chem-trails, dirty vaccines and Monsanto frankenfoods, doctors and pediatricians pimping for big pharma, the K.G.B.-like American cyber-war censoring and constant monitoring by intel spies of what we read, say, and think, the permanent wars of occupation, Obama's open intimidation of peace activists, his veal-pen "free-speech" zones hidden away from the big-media, the nefarious Patriot Act, the secret torture-camps, the John Yoo torture-mongers glamorized by cable violence-porn depravity like "24", the N.S.A. reading and listening-in, on our every tedious communications...D'ya think it's by accident that no new music, news, books, films, or radio, with the ring of truth and soul are being green-lit by the corporate shadow-emperors? Bad foods, bad medicines, 24 hour a day misinformation, and vacuous, meaningless, banal garbage like Lady Ga, Levi and Bristol, Jon and Kate, Miley Cyrus, Kelly Clarkson, Justin Timberlake, Will Smith's entire family, Doctor Drew, Britney Spears, Beyonce', Donald Trump, Jessica Simpson, Justin Bieber, Rob Thomas, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Diddy, Jay-Z, Snooki, Wee-Man, Jackass Johnny Knoxville, the Situation, Lohan, Hilton, Taylor Swift, Kanye, Jesse James, Kat Von D, the Kardashians. Plastic Surgeons. American Idol hosts. Bush relatives. These are your artists and thinkers and singers and celebrities? Bring back fookin' Hall And Oates, man. Make mine Haircut 100, or Human League, Thompson Twins, or whoever, over ANY of this terrible, futile, insufferably bad, contemporary nonsense. Grunge still sucks. And the Disco of today is even more wretchedly insipid, pointless, numbing...mainly, an I-Pod soundtrack to credit-card shopping-sprees. Artschool wanking, everywhere.

If someone tells the truth on tv, it is infrequent, often accidental, and immediately, countered by hundreds of hours of millionaire pundits covering it up, and shoveling lies upon the name of a truth-teller. Remember what happened when Oprah said eating meat was unhealthy? Huge industry-backlash, meat-eater outcry, and ongoing vilification, on the covers of "Time" and "Newsweek". Remember what happened to Donahue for being opposed to the Iraq invasion? Recall what happened to Helen Thomas, for asking hard questions about Israel's nukes, and repressive occupation of Gaza? 'Where Dan Rather went, soon after impulsively mentioning on-air, that the three(!!!) buildings that fell n NYC, were obviously, controlled demolitions, and for reporting on the last Puppet-President's M.I.A. military record? All banished to early retirement in Cyber-Siberia. What's the frequency, Kenneth?

Tv watchers in the U.S. are mindlessly sponging-up a nigh-constant barrage of advertisements for pharmaceutical drugs, and fast-paced, flickering, "must-see" images, slogans, buzzwords, jive-ass jingles, commercial lies, and meaningless drivel. All pro-war, pro-torture, big business....We are a nation of robo-cops, french fry munchers, video-game players, Wal-Mart shoppers...vacantly observing...rarely interacting...seldom talking actual action. Ain't that America? Big-Media is powerful. That's why they won't play real rock'n'roll on MTV, anymore, real (political/socially conscious) hip-hop died with Tupac, they won't let Ralph Nader debate, and they won't even let Noam Chomsky on television. Whenever these corporate-owned, Republicrat politicians, and overpaid, Ken Doll, Tv yappers speak of "freedom", or "free markets", they only mean freedom of the top one percent global elites, and shadowy banksters, and secret police, to poison, exploit, kill, imprison, or enslave everybody else. They sure don't mean the rights of poor people to lead meaningful lives, or speak their truth, or have access to authentic educations, living wages, healthy foods, clean air and water, or valid healthcare. Not here, not anywhere. Justice still means "Just Us" to the people you watch on your hypno-screens....Free CEO's, free billionaires, free markets, big industries free from public scrutiny, or free from effective regulations. White-collar criminals and torturers are free from penalties and prosecutions. Freedom for their tiny class of people, not for ours. You're NOT in the club.

False-liberal, empty-suit, Oil-Puppet Obama, and "Vast Rightwing Hillary", continue expanding unjust and needless wars of aggression, killing innocent civilians with drones, and giving Blackwater subsidiaries new contracts. Babbling crackpots on Faux News pretend the Democrats are somehow "more liberal" than the Republicans. Hardly. They are clearly two wings on the same Hawk, people. Did the Democrats repeal the Patriot Act, stop deep-sea oil-drilling, seize B.P., end foreclosures, provide true healthcare, raise the minimum-wage, dismantle Blackwater, close Gitmo, outlaw G.M.O.'s, decriminalize pot, end torture, stop domestic spying, end the Occupations, or get rid of Diebold voting machines? WHAT CHANGED? Halliburton's building prisons for the poor. You can't sue vaccine-makers. Reporters can't sue cops who kick their asses for reporting. Obama's appointed Monsanto creeps to his regulatory agencies. Continued Bush policies of state-secrets, permanent-wars, and corporate welfare. Kept rightwing tools in all the key military positions. Obeys the generals. Blames teachers. Blames unions. Blames progressives. Definition of insanity: repeatedly voting for establishment candidates, and expecting a different outcome.
I , almost, feel sorry for the loathsome, "Born To Shop", stretch-mark-bikini, "People" magazine reading, cable television watching, Target shopping, big truck driving, "We're #1!" chanting, bovine growth hormone meat-constipated, "Party In The U.S.A." spectacle gluttons and high school cafeteria-reality voyeurs. These overpaid "distracters", and Ryan Seacrests, on their big-screen TV's are not stars-these are ugly, shallow, dumb, greedy, awful, rich people, and by definition, rich people ain't cool. "WAR 2 DAWN OF NATIONS: BETTER THAN A TWO POUND BURGER" is the big-ass caption I read, first thing, upon turning on this computer, just now. An ad for another endless war/murder sensationalizing video game, aimed at luring more uneducated, young people to bolster these perpetual Bush/Obama wars of aggression.

In America, all of us ghoulish, graying, rockers, who've failed to achieve economic independence, by a certain age, or whom insist on clinging fast to the last threads of our personal integrity, are often shocked and demoralized, at the casual ease, with which all our old allies and intimates can excise and exile us from our former social orbits, once the majore starts assimilating into apathy, and assuming those suburbanized lives of car payments for big vehicles needed to cart around all their fat, back-packed, fried-food inhaling broods...room after room of unused exercise equipment, and last year's big screen tv. Even those lingering, few, brave, souls who've maintained hobbyist bands, do so, with considerable friction from their ceaselessly ambitious significant others, and are conspicuously less inclined to want to reminisce, or compare notes with guilt-inducing, desperate friends, whose problems are unsolvable, whose poverty is permanent, whose lofty dreams simply never came true. People are afraid of that spooky jinx rubbin' off, on 'em, so no one wants to know you, if you can't fake middle-class consumption, unless it's to patronizingly study you, for the purpose of snatching bits of your stories to enrich and infuse their screenplays, master's thesis', books, or songs. Ask a successful acquaintance for any actual assistance--networking for jobs, or real opportunities, and expect stony silence, in return. Any serious inquiry into money-making ventures, recording projects, potential income streams, or creative endeavors; amidst middle class self-congratulators, is invariably met with insurmountable walls of silence, and no e-mails being returned for three of four years. Message received. Pity these winners, though-the inheritors, the married-ups, and college people, the so-called, 'lucky ones'. The followers and upwards-graspers are the ones who have to watch sports, and reality shows, and work at Circuit City, or the hospital, and pretend to like all that awful music their Sarah Palin-trusting, Republican, significant others 'enjoy, and they can't buy back their cool, no matter how hard they try. No matter how big they build their sundeck. Or hot-tub. No matter how many dead cows they keep on tap, in basement deep-freezes, for backyard Barbeques, obediently watching the Bengals, on back-porch Plasma-screens. No matter how many times they buy Kegs of bourgeois beer to impress their Catholic school class-mates, on old-fashioned, wife-approved, Sunday night, lawn chair drink-offs, in "Tool Time", fluorescent-lit garages, just like their Fat Fathers. Listening to talk radio, and feeling superior to people who never had their advantages, diplomas, property, or entitlement. Limbaugh-listening, former Doc Martin's-wearers, rechanneling all their youthful eighties punk rock belligerence, into bitching about the piss-poor immigrants they see waiting for work, in the parking lots of Sherwin-Williams and Home Depot, each morning, (who are being paid pennies,) by greedy, proud, capitalist contractors, and rightwing home-builders, who are all-too-happy to exploit their "illegal" status, paying even poor white nationals third-world wages, in the Post-NAFTA economy, and who loudly brag to the boys at the lodge, nightly, about their manly, managerial savvy. Glen Beck style. How patriotic. How unforgivably vile and predictable. The people behind all this racist, anti-immigrant, Lou Dobbs hysteria are private-prison lobbyists, and police state profiteers. Drone-makers. There's already survellance drones, over Texas. Maybe they'll crash in to one of those planes spraying the chem-trails.

The True, Grass-Roots, Patriot Movement in America has been hijacked by the usual establishment operatives, and sock-puppet teleprompter-readers. Just as the True Progressive/Liberal Peace Movement is demonized, dismissed, or discredited by fake, brazenly-slanted debates; it's frequent, massive protests, are always ignored by the same commercial-media that exaggerates for the Astro-turfed, corporate-funded, Fox Fraudcasting, rightwing publicity events, and wag-the-dog, fake controversies dreamed-up by think-tank public relations whiz-kids-like that transparent, bullshit, Mosque debate. "AS-IF" Muslims with box-cutters actually master-minded the demolition of those three buildings, in lower Manhattan, that somehow justify torture, the suspension of our Bill Of Rights/the Geneva Conventions, not to mention, the slaughter of a million people in Iraq, and millions more in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, etc., etc. It's unfortunate how brainwashed Middle-America is by a tiny clique of billionaires, who own all the radio and cable tv monopolies. Big-Media, propaganda-whores are primarily paid-off, by just four companies, to exaggerate the distinction between the two political parties, which is clearly, miniscule, as Obama efficiently continues every fascist Bush policy: torture cover-ups, corporate hand-outs, domestic spying, drones, backscatter x-ray machines, warrantless wire-taps, police state break-ins, seizing peace-activist's personal belongings, building more FEMA camps, the non-stop cop tasering of tax-paying citizens, industry-controlling-regulations, bio-metric time-clocks, union busting, minimum-wage paying, drug-testing, false-flag attack cover-ups, still more off-shore oil-drilling, and non-stop foreclosures, slandering whistle-blowers and truth-revealers, in the corrupt big press, to promote these forever oil-wars for Cheney and Kissinger's shadowy, globalist, oil cronies. www.stopbigmedia.com
Certain natural-born-bohemian-types, who've finally gotten hip to the American Ruse-jazz musicians, writers, painters, ex-boxers, and semi-retired rock stars, like Morrison and Bators, have traditionally, wised-up, and gravitated towards either Amsterdam, or France. When one is stuck underneath the slow grinding wheels of corporatist-empire, it's always tempting to daydream of fleeing the oppression of the neo-con spooks, and lifestyle police, who killed-off NYC's longstanding melting pot of open all night liberty, and Lower East Side freakiness; for more tolerant environs', over-seas; particularly, if one has a deep affinity for wine and cheese, history, literature, poetry, art, music, beautiful women, and old architecture...it's a predictable impulse that one would start eyeing France, as a potential refuge, from falsehoods, freedom fries, and the impossibly-classist, rightwing war machine, that has obviously captured the supposedly liberal, Democratic Party, in the U.S. It seems like maybe you can still rock, in France, and Australia. Just not here, in America. I mean, unless you're like, Night Ranger, jamming on Terrible Ted's property, fund-raising for the Bush twins....or maybe if you're one of those unbelievably super-rich, suck-ass, Good Charlotte, middle-aged, emo-kids, bouncing up and down, for their favorite energy drink sponsors, at the big tennis shoe festival, or something.

For proof of France's ongoing rock'n'roll excellence, purity, and vitality, one need look no further than THE ASHTONES- sort of, an upside down cross between Cheetah Chrome's Ghetto Dogs, with Alabama Thunderpussy. Downtown Rock'n'roll Bohemia is alive and well in gay Paree. No less of an authority on young Parisian glam rock, than Laurent, from the theatrical SPARKLING BOMBS, hipped me to the Ashtones, via his exquisite www.veglam.com online-fanzine, and it was right when I'm seriously jonesing for a fix of authentic, old-time rock'n'roll. The Ashtones have the whole Johnny Thunders/Hanoi Rocks/Bad Losers/Jacobites/Freddy Lynxx style of trashy glamour-punk cooked down to something you could fit in your blackened spoon. They cover Demolition 23 and the Clash. They feature a hot chick bassist who really totally "gets it". Their scrawny lead vocalist, Ge', with the damaged voicebox ,and black leather attitude, will remind you, variously, of the Pagans, the Spent Idols, the Senders, and all those bands that Martin McMartin used to compile on those early nineties ,"Rocknfuckinroll" compilations. Junk Records. The Heartbreakers. Sonny Vincent. The Action Swingers. New Wave Hookers. The Weaklings. That sort of thing. Filthy, purist, dirty, raunchy, after-hours, hedonistic, pleasure-seeking, glittericious, glamour-punk, with real guts and punch. I really dig this lot, and chances are, you will, too. Especially, if you love the old-school, guitar-gonzo, dinosaur punks-the Stooges, N.Y. Dolls, Cramps, Deadboys, MC5, etc., etc., ...and if you're even half as bored as I am, with the watered-down, soul-less, drive-through, corporate wank that's so supposedly, "popular", in the "Just Say You Have Insurance For Prescription Drugs Like Rush Limbaugh", sold-out, war-crazy, no-fun, police state, mediocrity rules, dumbed-down, flag-waving, television-brainwashed, unimaginative, conformist U.S.A., you'll be suprised to hear anything current, that's as ballsy, and believable, as The Ashtones. Decadent French glamsters, the ASHTONES straddle several sub-genres of rock'n'roll-they got the hedonistic sleaziness of the original Faster Pussycat line-up, the Hangmen, or Smack, but they never go metal, they're always recklessly careening between junkie sleaze-rock, and angry gutter-punk, and while they're much faster, and more livewire, than the Heartbreakers, or Waldos, they never lose that old-fashioned, Johnny Thunders/Jeff Drake feel, not for even an instant. Hoarse, lead scarecrow, Ge' Ashtone, screams like somebody with Laryngitis, who's trying to sound like Alice Cooper, which is pretty close to perfection, in my book. He's a scarred and shirtless display of bad obsessions, raunchy come-ons, emotional baggage, with angst to burn, attacking, and teasing, and taunting his audiences from the lip of the stage, like Dave Vanian of the Damned, Claude from Smack, or Danzig in the Misfit days. Album opener, "She Goes Commando" is heavy, and chugs along like summa the most wickedly powerful, "big-rock" by Trash Gallery, or Backyard Babies, but it never relents with the speed, or the non-stop Johnny B. Good/Andy McCoy soloing. All this talk of different sub-genres is really splitting blue/black hairs, here, innit? If you like glam, trash, glitter, punk, or sleaze, this group has a flair for reviving the N.Y. Dolls/Hanoi Rocks ragged school, and making it all seem so alive, again. Another one of their songs has a chorus of, "Dee! Dee! Ramone!"

In America, we still witness lotsa poncey, twenty-nothin' teenagers, posin' around, gettin' the emo-shag, goin' through the motions of covering the old Deadboys, and Johnny Thunders songs, but even with loads of their parent's money invested in the cool equipment, and "right clothing", and correct, genre-specific posturing, almost all of 'em lack the soul, sincerity, conviction, and real heart of Ge' and his fellow Ashtones. There's a band in this city that wrote one great song, ten years ago. A band in that city, where the singer is skinny, 22, and has made careful study of all those old Hanoi Rocks vids, another band in that town, with a smokin' guitar-player who has a great feel, but he'd rather be the boss, and work with mediocre sidemen, than pursue greatness, if it means taking on a dayjob...Another band all have killer straight jobs, and can afford to pay Adny Shernoff to produce 'em, this other band has great tattoos....You know what I'm saying? All those bands from everywhere, who open up for the Batusis, night after night, they all got something that makes 'em stars in their own zip-code, but few, if any, are even striving to be sensational. Most are more concerned with trying on $75 Hot-Topic skinny pants, than in writing quality songs with heart and soul. "Hammersmith Palais" was co-written by personal heroes of mine, Little Steven, Michael Monroe, and his departed wife, Jude Wylder. Lordy, how I miss summa those all-night, drunken, hooligan-singalongs with my old friends, before the crash-landing, some years ago. I admire, and envy, the Ashtones, for staying together, standing tall, proudly building on tradition, and still getting away with it. This shit's in my blood. The Ashtones got all the power, and all the glory, and they know just what to bring....