Sunday, April 29, 2012


The Land Line gets put together by an OPEN COLLECTIVE at weekly potluck meetings. Here's an early peek at the enormous batch of red lentils, rice, beets, and kale that Robin Hustle's working on for tonight, April 29th, at 7 p.m. If you'd like to check out a meeting, or offer up your skills as a graphic designer or copy editor or newspaper distributor etc., get in touch at and we'll fill you in on the details.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Deadline for issue three is MAY 20TH, much sooner than you think. We're dying to get our grubby hands on your research-based essays, cultural criticism, interviews, poetry, comix etc. so don't delay, send today. Your loving and nit-picky editor, Robin Hustle, will gladly parse over your work with you til it's just right. for submissions and inquiries.

Better: experimental, pornographic, difficult, multilingual, radical, specific.
Worse: authoritative, vague, scene-y, florid, rigid, pompous. 

Join the facebook event for occasional deadline reminders: and be sure to like our page while you're at it. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012


WILDERNESS, Matthew Thurber

Selections from Ulrike Müller's Herstory Inventory

Ulrike Müller
 For Herstory Inventory, I have been inviting artists to reimagine historical feminist imagery in drawings based on a found list of image descriptions. While researching at the Lesbian Herstory Archives in Brooklyn I came across an inventory list for their extensive collection of t-shirts. Most likely compiled by a volunteer archivist, this list describes the t-shirts’ images and graphic elements in a meticulous though inconsistent way (using, for example, “inverted triangle,” “upside-down triangle“ and “triangle pointed down“ interchangeably). The resulting text struck me as both a historical record and a piece of found poetry. Abstracting countercultural iconography into a poetically detailed language, the text opens up a productive space for political fantasy and libidinal projection. It also lends itself to generating an exchange between contemporary queer culture and our activist feminist history with its conflicting positions and productive debates. Since 2009, I have been handing out these descriptions to feminists, queer artists and other interested people in New York and elsewhere to translate the verbal descriptions into new images. I see this project as a reflection on collective and individual movements, bodies present and absent, and our current moment.

Peace symbol, heart, and upside down rainbow triangle.
Anni Viinikainen

Many women’s symbols interlocked in a square pattern. 
Nancy Brooks Brody

Mouth with two large teeth that fits into a large diamond shape. Vampire lesbians of Sodom.
Hans Scheirl

Nude woman holding up the scales of justice.
Marget Long

Nude woman with long braids holding a bow (that surrounds her) and arrow (shaped like lightening).
Lee Maida

5 Cats; 4 pink, 1 black.
Xylor Jane

Herstory Inventory Participants
(as of December 2011)
A. K. Burns, A. L. Steiner, Adriana Minoliti, Allyson Mitchell, Amy Linton, Amy Sillman, Anni Viinikainen, Barbara Eichhorn, B. E. Wiest, Carola Dertnig, Carrie Yamaoka, Cauleen Smith, Celeste Dupuy-Spencer, Chitra Ganesh, Chris Castillo, Cristina Gomez Barrio, Dean Daderko, Elke Krystufek, Faith Wilding, Fiona Rukschcio, Gabriela Santiago, Ginger Brooks Takahashi and Dana Bishop-Root, Gregg Bordowitz, Guadalupe Rosales, Hans Scheirl, Jamie Chan, JD Samson, Johanna and Mona Gustavsson, Johanna Kirsch, Jonah Groeneboer, Julie Evanoff, K8 Hardy, Kate Huh, Katherine Hubbard, Kathleen Hanna, Lee Maida, Lee Relvas, Leidy Churchman, Lili Benson, Linda Bilda, Lisa Ulik, Lovett & Codagnone, Malin Arnell, Marlene McCarty, Marget Long, Marlene McCarty, Maria Gafarova, Mariah Garnett, Marie-Therese Escribano, Matthew Lutz-Kinoy, Michaela Mélian, Michele Araujo, Michelle Dizon, Moyra Davey, Myriam Lanau, Nancy Brooks Brody, Nicole Eisenman, Onya Hogan-Finlay, Patricia Reschenbach, R. H. Quaytman, Robert Bordo, Robin Hustle, Sam Miller, Samara Davis, Shelly Silver, Simone Bader, Therese Roth, Ulrike Müller, Wolfgang Mayer, Xylor Jane, Zoe Leonard.

CHICAGO, by Frank Báez

A Diógenes Lamarche
you look at yourself in mirrors, in store-windows,
you take pills, you stay in your underwear
listening to the rain that falls in the dark,
you cut your nails, you shave, you’re afraid
of terrorists, of walking around drunk, of AIDS, of cancer,
of the liver, of time, of the watch that keeps going,
the hands holding this pen
are getting older and older, the bones creak
and the teeth chatter and the wind
will blow away this hair the way it blows away the leaves
that fall from the trees, you cook, you spy on your female neighbors,
you wake up in an unknown bedroom
with nobody beside you, you sing alone, your hands are freezing,
you wait sitting at a bus stop, standing up in an elevator, at the movies,
fish get into your ears and come out of your nostrils,
you don’t have money for taxis, don’t have a telephone,
you’re a piece of lumber floating in a lake, you fall asleep
in the last car of the el, the frigid dawn finds you
smoking on porches or crossing Polish neighborhoods,
at 95th Dan Ryan, in Oak Park, in Belmont,
in front of Picasso’s sculpture,
in bookstores, gas stations, skyscrapers,
under bridges, on docks,
beaches, lanes, circles of hell,
escalators, belvederes,
you walk like the shade
of a forgotten Greek poet,
you look at signals, signs, discounts,
people going in and coming out,
snow falling on the lake, gray
and petrified as a postcard,
seagulls snatching hats,
a melancholy landscape,
some eyes,
a raccoon,
a cup of steaming coffee,
at three in the morning
and you start talking to yourself
and you shout to somebody who doesn’t answer
and you think about the emptiness
left by tears,
you think about what you didn’t do
and what you did,
you think that life is this
and you keep looking
at your hand as you wonder
if this is a hand or isn’t it a hand,
you put a box on your head and smoke a cigarette,
you shrug your shoulders,
you walk till you have calluses,
the crows keep looking at you
when you sit down in the parks,
the grocery store cashier hates you,
poets invite you for drinks around the clock,
you press your ear against the wall and do your best
to hear the heartbeat of silence,
but there’s no silence on that side,
you put on a cap, a muffler,
an overcoat and go out,
you pass by bars,
cemeteries you visit
without knowing the dead,
you pass by hospitals,
the city band with its obese musicians,
sweating and toting their instruments,
the anthill of people and people
milling through stores and stores
with sacks and papers,
you laugh with a blonde who’s lost her teeth,
you walk over the rails with your eyes closed,
you call elevators, ring doorbells, knock on doors,
you see snow falling outside the window
with a cat in your arms,
wind ruffles the frigid waters of the lake,
the Chicago wind that one of these days
will uproot the buildings with their lights on
and send them along with the houses and cars
and trains and theaters and Dorothy
back to Oz,
you walk under the moonlight,
the snow, the fog,
you step in other people’s footprints,
you breathe, you criticize, you scratch your beard
and wait for the eleven o’clock bus
under the snow that falls and falls
till it covers the streets
and the buildings and Chicago and the night

translation by Hoyt Rogers

                                                              illustration by Rachel Niffenegger
te miras en espejos, en vitrinas,
tomas pastillas, te quedas en calzoncillos
escuchando la lluvia que cae en la oscuridad,
te cortas las uñas, te afeitas, le tienes miedo
a los terroristas, a andar borracho, al Sida, al cáncer,
al hígado, al tiempo, al reloj que avanza,
las manos que sostienen este lapicero
cada vez son más viejas, los huesos crujen
y los dientes castañean y este pelo
lo arrastrará el viento al igual que arrastra las hojas
que caen de los árboles, cocinas, espías vecinas,
despiertas en una habitación desconocida
sin nadie a tu lado, cantas solo, se te congelan las manos,
esperas en una parada sentado, de pie en un ascensor, en un cine,
peces se te meten por los oídos y se te salen por las narices,
no tienes dinero para taxis, no tienes teléfono,
eres un madero flotando en el lago, te duermes
en el último vagón del metro, el alba helada te encuentra
en porches fumando o avanzando por barrios polacos,
por 95th Dan Ryan, por Oak Park, por Belmont,
frente a la escultura de Picasso,
por librerías, gasolineras, rascacielos,
debajo de puentes, muelles,
playas, callejones, círculos del infierno,
escaleras eléctricas, miradores,
caminas como la sombra
de un poeta griego olvidado,
miras señales, letreros, descuentos,
personas entrando y saliendo,
la nieve cayendo sobre el lago gris
y petrificado como una postal,
gaviotas arrebatando sombreros,
un melancólico paisaje,
unos ojos,
un mapache,
una taza de café humeante
a las tres de la mañana
y te pones a hablar solo
y le gritas a alguien y no responde
y piensas en el vacío
que dejan las lágrimas,
piensas en lo que no hiciste
y lo que hiciste,
piensas que la vida es esto
y te quedas mirando
la mano preguntándote
esto es una mano o no es una mano,
te pones una caja en la cabeza y fumas un cigarro,
te encoges de hombros,
caminas hasta que te salen callos,
los cuervos se quedan mirándote
cuando te sientas en los parques,
la cajera del supermercado te odia,
los poetas te invitan tragos las veinticuatro horas,
pegas el oído en la pared y te esfuerzas
por escuchar el latido del silencio,
pero no hay silencio de ese lado,
te pones un gorro, una bufanda,
un abrigo y sales,
pasas bares,
cementerios que visitas
sin conocer a los muertos,
pasas hospitales,
la banda municipal con sus obesos músicos
sudando y cargando los instrumentos,
el hormiguero de gente y gente
fluyendo por tiendas y tiendas
con fundas y papeles,
ríes con una rubia que le faltan los dientes,
caminas sobre los rieles con los ojos cerrados,
tocas ascensores, timbres, puertas,
ves la nieve caer frente a la ventana
con un gato en los brazos,
el viento agita las aguas heladas del lago,
el viento de Chicago que algún día arrancará de cuajo
los edificios con sus luces encendidas
y los mandará junto a las casas y los carros
y los trenes y los teatros y a Dorothy
de vuelta a Oz,
caminas bajo la luz de la luna,
la nieve, la niebla,
pisas huellas ajenas,
respiras, criticas, te rascas la barba
y aguardas por el bus de las once
bajo la nieve que cae y cae
hasta cubrir las calles
y los edificios y Chicago y la noche

Frank Báez

A Child's Garden of Noise        
Liam Warfield

Modern children's music can be filed under several broad categories, depending on who produced the music and for what audience.  Often enough, the involvement of actual children is somewhat marginal.

==Music by adults, for children. This comprises the bulk of what is usually thought of as “children's music” and is usually educational in theme, with some moral or practical lesson to impart (counting, sharing, the perils of nose-picking, etc.)

==Music by children, for adults. Relies heavily on saccharine cuteness (and prurient undertones) to manipulate the heart- and/or purse-strings, the classic example being Shirley Temple's “Good Ship Lollipop”. Think young Michael Jackson, or the creepy French child-star Jordy.

==Adults making children's music for other adults. Far less common and harder to pin down—what, after all, is children's music if actual children are absent? Seeking to clarify the nature of childhood through the lens of adulthood, this music usually falls short of the mark (you can't go home again!) but does so in fascinating ways, excavating all kinds of buried trash and treasure. Chicago spazzmaster John Bellows is a longtime practitioner of this medium, as are many so-called “outsider musicians” such as Daniel Johnston, Half Japanese and Tiny Tim.

==Children making music for other children, or for their own solitary enjoyment. While it might be argued that this is the most authentic form of children's music, it is rarely documented, and is therefore the most obscure of the bunch.

It is the last two categories that have piqued my interest, and that we wish to discuss today.

Case Study: The Tinklers, Casserole LP (Shimmy Disc, 1990)
From the opening track, the Tinklers' Casserole picks up the adult listener and throws him on the cracked pavement of a junior high playground. Over in the corner, two of the weird boys in class are banging on empty paint buckets and mocking their fathers' tiresome complaining in a ludicrous sing-song: Mary's trying to get me to paint the house, the neighbor's dog keeps me up all night, it's getting harder to pay those bills, there's something strange about those kids—structured like a childhood memory game, the verses grow fatter and tenser line by line. They veer into a hilarious parody of the day's Social Studies filmstrip, in which the “good kid” and the “bad kid” take divergent paths—one starts smoking cigarettes (maybe just one) and drinking beer, and ends up taking drugs and hanging out with gangsters, while the other kid joins the Boy Scouts, does volunteer charity work and ends up becoming a police officer—but in a thrilling denouement, the bad kid, through his underworld connections eventually becomes a bar-owner, and finally, we see them working together in society.

The Tinklers are a duo from Baltimore, Maryland that have been writing and performing since the late 1970s, though not as actively in recent decades. Though clearly grown men, they speak the language of late childhood incredibly convincingly, boiling down complex topics like gender studies to the level of jumprope chants: Mom cooks inside/Dad cooks outside. Most of their output might, in fact, be described as an extended parody of the midcentury junior high Social Studies class, the humor becoming painful and sublime with the dawning revelation that Social Studies class—ditto Sunday School, ditto sex ed—is a tool of hardcore repression in the hands of an oppressive ruling class, with occasional release-valve digressions like “I Love a Sandwich” and “Don't Put Your Finger in the Fan”. Their first album bursts with the exquisite fury of a kid who's gotten wise, clawing and scratching at every precept of modern life, from trade unions (Working together united we are one/This way building cars seems much more fun) to nuclear radiation (Mutations, meltdown up the creek/Mutations, bird with no beak). In one sense it's extremely authentic children's music; on the other hand, there might not be a parent on earth who's ever played a Tinklers album for their li’l sprout—“Hokey Pokey” might be safe enough, but what to make of “Eleanor Bumpurs,” the disturbing true-story ballad about the mentally ill black woman shot dead by the NYPD in 1984? Or the caustic satireI'm Proud to Be a Citizen of the Roman Empire” (Living off the conquered peoples of the earth/We just sit around and widen our girth)? Certainly that's not going in Junior's Christmas stocking.
This, then, is clearly children's music of the third category, by-and-for grownups, and its aim is deeply subversive—to peel away at the layers of fraudulence that adulthood accretes, digging past all the false explanations and back to the burning, unanswerable questions of childhood  (Is God a person, or is He just a feeling? What if no one had to live on crumbs? If Universe is endless, what's on the other side? Why am I so ugly that I don't have any friends? Where did Grandma go?) They're not, of course, the first or only group to work this vein—obvious predecessors include the Fugs, whose mid-60s blasts of musical clumsiness and puerile poetry (“Kill for Peace,” “Boobs a Lot”) practically spawned punk rock. But where the Fugs had the hip righteousness of the hippy-era Lower East Side to lean on, the Tinklers were just a couple of scrawny dorks from Baltimore without a scene; children's musicians without any children around.

                                                                                           Randall Bailey

Case Study: Coolman Tony, Surfin' Time With Coolman Tony (self-released, c. 2003)

For something completely different, we turn to the work of Coolman Tony, a completely-unknown artist from the Chicago suburbs whose preadolescent glory years coincided with the advent of computer recording programs like Garageband in the early 00s. I only came across Coolman Tony's recordings through a ludicrous chain of acquaintances (Coolman is my roommate's best friend's sister's boyfriend, if you must know, but I've certainly never met the man). The song I am Cool off his debut “album” Surfin' Time With Coolman Tony showed up in my house one day, hilarity ensued, and it enjoyed numerous replays over the following week. Built around the silliest of all possible Garageband loops, the tune nonetheless features monster hooks and the incomparably exuberant (if barely coherent) “rapping” of Coolman T. ((real name:) né Seth).  Name-checking Pokemon, Harry Potter and Monty Python in the course of a blurry 1:21, the song comes across as a total wave of idiotic prepubescent id—charming, in its own way, and relentlessly catchy. I was intrigued.

Funny that, having come of age with the internet, Coolman Tony's body of work is much easier to track down than the should-be legendary Tinklers, whose cassette tape I had to wait for in the mail, for Chrissakeall five of his “albums” are free to download at Worth noting as well is the far-more polished sound he is able to achieve, screwing around with Garageband on the fly, after frickin' soccer practice, probably, than the Tinklers could ever hope to, with their shoddy homemade instruments and rudimentary musicianship. But precocious polish aside—the kid was apparently a cello prodigy when not wearing his Coolman cape—the level of discourse in his work is certainly never elevated to that of poetry. Song titles like “Wafflehead,” “Pop It Extreme” and “Duct Tape Times (Takin' Over the World)” give a pretty good idea of where Coolman's head is at—where most 10 year-old's heads are at—spazzed-out on Milk Duds and Mountain Dew and babbling nonsensically. Turns out the adult-as-child frauds like the Tinklers might have a great deal more wisdom to impart than the genuine-article child himself.

Case Study: Human Skab, Thunderhips and Saddlebags (re-released on Family Vineyard Records, 2010)

Which is not to say that all made-for-its-own-enjoyment-by-children music is as silly as Coolman Tony's, or that all 10-year-olds think about is cartoons and junk food. Also popular at my house have been the youtube videos of Human Skab and Old Skull, two child-punk bands that put out a few songs in the late 80s and earned some small-time cult status before slipping into puberty and various doomed fates.

Human Skab was essentially one kid, 10 year-old Travis Roberts from Elma, Washington, who with the help of some cousins and neighbors recorded several albums' worth of sprawling, improvised punk-poetry, backing himself up on electric guitar and cookware from his parents' kitchen. Puking up whole worlds from the depth of his middle school subconscious, songs like “We Need to Destroy the Soviet Union” might scan as satire, Human Skab yelping like a sandlot Jello Biafra, until the incredible violence of the lyrics—No one will survive!/You will melt into a puddle, no bones will be there/Your babies will die—your teachers will die—your girlfriends will die—you in the Soviet Union!—start hinting at a more haunting core: Christ, the kid probably believed half the stuff he was screaming about, probably got his nascent political views from Dad's USA TODAYs. Things just get weirder on songs like “Screamin' Demon.” Best intro ever: In ten years, I'm gonna be cruisin' the coast, Travis adlibs into the tape recorder, Drinkin' my pop/I'm gonna be kissin' all the girls, I'm gonna be singin' all the rock, an eerie ode to explosives set to the insane screeching of a toy accordion, and the acapella “Dead Baby Blues.” I told my friends, let's go down to the graveyard and read some tombstones, he drawls, channeling Townes Van Zandt and Edward Gorey in the same breath.

Human Skab's sublimely strange tapes fell into the hands of obscurity-hunting tape traders (an LP collection was eventually released on Family Vineyard records), and he enjoyed some brief notoriety. Perhaps not that surprisingly, the scrawny kid shown sneering and mohawked, his arm in a dirty cast, on the cover of his LP Thunderhips and Saddlebags later joined the military, became a private contractor in Kosovo and Afghanistan, got into drugs, et cetera; also not that surprisingly, he got the “band” back together in 2009 to play retooled versions of the old songs—the shit he wrote when he was ten years old—and hopefully make a couple bucks; suffice it to say that the grown-up, tattooed incarnation of Human Skab, featuring rap-metal songs about post-traumatic stress disorder, hasn't enjoyed the same cult acclaim as the younger model.

Case Study:  Old Skull, Get Outta School (Restless Records, 1989) and C.I.A. Drugfest  (1992)

And then there's Old Skull, whose story is so fraught with baggage that their otherwise righteous noise is almost hard to listen to. Formed in Madison, Wisconsin in the late 1980s by the Toulon brothers, J.P. And Jamie (encouraged—some say manipulated—by their father Vern, a staple of the local punk scene), with pal Jesse on the drums, they released two albums on then heavy-hitting indie label Restless Records, Get Outta School and C.I.A. Drug Fest. Sounding like late period Black Flag, minus chops but with fury to spare, these little skater kids blaze through the issues of the day with total rage and pathos, as in their flailing take on the AIDS crisis: WHAT IS AIDS? HOW DOES IT MAKE YOU FEEL?/unintelligible.../HOW DO YOU CATCH THEM? FROM WHAT WE KNOW: DIRTY NEEDLES /unintelligible…/WHAT IS AIDS? A TERRIBLE THING. WILL I GET THEM? I FEEL AFRAID! Or homelessness: PEOPLE THAT DON'T HAVE HOMES/WHEN I LOOK IN THEIR EYES I SEE SADNESS!/ THEY DON'T HAVE MONEY TO PAY THE RENT, BECAUSE THEY DON'T HAVE GOOD JOBS! /WHY DON'T THEY HAVE GOOD JOBS? THEY DIDN'T GET ENOUGH GOOD EDUCATION—BECAUSE OF WAR GAMES! THEY MAKE ME FEEL DUMB AND I'M PISSED OFF!

All of which seems kind of cute or whatever until you read their wikipedia page. After dismissing them as a novelty band and suggesting that their father may have ghostwritten their material, the authors reveal that J.P. later moved to a Lower East Side squat, joined a crust punk band, and died in 2010 as a result of substance abuse-related pancreatitis, followed months later by the suicide of his brother Jamie, who was also battling homelessness and drug addiction (father Vern had reportedly met a similar fate before passing away in 2001), the sheer irony and tragedy of which is makes the tunes doubly chilling.

Not that their music is all dark and foreboding; songs like the ludicrous “Pizza Man” (PIZZA MAN! GET ME A PIZZA! I WANT EVERYTHING ON IT! I WANT ONIONS AND EXTRA CHEESE! DOMINO'S THIN CRUST TASTES LIKE SHIT!) clearly fall under the rubric of kids being kids, despite being released by a hip label and featured on MTV's “120 Minutes” (the kids, interviewed while pigging out on milkshakes and nachos, talk about their stance on the “AIDS academic” and how many music lessons they've “tooken”: three), they're obviously still children, reveling in fucking around, venting all the rage and confusion of childhood with little blasts of pure, stupid, glorious noise.