too much typing—since 2003


an inappropriate application of glamour - and I still don't have my sunglasses

As an architect, Rose receives catalogs at work from any number of suppliers - including Kohler, the cover of whose latest catalog features this image:

It may not be immediately apparent to the casual viewer, but the object upon which our model is seated is, in fact, a toilet.

Now, someone at Kohler clearly decided hey, we've got a model, we'd better use her...but really, you'd think the absurdity of this perfectly (if bizarrely) coiffed, little-black-dressed woman casually seated atop a strangely plumbing-free toilet in an empty silver-white wilderness (practical me notes also the absence of any sort of hygienic appurtenances that might be necessary should the toilet actually be used) would've struck at least someone. Unless they're going for comedy (cuz, you know, toilets are always funny, at least to one's inner twelve-year-old).

The toilet itself is rather odd, being so stylized from its usual form (they call it a "hatbox toilet" - rather a metaphorically unpleasant name, doncha think?) that it takes a second to realize what it is...a delay that only makes the image's absurdity register more strongly. Oh - and in the catalog, the toilet is also depicted with its lid up, multiply exposed in three near-matching positions to suggest the idea of motion. Reading the copy, you discover this is meant to convey the "soft-touch" closing mechanism, a feature presumably added to the "hatbox" lest the unpleasant clang of porcelain remind denizens of Silver-White Surrealia that the toilet is, in fact, a physical object. But before you read the copy, you get the disturbing impression that the lid is, like so many other items of modern bathroom paraphernalia, motion-sensitive...and that at some level, it has an ass-sensor that allows it to open its maw when a likely user approaches. This, too, is disturbing on several levels.

Anyway, in a desperate bid to connect the toilet-advertising critique above with the musical component of this page, I note that the Australian label Lexicon Devil (mail-order here) has reissued Oil Tasters' 1981 self-titled LP, which contains the immortal "Get Out of the Bathroom." Oil Tasters were a three-piece featuring bass, drums, and sax - but (a) years before Morphine was a glimmer in Mark Sandman's eyes, and (b) despite what all the press says, not at all jazz-like. (Some critics apparently think "jazz" is a musical state conjured up exclusively, and universally, by the presence of a saxophone.) The LP was originally released (if I remember right) on a short-lived Alternative Tentacles subsidiary called Thermidor Records. The compilers of the CD issue have thoughtfully included a few bonus tracks from the two singles that preceded the LP, but they omitted "Let Me Sleep on Your Couch," an otherwise unreleased track from the LP sessions that showed up a few years back on the excellent double-disc compilation of early Milwaukee punk and new-wave bands, History in 3 Chords (theoretically available here). I'm not sure, but perhaps Richard LaValliere, who wrote the Oil Tasters' songs, was planning an entire suite based on different parts of the house.

Oil Tasters "Get Out of the Bathroom"
Oil Tasters "Let Me Sleep on Your Couch"


Anonymous said...

Thermidor was a Subterranean subsidiary. Dave Lang (of Lexicon Devil) says that Henry Rollins was initially planning to reissue the OilTasters comp on his 2.13.61 label before he (or his label) ran out of money! Lang, who lives in Australia, is a wealth of info about MKE bands from the 80's like Boy Dirt Car, Die Kreuzen, Mecht Mensch, and F/i. But when will we see a Shemps cd? -- jonhope

2fs said...

Thanks for the info! I noticed all the Milwaukee bands on Lexicon Devil - I was wondering whether the label guy was a Milwaukee ex-pat. Which - I understand from our mutual acquaintance Paula - you are also it seems? (Me, I wanna see the Einstein's Riceboys stuff come out...)

Anonymous said...

I had that Oil Tasters song on a very early sub-pop comp, when they were still a fanzine. And I believe Jon is from Waukesha, correct? --Paula

Anonymous said...

Well hello, Paula! I lived in Brookfield and Oconomowoc, which was in Waukesha County, but never in the city of Waukesha. I think the actor Mark Ruffalo is from the city of Waukesha. (Just watched him last night in a very good movie called "Committed").

When I was a teen in the suburbs of MKE, I did a punk fanzine called SKID and hung out with Lars Kvam and Scott Puffer. The only person I knew from that scene who gained any degree of fame was Dean Schlabowske, who moved to Chicago and formed the band Wreck, and who is now in the Waco Brothers.

Yeah, Einstein's Riceboys! Their song "Soda Jerk" was definitely one of the highlights of "History in 3 Chords".

I am really frustrated about this Oil Tasters cd. Midheaven cancelled my order, because they said they couldn't get it. Then I ordered it from Interpunk, but they have had it on back order for two weeks. I wonder if Forced Exposure could get it any more quickly... -- jonhope

2fs said...

"I am really frustrated about this Oil Tasters cd." You might try Atomic Records (414 332-3663) - their newsletter mentioned they'd just got in a new batch the other day. I don't know what other folks are charging - but I think for them it's about $14 for the CD and $3.50 shipping.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the suggestion! I ordered the Oil Tasters cd from a THIRD mailorder source earlier today, but if it's backordered I will call Atomic Records. I went to their website; looks like a great store. -- jonhope