Chris reviews THE 2004 “KEELBOAT” NICKEL

Another GREAT fucking coin from U.S. Mint sculptor/engraver Al Maletsky, but a problematic one this time: Where, Maletsky, are all the animals? Maletsky, of course, brought us 1999’s Florida variation of the American Eagle Platinum Bullion Coin, which depicted a freedom-guzzling eagle in flight 50-80 ft. above a stolid, no-nonsense alligator who’s teetering around in his butt-nasty primordial swamp (such is Maletsky’s mastery that whenever I handle a Florida AEPBC I feel like I’m getting butt-nasty black muck all over my hand and for hours afterward I can smell sulphur and rot and other primordial fetors — gator shit and sulphur and the like). High five to Maletsky, then, for the Florida AEPBC. Indeed, had a lesser sculptor/engraver forged the Keelboat nickel, I’d be nominating him or her for the nobel prize in coinsmithery. But it was Maletsky who did the forging, and him we hold to a higher standard than we do his peers. So I have to ask: Where the hell are the animals? Here we have gorgeous depictions of Noah and his wife and sons and daughters-in-law, and an almost monstrously evocative rear cabin area thingy, and damned if you can’t feel the wind heave against that swollen mainsail, and damned if the hull itself doesn’t totally look like wood — so where are the animals? Designing a coin scene is about condensation: choosing just the right half-dozen details with which to represent, on a stamp-sized palette, an entire era, career, or swamp. To tell the story of Noah’s Ark in an inch or less, you undoubtedly need to show a boat, and you undoubtedly need to put some people on it — and Maletsky did all that, yeah — but surely it’s crucial to the plot that God instructed Noah to take two of each animal on the Ark so as to insulate his holy blueprint from the deluge. Those animals, the pair of each sort, are, along with the immeasurable waters themselves, the most easily identifiable aspect of the entire Noah myth. So what happened? Was Maletsky opining? Does he feel that the real meat of this well known tale is found in the negotiation between man and god? That the animals are mere set pieces? If so, then I challenge his choice to ascend the soap box. It’s not the coinmaster’s place to interpret! His role is, again, to condense, to whittle away the extraneous; and to define ‘extraneous’ by popular belief, by the multitudes who will wield the economic instrument coinmaster has adorned. Maletsky overstepped his bounds; he inflated and then burst his scope. Coinmaster! Resist the temptation to embroider! Withstand the black gravity of absolute power! Consider not your steroid-muscular ego and its el Niño-scale whims! Instead defer to the likely preference of the vast citizenry whose pocket or coin-purse your creation will one day inhabit!

NMNGH single release

Hey fellers and fillies, got some news for you — lots of news, lots of news, lots of news, lots of news, lots of news! You know the funny thing is, we just wrote that and everything, but there’s actually not that much news. Humph! (Ever seen that in dialog in a book? “Madam Suddsley, honestly — you must cease that fidgeting or I’ll be driven mad.” Mdm. S: “Humph!” Sure you’ve seen it. But does anybody say that? Oh hell no, hell no they don’t. What’s… well, what do you think’s up with that?)
Yeah, the news is exciting over here, and so far despite best efforts nobody’s been able to hide it:

Here’s one bit of white hot announcement: Our new single is out in the U.K. It’s called Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt, and yes it’s oddly familiar, and yeah that’s because we released it as a single last summer, and sure, if you don’t mind we’d love for you to shut the fuck up about that. Okay, let’s talk about it. Re-releases — what gives? Well, the idea, presumably, is that you re-release something when it’s initial release was likely to have reached only a negligible percentage of your current audience. Which is probably the case with NMNGH, if you think about it. Back in June, when we first released this guy, we had maybe… oh…. let’s say forty fans. Forty fans in the U.K. Now? Shit. Shit! The human mind recoils at the prospect of speculation. Let’s just say we have more fans than there are ants in all of the United Kingdom. (Hint: the ants are all fans.) (Another interesting question that refuses to be ignored: are there ants in the U.K.? Would a U.K. resident know an ant if it bit her? Would she scream, “Yow! What the-?!? Some little alien lobster thing just got me!!”)
You may buy that argument or you may not. What you can’t help but buy — with your last tooth as trade if it comes to that — is the two fresh(and here we use “fresh” in the hip-hop sense, not the grocery store sense)-ass b-sides you have to choose from. Long have man and beast lauded our cover of The Ronettes Be My Baby. Well, during South by Southwest we went into a studio with old Ariel (producer of With Love & Squalor, plus countless jests) and recorded a version of this tune that will once and for all put to rest the question “Who is greater? Ariel Rechtshaid or Phil Spector?” Just kidding — it’s never occurred to anyone to ask that. This post is getting pretty word-heavy, so here’s another photograph:

That’s Storme, our infallible new tour manager, punishing Keith for mouthing off — she’s going to shoot lighting right into his face, which will certainly teach him something. Let’s try to answer all the obvious questions: She’s British. Yes, her name’s really Storme. And don’t even think about it, fellas — she’s married. Just kidding, she’s not. She’s actually totally available. You should definitely approach her and throw some sweet lines her way if you ever have the chance. Can’t guarantee you’ll meet with much success, but hell, you only live once, right? She might punch you if your line is gross, cuz she’s hard like that, but hell and stuff, right?
So we were talking about that single, and the b-sides, and there’s one we didn’t get to: Ram It Home. This is a tune that we wrote a while back for the band of some friends, a band that was going to be an 80’s cock rock band. We liked it so much we decided not to give it to them (just as well, since they settled on more of a blues rock, Zeppelin feel). But we’ve never really known what to do with the song, cuz it doesn’t sound like any of our other stuff — frankly, it sounds like Motley Crue. In a good way. And well, this new single may not be the place for Ram It Home, but maybe there is no place for it in this world — who among us can’t sometimes sympathize with that feeling of displacement? And what do you do when you feel displaced? Do you retreat? To under a bush or a patio to die? No. You jump in. And usually you find out that the appropriate metaphor was probably something more along the lines of, you were a fish out of water. And jumping in felt great. Which is a lengthy, discursive way of distracting you from the fact that we accidentally put an 80’s hair metal track on our new single. But let’s speak in real terms for just a second, y’all: this track is no joke.
The single can be purchased from the comfort of the digital realm here.
What else is going on, you ask? Well, first of all, are you still reading? Wow. You’re one bored-at-work motherfucker. Quit your job, really. That’s the other big bit of news. You need to quit your job now. Because look at that big spread of text up above this paragraph — you just read all of that! And it didn’t say a one goddamn thing! You’re wasting your life, is the point. You need a job where, if somebody presents you with a page or two of meandering, maybe-psychotic prose, you say you’ll read it later and then never do. Cuz you forget about it. Cuz you’ve actually got things happening in your life. Things like this:

And this:

And, if you play your cards exactly right — this:

Sorry if that advice was like totally unsolicited and unwanted, but, y’know, we care about you, and we want to see you happy. Happy and doing this kind of thing:

[Here’s the one sentence version of the news we didn’t have time to write about cuz there were too many fun keys on the computer to press and they confused us: This week we play Jools Holland on U.K. tv and we’re also playing some in-stores; next week we’re going to Japan with our male companions Editors; and tickets have gone on sale for our fall U.K. tour, and you can buy them here. Oh, and if you still haven’t given your vote for World’s Sexiest Vegetarian to Keith (yes, this is a second sentence — it’s important enough that we’re perfectly happy to contradict ourselves), FOR THE LOVE OF PETA AND BETHLEHEM, DO IT!]