The Clinton connection to punk

A Duffey campaign button, with a ghostly image of “Truman” haunting it.

Happy Sunday, folks! I hope those of you in the northern hemisphere are experiencing something akin to spring by now. For return readers, I’m spending the next set of Sundays elaborating on some key points of Stealing All Transmissions, chapter by chapter. So, now that we’re into the fourth month of the year, I’ll dig a little deeper into clips from the cutting room floor of chapter 4, “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” The good eggs included Meg Griffin and Joe Piasek, of course, and this chapter provides biographical sketches for each of them.

Joe attended Quinnipiac University in Hamden, CT, and in 1970, he got involved in
Joseph Duffey’s campaign for U.S. Senate. Duffey was the chairman of Eugene McCarthy’s failed presidential campaign in 1968, and the headquarters of his own campaign were in nearby New Haven. Piasek told me how at an early meeting, a young law student named Hilary Rodham was trying the patience of the volunteers as they waited for the arrival of one of the key organizers. “`He’ll be here, he’ll be here,'” she implored, hours after the scheduled start time of the meeting.

Bill Clinton, lumbersexual, and Hilary Rodham, 1970.
Bill Clinton, as a proto-lumbersexual, and Hilary Rodham, 1970.

That organizer was Bill Clinton, also a law student at Yale, who was that day apparently working his way down his to-do list in a rather leisurely fashion.

Duffey lost that election, but secured many an appointment in the NEH, as an ambassador, and did just fine.

Piasek, of course, within 10 years, secured a lasting legacy as a figure in New York radio who dared to try something new. Griffin of course went on to become a legendary figure in her own right, and still spins discs on SiriusXM Radio, and is one the key subjects in an upcoming documentary called I Am What I Play, a truly DIY affair. Check it out!


post-punk gems, v. 64 — Cabaret Voltaire

Various artists (Rough Trade, 1985).

My introduction to Cabaret Voltaire came by way of a mind-blowing compilation tape from Rough Trade: If You Can’t Please Yourself You Can’t, Please Your Soul (1985). I was familiar with Yello and The The, and Marc Almond of course, but I hardly knew what to make of Scraping Foetus Off the Wheel (a ridiculously offensive name, but the beats!), Coil, Einstürzende Neubauten, and Test Dept.

Cabaret Voltaire’s “Product Patrol” offered no conceit of plug-into-amps instrumental mastery, which of course followed up on their earlier experiments, including “Western Mantra,” which is 35 years old today.

Yes, it’s 20 minutes plus, but still capable of wow-ing even the heaviest of ADHD-ers with its beats and pure audacity. CV got started in Sheffield in 1973, signing with Rough Trade in ’78, and found an audience in punk devotees shortly after. They made a beautiful racket in different incarnations for years, and Richard Kirk is still at it as recently as last year. Nicely done!