Send In the Clones

Man . . . or Astroman? reproduces the new-fashioned way

Technology has advanced exponentially since my birth nearly a quarter-century ago. These days, computers ensure that the first letter of each sentence one types is capitalized, the Internet provides information and pornography to anyone capable of clicking a button, one space station is nearly used up and another one is near construction; the examples are endless.

These breakthroughs are at once enthralling and fear-inspiring. Take, for example, the sheep named Dolly and the scientist who loved her. This cloned wonder sent waves of paranoia through not only the laymen's community but the scientists' as well. The prospect of the intellectual elite being able to replicate those individuals that they deem superior is a spine-chilling one indeed. Even the fearless and moral leader of the free world, Bubba Clinton, was compelled to call for a moratorium on human cloning.

But friends, there are advances in science that the Americanpublic, indeed the whole world, has not been made aware of, and alas, it is now too late to stop. The alien life forms that compose the space/surf-rock combo Man . . . or Astroman? (spitefully named Birdstuff, Coco the Electronic Monkey Wizard, Dexter X from the Planet Q and Star Crunch) have, with the cooperation of the Billions Corporation and the U.S. Department of Energy, completed the initial phase of the Astroman Genome Project, wherein perfect DNA replicants of the original astromen were cloned in the aliens' Georgia lab. Fewer things strike fear in the hearts of us Earthlings than the prospect of being overrun by alien clones, except perhaps being overrun by clones of Newt Gingrich and Bill Gates.

Not only do the clones exist, they are being dispatched to cities across the United States to disseminate the propaganda of their DNA batch providers, the original four astromen. Under both direct and remote supervision by their "fathers," these astroclones will take the stage at Boston's nightclub in Tempe to subvert the audience members through use of the astromen's patented Dick Dale on Battlestar Galactica surf noise, billed under the sinister moniker of the Man . . . or Astroman Clone Tour Alpha.

Being that I am both a self-sacrificing humanitarian and a daredevil investigative reporter who shuns no risk to get the real story, I procured the astrolab's phone number from my expansive web of underground sources and spoke to the astroman named Coco, the bass-playing alien devil who will be accompanying and supervising the clones on their mission of subversion. Read on if you must, but be warned that the nefarious nature of the astromen's intents is made wickedly clear; this is not for the faint of heart.

Revolver: Tell me why, what could have inspired you to take on such a dreadful miscarriage of science and nature?

Coco: We are from outer space, as I'm sure that you realize, and we had to take on Earth bodies so that we could blend in and everything that goes along with that. The trick is, we look like Earthlings, we look like humans, but it's only exterior. Our internal anatomies are substantially different than that of a human, and what this amounts to, what the crucial element of this is--and it left us with a very startling realization--is that Man . . . or Astroman?, while stuck here on this planet, cannot reproduce. This is dreadful news, if you think about it.

R: I would beg to differ, but nonetheless, did you even attempt other methods of reproduction?

C: Oh, yes, absolutely. We have done substantial research in trying to interbreed with humans and other such experiments, but they only produced partial astromen, and that, of course, won't do. We have to be able to continue our whole pure astroman status, even beyond our own mortal astroman existence. With this thought in mind, for the past five, maybe even six years, we have devoted a fair amount of our research to coming up with some sort of way to prolong our specific lives and the existence of pure astromen on the planet.

R: My sources inform me that the future may hold many more astroclone tours, a veritable franchise, if I may say so; is this information correct?

C: Absolutely, with the ability to clone successfully and with the clones being able to exist viably on their own, which is what this tour really is, kind of a viability test. There will be some portion of Man . . . or Astroman? at probably all of the shows. With that technology in hand, it opens up the door to multiple clone tours going on simultaneously. We could have one or two going on in the U.S., one in Europe, maybe have one going on in Australia, and the original DNA batch providers could be touring somewhere else. We have more clones than will just be out on this tour, we have more here in the lab; this is like the first public test. We're gonna give this a shot. It'll probably require a little tweaking after we get the initial data, and that will give us more information on how to proceed.

R: Have you experienced any rebellion or envy from the replicants?
C: Not yet, although there's always a potential for that, you always have to look out for that. The portion of MoA that isn't on the clone tour will be monitoring and somewhat controlling the shows from headquarters. We will be there interacting in two dimensions; our image is going to be beamed via satellite onstage with them the whole time. We will be there monitoring, interacting and controlling them just to make sure things go safely and smoothly. Star Crunch is going to attempt to actually sing with the band on a song or two via satellite, so it should prove to be interesting.

R: Has there been any curiosity from the mainstream geneticist community regarding your research?

C: We've talked with them a little bit. They're, of course, very interested because we're much further along than they are. We've got a little more at our disposal, being from outer space and having advanced technology, but we've clued them in to a few things. There are some similarities, but there's a lot of differences between the cloning of an astroman and cloning Earth-based life forms. There's far more genes involved with an astroman, but the sequence is a lot simpler. So once you get the general sequence going, it moves along a lot quicker. We're moderately into sharing our technology as long as it doesn't affect our end goal in any adverse way.

R: And that goal is . . .
C: Well, we're taking over the planet, as does any good alien, right? I mean, you've seen all your movies and stuff. That's the end goal; this is just one cog in the master plan.

R: I understand that you're also distributing astromen DNA to the public that will, with proper incubation, produce yet more astroclones.

C: We figure that's a good way to spread MoA; it's a lot more convenient to mail somebody a set of DNA than to have the original band show up for in-stores and radio appearances. The incubation process is a little bit tricky; we'll probably have some information out soon on how to build your own astro-incubator, 'cause, you know, they're hard to find right now. It's a pretty finite resource at this time, but we'll be disseminating those plans as well. But if one can get their hands on astroman DNA, do so. It doesn't go bad; it's got a shelf life well beyond a human's average life span. So as long as you're still around, the DNA is good. You can hang on to it indefinitely until incubation, but once incubation starts, you don't wanna disturb it. I would imagine that within the next five, 10 years, you'll be able to find those incubators used pretty cheap.

R: [shiver]
The Man . . . or Astroman Clone Tour Alpha is scheduled to hit Boston's in Tempe on Saturday, June 20. Showtime is 8 p.m.

Monsters Can Be Fun (Just Ask Your 5-Year-Old)
A long time ago, 1977 to be exact, two brothers by the names of Jad and David Fair formed a noisy, experimental punk outfit called Half Japanese. Half Japanese later became, without the advantage of fame or mainstream acceptance, one of the most influential American punk bands, a name dropped by such alterna-luminaries as Nirvana, Sonic Youth, and R.E.M. David left the band in 1986 to pursue family interests while Jad continued on with a revolving roster of musicians.

Now the brothers have united once more, but this is no Half Japanese. Jad and David (with help from David's kindergarten-age son, Robinson) recorded a disc entitled Monster Songs for Children, A-Z, released on Kill Rock Stars. The recording is a collection of dark, spasmodic blues progressions overlayed by David's resonating baritone, singing about, well, monsters. One for each letter of the alphabet. Young Robinson introduces each song with a description of the monster and accompanies his father on several tracks. It's a brilliantly compelling recording, despite the similarity of many tracks; there's a cheerfully morbid energy that pulses through the recording, an eccentric sacrifice of cool for the sake of naivete.

When I e-mailed David about the impetus for the recording and the intentions behind it, he sent the following response. (I wish my Dad had been this cool.)

"I work at a library and see what is available for children to listen to. Most of it seems a little too tame, boring and packaged. We just wanted to offer an alternative. If you're a child and you enjoy listening to Raffi, then I hope you have a big pile of Raffi CDs and have a great day. But suppose you're a child and you're scared of Shari Lewis. Maybe you would have more fun singing about Frankenstein. It's just something different.

"Plus, when I got the idea for this, my son was really interested in drawing monsters and learning about Bigfoot and stuff, so I thought he'd like these songs. I don't think the songs are particularly scary; they're more like fun-scary. Instilling fear is the polar opposite of what we had in mind, but I don't imagine this CD will do much to dispel fear. I suppose it's more like a roller-coaster ride. Maybe it's fun and scary when it's going on, and maybe you're glad to get off when it's over, and hopefully as soon as it ends you can't wait to get back on again." (Kill Rock Stars, 120 NE State #418, Olympia, WA 98501)

Martyrs for the Sake of Art
Joan of Arc has never been a normal band. Anyone who caught its show last Friday at Stinkweeds can attest to that fact. The translation of its songs from studio to stage is a feat in itself, as JoA blends electronics, acoustics and schizophrenic timing changes into a montage that can only be described as art.

The band's latest CD, How Memory Works, is a head-spinning collection of disjointed melodies, rave-worthy dance tracks, heart-wrenching acoustic paeans and mind-numbing ambient pieces. The recording defies simple description; this is not pop music, this is the sound of young genius pushing its creativity past boundaries that are concrete laws to most musicians. From the breakbeat-filled blips and tweets of "This Life Cumulative" to the Bible-quoting disrupted scales of "To've Had Two Of" to the delicately atmospheric piano track of "A Party Able Model Of," Joan of Arc has redefined creative innovation and resurrected the notion of music as a groundbreaking art form. This album should be hanging in a gallery. (Jade Tree Records, 2310 Kennwynn Road, Wilmington, DE 19810)

Contact Brendan Kelley at his online address: bkelley@newtimes.com

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