Agony Shorthand

Monday, September 26, 2005

This upstanding new magazine from deep in Portland, Maine (is that really the capital? I thought it was Bangor or Burlington or Syracuse or something) features a two-headed attack designed to please comers from there & yon. The first "head" is an immersive dive into Portland scene arcana, featuring a Homeric interview with a defunct group called SWAMP WITCH REVIVAL. If you can get through it & understand a tenth of it, well, then you're from Portland or a masochist. There are even local ads for places you'll never go (Bangkok Thai Restaurant -- "We now have liquor license!"). But hats off in any case -- publisher/scribe Joe S. Harrington wants you to feel & smell the Portland ethos, one that is likely very different than anywhere else's. Mission accomplished. And while he's a hometowner like nobody's business & in the best sense of the word, it's the top-drawer record, book & live review sections that comprise the other head. Harrington certainly knows his stuff & doesn't suffer fools gladly, which means I'll trust him a smidge more than those who get hopped up about every damn thing. He & his cohort latch on to acts that can be hard to reckon with (I don't think I've seen so many positive comparitive nods to "Nashville Pussy" this side of Hod Rod Dork Gazette), but mostly they seem centered around The Stones, the Brian Jonestown Massacre & lots of weird noise & raw punk. He's a good reader, too, and puts things in intelligent perspective well. His review of Anthony Bourdain's "A Cook's Tour", which I too have read, made me hate the guy a lot less & question my initial take on the book (which was that Bourdain, joyfully politically incorrect as he may be, was a complete showoff blowhard). Reading KAPITAL INK is a great way to while away a plane trip or a hangover & is worth dropping some fast cash for -- $5 to Kapital Ink / PO Box 1098 / Portland, ME 04104. Ot just email Joe himself at