A moment of silence for the loud

Ben Miller, vocalist for Gruntruck and Skin Yard, died Monday of diabetes-related complications. He was 46.

Date: January 28, 2008
Seattle, WA USA

Subject: Seattle Rock Singer Ben McMillan Loses Battle With Diabetes

After an eight-year battle with diabetes, Ben Scott McMillan, legendary vocalist for Gruntruck and Skin Yard died in his hometown of Seattle, Washington, U.S.A. at age 46.

Complications from a related blood-clotting disease are said to have worsened his diabetic condition, which was severe.

The survivng members of Gruntruck, as well as other Seattle rock luminaries are planning an assortment of tributes and memorial projects in his name; details to follow.

The above from the band’s MySpace page.

Travis Hay shares his memories of Gruntruck at Ear Candy.

A hard proposition to swallow

Sometimes I’ll poke fun at the firearms advocates by making a porn joke. After all, it is not uncommon when gun control debates flare up in the public discourse to hear the claim that a gun will protect all our other rights. And while I often disagree with those people about what the Second Amendment actually says, that argument is not my point here.

Adults Only ...?Rather, I’ll point out that the First Amendment is constantly violated. I cannot show, say Deep Throat on broadcast television, say, on a Saturday morning. Well, I can’t show it anytime, but it helps the joke, I think, to try to inject the pornography into hours when there might be lots of children watching television. Or maybe on a Sunday, alongside the plethora of church sermons.

So come on, I’ll say. Where are the gun owners defending our rights? Don’t take me wrongly: I really don’t think running Deep Throat on CBS should be something to start a shooting war over. I just think it’s a fun way of making the point that the only right the firearms people are interested in protecting is their right to shoot things. Cans, animals, other people. Whatever.

It’s an argument best left for another day, I suppose. Or maybe not. Rob Kievit notes for Radio Netherlands:

A stale old porn movie is at the centre of a political row involving Dutch public television. Public broadcasting corporations VPRO and BNN are planning to screen Deep Throat, a 1972 vintage production, as part of a themed night on the history of pornographic films. Although the film will be aired after midnight and be embedded in a discussion programme, political parties are clamouring for steps to be taken.

I admit, though, I don’t recall ever making the joke about PBS. Score one for the Dutch. And it’s not like these networks are strangers to comedy. Kievit points out that VPRO was the first Dutch network to show a naked woman during prime time, apparently during the 1960s. BNN pioneered a controversial reality show last year, in which contestants competed for a donor kidney. Amid a predictable uproar, the show played out and revealed itself to be a hoax intended to start a public dialogue about organ donation.

The controversy over Deep Throat includes some rhetoric familiar to Americans—

In online discussion groups, participants suggest that the Christian Union had better turn its attention to the excessive amount of violence shown on TV. They also say that people who do not want to watch explicit sex can always reach for the off button, or change channels.

—and also some notions we might envy:

Dutch public television – government-funded, but editorially independent – is trying desperately to win back younger viewers who generally prefer the commercial channels. If broadcasters break laws in doing so, the government can only intervene afterwards. Trying to stop a show before it has been aired is seen as preventive censorship, and that is anathema to Dutch political culture. Most politicians, the likes of Arie Slob possibly excepted, would rather be seen dead than censor the media.

And I’m not saying a goddamned thing about … er … well, right. At any rate, what the hell ever happened to our First Amendment? And where the hell is Charlton Heston?

(A tip o’the hat and much appreciation to Kit at Words, Words, Words.)