Thursday, September 17, 2009

Shellac - At Action Park

Any record that starts with a track called, "My Black Ass" has to be good. From Wikipedia:
"Shellac (sometimes referred to as Shellac of North America) is an American noise rock group composed of Steve Albini (guitar and vocals), Bob Weston (bass guitar and vocals) and Todd Trainer (drums and vocals). Although they have been classified as noise rock and math rock, they describe themselves as a "minimalist rock trio.""
I gave up trying to find something original to say about this record when I saw this customer review on AMAZON:
"Meant to be listened to on vinyl,and the cd says just that. For those who do not appreciate Steve Albini's disdain for digital, I reprint here what it says on the cd:"This was not mastered directly to metal or pressed into 165 grams of virgin dye blackened vinyl. There is, in fact, nothing at all special about the manufacturing of this compact disc." Regardless, the music on the cd is indeed special. Like a marauding dirge descending slowly from the sky to land on your car, "My Black Ass" menaces and mesmerizes you into realizing this will be no ordinary aural trip. Shellac is about repetition until a particular riff or measure is perfect, and then throwing little variations into it to muss you up. They, of course, never lose their timing or include inappropriate noise-all moves are planned, all things are considered. Not to say that this record don't have no noise-check out "Crow" and "Song of The Minerals", for monstrous, vicious rock. "The Idea Of North" develops like sunrise, and "Boche's Dick" is a tight, methodical near closer that is waay too short and way to good to be short. All in all, no misses here. Best tune: "Song Of the Minerals", featuring sustained, forearm destroying Albini harmonic guitar scrape, and a sad story about a girl who uses heroin and sleeps around, possibly the same protagonist of "Trouser Minnow"?"WHY? Cuz it makes you feel better-its your arms, its none of my business", he growls.Don't expect many messages here, though; this is not a record of syntax, its all about the music.Normally rock sounds stupid when it takes itself seriously; not here."
Furthermore, in poking around online I learned that
"Action Park was an infamous theme park in New Jersey, which closed in 1996 due to numerous fatalities....Its popularity went hand in hand with a reputation for poorly-designed, unsafe rides; inattentive, underaged, underpaid and sometimes under-the-influence employees; equally intoxicated and underprepared visitors — and the poor safety record that followed from this perfect storm of circumstances..."
Wikipedia goes on to describe five "Factors contributing to the park's safety record":
"Ride design

Action Park and its defenders often pointed out that it was one of the first water parks in the nation and thus pioneered ideas that were later widely copied. This meant that visitors were using rides that had not been tested through practical use for very long. Ride designers may have had insufficient training in physics or engineering. "They seemed to build rides," one attendee recalls, "not knowing how they would work, and [then let] people on them."...


The vast majority of workers at Action Park, at least the ones regularly seen by visitors, were teenagers...Most were area residents making minimum wage or just barely above that, given little training (other than lifeguards) for their jobs, and who consequently often cared little for enforcing park rules and safety requirements. Height- and weight-based restrictions were often ignored...


Since it was closer and slightly cheaper than Six Flags Great Adventure, Action Park attracted many visitors from the urban areas of the New York metropolitan area, particularly northeastern New Jersey. Many of them were often from lower-income neighborhoods where they had few, if any, opportunities to swim, much less learn how. At the park they greatly overestimated these abilities, and this was a factor in many accidents as well as the drownings, according to park officials....Since many rides routed their lines so that those waiting could see every previous rider, many played to the audience with risky and bawdy behavior when it did finally come to be their turn. The Tarzan Swing in particular was known for outbursts of foul language (not always planned) and exhibitionism as people jumped off the swing in full view of the whole line behind them.

Availability of alcohol on grounds

The park also sold beer in many kiosks on the grounds, with similarly lax enforcement of the drinking age as with other restrictions in the park. Doctors treating the injured often reported that many of them had alcohol on their breath.

Lax regulatory climate

Despite many citations for safety violations between 1979 and 1986, including allowing minors to operate some rides and failing to report accidents, which was unique among New Jersey's amusement parks, an investigation by the New Jersey Herald, Sussex County's main daily newspaper, later found that the park was fined only once. It was also unique in that department in that all the other amusement parks were fined for first offenses — except Action Park...Some of the state's regulations failed to adequately address the situation, too. After the 1987 drowning, it was reported that the Tidal Wave Pool was considered a pool by the state, not a ride. Under state regulations at the time, that meant that all the company had to do was keep the water clean and make sure that certified lifeguards were on duty, and nothing else."
Shellac - At Action Park