Tampopo: Ramen, Westerns and The Perfect Bite

Alright, so this week I’ll be taking a short break from my regularly scheduled blogs focused on hardcore and local music, but I’ve prepared a nice treat as a substitute. I will be writing about “Tampopo” by Juzo Itami. 

This movie was introduced to me by a good friend, and has quickly become a comforting favorite to rewatch every now and again. The biggest draws towards this movie are its comedy, food presentation, and wacky characters. “Tampopo” is all about a novice ramen maker trying to become a full-fledged ramen master by the end of the movie. 

I’ll dive a little deeper into the plot, but not too much so that it ruins the movie. Honestly, I think even if this film were to be spoiled it’d be terrific to watch anyway because of how the actors deliver their jokes, lines, and emotion on screen. I could never capture the beauty on the screen and translate it into words here. 

Serving 1 – Plot

The movie opens in a movie theater with a dapper man and woman talking through the fourth wall to us about how to enjoy a movie with food (no chips!). These two characters are fun additions to the main plot of Goro (played by Tsutomu Yamazaki), Tampopo (Nobuko Miyamoto) and Gun (Ken Watanabe) trying to fix up Tampopo’s ramen shop. 

Tampopo is a vibrant woman running a ramen shop with lots of beautiful smiles, earnest attempts at improvement and so much love towards everyone and everything. She is one of my favorite characters in the movie as she is so cheerful and wonderful throughout the film. 

This film has many characteristics of a classical Western in that it has a strong vagabond protagonist trying to better the people around them, Goro wears a cowboy hat, and loves to fight to make a point. “Tampopo” also is a comedy. It satirizes the tropes of Westerns and makes fun of many cultural customs like eating quietly.

By the end of the film we are in love with the whole cast of characters and rolling around laughing because of the ridiculous behaviors, scenes and gags that we get to witness on Tampopo’s journey to becoming a ramen master.

Serving 2 – Music

“Tampopo” blends jazzy instrumental scenes with classical scores to elicit emotions like awe, love, joy and comedic shock. The composer and sound workers for this film created a life-like city while adding in sound effects to enhance the noodle-slurping madness that makes this move so appealing. 

There’s also a great scene with a group of unhoused people from the city singing a beautiful song in appreciation for their one true ramen master who taught them to appreciate food. 

Plate 3 – A Sip of Sake before We Go

“Tampopo”, a lot like “Monty Python” and other satirical movies, has many gag scenes that aren’t focused on the characters of the movie, but do have to do with the general theme of the film. Many such scenes include an old woman fondling soft items in a grocery store, a Charlie Chaplin-esque scene focused on sneaking into a kitchen to make a beautiful egg and rice dish, a sick mother dying and her family eating her meal she made as a sign of respect and a few other naughty scenes played out by the couple from the beginning of the film. 

I don’t know what y’all look for in films but if you want comedy, food, music, emotion and anything else, “Tampopo” is the place to go. It’s easy to watch on HBO (or other places if you’re not willing to pay for a subscription…). There are many unmentioned treats in this film because there’s so much to explore and love. 

Concert Review

Alvvays: The Band That Has (always) Been Outstanding

If you’re anything like me, the band Alvvays has been a staple name in your music taste. I grew up listening to their album “Antisocialites”, having been shown this my freshman year of highschool. I didn’t stop listening to the album from that day on until I graduated in 2021. 

Then came “Blue Rev”. Having been released eleven days before my birthday, this almost felt like fate. Their long hiatus between album releases did not disappoint- “Blue Rev” quickly became one of my favorite albums I had ever listened to, rivaling that same high “Antisocialites” gave me for so many years.

And then came Hopscotch. Alvvays was headlining alongside Pavement. My expectations were high, and they were exceeded. Alvvays sounded exactly like their studio recordings. Their sound was energetic and charged, contrasting their mellow and warm stage presence. Molly Rankin, the lead singer, joked about the humid temperatures us Raleigh locals are so used to. She’s from Canada, and was wearing a long sleeve. Go figure. 

Their performance of “Archie, Marry Me” blew my high school mind away. I was surrounded by others who loved the band just as much as I did which made the streets of City Plaza feel more like a community rather than just a street downtown. The sounds of the chorus being sung echoed around the skyscrapers surrounding us. I wasn’t expecting this at all, and it was an amazing surprise. I had assumed the Pavement fans would’ve shown up early and ended up taking over. 

They closed with “Easy on Your Own?”, a perfect way to send us off into the night. There was a tangible energy to the entire performance, a buzz that almost lingered in the air. Hearing them live was something I’ve wanted to witness since I first heard them years ago, and it was amazing. Alvvays always is. 

Alvvays lead singer, Molly Rankin, performing on stage at Hopscotch music festival
Music Education

Sniffin’ Glue: The Origins and Influence of the First Punk Fanzine

Perhaps the title of this post is a rhetorical question.

If you’re interested enough in WKNC to peruse our website, then you probably know what a zine is.

If you don’t, that’s fine.

A lot of people, including those who make zines, find them difficult to define.

It’s part of what makes them cool.

Selection of British and American punk zines, 1994-2004, uploaded to Wikimedia Commons by Burn_the_asylum, licensed CC BY-SA 3.0

Zines are essentially handmade publications — zine is short for fanzine — created and disseminated by members of an underground subculture.

Despite their lack of official publication, zines were — and still are — vital tools within subcultural spaces.

Expressions of creativity, ethos and ideology, zines strengthen the foundations of resistance and community amid broader sociopolitical contexts.

The History

Zines can be traced to the early ’60s, where their subject matter centered on social and political activism.

By the ’70s, however, zines took on a starkly punk slant.

Zines from the Colorado College Tutt Library, licensed CC BY 2.0

“Sniffin’ Glue”

Mark Perry’s zine, “Sniffin’ Glue,” was released July 1976.

Inspired by the Ramones song “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue,” Perry devised and released the zine just days after seeing the band live in London.

Created with simple on-hand tools, “Sniffin’ Glue” embodied punk’s D.I.Y. ethos.

The zine’s cut-and-paste graphics, rugged handwriting and unpolished doodles left every page imbued with youthful vigor and punk-rock passion.

Perry’s achievement was to unite for a brief time all the tensions — between art and commerce, between avant-garde aesthetics and social realist politics — that eventually tore punk apart, and write them out in a sharp mix of emotion and intention that still makes his words fresh

J. Savage, “Sniffin’ Glue: The Essential Punk Accessory,” Mojo No. 81 August, 2000, p. 129.

Soon after the zine’s release, droves of inspired punks took to their photocopiers to take advantage of an exciting new mode of self-expression.

The resulting metamorphosis of the fanzine medium facilitated a massive creative movement.

Chainsaw” zine, produced by Charlie Chainsaw, arose from his personal desire to distinguish his work from the “‘Sniffin’ Glue’ ‘look-a-likes’.”

Other creatives followed suit, experimenting with different materials and styles.

Zine-making as a practice transformed.

Final Thoughts

Zines are still an important part of subculture today.

Walk into any record store or trendy downtown shop and you’ll likely see zines for sale in a multitude of colors and styles.

“Zine guys,” uploaded to Wikimedia Commons by college.library, licensed CC BY 2.0

The best thing about zines, and perhaps what zine-makers find most rewarding about the practice, is its freedom from stricture.

Essentially, the only rule is that there aren’t any rules.

If you’re interested in exploring some contemporary zines, consider browsing WKNC’s collection here.

Additional Reading

Weekly Charts

Top Charts 9/12/23

Top Charts

112 RODSIf We Stayed AliveAmerican Dreams/Husky Pants
2FLY ANAKINSkinemaxxx (Side A)Lex
3BEN FOLDSWhat Matters MostNew West
4PANCHIKOFailed At Math(s)Self-Released
5PARIS TEXASMid AirParis Texas/The Orchard
6ALLEGRA KRIEGERI Keep My Feet On The Fragile PlaneDouble Double Whammy
7DEER TICKEmotional ContractsATO
8HAVIAH MIGHTYCrying CrystalsMighty Gang
9KAMAUULacuna & The House Of MirrorsAtlantic
11MOKA ONLYIn And Of ItselfUrbnet
12STEADY HANDSCheap FictionLame-O
13SUDAN ARCHIVES“Selfish Soul” (ODESZA Remix) [Single]Stones Throw/Foreign Family Collective/Ninja Tune
14THE DIRTY NILFree Rein to PassionsDine Alone
15WEDNESDAYRat Saw GodDead Oceans/Secretly Group
16ASHER WHITENew Excellent WomanBa Da Bing!
17BEING DEADWhen Horses Would RunBayonet
18BILLY WOODS AND KENNY SEGALMapsBackwoodz Studioz/Fat Possum
19CASTLE CHAMPNo We GoSelf-Released
20CHAMPSRide The Morning GlassBMG
22DEATH’S DYNAMIC SHROUDAfter Angel100% Electronica
23FRESH KILSDisclaimerUrbnet
25MAN ON MANProvincetownPolyvinyl
26MANNEQUIN PUSSY“I Got Heaven” [Single]Epitaph
27MCKINLEY DIXONBeloved! Paradise! Jazz!?City Slang
28MOURAINEIn Search Of GoldBirthday Cake
29PARANNOULAfter The MagicTopshelf
30PARTY DOZENThe Real WorkTemporary Residence Limited

Top Adds

1RATBOYSThe WindowTopshelf
3MANNEQUIN PUSSY“I Got Heaven” [Single]Epitaph
4HOT FREAKSHot Freaks ForeverDiamond City
5SLOWDIVEEverything Is AliveDead Oceans/Secretly Group
6SNOOPERSuper SnooperThird Man
7SPEEDY ORTIZRabbit RabbitWax Nine
8FIDDLEHEADDeath Is Nothing To UsRun For Cover
9TAKING MEDSDial M For MedsSmartpunk
10BE YOUR OWN PETMommyThird Man
Weekly Charts

Underground Charts 9/12/23

Underground Charts

1FLY ANAKINSkinemaxxx (Side B)Lex
3MOKA ONLYIn And Of ItselfUrbnet
4PARIS TEXASMid AirParis Texas/The Orchard
5BILLY WOODS AND KENNY SEGALMapsBackwoodz Studioz/Fat Possum
6CASTLE CHAMPNo We GoSelf-Released
7HAVIAH MIGHTYCrying CrystalsMighty Gang
8KAMAUULacuna & The House Of MirrorsAtlantic
10YVES TUMORPraise A Lord Who Chews But Which Does Not Consume; (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds)Warp

Underground Adds

1DJ UNKNOWNPrisoners Of GravityUrbnet
3LA REEZYReebornSelf-Released
4SAMPHA“Only” [Single]Young
5EARL HONDOSouthernplayalistic [EP]Self-Released
660 EAST“Wet Roads” [Single]Purty Ugly
Weekly Charts

Chainsaw Charts 9/12/23

Chainsaw Charts

1SHORES OF NULLThe Loss of BeautySpikerot
2TERROR GARDEN“The Party’s Over” [Single]Self-Released
3SUBSUN“Doomsday Clock” [Single]Self-Released
4ASTRALBORNEAcross The AeonsProsthetic
5STATIC ABYSSAborted From RealityPeaceville
6NECROFIERBurning Shadows in the Southern NightSeason of Mist Underground Activists
7ACACIA STRAIN, THEStep Into The LightRise
8MEURTRIERES“Rubicon” [Single]Gates of Hell
9ZULUA New TomorrowFlatspot
10KNOCKED LOOSE“Deep In The Willow” b/w “Everything Is Quiet Now” [Single]Pure Noise

Chainsaw Adds

1CRYPTOPSYAs Gomorrah BurnsNuclear Blast
2RINGWORMSeeing Through FireNuclear Blast
3XORCIST“Coterie Of The Depraved” [Single]Prosthetic
Weekly Charts

Afterhours Charts 9/12/23

Afterhours Charts

3APOLLO BITRATEyou in amethyst spheresRetrac
5THE BOBFATHERDance Into The RevolutionX3: CIA Galaxy Raid OperationsSelf-Released
9RUADOISProibido Estacionar Vol 2 – Live Set [EP]Self-Released
10DREAMWEAVERBlue GardenSelf-Released

Afterhours Adds

2THE BOBFATHERDance Into The RevolutionX3: CIA Galaxy Raid OperationsSelf-Released

Crushing Consumerism – A Return to D.I.Y.

It isn’t a particularly earthshattering statement to say that many music subcultures suffer from excessive materialism.

As a goth, I especially see this in social media circles. Pressure to uphold a certain aesthetic, namely one involving extensive effort and monetary investment, abounds.

There’s always a new shiny piece of jewelry to wear, or a new hair accessory or a new pair of boots.

With the current state of manufacturing and consumerism, most of these products are poorly made through unsustainable and often unethical practices, designed for the sole purpose of temporary gratification.

Photo by Dmitriy Zarivniy on Unsplash

Not only does materialism serve to create a money-sucking vacuum within the community, but it obfuscates important conversations about goth culture and, more specifcially, goth music.

This issue isn’t localized to the goth community. It’s starkly evident in most music-based subcultures, glaringly obvious now with the rise of the “alt” umbrella in contemporary online circles.

What’s There to Do?

And while this is a logical — and perhaps inevitable — function of our late-stage capitalistic techtropolis, there are ways to ameliorate its effects.

While shopping sustainably — making investments rather than frivolous purchases — is one mode of opposition to mass consumerism, it can be difficult to achieve.

That’s why, as a college student, I’ve become a strong proponent of D.I.Y.

Photo by Ruizhe du on Unsplash

A former staple of music subculture, especially punk and goth, D.I.Y. is often overshadowed.

One can speculate that the hegemonic shift towards a space in which rugged authenticity is emulated rather than allowed to occur organically (see: the manufacturing of “vintage”), do-it-yourself approaches to style can seem far-fetched.

However, there are numerous ways to cultivate distinct, unique styles without pandering to fast fashion or overconsumption.

My Top 3 D.I.Y.s

  • Dyeing thrifted clothes

In my experience, it’s uncommon to find good pieces by exclusively shopping in the black and gray section.

Looking in other sections, such as white, brown and pink and later dyeing the clothes black at home (make sure you pay attention to the type of fiber you’re working with!) can extensively broaden your options.

One of my favorite tops, a lace cardigan with pearl buttons, was originally white. Now, it’s a perfect staple piece for a goth wardrobe.

  • Safety pins

I bought a pack of 50 safety pins at the supermarket four years ago and have not since stopped incorporating them into my outfits in different ways.

I pin them to the lapels of my blazers, attach them to the collars of shirts, dangle wire-wrapped animal teeth from them and use them to pin down chains.

Not only are they unobtrusive and easy to remove, but they can be reused to infinite proportions. This is especially valuable if you, like me, have managed to lose all but two of the original 50 pins you started with.

  • Chains

Chains are a mainstay of contemporary — and classic — subcultural fashion. However, good quality chains can be extremely expensive.

In lieu of sufficient funds, I often turn to my local supermarket for assistance.

For basic adornments and accessories, I pick up a pack of jump rings and a bundle of chain and piece together whatever it is I’m looking for.

I’ve made several necklaces, basic harnesses and shoe decals with this method.

Final Thoughts

I don’t claim to be above consumerism.

I, too, revel in the dopamine rush of a frivolous online purchase.

Obviously, a single person’s efforts will put nary a dent in such a monolithic systemo-cultural-economic beast as mass consumption. That’s not the point.

What’s important is understanding how broader discourses can have ripple effects on a subcultural level.

Exposure to a social norm that glorifies not only consumerism but unsustainable consumerism affects everyone.

Yes, even so-called “counter cultures.”

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

And therein lies one of the core factors that some argue contributes to the “cheapening” of music subculture, of this growing conception that “aesthetics” can be bought and sold and tossed away when no longer interesting.

The, apologies, “poser” effect.

As an adolescent, I knew many young people who, in an effort to “reinvent” or “rebrand” themselves, emptied their closets and went on shopping sprees guided by meticulous Pinterest moodboards.

And while the search for identity is something of a ubiquitous concept among teenagers (and probably most adults), the act of costuming oneself in an attempt to achieve a particular “aesthetic” (read: identity) can be mentally damaging.

Photo by Jorge Maya on Unsplash

It’s something I myself have struggled with: the idea that I have to always have the “right things;” a preoccupation with tangible (and fungible) items that I’ve decided bare some supreme cosmic significance in the construction of “me” (spoiler: they don’t).

But these items were all things millions of other people had. They were things made without love and without care and with landfills on the horizon.

D.I.Y. isn’t just “more sustainable,” it’s a method of creation.

It’s a means of stepping into yourself and making something with your own hands, something nobody but yourself will have, something that didn’t exist before you conceived of it.

That’s the real crux of self-expression.

New Album Review

“Only Constant” by GEL

GEL is a band that has recently emerged onto the hxc and punk scenes within the past couple years. They’ve released two EPs and now, their first album, “Only Constant”, back in March of this year. This newest release has a runtime of sixteen minutes and twenty-nine seconds. It features a unique blend of hardcore punk and metal. 

The band is currently composed of Sami Kaiser (vocals), Anthony Webster (guitar), Bobko (bass), Madison Nave (guitar) and Zach Miller (drums). GEL’s previous EPs are “Shock Therapy” released in 2022 and “Violent Closure” released in 2021. 

As for their sound, I would consider them to have one foot in a pool of molten, hardcore punk and the other foot sinking in the sludge of metal. They are able to get the edgy lyrics and lighter vocals from punk, while drawing up the guitar and deeper sounds from metal very well.

Only Constant” in Detail:


I have to say this track is by far my favorite from the album. It’s longer than the rest by at least a whole minute and features instrumentals that can induce some heart palpitations. The quick bursts from the guitar and drums jolt my head. It’s a great album closer and it feels like it has the most ties to metal in the album with coarse vocals. 

The Way Out” 

Next on my list of likes from this album is “The Way Out”. It is short, but definitely not sweet. Fifty-three seconds of raw energy compelling me to headbang and mosh wherever I am. Also to note in this track are the lyrics:

“I’m tugging on the bone don’t want them to be known

Feelings come in quick – brace for your turn and hit

Still waters thickly sit, beneath the buoyant brink”

Lyrics from “The Way Out” by GEL

I love the consonance on the third line with ‘beneath the buoyant brink” and the extended use of water and pressure imagery. This lyricism is smart with tons of emotion and thought poured into it, so I love being able to appreciate the band’s ability to make it enthralling too. 


This was not one of my favorite tracks. Unfortunately they can’t all be winners. Of course, it’s not bad, but it lacks the same appeal and attention grabbing that many of the other songs have on this release. “Fortified” blends into the background of this album being surrounded by “Honed Blade” and “Attainable”.

GEL-ing Up:

This is a great first full length release for GEL. I think they’ve got some unique flavors and sounds that will (hopefully) continue to grow in strength as they progress forward into their future. 

I don’t really know who reads these posts, but be sure to form your own opinions based on your listening experience. Don’t take my silly perspective on this genre as credible or incredulous. All this is my view on how this music makes me feel. If you like this music, cool. If you hate this music, cool. Just try your best to take in what these artists and bands are putting forth for us, the consumers, to enjoy.

New Album Review

New Releases: Aeon Sable, Ash Code and Soft Vein

Though September is still ripe in its infancy, the fall equinox is visible — a beacon of hope for alternative kids everywhere, perhaps — just on the horizon.

Photo by Tkhao Khoang on Unsplash

Alternative music artists are already hard at work to set the backdrop for the upcoming fall season, and I am already hard at work cultivating the perfect autumnal playlists.

Here are three artists who elected to kick off the month of September with new releases.

Aeon Sable with “From Witchcraft to Deviltry”

Aeon Sable is one of many beloved bands I’ve neglected to address in my time as a WKNC content creator.

There’s no better time to ameliorate that condition than with a short analysis of one of their most recent works.

The fourth track on the band’s newest album, “Aenigma,” “From Witchcraft to Deviltry” has already become one of the band’s top songs on Spotify.

Cover for “Aenigma” by Aeon Sable

“From Witchcraft to Deviltry” oscillates between airs of plaintive lovesickness and frigid rage.

A riveting arrangement of contemporary gothic rock and metal, the song is icy until a swell of guitars and vocals introduces a smokier, enflamed energy to the track.

The song stands as a testament to Aeon Sable’s affinity for the esoteric and arcane, making it perfect listening material for fans of heavy music with colder energies.

Ash Code with “Tear You Down”

Dark and sensual and tinged with autumnal gloom, this new release from darkwave group Ash Code is certain to mobilize the dancefloor at the next Goth Night.

Cover for “Tear You Down” by Ash Code

Breathy vocals emerge like smoke from an ethereal arrangement of synths, eventually becoming an instrument all of their own.

Released as a single on the first day of September, “Tear You Down,” while not particularly striking on its own, may soon accompany other tracks as part of a longer EP or album.

Overall, it’s a solid atmospheric track.

Soft Vein with “LEASH”

Burgeoning darkwave artist Soft Vein’s newest single, “LEASH,” further demonstrates his talent for cultivating phantasmal auditory experiences.

A two-track release, the single consists of “LEASH” and “BLOODLETTING,” sneak peeks of Soft Vein’s upcoming album “PRESSED IN GLASS

“LEASH” is a hazy, gray-tinged track that sounds diffused through fog. The synth arrangement and vocal style reminds me of Harsh Symmetry’s new wave influence (which makes sense, as the artists toured together) though with a doomier twist.

Cover for “LEASH” by Soft Vein

“BLOODLETTING,” my favorite of the two tracks, captures the energy of Soft Vein’s March single “VIOLENTIA.”

While the song’s style also leans towards the new wave influences of the post-punk genre, the vocals take on a more romantic tone, which never fails to please the little bat-creature that lives in my temporal lobe.